5th Anniversary of the October 4th North-South Declaration

[It is an agreement that South Korea’s President Lee Myung Bak would rather forget — which is probably why the DPRK is reminding South Koreans and the world about the inter-Korean peace agreement signed on 4 October 2007 by the late ROK President Roh Moo-hyun and the late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. Here are three reports: the first from South Korea’s Arirang TV, the second from China’s Xinhua news service, and finally an email to CanKor from the DPR Korean Committee of Solidarity with the World People. –CanKor]

Roh Moo-Hyun and Kim Jong Il at the 2007 Inter-Korean Summit. In the background, long-time friend of CanKor, former ROK Minister of Unification Lee Jae Joung.

N. Korea Puts Importance on Oct. 4 Peace Declaration

SEOUL, 4 October 2012 (Arirang News)

North Korea has put the 2007 inter-Korean peace declaration back into spotlight.

Then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun held a landmark inter-Korean summit with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, where Roh vowed to provide financial aid to the North and push for large-scale joint economic projects, in exchange for Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the signing, the North’s Korean Central News Agency lashed out at the current Lee Myung-bak administration for scrapping the so-called Oct. 4th declaration.

The agency stressed the full implementation of the agreements is the only way to peaceful reunification and co-prosperity.

Experts say Pyongyang’s claims are targeted at South Korea’s next administration, with the presidential election just weeks away. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK delegation visits Beijing

[This article by Ding Qingfen and Li Xiaokun appeared in China Daily, 14 August 2012. –CanKor]

Trip may signal move to boost battered economy, experts say.

The new PRC/DPRK economic zone: Hwanggumphyong Island, Wihwa Island, and Sin Island. [Google Earth 2010]

A delegation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is visiting Beijing to hold talks with officials on economic and trade ties, sources told China Daily.

Specialists in Korean Peninsula affairs said the visit will play a crucial part in improving the DPRK economy following food shortages and severe flooding.

Members of the delegation will attend a conference on Tuesday, sources said, covering the two DPRK special economic zones involving both countries.

One of the DPRK special economic zones is in Rason, and the other is located on the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa islands.

The delegation is also expected to visit Liaoning and Jilin, two border provinces.

Jang Song-thaek, vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, is leading the delegation, a source said on condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea pushes bold agrarian reform program

[The following article appeared 0n the website of the Japanese news agency The Asahi Shimbun, dated 2 August 2012. It was compiled from reports by Koichiro Ishida in Shenyang, China, and Tetsuya Hakoda in Seoul. –CanKor]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tours the Ryugyong Health Complex in Pyongyang that is nearing completion. (Photo by KCNA)

To fend off starvation, North Korea will introduce bold agrarian reforms that will allow farmers to dispose of part of their harvests as they see fit.The initiative was authorized by new leader Kim Jong Un, North Korean government and military sources said.The planned reforms, the first in roughly 10 years, are intended to enhance yields and help mitigate chronic food shortages that plague the country.

The nation’s ability to feed itself has fallen short by about 1 million tons a year. But this year, a major drought has exacerbated the problem.

Under North Korea’s system of collective labor in farming villages, harvests are collected by the state and redistributed to households according to their size.

The new system will allow farmers to do what they want with their harvests after they have handed over statutory amounts to the state. This means they can consume the produce or sell it in markets, the sources said. Read the rest of this entry »

15th anniversary of formulating the Three Charters for National Reunification

[CanKor has received the following letter from four Pyongyang-based organizations: the Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People, the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association, the Korean Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity, and the Korean National Peace Committee. As usual, we offer this text without commentary. –CanKor]

Dear friends,

Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, Pyongyang

Warm greetings!

As you know well, 67 years have elapsed since the Korean people have become separated into the north and the south after the 2nd world war. The Korean people have strived for the independent and peaceful reunification of the country without any interference from outside forces during the past 67 years. President Kim Il Sung, the great leader of the Korean nation and the lodestar of the reunification of the country, devoted his whole life for the reunification of Korea to the last day of his life from the beginning of the liberation of the country.

