Tag Archives: North Korea

North & South Koreans: Reunited And It Feels So Good…

Koreans Reunion

An emotional six-day family reunion began on Thursday between dozens of elderly South Koreans and North Koreans in a rare sign of cooperation between the two countries.

Separated for six decades, the families met for the first time since the Korean War at a resort in North Korea. More than 100 mostly elderly South Koreans travelled through the snow to meet their children, brothers, sisters, spouses and other relatives. They carried gifts, including clothing, medicine and food for their relatives to the North – apparently North Korea is a little short on medicine… and food. Needless to say, it was an emotional day with a ton of hugging and crying.

“It’s hard for people to understand what it’s like when you’ve been separated so long,” South Korean resident Lee Du-young told the BBC before he left for the North.

“But it’s a true miracle; I’m so elated. All that was missing in my life was my brother, and now that I can see him again, I’d have no regrets whatsoever if I were to die tomorrow.”

Well that’s good to hear, because he’s headed to North Korea so he might actually end up dying tomorrow. You never know with Kim Jong-un – the whole thing could be a trap!

But a trap would be pretty surprising since this isn’t the first time that the Koreas have allowed family reunions. They tend to happen from time to time whenever the Kim Jongs are feeling extra generous – although this is the first one in three years.

In South Korea, only about a hundred or so relatives are chosen through a lottery system to take part in the reunion. About 72,000 South Koreans are on a waiting list to join the family reunion events. Nearly half of them are over 80.

In North Korea, no one knows how the families are chosen – most likely it’s whoever claps the hardest for Kim Jong-un.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Another Kim Jong Execution

Current Event Cat - Kim Jong Execute

After executing his once-powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, for allegedly attempting to overthrow his regime and only half-heartedly clapping when he became vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, Kim Jong Un ordered all of Jang’s direct relatives to be executed.

Well, not all of his relatives…. I think his nephew Kim Jong Un was spared.

Jang Song-thaek, North Korea’s #2 in command, was executed last month as tensions between him and his nephew Kim Jong Un grew. Adding insult to injury/execution, Kim Jong Un referred to Jang as “worse than a dog” and “human scum” in the official announcement of his death – which was officially attributed to treachery, betrayal, and of course half-hearted clapping. Doesn’t everybody know THIS is how you’re supposed to clap??!

But apparently the execution of Jang Song-thaek wasn’t enough, so the North Korean dictator had all of his direct relatives murdered, including children and ambassadors to Cuba and Malaysia.

According to South Korea’s state news agency, Yonhap, the executed relatives included Jang’s sister Kye-sun, her husband and ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, the ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, who is Jang’s nephew, as well as his two sons. Plus a bunch of underage children and grandchildren of the relatives listed above.

“Extensive executions have been carried out for relatives of Jang Song-thaek,” an anonymous source (Kim Jong Un?) told Yonhap. “All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children.”

According to “multiple sources”, some victims were dragged out of their houses and were shot dead “in front of other people”. Others, who were only related to Jang through marriage, got off easy and were only exiled to remote villages.

Yonhap’s report has not yet been 100% confirmed and they may have a slight anti-North Korean bias so this story may end up being a sequel to the untrue rumour that Kim Jong Un executed his uncle by feeding his to starving dogs.

BUT there are several clues that suggest this might be true:

First, Yonhap did get the first scoop on Jang Song-thaek’s execution before it was announced by the North Korea media.

Second, the ambassadors reported to be dead were spotted en-route to North Korea after being called back from their overseas postings shortly after Jang was purged from the party.

Third, North Korea is pretty big into the whole “guilt-by-association” thing.

Fourth, crazier things have happened in North Korea. Such as Dennis Rodman singing a tone-deaf version of Happy Birthday to Kim Jong Un Marilyn Monroe style… so you never know.

Via: Al Jazeera

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Dennis Rodman Apologizes, Blames Comments on Drunken Stupor

Dennis Rodman Apologizes

According a statement from Dennis Rodman’s public relations firm (which means Dennis Rodman probably had nothing to do with it), the former NBA star is apologizing for comments he made about imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae.

After receiving criticism for his outburst during a CNN interview, Dennis Rodman’s PR team, who have been working double overtime for the past year, decided it was time to step in and write him an apology statement.

“I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae’s family,” Rodman supposedly said in a statement released Thursday by his publicist.

I embarrassed a lot of people. I’m very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I’m truly sorry.”

