Korea, Democratic People's Republic (DPRK)

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25 February 2009

North Korea yesterday said it was preparing to fire a satellite into space, heightening regional fears that a provocative long-range missile test could be imminent. [...] Both the US and South Korea insist any rocket firing by Pyongyang would contravene United Nations Security Council resolution 1718, which was adopted to contain North Korean ballistics following the 2006 atomic test. [...] Impoverished North Korea is under stringent international sanctions and depends on food aid for survival. Imposing further sanctions would exacerbate malnourishment in a country where famine killed about 1m people in the 1990s.


12 February 2009

North Korea has clamped down on fast-growing free markets for fear they could undermine the communist state's power over its people, analysts and observers say. The regime in late November banned general markets which sell consumer goods from early next year. It severely restricted the operations of food stalls, according to the Daily NK web newspaper and other analysts. [...] Staples such as rice and corn will be sold only at state distribution centres. [...] Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University, said the state is trying to reassert control over distribution because sharp price rises have put basic commodities beyond the reach of ordinary people. [...] North Korea may have to ease the clampdown because it cannot solve food shortages and state stores do not have enough products to sell, he said. Chronic food shortages worsened this year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme said in a joint report last week. About 40 percent of the population -- an estimated 8.7 million people -- will urgently need food aid in coming months, they said.


10 February 2009

Hyun In-taek, the nominee for unification minister, on Monday pledged to restore inter-Korean dialogue "as soon as possible." Hyun, who has already incurred North Korea's ire, added, "The dispatch of a special envoy to the North would be one way to suggest dialogue." [...] Hyun pledged to consider humanitarian aid, including food aid through the UN World Food Programme.


4 February 2009

North Korea's state media said Wednesday that China has offered Pyongyang aid, a deal that was likely reached at a recent meeting between reclusive leader Kim Jong Il and a senior Chinese official. The Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch that the aid will be "an encouragement" to North Koreans in their efforts to build "a great, prosperous, powerful nation." It did not say what kind or how much aid China had offered. The impoverished communist country has resorted to outside handouts to help feed its 23 million people since its centrally controlled economy collapsed in the mid-1990s due to natural disasters and mismanagement.


17 January 2009

A U.S. expert says North Korea is looking for "positive steps" from the Obama administration to improve relations between the two countries. North Korea may be signaling some of its priorities include heavy fuel oil and long-term food aid. [...] Earlier this month, the United States sent out a shipment of food to North Korea. The U.S. State Department said it would not stop food aid to the country, but also cited problems with North Korea not issuing visas for Korean-speaking U.N. World Food Program workers.


31 December 2008

reeted the New Year by repeating its pledge to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons and hinting it could work with Barack Obama when he becomes the U.S. president, editorials said on Thursday. The communist North, which uses joint editorials in its state newspapers on New Year's Day to lay out its policy priorities for the year, also pledged to rebuild its faltering economy and improve the quality of life for its 23 million people. [...] North Korea relies on food handouts from international aid agencies such as the U.N. World Food Program, while the United States in 2008 pledged to provide major food aid.