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- The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author's (or the author(s) of the original articles), and do not reflect, in any shape, way, or form, the official policy or position of the author's employer (current or former) or any other organization.

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- Please note that some of the postings will provide only information with no comments or analysis while other postings will have comments and/or analysis.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

North Korea, as usual, threatens South Korea and the US over combined exercise

North Korean People's Army General Staff spokesman issued a statement today threatening to attack South Korea and US forces for a scheduled combined military exercise in March.

The enemies describe [the joint military exercises] as annual exercises and defense, but [the exercises] are pilot operations and nuclear war exercises aimed at a surprise, preemptive attack on our Republic to all intents and purposes.

If the US imperialists and South Korean warmongers launch the joint military exercises for aggression, ignoring our repeated warnings, we will react to them with our powerful military counteraction, and if necessary, mercilessly destroy the bulwark of aggression by mobilizing all the offensive and defensive means including nuclear deterrent.
North Korea routinely claims the annual South Korea-US exercise that mobilizes tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops and equipment amounts to a precursor to an invasion of its soil.

Here are the two versions of the February 25 North Korean statement issued in response to the exercise (one is a KCNA version that was released in English and the other is a translation of the KCBS broadcast that was originally broadcast in Korean):

KPA General Staff Spokesman Blasts Projected U.S.-S. Korea Joint Military Exercises (KCNA, 25 Feb 2010)

The U.S. imperialists and the warmongers of the South Korean puppet army finally announced that they would stage the DPRK-targeted Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises from March 8.

In this regard a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army released the following statement Thursday: Massively involved in the exercises will be more than 18 000-strong forces including over 10 000 U.S. imperialist aggression troops present in south Korea and ultra-modern military hardware as well as army corps-level, fleet command-level and flying corps-level units of the South Korean puppet army and even civilian forces. The enemies describe the exercises as "annual ones" and "defensive" but they are pilot operations and nuclear war exercises aimed to preempt a surprise attack on the DPRK, to all intents and purposes.

From the outset of the year the warmongers of the South Korean puppet army in collusion with the U.S. imperialists have frantically staged mid-winter tactical exercise, large-scale coordinated ground exercise and other exercises of various codenames, while talking about a "preemptive attack" over self-defensive nuclear deterrent of the DPRK. This is by no means accidental.

This brought to light their true colors as war fanatics keen to bring dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the inviolable land, while seeking escalated tensions and confrontation only.

We will not remain a passive onlooker to this grave situation created by the provokers.

If the U.S. imperialists and South Korean warmongers launch the joint military exercises for aggression, ignoring our repeated warnings, we will react to them with our powerful military counteraction, and if necessary, mercilessly destroy the bulwark of aggression by mobilizing all the offensive and defensive means including nuclear deterrent.


Press statement by a spokesperson for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army [KPA] (Korean Central Broadcasting Station in Korean, 25 Feb 2010)

Currently, a touch-and-go dangerous situation, in which a war may break out any moment, is being created on the Korean peninsula due to brigandish US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers' reckless war maneuver.

Ignoring our repeated warnings, the enemies finally announced that they would stage the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises, which are northward aggression war exercises, from 8 March.

Massive forces of some 18,000-strong forces, including over 10,000 troops of the US aggression forces forcibly occupying South Korea, and state-of-the-art arms and equipment are to be intensively committed to the joint military exercises. [Also,] army corps-level, fleet command-level, and flying corps-level units of the South Korean puppets and even civilian forces are to be mobilized.

The enemies describe [the joint military exercises] as annual exercises and defense, but [the exercises] are pilot operations and nuclear war exercises aimed at a surprise, preemptive attack on our Republic to all intents and purposes.

It is by no means coincidental that South Korean puppet warmongers, who colluded with the US imperialists, have been frantically staging training under all kinds of pretexts, including mid-winter tactical training, and large-scale joint ground training, from the beginning of the year, while recklessly saying that they will launch a preemptive attack by picking on our self-defensive nuclear deterrent.

This by itself revealed that the US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers are the ones who are war fanatics trying to bring in dark clouds of a nuclear war to our sacred land, while only pursuing aggravation of tension and confrontation.

We will not just keep looking at today's grave situation created by the provokers.

