North - South Korea

Ant22

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you for this new thread @angelburst29, I have been following the events surrounding the two Koreas wit a lot of interest.

It's good to see Kim traveling the world and making friends, I hope he doesn't become too trusting of the US and keeps his eyes wide open though. It's a smarter move to build relationships with Russia and China these days.


N. Korea’s Kim Jong-un meets with China’s Xi Jinping in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping has told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he hopes Pyongyang and Washington can fully implement the outcomes of last week’s nuclear summit, AP reported Tuesday. Xi told Kim that through the “concerted efforts of the relevant countries” negotiations regarding issues on the Korean Peninsula are back on track and the overall situation is moving in the direction of peace and stability, according to CCTV. The state broadcaster showed the Chinese president welcoming the North Korean leader on a visit to Beijing. The talks were held at the Great Hall of the People. Kim is expected to discuss his next steps with Chinese leaders after last week’s summit with US President Donald Trump. Kim’s two-day visit is a way for China to highlight its crucial role in US efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

On a lighter note, it looks like a man who has been vilified by the Western press is still more popular than Nancy Pelosi ;-)

Kim Jong-un is more popular than Nancy Pelosi among Republicans – poll

Despite once threatening to nuke the US, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has a higher favorability rating among Republicans than Nancy Pelosi, according to a new poll.

Kim has spent much of his tenure as an enemy of their nation, but US Republicans appear to hold North Korea’s supreme leader in higher esteem than the Democrats’ House of Representatives leader.

In a new poll by Ipsos and the Daily Beast, Pelosi only managed to scrape together a 17 percent approval rating among Republicans, two points less than Kim. The results come shortly after Kim and US President Donald Trump signed a joint statement which expressed a desire denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile Pelosi has been at loggerheads with Republicans over immigration policy.

he poll, which sampled views from roughly 1,000 Republicans, Democrats and independents from the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii, also suggested that a majority of Americans are against a celebrity candidate for their next president.

Just 18 percent of respondents agreed that a celebrity candidate is good for democracy, while 53 percent said that people from the world of show business are less qualified for office.

In a list that included Oprah Winfrey, James Comey, Kanye West, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, First Lady Michelle Obama was the most popular option for the 2020 US presidential election.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will pay a three-day state visit to Russia.

June 18, 2018 - South Korean president to visit Russia this week
South Korean president to visit Russia this week

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will pay a three-day state visit to Russia later this week to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Yonhap News Agency reported citing an anonymous presidential administration official.

The two presidents' meeting will be held on Thursday, shortly after the South Korean leader’s arrival in Moscow, the news agency noted. That will be Moon Jae-in’s first visit to the Russian capital since he was elected in May 2017 and the first state visit by the South Korean president to Russia since 1999.

Moon Jae-in and Putin are expected to pay special attention to North Korea’s nuclear issue during the summit. ""Russia has been making significant contribution to efforts to denuclearize North Korea while it has also played a significant role in pressuring the North, considering its economic relationship with North Korea," the news agency quotes the administration official as saying.

"Also, the visit is expected to help promote strategic cooperation between the two countries to establish peace in Northeast Asia amid positive developments in security conditions and efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula," the official added.

While in Moscow, Moon Jae-in will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other high-ranking officials. He will also be the first South Korean president to address Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament).

Later on, the North Korean president will travel to Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia, to attend the FIFA World Cup match between South Korea and Mexico before returning home on Saturday.


June 19, 2018 - Russia not discussing lifting North Korea sanctions at UN Security Council
Russia not discussing lifting North Korea sanctions at UN Security Council

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov believes that if the situation on the Korean Peninsula develops in a positive direction, the question on easing the sanctions may be raised.

Russia is not hashing over the lifting of sanctions against North Korea at the UN Security Council, this issue should be raised when the situation on the Korean Peninsula improves, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told reporters on Tuesday.

"The issue on sanctions against North Korea is not discussed at the moment at the UN Security Council," the high-ranking diplomat said on the sidelines of the Valdai International Discussion Club. "But we believe that if the situation on the Korean Peninsula develops in a positive direction, the question on easing the sanctions may be raised."

Answering a TASS reporter’s question on a possible visit of the North Korean leader to Russia, the deputy minister recalled that Kim Jong-un "has an invitation of the Russian president to visit" the country.

In December 2017, the UN Security Council voted for a resolution on another tightening of sanctions against North Korea. It imposed more restrictions on the supplies of crude oil and oil products and required all countries should expel labor migrants within 24 months. The resolution also imposed restrictions on the supplies of industrial equipment, heavy machinery and motor vehicles to North Korea and the import of the country’s main export items. Last year, the Security Council tightened sanctions against Pyongyang three times in retaliation for its ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

US-South Korea drills
Morgulov also said that Moscow welcomed the decision to suspend military drills that was announced by the US and South Korea.

"We welcome this decision as a step in the right direction," the senior Russian diplomat noted.

On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed to TASS that the United States and South Korea had decided to suspend the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint drills planned to be held on the Korean Peninsula in August.

Trump-Kim meeting
A historic meeting between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took place in Singapore on June 12. The parties signed a joint document, which particularly says that the US-North Korea summit "was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future."

The document adds that "President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously." According to the document, Pyongyang "commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in return for US security guarantees.

Trump said at a final press conference that the US would suspend joint military drills with South Korea.


June 17, 2018 - US puts forward 47-point list of demands to Pyongyang — Japanese top diplomat
US puts forward 47-point list of demands to Pyongyang — Japanese top diplomat

"If the demand for full denuclearization is not carried out in this form, sanctions against North Korea will not be lifted," the Japanese top diplomat said.

The United States has filed a list of 47 demands that North Korea should fulfill to achieve total elimination of its nuclear arsenal, other weapons of mass destruction and relevant infrastructure, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in an interview aired by national broadcaster NHK on Sunday.

"The supreme leader of North Korea agreed to full denuclearization. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his visit to Pyongyang that, according to the United States, this notion includes elimination - in the transparent and irreversible form - of the nuclear stockpile and other types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological ones, as well as missiles and all relevant infrastructure," he said.

"In this regard, a list of 74 demands was submitted to North Korea. If the demand for full denuclearization is not carried out in this form, sanctions against North Korea will not be lifted. I think they [North Korea] understand this," the Japanese top diplomat said.

He added that the demand includes elimination of all North Korean missiles, including those posing a threat to Japan.

According to the Japanese foreign minister, Pyongyang will fulfill its commitment for full denuclearization.

"In North Korea, a promise of the supreme leader has special significance, especially if given in a written form. The domestic announcement of full denuclearization is also important. I think that in a situation like this, North Korea will stick to its promise," he said.

When asked about security guarantees to North Korea, the minister said they are yet to be finalized.

"They can be given in the form of a document, which states that the United States will not attack North Korea, cross the 38th parallel and topple the existing regime," Kono said. "Guarantees may be given within the framework of a multilateral structure as well. This matter is yet to be discussed."

He said that the issue of reducing US military contingent in South Korea is not being discussed at the moment.

"This is ruled out unless the security situation in the region changes drastically," the minister said.

