North Korean Diplomats Arrested In Pakistan

A couple from North Korea was arrested on the side of a road in Karachi, Pakistan on charges of illegally selling alcohol inside the Defence Housing Authority on April 1. They were released soon afterward, however, because they were discovered to be diplomatic envoys to Pakistan from North Korea.

Details on the arrest

UPI reports that the couple, identified only by their surname of Chong, was accused of using their positions and resulting immunity to sell beer and whisky inside the Defence Housing Authority. In Pakistan, it is illegal to sell alcohol in public areas.

The North Korean diplomat and his wife were also accused of taking advantage of their privileges as foreign envoys to buy whiskey of high quality from duty-free stores and then selling it to turn a hefty profit, according to Voice of America.

Profits for the North Korean embassy

The media outlet also reported that an expensive bottle of whiskey like a bottle of the high-end Chivas Regal, could be bought for $40 and then sell for between $70 and $100. The couple also could reportedly pay $30 for a pack of beer and then sell it at the housing authority for as much as $150.

Sources in Pakistan reportedly told the media that the illegal alcohol sales were actually providing financial support for North Korea’s embassy to operate in Pakistan. In addition, Donga Ilbo, a newspaper in South Korea, also said the couple was selling the alcohol in order to send foreign money to Pyongyang.

Other North Korean diplomats arrested

This isn’t the first time North Korean diplomats were arrested in Pakistan. Two years ago, other envoys from North Korea were also arrested on charges of illegally selling alcohol. In that cause, they were allegedly selling it to employees of international schools and restaurants in Pakistan. They also allegedly delivered the alcohol using official vehicles owned by the North Korean embassy.

Also recently a diplomat from North Korea was accused of trying to smuggle $1.7 million in gold into Bangladesh.

(by Value walk)

North Korean diplomat caught smuggling gold

A North Korean diplomat is being investigated after he was caught carrying $1.4 million worth of gold bars in what officials are calling “a clear case of smuggling.”

Authorities say 50-year-old Son Yung Nam flew with 170 gold bars to Dhaka, Bangladesh from Singapore. Because he has diplomatic immunity, he was not arrested. However, he did spend several hours with customs while they questioned him and searched his luggage.

The customs intelligence chief told the Agence France-Presse that visitors can only bring a maximum of $1,282 worth of gold. Meanwhile, Son Yung brought more than one million.

Authorities said they believe the diplomat was going to sell the gold to criminals in Bangladesh. They intend to prosecute him under the country’s harsh anti-smuggling laws as soon as they are given the green light from the foreign ministry.

Last year, the country saw a huge leap in gold smuggling. The same customs intelligence chief who handled this most recent case says his team caught smugglers in the act every day of 2014.

(by Aol)

North Korea In Photos: One Man’s Tour of The Hermit Kingdom

Elliott is a golfer and a traveler by nature. He set up a blog and wants to visit every country with a camera nearby to document the experience. He recently traveled to North Korea and managed to bring back more than 100 photos of the country.

Elliott’s blog, Earth Nutshell, includes 100 photos of North Korea and captions regarding his stay in the country. Elliot traveled to Wonsan, Kaesong, Haeju, Pujon County, Nampo and the DMZ. “Upon leaving North Korea, the experience took some time to sink in. I had been affected by that country. There is nowhere else in the world like it. It’s simply inconceivable and put crudely: scary. North Korea is parallel to our freedom in real time. It’s not a zoo, it’s not a ‘facade,’ certainly not a novelty; it’s real life. Happening right now,” Elliott said in a Reddit AMA. He spent 16 days in the country and toured many sites that are not part of a usual sanctioned visit.


Propaganda is hard to escape in North Korea, and there are slogans practically everywhere. There are massive monuments dedicated to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Cars are rare and used by the elite and high-ranking government officials. There are modern conveniences, but everything is carefully regulated by the government. There are cell phones, but they do not connect to the Internet.

