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Before the mid-1980s, North Korea and East Germany did not have the most robust relationship despite both being allies of the Soviet Union and their similar situations as the communist half of a divided country. That all changed when founding leader Kim Il Sung decided to host one of the largest events in North Korean history.In this episode of the…
 
Before the mid-1980s, North Korea and East Germany did not have the most robust relationship despite both being allies of the Soviet Union and their similar situations as the communist half of a divided country. That all changed when founding leader Kim Il Sung decided to host one of the largest events in North Korean […]…
 
July was a busy month on the Korean Peninsula. The South Korean government launched an investigation into the 2019 forced repatriation of two North Koreans. DPRK leader Kim Jong Un slammed ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol as a “military gangster.” And Pyongyang expressed willingness to send laborers to breakaway Ukrainian regions. This week, the NK News…
 
July was a busy month on the Korean Peninsula. The South Korean government launched an investigation into the 2019 forced repatriation of two North Koreans. DPRK leader Kim Jong Un slammed ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol as a “military gangster.” And Pyongyang expressed willingness to send laborers to breakaway Ukrainian regions.This week, the NK News …
 
This week, NK News podcast host Jacco Zwetsloot returns to what some call “freedom’s frontier,” better known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, for a special travelogue episode. Ret. U.S. Lt. Col. Steve Tharp. Ret. ROK Col. Jee Hong-ki, NK News founder and CEO Chad O’Carroll join the tour of the less-visited […]…
 
This week, NK News podcast host Jacco Zwetsloot returns to what some call “freedom’s frontier,” better known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, for a special travelogue episode.Ret. U.S. Lt. Col. Steve Tharp. Ret. ROK Col. Jee Hong-ki, NK News founder and CEO Chad O’Carroll join the tour of the less-visited central border re…
 
Threat dynamics on the Korean Peninsula are rapidly evolving. North Korea has proven extremely capable in cyberspace, compromising sensitive systems around the world and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The DPRK’s armed forces are also adopting unmanned aerial vehicles and developing hypersonic missiles that present new c…
 
Threat dynamics on the Korean Peninsula are rapidly evolving. North Korea has proven extremely capable in cyberspace, compromising sensitive systems around the world and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The DPRK’s armed forces are also adopting unmanned aerial vehicles and developing hypersonic missiles that present new c…
 
As Sweden’s ambassador to South Korea from 2018 to 2021, Jakob Hallgren saw firsthand as the pendulum shifted from hope and optimism about the future of inter-Korean relations to pessimism and doubt about whether Seoul and Pyongyang could ever reconcile. This week, Hallgren joins the NK News podcast to discuss his country’s role in diplomacy […]…
 
As Sweden’s ambassador to South Korea from 2018 to 2021, Jakob Hallgren saw firsthand as the pendulum shifted from hope and optimism about the future of inter-Korean relations to pessimism and doubt about whether Seoul and Pyongyang could ever reconcile.This week, Hallgren joins the NK News podcast to discuss his country’s role in diplomacy on the …
 
June was a busy month on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders of the U.S., Japan and South Korea met for the first time in nearly five years as Tokyo and Seoul began to repair ties. North Korea blamed ‘alien things’ like anti-regime balloons for spreading COVID-19 into the country. And top DPRK military officials adopted […]…
 
June was a busy month on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders of the U.S., Japan and South Korea met for the first time in nearly five years as Tokyo and Seoul began to repair ties. North Korea blamed ‘alien things’ like anti-regime balloons for spreading COVID-19 into the country. And top DPRK military officials adopted a major military action plan t…
 
Growing up in Kobe, Park Hyangsu lived in a world apart from most of the Japanese people around her. At school, her teachers spoke Korean. In the classroom, portraits of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hung on the walls. For educational field trips, students traveled to the DPRK.This week, Park joins the NK News podcast to discuss …
 
Growing up in Kobe, Park Hyangsu lived in a world apart from most of the Japanese people around her. At school, her teachers spoke Korean. In the classroom, portraits of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hung on the walls. For educational field trips, students traveled to the DPRK. This week, […]…
 
When the war in Ukraine broke out earlier this year, Russian leader Vladimir Putin justified his country’s invasion as an effort to “denazify” its smaller neighbor, a striking claim given that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Moscow has also compared its “special military operation” to the fight against Nazi Germany in World War I…
 
When the war in Ukraine broke out earlier this year, Russian leader Vladimir Putin justified his country’s invasion as an effort to “denazify” its smaller neighbor, a striking claim given that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Moscow has also compared its “special military operation” to the fight against Nazi Germany in World War I…
 
The assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother who was at one time believed to be in line to succeed their father, stands among the most shocking episodes of the current leader’s decade in power — all the more so for the manner in which it was done. According to reports, DPRK […]…
 
The assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother who was at one time believed to be in line to succeed their father, stands among the most shocking episodes of the current leader’s decade in power — all the more so for the manner in which it was done. According to reports, DPRK agents tricked two women into smearing VX nerve agen…
 
From 1959 to 1984, some 93,000 ethnic Koreans voluntarily left Japan to go live in the DPRK. Driven away by discrimination in Japan, and lured by promises of free housing and health care in socialist North Korea, these migrants would arrive in a country far different from the “Workers’ Paradise” that they had been promised. […]…
 
From 1959 to 1984, some 93,000 ethnic Koreans voluntarily left Japan to go live in the DPRK. Driven away by discrimination in Japan, and lured by promises of free housing and health care in socialist North Korea, these migrants would arrive in a country far different from the “Workers’ Paradise” that they had been promised. And once there, it wasn’…
 
In late May, Korea Risk Group hosted a special three-day conference on South Korea’s east coast for NK Pro subscribers and other North Korea watchers. Called the East Coast Exchange, the event featured expert presentations, vibrant discussions and ample time for networking, as well as a unique opportunity to view the DPRK’s Mount Kumgang from South…
 
North Korea has rapidly expanded its cyber capabilities over the last decade, from marginal operations focused on distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to large-scale cyberwarfare capable of compromising hardened networks and stealing hundreds of millions in cash and cryptocurrency. Perhaps the most widely known of the DPRK’s cybercrime orga…
 
When North Korea imposed strict pandemic border controls in Jan. 2020, the country simultaneously closed its door to international tourists and suspended a growing industry that brought in hundreds of thousands of travelers in 2019 alone. Yet while it’s unclear when the country will reopen, there’s still one way to explore North Korea as a tourist …
 
Two and a half years into the global COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea reported its first outbreak on May 12, with cases of “fever” quickly surpassing a million. How prepared is the DPRK to fight the spread of the virus and will the country finally accept foreign aid?This week, NK News and NK PRO founder and CEO Chad O’Carroll (@chadocl), lead corresp…
 
Several North Korean statues and other works of art are scattered across the African continent, a persistent presence that demonstrates North Korean influence in the region. While these works are often narrowly interpreted by the outside world as illicit revenue streams for Pyongyang, researcher OneJoon Che says North Korean art and sculptures cann…
 
A four-hour ferry ride from South Korea’s west coast takes one to a remote island so far north that it seems like it would be in North Korea. Yet Baengnyeong Island remains, improbably, a part of the South, and this far-flung location on the country’s frontier has been at the center of several important events in inter-Korean history — including th…
 
The U.S. and South Korea have been trying to solve the North Korea nuclear issue for decades, yet Pyongyang continues to advance its weapons programs. This week, Christopher Green joins the podcast to talk about the past few years of diplomacy, missile tests and how to analyze the goings-on in the DPRK with a critical eye.Christopher Green (@Dest_P…
 
North Korea celebrated the 110th birthday of Kim Il Sung in grand fashion last week, with thousands of pom-pom-waving citizens spelling out the founding leader’s name in massive characters, as a large float bearing a bronze statue of his likeness paraded across the square in central Pyongyang now named for him. It was a testament to the longevity o…
 
The Yongbyon complex located some 60 miles north of Pyongyang has been the center of North Korea’s nuclear program for decades, producing fissile material for multiple nuclear weapons tests. As the DPRK has not allowed independent experts to visit the site for years, analysts now pore over satellite imagery to divine the status of enrichment activi…
 
A unique characteristic of North Korean life is that almost all citizens must be a member of an organization. This begins at a young age, when kindergarten students learn to bow in unison to portraits of the country’s leaders. It ramps up in adolescence through participation in the Boy and Girl Scout-like Korean Children’s Union. And it continues i…
 
North Korea tested one of its biggest weapons for the first time in years last week, launching a long-range missile that soared 15 times higher than the international space station before splashing down in waters west of Japan. The DPRK soon claimed that it fired a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with state media airing a dram…
 
There’s no shortage of YouTube content on North Korea, from straightforward news reports on the latest missile launch to over-the-top travelogues promising a rare glimpse into the world’s “most depressing” country. While informative videos exist on the platform, it can be difficult to separate hard facts from misleading exaggeration or even outrigh…
 
Mountains loom large in North Korea, not only dominating the topography but also much of the political symbolism of the regime. The country’s history books tell tales about the heroic exploits of Kim Il Sung and his revolutionaries battling against Japanese imperialists from mountain outposts. Mount Paektu on the Chinese border is the alleged birth…
 
