Tag Archives: North Korea

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[VIDEO] John Oliver Covers Inter-Korean Tensions, K-pop on ‘Last Week Tonight’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

John Oliver opened Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight with some witty remarks on North and South Korea’s tense standoff.

“We begin in North Korea—named best Korea for 70 years running by North Korea Magazine,” Oliver quipped before showing a clip of CNN reporting on inter-Korean tensions. (Note: CNN mistakenly used photos of the South Korean army while reporting about North Korea’s military actions.)

Earlier this month, two South Korean soldiers were maimed after triggering mines along the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone. The United Nations and the South Korean Defense Ministry claimed that North Korean soldiers had planted three land mines near South Korean military guard posts.

In response, Seoul resumed anti-North Korean propaganda broadcasts for the first time in 11 years. The move infuriated Pyongyang, leading the capital to declare a “quasi state of war” last week. After 40-plus-hours of talks, South Korea agreed on Tuesday to halt its loudspeaker broadcasts in exchange for an apology from the North.

“Look, North Korea. If your neighbor is blasting horrible noise at all hours of the day, you do not retaliate with war. You wait until the next morning and leave a passive aggressive note,” Oliver joked. “There is an etiquette for how we handle this stuff.”

The host also poked fun at how South Korea was blasting K-pop songs in addition to criticism about Kim Jong-un’s regime.

“Now, they haven’t said exactly what music they’ve been playing, but I hope it’s some of the better K-pop stuff,” Oliver said before listing Neon Bunny, Uhm Jung-hwa, Jo Sung-mo and the original five-member band TVXQ as some of his favorites.

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North and South Korea Find a Way to Avoid Disaster, Reach Deal

Above photo: South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin addresses reporters in Seoul shortly after 2 a.m. following three days of “marathon talks” with North Korea. (Reuters)

by HYUNG-JIN KIM and FOSTER KLUG
Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After 40-plus-hours of talks, North and South Korea on Tuesday pulled back from the brink with an accord that allows both sides to save face and, for the moment, avert the bloodshed they’ve been threatening each other with for weeks.

In a carefully crafted, though vague, piece of diplomacy, Pyongyang expressed “regret” that two South Korean soldiers were maimed in a recent land mine blast Seoul blamed on the North. While not an acknowledgement of responsibility, let alone the “definite apology” South Korea’s president had demanded, it allows Seoul to claim some measure of victory in holding the North to account.

South Korea, for its part, agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts on the border, which will let the authoritarian North trumpet to its people a propaganda win over its bitter rival — and put an end to hated loudspeaker messages that outside analysts say could demoralize front-line troops and inspire them to defect.

The agreement marks a good first step in easing animosity that has built since South Korea blamed North Korea for the mine explosion at the border earlier this month and restarted the propaganda broadcasts in retaliation. But, as always on the Korean Peninsula, it’s unclear how long the good mood will continue.

Despite South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s expression of hope that the North’s “regret” will help improve the Koreas’ relationship, the accord does little to address the many fundamental, long-standing differences. The announcement of further talks to be held soon in either Seoul or Pyongyang could be a beginning, but the Koreas have a history of failing to follow through on their promises and allowing simmering animosity to interrupt diplomacy.

The negotiations that began Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, where the Koreas agreed to the 1953 ceasefire that stopped fighting in the Korean War, also resulted in Pyongyang agreeing to lift a “quasi-state of war” declared last week, according to South Korea’s presidential office and North Korea’s state media.

While this declaration was largely a matter of rhetoric — the border is the world’s most heavily armed and there has never been a formal peace agreement ending the Korean War, so the area is always essentially in a “quasi-state of war” — there had been growing worry about South Korean reports that the North continued to prepare for a fight during the talks, moving unusual numbers of troops and submarines to the border.

The Koreas also struck an important humanitarian agreement by promising to resume in September the emotional reunions of families separated by the Korean War. They said more reunions would follow, but there were no immediate details.

