The Koreas resume talks, The Current on CBC Radio

[CanKor Human Factor editor Jack Kim was one of three guests interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s public affairs programme “The Current” this morning, 10 June 2013, on CBC Radio 1. The following text is from the CBC.ca website. The 22 minute segment can be listened to by clicking on the image of host Anna Maria Tremonti below. –CanKor]

North and South Korea have gone from a chilling standoff, to the start of talks that could mean a thaw with plans for the first senior government talks in six long years. All of this comes just as the Presidents of the United States and China wrapped up their own weekend meetings promising greater cooperation. Today, we’re asking about the future of the two Koreas when the biggest players outside their borders aren’t interested in a fight.

Listen to The Current segment on Korea by clicking the image of host Anna Maria Tremonti below:

TheCurrent-220x124

The Current: The Koreas resume talks

What a Tangled Web We Weave, by Kim Dong Jin

[Kim Dong Jin is Director of the Peace Culture Institute in Korea (PCIK), a newly-founded research institution based in Seoul, Korea. The PCIK is dedicated to sharing information, knowledge and experience on peace-building in conflict-affected societies. Pursuing a collective peace intelligence and peaceful open source collaboration, the PCIK provides space for researchers, practitioners and experts from various disciplines to discuss issues related to conflict transformation by peaceful means on the Korean peninsula, in Asia, and beyond. This article was first published on the PCIK blog site on Thursday, 30 May 2013. –CanKor]

kaesong_ind_nk_624On 22 May, the North Korean Committee for the Realization of the 6.15 Joint Statement proposed holding a joint ceremony at either Kaesong or Mt. Keumgang, to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Statement issued at the conclusion to the 15 June 2000 Summit meeting between South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The South Korean counterpart Committee responded positively, interpreting the proposal in relation to the issues at the closed Kaesong Industrial Complex.

“The suggestion to use Kaesong by North Korea as a venue for the event indirectly expresses their desire to restore the Kaesong Industrial Complex”, the South Committee said. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK Business Monthly Volume IV, No.3

The DPRK Business Monthly, an international business report edited in Beijing, has been made available to CanKor readers by its editor, Paul White. Please check the  current April 2013 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly Volume IV, No.3

Josh Thomas and Ms Yu, one of the North Korean guides, enjoy draft beers at the bar of the Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery. (Photo by Joseph A Ferris III)

Josh Thomas and Ms Yu, one of the North Korean guides, enjoy draft beers at the bar of the Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery. (Photo by Joseph A Ferris III)

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • The Travails of a Beer Joint Venture
  • North Korea’s Surprising Microbrewery Culture Explored
  • NK Ups Chinese Fertilizer Imports
  • North Korea Accepts ShelterBox Disaster Relief Equipment
  • Medical Aid from ROK Enters North
  • Pyongyang Gets First Artisan Coffee Shop
  • 3G Now Covers Two Million in NK
  • Science Reporter Probes NK Fight against Multidrug-resistant TB
  • Tanchon to Become New Industry-Export Center
  • Kaesong Sets Up Light Industry College
  • Koryo Tours guide to mobile & Internet services in the DPRK

…plus a number of other items, including a selection of North Korean tours by various tour operators.

Comment by the Business Monthly Editor:

It’s been a bad month for business in the DPRK, but the ROK might be the biggest sufferer from all the saber-rattling on and around the peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »

An Atmosphere of Departure and Two Speeds, Korean Style: Where is North Korea Heading? by Ruediger Frank

[CanKor Brain Trust member Ruediger Frank has once again returned from a tour to North Korea. In the following article, first published by our partner-site 38North, Frank delves into what he sees as changes that have occurred in North Korea since his last visit in April. Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. –CanKor]

South Hwanghae, September 2012 (Photo: © Rudiger Frank)

The Country Is Changing

Not that it has ever been static, but within the few months between my travels to North Korea in spring and autumn of this year, the country has changed to the degree that even a foreign visitor cannot avoid noticing. While in April, everyone seemed to be somewhat tense and edgy, unsure about what would happen under the new leader and torn between hope and concern, by September, the atmosphere was almost upbeat and optimistic. It is even now clear which is the new standard badge (the big red flag with the two leaders), and everyone is waiting patiently to receive his own. Admittedly, the season is nicer in the fall than in the spring: the temperature is warmer, the landscape greener, and food from the new harvest is on the table, while hard manual labor in the fields and the cold of winter are still a few weeks away. But there is more. Read the rest of this entry »

