North Korean charm offensive goes operational at PyeongChang Olympics

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) —

Journalist Chang Dong-woo reports for Yonhap that the performance today by the North Korean cheer squad performed in front of the international media at Gangneung Olympic Village.

An 80-strong marching band within the contingent made its South Korean debut at a welcome event for the North’s national team at the athletes’ village in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the Olympics.

An all-female North Korean marching band arrives at PyeongChang Olympic Village in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band arrives at PyeongChang Olympic Village in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

The spotlight, normally reserved for athletes, was dominated by the marching band, comprised mostly of young ladies in their 20s, as they lightened up the initially tense and guarded atmosphere by its first-ever performance in the South.

The medley commenced with “Nice To Meet You,” an iconic North Korean traditional number that is widely known to South Koreans, later followed by “Arirang,” a famous Korean folk song that will also be played during the joint entrance of the two Koreas at Friday’s opening ceremony.

Without any intervals or comments, the band continued with “Poongnyeonga,” “Song of the Sea” and “Ongheya.” Despite the limited space at the event, the ladies showed off some light choreography, walking around and moving their arms while playing their instruments. The band capped off the performance with “Kwaejina Ching Ching Nane” and “Youth Hymn.”

An all-female North Korean marching band is seen at a welcome event held for the North's Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band is seen at a welcome event held for the North’s Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

The North Korean athletes, who initially looked tense and rigid, even declining to dance together with South Korean dancers at the event, but later smiled and loosened up while the music played.

An all-female North Korean marching band performs at a welcome event for the North's Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band performs at a welcome event for the North’s Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

North Korean Olympic Cheering Squad Expected to be “Army of Beauties”

North Korean, Iranian athletes denied Samsung smartphone handout due to international sanctions

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers won’t provide North Korean and Iranian players with Samsung smartphones, which are available free to all other athletes, for fear of violating international sanctions on the countries, officials said Wednesday.

Samsung Electronics has offered some 4,000 units of the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition to all athletes and International Olympic Committee officials visiting PyeongChang.

But they will not given to 22 North Korean and four Iranian athletes, as such handouts may violate United Nations’ sanctions that ban providing the countries with luxury goods and products that can potentially be used for military purposes, the committee said.

The Galaxy Note 8 is the latest flagship smartphone released by Samsung, boasting the signature S Pen stylus and a dual-lens camera setup.

The special edition comes with an Olympic-themed wallpaper, along with an application that provides details about the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The price tag of a 64-gigabyte Galaxy Note 8 normally sits at around 1.09 million won (US$1,045) in South Korea.

This photo released by Samsung Electronics Co. on Jan. 17, 2018, shows the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition. (Yonhap)

This photo released by Samsung Electronics Co. on Jan. 17, 2018, shows the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition. (Yonhap)

First member of North Korea’s ruling dynasty to set foot in the South

Photo released by North Korean State Media shows Kim Jong Un’s sister at a table with other high-ranking government officials.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (second from R) shakes hands with Kim Yo-jong, a sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in the city located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2018. Kim arrived in South Korea earlier in the day as part of a 22-member delegation led by the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam (L). (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in briefly encountered North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister on Friday at the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

Moon and Kim Yo-jung shook hands at their first-ever encounter during the ceremony. Kim arrived in the country earlier Friday as part of a delegation led by the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.

She is the only member of the North’s ruling family to have ever visited South Korea.

The North Korean delegates are scheduled to attend a lunch meeting hosted by Moon on Saturday.

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) — Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, is set to become the first member of North Korea’s ruling dynasty to set foot in the rival South this week.

The Unification Ministry in Seoul announced Wednesday that Kim Yo-jong, presumed to be aged about 30, will be part of a high-ranking government delegation attending the Winter Olympic opening ceremony slated for Friday.

The team will be led by Kim Yong-nam, the nominal head of state. Kim Yo-jong is widely believed to be powerful and close enough to the leader to directly represent his views.

Kim’s visit could further boost the reconciliatory mood between the Koreas. Seoul wants to pave the way for the restoration of relations and possibly to talks for the denuclearization of the North.

Kim’s high status in the North Korean leadership and close blood tie with the leader raised expectations that she may serve as the reclusive brother’s representative to the South Korean government.

