North Korea

President Trump Designates North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terror

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 Soldier Shot by Own Troops as He Defects to the South

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.

North Korea’s plot to kill Kim Jong Un’s nephew foiled by Chinese officials, report says

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.

North Korea on verge of ‘catastrophe’ at nuclear site – China warns Kim to STOP tests

Scientists from Beijing believe the Punggye-ri nuclear facility is unstable and that just one more explosion could blow the top off of Mount Mantap, beneath which all six of North Korea’s nuclear tests thave been conducted. That could lead to the mountain collapsing, causing radioactive waste to escape and blow aross the border into China just 50 miles away. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geology and Geophysics warned Pyongyang delegates of the risk during a briefing in Beijing soon after North Korea’s last nuclear test on September 3, according ot the South China Morning Post. Tellingly, the meeting occured two days before North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters at the United Nations Assembly in New York Pyongyang was considering conducting a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean. Zhai Mingguo, a senior Chinese geologist who organised the September 20 briefing, told the newspaper: “This is a big, sophisticated problem requiring multiple, systematic approaches. “Our meeting is only a part of the efforts.” The North Korea delegation was reportedly led by Lee Doh-sik, director of the Geological Research Institute at the State Academy of Sciences. Another Chinese professor said the scientist was “a top geologist” but was not involved in the country’s nuclear development program. Sources described the meeting as “friendly” but would not reveal further details of the discussions. Relations between North Korea and China, the rogue state’s only ally, have become strained amidst Kim Jong-un’s obsessive pursuit of nuclear weapons. Beijing has come under increasing pressure from the US to use its influence to try and de-escelate the fued between Washington and Pyongyang. China has said it will strictly enforce UN Security Council sanctions banning imports of North Korean coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.

And China isn’t doing nearly enough.  The fact that the U.S. now has 3 U.S. Navy aircraft Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) in the Pacific, something unheard of, should be a sufficient hint to China that the U.S. is tired of this dance.

From terrors of North Korea to US college student: One woman’s amazing journey

When Grace Jo walks along the leafy paths of Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, she is indistinguishable from any other American college student. But the 26-year-old’s astounding journey took her from the gulags of North Korea’s brutal dictatorship – and the very edge of starving to death – to a new, unimaginable life in the United States. “America is the greatest country in the world,” Grace told Fox News in advance of a New York City forum being held by the George W. Bush Institute called “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World.” The Thursday event focuses on freedom, free markets and security and will also feature, along with former President George W. Bush, panels attended by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright, and current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. In Grace, they will encounter a young woman of strong resolve who is bluntly clear about what she hopes will be the fate of Kim Jong Un’s regime. “The North Korean regime should not exist in this world any more, any longer. The U.S. government military force, or any independent force should stop the North Korean regime, because the regime is killing the innocent people in the country. Child, babies and moms are dying without any hope.” She says from firsthand experience that tough talk is the only thing that the Kim Jong Un regime understands. “I believe North Korean regime will not listen if we speak nicely. So I think it is time to take action to the North Korean government, because if we don’t have any action and only speak words and try to give something to them, like give a candy to a little crying kid, it can solve for the moment but it will not solve for the long run,” she adds. She does not think a military strike, with its predictions of a possible catastrophic loss of life in South Korea and the region, is feasible. “I don’t want to drop a bomb,” she says. Grace hopes the U.S. and its allies can conduct covert actions that will lead to the toppling of the regime. She does not think sanctions have or will work to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear programs and military aggression, saying “they are very smart people, that’s why they can keep their regime that long.” Grace is a recipient of the North Korean Freedom Scholarship program run by the President George W. Bush Institute. The former president and the institute established a $25,000 fund to help the first eight North Korean escapees to “pursue higher education and build productive, prosperous lives as new Americans.” Their studies range from theology and medicine, to engineering. Grace hopes to eventually attend law school. Her American dream is coming true, in contrast to the never ending nightmare she endured in North Korea. She says she and her family escaped three times to China, only to be caught and sent back. Her two younger brothers died of starvation and her father died from being tortured while in police custody for sneaking a bag of rice back from China. She says starvation was rampant while she was growing up, and that the family was occasionally given a bag of potatoes by the government. She recalled her family living for ten days without any food, surviving only on water. That’s when her mother found six baby mice in a field and her grandmother made soup out of them in order to feed the family. “We almost gave up our life, but it is kind of a miracle, a miracle happened to my family to survive.” She says that as a child, she was taught to always bow before the portrait of then- North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and later his successor, his son Kim Jong Il. They are the grandfather and father of current dictator Kim Jong Un. “During New Year’s time, New Year’s day, the government will give us little kids a gift bag, which is cookies and candies bag and we would hold the bag in front of us and bowed to the portrait for three times, so that was the lecture I got from my grandmother. I had to bow to the leader’s portrait and I have to thank to him whenever or whatever food I can eat.” Grace says after one escape, she was captured and sent to a North Korean intelligence center prison. “I saw the North Korean agents torturing adults there and yelling them, it was kind of a scary place. It was dark and had no lights, small room with many people at the night so many insects walking on the wall and a dark hole with a fence around, so it was really scary.” Grace eventually arrived in the United States in 2008 with her mother and sister, as refugees under the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. She became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and is thankful that the Bush Institute is making the North Korean issue a major cause. “It is an issue that is very close to President Bush’s heart,” says Lindsay Lloyd, the Deputy Director of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative. “When he was in office he met with several North Korean dissidents. He was the first president to do that. They don’t typically make a lot of noise about it, but they regularly meet with escapees, refugees, and activists.” The Bush Institute started focusing on the North Korean issue in 2014, and seeks ways to help the North Korean community in the United States, which is very small. Lloyd says that there are about 250 refugees and 300 to 400 other North Koreans who have settled here. Many need assistance to not only acclimate to a new culture, but to assimilate into American life. “One of the things that came across very clearly was the importance of education. All of them recognize the benefits of education. We worked with the Korean American community to raise the money and launched the scholarship program in January.” The second round of the North Korean Freedom Scholarship program will be announced next year. While Grace is grateful for her path, she does not want those left behind to be forgotten, and the issue of human rights to be lost amid the focus on Kim Jong Un’s nuclear threat. “All those people are dying there. They are suffering in North Korea. Please think about the children who are dying there without any hope.” She says despite all of the international efforts to strangle Kim’s regime, the situation in North Korea is “getting worse, but it never gets better.” Beside her studies, Grace has organized a non-profit aimed at helping rescue North Koreans and resettle them in a safe country. The effort, NKinUSA or North Koreans Refugees in the United States, is hoping to raise $10,000 to fund two rescues.

