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Air Koryo operates first Kuwait flight since February

By Hamish Macdonald

Air Koryo, North Korea’s national airline, has operated its first flight from Pyongyang to Kuwait since February, according to data from FlightRadar24.

The flight, JS 161 landed at Kuwait International Airport (KWI) on May 17, with the JS162 return flight arriving in Pyongyang on May 18. The flight also made its scheduled transit stop in Islamabad, Pakistan on both occasions.

This represents only the third time the JS161 and JS162 flights have operated in 2016 and the first since February 23 and 24, when the route was seemingly stalled.

The route, which started operating in 2011, flew intermittently with historical data showing a total of nine round-trip flights in the last 12 months.

Flights between North Korea and Kuwait were conducted in May, June, September, October, November and December 2015, with November featuring two round trip flights along the route.

The route is conducted by Air Koryo’s P-632 and P-633 Tupolev jets. While seven of the 2015 JS161/JS162 flights were conducted by Air Koryo’s P-632 plane, the May 17 and 18 flights were operated by its P-633 plane.

FlightRadar24 tracking data of the May 17 flight shows that the P-633 passed through the air spaces of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and eventually its destination, Kuwait.

The flight also represents the first time the route has been flown since the passing of United Nations Resolution 2270, which expanded sanctions on North Korea, including in the aviation sector.

This potentially could impact North Korea’s long haul scheduled flights, including the seemingly halted JS253 and JS254 return flight to Bangkok, last operated in late April.

Resolution 2270 prevents UN member states from selling or supplying North Korea with “aviation fuel, aviation gasoline, naptha-type jet fuel, kerosene-type jet fuel and kerosene-type rocket fuel”.

Notably, this provision does not apply “with respect to the sale or supply of aviation fuel to civilian passenger aircraft outside the DPRK …read more

Wendy Sherman hints at Hillary Clinton’s Korea policy

By Rob York

It is now becoming clear that Hillary Clinton will probably be the next president of the United States. Nothing is guaranteed – a week is a long time in politics, as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said – and the Trump candidacy has the pundits hedging their bets. If she does become president then it seems certain that Wendy Sherman will play an important role in her foreign policy, especially in respect of Korea, and may even become Secretary of State. That makes her speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on May 3, 2016 something worth careful scrutiny. Scrutiny is the appropriate word. It must be assumed that officials (past and future) in a public forum seldom wholly mean what they say or say what they mean. Speeches need to be decoded and interpreted. In addition, what is left out can be highly significant.

On the face of it, Wendy Sherman is the consummate global official. According to CSIS, at her last official role as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs she oversaw the bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, the Western Hemisphere and International Organizations. It is difficult to think what is left; Antarctica perhaps? She has also flipped between government service, in the State Department, where power is exercised and contacts made, and the private sector, where presumably money is made. In this case the private sector being the Albright Stonebridge Group. The “Albright” being Madelaine Albright, former Secretary of State and Sherman’s former boss.

Sherman has had an unusual career trajectory. “… Wendy Sherman’s resume is diverse even by D.C. standards. Trained in social work, devoted early in life to helping battered women and the urban …read more

Switzerland announces N.Korea sanctions implementation

By Hamish Macdonald

Switzerland will impose stricter measures against North Korea through the full implement of United Nations Resolution 2270, its Federal Council announced on Wednesday.

Resolution 2270 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on March 2 in response to North Korea’s fourth underground nuclear test in January and its launch of a satellite using ballistic missile technology in February. Both events are in violation of existing UN resolutions against the country.

“On (May 18), the Federal Council decided to impose considerably tighter sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea, thereby implementing Resolution 2270 (2016) of the UN Security Council,” a press release from the Swiss Government read.

The new measures are purely an implementation of the UN resolution and not do not include independent sanctions against North Korea by Switzerland, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

“There are not (independent measures) and this is because Switzerland itself does not implement (independent) sanctions against the country, these decision are always based on the decision of the United Nations and the European Union,” Fabian Maienfisch, deputy head of communications for SECO, told NK News.