In a signal of North Korea’s seriousness, Pyongyang sent to the talks Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People’s Army and considered by outside analysts to be North Korea’s second most important official after supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

“I hope the two sides faithfully implement the agreements and build up (mutual) confidence through a dialogue and cooperation and that it serves as a chance to work out new South-North relations,” chief South Korean negotiator and presidential national security director Kim Kwan-jin said in a televised news conference.

The United States quickly welcomed the agreement and the prospect of tensions dropping.

Kim, the Seoul negotiator, described the North’s expression of “regret” as an apology and said the loudspeaker campaign would end at noon Tuesday unless an “abnormal” event occurs.

Pyongyang had denied involvement in the land mine explosions and rejected Seoul’s report that Pyongyang launched an artillery barrage last week. South Korea’s military fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border in response and said the North’s artillery strikes were meant to back up an earlier threat to attack the loudspeakers. There were no details on whether the North addressed the artillery claim in Tuesday’s deal.

These were the highest-level talks between the two Koreas in a year, and the length of the sessions was no surprise.

While the Koreas have difficulty agreeing to talks, once they do, marathon sessions are often the rule. After decades of animosity and bloodshed, finding common ground is a challenge. During the latest Panmunjom talks, the first session lasted about 10 hours and the second session about 33 hours.

The negotiations started just hours ahead of a Saturday deadline set by North Korea for the South to dismantle the propaganda loudspeakers. North Korea had declared that its front-line troops were in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if Seoul did not back down.

South Korean defense officials said during the talks that about 70 percent of the North’s more than 70 submarines and undersea vehicles had left their bases and could not be located by the South Korean military. They also said the North had doubled the strength of its front-line artillery forces since the start of the talks.

It was not immediately clear whether North Korea pulled back its submarines and troops after the agreement was announced.

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Seoul Takes Hard Line as Talks Between Rival Koreas Drag On

by FOSTER KLUG and HYUNG-JIN KIM
Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s president vowed a hard line on Monday as marathon negotiations between senior officials of the two Koreas stretched into a third day in an attempt to defuse a crisis that had the rivals threatening war.

President Park Geun-hye said that without a clear North Korean apology for a land mine attack that maimed two soldiers, the anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts that infuriate the North will continue. Her strong words provide a good hint at why the talks, which started Saturday evening and whose second session began Sunday afternoon and was still continuing more than 28 hours later, have dragged on.

Both sides want to find a face-saving way to avoid an escalation that could lead to bloodshed, especially the North, which is outmatched militarily by Seoul and its ally, the United States.

But authoritarian Pyongyang must also show its people that it is standing up to bitter enemy Seoul. Pyongyang has denied involvement in the land mine explosions and also rejected Seoul’s report that Pyongyang launched an artillery barrage last week — so winning an apology will be difficult work. The North, for its part, demands that Seoul stop the propaganda broadcasts started in retaliation for the land mine attack.

For now, the attempt at diplomacy has pushed aside previous heated warnings of imminent war, but South Korea’s military said North Korea has continued to prepare for a fight, moving unusual numbers of troops and submarines to the border.

These are the highest-level talks between the two Koreas in a year. And just the fact that senior officials from countries that have spent recent days vowing to destroy each other are sitting together at a table in Panmunjom, the border enclave where the 1953 armistice ending fighting in the Korean War was agreed to, is something of a victory.

The length of the talks and the lack of immediate progress are not unusual. While the Koreas often have difficulty agreeing to talks, once they do, overlong sessions are often the rule. After decades of animosity and bloodshed, however, finding common ground is much harder.

President Park said during a meeting with top aides that Seoul would not “stand down even if North Korea ratchets up provocation to its highest level and threatens our national security.”

She said Seoul needs “a definite apology” and a promise that such provocations would not recur.

The decision to hold talks came hours ahead of a Saturday deadline set by North Korea for the South to dismantle the propaganda loudspeakers. North Korea had declared that its front-line troops were in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if Seoul did not back down.

South Korea said that even as the North was pursuing dialogue, its troops were preparing for battle.

An official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry said about 70 percent of the North’s more than 70 submarines and undersea vehicles had left their bases and were undetectable by the South Korean military as of Saturday. The official, who refused to be named because of official rules, also said the North had doubled the strength of its front-line artillery forces since the start of the talks Saturday evening.

