Pyongyang’s test on Sunday of a new ballistic missile highlights its cooperation with Iran on missile development — leaving the Tehran regime vulnerable to further sanctions should the UN decide to act, a leading North Korea expert told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Anthony Ruggiero – a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank and former State Department official — said that the blanket prohibition on weapons trade with North Korea, agreed to by the UN Security Council in March 2016 following a nuclear test carried out by the Pyongyang regime, meant Iranian individuals and entities already sanctioned by the US government could face further sanctions imposed by the UN.
“The Iran-North Korea missile relationship was so concerning to the Obama administration that they designated Iranian officials [for sanctions] for it the day after the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ruggiero said. “It certainly wasn’t what they wanted to do, just as the deal was being implemented, so that gives you a sense of the seriousness of this issue.”
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It was in Miami, last December, while sitting on a panel at an international book fair, that I tried to piece together the chain of events that had brought me to a place I knew I did not belong.
I considered the writers sitting next to me, three women who had written memoirs from places close to their hearts—stories of loss, family, selfhood. The questions from the audience, also mostly women, focused on each author’s emotional awakening and growth. How did we feel about the spiritual journeys we had undertaken? What lessons had we learned along the way?
I had no idea how I was supposed to answer, for a simple reason: My book wasn’t a memoir. As an investigative journalist, I had been researching and visiting North Korea for over a decade. In 2011, armed with a book contract, I went undercover to work as an ESL teacher at an evangelical university in Pyongyang. My 270 students—the elite of North Korea, the sons of high-level officials—were being groomed as the face of regime change to come under Kim Jong-un.
BRUSSELS (JTA) — When guards dragged Shin Dong-hyuk from his North Korean cell in 1995, he was pretty sure the end was near.
Dong-hyuk, then just 13, was born in the prison known as Camp 14, not far from Pyongyang. Camp 14 is part of a network of political prisons believed to be the largest in the world, where an estimated 150,000 dissidents and their families live in conditions reminiscent of Holocaust-era concentration camps.
As he was brought to the camp’s execution field, Dong-hyuk realized he wasn’t the one due to be killed that day — it was his mother and brother. The boy calmly watched the executions, he says now, having been brainwashed into believing his family members deserved to die. After all, he was the one who had turned them in.
For all his faults, Kim Jong-Un is a man who knows how to have a good time. When not building ski resorts or sexting wife #2 on his smartphone, he’s trying to raise the people’s spirits with disco music. Enter the Moranbong Music Band, five girls who just wanna have state-sanctioned fun. You can watch all their greatest hits on a DPRK YouTube music channel – they even have a Facebook page.
The Moranbong girls are not what you’d expect from an unfashionably totalitarian regime where grey is the new grey. Their skirts are short, the hair is trendy, the music danceable. It could just about pass as a Eurovision entry from Azerbaijan. The only thing that gives away the Socialist Realism are the lyrics: songs have titles like “Let’s Study!”, “Our Dear Leader!” and “Let’s Go Together!” The promotional material is grim, too. “People are spontaneously enjoying Moranbong”, says one video, which is code for “People have been ordered to enjoy Moranbong under threat of death.” You’ve heard the phrase, “Dance like your life depended on it?” In North Korea, it does.
im Jong-il, former leader of North Korea and, since his death in 2011, Eternal General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea, was generally considered a wily, if oppressive, old fox. When, inevitably, North Korea’s communist economics periodically led to famine, Kim II would rattle his sabre just enough to prod the West to buy him off with a little aid. As weird as he might have looked and as twisted as the society he ruled may have been, Kim II could be seen in this light as a rational actor on the diplomatic stage.
As his successor, his equally funny-looking son Kim Jong-un, engages in a prolonged and particularly bellicose bout of belligerence, the first question is whether that assessment also applies to him. Is Kim III a cynic or a lunatic?
It’s a question we can ask about North Korea more generally. When Kim II died in December 2011 many in the West giggled at the bizarre scenes of hysterical grief among the citizenry captured on camera and beamed around the world. Surely, we thought as we saw North Koreans bashing themselves over their heads and howling, they were doing it for the benefit of the gun-toting guards just out of shot. Maybe they were. But there’s a scarier possibility: they actually meant it.
Kenneth Bae (Pae Jun-ho), a 44-year-old ethnic Korean with United States citizenship, appeared on trial before the Supreme Court in Pyongyang on Tuesday, according to the North Korean state news wire.
He was charged with “committing crimes aimed at toppling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with hostility towards it”.
Mr Bae was arrested last November as he led a tour group of five Europeans into the Rason Special Economic Zone, a pilot region on the border of China and Russia which is open to foreign companies.
Mr Bae, who is believed to live in China, ran a travel company called Nation Tours and had led several trips into North Korea without incident.
North Korea has not revealed what crime he committed, but said “his crimes were proved by evidence”.
The announcement focused attention back on Pyongyang after a near two-week lull in North Korea’s sabre-rattling rhetoric.
Kenneth Bae (Pae Jun-ho), a 44-year-old ethnic Korean with US citizenship, was arrested last November as he accompanied five Europeans into the Rason Special Economic Zone, a pilot region on the border of China and Russia which is open to foreign companies.
Since then, almost nothing has been heard of him. In January, Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, and Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, travelled to North Korea to try to secure his release but were not allowed to see him.
Mr Bae’s crime is not clear. However, the Korean Central News Agency announced on Saturday that a “preliminary inquiry” had been completed and that Mr Bae had “admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with hostility toward it”.
“His crimes were proved by evidence,” it added.