Posts Tagged: North Korea

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hyungjk:

vingti:

My Favourite Old School Korean Song (심장에 남는 사람)

Even after spending many years together, there are those who are forgotten. Even through a brief encounter, there are those who remain forever in one’s heart.

I guess even South Korea had a time where they made good music.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this song from a North Korean movie? 

Source: vingti
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A choice no country should have to make

This is an interesting opinion piece on China.org.cn that claims that China’s “former close allies like the [sic] North Korea, Myanmar and Pakistan are opening up to the West.” The column says the following regarding North Korea: 

The North Korea is the county which China assists the most. However, it no longer treats China as a close friend. Instead, it wants to build direct relations with the U.S. The two countries have signed a mutual non-aggression treaty and established trade connections.

Note: There is not a mutual non-aggression treaty between the DPRK and US, nor are there established trade connections. This is  mistranslated from the original Chinese article which says that North Korea is seeking a non-aggression treaty and trade connections with the US.

Compared with China, no other big country spends so much on its allies but gains so little reward or respect. China has mediated and promoted talks between the North Korea and the U.S., but neither of the two nations has embraced these efforts. As Kim Jong-Un becomes the country’s new leader, how much the DPRK will respect China has yet to be seen.

A couple points of interest on the above text: 

 It is interesting to see Sino-Korean relations framed in the context of friendship or personal relations, particularly of respect. You also often find this in inter-Korean relations too, with either side doubting the other’s sincerity, or demanding apologies. I also often hear South Korean friends complain that South Korean aid to North Korea should somehow win over North Korean friendship and respect. However, from personal experience, while the North Korean government may talk in these terms, most North Koreans do not. This is another reason I see a bright future for American-DPRK co-operation in contrast to Sino-DPRK relations and/or North-South Korean friendship. 

Over the years I’ve found personal relationships (not business, or work) with North Koreans to be very different than South Koreans and Chinese. In South Korea and China, not always but often, friendship (at least to a westerner) seems very much to be framed in terms of what can this person do for me, or how does this person fit into my personal network. Talk to many North Korean defectors and they will tell you the exact same thing.

Many North Koreans and westerners, however, seem to work off a common understanding that a friendship requires a kind of equality. If someone somehow falls into a rigid hierarchy (South Korea), or you find yourself asking how can this person be useful to me (South Korea and China), then it is not friendship, and in fact, probably a harmful situation to be avoided. Of course, personal hierarchy exists in North Korea, but there seems to be more leeway at least in terms of person to person relations (not in respect to the leadership). For instance, in negotiations it is not uncommon to see the highest ranking official consult and debate with lower level personal before coming to a consensus.  From my own observations, North Koreans, even when there is a large age difference, seem to very much engage and enjoy two-way conversation, which I have found a rarity in the south. 

It makes sense then, at least to me, that North Koreans probably feel much more comfortable dealing with the United States because the negotiations are very much more a matter of ‘give and take’ on what they can see as equal terms rather than being drawn into Chinese demands for respect and South Korean claims that they somehow deserve friendship.

Of course, there are large obstacles to DPRK-US rapprochement, however, once these are overcome I foresee a bright future in relations between the two countries. 

 

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China to deepen agricultural cooperation with U.S

Remarks from China’s Agriculture Minister, Han Chengfu, on a visit to the United States with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping. Xi Jinping, who is widely believed to become China’s next president, also has a great interest in agriculture wrote his Phd Thesis at Qinghua University on rural economics. 

After 30 years development, China-U.S. agricultural cooperation has laid a solid foundation, with extensive exchanges and cooperation at all levels, the minister said.

According to Han, the agricultural ministries of both countries will push forward cooperation in the areas of food security, sustainable development, agricultural trade and science and technology, creating opportunities for cooperation between agricultural enterprises of the two countries and promoting joint research on agriculture.

He believes that, with the deepening of agricultural cooperation and the increasing openness of agricultural trade and investment, bilateral agricultural cooperation will have broader prospects

I’d like to agriculture form the basis of future DPRK-US relations. Like China and the US, it is an area of common interest for any country and important to the livelihoods of all people regardless of economic or political system. It is also an area where the US has very relevant expertise and a strong foundation in both material and social capital:

The United States is a country with advanced agricultural science, technology and research into such fields as seed breeding and production, and has world-class multinational companies in agriculture, while China has broad market demands as well as leading technologies in food production, biomass energy and agricultural produce processing, said Han.

It will help improving the agricultural science and technology strength of both nations if China and the United States enhance their cooperation, he argued.

