Pyongyang

Kim Jong Un’s Expensive Properties

The Dictator of North Korea lives a very lavish lifestyle, profiting off of his nation’s poverty and misery. These are some of his most expensive investments in Pyongyang:

  1. His Own Private Island

Source:insidehook.com

Even though the location of this island is unknown, an American celebrity who visited the island claims that it is vast.

  1. Ski Resort

Source:newsweek.com

Masikryong Ski Resort fashions a hotel with 120 rooms, and its building was ordered by Kim Jong Un himself. It was built on top of the Taehwa Peak, 1360 meters tall.

  1. Golf Course

Source:thesun.co.uk

It is said that the Dictator owns the best golf courses in Pyongyang, with many employees who maintain the grounds.

  1. Ryugyong Hotel

Source:insider.com

This pyramid hotel, located in the middle of the capital took 26 years to complete. It is the tallest structure in Pyongyang, being the main feature of its skyline with 105 floors.

  1. Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

Source:tongiltours.com

This palace was dedicated to Kim Il-Sung, frequently referred to as his mausoleum. It is also his resting place – a clear glass sarcophagus with his embalmed body.

Putin Invites Kim Jong-un To Russia

//

Reports coming from Kremlin suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, to Russia. The purpose of the visit isn’t clear nor with whom the rogue state dictator will meet. What we do know is that he will most likely travel to the far east city of Vladivostok in September and will be a part of an economic forum.

Invitation from Moscow comes as a follow up of the Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister visit to Pyongyang and we are sure that talks went well as the head of the state decided to call his colleague from North Korea for a visit. Hopefully, this and other meetings will help to resolve the issues and quarrels that Washington and Pyongyang currently have.

Source:zerohedge.com

We know that Trump/Kim summit has been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, and in the last few weeks, it has been on and off. This, unfortunately, mostly depends on the mood of the two leaders that are planned to meet.

Putin also talked about the summit he could potentially have with the U.S. President Donald Trump. He blamed current political situation in America as the reason why this meeting didn’t happen. A few months ago, in March to be more precise, Trump said that they would meet soon. The problem here is that Washington and Moscow’s relations are not in the best shape. On top of that, problems like the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain and the conflict in Syria certainly make the matters even worse.

Source:breakingthenews.net

Here is what Putin said when asked about the meeting and why does it take so long for it to be organized: “You have to ask our colleagues in the USA. In my view it is the consequence of the fierce domestic political contest in the United States.” He also added that: “In one of our last discussions, Donald said he is concerned about the danger of a new arms race. I agree with him entirely.”

Currently, special counsel Robert Muller is investigating the potential involvement of Russia in 2016 U.S. elections. These allegations were denied by both Trump and Putin.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

High North Korea Official Kim Yong-chol To Visit US

//

During the last few weeks, we went from war to becoming friends in America and North Korea relations. It would be great if it could stay that way, but the things are going back and forth with two leaders proving not to be quite adequate to deal with the situation.

First, we had a meeting scheduled for June 12 between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, then, both sides threatened to cancel the summit, and now we have a high official from North Korea coming to the US to talk about the meeting. General Kim Yong-chol is considered to be the right-hand man of the North Korean leader, and this will be the highest official that visited America from 2000.

According to Yonhap, South Korean news agency, Kim Yong-chol is scheduled to travel on Wednesday to the US. This is pretty much preparation for the historic summit between two leaders as both sides are working for this meeting to happen. Reports say that North’s general will first talk with Chinese officials in Beijing before going to New York.

Source:cbc.ca

With General Kim participating in the planning of the summit, it would be another proof that Pyongyang wants this to happen. A former spy chief was one of the negotiators in talks between two Koreas and was accused of ordering the attack on South Korea’s warship in which 46 seamen were killed. Hacking of Sony Pictures in 2014 is another thing that lies on his resume. All these caused the US to set personal sanctions during 2010 and 2015.

Reports from North Korea said that he has been punished in 2016 for an “overbearing attitude,” but even after that, he continued to be quite active and regular on both party and army meetings. General Kim was also a part of the delegation from North that went to South for a closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

It is also important to note that Kim Yong-chol was present at both meetings that Kim Jong-un had with China and South Korea representatives. He has also talked with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the capital of North Korea. Among other activities that have been scheduled to happen before the official summit between the two sides in Singapore, is the meeting of “pre-advance” team from Washington and the representatives from Pyongyang, also to be held in Singapore.