Report: North Korea border guards do not carry bullets

Members of North Korea’s military and secret police have begun to receive distributions of live ammunition, and border guards do not retain bullets while on duty, according to a Japanese press report. The Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday non-border personnel were given supplies following joint U.S.-South Korea drills that began Monday near the peninsula. The newspaper was quoting a source in North Korea who spoke on the condition of anonymity. North Korean border guards and front-line deployment units are banned from carrying live ammunition, because of fear of accidents at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone, according to the report, an indication North Korea is as wary of provoking an unwanted conflict at the border as much as the South and U.S. forces on the peninsula. Live ammunition was instead delivered to Pyongyang’s national security agents and other personnel away from the border. On Tuesday, North Korea warned the United States after it was confirmed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was to reach areas near the reclusive country. “Extensive strategic assets are gathering in waters surrounding South Korea. This is a sign the United States, pushed into a corner, owing to our rapid nuclear power escalation, is engaging in combative actions,” KCNA stated. U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials are prepared for North Korea to launch its next missile, a provocation that would again raise tensions.

North Korean workers prep seafood going to US stores, restaurants

The workers wake up each morning on metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories, North Koreans outsourced by their government to process seafood that ends up in American stores and homes. Privacy is forbidden. They cannot leave their compounds without permission. They must take the few steps to the factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders ensuring no one strays. They have no access to telephones or email. And they are paid a fraction of their salaries, while the rest — as much as 70 percent — is taken by North Korea’s government. This means Americans buying salmon for dinner at Walmart or ALDI may inadvertently have subsidized the North Korean government as it builds its nuclear weapons program, an AP investigation has found. Their purchases may also have supported what the United States calls “modern day slavery” — even if the jobs are highly coveted by North Koreans. At a time when North Korea faces sanctions on many exports, the government is sending tens of thousands of workers worldwide, bringing in revenue estimated at anywhere from $200 million to $500 million a year. That could account for a sizable portion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, which South Korea says have cost more than $1 billion. While the presence of North Korean workers overseas has been documented, the AP investigation reveals for the first time that some products they make go to the United States, which is now a federal crime. AP also tracked the products made by North Korean workers to Canada, Germany and elsewhere in the European Union. Besides seafood, AP found North Korean laborers making wood flooring and sewing garments in factories in Hunchun. Those industries also export to the U.S. from Hunchun, but AP did not track specific shipments except for seafood. American companies are not allowed to import products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world, under a law signed by President Donald Trump in early August. Importers or company officials could face criminal charges for using North Korean workers or materially benefiting from their work, according to the law. Every Western company involved that responded to AP’s requests for comment said forced labor and potential support for North Korea’s weapons program were unacceptable in their supply chains. Many said they were going to investigate, and some said they had already cut off ties with suppliers. John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, the largest seafood trade association in the U.S., said his group was urging all of its companies to immediately re-examine their supply chains “to ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a dangerous dictator.” “While we understand that hiring North Korean workers may be legal in China,” said Connelly, “we are deeply concerned that any seafood companies could be inadvertently propping up the despotic regime.” In response to the investigation, Senate leaders said Wednesday that the U.S. needs to keep products made by North Koreans out of the United States and get China to refuse to hire North Korean workers.