Category Archive: Propaganda

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

Jul 18

Three more North Korean woman footballers fail doping tests in Women’s World Cup scandal.

The plot thickens in the case of the North Korean Women’s Football team testing positive for anabolic steroids in this past Women’s World Cup. From the HuffPo:

Five North Korea players have tested positive for steroids at the women’s World Cup, soccer’s biggest doping scandal at a major tournament in 17 years.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Saturday that after two players were caught during the tournament this month, FIFA tested the rest of the North Korean squad and found three more positive results.
"This is a shock," Blatter said at a news conference. "We are confronted with a very, very bad case of doping and it hurts."
Meanwhile, Colombia’s reserve goalkeeper Yineth Varon been suspended for failing an out-of-competition test just before the World Cup in the wake of undergoing hormonal treatment. It was the first doping case in the history of the women’s World Cup.
FIFA annually spends some $30 million on 35,000 doping tests. Despite the cases at the women’s World Cup, "doping really is a marginal, fringe phenomenon in football," Blatter said.
The last doping case at a major event came at the men’s 1994 World Cup in the United States, when Diego Maradona was kicked out after testing positive for stimulants.
FIFA has already met with a North Korean delegation and heard arguments that the steroids were accidentally taken with traditional Chinese medicines based on musk deer glands to treat players who had been struck by lightning on June 8 during a training camp in North Korea.
The case will be taken up by FIFA’s disciplinary committee. Players, male or female, face a ban of up to two years for such infractions.
Defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim tested positive for steroids after North Korea’s first two group games and were suspended for the last match. The team was eliminated in the first round after losses to the United States and Sweden and a draw with Colombia.
Blatter said the North Korean federation "wrote to us and they presented their excuses. They said that a lightning strike was responsible for this."
The names of the three other players would only be made public at a later stage, FIFA said.
The gland in question comes from musk deer living in a large swathe of Asia from Siberia to North Korea. The hairy 4-centimeter gland is usually cut open to extract a liquid that is used for medical purposes.
Doping officials have been concerned about such naturally occurring substances in recent years. During the run-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, FIFA’s concerns focused on African plants that could players an unfair advantage by providing energy boosts or helping to heal muscle injuries.
FIFA investigators who discovered evidence of doping in the North Korean samples were in uncharted territory as such steroids had not previously been encountered. Experts from the World Anti-Doping Agency were called in to confirm the breach of doping rules.
"It was very complex," FIFA’s chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said. He added that the medical officer of the North Korea team provided a sample of the medicine to help their analysis.
The musk gland extract "it is not part of the world of doping," Dvorak said. "It is really the first case in which this has been discovered."
The North Koreans first mentioned the lightning incident after losing their opening match to the United States. When North Korean officials were asked later, they refused to elaborate on the circumstances.
North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min said after their first match against the United States that "more than five" players were sent to the hospital. Goalkeeper Hong Myong Hui, four defenders and some of the midfielders were the players most affected, Kim said.
"The physicians actually said the players were not capable of playing in the tournament," Kim said through an interpreter.
Dvorak said the information was still sketchy.
"We saw some pictures with ambulances and saw that some players were taken from the pitch, but that is all we have," he said.
FIFA also got information from North Korea about the initial hospital treatment of the players and "this very first report did not include the traditional Chinese medicine," Dvorak said.
The tournament ends Sunday with the final between the United States and Japan.

As usual, the North Korean story is sketchy: after embarrassing losses at the WWC, the coach decides to tell press that some of the team had been struck by lightning (!) weeks earlier. Press is surprised that this wasn’t brought up earlier, and the Oh-Those-Zany-North-Koreans Story-of-the-Week goes viral. Then some of the team members test positive for steroids, and we have an excuse that deer musk gland extract, certainly a medicine unknown to most knowledgeable of performance enhancing drugs is to blame. An admirable underdog story of an injured team fighting against all odds to compete, or an elaborate attempt to spin bad news into good for the North Koreans cheering back home?

Source: The Huffington Post

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/882

Jul 18

Associated Press pulls photoshopped image from KCNA of DPRK flooding.

