Extra! Korea

August 24, 2010

“Massive” N. Korean troop deployment near Pyongyang

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 5:36 am

A “massive” deployment of North Korean troops and arms, including armoured vehicles and artillery, has been detected near the capital, Pyongyang.

The deployment appears to be related to political events such as a meeting of key communist party delegates next month and the party’s 65th anniversary on October 10, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

“The massive deployment of troops could be designed to show their military power at home and abroad, or for security,” he said.

[ snip ]

Some analysts say Kim Jong-Il will probably designate the son as his political heir at the September meeting, the third such gathering since the communist state was founded in 1948.

It is seen as the most important party event since 1980, when a convention of all-party members made public Kim Jong-Il’s status as the eventual successor to his father, and founding president, Kim Il-Sung.

August 13, 2010

What will happen after Kim Jong-il dies?

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:51 pm

What will happen after Kim Jong-il dies? Over half of a group of experts* predict that there will be a power struggle.

A researcher at the Sejong Institute (I don’t know if he was part of the aforementioned group or not) believes that China will support Kim Jong-un, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il, taking power.

I suspect that in about three years, we’ll all know. And unlike any of the aforementioned experts, I’m predicting that, in the same way that Korea was divided, North Korea might be divided. One part will reunify with the south, and the other will either remain as is (a satellite state dependent upon big brother China) or will, for all intents and purposes, become a Chinese province.

* “46 North Korean affairs and unification experts from 23 universities, think tanks and media companies”

August 8, 2010

North Korea seizes South Korean fishing vessel

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 5:16 pm

According to Yonhap News, the New York Times, and BBC News, North Korea has seized a South Korean fishing vessel. North Korea had threatened some sort of retaliation for South Korea’s recent naval drills, and it looks like this is it, or at least, the first.

[F]ishing boats from either side have occasionally drifted into the other’s waters, often after engine trouble. How fast they were released often depended on the tenor of bilateral relations at the time.

[ snip ]

Four South Koreans and three Chinese crew members were on board. South Korea’s national news agency, Yonhap, quoting an unnamed coast guard official, said that the ship was being towed to Songjin, a port on the eastern coast of North Korea, for interrogation of the crew.

“Our government hopes for the safe return of our ship and crew according to international laws,” the coast guard’s statement said.

July 15, 2010

(Updated) Surgery being performed in North Korea without anesthesia because of shortage

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 1:42 pm

Edit/Update:

The BBC has an article with more information.

One 20-year-old woman from North Hamgyeong province said: “People don’t bother going to the hospital if they don’t have money because everyone knows that you have to pay.

“If you don’t have money you die,” said the woman, who left North Korea in 2008.

[ snip ]

A 56-year-old woman told Amnesty that her appendix was removed without anaesthetic.

“The operation took about an hour and 10 minutes. I was screaming so much from the pain – I thought I was going to die.

“They had tied my hands and legs to prevent me from moving.”

Also, go to this BBC page to see a video.

——————————————————————-

Original Post:

Amnesty International has released a report on the dire situation of the North Korean health care system. The following stood out:

“And there’s such a shortage of medicines that surgeries are often performed without the aid of anesthesia or not enough anesthesia to control the pain.”

This was also noteworthy:

The World Health Organization says North Korea spends the least on health care compared with any other country – less than one dollar per person annually.

July 14, 2010

Hopefully, these robots shoot better than Engkey teaches English

Filed under: North Korea, science, technology — extrakorea @ 7:09 am

According to the Chosun Ilbo, robot sentries are now manning the DMZ and other areas that border North Korea.

“We’re going to deploy such robots at all posts along the DMZ by year’s end if the trial operation is successful,” the officer said. The military authorities could also deploy them on the five islands near the maritime border in the West Sea.

Equipment consists of a camera, a K-4 high-speed machine gun, and a central control system. Each robot is said to cost about W400 million (US$1=W1,212). The surveillance camera sends images to the command and control room in real time. If it detects an approaching enemy, the robot is activated to fire 40 mm rounds at high speed.

Hopefully, they’ll be better at shooting North Korean invaders than Engkey is at teaching English.

July 7, 2010

More evidence of Kim Jong-il’s dementia? Or a clever ruse?

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:51 am

I’ve posted before about how there is speculation that Kim Jong-il may be suffering from dementia. Now comes word that he watched the same play in less than two weeks, and then ordered the theater, which is in good condition due to it being renovated seven years ago, to be demolished and rebuilt.

The theater was torn down on May 9 just after Kim watched a play there, making his first public appearance since his visit to China early that month. Kim had apparently watched another performance of the same play there on April 27 and after his second visit had enough and ordered it rebuilt.

“It’s strange enough to watch the same play twice in less than two weeks, but it’s even more absurd to order the reconstruction of a building that was renovated just seven years ago,” said a South Korean intelligence official.

