News from North Korea / 北朝鲜新闻报告

Pyongyang’s Korea Central News Agency [KCNA] reports that the two American journalists seized along the Tumen River last March 17 will be tried on June 4. According to the North Korean penal code, their “anti-Choson activities” are supposed to net somewhere between five and ten years of imprisonment. (The creaky yet functional KCNA website, hosted in Japan, has yet to be updated with the news, so for the time being the Voice of America in Seoul is the source on this.)

I’m slowly posting my own footage, sparse and rough as can be, from the Tumen River area on YouTube, where there is a surprisingly abundant amount of such stuff.

Moving freely in the border region, reportedly, is less easy than before, as the PRC has taken the seizure of the journalists as an opportunity to tighten security there, again, according to cell phone conversations with underground refugees on the “Daily NK”.

Report (in Chinese) that the PRC may be training special DPRK troops. This odd report stems apparently from a Radio Free America broadcast; I hope to have more on this topic later.

A refugee from Jagang province in 2006 now living in China reports, on the basis of cell phone conversations with contacts in the DPRK, that the Workers’ Party has started a new vigiliance/work campaign called “Record Every Detail of the Battle!” [OR "150天战斗日志 ".] Somewhat like blogging, there is a quotidian aspect involved, but more likely the setting down of this order for cadre will function as fodder for self-criticisms and strengthen state control. But on an abstract level, some of us might benefit from applying a similar method to ourselves, minus the Kim worship, for the next 150 days. What is your 150-day battle all about? and is it worth recording?

Visits of Chinese delegations to the DPRK include a textile brigade, while a number of Chinese urban cadre were in Pyongyang on May 12 for a sister city conference. North Korean cities represented at the conference included Hamhung (aligned with Shanghai) and Chongjin. This is a somewhat extended story by KCNA standards: does it and other reports imply a warming trend with the PRC? After all, the PRC foreign ministry was suprisingly muted in its failure to join the chorus of denunciations of the recent missile launch.

More PRC dignitaries in Pyongyang yesterday, while DPRK delegation travels to Mongolia for a regional conference on climate change.

A North Korean delegation is in Zimbabwe to meet with Robert Mugabe, who had only praise for Kim Il Sung; however, opposition leaders demanded that the DPRK delegation leave the country at once. Voice of America reports on warming trends between DPRK and Zimbabwe, noting that Mugabe praised the recent missile launch from the North. Metro Zimbabwe implies that the Koreans are mainly interested in their country’s uranium deposits. Blogger Mick Hartley offers a solid and brief digest of the meeting of the delegation with Mugabe’s officials.
More “remains of DPRK patriots,” according to KCNA, have been dug up in Kangwon province, evidence of US atrocities to add to digs there in 2003 and 2007. This reminds me of a stack of photos I have from Record Group 153 in the National Archives of North Korean atrocities during the war, but I’ll refrain from posting those just yet.

KWC 16 (2)

However, this current report indicates that there isn’t much of anything resembling a “warming trend” in relations with the U.S.; if anything, the North is stacking up issue after issue on the table in anticipation of needing the ammo if in fact Obama ever gets around to opening that chain-mail fist he talked about so eloquently.

And a strange little opening by a North Korean diplomat — does this mean the DPRK wants help with broadband technology, but wants us to respect their regime’s method of governance?