1 February 2010

The Wall Street Journal has a feature about North Korea’s political monument export industry:

This month, workers from Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, a North Korean design firm, were putting the finishing touches on a giant copper sculpture of a family. Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade will inaugurate the African Renaissance Monument in April to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from France, a ceremony he expects the president of North Korea’s Parliament to attend.

“Only the North Koreans could build my statue,” says Mr. Wade, sitting in a red velvet chair in his palace. Moreover, they offer monuments at a good rate, he says: “I had no money.”

It would be more accurate to say that the Senegalese people have no money. I wonder how much of that we can attribute to the priorities of their government, which seems to favor red velvet chairs and white elephants over schools and hospitals.

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The sanctions seem to be working:

North Korea’s weapons exports have reportedly dropped 90 percent since the UN Security Council slapped unprecedented sanctions on the communist regime last year that included the banning of all arms exports from the country.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says even African countries and Vietnam, which used to import small weapons from North Korea, have stopped their transactions with the reclusive country.

However, the institute said Iran may still be receiving weapons from North Korea as it has long been a key supplier of missile technology to the Middle Eastern country.

I’d linked a Korean language version of this before, but this is the first English-language report I’ve seen.

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The Wall Street Journal’s Melanie Kirkpatrick reviews “The Cleanest Race,” which I haven’t read, and “Nothing to Envy,” which I read and liked very much.

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But you already knew that: Thailand confirmed that those arms seized in Bangkok were indeed headed for Iran.

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Kathleen Stephens and Robert King will appear at a donors’ conference for North Korea. I certainly hope there will be a strong emphasis on monitoring.

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Kaesong Death Watch:North Korea is expected to demand in talks on Monday that the current minimum wage of US$57.88 per North Korean worker at the Kaesong Industrial Complex should double to some $100.” How many times do I have to say it? If the workers don’t see the money, it isn’t a wage. “Tribute” seems more like it.

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Canada admitted 66 North Korean refugees in 2009, a dramatic increase from 2008.

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A look at Chongryon and money laundering.

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I’d say so: “IS IT not absurd that China feels threatened because the US is selling Taiwan weapons that pose no threat to mainland security, while it shamelessly blocks international pressure aimed at keeping the atomic bomb away from Muslim fanatics?”

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In Iran, “moderate” theocrats revert to form. The opposition is better off without them.

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