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North & South Korea News, Updates & Discussions

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Trump Announces 'Largest Ever' Sanctions on North Korea
By William Gallo
February 23, 2018


After announcing what he called the "largest ever" set of sanctions against North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened a "phase two" if the measures aren't effective.

"If the sanctions don't work, we'll have to go to phase two, and phase two may be a very rough thing," Trump said, speaking alongside visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Trump did not specify what he meant by "phase two," but suggested it would be "very, very unfortunate for the world."

"Only time will tell," he added.

Both as a candidate and as president, Trump repeatedly has made headlines about Pyongyang. He threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea and has suggested he would have China "get rid of" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Earlier Friday, Trump announced the "heaviest sanctions ever imposed" against North Korea, part of what the White House bills as a "maximum pressure" campaign against the North.

The sanctions, which target North Korea's illicit shipping and trade, come despite a recent thaw in tensions between North and South Korea, which have been holding high-level talks.

The sanctions target 56 entities – 27 shipping and trade companies, 28 vessels, and one individual –located all over the world, from North Korea to China to Tanzania, according to senior U.S. administration officials.

North Korea has long relied on a complex and shadowy global shipping network to evade United Nations sanctions that target its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"We are determined through these efforts to increase the pressure on the North Korean regime and show Kim Jong Un that there's no other path for him to take but denuclearization," said a senior U.S. official.

The announcement came as Trump's daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, arrived in South Korea for meetings with senior Seoul officials and to attend the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

At a dinner for the U.S. delegation in Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised North Korea's participation in the Olympic Games "as an opportunity for us to engage in active discussions between the two Koreas and this has led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula."

"I also believe that such developments are thanks to President Trump's strong support for inter-Korean dialogue and I would like to express my deep appreciation on this point as well," Moon added.

A high-level North Korean delegation is also attending the closing ceremony, but U.S. officials have said there will not be any meetings between the U.S. and North Korean delegations.

Since Trump took office, U.S. officials have given mixed messages on the idea of talking with the North, at times suggesting Washington is open to talks without preconditions and at other moments insisting Pyongyang must first commit to giving up its nuclear program.

The latest U.S. position, outlined by Vice President Mike Pence, is that the White House remains open to negotiations but that it will also keep up its campaign to diplomatically and economically isolate North Korea.

Earlier sanctions

Since August of last year, the U.S. has helped oversee three rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea. The pressure has not stopped Pyongyang from conducting more nuclear and missile tests.

Nonetheless, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters U.S. sanctions are "beginning to have a significant impact" on North Korea's ability to fund its weapons programs, though he did not provide any evidence for the assertion.

The U.S. also released a global advisory Friday, intended to alert the world to "deceptive shipping practices used by North Korea to evade sanctions," according to a Treasury Department statement.

"The president has made it clear to companies worldwide that if they choose to help fund North Korea's nuclear ambitions, they will not do business with the United States," Mnuchin said.

But the new sanctions' effectiveness depends on whether they can successfully be implemented.

And the U.S. has limited leverage over many of the shipping companies involved in helping North Korea evade sanctions, warns Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"A lot of the companies working with North Korea are very small," Samore said. "And they don't care whether they work with the United States."

Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department official, praised the new sanctions for addressing North Korean shipping, which he says "has long been a gaping hole in the U.S. sanctions regime."

"The only thing missing here today is action against complicit Chinese banks," said Schanzer, now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We know they continue to undermine our efforts to isolate North Korea.

"Until we take that step, DPRK will be able to operate rather freely in the formal financial sector."

https://www.voanews.com/a/trump-announces-heavist-ever-sanctions-on-north-korea/4267794.html
 

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North Korean envoy, in South, opens door to US talks
By: Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press and Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press  
25.02.2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — A North Korean envoy making a rare visit to South Korea said Sunday that his country was willing to open talks with the United States, a rare step toward diplomacy between enemies after a year of North Korean missile and nuclear tests and direct threats of war from both Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim Yong Chol, who Seoul believes masterminded two attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans, was in South Korea for the end of the Olympics. He said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had “ample intentions of holding talks” with its rival, according to the South’s presidential office.

He made the remarks during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is eager to engage the North after one of the most hostile periods in recent years on the Korean Peninsula.

Moon, who was invited a day after the opening ceremonies to Pyongyang for a summit with Kim Jong Un, also said that Washington and Pyongyang should quickly meet to “fundamentally solve” the standoff on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim later sat in the VIP box at Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang for the Olympic closing ceremonies, just feet away from Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and the top U.S. military commander on the peninsula, Gen. Vincent Brooks. The former anti-Seoul military intelligence chief watched K-pop divas and fireworks and stood for the South Korean national anthem.

