Americans can travel to North Korea, if they wish — but it may just be a death wish, the U.S. State Department cautioned. The State Department last week issued a stark warning to people setting out for the Hermit Kingdom, cautioning that anyone heading to the dangerous dictatorship should prepare for the possibility of not returning. “The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department published Wednesday on its website. Those who wish to travel to North Korea must be approved for a special validation, which are handed out on “very limited circumstances.” U.S. travelers given the approval to experience Kim Jong Un’s regime should then prepare for the worst — including drafting a will and making funeral and property arrangements with family and friends. “Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney; discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.,” according to the recommendations. The agency also urged people to have a “contingency plan for emergency situations,” be updated on the State Department’s social media platform and alert systems. President Trump announced in November the U.S. designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, adding the country to a short list including Iran, Sudan and Syria. North Korea had been removed from the list by the Bush administration in 2008. Trump cited Kim’s “murderous” rogue regime and the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year and died days after he returned to the U.S. in a coma, as reasons for the return to the list. “North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” the president said. “This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons.” The State Department’s recent warning comes just weeks after Kim, while calling for improved relations with South Korea, threatened to strike the U.S. with nuclear warheads, claiming he had a button to fire nuclear weapons on his desk. “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range,” he said. “…The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”
The Trump administration has approved a $133.3 million missile defense sale to Japan to meet the escalating threat from North Korea — by shooting down the rogue nation’s own ballistic missiles. The State Department says Congress was notified Tuesday of the proposed sale of four missiles for the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. A State Department official told Fox News that, “Also included are four Mk 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.” The department said the sale would support the U.S. defense industry and underscore Trump’s commitment to improve the defense of allies threatened by North Korea. The system was jointly developed by Japan and the U.S. The missiles could be used at sea with Japan’s current Aegis-equipped destroyers and with the land-based Aegis system its Cabinet approved for purchase last month. That’s intended to bolster Japan’s current missile defense and perhaps curry favor with President Donald Trump who is eager for U.S. allies to buy more American military hardware. “If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” the State Department official told Fox News. “It will bolster the security of a major treaty ally that has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also improve (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s) interoperability with U.S. missile defense systems, and increase the protection for U.S. installations in the region.”
South Korea’s president said Wednesday that President Trump “deserves big credit” for renewed talks between South and North Korea, and that Mr. Trump has offered to negotiate personally with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure,” President Moon Jae-in told reporters. “I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks.” Mr. Trump told Mr. Moon in a phone call that he is open to talking with North Korea, the South’s presidential office said. Mr. Trump also said there would be no military action while talks are ongoing, the statement said. The White House said that Mr. Moon thanked the president “for his influential leadership in making the talks possible.” The North-South talks, held on Tuesday, were the first in two years, and North Korea announced that it would send a delegation to the Olympics in Pyeongchang next month. Mr. Trump said Vice President Mike Pence will lead the U.S. delegation to the games. In their phone call, the White House said the two leaders “underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.” “President Trump expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances,” the White House said. Mr. Moon said he wanted to show Mr. Trump his gratitude. Mr. Trump tweeted last week that he believes his pressure on Pyongyang has produced results. “Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North,” the president tweeted, adding that “talks are a good thing!” Mr. Trump has raised the pressure on North Korea for the past year, pressing China to isolate Pyongyang economically and diplomatically. He also has imposed new U.S. sanctions and gained new U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, an ally of the administration, said on Twitter that the North-South talks “are a waste of oxygen.” “We’ll have scenes of the two Koreas parading on TV at the Olympic opening ceremony, but as far as the North Korea nuclear threat is concerned, it won’t change a thing,” Mr. Bolton said.
From a lubricant factory to an orphanage, potato factory or tire production center, Kim Jong Un has conducted many sporadic visits to odd and quirky North Korean sites throughout the years. Kim is often photographed with a massive grin and interacting with factory workers. Several officials also typically stand in the background taking notes — about something — during the visit, though the only details released about the trips come through KCNA. The visits are often described as “field guidance” from Kim and usually includes praise for the workers. At times, he’s joined by his rarely-seen wife, Ri Sol Ju, and his sister, Kim Yo Jong, with the women seen peering at glass cases of beauty products or standing behind the despot with a smile on their faces. Click here to see some bizarre photos of Kim during his visits.
President Donald Trump revealed his intentions to declare North Korea as a state sponsor of terror. “In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said. The president made his remarks to reporters as he met with his cabinet at the White House on Monday. “Should have happened a long time ago,” Trump said. “Should have happened years ago.” He referred to the death of American prisoner Otto Warmbier and “countless others” brutalized by the North Korean regime. Trump said the announcement was only part of his “maximum pressure campaign” to isolate the North Korean regime in response to their actions. In 2008, President George W. Bush took the regime off the list. Trump also previewed new sanctions that the Treasury Department were preparing to level against North Korea. “The North Korean regime must be lawful,” Trump said. “It must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development, and cease all support for international terrorism — which it is not doing.”