Source: bbc.com

Joint military exercise threatens the planned North Korea summit

/

Joint military exercise threatens the planned North Korea summit, scheduled for next month in Singapore. North Korea officials warned the US that they would “have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus.”

According to Yonhap News Agency from Seoul, Kim Jong Un’s government claims that the exercise is a just a preparation for the invasion of their country. This is standard rhetoric used by Pyongyang whenever such drills are conducted and it may just be a routine warning.

Source:learningenglish.voanews.com

North Korea conducted a series of long-range ballistic missile teste last year which caused an uproar in the international community and triggered a new wave of sanctions against the rogue state.

Recently, the relations between Pyongyang and the West seemed to be going in the right direction, with Kim Jong Un becoming the first North Korean leader to visit South Korea in Demilitarized Zone. He was hosted by South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, and they had pleasant and productive talks. The planned summit between United States President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un was another stepping stone in establishing a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Source:en.wikipedia.org

The problem here is the joint military exercise that could jeopardize the meeting of the leaders of two states. The military drill in question is dubbed Max Thunder and it is held annually. It includes some 1.500 air force personnel from both the United States and South Korea and is scheduled to last two weeks.

The United States Department of State expressed surprise at the news of possible cancelation and claimed it has no information on the possibility of cancelation of the summit. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert advised patience. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to verify it,” she said.

If the meeting, planned for June 12th in Singapore indeed gets canceled, President Trump’s foreign policy will suffer another blow, after this week’s debacle in Jerusalem, where protests against the opening of the new United States embassy have left almost 60 Palestinians dead and several thousand wounded.

Source: businessinsider.com

US Secretary of State Visits North Korea Prior Trump-Kim Meeting

//

Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, is paying an unexpected visit to North Korea. It is speculated that the reason behind his surprising visit is three Americans jailed in NK. Pompeo is looking to bring them home.

His visit will prepare the turf for the impending meeting between the president of the United States Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In addition to rescuing American civilians, Pompeo is expected to finalize the details of the meeting between Trump and Kim. The subject of the talks between two presidents will be denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but at the moment the release of three prisoners is the priority.

During a press conference in South Korea, officials of this country stated that the release of prisoners will happen as a sign of goodwill from NK and that it’s the right thing to do.

Talking to reporters before his visit to NK, Pompeo said: “We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months.”

Source: www.bbc.com

One of the detainees was imprisoned since 2015 while the other two joined him last year. The world convicted the imprisonment of these men as it breaks the human rights. Through its history, North Korea often used foreign prisoners as leverage in diplomatic talks.

Otto Warmbier is the last American who was released by NK after he was imprisoned for stealing propaganda poster from a hotel. He died shortly after his release because of brain damage that couldn’t be explained. The cause of his death was never fully uncovered.

Mr. Pompeo is visiting Pyongyang second time after it was announced that Trump and Kim would meet. The relations between two countries improved in recent months after the two nations didn’t have diplomatic contacts in more than 15 years.

Source: www.bbc.com

When President Trump announced the meeting between him and Kim world public was in shock because this will be the first time that presidents of two countries are meeting head to head.

Talking about the upcoming talks with Kim, POTUS said: “We think relationships are building with North Korea. We have our meeting set. The location is picked. The time and date, everything is picked. We will see how it all works out. Maybe it won’t. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, and the entire world.”

Prior to meeting with Trump, Kim Jong Un also visited China and had talks with President Xi Jinping. This is their second meeting in less than six weeks. Two men met in Dalian and were pictured walking along the shore together.

Source: www.bbc.com

Talking about denuclearization of Korea’s, Kim said that he’s hoping that it’s going to be “phased and synchronized.”

One of the questions that will arise during the meeting between Trump and Kim will be the continuous test of ballistic missiles by NK which threatened Japan. Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, said that he is ready to normalize relations with Pyongyang if they decide to denuclearize and stop ballistic missiles test. Next move is on North Korea and Kim Jong Un.

Source: www.bbc.com

Kim Jong Un Makes History as the First North Korean Leader to Visit the South

//

In a cheerful atmosphere resembling a family reunion, Kim Jong Un crossed the line in the Demilitarized Zone to become the first North Korean leader to visit South Korea. After 68 years, the Korean War will finally end.

