DPRK Business Monthly Volume IV, 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  current February 2013 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly Volume IV, No.1

Solar-powered streetlamps in Pyongyang

Solar-powered streetlamps in Pyongyang

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • PRC Firm to Invest in NK Gold Mine, Hotel
  • Russia to Go Ahead with Pipeline
  • Phoenix regains Sinji brand name
  • Short-sighted Sanctions Hurt Ordinary People
  • NGO Initiatives in the DPRK: Waves 4 Water
  • Most ROK Firms Interested in Inter-Korean Economic Ties
  • Inter-Korean Trade Hits Record High in 2012
  • Internet Access for Visitors
  • Pyongyang Stores Selling More NK-made Goods
  • Pyongyang Gets Solar Street Lamps
  • NK’s Intranet Increases Cyber Courses
  • JV Pharmacy Open 24 Hours in Pyongyang
  • DPRK Eyes “World-class Tourism Resorts”
  • China to Start Electricity Supply to Rason

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

Why is Russia Favored by Mongolia and North Korea? by Jargalsaikhan Mendee

[Long-time friend of CanKor, Jargalsaikhan Mendee is a political science PhD student at the University of British Columbia. Col. Mendee has previously worked at the Mongolian Ministry of Defense, Embassy in Washington, DC, and at the Institute for Strategic Studies. He has taken special interest in military transitions in Mongoloa and has compared these to similar processes happening in the DPRK. His paper “Civil-Military Relations in a Dictatorship: North Korea” appears as Chapter 7 in The Routledge Handbook of Civil-Military Relations (edited by Thomas C. Bruneau and Florina Cristiana Matei; published 10 September 2012, Hardback, ISBN: 978-0-415-78273-9, 380 pp., $200.00). The current article was published on 21 August 2012 in PacNet #52, a publication of the Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu, Hawaii. –CanKor]

Russia is favored by Mongolia and North Korea just as the United States is welcomed by some of its Southeast Asian partners. At the same time, Mongolia and especially North Korea provide opportunities for Russia to raise its stakes in Northeast Asian matters.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and relative inattention by the Kremlin in the 1990s, Ulaanbaatar and Pyongyang never abandoned their attempts to renew ties with Russia. High-ranking political and military officials constantly made calls to advance political, military, economic, and cultural ties with Moscow. Positive responses came after a decade, under Russian President Putin. Putin’s visit to the DPRK and Mongolia in 2000 demonstrated the Kremlin’s new emphasis on two its former allies, whose industrial facilities and enterprises were built with Soviet assistance and technology. Their treaties of mutual assistance with Russia were replaced by treaties of good neighborliness in 1993 (Mongolia) and 2001 (North Korea). And the $11 billion debts incurred during the Soviet era, were resolved favorably for Mongolians in 2003 and North Koreans in 2012. As a result, Russia seems to have secured its stake in key infrastructure development projects. In North Korea, Russia will invest in the trans-Korean railway, a gas pipeline, special economic zones, and education. Russia will invest in the trans-Mongolian railway, its extension, and the mining of uranium and aluminum in Mongolia. Economic cooperation with Mongolia and North Korea will play an important role in Putin’s agenda to develop Russia’s long-neglected Far East and Siberia and to secure Chinese and East Asian markets for its mineral exports. Read the rest of this entry »

Rare earths bankroll North Korea’s future, by Leonid Petrov

[CanKor Brain Trust member Leonid A Petrov PhD is a lecturer in Korean studies at the School of Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. This article first appeared in Asia Times on 8 August 2012. –CanKor]

North Korea is sitting on around 200 different minerals, including a large number of rare earth metals, hidden in its mountains.

Those who travel to North Korea regularly might have noticed that the last couple of years have brought significant improvement in the country’s economic situation. Newly built high-rise apartments, modern cars on the roads and improved infrastructure come as a surprise to visitors. It begs the question, where does Pyongyang get the money from? The ambitious rocket and nuclear programs, which North Korea continues to pursue despite international condemnation, are expensive and harmful to its economy.
International sanctions continue to bite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s foreign trade and investment prospects. Regular floods and droughts, animal epidemics and other natural disasters hit the fragile economy even harder.

