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[LINK] “Former Top Official Says Kim Jong-un Is No Longer in Control of North Korea”

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Vice‘s Keegan Hamilton reports on statements by defectors from North Korea that there has recently been a coup against the nominal government. I have no way to judge this, given the extreme opacity of the North Korean government. I only hope things will get better.

An elite group of exiles from North Korea gathered in September in the Netherlands to discuss the state of the regime they used to serve. The conference included top diplomats, an ex-senior official of the Ministry of Security, and a high-ranking military officer, but the keynote address was given by Jang Jin-sung, formerly a key member of Kim Jong-il’s propaganda machine. Included in Jang’s speech was a surprising assertion: North Korea is in the midst of a civil war.

According to Jang — a former counterintelligence official and poet laureate under Kim Jong-il — members of the government’s Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), a powerful group of officials that once reported only to Kim Jong-il, have stopped taking orders from his son, Kim Jong-un. The OGD, Jang says, has effectively taken control of the country, and a conflict is simmering between factions that want to maintain absolute control over the economy and others seeking to gain wealth through foreign trade and a slightly more open market.

“On one hand, it’s people who want to maintain a regime monopoly,” Jang told VICE News through a translator in an interview Thursday. “On the other hand, it’s not like people are fighting against the regime, but in a policy sense they want to take advantage to get influence. It’s not actually consciously civil war, but there are these two incompatible forces at play.”

Jang’s statements come during a moment of peak curiosity about the hermit kingdom. Kim Jong-un — the portly 31-year-old who assumed the title of Supreme Leader after his father’s death in 2011 — has been absent from public view for nearly a month. He was last seen walking with a pronounced limp during a July ceremony commemorating the death of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. He typically presides over the Supreme People’s Assembly, a rubber-stamp parliament, but missed the meeting in early September, and was replaced by a propaganda video that again showed him limping. “Despite some discomfort, our Marshal continues to come out and lead the people,” the film’s narrator said.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , , ,

[NEWS] Some Sunday links

  • Al Jazeera notes the quilombos of Brazil founded by escaped slaves and looks at the strength of the separatist vote in Scotland’s largest city of Glasgow.
  • Bloomberg notes continuing tensions between North Korea and Japan over Japanese abductees, looks at Russian state subsidies to sanctions-hit companies, suggests a softening of Polish foreign policy versus Russia, and notes how Johannesburg is flourishing as gateway to Africa despite high crime and inequality.
  • The Bloomberg View notes separatist concerns depressing yields of Catalonian and Spanish bonds, and wonders if Gujarat’s industrial economy might serve as an example for all India.
  • CBC notes that national newspapers are no longer being sold in Yellowknife, looks at the case of an Iroquois girl refusing chemotherapy, and notes that the Angelina Jolie effect boosting breast cancer screening endures.
  • Open Democracy examines Catalonian separatism, looks at India’s changing Palestinian policy, considers trends in ideology in Hungary, wonders if Jordan will be next to succumb to the Islamic state, and examines anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon.
  • Wired examines teletext and notes the strength of China’s Alibaba.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Crooked Timber’s Daniel Davies writes about the end of his career as a financial analyst.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper discussing the brown dwarfs of 25 Orionis.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that Uranus’ moon system is still evolving, with the moon Cupid being doomed in a relatively short timescale. It also wonders if North Korea is exporting rare earths through China.
  • Far Outliers notes the Ainu legacy in placenames in Japanese-settled Hokkaido.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig examines the complexities surrounding language and dialect and nationality in the Serbo-Croatian speech community in the former Yugoslavia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the terribly high death rate among Europeans in colonial Indonesia, and how drink was used to put things off.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog examines the prevalence of sex-selective abortion in Armenia.
  • Torontoist notes Rob Ford’s many lies and/or incomprehensions about Toronto’s fiscal realities.
  • Towleroad suggests that one way to regularize HIV testing would be to integrate it with dentistry appointments.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a water dispute on the Russian-Azerbaijan border and argues that the election of a pro-Russian cleric to the head of the Ukrainian section of the Russian Orthodox Church is dooming that church to decline.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that while red dwarfs host giant planets less frequently than more massive stars, they don’t do so that much more frequently.
  • Eastern Approaches notes concerns with the Czech Republic’s legislation on banning extremist ads, which may have targeted a Euroskeptic party.
  • The Financial Times‘s World blog notes North Korea’s self-defeating propaganda, regularly invoking stereotypes or racisms that are problematic in the outside world.
  • Joe. My. God. takes a look at out NFL football player Michael Sam’s boyfriend, former swimmer Vito Cammisano.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the internal Chinese cultural distinctions between northern wheat-eaters and southern rice-eaters.
  • Strange Maps looks at a redrawing of the borders of the world based on the mathemetical theories of Georgy Voronoy.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the fragile nature of the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire, and warns that if Moldova joins the European Union Transnistria will join with Russia.

[LINK] Two links on migration between China and Korea

Markus Bell’s Asia Times article “Empire and trafficking in Northeast Asia” makes what I think are debatable links between the forced prostitution of Korean women under Imperial Japan and later waves of woman-related migration in and around Korea. His outlining of the way in which South Korea’s relative shortage of potential female partners triggered a whole series of movements in northeast Asia is quite convincing.

Encouraged by a government focused on modernization at any cost, young women from the Korean countryside poured into the capital to take up places in the factories churning out products for export. Those who were unable to find work on the assembly line often found work in the bars of the camptowns. A direct result of this gendered, mass movement from rural to urban areas was the gradual disappearance of young, unmarried women from the villages of Korea.

