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Why North Korea won’t act on its threat to launch long-range missiles — yet

In the first weeks of 2022, the North Koreans have rung in the new year with an impressive fireworks display. First, the DPRK flight-tested brand new ballistic missiles with hypersonic glider warheads, and then in quick succession launched a multitude of other ballistic missiles. To drive home their message even further, the North Korean Politburo […]

China offers COVID supplies to citizens in North Korea, citing ‘difficulties’

The Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang met with representatives of citizens living in North Korea on Thursday to offer COVID-19-related supplies and support for their “difficulties” on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, according to a new post on the embassy’s website. The post confirmed that diplomat Sun Hongliang is serving as the new chargé […]

The problematic assumptions that cause North Korea predictions to go wrong

North Korea is such an intractable foreign policy problem and the stakes surrounding it have such stark implications that the mind often wanders to deviations from the norm, and perhaps assumes that the norm is so precarious that it cannot persist much longer. The 10-year anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death is a good time […]

China rejects US appeal for more sanctions following North Korean missile tests

A top Chinese diplomat said the U.S. should “abandon the belief” that sanctions are the answer as Washington continues to push the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to adopt new sanctions against North Korea. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations announced a joint statement on Thursday on behalf of the U.S. and seven other countries […]

North Korea received third cargo train shipment from China on Wednesday: Video

A train carrying medicine and other supplies crossed from China to North Korea for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, according to video footage released by a Japanese outlet, after Beijing said the two sides had “resumed” freight train operations earlier this week. The video from TBS News shows a Chinese locomotive taking full train […]

UN Security Council schedules meeting on North Korea after several missile tests

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will discuss nuclear nonproliferation and North Korea after Pyongyang conducted several missile tests this month, the council’s schedule shows.  It’s the second such meeting prompted by North Korean missiles in 2022, with the U.S. and other U.N. member states meeting on Jan. 10 after Pyongyang’s first “hypersonic” test on […]

Fewest ever North Korean defectors reached South in 2021: Data

Only 63 North Korean defectors entered South Korea throughout all of 2021, Seoul’s unification ministry announced on Thursday, the fewest ever recorded in a calendar year and a dramatic decline from over 1,000 defectors annually prior to the pandemic. A ministry official explained that the precipitous decrease in the number of North Koreans defecting to […]

North Korea hints at ‘resuming’ long-range weapons tests after new US sanctions

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a Politburo meeting Wednesday to discuss strengthening the country’s military and “reconsidering” concessions made to the U.S. in response to “hostile” actions from Washington, according to state media. The Politburo “instructed the field concerned to reconsider all the confidence-building measures previously and voluntarily taken by our state and […]

The North Korean studio that has animated a Christmas film and Italian cartoons

North Korean animation was thrust into the spotlight last month after the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Pyongyang’s SEK Studio. “Seemingly fueled by the desire for unreasonably low-cost labor, foreign media companies continue to subcontract animation work to SEK Studio,” the department said in a statement. SEK Studio has been involved in at least 1,200 different […]

Ask a North Korean: How do North Koreans get a driver’s license?

“Ask a North Korean” is an NK News series featuring interviews with North Korean defectors, most of whom left the DPRK within the last few years. Readers may submit their questions for defectors by emailing [email protected] and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is about driving and car culture in North […]

China’s largest North Korea border city after two years of COVID-19 — in photos

Two years ago, North Korea launched one of the world’s most severe responses to COVID-19, virtually sealing itself off from foreign travel and trade. New photos obtained by NK News show the negative effects these border restrictions have had on many North Korea-related restaurants and establishments in the Chinese border city of Dandong. The images […]

North Korea releases missile details for sake of ‘transparency’: Pro-DPRK outlet

An influential pro-North Korea outlet claimed on Wednesday that Pyongyang chooses to publish photos and other details about its missile tests for the sake of “transparency” and “deterrence.” The claim comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the North of “trying to get attention” after an apparent hypersonic missile test on Jan. 12, […]

North Korea-China trade crashes to lowest level in decades in 2021: Data

China-North Korea trade tumbled 41% on-year in 2021, newly released customs data shows, marking one of the DPRK’s worst trade years on record as COVID-19 restrictions continued to hamstring the economy. According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), North Korea imported $35 million worth of goods from China in Dec. 2021, barely budging from […]

Missile tests, train shipments and redefection, oh my! – NKNews Podcast Ep. 218

The new year has been an eventful one so far for North Korea watchers. Pyongyang has already test-launched missiles on four separate occasions. A defector who had settled in the South dramatically crossed the demilitarized zone to return to the North. Conservative presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol voiced support for a preemptive strike to stop North […]

North Korea reports zero COVID cases in wake of mass events in Pyongyang

North Korea has still officially recorded no positive cases of COVID-19, according to the U.N. health agency, even as thousands gathered in the capital around the New Year. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the DPRK tested an additional 1,395 people from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, bringing the total number of […]

US envoy holds call with Seoul and Tokyo after North Korean missile tests

Top officials from the U.S., South Korea and Japan held a trilateral call on Monday following North Koreas’ fourth missile test this year and urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue. U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim spoke with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts Funakoshi Takehiro and Noh Kyu-duk to discuss the latest […]

North Korea says it successfully launched ‘tactical guided missiles’ on Monday

North Korea launched “tactical guided missiles” on Monday as part of regular quality testing, state media reported the following day, confirming its fourth missile test event so far this month. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report said it was carried out by the Academy of Defence Science and the Second Economic Commission, without mentioning the presence […]

Yoon Suk-yeol doubles down on preemptive strike to stop North Korean attack

Yoon Suk-yeol has doubled down on his controversial advocacy for a preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear missile attacks, pledging that South Korea would have the hardware and capacity to carry out such a mission if he is elected president in March. The statement, posted on Yoon’s official Facebook account, came just hours after the […]

North Korea and China resume trade by train across border: Chinese government

Freight trains carrying cargo have “resumed operation” between China and North Korea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Monday, appearing to confirm the first such rail shipment into the DPRK in nearly a year and a half due to the pandemic. Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s statement followed an NK News report that North Korea planned to […]

Lee Jae-myung vows to resume joint tourism at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang

Progressive presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung has pledged to resume South Korean tours to North Korea’s scenic Mount Kumgang if elected in March, even after DPRK leader Kim Jong Un turned his back on the joint project in 2019. Visiting the border town of Goseong on Sunday, Lee of the ruling Democratic Party also said he’ll […]

US court awards family of Otto Warmbier $240K seized from North Korean bank

A U.S. court has awarded the family of Otto Warmbier $240,000 seized from a North Korean bank, court documents show, in what amounts to the latest victory in the family’s quest to hold Pyongyang to account for their son’s tragic death after 17 months in DPRK custody. According to records from the Northern District Court […]

North Korea wants women to bear children for the motherland. They aren’t.

