Japanese Pro Wrestler Turned Politician Pays Visit to North Korea
Antonio InokiWhat is it with retired pro athletes visiting North Korea? Just a week after Dennis Rodman's trip to Pyongyang, a Japanese former professional wrestler turned politician is paying Kim Jong-un a visit. Here's Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.

Reporter:
Antonio Inoki of the Japan Restoration Party is on his second visit to North Korea in as many months. He is expected to meet with senior North Korean officials. Among them is the secretary in charge of international relations in the Worker's Party. Inoki is a former star of Japanese pro wrestling. Before his departure for Pyongyang, he spoke of the purpose of his visit.

Antonio Inoki:
I want to see for myself where North Korea is heading. I hope discussions with leaders in Pyongyang will benefit both countries.

Reporter:
During his previous visit in November, Inoki met with Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of the country's leader Kim Jong-Un and Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission. Jang was executed for treason in December.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
Pyongyang: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
North KoreaBefore it closed, Kaesong was bringing the North Korean government about a hundred million dollars a year. Re-opening it seems to indicate the regime is anxious to concentrate on economic renewal. And, there are signs the North's economy is getting better. At least in the capital, Pyongyang. Japan's public broadcaster NHK was able to send a crew to North Korea in August and early September. It found some changes -- and some things that haven't changed at all.

Reporter:
This is becoming an increasingly popular way to get around Pyongyang. Just a few years ago the number of taxis were few and far between. But this driver tells me they are now on the rise.

Taxi driver:
Our supreme leader Kim Jong-un says he wants to increase the number of taxis in Pyongyang to 1,000. There are already more than 500 on the streets.

Reporter:
A six kilometer ride costs just three dollars. It may not sound too expensive, but for the average citizen here it's about one-tenth the monthly wage. Taxis are still very much reserved for the rich. But the government says more and more people are becoming members of the upper class. This residential area of Pyongyang is covered with high-rise buildings where only the most privileged classes can afford to live and many more towers are currently under construction. The city plans to build enough condominiums to house 100,000 newly wealthy citizens, people who have made fortunes as the central government started allowing small-scale private businesses a decade ago. Most have capitalized on foreign investment, mainly from China. They can be seen buying imported goods by the bag full. And even buying North Korean made tablet computers. Even though one unit costs five times the average monthly salary.

North Korean citizen:
Pyongyang has changed a great deal. Our comrade Kim Jong-un's initiatives are producing fruitful results.

Reporter:
But then there's the North Korea the government doesn't want you to see. Driving out of the capital is like going back in time. The road turns from paved to bumpy. A steady stream of cars replaced with ox-pulled carts and vehicles that run on charcoal. Most people still rely on bicycles to travel around. But North Korean officials don't talk about these issues. They'd rather focus on what they say is the country's rising rich, and government policies that have stimulated economic growth like this ski resort about three hours from Pyongyang. Currently being built by some ten thousand soldiers and students, officials say it's expected to be completed this year. It will boast 11 ski slopes, a high class hotel and a heliport.

Won Kil-u, Physical Culture and Sports Vice Minister:
This resort aims to be profitable. But it's also a place where the North Koreans, including the young can enjoy skiing.

Reporter:
And there's this project, already complete. A suite with an ocean view at this beach resort costs USD$262 for a night.

Resort Guest #1:
We came from Pyongyang.

Resort Guest #2:
I feel very good. People can enjoy themselves at resorts like this thanks to the profound love of our leader Kim Jong-un.

Reporter:
A luxury getaway for North Koreans lucky enough to benefit from the government's economic reforms. Officials want to give the impression the entire country is booming. But the contrast between the capital and the countryside are just a different story.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
State-Owned Bank of China Cuts All Ties with North Korea
DPRK TradeIn the latest evidence of deteriorating relations between China and North Korea, the state-owned Bank of China has stopped dealing with North Korea's Foreign Exchange Bank. This is in accordance with US financial sanctions imposed last March. The US will not deal with any financial institution that does business with North Korea. On this past week's episode of LinkAsia, we aired a piece from Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, who covered the story on May 7.