The Japanese top diplomat offered economic assistance to North Korea after relations normalize.

The historic meeting of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took place in Singapore on June 12. The talks ended with the signing of a joint document by which Pyongyang pledged to carry out denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for Washington’s security guarantees. Trump promised to pause joint military exercises with "North Korea", ( Note - mix up - it should read "South Korea") which Pyongyang had insisted on for many years. Trump said he had not discussed with Kim the presence of US troops in South Korea. Currently the US contingent there stands at 28,500 servicemen.


June 13, 2018 - Japan concerned over Trump’s plans to suspend US-South Korean drills
Japan concerned over Trump’s plans to suspend US-South Korean drills

Japan is concerned about the statement made by US President Donald Trump concerning plans to suspend the joint US-South Korean military exercises, since they play an important role in maintaining regional security Kyodo news agency quotes Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as saying.

"The US-South Korean exercises, as well as the US military contingent in South Korea, play an important role in maintaining security in Northeast Asia," the minister said.


June 12, 2018 - Japan to cooperate with US, South Korea, China, Russia to solve North Korean issue
Japan to cooperate with US, South Korea, China, Russia to solve North Korean issue

Japan will closely cooperate with the United States and South Korea, as well as China and Russia to solve the issue of North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the country’s Prime Minister Shizno Abe said on Tuesday.

"We will do our best to solve (those issues) in cooperation with the US and South Korea, as well as China and Russia," he said when commenting the results of the meeting between the US and North Korean leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, in Singapore.

According to Abe, the recent summit has become an important step towards settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un took place at the Capella hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island. After the meeting the leaders signed an agreement, which Donald Trump called "very important" and "pretty comprehensive".
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you for this new thread @angelburst29, I have been following the events surrounding the two Koreas with a lot of interest.

It's good to see Kim traveling the world and making friends, I hope he doesn't become too trusting of the US and keeps his eyes wide open though. It's a smarter move to build relationships with Russia and China these days.

I was hoping someone would open a thread on "Trump and Rocket-Man-Kim" for a few weeks now. With the highly anticipated meeting coming up in Singapore, decided to take the plunge. Everything was pointing to it - as being "a Historic Meeting"?

I guess, it's a little to early to determine exactly "how historic the meeting was" other than, the two leaders getting together but the outcome seems to be going in the right direction, on the International scene, with meetings being scheduled to iron out differences.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
This is the first meeting between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un after the historic summit where the North Korean leader met with the US president in Singapore to discuss the prospects for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and lifting the sanctions on the DPRK.

19.06.2018 - Kim Meets With Xi Amid Surprise Visit to China, Week After Singapore Summit (Video)
Kim Meets With Xi Amid Surprise Visit to China, Week After Singapore Summit

Chinese CCTV reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on Tuesday to discuss the results of the Singapore summit and the steps that are to follow it. Xi Jinping has reportedly praised the summit and its outcomes, specifically the idea of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as "protecting peace and stability."

The official two-day visit was not announced in advance and was made public only after reports surfaced that the North Korean leader's motorcade had been spotted on the streets of Beijing, impressing Twitter users with its significant security detail back during his previous visits to China and to Singapore summit.

The current visit to China is Kim Jong-un's third as DPRK leader, with the previous one taking place days ahead of the historic summit with the US president. Earlier in May Trump expressed the opinion that Xi Jinping could be influencing the North Korean leader.

The current visit to China is Kim Jong-un's third as DPRK leader, with the previous one taking place days ahead of the historic summit with the US president. Earlier in May Trump expressed the opinion that Xi Jinping could be influencing the North Korean leader.


20.06.2018 - N Korea's Kim Praises 'Unity" With China in Wake of Meeting Trump
N Korea's Kim Praises 'Unity' With China in Wake of Meeting Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reaffirmed his country’s "friendship, unity and cooperation" with China during a visit to Beijing, already the third this year.

Kim’s two-day trip to China, which comes in the wake of his recent meeting with US President Donald Trump, is both a sign of loyalty to his main ally and an attempt to reassure Beijing that its interests will not be ignored as Pyongyang and Washington try to mend ties, Agence France Presse reported.

During his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, Kim Jong-un thanked him for his "positive and sincere support and good help for the successful" summit with Trump, North Korea's official KCNA news agency wrote.

The Chinese president, for his part, heaped praise on the results of Kim’s meeting with Trump in Singapore and called on both countries to implement the agreements they reached during the summit.

Xi also pledged China’s continued “‘constructive role” in the ongoing effort to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Last year China said that the UN Security Council could consider easing the punitive sanctions that have seriously undermined the North Korean economy.


20.06.2018 - 'Strong Momentum' for Korean Peninsula Peace Despite Media, Democrats' Jeers
‘Strong Momentum’ for Korean Peninsula Peace Despite Media, Democrats’ Jeers

On Monday, the US cancelled “war games” with South Korea slated for August, one of the largest military exercises in the world, following US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement after his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Peace activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and Simone Chun, a fellow at the Korea Policy Institute and a member of the Korean Peace Network, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss the cancellation of the annual military exercise "Ulchi Freedom Guardian."

"We will stop the war games [with South Korea and its allies], which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiations is not going along like it should," Trump revealed to reporters following his Singapore meeting with Kim June 12. "We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, it is very provocative," he added.

While a US official who spoke with Reuters Monday said Ulchi Freedom Guardian will not take place this year, the Pentagon had said in a press release earlier that day that "planning" for the drills, originally slated for August, had been suspended, Sputnik News reported.

Benjamin's activist group, CodePink, has long called for the implementation of a "freeze-for-a-freeze" scenario. Under such an accord, the US would agree to halt drills in exchange for the suspension of nuclear development by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name, even before the Trump-Kim summit ever seemed possible.

Benjamin and Chun were in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea during the historic meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae In and Kim on April 26 in the village of Panmunjom, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean war was signed.

"It was wonderful being with a group of women from around the world. We were in Korea as a part of an effort that started in 2015 when we crossed from North Korea to the South. This time we couldn't go to North Korea because Donald Trump had placed a travel ban; the only country we can't travel to in the world right now is North Korea," Benjamin told Loud & Clear hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

That was after Trump had announced that he would cancel his Singapore meeting with Kim, which he later reversed. But when he announced that it would, in fact, be held, there was "tremendous delight," Benjamin said.

Chun said that the meeting between Trump and Kim was "well received… especially for many peace activists and Korean Americans," despite outcry by the US media.

"It was a very interesting experience, and everyone agrees it was short on specifics, but it was a very important first step," Chun said.

Alongside fellow activists with the Korean Peace Network, Chun visited several members of Congress following the summit. The scholar told Sputnik she was "simply amazed" by the critical appraisal of the summit by elected officials because of their opposition to "anything that Trump does."

"A lot of Democratic senators or congress members refused to give any support," Chun said, adding that she was "disappointed" by the responses.

Nonetheless, the prospect of peace between the US and the two Koreas has "very strong momentum," said Chun, seeing that a majority of South Koreans support a robust peace agreement. "I feel that we are heading to the right direction, and I hope that America [gives] more bipartisan and American media [can] take a more gentle and softer approach toward Korea," Chun said.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that many good conversations with North Korea were underway and they were going well.