South Korea is experiencing a demographic disaster these days: Its total fertility rate (TFR), the average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime, has dropped below the psychologically important 1.0 mark, and the COVID-19 pandemic is driving it even lower. The TFR should be 2.1-2.2 to maintain a stable population, but costly […]

North Korea fires two short-range missiles from Pyongyang area: JCS

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. (Last updated on Jan. 17 at 1:12 p.m. KST) North Korea fired two “likely short-range ballistic missiles” from the Pyongyang airport area toward its east coast on Monday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced. JCS said the DPRK fired the missiles toward […]

North Korea to allow imports via train from China in first since 2020: Sources

North Korea plans to allow a freight train carrying cargo to cross the border from China on Monday, an informed source in the border city of Dandong told NK News, in what could become the first such shipment in 17 months. A second informed source told NK News that Monday’s expected shipment to North Korea […]

North Korea tested train-launched ballistic missiles again: State media

North Korea fired two “tactical guided missiles” from a train-mounted ballistic missile system on Friday, according to state media, with leader Kim Jong Un reportedly not present for the launch. The “surprise” drill was carried out by the Academy of Defence Science in the northwest of the country to test the “combat readiness” of the […]

North Korea fires two ‘presumed short-range’ ballistic missiles: JCS

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. (Last updated on Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:17 p.m. KST) North Korea launched two “presumed short-range ballistic missiles” on Friday afternoon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, the third and fourth missiles that the DPRK has tested in the last two weeks. The […]

North Korea kicked off internet by suspected DDOS attack

North Korea disappeared from the internet for several hours on Friday and over the weekend as crucial servers inside the country were unreachable, log files and domain records obtained by NK News show. The patterns of failing connectivity suggest that North Korea’s IT infrastructure may have been hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack, said […]

China takes aim at US after new North Korea sanctions go into effect

China has come out against new sanctions imposed against North Korea, calling them unhelpful measures that worsen confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. The remarks came as the U.S. designated six North Korean nationals, one Russian national and a Russian firm for working in support of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related […]

North Korea defends missile tests, says new US sanctions ‘escalate’ tensions

North Korea and the U.S. appear no closer to re-engaging in dialogue as the two countries trade accusations after a new round of missile tests and sanctions this week. According to a statement from the DPRK foreign ministry on Friday, the U.S. is “intentionally escalating” tensions on the Korean Peninsula with new sanctions targeting North […]

‘No indication’ North Korea will denuclearize, says former UK envoy to Pyongyang

The current economic situation in North Korea is bleak. The DPRK’s self-induced COVID-19 restrictions have shrunk its trade with the outside world to minuscule levels, strained its money supply, pushed inflation upward and led to even greater food scarcity, compounding pressure from international sanctions already in place. Despite this, North Korea has not signaled that […]

US claims new North Korea sanctions do not change its position on diplomacy

The U.S. State Department said diplomacy with North Korea is the “only durable way” toward denuclearization on Wednesday, while defending new Treasury Department sanctions against eight North Korea-linked persons and entities. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that just because the U.S. is “enacting measures that hold individuals and entities to account, that doesn’t mean […]

US sanctions six North Korean nationals following ‘hypersonic’ missile tests

The Biden administration has sanctioned six North Koreans, one Russian national and a Russian firm for acquiring goods for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs, Washington announced on Wednesday. The move comes after North Korea tested two “hypersonic” missile tests in less than a week. Washington had previously applied sanctions […]

Lee Jae-myung urges rival to retract support for North Korea ‘preemptive strike’

Progressive South Korean presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Wednesday urged his conservative opponent to retract his support for a “preemptive strike” in the event of a pending North Korean hypersonic missile attack, describing Yoon Suk-yeol’s comments as reckless and dangerous. Yoon of the People Power Party (PPP) suggested the idea the previous day in response […]

Kim Yo Jong unusually prominent at North Korea’s latest hypersonic missile test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong appeared in the official observation area beside him during a missile test on Tuesday, according to photos released by state media, the first time she has occupied such a prominent position at a launch. One expert told NK News the move signals Kim Yo […]

UN food program unable to provide aid to hungry North Koreans since March 2021

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has not distributed food aid to vulnerable women, children and patients in North Korea since March 2021, the agency said in a new report published Wednesday, as pandemic restrictions have prevented the organization from providing assistance to cover apparent food shortages. The DPRK has limited almost all cross-border transportation […]

Kim Jong Un guided North Korea’s third ‘hypersonic’ missile test: state media

North Korea successfully conducted its third “hypersonic gliding warhead” test on Tuesday, according to state media, which said leader Kim Jong Un guided the missile test alongside his sister Kim Yo Jong and top officials. It was the first missile test Kim officially attended since March 2020, as the Academy of Defence Science and military […]

Yoon Suk-yeol backs ‘preemptive strike’ to stop North Korean hypersonic attacks

North Korean hypersonic missiles aimed at the South in the event of conflict should be taken out with a “preemptive strike,” presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol said Tuesday, hours after North Korea conducted its second missile test of the new year. Yoon’s remarks were based on a hypothetical combat scenario following the DPRK’s alleged hypersonic missile […]

UNSC meeting on North Korea missile launch falls flat, just ahead of new test

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) convened Monday to discuss North Korea’s Jan. 5 missile test but once again failed to issue a joint condemnation due to Russian and Chinese opposition. According to its official schedule, the Council held a closed-door meeting on Monday evening (U.S. time) to discuss the DPRK’s test last week of a […]

Unification ministry veterans promoting Korean peace – NKNews Podcast Ep. 217

Unification remains the official goal of inter-Korean policy on both sides of the Korean Peninsula, and the new Council on Diplomacy for Korean Unification (CDKU), founded by veterans of the country’s unification ministry, aims to keep the dream alive. This week, Kim Hyeong-seok and J.R. Kim join the podcast to discuss their organization, which brings […]

North Korea test-fires second missile of 2022: JCS

North Korea fired what appears to be a single ballistic missile toward its east coast on Tuesday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, evaluating later in the day that the missile appears to be more “advanced” than the one launched last week. The DPRK launched the likely ballistic missile at 7:27 a.m. […]

Disgraced ex-president uses North Korea issues to rebrand as champion of freedom

South Korea’s disgraced former president uses North Korea issues in an apparent attempt to rebuild her image as a righteous defender of freedom in a new bestseller, trumpeting defector support while amplifying criticisms of her progressive successor’s inter-Korean policies.  Park Geun-hye, removed from office in 2017 and recently pardoned less than five years into her […]

North Korea hints at more ‘advanced’ COVID policy after years of tight controls

Measures to prevent COVID-19 should become more “advanced” and not solely rely on regulations anymore, North Korea’s party-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated on Monday, raising the possibility that Pyongyang may reevaluate certain aspects of its two-year-long pandemic restrictions. The year-end party plenum meeting in December also touched on the country’s anti-COVID directions in the new […]

