Tag Archives: North Korea

North Korea dismisses postponement of joint drills

 The United States must end its joint exercises with Seoul “once and for all” to facilitate dialogue with Pyongyang, North Korea said on Tuesday (Nov 19), just days after the allies postponed planned drills.

The US and South Korea said on Sunday they would delay annual joint aerial exercises slated for this month in an act of “goodwill” after months of deadlocked nuclear talks.

Pyongyang has long protested the joint drills, which it condemns as preparations for invasion, and Seoul and Washington last year cancelled several training sessions in the wake of the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

But Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official who formerly led talks with the US, said the weekend postponement was irrelevant.

“We demand that the US quit the drill or stop it once and for all,” Kim said in a statement carried by the KCNA news agency.

“The suspension of the drill does not mean ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and is not helpful to the diplomatic efforts,” he added.

The North had “no intention” to sit down with the “tricky US” and would not return to talks “before the complete and irrevocable withdrawal of its hostile policy”.

“From now on, the DPRK will get due compensation for every administrative achievement the US president has talked too much about for over a year,” Kim added, referring to the North by its official name.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to North Korea’s moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him.

But negotiations have been gridlocked since the Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October’s working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.

Tuesday’s statement was the latest in a series of increasingly assertive comments from the North as its end-of-year deadline for the US to come up with a fresh offer approaches, and it has also carried out multiple weapons tests in recent weeks.

Trump hinted at the prospect of a fourth meeting with Kim in a tweet at the weekend, only to be dismissed by the North, which said it had no interest in summits “that bring nothing to us”.


DPRK: Air and Anti-Aircraft Force conducts military drills

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally guided a round of military drills by sharpshooters from the Air and Anti-Aircraft Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) over the weekend, state media reported Monday.

The military drills, under harsh weather conditions, were conducted at the Kalma airport in Wonsan, according to the Korean Central News Agency (ACNC).

Praising the participants, the DPRK leader was reported to have expressed great satisfaction over the military drill.

Kim Jong-un reaffirmed that ‘victory or defeat in combat does not depend on the specifications of the weapons used, but on the idea and purpose of those who use the weapons and fight.’

The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also reported that last weekend, for the second time in less than a month, DPRK President Kim Jong-un toured the so-called Cultural Recreation Zone of Yangdok Resort, to be opened soon.

Amidst strong condemnations of US-South Korean air force drills, North Korea recently held anti-aircraft defense drills among the civilian population and in the military, Daily NK has learned. 

Several Daily NK sources in both Ryanggang and South Pyongan provinces reported on Nov. 14 that North Korean authorities had civilians take part in “blackout” training on Nov. 12 and anti-aircraft defense drills on Nov. 13.

The blackout training held on Nov. 12 had North Koreans cover the windows of their homes to prevent any light from seeping through after the sounding of an air raid siren. Local police and Ministry of State Security (MSS) offices conducted joint patrols to ensure the populace complied with the blackout order. 

The anti-aircraft defense drills on Nov. 13 began after the sounding of an air raid alarm twice. Worker-Peasant Red Guards and Young Red Guards wearing regular military uniforms pretended to be the enemy attacking and “occupied” their assigned target areas. The elderly, women and children were sent to assigned evacuation points. 

North Korean officials did not alert the populace about the training through the country’s network of inminban; instead, the country’s “emergency contact network” was used to initiate the training, Daily NK sources reported. 

“[The authorities] aimed to impress upon the people need to be attentive [toward the possibility of an invasion] while making it seem like a real war had broken out,” a Ryanggang Province-based source explained. “The drills were likely aimed to check how ideologically ready the people are [for the outbreak of war].”

North Korean officials also announced the holding of a compulsory evacuation training from 9 AM on Nov. 14. North Koreans were forced to head to assigned shelters along with backpacks with food for lunch and emergency food, and authorities emphasized that they carefully package and transport portraits of the Kim family in their homes as well. 

“During the drills, the authorities told people how to act during a time of war and conducted ideological education,” the source said. “North Korean officials jammed signals in Hyesan and other areas near the Sino-North Korean border to prevent people from using Chinese cell phones and prevent any information from seeping out.” 

North Korea’s military also held anti-aircraft defense drills, sources told Daily NK. 

“We headed to bed at 9:40 PM on Nov. 13 after our nightly check at 9:30 AM, but at 9:50 AM an order came down suddenly to line up,” a Daily NK military source based in North Pyongan Province said. “The military authorities decided to suddenly conduct a review of the military’s wartime mobilization posture.” 

The source reported that while the soldiers had expected to be involved in a military exercise, they weren’t sure what time it would occur.

“All soldiers on the base are tense because it’s clear the higher ups plan to conduct a review of the fully-equipped troops in an underground facility,” he added. 


North Korea urges Trump to make bold move to revive diplomacy

North Korea said on Friday it wants President Donald Trump to make a “wise option and bold decision” to produce a breakthrough in stalled nuclear diplomacy, in an escalation of pressure on the US ahead of an expected resumption of talks.