South Korean military officials wouldn’t confirm or deny a Yonhap news agency report, citing unidentified military sources, that said North Korea had moved toward the border about 10 hovercraft used for landings by special operation forces in the event of a war.

The standoff started with the explosions of land mines on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas that Seoul says were planted by North Korea. In response, the South resumed anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts for the first time in 11 years, infuriating the North, which is extremely sensitive to any criticism of its authoritarian system. Analysts say the North fears that the broadcasts could demoralize its front-line troops and inspire them to defect.

On Thursday, South Korea’s military fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border in response to what Seoul said were North Korean artillery strikes meant to back up an earlier threat to attack the loudspeakers.

A Defense Ministry official said the South continued the anti-Pyongyang broadcasts even after the start of the talks Saturday and also after the second session began Sunday. He said Seoul would decide after the talks whether to halt the broadcasts.

While the meeting offered a way for the rivals to avoid an immediate collision, South Korea probably can’t afford to walk away with a weak agreement after it openly vowed to stem a “vicious cycle” of North Korean provocations amid public anger over the land mines, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Dongguk University.

At the meeting, South Korea’s presidential national security director, Kim Kwan-jin, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo sat down with Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People’s Army, and Kim Yang Gon, a senior North Korean official responsible for South Korean affairs. Hwang is considered by outside analysts to be North Korea’s second most important official after supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

In Pyongyang, North Korean state media reported that more than 1 million young people have volunteered to join or rejoin the military to defend their country should a conflict break out.

Despite such highly charged rhetoric, which is not particularly unusual, activity in the North’s capital remained calm on Sunday, with people going about their daily routines. Truckloads of soldiers singing martial songs could occasionally be seen driving around the city, and a single minivan with camouflage netting was parked near the main train station.


Associated Press writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul and Eric Talmadge in Pyongyang contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Featured image via AP Video (screenshot)

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President Park Geun-hye (C, front) visits the headquarters of Third Army in the city of Yongin, just south of Seoul, on Aug. 21, 2015, amid heightened tensions raised by the two Koreas' shelling across the inter-Korean border the previous day, in this photo released by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae

North Korea Warns of War With South After Artillery Fire

Pictured above: President Park Geun-hye visits the headquarters of Third Army in the city of Yongin, just south of Seoul, on Aug. 21, 2015, amid heightened tensions raised by the two Koreas’ shelling across the inter-Korean border the previous day. (Photo courtesy of the Blue House/Yonhap)

by ERIC TALMADGE and HYUNG-JIN KIM
Associated Press

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday declared his front-line troops in a “quasi-state of war” and ordered them to prepare for battle a day after the most serious confrontation between the rivals in years.

South Korea’s military on Thursday fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border in response to what Seoul said were North Korean artillery strikes meant to back up a threat to attack loudspeakers broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda.

The spike in tensions prompted the U.S. and South Korea to halt an annual military exercise that began this week, U.S. defense officials said Friday. North Korea had criticized the drills, calling them a preparation for invasion, although the U.S. and South Korea insist they are defensive in nature.

The North’s declaration Friday is similar to its other warlike rhetoric in recent years, including repeated threats to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire,” and the huge numbers of soldiers and military equipment already stationed along the border mean the area is always essentially in a “quasi-state of war.” Still, the North’s apparent willingness to test Seoul with military strikes and its recent warning of further action raise worries because South Korea has vowed to hit back with overwhelming strength should North Korea attack again.

Pyongyang says it did not fire anything at the South, a claim Seoul dismissed as nonsense.

Kim Jong-un ordered his troops to “enter a wartime state” and be fully ready for any military operations starting Friday evening, according to a report in Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency. The North has also given Seoul a deadline of Saturday evening to remove border loudspeakers that, after a lull of 11 years, have started broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda. Failure, Pyongyang says, will result in further military action. Seoul has vowed to continue the broadcasts.

The North’s media report said that “military commanders were urgently dispatched for operations to attack South Korean psychological warfare facilities if the South doesn’t stop operating them.”