Unification ministry refutes report that 771 defectors have fled South Korea

Seoul’s unification ministry has dismissed a local news report that claimed nearly 800 North Korean defectors left South Korea to settle in a third country in recent years, asserting that the actual number is a small fraction of that. In a statement on Monday, ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said that only 20 defectors who originally […]

Cake day? Kim Jong Un’s birthday comes and goes without state media celebration

Kim Jong Un’s birthday passed quietly over the weekend with no mention of the occasion from state media, the 11th-straight year the leader’s birthday has been seemingly ignored since his rise to power. Kim, who is in his late 30s, may still be too young to have his date of birth formally celebrated in North Korea, one expert […]

Cold beer, dancing and elephants: Socializing in North Korea – in photos

For nearly two years now, the pandemic has transformed life around the world, as countries have implemented lockdowns, social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing, border closures and other measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Through it all, North Korea has claimed that it has not had even a single confirmed case, as its strict border controls […]

US seizes $2.4 million from four Pyongyang-linked front companies

A U.S. district court ruled on Thursday that $2.4 million in funds linked to a North Korean money laundering scheme must be forfeited to the U.S. government, court records show, in the latest blow to the Kim Jong Un regime’s network of overseas front companies. The ruling comes after a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) […]

US, Japan launching joint research project to counter ‘hypersonic threats’ 

The U.S. and Japan have agreed to conduct joint research to counter hypersonic missile threats, both governments said on Thursday. The move was announced at the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting between U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts Hayashi Yoshimasa and Kishi Nobuo just days after […]

Top North Korean construction projects all missed 2021 deadlines amid shortages

All three of North Korea’s top-billed housing construction projects for 2021 appear to have missed their end-of-year targets for completion set by leader Kim Jong Un, likely due to a shortage of materials. Delays in opening a 10,000-home street of skyscrapers and a new neighborhood of upscale apartments for elites in Pyongyang, as well as […]

UNICEF says aid has cleared North Korea quarantine, on its way for distribution

Humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable in North Korea has finally cleared months-long quarantine in the country and is on its way to distribution, a U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson told NK News on Thursday. This comes after the agency in Oct. 2021 said that sanctions-exempted aid items sent by the agency reached North Korea’s […]

North Korea says it can’t attend Olympics due to ‘hostile forces,’ COVID-19

North Korea told China it would not participate in next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics due to “moves of the hostile forces” and the COVID-19 pandemic, in a letter penned Wednesday by the DPRK Olympic Committee and Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports. The letter wished Beijing success in hosting the event, and was reportedly delivered […]

North Korean defectors struggle most with work, education, mental health: Survey

Living circumstances, access to education and mental wellness are what North Korean defectors struggle the most with after reaching South Korea, according to a new government survey. The Ministry of Unification surveyed more than 1,500 defectors from Nov. 26 to Dec. 27 last year to better tailor support policies for the community. A multiple-option question […]

North Korea signals big events for upcoming birthdays of former leaders

North Korea has begun hyping up major holidays celebrating the birthdays of the country’s former leaders in the coming months, releasing new propaganda posters and holding a large rally on Wednesday to promote the upcoming events.  Feb. 16, called the Day of the Shining Star in North Korea, will mark Kim Jong Il’s 80th birthday, […]

North Korean propagandists lampoon Yoon Suk-yeol with caricatures and cartoons

As one of the prime contenders to become South Korea’s next president, Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party (PPP) has pledged to steer domestic and inter-Korean policy in a more conservative direction, and as usual, North Korean propagandists have taken notice. In outward-facing media, the DPRK has heaped opprobrium on Yoon’s candidacy — not […]

North Korea tested another ‘hypersonic’ missile, says state media

North Korea says it tested a new “hypersonic missile” on Wednesday and that a new fuel transport system proved successful in freezing winter temperatures. The missile successfully traveled 435 miles (700 km) to hit its target, making a 75 mile (120 km) lateral maneuver along the way, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday […]

Moon Jae-in stresses dialogue hours after North Korea test-fires missile

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that it is important to maintain efforts to restart dialogue with North Korea, hours after Pyongyang tested a missile Wednesday morning. The single projectile is “presumed to be a ballistic missile” fired from Jagang province near the China-DPRK border toward the East Sea at 8:10 a.m., according to Seoul’s […]

ROK military initially thought border crosser was fleeing to South Korea: JCS

The South Korean military initially mistook the man who crossed the border into North Korea over the weekend for a defector coming to the South, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), delaying efforts to stop him. Announcing the results of an investigation into the New Year’s Day border crossing, the JCS revealed that […]

North Korea fires ‘likely ballistic missile’ toward east coast: South Korea

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. (Last updated on Jan. 5 at 3:15 p.m. KST with statement from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.) North Korea fired a single “likely ballistic missile” toward its east coast on Wednesday morning, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced in a press statement the same […]

Superpowers declare nuclear war ‘must never be fought,’ stress disarmament

Five nuclear states declared their intent to avoid nuclear war and reiterated their commitment to disarmament in a joint statement Monday, stressing that an arms race would “benefit none and endanger all.” The P5 joint statement, co-signed by the U.S., China, U.K., France and Russia, comes amid growing tensions in Ukraine and the Taiwan Strait […]

New Year’s border crosser showed signs he would redefect to North Korea: Police

The North Korean defector who crossed the heavily guarded inter-Korean border back into the DPRK over the weekend had previously shown signs that he might redefect, after struggling to adjust to life in the South, Seoul police said Tuesday. A local police station in northeastern Seoul charged with the defector’s “personal protection” raised the possibility […]

‘Death to America’ and disinfection dance feature in North Korean kids concert

North Korea incorporated COVID-19 education into its annual top-tier New Year’s children’s concert for the first time this week, as case numbers soar worldwide and the ruling party calls “anti-epidemic work” the “number one priority” in the new year. A performance about pandemic protocols featured dancing hand sanitizer bottles and lyrics urging children to follow […]

A foreign media failure? Evaluating 10 years of the AP bureau in Pyongyang

In Jan. 2012, the Associated Press announced the opening of the first full U.S. news bureau in Pyongyang, assuring readers from the outset that the office would operate “under the same standards and practices as AP bureaus worldwide.” Despite skepticism about whether the bureau could practice independent journalism, the opening nevertheless marked the beginning of […]

Opening the first US news bureau in North Korea – NKNews Podcast Ep. 216

This January marks 10 years since the Associated Press became the first U.S. news agency to establish a bureau in Pyongyang. The opening gave the organization a unique vantage point from which to report on notoriously secretive North Korea, but also raised questions about how operating in the country might influence coverage. As the AP’s […]

