Category Archive: Offbeat

Oct 19

In the mood for an evening of nationalistic NK-Pop?

Pour yourself a glass of wine and light a few candles. Enjoy some popular music from the DPRK, courtesy of Last.fm:

Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble – 북한 – Whistle ("Fiparam")

내 나라 제일로 좋아 – My Country is the Best

반갑습니다 – Happy to See You! – (“Bangeap Sumnida”)

Last.fm is host to a North Korean music channel, featuring 16 music videos (many in karaoke format, invite your friends!). “MARSIANSKA”, the administrator of the page from Finland seems a tad pro-Pyongyang, but the collection of music and videos is impressive nonetheless.

Source: Last.fm – DPRK Music – The North Korean Channel

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/1022

Jun 29

DPRK becomes president of UN Conference on Disarmament by alphabetical coincidence.

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The United Nations Conference on Disarmament, a forum of 65 member countries dedicated to negotiations of disarmament (North Korea’s strong suit) just got a new president—due to an antiquated rule stating that presidency is rotated among all member states alphabetically. So Se Pyong, pictured centered above, is the North Korean ambassador heading the conference. From Canada.com:

Nuclear-armed North Korea has assumed the presidency of a key United Nations disarmament body — despite facing UN Security Council sanctions over its weapons programs.

The development comes in the same week the UN defended its decision to support Iran’s holding of an international "anti-terrorism" conference — which saw participants declaring that Western powers were the international terrorists.

UN officials point out that North Korean ambassador So Se Pyong takes on the presidency of the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament under rules that say the chair will rotate among all 65 member states in alphabetical order.

But critics said Wednesday the rules should be changed when they allow the body — whose mandate is in part to push for world nuclear disarmament — to be led by a country that the West considers to be an international nuclear renegade.

So Se Pyong said during an address Tuesday he was "very engaged in moving the conference forward," and would use his four working-weeks of presidency to seek "constructive proposals" that would strengthen the "work and the credibility" of the conference.

Makes for a great sensationalist piece, but the duration of presidency is only four weeks and given the efficacies of bureaucratic process and international bickering, that doesn’t seem like much time to do a lot of damage. But what do I know.

Source: Canada.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/854

Jun 29

USA defeats DPRK 2-0 in 1st round of Women’s World Cup; NK blames lightning for injuring 5 players.

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Yesterday, the US and DPRK Women’s World Cup football teams played a hard fought match in Dresden, Gemany that resulted in a 2-0 victory for the US. After the match, the North Korean manager, Kwang Min Kim had an intriguing thought into why the North lost:

North Korea’s coach blamed his side’s 2-0 loss to the United States on his players getting struck by lightning in the build up to the Women’s World Cup.
Kwang Min Kim claimed that some of them were hospitalised with electrocution after a training match on 8 June.
Tournament favourites United States recovered from a slow start to to take maximum points in their Group C opener.

North Korea – the youngest team in the tournament by average age – started well in Dresden, but eventually conceded when Lauren Cheney completed a swift move with a well-timed header before Rachel Buehler converted with 14 minutes remaining.
"When we stayed in Pyongyang during training our players were hit by lightning, and more than five of them were hospitalised," said coach Kim, without naming the affected players specifically.
"Some stayed in hospital and then came to Germany later than the rest of us. The goalkeeper and the four defenders were most affected, and some midfielders as well. The physicians said the players were not capable of participating in the tournament.
"But World Cup football is the most important and significant event for a footballer, so they don’t want to think about anything but football.
"The fact that they played could be called abnormal, the result of very strong will."

A portion of the team were struck by lightning weeks prior to playing… well that’s certainly a unique excuse. Hope it works back home for the athletes, if their losses continue! North Korea next plays against Sweden on July 2nd at 8:00AM EST.

Source: BBC / FIFA

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/850

Mar 30

News in Brief – last week of March round-up

SK military plan for removing monuments to Kim dynasty

In 2008, the South Korean military drafted a plan for dealing with the thousands of monuments and idols to Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il in the event of a regime collapse.  I relish the day I can watch the giant statue of Kim Il-Sung get toppled to the ground on TV, but can’t help but cringe at the amount of mountain explosions that will be involved in removing the thousands of slogans engraved into North Korea’s mountainsides.

Source: Chosun Ilbo

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Kim Jong-Il admits to nightmares where citizens stone him

Chung Mong-joon, former (and future?) SK presidential candidate and billionaire controlling stakeholder of Hyundai Group, detailed an anecdote of a meeting between his father and Kim Jong-Il:

"My father met Kim Jong-il many times and had lengthy conversations with him over meals… Many people come to greet me wherever I go, but I know that they don’t like me. I have dreams of being stoned, and the first stones are thrown by Americans, followed by South Koreans, and the third by North Koreans.”

Interesting rare bit of insight from the despotic Dear Leader. Personally, I think the North Koreans should get first toss.

Source: Chosun Ilbo

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27 astray North Koreans finally sent home

North Koreans board a South Korean naval vessel ...

South Korea finally repatriated 27 of the 31 North Koreans who accidentally drifted to the South’s Yeonpyeong Island. Numerous delays were introduced first by a belligerent North Korea demanding all 31 be returned (4 requested asylum in the South) via Panmunjom border village. Later it was decided that the exchange would happen at sea, but weather and the seaworthiness of the North Korean vessel being returned caused further delays.

The exchange happened at the Northern Limit Line and was rather uneventful, however some observers are noting that North Korea’s behaviour during the exchange indicate the first instance since the Korean War that the DPRK has recognized the NLL.

