Tag Archives: North Korea

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while on Capitol Hill in Washington

John Kerry Urges NKorea To Shut Down Prison Camps

by STEVE HAN

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded the North Korean government to close its prison camps that “bring shame” on the country on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

Kerry’s words came at an event in New York prior to the U.N. meetings to highlight human rights abuses in North Korea, which in recent years has arrested and imprisoned American tourists for alleged “hostile activities.” North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Su Yong will attend the U.N. meeting on behalf of his country.

“We say to the North Korean government, all of us here today, you should close those camps. You should shut this evil system down,” Kerry said. “We simply cannot be blind to these egregious affronts to human nature and we cannot accept it. Silence would be the greatest abuse of all.”

Furthermore, Kerry cited a U.N. panel report, which accuses North Korea of crimes against humanity for slaughtering political prisoners over the past five decades.

North Korea dismissed the panel’s report as lies.

Kerry added, “North Korea’s leadership may act as if it’s impervious to our concern, as if nothing we can say can penetrate its self imposed isolation, and yet on some level North Korea’s leaders do understand that their behavior brings shame on their country in the eyes of the world.”

North Korea is currently holding three American citizens — Jeffrey Fowle, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae — in its state prison.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

 

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Lee Seung-Woo Held By NKorea, But Still Wins Tournament MVP And Scoring Title

by STEVE HAN

There wasn’t much South Korean soccer prodigy Lee Seung-woo could’ve done. Three or more North Korean defenders surrounded the 16-year-old forward just about every time he got near the ball. Outnumbered upfront, he was kicked, pushed and harassed as North Korea scraped its way to an upset by beating South Korea 2-1 in the 2014 Asian Under-16 Championship final.

Despite the loss, South Korea still advances to next year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile after its runners-up finish. Lee, who plays his club soccer at Spain’s renowned FC Barcelona, finished the tournament with both the Most Valuable Player and top scorer honors with five goals and four assists in five games.

“The important thing was to win,” said Lee, who joined Barcelona’s youth academy in 2011 after impressing its scouts at an international tournament in South Africa. “We lost, so I’m not happy about the MVP or the top scorer award. I was only able to play well because of the teachings from our coach and help from my teammates. I’m still young and have a lot to learn.”

Lee added, “Our next goal is to win the Under-17 World Cup next year. We have the ability to do it. We’ll do everything to win.”

South Korea had the lead at halftime after Choi Jae-young headed home Lee Sang-heon’s corner kick in the 33rd minute. Lee, spearheading South Korea’s attack, fought his way through traffic and created scoring chances on two occasions in the first half, but couldn’t beat North Korea’s goalkeeper Ri Chol-song. In the 15th minute, he dribbled past the North Korean defense from the left wing, but his shot was stopped by Ri. About three minutes later, he made a weaving run into the right side of the penalty area and drilled a strong shot that went straight to the shot stopper.

North Korea tied the game just four minutes into the second half when Han Kwang-song broke free of South Korea’s inattentive defending on a long ball into the box and scored an easy tap in. After 14 minutes, North Korea completed its comeback as Choe Song-hyok launched a strong shot into the top left corner near the right side of the box after South Korean wing-back Park Myeong-soo failed to clear the ball.

Before Choe’s game-winning goal for North Korea, Lee had a chance to put South Korea back on top as he made his trademark solo run into the attacking half and had only the goalkeeper to beat before Kim Wi-song grabbed him by the shoulder and brought him down. Lee pleaded to the referee for a red card, but the North Korean defender escaped with a yellow card.

The Asian U-16 Championships, which rarely gets much attention in South Korea, had become immensely popular this time around because of Lee’s impressive performances. Until the tournament, South Korean soccer fans had to settle for YouTube videos to see Lee displaying flashes of brilliance for Barcelona, but the teenager achieved something of a stardom by not only scoring goals, but by showcasing his ability to single-handedly dominate games with individual skills and an edgy demeanor.