Kim Yo-jong is Kim Jong-un’s only sibling who is part of the North Korean leadership. Kim Jong-chol, the leader’s older brother, went out of the public eye after his younger brother took over the leadership. Kim Jong-nam, the leader’s half brother, was assassinated by apparent North Korean agents at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Malaysia last year.

Eric Clapton Super Fan? Who is Kim Jong Chol?

Unlike her ill-fated brothers, Yo-jong climbed the North Korean regime’s power ladder at an unprecedented speed.

Assassination of Kim Jong Nam Trial: What We Know So Far

She reportedly joined the Kim Jong-un regime in its initial stage, in 2012, before taking up a deputy director post in the Workers’ Party of Korea’s central committee about two years later. Ever since, Yo-jong has frequently been seen standing close to her brother at major state events, an indication of her closeness with him and the regime.

The Unification Ministry currently presumes that she is also serving as deputy chief of the all-important ruling party propaganda and agitation department.

Experts here said that having started early in her 20’s, Yo-jong’s role inside the current North Korea regime has already far exceeded what Kim Kyong-hui, once-powerful sister of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, did for her brother’s regime in the past.

She is also known to have spent two years together with the leader studying in Switzerland in the 1990s.

Such a special profile is expected to make Yo-jong the mouth and ears of Kim Jong-un when she meets with South Korean officials, especially at a time when Seoul is desperately handling the difficult task of broker talks between the North and the United States for denuclearization.

Trump Should Be Sent to Lunatics Asylum, Has Nasty Smell, America Will Go to the Hell

Photo Courtesy KCNA.
Commentary courtesy Rodong Sinmun, North Korea State Media.
In the recent “State of the Union Address”, old lunatic Trump said that the DPRK is threatening the U.S. mainland by “reckless nuclear and missile pursuit”. Not content with slandering the DPRK over “degeneration” and “oppression”, he took issue with the non-existent “human rights”.

This is the intolerable politically-motivated provocation and tyrannical blackmail of the boss of gangsters and hysteric fit of a lunatic against the DPRK.

No matter how desperately Trump may try to defame the dignified and just system in the DPRK with worst invectives, he can not deodorize nasty smell from his dirty body woven with frauds, sexual abuses and all other crimes nor keep the U.S. from rushing to the final destruction.

There is a foolish attempt to make pretence for provocation and pave the road for invasion ahead of conducting the military adventure “bloody nose strategy” in the invectives of Trump recalling Bush’s reckless remarks of “axis of evil”.

Dolt-like Trump should know that his backbone would be broken, to say nothing of “bloody nose”, and the empire of America would go to the hell and the short history of the U.S. would end forever, the moment he destroys even a single blade of grass on this land.

It is the only way for the U.S. and the world concord and peace to urgently detain Trump, who is putting the U.S. and the world in turmoil, in the isolated hospital of psychopaths.

Pak Chol Jun

North Korean art troupe rehearses for rare performances in South Korea, first since 2002

 

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s art troupe on Wednesday held a rehearsal for its upcoming performances in South Korea, which will celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The 140 member-strong Samjiyon Orchestra traveled to the South by ferry Tuesday to perform in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games, on Thursday, and in Seoul on Sunday.

It will be the first performance by North Koreans in the South since 2002, when Pyongyang sent a cohort of 30 singers and dancers from several music and performance groups to Seoul for a joint event.

North Korean art troupe arrives in South Korea for Olympic celebrations

After having lunch in their Mangyongbong-92 ferry, which is docked at the South Korean eastern port of Mukho, the North Koreans showed up at the Gangneung Arts Center, the venue of their first performance, at about 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday in an atmosphere quite different from that of the morning.

They changed to casual attire from the stylish red coats and black fur hats and ankle boots for female members and from black coats and hats for males.

Including its head Hyon Song-wol, the band members were wearing identical comfortable red round-neck t-shirts with a small North Korean flag on the left chest and black pants, apparently for the rehearsal.

They looked nervous and uncomfortable when they first arrived at the arts center in the morning to check instruments and stage equipment for about two hours. When South Korean reporters said “hello” to them at a distance, the members just walked past them without saying a word.

But in the afternoon, some members waved back and smiled brightly to the welcoming reporters with some others responding, “Nice to meet you.”

