Archive for the ‘Kim Jong-il’ Category

North Korea’s Kim suffers ‘serious’ setback

October 29, 2008

New South Korean intelligence indicates that ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a serious setback in his recovery from a stroke and has been hospitalized, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The report in the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper cited an unnamed government official in saying intelligence obtained Sunday suggested “a serious problem” with Kim’s health. The report did not elaborate, and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry said Wednesday they could not confirm it.

By JEAN H. LEE, Associated Press Writer

Kim, 66, reportedly suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery in August. A Japanese TV station says his eldest son went to Paris to recruit a neurosurgeon who was flown back to Asia to treat Kim.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews ... 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews a military parade in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2005 file photo, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the communist party.(Korea News Service/Files/Reuters)

The Dong-a report came a day after Japan’s prime minister told lawmakers in Tokyo that Kim probably is in the hospital, though “not unable” to make decisions as North Korea’s leader.

The chief of the National Intelligence Service had told lawmakers Tuesday that Kim was “not physically perfect” but still able to rule the country.

North Korea denies Kim is ill, However, speculation about the reclusive leader’s health grew when he missed a September military parade marking North Korea’s 60th anniversary. He then disappeared from public sight for two months.

Kim, who rules the Stalinist nation with absolute authority, has not publicly named any successors, leading to concerns about an uncertain future in the impoverished, nuclear-armed nation.

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Photos of North Korean leader add to uncertainly

October 13, 2008

By JAE-SOON CHANG, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea – The first photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il released in two months show him in a setting very similar to photographs from August.

This combination of two undated Korean Central News Agency photos, ... 
This combination of two undated Korean Central News Agency photos, made available by Korea News Service in Tokyo, shows in the above photo North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, wearing glasses, standing with uniformed soldiers during his visit to a military unit in an unknown location of North Korea. The above photo was released Aug. 16, 2008. The photo below, the first released since the Aug. photos, also shows Kim visiting a military unit in an unknown location of North Korea and was released Saturday Oct. 11, 2008. The similar settings and the verdant background looking more like summer than autumn, add to uncertainty about Kim’s health after reports he underwent brain surgery.(AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

And the verdant background looks more like summer than autumn, adding to uncertainty about Kim’s health after reports he underwent brain surgery.

North Korea released the undated still photos and video frame grabs Saturday accompanying a report by North Korean television that Kim visited a military unit. They were the first photos of Kim published since Aug. 14; and in both sets of pictures he wears his trademark dark sunglasses and a khaki jumpsuit.

“They didn’t appear to have been taken recently,” Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said Monday of the pictures carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. “To me, it looked like they were taken in June or July.”

The 66-year-old communist leader disappeared from public view in mid-August and failed to make appearances on two national holidays — leading to speculation he was seriously ill. American and South Korean officials said he suffered a stroke and had brain surgery; North Korea has denied he is ailing.

One of the photos released Saturday shows Kim surrounded by uniformed soldiers against a backdrop that appears virtually identical to the photos from August — sand-colored buildings with window frames painted in turquoise. The report said he visited female soldiers attached to a unit identified by the number 821. It did not say when or where the inspection took place….

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North Korea Test-Fires Missiles In Ongoing Show of Truculence

March 29, 2008

 By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, March 29, 2008; Page A09

TOKYO, March 28 — North Korea test-fired a volley of missiles into the sea Friday and warned that it may stop disabling its nuclear facilities unless the United States drops its demands for more details about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Missiles are carried during a massive military parade in Pyongyang, ... 
Missiles are carried during a massive military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this file image made from television April 25, 2007 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. North Korea has test-fired several short-range missiles off its western coast, a news report said Friday, March 28, 2008.
(AP Photo/APTN, File)

The missile launch and the combative warning — which accused the Bush administration of “persistently trying to cook up fictions” — came one day after the North expelled 11 South Korean officials from an industrial park north of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

South Korea downplayed the missile firings, characterizing them as part of a routine military exercise. “We believe the North does not want a deterioration of relations between South and North,” a government spokesman said Friday.

Still, three truculent actions in two days suggest that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, after a relatively placid stretch of cooperative diplomacy, is feeling increasingly peeved by demands from the United States and South Korea.

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Pulling the plug on Pyongyang

February 3, 2008

By James T. Hackett
The Washington Times
February 3, 2008

In 2005, the president changed policy toward North Korea. After years of withholding tribute and applying pressure, he switched to accommodation. It has not worked. He should revitalize the alliance with Japan and the new South Korean government, and return to a policy of containment.

