North Korea is preparing for yet another nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch, said South Korea’s defense minister.
Cho Won-jin, South Korean parliamentary intelligence committee’s senior member, said North Korea is planning to reaffirm public confidence with the nuclear test by shifting attention from the recent execution of Jang Song-thaek, the country’s second most powerful man and the uncle of leader Kim Jong-un. Cho did not specify further details or dates of when the North will carry out its nuclear and rocket plans.
“There’s not only a sign [that the North will carry out its nuclear plans], but also a strong possibility,” Cho told the Korea Times. “This could be a strategic move to gain leverage in future negotiations with China on various issues.” Continue Reading »
South Korean Leader Warns of Possible ‘Provocations’ From North
New York Times
President Park Geun-hye ordered the South Korean military and police on Monday to increase vigilance, especially along the disputed western sea border with North Korea. She warned that the North might attempt armed provocations after the recent purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was believed to have been the North’s second most powerful official.
“Given the recent series of incidents in North Korea, there is uncertainty over the direction in which the political situation there will develop,” Ms. Park’s office quoted her as saying during a meeting with senior aides. “We cannot rule out contingencies like reckless provocations from the North.”
Ms. Park’s warning over what she called “the gravity and unpredictability of the current situation” came as officials and analysts in the region were scrambling to determine what Mr. Jang’s execution might mean for the stability, internal politics and foreign policy of North Korea, an opaque, nuclear-armed nation with an inexperienced leader, Kim Jong-un, who is believed to be 30 years old.
John Kerry Compares Kim Jong Un to Saddam Hussein, Says Uncle’s Execution Shows ‘Ominous’ Sign of Instability
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking exclusively to ABC’s Martha Raddatz for “This Week,” compared the reported arrest and execution of the uncle of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to the actions taken by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and said they were an “ominous sign of the instability” in North Korea.
“It really reminded me of a video that we saw of Saddam Hussein doing the same thing, having people plucked out of an audience, and people sitting there sweating, and nobody daring to move or do anything,” Kerry said during an interview in Vietnam yesterday.
Kerry told Raddatz that the actions taken by the mysterious young leader of the secretive regime show his true nature.
The Dear Leader’s Heinous Act [OPINION]
New York Times
Today, on the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, only two of the seven officials who walked alongside his hearse at the state funeral, and his heir, Kim Jong-un, remain. Five have been stripped of their titles, sent to labor camps, or executed — as in the case of Jang Song-thaek.
Mr. Jang had been seen as the No. 2 wielder of power in North Korea in recent years and as a top henchman of both the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, his father-in-law, and of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, his brother-in-law, for the past four decades. The news that he was executed on Thursday, for plotting a military coup against his nephew, the new Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un, is exceptional and especially frightening since he was a member (by marriage) of the Kim family.
During that snowy winter two years ago when Kim Jong-il died, I was living in the suburbs of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for almost six months. I remember vividly the bone-aching chill of the Siberian winds, as well as the abruptness with which the news of the death was told to us. I was teaching English on an official exchange in a locked compound, guarded by armed soldiers. That year, all the universities around the country were shut down in preparation for the regime change, and students had been sent to the fields to build their “prosperous nation,” but the 270 sons of the elite, 19 and 20 years old, had been sent to this fortified campus to wait out an impending political storm.
N. Korea troops pledge loyalty en masse as Seoul on alert
Agence France-Presse via Google News
Tens of thousands of North Korean troops pledged their loyalty to leader Kim Jong-Un Monday as Seoul put its forces on alert for “reckless provocations” after its communist rival staged a political purge.
The mass rally in Pyongyang came ahead of Tuesday’s second anniversary of the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-Il, whose sudden demise thrust his young son to the helm of the secretive state.
Kim has been making efforts to demonstrate his firm grip on power following the shock execution Thursday of his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, prompting both Seoul and Washington to warn that vigilance is needed against any surprises by the nuclear-armed regime.