03.07.2018 - Trump: 'If Not for Me, We Would Be At War With North Korea!'
Trump: 'If Not For Me, We Would Be at War With North Korea!'

Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's tweet comes amid rumors, reported by unnamed US officials to AXIOS earlier this month, of the second round of talks between the US and the North Korean leaders that may be held in New York this September.

At the same time, the day before, the White House announced that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be leaving for North Korea on July 5, marking his third visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Pompeo previously visited North Korea in early April and then again for a second time in early May when he was returning to the US with three Americans who'd been held hostage in the country.

The first-ever summit between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader was held on June 12, with Trump claiming that the two "have developed a very special bond."


22.06.2018 - Trump Prolongs Sanctions on North Korea for One More Year Despite Thaw With Kim
Trump Prolongs Sanctions on North Korea for One More Year Despite Thaw With Kim

US President Donald Trump has decided to prolong sanctions introduced in the wake of North Korea's missile and nuclear tests following a punitive December 2017 UN resolution restricting Pyongyang’s fuel imports and other trade. The day before, however, the US president had stressed that Kim Jong Un was complying with international demands.

The White House announced that US President Donald Trump has decided to prolong anti-North Korea sanctions for one more year as part of his "maximum pressure" policy toward the country.

In his earlier statement, Trump did not exclude the lifting of sanctions if the DPRK refused to use nuclear weapons, but the official policy of the United States is that sanctions will only be halted after "full, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
July 6, 2018 - Second Kim-Trump Summit May Take Place in Switzerland: Reports
Second Kim-Trump Summit May Take Place in Switzerland: Reports

The second meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un may take place in Switzerland — either in Bern, Geneva or Davos, media reported Friday, citing diplomatic sources.

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is expected to be on the agenda of the upcoming meeting between Kim and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which is to be held on July 6 or 7.

The sources told the media outlet that over the next six months Pyongyang was expected to actively engage in negotiations with Washington, Beijing, and Seoul, and that is why North Korean officials were sent to various Swiss cities to find potential venues for talks.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has stabilized within the last several months, with the North Korean leader had held two rounds of talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a top-level summit with Trump.

Trump and Kim met for the first time on June 12 in Singapore, where they issued an agreement that requires Pyongyang to denuclearize in exchange for a freeze of the US-South Korean military drills and eventual sanctions relief.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The North Korean table tennis team arrived on Sunday in the South to participate in an international ping-pong tournament as Korea's unified team, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Table Tennis Association.

15.07.2018 - North, South Korean Ping-Pong Players to Form Unified Team - Reports
North, South Korean Ping-Pong Players to Form Unified Team - Reports

The North Korean delegation, which arrived at Incheon International Airport from China, comprises 16 table tennis players and nine officials, according to Yonhap.

Unified Korean teams are expected to be formed both as part of men's and women's tournaments, which will be held in the South Korean city of Daejeon on July 17-22, the news outlet added.

Earlier in July, the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced that the agreement on the North Korean players' participation in the tournament was reached during negotiations of the deputy sports ministers of the two countries.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has stabilized within the last several months, with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un having held two rounds of talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a top-level summit with US President Donald Trump.


01.07.2018 - South Korea, North Korea Resume Maritime Communication Hot Line
South Korea, North Korea Resume Maritime Communication Hot Line

South Korea and North Korea resumed the maritime communication hot line in order to prevent possible incidents, local media reported on Sunday.

On early Sunday, a South Korean Navy vessel established a contact with a North Korean patrol boat, which immediately responded to the call, the Yonhap news agency reported citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.

The decision on resumption of the communication hot line was made during the meeting between North and South Korean high-ranking military officials in late June.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Disgraced former South Korean president Park Geun-hye was convicted of charges including illegally receiving funds from the country's spy agency on Friday and given eight more years in prison, on top of her current term.

July, 20, 2018 - S. Korea's Ex-President Park Given Eight More Years in Prison
S. Korea's Ex-President Park Given Eight More Years in Prison - Tasnim News Agency

Park, the South's first female president, was impeached last year after huge street protests over a sprawling scandal, and was jailed for 24 years for corruption and abuse of power in April.

Friday's penalty -- issued in her absence after she refused to attend the Seoul Central District Court -- came after a separate trial for pocketing money from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and improperly intervening in 2016 in the selection of her ruling party's parliamentary candidates, AFP reported.

The Seoul Central District Court gave Park six years for taking 3.3 billion won ($2.9 million) from the spy agency, and two years for the electoral offence.

The penalties apply consecutively, meaning the 66-year-old now faces a total of 32 years in prison.

"The accused received some three billion won over three years from the three NIS chiefs. Through this crime, the accused incurred a considerable amount of loss to the state treasury," said senior judge Seong Chang-ho.

Three former NIS chiefs testified they had funneled the funds to Park on her orders, the court said.

The judge rebuked Park, who denied the charges, for being "un-cooperative" throughout the court hearing and questioning by prosecutors.

Park allegedly squandered the taxpayer money on maintaining her private house, financing a boutique where her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil -- the central figure in the corruption scandal -- had Park's clothes made and other private purposes, including massage treatment.

Choi was found to have taken advantage of her "long private ties" with Park to extort bribes worth millions of dollars from businesses including telecommunications giant Samsung and retail conglomerate Lotte. She is serving a 20-year sentence for abuse of power, bribery and meddling in state affairs. - 'Never repented' -

Earlier Friday, prosecutors asked an appeals court to extend Park's sentence for her corruption and abuse of power conviction to 30 years, arguing the original penalty was too lenient.

They also asked for her fine to be multiplied sixfold to 118.5 billion won.

"The accused has never repented or made any sincere apology before the people," prosecutors said in a statement. "And since October 2017, she has never made any appearance at court."

Park's own lawyers asked for her conviction to be overturned, saying she made no gains herself when businesses "donated" funds to foundations controlled by Choi, and that her impeachment and ouster meant she had already taken "political responsibility" for the case.

The Seoul High Court will issue its decision on August 24.


20.07.2018 - Ex-South Korean President Park Sentenced to 8 More Years in Jail
Ex-South Korean President Park Sentenced to 8 More Years in Jail

Earlier in April, the Seoul Central District Court has sentenced former South Korean President Park Geun-hye to 24 years in prison.

A South Korean court sentenced disgraced former president Park Geun-hye to eight years in prison for embezzling state funds and interference in party activities, Yonhap News Agency reports.

According to the court's decision, the former head of state was sentenced to six years in prison for receiving funds from the budget of the National Intelligence Agency of South Korea. The court added two years to her sentence for illegally participating in the nomination of candidates for elections from the ruling party during her presidency.

The court also ruled that the ex-president, who is already serving a 24-year prison term over corruption scandal which led to her impeachment, should be fined 3.3 billion won ($2.9 million), according to the Yonhap news agency.

As the penalties apply consecutively now she faces a total of 32 years in prison.

