We have all witness numerous attempts by North Korea to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with from threats of war against South Korea to attacks on the United States with long range nuclear missiles, however the end result of these threats have left the North Korea with little bargaining power as the United Nations has sanctioned them for repeated offenses and South Korea grows tired of the tantrums. What is the next logical step in North Korea’s psychological warfare? North Korea now hopes to use an old trick from the past that is sure to get the United States’ attention. On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that North Korea will try an American detainee for allegedly trying to overthrow the government complicating an already tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. The indictment comes as North Korea has run out of ammo to use against the U.S. and South Korea in order to force bargaining between the nations. North Korea remains angry over U.N. sanctions passed in February over nuclear tests and the ongoing U.S. South Korean drills though most believe the motive behind the indictment is to force its Korean War foes to negotiate on its own terms according to the Associated Press.
The man identified above, Kenneth Bae, also known by his Korean name in North Korean state media, Pae Jun Ho, is a tour operator arrested after arriving with a tour on Nov.3 in Rason which is a special economic zone bordering China and Russia. He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009, however the other detainees were eventually deported or released after high profile diplomatic interventions with some involving President Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. According to the Korean Central News Agency, “The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun Ho closed. In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.” Under North Korea’s criminal code terrorist acts include murdering, kidnapping and injuring the country’s citizens can lead to a death sentence or life in jail AP reports.
The actual trial of Bae has not been set and the charges have yet to be announced by the KCNA as little information has been made public. North Korea and the United States do not have diplomatic relations due to the 1050-53 Korean War as the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represent the United States. Friends, colleagues and activist in South Korea said that Bae is a missionary based in a border town in China who made frequent trips to North Korea to feed orphans , but do not know whether he tried to evangelize while in North Korea AP reports. Officially, North Korea guarantee freedom of religion, however authorities have been known to crack down on Christians who are seen as threats to government because of the western influence. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services do carry a penalty of banishment to a labor camp or execution according to defectors from the country.
As North Korea has already made public the cutting of communication with South Korea and the ignoring of the armistice that ended the Korean War, the fear of war breaking out in the region is very real as the worldwide community waits with bated breath to see what North Korea will do next. The United Nation chief has already chimed in with fears North Korea is on a collision course with other nations that could lead to war. With recent sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program and threats of potential strikes on the United States, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believe the isolated nation appears to be “on a collision course with the international community” amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula reports the Associated Press. Ban (pictures above), a former South Korean Foreign Minister, said Tuesday in Andorra that the crisis has gone too far because of increasing threats of war by North Korea against the United States and South Korea. He said international negotiations are needed now even though he believes no one intends on attacking North Korea.
North Korea said Tuesday it will escalate production of nuclear weapons materials including restarting the plutonium reactor which leads many outsiders to believe that Pyongyang is trying to extract concessions from the United States by fear of war. As the Associated Press reports, the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy announced their scientist will begin readjusting and restarting uranium enrichment that could make a bomb’s worth of plutonium each year as experts consider the announcement a public declaration that the highly enriched uranium could be used for bomb fuel. The declaration has Washington and its allies concerned that North Korea’s timetable for a nuclear tipped missile aimed at the United States may happen sooner than later even though it is believed to be years away from that technology. The recent weeks are seen as an effort by Pyongyang to force disarmament for aid talks with Washington and to boost domestic loyalty to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful leader according to Hwang Jihwan, a North Korean expert at the University of Seoul reports the Associated Press. The Korean Central News Agency stated that the North Korean atomic spokesman said the measure is meant to address the country’s electricity shortahe but also to “bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity.” The Uranium enrichment program worries outsiders due to the fact that the technology can be hidden much easier than huge plutonium facilities and highly enriched uranium can be used for nuclear weapons. Kim Jin Moo, a North Korean expert at the Korean Insitute for Defense Analysis in South KOrea, believes the announcement of highly enriched uranium through adjustments is North Korea’s way of “blackmailing the international community by suggesting that it will now produce weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium.” China, Pyongyang’s only major economic and diplomatic supporter, expressed disapproval as Chinese Poreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated: “We noticed North Korea’s statement, which we think is regrettable.”
Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in February prompting new U.N, sanctions that caused North Korea to declare that the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 is void shutting down communication with Seoul, threatening to launch strikes against the U.S. and its allies, and recently declaring at a high level government assembly to make nuclear arms and a stronger economy as the top priority. The Korean Peninsula is in a state of war a the truce not peace treaty ended the Korean War and the United States stationed 28, 500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent to the North. Washington has taken all of the North’s threat seriously even though the White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that the U.S. has not detected any military mobilization or reposition from Pyongyang. As the North raises the stakes, the United States took it a step further by flying nuclear capable bombers and stealth jets at the annual South Korean U.S. military drills. The latest atomic test from the North in February led to the sanctions against the Asian nations as it could not be determined whether highly enriched uranium or plutonium stockpiles were used since other countries including South Korea failed to detect radioactive elements that may have been leaked from the test.
Are we really surprised by this? On Thursday, North Korea threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike against the U.S. as the U.N. diplomats try to decide whether or not to level new sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear testing. An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang commented that Washington is pushing for war against the North so the North is well within their rights to do this. The North however has not been able to produce a warhead missile capable of reaching the U.S. even though they do have the nuclear fuel. In recent days, such inflammatory rhetoric has become even more common since the possibility of a sanction is more than likely leading to a mass rally in Pyongyang on Thursday to protest the upcoming U.S. South Korean war drills and sanctions. According to the Associated Press, Army Gen. Kang Pyo Yong told the crowd that North Korea is ready to fire long range missiles at Washington.
The U.N. Security Council is considering a fourth round of sanctions against Pyongyang in order to keep tighter reins on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The resolution, drafted by the U.S. and China, will be put up for council vote just 48 hours later and will most likely have the support of all 15 council members. The statement made by North Korean foreign Ministry spokesman, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency, accuses the U.S. of being the prime suspect in slapping the sanctions on North Korea however in the statement the new sanctions will only speed up the timing to fulfill previous vows to act on their enemies. The statement, according to the Associate Press, said North Korea “strongly warns the U.N. Security Council not to make another big blunder like the one in the past when it earned the inveterate grudge of the Korean nation by acting as a war servant for the U.S. in 1950.” North Korea in an effort to counter the resolution being passed threatened to end the cease fire of 1953 that ended the Korean War. If the proposed resolution passes, then according to U.S. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, the sanctions imposed would be the strongest ever ordered by the United Nations. The final draft of the resolution released Wednesday not only puts sanctions on North Korea but two other individuals, one a corporation and one organization, who are the country’s primary arms dealer and exporter of ballistic missile equipment while the other is a national organization in charge of research and development. The success of these sanction depends on China where most of the companies and banks that North Korea is believed to work with are based.
The United States and other nations are concerned that North Korea’s third test has moved them closer to missiles capable of reaching the U.S., while the international community has condemned the government’s nuclear and missile efforts as a regional security risk and a drain on resources that could be allocated to the destitute. The draft condemns the latest test of violating the council’s resolutions, bans on ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests, and North Korea’s ongoing nuclear activities especially uranium enrichment and demands the country return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The proposed resolution would also make it harder for North Korea to move around funds for its illicit activities as well as strengthen existing sanctions and inspect all suspect cargo bound for and from the country. It also will impose travel sanctions on senior diplomats that would require countries to expel agents working for sanctioned North Korean companies. Even with existing and new sanctions and resolutions put in place, North Korea has also found ways to conduct business around these measure so only time will tell whether such measure will work. Let’s wait and see who blinks first.
Wow you really can find anything in real time on Google Earth, but in this case maybe this Google Exec better be a little more careful. Earlier this month, Eric Schmidt embarked on a journey to North Korea even though he was criticized by the U.S. State Department for timing and intention, human rights activist said that the visit is a reminder of something significant. Many believe that Google Earth will help to unlock the mystery surrounding North Korea’s system of labor and prison camps that hold some 250,000 political prisoners who are starved and forced to do intense manual labor. One Free Korea has complied a lot of information on 6 of these prison camps (the one shown above is camp 22 which can be seen on Google maps above). The blog notes that 50,000 men, women and children are housed here where they are forced to stone each other to death, women are raped by prison guards, about 2,000 people die from starvation each year. Many families are guilty by association and forced into these camps where some families see three generations of their lineage live and die within the walls for crimes committed long ago. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a non-governmental U.S. organization, has credited Google Earth with bringing more of these camps to light in North Korea in the updated version of “The Hidden Gulag” released in 2012 focusing on the prisoners in these camps now being able to identify specific locations within the camps where they were held. As many people have said, the above project shows how hard it is for governments to hide these types of facilities and keep them a secret anymore that eventually the full disclosure of the atrocities committed by the North Korean regimen will be revealed as it opens up more and more.