Showing posts with label North Korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Korea. Show all posts

June 17, 2019

China is Raiding North Korean Defectors and Throwing Their Underground Railroad Off Its Tracks

                         Image result for china raids on north korean defectors

SEOUL (Reuters) - A decade after leaving her family behind to flee North Korea, the defector was overwhelmed with excitement when she spoke to her 22-year-old son on the phone for the first time in May after he too escaped into China.  While speaking to him again on the phone days later, however, she listened in horror as the safe house where her son and four other North Korean escapees were hiding was raided by Chinese authorities. 
“I heard voices, someone saying ‘shut up’ in Chinese,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her son’s safety. “Then the line was cut off, and I heard later he was caught.” 
The woman, now living in South Korea, said she heard rumors her son is being held in a Chinese prison near the North Korean border but has had no official news of his whereabouts. 
At least 30 North Korean escapees have been rounded up in a string of raids across China since mid-April, according to family members and activist groups. 
It is not clear whether this is part of a larger crackdown by China, but activists say the raids have disrupted parts of the informal network of brokers, charities, and middlemen who have been dubbed the North Korean “Underground Railroad”. 
“The crackdown is severe,” said Y. H. Kim, chairman of the North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association of Korea. 
Most worrisome for activists is that the arrests largely occurred away from the North Korean border – an area dubbed the “red zone” where most escapees get caught - and included rare raids on at least two safe houses. 
“Raiding a house? I’ve only seen two or three times,” said Kim, who left North Korea in 1988 and has acted as a middleman for the past 15 years, connecting donors with brokers who help defectors. 
“You get caught on the way, you get caught moving. But getting caught at a home, you can count on one hand.” 
The increase in arrests is likely driven by multiple factors, including deteriorating economic conditions in North Korea and China’s concern about the potential for a big influx of refugees, said Kim Seung-eun, a pastor at Seoul’s Caleb Mission Church, which helps defectors escape. 
“In the past, up to half a million North Korean defectors came to China,” Kim said, citing the period in the 1990s when famine struck North Korea. “A lot of these arrests have to do with China wanting to prevent this again.”  
Kim Jeong-Cheol already lost his brother trying to escape from North Korea, and now fears his sister will meet a similar fate after she was caught by Chinese authorities. 
“My elder brother was caught in 2005, and he went to a political prison and was executed in North Korea,” Kim told Reuters. “That’s why my sister will surely die if she goes back there. What sin is it for a man to leave because he’s hungry and about to die?” 
Reuters was unable to verify the fate of Kim’s brother or sister. Calls to the North Korean embassy in Beijing were not answered. 
Activist groups and lawyers seeking to help the families say there is no sign China has deported the recently arrested North Koreans yet, and their status is unknown. 
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which does not typically acknowledge arrests of individual North Korean escapees, said it had no information about the raids or status of detainees. 
“We do not know about the situation to which you are referring,” the ministry said in a statement when asked by Reuters. 
North Koreans who enter China illegally because of economic reasons are not refugees, it added. 
“They use illegal channels to enter China, breaking Chinese law and damaging order for China’s entry and exit management,” the ministry said. “For North Koreans who illegally enter the country, China handles them under the principled stance of domestic and international law and humanitarianism.” 
South Korea’s government said it tries to ensure North Korean defectors can reach their desired destinations safely and swiftly without being forcibly sent back to the North, but declined to provide details, citing defectors’ safety and diplomatic relations. 
When another woman - who also asked to be unnamed for her family’s safety - escaped from North Korea eight years ago, she promised her sister and mother she would work to bring them out later. 
In January, however, her mother died of cancer, she said. 
On her death bed, her mother wrote a message on her palm pleading for her remaining daughter to escape North Korea. 
“It will haunt me for the rest of my life that I didn’t keep my promise,” said woman, who now lives in South Korea. 
Her 27-year-old sister was in a group of four defectors who made it all the way to Nanning, near the border with Vietnam, before being caught. 
“When you get there, you think you’re almost home free,” she said. “You think you’re safe.” 