North Korea claims zero COVID infections, with total tested just shy of 50,000

North Korea continues to claim that it is COVID-free after screening an additional 1,492 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday, as the total tested in the country hovers just short of 50,000. The release of the latest figures comes after North Korea held a high-profile party meeting last week, at which leader Kim […]

Moon Jae-in vows to keep improving ties with North Korea until end of term

South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed on Monday to continue working toward inter-Korean peace until the end of his term this spring, stressing his administration’s achievements in his final New Year’s speech as leader. While Moon met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un multiple times between 2018 and 2019 and co-signed two milestone agreements, inter-Korean […]

High-profile defector returned to North Korea across heavily guarded border: MND

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. (Last updated on Jan. 3, 2022 at 7:32 p.m. with new headline.) The unidentified person who crossed the heavily guarded border into North Korea on New Year’s Day was “presumably” a high-profile defector who previously crossed into South Korea around a year earlier, according to […]

Individual crossed inter-Korean border into North Korea on New Year’s Day: Seoul

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. (Last updated Jan. 2, 2021 at 2:20 p.m. KST) An individual crossed the inter-Korean border into North Korea on Saturday night, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has confirmed to NK News, though the person’s nationality and reason for crossing remain unknown. The JCS said […]

Kim Jong Un visits shrine to offer ‘new year greetings’ to late former leaders

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marked the first day of 2022 in customary fashion by showing respect to the country’s late former leaders at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Saturday, according to state media. The party-run Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim visited the mausoleum where his father and grandfather lie […]

Expert round-up: What to make of North Korea’s New Year’s plenum readout

Kim Jong Un has revealed major new policies in early January throughout his time as leader, either through New Year’s speeches or following large political meetings in Pyongyang. As such, many were expecting new details on Saturday relating to DPRK foreign policy, military and space exploration goals — all items touched upon last January at […]

Plenum’s agriculture focus suggests dire food shortages in North Korea: analysts

Kim Jong Un’s heavy focus on agricultural issues and rural development plans in December’s party meeting could suggest food supply issues are worsening in North Korea, analysts told NK News on Monday. The plenum, which wrapped up on Friday in time for in-depth New Year’s day coverage published in state media, paid significant attention to […]

North Korea vows military buildup due to ‘destabilizing’ situation on peninsula

North Korea will continue building up its military in response to the “destabilizing” situation on the Korean Peninsula, while focusing on agricultural problems and the population’s ideological purity in the new year, according to state media Saturday. In a report on the conclusion of a five-day party plenum led by Kim Jong Un, the Rodong Sinmun […]

North Korea puts on New Year’s Eve show as COVID cancels celebrations worldwide

North Koreans braved the cold to ring in the new year with a large outdoor concert and fireworks show in downtown Pyongyang on Friday, according to a live broadcast of events carried by state television. The state-organized event came as New Year’s Eve gatherings were canceled in some major capitals around the world due to […]

Piranhas, purges and porn: The worst rumors of Kim Jong Un’s decade in power

Kim Jong Un in a coma. A general fed to flesh-eating fish. The imminent collapse of the regime. Media organizations often exoticize and sensationalize North Korea, and in the absence of solid information, rumors about the isolated state multiply. Spread through social media and amplified by pundits, politicians and news outlets, these tall tales can […]

Kim Jong Un skips full year of military drills and missile tests for first time

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not officially appear at any of the country’s missile tests or military drills for the entire calendar year, the first time he has done so since coming to power 10 years ago, according to new analysis of NK Pro Leadership Tracker and Missile Tracker data.  Kim’s absences throughout […]

Trouble a-brewin’: Overlooked North Korea developments set to boil over in 2022

Kim Jong Un’s striking weight loss and train-mounted missile systems dominated headlines on North Korea this year, but all the while, a number of other issues have festered quietly in the background. From reports of secret inter-Korean correspondence to the DPRK’s potential preparations for a satellite launch and mounting food problems, these overlooked developments from […]

Humanitarian aid for North Korea dwindles to lowest level on record: Data

Humanitarian aid funding to North Korea has fallen to the lowest level ever this year, U.N. data shows, as two years of extreme virus measures have driven out aid workers and undercut efforts to send assistance. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair’s (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service (FTS), donors committed just […]

North Korea extends party meeting as country prepares to ring in new year

North Korean party officials conducted a second day of departmental “workshops” as part of an ongoing plenary meeting on Thursday, according to state media, which reported that the meeting will go on until at least Friday. The report on the fourth day of the plenum in the party-run Rodong Sinmun on Friday morning was the […]

Japan approves $1.2 billion for missile defense, eyeing North Korea threats

The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has approved a record defense budget of $47.2 billion (5.4 trillion yen) for fiscal year 2022, earmarking more than a billion dollars to buttress missile defense capabilities, in particular against threats from North Korea. The draft budget for the fiscal year starting in April is expected to […]

Seoul approves three new requests to send nutrition-related aid to North Korea

South Korea has approved three new requests to send nutrition-related private humanitarian aid for North Korea this month, Seoul’s unification ministry said on Thursday. The latest approvals mean the ministry has now greenlit a total of 11 such requests this year, though a ministry official told NK News that it is unlikely any approved aid […]

Ask a North Korean: Do North Koreans like to go camping?

“Ask a North Korean” is an NK News series featuring interviews with North Korean defectors, most of whom left the DPRK within the last few years. Readers may submit their questions for defectors by emailing [email protected] and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from NK News Managing Editor Arius Derr […]

Kim Jong Un sits out party meetings as state media marks 10 years of his rule

North Korean ruling party officials held departmental study sessions on the third day of an ongoing party plenum on Wednesday, according to state media, without leader Kim Jong Un in attendance. Top Politburo officials led at least 11 smaller meetings to “study and discuss” this and next year’s state budgets, as well as two speeches Kim […]

Ex-USFK commander says joint war plans should address China. Seoul isn’t happy.

A former top U.S. military official has stirred up controversy in South Korea after stating in a media interview that Seoul and Washington should update their war plans to address “significantly” increasing threats from China, not just North Korea. The remarks by General Robert Abrams, the recently retired former commander of the U.N. Command (UNC), […]

A diplomat’s life: Parting advice for those going to work in North Korea

The following article is the last in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

US, ROK have ‘effectively’ agreed on draft text of end-of-war declaration: Seoul

The U.S. and South Korea have “effectively” agreed on a draft text for a formal declaration to end the Korean War, Seoul’s foreign minister said Wednesday, while conceding that it will be difficult to achieve a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations at the Beijing Olympics. Chung Eui-yong said he confirmed Washington’s position on an end-of-war declaration […]

Washington rejects ‘strategic patience’ label for Biden’s North Korea policy

The Biden administration is not pursuing a policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday, emphasizing that its approach calls for resuming dialogue and diplomacy with Pyongyang. “We’ve made clear in recent months that we harbor no hostile intent toward the DPRK … we continue to be prepared to meet […]