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing an unidentified government source, reported Friday that South Korean and U.S. surveillance assets detected the movement of vehicles carrying short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles in a possible preparation for launches. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report.

North Korea said the South Korean shells fired Thursday landed near four military posts but caused no injuries. No one was reported injured in the South, either, though hundreds were evacuated from front-line towns.

The loudspeaker broadcasts began after South Korea accused the North of planting land mines that maimed two South Korean soldiers earlier this month. North Korea denies this, too.

Authoritarian North Korea, which has also restarted its own propaganda broadcasts, is extremely sensitive to any criticism of its government, run by leader Kim Jong Un, whose family has ruled since the North was founded in 1948. The loudspeaker broadcasts are taken seriously in Pyongyang because the government does not want its soldiers and residents to hear outsiders criticize human rights abuses and economic mismanagement that condemns many to abject poverty, South Korean analysts say.

North Korea on Thursday afternoon first fired a single round believed to be from an anti-aircraft gun, which landed near a South Korean border town, Seoul said. About 20 minutes later, three North Korean artillery shells fell on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas. South Korea responded with dozens of 155-millimeter artillery rounds, according to South Korean defense officials.

South Korea’s military warned Friday that North Korea must refrain from engaging in “rash acts” or face strong punishment, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

South Korea raised its military readiness to its highest level. Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Jeon Ha-kyu told a televised news conference that South Korea is ready to repel any additional provocation.

Escalation is a risk in any military exchange between the Koreas because after two attacks blamed on Pyongyang killed 50 South Koreans in 2010, South Korea’s military warned that any future North Korean attack could trigger strikes by South Korea that are three times as large.

Many in Seoul are accustomed to ignoring or discounting North Korea’s repeated threats, but the latest have caused worry because of Pyongyang’s warning of strikes if the South doesn’t tear down its loudspeakers by Saturday evening. Observers say the North may need some save-facing measure to back down.

See Also: N. Korea Threatens Strikes Over South’s Propaganda Broadcasts

This is what happened in December 2010, when North Korea backed off an earlier warning of catastrophic retaliation after South Korea defiantly went ahead with live-fire drills near the country’s disputed western sea boundary. A month earlier, when South Korea staged similar drills, the North reacted with an artillery bombardment that killed four people on a South Korean border island. North Korea said it didn’t respond to the second drill because South Korea conducted it in a less provocative way, though the South said both drills were the same.

The rivals also were at odds over the annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that began Monday. U.S. defense officials said the exercise has been halted amid the growing tensions with North Korea.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the U.S. is monitoring the situation. It was unclear whether the exercise, which was scheduled to end next Friday, would resume.

On Friday, residents evacuated in the South Korean town near where the shell fell, Yeoncheon, returned home, officials said. Yonhap reported that a total of about 2,000 residents along the border were evacuated Thursday.

Pyongyang was mostly business as usual Friday morning, although propaganda vans with loudspeakers broadcast the state media line that the country was in a “quasi-state of war” to people in the streets.

North Korean officials held a pair of rare briefings Friday to try to win support for their country’s ultimatum that South Korea stop anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday.

Kim Yong-chol, director of the general reconnaissance bureau of the North Korean army, in what was described as an “emergency situation briefing” for diplomats and military attaches in Pyongyang, said all front-line units are on full war readiness. He gave no details on what kind of military retaliation North Korea would consider appropriate “punishment” for the South.

In Beijing, at the North Korean Embassy, Ambassador Ji Jae Ryong told reporters that South Korea’s psychological warfare had “gone beyond the limits of tolerance.”

South Korea has said the two soldiers wounded in the mine explosions were on a routine patrol in the southern part of the DMZ that separates the two Koreas. One soldier lost both legs and the other one leg.

The Koreas’ mine-strewn DMZ is a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war. About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.


Kim reported from Seoul. AP writers Foster Klug in Seoul, Chris Bodeen in Beijing, and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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N. Korea Threatens Strikes Over South’s Propaganda Broadcasts

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by FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday threatened to attack South Korean loudspeakers that are broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda messages across their shared border, the world’s most heavily armed.

