CNN is getting dragged online for writing a glowing puff piece about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister appearing at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — with a headline claiming she was “stealing the show.” The article, published Saturday afternoon, began with these cooing words about the woman who gave South Korean President Moon Jae-in an invite to visit North Korea: “If ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold. With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea’s presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games.” It barely referenced the North Korean regime’s murderous ways — and critics called out CNN for it. Still, despite the almost-immediate backlash from people on both sides of the political aisle, CNN has not taken down its story. When Fox News reached out for comment, CNN would not say whether it would remove the story or discipline any editors over the controversial article. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo defended his left-leaning network by throwing in a dig at President Donald Trump. He tweeted to one reader, “You don’t think having a President who lies about what is ‘fake’ and actively maligns the free press out of convenience is a bigger reason for animosity toward us than how some decide to cover this?” He also bashed a Reuters story on Kim Yo Jong, writing, “This is a murderous regime that is stifling a population. Progress has to be evidenced by a lot more than this no?” Jonathan Chait, writer for New York magazine, mockingly cheered the CNN piece: “Also stealing her country’s meager wealth to live in opulence while they starve. But doing it in style. You go, girl!” Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin chimed in, tweeting: “Next up: An EXCLUSIVE @CNN investigative report on Kim Jong Un’s sister’s workout playlist, favorite boba tea flavors, and nighttime skin care routine. #SLAYGIRLFRIEND” Fox News’ Brit Hume tweeted: “Does this puff piece mean she’s gotten over her dictator brother’s murder of her other brother?” Speaking for the millennial audience, David Mack of BuzzFeed tweeted: “yasss kweeen! werk it as you oppress your people! gettttt that crime against humanity, gurlllll!” The CNN piece did mention at one point that Kim Yo Jong’s brother, the North Korean Supreme Leader, “has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power,” running prison camps and killing senior officers to preserve his power. The article did not mention the reign of terror brought about by their father, Kim Jong Il.
Officials traveling with Vice President Mike Pence during his trip to the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies pushed back on reports that Pence snubbed the North Koreans and that he knowingly chose to accept a seat in South Korea’s box in which North Korean representatives were also seated. Earlier on Friday, Pence and second lady Karen Pence met with North Korean defectors at the Cheonan Memorial, which is located outside of Seoul, South Korea. The Pences were joined by Otto Warmbier’s father, Fred Warmbier. Pence told the defectors that he was “very grateful for [their] presence and very grateful for [their] courage.” He added that he “wanted the honor of meeting with the men and women who fled the tyranny of North Korea.” Pence told the defectors that it was important that the truth about North Korea is known during the Olympic Games. The Vice President held a press gaggle outside of the memorial during which he was asked whether his message on North Korea was being overshadowed by Olympic fever or Kim Jonh-un’s sister’s presence there. Pence responded that President Donald Trump sent him there to “reaffirm the strong relationship between the United States, Japan, and South Korea.” He then added that the President also sent him to South Korea to: Make sure that as north Korea engages in what prime minister Abe rightly called a “charm offensive” around the Olympics. A charm offensive that they’ve have done before at the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2006 – which as I mentioned earlier this week – it would just be a matter of eight months after the 2006 winter Olympics that North Korea tested their first nuclear bomb. Pence also told the press that the night prior, he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in “reaffirmed our commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” He added that Moon repeated a message in private that Moon has spoken in public, “that South Korea stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States and our allies in continuing to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically.” During a pre-Olympics Opening ceremonies reception in Pyeongchang later that day, Pence “did not come across” the North Korean delegation, according to a spokesman for the Vice President. The North Koreans were present at the reception at the same time as Pence. Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence sat in South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s box for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. They sat in the same row as President Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The three had held a meeting ahead of the ceremony. Both Kim Yong Nam and Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, also sat in Moon’s box. A White House official indicated that it was fair to cast the lack of interaction between Pence and the North Koreans in Moon’s box as mutual. White House officials clarified for the press that it was known ahead of time that the North Koreans would also be seated in Moon’s box, and Pence knowingly chose to sit in Moon’s box instead of in the U.S. delegation box. White House officials told the press: We wanted to show the alliance seated together. We wanted the North Koreans to see the vice president, Abe and Moon sitting directly in front of them for the Opening Ceremonies, and it would show that that alliance is strong. At any moment, he could have gotten up and left and sat somewhere else, and then you would have had the imagine of North sitting in the box with South Korea and Japan. But he stayed there the entire time. Pence sat in front row and talked to Moon and Abe and their spouses, and the North Koreans sat in the back and didn’t talk to anybody, and that image is telling,” the officials said. The North Koreans had met with Abe at the earlier reception and with Moon. “I just don’t think you talk geopolitics over speed skating. He’s been very clear what his message is. Fred Warmbier attended the ceremony as Pence’s guest, but in the U.S. delegation box. The North and South Korean Olympic athletes entered the ceremony together under a united flag. White House officials speaking with the press after the evening’s Opening Ceremony pushed back on reports in the South Korean media that Pence had snubbed the North Koreans.