Kim Jong Un’s former classmates say he really is ‘dangerous, unpredictable, prone to violence’
The U.S. government reached alarming conclusions about the personal character of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un based on interviews with people who knew him when he was a student in Switzerland, former U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell revealed on CNN over the weekend.
The official U.S. assessment of Kim’s character is perhaps not, on its face, very surprising. After all, the North Korean leader, like his father, certainly gives the impression of a wild-eyed despot who appears to buy into his own highly official cult of personality. But North Korea-watchers have long debated whether this is merely a pose, a performance calculated to rally North Koreans and intimidate the outside world. This assessment suggests that Kim’s antics are not entirely about rational decision-making but are at least in part driven by a personality just as crazy as it appears.
Reports have long conflicted over how much time Kim spent as a study-abroad student in Switzerland, where he posed as the son of a driver for the local North Korean embassy. Most reports suggest he attended Swiss boarding school between 1998 and 2000, when he would have been 15 to 17 years old, although Campbell asserts that he “spent seven or eight years out of North Korea in Switzerland.”
One of President Obama’s most radical Interior nominees is confronted by Sen. John Barrasso
If Rhea S. Suh is confirmed by the Senate, she would have the power to block natural gas recovery and eradicate resource production on vast swaths of America’s federal lands, the coastal continental shelf, and astonishing amounts of private property.
Suh is President Obama’s nominee for assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks in the Department of the Interior.
She would control two major bureaucracies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (9,000 employees and more than 150 million acres) and the National Park Service (21,989 employees and 84.4 million acres, including more than 4.3 million acres in private ownership).
Asian Americans want immigration reform, too
If a budget can pass the House quickly, then anything’s possible–even immigration reform. Like the budget, it would need concerted Democratic and Republican support. Certain GOP voters expect not only fiscal conservatism, but also immigration reform.
A study released Wednesday by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) of one group shows 67% of Republican respondents support immigration reform. These numbers rise above the average because they are from an ethnic group with arguably the largest stake in the debate.
You might think we’re talking about Latino Americans. The study–conducted in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia–is actually of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
#BBCtrending: #NotYourAsianSidekick goes global
“Be warned,” the Chicago-based rights activist and freelance writer Suey Park tweeted early on Sunday. “Tomorrow morning we will be having a conversation about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!” Her very deliberate attempt to create a debate about the way Asian-American women “have to be SMART and PRETTY to be heard and “are objectified by Asian men and White men” was hugely successful. In less than 24 hours, the hashtag has been used more than 45,000 times around the world.
The conversation, which started with discussion of how Asian women are stereotyped, soon spread to cover racism (“Oh look. More bitter liberal non-whites expressing anti-white attitudes,” tweeted one user, who was roundly criticised), the under-representation of Asian-Americans in media, dating patterns between racial groups and attitudes towards mental health. Cartoons and humour were shared and the debate also spread around the world, having particular resonance in other Western countries with large Asian minorities. One user in Toronto quoted men who say “I’ve always wanted a Chinese woman to cook for me” with the reply “I’ve always wanted laser beam eyes, sadly you’re still alive.” Another An L in Sydney tweeted: “Change in social attitudes towards Asian women is a long way off, but opening up the conversation is a great start.” The British-Asian blogger Sunny Hundal said the debate had resonance in the UK because just like Asian-Americans “we see our faces on social media, but when we turn on the TV we see only limited stereotypes.”
Young Asian-Americans Spend Too Much Money
According to a Nielsen report released last week, Asian-Americans are the most prolific spenders in the United States. Last year, the average annual expenditure among them totaled a whopping $61,400, nearly 40% more than that among millennial households. This spending power is partly due to a strong household income. As the study notes, Asian-American households, on average, are more likely to have incomes of $100,000 or more than general U.S. households.
As Asian-Americans become increasingly wealthy, they have become more materialistic, opening the floodgates to expensive brands from Louis Vuitton to Swarovski. While many Asian families still insist on economic prudence, others are more concerned about satisfying their immediate wants, which seems to run counter to what Asian cultures traditionally preach about spending. Our early hardships collectively taught us to invest in the future, not in the present, but new trends suggest these values are slowly dying.