Each heart of our military and people, who hold a deep grudge that has built up for more than half a century due to the aggressors, is strongly seething with soaring hatred and rage against the enemies that are igniting fire to a fuse of war, while giving off the smell of gunpowder, on this land today.

If the US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers carry out the aggressive joint military exercises despite our repeated warnings, we will respond to them with our powerful military counteraction [kangnyo'khan kunsajo'k taeu'ng]; and if necessary, we will mercilessly beat to a muddy place the stronghold of aggression [ch'imnyagu'i aso'ngu'l mujabihage chukt'angch'yo'bo'rilgo'sida] by mobilizing all the offensive and defensive means, including nuclear deterrent.

[Dated] 25 February 2010, Chuch'e 99, Pyongyang.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Joint Statement by the North Korean Ministry of People's Security and Ministry of State Security

The North Korean Ministry of People's Security and Ministry of State Security issued a joint statement yesterday (February 08, 2010) entitled: "Will Mercilessly Squash Anti-Republic Fanatics Who Attempt to Harm Our Highly Dignified System and the Country's Security" while the inter-Korean talks were being held in Kaesong, North Korea, to discuss the resumption of the Mount Kumgang and City of Kaesong tours - a foreign currency cash cow for Kim Jong-il.

The statement claimed North Korea has a secret strike force to counter what it called "South Korean plots" to topple its regime.

The statement also criticized efforts by the South's military to defend the disputed Yellow Sea (West Sea) border - the Northern Limit Line - and "reckless" operations to destabilize the North.

It said, without elaborating, "We have world-level ultra-modern striking force and means for protecting security which have neither yet been mentioned nor opened to the public in total."

The North Korean state media released the statement both in Korean and in English. The Korean version was released on air via Korean Central Broadcasting Station, and the English version was released via Korean Central News Agency.

The timing and the contents of the statement suggests externally it was a tactical negotiation package that was designed to provide North Korea maneuver room in inter-Korean and international negotiations. Internally, as with numerous other statements of this kind, it was designed to assure the people the regime has everything under control and justify the regime's military and nuclear policies by pointing out the necessity of these policies due to threats posed to the North from those pesky South Korean sycophants and the American imperialists.

hmm....new statement....same old theme....

As we mentioned above, there were two versions of the statement - one in Korean released on the Korean Central Broadcasting Station, and one in English released on the Korean Central News Agency. We have uploaded both versions (to include the original Korean text) and we also compared the two versions to identify any differences.

Click here for the Korean text of statement (KCBS).
Click here for the English translation of the statement (KCBS).
Click here for the KCNA version of the statement released in English.
Click here for the comparison of two versions.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cellular Technology, the Internet, and North Korea

Obtaining current or recent information from within North Korea is an enormous challenge for the US and its allies in the region. Cellular technology and the Internet, however, have brought about new opportunities to gain access to the reclusive North.

The report about North Korea’s devaluation of its currency was first reported by a Seoul-based Internet news service called the Daily NK on November 30, 2009. This report, which made headlines around the world and was later confirmed by the South Korean government officials, had far-reaching implications. The Daily NK is one of six news outlets that have emerged in recent years specializing in collecting information from North Korea. All of these outlets have North Korean defectors as their employees and all reportedly cultivate sources inside North Korea, a country with near-total media blackout.

The information provided in the reports of these “cottage-industry” outlets are sketchy at best. They cover small pockets of the North Korean society, largely remain unconfirmed, and many are proven wrong. However, they have also produced important tips and clues - such as the currency devaluation and a recent outbreak of H1N1 flu in North Korea. Today, the traditional media outlets of South Korea regularly quote these atypical news services.

Click here for the full report.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Interviews with a former member of Kim Jong-il's "pleasure squad" Part 1 of 4

The North Korea Leadership Watch recently posted a piece titled KJI Behind Closed Doors. In the posting, there is a mention of a series of interviews with a former member of Kim Jong-il's "pleasure squad" posted on a Korean language blog called Nambuk Story. We thought it was worth a while for us to translate the interview and share the translated version with everyone.

Of all the parts of the interviews, we thought parts 5 and 6 were most interesting. So, we started our translation with parts 5 and 6. We do plan on translating the entire interview in sequence, so stayed tuned.