Even the faintest possibility of diplomacy will be welcomed by many. But there will also be widespread skepticism among conservatives in Seoul and Washington, with many wondering if the North is simply looking for economic relief after a series of increasingly tough international sanctions slapped on Pyongyang for its illicit weapons programs or more time to develop those weapons.

Moon has yet to accept the North’s invitation for a summit, but he has advocated engagement with Pyongyang his entire political career and likely wants to go.

But he must first strike a balance with Washington, which has a policy meant to isolate and sanction the North until it agrees to give up its nukes. Some observers believe that Pyongyang is trying to drive a wedge to win concessions from Seoul.

There was no immediate comment from the United States, where it was dawn when the statement was released.

Kim Yong Chol was head of the North’s military intelligence when the 2010 attacks on South Korea took place and is currently a vice chairman of the ruling party’s central committee tasked with inter-Korea relations.

With decades of experience, he is one of the most powerful people in the North’s ruling regime. Seoul decided to temporarily take him off of a blacklist to allow the visit.

South Korea is hoping to ease tensions by allowing the North to participate in the games and send senior delegations.
Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, attended the opening ceremony in an historic first — no member of the ruling Kim family had ever traveled to the South before. She invited President Moon Jae-in to a summit with her brother in Pyongyang. The delegation to the closing ceremony was expected to follow up on that invitation while in South Korea.

The delegation’s arrival was met by protesters calling for Kim’s arrest for his alleged role in the 2010 attacks — the sinking of the warship Cheonan that killed 46 South Korean sailors and an artillery strike on a South Korean island that killed four people.

Outside Olympic Stadium, just before the ceremony, more than 200 anti-Pyongyang protesters waved South Korean and U.S. flags, banged drums and held signs saying “Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell.” They denounced the South Korean government’s decision to allow the visit.

“How can a murderer who killed 46 sailors on the Cheonan warship can be invited, protected and defended? This is the state of what the Republic of Korea has become,” one protester shouted into a mic, referring to South Korea’s formal name

The protesters also hung a sign that read: “We are against Pyongyang Olympics: fallen into the propaganda of the terrorist Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime.”

There were no major clashes.

At the opening ceremony earlier this month, Kim Yo Jong sat in the same VIP box with Moon and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, creating some awkward moments. Though Pence stood to cheer the entrance of the U.S. team, he remained seated when the athletes from North and South Korea marched together behind a “unification” flag, leaving Moon to instinctively turn around and shake Kim’s sister’s hand.

Pence’s office claimed afterward that the North had pulled out of a planned meeting at the last minute.

The North’s state-run news agency ran a story Sunday quoting a “spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee” as saying that Pence insulted Kim’s sister with his hard-line rhetoric after returning to the U.S. and “we will never have face-to-face talks with them even after 100 years or 200 years.”

Associated Press Seoul Bureau Chief Foster Klug and Pyongyang Bureau Chief Eric Talmadge contributed to this report.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/flashpoints/2018/02/25/north-korean-envoy-in-south-opens-door-to-us-talks/
 

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North Korea official reiterates door open for dialogue with U.S.
By Yonhap News Agency
Feb. 26, 2018


SEOUL, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A senior North Korean official said Monday the reclusive state is willing to hold talks with the United States, noting the door for dialogue between the two countries remains open, according to an official from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The remarks from Kim Yong Chol, the North's point man on South Korea, came in a meeting with Chung Eui-yong, chief of South Korea's National Security Council and the top security adviser to President Moon Jae-in.

"Kim said the door remains open for dialogue with the United States. He said the North has also repeatedly expressed such a stance," a ranking Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kim's remarks came one day after he told the South Korean president in a meeting that the North has enough willingness to hold bilateral talks with the United States.

The United States seemed to remain cautious, with White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders saying Washington will first see if Kim's remarks represented the North's first step toward denuclearization.

The North Korean official arrived here Sunday as part of an eight-member delegation to the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

The possibility of U.S.-North Korea dialogue surfaced after the two Koreas resumed inter-Korean dialogue last month to discuss the North's participation in the Olympic Games that ended Sunday.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/02/26/North-Korea-official-reiterates-door-open-for-dialogue-with-US/7171519663850/?nll=1
 

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Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to cross the DMZ since fighting ended in the Korean War. He shook South Korean President Moon Jae-in's hand on both sides of the demarcation line.

Time for peace has finally arrived.
 

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Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to cross the DMZ since fighting ended in the Korean War. He shook South Korean President Moon Jae-in's hand on both sides of the demarcation line.