The warning follows Pyongyang’s earlier denial that it had planted land mines on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone that maimed two South Korean soldiers last week. Seoul retaliated for those injuries by restarting the loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts for the first time in 11 years and suggested more actions could follow.

The authoritarian North is extremely sensitive about insults of its leader, Kim Jong Un, and tries to isolate its people from any criticism or suggestions that Kim is anything other than powerful and revered.

North Korea’s army said in a statement that the broadcasts are equivalent to a declaration of war and that a failure to immediately stop them and take down the loudspeakers would result in “an all-out military action of justice to blow up all means for ‘anti-north psychological warfare'” on the front lines.

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said that her government will firmly respond to any provocation, and urged Pyongyang to “wake up” from the delusion that it could maintain its government with provocation and threats, which Park claimed would only result in isolation and destruction.

Park said that if the North opts for dialogue and cooperation, it will find opportunities to improve the lives of its people. She also urged the North to accept the South’s proposals for building a “peace park” at the DMZ and for reunions of families separated by the border.

Such bombast from the North isn’t unusual and this is not the first time Pyongyang has threatened to attack its enemies. Seoul is often warned that it will be reduced to a “sea of fire” if it doesn’t do as the North bids, and Washington and Seoul were both threatened with nuclear annihilation in the months after Kim Jong Un took power in late 2011.

Pyongyang’s threats are rarely backed up, although the North did launch an artillery attack in 2010 that killed four South Koreans. Earlier that year, a Seoul-led international investigation blamed a North Korean torpedo for a warship sinking that killed 46 South Koreans.

On Friday, responding to the allegations by Seoul and the U.S.-led U.N. Command that North Korean soldiers buried the land mines, Pyongyang’s powerful National Defense Commission argued that Seoul fabricated the evidence and demanded video proof to support the argument that Pyongyang was responsible. The explosions resulted in one soldier losing both legs and another soldier one leg.

Officials said the mine planting violates the armistice that stopped fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War, which still technically continues because there has never been a formal peace treaty.

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Associated Press writers Youkyung Lee and Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tinder Claims It Has North Koreans Users

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Tinder threw a public tantrum on Twitter earlier this week in response to a Vanity Fair article that criticized the app’s hook-up culture and its users.

In more than 30 tweets, Tinder argued in points of 140-character-or-less for why #GenerationTinder is a thing and why having users in China and North Korea somehow validates its product of “amazing experiences” and “meaningful connections.”

Tinder did release a statement acknowledging the outburst and overreacting. But the big question now is then, are there actually Tinder users in North Korea?

Vox Media is calling bullsh-t. For one, North Korea’s only legal smartphone, called the “Arirang,” is quite incapable of doing much other than running an old, probably crippled version of Android and a few rip-off apps. The hardware probably can’t handle Tinder, let alone run Flappy Bird at the proper frame rate.

Any foreign smart devices smuggled in won’t be able to connect to North Korean cell services or Internet-connected WiFi. Currently, only foreigners are able to access WiFi through their mobile devices by purchasing an overpriced SIM card from North Korean telecommunications company Koryolink. Most North Koreans use foreign devices as storage for (often illegal) content, including music, movies and TV shows.

Lastly, it could just be the foreigners in North Korea who are using Tinder. Chinese tourists, who are allowed to use smartphones, or businesspeople spending time in Pyongyang, might have opened Tinder out of curiosity or boredom. That might explain why Tinder was receiving location pings from the area. It could also have been Dennis Rodman.

In any case, the best thing about this has been the memes, especially ones showcasing Kim Jong-un on Tinder. Thank you, Internet.


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FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2011, photo, a North Korean waitress walks through a door under a clock with Chinese emblems at a restaurant in Rason city in North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

North Korea Creates Its Own Time Zone to Snub Japan

Pictured above: A North Korean waitress walks through a door under a clock with Chinese emblems at a restaurant in Rason city in North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. (Photo courtesy of Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

by HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has no time for Japan. Not anymore, at least.