China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un. The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.” The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike. On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. While carefully noting that “detection is not targeted at any particular country,” the newspaper noted that the planned 11 nuclear monitoring stations “are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea.” The People’s Daily claims the monitor plan “shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation.” Taken in tandem with reports of military movements near North Korea, however, this development indicates concern that a major military or political event in North Korea will impact China significantly. Another state newspaper, the Global Times, remarked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week that “risks of US military action are growing.” Trump singled North Korea out as the world’s most egregious human rights abuser, celebrating the plight of North Korean refugees who risked their lives to escape. In December, Chosun Ilbo reported that China is not only using its military assets to prepare for a potential catastrophe in North Korea; the newspaper cited Japanese media that had revealed evidence of China’s building massive refugee camps near the North Korean border, some that could welcome up to half-a-million refugees. Officials reportedly ordered the construction of such camps in Jilin, the same city where state media published a citizens’ guide to surviving a nuclear war triggered by North Korea. The state-run Jilin Daily published an article in December suggesting citizens “close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation.” It mentioned potential regional tensions without blaming North Korea directly. While state media remained subtle about government fears regarding North Korea, communist academics made clear in December that they believed Kim Jong-un’s regime could not be trusted to keep China out of a major regional war. “North Korea is a time bomb,” remarked Professor Shi Yinhong. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.” China, North Korea’s largest trade partner, almost single-handedly keeps Kim’s economy afloat. Through a tense year for Kim and President Trump, who has not shied away from challenging the autocrat, China stuck by North Korea, increasing trade to the fellow communist country. Beijing has abided by some United Nations sanctions, however, and forced businesses on North Korea’s border to limit their contact with the regime. According to Radio Free Asia, businesses along the border “are now being severely hurt as wider customs controls are established along the border, sources working in the area say.” Many of these businesses traffic in goods that are not obvious candidates for sanctions, such as cosmetics and paper. RFA suggests that those impacted on the ground have soured on North Korea’s government, as its belligerence has triggered the sanctions. Dictator Kim Jong-un has rejected all attempts by the global community to convince the country to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program and has continued testing ballistic missiles and suggesting that their ultimate destination will be the United States. On the other side of the border, RFA reported that Pyongyang is “stirring up anti-China sentiment among ordinary citizens through conferences and lecture sessions as the closed, authoritarian country’s economy bears the brunt of tough new economic sanctions supported by its longtime ally.” North Korea rarely confronts China on international platforms, but even this line was crossed in 2017, when the Korean Central News Agency accused China, without naming the country, of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” by agreeing to abide by U.N. sanctions.
Definitely something to keep an eye on…
Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum on the future of U.S. intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned that North Korea could be a “handful of months” away from plausibly threatening the continental United States with nuclear weapons. Pompeo warned North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is advancing at a “very rapid clip.” He added that U.S. intelligence fears Kim would aggressively use nuclear weapons as a tool to conquer the entire Korean Peninsula. Pompeo repeated his recent warnings that “North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk,” but said the intelligence community is helping to hold them just shy of achieving their goals. “I said that was a handful of months,” he recalled. “I said the same thing several months before that. I want everyone to understand that we are working diligently to make sure that a year from now, I can still tell you they are several months away from having that capacity.” Later in his appearance, Pompeo clarified that he was not laying out a timeline where North Korea might be fielding nuclear missiles by the end of the summer, or anything quite so immediate. He said it was inappropriate to think in terms of timelines to landmark missile test launches. Instead, the real issue is reliability—“Can they reliably deliver the pain which Kim Jong-un wants to be able to deliver against the United States of America?” He explained: ” It’s one thing to be able to say, ‘Yes, it’s possible if everything went right, if the missile flew in the right direction, we could do it,’ as opposed to certainty. This is the core of deterrence theory. In the deterrence model, you have to be certain that what you aim to deliver will actually be successful. At the very least, you need to make sure your adversary believes that it is certain.” “That’s what Kim Jong-un is driving for. He is trying to put in our mind the reality that he can deliver that pain to the United States of America. Our mission is to make the day that he can do that as far off as possible,” Pompeo said. He disputed the commonly reported notion that the intelligence community was caught by surprise when North Korea’s nuclear program surged forward. “We’ll never get the week or the month right on something that’s this complicated, but we can get the direction of travel and the capacity for the rate of change right, and we did,” he insisted. During a question-and-answer session with AEI’s Marc Thiessen, Pompeo cautioned that he was not at liberty to divulge sensitive intelligence about North Korea, other than to say, “They have moved at a very rapid clip, make no mistake about it.” “They’re testing capacity has improved. The frequency that they have tests which are more materially successful has also improved, putting them ever closer to a place where Americans can be held at risk,” he said. Pompeo said the CIA believes Kim Jong-un to be a “rational actor,” and that his rational strategy is about more than achieving deterrence against conventional military action by the United States and its allies since the massive North Korean artillery threat to South Korean cities already provides such deterrence. Pompeo said the CIA believes that Kim wants “more than just regime preservation,” which is why the Trump administration is so determined to prevent him from achieving nuclear ICBM capability. They suspect Kim will not be content to become merely the latest authoritarian ruler sitting on an inventory of nuclear weapons he would never dare to use. Thiessen asked if Kim’s status as a “rational actor” meant limited military action to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program is possible since a rational state would not respond in a manner that guaranteed its own destruction. “I’m thrilled that you asked that. I’m equally happy not to answer,” Pompeo replied. “Let me say this, though: the American people should know we’re working to prepare a series of options to make sure that we can deliver a range of things, so the president will have the full suite of possibilities.” “We are in a much better place today than we were twelve months ago,” he said. “We are still suffering from having gaps. Part of that is not the intelligence community’s fault per se. These are difficult target sets. I’ll concede that at the outset. But it’s completely inadequate for the CIA to say, ‘Well, that’s a hard problem.’ Of course it’s a hard problem. That’s why you pay us.” He said the CIA’s top priorities in North Korea included analyzing its command structure, determining how sanctions affect various individuals and layers of North Korean society, and who might be helping the Kim regime mitigate the effects of sanctions.