The statement by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan came days after Trump said another meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “could happen soon” without elaborating.

Kim Kye Gwan says he doubts another summit could make any breakthrough because of what he describes as prevailing opinions in Washington that North Korea must first disarm before getting major concessions and that US-led sanctions brought the North to a negotiating table.

He accused the US of not acting to implement a joint statement issued after the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore last year. He said North Korea, for its part, made “sincere efforts” to build mutual trust and carry out the Singapore statement, citing the repatriation of three American detainees and US war remains.

“But I came to know that President Trump is different from his predecessors in political sense and decision while watching his approach to the DPRK, so I would like to place my hope on President Trump’s wise option and bold decision,” Kim Kye Gwan said, using the abbreviation of his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“I and the DPRK Foreign Ministry will follow the future moves of the US”

Kim, in his mid-70s, is a veteran diplomat who led the North Korean delegation at much of the now-dormant six-nation nuclear disarmament talks held in Beijing in 2003-2008.

North Korea entered talks with the United States last year saying it’s willing to negotiate away its advancing nuclear arsenal in exchange of US security guarantee and sanctions relief. The North wants a slow, step-by-step disarmament process, in which each of its denuclearization step is matched by a corresponding US reward. The United States says sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until the country takes significant steps toward denuclearization.

During the Singapore summit, Kim Jong Un promised to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula without providing any timetable or roadmap for disarmament steps. In Singapore, Kim and Trump also agreed to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

They met again in Vietnam in February for a second summit. But that meeting abruptly fell apart after Trump rejected Kim’s request for extensive relief of sanctions in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June, and agreed to restart talks.

Last week, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said working-level nuclear talks with the United States could resume in a few weeks. But it said discussions of North Korea’s denuclearization will only be possible when “threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt.”


North Korea demands security guarantees for nuclear talks

North Korea on Monday demanded the United States provide security guarantees as a precondition to resuming deadlocked nuclear talks, dampening hopes for progress at a working-level dialogue expected in the coming weeks.

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.

The pair agreed to restart working-level dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas in June, and Pyongyang last week offered to hold those talks in late September, a move the US said was “encouraging”.

But hours later, Pyongyang carried out the latest in a series of weapons tests.

A senior official from the North’s foreign ministry said on Monday that “discussion of denuclearisation may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt”.

North Korea has always insisted that security guarantees would be necessary, as part of any deal — but it has not generally demanded them as a precursor to negotiations.

The director-general of the department of US affairs, who was not named, said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency that working-level talks were expected to be held “in a few weeks.”

It was up to Washington whether it would prove to be an opportunity or “an occasion to precipitate crisis”, he added.

“A proposal that the U.S. put forward at the negotiations may improve the relations and, on the contrary, may add to the hostility towards each other.”

Pyongyang has also threatened to pull out of talks with Washington and has blasted senior US officials in recent months.

Despite the escalation in tensions, Trump has insisted his relationship with Kim remains unharmed, and the pair have exchanged personal letters in the absence of talks.

The North Korean leader asked Trump to visit Pyongyang in a letter sent last month, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported Monday, repeating an invitation issued at their last meeting in the DMZ.

At their first summit in Singapore last year, Kim and Trump adopted a vaguely-worded statement on the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” but little progress has since been made on dismantling the North’s nuclear programme.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang: South Korean media

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited US President Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang, Joongang Ilbo reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

The offer to hold another summit was made in a letter delivered on the third week of August, the report said.

It came shortly after a separate letter from Mr Kim that Mr Trump made public in the first week of August.

Mr Trump said in early August that Mr Kim had sent him a “very beautiful letter” that mostly complained “about the ridiculous and expensive” joint military drills between the US and South Korea, adding that Mr Kim had apologised for the short range missile tests.

It’s not clear whether Mr Trump has responded to either letter, according to the report.

Working-level talks on denuclearisation have stalled since Mr Trump and Mr Kim’s last official summit in Hanoi ended without a deal.

While the pair agreed to restart talks in June at an impromptu meeting in which Mr Trump made history by stepping across the border into North Korea, little progress has been made since then.

North Korea last week agreed to return to talks at a “time and place to be agreed late in September”, state media Korean Central News Agency said, citing vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui.

Ms Choe, however, threatened to walk away from future talks if the US returns with the same “worn-out scenario,” KCNA reported, without elaborating further.


North Korea fires 2 projectiles after offering talks with US

North Korea launched two projectiles toward the sea on Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, hours after the North offered to resume nuclear diplomacy with the United States but warned its dealings with Washington may end without new US proposals.

The launches and demand for new proposals were apparently aimed at pressuring the United States to make concessions when the North Korea-US talks restart. North Korea is widely believed to want the United States to provide security guarantees and extensive relief from US-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearization steps.