To look back, President Kim Il Sung’s whole life can be said to have been a life of struggle devoted to reunifying his country, expect the period of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle for national liberation. From the separation of the country, President Kim Il Sung has laid down many reunification proposals and wisely led the Korean nation for the reunification of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Jong Un: I Am NOT My Father

I would like to think that Kim Jong Un listened to my advice and hired a Don Draper type to sex up the regime’s image

abroad. Yes, such visions of grandeur. Bringing us back to reality, however, the DPRK has certainly gone to some great lengths to ameliorate its image abroad, to the point that some have described it as an “extreme makeover.” It all perhaps began with Kim Jong Un complaining about the general disrepair of amusement parks (“pathetic” is supposedly the word used). One has to wonder in opaque North Korea whether Kim was referring to simply the amusement park itself, or really criticizing the way that his father ran the country.

Meet the new boss

Then we have Kim the 3rd walking around accompanied by a mystery woman who we later find out he has married – perhaps even against his father’s wishes. Even if this allegation of filial impiety is not true, Kim Jong Il never trotted out his women in public.

The implication of this rather public announcement is enormous: again, Kim Jong Un is not his father! Then we have a well publicized concert involving trademark infringement of the Mickey Mouse variety and mini-skirts that would have shocked O Jin U if he were still around. We receive word of things like prisoner amnesties. Finally, Ri Yong Ho is sacked. The official cause is illness; the word on the street is power struggle, including fanciful notions of firefights in the inner sanctums of Pyongyang. Ri Yong Ho was supposedly one of the capos in the Kim Jong Il regime. Getting rid of someone like him again is clear signal that a new boss has rolled into town.

At the end of the day, this branding exercise seems a clear play to contrast Kim Jong Un from Kim Jong Il. Perhaps the rumours that Kim Jong Un (and Jang Song Thaek behind him) really want to open the country up. The evidence so far, doesn’t suggest that yet: the border hasn’t been this controlled since the 2008 Olympics and the kwan-li-so system still exists. What isclear is that the regime has, six months after his death, buried Kim Jong Il, set up his statue right beside Kim the 1st, and has all but announced that his era is over. Read the rest of this entry »

6 North Korean professors in Canada to study free market

[The following Yonhap news agency article datelined San Francisco, 20 July 2012, appeared in The Korea Times of South Korea. –CanKor]

University of British Columbia Rose Garden

Six professors of leading North Korean universities are staying in Vancouver to study capitalism at a Canadian university on a six-month program, the program director said Friday, drawing fresh attention to the North’s possible transition under its Swiss-educated young leader.The economics professors from three North Korean universities arrived in Canada earlier this month to take courses at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the fall semester, which begins in September, after a two-month language course, Professor Park Kyung-ae, director of the Center for Korean Research, said.

“They will mainly study international business, economics, finance and trade,” Park told Yonhap News by phone, without giving further details of their identifications.The elite universities include Kim Il-sung University, the top university named after the country’s founding leader, the People’s Economics University and the Pyongyang Foreign Language College, Park said. All the institutions are located in the North’s capital, Pyongyang. Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor Megaphone: The North Korean Human Rights Film Festival in Toronto

If Kim Jong Il’s opinions mean anything, the power of film cannot be ignored. The late dictator spent quite a bit of energy trying to vitalize the North Korean film industry – to the point that he kidnapped a South Korean director Shin Sang Ok and his actress wife Choe Un Hee to provide an injection of fresh air into what he thought was a stagnant film scene. This emphasis on film seems to have left a mark on the North Korean people as well. One of the fondest pre-famine memories of those who have escaped the DPRK often revolve around going to the local cinema house to view the latest and greatest coming out of Pyongyang’s movie mill.

There’s not much that Thornhill native Gilad Cohen agrees with Kim Jong Il, but the power of film is one of them. Cohen, the founder of the North Korean Human Rights Film Festival in Toronto, (NKHRFF for short) was a former English teacher in the ROK. As with many folks in Canada, he had very little knowledge of the DPRK and what went inside that country. Read the rest of this entry »

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