There are no hard statistics on how many North Koreans try to leave their country, but South Korea, where most defectors try to go, says the number safely arriving in the South dropped after Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011. 
In 2018 about 1,137 North Korean defectors entered South Korea, compared to 2,706 in 2011. 
Observers say the drop is partly because of increased security and crackdowns in both North Korea and China. 
Over the past year, more cameras and updated guard posts have been seen at the border, said Kang Dong-wan, who heads an official North Korean defector resettlement organization in South Korea and often travels to the border between China and North Korea. 
“Kim Jong Un’s policy itself is tightening its grip on defection,” he said. “Such changes led to stronger crackdowns in China as well.” 
Under President Xi Jinping, China has also cracked down on a variety of other activities, including illicit drugs, which are sometimes smuggled by the same people who transport escapees, said one activist who asked not to be named due to the sensitive work. 
North Koreans who enter China illegally face numerous threats, including from the criminal networks they often have to turn to for help. 
Tens of thousands of women and girls trying to flee North Korea have been pressed into prostitution, forced marriage, or cybersex operations in China, according to a report last month by the non-profit Korea Future Initiative. 


An activist at another organization that helps spirit defectors out of North Korea said so far its network had not been affected, but they were concerned about networks being targeted and safe houses being raided. 
“That is a bit of a different level, more targeted and acting on intelligence that they may have been sitting on to smash up networks,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect the organization’s work.  Y. H. Kim, of the Refugees Human Rights Association, said the raids raised concerns that Chinese authorities had infiltrated some smuggling networks, possibly with the aid of North Korean intelligence agents. 
“I don’t know about other organizations, but no one is moving in our organization right now,” he said. “Because everyone who moves is caught.” 
Reporting by Josh Smith and Joyce Lee. Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington. Editing by Lincoln Feast.

June 28, 2018

North Korea is Rushing The Upgrading of Nuclear Reactors, Despite Trump Summit

Part of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear research site, in a satellite image captured on June 21 by Airbus Defence & Space.
Part of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear research site, in a satellite image captured on June 21 by Airbus Defence & Space. PHOTO: AIRBUS DEFENCE & SPACE/38 NORTH
SEOUL—North Korea is continuing to develop infrastructure at its nuclear research center at a rapid pace, according to new satellite imagery of the facility, even as the U.S. looks for concrete steps by Pyongyang toward denuclearization.
The analysis, published by 38 North, a North Korea-focused website published by the Stimson Center in Washington, found that Pyongyang appeared to have modified the cooling system of its plutonium-production reactor and erected a new building near the cooling tower. New construction could also be observed at the site’s experimental light-water reactor, based on the images captured last week.
While the images appear to show no immediate effort by the North to begin denuclearization at its key nuclear research site, experts cautioned against relying solely on the satellite pictures as proof of duplicity on the regime’s part.

The Trump-Kim Summit: Big Promises, Little Substance
At an unprecedented summit in Singapore, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un displayed friendliness, but talks offered few specifics on denuclearization. WSJ's Eun-Young Jeong reports from the city-state. Illustration: Sharon Shi


President Donald Trumpsaid after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore that he believed Mr. Kim had committed to complete denuclearization and that “he will start that process right away.”
“We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said at the time.
The 38 North analysts, Frank Pabian, Joseph Bermudez and Jack Liu, said that while construction has proceeded after the North’s latest commitment to disarm, they expected it to be “business as usual” at the nuclear facility “until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang.”
“These infrastructure developments provide limited insight into the future direction of North Korea’s nuclear program,” said Andrea Berger, a London-based senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif. “However, they highlight the likelihood that North Korea has not pressed pause on its general nuclear and missile activities while talks are ongoing.”
Among the findings of the 38 North report was that the necessary infrastructure for the North to begin operations at its experimental light-water reactor “appear externally complete,” though it wasn’t clear whether operations had begun. The analysis was based on commercial satellite imagery of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear research site captured on June 21 by Airbus Defence & Space.
Ahead of the Singapore summit with Mr. Trump, North Korea invited journalists to watch it blow up its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in its mountainous northeast as a show of its good faith. North Korea didn’t invite any experts, some of whom had previously said that the site was likely already unusable.
Mr. Kim had said in April that he considered the country’s nuclear program complete, and that no further tests were needed.
Separately, Mr. Trump told reporters in Singapore that Mr. Kim had told him North Korea was destroying a “major missile-engine testing site,” which he described as another sign of North Korea’s sincerity in denuclearizing.
Write to Jonathan Cheng at

June 19, 2018

Susan Rice, "Kim Jong Un Beat Trump at Meeting"

🦊 He came out with the meeting with the korean "Rocket Man" with pants on but without his wallet nor underwear. But Guess what? He is winning with the hearrtless 35% on caging kids. What a man!
What a country!