Time for peace has finally arrived.
This is one-night stand. It won't last any longer.
 

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North Korea’s Kim Arrives for Summit With Russia’s Putin
April 24, 2019 10:08 am
By Maria Vasilyeva


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un disembarks from a train during a welcoming ceremony at a railway station in the far eastern settlement of Khasan, Russia
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un disembarks from a train during a welcoming ceremony at a railway station in the far eastern settlement of Khasan, Russia / Reuters

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday for a summit he is likely to use to seek support from President Vladimir Putin while Pyongyang's nuclear talks with Washington are in limbo.

The armored train carrying Kim — on his first official visit to Russia — pulled into the quayside station in Vladivostok, on the Pacific Ocean, a few hours after crossing from North Korea into Russia.

After a brief delay while the door of Kim's carriage was lined up with a red carpet laid out on the platform, the door opened and a smiling Kim stepped out.

Earlier, at a stop on the border, Kim told Russian state television he was hoping for useful and successful discussions with Putin.
"I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations," he said through an interpreter.

Kim will sit down for talks with Putin on Thursday at a university campus on an island just off Vladivostok. It will be the first summit between the two leaders, and the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program will top the agenda, according to a Kremlin foreign policy aide.

The meeting comes two months after a summit in Vietnam between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump broke down over disagreement on ending the North's nuclear program.

A North Korean official heavily involved in advancing the U.S.-North Korean talks, Kim Yong Chol, was removed from a top post, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. He had visited the White House in January to meet Trump.

Now that negotiations with Washington are stalled, Pyongyang is looking for alternative sources of international support, including from Russia, and for possible relief from sanctions that are hurting the North Korean economy.

For Putin the summit is an opportunity to show that Russia remains a major global player despite being under sanctions itself over its intervention in Ukraine and allegations that it meddled in U.S. elections.

But analysts predicted that Kim is unlikely to emerge from the summit with any substantial promises of sanctions relief. The meeting is likely to focus more on showing camaraderie.

HONOR GUARD
Vladivostok is located a few hours from the Russian-North Korean border by rail, Kim's preferred mode of international transport.

On arrival in the city, the North Korean leader reviewed an honor guard of Russian troops in a square in front of the train station, with bodyguards looking on. He removed his black fedora while a military orchestra played first the North Korean national anthem, then the Russian anthem.

After officials from the two countries exchanged handshakes, Kim climbed into a black limousine and drove off. About 10 North Korean security guards in black suits jogged alongside the vehicle for about the first 100 meters (yards) of its journey.

Russian media reported that Kim would be heading to Russky island, linked by bridge to the mainland part of Vladivostok, where the summit will take place and where he is also expected to be staying.

Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, said Kim would want to be seen as a world leader who has international interlocutors besides Washington, Beijing or Seoul.

"As for Russia, the Putin-Kim summit will reaffirm Moscow's place as a major player on the Korean peninsula. This meeting is important for Russian international prestige," Lukin said.

Putin held a summit in 2002 with Kim Jong Un's father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, who also met in 2011 with Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin lieutenant who was then Russian president.

The venue for the summit is a sports complex at the Far Eastern Federal University, which also played host in 2012 to an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The sports complex at the university was closed on Tuesday and workers were seen bringing in furniture, a Reuters TV crew reported. Security guards at the entrance to the campus were searching vehicles as they drove in.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee in SEOUL, Vladimir Soldatkin in MOSCOW, and Maria Vasilyeva in VLADIVOSTOK; Additional reporting by Josh Smith in SEOUL, Maxim Rodionov in MOSCOW, and David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Jack Kim, Michael Perry, Catherine Evans and Peter Graff)

 

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APRIL 24, 2019
North Korean leader Kim arrives in Vladivostok for summit with Putin
By Yonhap News Agency


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) arrives in Vladivostok for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo by Yonhap News Agency

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, April 24 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Unarrived in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday for his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.
After its wee-hour departure from an undisclosed North Korean station and a stopover in the Russian border city of Khasan, Kim's special train pulled into the Pacific port city where Russian police have kept tight security for his first visit to the country since he took power in late 2011.

Disembarking from the train, Kim, wearing a black coat, flashed a broad smile to a throng of Russian officials and people welcoming his arrival. After an honor guard inspection, he was whisked away in his signature black Mercedes-Benz sedan in front of the station.
At Khasan, Kim voiced hope for "useful talks" with Putin about regional stability, slated for Thursday, while extending his appreciation for the Russian people's hospitality.