The political scandal around Park broke out in October 2016, when she was accused of having allowed her longtime friend and close associate Choi Soon-sil, who did not hold any official post, to get involved in state affairs. She was also accused of being complicit in Choi's extortion of $54.9 million from big conglomerates, including Samsung, in exchange for business favors.

The scandal led to Park's impeachment in December 2016. During the court hearings, South Korean prosecutors demanded that the former president be sentenced to 30 years in jail and asked the court to fine her $110 million.


Back-dated 08.01.2018 - S Korean Prosecutors Request Freeze of Ex-President Park's Assets - Reports
S Korean Prosecutors Request Freeze of ex-President Park's Assets - Reports

South Korean prosecutors have requested a court to freeze the assets of the country's impeached President Park Geun-hye over a bribery case involving the National Intelligence Service (NIS), local media reported Monday.

The request targets $5.62 million in assets belonging to the former president, the Yonhap news agency reported.

If the court rules the corresponding decision, Park will be reportedly forbidden from making transactions with her bank savings or property.

In November, Nam Jae-joon, the first NIS director under Park, admitted that the agency had been transferring about 50 million won ($46,500) to the president's office every month, and the prosecutors suspect that the monthly payment increased later to about 100 million won.

The political scandal around Park broke out in late October 2016, when media reported that the former president had allowed her close associate Choi Soon-sil, who did not hold any official post, to get involved in state affairs.

The scandal resulted in Park’s impeachment in December 2016 that was confirmed by the country's Constitutional Court on March 10. On March 30, Park was arrested over corruption accusations, involving 13 different cases of bribery, coercion and abuse of power. Park was charged in particular with forcing companies to sign contracts beneficial for Choi and her associates. On October 13, a Seoul court extended Park's detention for a period of six months.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member


President Donald Trump said during a speech in Granite City, Illinois, on Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is making great progress toward peace after the two leaders held their historic summit in Singapore on June 12.

27.07.2018 - Trump Says North Korea's Kim Making 'Terrific Progress' After Singapore Summit
Trump Says North Korea’s Kim Making ‘Terrific Progress’ After Singapore Summit

"Kim Jong-un is making terrific progress," Trump told supporters on Thursday. "For nine months, no nuclear tests, no rockets are going up, no missiles are going over Japan."

On June 12, Trump and Kim met in Singapore during their first official summit meeting. The two officials signed an agreement saying North Korea will denuclearize in exchange for a freeze on the US-South Korean military drills and potential sanctions relief. The White House did not specify any deadlines on carrying fulfilling the agreed on items.

However, Trump acknowledged on Thursday that no one knows what ultimately is going to happen and how things will end up.

Trump claimed that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, was ready to go to war with North Korea. Trump added that he questioned Obama whether he ever tried to hold discussions with Kim and noted "it would be nice to speak" to the North Korean leader.

The US president added that he established very good relationship with Kim, despite media criticism at the beginning of the summit negotiations.


27.07.2018 - Trump Thanks Kim for 'Keeping His Word' Returning Remains of US Service Members
Trump Thanks Kim for 'Keeping His Word,' Returning Remains of US Service Members

US President Donald Trump said in a press briefing on Friday that he wanted to thank North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for fulfilling his promise and returning the remains of some US service members who were killed in Korea.

"I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word. We have many others coming, but I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me and I’m sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search," Trump told reporters.

Kim agreed at the June 12 summit with Trump in Singapore to help the United States recover remains of fallen US service members and prisoners of war.

Earlier on Friday, a US airplane carried the remains to Osan Air Base in South Korea from the North Korean port of Wonsan earlier. Media reports said there were 55 sets of remains.

A formal repatriation ceremony will be held at the base on August 1, then the remains will be transported to the US state of Hawaii for forensic identification.

Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence would be with the families of the fallen soldiers when the remains are returned to the United States.


27.07.2018 - Pyongyang 'Frustrated' Over Delay in Peace Treaty Signing to End Korean War
Pyongyang 'Frustrated' Over Delay in Peace Treaty Signing to End Korean War

South and North Korea have been legally at war since the Korean War of 1950-1953, as neither party has signed a peace treaty. The 1953 Korean armistice agreement, however, provided for the suspension of open hostilities and a fixed demarcation line with a buffer zone.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Kim Hong-gul, chairman of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, said that Pyongyang had expressed its disappointment over foot-dragging in signing an official declaration to end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

North Korean officials said they are frustrated about the delay and asked whether there is a valid reason for such slow progress," he said, citing Pyongyang's stance that it had made significant concessions to Seoul and expected reciprocal actions in return.

Kim also said that North Korea initially wanted a peace treaty, but "they are now asking for an end-of-war declaration" to speed up the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula.

During high-level talks between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, in late April, the sides pledged in the Panmunjom Declaration that they would work together through 2018 to officially end the Korean War, which was halted by the 1953 armistice agreement.

The document stipulates that Seoul and Pyongyang should achieve this through either trilateral talks between the North, South and the US, or four-party talks including China.

Earlier that month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that "we should put an end to the armistice that has lasted for 65 years and move toward signing a peace treaty through the declaration of the end of the war."

He was echoed by South Korean top security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who said that Seoul would potentially sign a peace treaty with North Korea if Pyongyang were to give up its nuclear weapons, formally putting an end to the Korean War.

"We are examining the possibility of replacing the Korean armistice agreement with a peace treaty," he underscored.

Pyongyang has repeatedly announced that it will no longer abide by the armistice and called for replacing it with a peace treaty, stressing that the 1953 agreement was meant to be a transitional measure.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
On Monday, North Korean state media urged the US to drop its sanctions against the country, accusing Washington of using sanctions to “raise its negotiating power.”

06.08.2018 - North Korea Urges US to Drop Sanctions After Showing Good Faith
North Korea Urges US to Drop Sanctions After Showing Good Faith

"There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the US State Department that it won't ease sanctions until a denuclearization is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power," state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, which is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, wrote in a Monday editorial.

How could the sanctions, which were a stick the US administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries' amity?" the newspaper added.

According to the newspaper, Pyongyang has exhibited good faith by ending nuclear weapons testing, dismantling its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and returning the remains of 200 US soldiers who died during the Korean War.

"We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 got sent back," US president Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters during a rally in Minnesota in June.

On Monday, one of North Korea's propaganda websites, Uriminzokkiri, called the US sanctions against North Korea "anachronistic," while Maeri, another North Korean website, called for the US to build confidence in response to North Korea's recent "goodwill measures."

"It takes two to tango," the website said.

Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea's presidential Blue House, also told reporters Monday that South Korea, "would want North Korea to speed up denuclearization, and the United States to show a sincere attitude toward what North Korea demands as corresponding action," Business Insider reported Monday.

North Korea's statements come just a couple days after the UN released a report, obtained by Reuters, claiming that Pyongyang has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs. In addition, South Korea is currently investigating nine cases of coal shipments from North Korea entering its ports, according to Seoul's foreign ministry and customs officials, the New York Times reported Monday. Although South Korean officials refused to identity the companies involved in the shipments, they noted that the investigation was in its final phase after the completion of forensic analysis.

The six-month UN report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of UN sanctions was submitted to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee Friday, according to Reuters.