--

Reporter:
Reuters News Agency says the state-owned Chinese bank notified North Korea's foreign trade bank that it was stopping all transactions. US officials hit the North Korean bank with sanctions in March banning any exchanges with US firms or individuals. They accused the bank of helping to finance Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. Officials at Bank of China gave no reason why they were closing the North Korean account, and state run media have not reported on the story.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
North Korea Remains Defiant After New Sanctions Imposed
(LinkAsia: January 25, 2012)
Thuy Vu:
North Korea has reacted bitterly to a UN resolution that condemned the North's rocket launch last month and imposes new sanctions. Pyongyang said the launch was to send up a communications satellite. The US and most other countries said it was designed to test a long-range missile and was part of North Korea's goal of acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: January 23, 2013

Reporter:
Security Council members passed their resolution unanimously. It expands existing sanctions, adding four individuals and six organizations, including the space agency. Assets will be frozen, and individuals will also face a travel ban.

Officials in Pyongyang are showing defiance. Foreign Ministry representatives issued a statement, condemning the resolution as an attempt to deprive North Korea of its right to launch a satellite for peaceful purposes. The document says it is now clear the US has a policy of hostility toward North Korea. As a result, it says that the North will no longer recognize the joint statement from the Six Party Talks in 2005. That includes plans for the country to abandon all nuclear weapons and programs.

The statement goes on to say North Korean authorities will take practical steps to strengthen their defensive military power to counter pressure from US sanctions. It says that includes nuclear deterrence. The wording suggests North Korean officials could conduct a third nuclear test. They carried out one in 2006, and one in 2009.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
DPRK Rocket Launch Hangs Heavy over South Korean Election
(LinkAsia: December 14, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
So, perhaps the North Korean missile is more of a long-term threat than an imminent one. But, will it have a political effect? South Koreans go to the polls on December 19th to elect a new president. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK has this report on how the rocket might affect voters.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: December 12, 2012

Reporter:
I'm standing at the unification observatory only two kilometers from the North Korean border. From here we have not detected any unusual activity on the other side that might be related to the missile launch. However, on this side, the presidential race is entering its final phase. The launch has definitely raised concerns about security. People in Seoul are expressing dismay and anger.

Seoul Resident:
A missile launch is totally unacceptable. We belong to the same race, but I never understand what they are trying to achieve through such an act.

Seoul Resident:
I was shocked they did this just before South Korea's presidential election. We need to beef up our national security.

Reporter:
South Korea's foreign minister Kim Song-hun condemned the North's decision to push forward with what it called a provocative act. He said the launch is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. President Lee Myung-bak has maintained a hard-line policy against the North. During his five year term, Pyongyang has carried out three long-range missile launches and one nuclear experiment. There have been other military provocations. The North shelled Yongpyang Island and is said to have sunk a South Korean naval patrol ship in the Yellow Sea. And the presidential election next week, the two main contenders stressing the need to improve North-South relations, but people are taking a realistic view. Recent polls show many citizens feel that they don't support hard-line policies against the North. Nor do they believe in appeasement. The North missile launch is expected to influence voters' decisions.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
If at First You Don't Succeed: North Korea Attempts Another Rocket Launch
(LinkAsia: December 7, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Moving now to North Korea. Back in April, the country defied sanctions and attempted to launch a rocket. It failed, but the country seems to be upholding the old saying "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." But will this launch prove to be successful? Here's NHK.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: December 4, 2012

Reporter:
The ballistic missile launch will be the second since Kim Jong-un took power a year ago. It will use the same launch pad at Tongchang-ri, a site in the northwestern part of the country. Before the first test in April, officials in Pyongyang said the 30-meter, three-stage rocket was meant to carry a satellite, but Japan the United States and South Korea said the launch was in fact a ballistic missile test. The test ended in failure with a rocket exploding in mid-air two minutes after liftoff. It broke into more than 10 pieces and fell into the ocean. Analysts say North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un wants to correct this failure before the first anniversary of his father's death on December 17th. Kim may also be trying to consolidate his power base by showing his dedication to a military first policy. Kim has also vowed to develop North Korea's economy.