In the Reddit AMA, Elliott said many people in Pyongyang know there is massive censorship in the country, while those living outside North Korea’s capital are unaware of what’s happening outside of the country. “I am convinced the average civilian is detached from the outside world as remote civilizations of the past. They can’t even go to Pyongyang. There are military checkpoints all through the country preventing locals from even traversing between provinces; it’s mental,” Elliott said.


Despite the carefully scripted process, a tourist can learn a lot about the country and what daily life is like in North Korea. “[We] travel between places via bus; North Korea doesn’t exactly have the luxury in choosing between roads between locations other than in Pyongyang. You see daily life go by as normal, the farming, the villages, the people walking between them carrying water buckets over their heads akin to Africa, and people cycling 50km [approximately 31 miles] in silk suit jackets with no shirts. You see the apartment blocks, the desolate lonely towns that have no infrastructure,” Elliott said.

Kim Jong Un is everywhere and those pictures of him pointing and looking at things are very real.


(by ibtimes)

No sex, drugs or rock’n’roll – a North Korean gap year

lessandro Ford had a gap year with a difference. His movements were monitored everywhere he went; he spent hours discussing the merits of Juche ideology over American imperialism; and his only contact with the outside world was a 10-minute phone call with his mum once a week.

north korea ford

From August to December last year, the 18-year-old was enrolled as a student at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, learning Korean. Whilst the university takes in foreign students from countries including China and Russia, he was the first “western” student to ever study there.

The trip was arranged by his father, Glyn Ford, a former Labour Party member of the European parliament who has been on multiple diplomatic trips to North Korea and has long argued for sustained diplomatic engagement with the pariah state.

The young Ford explained that while planning his gap year: “my dad always used to joke ‘If you don’t make up your mind I’ll ship you off to North Korea’’’, and it slowly dawned on him that it might, in fact, be quite interesting.

Speaking from his home in Brussels, Ford said he had a privileged level of access to the secretive country which fascinates so many. Aged just 15 he spent two weeks in the DPRK on a summer holiday and, despite a bout of food poisoning that had him hospitalised, his interest in the country was piqued.

An elite world of study

Though growing up in radically different cultures, there are some parallels between Ford’s upbringing and that of the North Koreans he attended classes with. He is the son of a politician and attended an international school in Belgium, while many of his North Korean peers were the offspring of an affluent elite within Pyongyang society.

The students at Kim Il-sung had parents who were party members, high ranking officials, or were serving in the military, explained Ford. One student had spent time in London as his father worked in the embassy, and whilst most were from the comfortable confines of Pyongyang there were a few students who had grown up in the provinces.

Ford paid £3,000 for four months of DPRK schooling, including food and accommodation, but that’s where the similarities with western education ended.

Ford said the facilities at the Pyongyang campus “were rather spartan, squat toilets, no showers – we’d all bath together, Roman style,” he explained , adding that he got used to regular saunas that are “popular with Koreans”. The dormitories were clean and comfortable, but very basic. In winter they ran out of hot water for two weeks – it was minus -20C, he added.

Free to mingle with all students on campus “we spoke a little bit about everything, but always from a North Korean perspective.” But Ford didn’t regard his classmates as brainwashed: “I genuinely think they all believed what they were saying, that North Korea was an impoverished country that had been persecuted by the Americans.”

“The only barrier to our interaction was language,” said Ford, although there were a few English-speaking North Korean students placed in the foreign dormitory specifically to talk to him.

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll

As for the typical western gap year rites of passage, sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, Ford’s examples confirm that young North Koreans do things differently.

When they listened to music together the lyrics of American rapper Eminem were questioned: “Why does he rap about himself, sex and drugs? He should be making music about his family and his country,” his fellow students told him.

“From what I was told and from what I saw, North Koreans are more puritan. It’s a ‘no sex before marriage’ culture and sneaking around is not really done.