"[North Korea] has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018," the 149-page report said, Reuters reported Friday.

In September, the UN Security Council tightened the sanctions regime against Pyongyang over its nuclear program, limiting North Korean crude oil and petroleum imports.

The relationship between the US and North Korea improved in the last several months, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a top-level summit with Trump in June in Singapore. However, the US has repeatedly stressed that sanctions against Pyongyang will remain in place until the communist country attains complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.


04.08.2018 - Pompeo Urges Russia, ASEAN to Maintain Pressure on North Korea
Pompeo Urges Russia, ASEAN to Maintain Pressure on North Korea

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday called for pressure to be kept up on North Korea to achieve its denuclearization and said he expected Russia to abide by UN resolutions.

"I emphasize the importance of maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK," he said.

Pompeo was speaking to reporters on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum in Singapore.

Pompeo said he had called on ASEAN partners and allies to strictly enforce all sanctions, including ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum destined for North Korea.

He cited media reports that claimed Russia was allowing for joint ventures with North Korean firms and granted work permits to its citizens.

"We expect the Russians and all countries to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea," he said.

The allegation was made by the Wall Street Journal, which said Russia had issued work permits to thousands of new North Korean laborers.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied this was in violation of UN sanctions. She argued the ban did not apply to contracts finalized before the resolution was adopted.
 

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The North Korean Foreign Ministry accused “high-level officials within the US administration” of “going against the intention of President Trump to advance the DPRK-US relations” in a statement Thursday. Meanwhile, the socialist state renewed calls for a permanent peace treaty so that “a mood will be created for creating trust."

09.08.2018 - North Korea Praises Trump, Slams Other US Officials for Sabotaging Peace
North Korea Praises Trump, Slams Other US Officials for Sabotaging Peace

The press statement, carried by Korea Central News Agency, laid out the position of the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the official name of North Korea, on the burning question of peace on the Korean Peninsula: US President Donald Trump wants peace, but the agreement reached in Singapore in June is being sabotaged by other US state officials.

"We hoped that these goodwill measures would contribute to breaking down the high barrier of mistrust existing between the DPRK and the US and to establishing mutual trust," the statement said. "However, the US responded to our expectation by inciting international sanctions and pressure against the DPRK."

"The US is attempting to invent a pretext for increased sanctions against the DPRK by mobilizing all their servile mouthpieces and intelligence institutions to fabricate all kinds of falsehoods on our nuclear issue. They made public the ‘North Korea Sanctions and Enforcement Actions Advisory' and additional sanctions, and called for collaboration in forcing sanctions and pressure upon us even at the international meetings," the statement continues.

"Now the issue in question is that, going against the intention of President Trump to advance the DPRK-US relations, who is expressing gratitude to our goodwill measures for implementing the DPRK-US joint statement, some high-level officials within the US administration are making baseless allegations against us and making desperate attempts at intensifying the international sanctions and pressure. Expecting any result, while insulting the dialogue partner and throwing cold water over our sincere efforts for building confidence which can be seen as a precondition for implementing the DPRK-US joint statement, is indeed a foolish act that amounts to waiting to see a boiled egg hatch out."

The North Korean Foreign Ministry statement further accused the US of clinging "to the outdated acting script which the previous administrations have all tried and failed," meanwhile noting that the country remains "unchanged in our will to uphold the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the US and to build trust and implement in good faith the DPRK-US joint statement step by step."

"The US should, even at this belated time, respond to our sincere efforts in a corresponding manner."

On August 3, the US Mission to the UN submitted proposals to the UN Security Council for the imposition of new sanctions against North Korea, Sputnik reported. That same day, a six-month report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of UN sanctions was submitted, which accused North Korea of violating economic sanctions placed against it by exporting textiles goods to a number of countries, among other infractions.

"[North Korea] has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018," the 149-page report, which was viewed by Reuters, said.

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has also placed new sanctions against a North Korean firm, Korea Ungum Corporation, along with a Chinese and a Russian corporation accused of doing business with them in violation of sanctions, on August 3, Sputnik reported.

The June 12 meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un secured a number of agreements, including a promise to work toward a permanent peace treaty, dependent upon the fulfillment of other parts of the agreement — most importantly, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Both sides have taken some steps in that direction, with the DPRK returning remains of US soldiers who perished in their country during the 1950 to 53 Korean War and destroying a number of nuclear weapons and long-range missile test sites; and the US and South Korea placing a moratorium on provocative military drills that rehearse bombing and invading North Korea.

Nonetheless, the US has maintained the position that economic sanctions will not be lifted until "concrete steps" have been taken by the North Korean government toward denuclearization, such as providing a complete list of its nuclear facilities. "This is all in North Korea's court," US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said August 8 during a press conference in Colombia.

The United States has not recorded "a complete shutdown" of nuclear materials' production in North Korea, US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks said July 22 at an Aspen Security Forum panel, Sputnik reported. "Their production capability is still intact. Their testing capability we just saw affected a few months ago in the destruction of the Punggye-ri testing site, but production is a different question, so we haven't seen a complete shutdown of production yet."

US Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats also voiced the opinion that it is unlikely that Pyongyang will dismantle its nuclear program within a year.

However, the DPRK's ruling Korean Workers Party (KWP) shot back on Monday, writing in a Rodong Sinmun editorial, "There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the US State Department that it won't ease sanctions until a denuclearization is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power… How could the sanctions, which were a stick the US administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries' amity?"

The North Korean government has also stepped up requests for a permanent peace treaty to the Korean War in recent weeks, with KWP newspaper Rodong Sinmun writing Thursday, "If the state of military confrontation between North Korea and the US is ended through a declaration ending the war, a mood will be created for creating trust."

The North Korean government has also stepped up requests for a permanent peace treaty to the Korean War in recent weeks, with KWP newspaper Rodong Sinmun writing Thursday, "If the state of military confrontation between North Korea and the US is ended through a declaration ending the war, a mood will be created for creating trust."

While a ceasefire agreement ended active hostilities in July 1953 and established the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, no permanent peace treaty was ever signed between the DPRK, South Korea and the US officially ending the war. Thus, in a technical sense, a state of war continues 70 years later, which severely limits the possibility of bilateral trade, movement between the countries and other normalized international discourse.

Meanwhile, Ri traveled earlier this week to Iran, Reuters noted, where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned him not to trust the US following Trump's unilateral withdrawal in May from the 2015 international agreement to lift sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's own nuclear program. New sanctions were placed against Iran's economy by the US on August 6.
 

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US military blocks proposed railway linking North & South Korea

US military officials have put the brakes on a proposed rail project that would connect the Korean Peninsula, underscoring growing differences between Washington and Seoul on engagement with the hermit kingdom.

The governments of the two estranged nations were set to begin preliminary plans for the rail link last week, but their application to send a train from Seoul across the length of North Korea was denied by the US-led United Nations Command. The multinational military body, which traces its roots back to the Korean War, controls movement across the demilitarized zone which separates North and South Korea.