North Korea puts ‘rural problem’ on agenda as party meeting extended

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a speech about rural development on the second day of an ongoing party plenary meeting Tuesday, according to state media. In a brief report Wednesday, the Rodong Sinmun said Kim delivered a “historic report of important revolutionary significance in developing the socialist countryside” at the plenum. The DPRK […]

The biggest North Korea stories of 2021 – NKNews Podcast Ep. 215

North Korea began 2021 with a major party conference and is now ending it with a multi-day plenum. Somewhere in the between, a lot else happened: Disinfection centers sprang up. Kim Jong Un lost weight. Health officials in hazmat suits goose-stepped through Pyongyang. Both Koreas launched an assortment of new weapons. With 2022 right around […]

South Koreans view US leadership as in decline but still support alliance: Poll

One in two South Koreans think the United States’ importance as a world leader is declining compared to the previous decade, a new survey showed on Tuesday, even as most support prioritizing the alliance with Washington above other relationships, including with North Korea. The fall 2021 survey from the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), […]

North Korea promises to give children what they want — new TV shows

North Korean state television is actively preparing newer and better programming for children amid rising demand, Korean Central Television (KCTV) announced on Monday. The commitment comes after authorities instructed the arts industry and TV broadcasters last January to “wage a vigorous media campaign aimed at deeply instilling” the ruling party’s socialist ideology in viewers.  It […]

North Korea’s vital role as a Cold War training ground for global terrorists

Earlier this month, the U.S. announced that North Korea would remain on its list of state sponsors of terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, sharing the ignominious designation with Cuba, Iran and Syria. The Trump administration had returned the DPRK to the list in 2017, and before that, it had been on the list for […]

US passes $770 billion defense bill, slightly boosting funds for US Forces Korea

U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law an annual defense spending bill on Monday, approving moderate increases for U.S. operations in South Korea and pushing forward plans to relocate military assets outside of North Korean artillery range. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) greenlights $770 billion in defense spending covering a range of national security […]

Kim Jong Un kicks off major party meeting to lay plans for 2022

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened the first day of a party plenary meeting on Monday, according to state media. The meeting is expected to produce significant foreign and domestic policy announcements and stretch across multiple days. Kim and top officials will “discuss and decide on strategic and tactical policies and tasks for action” […]

3,000 days in a North Korean prison: A missionary’s family prays for his return

As people around the world celebrated Christmas with gifts, warm meals and video calls with loved ones, Kim Jong-sam knelt in prayer with family and thought of the one who could not join — his brother locked away in a cold North Korean jail cell nine winters ago. Christmas marked exactly 3,000 days since DPRK […]

Will North Korea break its silence on an end-of-war declaration for New Year’s?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s last-minute push for an end-of-war declaration in recent months has so far met with a North Korean response that has been familiar to Seoul and Washington as they’ve sought to engage the country — silence. In interviews with NK News, experts cited various reasons for why the DPRK has yet […]

Christmas in Pyongyang: How devout tourists can worship in North Korea

The following article is the sixteenth in a multipart series by Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours about being a North Korea tour guide. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. The DPRK has a reputation for low levels of religious freedom compared to other parts […]

Policy bombshells and NYE concert: What to expect as North Korea wraps up 2021

North Korea is set to end 2021 with a bang, as the country prepares to host a party plenum in the coming days that could produce major foreign policy announcements and mark a key anniversary for Kim Jong Un’s first decade in power. Kim has used speeches around the new year holiday in the past […]

Icy streets and cold noodles: North Korea’s brutal winters — in photos

Winters in North Korea are long and bitterly cold. Average temperatures range from -13 C to -3 C (9 to 27 F) during the chilliest months, and snow often blankets the ground. State media reported that temperatures on Christmas morning would drop to as low as -18 C in Pyongyang, -26 C in Rason and […]

North Korea’s main shipyard christens first known cargo ship in nearly 5 years

North Korea has launched a new cargo ship, state media reported on Friday, marking a rare addition to the country’s aging merchant fleet. According to the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the 12,000-ton Jang Su San departed Ryongnam Shipyard on Thursday. Several high-ranking party officials attended the ceremony, including Kang Jong Gwan, minister of the Ministry […]

Lee Jae-myung pledges to push for nuclear submarine against North Korean threats

South Korea could push to add nuclear-powered submarines to its naval fleet to defend against North Korean weapons threats, if progressive presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung wins in March. Announcing a series of national defense and security pledges on Friday, Lee suggested that Seoul could create similar conditions as those that enabled Canberra to sign the […]

Moon Jae-in pardons predecessor Park Geun-hye and pro-North Korea lawmaker

South Korean President Moon Jae-in pardoned his disgraced predecessor Park Geun-hye on Friday, in a surprise move that could impact the ongoing presidential election and incite angry denunciations from North Korea. Lee Seok-ki, a pro-DPRK lawmaker convicted of plotting a rebellion to overthrow the South Korean government in case of a war with North Korea, […]

How North Korea takes advantage of global corruption to evade sanctions

Kleptocrats and sanctions-evaders have quite a bit in common — both seek out countries with weak anti-corruption rules and regulations. The same institutions that the world’s wealthy exploit to hide their assets are the same ones that North Korea and other countries use to skirt U.S. and international sanctions. An effective sanctions regime thus starts […]

US bank fined $105k for violating North Korea sanctions

A U.S. bank has been fined over $100,000 for illegally processing more than a thousand payments from North Korea and opening accounts for North Korean nationals, according to the Treasury Department. TD Bank violated sanctions by processing 1,479 transactions worth about $383,000 from employees at the North Korean mission to the United Nations, and maintained […]

Seoul says it has ‘100% perfectly’ detected North Korean ballistic missiles

North Korea has tested dozens of ballistic missiles in the last few years, from an intercontinental projectile capable of reaching the U.S. homeland and short-range ones that have plunged into the East Sea, to weapons launched from trains, submarines and vehicles positioned around the country. Yet for all the quantity and variety, South Korea has […]

North Korea’s newest attempt at Twitter, YouTube relies on same old propaganda

North Korea is once again turning to social media to win support abroad, rolling out more personalized, vlogger-style propaganda and opening a new Twitter account.  “Mokran_Tweet,” closely follows the style of the more well-known Twitter account  “coldnoodlefan,” which NK News previously found was part of a propaganda operation linked to Pyongyang-based Sogwang Media Company.   Now, […]

Don’t believe the hype: An end-of-war declaration won’t change a thing

In his most recent address to the U.N. General Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in tried, among other things, to sell the idea of an end-of-war (EOW) declaration between the two Koreas.  As soon as he delivered the speech, all available South Korean diplomatic forces seemed to converge on the EOW issue. High-level diplomats, assorted […]

A diplomat’s life: The mundane, ordinary routines of the North Korean people

The following article is the fourteenth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