According to expert estimations, the DPRK should have ceased to exist in the mid-1990s, after the Communist Bloc collapsed and Kim Il-Sung died. But North Korea has fully recovered after the famine and even shows steady signs of economic growth. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.6

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 August 2012 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly Vol III, No.6

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • Roadblock Removed—The Issue of NK Debt to Russia Settled
  • Breaking Down Barriers with Basketball
  • UN Hopes for N-S Teams for Universiade
  • Energy-short NK Promoting Wind Power
  • China Building Roads, Railways Near NK Border
  • ROK Kaesong Firms Start to Pay Taxes to NK

…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 as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control, by Hans-Joachim Schmidt

[This is a paper for German readers of CanKor. The author, Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmidt, is Senior Research Fellow at the Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK) – also known in English as Peace Research Institute Frankfurt/M (PRIF) – and an expert on the Six-Party Talks. Dr. Schmidt is a good friend of CanKor and has previously submitted his work for our benefit. We thank the author for making the full German version of this paper available to CanKor. A brief summary of his latest paper follows here in both English and German. For the full version of the German paper, please follow this link: Nordkorea als Nuklearmacht – Chancen der Kontrolle, or by clicking on the image of the title page below. – CanKor]

North Korea as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control

In the latest HSFK-Report, Hans-Joachim Schmidt evaluates the prospects of both cooperative and confrontational approaches against the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Since its first nuclear test in 2006, a nuclear North Korea cannot be prevented anymore. Therefore, one major aim of international politics must be to delay, constrain and control the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

In HSFK-Report 1/2012, Nordkorea als Nuklearmacht – Chancen der Kontrolle (North Korea as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control), Hans-Joachim Schmidt presents the multifaceted regional and global threats of both conventional and nuclear armament of North Korea and analyzes how the North Korean leadership can be urged to follow its international commitments.

He examines problems and prospects of cooperative and confrontational approaches by South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia who seek a political arrangement with North Korea regarding nuclear technology. Against the background of their different interests, the author develops specific propositions for a relaunch of the six-party talks following the presidential elections in the USA and South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor Editor Interviewed on Russian Television

‘Food shortage not No.1 priority for deal’

Russia Today, 1 March 2012

Erich Weingartner, a Canadian humanitarian affairs consultant, believes the food shortage and leadership change in North Korea are not primary driving forces behind the agreement.

The country’s always short of food,” he noted in an interview with RT, “Right now probably not as desperately in need as it was a year ago. They have just received in January some 500,000 tons of food from China, so this is not the number one priority for the particular action that’s happening right now.

Weingartner also pointed to the fact that the agreement was actually discussed by the US and North Korea prior to Kim Jong Il’s death. However, he also noted that the present deal is not a formal agreement, but is more in line with what North Korea likes to call “words for words” and “actions for actions.”“So it depends not only on North Korea and what they do, but it also depends on how the US is going to react in the next period of time and whether or not the six-party talks process gets back on track, and what happens in that regard.

He said the other five parties, namely South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States, had to do their part in the negotiations.

As for the drills recently conducted by the US and South Korea, Weingartner took note of the fact that North Korea isn’t the only cause of concern for America in the region.

The drills are an annual event and have to do partly with North Korea and the threat from North Korea, but also partly the US asserting its power in the region. And so it has as much to do with the US facing China and protecting its allies in Northeast Asia, as well as protecting economic interests there.

He said China was not likely to appreciate the exercises.

Related articles

Nautilus Institute: Kim Jong Il’s Death Suggests Continuity Plus Opportunity to Engage

English: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Kim Jong Il

In the latest NAPSNet Policy Forum, Peter Hayes, Scott Bruce, and David von Hippel of the Nautilus Institute, write, “Ironically, Kim Jong Il’s death may make Korea the land of the morning calm for at least a year, during which political transitions will also occur in China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States… Unless Kim Jong Un throws the nuclear strategy out the window and starts again, the outlines of the engagement agenda are already clear—send the North Koreans energy and food aid to meet both short-term humanitarian and medium/long-term development needs, help them build a safe small light water reactor, and bring them into an international enrichment consortium that would lead them to reveal the sum total of their enrichment program.”

Full Report below:


I. Introduction
II. Report by Peter Hayes, Scott Bruce, and David von Hippel
III. Nautilus invites your responses

Read the rest of this entry »

Russia Gets Into the Act, by Jeremy Paltiel

[DPRK leader Kim Jong Il made headlines again as he traveled to Russia for talks with President Medvedev. What was the purpose of this trip, and what’s in it for the Russians? CanKor Brain Trust member Jeremy Paltiel, Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, looks at the possibility of a win-win outcome for all sides. –CanKor.]

Kim Jong Il with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev (Photo by Reuters)

For months now, Kim Jong-il has been trying without success to escape from the international straitjacket he imposed on himself since the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. He has appealed for international aid without much response. He has offered unconditional talks with the US; he has alternately engaged and threatened the ROK, most recently evicting South Koreans form the Mt Kumgang “Peace Village”; he has visited China on three occasions… all of which seemed only to magnify his isolation and dependence on his sole ally. With only four months until his beleaguered garrison satrapy is slated to become a “strong and prosperous country” he ventured back to the land of his birth, travelling to the Russian Far East to meet Russian President Medvedev. Russia has been eager to get back into the game without antagonizing its partners in the Six Party talks or throwing good money after bad on an unreliable former client. Read the rest of this entry »

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