South Korea Prosecutes a North Korean Agent Formerly Active in Yanbian
The Daily NK reports:
According to prosecutors in Seoul on Monday, a South Korean man who was trained as a spy in Pyongyang at the turn of the century has been arrested and charged with aiding in the forced repatriation of refugees escaping from North Korea and gathering information on people helping said refugees.
The man, a 55-year old known only as Kim, recently returned to South Korea from China, where he had been engaged in his activities. Yonhap reports that Kim apparently turned to the North Korean cause after meeting a North Korean agent in China during the 1990s. He is reported to have undergone espionage training in Pyongyang during 2000.He recently returned to South Korea after one of his associates was arrested and jailed by Chinese police, and was detained upon arrival.
China wants nothing to do with this news. It isn’t up yet on the Chinese version of the Daily NK (available in the PRC), and Huanqiu Shibao has put out a rather interesting article on an opposite theme (“North Korea Asks South Korea to Rein In Anti-DPRK Activities; ROK Agrees“) in an attempt, perhaps, to dampen discussion of this topic. For some good and slightly unhinged background on this story, check this post from One Free Korea.
Two French NGOs recently pledged 300,000 Euros of food aid to the DPRK.
Première Urgence [’프리미어 어전스] promised 200,000 euros of aid for distribution in Pyongyang/Hwanghae province and North Pyong’an, and Triangle Génération Humanitaire [트라이앵글 제너레이션 휴메니테어] is on the hook for 100,000 euros worth of food aid in South Hamgyong province. It seems there is some “aid in exchange for work” involved as well…
VOA Korea reported this on 25 March and then Daily NK (Korean) picked it up on 31 March. In Western languages, it appears the most extensive article about it is via the French-North Korean Friendship association.
The more dependent North Korea becomes on China, the more shrill become its attacks on South Korea for the ROK’s alliance with the U.S. All one needs to do is substitute “China” for U.S. and “DPRK” for ROK and you can understand what I mean. Leaders in North Korea have a fine line to walk — on the one hand, they want people to feel assured that the Chinese are willing to bail them out (and invest in their mining infrastructure), but at the same time, falling into the trap of “flunkeyism/submission to the great/sadaechuui” is always a danger as well. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to both embrace and downplay aid from the USSR in the earliest years of the PRC.
North Korea praises Germany as a model for a postwar penitent society (as a lesson to Japan, of course).
Besides opening up North Korea for tourism by Americans, the DPRK on April 5 put out a rather civilized-sounding request to repatriate the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War. Hmm.
Finally, the new Chinese ambassador to the PRC, Liu Hongcai, stopped by a Pyongyang center for ethnic Chinese citizens of North Korea (there are something like 10,000) to let everyone know the motherland still cared. In other contexts, these Chinese would serve as the tip of the spear of economic liberalization — something to keep your eye on.