The decision is the latest illustration of Washington’s hardline approach to dealing with Pyongyang. The US has demanded full denuclearization as a prerequisite to any economic cooperation with North Korea, while Seoul has taken a less extreme stance, favoring constructive engagement with its northern neighbor. South Korean President Moon Jae-in had expressed hope that the rail link would be completed by the end of the year.

Moon has invested considerable political capital into improving inter-Korean relations and has signaled his desire for large-scale investment in North Korea once sanctions are lifted.

Russia blocks UN Security Council report on North Korea

Russia has decided to halt discussions of a United Nations Security Council report on North Korea, due to disagreement on some of its points and concern over parts of it being leaked before publication, Moscow's UN envoy has said.

Russia has blocked the upcoming report of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea (the 1718 Committee) on the implementation of sanctions against North Korea and its nuclear program, demanding that it be amended.

"The discussion was vivid... we put on hold the report of the Committee 1718, because we disagree with certain elements of the report and on the conduct of the business itself. I will not dwell upon it because the report, before it is published, is confidential," Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian representative at the UN, told the media.

Nebenzia reiterated that Russia has been vocally against any part of the report being made public prematurely.

"We and other delegations expressed concern on the regular leaks of the committee information into the press, you can look it up on the internet,” he said. He added that while Russia has filed a request for the committee to investigate the leaks, “some members are not very willing to do so,” so Moscow decided to pursue this issue “individually.”

Russia will hold consultations with the head of the committee about how to proceed further, Nebenzia said. At the moment, the UN has been doing virtually nothing to identify the source of the leaks since “certain parties” within the committee have been opposing Russia’s request.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Nebenzia said, calling the leaks “inadmissible” and “against the principle of the work of the committee.”

Many of the reservations Russia had expressed about the contents of the report have not been taken into account in the existng draft, the Russian diplomat revealed.

The confidential report on the implementation of sanctions imposed on North Korea was leaked to Reuters on August 4. According to the leaks, the report, a six-month review by independent experts, alleges that Pyongyang did not halt its nuclear and missile program and was supplying certain states in the Middle East and Africa with weapons, thus violating the UN sanctions. Among the alleged customers of the reclusive state are the Houthi rebels, fighting against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. North Korea is also accused of shipping fuel, including coal and petroleum, which is prohibited under the strict sanctions’ regime as well.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has previously said it was “outraged”by unauthorized leaks from the committee, demanding a thorough investigation of what it described as “the flagrant violation of the rules and practice of the committee as well as basic diplomatic ethics.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova suggested that the ultimate purpose of the leak was to advance the “maximum pressure” campaign against Pyongyang spearheaded by the US.
 

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8 September، 2018 - DPRK celebrates 70th anniversary of its founding
DPRK celebrates 70th anniversary of its founding – Syrian Arab News Agency


The people of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of their country with the determination to continue economic development in various fields and strengthen self- defense capabilities to counter conspiracies by hostile forces.

“The DPRK’s strength is growing stronger with passage of days,” said the DPRK Embassy in Damascus in a statement issued on the occasion.

The ability of DPRK lies firstly in its one-hearted unity, where this unity is based on the loyal and enduring love of the leader Kim Jong-un who elevated its people, just as President Kim Il-sung and the Chairman of the National Defense Commission kim Jong-il have done, following the path of his directives for achieving the happiness of all the DPRK’s people and making great achievements in the process of reconstruction, as well as getting rid of the effects of the floods in the country.

The Embassy went on saying that the ability of the DPRK lies secondly in its huge military capabilities where the leader Kim Jong-un is doing his best to enhance the national defense capabilities, focusing on nuclear armed forces in order to put an end to the reckless US nuclear threat and ensure the safety of the people of the DPRK.

The Embassy said that the ability of DPRK lies thirdly in the in the power of self-enhancement, as the leader Kim has achieved great achievements in building a strong socialist state, adding that conspiracies and the acts of the hostile forces against the DPRK have not dissuaded the people of the DPRK from developing their economy, culture, and national defense, depending on local resources, technologies, abilities, and talents.

The value of industrial output exceeded 144 percent last year and industrial production grew by 6 times in 2015, as hundreds of projects were inaugurated and rebuilt, the Embassy stated.

The Embassy concluded by saying that the DPRK has exceeded the GDP goal in the industrial sector by 119%, and at the same time completed work to undo the damage caused by floods in the north. By 2017, the DPRK achieved many successes in national defense industries and other economic sectors, and is moving steadily towards realizing the state’s five-year strategy for developing the economy set by the 7th conference of the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, adding “doubtless the DPRK’s abilities will exceed the world’s expectations when this goal is achieved soon.”


06.09.2018 - North Korea Could Formally End War with South Without US Troop Pull Out - Report
North Korea Could Formally End War With South Without US Troop Pull Out - Report


Chief of the national security office at Seoul's presidential Blue House Chung Eui-yong shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea September 5, 2018. Picture taken September 5, 2018. The Presidential Blue House/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY


A South Korean delegation returning from Pyongyang brought important news from the socialist country: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to sign an end-of-war declaration without the withdrawal of US troops from the South. Meanwhile, the North is preparing to celebrate its 70th birthday amid speculation about how militant the fete will be.

A special envoy delegation sent by South Korean President Moon Jae In visited the North Korean capital of Pyongyang Wednesday, delivering a personal letter from Moon to Kim. A Thursday statement in the Workers Party of Korea's newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, described the photoshoot, dinner and discussions as taking place "in a compatriotic and warm atmosphere."

The Rodong Sinmun article says Kim was "pleased over the fact that technical contacts in various fields were made between the north and the south, the reunions of separated families and relatives were realized and north-south military talks and the work of setting up a joint liaison office progressed well after the historic Panmunjom meeting," and that "we should value all these successes which the north and the south made hand in hand and keep advancing without deviation the north-south ties that have definitely entered the new orbit of peace, the orbit of reconciliation and cooperation."

According to the statement, the two Korean delegations mostly discussed the agenda and schedule of the upcoming inter-Korean summit, to take place in Pyongyang September 18 to 20, and Kim said, "The north and the south should further their efforts to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Those efforts that have seemingly stalled in recent weeks as the US cancelled it most recent planned visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the US equivalent of a foreign minister, claiming not to have seen sufficient progress by North Korea toward denuclearization.

More details about the meeting came to light once the delegation returned to South Korea, when members of the envoy delivered further messages from Kim.

Chung Eui-yong, Moon's national security adviser, told reporters Thursday that Kim said he would be willing to sign the end-of-war declaration that Seoul and Pyongyang have been pursuing since the spring without concomitantly demanding the withdrawal of the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea or an end to the alliance between the US and South Korea.

While a lasting peace treaty to the 1950 to 1953 war would require much more extensive negotiations between the four powers involved — North Korea, China, South Korea and the US — a statement declaring the end of the war, issued by the two Koreas, would be an important step toward realizing that goal, which Moon and Kim have indicated to be their primary concern ever since their first meeting at the truce city of Panmunjom in April.

Rodong Sinmun articulated the belief Thursday that "[t]he US should no longer stick to a position of attaining denuclearization before signing a peace treaty."

