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North Korea

Economy

Russian Oligarchs Turn To Crypto To Skirt Sanctions

Faced with a $32 billion drop in their wealth this year, Russian oligarchs are looking for assets to allow them to overcome sanctions that will increase with the invasion of Ukraine. Familiar with crises, they see bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as an escape from the hegemony of the dollar, and a way to diversify their holdings.

With the European Union and the United States delivering the harshest ever sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, ultra-wealthy Russians are turning to new tech to preserve their financial assets. Cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin (circa $32,000) and ethereum (circa $2,470) can be seen, rightly or wrongly, as life savers during financial and geopolitical crises that threaten private assets.

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Deadly Japan Fire, France Blocks UK Travelers, Mars’ Grand Canyon Water

👋 Zdravo!*

Welcome to Friday, where Purdue Pharma’s $4.5 billion opioid settlement is overturned, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un celebrates his 10th year in office and water is found in Mars’ Grand Canyon. Weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique also looks at the reasons behind the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure to properly run national governments.

[*Serbian]

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Duped By North Korean Propaganda, Japanese Expats Are Suing Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, has been summoned to appear in a Japanese courthouse. Five people who moved to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) between 1959 and 1984 are seeking 500 million yen (3.8 million euros) in damages from the North Korean government for deceiving them with promises of a prosperous life they never found in the totalitarian state, South Korean daily Segye Ilbo reports.

The plaintiffs, four women and one man, are among the estimated 93,000 Japanese-Koreans and other Japanese who moved to North Korea in the latter half of the previous century, often persuaded by a propaganda project (Zainichi Chosenjin no Kikan Jigyo) to attract immigrant workers. The targeted campaign was carried out through the General Association of Koreans in Japan (Chongryon), the de facto representative of North Korea in Japan, touting life in the Northern peninsula as "paradise on Earth."

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No Free Lunch: What Trump Must Face On North Korean Nukes

The U.S. may need to accept that Pyongyang doesn't give up its nuclear program.

WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump flew to Hanoi, Vietnam, this week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had a surprise announcement: Trump and Kim would meet earlier than expected, at a dinner on the first evening. The late announcement led skeptics to describe the dinner as an attempt to overshadow Michael Cohen's embarrassing testimony about his work for Trump. But the last-minute dinner raised unexpected challenges. The two sides apparently struggled over the menu, with the White House pressing for simpler fare.

Even as a first-time novelist, I know this is called "foreshadowing."

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North Korea
Yann Rousseau

Pyongyang Potential: Could North Korea's Economy Take Off?

With its mineral resources and cheap labor, the country has significant potential for growth, but economic openness could undermine its dictatorship.

SEOUL — Last month, Ian Bennett hosted a start-up workshop in Pyongyang. Several times a year, the computer scientist travels to North Korea to run training seminars organized by the Singaporean NGO, Choson Exchange. The workshops feature foreign professionals introducing North Korean workers to marketing skills, economic analysis and sales techniques.

"There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit," says Bennett. "Many people who seek to develop these new skills have experienced famine in the 1990s, and now know they can't rely any longer on the state alone. Those who have not tried to fend for themselves in the past often die."

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North Korea
Brian Murphy

North Korean Defectors Watch Summit With Hope, Trepidation

SEOUL - They are the simplest of dreams.

To see familiar streets once more. Or walk along a river at the center of childhood memories. Or throw a big party with wine.

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North Korea

Next On The Korean Peninsula: Trump And Pyongyang Nukes

Kim Jong Un's historic call for peace also included an unspoken message to U.S. President Donald Trump: North Korea won't surrender its nuclear weapons easily.

The agreement Kim reached Friday with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in declared "a new era of peace" and sought a formal end to the seven-decade-old Korean War. While it said both countries committed to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, it gave no details on concrete steps to achieve it.

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North Korea
Yann Rousseau

How Kim Jong-un's Nuclear Arsenal Could Lead Us To Peace

North Korea may now be too dangerous to be attacked. But that may force all to find a diplomatic solution.

-OpEd-

PARIS — As soon as North Korea's sixth nuclear test was announced on Sunday, the litany of condemnations against Kim Jong-un's umpteenth "provocation" started up yet again. But despite all the "strong condemnations," the world's most powerful countries will most likely prove incapable of forging a coherent response. The regime in Pyongyang, meanwhile, is convinced that it has finally attained the key to peace.

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North Korea
Tori Otten

North Korea, Time To Face The Music

-Analysis-

As Kim Jong-un again edges the world closer to an unthinkable nuclear showdown, the tribulations of a humble music store owner in Berlin may help explain why it's so hard to figure out what to do with North Korea.

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North Korea
Stuart Richardson

Did Donald Send Dennis? A Reality Check In Pyongyang

Basketball star-cum-celebrity apprentice-cum-cultural envoy Dennis Rodman is in North Korea for yet another rendezvous with his "lifelong friend" Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of the hermit kingdom. When Rodman last visited Pyongyang in 2013, he blasted then President Barack Obama for nurturing hostile relations between the U.S. and the pariah state. But now, under Donald Trump's watch, the flamboyant celebrity's travel plans take on a whole other dimension.