An examination of Chinese culture, for instance, can partly explain why older generations are stingier with their money than millennials typically are. Those older than 50, who save more than 60% of their income, spend less because they vividly recall the financial difficulties stemming from history-changing events like the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution, as Keith B. Richburg of the Washington Post points out.
Steve Kim convinced he’s part of winning ticket
The Daily Journal (Illinois)
Steve Kim wants to make sure the next generation of Illinois children have some of the same opportunities he has had.
Kim, 43, is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, the running mate of Dan Rutherford.
Rutherford, the Illinois treasurer, is one of four Republican candidates for governor. The March 18 primary will pick one to run against incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn.
Meet Latin America’s Teenage Korean Pop Fanatics
If you want to get a sense of what Mexican teenagers are up to these days, here’s an unexpected place to start: A Korean bakery in downtown Mexico City.
Every Sunday, dozens of teens — mostly female — convene here to eat Korean snacks and geek out about their favorite boy bands. They’re known as los k-popers – a growing subculture of Mexican kids who are crazy for Korean pop music.
“K-Pop really changed my life,” says Samantha Alejandra, 18. “I’m addicted to it.”
Kim Yu-na signs up for nat’l championships as final Olympic tuneup
Figure skating star Kim Yu-na will enter the upcoming national championships as her final prep event before the 2014 Winter Olympics, officials said Monday.
The Korea Skating Union (KSU) said Kim, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, has signed up to compete at the 2014 national championships, to be held from Jan. 3-5 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, northwest of Seoul.
It will be Kim’s final competition before the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February. She will attempt to become just the third woman to repeat as the Olympic figure skating champion.
South Korea’s Rise Through Ranks Raises a Sport’s Profile
New York Times
The recent World Sledge Hockey Challenge featured the United States, Canada and Russia, the top three finishers in this year’s world championships, in one of the final international events before the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
The fourth team at the tournament was more surprising.
South Korea is not known as a hockey power, but has risen quickly in sledge hockey as it prepares to host the Winter Games and Paralympics in 2018.
South Korea first competed in the world championships in 2008 and qualified for the Olympics in 2010, finishing sixth. Only two years later, the South Koreans claimed silver in the world championships in Norway, raising the hopes for the Sochi Games and beyond.
A photo of Jang, which shows bruises on his hands and face. Photo via Chosun Ilbo.
A photo taken just before the shocking execution of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek shows that he could have been beaten and tortured.
Jang seemed visibly weary from possible abuse in a photo published in Friday’s North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun, which contrasts the appearance of the once-powerful man who was brave enough to put his hands in his pocket while standing alongside Kim at televised public events. The photo shows Jang with his back hunched while two North Korean guards are grabbing him by his neck and right arm as the 67-year-old stands before a special military tribunal.
In the photo, Jang has dark bruises around his eyes while his right hand seems swollen and bruised. His forehead also looks abnormally white and pale, hinting that North Korean authorities may have put makeup on his face to cover his scars. Continue Reading »
North Korea executed Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of the country’s leader Kim Jong-un, the state news agency KNCA confirmed on Thursday.
During a military tribunal on Thursday, Jang reportedly admitted to forming an anti-state faction and plotted a movement to overthrow the current regime, according to KCNA. He was executed immediately.
“Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scenes,” the agency reported on Monday after photos of North Korean authorities pulling Jang out of a committee meeting. Continue Reading »
North Korea’s recent purging of its leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was assisted by Jang’s own wife, reports ABC News. Jang’s wife and Kim’s aunt, Kim Kyong-hee, and brother, Kim Jong-hul, reportedly took part in the arrest of Jang.
North Korea Strategic Information Service Center president Lee Yun-keol said Kim Jong-chu directed the arrest of Jang. “He was even armed with a gun when he took the General Guard Bureau soldiers,” he said.
Lee speculated that ousting Jang from power indicates a change of paradigm in North Korean politics. Continue Reading »