Here are interview parts 5 and 6:

Part 5 – Kim Jong-il’s Luxurious Underground Villa:

Joo: According to a book written by former KJI’s private chef Fujimoto Kenji, at the Sinchon Guest House, KJI once made five pleasure brigade soldiers get naked and forced them to dance with other officials. Is that possible?

Mi Hyang: KJI was very conscious of the way other officials look at him.

If he did, it would be unprecedented. But I can’t say it is impossible, because when he got drunk, he turned… hmm… somewhat perverted.

When he was drunk, he was not aware of his behavior.

I did not observe it personally, but I’ve heard that on one occasion one of his aids advised him to stop drinking (when he drank excessively), and KJI yelled “put him in jail!”

Next morning, KJI woke up and he looked for his aid. When he was told that he was put behind the bars, KJI replied “did I say that yesterday?” and he called him in again.

When he drinks, he gets drunk just like any regular person. But he always behaved in our presence… although I remember he cried once.

He never cried buckets. But he had us sing sad songs and dropped tears.

Joo: Have you read the book “KJI’s Chef” written by Mr. Fujimoto?

Mi Hyang: I know who he is, but never read his book.

When we met KJI, no one else was with us. Of course… there were a couple of aids who would lead us to him, but I never saw a chef. The food was delivered by other people. Sometimes it was delivered by an elevator.

It is true that KJI loves sushi. We ate a lot of sushi too for that reason. Maybe he (Fujimoto) made it.

I enjoyed every dish, but sushi was the best. Since I arrived in South Korea, I visited many Japanese restaurants looking for the same quality, but I am yet to taste something similar. (Because she had not read the book, we gave her a copy in late October. After reading first few pages, she read about KJI’s one week menu, and she commented as the following)

I see a lot of shark dishes (in this menu). We definitely had a lot of shark. When we first met, we had an Italian food and it came with a shark dish.

Sushi was often served on unique plates.

I have seen a sushi plate placed on a fishbowl with goldfishes swimming in it. It gave a very unusual feeling.

KJI once recommended to me something and asked if I knew what it was. When I answered I did not know, he said it was that “stuff” (genitalia) of a shark.

When I heard that, I almost vomited.

When we came back home, I asked my friend Mi-ok “why do they eat something like that, when there are many other fine food?” She answered that “stuff” was excellent for male stamina and female skin conditioning.

The book mentioned a bowl of “white rice only.” But I don’t recall eating white rice only. He always had a bowl of 5 – 6 different kinds of grain.

It was then that I first learned that it was possible to cook rice with pine nut and walnut. Well… actually when they served steak, it came with a small amount of white rice.

When we first met, KJI asked me what my favorite food was.

So I answered “I would never get sick of eating naengmyon (cold noodles).” He sounded nostalgic, and he said “My father used to enjoy naengmyon a lot… but I don’t quite like it.”

Joo: Did you meet KJI in Pyongyang only?

Mi Hyang: No. We actually traveled a lot. We visited his private villas and hunting areas.

There were so many villas I do not remember every name. When I was a student, I was not told the names, but my friend Mi-ok said, “by the time you graduate from the Central Party, you will know everything.”

If I had known I would be coming to South Korea in a few years, I would have memorized every detail. But at that moment I was not curious or cared to remember. I guess I was too young and naive. During our lessons, we were told not to ask questions.

When KJI traveled, we usually traveled a day (or at least hours) ahead and placed on stand by.

I do not want to talk about the villas right now, because it would take too long. I think KJI would hate to have people talk about his special villas.

Joo: Then please tell us about one memorable detail about his villa.

Mi Hyang: I remember we once traveled 40 minutes in car underground to get to a villa. Everything was underground.

That is why it is so memorable to me. I guess I should not call it a villa (because it is underground). The underground road had one traffic lane. It was not too narrow or too wide.

Mi-ok said, “This is a very special place to the General. Only the General and we can come to this place.”

The place an electronic game room, swimming pool, bedroom, dining room, etc. It was very luxurious.

I don’t know what South Koreans would think of it; however, to North’s standard it is extremely luxurious.

The underground villa was especially fancy. A day prior to KJI’s arrival, we used to swim in the swimming pool. Its width was narrow, but its length was about 50m.

One noticeable aspect of the swimming pool was the big portrait of KJI drawn at the bottom. The center of the portrait was decorated with golden tiles. I thought it had probably cost a lot of money. The bedroom was very impressive too.