Around 10 residents of the city also shouted, “Nice to meet you” and “We are one,” towards the bus of the North Korean art troupe when it was in front of the art center. Some band members waved back.

No conservative activists, who caused a disturbance at Mukho port the previous day, were spotted there. They burned the North Korean flag and a photo of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in protest of the North’s participation in the Winter Games.

The North’s art troupe, which includes an orchestra, dancers and singers, is scheduled to return home after the performances in Gangneung and Seoul.

Later in the day, Chun Hae-sung, South Korea’s vice unification minister, paid a visit to the rehearsal site and met with the North’s delegation, including Hyon, the Ministry of Unification said.

Chun exchanged words with Hyon and other North Korean officials over the preparation of the planned performances, the ministry said.

sshim@yna.co.kr

Another Earthquake Linked to Aftermath of Hydrogen Bomb Test in North Korea

25 Aug 2010 – “Storax Sedan” underground nuclear test – July 1962
Storax Sedan (yield 104 kt) – shallow underground nuclear test conducted by the United States on 6 July 1962 at Nevada Test Site. The main purpose of the detonation was to asses the non military dimension of a nuclear explosion. Image in the public domain

Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) — A 2.6-magnitude earthquake shook North Korea’s northern area on Tuesday in the aftermath of the communist country’s latest nuclear test, in September last year, the South Korean weather agency said.

The quake took place at 7:53 p.m., 46 kilometers northwest of Kilju, North Hamgyong Province, where North Korea has conducted a total of six nuclear tests, including the latest one in September last year, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The depth of the tremor’s epicenter appeared to be 5 km and it is believed to have been a natural result of the sixth nuclear test, in September, the agency said.

North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb in the Sept. 3 nuclear detonation, the most powerful of the nuclear tests the North has conducted.

The weather agency detected an artificial quake with a 5.7 magnitude at the nuclear site in the northeast area at the time of the sixth nuclear test.

The Tuesday quake occurred some 3km northeast of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test site, a KMA official said.

It was the eighth natural quake that has taken place in North Korea since the September nuclear test.

North Korean art troupe arrives in South Korea for Olympic celebrations

Wearing red coats and black fur hats, female members of the group showed up at a train station in Pyongyang, a photo released by North Korea’s news agency showed. Courtesy KCNA.kp.

UDATE: Art Troupe Arrives Safely:

SEOUL/DONGHAE, South Korea, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s art troupe arrived in South Korea by ferry Tuesday to perform in celebration of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as Seoul temporarily lifted its ban on North Korean ships’ travel.

The North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 carrying the Samjiyon art troupe came to the South’s Mukho port on the east coast at around 5 p.m.

North Korean vessels are not allowed to visit South Korea under Seoul’s unilateral sanctions banning inter-Korean exchanges, which were imposed on May 24, 2010 to punish the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship.

But the government has decided to make the art troupe’s sea travel for the Winter Games an exception to the sanctions.

This photo, taken Feb. 6, 2018, shows the North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92 carrying the North's Samjiyon art troupe as it arrives at South Korea's Mukho port for its Olympic performances. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) — A North Korean art troupe is set to arrive in South Korea by ferry Tuesday on a rare trip for performances to celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 carrying the North’s 140-member Samjiyon art troupe arrives at the South Korean eastern port of Mukho on Feb. 6, 2018. The troupe will perform in the Olympic sub-host city of Gangneung and in Seoul to mark the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South. (Yonhap) 

Members of conservative civic organizations scuffle with the police at the South Korean eastern port of Mukho while protesting the entry of the North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 carrying the North’s 140-member Samjiyon art troupe on Feb. 6, 2018. The troupe will perform in the Olympic sub-host city of Gangneung and in Seoul to mark the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South. (Yonhap) 

The two Koreas have engaged in a flurry of sports diplomacy after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare olive branch to Seoul in his New Year’s message after a year of tensions sparked by the North’s nuclear and missile provocations.

The North’s art troupe, which includes an orchestra, dancers and singers, plans to perform in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the Feb. 9-25 Games, on Thursday and in Seoul on Sunday.