Dennis Rodman’s PR team said that Rodman had been having a stressful day when he made the comments suggesting Kenneth Bae deserved his 15-year sentence. They also revealed that he had been drinking before the CNN interview.

“Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates,” he said, adding that his dream of “basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart”.

I had been drinking,” he continued. “It’s not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed.”

Blaming embarrassing behaviour on a drunken stupor? Stop stealing poorly thought out PR tactics from Toronto’s crack smoking mayor!

Now that the apology is out of the way, Rodman is headed to North Korea’s new, multimillion-dollar ski resort with his BFF Kim Jong Un, presumably to marvel at what a waste of money it was and ski with the 5 other people in North Korea who know how to.

Via: The Globe and Mail

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Dennis Rodman Singing Happy Birthday

Current Event Cat - Rodman Happy Birthday

He’s no Marilyn Monroe, but Dennis Rodman led a stunning rendition of Happy Birthday to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, which was slightly more coherent than his recent interview on CNN.

Dennis Rodman and a bunch of former NBA players he recruited (who are probably already regretting their decision) are in North Korea to play basketball in honour of Kim Jong Un’s birthday. The US basketball star sang Happy Birthday to Kim Jong Un in front of a crowd of thousands in the capital before leading the squad of former NBA stars in a friendly game of basketball. Rodman, who is apparently tone deaf, stopped short of going into the “how old are you now” verse, as the North Korean leader’s official birthday and age have never been confirmed.

But the crowd in the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium ate it up, clapping and waving as Rodman sang Happy Birthday to his self-proclaimed “best friend”. It is not clear yet whether the audience was clapping because they loved the song or if they were clapping because not doing so would be instant execution.

rodman koreaTo keep the game friendly, the Americans played against the North Korean team in the first half, but split up and merged teams for the second half. Presumably the Americans let the North Koreans will the first half, as they scored 47 points to 39. Rodman opted to only play the first half and spent the rest of the match sitting next to the birthday boy.

“A lot of people have expressed different views about me and your leader, your marshal, and I take that as a compliment,” Rodman told the crowd. “Yes, he is a great leader, he provides for his people here in this country and thank God the people here love the marshal.”

Rodman, who is on his fourth trip to North Korea in a much ridiculed “basketball diplomacy” mission, is no stranger to controversy. Tattoos and piercings aside, Rodman has been criticized for being chummy chummy with Kim Jong Un given his less than stellar human rights record and constant nuclear threats.

In a recent interview with CNN, Rodman was once again pressed about using his sway over Kim Jong Un to help release Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in May 2013. In an incoherent ramble, a visibly angry Rodman seemed to imply that Bae was at fault for being held captive, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo:

“The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand, if you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did? In this country? You tell me. You tell me. Why is he held captive?”

I wonder what he’ll be saying when Kim Jong Un finally gets bored of his new toy and locks him up in a labour camp?

Via: CTV News

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Was Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Eaten Alive by Starved Dogs?

Kim Uncle Starved Dogs

Probably not, but a Hong Kong newspaper aligned with China’s Communist Party is claiming that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle was executed by being stripped naked, thrown into a cage, and eaten alive by 120 starved dogs.

Kim’s uncle, the once-powerful Jang Song Thaek, was executed on December 12, and although it had been previously reported that he had been shot by a firing squad, the method of execution was never officially confirmed. Until now…?

According to the less than reputable report, published in the less than reputable Wen Wei Po newspaper, instead of being executed via a normal firing squad like every other political prisoner, Uncle Jang was stripped of his clothes and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on the prisoners until they were completely eaten up. Or what the North Koreans call “quan jue”, or execution by starved dogs. The “quan jue” supposedly lasted an hour with Kim Jong Un and 300 other senior officials supervising the massacre.

Wen Wei Po’s account of how Kim Jong Un finished off his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, seems a little far-fetched – even for North Korea, a country led by a demented child with nuclear access. But the Wen Wei Po article, which has been picked up by many major news agencies, does reveal two things: China is willing to bad mouth North Korea and North Korea isn’t the only country who likes to spice up a news story with a little propaganda.

The only way to truly verify the story is to head into a Chinese Walmart and check if there’s any Jang Song Thaek DNA in their five-spice dog meat.

Via: USA Today

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North Korea Threatens South Korea Via Fax

North Korea Fax

North Korea sent a fax to South Korea on Thursday, threatening a “merciless” attack without notice in response to anti-North protests in Seoul this week.

North Korea said the South insulted North Korea’s “highest dignity,” after rallies were held protesting the secretive regime on the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il. The North was so angry that there was nothing left to do except send an angry message via their most advanced secret technology: the fax machine.