Chairman Kim Jong Un has made it clear several times that he is firmly committed to denuclearization and expressed frustration over skepticism in the international community over his commitment," Chung said. "He said he has pre-emptively taken steps necessary for denuclearization and wants to see these goodwill measures being met with goodwill measures."

Chung also told reporters that "Chairman Kim stressed that he has never spoken negatively about President Trump to his staff or anyone," a statement that won praise from US President Donald Trump in a tweet Thursday.


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims “unwavering faith in President Trump.” Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!
6:58 AM - Sep 6, 2018

In turn, the US State Department announced Thursday that Stephen Biegun, the US' new special envoy to North Korea, who was supposed to go on Pompeo's cancelled visit, would be touring South Korea, China and Japan next week.

"The special representative will meet with his counterparts and continue diplomatic efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore," it said, without further elaborating in Biegun's itinerary, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.

The South Korean diplomat further affirmed the two Korean governments' commitment to opening a liaison office in the North Korean industrial city of Kaesong before the inter-Korean summit. Another goal of the Panmunjom summit, the South Korean Ministry of Unification announced last month the approval of $3.1 million in funding to set up the inter-Korean joint liaison office, to come from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund, NK News reported at the time.

"We will operate the liaison office with the aim that it can contribute to round-the-clock dialogue and cooperation and the stable management of the situation of inter-Korean relations," the unification ministry said in the statement.

"The Ministry of Unification will strive to contribute to the development of the South-North relations by implementing the Panmunjom Declaration sector-by-sector without setbacks."

Meanwhile, North Korea is preparing to celebrate its 70th anniversary on Sunday, and there's no shortage of speculation and anticipation about how the festivities will play out.

Satellite photos on the website 38 North show that North Korean troops have been practicing for weeks at a mockup of Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, named after the founder of the country (and Kim Jong Un's grandfather), a revolutionary communist leader who led the Korean insurgency against Japanese colonial rule during World War II. His Workers Party of Korea declared the foundation of the people's democratic republic on September 9, 1948, and the country has made a habit of celebrating its birthday with an extravagant parade, the centerpiece of which is typically their latest military weaponry.

However, observers wonder if this year's event won't be different, to reflect the change in tone by Kim in recent months. The last major military parade, in February, showcased North Korea's Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the very weapons at the center of the denuclearization push on the peninsula, which North Korea says are necessary to guarantee its security and independence amid the presence of US troops in the South and the lack of a permanent peace treaty.

In a major contrast to past parades, dozens of international media organizations have been granted visas to attend this year's events, Defense News noted Thursday.

It's known that the parade, which always features mass performances by the people of the city, will include a torch parade as well as the revival of the country's iconic mass games after a six-year hiatus. The celebrations also feature civilian contingents celebrating achievements in agriculture, industry, science and art, and may feature these more prominently in the past, given Kim's newly declared focus on building these parts of North Korean society.


5 September، 2018 - North Korea's Kim sets Denuclearization Time line, prompting Thanks from Trump
North Korea's Kim sets denuclearization time line, prompting thanks...

Chief of the national security office at Seoul's presidential Blue House Chung Eui-yong meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Presidential Blue House /via REUTERS

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has given his first time line for denuclearization, aiming for the end of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first term, Seoul officials said on Thursday, prompting thanks from Trump who said they would “get it done together”.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20 for a third summit and discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said a day after meeting Kim.

The summit could provide renewed momentum to talks over denuclearization between North Korea and the United States, after Trump canceled a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month citing lack of progress.

Kim told South Korean officials his faith in Trump was “unchanged” and that he wanted denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an end to hostile relations with the United States before Trump’s first term ends in early 2021, Chung said.

But there was no indication that Kim had offered concrete steps toward giving up his nuclear arsenal, something some U.S. officials have said privately they doubt he is willing to do.

“He particularly emphasized that he has never said anything negative about President Trump,” Chung said.

Trump welcomed Kim’s remarks in a trademark Tweet.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!” Trump wrote.

Trump had previously hailed his landmark June 12 summit with Kim as a success and said the North Korean nuclear threat was over, despite little evidence to back that assertion.

In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.

U.S. officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization and has insisted the United States must first agree to simultaneous steps to reduce sanctions pressure.

Some analysts suggested Kim was flattering Trump in hopes of dividing the president from advisers who have advocated a tougher U.S. stand.

“Kim just owns Trump. He knows his mark,” Vipin Narang, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in nuclear issues, said in a message on Twitter.

‘ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF WORK TO DO’
Pompeo, on a trip to New Delhi, said there was still “an enormous amount of work to do” on the denuclearization issue.

He visited Pyongyang in July, after which North Korea accused him of making “unilateral and gangster-like demands for denuclearization”.

Asked about U.S. intelligence that North Korea was still advancing its weapons programs, Pompeo noted Pyongyang had ceased its nuclear tests and test-firing missiles, which he said was a “good thing.”

“But the work of convincing Chairman Kim to make this strategic shift that we’ve talked about for a brighter future for the people of North Korea continues,” Pompeo said.

The State Department later said Pompeo was sending his newly appointed North Korea envoy, Stephen Biegun, to South Korea, China and Japan from Sept. 10-15.

Signaling that Washington’s concerns extend beyond Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the U.S. government on Thursday charged and sanctioned an alleged North Korean hacker over the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, the 2014 cyber assault on Sony Corp. and other “malign cyber activities.”

Chung said Kim had stressed the need for the United States to reciprocate North Korea’s initial moves, which have included dismantling a nuclear test site and a missile engine facility.

“We support progress in inter-Korean relations and President Moon’s statements that such progress must go hand-in-hand with denuclearization,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council (NSC) said when asked about the meeting

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said Kim told the South’s envoys that his “fixed stand” was to turn the Korean peninsula into “a cradle of peace without nuclear weapons, free from nuclear threat”.

Chung said Kim showed “frustration over the doubt raised by some parts of the international community about his willingness to denuclearize, and asked us to convey his message to the United States”.

“He expressed his strong will to carry out more proactive measures toward denuclearization if action is taken in response to the North’s preemptive steps,” Chung said.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said: “Looks like Kim is trying to wash away worries that talks could stall or fail, knowing well that Washington is losing patience.”

U.S. officials have previously said they have already made conciliatory gestures, such as suspending joint military exercises with South Korea.

During his meeting with Kim, Chung delivered a message from Trump and will relay comments from Kim to U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Moon’s spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters. Chung later spoke to Bolton, the NSC official said.

Trump spoke to Moon on the evening before Chung’s trip and asked Moon to act as “chief negotiator” between Washington and Pyongyang, the spokesman said.

However, a three-way summit between Trump, Kim and Moon - an idea that South Korea has floated - is not expected on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month, Chung said, suggesting that Kim is not likely to become the first North Korean leader to attend the gathering.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the Koreas for their trust-building efforts and expressed hope for further progress toward “complete and verifiable denuclearization,” his spokesman said.

WHAT HAPPENS FIRST?
Kim and Trump held an unprecedented summit in Singapore in June, in which the
North Korean leader made a broad, vague commitment to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But negotiations have stalled, while signs North Korea has maintained work on its weapons have emerged.

Under discussion is whether North Korean denuclearization or declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War should come first.