The press release made special mention of certain provisions within Resolution 2270, including the blocking of all funds and economic resources connected with North Korea’s sanctioned programs, the prohibition of Swiss banks operating within North Korea – and vice versa – and the expansion of luxury goods sanctions.

“Existing (bank) branches and bank accounts in North Korea must be closed by (June 2),” the press release read.

The export and transit of goods bound for North Korea must be authorized in advance by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

The press release also highlighted measures against maritime and air transport and measures within the education sector relating to the hosting and training of North Korean citizens.

“Military, paramilitary and police training for instructors, consultants …read more

Should we worry about N.Korea’s SLBMs?

By nknews

The experimental test flight of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea, conducted on April 22, caught most of the world by surprise. Many analysts who kept a watchful eye on North Korea’s missile programs thought that the country’s sole missile technology is based on liquid propulsion, and that this type of rocket engine is of Soviet origin (some even wrote that the DPRK lacks the technical knowhow to build the engines – and that the missiles are either just mock-ups/fakes/old Soviet stock).

Read the full article at NK Pro

…read more

Sister Act: Kim Jong Un’s younger sibling takes the spotlight

By Rob York

In the days leading up to the recently completed Seventh Congress of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), there was widespread media speculation, including by BBC News and South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, over the expected enhanced role in the North Korean leadership for Kim Jong Un’s little sister Kim Yo Jong. While 28-years-old might seem a bit green for someone to be engaged in assisting in running a country with nuclear weapons, North Korea had already designated a then largely untested, under-30-year-old as Supreme Leader just over four years ago. In this case, what was good for the gander appears equally good for the goose.

As expected, Kim Yo Jong was, according to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency, named a member of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Central Committee at the just-completed Party Congress. It was noted that she also serves as a vice department director of the ruling party. An early indication of the prominence Kim Yo Jong would assume in her elder brother’s regime was given during the funeral services for her father Kim Jong Il in December 2011. She was seen alongside her elder brother, the presumed heir, attending memorial events and greeting mourners in black hanbok even though she had not been officially named to the all-important funeral committee. She was later publicly mentioned in March 2014 when she accompanied her older brother to the ballot box in voting for the Supreme People’s Assembly election. And UPI reported that, as a sign of increased prominence, Kim Yo Jong was seen standing next to her brother at a military rally in Kim Il Sung Square immediately after the just-completed Party Congress.

Some North Korea watchers have compared the relationship to that of Kim Jong Il and his own sister, Kim Kyong Hui

Kim Jong Un is reportedly particularly fond …read more

The 'Bimbo' and the 'Boor': Anchor Megyn Kelly has face-off with Donald Trump

Washington, May 19 (IANS) Donald Trump called her a “lightweight” and a “bimbo” and, after a dustup back in August, he set the twitter afire by saying “You could see there was blood coming out of her …read more

N.Korean media slams critical Russian film

By JH Ahn

The North Korean mouthpiece Arirang-Meari on Thursday criticized the Russian movie Under the Sun, which reveals how Pyongyang manipulates its people through its media, saying that the movie “deeply hurt” the good will of North Koreans.

The article also warned the South Korean President Park Geun-hye not to use Rhee Jin Mi, the main child actress in the film, as South Korean propaganda material.

“My jaw is agape with astonishment. Is (the director) Vitaly Mansky even a human being?” Rhee Jin Mi’s mother told Arirang-Meari.

“We thought he was just filming a documentary for the sake of cultural exchange between Chosun (North Korea) and Russia. I never dreamt of him making the film – using my daughter as the main character – that portrays an anti-republic (North Korea) message …”

UK’s Guardian newspaper wrote in a previous piece that the film reveals “how government representatives seek to construct an image of an ‘ideal’ family, capturing the hectoring of officials as they tell the Koreans what to say, how to sit and when to smile.”

In the article, Jin Mi’s mother explained that it is true that such directions were given, but said it was necessary as her daughter is not a professional actress.