"During the meeting with your president, will exchange opinions on many issues and I believe [the summit] will be an opportunity for very useful dialogue in stably managing and jointly adjusting the situation in this region," he told a Russian news broadcaster.
In the border city, he was greeted by senior Russian officials, such as Alexander Kozlov, minister for the development of the Russian Far East, and Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Primorsky Krai. "[My] visit to Russia this time will not be the last one. This will only be a first move (in the development of bilateral relations)," Kim told Kozlov, according to a press release posted on the website of the Primorsky Krai government.
The summit with Putin will be a key test of Kim's diplomatic capacity amid his push to ease sanctions pressure, catalyze his lackluster drive for economic development and break a logjam in a denuclearization parley with Washington.

It marks his first trip abroad since his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February fell apart due to a failure to bridge differences over the scope of Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament and Washington's sanctions relief.
Since the no-deal summit, Pyongyang has been seen trying to close ranks with its traditional major-power backers, China and Russia, while calling for flexibility in Washington's hard-line stance in hitherto unfruitful nuclear negotiations.
Kim's entourage included two vice chairmen of the North's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee -- Kim Phyong Hae and O Su Yong -- and top diplomats, Ri Yong Ho and Choe Son Hui, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency.

The state media did not mention whether first lady Ri Sol Ju was on board.
Kim Yong Chol, one of the North's key nuclear negotiators involved in talks with the U.S., was not mentioned either. It is the first time that he has not accompanied the leader on an overseas trip.
The Kremlin has confirmed that the summit will occur in Vladivostok on Thursday. Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, has told reporters that the main summit agenda item will be how to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff.
It also stressed that Russia would be the first country that Kim visits after his recent re-election as the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the country's highest administrative apparatus.
Due to his hectic domestic schedule, Putin is expected to arrive in Vladivostok on Thursday. But Yury Trutnev, Russia's deputy prime minister and presidential plenipotentiary envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, could welcome Kim at a Vladivostok station.
The Putin-Kim summit is likely to take place at Far Eastern Federal University as Kim's security and protocol staffers have been spotted making final summit preparations, with the national flags of Russia and the North hung on campus light poles.
The summit agenda is expected to center on peace efforts on the divided peninsula, economic cooperation and bilateral ties.
It may also include the fate of around 10,000 North Korean workers in Russia who will face repatriation by the end of this year under U.N. sanctions banning any country for issuing new visas for such workers, a crucial source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped regime.
Thursday's summit will be the first one between the leaders of the two countries in eight years, after Kim's father and the North's former leader, Kim Jong Il, met then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.
Kim's latest summit diplomacy is part of the diplomatic outreach that he launched last year to ease global isolation and advance his economic agenda following his claim in late 2017 to have completed the state nuclear force.
In Washington, the State Department stressed the importance of North Korea's denuclearization. "The United States and the international community is committed to the same goal -- the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. It is Chairman Kim's commitment to denuclearization upon which the world is focused," a department spokesperson said when asked to comment on the Kim-Putin summit.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, will continue consultations to "bridge any gaps on the way forward," the spokesperson added.
Following the summit, Kim is expected to take a tour of Vladivostok or its vicinity, and return home Friday.

North Korean leader Kim arrives in Vladivostok for summit with Putin
 

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APRIL 25, 2019
Kim, Putin begin first summit over denuclearization, economic cooperation
By Yonhap News Agency


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold their first summit during which denuclearization and the fate of around 10,000 North Korean workers in Russia are expected to be discussed. Photo by Yonhap News Agency

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, April 25 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Unbegan his first summit with President Vladimir Putin in Russia's Far East city of Vladivostok on Thursday, with a peaceful resolution of Pyongyang's nuclear quandary expected to top the agenda.

The much-anticipated summit is seen as a key test of Kim's diplomatic outreach aimed at breaking a logjam in a denuclearization parley with the United States, easing sanctions pressure and catalyzing his lackluster drive for economic development.

Kim and Putin met at Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island in the Pacific port city, where their national flags are hoisted, security heightened and the adjacent Ajax Bay closed to fend off any suspicious approaches.

In his opening remarks, Kim said that the summit with Putin will be "meaningful" for joint efforts to address Korean Peninsula issues.

"Now, world attention is focused on Korean Peninsula issues," he said.
"I believe [the summit] will be very meaningful dialogue to assess peninsula policy together, share each other's views and work together to jointly make adjustments and research going forward," he added.

Putin expressed his support for ongoing efforts for inter-Korean dialogue and for improved relations between the North and the United States.

"On the occasion of [your visit] to Russia this time, I expect that the bilateral relations will develop, and that [we] can find a good solution to addressing the situation on the Korean Peninsula," he told Kim through an interpreter.