38 North: Beyond the Golden Couples of Pyongyang By John Feffer

[From time to time CanKor alerts readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is authored by John Feffer, a long-time friend and supporter of CanKor. John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of several books and numerous articles. His latest book, Crusade 2.0: The West’s Resurgent War against Islam, is being published this month by City Lights Press. In this outstanding article, Feffer analyzes the emerging new class system of North Korea. “Any policy toward North Korea,” according to Feffer, “must somehow take into account these three groups of people: the prospering, the struggling, and the incarcerated.” He lists projects that are currently being implemented by various actors that aim at an overall human security objective, which he believes is the best way to promote the well-being of North Koreans beyond the “golden couples” that represent the new entrepreneurial elite of the country. Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. –CanKor]

It’s not likely that an Occupy Pyongyang movement will set up tents in Kim Il Sung Square anytime soon. Protest, after all, is virtually non-existent in that society. But the same widening inequalities that plague the United States and the global economy can also be found inside North Korea. What was once a relatively equitable society, albeit at the low end of per-capita GDP, has been experiencing a rapid polarization in wealth. The implications of this widening gap on North Korean government policy—as well as on international policies promoting human security inside North Korea—are enormous.

The headlines coming out of North Korea these days are a study in contrasts. On the one hand, four separate international nutritional assessments in 2011 found chronic malnutrition that, according to the UN, affects one in three children under five. Although 2012 is the year of kangsung daeguk—an economically prosperous and militarily strong power—the overall statistics tell a different story. The North Korean economy, which had recovered somewhat by the beginning of the new millennium from its near collapse in the mid-1990s, contracted in both 2009 and 2010, according to South Korean sources. Pyongyang has been unable to wean itself from dependence on Beijing’s food and energy assistance, and, out of necessity, has negotiated lopsided deals with China over access to mineral wealth and ports. Farmers have been forced by the lack of fuel and spare parts to rely more heavily on manual labor. Workers steal from their factories to supplement meager salaries. The inability of North Korea to revive its agricultural and manufacturing sectors has adversely affected the larger bulk of the population, the broad class of workers and farmers who have relied on employment in state enterprises and state farms as well as food from the public distribution system. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Eat Marshmallows… or Choco Pies

This pun very much intended: the following effort, sending marshmallows in balloon launches into the DPRK, literally takes the cupcake.

The idea of balloon launches in themselves is somewhat of a labour-intensive, low-reward effort in the first place. After all, the effectiveness of such launches depends not only on how many balloons you use, but also upon meteorological phenomena that are simply out of your hands. Furthermore, there is no way to find out whether the material you put inside the balloon itself is picked up by the intended end user – for all we know, the numerous leaflets that are supposedly showered over the DPRK could simply end up bolstering the nutrition of North Korea’s flora and fauna. (The counter to all of this is why North Korea would send someone to assassinate the numero uno behind these balloon launches… if the DPRK was behind it at all, but I digress) Read the rest of this entry »

Second food shipment from NCCK travels by truck across the DMZ

[The National Council of Churches in (South) Korea recently sent a shipment of flour to the (North ) Korean Christian Federation via the heavily-guarded Demilitarize Zone at the site of the Kaesong Industrial Park. Because of South Korean government restrictions, the first shipment in May was sent through the Amity Foundation in China. The Rev. Mrs. Heawon Chae, Executive Coordinator of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean peninsula sent us this report. –CanKor.]

According to the report by 5 US based aid organizations which visited North Korea on September following last March visit, it is said that large numbers of people are suffering from chronic malnutrition and are facing with starvation due to reducing rations.

In this situation, the NCCK sent the second food shipment amounted 180 tons of wheat flour to the Korean Chrisitan Federation. The shipment was transferred to the KCF by truck at the Bongdong station, Gaesung city, just across the border between the North and the South. Read the rest of this entry »

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