Kim Jong Un:
We must start on a path of industrial revolution for the new century to make North Korea a great economic power.

Reporter:
But there are no tangible signs of improvement. The UN World Food Program says that 60 million North Koreans, or nearly 70 percent of the population, suffer from malnutrition. North Korea's relations with the outside world are at a standstill. Last February, the United States agreed to provide food aid in exchange for a freeze on ballistic missile tests. But the deal was broken after the North tested a missile in April. North Korea's leadership has been trying to hold direct talks with the United States, but officials in Washington say they are not ready to accept. China is also applying pressure on its neighbor arguing that the missile launch would violate the UN resolutions.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
South Korean Balloon Launch Incites North
(LinkAsia: October 26, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
This week, South Korean police rushed to contain groups of North Korean defectors and activists after Pyongyang threatened to attack them. The police were trying to stop the groups' plans to launch balloons carrying aid and propaganda into North Korea. They've done this several times in the past, but this is the first time that North Korea has threatened violence against them. Here's NHK with more.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: October 22, 2012

Reporter:
South Korean police cordoned off the road leading to Imjingak, a town near the demarcation line. They got into scuffles with the activists who protested against the move. Most of the activists are defectors from North Korea. They started chanting slogans against the north once it was clear they would have to give up on their leaflet campaign. Activists say they managed to release some of the balloons on Monday evening from an area not guarded by the police. The South Korean government's intervention in cases like this one is rare, but relations with the north have been more tense than usual. North Korean leaders have been making provocative moves ahead of South Korea's presidential election in December.

--

Yul Kwon:
North Korea has often tried to influence presidential elections in South Korea. The most notorious incident occurred during South Korea's first democratic election in 1987. Two weeks before the election, two North Korean agents blew up a Korean Air passenger plane, killing all 115 people on board.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
North Korea: The Happiest Place on Earth?
(LinkAsia: October 12, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
In North Korea, Kim Jong-un is continuing his campaign to bring fun and entertainment to his people. Japan's NHK has this story about Kim' efforts to makeover the capital, Pyongyang.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: October 3, 2012

Reporter:
We've been visiting the North Korean capital Pyongyang since Saturday. We went to a popular new attraction on Tuesday. Staff at this aquarium say this dolphin show started in the summer. The highlight is a dance sequence involving a woman and dolphins. The performance is the first of its kind in North Korea.

Child Audience Member:
It's a great fun.

Female Audience Member:
It's the first time I've seen the dolphins up close. It was exciting.

Reporter:
Excitement and fun are what the country's new leader seems to be promoting. Kim Jong-un created a government agency responsible for overseeing theme parks. Experts say he's trying to define himself as a caring leader. The idea is simple: children, adults, even uniformed soldiers who flock to popular spots have a good time, then think of Kim.

Theme Park Visitor 1:
It's great!

Theme Park Visitor 2:
Marshall Kim Jong-un cares for us as workers. I can't tell you how thankful that we are. I feel like I can relieve a whole day's stress by enjoying attractions here.

Reporter:
It's not just rides, it's restaurants too. North Korean officials want the world to know their country is changing. This newly opened Italian restaurant offers 11 different types of pizza. It's popular with locals, and it's also attracting tourists.

Female Tourist:
In the Western Media you don't see stuff like this. So, it's really interesting.

Reporter:
People in North Korea are currently enjoying a traditional holiday period. They take time to honor their ancestors and relax. But their leader is never far from their minds.

Parkgoer:
Comrade Kim Jong-un is devoting himself to running the country to better enhance people's lives. We're enjoying the holiday, praising Kim Jong-un and the Worker's Party.