The message warned that North Korea would strike if “the provocation against our highest dignity is to be repeated in the downtown of Seoul.”

Threatening messages from Kim Jong-un are nothing new – and apparently neither is North Korea’s technology. If you’re 30 years old and you have to send a threat via a fax, then how much of a threat can you really be? Second of all, doesn’t the fax count as notice? You can’t send a notice saying you’re going to attack without notice!

Anyways, South Korea responded to the North Korean threat by faxing back. When in Rome…

“The reply was sent through wired message and in the fax message, we warned that if North Korea is to carry out provocation, we will firmly retaliate,” said Kim Min-seok, the spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense.

Meanwhile, Dennis Rodman is still in the North trying to convince a team of ex-NBA players to join him in a basketball match in honour of Kim Jong-un’s January birthday.

“I’m just telling them, you know, don’t be afraid, man, it’s all love, it’s all love here,” Rodman told the AP after tryouts at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium.

North Korea: decades old technology, tyrannical leaders, washed-up basketball stars, and random executions for half-hearted clapping. What’s not to love?

Via: CNN

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Dennis Rodman Heads to North Korea for Some More Basketball Diplomacy

Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman watch a basketball game in Pyongyang

Not even the recent purge/execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle could put a damper on the blossoming friendship between the North Korean leader and the washed up basketball star.

Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea for the third time on Thursday to train the national team and engage in some basketball diplomacy. The aging star and his documentary crew are scheduled to spend four days in the communist country helping to train a team of North Korean basketball players for a January exhibition in Pyongyang.

The January 8 exhibition is a very important one because it will celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader and Dennis Rodman bestie, Kim Jong-un. The match between North Korea and a group of ex-NBA players will certainly be an exciting one – the losing side gets purged. And a word of warning to the audience – you’d better clap until your hands are raw, because half-hearted clapping is grounds for execution in North Korea.

But Dennis Rodman doesn’t care. The ex-NBA player told reporters he doesn’t fear for his safety in North Korea.

“I mean, whatever his uncle has done, and whoever’s done anything in North Korea, I have no control over that. I mean, these things have been going on for years and years and years,” he told Reuters news agency.

“I’m just going over there to do a basketball game and have some fun,” he added.

While Rodman refused to talk politics with Kim Jong-un, including asking for American Kenneth Bae’s release, he reiterated his hope that basketball diplomacy would bring the feuding nations together.

“I hope this is going to engage American people, especially Obama, to just to try to talk to them,” he said.

The response from the U.S?

Dennis Rodman is not a representative of the US government in his trip to North Korea,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

“We need to focus on what’s really important here when it comes to North Korea… the brutality of the North Korean regime he’s going to meet.”

Maybe the U.S. will luck out on this trip and Rodman will quietly disappear… like Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Uncle Jang the “Traitor” Gets Executed

Current Event Cat - Kim Jong Uncle

Things went from bad to worse for Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek. After being purged from the government for corruption and other Western-like behaviour last week, North Korea’s state news agency announced Thursday that the “traitor” was executed for the crime of trying to overthrow the state. Well that escalated quickly…

Uncle Jang, who is thought to have mentored his nephew during the leadership transition from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un in 2011, was publically ousted from the Workers’ Party of Korea last weekend and shown on state TV being dragged away by guards. At first, officials accused him of “womanizing” and corruption, leading some North Korea observers to speculate that the real reason might have something to do with a personal feud between Jang and Kim Jong-un.

This week, North Korea announced that Uncle Jang was actually trying to overthrow Kim Jong-un’s government. The official statement released described how Jang had finally admitted to abusing his position of power to form a faction against the state and harbouring his own political ambitions. Most likely under extreme torture, but a confession is still a confession!

North Korea’s news agency KCNA released the weirdly worded statement regarding the new charges:

The accused is a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state and the socialist system.”

“Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.”

What? I wonder if this “official statement” sounds as ridiculous in Korean as it does in English…

Jang was also criticized for only “half-heartedly clapping” when Kim Jong-un became vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission before his father’s death. Apparently that didn’t sit well with Kim Jong-un and his resentment had been building ever since.  If that’s not cause for execution, I don’t know what is.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: A North Korea Purge

Kim Jong Purge

North Korea has officially confirmed the purge of Kim Jong-un’s influential uncle and mentor. Off to the gulags!

The removal of Jang Song-thaek, uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, is the biggest shake-up to hit Pyongyang since the death of leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011.

