NKorea to Consider Broadcasting ‘Teletubbies,’ ‘Top Gear,’ ‘Doctor Who’
by JAMES S. KIM
The Doctor has traveled to the ends of the universe across time and space, but even he hasn’t been to North Korea. That may be about to change, however, as Pyongyang is in talks with the BBC to bring three of its most popular programs to North Korean viewers: Doctor Who, Top Gear and Teletubbies.
The BBC began an initiative last year to come up with a list of programs that North Korea could consider airing, according to The Independent. Foreign Secretary William Hague said it would be “a good way to improve understanding about the outside world within such a closed society.”
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NKorea Opens Up Its Marathon to Amateur Runner-Tourists
by STEVE HAN
**AP Photo: Runners at the Pyongyang marathon from 2013.**
The world’s most secretive country is opening up the streets of its capital city for runner-tourists from around the globe to compete in its annual marathon.
North Korea will welcome amateur runners, as well as internationally renowned, invitation-only athletes, for the first time in history to its annual Pyongyang marathon on April 13, the Associated Press reported. The races include a full marathon, a half marathon and a 10-kilometer run.
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North Korea Rejects Plans for Future Reunions
by STEVE HAN
So much for reviving the family reunion program between North and South Korea.
The North rejected South Korea’s proposal Thursday to continue the humanitarian program that reconnects families separated by the Korean War from six decades ago, the New York Times reported.
The two Koreas held the reunions, which had stalled since 2010, late last month, but couldn’t ease the strained inter-Korea relations as the North launched short-range missiles into the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan only a day after the reunions while South Korea and the U.S. held annual military drills. The missiles reportedly flew in the area of a Chinese passenger plane departing from Tokyo to Shenyang, China at the same time.
Read more to the explanations as to why North Korea has rejected plans for future reunions at KoreAm Journal!
North Korea Releases Australian Missionary
by STEVE HAN
North Korea released John Short after detaining the 75-year-old Australian missionary last month on a charge that he spread Bible tracts in Pyongyang, according to CNN.com.
The Australian government said North Korea recently notified it of Short’s release. Short’s wife, Karen, also confirmed that she had been told that her husband is now in Beijing after the North deported him.
“The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the DPRK, thanks to the tolerance of the law of the DPRK and in full consideration of his age,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Monday.
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North Korea Broadcasts “Apology” of Detained South Korean Missionary
by STEVE HAN
Less than two days after the two Koreas held reunions for families divided since the Korean War, North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles and confirmed the arrest of a South Korean Baptist missionary for committing “anti-state crime.”
The North blasted the missiles from its Gitdaeryeong base on the eastern coast on Thursday afternoon amid military exercises being conducted jointly by South Korea and the United States. The four short-range missiles flew over 120 miles and landed in between the Korean peninsula and Japan, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
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Dennis Rodman’s North Korean Adventure to be Made Into Fox-Produced Comedy
by JAMES S. KIM
Dennis Rodman’s exploits have always drawn a chuckle or groan or both at times, but his latest feat was arguably the most controversial. It is also apparently a comedy gold mine, as Rodman’s “hoops diplomacy” mission to North Korea is getting the silver screen treatment, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
20th Century Fox has bought the rights for Diplomats, which is being described as “a two hander that takes its cues from the antics of the 6-foot-7 former NBA player.” Ride Along director Tim Story will direct, while Peter Chermin is set to produce through his Fox-based Chernin Entertainment, the studio behind The Heat.
Rodman first visited North Korea last year, apparently befriending Kim Jong-un. He returned in January, bringing along a group of former NBA players and organizing a basketball game in Pyongyang. Highlights from the visit include Rodman’s bizarre rendition of “Happy Birthday” and a meltdown in front of the press, which was blamed on alcohol.
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North and South Koreans Meet in Tearful Reunions
by PETER KANG
Long-separated relatives cried tears of joy, and in some cases, sorrow, during emotional reunions currently being held at a mountain resort in North Korea.
A 93-year-old South Korean man, Kang Neung-hwan, cried as he hugged a son he had never seen before, Yonhap News reported. Kang, not knowing his wife of four months was pregnant, fled for the South during the chaos of the Korean War.
“I never dreamed of meeting you like this,” Kang told his 64-year-old son, according to Yonhap. Kang, who did not remember his wife’s name, was informed that she died in 1971. Similar stories were recounted by other families divided by the war.