Chinese ambassador to North Korea set to leave Pyongyang: State media

Chinese Ambassador to North Korea Li Jinjun will leave Pyongyang after almost seven years in the role, according to DPRK state media, which reported on Li’s farewell visits with officials in the capital. Top North Korean official Choe Ryong Hae hosted a banquet on Wednesday for Li and conveyed thanks from DPRK leader Kim Jong […]

Doctors say new antiviral pills could transform North Korea’s COVID response

The prospects for a return to pre-pandemic normalcy in North Korea have grown increasingly dim in recent weeks, as the country has continued to impugn vaccines and belabor its virus restrictions in the face of the global spread of the Omicron variant. Yet some experts are optimistic that new antiviral pills for COVID-19 could turn […]

Presidential frontrunner violated rules during North Korea border visit: UNC

The United Nations Command (UNC) has issued a rare statement criticizing South Korean presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol after the conservative frontrunner donned a military uniform at the inter-Korean border earlier this week in violation of its dress code. Yoon and his staff “did not comply” with the rules during “unauthorized” activities at a military outpost (OP) […]

South Korean conservatives: Right on North Korea, wrong on everything else?

In late November, while walking past one of Honolulu’s many Korean-owned shopping marts, I noticed a sign that showed Moon Jae-in embracing Kim Jong Un, an image unmistakably from their second summit in 2018. But rather than celebrating this bygone, briefly amiable moment in inter-Korean relations, the sign’s message contained a warning against the “peace” […]

Red Cross allocates $1.2 million to help North Korea combat COVID-19

The International Red Cross (IFRC) has allocated around $1.2 million (1.1m Swiss francs) to help North Korea combat COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic through June 2022, the organization has said in a new report. The IFRC said it has spent nearly $760,000 (699,000 Swiss francs) as of September since Jan. 31 last year […]

How history can help predict the next 10 years of Kim Jong Un’s rule

It has been 10 years since Kim Jong Un inherited the throne. State media announced his ascension to the country and the world just two days after his father’s death, and since then, he has remained the unquestioned leader of North Korea. His first decade surely has seen many dramatic events. Some of these were […]

Fishing for legitimacy? Kim Jong Un sends blocks of seafood to Pyongyang elites

Kim Jong Un gifted thousands of tons of fish to the citizens of Pyongyang, North Korean state media reported on Tuesday, in what experts say is a conscious effort to uphold the legacy of his father and former leader Kim Jong Il. One of the late Kim’s final orders, a day before he passed away […]

Seeing past North Korean propaganda – NKNews Podcast Ep. 214

CNN International Correspondent Will Ripley has visited North Korea a whopping 19 times since 2014, reporting on missile launches and nuclear tests while inside the country and covering the DPRK’s release of Otto Warmbier in a coma as the only American reporter on the ground. On this week’s podcast, he talks about everything from his […]

Longtime head of influential North Korea abductee group dies at 83

The head of the most influential group representing families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea and a brother of one such victim has died at the age of 83. Shigeo Iizuka, whose sister Yaeko Taguchi was taken by North Korean agents in 1978, served for 14 years as head of the Association of the […]

North Korea reports no COVID cases as Omicron looms large in state media

North Korea has tested an additional 1,464 people for COVID-19 and found no positive cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with state media warning of breakthrough Omicron infections amid surging caseloads in the U.S. and Europe. The DPRK has now conducted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on a total of 48,449 people after […]

Despite uptick in exports, North Korea’s trade with China sags in November: Data

North Korea’s exports to China rebounded slightly in November, Chinese customs data shows, but imports sagged and overall bilateral trade remained relatively low due to continuing effects from COVID-19 border controls. According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC), North Korea exported $6.5 million worth of goods to China in November, up from just […]

White House says it favors ‘step-by-step’ approach to North Korea nuclear issue

The Biden administration is taking a “step-by-step” approach to the North Korea nuclear issue that straddles the line between Obama-era “strategic patience” and Donald Trump’s “grand bargain,” according to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Sullivan did not clarify what shape or form this approach might take in his remarks last week, but South Korean President […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: What should Washington do now about North Korea?

It’s increasingly evident to North Korea experts that Kim Jong Un will not surrender his nuclear weapons. The Biden administration’s official position, however, like its two predecessors, continues to be that complete denuclearization of North Korea is the only way towards any sort of normalization for Pyongyang-Washington relations and change in the sanctions regime. What […]

How COVID-19 is giving a boost to North Korea’s central bank

The North Korean Central Bank, long handicapped by ideological demands and Kim family loyalty above sound economic decision-making, appears to be well-positioned to claw back greater control over the domestic economy during the pandemic, even as it remains mostly cut off from foreign goods and currencies. The primary reason is that Kim Jong Un’s decision […]

71 years later, prisoners of war in North Korea are still waiting to return home

From inside a prison camp in Kangdong county, Yoo Young-bok watched as artillery shells lit up the night sky, a celebration of North Korea’s “victory” in the Korean War, and felt a hope spark inside him. “We will be able to go back home soon,” he thought on that evening in 1953, anticipating an exchange […]

North Korea comes to a standstill to mark 10 years since death of Kim Jong Il

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a large “national memorial service” on Friday to mark 10 years since the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong Il, according to state television, which aired the event in the evening the same day. Top official Choe Ryong Hae delivered a speech praising the former […]

North Korea barrels past oil cap after a slow start this year: Report

North Korea likely exceeded oil import limits set by the United Nations this year, according to a new report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), after Pyongyang appeared to kick-start smuggling operations in May. The development comes after months of little to no oil inflows, suggesting rising demand has put pressure on Pyongyang to […]

Enhanced border controls hurtle North Korea into a new information dark age

North Korea appears to be going through another major turning point in its history. The government, while always reclusive, has decided to step up its self-imposed information blockade and dramatically reduce interaction with the outside world. These developments began before the pandemic, but the outbreak of COVID-19 has only helped authorities to justify harsher measures […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: Where will North Korea be 10 years from now?