The above photo, acquired by Martyn Williams of North Korea Tech (I seem to be linking him a lot, lately!) appears to show North Koreans struggling with dangerously high flood levels as a result of a battering on rain storms. Associated Press had hosted the image for others to buy rights to for news publications, but later yanked the image with the following reason:

EDITORS AND LIBRARIANS PLEASE ELIMINATE FROM YOUR PHOTO SYSTEMS AND ARCHIVES AP PHOTO TOK801 TRANSMITTED JULY 16, 2011. THE CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY ALTERED AND DOES NOT ACCURATELY REFLECT THE SCENE. NO OTHER VERSION OF THE PHOTO IS AVAILABLE.

A full sized version of the image was at one point available (for a price), but is no longer available now. From the smaller version above, the image does appear off – peoples legs cast vague shadows though the tree trunks to the left are clear and dark. These people are trudging through thigh-high water but their pants appear completely dry above the waterline.

North Korea’s state-run news outlet KCNA provided the image, as part of its new licensing deals with Associated Press and Reuters. As many had predicated already, this new relationship seems to accomplish little else other than spread Pyongyang’s propaganda to a much larger audience. In this case, the potential for making weather conditions seem more severe than reality might help encourage support for emergency food and rescue aid.

Source: North Korea Tech / Yonhap

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/881

Jul 15

In the heels of AP enhancing relations with KCNA, now Reuters has upgraded agreement.

Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Associated Press is expanding its facilities in Pyongyang, Reuters has now also announced that it will be setting up a satellite dish for video and text distribution overseas. From the Reuters press release:

The new agreement will provide Reuters access to news video from North Korea via satellite for timely distribution to broadcasters and publishers around the world. The Reuters News Agency will be the first international news organization to have a full time satellite dish in North Korea, delivering clean news video content in addition to the text and pictures covered by a previous agreement – a significant benefit to broadcasters across the globe. 

“We know the world’s broadcasters are seeking more news from North Korea, and this agreement will ensure our clients have a regular supply of up to the minute video stories from Pyongyang and across the country,” said Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters Media.

The agreement with KCNA covers both breaking and feature news video, and marks a significant expansion by Reuters in delivering news from one of the world’s most important datelines. As part of the arrangement Reuters will also be providing editorial training and KCNA will facilitate regular visits to North Korea by senior Reuters journalists. 

North Korea Tech blogger Martyn Williams notes that Reuters has already been broadcasting video from the state-run KCNA since July 7th of this year. While some may get excited at the prospect of North Korea opening up its news coverage to a larger international audience, and allowing foreign journalists to operate within Pyongyang, from the North’s perspective it is probably a great way to generate foreign currency and get its propaganda to the outside world. In the past year, Pyongyang has also launched a new media campaign involving Twitter, Youtube and several attempts at a Facebook page.

Source: Reuters / North Korea Tech

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/876

Jul 08

Kim Jong-Un alleged to have undergone 6 plastic surgery procedures to resemble granddad.

Kim Pyong-ilRumours of the future leader of North Korea’s supposed plastic surgeries were rampant from the moment he was revealed to the world last September. While there’s really no new evidence now, the speculation has been spreading through the media outlets lately. Why? According to the Chosun Ilbo, half brother and once a potential threat to Kim Jong-Il’s succession to leadership, Kim Pyong-Il (the guy in the hat) has been placed under house arrest as well. Purportedly, Pyong-Il has a closer resemblance to the deceased Great Leader Kim Il-Sung, a figure still well respected in North Korean hearts and minds despite a quiet resentment for his son, Kim Jong-Il. The idea behind the surgeries according to the president of Open Radio for North Korea:

"Half the procedures were designed to make his face resemble Kim Il-sung and half were intended to give him the same profile.”

There’s another thing that makes people resemble other people: genetics. However, former personal sushi chef to Kim Jong-Il, Kenji Fujimoto had stated that the Jong-Un revealed to the world last year does not resemble the precocious teenager he recalled from his time there. If true about the surgery, they did a pretty good job. Wonder if those surgeons are still around today?

Source: Open Radio for North Korea / Sydney Morning Herald

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/864

Jul 08

100,000 strong rally in Pyongyang in protest of Lee Myung-Bak’s SK government.

image

From the AP:

North Koreans gathered Monday at a massive rally in Pyongyang to denounce the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as a "group of unparalleled traitors."