China and the United States have conducted effective cooperation in crop plantation, stock raising, fishery, agricultural research and education, agricultural product processing and circulation, he explained.

The two nations have launched more than 500 science and technology exchange programs since they established the working group on agricultural science and technology cooperation in 1980, with around 3,000 experts get involved.

They have maintained effective cooperation between academies and universities of agricultural sciences and nurtured a great number of talents, which have made important contributions for the advancement and development of agricultural science and industry of both nations, said Han.

Lastly, I believe the US (and perhaps Russia) is in a unique position to assist North Korea agriculture and rural industry because there is less of a moral-hazard involved in investment and development. In the long term, North Korean farms in whatever form they emerge will have to compete most fiercely with Chinese and South Korean farmers, in addition being the target of agriculture suppliers in both countries. The aim of the US should be to assist North Korea in not only developing food security through a combination of improved technical development in the agriculture sector, but also through commerce (and the ability to compete with its neighbors). The former will no doubt be easier than the latter, but the former, if properly executed, can serve as a good starting point for the latter.

Source: China.org.cn 

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Pyongyang, February 8 (KCNA) — The Agrobiology Research Institute under the Academy of Agricultural Science of Korea has invented a new variety of seed processing substance.
The substance, called “Chonggye 65”, contains phosphorus, potassium and rare-earth and bioactive elements.
It helps reduce the seed processing time, move up the flowering time of crops and raise their fertilization and ripening rate.
It also ensures a stable yield even under unfavorable climate conditions.
When it is applied to cotton growing, its harvest shows an increase of 30 to 50 percent per hectare.
The substance enjoyed popularity at a world up-to-date agricultural technology exhibition held in Shenyang, China in last September. -0-
Source: KCNA
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North Korean A-ha accordionists 'destined for stardom'

A group of North Korean accordionists who took the internet by storm with their version of 80s pop tune Take On Me are destined for stardom, a Norwegian impresario says.

I am glad North Korean musicians are finally getting some of the attention they deserve. It is a shame that North Korean music (or music in North Korea) is rarely seen out of the context of other opinions and concerns about the country(both legitimate, or not). More often than not, it seems articles, like Pyongyang Rock City, use music as a segue to discuss the authors’ own shallow understanding of North Korean society (for lack of anything new or better to say?), and/or gloat about their own personal escapades.

Of course, North Korean music can be strange (are not the best musicians by their very nature eccentric?), but poking fun or attempting to write humorous articles on the subject really an injustice as it doesn’t see the music for what it is-music, and not the noise pollution (lovey dovey dovey uh uh uh) that comes out of South Korea. To think North Korean music is weird! 

Yes, North Koreans start children playing instruments at a very young age, but name me one society on earth that doesn’t enjoy making their youth do things that are probably best left for adults (or at least teenagers). That said, many of the North Koreans I know are extremely talented musically, and it is no doubt a result of ‘starting ‘em young’. 

Anyways, I hope this marks the high water mark of South Korea’s “Korean Wave” as the world realizes Korea is capable of producing better music than K-Pop. Perhaps the defining moment of the “Military First Generation” will be to drive the spawn of “Girl’s Generation" back into the mindless cesspool from which they came. Oh, indeed!  

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Wrestling With Diplomacy in North Korea

Rewind to April 1995, just one year after the death of Kim Il Sung, a nuclear crisis that nearly brought about war, and a time of biting economic hardship.  After such a long period of mourning, probably the last thing you would have expected to see taking place would be an international wrestling tournament in Pyongyang, attended by the likes of boxing champion Muhammad Ali and World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Rick Flair.  But that’s exactly what happened, and bizarrely, all in the name of international peace and friendship.  If the post Kim Il Sung period is providing the template for North Korea after Kim Jong-il, might Pyongyang now seek to repeat history through another major wrestling tournament at some point this year?

Interesting post and story. 

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Developing the DPRK Through Agriculture

Randall Ireson on using agriculture to jump start the DPRK economy. In short, the technical knowledge and means are out there, but they require in-country market reforms (allowing farmer’s to sell their produce) and recognition by the DPRK’s neighbors of the importance of developing agriculture.  