Source: Reuters / Korea JoongAng Daily

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Nine defectors aided by South Korean pastor over a 2 year period

Recently the South Korean Coast Guard picked up 9 North Korean defectors at sea, and we hadn’t gotten much detail until recently. Kim Sung-Eun, a Christian pastor in the South to a parish of mostly NK defectors came forward to state that he helped the defectors come to South Korea via China, and that the process took over 2 years to complete. Some of the defectors had family in the South who had previously defected, and a few waited in China for as long as 4 years before they could be reunited. On Monday, the defectors departed from China on a fishing boat, and transferred to a South Korean fishing vessel in international waters.

Source: AFP

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/799

Mar 22

DPRK accuses US soldiers of provocation and lewdness at border

North Korea, by way of state-run KCNA TV, denounced US troops stationed in South Korea for allegedly partying at the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas. The US military is accused of over 50 instances of trespassing between March 1st to March 8th 2011, as well as partying, taking pictures with girls, and throwing bottles of alcohol at North Korean troops. The North has threatened “human damage” if similar behavior were to reoccur. The United States Forces in Korea have officially denied the allegations. DPRK seems to be going to lengths to extend communication with Seoul while still condemning the US and their military presence on the peninsula.

Source: The Korea Times

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/793

Feb 21

Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK

I’ll just leave this here.

Source: Yonhap

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/780

Feb 18

Kim Jong-Chol’s wild week in Singapore

Kim Jong-Chol, the 30 year-old second son of Kim Jong-Il and older brother to Kim Jong-Un was spotted at an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore earlier this week. Kim’s fandom for Clapton is arguably his most famous trait, making headlines in 2006 when he attended a concert as well. This was even a discussion point in one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, where the US embassy in Seoul tossed around the idea of endorsing an Eric Clapton concert in Pyongyang for Jong-Chol in order to improve relations between the countries. Jong-Chol was at one point suspected to be the favourite for succession of leadership.

Kim and his entourage stayed at the 5 star Pan Pacific Hotel. He was there with a girl believed to be either his girlfriend or his wife. They visited a waterpark, Universal Studios and did some shopping. Jong-Chol also purchased several souvenirs at the concert, and was well protected by bodyguards,  who attempted to block cameras from taking photos of the young prince.

Kim Jong-chol (marked by a red arrow), and a woman believed to be his wife watch an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore on Monday in this photo obtained by the Chosun Ilbo from a North Korean source.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/778

Feb 09

Bowling in Pyongyang: Photoblog from a Russian student

Our favourite Russian language LiveJournal, Show & Tell Pyongyang is a student from Russia who is currently living in and attending school in Pyongyang. This week we’re treated to an inside look at a Bowling alley and billiards hall in Pyongyang that many young North Koreans visit to kick back and relax. It’s not unlike bowling alleys we might find in North America or in other westernized countries; albeit stuck in a retro 80s feel.

Google Translate does a decent job of conveying the author’s captions; the bowling alley consists of a tribute to Kim Il-Sung who visited in 1994 (the year of his death), at least a dozen lanes with score keeping monitors and computers, rows of slot  machines, a few racing arcade machines from Namco and SEGA, and a second floor restaurant. The blogger also includes a short video of students bowling, to demonstrate that the alley isn’t as dimly lit as his photos might suggest:

Check out the full Google Translated post in the link below. Good stuff!

Source: Show & Tell Pyongyang

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/775

Jan 13

North Korean Open: DPRK’s golf tournament for foreigners

DPRK_golf

Can you shoot a 90 or under? Got a thousand Euros lying around and enough air miles to get you to China? The website for the North Korean Open, DPRK’s first golf tournament open to foreigners, tells it all:

Pyongyang Golf complex is North Korea’s only Golf course. It is located on the banks of Taicheng Lake, 27km from Pyongyang City.The 18 hole par 72 course covers 120 hectares with 45 hectares of green and is 7km long. The Course Can Service Up To 100 Competitors At A Time And Includes A Service Area Covering 2700 Square Metres, Including Shops, Restaurants, Conference Rooms And Sauna. There Are Also Angling Or Boating Facilities To Use During Breaks From Golfing. It Is Claimed That When Kim Jong Il Opened The Course In 1991, He Shot A World Record 38 Under Par On His First Ever Round Of Golf (Including 11 Hole In Ones!)

UK based Lupine Travel is in charge of the arrangements, and the cost covers all accommodations, meals and the train from China into the Stalinist country.

UPDATE: @nknewsorg points out that this is NOT the first golf tournament open to foreigners as originally reported by The Chosun Ilbo. The “Pyongyang Golf Company” has been offering this for some time now.

Source: North Korean Open

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/749

Jan 13

North Korea boasts leads world with 99.9% 3G adoption rate

North Korea Tech, which has quickly become one of my favourite blogs regarding the DPRK, reports that North Korea is leading the world in wireless 3G cellular network adoption. Q3 results from Egypt based provider Orascom reports that Koryolink, the state run cellular company boasted over 300,000 subscribers, 99.9% of whom are on the 3G network. Cellular service is relatively new to North Korea, which obviously explains the high adoption rate, however in 2004 a 2G network existed mostly for the wealthy elite. Even the 2G network was restricted and new subscriptions were disallowed, after the Ryongchon train explosion which was rumoured to have been a case of domestic terrorism possibly organized or detonated utilizing mobile phone technology.

Source: North Korea Tech

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/746

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