Hyon Song-wol, the head of the all-female Moranbong Band, will lead the Samjiyon art troupe. The band was created by an order of Kim Jong-un and features Western-style music and outfits, but it is not known whether other members of the band are included in the art troupe.

Hyon Song Wol

Hyon, an alternate member of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), visited the South last month to check performance venues in the two cities.

North Korea’s state-run radio station reported Tuesday that the art troupe left Pyongyang a day earlier for the eastern port city of Wonsan to visit the South on the ferry.

The report said the group was greeted by senior party officials including Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, and Pak Kwang-ho, the director of the WPK’s propaganda and agitation department.

The Mangyongbong-92 is a 9,700 ton cargo-passenger ferry that is named after a hill in Pyongyang near the birthplace of late founder Kim Il-sung.

It transported the North’s cheering squad for the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the South’s southern port city. It was also used to accommodate the cheerleaders.

The ferry will be used as the art troupe’s accommodations when it holds the concert in Gangneung.

Details about the performances have not been made public, but the North informed the South last week that many South Korean songs will be included in the programs.

This file photo shows the North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 at South Korea's southern port city of Busan when the North sent a cheering squad for the 2002 Busan Asian Games in the South. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows the North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 at South Korea’s southern port city of Busan when the North sent a cheering squad for the 2002 Busan Asian Games in the South. (Yonhap)

White Paper on Human Rights Violations in U.S. in 2017 Issued in DPRK

Pyongyang, January 30 (KCNA) — The DPRK Institute of International Studies Tuesday released the “White Paper on Human Rights Violations in U.S. in 2017”.

According to the white paper, soon after being inaugurated as president, Trump filled the important posts of his administration with billionaires, who had “contributed” to his election campaign, and their mouthpieces.

Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Commerce Ross and also the secretaries of Treasury and Defense are all billionaires from conglomerates. The total assets of public servants at the level of deputy secretary and above of the current administration are worth of 14 billion US$.

The anti-popular policies the Trump administration pursued openly in one year were, without exception, for the interests of a handful of the rich circles.

In the U.S., where genuine freedom of the press and expression does not exist, intervention in and crackdown on the press grew more intensified over the past one year.

In 2017 the cases of searching and confiscation against journalists accounted for 12 and the cases of violation against them for 11. Moreover, 19 persons in the domestic press circles and four foreign journalists were arrested or detained.

Racial discrimination and misanthropy are serious maladies inherent to the social system of the U.S., and they have been aggravated since Trump took office.

The racial violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 is a typical example of the acme of the current administration’s policy of racism.

In the U.S. the absolute majority of the working masses, deprived of elementary rights to survival, are hovering in the abyss of nightmare.

As a result, during the first week of March, 241 000 persons joined the large contingent of the unemployed; in May 9 000 public servants were fired from governmental agencies; in September the number of the unemployed increased by 33 000 as compared to that of the previous month.

In particular, unemployment of young people has become a matter of serious social concern; currently the unemployment rate of young people under 25 is 7.9%, and 31% of graduates from high schools do not have proper jobs.

According to what the U.S. administration made public, in 2017 the homeless numbered 554 000, about 10% increase as compared to that two years ago, and number of the poor families, living in rented rooms devoid of elementary facilities for living, is on the steady rise.

The soaring school expenses are plunging the students into the hell of loans.

Those who are diagnosed with a disease but cannot afford to pay their medical fees total 50 million. Flu, lung diseases and asthma cause 36 000, 40 000 and 150 000 deaths, respectively, on an annual average.

On the other hand, health-hazardous disqualified products are on sale across the country, which often leads to an outbreak of infectious diseases.

The U.S. is one of the world’s two countries that have yet to embrace paid maternity leave.

Over the past decade the proportion of American women who live below the poverty line has risen from 12.1% to 14.5%, and they usually receive 25% less salary than their male colleagues of the same post.

A woman is sexually abused every 89 seconds.

According to basic statistics, about 61 100 gun-related crimes took place in the U.S. last year, leaving 15 488 dead and 31 058 wounded.

According to data, the number of marijuana users in the U.S. was more than 20 million, a 3% increase as compared with that a decade ago; and over 90 people lose their lives on a daily average from drug abuse.

In the U.S. where crimes and evil are rampant, the number of imprisoned criminals tops 2.3 million and 70 million are ex-offenders.