More than 100,000 citizens, soldiers and senior government and army officials flocked to Kim Il Sung Square, according to footage from Associated Press Television News in Pyongyang.

Signs carried slogans praising North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and the country’s "military first" ideology.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted General Jang Jong Nam as saying that "there remains between the North and the South only physical settlement of returning fire for fire."

The North has lashed out with increasing frequency at a Seoul government that has halted unconditional aid and linked South Korean assistance to progress in North Korea’s nuclear disarmament efforts.

In late June, North Korea’s military vowed to retaliate for anti-Pyongyang signs posted at front-line South Korean army units.

How do you make 100,000 of your Pyongyang citizens coordinate parades and chants decrying a “traitorous” South Korean government, completely out of the blue? You tell them to.

Source: Associated Press / KCNA

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/862

Jul 04

The current food situation in North Korea–and why no one knows much about it.

Last week, a collection of smuggled clips of daily life in North Korea was released by Australian media outlet ABC. The footage was only available for 24 hours, but other mirrors exist such as the one embedded below.

From ABC:

Shot over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist, the harrowing footage shows images of filthy, homeless and orphaned children begging for food and soldiers demanding bribes.
The footage also shows North Koreans labouring on a private railway track for the dictator’s son and heir near the capital Pyongyang.
Strolling up to the site supervisor, the man with the hidden camera asks what is going on.
"This rail line is a present from Kim Jong-il to comrade Kim Jong-un," he is told.
The well-fed Kim Jong-un could soon be ruling over a nation of starving, impoverished serfs.
The video shows young children caked in filth begging in markets, pleading for scraps from compatriots who have nothing to give.
"I am eight," says one boy. "My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors."

In the footage, a party official is demanding a stallholder make a donation of rice to the army.
"My business is not good," complains the stallholder.
"Shut up," replies the official. "Don’t offer excuses."
It is clear that the all-powerful army – once quarantined from food shortages and famine – is starting to go hungry.
"Everybody is weak," says one young North Korean soldier. "Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished," he said.

The source of these images is AsiaPress’ Rimjin-gang magazine. The project employs citizens journalists in North Korea who receive hardware like cellphones or digital cameras and training on how to use them, and smuggle the images captured back across the border.

The situation is perpetually bleak, but an international debate over how to, or even whether to, support North Korea with humanitarian food aid rages on.

The first place to look for humanitarian aid should be the United Nations’ World Food Program. Joshua Stanton on his blog One Free Korea hosts an interview with Marcus Pryor, the spokesman for WFP Asia. It’s hard to disagree with Stanton and his suspicion of WFP’s monitoring rigour. For more perspective from a World Food Program monitor in the late 90s towards the end of the ‘Arduous March’, read Erich Weingarten’s story of his first aid monitoring trip in North Korea on 38 North. It’s well worth the read on exposing the dilemma facing inspectors who are unable to interact with anyone or anything the government doesn’t present them with.

The Christian Science Monitor echoes the sentiment from the US and South Korean leadership, which both agree that North Korea cannot adequately guarantee that food is going to the right places, and therefore should not receive said food aid. The South Korean government has also maintained its stance that it will not be providing its rival brother with aid.

China has been importing grain in greatly increased numbers in the past year, not as aid, but presumably at a greatly discounted rate. Chinese-DPRK relations are at a high right now, following a highly publicized meeting between Kim Jong-Il and Chinese President Hu Jintao, as well as the establishment of many new economic ventures between the neighbour countries.

The European Union has announced a 10 million Euro ($14.5 million USD) aid package as well. From the Associated Press:

"The purpose of this aid package is to save the lives of at least 650,000 people who could otherwise die from lack of food," Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

EU experts on a recent mission to the country determined that state-distributed rations, which provide food to two-thirds of North Koreans, have been cut by more than 60 percent, to about 400 calories, the EU said.

Even severely malnourished children in hospitals and nurseries are not getting any treatment and many citizens have grown so desperate that they are eating grass, the EU added.

A nice gesture, but the intention is for the aid to be “strictly monitored” by the existing unreliable methods employed by the WFP.

Can there ne any reasonable way to monitor the distribution of aid in North Korea? This is likely impossible with the current, long-standing regime, where anywhere and everywhere can be made to be off limits to foreign eyes. A destabilized North Korea is probably the first step required to see that the people most in need receive vital nutrition.