Rural Korea was being sacrificed as part of Park’s master plan and, in an effort to placate the fast growing bachelor population of the countryside, the government sponsored “bridal tours” in which it took single Korean men to seek wives in Northeast China. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, with the explosion of the unregulated bride tourism industry, the bride of choice for the rural Korean bachelor continued to be ethnic Korean women located in China, known as Chosonjok.

However, as more and more of these women followed their new husbands into the Korean countryside, certain “truths” started to be revealed for both parties. Chosonjok women were not as obedient and “traditional” as advertised, while rural Korean men did not provide the women with a gateway to the glitz and glamour of South Korean modernity. As relations between China and South Korea improved, and restrictions gradually relaxed for Chosonjok working in South Korea, it became harder for Korean bachelors to find ethnic Korean-Chinese brides willing to toil with them in the rice fields.

As the availability of Korean-Chinese brides declined, South Korean men started to look further afield for women, venturing outside of Northeast Asia and beyond previously imagined ethnic boundaries. Moreover, as the population of northeast China became more affluent and mobile, ethnic Korean women, like South Korean women nearly 30 years earlier, were less willing to settle for a rural existence. Therefore, the dearth of potential brides in that area became even more pronounced.

Chinese men in the provinces of Northeast China now find themselves in a similar position to rural South Korean men a generation earlier. With land to work, aging parents to care for, and no heir to pass the estate on to, the men need to find wives. In this case, their demand for brides is being satisfied by North Korean women who cross into China illegally in search of work, food, an escape from hardship, and at times, passage to South Korea.

These women, many of whom are in their late teens and early twenties, are a vulnerable population. The market for brides in China is, as it was in South Korea, unregulated. It is dominated by ethnic Korean and Chinese brokers for whom making a profit is more important than the basic human rights of the individuals of whom they take charge. North Korean women are bought, sold, and trafficked throughout Northeast China and beyond. Many are sold to Chinese men as brides; many others are funneled into the burgeoning sex industry of the region.

Want China Times‘ article“S. Korea’s Jeju Island a new haven for Chinese investors”. The island of Jeju, located off of the south coast of South Korea, last appeared here in connection with a local statue of autonomy. Nowadays, apparently Jeju is becoming a popular destination for Chinese investors. It actuallysounds a _little_ bit like Prince Edward Island. (There, there are laws preventing non-residents from owning too much property, especially seafront property.)

Increasing numbers of Chinese nationals have bought holiday homes or invested in property in South Korea’s southernmost island province Jeju, which has drawn complaints from local residents, reports the Chinese-language Legal Weekly, the official paper of the CPC Central Politics and Law Commission.

Nearly 80% of property buyers in the South Korean island province are from China, said a property agent in Jeju. Many properties on the island are also being developed by Chinese companies who are targeting Chinese buyers, said Kong Shuai, founder of an investment and property development group from Wenzhou. When Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Development Association, brought groups of Chinese investors to the island in 2011 and 2012, many of them showed great interest in the island’s property market.

[. . .]

The island’s geographic location has great appeal to Chinese buyers as it only takes an hour to fly from Shanghai to Jeju. The flight ticket is cheaper than that between China’s northern cities and southernmost island province of Hainan. Jeju’s scenery and its clean environment also serve to attract investors from Chinese cities suffering from severe air pollution. Traveling to the island is also relatively convenient compared to other countries as Chinese nationals can apply for a landing visa in South Korea.

[. . .]

The South Korean government’s 2010 policy, which awards permanent residency to people and their direct relatives who invest more than US$500,000 on the island has contributed to the surge. The investors and their families can enjoy the same medical care, education and job opportunities as South Korean citizens. They are also eligible to apply for a South Korean passport after living in Jeju for five years. People with the passport can enjoy visa exemptions in more than 180 countries.

The rising property prices and the rising number of Chinese nationals living on the island has drawn concerns on the future of the policy. South Koreans have expressed their discontent and called on the government to limit Chinese investment and property purchases, according to a South Korean living in Iksan City in North Jeolla province. Local online forums were filled with strong sentiments against the surging Chinese immigration. Most of their discontent centered on rising property prices and the fact that a large amount of the country’s land was being sold to foreigners, which led to fears that the rising prices may destabilize the island’s social structure.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2014 at 4:34 am

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Writing for the Postmedia syndicate, Andrew Coyne argues from a conservative perspective that the current situation in Canada, where moral and legal standards are defined by evidence of harm or not, is better than the traditional treatment.
  • CBC notes that migration from Quebec is up substantially.
  • Mini-Neptunes might be the most common form of planet, Universe Today suggests, or at least more common than imagined. These worlds would have the mass of super-Earths but have substantially hydrogen-helium atmospheres.
  • The National Post reports that some Canadians argue that the lobster should become a national symbol. I’m up with that.
  • Pacific Standard argues suburban sprawl may aid innovation.
  • The Calgary Herald notes some photographers in Banff National Park are trying to get pictures of wild animals by baiting or provoking them. The failure modes are, well, imaginable.
  • The good news is that reports Kim Jong Un’s uncle was executed by being fed to wild dogs are quite likely false, The Guardian notes.
  • Lily Tomlin, it is reported, has married her long-time partner Jane Wagner in New York.
  • The Independent reports that an Alfred Hitchcock documentary on the evidence shelved by–among other things–post-war politics and Hitchcock’s own upset is going to be released.
  • Japan’s population, the Japan Times notes, has fallen by a record near quarter-million in 2013.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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