“Unless my daughter Rhee is a professional actress, she may or may not be able to act as the director wishes (all the time). So sometimes we had to shoot the scene repeatedly, even the adult or professional actors would do the same.” said Rhee’s mother.

“While this was documentary film, some repeated filming was still inevitable. I did not know that the black-hearted Vitaly Mansky would intentionally edit the scenes to make a such movie.”

Toward the end of the article, mother lost her composure and called the film director a “woman-beater,” “miser,” “hypocrite” and “filth of humankind.”

“Simply put, Vitaly Mansky is hypocrite, …read more

North Korea to start new internal flight route

By Leo Byrne

North Korea’s national airline Air Koryo will begin operating a new internal route from June 6, according to tourism sources in the country.

The new flight route will operate once a week from Uiju in Sinuiju, in the country’s northeast on the border with China to the capital city Pyongyang.

“The new route is a domestic flight, once a week … (it) goes from Pyongyang to Uiju and back again on the same day, (a) 40-minute flight,” Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours told NK News.

“It’s apparently due to start quite soon using An-24 aircraft,” Dave Thompson, from Juche Travel Services added.

It’s currently unclear who the new route’s customers will be. The 38-capacity plane could be a quick way for North Korean residents to move between the border and the capital, or be aimed at Chinese tourists wanting a quicker way to visit Pyongyang.

“it is either a shuttle for people from the capital to go and do something … in Sinuiju, or for those wanting to dodge the train in getting to Dandong, or it is for tourists,” Cockerell continued.

The An-24 is a small propeller aircraft built between 1959-1972. There are three currently three in the Air Koryo inventory, though the DPRK military may also use modified versions of the plane.

The opening of a new internal route could raise eyebrows given the current sanctions against exporting aviation fuels to North Korea.

Under the recently passed UN Resolution 2270, member states cannot directly ship “aviation fuel, including aviation gasoline, naptha-type jet fuel, kerosene-type jet fuel, and kerosene-type rocket fuel” to the DPRK.

While an exception allows the sale of aviation fuels to Air Koryo’s planes when outside the DPRK, the new route will not cross the North’s borders, indicating the 5100 kg capacity fuel tank will have to be filled by domestic supplies.

“My understanding …read more

N.Korea excavates more Koryo dynasty metal type pieces: KCNA

By Hayoung Choi

North Korea has excavated four more metal type pieces from the palace site of the ancient Koryo dynasty in Kaesong, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday.

The two Koreas have conducted a number of joint excavation projects in recent yeas but the North conducted this one autonomously, as every inter-Korean exchange project, including humanitarian aid, has been suspended since Pyongyang’s nuclear test early this year.

“Three of the metal types are of cuboid shape, 12-13mm wide, 10-11mm long and 6-7mm high … The last type is 7mm wide and 6mm long,” the KCNA article reads.

North Korean historians ascertained that the newly found pieces were created in the 12th or 13th century, which is before the royal palace Manwoldae was destroyed in 1361 by an invasion from the Red Turban rebels out of China. The Koryo Dynasty lasted from 918 to 1392.

The inter-Korean joint excavation team found another metal type piece last year after a six-month excavation project at the site. Last October, historians from the two Koreas held an academic conference in Kaesong, making policy proposals to accelerate the excavation which would likely take 30 years at the current rate.

An inter-Korean group of researchers had implemented excavations since 2007 but had their work repeatedly set back by suspensions amid the fluctuations in relations between the South and the North.

Previously, Seoul-based historians said there were only two pieces of existing Koryo metal type, one in the South and one in the North. The one found last year was the third to be proven as made during the Koryo Dynasty.

If the North’s new discoveries were verified, it would more than double the total number of pieces to have been discovered.

Shin Joon-young, who visited the site regularly as a secretary general of the Council of South and North Korean Historians, …read more

Trump ready to talk to Kim Jong Un about halting nuclear programme: Reports

WASHINGTON, U.S. – Republican Party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump reportedly said on May 17 that he is ready to enter talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to discuss the cessation of the el …read more