“The students I hung out with, aged between 20 and 25, were virgins,” Ford said, who never saw any kissing take place, even amongst those who had girlfriends and boyfriends. “They’d tell me they showed affection in other ways,” he explained.

There were times Ford felt lonely, but never alone. He couldn’t engage with North Korean culture and sport, and although he had a international phone it cost him £2 per minute to call home.

He expected a level of monitoring “but at times it did get quite suffocating. Koreans don’t have a sense of individualism nor did they understand the [need for] solitude of western culture,” he said.

Engage or isolate?

Debates on how the world should engage with North Korea are ongoing. Some believe that the kind of interaction that Ford had with the country can only be positive, as information from the outside world slowly drips in to the hermetically sealed country.

Others believe that visits, especially ones where North Koreans may profit, only serve to legitimise a regime accused of systematic human rights abuses against its own people. For Ford there is no question: “I am pro-communication and pro-interaction. I don’t see how it could work with isolationism.”

He says he would definitely recommended the trip to others, both for the education and for the politics. He believes that future student exchanges would “help with human rights violations by opening up the country”.

Ford, who is going to study philosophy at Bristol University in September, said he left North Korea thinking he had had enough but, with a bit of distance, now feels the country will always be a fixture in his life.

(by the Guardian)

North Korea at 70: Seven turbulent decades of repression, murder and nuclear brinkmanship

The Workers’ Party of Korea will celebrate its anniversary with gusto on Saturday, marking 70 years since it became the ostensibly democratic face of history’s only communist dynasty – and glossing over the inconvenient fact that it has done little more than rubber stamp the decisions of three generations of the Kim family, starting with Kim Il-sung, since 1945.

In the seven decades since the creation of the party, North Korea has started a war that came to the brink of a nuclear exchange, abducted hundreds of foreign nationals, sold weapons to rogue Middle Eastern states,manufactured drugs to earn hard currency and printed counterfeit foreign banknotes.

Arms and the 1.1 million men

North Korea has the biggest per capita standing army in the world and is believed to have extensive stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. Pyongyang has also developed nuclear weapons and the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver the warheads – and insists it is ready and willing to use them.

Kim family values

Three generations of the Kim family have also displayed callous disregard for the well-being of their own people. Famine has been a recurring theme of life in North Korea. The elite continued to live in luxury during the four-year famine from 1994, known euphemistically in the North as the Arduous March, during which as many as 3.5 million of the nation’s 22 million people died of starvation.

Tens of thousands of its citizens are still held in political prison camps, with no chance of ever being released, along with three generations of their families also condemned to being worked to death because of the regime’s assumption of guilt by association.

Senior members of the regime who fall out of favour are simply executed, often in the most gruesome of ways. In April, satellites captured images of anti-aircraft guns being used to carry out an execution.

A pariah state

The United Nations released a report in February 2014 that condemned North Korea for multiple alleged cases of murder, torture, rape used as an instrument of torture, abduction, enslavement, starvation and other abuses against its own people.

The North Korean regime “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” Michael Kirby, a retired Australian judge and chair of the panel, stated in the final document, adding that many of its excesses reminded him of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime in Germany and Cambodia under Pol Pot.

Isolated for its excesses, under international sanctions and regularly condemned by the global community, analysts have more than once predicted the regime’s demise. It has indeed teetered on that brink – there are reports of attempted coups that came to nothing while international sanctions and China’s restriction of aid have undoubtedly hurt the regime – yet it has always managed to limp on while keeping up the colourful rhetoric against its enemies.

And that is testament to the three Kims that have led the country with successive iron fists since Japan’s defeat in 1945 divided the Korean Peninsula into the Soviet Union-sponsored North and the South, supported by the United States and, when war broke out in 1950, the UN.

