Freepressers

Once called 'city of churches', Pyongyang now sees Christianity as top security threat

Once called 'city of churches', Pyongyang now sees Christianity as top security threat

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com The fuss made by North Korea over the Christmas lights on a steel tower at an observation post overlooking the demilitarized zone reminds me of a similarly lit tree far inside North Korea. It was on the shelf behind the bar of a hotel in the industrial east coast city of […]

 Freepressers

The people be damned: Recalling the odd friendship between 'Snooky' Sihanouk and Kim Il-Sung

The people be damned: Recalling the odd friendship between 'Snooky' Sihanouk and Kim Il-Sung

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com They formed one of the oddest, blood-stained duos in Asian history. Cambodia’s king and prince and then king again, Norodom Sihanouk, bonded with North Korea’s “Great Leader” Kim Il-Sung for reasons that had to do with their mutual hatred of the United States. Never did the adage, the enemy of my […]

 FreePressers Staff

Missile fizzle: Fitting symbol of a bizarre failure in top-down government

Missile fizzle: Fitting symbol of a bizarre failure in top-down government

By John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — In the bizarre ritual of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a recent rocket launch was intended to put the icing on the dynastic cake of the centennial birthday celebrations of the late dictator Kim Il-Sung. The world press had been invited to the reclusive neo-Stalinist state, and […]

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Going, going, gone, but the party for 'eternal President' Kim Il-Sung goes on

Going, going, gone, but the party for 'eternal President' Kim Il-Sung goes on

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com SEOUL — The failure of North Korea’s Unha 3 missile leaves one great mystery to which there may never be a definitive answer. The question is whether or not it was carrying a weather satellite that the North Koreans had been saying for weeks would go into orbit in the interests […]

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'Precious' satellites, long-range missiles and food aid all in time for Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday extravaganza

'Precious' satellites, long-range missiles and food aid all in time for Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday extravaganza

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com SEOUL — North Korea’s claim of a serious scientific reason for planning to fire off a long-range missile next month with a satellite for a payload is couched in such sincere-sounding lingo that one has to wonder if the North’s scientists and engineers actually may have something in mind there. Kwangmyogsong-3, […]

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From Stalin to Putin: Moscow maintains uneasy balance of power in Northeast Asia

From Stalin to Putin: Moscow maintains uneasy balance of power in Northeast Asia

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com SEOUL — The resurgence of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia ushers in a new era of power politics and diplomacy in Northeast Asia with implications that may not be good news for either the United States or China. Campaigning against strong opposition from the educated, intellectual, often critical elite of […]

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As Iran, Syria crises heat up, N. Korean missile exports boom

As Iran, Syria crises heat up, N. Korean missile exports boom

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com WASHINGTON — North Korea stands to be a major winner if Israeli hotheads lose patience and drive Israel into attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. With Iran said in some quarters to be only months away from emerging as the world’s 10th nuclear weapons power, North Korea reportedly is producing more middle-range missiles […]

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Pyongyang's forced construction drive kills hundreds of college students

Pyongyang's forced construction drive kills hundreds of college students

By Lee Jong-Heon, East-Asia-Intel.com As many as 200 North Korean college students who had been mobilized for construction work have died in recent accidents caused by a lack of safety equipment and procedures. The reclusive country has launched notorious “speed battles” that force workers to perform faster without concern for safety, a source in Seoul […]

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North Korea pressing its own impoverished people for cash to fund 2012 extravaganza

North Korea pressing its own impoverished people for cash to fund 2012 extravaganza

By Lee Jong-Heon, East-Asia-Intel.com SEOUL — North Korea’s totalitarian regime is reaching out to its suffering population for foreign currencies, gold and other valuables they might possess to help finance massive political projects marking the centennial next April of the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim Il-Sung. The North’s state banks have offered to buy […]

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Memo to 'elders': Time to wise up on North Korea

Memo to 'elders': Time to wise up on North Korea

By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com WASHINGTON — The title of “elder” among certain large Protestant Christian denominations, including American Southern Baptists, Evangelicals and Mormons, among others, has a certain connotation. It does not necessarily mean age but does imply wisdom, a vague superiority, mingled perhaps with a trace of condescension. I have seen 20-year-olds in dark suits […]