The End (of CanKor) is at Hand

[In order to bring up-to-date our website readers who are not CanKor Report subscribers, we are posting the introductions of the last three issues for your information. Here follows the introduction to CanKor Report #348.  –CanKor]

All good things must come to an end. But it seems that bad things tend to stick around a lot longer. Sixty years after the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, the Korean War still claims victims to this very day. Divided families, escalating militarism, regional insecurities and violence in word and deed have become a generational legacy, perpetuating human suffering and casting a dark shadow on the future of Korea, the region and the wider world community.

Flag-Pins-Canada-North-KoreaDespite its modest capacities, Canada has played a significant role in Korea for more than a century. Canadian missionaries built schools and hospitals and participated in struggles against Japanese occupation and annexation in the first half of the 20th century. Canadian soldiers participated in the Korean War. Canadian activists supported the democratization movement in South Korea. Canadian humanitarians continue to provide assistance for food security and capacity-building in North Korea. In recent years Canadian teachers have taught the English language in both North and South Korea. Canadian human rights activists have provided assistance to displaced North Korean migrants and refugees. Canadians have been active in exchange programmes for professionals and students on both sides of the Korean divide.

The 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and South Korea are being celebrated this year. Less celebrated are the dozen years of diplomatic relations with North Korea. CanKor was born as an information mechanism to accompany the establishment of Canada-DPRK diplomatic relations. The last 12-plus years have been a roller-coaster ride. Our finances have dwindled even as public interest in CanKor has grown internationally. Read the rest of this entry »

Swiss mark 60 years of military presence in Korea

[The most sober account of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement that we have found comes – appropriately – from the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. We include here three items from their “neutral” point of view. –CanKor]

A Swiss officer monitors the border between the two Koreas in 1977 (RDB)

A Swiss officer monitors the border between the two Koreas in 1977 (RDB)

Flexible neutrality on the DMZ

The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) was created by the armistice accord signed on July 27, 1953, in the town of Panmunjom. The armistice text ended the armed conflict but stopped short of being a peace treaty. It was signed by the armed forces present and not by the governments of the two sides.

The signatories were the Korean People’s Army (North Korea), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the United Nations Command. The South Korean army was not a signatory, which is why the North has never considered it as a party in the context of eventual peace negotiations.

The NNSC was stationed on each side of the border within the demilitarised zone and was made up of military personnel from Switzerland and Sweden at the bequest of the South, and of Polish and Czechoslovak troops at the bequest of the North. The four delegations carried out the mission jointly.

The criteria for neutrality were relatively flexible as it was enough to not have participated in the Korean War to be considered neutral. In the first instance, the North proposed the Soviet Union as a neutral party. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1993, the country’s delegation was withdrawn and not replaced.

The Polish delegation, stationed on the north side of the border was asked to leave in 1994 when North Korea declared that the NNCS no longer existed. Poland no longer has a permanent presence in the demilitarised zone but remains a member of the NNSC and sends delegates several times a year to participate in activities in Panmunjom. Read the rest of this entry »

United Church of Canada issues statement on the crisis in the Korean Peninsula

[The United Church in Canada on 15 March 2013 issued the following “Statement on the Crisis in the Korean Peninsula.” The original text can be accessed here. –CanKor]

UCC crestThe United Church of Canada is gravely concerned about the escalation of tension in the Korean Peninsula. We fear for the safety of the people in North and South Korea, and the whole of Northeast Asia, should a war erupt.

We are concerned by the ongoing joint military exercises of the United States and the Republic of South Korea and the mounting threats of military actions from the Governments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, and South Korea. We fear that these provocative actions are increasing the danger of armed confrontation in the region.

The current crisis in the Korean Peninsula points to the unresolved issues in the region, including the failure to obtain a peace treaty to end the state of war, and the international sanctions against North Korea. The resolution of these issues requires re-engagement of all parties in finding lasting solutions to the problems in the Korean Peninsula.

We call on the Government of Canada to help in promoting an atmosphere conducive to renewed negotiations among the states involved in the conflict by renewing its engagement in confidence-building measures and contact with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urging the Governments of the United States and of North and South Korea to return to the negotiating table. Read the rest of this entry »

Serious armed clash highly unlikely, by Andrei Lankov

[In an article written for a Russian newspaper, historian Andrei Lankov, of Kookmin University in Seoul, believes that North Korea has nothing to gain from excessive confrontation at this stage. He estimates chances for anything serious to happen are 0.0%, and chances of a minor shooting are, perhaps, 5% at most at this stage. But this does not mean that things will remain calm in future, according to Lankov. If South Korea does not increase its payments to the North by early fall, the DPRK may indeed do a bit of shooting — just to teach the SK elite and its public an object lesson, explaining to them that paying Pyongyang is the cheaper option. We post his article courtesy the Nelson Report. –CanKor]

(Photo by NKVision)

(Photo by NKVision)

If the world media is to be believed, the Korean Peninsula is now on the brink of war. Indeed, over the last few days the North Korean government has been pumping out seriously bellicose rhetoric.