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Agricultural Workers Meet to Hear True Stories about Virtues of Kim Jong Il   
Pyongyang, February 7 (KCNA) — The platform of true stories about leader Kim Jong Il’s virtues by the agricultural working people under the title of “The Fatherly General Will Always Be With Agricultural Working People” took place at the Central Youth Hall on Tuesday on the occasion of his 70th birth anniversary.
The participants observed a moment’s silence to the memory of Kim Jong Il.
Taking the floor were Ri Yong Ae, chairwoman of the management board of the Tongbong Co-op Farm in Hamju County of South Hamgyong Province, Om Jong Sil, member of the Unhung Co-op Farm in Thaechon County of North Phyongan Province, Ri Yong Jun, member of the Migok Co-op Farm in Sariwon City of North Hwanghae Province, and Pak Hye Gum, member of the Sodu Farm in Taehongdan County of Ryanggang Province.
They expressed their ardent yearning and deep reverence for Kim Jong Il with their experiences.
He said that young people who volunteered to work at challenging and labor-consuming fields represent a true picture of the young Korean people and had a photo taken with a couple ordinary farmers, considerate of their simple wishes, they said.
The speakers sang a song “Thank You, Fatherly General” with yearning for him who showed great loving care for the DPRK agricultural working people. -0-

Agricultural Workers Meet to Hear True Stories about Virtues of Kim Jong Il   

Pyongyang, February 7 (KCNA) — The platform of true stories about leader Kim Jong Il’s virtues by the agricultural working people under the title of “The Fatherly General Will Always Be With Agricultural Working People” took place at the Central Youth Hall on Tuesday on the occasion of his 70th birth anniversary.

The participants observed a moment’s silence to the memory of Kim Jong Il.

Taking the floor were Ri Yong Ae, chairwoman of the management board of the Tongbong Co-op Farm in Hamju County of South Hamgyong Province, Om Jong Sil, member of the Unhung Co-op Farm in Thaechon County of North Phyongan Province, Ri Yong Jun, member of the Migok Co-op Farm in Sariwon City of North Hwanghae Province, and Pak Hye Gum, member of the Sodu Farm in Taehongdan County of Ryanggang Province.

They expressed their ardent yearning and deep reverence for Kim Jong Il with their experiences.

He said that young people who volunteered to work at challenging and labor-consuming fields represent a true picture of the young Korean people and had a photo taken with a couple ordinary farmers, considerate of their simple wishes, they said.

The speakers sang a song “Thank You, Fatherly General” with yearning for him who showed great loving care for the DPRK agricultural working people. -0-

Video

koreanewsline:

How’s this for unlikely? Here’s a fantastic North Korean accordion rendition of a-ha’s “Take on Me” by way of Norwegian artist Morten Traavik. The Wall Street Journal tells the fascinating story behind the video here.

I thought this quote from the article is important: 

As well, Mr. Traavik said that he suspected that the reality of life in North Korea is more complex and nuanced than is portrayed in the media.

The result of the negative flow of news coverage and images, Mr. Traavik said, is there’s a risk that a person who doesn’t criticize North Korea will be accused of pandering to its authoritarian regime.

“For me as an artist who likes to challenge boundaries, that risk is a great asset,” he said. “It’s a huge space where it’s possible for me to act.”

There is a tendency by many to see stories on North Korea as either overly soft on the country or involved in some conspiracy to destroy it. Both (may) accurately describe one part of the picture, but they are by no means the whole picture. As Mr. Traavik says, the real situation, like any situation, is much more complex.

I, personally, have come to judge the quality of stories and analysis on North Korea on whether they have a capacity for empathy. The definition of empathy in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows: 

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

This is, of course, subtly different from sympathy, or “the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another,” which seems to dominate our debates and understanding of North Korea. Most people are sympathetic to the plight of the North Korean people, some are sympathetic to the government, but if we intend to really make the best of this situation, we really must have empathy for both the “people” and “government”-which itself realistically is a much more hazy divide than we usually admit- we must take the analysis that is out there and place ourselves in the shoes of any number of different actors in North Korean society from Kim Jong Un and the highest government officials to mid-ranking bureaucracy and professionals to those who have been left out of society and/or abused by it. If we begin to think how we would act in each situation, things begin to become more clear. This, of course, does not condone in any way actions, good, bad, or somewhere in between, but it does help give us a way to begin to understand how to work with the reality that confronts us. 

On another note, I think this article once again reveals to us the indisputable truth that North Korea just has way better musical tastes than South Korea. Low blow, I know, but it has to be said. 

Source: koreastandardtime
Video

koreanewsline:

Something we missed in January: China’s CCTV scored an interview with North Korean TV anchorwoman Ri Chun Hui. After being accustomed to seeing her deliver the news in authoritative, almost-military-like tones, it’s fascinating to see her speaking like a normal person. Click here for an English-language version of the same report.

Here is the youku link for anyone in China. 

Source: koreastandardtime