Kim Jong Un has undoubtedly had some real policy-making successes in his first decade of power, but also some catastrophic blunders. As the absolute leader of North Korea, he has the power to take the country in a truly different direction at any time. Where, then, do experts think North Korea will be in 10 […]

South Korean media consumption top reason for execution in North Korea: Report

The plurality of public executions in North Korea under Kim Jong Un have been a consequence of watching or distributing South Korean videos, according to a new research report published on Wednesday. The investigation by the Seoul-based Transnational Justice Working Group (TJWG) aims to map public execution sites over the past 10 years, and it […]

Of course North Korea and US want to end Korean War — but only on their terms

Despite Moon Jae-in’s positive spin, there are no real signs that the Korean War will be ending any time soon. Speaking in Canberra on Monday, the South Korean President said that the two Koreas, the U.S. and China have all agreed to declare an end to the Korean War “in principle.” A number of media […]

Kim Yong Ju, younger brother of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, dies at 101

Kim Yong Ju, the younger brother of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung who played a major role in state affairs until being sidelined in the 1970s, has died at the age of 101. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper announced his death in a short article on Wednesday, reporting that current leader Kim Jong Un, […]

The good, the bad and the memorable of expat life in North Korea

The following article is the thirteenth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

North Korea enacts property law, announces early 2022 assembly session

North Korea’s top legislative body will hold its next full session on Feb. 6 next year to discuss budgets and childcare policy, state media announced Wednesday. New laws on property judgments, construction design and water transportation were also passed on Tuesday at a plenary meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Standing Committee, led by […]

Film review: The problem with inter-Korean rivalry in ‘Escape from Mogadishu’

The South Korean film “Escape from Mogadishu” tells the story of North and South Korean diplomats fleeing war-torn Mogadishu during the Somali Civil War in 1991. While the film has done well at the box office, it falls victim to myths of inter-Korean solidarity and stereotypes of African backwardness. The action-adventure thriller begins with an […]

South Korea, Australia sign defense deal to address ‘mutual security challenges’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a $717 million defense deal on Monday, in an agreement that appears to align with the U.S. strategy to contain China in the Indo-Pacific. The announcement came on the third day of Moon’s visit to Australia for the Korea-Australia Expanded Summit, during which […]

Broadcasting live from Pyongyang – NKNews Podcast Ep. 213

In his 24 years as a correspondent for CNN, Mike Chinoy had the opportunity to cover key moments in North Korean history from inside the country, from Jimmy Carter’s visit and the aftermath of Kim Il Sung’s death to a military parade held amid unprecedented famine. He joins the podcast to discuss what it’s like […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: What was Washington’s worst decision so far?

Washington’s overriding North Korea policy goal since Kim Jong Un took power has been the complete denuclearization of the country — an initiative that has proven utterly unsuccessful after 10 years.  Kim’s efforts to develop a credible deterrent and long-range missile delivery system evolved over the past decade at a rate that exceeded most expectations, […]

North Korea slams US-style ‘democracy’ after summit against authoritarianism

North Korea has denounced Washington for using “American-style ‘democracy’” as a tool to interfere in other countries’ affairs, after the U.S. hosted its Summit for Democracy over the weekend with more than 110 countries participating. In a statement published on Sunday, the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined China and Russia in criticizing the virtual […]

‘Abnormal climatic phenomenon’ hits Pyongyang: North Korean media

North Korea’s capital and surrounding areas experienced an “abnormal climatic phenomenon,” the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday, echoing a flurry of state television reports from prior days. The conditions, which in photos appeared to be a thick fog, were described as “unprecedented” according to North Korean weather experts quoted by state […]

China still throwing cash at an unused bridge to North Korea

China’s Liaoning Province will spend more than half a million dollars on a bridge into North Korea over the coming months to install “anti-terror monitoring points,” overhaul electrical systems and conduct daily maintenance, government documents show, despite the bridge going unused for years. The new investments in the New Yalu River Bridge, which connects Dandong […]

G7 foreign chiefs call on North Korea to refrain from ‘provocative actions’

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven (G7) have called on North Korea to refrain from “provocative actions” and return to denuclearization talks, reinforcing a statement from earlier this year.  The remarks came at the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers summit in Liverpool, U.K. over the weekend, where participants shared concerns about North Korea’s nuclear […]

Pioneers, propaganda and play: North Korean children’s education — in photos

There is a famous saying in North Korea that reflects the diligent attention the state pays to children’s upbringing and education: “Children are the kings of the country.” The DPRK grooms students from kindergarten to be devoted revolutionaries for life. Children spend hours and hours studying the Juche ideology of self-reliance and learning the history […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: What was Washington’s best North Korea decision so far?

Washington has for decades tried to convince North Korea not to pursue nuclear weapons, and then once it had them, to give them up.  This hasn’t worked, for the very simple reason that there is no better security guarantee for a paranoid Pyongyang leadership that understands much of the world would rather it be gone. […]

In Biden’s Washington, North Korea barely moves the needle

As long-term readers are aware, in the past, yours truly has occasionally published short reports about my trips abroad and conversations about North Korea with policymakers in various countries.  The pandemic put a pause on these international meetings, but I finally managed to visit Washington, D.C. last month, finding a peculiar and strange ghost town […]

US to impose new sanctions against North Korea for first time under Biden

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will sanction North Korea’s central prosecutors’ office, one of its animation studios and a high-level official, as well as seven DPRK-related foreign individuals and entities, an informed source told NK News on Friday. The new sanctions, to be announced Friday (U.S. time), will mark the first such […]

US still game to talk to North Korea ‘without preconditions’: Ambassador to UN

The U.S. is willing to meet North Korea “without preconditions” despite almost a year of stonewalling from Pyongyang, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday.  “We hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a press briefing in New York. “We don’t have any hostile […]

North Korea sees progress on transforming ‘backward’ mining town: Imagery

This article is part two in a series about progress on major construction projects around North Korea in 2021. Part one covered developments in Pyongyang. North Korea has made significant progress this year on a top-priority project to transform a “backward” mining town in the country’s northeast, as workers appear set to meet their deadline […]

A diplomat’s life: On the ground in Pyongyang during the ‘fire and fury’ era

The following article is the twelfth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

Gift guide: The best books for North Korea watchers this holiday season

North Korea has now sealed itself off from the rest of the world for nearly two years, including for all of 2021. But the country’s continuing isolation during the pandemic has not stopped the release of a range of eclectic new books on the DPRK. With the holiday season here, it’s now the perfect time […]

Families separated by Korean War giving up hope of meeting loved ones: Survey

More and more people separated from their families since the Korean War are giving up hope of reuniting with their loved ones in North Korea, as many consider themselves “too old” and in “bad health,” a new South Korean government survey showed Thursday. The 2021 survey from the unification ministry found that almost 22.4% of […]

A declaration to end the Korean War can improve American and Korean security

The following article is an opinion piece by Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ, an American nonprofit organization that aims to advance peace on the Korean Peninsula. Views expressed in opinion articles are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. As the U.S. and South Korea reportedly discuss a formal declaration […]

North Korea prepares to open newest skyscraper street as deadline nears: Imagery

This article is the first in a series about progress on major construction projects around North Korea in 2021, and focuses on the capital, Pyongyang. North Korea appears set to celebrate the completion of a new skyscraper street project and a smaller elite residential project in Pyongyang in the coming weeks, according to NK News […]

UNICEF receives exemption to send ventilators, vaccine equipment to North Korea

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received international sanctions exemptions to ship COVID-19 relief items to North Korea, a letter from the U.N. Security Council 1718 sanctions committee showed on Wednesday. The items covered under sanctions exemptions are worth around $1.48 million and include various types of ventilators, masks as well as COVID-19 vaccine […]

US lawmakers urge White House to reject end-of-war declaration with North Korea

About three dozen lawmakers have urged the Biden administration not to support a declaration to end the Korean War until North Korea eliminates its nuclear weapons and improves human rights conditions in the country. The letter, signed by 35 Republican representatives and sent to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sulivan on Tuesday, warns that a […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: What was Kim’s worst decision so far?