NBC News anchor Lester Holt is facing backlash on social media after he said he and his crew were “treated with respect” by North Korean officials during their trip to the Masikryong Ski Resort in the totalitarian country. Mr. Holt was reporting Monday from the ski slopes where athletes from North Korea and South Korea will train for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. NBC News cameras showed dozens of colorful and seemingly cheerful North Koreans enjoying the “bunny slope” as Mr. Holt described his crew’s experience traveling to the Hermit Kingdom from Beijing. “This is the bunny slope at a very modern ski resort here in North Korea,” Mr. Holt said. “We’re here because some of the athletes from the South and North, based on this new alliance, will be doing some of their training here. It’s been announced the North Koreans will field 22 athletes in the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea. That’s fueling some sense of hope and optimism of cooperation in other ways between the two countries.” “We arrived in North Korea on Saturday, we flew the North Korean state airline,” Mr. Holt continued. “It’s about an hour and a half flight from Beijing, they even make an announcement in flight when you eventually cross the border into North Korea. We quickly passed through immigrations, went through a very lengthy and very detailed customs inspection of not only our equipment but our personal items down to the novels we were reading, even in one case, a toothbrush of our crew members. “But we have been treated with respect here,” he added. “We had been invited and are guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We stayed in a guest house outside Pyongyang last night and then made our way to this ski resort to get a look at a part of North Korea that most Americans don’t see and certainly a part they would like us to see.” The Masikryong Ski Resort, built by North Korean soldiers and civilians in just 10 months, is a pet project by dictator Kim Jong-un to create the illusion of wealth and prestige in the impoverished nation. NBC News reported last January that men, women and children — some as young as 11 and 12 — are tasked with shoveling snow at the luxury resort where trucks and snowplows are virtually nonexistent. Mr. Holt was accused of peddling regime propaganda.
..which is exactly what he did. What a moron! I’m sure Kim Jong Ding Dong is laughing his way to the local communist propaganda print shop. Thanks a lot, Lester..
At least six cargo ships linked to China furtively violated U.N. sanctions by taking on North Korean coal late last year, potentially providing a significant boost to the rogue regime’s coffers, the U.S. alleges. The U.N. Security Council in August hit North Korea with sanctions that were projected to cut nearly $1 billion from its annual exports revenue of roughly $3 billion, banning exports of coal, iron ore, and other products. The move, which China ultimately endorsed, came after the isolated country fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles that raised international tensions. But the six vessels, which the U.S. tracked by satellite and formally reported to the U.N. as sanctions violators in December, defied the sanctions by bringing North Korean coal to Vietnam, Russia, or other ships in mid-sea transfers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials. The paper found that the six ships are either managed or owned by Chinese companies or firms registered in Hong Kong. The U.S. also sought to have four other ships that have no apparent connections to China labeled as sanctions violators. One of the Chinese-linked cargo ships, the Glory Hope 1, began violating the sanctions just days after they were passed in August, U.S. officials said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese-owned ship flew a Panamanian flag and turned off its automatic identifying transmitter as it headed into a North Korean port on Aug. 7, the Journal reported. Meanwhile, the U.S. was watching from above, using spy satellites to observe the ship that officials estimate could hold up to $1.5M worth of black-market coal. The Glory Hope 1 loitered for an extended period at a Chinese port after arriving from North Korea, U.S. officials told the U.N. U.S. officials suspect the unusual maneuver was a ruse to make it appear that the crew was taking on Chinese cargo, according to the Wall Street Journal. All U.N. members would have to ban the Glory Hope 1 and the other five ships from their ports in order to formally designate them as sanctions violators. China’s foreign ministry told the Journal that it fully complies with U.N. resolutions. Several of the ship-owners and managers linked to the ships have reportedly been questioned by Chinese authorities. U.S. National security advisor H.R. McMaster last month threatened harsh consequences for ships that continue to defy the sanctions. “A company whose ships would engage in that activity ought to be on notice that that might be the last delivery of anything they do for a long time, anywhere,” McMaster said.
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.”