Source: ABC / One Free Korea / World Food Program /Yonhap (1) (2) / Associated Press / Christian Science Monitor

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/859

Jun 29

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

image

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

May 30

Korean-American businessman “Eddie” Jun Yong-Su released from detention in North Korea.

US Human Rights Ambassador Robert King leaves Pyongyang with freed Korean-American prisoner Jun Yong-su.

Korean-American businessman “Eddie” Jun Yong-Su was taken prisoner in North Korea in November 2010. Though the charges against him were never formally announced, it is believed that while doing business in the North, he performed underground missionary work, a dire crime in the oppressive DPRK. His captivity was not publicized until March 2011, and many expected former US President Jimmy Carter (on a diplomacy mission on behalf of The Elders) to return to the US with Jun, but this did not happen.

Ambassador Robert King, the US human rights envoy for North Korea, was able to secure Jun’s release during a visit to Pyongyang to discuss chronic food shortages. State run media outlet KCNA released an image (pictured) and a statement that Jun was being released on “humanitarian grounds”. Jun parted ways in Beijing, heading home to Seoul while King returned to the US. From Korea JoongAng Daily:

Upon arrival in Beijing, King confirmed the release of Korean-American Jun Young-su by North Korea. Although the two were on the same flight out of North Korea, Jun was not seen at Beijing Airport’s arrival gate. Later, he showed up in Seoul. Jun’s release came a day after North Korea said it decided to set him free on “humanitarian grounds.” Jun was arrested in November for committing an “unspecified crime” against the North, according to North Korean media reports.

Jun was met at Incheon International Airport by U.S. Embassy and South Korean officials and headed to a hospital for a medical checkup. Dressed in a black jacket and casual trousers, he appeared relatively healthy.

“I have to go to hospital. Let me talk later,” Jun briefly told reporters.

Earlier in Beijing, King, the U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights, told reporters, “We are very happy to report that Mr. Jun, the American citizen being held in Pyongyang, has been released. We are also delighted that in a day or two he will be back with his wife and family.”

Jun is the fifth American taken prisoner and then released (often to a prolific American political figure) in 3 years. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were captured and held for nearly 5 months in 2009 for trespassing over the border while shooting a documentary about North Korean defectors in China. They were brought back to the US by former US President Bill Clinton. Robert Park crossed the frozen Yalu River border on Christmas Day 2009 on a mission to spread Christianity in the North, and was later sent back to America in February 2010. Before Park’s release, his colleague Aijalon Gomes also crossed the border and was arrested – he was brought back in August 2010 by former US President Jimmy Carter.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee both authored books about their experiences, and Laura Ling went on the talk show circuit to describe her experiences. The male prisoners, however, seem to return with great mental trauma and rarely speak publicly. Robert Park has done a few interviews in between stays at a mental hospital. Aijalon Gomes has been quiet since his return. Jun’s only quote refers to needing to go to the hospital though looking in good health otherwise, so it remains to be seen whether we will hear about his treatment in North Korea. And then there’s the story of Evan Hunziker, who in 1996 was arrested while swimming nude in Yalu River. Governor Bill Richardson was able to secure his release, but Hunziker commit suicide just one month after returning to the US.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/838

May 11

North Korea denies any involvement in South Korean bank cyber attacks.

One major story that I haven’t put any focus on yet is the massive cyber attack on South Korea’s agricultural co-op bank, Nonghyup. On April 12th this year, a distributed denial of service attack crippled the bank’s systems for several days, affecting millions of customers. The attacks originated from a computer causing the same trouble in March 2010, which was at the time traced to be from North Korea. According to JoongAng:

Prosecutors initially suspected an inside job but now say that North Korea got lucky by randomly infecting a computer that happened to be hooked up to a major South Korean organization’s servers. They say the attack didn’t have a clear or obvious purpose except for causing trouble.
Prosecutors said they found 81 malignant codes on the IBM worker’s laptop that had been encrypted to prevent discovery. The encryption method, prosecutors said, was very similar to that used in DDoS attacks last year and in 2009, which North Korea was believed to be behind.
Seoul prosecutors said the IBM worker’s computer had been infected on Sept. 4, 2010, and subsequently manipulated from afar via the Internet to allow it to extract information.
Kim Young-dae, a senior prosecutor from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, said, “1,073 A4 pages worth of information were taken during the past seven months.” Kim said a key-logging program had been installed, giving the perpetrators access to administrator passwords. However, the data extracted was not related to customer transactions, Kim said.
The laptop was then commanded to cause destruction, and on April 12 it wreaked havoc on 273 of Nonghyup’s 587 servers in two attacks lasting 40 minutes.
Hackers deleted the malicious programs from the laptop after the attacks, prosecutors said, which made tracking them “extremely difficult.”
Kim said the perpetrators hadn’t targeted Nonghyup, but by chance managed to infect a computer linked to its servers.

North Korea released their response to these allegations, by way of state run news outlet KCNA:

A spokesman for the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces under the DPRK National Defence Commission issued a statement on Tuesday censuring the south Korean group of traitors for their bad habit of pulling up the DPRK.

The statement said:

South Korea reportedly met the "greatest banking computer disturbance ever in history", in which the banking computer network of the "National Agricultural Cooperative Federation" has been put at the worst paralysis since April 12.

This case caused a great loss and south Korea experienced a hot agony of shame in the eyes of the world.

What is at issue is the fact that the group of traitors let the puppet Intelligence Service and prosecution finally announce this case as "done by the north" after making "joint investigation" into it for nearly one month.

What the group claimed as evidence to link the case with the DPRK is that the IP used in attacking the said computer network was identical with the IP of the DPRK Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and the attack was based on the delicate and accurate way of remote control whereby its attacker was supposed to be a special cyber unit. It also asserted that such attack was hard to be carried out without mighty human and material resources and this was not an attack for "gaining specified interests" such as stealing fund and data but repeated attack aimed at "indiscriminate destruction."

Its assertions are just absurd argument based on unreasonable ground.

Even the members of the federation hard hit by what happened, in actuality, refuted the announcement that "the north was responsible for the cyber attack" as a "hasty conclusion" as it lacked scientific accuracy. Even the Defense Security Command of the puppet army known not to lag behind others in investigating cases officially declared that the incident cannot be branded as an "attack made by the north Korean military."

Moreover, experts cast doubt about the assertion that "it was done by the north," querying "Had the IPs used for the above-said attack belonged to U.S., Japan or south Korea, the U.S., Japan and south Korea should have been accountable for having created this confusion."

Last year the south Korean authorities asserted that the "Cheonan" sinking case was "linked with the north" as the propelling body of the torpedo they claimed sank it was inscribed with letters "No. 1." Different circles of south Korea are now widely jeering at them, putting up questions as to how many letters "No. 1" were attached to the IPs which were used for attacking the Federation’s banking computer network.

In the final analysis, the story about "the north’s involvement" spread by the group of traitors is creating fresh suspicion even in its own camp and it is, therefore, derided by people for being one more farce and charade. The above-said story floated by the group is aimed at saving its policy of confrontation with the north from shaking to its very foundation, weathering the crisis of its state administration fully disclosed in the closing years of its rule before and after the April 27 by-election and evade the responsibility for having stemmed the trend of national reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity.

All the developments go to prove that the group of traitors’ rumor that "the north was responsible for what happened" is one more farce staged against the nation to realize its sinister attempt and an anti-DPRK charade as ridiculous as the "Cheonan" warship sinking case.

There are sayings that one should reflect on one’s deed before pulling up others and one had better mind one’s own business.

The group of traitors should boldly discard its bad habit of finding fault with others.

And it should immediately stop its reckless war exercises, waiting for someone’s "contingency" to take place, unaware of its situation where it is threatened with total collapse.

The group of traitors should bear in mind that the more anachronistic anti-DPRK farce and charade it orchestrates, the bitterer disgrace and fiasco it will face.

Typical North Korea bluster. As with last March’s Cheonan warship sinking, they are outright denying any involvement, which has been a prickly issue for the South Korean government who insist on apologies for the Cheonan attack and Yeonpyeong Island shelling before a return to Six Party Talks aimed at denuclearization can resume. South Korea’s investigation is still ongoing.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily / KCNA

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openingupnorthkorea.com/archives/822

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