DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.10

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.10

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • N. Korea signs air service deal with UAE
  • Knowledge Sharing Promotes Growth, Understanding
  • NK Missing `Golden Moment’ to Stem TB
  • North, South Groups Remember Independence Fighter
  • NK Cabinet “Flexing Muscles”
  • New Consumer Culture Seen Emerging in NK
  • NK Has 1.5 Million Mobile Subscribers
  • More Chinese Inroads into Rason?
  • ROK May Build 2 More Daycare Centers at Kaesong

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

Books: Escape From Camp 14

ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14, by Blaine Harden. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2012. X 224 pp. hardcover. ISBN 978-0670023325. Reviewed by CanKor “Human Factor” editor Jack Kim.

For those who disbelieved, and continue to disbelieve, North Korean refugees when they first started trickling in, Shin Dong Hyuk’s story is the mother of them all. Born in a concentration camp, witness to unspeakable horrors, the protagonist of an amazing escape from a country that condemned him even before he was born. The story is, well, far too fantastic. It is unbelievable.

His story has been well documented in the media. After all, the book hit double digits on the amazon.com best seller list. According to Shin, he was born in Camp 14 to inmates of the camp, grew up there, watched his mother and brother executed, and serendipitously managed to escape not only the camp, but the DPRK itself. According to the author, Shin describes nonchalantly every day features of the camp that to those of us fortunate enough to live outside its fences, stir up Holocaust imagery: starvation, public executions, camp guards savagely beating inmates. He describes how snitching became a method of survival, to the point that he reverses previous accounts of his life in the book by admitting that this very snitching led to the execution of his mother and brother. Read the rest of this entry »

The Day After, by Bill Keller

[CanKor Brain Trust member Hark Kroll alerted us to this opinion piece published in The New York Times on 29 April 2012. Op-Ed Columnist Bill Keller begins with the now familiar rehearsing of DPRK human rights violations, mentioning several books published recently, including CanKor Brain Trust member David Hawk’s updated “The Hidden Gulag”. But the more interesting part of this article is contained at the end, where Keller reviews the questions posed by the “engagement camp” and the “regime-change camp”, concluding that both are missing the most pertinent questions about what is to happen after an eventual collapse in North Korea. –CanKor]

Bill Keller (photo by Tony Cenicola, The New York Times)

THE one thing everyone knows about North Korea is that we know very little about North Korea, except that it is miserable, totalitarian, nuclear and erratic. It is the hermit kingdom, the dark side of the moon.

But thanks to many thousands of refugees who have reached freedom by way of a long underground railroad through China, we know a lot more now about the grim reality. We understand better how the government sustains its dreadful power, and where that power could be faltering. Among people who follow the country closely, there is fresh discussion of whether this most durable of monster-states could be nearing its end days, and what we should do about it.

In recent weeks the news spotlight has focused on the 29-year-old novice tyrant Kim Jong-un, performing his family’s time-tested repertoire of bellicose bluster. Like a lunatic waving an assault rifle as he dances on a high window ledge, Kim galvanizes our attention.

But the more interesting story is down below. Read the rest of this entry »

Anonymous: Why North Korean Refugees Remain Nameless

So if the reports are true, China has repatriated the 31 refugees that South Korea and the NGO community have pleaded so earnestly not to. Hearing the news, I can’t say I’m surprised – after all, as I predicted a few days ago, the new interim nuclear deal the DPRK came to terms with the Americans literally pushed the refugee news off the media pages, giving Beijing the cover to quietly send the North Koreans back to what we can only hope is lenient punishment. Part of me can’t but help think of the words Jim McKay said after the disastrous German attempt at rescuing the Israeli hostages at Munich: “they’re all gone.”

I can’t help but think of how much this is non-news, especially contrasted to what this week came out as what could be the largest hyped human rights video of all time: Kony 2012. With over 50 million views, this dwarfs the number of folks worldwide who came out to protest China’s planned repatriation of the 31. Part of Invisible Children’s success is the personalization of the issue. By focusing the message on to one person, Joseph Kony, they’ve successfully turned what is a undoubtedly a complex issue into a simple anthropomorphic exercise: make Kony known, and maybe, just maybe, Dorothy, perhaps he’ll turn himself in.

The 31, and North Korean refugees in general, do not have that luxury. Read the rest of this entry »

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