"And I think that we will be able to continue this trend, this change that is positively unfolding nowadays," he added.

Flanked by top party, military and state officials, Kim arrived by train in Vladivostok on Wednesday afternoon for his first foreign trip since the collapse of his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.

Since the no-deal summit, Kim has been trying to close ranks with his major-power supporters -- China and Russia -- while calling for flexibility in Washington's tough-line stance in stalled nuclear negotiations.

According to the Kremlin, Kim and Putin will first hold a one-on-one meeting and then be joined by their delegation members. A formal reception will also be held.

Citing an informed source, Russian news service RIA Novosti reported that the leaders will hold talks for around four hours -- a one-on-one session for about an hour followed by an extended meeting for three hours.

The North's delegation includes two vice chairmen of the North's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee -- Kim Phyong Hae and O Su Yong -- and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. Also among them is Ri Yong Gil, chief of the general staff of the North's Korean People's Army.

The Russian delegation was expected to include Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich and Minister for the Development of Russia's Far East Alexander Kozlov.

The Kremlin has said that atop the summit agenda will be how to resolve the North's decades-old nuclear standoff.

Moscow and Pyongyang favor a phased, incremental approach to the North's nuclear disarmament, while Washington calls for the North to take sweeping denuclearization steps before any rewards are given.

Putin could reiterate Russia's penchant for a multilateral framework to address the nuclear conundrum amid worries that Moscow could be left out of the loop with Washington and Beijing influencing Korea peace efforts, analysts said.

Aside from security issues, the leaders could discuss ways to expand economic cooperation and Moscow's humanitarian aid to Pyongyang, as well as the prospect of three-way economic projects involving the two Koreas and Russia.

However, economic cooperation is bound to face restrictions stemming from U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The agenda may also include the fate of around 10,000 North Korean workers in Russia that face repatriation at the end of this year due to the UNSC sanctions banning the issuance of new visas for such workers, a key source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

It remains unclear whether Kim and Putin will hold a joint press conference or issue any post-summit public statement.

Ahead of the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States is determined not to repeat past mistakes by giving the North "a bunch of money in exchange for too little."

"We're very focused on getting the right set of incentives for both sides so that we can achieve the objective," he said during an interview with CBS News on Wednesday.

"It's gonna be bumpy. It's gonna be challenging. I hope that we get several more chances to have serious conversations about how we can move this process forward," he said.

Asked if he saw a path to a deal leading to denuclearization, Pompeo said, "I do. I absolutely do."

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae In will meet with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation in Seoul on Thursday afternoon, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. They are expected to exchange views on the Kim-Putin summit in Vladivostok.

Patrushev is visiting here for a security consultation with Chung Eui Yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office.
This Vladivostok summit is the first one between the leaders of the two countries in eight years, after Kim's late father and former leader, Kim Jong Il, met then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.

Following the summit, Kim Jong-un is expected to take a tour of the city and return home Friday or Saturday.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/04/25/Kim-Putin-begin-first-summit-over-denuclearization-economic-cooperation/8341556169427/
 

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APRIL 25, 2019
North Korea blasts South for joint air force drills
By Elizabeth Shim


North Korea warned of a reversal of the situation on the peninsula on Thursday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo


April 25 (UPI) -- North Korea is accusing the South of "betrayal" for recent U.S.-South Korea air force exercises ahead of the first anniversary of the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration.

Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland did not target specific South Korean politicians but cautioned the government against joint drills.

"Through the treacherous actions of the South Korean authorities, the state of inter-Korea relations could return to the way they were before the signing of Panmunjom Declaration," the North Korean committee said.

The statement is the first of its kind in 11 months from the committee, according to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo. It also comes after South Korean lawmakers confirmed Jang Kum Chol has replaced Kim Yong Chol as chief of the committee. Kim is the top official who met with U.S. President Donald Trump twice at the White House.

The North Korean committee went on to say the "act of betrayal" could put inter-Korea relations in danger at a "critical period" of diplomacy on the peninsula.

South Korea is brushing off the warnings. Government officials at the presidential Blue House said organizing a fourth inter-Korea summit is to take top priority.

"The Panmunjom Declaration is a great start, but it is only the first step toward a peaceful peninsula," said Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff.

On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he wants to meet Kim Jong Un as soon as possible, Newsis reported.

Moon also said he hopes a third Trump-Kim Jong Un dialogue will be realized soon, and credited the Panmunjom Declaration, which he co-signed with the North Korean leader, for the peace in the country.

"Before April 27, missile and nuclear tests greatly increased military tensions, but that tension has been eased," Moon said at a meeting of the Asia News Network, a coalition of Asian news organizations.