When asked about what he thought of his nickname “Korean Lionel Messi” after the game, Lee answered, “It’s not up to me to determine if I play like Messi. To be called the ‘Little Messi’ or the ‘Korean Messi’ is an honor. But personally, I want to be the very first Lee Seung-woo.”

Yellow Sea Border

SKorea Fires Warning Shots at NKorea’s Patrol Boat

by REERA YOO

The South Korean navy fired warning shots after a North Korean patrol boat crossed the disputed Yellow Sea border on Friday, said the South’s military.

According to Reuters, the North Korean boat crossed the waters off Baengnyeong Island just after noon and retreated six minutes after the South fired six warning rounds.

The incident took place on the same day as the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, in which North Korea is competing.

This is not the first time there has been tension over the volatile sea border. In 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpeong Island and killed four South Koreans, and earlier this year, the two sides exchanged hundreds of shells into each other’s waters.

Yonhap quoted an unidentified military official saying that the North Korean vessel crossed the border to tow an unmanned barge that had drifted into southern waters back to the North.

Earlier this week, South Korea recovered wreckage of a suspected North Korean drone found near the disputed maritime border. 

Photo via Deutsche Welle (DW) 

 

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American Arrested While Swimming To North Korea

by STEVE HAN

Many bizarre stories came out of North Korea in recent months. Up until now, the most notable one was the story of Matthew Miller, the 24-year-old American who got arrested in April for allegedly tearing up his tourist visa at the airport in Pyongyang.

However, the latest North Korea-related news may top it all off. A young American man, whose name isn’t yet identified, was caught by South Korean authorities while trying to swim across a river border into North Korea, a government source said Wednesday.

South Korea’s Marine sentries arrested the man, a U.S. citizen of Arabic descent in his late 20s or early 30s, at around 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday as he was swimming across the Han River, which borders with North Korea, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“I was trying to go to North Korea in order to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong-un,” the man reportedly said during the interrogation.

This case marks the second time an American citizen tried to swim into North Korea. In 1996, 26-year-old Evan C. Hunziker swam across the Yalu River, which borders North Korea and China, on a drunken dare. Hunziker was eventually freed after negotiations involving a special U.S. envoy, but he killed himself about a month after his release.

Photo courtesy of Associated Press and Fox News

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Proceeds of $64,000 Whiskey Shot to Benefit Liberty in North Korea (LINK)

by JAMES S. KIM

Good whiskey deserves a good toast. Why not toast to the freedom of North Koreans?

Blaine Vess, CEO of StudyMode, a Los Angeles-based ed-tech company, purchased the $64,000 dram of Macallan 64 Year single-malt whiskey on Saturday at The Macallan’s cocktail lounge at the Montage Beverly Hills. The Macallan had promised to donate proceeds from the sale to the charity of the buyer’s choice, and Vess chose Liberty in North Korea (LiNK).

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But instead of drinking the whiskey, Vess, after toasting with fellow LiNK members, including Danny Lee, a North Korean rescued by LiNK, returned it to the hotel’s safe. The shot would be poured and enjoyed, he said, when the North Korean people were free.

“I believe that will happen in my lifetime,” Vess said. “I’m honored to support LiNK in promoting freedom and empowerment for the North Korean people, and grateful to The Macallan for their generosity in giving the proceeds from this valuable whiskey to charity. I hope what we’re doing here will raise awareness for what LiNK is doing in North Korea, and encourage others to support their efforts as well.”

Vess has supported LiNK since 2012, and he recently became chairman of the non-profit’s board of directors. The mini-bottle of the 85-proof Maccallan scotch that he purchased contains three single malts filled in 1942, ’45, and ’46, and it is the only one of its kind. A decanter of the same Macallan 64 Year single malt sold for $460,000 in 2010.

“Our organization is funded by thousands of people who find creative and sometimes crazy ways to support the North Korean people,” said Justin Wheeler, Vice President of LiNK. “We love that Blaine has decided to hold off drinking the shot and instead stand in solidarity with our North Korean friends. We can’t wait to return someday to raise our glasses filled with the world’s most expensive shot of whisky to celebrate the freedom of the North Korean people. We won’t stop until that day comes.”