Joo: Are there many underground villas?

Mi Hyang: Without a doubt. I would call it a “hiding place” rather than a villa. There are a lot of these places in Pyongyang.

These facilities are under civilian buildings such as People’s Great Library and Kwangbok Shopping Mall. Soundproofing is so amazing people can’t even imagine these places exist.

These hiding places have a separate exit. During the Gulf War, I saw Husain’s palaces getting bombed, but I don’t think that tactic will work in North Korea.

These are civilian buildings and damaging these underground places is not easy. Also, there are too many of these places and they are all interconnected.

Joo: Does the Body Guard Command control the roads connecting these underground facilities?

Mi Hyang: Yes. There is a special unit guarding the roads. Soldiers of this unit receive many benefits.

According to North Korean military regulations, a soldier must be at least 30 years old before he can get married. However, officers of this unit (once they reach certain age) were authorized to spend a night with a woman.

These women were usually those who were assigned to Section 5 just like me, but did not make it to the final selection process. So their physical appearance was quite remarkable. These women were separately given a different education and stayed at hotels.

I think they served to foreign VIPs. Those who were on stand by (because there was no guest), were available for soldiers.

Joo: Do other people carry any weapon when they travel to hunting areas with KJI?

Mi Hyang: When we traveled with him, nobody accompanied us. Only KJI carries a gun. Even Mi-ok was not given a gun. We practiced shooting too, but we never had a chance to shoot in front of KJI.

Body guards were very far. They usually stood 50 ~ 100m away.

KJI is a fine shooter. After the hunting was over, the pheasants caught during day was the menu for dinner. It was very delicious.

When we first went hunting together, KJI gave me a new name. He said my name was countrified and started calling me Mi-hyang.

Mi stands for beauty and Hyang stands for scent.

Since then (until I defected from NK) my name has been Mi-hyang. We had a special ID issued by the Central Party, and my name there was Mi-hyang as well.

§ The vernacular for part 5 of the interview can be located online here at Nambuk Story.


Part 6 – Actress Han Ji-min, Kim Jong-il’s Ideal Type:

Joo: I just noticed every name (Mi-ok, Mi-hyang, Mi-so, Young-mi) had the word “Mi” in it.

Mi Hyang: Yes. I believe the word Mi means his woman. Mi-so had a very pretty smile. I think that is why she was given that name. Young-mi changed her name to Mi-ae later on.

KJI had a tendency to repeat himself when he was drunk.

What it was funny was the fact that he would forget the names gave us himself.

After a couple of drinks, he used to point with his finger and constantly repeat questions such as “are you Mi-ok or Mi-hyang?”

Also, his explanation of our names changed every instance. He once said, “You know what Mi-ok means, don’t you? It means the one with beautiful skin like jade.” But after a few drinks he said, “Mi-ok stands for the one with beautiful voice like jade marble.”

Joo: Was Mi-ok’s job only to educate you?

Mi Hyang: Mi-ok was KJI’s lover and slept with him, but she was his secretary at the same time. Her conversation with KJI was very friendly and natural, but never disrespectful.

She was born in Pyongyang. She had her own luxurious house, a present from KJI, inside the Central Party building complex. But the reason she slept in 5th Section’s building was to facilitate a smoother transition period for me and to teach me more about KJI. Of course… another reason was that she was my partner.

She used to step out a lot. Sometimes she drank and came back late at dawn or in the afternoon. Sometimes she drove herself home in the Mercedes that KJI gave her.

Joo: You must have many memories of Mi-ok.

Mi Hyang: Public press must be interested in Mi-ok because she was KJI’s lover.

Mi-ok and I were roommates for two years so I have heard many things from her. But I don’t want to reveal more, because I am worried about her.

Mi-ok thought I would be her successor. But she was never jealous of me and treated me as if I was her blood sister. I was lonely in there, but she was lonely as well.

She used to hold me tightly and tell me that I would follow her steps. She also said, “you and I will live a lonely life.” Her voice was sad when she spoke those words. She was a nice person.

According to what we had learn at school, I was supposed to call her “comrade Mi-ok” but when we were alone in our room, she had me call her “sister.” She often talked about her brother who she missed a lot.

In her closet, she kept many gifts from KJI. When I described them as being very pretty, she replied, “I would like to give them to you, but I can’t because they were given by the general.”