Journalists, experts and pundits have devoted significant time and energy to deciphering Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in late February, with many seeing the Russian leader as motivated by a desire to rebuild the Soviet Union and correct the historical mistake of its dissolution. The war has raised parallels with the situation on the …
 
Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine may be half a world away from the Korean Peninsula, but the implications of the two-week-old conflict are already being felt in Pyongyang and Seoul. North Korea has rallied behind its longtime friend Russia, while South Korea initially hesitated to sign onto economic sanctions against Moscow. ROK presidential c…
 
During Kim Jong Un’s first decade in power, the North Korean state has executed at least 23 people for crimes ranging from prostitution and “obscene acts” to watching South Korea media, according to a recent report from the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), a Seoul-based human rights organization.This week, TJWG researcher Ahyeong Park joi…
 
Tom McDevitt discusses Sun Myung Moon’s meeting with Kim Il Sung in 1991 and the importance of engaging North Korea. On the surface, the anti-communist leader of the Unification movement, commonly known as the Unification Church, and the leader of North Korea had little room for reconciliation. However, Moon traveled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim i…
 
More than 20 years ago, the senior North Korean official Hwang Jang-yop walked into the South Korean Embassy in China and declared his intention to defect. His actions triggered a diplomatic standoff with Beijing and brought forth a stream of attacks from Pyongyang’s state media. He was the highest-ranking defector ever from the DPRK, having previo…
 
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes had wrapped up a reporting trip in North Korea and was about to board a flight out of the country when the ordeal started. The authorities suddenly detained him and took him for questioning, demanding that he confess to crimes against the state in an interrogation that extended late into the night.This week, Wingfield-Hayes j…
 
North Korea rang in the lunar new year with a dramatic fireworks display this week, testing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam in its longest-range launch since 2017. The firing of the Hwasong-12 into the East Sea capped a busy January in which Pyongyang set a new record by conducting seven missile tests in a single …
 
Ever since the breakdown of talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at Hanoi in 2018, prospects for denuclearization have grown increasingly dim. Yet there is historical precedent for a country to give up its nuclear weapons — South Africa — and some hold out hope that diplomacy might yet lead to a breakthrough…
 
The new year has been an eventful one so far for North Korea watchers. Pyongyang has already test-launched missiles on four separate occasions. A defector who had settled in the South dramatically crossed the demilitarized zone to return to the North. Conservative presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol voiced support for a preemptive strike to stop N…
 
Unification remains the official goal of inter-Korean policy on both sides of the Korean Peninsula, and the new Council on Diplomacy for Korean Unification (CDKU), founded by veterans of the country’s unification ministry, aims to keep the dream alive.This week, Kim Hyeong-seok and J.R. Kim join the podcast to discuss their organization, which brin…
 
This January marks 10 years since the Associated Press became the first U.S. news agency to establish a bureau in Pyongyang. The opening gave the organization a unique vantage point from which to report on notoriously secretive North Korea, but also raised questions about how operating in the country might influence coverage.As the AP’s Korean Peni…
 
North Korea began 2021 with a major party conference and is now ending it with a multi-day plenum. Somewhere in the between, a lot else happened: Disinfection centers sprang up. Kim Jong Un lost weight. Health officials in hazmat suits goose-stepped through Pyongyang. Both Koreas launched an assortment of new weapons.With 2022 right around the corn…
 
CNN International Correspondent Will Ripley has visited North Korea a whopping 19 times since 2014, reporting on missile launches and nuclear tests while inside the country and covering the DPRK’s release of Otto Warmbier in a coma as the only American reporter on the ground.On this week’s podcast, he talks about everything from his interviews with…
 
In his 24 years as a correspondent for CNN, Mike Chinoy had the opportunity to cover key moments in North Korean history from inside the country, from Jimmy Carter’s visit and the aftermath of Kim Il Sung’s death to a military parade held amid unprecedented famine. He joins the podcast to discuss what it’s like to report on the ground from a countr…
 
Recently, there have been reports that the Netflix hit “Squid Game” has made it into North Korea, and even that authorities have sentenced a man to death for smuggling copies of the violent drama. Yet experts have expressed doubt about these claims due to the DPRK’s ongoing COVID-19 controls.This week, NK News reporters join the podcast to weigh in…
 
North Korean propagandists have churned out a steady stream of cultural products for domestic and foreign audiences over the years — from films, TV shows and radio dramas to comic books and flashy music videos. While always laced with state ideology, these works also evolve in response to changing circumstances and leaders’ whims, providing another…
 
A North Korean delegation recently joined the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, one of the first times DPRK representatives have attended such an event in person since the pandemic began. Yet North Korea’s participation was no anomaly: The country has long joined international efforts to combat global warming, including the Paris A…
 
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