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.
More on the release of Australian missionary, John Short, on iamkoream.com!
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.
More on this story and updates on the latest weekly news here!
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.
More on the story of these heartwarming reunion at iamkoream.com!
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.
How will the reunification negotiations play out? Keep updated on the latest weekly news and updates on iamkoream.com!
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.
Curious about Dennis Rodman and his connections to North Korea? Stay connected through KoreAm Journal for weekly updates on the latest news!
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.
More news and updates at KoreAm Journal!
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.
Stay connected on today’s latest news on KoreAm Journal!
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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Dating Agencies Match North Korean Women With South Korean Men
By Young Rae Kim
For the tens thousands of North Korean women who have escaped the oppressive regime, adjusting to life in South Korea is a struggle, particularly for those who fled alone.
An estimated 26,000 North Korean women are currently living in South Korea and 75 percent of North Korean refugees are women, according the Wall Street Journal. In addition, many refugees left their families behind in North Korea and are all alone in South Korea.
Such was the case with Na Soo-yeon who escaped to South Korea in 2008. In her solitude, Na turned to a dating company that helped her find a South Korean husband for companionship and support.
Read more about this matchmaking story at iamkoream.com!
South Korea on Tuesday carried out a live-fire drill on its northwestern islands despite North Korea’s warning of “grave consequences,” but the closely-watched exercise ended without clashes with the communist state.
South Korea has carried out live-fire exercises on the frontline islands every two or three months to improve Marine Corps’ readiness. The drills have often been met by protest from Pyongyang.
Ahead of Tuesday’s exercise, the North’s National Defense Commission sent a fax through the western military hotline to National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo urging President Park Geun-hye to cancel it, defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
Continue read more on North and South Korea on KoreAm!