Why North Korea places so much emphasis on organic farming, by Justin Rohrlich

[CanKor Editor Erich Weingartner and Brain Trust members Randall Ireson and Kathi Zellweger were among interviewees featured in this article by journalist Justin Rohrlich about North Korean farming practices. The resulting article was published on 31 May 2013 in NK News Pro. –CanKor]

“Let us thoroughly implement the Juche farming methods created by the fatherly leader Comrade Kim Il Sung!”

Picture panel at Sambong Farm, Pyongwon County, DPRK (Photo by Erich Weingartner)

Picture panel at Sambong Farm, Pyongwon County, DPRK (Photo by Erich Weingartner)

As reported recently by North Korean state news agency KCNA – and picked up by NK News Pro Media Monitoring – a “short course” in organic farming methods was held at the Pyongyang Centre for Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries from 14-16 May 2013.

A delegation of experts led by Andre Leu, President of the Bonn, Germany-based International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (also the current Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia and former Chair of the Far North Queensland Lychee Growers Association), was in town to direct the two-day program, which included, among other seminars, “Multi-Functional Benefits of Organic Agriculture, Soil Health and Nutrition,” “Green Manure,” and “Humus Soil and its Making.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Reality of Tears by Erich Weingartner

[This article by CanKor Editor-in-Chief Erich Weingartner was published by our partner site 38North.org on 4 January 2012. –CanKor]

The question consistently asked by journalists over the past weeks is whether the weeping and wailing that accompanied the death and funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is the product of stage management or a genuine outpouring of grief. In other words, how real are the tears?

Picture by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)

To our secular and cynical Western sensibilities, it seems inconceivable that a nation would be moved to tears at the death of what we believe to have been an evil tyrant who ate lobsters and caviar while his people starved, who squandered the nation’s wealth on nuclear weapons while soliciting humanitarian aid, who operated a network of brutal prison camps and kept the entire population isolated from the outside world. Why is there no nationwide rejoicing? Should we not see people dancing in the streets of Pyongyang? As is often the case when dealing with North Korea, our simplistic questions require more complex answers than time allows in journalistic interviews.

The way in which all humans respond to emotional events has a lot to do with our perception of history, politics, economics and the culture in which we are embedded. North Korea is not what we consider to be a modern, secular, capitalist society in which the individual reigns supreme. Although it describes itself as a revolutionary society, the DPRK is not revolutionary in the style of the French, the American or even the Russian revolutions. Kim Il Sung and his compatriots fought an anti-colonial struggle against foreign domination. There was never the sense of fighting against an indigenous corrupt or oppressive ruler, and North Korean propaganda continues to justify a “revolutionary” attitude and the need for a powerful military as one that is aimed against foreign domination. Read the rest of this entry »

Death of Kim Jong Il: Official DPRK Announcement

Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un (Reuters)

[Official statement as it appeared on the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), 19 December 2011 — CanKor]

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK on Saturday announced the following notice to all party members, servicepersons and people:

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK notify with bitterest grief to all the party members, servicepersons and people of the DPRK that Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, passed away of a sudden illness at 08: 30 on December 17, Juche 100 (2011) on his way to field guidance.

He dedicated all his life to the inheritance and accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Juche and energetically worked day and night for the prosperity of the socialist homeland, happiness of people, reunification of the country and global independence. He passed away too suddenly to our profound regret. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversation #12


In which Weingartner challenges Pak’s claim that his faith in the Juche idea qualifies him as an atheist. [This episode has been greatly enhanced by a discussion among Korea experts in the Koreanstudies mailing list.]


Pak Kim Li: I apologize that I had to cancel our last appointment. My life is not my own, you know.

Erich Heinz Weingartner: So I understand.

PKL: As much as I enjoy talking to you, you aren’t exactly my number one priority.

EHW: Which is a pity. But neither are you my first priority.

PKL: I’m not? That surprises me. Writing about the DPRK has become quite the cottage industry in the West as far as I can tell.

EHW: Yes, except that it pays very poorly.

PKL: You should consider the ideological satisfaction that you get in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversation #7


In which Erich Weingartner challenges Pak Kim Li about the apparent contradiction between the DPRK’s request for technical and development assistance and the Juche ideology of self-reliance. (First published in CanKor Report 307-308, 12 May 2008.)


Erich Heinz Weingartner: So you welcome the transfer of knowledge from foreign partners to your country?

Pak Kim Li: Yes, we put great value on such cooperation.

EHW: Like language instruction?

PKL: Yes. And other topics as well.

EHW: What about technical assistance? Read the rest of this entry »

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