Kim Jong Un concluded his first day of meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Thursday. He has yet to respond to the South's call for talks.
The joint air force drills began Monday in place of Max Thunder, one of the largest air force drills on the peninsula, according to Stars and Stripes.

North Korea blasts South for joint air force drills
 

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APRIL 30, 2019
North Korea diplomat warns U.S. of 'undesirable outcome' following Pompeo remark
By Elizabeth Shim


North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui (L) condemned U.S. policy on Tuesday. File Photo by Bui Lam Khanh/EPA-EFE



April 30 (UPI) -- Senior North Korea diplomat Choe Son Hui criticized U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in an interview with Pyongyang's state media.
Choe, who leads negotiations with the United States, said North Korea's intention to denuclearize has not changed, KCNA reported.

The North Korean first vice foreign minister also said the United States should "change its position," according to the report.
Choe's remarks come a week after Pompeo told CBS News nuclear talks with North Korea are likely to be "bumpy" and "challenging."

"It's gonna be bumpy. It's gonna be challenging...I hope that we get several more chances to have serious conversations about how we can move this process forward," the top U.S. diplomat had said.

Choe said negotiations are being made difficult by the United States.
"Our intention to denuclearize has not changed, and we will denuclearize in due time," Choe said. "But it will only be possible under the condition the United States changes its method of calculation, and re-establishes its position."

The North Korean diplomat also issued a warning to Washington of an "undesirable outcome" should the United States not agree to "North Korea's deadline."

Kim Jong Un gave the Trump administration until the year's end to break the current impasse in stalled nuclear talks.
On Tuesday, North Korea did not limit its condemnations to the United States.

State media slammed South Korea's main opposition conservatives for "destroying the destiny of the Korean people."

In the statement, North Korea credited Kim for the improvements in inter-Korea relations and blamed politicians of South Korea's Liberty Korea Party for criticizing the policies of the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The conservatives recently clashed with rival party politicians in South Korea's parliament, when the ruling Democratic Party and three other parties agreed to fast-track four reform bills without LKP participation, Yonhap reported Monday.

North Korea diplomat warns U.S. of 'undesirable outcome' following Pompeo remark
 

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South Korea mayor says he won't tolerate 'Illegal' conservative protests
By Elizabeth Shim
May 1, 2019

Hwang Kyo-ahn (C), head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, and members shout '"President Moon Stop'"slogans, on April 20 in Seoul.
Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE


May 1 (UPI) -- The mayor of South Korea's capital wants to ban politicians of a rival conservative party from organizing protests at the center of the city, following clashes between parliamentarians over fast-tracked reform bills.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday it is "illegal" for groups to "take over the [Gwanghwamun] plaza," Yonhap reported.

"I would never stand idly by as they trample the plaza," Park said in the post.

Freedom of assembly is generally protected under South Korea's constitution, but Park, as the head of the world's fifth-largest city, can determine whether groups have permission to use public spaces to address their grievances.

Conflicts between conservatives of the Liberty Korea Party and all other parties reached a climax over the weekend, when LKP politicians declined to endorse the fast tracking of reforms that affect election law. Some of the bills could potentially reduce the number of LKP seats in parliament, according to local reports.

On Wednesday Park said the conservatives had set up "illegal tents" in the city plaza while "abandoning the National Assembly."

The South Korean mayor also accused the politicians of blocking an investigation related to the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

"The party that suppressed citizens' demands for fact-finding on Sewol ferry and caused the influence-peddling scandal is seeking to stage an outdoor protest citing democracy and protection of the Constitution," Park said, according to the Korea Herald.

Following a recent scuffle between angry politicians at parliament, South Korean prosecutors are to review charges filed against nearly 70 lawmakers across all parties, News 1 reported Wednesday.

About 40 of the 70 people charged are LKP politicians, according to the report.

Those found in violation of a law that addresses social conduct at the National Assembly would be banned from running for office for 10 years.


 

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North Korean Cargo Vessel Connected to Sanctions Violations Seized by U.S. Government
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division and Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI's New York Field Office announced today the filing of a civil forfeiture complaint against M/V Wise Honest (the "Wise Honest"), a 17,061-ton, single-hull bulk carrier ship registered in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ("DPRK" or "North Korea"). The Wise Honest, one of North Korea's largest bulk carriers, was used to illicitly ship coal from North Korea and to deliver heavy machinery to the DPRK. Payments for maintenance, equipment, and improvements of the Wise Honest were made in U.S. dollars through unwitting U.S. banks. This conduct violates longstanding U.S. law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service," said Assistant Attorney General Demers. "North Korea, and the companies that help it evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions, should know that we will use all tools at our disposal – including a civil forfeiture action such as this one or criminal charges – to enforce the sanctions enacted by the U.S. and the global community. We are deeply committed to the role the Justice Department plays in applying maximum pressure to the North Korean regime to cease its belligerence."