The war ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, meaning U.S.-led U.N. forces are technically still at war with the North.

“The United States shouldn’t delay any further an end-of-war declaration, which the U.S. president promised at the Singapore summit,” the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

U.S. officials have said such a declaration could weaken North Korea’s incentive for denuclearization, and create uncertainty about the purpose of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
 

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September 9, 2018 - North Korea Military Parade features floats and flowers, not Missiles
North Korea military parade features floats and flowers, not missiles

With no long-range missiles on display, North Korea staged a military parade on Sunday focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

The reduced display compared to past years earned a thank you note from U.S. President Donald Trump, who hailed it as a “big and very positive statement from North Korea.”

Trump on Twitter quoted a Fox News description of the event without long-range nuclear missiles as a sign of North Korea’s “commitment to denuclearize.”

“Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office,” Trump tweeted.

In Pyongyang, line upon line of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks shook the ground before giving way to chanting crowds waving flags and flowers as they passed a review stand where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sat with a special envoy from China, as well as other visiting foreigners.

Kim told the envoy, Chinese parliament chief Li Zhanshu, that North Korea was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China’s experience in this regard, Chinese state television reported.

“North Korea upholds the consensus of the Singapore meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States and has taken steps for it and hopes the United States takes corresponding steps, to jointly promote the political resolution process for the peninsula issue,” the report paraphrased Kim as saying.

The parade highlight themes of military accomplishment, national development, and international engagement at a time when doubts are arising over Kim’s commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.

Unlike in previous years, there were no inter-continental missiles on display. And there were no nuclear tests to mark the holiday, as has happened in each of the last two years.

North Korea routinely uses major holidays to showcase its military capabilities and the latest developments in missile technology.

But that has lessened this year, underlining Kim’s stated aim for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and his recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and summits with Trump in Singapore and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and Dalian.

The theme for the celebrations this year was economic development and unifying the Korean peninsula, divided since World War Two.

A huge float was decorated with a modern train, solar panels, wind power plants and dams, under a slogan of “All our might to build economy!”, as North Korean men in construction work wear marched.

Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s titular head of state, gave a speech at the parade in which he said the country had achieved status as a military power, and would now pursue efforts to strengthen its economy.

Floats on unification also passed by a throng of North Koreans waving unified Korea flags.

“All Koreans should join forces to accomplish unification in our generation. Unification is the only way Koreans can survive,” said an editorial in North Korea’s party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon will meet in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, officials in Seoul have said.


September 9, 2018 - Drones and gymnasts: North Korean 'Mass Games' return with messages of Reconciliation
Drones and gymnasts: North Korean 'Mass Games' return with messages...


With a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un relaunched the "Mass Games" on Sunday in a pageant that declared that "waves" of international sanctions would break against the strength of North Korea's self-reliance.


Fireworks explode during the Mass Games at May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
 

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September 17, 2018 - North Korea's Kim says Summit with Trump stabilized Region, see more Progress
North Korea's Kim says summit with Trump stabilized region, sees more progress | Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Tuesday his “historic” summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore stabilized regional security, and that he expected further progress at an inter-Korean summit aimed at reviving stalled nuclear diplomacy.

Kim thanked South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in for bringing about the Singapore meeting in June as the two leaders began their third round of talks in Pyongyang.

“Thanks to that, the political situation in the region has stabilized and I expect more advanced results,” Kim told Moon, referring to the Singapore gathering, at the start of their talks.

The Kim-Moon summit will be a litmus test for another meeting Kim has recently proposed to Trump, with the South Korean president seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon expressed gratitude for Kim’s “bold decision to open a new era”.

The first session of the talks, which lasted for two hours, were held at the headquarters of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, with party vice chairman Kim Yong Chol and Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, as well as South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon in attendance.

LIMOUSINE PARADE
Earlier, the leaders paraded down the streets of Pyongyang in Kim’s black Mercedes limousine to loud cheers from nearly 100,000 North Koreans who waved flowers and chanted “Motherland!Unification!”

Kim greeted Moon with hugs and handshakes as the South Korean leader landed in the North’s capital with a mission to rekindle momentum in faltering talks between Washington and Pyongyang over denuclearization and a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

As Kim escorted Moon to the Paekhwawon State Guest House, where Moon will stay during his three-day visit, Kim said he wanted to produce a “bigger outcome at a faster pace” than the two leaders have achieved so far.

Moon, himself the offspring of a family displaced by the war, has met Kim twice this year at the border village of Panmunjom.

“You Mr. President are traveling all around the world, but our country is humble compared with developed nations,” Kim told Moon. “I’ve been waiting and waiting for today. The level of the accommodation and schedule we provide may be low, but it’s our best sincerity and heart.”

Moon said it was “time to bear fruit” and thanked Kim for his hospitality, which included a massive welcome ceremony at Pyongyang International Airport featuring a large, goose-stepping honor guard and a military band.

During their motor parade through Pyongyang’s landmark Ryomyong Street, a new residential district launched last year under Kim’s initiative to modernize the city, Kim and Moon briefly stepped out of the vehicle to greet and take flowers from members of the crowd.

“CHIEF NEGOTIATOR”
Trump has asked Moon to be “chief negotiator” between himself and Kim, according to Moon’s aides, after Trump canceled a trip to Pyongyang by his secretary of state last month.

Washington wants to see concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang - declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving U.S.-led U.N. forces including South Korea technically still at war with the North.

South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wants to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021.

If North Korea-U.S. dialogue is restarted after this visit, it would have much significance in itself,” Moon said before his departure.
Underscoring the challenges ahead, North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said on Tuesday “the responsibility falls squarely on the United States” for the stalled nuclear discussions.

“It is due to its nonsensical, irrational stubbornness that other issues can only be discussed after our country has completely verifiably, irreversibly dismantled our nuclear capabilities... without showing the intention to build trust including declaring the end of war,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

On Wednesday, Moon and Kim plan to hold a second day of official talks after which they are expected to unveil a joint statement, and a separate military pact designed to defuse tensions and prevent armed clashes. Moon will return home early Thursday.

Traveling with Moon are South Korean business tycoons, including Samsung scion Jay Y. Lee and the chiefs of SK Group and LG Group. They met North Korean Deputy Prime Minister Ri Ryong Nam, who is in charge of economic affairs, although Seoul officials said they did not expect any specific joint economic projects to be agreed given extensive international sanctions.

The United States is pressing other countries to strictly observe U.N. sanctions aimed at choking off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

North Korea says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but U.S. officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans covertly.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia on Monday of “cheating” on U.N. sanctions on North Korea.


Slideshow (26 Images)
North Korea's Kim says summit with Trump stabilized region, sees more progress | Reuters


Sept. 18, 2018 - Leaders of Two Koreas begin One-on-One Summit to Unlock Nuclear Talks
Leaders of two Koreas begin one-on-one summit to unlock nuclear talks | Reuters


Leaders of South and North Korea held one-on-one talks on the second day of their summit on Wednesday, aiming to announce steps to rekindle stalled negotiations on the North's nuclear program and deepen bilateral ties.
 
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