The North Korean projectiles fired from its South Phyongan province, which surrounds its capital city of Pyongyang, flew about 330 kilometres (205 miles) across the country and in the direction of the waters off its east coast, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Ministry.

The military said South Korea will monitor possible additional launches. The JCS didn’t immediately say whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery. “More detailed analysis is needed to determine the exact specifications,” JCS spokesman Kim Joon-rak said.

Tuesday’s launches were the eighth round of launches since late July and the first since Aug. 24. The previous seven launches have revealed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand its capabilities to strike targets throughout South Korea, including US military bases.

On Monday night, the North’s first vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said North Korea is willing to resume nuclear diplomacy in late September but that Washington must come to the negotiating table with acceptable new proposals. She said if the proposals don’t satisfy North Korea, dealings between the two countries may end.

President Donald Trump called North Korea’s announcement “interesting.”

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “In the meantime, we have our hostages back, we’re getting the remains of our great heroes back and we’ve had no nuclear testing for a long time.”

The White House said it was aware of the new reports of projectiles being launched from North Korea and was continuing to monitor the situation and consulting with its allies in the region.

South Korea’s presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong presided over an emergency National Security Council meeting where officials expressed “strong concern” over the continuing short-range launches by the North.

Japan’s defence ministry said the projectiles did not land in Japan’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone and there was no indication the launches posed a direct threat to Japan’s security.

“We believe North Korea is upgrading its (missile) technology by repeatedly firing missiles,” said Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya. “We consider this a serious problem and will continue to monitor the development, while ensuring the functioning of warning and surveillance activity.”

In the late-night statement carried by state media, Choe said North Korea is willing to sit down with the United States “for comprehensive discussions in late September of the issues we have so far taken up, at a time and place to be agreed.”

Choe said she hopes the United States will bring “a proposal geared to the interests of the DPRK and the US and based on decision methods acceptable to us.” DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

She warned that “if the US side fingers again the worn-out scenario which has nothing to do with new decision methods at the DPRK-US working negotiation to be held with so much effort, the DPRK-US dealings may come to an end.”


N Korea fires two unidentified projectiles

North Korea has fired unidentified projectiles twice from a western region toward the East Sea, South Korea’s military says.

The launches occurred just hours after the communist nation offered to resume nuclear talks with the United States.

The projectiles were launched in an easterly direction from an inland area in the South Pyongan Province, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said without providing further details, such as the type of the projectiles, flight range and maximum altitude.

“Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” the JCS said in a release.


North Korea fires two unidentified projectiles

North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles on Tuesday (Sept 10) morning from South Pyongan province towards the east, Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not immediately be reached.


North Korea willing to resume US talks this month, but calls for new approach

North Korea said on Monday it was willing to restart nuclear talks with the United States in late September, but warned that chances of a deal could end unless Washington takes a fresh approach.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed in a June 30 meeting with US President Donald Trump to reopen working-level talks stalled since their failed February summit in Hanoi, but this has yet to happen in spite of repeated appeals from Washington.

In a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, Vice North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” with the United States in late September at a time and place agreed between both sides.

Trump was asked about the offer while speaking to reporters at the White House and as he often does, mentioned his “good relationship” with Kim.

“I just saw it as I’m coming out here, that they would like to meet. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Asked for comment, a US State Department spokeswoman said: “We don’t have any meetings to announce at this time.”

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped for a return to denuclearisation talks in the coming days or weeks, while reiterating the US objective of North Korea’s complete denuclearisation and saying Washington was disappointed by North Korean short-range missile tests.

Choe stressed that Washington needed to present a new approach or the talks could fall apart again.

“I want to believe that the U.S. side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said.

“If the US side toys with an old scenario that has nothing to do with the new method at working-level talks which would be held after difficulties, a deal between the two sides may come to an end.”

In April, Kim set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility in talks, which broke down in February over US demands for North Korea to give up all of its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang’s demands for relief from punishing U.S.-led international sanctions.

The end-of-September time frame would coincide with the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, which Pompeo is due to attend. North Korea’s mission to the United Nations said last week that Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho would not attend “due to his schedule.”

North Korea has demanded that Pompeo be replaced with a “more mature” person in the US negotiating team, while lauding the rapport built between Kim and Trump in three meetings since June 2018.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, led working level talks with North Korea in the run-up to the failed Hanoi meeting.

In a speech at the University of Michigan on Friday, Biegun said Washington’s aim was to transform relations with Pyongyang and establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, but stressed that this would require the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

Embarking on an “intensive set of negotiations” is necessary, Biegun said, adding that “the diplomatic opening is fragile” and expressing concern about North Korea’s continuing weapons development.

There were “immediate actions” the United States could take if negotiations made progress, Biegun said, but he did not elaborate.

The steps Washington has so far offered North Korea publicly have fallen far short of Pyongyang’s expectations.

Before the Hanoi summit, US officials raised the possibility that while sanctions would remain, Washington might be willing to take interim steps such as boosting humanitarian aid or opening liaison offices.