However, we should be cautious:

But other experts advise caution. “North Korea has gauged the level of South Korea’s intelligence gathering abilities by monitoring media reports from the South and other countries about Kim Jong-il’s health,” said Sogang University Professor Kim Young-soo. “We need to be more discerning even when it comes to signs pointing to dementia.”

North Korea wins Justin Bieber world tour contest

Filed under: music, North Korea, the Internet — extrakorea @ 5:02 am

North Korea has won the online contest at Justin Bieber’s world tour site. See here for yourself.


(source)


(source)

Of course, the effect will be limited. First of all, while North Korean bureaucracy decides whether or not to issue young Mr. Bieber a visa, there will be time for the guffaws to die down. In the unlikely event that an invitation is actually offered, he can just come out and honestly admit that he’s been pranked. And let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that he actually decides to go. It wouldn’t be the first time that foreign pop artists have performed in the north. Check out the now-defunct K-pop group Baby Vox performing there.

The Norkbots will, as in the video above, just look on impassively* and then give polite applause, as instructed to, and then they’ll recycle the footage as evidence of western decadence.

* Or stifle laughter, as at 0:39 in the video above.

July 5, 2010

(Updated) Netizen pranksters are trying to sent Justin Bieber to North Korea

Filed under: music, North Korea, the Internet — extrakorea @ 3:40 am

Edit/Update:

There are only a few hours left to vote, and North Korea is still in the lead.

The BBC did an article about it, and got a quote from the North Korean embassy!

A spokesman for the North Korean Embassy in London told BBC News that any application for 16-year-old Bieber to tour would be dealt with by its mission to the United Nations, although the matter would be referred to Pyongyang.

Incidentally, some of the pranks that have been played upon him have gone over the line (e.g. rumours that his mom would be posing for Playboy. Leave the guy’s family out of it.)

——————————————————————-

Original Post:

This post incorporates two things the Marmot hates: Canada and North Korea.

Justin Bieber is an inoffensive young man from that hotbed of R&B, Stratford, Ontario, Canada. He’s huge in North America, and if, like me, you didn’t know that, then I guess that’s evidence that Korea really has dropped an iron curtain in front of foreign music. He (or his PR people) decided to generate interest in his upcoming world tour by having an on-line contest to get the fans involved. They could vote for him to come to their country, and Bieber would promise visit the winning country. Some netizen pranksters decided to have a little fun by doing some virtual ballot-box stuffing. As of this writing, the country in the lead is North Korea.

The Wonder Girls might get a chuckle out of it. You might recall that one of their former tutors in New York came forward with some allegations that might be disconcerting in America, but are par for the course in South Korea, where the music business has become more business than music. Said tutor allegedly wrote a letter to K-pop blog PopSeoul.

In an attempt to gain some popularity in America, JYPE paid Justin Bieber’s company to open for him, but Bieber’s fans hated the Wonder Girls and sometimes chanted: “We want nobody, nobody but Justin!”

I’m sure that Bieber did not want any of his fans to mistreat the Wonder Girls, and I’m equally sure the Girls don’t blame him for the rude behavior of some of his fans. Still, the irony might be a source of amusement for them.

Speaking of Justin Bieber, IU (아이유), whom I’ve mentioned before, reminds me a bit of him, in that she can actually play musical instruments well enough to do it live. Unfortunately for her, she lives in South Korea, where everyone has to be pushed into a limited number of cookie cutter molds. If she had been born in Canada or America, I think that her talent would have received more commensurate appreciation.

July 1, 2010

Wrong torpedo diagram presented by Cheonan investigators

Filed under: North Korea, politics — extrakorea @ 2:37 pm

Oh no, just what we need, something to encourage the wacky Cheonan conspiracy theorists.

In a blow to conclusions that are already under attack from leftwing politicians and activists, a team of experts that investigated the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan have admitted showing a diagram of the wrong North Korean torpedo when they presented their findings at a press conference on May 20.

When queried by journalists about discrepancies between the CHT-02D torpedo that attacked the Cheonan and the one depicted in the diagram, investigators said Tuesday that the pictured torpedo was of the model PT-97W and that the error was due to “a mix-up by a staff member while preparing for the presentation.”

A South Korean military spokesman said the error was discovered after the press conference and a presentation of the evidence in front of the UN Security Council featured the correct diagram.

Is Kim Jong-il demented? I mean, more than usual

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 2:17 pm

According to the Chosun Ilbo, Kim Jong-il may be showing signs of dementia.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who suffered a massive stroke in 2008, has been displaying signs of memory loss and occasionally talks nonsense, National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon apparently told the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting.

[ snip ]

NIS officials apparently showed lawmakers photos of Kim’s swollen left hand, which has been paralyzed since the stroke. The North Korean leader is undergoing therapy and has asked foreign specialists to the country.

If this is true, then the end of North Korea’s current regime could be coming soon, and it probably won’t be pretty.

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