Indeed, Trump is also a friend of Rodman's, and both have brought a similar Reality TV flare to the serious business of international politics. As Rodman prepared for his expedition Monday, President Trump was busy turning his Cabinet meeting into a strange episode of how-much-I-love-my-boss. One-by-one, in front of the television cameras, Trump's cabinet secretaries showered him in stilted praise reminiscent of contestants' eleventh-hour flattery when he hosted the Celebrity Apprentice. Or, perhaps, a Kim Jong-un appearance before the Central Committee?

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North Korea
Nicola Busca

Pyongyang Puts On A Modern Face But Misery Lingers

An Italian reporter gets a rare glimpse past the North Korean regime's attempt to portray the country in a positive new light.

PYONGYANG — Every year North Koreans spend months preparing the capital for the country's most important holiday: the birthday of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung.

No expense is spared on "The Day of the Sun," the April 15 festivities commemorating the hermit nation's "eternal president."

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North Korea
Roy Greenburgh

Poisoning Relations, From Pyongyang To Moscow

-Analysis-

When a hit has been ordered, the chosen method for assassination is ultimately of secondary importance. A "successful" car bomb, stabbing or long-distance rifle shot all have the same final result for the intended victim. Still, there's something about poisoning. The Shakespearean plotting and preparation required to secure and administer the fatal potion give an extra icy chill to premeditated murder at its most devious.

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North Korea

Spotlight: Happy Birthday Kim Jong-Un!?

Kim Jong-un will be celebrating his 33rd birthday this Sunday. Wishes and presents are usually in order on this type of occasion, but it's difficult to see any desire the North Korean dictator hasn't already seen fulfilled in his five years in power.

For starters, the cult of personality has never been bigger in North Korea. As NK News recently reported, Kim's approach when it comes to imposing his image is "quantitative, not qualitative." New statues of the young leader rise on a regular basis in squares around the country, and his "Image of the Sun" portrait has been copied tens of thousands of times. More recently, Kim even seems to have managed to ban Christmas, replacing it with his grandmother's birthday.

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North Korea

North Korea's Biggest Nuke Test

At first, most thought it was another earthquake. But the 5.3-magnitude rumble coming from the northeastern corner of North Korea was a potentially much more frightening event: Pyongyang had set off its most powerful nuclear weapon test ever.


World leaders were quick to react to this latest act of defiance. South Korea denounced Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-un for his "maniacal recklessness." Japan, Russia, the U.S., France — all quickly joined in condemning the threat posed by the the biggest of North Korea's biggest of five nuclear tests.


But with each passing provocation coming from North Korea, the world is increasingly counting on one power to step in: China. Not only is it Pyongyang's direct economic ally, but as a neighbor, the stakes are even higher in avoiding that a nuclear confrontation is sparked.


Chinese state news media issued a prompt statement this morning, calling on "all sides" to stop "adding oil to the flames" while the foreign ministry in Beijing said that it was "firmly opposed" to the test. Still, too carefully picked words from a country that has spent the past decade seeking a larger role on the international stage, but has so far failed to take tougher sanctions against its gung-ho neighbor.


We're used to poking fun at the North Korean dictator and his antics. Just yesterday, news reports circulated that Kim Jong-un had banned the use of sarcasm in private conversation, which definitely sounds like a great idea. But toying with nuclear warheads is no laughing matter, and China should know it's even less funny when you're in the neighborhood.

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North Korea

Chinese Travel Agents Offer 'Nostalgia' Tours To North Korea

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Pyongyang's Mansudae monument — Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

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North Korea

North Korean Missiles, Fatal Lightning, Olympic Jaguar Shot

SPOTLIGHT: SARAJEVO RUBBLE TO TRUMP TOWER

The pace of modern communication tells us that what's here today is gone ... tonight. The potential worldwide virality of any piece of digitally circulated information comes with the caveat that everything is also potentially, and eternally, invisible. The tree falling in some proverbial unseen forest of the Internet. But history teaches us that ideas — good and bad — are bound to travel and cross-pollinate, fade and reappear. And, yes, some of it will last.


That brings us to Aleksandar Hemon, an accomplished 51-year-old Bosnian novelist … and Donald Trump. We get this story by way of another transplanted U.S.-based Balkan writer named Andrej Mrevlje, whose Yonder pieces are occasionally republished on Worldcrunch. Mrevlje recounts how the Sarajevo-born Hemon refused to sign a recent petition of American writers to try to ban Trump from the presidential election.


"His message is universal," Mrevlje writes of Hemon. "Only a person who suffered that much, who saw his hometown reduced to ruins by bombs and shells, disinfected of all its smells and memories — only this kind of person can cherish democracy to the extreme of supporting Trump's right to run for office. Hemon knows that exclusion leads to segregation, revenge, violence and destruction. Hemon is not an American patriot, and he is not a Trump fan, but he defends voting as the strongest tool of democracy. Once your homeland — your courtyard, your imaginarium — has been wiped out by savages, you will defend these institutions of democracy with your own claws. It happens after every war." Here's the full piece.

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