Category Archives: N Korea

From the North Korean state news agency KCNA

In case you missed this tid-bit…
WSJ 4/4/2017

Days ago, the U.S. newspaper Wall Street Journal of the right conservative forces hurled mud at the DPRK again.

The March 27th issue of the paper let out such flurry of nonsense that the U.S. should set a regime change in the DPRK as a clear-cut policy target. . . . For the DPRK this sounds as nothing but a scream made by those frightened by the invincible might of the DPRK. . . .

The Wall Street Journal would be well advised to halt its foolish propaganda to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and think about when or how the U.S. may disappear from the surface of the earth.


Silicon Valley Takes on North Korea

Interesting. I’d bet this group will make more progress than any government effort.
Silicon Valley’s ambitions range far and wide, from taking on hotels and taxi operators to connecting toothbrushes to the Internet.

Now, it’s starting to turn its focus to North Korea.

Over the weekend, about 100 hackers, coders and engineers gathered in San Francisco to brainstorm ways to pierce the information divide that separates North Korea from the rest of the world.

The event, dubbed “Hack North Korea” by organizers at the Human Rights Foundation, is part of a broader effort to channel the wealth, ambition and know-how of Silicon Valley to address difficult real-world problems — and few topics are knottier than North Korea.

The Human Rights Foundation hackathon follows a balloon launch earlier this year that brought democracy leaflets, South Korean soap operas on DVD and USB drives loaded with the Korean Wikipedia over the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

During the two-day “Hack North Korea” event, the participants were briefed by defectors on the situation in the country. They then pitched ideas for ways to use technology to get information into the country, and broke into groups to turn those ideas into rough prototypes.

“These are people who don’t usually think about human rights or North Korea, and I think they learned a lot,” said Alex Gladstein, director of institutional affairs for the Human Rights Foundation. The session wrapped up on Sunday like most Silicon Valley hackathons, with four-minute presentations before a panel of six judges — three judges from the West, three from North Korea.

The winning team, which featured a pair of teenage siblings who flew in from Virginia for the event, presented a prototype of a system that could allow North Koreans to get real-time information more easily inside the country, Mr. Gladstein said.

The team proposed using micro-radio devices the size of credit cards, which they said could pick up signals from the South and which could be delivered into the country by smuggling or balloon drop.

Alongside this, the team would target South Korean satellite television broadcasts aimed at China, which pass over the North. Using what they described as “easily concealable” satellite receivers, North Koreans would be able to directly plug their televisions into the receivers.

For their efforts, the winning team won a trip to South Korea to meet with defectors and try and turn their idea into a reality. In recent years, groups like the Human Rights Foundation have been courting Silicon Valley as a source of funds and ideas. Google founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, as well as Peter Thiel, are major donors to the non-profit.

The foundation’s current North Korea campaign is being funded by Alexander Lloyd, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Mr. Lloyd has said he first got interested in the country after hearing defector Hyeonseo Lee tell the story of her escape from North Korea in a widely-viewed TED talk last year.

Of course, North Korea is no stranger to cyber warfare. It has its own legions of computer-savvy hackers, who have been fingered in a number of attacks on the South, though the North has denied involvement.

In June, a Seoul-based defector group said that Pyongyang had issued an order signed by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un to insulate the country from the South’s cyberattacks.

Silicon Valley Takes on North Korea – Digits – WSJ.


Will the U.N. Act on Its North Korea Report?

My bet is “No.” I am not aware of any “Western ‘leaders'” who are up to the task.
An important test for the United Nations begins Monday when a major report on human-rights abuses in North Korea lands in Geneva. The report, which was released last month and will be formally handed over to the Human Rights Council, is a compelling and damning account of how the Kim family dynasty has ravaged the country for more than half a century. Unlike most U.N. documents, this one demands action.

The U.N. hasn’t produced anything like it before. And one reason is Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who chaired the commission and in a recent interview explained how he brought a new approach to the task.

Mr. Kirby seems an odd choice to lead a U.N. panel. He was a special U.N. envoy for human rights in Cambodia from 1993-96, but his reputation rests mainly on his work as a judge in his native Australia. There he was known as a dissenter from majority opinions on the appeals bench, evidence of a willingness to rock the boat not normally associated with high-profile tasks at the U.N. He says he agreed to chair the commission in part because he viewed this as an opportunity “to do things in a slightly different way.”

“Slightly” is an understatement. One of Mr. Kirby’s most important contributions concerns methodology: He brought a sensibility about transparency and evidence developed over his 34-year legal career in a country that, like Britain and the U.S., follows the common-law tradition of open trials and public scrutiny. Most U.N. human-rights inquiries conduct their research more or less in secret and then publish coldly analytical summaries, but the North Korea commission held public hearings around the world and then cited specific testimony to buttress its factual assertions.

Mr. Kirby emphasizes that the panelists were neither judges nor prosecutors but merely investigators, though they set high evidentiary standards. They refrained from asking leading questions and sought as much corroboration as possible—such as satellite images that might verify a prison-camp survivor’s testimony about the layout of a facility. The commission concluded that the great majority of witnesses were honest and motivated mainly by a desire to tell their stories, but Mr. Kirby doesn’t hesitate to dismiss the claims of witnesses who seemed inclined to exaggerate.

This evidentiary rigor lends the report its striking emotional power. “Our report is illustrated throughout with the voices of people who came forward,” Mr. Kirby says. “And that allows for an authentic voice to come from the report. . . . This is much more powerful than the desiccated attempt by professors to re-express the complaints in words of their own.”

He confesses that at times during the testimony, “I wept.” The horrors attested to by witnesses include torture, executions and mothers forced to abort or drown their own babies or to watch them die of starvation. Mr. Kirby and his colleagues hoped to stir moral outrage, and they’ve succeeded.  The call for action in the report—Mr. Kirby uses the phrase “enough is enough” twice during our chat—poses another major challenge to the U.N. and its member states. In the face of such hard evidence, will they act?

The standard should not be the commission’s splashiest recommendation that members of the Kim regime be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. That is unlikely to happen since Pyongyang’s patrons in Beijing could veto such a referral at the Security Council, and just as well. North Koreans deserve justice, when they get it, closer to home.

But the report points to areas where action should be possible, especially in China’s treatment of North Korean refugees. Beijing insists on repatriating them as “economic migrants” despite the well-known dangers that await returned defectors. The panel offers graphic evidence of persecution upon their return and explicitly condemns China’s return policy for contravening its commitments under international refugee agreements.

It’s a sensitive topic with China. Beijing did not allow the Kirby commission to visit despite repeated requests. And it’s a good bet that the Chinese will bristle at the criticism. But precisely because Beijing cares about its international reputation, perhaps it can be shamed into classifying North Korean defectors as refugees and facilitating their transit to South Korea. This would create a new, albeit still dangerous, escape route for desperate North Koreans, and the destabilizing outflow of people might hasten the end of the Kim family’s horrific rule.

Mr. Sternberg is an editorial-page writer at The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong.
Joseph Sternberg: Will the U.N. Act on Its North Korea Report? –