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 began to change when users were asked to help start building the map.
“We encourage people from around the world to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps for everyone with Google Map Maker,” the company said in January 2013. “From this point forward, any further approved updates to the North Korean maps in Google Map Maker will also appear on Google Maps.”
As a result of that call for action, and perhaps additional information obtained by Google, users can now do things like this:
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.
One of the photographs shows group member Moriaki Wakabayashi accessing a computer. Another image shows three satellite dishes in the garden near one of the houses.
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.