"Today's civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions," said U.S. Attorney Berman. "Our Office uncovered North Korea's scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest. This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea's capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion. With this seizure, we have significantly disrupted that cycle.

We are willing and able to deploy the full array of law enforcement tools to detect, deter, and prosecute North Korea's deceptive attempts to evade sanctions."

"Although barred from doing business in this country, North Korea continues to violate U.S. and international sanctions while simultaneously taking advantage of unwitting U.S. companies," said Assistant Director Brown. "The FBI is committed to ensuring that North Korea be held responsible for their blatant disregard for U.S. law. I am proud of the work done by the many men and women of the FBI who pursued this case."

"Working with our law enforcement and intelligence partners around the world gives the FBI the ability to interdict illicit activity globally," said

Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. "Our counterintelligence efforts are squarely focused on protecting the American people. This seizure should serve as a clear signal that we will not allow foreign adversaries to use our financial systems to fund weapons programs which will be used to threaten our nation."

According to the documents filed today in Manhattan federal court:

Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, North Korea and other individuals or entities that the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") has determined are involved in the facilitation of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are prohibited from engaging in transactions with U.S. persons, involving U.S.-origin goods, or using the U.S. financial system. The United Nations Security Council has similarly prohibited the provision of goods, technology, and services to North Korea, including the sale, supply, or transfer of coal.

From at least November 2016 through April 2018, the Wise Honest was used by Korea Songi Shipping Company, an affiliate of Korea Songi General Trading Corporation (a.k.a. "Songi Trading Company"), to export coal from North Korea to foreign purchasers and import machinery to North Korea (the "Korea Songi Scheme"). On June 1, 2017, OFAC designated Songi Trading Company pursuant to Executive Order 13722 for its involvement in the sale, supply, or transfer of coal from North Korea. OFAC also determined that Songi Trading Company was a subordinate of the Korean People's Army.

On or about March 14, 2018, the Wise Honest was loaded with coal in Nampo, North Korea. On or about April 2, 2018, foreign maritime authorities intercepted and detained the Wise Honest. Maritime regulations require vessels like the Wise Honest engaged in international voyages to operate an automatic identification system ("AIS") capable of providing information about the vessel to other ships and coastal authorities. However, despite its March 2018 voyage from North Korea, the Wise Honest had not broadcast an AIS signal since August 4, 2017.

Participants in the Korea Songi Scheme attempted to conceal the Wise Honest's DPRK affiliation by falsely listing different countries for the Wise Honest's nationality and the origin of the illicit coal in shipping documentation.

In connection with the Korea Songi Scheme, Kwon Chol Nam, one of Korea Songi Shipping Company's representatives, paid for numerous improvements, equipment purchases, and service expenditures for the Wise Honest in U.S. dollars through unwitting U.S. financial institutions. Such transfers constitute a provision of services by U.S. banks to both the sender and recipient of the funds, and longstanding U.S. law prohibits banks from providing such services to North Korean parties. Payments totaling more than $750,000 were transmitted through accounts at a U.S. financial institution in connection with the March 2018 shipment of coal on board the Wise Honest.

The Wise Honest is currently in the custody of the United States, having previously been seized pursuant to a warrant issued in the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Field Office, Counterintelligence Division, and thanked the Department of Justice's Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs; the United States Coast Guard; and the Department of State for their assistance.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David W. Denton, Jr. and Benet J. Kearney of the U.S. Attorney's Office for Southern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Christian Ford of the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Topic(s):
Counterintelligence and Export Control
National Security

Component(s):
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
National Security Division (NSD)
USAO - New York, Southern
Press Release Number: 19-492

Attachment(s):
Download Wise Honest Complaint

 

Khafee

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North Korean cargo ship seized by US arrives in American Samoa
12 May 2019
AP

  • The inspection of the ship before entering the harbor is to make sure the structure integrity of the boat is still intact
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa: A North Korean cargo ship seized by the US because of suspicion it was used to violate international sanctions arrived Saturday at the capital of this American territory.

The Wise Honest was slowly towed to the port of Pago Pago during a cloudy Saturday morning and docked at the main docking section of the port that afternoon.

The trip from Indonesia took about three weeks and American Samoa, in the South Pacific, was chosen because of “its central strategic location,” US Coast Guard public affairs officer Amanda Wyrick said.

