When the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office released details of its North Korean program spending recently, some eyes were immediately drawn to the £287.33 the government paid for rights to show the BBC’s Sherlock at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2012.
Never mind that it had been reported at the time, it got all the attention. But there’s more of interest in the report, which was issued in response to a freedom of information request.
The U.S. government said Wednesday that it is concerned about a fourth round of missile launched by North Korea, in part because the country didn’t notify shipping and aviation traffic of its plans.
Speaking at a scheduled news conference, State Dept. Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters the launches won’t bring security to the DPRK.
“We once again note with concern North Korea’s apparent failure to provide prior notification to merchant ships, fishing vessels, and passenger and cargo aircraft in the vicinity, despite international provisions to do so,” she said. “We once again urge North Korea to refrain from taking provocative actions, and instead fulfill its international obligations and commitment.” More >
North Korea has taken its outrage over a new Hollywood movie to the United Nations.
Ja Song Nam, the country’s ambassador to the U.N., sent a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on June 27 with a copy of a Korean Central News Agency article that expressed displeasure at “The Interview,” a movie by Seth Rogen and James Franco.
The movie is described by its makers as an “action comedy” and has Franco and Rogen running a celebrity tabloid TV show.
“When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.”
North Korea isn’t amused by the plot line. More >
North Korea has roughly doubled the number of hackers it employs to conduct cyber-attacks, South Korea’s Yonhap News said on Sunday.
The news agency quoted an unidentified military source as saying North Korea “appears to have” 5,900 personnel for cyber-warfare, up from about 3,000 people two years ago.
Yonhap didn’t disclose how its source had access to the current information. More >
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 story on the ship and what it means to ties with Japan. Read that here.)
The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon, 在日本朝鮮人総聯合会), which paid for the ferry, once published a tour book for people heading to Pyongyang. I picked up a copy at the Chongryon book store a couple of years ago and thought it would fun to look back at a time when trips between the two countries a much simpler task than today.
The book is called “Chosen appealing travel” and was published on August 15, 1996, by 朝鮮新聞社, the Chosen Newspaper Co. in Tokyo. It cost 1,350 yen at the time.
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. currency in one scene in the video. This isn’t perhaps surprising when many retailers and products have come from overseas.
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 6 was poor and ordinarily all airfield operations would have been canceled, but the drones were able to take off. That spotlighted “the Global Hawk’s ability to fly in adverse weather conditions,” it said. More >