The personality cult of Kim Il-sung

Born in 1912 and given the name Kim Song-ju, the official version of Kim Il-sung’s life claims that he and his family resisted the Japanese colonisation of the Korean Peninsula and that he joined an underground Marxist organisation, but they were forced to flee to Manchuria.

After Japan’s invasion of north-east China in 1931, Kim joined a guerrilla group under the Communist Party of China and served as a political commissar.

He adopted the name Kim Il-sung – which translates as “Kim becomes the sun” – in 1935 and led raids against Japanese outposts, the most famous of which, the attack on the small town of Poch’onbo, has gone down in North Korean history as a feat of military genius.

With the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union installed Kim as its puppet and set about creating a cult of personality similar to that surrounding Stalin.

War and the DMZ

On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched what it called the Fatherland Liberation War, with the tacit backing of China and the Soviet Union.

Initial successes pushed weak South Korean and US forces back to the edges of the south-east port city of Pusan before a massive UN force, led by the US but with significant British involvement, intervened. Seoul was recaptured after daring landings at Incheon but the conflict degenerated into stalemate when China intervened with millions of “volunteers” flooding over the border.

An armistice was signed in 1953 and a Demilitarised Zone – in truth, the world’s most heavily fortified border – has divided the peninsula ever since.

The two sides have kept up the political sniping and regular military clashes ever since.

Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader

Kim Il-sung – referred to as The Great Leader – died in July 1994, the nation being inherited by his son, Kim Jong-il. The North’s propaganda machine had already been busy lionising the achievements of a man who was to become The Dear Leader, claiming he was born in a secret guerrilla camp on the slopes of sacred Mount Paektu. The reality is more prosaic; he was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim in a refugee camp near Khabarovsk.

North Korea’s economy was already in decline, thanks primarily to a policy of diverting the bulk of the nation’s resources to the military, and chronic mismanagement, but Pyongyang became increasingly reliant on assistance from China, its sole significant ally.

That never stopped the North from playing up Kim’s alleged achievements, which ranged from writing 1,500 books and six full operas during his three years at Kim Il-sung University, to overseeing the nation’s film industry and, after first picking up a golf club at North Korea’s only golf course in 1994, scoring a 38-under par round that included a remarkable 11 holes in one.

There had long been suggestions that Kim Jong-il, who had suffered two serious strokes in 2008, was suffering from diabetes as well as heart and kidney complaints and he died suddenly aboard his personal train in December 2011.

Kim Jong-un – more of the same …

After an official period of mourning, Kim Jong-un was anointed his heir and successor and swiftly dashed hopes that his upbringing and education at a private school in Switzerland might have given him a broader world view and encouraged him to seek rapprochement with the North’s enemies instead of confrontation.

If anything, Mr Kim’s attitude towards the rest of the world has been more obtuse. The North launched a rocket in April 2012 in what other nations condemned as a disguised test of a ballistic missile, and carried out its third underground nuclear test in February 2013, despite international pressure not to. Mr Kim has also restarted the reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear plant.

Mr Kim’s reign has been punctuated by military clashes at sea and along the border, while he has also sought closer relations with Russia since China grew weary of the regime ignoring Beijing’s advice.

Mr Kim will use the anniversary of the founding of the party to call on his people to continue the struggle to build the nation’s unique form of socialism – but with more defectors escaping North Korea’s borders and more information than ever before going the other way, his citizens are no longer in the dark over the realities of his regime.

(by Telegraph)

‘I saw my first execution aged seven’: North Korean defector reveals how she was brainwashed by the brutal regime and grew up believing it was the greatest country on earth

A North Korea defector has revealed how she was forced to watch her first execution at the age of seven as she was brainwashed by the country’s brutal regime.
Hyeonseo Lee was also made to denounce her friends for fabricated transgressions and dig tunnels in case of a nuclear attack.
But Lee and her classmates grew up convinced they lived in the ‘greatest nation on earth’ run by a benevolent god-like leader whom they loved in the way many children love Santa Claus.

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