November 24, 2017

Video Shows How North Korean Border Guard Dashes to Freedom or Death

NPR by 

Newly released closed-circuit television footage shows a North Korean
soldier sprinting south across the border last week while his fellow soldiers fire on him.
Screengrab by NPR/United Nations Command
The closed-circuit television footage is silent, but that makes it no less dramatic.
A jeep speeds through the North Korean countryside, crossing what is known as the 72-Hour Bridge.
Inside the vehicle is a North Korean soldier, making a desperate escape. All but the headlights disappear behind tree cover. 
The video changes. We see North Korean soldiers running from their posts.
The video shifts again. The jeep is stuck in a ditch. The driver leaps from it, and he sprints south under gunfire from his fellow soldiers. In a separate frame, we see him run across the border.
In pursuit, a North Korean soldier also runs across the border. He looks down and seems to realize what he has done. He turns around and dodges behind a building on the North Korean side.
The episode transpired on Nov. 13 in the Joint Security Area, according to The Associated Press.
Infrared video shows South Korean soldiers 40 minutes later, crawling toward the defector, who lies wounded about 55 yards south of the border. They drag him to safety; he is then taken aboard a U.S. Black Hawk military helicopter and rushed into surgery at a hospital near Seoul.

The Joint Security Area is the only portion of the border where soldiers from the two countries stand just feet apart — and this is one of the only areas where a sprint across is feasible, The New York Times reports. The last time a North Korean soldier defected across the Joint Security Area was 2007.
Footage of the incident was released this week by the American-led United Nations Command, which administers the site on the southern side of the border. The Joint Security Area lies within the Demilitarized Zone.
The U.N. Command said that it had completed its investigation of the incident and that the North Korean army had violated the U.N. Armistice Agreement twice: by firing weapons across the border and when the North Korean soldier briefly crossed the border chasing the defector.
Gen. Vincent Brooks, the American who leads the U.N. Command, said in a statementdated Tuesday that the battalion acted "in a manner that is consistent with the Armistice Agreement, namely — to respect the Demilitarized Zone and to take actions that deter a resumption of hostilities. The armistice agreement was challenged, but it remains in place."
The defector is being identified only with the surname Oh, according to Reuters. In the gunfire during his escape, he was shot five times.
Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a surgeon who treated Oh after his escape, told outlets, including the Times, that when doctors performed surgery on his intestinal wounds, they found parasitic worms 11 inches long.
"In my 20 years as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a medical textbook," Lee said.
But the Times reports that the parasites should come as no surprise:
"Defectors to the South have cited the existence of parasites and abysmal nutrition. Because it lacks chemical fertilizers, North Korea still relies on human excrement to fertilize its fields, helping parasites to spread, the experts said.
"In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors checked a sample of 17 female defectors from North Korea and found seven of them infected with parasitic worms."
Lee told a news conference on Wednesday that the man had regained consciousness and was now stable.
"He is fine," Lee said, according to Reuters. "He's not going to die."

August 20, 2017

How Was North Korea Allowed to Go Nuclear? The Road to The Nuke

Tensions between the United States and North Korea appear to be reaching a boiling point.

On the one hand, President Donald Trump made it clear that America will respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” should North Korea continue its threats. On the other hand, North Korea is reportedly examining Guam as a potential target for a missile attack.

There are currently six thousand U.S. military personnel on Guam — an island 2,231 miles away from North Korea.

Further, a report came out on Tuesday indicating that North Korea successfully developed miniaturized nuclear warheads capable of fitting inside their missiles... and reaching the U.S.

The Arms Control Association estimates that North Korea has up to ten nuclear weapons in its stockpile. But the path to them becoming a nuclear threat began long before the Trump, Obama, or Bush administrations.

In 1993, a U.S. satellite picked up an image at a facility in Yongbyon that gave cause for alarm. The image revealed a plant with the capability to develop weapons-grade plutonium — a vital ingredient in nuclear weapons.

As a result — William Perry — Clinton's Secretary of Defense drew up a plan to take out the Yongbyon plant with F-117s — which at the time was the primary stealth aircraft in the U.S. arsenal. In 1994, it appeared that the decision to strike might be given the green light.

The attack never happened, though. Perry had concerns about the blowback that would fall on South Korea following such an operation.

At the time, North Korea was ill-prepared for any military engagement, as its chief economic supporter, the former USSR, had greatly reduced its financial relationship with the East Asian state. Moscow itself was still reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union two years prior, and North Korea was about to face another beast in itself: a famine that would kill one-to-three million of its people.