The failure of the current policy was spelled out by Jay Lefkowitz, a New York lawyer and former deputy assistant in the Bush White House, and since 2005 the President’s Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea. In remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Lefkowitz suggested the six-party talks have failed and now North Korea is merely awaiting the end of the Bush administration. He deserves a medal for telling the truth.

Jay Lefkowitz, the U.S. envoy for human rights in North Korea, ...
Jay Lefkowitz

For decades the Kim dynasty that rules the North made trouble by assassinating enemies in foreign lands, kidnapping Japanese citizens, launching missiles of increasing range, selling missiles to countries in the Middle East, maintaining a million-man army, and developing nuclear weapons. The North’s antics concern this country mainly because thousands of U.S. troops are still in South Korea, but its behavior also should concern the North’s neighbors.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (C) is seen at an undisclosed ...
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (C).

What A.Q. Khan Knows: How Pakistan’s Proliferator Could Help in Pyongyang

January 31, 2008

 By Selig S. Harrison
The Washington Post
Thursday, January 31, 2008; Page A21

Either Kim Jong Il or Pervez Musharraf is lying about whether Pakistan‘s Dr. Strangelove, Abdul Qadeer Khan, gave centrifuges to North Korea for uranium enrichment. Unless the truth can be established, the hitherto-promising denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang are likely to collapse.
Khan has been shielded from foreign interrogators since his arrest three years ago for running a global nuclear Wal-Mart. Musharraf wrote in his memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” that the former czar of Pakistan’s nuclear program provided “nearly two dozen” prototype centrifuges suitable for uranium enrichment experiments to North Korea — a charge flatly denied by Pyongyang.

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Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ Six Years Later

December 21, 2007

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
December 21, 2007; Page A35

Just four months after Sept. 11, George Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil” and declared that defanging these rogue regimes was America’s most urgent national security task. Bush will be judged on whether he succeeded.

Iran’s Maḥmūd Aḥmadīnezhād
محمود احمدی‌نژاد
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Six years later and with time running out on this administration, the Bush legacy is clear: one for three. Contrary to current public opinion, Bush will have succeeded on Iraq, failed on Iran and fought North Korea to a draw.

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Disarm North Korea? No Chance!

November 5, 2007

If you’re trying to measure any positive achievements that may have been accomplished in the Six Party talks seeking to disarm North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, it’s helpful to remember Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip.

Each year, as football season began, Peanuts fans saw Lucy hold a football upright for would-be place-kicker Charlie Brown to run up and kick.  But — no matter how many elaborate promises to the contrary — every time Charlie ran up to the ball, Lucy pulled it away at the last minute.  Poor Charlie was left flailing in the air and flat on his back.  Each year it was the same, with Lucy promising this time it would be different and Charlie believing her despite Lucy’s long record of broken promises.  It became clear to most readers that Lucy simply could not be trusted to perform as promised and Charlie would never learn from his experiences. He was simply doomed to repeatedly suffer the same consequences.  

A similar historical theme has prevailed in US/North Korea relations and, most recently, the Six Party talks.  For just as the North Koreans have done so many times before in making international agreements to curtail aggressive behavior, like Lucy, they always  “pull the ball away,” failing to abide by their promises.  

The Six Party talks began in 2003 as a result of North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  To date, six rounds of talks have taken place, with the first four bearing no fruit.  Only the third phase of the fifth round of these talks, held in February 2007, yielded hope North Korea might shed its historic role of playing “Lucy” to America’s “Charlie Brown.”  Pyongyang agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel assistance and normalized relations with the US.  While specific terms were incorporated into the agreement including a deadline for compliance, so too were some very objective requirements.  An example of the former was North Korea’s commitment to disclose all its nuclear activities and disable its facilities; an example of the latter was its commitment — along with the other participants — to implement positive steps to increase mutual trust.  

The first deadline provided for in the agreement was never met as Pyongyang imposed new stumbling blocks.  And, in September, evidence came to light that Pyongyang had undertaken an initiative in direct contravention of its obligation to enhance mutual trust.