The DPRK stated that it will withdrew from the Armistice treaty from March 11, and cut the phone hot line between Pyongyang and Seoul. It also withdrew from its non-aggression pact with South Korea. Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North Korean government, ran an editorial in which it stated that the glorious North Korean army, newly equipped with the world-class nuclear weapons and missiles, will transform both Seoul and Washington into seas of fire as soon as presumably the Supreme Commander gets around to giving a relevant order. According to reports from North Korea itself, the population of major cities are undergoing frequent, high intensity air raid drills. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.9

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 October 2012 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly Vol III, No.9

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

South and North Korean Buddhist monks at a ceremony to mark the fifth
anniversary of the rebuilding of the Shingye Temple on Mount Kumgang in the
DPRK [Photo: Jogye Order]

  • DPRK Trade Delegation Visits Sweden
  • NK Reaching Out for China Investment
  • North Korea Agricultural Program
  • N-S Buddhist Monks “Work to Ease Tension”
  • Two ROK Groups to Deliver NK Children Aid
  • Seoul Warns Trade Agency Against North Contacts
  • Breast Cancer Institute Completed
  • Consumer Ads Appear in DPRK Press

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

DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.2

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 the March 2012 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly Vol III, No.2

The Unhasu Orchestra tunes up in Paris. [Photo: Reuters]

The Unhasu Orchestra tunes up in Paris. (Photo by Reuters)

Titles of articles found in this issue include

  • N-S Opening Could Be Economic Lifeline for ROK
  • Unification Starting in Kaesong
  • DPRK Encourages Foreign Investment
  • Internet Access at PUST for NK Students
  • The Constitution of the DPRK
  • North and South Train Cambodian Olympic Hopefuls
  • Pyongyang Orchestra Plays in Paris
  • Korean Care Friendship Network

…plus a number of other items, including a selection of North Korean tours by various tour operators. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.1

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  third volume of the February 2012 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly February 2012.

A bus carrying eight south Korean parliamentarians crosses the DMZ at Paju. (Photo by AP)

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • NK Amends Law on Foreign-funded Banks
  • NK Hires US Firm to Restart Kumgang Tours
  • US Ties Hamstring SK Businesses’ NK Prospects
  • Items Most in Demand in NK in 2011
  • Daewoo to Pioneer NK-China New Zone Advance
  • China to Lease 3 Rason Piers for 50 years
  • ROK Lawmakers Cross DMZ to Investigate Kaesong
  • Rising Demand for Workers at Kaesong
  • Seoul to Allow Upgrading of Kaesong Facilities

…plus a number of other items, including a selection of North Korean tours by various tour operators. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea could have used a Havel by Charles Burton

[This op-ed piece was written by CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton, and published in the Ottawa Citizen on 22 December 2011. Charles Burton is associate professor of political science at Brock University and a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing. –Cankor]

Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-il, both of whom died this week, personified an extreme contrast in leadership styles. Each man oversaw a nation’s response to the dashing of the hope for human dignity and justice that the Marxist-Leninist paradigm once offered. But the ways each went about it could not have been more different.

Vaclav Havel

Both Czechoslovakia and North Korea were deeply affected by the decline of the Soviet Union that began in the mid-1980s and culminated with its collapse in 1991. But North Korea turned inward, replacing Marxist ideology with the even more stifling and arcane Juche doctrine, and intensifying its repressive politics of charismatic personality cult to new extremes. From the late 1980s on, North Korea became even more closed to the outside world, leading to a rapid deterioration of the national economy to the point that more than a million of its people died of starvation in the famine of 1995-’97.

Today North Korea is dependent on food and energy inputs from China, South Korea and the UN, which delivers food aid originating in the United States and other western nations, including Canada. Even so, about half the children in North Korea still suffer from stunted growth and disabilities due to prolonged malnutrition. Meanwhile, the North Korean politicaland military elite lives in high luxury with their Mercedes Benzes, munificent walled housing compounds, flownin supplies of lobster and cognac, jewelry and expensive perfume imported through China; all gifts of the Dear Leader to maintain their support for his domination of a miserably failed state. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korean Message on Reunification

[CanKor received the following message by email from Pyongyang. It was sent from a familiar official email address, but was not signed by any particular DPRK organization. We reproduce it here as we received it on 3 January 2012. –CanKor.]

Dear friends,

As you have heard, the Korean people have undergone the great lose of nation by the sudden demise of the great leader Kim Jong Il on the 17th of December in 2010.

The great leader Kim Jong Il has made the great contribution for the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea and to provide the peace and security of the Korean peninsula in his life time.

Even though the great leader Kim Jong Il passed away so suddenly, the Korean people, holding high the wise leadership of respected and beloved comrade Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of our party and people and the supreme commander of KPA, will continue their struggle for the construction of the prosperous and powerful country and the realization of the reunification of Korea which was the desire of the great leader Kim Jong Il in his life period.

This year is the significant year of when the president Kim Il Sung has announced the 3 great principle of national reunification in 40 years ago, the 15th establishment anniversary of the 3 great charter for the national reunification by leader Kim Jong Il, and the 5th anniversary year of the publication of the historic October 4 Joint Declaration between the north and south. Read the rest of this entry »

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