Tag Archives: dprk

Using Vaccines To Subvert Pyongyang

26 Jan

nk famine victimsI respect those who place human rights above all other considerations in North Korea. The intractable situation on the Korean peninsula is frustrating for reasonable people to accept.

This week, and really for the past few weeks, has seen any illusion of diplomatic or domestic opening stripped naked. On human rights, abundant imagery and other documents exist, to verify the existence of abominable activities, that undermine the rhetoric of  Pyongyang’s “skeptical” supporters. Curtis Melvin believes he has located a new prison camp in Kaechon county. Meanwhile, in structures of another sort, NK watchers believe they have found the site at Punggye-ri of the imminent third nuclear test of which Pyongyang has warned. Finally, almost as a comic coda to a busy week, Pyongyang threatened to nuke itself.

In response, the United Nations passed UNSCR 2087.

On Thursday, the US placed economic sanctions on two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading, was blacklisted by the United Nations on Wednesday.

Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further sanctions it can implement alongside the US, but said the focus for now is to follow security council resolutions.

The resolution said the council “deplores the violations” by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programmes. It does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.

The US had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a security council resolution that imposed new sanctions against Pyongyang, but China rejected that option. Beijing agreed to UN sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea’s 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

Yet, the most desperate form of North Korean-inspired desperation is this – again, very insightful, very commendable – suggestion for “vaccine diplomacy” (via UN Dispatch).

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Question Mark: Jimmy Dushku

12 Jan

Dennis_Quaid_Jimmy_DushkuMaybe, Kim Jong-un has a man crush on Dennis Quaid? Why Jimmy Dushku is the one person among countless millions North Korea has decided to follow on Twitter seems to be the one question no one can answer, including Jimmy Dushku.

He has no personal or political connections to the Hermit Kingdom, much less any affection for its binge-drinking, roller-coaster riding, Kobe Bryant-watching, nuclear-armed supreme leader. “People always ask me how it happened, and I honestly can’t remember,” he says. “It started sometime back in 2010. I was initially surprised, but I always try to make friends with people from all different locations and backgrounds.”

“Out of courtesy,” Dushku says, he followed North Korea’s account in return, and they began communicating. The first tweet below says “Have a nice day, my friend” in Korean.

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North Korea’s Failing Experiments With Wood Burners

5 Jan

6a00e0099229e888330120a7d22e6a970bWood gas cars might be bizarrely antiquated and, as of now, an ecological and technological failure in North Korea. But, there is a scientific method to the hilarious North Korean wood gas madness., and it’s called the Fischer-Tropsch process of energy conversion.

North Korea is unsustainably deforested, according to numerous sources (here and here) Peter Hayes examines the multi-pronged assault which North Korea’s forests are experiencing.

North Korea has experienced extraordinary floods, famines and bushfires (many caused by drooping aluminum power lines setting fire to trees). North Korea is also afflicted by being downwind and close to China, thereby experiencing high levels of acid rain; and by climate change that may aggravate already extreme weather on the peninsula. But the bulk of the environmental losses and vulnerability experienced by North Koreans derives from the disastrous state of its economy and the mass poverty of the population, the shriveled status of its administrative and institutional capacities, the high levels of tension created by the nuclear issue and the continuing division of the Korean Peninsula.

One of the most acute environmental problems in North Korea is deforestation. This problem has a long history, stretching back to over-cutting by Japanese colonialists, the impact of the Korean War and poor reforestation practices by North Korean agencies. The reforestation effort relied on mobilized adult and youth mass labor units working with simple tools. Specialized nurseries and well-trained foresters grew seedlings, but without good fertilizer and seed stock, the success rate was small, especially on steep, north-facing slopes.

These basic problems were made worse by land-use decisions in the early and mid-1990s when food shortages led authorities to direct farmers to cultivate steep slopes, to convert forested areas into agriculture, and in some cases, to actually re-engineer landscapes. When unprecedented floods hit North Korea, much of the topsoil in these areas was washed downstream (also thereby silting up many of the run-of-the-river hydro-electric dams in North Korea).


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