The Korean Demilitarized Zone

•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The DMZ cuts the Korean peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel, west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and the east end lying north of it. It is the most heavily militarized border in the world.My visit to the DMZ (west end) was an extraordinary experience. You can see the North Korean flagpole, which is the tallest in the world and at the joint security area, a place where North and South Korean forces stand face to face, you can also see North Korean soldiers keeping a close eye on the South.

Watch the video.

North Korea – South Korea

•December 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been talking about North and South Korea for a couple of months now and as of Korean descent, it is truly regrettable that Korea is technically still at war. Two Koreas are now extremely different in terms of economic stability, political systems, and cultural diversity. Considering all my families living in South Korea and Korea being my mother country, we all need to have our fingers crossed and hope that there won’t be another war. However I am not eligible to stand for the county in a way since I am Canadian and the fact that I didn’t serve in the military as all Korean men do. I have some disadvantages as to living in Korea because I didn’t serve in the military. I get no medical insurance and can’t stay in Korea for more than 6 months in a row, and I have complicated visa runs to be able to work in Korea all because I am of Korean descent who did not serve in the military. But I do not regret having grown up in Canada and eventually becoming Canadian because I don’t see myself 100% Korean. I don’t know how I would have managed to spend time in the army because a part of me has a totally different cultural background. But there are still many things I share with other Koreans. I speak Korean, I look Korean, and I love Korean food…not to say I don’t like Korean ladies. I am going to Korea in a few weeks to visit my family and I will get this big stamp on my passport that says “6 months.” We shouldn’t go back to the past and blame any country or person. Many Korean men are jealous of me because I didn’t have to go to the army. Instead, I partied, met people, and pursued my dreams. I am not as free as other Koreans in terms of living in Korea as a whole but what I can say is that Korea is where my heart belongs and that I cheer for Korea for any international sporting events under any circumstances whether or not it’s Korea vs Canada. I truly hope that both South and North Korea keep healthy political and economic relations and that people around the world help North Korea break out of their system and give North Koreans freedom that we all get.

U.S. Tries Direct Talks with North Korea

•December 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

By Bill Powell / Shanghai Dec. 8/2009

Kim Jong Il: A life in pictures

•December 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Go to the link below to get a glimpse of Kim Jong Il’s life in pictures.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2008/sep/12/kim-north-korea?picture=337564442

North Korea ‘panic’ after surprise currency revaluation

•December 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Associated Press    Thursday 3 December 2009 08.11 GMT

North Korea‘s surprise decision to redenominate its currency has prompted panic and despair among merchants left with piles of worthless notes, even driving one couple to suicide, activists said today.

North Korea informed citizens and foreign embassies on Monday that it would redenominate its national currency, the won, diplomats said. Residents in the reclusive communist state were told they have until Sunday to exchange a limited amount of old bills, they said.

The news sent Pyongyang residents rushing to the black market to convert hoarded bills into US dollars and Chinese yuan, South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency reported, citing unidentified North Korean traders operating in neighbouring China.

Shops, bathhouses, barber shops and restaurants have closed, activists said.

“We heard business and market activities were all suspended,” said Lee Seung-yong, an official at Good Friends, a Seoul-based civic group that sends food and other aid to North Korea. “People have no money to engage in business.”

Authorities have threatened “merciless punishment” for anyone violating currency exchange rules, Good Friends said.

The overhaul of the North Korean won – the most drastic in 50 years – aims to curb runaway inflation and clamp down on the street markets that have sprung up in the tightly controlled nation, analysts said.

Unable to feed its 24 million people, the regime began allowing some markets in 2002, including farmers’ markets.

The markets may have encouraged trade but they also brought in banned goods such as films and soap operas from South Korea, threatening leader Kim Jong-il’s totalitarian rule, analysts said. The country’s largest wholesale market, in Pyongyang, reportedly closed in June.

With the currency overhaul, the government is retaking control of the economy from merchants, analysts said.

“This is aimed at rooting out the budding private sector,” said Jeong Kwang-min, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, adding that the move has a broader goal: to pave the way for Kim Jong-il to hand power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, and to ensure he inherits a stable economy.

Kim, 67, has led North Korea since 1994 but he is said to have suffered a stroke in August 2008.

The country has endured economic turmoil since the collapse of the Soviet Union and flooding and economic mismanagement in the mid-1990s. North Korea since has relied on international food handouts and aid

negotiated in exchange for promises to dismantle its nuclear programme.

Much of that aid has been suspended, and international sanctions tightened, because of Pyongyang’s nuclear defiance.

The currency overhaul comes just days before President Barack Obama’s envoy on North Korea visits Pyongyang to try to persuade the regime to return to nuclear disarmament talks.

North Korea announced on state radio that the exchange rate would be set at 100 old won to 1 new won, one foreign diplomat said. Residents will only be allowed to exchange 150,000 won for the new currency, according to South Korea’s Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper and other media outlets monitoring North Korean radio.

Cash in excess of the allowed amount must be saved in government-run banks, but it was not clear if residents could change that money into new bills, according to South Korean media.

A stampede in Hoeryong, in the north-east, nearly forced the suspension of trains, with guards blocking the entrance to a bank in the city, the Seoul-based Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights said, citing unidentified sources.

In North Hamgyong province, a merchant couple in their 60s killed themselves after hearing of the revaluation, said the Daily NK, a Seoul-based online news outlet that focuses on North Korean affairs.

Yoo Ho-yeol, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Korea University, said he did not expect any further drastic measures. He said: “Other kinds of private economic enterprise will eventually spring up again.”

Propaganda posters that North Korean kids grow up with

•November 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Korea threatens South over naval crash

•November 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 “Warmongers will be forced to pay a costly price,” the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. “We never utter empty words.”

North Korea is again threatening South Korea over something that North Korea is to be blamed for.

Over the years after the split in 1953, North Korea has instigated bloodshed battles with the South but in North Korea, it seems like South Korea is the one who started all. In fact, due to media that’s run by the government and huge propaganda, North Koreans believe that North Korea is very innocent and defensive and that South Korea and the U.S. are the ones preparing for a possible attack.

The recent clash at sea between the two was only about a week before Obama’s visit to South Korea. North Korea enjoys playing these psychological games which I think is redundant and very childish indeed.

Obama is in South Korea now and will meet with the president of South Korea and North Korea’s nuclear problem is going to be indeed the top issue that will be dealt in the summit.

Kim Jong Il seems to love showing the world how brave he is and that he won’t back down.