Kim Jong-un has purged hundreds of officials during his short time in power, but never of this magnitude. Jang Song-thaek was long considered the country’s number 2 power player, but apparently the power went to his head – or became too threatening to Kim Jong-un.

After a week of speculation, on Monday North Korea officially acknowledged the purge of Uncle Jang for alleged corruption, drug use, squandering money at casinos, womanizing and other “anti-state” acts.

“Mr. Jang seriously obstructed the nation’s economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people’s living,” North Korea’s statement said.

Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life.”

I guess his 2004 “re-education” didn’t quite sink in…

The confirmation that Pyongyang had “eliminated Jang and purged his group,” came just one month after two of his aides were executed for corruption. The amount of detail in the purge announcement and images broadcast on North Korean state TV of Jang being dragged away appear to be a warning to North Koreans against dissent.

South Korea appears less than pleased about the recent purge.

“North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong-un’s power,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye said during a cabinet meeting.

“From now on, South-North Korea relations may become more unstable.”

More unstable?

Via: The National Post

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The Whole World Mourns Nelson Mandela… Even Paris Hilton. And Other News…

Paris Hilton Tweet

As South Africans gather in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at age 95, there is one person who is taking the news especially hard: Paris Hilton.

But Paris isn’t upset about his death. No, Paris is upset about the bad publicity. As the news of Nelson Mandela’s death hit the internet, a fake Paris Hilton tweet eulogized Mandela, saying, “RIP Nelson Mandela. Your ‘I Have A Dream’ speech was so inspiring. Amazing man.” It was obviously a fake tweet – and not just because Paris refuted it by tweeting “Whoever made that stupid fake tweet lacks respect to the loss the world is mourning right now. Same goes for all the blogs who ran with it,” but because she obviously had no idea Nelson Mandela died until it became about her. On second thought, Paris was probably thrilled about the bad publicity. After all publicity is good publicity – especially for 32 year-old socialite has-beens. US Magazine

Dick CheneyRemember that time Dick Cheney called Nelson Mandela a terrorist? In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s passing, it’s been pointed out that Dick Cheney doesn’t regret his 1986 decision to vote against freeing the anti-apartheid leader. At the time, the US congress put together the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, a bill that called for tough sanctions and travel restrictions on the South Africa and its leaders, as well as the release of political prisoners like Mandela, then leader of the African National Congress (ANC). Although the measure passed with bipartisan support, both Ronald Reagan and his pal Dick Cheney voted against it, calling the ANC a “terrorist organization.” In 2000, Cheney reaffirmed his decision, saying, “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization. I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.” Well, I know someone who won’t be accompanying President Obama and Michelle to South Africa for a certain funeral…. Huffington Post

North Korea CampsIn not surprising North Korean news, Amnesty International has released a series of satellite images showing North Korea’s large-scale network of labor camps – also known as torture factories. Although North Korea denies the existence of these political prison camps, the photos suggest that the inmate population is expanding even as tens of thousands are reportedly starved, raped, tortured, and even killed. “For Amnesty International, which has been investigating human rights violations for the last 50 years, we find North Korea to be in a category of its own,” said Amnesty’s East Asia researcher Rajiv Narayan, “The gruesome reality of North Korea’s continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed.” I wonder if any of the photos managed to capture Uncle Chang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-un’s powerful uncle who was recently “dismissed” from his post at the helm of North Korea’s military… Business Insider

Pee in a cupAmericans want everyone to pee in a cup. Welfare recipients, politicians, hospital patients – everyone. According to a Huffington Post poll, 64 percent of Americans are in favour of requiring welfare recipients to submit to random drug testing – a policy Republicans have been pushing for years. But what Americans love even more than forcing someone who makes $7.25 an hour to urinate in a cup to prove they’re not on drugs, is forcing members of Congress to pee in a cup. 78 percent say they support drug testing for congressional lawmakers. There goes the cocaine market in D.C… Huffington Post

NIgerian Man in BoatA Nigerian man survived three days at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after his tugboat sank to the bottom. The cook survived by breathing an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen in an air pocket and living off of one bottle of coke. As the temperature dropped to below zero, the cook, dressed only in his boxers, thought he was a goner. And he was – until a diver searching the wreck saw a hand. Assuming it was another corpse (they had already pulled out four bodies), the diver grabbed it and got the shock of his life. “When he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him!” said Tony Walker, project manager for the Dutch company DCN Diving. The rescue happened back in May but the video just went viral. NY Post

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