She also said, “This is nothing compared to what I have at home. When you start serving to the General, you will be given a big house and all kinds of gifts.”

Joo: What do you think her destiny will be?

Mi Hyang: We are discharged from the military when we are 26 or 27 years old. At the time of discharge, we are junior Lt or Captain. But those who had “that kind of relationship with KJI” had to stay alone (single).

Of course we received the best treatments. After the discharge, we had the option of staying next to KJI working as his secretary.

Mi-ok conducted many miscellaneous duties for KJI, so I am sure she stayed with KJI. Her love and loyalty towards KJI was deep.

Those who were not involved in a close relationship with KJI were married with Bodyguard Command’s officers to protect the secret.

KJI displayed a basic sense of morality. He would touch my head and hold my hands, but he never called me for intimate moments because I was still a student and not over 20 years-old. I think he would have done so, if I stayed a little longer.

Joo: I am sure you have heard of Kim Ok. Is Mi-ok by any chance Kim Ok?

Mi Hyang: I do not know the name Kim Ok. I first saw her picture, when I came to South Korea. I had never seen her picture in North Korea. She looked very cute and vivacious in the pictures.

Among our group of 10 students there were people that looked like her. But as far as physical appearance, Mi-ok was far more beautiful.

And I heard the news that Kim Ok spoke to KJI casually. But the news is hard to believe because KJI likes her woman to be obedient.

The press also spoke the possibility of Kim Ok being an influential figure in politics, but that is hard to believe too. KJI is not the kind of person that shares power with a woman. Plus, I don’t think he would let the situation get to that point either.

Mi-ok was a bit ambitious and jealous and KJI did not like those qualities.

However, not everything was about physical appearances. I once saw Mi-ok treat a woman over 30 years-old with utmost respect. When I asked her who she was, Mi-ok replied, “she is the General’s secretary and gets a lot of respect from the General.” To my point of view, she was not beautiful.

Joo: How is his taste in women?

Mi Hyang: It’s hard to say. I guess I will just tell you what I felt.

First, he thinks the eyes are the most important factor. And he pays attention to the balance between the eyes and hair. He liked me because I had dark black eyes that matched with my black hair.

His philosophy of beauty is that the color of eyes and hair must match.

Then he looks at the mouth. It does not matter how pretty a girl is if she has thin lips.

The nose must be sharp.

He was very detailed. He held my hands and when he saw my fingers he said, “you must be sensitive because you have long fingers.”

He did not like heavy make-up. I once wore artificial eyelashes and he hated it. I never wore them again.

He was kind enough to teach us how to use perfume. Mi-so had once used too much perfume, so he told her to spray it in the air and bring the body into the mist.

All the cosmetic products we used were from France, such as Chanel. We were never given high heels of 5 cm or more.

That was probably because of his height. He did not like it when a woman was taller than him. His favorite female outfit was skirts with pleats. So we wore lots of that design.

We could spend nights just talking about this topic.

Joo: Suppose South Korean actresses were born in North Korea. In your opinion, who would the best chance to be picked by KJI?

Mi Hyang: Well… it’s hard to say because the standard of beauty is different in South and North.

In South, the face is not that important because one can always “manufacture” it. However, the body and height are important factors to South Koreans. It does not matter how pretty you are, if you are not tall - you will never win the Miss Korea Beauty Contest.

That is why it is hard to find any actress that did not have plastic surgery.

To be picked by KJI, you must be a natural beauty. Any history of plastic surgery or correction would serve as a negative. The height should be appropriate.

If I had to choose one without considering is she had plastic surgery or not, hmm… (she spent a long time to think) the first one that comes to my mind is the leading actress from Korean drama “Isan”. She had the role of Song-yon. She is small and pretty.

*I looked for her name after the interview and it was Han Ji-min.

I have heard the news that Lee Young-ae is KJI’s favorite style of woman. I don’t know who made that story up, but I don’t think that is correct.

There are many rumors of some North Korean actress being KJI’s lover.

I don’t know how it was in the 70s, but I don’t think that has been the case since the 5th Section was established.

Members of the 5th Section are selected among the most beautiful women in the country. So why would he take chances of dating someone risking to become a public rumor? That does not make sense to me.

§ The vernacular for part 6 of the interview can be located online here at Nambuk Story.