The raised concrete slab over which Kim stepped over to enter South Korea has long been a symbol of the divide between the two countries. Dressed in his traditional black suit, North leader seemed relaxed as he shook hands with his counterpart from Seoul Moon Jae-in and invited him to jump over for a visit to the North. Moon Jae-in’s parents were refugees from North Korea, who fled the communists during the war on board of an American supply ship. Both of them returned to the Southern side and sat down for the negotiations, declaring the end of the war and announcing joint work towards “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Moon Jae-in has made no secret during his political career that unification of two Koreas has been his life-long dream and ambition. In the past, he brokered several deals between Pyongyang and Seoul, but this today is his highest achievement yet. He still has a lot of work ahead, as he prepares to mediate between Un and American President Trump in order to achieve a deal everyone will be satisfied with. The White House has issued a statement saying “that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.” President Trump said that he is looking forward to meeting Kim Jong Um in the near future, a sharp detour from just a few months ago when he was calling him a Rocket Man and threaten to annihilate his country.

Source:hindustantimes.com

As is customary with Korean meetings, the summit was orchestrated to the last detail and choke full of symbolic. Although not much in essence was agreed – Moon Jae-in will visit Pyongyang in fall, high-level military delegations will meet as soon as possible to discuss further de-escalation, and family reunions will resume – the atmosphere during the negotiations was very relaxed. Un joked about the North Korean type of noodles, which are very popular in the South and that he will stop waking up Moon Jae-in with missile alerts. The delegation from Pyongyang consisted of 9 members, one of which was Un’s sister.

Despite his wishes, Moon Jae-in isn’t in a position to offer much to his Northern counterpart. The talks of denuclearization of the peninsula are a matter that will be handled by the direct negotiations between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, while any significant economic relief South may offer is blocked by the latest round of the UN sanctions, placed in response to the nuclear test North Korea performed last year.

Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean studies at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said that “Serious discussion about denuclearization is simply impossible because this is not so much an issue of South Korea, but rather an issue of the United States.” He also remarked that “South Korea should push the United States towards accepting a compromise,” something Moon Jae-in is probably eager to do.

Source:gt.foreignpolicy.com

Although North Korea agreed to stop further tests and even dismantle its testing facility, which reportedly collapsed, causing huge damage and unconfirmed deaths of several of the country’s leading nuclear scientists, denuclearization may be a tall order for America to achieve. Pyongyang has sacrificed too much in order to obtain nuclear weapons and, with its largely obsolete military, it is the only real deterrent they have in the face of a possible invasion. While ordinary people may welcome the unification, North Korea’s elites, which are the regime’s backbone, aren’t thrilled with the prospect of their children losing all of their privileges.

This puts South Korea’s leadership in a tough position, making it increasingly hard for them to persuade Trump and his hawkish advisors, namely Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, to agree to the deal that doesn’t feature full disarmament. Both Pompeo and Bolton have insisted that the military option is still on the table, regardless of the possible casualties that North Korea can inflict to South Korea and Japan’s civilian population. This will be the hardest part of the deal for Moon Jae-in since Trump is becoming increasingly unpredictable and keeping him at the table and willing to negotiate may prove quite impossible.

Source: time.com

How the Swedes Can Help Trump with North Korean Negotiations

/

Sweden is in a unique position among Western countries when it comes to North Korea. The Scandinavian country has a long history of being the middleman between the West and its adversaries, a role it played successfully during both World War 2 and the Cold War. In fact, it was Sweden’s intermediary position during the Cold War and its membership in Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission established to oversee the Korean Armistice, that laid the foundations for the country’s role in North Korea today, as it was one of the first to open an embassy in Pyongyang in 1973. Later on, in 1996, it became a protecting power for the United States, protecting Washington’s interests in North Korea. Two countries regularly exchange state visits and Swedish prime minister was the first Western leader to visit Pyongyang in 2001, while North Korea’s foreign minister visited Stockholm in March.

In practice, that means that all official negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong Un, including the ones discussing the release of the US citizens from North Korea’s prison, are going through Swedish diplomats. Swedish ambassador wanted to visit Otto Warmbier, who was arrested in North Korea for trying to steal a propaganda poster in 2016. The ambassador was denied access with various excuses, which were later revealed as a ploy to keep the fact that Warmbier was in a coma. He was released eventually but died shortly after returning home.