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North Korea’s top envoy to Britain dangled the possibility of progress in staging reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as he renewed Pyongyang’s demands that Seoul cancel its annual military drill with the United States.
Hyun Hak-bong said in a video interview posted Thursday that the two Koreas can discuss a date for staging the family reunions, breaking the silence the North has kept since South Korea proposed earlier this week to hold the reunions for the aging Koreans.
“As for the practical and exact date, it could be exchanged and discussed between the two sides … Now, we are working on that,” Hyun said in the interview with Sky News, a 24-hour news channel in Britain. Still, he did not elaborate.
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Dennis Rodman: “I’M Not a Traitor”
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman offered a sort-of apology for his antics during recent trips to North Korea on Friday, in a wide-ranging CNN interview conducted in the rehab facility where he’s being treated for alcohol abuse.
“I don’t go to the camps, I don’t do anything,” Rodman said of his visits to the isolated country. “I’m not a traitor.”
The interview came after Rodman’s last interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo raised eyebrows and even outrage when Rodman angrily defended his “friend,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and suggested an American imprisoned there may have been detained justifiably (he later apologized for the latter remark).
Rodman, speaking with Cuomo more calmly this time, expressed remorse about how his drinking has affected his family.
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An American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year should serve out his sentence, Pyongyang’s top envoy to Britain said, in a remark suggesting that the isolated country may not free him anytime soon.
Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists. He was accused of unspecified anti-state crimes and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, though he has been hospitalized in recent months due to illness.
North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong, said in a video interview posted Thursday that Bae would be freed when he serves out his prison term.
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Yonhap via GlobalPost
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s aunt is staying in Europe following the execution of her husband, Jang Song-thaek, a news report said Thursday.
Kim Kyong-hui, a senior party secretary and sister of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, stayed in Switzerland after the North executed Jang in December on charges of treason, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported, citing unidentified sources.
The newspaper also said it obtained information that she later moved to Poland where Kim Pyong-il, the half-brother of late leader Kim Jong-il, has been serving as the North’s top envoy since 1998. Kim Jong-il was the father of current leader Kim.
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An unexpected invitation from North Korea
It all began with a mysterious telephone call.
A North Korean diplomat called the BBC Beijing office saying his embassy was holding a press conference and asking if we would like to attend. We weren’t told what it was about.
But, of course, we said yes. Press conferences at the North Korean embassy are incredibly rare – the last one was several years ago.
About 30 journalists turned up at the embassy. At the front gate, a North Korean diplomat checked off our names and then waved us in.
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Why is South Korea plugging unification?
Unification has become something of a buzzword in South Korea this month. President Park Geun-hye emphasised it in her New Year press conference, the opposition Democratic Party did likewise, and journalists, pundits and government officials have followed suit.
But with relations on the peninsula as opaque and as tense as ever, many are wondering what has prompted this latest surge in interest.
If there is one thing the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made clear when he executed his uncle, it is that he is no more willing to tolerate challenges to his authority than his father or grandfather.
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AP via ABC News
North Korea’s propaganda machine is churning out near-daily denunciations of the United States and South Korea for a series of soon-to-start military maneuvers, warning nuclear war could be imminent and saying it will take dramatic action of its own if further provoked.
North Korea’s increasingly shrill opposition to the annual joint drills named Foal Eagle looks very similar to the kind of harsh language that preceded the start of the same exercises last year and led to a steep rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That round of escalation culminated in threats of a nuclear strike on Washington and the flattening of Seoul before the maneuvers ended and both sides went back to their corners.
It appears the first stages of this year’s battle have already begun — though some experts say they don’t think it will be as high-pitched as last year’s.
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U.S. Bemoans North Korea Nuclear ‘No Show’
Wall Street Journal
North Korea didn’t earn a mention in the State of the Union speech this year but U.S. diplomatic coordination over its nuclear program continued in Seoul on Wednesday.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Glyn Davies met with South Korea’s point man on the isolated country’s nuclear program, Cho Tae-yong, as part of a regular swing through Northeast Asia to confer with officials in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Davies said the U.S. continues to be frustrated by the North’s “no-show on nuclear issues.”
“What we need is not just change in attitude, but change in direction, in fact, concrete steps from North Korea,” Mr. Davies told reporters.
While the U.S. and South Korea are seeking action from North Korea to show its willingness to denuclearize, satellite imagery in recent months suggests the North is making good on a pledge last year to restart its plutonium-producing reactor north of Pyongyang.
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