After weighing the options for about a year, the Clinton administration picked diplomacy. On October 18, 1994, Clinton announced the United States had made a deal with North Korea. In exchange for freezing its nuclear program, Clinton offered 4 billion in energy aid to the struggling nation (costs which Japan and South Korea would later fulfill) and two state-of-the-art nuclear electric generating plants.

Clinton said:

Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea's nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It's a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.

But North Korea never planned to keep to the terms of the deal. The agreement crumbled in 2002, and in 2003, North Korea withdrew from Non-Proliferation Treaty, echoing the position it had in 1994, before Clinton's failed diplomatic effort was put into play.

Its first nuclear test happened in 2006 with materials produced from the facility Clinton's senior military leaders were thinking of destroying in 1994 — Yongbyon.

Following the test in 2006, the New York Times reported:

Three years ago, just as President Bush was sending American troops toward Iraq, the North threw out the few remaining weapons inspectors living at their nuclear complex in Yongbyon, and moved 8,000 nuclear fuel rods they had kept under lock and key.

Those rods contained enough plutonium, experts said, to produce five or six nuclear weapons, though it is unclear how many the North now stockpiles.

In fact, the Yongbyon site would become the beacon of North Korea's nuclear program. The biggest concern regarding the facility is its desire to produce a uranium-based device.

At this time, there is no evidence to back up North Korea's claim of possessing thermonuclear weapons. To confirm such a claim, air particles in the atmosphere would need to be analyzed. Regardless, North Korea claims to have a hydrogen bomb after its 2016 underground nuclear test, though, U.S. intelligence only believes they have atomic weapons in their possession.

Such news would be cause for concern, as hydrogen bombs are much deadlier and destructive than atom bombs.

According to The Diplomat, North Korea's nuclear efforts rely on Yongbyon:

An assessment by experts from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the National Defense University released last year outlines several scenarios for nuclear stockpile growth in North Korea, most hinging on the country’s ability to steadily use Yongbyon and other facilities to generate plutonium and possibly uranium.

A U.S. intelligence analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, emphasized just how significant the Yongbyon site is.

“The DPRK is a state with few resources. They have little to trade, and land is at a premium. Though they can squirrel some things around, the country['s] resources limit that ability. Effectively they have to put most of their most valuable eggs into one, vulnerable and well-known basket: Yongbyon.” The analyst continued, “Yongbyon is absolutely critical. Take it out, and it's game over for North Korea's nuclear program.”

While we can't go back and change the past, we can learn from it. The Clinton administration put a Band-Aid on an arterial bleed. 23 years later, here we are with a nuclear-armed North Korea and tensions on the peninsula at a fever pitch.

Independant journal Review

June 19, 2017

Otto Warmbier,Declared Dead But The N.Koreans Had killed him Before He Left

 Otto Wambier Feb 2016 at hands of his killers
They killed this young man for no reason what so ever but then killing is so natural there and life has no meaning at all for everyone but their leaders. adamfoxie

Otto Warmbier, the American student who was in a coma after his release from captivity in North Korea, has died, his family said in a statement.
"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home," read a statement signed by his parents, Fred and Cindy. "Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day of the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace," they wrote. "He was home and we believe he could sense that."
The North Korean government said the University of Virginia student, who was held for 17 months, fell into a coma after contracting botulism and ingesting a sleeping pill. But doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have disputed this assessment and said there was "no evidence" of "active botulism."
North Korea detained Warmbier in January 2016 after he was accused of a "hostile act" while on a group tour of the reclusive and rogue state. Warmbier was accused of stealing a poster at his hotel in Pyongyang, and after a short trial, Warmbier read a prepared statement and cried. He was sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor.
A statement from President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump offered their condolences to the Warmbier family. "Otto's fate deepens my Administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency," the statement read.
Sen. John McCain went further.
"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime," the Republican from Arizona said in a statement. "In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder."  

Warmbier before reading a statement in February 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Kim Kwang Hyon / AP
Warmbier before reading a statement in February 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Warmbier was released last Tuesday and was immediately taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where doctors later said he was unresponsive to verbal cues and had not spoken.
According to his doctors — who said they were unaware of the treatment he received — brain scans sent from North Korea in April 2016 indicated that a brain injury likely occurred weeks prior.
"Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma — and we don't — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long," said his father, Fred Warmbier, at a press conference last Thursday. Warmbier's father, Fred, also said that he had only recently learned that his son was in a coma for nearly his entire imprisonment.
"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son and no excuse for the way they have treated so many others," Fred said.
Talal Ansari
Talal Ansari

May 3, 2017

Major Eastern Cities Within Range of North Korea Missiles

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