The U.S., “guardian of democracy” and “human rights champion”, is kicking up the human rights racket but it can never camouflage its true identity as the gross violator of human rights, the white paper said.

North Korea abruptly calls off Olympic event at Mt Kumgang; Blames Biased Media Reports

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) — North Korea has called off a joint cultural event scheduled to be held in its country to celebrate the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, Seoul officials said Monday.

The abrupt notification came in a telegram sent to South Korea at 10:10 p.m., saying the North was canceling the event scheduled to be held Feb.4, according to Seoul’s unification ministry.

The communist state was known to have cited what it claimed to be “biased” media reports about the upcoming event.

The unification ministry said the North also took issue with South Korean reports about its “internal event,” apparently referring to reports about a possible military parade marking the 70th anniversary of its military on Feb. 8, one day before the start of the Winter Olympic Games.

North Korea to mark Army Founding Day February 8, Day Before  PyeongChang Olympics, South Korea Announces

The Seoul government expressed disappointment, noting the North’s decision may undermine what it earlier called a “hard-earned” chance to improve inter-Korean relations.

“It is very regrettable that an event agreed by the South and the North will not be held due to North Korea’s unilateral notification (decision),” the ministry said in a statement. “What has been agreed must be implemented under the spirit of mutual respect and understanding as the South and the North have only taken a hard-earned first step toward improving the South-North relationship.”

The event at Mount Kumgang was to be part of a series of events to be held in the divided Koreas ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The agreement to hold such events came after three rounds of talks between the two Koreas that also marked the first inter-Korean dialogue in more than two years.

North Korea has also agreed to stage art performances and taekwondo demonstrations in South Korea to commemorate its participation in the Winter Olympics.

Many local news outlets here, however, have voiced concerns over the joint events in that they may be in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions currently in place against the communist North for its military provocations, including six nuclear tests.

The North is also set to host a group of South Korean skiers for a joint training session with its own athletes at its Masikryong Ski Resort on the east coast, reportedly from Wednesday.

Whether the other events will be held as scheduled could not immediately be confirmed. The scheduled events include art performances by a North Korean art troupe in Gangneung, near the host city of the Winter Olympic Games, and Seoul.

North Korean Olympic Cheering Squad Expected to be “Army of Beauties”

N. Korean cheering squad to support S. Korean athletes during PyeongChang Olympics

2018/01/27 16:40

In this file photo taken on Sept. 5, 2005, Ri Sol-ju (C), currently wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, leaves South Korea from Incheon International Airport after attending the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon as a member of the North's cheering team. (Yonhap)

In this file photo taken on Sept. 5, 2005, Ri Sol-ju (C), currently wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, leaves South Korea from Incheon International Airport after attending the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon as a member of the North’s cheering team. She was a teenage girl educated at a elite school for entertainers. (Yonhap)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) — North Korean cheerleaders, who are set to visit PyeongChang for the Winter Games, will support South Korean athletes in addition to their own Olympians, a senior organizing official said Saturday.

The North offered to send athletes, a 230-member cheering squad and an art troupe to PyeongChang, host of the first Winter Olympics in South Korea. They also agreed on a unified women’s hockey team, with 23 South Koreans joined by 12 North Koreans.

But the cheering team could steal the athletes’ thunder. Pyongyang has yet to disclose details on how the cheering squad will be composed. But given past athletic competitions in the South, the North may send a group of elite female supporters, who fascinated their southern compatriots in the past with their good looks, charming demeanors and well choreographed moves.

Members of the team are reportedly picked through a vigorous examination of family background, appearance, skills and loyalty to the government.

Not every North Korean cheering squad going outside of the country is composed of young, beautiful women. The North sent a team of mostly middle-aged women and men to cheer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In this file photo taken Oct. 1, 2002, members of a cheering squad from North Korea show support for their athletes at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. (Yonhap)

But the Kim regime is expected to send to PyongChang an elite team fit for a mission to embellish its image in the eyes of South Koreans and the wider world.

“As the Olympics is an event that draws the world’s attention, North Korea may want to imprint a positive image through visual effects,” said Kim Young-soo, a political science professor specializing in North Korea issues at Sogang University in Seoul.