On September 6th, Israeli aircraft attacked a target under construction in Syria.  Surprisingly, both Israel and Syria remain tight-lipped about the incident.  Some details have emerged.  Unsure of the purpose of the construction activity, Israeli commandos went into Syria to find out.  They gathered soil samples near the site which were found to be radioactive; boxes and equipment bore Korean markings.  It was clear Pyongyang had once again deceived the US by having agreed to disarm its nuclear capability, only to covertly relocate it to Syria.
Interestingly, while Pyongyang sought to deceive the US, the US acted to enhance “mutual trust” with Pyongyang.  When a North Korean merchant ship came under attack by pirates off the Somali coast on October 30, a US warship in the vicinity came to her aid.  Two pirates were killed in the ensuing engagement, after which the US ship then rendered medical assistance to injured Korean crew members.  The North Korean ship was then allowed to go on her way.

The US and South Korea have taken positive steps towards North Korea to follow up on peaceful initiatives and demonstrate good will.  Pyongyang has yet to reciprocate, repeatedly following up such positive steps with negative ones of its own.  Even the simplest of commitments — Kim Jong Il’s promise to hold a second summit in Seoul after South Korean President D. J. Kim’s historic meeting with him in Pyongyang in 2000 — went unfulfilled.  The only way a second summit eventually was held was when D. J. Kim’s successor, once again, traveled to Pyongyang.  (Kim Jong Il apparently believes the mountain must come to Mohammad as Mohammad doesn’t go to the mountain.)

Readers of Peanuts, over time, came to realize Lucy was incapable of doing what she promised and Charlie Brown was, for some reason, incapable of understanding this.  Many observers of US/North Korean relations have come to realize, over time, Pyongyang is incapable of meeting commitments and the US, for some reason, is incapable of understanding this, constantly subjecting itself to ridicule.  It is time for the US and other Six Party talk participants to recognize there is no hope for North Korea taking positive steps to disarm absent regime change.  Unless this happens, the only change in Pyongyang’s conduct we can expect is the nature of its deceit. 
James Zumwalt is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War.  He has been to North Korea 10 times.

Vietnam party chief heads to North Korea

October 16, 2007

By Frank Zeller HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam’s Communist Party chief on Tuesday left for a three-day visit to North Korea as state media stressed Hanoi‘s desire to support peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

Nong Duc Manh was joined by Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who is also deputy prime minister, on the visit at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, the head of the Korean Workers’ Party.

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il

Vietnam — which is expected to be voted onto the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member later Tuesday — maintains relations with both Pyongyang, a communist ally, and Seoul, a major trade partner and investor.

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N. Korea marks nuclear test anniversary

October 9, 2007

By JAE-SOON CHANG, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea marked the first anniversary of its nuclear test on Tuesday, with leader Kim Jong Il getting praise for pulling off a “truly great miracle” that sent the reclusive communist country “soaring as a powerful and great” nation.

The Oct. 9, 2006, test marked a peak in international concern over the country’s nuclear status and prompted the U.S. to soften its policy toward North Korea, paving the way for steps toward a goal of dismantling the Asian country’s program.

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Bush, South Korean President Roh Run Amok

September 7, 2007

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes ago

SYDNEY, Australia – President Bush‘s talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ended on a sour note Friday not over the war in Iraq, but rather the Korean conflict that ended more than five decades ago.

As Bush began to wind down his stay at the Asia-Pacific summit, Roh challenged Bush to make a declaration to end the Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, so the two sides technically remain at war.

The snag was the first in a series of sit-downs Bush is having here with leaders from Pacific rim nations. He also spoke Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will meet on Saturday with the leaders of Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Protesters plan a march through the city on Saturday, a day after scuffles broke out between riot police and some demonstrators.

Bush’s talks with Roh focused on the six-nation talks to get North Korea to give up its weapons. Soon after the mini diplomatic incident, Christopher Hill, the U.S. envoy handling the negotiations, announced that nuclear experts from the U.S., China and Russia will travel to North Korea next week to survey nuclear facilities to be shut down.

Bush said that during his talks with Roh, he reaffirmed the U.S. position that when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dismantles his nuclear program, the United States would formally end the Korean War.

Whatever Roh heard Bush say through his translator, it wasn’t good enough.

“I think I did not hear President Bush mention the — a declaration to end the Korean War just now,” Roh said as cameras clicked and television cameras rolled.

Bush said he thought he was being clear, but obliged Roh and restated the U.S. position.

That wasn’t good enough either. “If you could be a little bit clearer in your message,” Roh said.

Bush, now looking irritated….

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