This is long overdue. Pres. Bush should never have removed the DPRK from that list. Kudos to Pres. Trump for putting that evil and dangerous regime back on the list. Excellent!
North Korean troops fired on a fellow soldier who was defecting to South Korea on Monday across the heavily armed border dividing the countries, South Korean officials said, amid heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program. The soldier was shot but succeeded in reaching the South, its military said in a statement. The North Korean soldier defected through Panmunjom, a village that straddles the border between the two Koreas. Alerted by gunshots, South Korean guards found the North Korean soldier about 55 yards south of the border line that bisects Panmunjom. He was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds to an elbow and shoulder, South Korean officials said. His defection took place while a joint naval exercise involving three American aircraft carriers was being conducted in waters off South Korea’s east coast. It was the first time in a decade that the United States Navy had mobilized three carrier groups in the same drill in the western Pacific, and it represented the show of force that President Trump has said Americans “hope to God we never have to use” against North Korea. North Korea has remained defiant, calling Mr. Trump a “dotard” again on Saturday and insisting that it will never give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The defector drove a vehicle toward the border line inside Panmunjom, and then left the vehicle, running south while he was fired upon by other North Korean soldiers, according to the American-led United Nations Command, which oversees the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War. He took cover near a building on the southern side of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom before South Korean and American troops came to his aid and took him to a hospital, the command said in a statement. The Joint Security Area, which is 35 miles north of Seoul, the capital, was established after North Korea and its Communist ally China signed the armistice with the United Nations Command, which fought on South Korea’s behalf. The area is the only place along the border where troops from North and South Korea face off, separated from each other by only a few feet. A North Korean soldier last defected at the heavily guarded location in 2007. More than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to the South since a widespread famine hit the impoverished North in the late 1990s. Nearly all of them have traveled through China. But a few North Korean soldiers and civilians have defected by crossing the 2.5-mile-wide demilitarized zone, which is guarded by minefields, sentry posts and tall fences topped with barbed wire, some electrified. In 2012, a North Korean soldier scaled three barbed-wire fences to defect to the South. That same year, another North Korean soldier fled across the border after killing his platoon and squadron leaders. In 2015, after walking across the border, a North Korean soldier told South Korean investigators that he was fleeing widespread beatings and other abuse within his military barracks. The demilitarized zone is one of the world’s most heavily armed borders. Guards on both sides stay alert against possible intruders or defectors.
Several North Korean agents were reportedly arrested after Chinese officials foiled an alleged plot to kill Kim Jong Un’s nephew— the son of the half-brother poisoned this year in a Malaysian airport. Two of the seven North Korean agents who were involved in the alleged plot were arrested in Beijing, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday, citing North Korean sources. The plot was stopped because Chinese officials increased security during the country’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party. “Special operatives belonging to the North’s reconnaissance squad have penetrated to remove Kim Han Sol, but some of them were arrested last week by the Chinese Ministry of National Security and are currently under investigation at special facilities outside Beijing,” the source told JongAng Ilbo. Kim Han Sol, who is reportedly in his 20s, surfaced in March after he released a video confirming the death of his father, Kim Jong Nam, who was killed in February when two women smeared the banned VX nerve agent on his face at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport. Speaking in English, Kim Jong Un’s nephew showed his passport as proof of his identity and said, “my father has been killed a few days ago.” He continued, “I’m currently with my mother and sister. We hope…” before the video’s audio abruptly cuts off. He ends with, “we hope this gets better soon.” Two women are on trial in Kim Jong Nam’s death. They have denied being part of the assassination plot and said they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a reality television show. The involvement of missing North Korean agents have fueled a South Korea spy agency’s claim that the attack was part of a careful plot set up by Kim Jong Un to kill his brother. The half-brother and his family were living in exile since the early 2000s when Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor with his father, Kim Jong Il. Kim Han Sol, like many Kim family members, attended school outside of North Korea, including United World College in Mostar, Bosnia. He then moved to France to attend Paris Institute of Political Studies, the BBC reported. He is fluent in English. Kim previously spoke out about his “dictator” uncle during a 2012 interview on a Finnish TV show. “I’ve always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better, and make things easier for the people back there. I also dream of unification,” Kim said about North Korea. He added that he spent summers in North Korea when his family was living in exile to “meet with my relatives and keep in touch with my family.” “I don’t really know how he became a dictator because first of all it was between him and my grandfather,” he said. The North Korean despot had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed in 2013 and accused him of being a “traitor” and committing a series of “hideous crimes.” Reports claimed Kim Jong Un discovered a coup devised by his uncle and the Chinese government to overthrow him and his regime.