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North Korea


Kim Family Dynamics: We Overlook North Korea At Our Peril

What should the world make of Kim Jong-un, his young daughter Ju Ae in tow, flexing North Korea's military hardware? Nothing good, though the scenario that it is mostly just a flex is still the most likely.


Every week, it seems, North Korea announces a new military development. This week it was a visit by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, to a satellite production center with his daughter Ju Ae by his side. She's with him on all such occasions. Kim's father used the appearance to announce that North Korea had completed manufacturing a spy satellite, the first of its kind.

Last week, there was Pyongyang's first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that uses solid fuel. According to experts, solid fuel makes it easier to load missiles compared to liquid fuel that was used previously. This allows for faster preparations for firing and makes it more difficult to detect any potential launch in advance.

Since the beginning of last year, North Korea has carried out over 100 missile tests of various types as a way to test its weapons, improve its technology, command structures, and coordination of its armed forces. This is a record, and most importantly, it is completely prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions — but Pyongyang doesn't care.

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This Happened - March 10: Impeachment Of Park Geun-Hye

Former South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye was removed from office on this day in 2017 following her impeachment by the South Korean National Assembly on charges of corruption and abuse of power. She was the first South Korean president to be impeached and removed from office.

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South Korea And Japan: Burying An Ugly Past To Counter China's Rise

South Korean President, Yoon Suk-yeol, made a gesture of reconciliation towards Japan, the country's former colonizer. It gives Washington hope that its two key Asian allies can overcome differences as they face an emboldened China and North Korea.


South Korea's leader President Yoon took advantage of the commemoration of a key date in the Japanese occupation of South Korea, March 1, 1919, to make an unequivocal statement: "Today, more than a century after the March 1 movement, Japan has transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner with whom we share the same universal values."

It was an outstretched hand with no conditions attached.

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This Happened—December 28: The Original Strongman Of North Korea

After serving in World War II as a Korean-contingent major in the Soviet Army, Kim Il-Sung became the first premier of the newly formed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Years later, he would become the nation’s supreme ruler.

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Alexander Gillespie

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

How to handle a nuclear armed pariah state is not a simple question.

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

Mourning Queen Elizabeth II, Ukraine Hails Advances, “Anti-State” Nooble Vendor

👋 Aссалом!*

Welcome to Friday, where the world (from political leaders to newspapers and even one fluffy fictional character) reacts to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II at age 96. In The Conversation, UK lecturer Laura Clancy offers a look-back on the most represented person in British history and the meaning of her legacy. Meanwhile, Ukraine hails advances, North Korea declares itself a “nuclear state” and China goes crazy for EVs.

[*Assalom - Tajik, Tajikistan]

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Lee Yee On

Far Out, Far East: Meet North Korea's Biggest Booster In Taiwan

"Taiwanese would laugh at the leader worship of the North Koreans, but wasn't that what we did in the days of Chiang Kai-shek?"

TAIPEI — On the evening of April 15, a crowd of nearly 100 people eagerly swarmed inside an ordinary building in Taipei's Ximending neighborhood. The occasion? The "Sun Festival", which commemorates the birthday of the first leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, and one of the most important holidays each year.

The venue was decorated in a North Korean style, with DPRK flags and photos of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il visible all around, while the tables displayed North Korean-made noodles, biscuits, tins, soaps, cigarettes and toy rifles.

Most attendees were in their 20s and 30s, with males outnumbering females by about 2-to-1. There were couples, friends and even a family with children. Everyone who attended received a small North Korean flag, two slices of Korean fried green bean cake on a paper plate and a portion of Korean seaweed rice rolls.

In addition to the "North Korean Lifestyle Exhibition" as a selling point, the event also featured a speaker recounting his travels to the country. And just before the talk began, the speaker invited all participants to stand up, played the North Korean national anthem and then led them in a bow to the statue of Kim Il Sung.

Hung Hao, the organizer for this event, is also the manager of the Facebook page "DPRK Business News." The page now has more than 33,000 followers, but Hung's business is more than that: on his bilingual business cards, he details the other services that include investment opportunities in the DPRK, business missions and contacts, business information and consultation, the import and export of DPRK goods from Taiwan.

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Nessim Aït-Kacimi

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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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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.


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Meike Eijsberg

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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North Korea
Jeffrey Lewis

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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