NAPSNet Daily Report 17 November, 2010
Contents in this Issue:
1. DPRK Internal Situation
The Guardian (“MILLIONS OF NORTH KOREANS FACE HUNGER AFTER BAD WEATHER HITS HARVEST”, 2010/11/17) reported that a majority of the DPRK’s population faces continued hunger in the coming year after unusually poor weather hit the harvest, a UN report has warned. Even after buying commercial stocks of rice and maize from overseas, the country will face a shortfall of 542,000 tonnes for the 2010/11 period, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) said following a joint visit. An estimated 5 million particularly vulnerable people – around 20% of the population – are in need of international food aid, the report says. These include children, pregnant and nursing mothers and older people with no support network. While the ROK sent rice and instant noodles as part of a £5.5m aid package in September, the UN report puts the DPRK’s total food assistance in stock or expected to arrive soon at 21,000 tonnes, just under 4% of what is needed.
2. Inter-Korean Relations
JoongAng Ilbo (“SOUTH TELLS NORTH: NO TALKS UNTIL ASSETS FREED”, 2010/11/17) reported that if the DPRK wants to have talks on resuming tourism to Mount Kumgang, it must first reverse its decision to freeze ROK assets at the mountain resort, said the Ministry of Unification yesterday. “We insisted that North Korea retract their unreasonable action to seize the assets in the resort, which we pointed out repeatedly in the statement that was sent this morning,” said Lee Jong-joo, spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry. “The conditions are not conducive to holding talks, given the circumstances that the sanctions on the resort are still in place.” The spokeswoman also said the next round of talks regarding the resumption of Mount Kumgang tourism should be started where the last talks left off on Feb. 8 this year
3. Japan on DPRK Test
The Korea Times (Kim Se-jeong , “JAPANESE MEDIA ALLEGE NK PREPARING NUKE TEST”, 2010/11/17) reported that Japan’s Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday that the DPRK may be making preparations for a possible third nuclear test. The newspaper published satellite imagery from the DPRK’s Punggye-ri nuclear site, which it alleged showed work toward the test in progress. The daily quoted an expert as saying, “Based on what’s been shown in the photos, it is clear that North Korea is preparing for a new experiment. Chances are high that something will happen in the next six months.”
4. ROK Japan Envoy
People’s Daily Online (“S. KOREA’S TOP NUCLEAR ENVOY TO VISIT JAPAN FOR TALKS “, 2010/11/17) reported that the ROK’s top envoy to the stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks is set to leave for Japan for talks on nuclear issues, the foreign ministry said Wednesday. Wi Sung-lac will meet with Japanese nuclear negotiator Akitaka Saiki on his brief one-day visit to Japan on Thursday. The two are expected to discuss recent developments in nuclear issues of the DPRK, according to the ministry.
5. Sino-US Trade Relations
Aljazeera (“US PANEL LASHES OUT AT CHINA”, 2010/11/17) reported that in a much-anticipated report, the US-China Economic and Security Review commission has accused Beijing of deceptive economic practises, effectively reigniting the two countries’ spat over currency and trade issues. Presenting its findings to the US Congress, the congressional advisory panel has recommended the Obama administration to take tougher actions against what it calls the PRC’s policy of keeping its currency undervalued. On Wednesday, the commission said that the PRC is creating global imbalances and using “market access-limiting practises” that fall outside its World Trade Organisation commitments.