Source:people.com

Hopefully, the fate of the current captives won’t be so grim. North Korea currently imprisons three American citizens, Tony Kim, an accounting professor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Kim Hak-song, an agricultural expert working at the same university, and Kim Dong-chul, a businessman. Releasing these three men may signal goodwill on the part of the Pyongyang and the willingness of the county’s leadership to enter negotiations.

Mickey Bergman, who manages private diplomacy efforts in North Korea says that his sources confirm that initial contacts between Swedish embassy and Pyongyang officials have been made. “What I’m hearing: There is an effort by the Swedes to try to broker the return of the three American detainees who are in North Korea now,” he said.

Such requests would be a prevue of the US embassy, but in North Korea, it has fallen to Sweden to look after the prisoners’ well-being and protect their interests. Many experts agree that releasing the three Americans would be an excellent way for Pyongyang to gain some international confidence in the upcoming summit.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

Secret Talks Between the US and North Korea

/

The tensions between the US and North Korea have eased considerably after reports emerged that officials from both sides have been holding secret talks. Their dialogue should ultimately lead to a summit that will include a meeting between the US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. This will, undoubtedly, be viewed as a crucial step in easing tensions between the two nations with the hope of avoiding a war.

At the forefront of the United States side are CIA director Mike Pompeo and a special CIA team. They have been working in secret to prepare for the meeting. Reports suggest that intelligence officials from both countries have been in constant communication. Furthermore, they have held a meeting in a third country in an attempt to decide a neutral ground where the summit will be held.

Talks haven’t been affected by a North Korean reluctance to confirm Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet Donald Trump. This is because officials from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, have affirmed Trump’s acceptance and Kim’s willingness to discuss denuclearization.

North Korea has expressed a desire for the summit to be held in their capital, Pyongyang. However, US officials have not yet agreed to this location and it is highly unlikely that they will. A few other cities have been touted to hold the summit. Among them, Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar.

Before the summit details are agreed upon, intelligence officials are planning a meeting between Mike Pompeo and the North Korean head of Intelligence. Once this has been organized, the two officials are set to discuss the summit in greater detail.

Source:bloomberg.com

Pompeo is expected to begin Senate confirmation for his appointment as Secretary of State within the next few weeks. According to officials, this is why the agency opted to use an already established intelligence channel. This is contrary to suggestions that the decision to use such intelligence channels was due to the nature of the negotiations.

Pompeo, as one of Donald Trump’s most trusted security advisers, has been leading efforts to prepare for this summit. It has been reported that Trump has been pushing for officials to hasten preparations for this meeting. If Pompeo becomes Secretary of State, he will assume an oversight role towards the planning of the summit.

Trump has told his officials that he is looking forward to this conference. His willingness to have the summit can also be inferred from his immediate acceptance of Kim’s invitation. The timing for the meeting remains unknown although officials have suggested late May or early June.

However, not everyone is happy with the planning of the proposed summit. Among them is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Shinzo is expected to present his concerns to Donald Trump when the two meet at the Prime Minister’s Mar-a-Lago estate in a couple of weeks.

Reports of the CIA taking the lead in planning the Trump-Kim negotiations first appeared last month in the New York Times. Officials became more confident of Kim’s invitation to participate in the talks because of the willingness of North Korean officials to participate in the preparation of the summit. Before dialogue between US and North Korean officials picked up the pace, both countries relied on the representations of South Korean officials. This was mainly due to a resumption of harmonious relations between North and South Korea since the Winter Olympic games which led to Kim’s invite to Trump.

The Chinese have also contributed to the talks by providing a briefing to the United States government after a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un. Discussions between State Department officials and North Korea are also ongoing through their mission to the UN.

Preparation for the talks has led to coordination between different organs of Government. The National Security Council has been involved; especially so via its top Asia official, Matthew Pottinger. John Bolton, the incoming National Security adviser is also expected to assume a key role in planning the summit while working alongside Pompeo.

Acting Secretary, Susan Thornton, and Mark Lambert, deputy special representative for North Korean policy are leading efforts at the State Department. The work that they are doing includes identifying potential summit locations, identifying US officials who can facilitate the process and sifting through records of previous negotiations between the two countries. They have also been tasked with maintaining good diplomatic relations with interested parties such as South Korea and Russia.

Source: edition.cnn.com