Reporter:
The people we met make up a small percentage of the population. North Korean authorities only allow foreign media to interact with those who are well off. U.N. World Food Program representatives estimate 60 million people, or 70 percent of the population, are not getting enough food. Heavy rains and several typhoons this summer have made the situation worse. And they expect North Koreans, mainly in rural areas, will face a severe food shortage this coming winter. Improving the standard of living across the country is one of Kim Jong-un's many challenges. Although, unlike amusement parks or restaurants, he and his officials aren't keen to show or talk about that side of life inside their nation. Shuhei Ikehata. NHK World, Pyongyang.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
South Korea Issues Strong Warning Against DPRK Nuclear Test
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
South Korean authorities have a warning for their neighbor to the north, "Don't do it." They suspect that North Korea is planning to test a nuclear device. Seoul says that Pyongyang will pay a heavy economic price if it moves ahead with the test. Here's the story from NHK.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 25, 2012

South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesperson:
The north has made significant preparations to conduct the test. All that remains now is its political decision.

Reporter:
South Korean intelligence authorities confirmed this month that workers in the north have been digging a new tunnel in the region of Punggye-ri. They believe that will be a test site. A senior government official says North Korean leaders will further isolate their country if they carry out another nuclear test. The official points out it will also make it harder for them to develop their failed economy. The North Korean government made a rare public admission recently. State media reported an attempt to launch a satellite into space failed. Many nations consider it a long-range missile test. Still, South Korean officials say this admission could signal a change in political style under new leader Kim Jong-un.

Yul Kwon:
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that North Korea should be feeding its people, not testing weapons. Those words, along with South Korea's own cruise missile test a few days ago, got North Korea's Central News Agency breathing fire. Now the KCNA often uses violent language, but the specific nature of the threats this time caught the attention of observers. In a dispatch, the agency said that North Korea's special forces were readying to strike: "Their targets are the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors, the arch criminals, and the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion." The last line of the KCNA piece read: "Our revolutionary armed forces do not make empty talk." So who exactly are these "rat-like" media named by the North Koreans? Well, the news agency called out the following: the popular newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo; South Korea's national broadcaster, KBS; and LinkAsia's broadcast partner, MBC; as well as six other media organizations.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 
A Korean Cross-Border Provocation, in Balloon Form
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Meanwhile, South Korean activists are making provocations of their own. They're continuing to release weather balloons carrying food and pamphlets denouncing Kim Jong-un. Here's NHK with more.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 25, 2012

Reporter:
Here is Gangwha Island, near the North Korean border. The NGO members are now preparing for launching balloons with leaflets and chocolate to North Korea.

The NGO is composed of citizens who fled North Korea. They released 10 huge balloons carrying 2,000 packages. The leaflets explain the budget for the missile launch equals the cost of feeding 19 million people for two years.

Kim Seong-min, NGO Leader:
We're sending these chocolate cakes with our prayers for the happiness of the North Korean people.

Reporter:
North Korean authorities have responded with harsh criticism, saying that the balloons are an insult against their leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea's armed forces have deployed vehicles to track the balloons by satellite to observe any retaliation by North Korea. The group says this action is meant to support the Northern civilian population in the wake of the recent leadership transition.

Another group is preparing to launch more balloons next weekend. This time, they will be loaded with pamphlets and radios capable of receiving broadcasts from South Korea.

Yul Kwon:
Activists in South Korea have sent all kinds of stuff in these balloons, including socks. Apparently you can trade one pair of socks for 10 kilograms of corn in North Korea, enough to feed a person for an entire month.
 
 

Comments (0)

 
Digg it!Add to RedditAdd to Del.icio.usShare on Facebook
 

 

Link TV Blog

Keep up to date with the latest programming news on Link TV


Mosaic Blog

Link TV's Mosaic producers give unique insight on major newsworthy stories of the Middle East

 

World Music Blog

Insight into Link's musical offerings, reports on concerts, and interviews with musicians


LinkAsia Blog

Get the latest analysis on news and key issues from around Asia


World Cinema Blog

A personal insight to CINEMONDO and other Link TV feature film acquisitions


Global Spirit

Updates about Global Spirit - an unprecedented inquiry into the universe of human consciousness