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North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a sharp criticism over the weekend of U.S. funding of technology projects that attack censorship.
The commentary, published on Saturday, points to dissatisfaction among the North Korean elite with U.S. funding of projects that enable the free flow of information and bypass Internet censorship.
It comes as U.S. State Dept.’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) is evaluating proposals for its latest round of funding aimed at human rights and democracy in North Korea. The DRL is offering up to $350,000 to organizations for projects targeted at the DPRK.
The U.S. Air Force’s Global Hawk drone landed in Japan for the first time on Saturday.
The aircraft is one of the most advanced unmanned craft in the world and is typically used for surveillance and eavesdropping missions from its perch at around 60,000 feet — well above the level of commercial aircraft but lower than the maximum altitude of the U2 spy plane.
Usually based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the Global Hawk landed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan on Thursday, May 24, as part of a bilateral deal with Japan signed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in October last year. The deployment isn’t permanent but the U.S. hasn’t said how long it will last.
Imports of digital TV sets to North Korea are sharply higher in the first few months of this year compared to last year, according to Yonhap News.
Citing data from the Korea International Trade Association, Yonhap said China shipped just under $18 million worth of digital TVs to North Korea in the first four months of 2014, up 338 percent from the $4 million in the same period of 2013.
Yonhap tied the rise to earlier reports than North Korea is planning to introduce digital TV broadcasting.
In March 2013, a report on the Naenara website said trial broadcasting had begun in 2012.
“On the basis of the trial introduction of digital TV broadcasting last year the ministry is working to lay the material and technical foundation for applying it stage by stage while developing programs and introducing facilities,” it said.
A visit to North Korea by the executive director of the UN World Food Programme this week has provided a glimpse inside a handful of state-run establishments that care for babies and new mothers.
The pictures, shot by the WFP on May 20, showed several stops on the visit by Ertharin Cousin, which lasted from May 19 to May 21.
The children in the images don’t appear to be suffering from some of the chronic malnutrition witnessed in the past in North Korea, but their ages are unclear and it’s not known whether the facilities were given notice of Cousin’s visit or the locations were selected by the government.
Cousin was in North Korea to gain a better understanding of the humanitarian needs and food security situation in the country and to see some of her organization’s work. The WFP produces specialized nutritious food and supplies it to children in hospitals, baby homes, nurseries and schools but its operations in the DPRK are only 24 percent funded. More >
By Tara Conlan, TheGuardian.com
BBC News should consider partnerships with foreign broadcasters and look at launching new services, such as radio news for North Korea or a TV channel in Africa, according to a report.
Sir Howard Stringer’s report, commissioned by BBC head of news James Harding, offers a range of recommendations to expand its services to help achieve the corporation’s ambition of serving a global audience of 500 million by 2022.
The corporation’s non-executive director said that BBC News should consider a “comprehensive” partnership with another national or international broadcaster, involving “deeper” newsgathering collaboration.
Singapore-based photographer Aram Pan is providing a new way to look at Pyongyang through some spectacular panoramic images and GoPro videos.
I brought along a Nikon D800 and a D7000,” he said.
“You don’t need specialized cameras to shoot great panoramas at all. In fact, even a cheap DSLR in the right hands produces far better panoramas than anything those expensive Google street view systems can achieve. You really can’t ever take the photographer out of the equation when it comes to good image capturing.” More >
The revelation by North Korean state media on Sunday that Pyongyang suffered a major construction accident underlines how strong the regime’s grip on information flow remains, despite cracks appearing in recent years.
The accident occurred on Tuesday, according to the domestic media reports, but the world didn’t hear anything about the incident until those first reports were published on Sunday. By then, the rescue efforts had been completed and, apparent from images, the site had already been cleared of all debris.
The reports were unclear about the exact accident and number of casualties, but it appears likely an entire apartment block collapsed causing many tens of deaths.
The 17th annual Pyongyang’s Spring International Trade Fair (평양봄철국제상품전람회) was held last week and attracted around 300 companies, according to domestic media reports.
The 2014 fair appears to have significantly grown in size from 140 companies in 2013 and for the first time occupied two halls at the Three-Revolution Exhibition House: the New Technology Innovation Hall and the Heavy Industry Hall.
“The fair is more diverse in style of display than the past, and it witnesses more active consultation among companies for economic and technological exchanges and businesses,” KCNA reported.