“We also have a good strong relationship and partnership with the American Samoan government,” Wyrick said. “With that being said, we also already have the resources that are able to ensure the security of the vessel but most importantly the Port of Pago Pago.”

The ship was detained in April 2018 as it traveled toward Indonesia. Justice Department officials announced Thursday that the US had seized the ship.

Asked as to how long the ship will be in the territory, Wyrick said the US Department of Justice is “leading the investigation so they will be conducting that. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the ship will be moved.” But the next destination is unknown, she said.

“I do know that Justice Department is going to do the investigation as fast as they can,” Wyrick added.

She said she didn’t have the exact number of US Coast Guard personnel or people from other federal agencies who have traveled to American Samoa for the investigation.

“I do know that, we have a marine and safety security team here from Honolulu,” Wyrick said. “We’re conducting random patrols, also conducting inspection of the vessel and the Port of Pago Pago, keep an eye on things such as security breaches or vandalization of the ship itself.”
Officials are also making sure the port is protected, she said.

“We especially in the Coast Guard, we understand the importance of the port. It’s a lifeline in getting goods to the islands,” Wyrick said. “So we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can, to make sure that there’s absolutely no disruption to the flow of commerce coming in and out.”

The US government dispatched to the territory an inspection team to the ship before it docked in Pago Pago, she said. Wyrick noted there was an inspection conducted before leaving Indonesia and, because the ship has been at sea for three weeks, “it’s subject to the elements.”

“The inspection of the ship before entering the harbor is to make sure the structure integrity of the boat is still intact. In that way, once we get the thumps up, and the green light, and the inspectors deem it safe, then it will enter the port,” Wyrick said.

US officials made the announcement of the ship’s seizure hours after North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second weapons launch in five days and a possible signal that stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program are in trouble.

 

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African swine fever in North Korea has South on edge
06 June 2019
By Elizabeth Shim

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South Korean authorities are concerned African swine fever may have traveled as far as Kaesong, North Korea (pictured), following an outbreak in North Korea's Jagang Province.
File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo


June 6 (UPI) -- South Korean authorities are concerned an epidemic of African swine fever could sweep in from North Korea.

North Korea first publicly disclosed to the World Organization for Animal Health an outbreak on May 30 at a state-owned cooperative farm in Jagang Province, not far from China.

China may be the origin of swine fever in the region. The first case was reported in August, and the epidemic has led to the slaughter of 1.2 million pigs in China, North Korea's most important trading partner.

North Korea has not updated the outside world since May on the status of the disease, and whether authorities are handling the situation to mitigate its spread.

Pyongyang's silence is raising concerns in the South, Yonhap reported Thursday.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon suggested Wednesday during a visit to an animal hygiene facility in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, that animal carriers crossing the Korean demilitarized zone could carry the disease and damage pig farms in the South.

"A wild boar can travel at [more than 9 mph], and there is no guarantee wild boars remain exclusively in Jagang Province," Lee said.

The prime minister also said it can be readily assumed the disease would have at this point traveled as far south as Kaesong, the North Korean city situated close to the DMZ.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said this week he is monitoring the situation for reports of other outbreaks south of Jagang Province.

The situation poses stiff challenges for Seoul because Pyongyang has refused to answer calls for direct communication. According to Yonhap, North Koreans also raise pigs on privately owned farms, making the disease harder to track by the state.

North Korea has been unresponsive to the South's call for coordination on containing the epidemic at a time when it continues activity at its uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon Nuclear Center.

Analysts writing for 38 North said activities picked up in May at the site, with the arrival then departure of vehicles, equipment and personnel.

 

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The images released by North Korea's state-rin media show that the weapon system the country tested on 10 September was the same Super-large multiple rocket launcher (MRL) as it had tested on 24 August. Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 11 September that the test-firinf, which was overseen by Kim Jong-un, served as an occasion to clearly decide the next-stage orientation to complete the weapon system. The KCNA report came a day after South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Pyongyang had fired two unidentified short-range projectile in an esterly direction at 0653 h and 0712 h local time from an area in North Korea's western city Kaechon, South Pyongan Province. The projectile flew about 330 km and reached an altitute of around 50 to 60 km. The 10 September test-firings marked the 10th weapons test North Korea has conducted since 4 May. The Northeast Asian country's 'super large' MRL was first tested in the early morning hours on 24 August from an area near the eastern town of Sondok in the country's South Hamgyong Province. South Korea's JCS said at the time that what appeared to be two "short-range ballistic missiles" (SRBMs) flew about 380 km at a top speed of Mach 6.5 and reached an altitude of about 97 km before falling into the East Sea.


 

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