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Posts by Martyn Williams
With Japan and North Korea starting to talk again about the abductee issue, there’s a possibility that Japan could lift some of the travel restrictions it currently places on travel between the two countries.
That could include a resumption of sailings by the Mangyongbong-92, a passenger and cargo ferry that used to travel between Niigata and Wonsan.
The ferry was an important link between Japan and North Korea for the thousands of Japanese residents whose families hail from towns and cities that are now part of North Korea.
(Just as I was putting the finishing touches to this post, the AP wrote a More >
When he wasn’t taking stunning panorama photographs around Pyongyang, Singapore-based photographer Aram Pan had time to visit this year’s Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair (평양봄철국제상품전람회).
The fair was twice as big this year as it had been in 2013 according to state media, and it’s easy to see why when you watch a 3-minute video shot by Pan.
The place is bustling with people browsing and buying all manner of products.
As Pan notes in the opening of the video, all transactions that take place at the event are settled in Chinese Yuan, Euros or U.S. Dollars. In fact, a booth worker can be seen handling U.S. More >
The U.S. Air Force didn’t waste much time in putting into use two high-tech drones that it moved from Guam to Japan earlier this month.
The drones arrived at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan on May 24 and the first operational mission was flown on June 6, according to information released Friday by the U.S. Air Force.
Precise details of the mission or its destination were not disclosed, but from their base in Misawa the drones are much closer to North Korea and so can spend longer flying over the country if needed.
The U.S. Air Force’s 35th Fighter Wing said weather on June More >
One of the most popular YouTube channels carrying North Korean content appears to have closed.
DPRK Music Channel posted music videos of North Korean patriotic songs and traditional ballads, usually sourced from Korean Central TV. The channel had amassed more than 1.3 million views as of February this year, making it the number six most popular channel although within striking distance of the fifth- and fourth-ranked channels.
But visit its YouTube channel page today and all you see is a message saying the account has been deleted.
The More >
South Korea has stepped up propaganda radio broadcasts targeted at North Korea and attracted a fast response from the country.
Voice of Freedom, one of three government-run radio stations that broadcasts to the north, launched a tentative shortwave service at the beginning of May, but the signal is already being aggressively blocked by the North Korean authorities.
The station is operated by South Korea’s Ministry of Defense and has been broadcasting towards North Korea for years. Programming was halted in 2004 after an inter-Korean friendship accord but was resumed in 2010, shortly after the South Korean Cheonan corvette was sunk with the loss of 46 More >
The Korea National Insurance Corp., North Korea’s state insurance company, has its own website.
The company, which in the past has been accused of orchestrating international insurance fraud, offers basic information about itself and its financial health. While the site appears to be new, the information on it in both English and Korean dates to only 2012.
The official financial information shows a business that’s growing — just be sure to read the chart from right to left — with the amount of premiums and net worth up every year since 2008. But net profits have been sliding in recent years, down 40 percent in More >
Almost 70 companies publicly traded on U.S. stock markets have found North Korean gold in their manufacturing supply chains.
Among the more prominent names are electronics companies IBM, HP, Garmin, Philips and Seagate, U.S. kitchenware retailer Willams Sonoma.
The discoveries were disclosed in reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that are the result of a new law that mandates companies audit their suppliers and identify sources of so-called conflict minerals: gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum.
The companies all named North Korea’s central bank as the source of some gold that made its way into their products.
North Korea has strict controls on internal movement, a scarcity of private car ownership and almost no Internet users. And now it’s also got satellite navigation through Google Maps.
The service is available through the web and mobile apps and allows users to calculate travel time by car or foot between points of interest in the Google database. It’s limited to roads that have already been mapped out on the service.
It’s been over a year since Google began adding roads, buildings, railway lines and other data to its map of North Korea. The country had for years appeared as a grey void but that More >
Four remaining members of the Japanese Red Army Faction terrorist group living on the outskirts of Pyongyang might not be enjoying as free a lifestyle as recently portrayed.
The four are the last members of a group of nine who hijacked JAL351, a Boeing 727, on March 31, 1970, and eventually took the aircraft to Pyongyang. They have been living in the so-called “Japanese village” since then.
Earlier in May, Japan’s Kyodo News published photographs of the village taken by journalist Reinin Shiino, who visited the area on the banks of the Taedong river in late April, according to the news agency.