The country will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back by 30 minutes its current standard time, a legacy of the Japanese colonial rule.

The new time zone will take effect Aug. 15 — the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule at the end of World War II, North Korea’s official Central News Agency said Friday. The establishment of “Pyongyang time” will root out that legacy, it said.

Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan’s rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945.

“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land with 5,000-year-long history and culture and pursuing the unheard-of policy of obliterating the Korean nation,” the KCNA dispatch said.

The North’s move appears to be aimed at bolstering the leadership of young leader Kim Jong Un with anti-Japan, nationalistic sentiments, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Kim took power upon the death of his dictator father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

Many Koreans, especially the elderly, on both sides of the border still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its colonial occupation. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labor conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war.

South Korea says it uses the same time zone as Japan because it’s more practical and conforms to international practice.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Friday that the North’s action could bring minor disruption at a jointly-run industrial park at the North Korean border city of Kaesong and other inter-Korean affairs. Spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said the North’s new time zone could also hamper efforts to narrow widening differences between the Koreas.

The two Koreas were divided into the capitalist, U.S.-backed South and the socialist, Soviet-supported North after their 1945 liberation. They remain split along the world’s most heavily fortified border since their 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Most time zones in the world differ in increments of an hour and only a small number of countries like India, Iran and Myanmar use zones that are offset by a half-hour. Nepal is offset by 45 minutes.

The time zone that North Korea plans to use is what a single Korea adopted in 1908, though the peninsula came under the same Japanese zone in 1912, two years after Tokyo’s colonial occupation began. After the liberation, North Korea has maintained the current time zone, while South Korea had briefly used the old zone from 1954 to 1961.

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Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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6 Facts About North Korean Weddings

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

In a weekly NK News column, a North Korean defector recently answered a reader’s question about the traditions of North Korean weddings. Here are five things we’ve learned about tying the knot in the hermit kingdom.

1. Here comes the bride dressed in hanbok

wedding-1(Photo via Koryo Group)

While many South Koreans follow the Western wedding dress code of white gowns and tuxes, North Korean weddings are similar to the ceremonies you see on historical Korean dramas. Brides wear hanboks, or traditional Korean garb. Some hanboks are white with colorful embroidered flowers, while others are a combination of bright pink, red and yellow.

2. Live chickens on the altar

Hochzeit_Chicken(Photo courtesy of Asien-Zuhouse)

Traditional Korean wedding ceremonies require a live hen and rooster wrapped in red and blue cloths to be set on a ceremonial table. Although most South Koreans now hold Western-style weddings, North Koreans still follow this old tradition. During the ceremony, guests place flowers and dates into the the hen’s beak. Meanwhile, the rooster’s beak gets stuffed with red chili.

 

3. You can’t walk down the aisle on Feb. 16 and April 15

800px-Mansudae_Grand_Monument_08(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Most North Koreans choose to wed on weekends, national holidays or after-work hours. However, couples are forbidden from getting married on the birthdays of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which are on April 15 and Feb. 16, respectively.

 

4. North Korean elites go big on their weddings

An average North Korean wedding is usually a small and utilitarian event that’s held at the bride’s home, but North Korean elites tend to throw weddings in hotel ballrooms or VIP lounges. “The more, the merrier” is the golden rule for these fancy weddings since the number of guests represents the couple’s social standing. Distinguished guests often give grooms a watch as a wedding gift.

 

5. Bouquets for Kim Il-sung

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North Korean bridesmaids don’t have to fight when it comes to catching the bouquet. After the ceremony, the bride and groom visit the statue of Kim Il-sung to bestow it flowers. Many couples also take their wedding photos at the monument out of a sense of obligation.

 

6. No honeymoons

jeju island(Photo via Beauty Scenery)

Most South Korean and American couples travel abroad after their wedding, but there is no such thing as a honeymoon in North Korea. Newlyweds in the isolated country are expected to return to work the day after their wedding.

See Also

 

North Korean Couples Mark Engagement with Mobile Phones

South Korean Brides and Grooms Hire Fake Wedding Guests

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Featured image courtesy of Clay Gilliland/Flickr

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