That’s going to be one hell of a toast.

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You can watch a brief video of the event below:

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Another Suspected North Korean Drone Found in South Korea

by STEVE HAN

A South Korean fisherman found an unmanned drone, believed to be from North Korea, near a disputed maritime border on Monday, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The drone looks similar to three other suspected North Korean drones found near Seoul six month ago, according to South Korean authorities. Although South Korea’s investigators concluded that the previous drones, which were found to have flown over the presidential office in Seoul before crashing, were found earlier were launched by the North, its regime denied the accusation and criticized the South for starting a smear campaign.

“The recovered wreckage looks quite similar in shape and color to the North Korean drone found in March in Paju,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

When the fisherman recovered the drone on Monday, it had no wings and the body reportedly measured 2.6 feet wide and 3.3 feet long, according to Reuters. Unlike the previous drone from six months ago, it did not have a camera attached to the aircraft.

The South Korean military has been criticized in recent months for failing to identify or prevent unidentified aircraft around its capital city. In May, the military announced that another suspected North Korean drone was found, only to learn later that the object was the door of a portable toilet, prompting heavier criticisms from the public.

Photo via Huffington Post Japan

Matthew Miller's trial in North Korea

Mattew Miller Sentenced to 6 Years of Hard Labor in North Korea

by REERA YOO

Matthew Todd Miller, one of the three American detainees currently held in North Korea, was sentenced to six years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the isolated state, as reported by The New York Times.

Miller, 24, was arrested in April for allegedly tearing up his tourist visa and demanding asylum upon arrival, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) at the time. KCNA recently released photos of Miller in the defendant’s seat with eyes downcast and looking pale in his black turtleneck despite it being summer.

According to The Associated Press, which was allowed to attend the trial, Miller was accused of having a “wild ambition” of experiencing North Korean prison life and deliberately violated North Korean law in order to write a firsthand account about human rights conditions in the North.

The prosecution also accused him of falsely claiming to have confidential information about the U.S. military in South Korea on his iPad and iPod, AP reported.

Earlier this month, all three detainees were allowed a brief interview with CNN. Each of them urged Washington to send an envoy to secure their release.

One of the other two American detainees, Kenneth Bae, a Korean American missionary, is currently serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor for allegedly being a part of a Christian plot to overthrow the North Korean regime. He stated in his interview with CNN that he has been spending his time moving between the labor camp and a hospital due to his failing health.

Meanwhile, the other detainee, Jeffrey Fowles, is awaiting trial on charges of leaving a Bible behind during his tourist trip.

The State Department has repeatedly offered to send Robert R. King, its special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, to Pyongyang, but North Korea refused, apparently seeking a government official with higher profile.

The NY Times reported that the Supreme Court in North Korea said Miller waived his right to legal counsel and that he would not be permitted any appeals.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/KCNA

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SKoreans Banned From Carrying NKorean Flag at 2014 Asian Games

by REERA YOO

South Korea reminded its citizens Friday that waving North Korean flags during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon will be strictly prohibited, according to Yonhap.

North Korean flags will not be hoisted on the streets of Incheon, and all South Korean citizens are banned from bringing the flag into the stadium.

Officials from The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, National Intelligence Service and Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism decided on the ban in a meeting Monday, as reported by The Chosun Ilbo. However, officials agreed to allowing the communist state’s flag be displayed inside the stadium and the athlete’s village.

This is not the first time the North Korean flag issue has sparked controversy as the South Korean government enforced the ban during the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

According to The Chosun Ilbo, the ban originates from the 1948 National Security Law, which makes the recognition of North Korea as a political entity illegal.  

With the opening of the 2014 Asian Games just a week away, North Korea has already started sending their 237-member delegation to Incheon.

North Korean athletes will be allowed to raise their flags during sporting events and award ceremonies, but South Koreans who are caught in possession of a North Korean flag will face criminal charges.

Photo courtesy of Lee Jin-man/AP.