Ten years ago next week, Kim Jong Un became the sole leader of one of the most repressive and isolated countries in the world after his father and former DPRK leader Kim Jong Il died from an apparent heart attack. While Kim has largely succeeded in securing his rule over the country, troubles are mounting. […]

Has ‘Squid Game’ been smuggled into North Korea? – NKNews Podcast Ep. 212

Recently, there have been reports that the Netflix hit “Squid Game” has made it into North Korea, and even that authorities have sentenced a man to death for smuggling copies of the violent drama. Yet experts have expressed doubt about these claims due to the DPRK’s ongoing COVID-19 controls. This week, NK News reporters join […]

European Council renews human rights sanctions against North Korean officials

The European Council (EC) announced on Monday it had renewed sanctions against over a dozen human rights violators, including two high-ranking North Korean officials and the country’s top public prosecutor’s office. The sanctions regime, which was established in Dec. 2020, targets individuals and entities accused of heinous crimes against humanity. In March, the EC expanded […]

US diplomatic boycott of Olympics a setback for dialogue with DPRK: experts

The U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games on Monday, in another setback for Seoul’s hopes to use the international event scheduled for Feb. 2022 to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. The White House cited China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang and “other […]

US builds new radar to detect ballistic, hypersonic missiles from Indo-Pacific

The U.S. has built a new defense radar in Alaska to protect the country from ballistic and hypersonic missile attacks, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced on Monday, specifically citing threats from a “rogue” state in the region in an apparent reference to North Korea. The completion of the new Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) […]

The overlooked spelling error that underscores North Korea’s culture of fear

In much of the English-speaking world, the country ruled by Kim Jong Un is known simply and succinctly as North Korea. Yet this, of course, is not the country’s official name — the much longer Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — and Pyongyang shuns the shorter “North Korea” in all official and even semi-official dealings […]

Kim Jong Un demands military improve its education system at major event

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on the military to solve problems with ideological loyalty at a major event held in Pyongyang over the weekend, according to state media. The country’s top military commanders reportedly gathered for the Eighth Conference of Military Educators of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) held from Dec. 4 to […]

North Korea warns daily of Omicron dangers, still reports zero COVID cases

North Korea has informed the U.N. health agency that it remains free of COVID-19 after screening an additional 1,421 people, as state media has called for strengthened anti-virus measures to confront the new Omicron variant. According to the World Health Organization data, the DPRK conducted the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests during the two-week period […]

10 years of Kim Jong Un: What was his best decision so far?

This month marks 10 years since Kim Jong Un suddenly inherited power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, 2011. The younger Kim was in his late 20s at the time, and North Korean state media had only introduced him around a year before — meaning that experts […]

Seoul to implement system for monitoring ‘fake news’ on North Korea

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) has set aside funding to start systematically monitoring “fake news” related to North Korea next year, though it is unclear whether the government plans to levy penalties for reports deemed false. The ministry has earmarked $170,000 (200 million won) for the project to counter fake news in its budget […]

Major event appears to be underway at Pyongyang venue: satellite imagery

One of Pyongyang’s biggest venues appeared to host a political meeting or other large event on Saturday and Sunday, exclusive NK News analysis of satellite imagery reveals, days after thousands of people appeared to gather at a key hotel in the North Korean capital. Dozens of buses first appeared parked at the April 25 Hotel in […]

Big event underway or imminent in Pyongyang, satellite imagery suggests

A big event or political conference appears to be underway or planned for the coming days in Pyongyang, NK News analysis reveals. According to Planet Labs satellite imagery, the parking lot of the April 25 Hotel in southeast Pyongyang appeared to be filled with dozens of buses on Wednesday — a sure sign that thousands […]

UN says North Korea faces ‘acute food insecurity’ but excludes it from aid plans

The U.N. has dropped North Korea from a key humanitarian response plan for the second straight year, as the country’s severe COVID-19 restrictions continue to hamper international efforts to provide much-needed food aid and other assistance. In the latest Global Humanitarian Overview report published Thursday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) […]

Not just North Korea: Washington eyes expanded role for US-ROK alliance

The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to explore ways “to enhance regional security cooperation,” the U.S. defense secretary said Thursday, as Washington signals its interest in expanding the scope of alliance concerns beyond the Korean Peninsula to contain China. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made the remarks following a meeting with his South […]

South Korea passes record defense budget, floats funds for new aircraft carrier

South Korea’s National Assembly passed its largest-ever defense budget on Friday, greenlighting $46.3 billion (54.6 trillion won) for military-related spending in fiscal year 2022, including to defend against threats from North Korea. Part of the final $515 billion (608 trillion won) budget passed by the National Assembly, the defense budget for 2022 is 3.4% higher […]

Speakers at Seoul forum question push for end-of-war declaration with DPRK

South Korean lawmakers and experts raised concerns about the Moon administration’s push for an end-of-war declaration at a Seoul forum on Thursday, with one analyst stressing the need to raise the issue of prisoners of war (POW) in peace talks with North Korea. The forum, “Declaration of the End of the War: The Limitations and […]

US and South Korea to update war plans to deter evolving North Korean threats

Seoul and Washington are working to update their plans for wartime operations in response to evolving North Korean threats and other changes in the regional security environment, the two sides announced following a top level defense meeting in Seoul on Thursday. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his South Korean counterpart Suh Wook also […]

North Korean capitalism’s failure in the Third World

Immediately after the Korean War ended in 1953, North Korea had little to no trade with countries outside the Eastern bloc. Yet this began to change after 1956, as the DPRK actively looked outside the communist world for new trade partners in its quest to become more economically self-sufficient and autonomous.  Pyongyang looked at the […]

North Korea to hold major meeting around Kim Jong Un’s 10-year anniversary

North Korea will hold a major party meeting called a plenum in “late December,” state media announced Thursday, falling around the official 10-year anniversary of Kim Jong Un coming to power. The DPRK leader reportedly said at a Politburo meeting on Wednesday that the economy is currently being “stably managed,” according to the party-run Rodong […]

Kim Jong Un appears just once in 50 days as leader set to mark decade in power

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made just one appearance in the last 50 days, remaining out of the public eye for another two straight weeks after he returned from his longest stint away in seven years. It is the ninth time the leader has not made any new appearances for two or more […]

A diplomat’s life: Tight schedules and resort-like thrills touring North Korea

The following article is the eleventh in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

North Korean diplomat meets Chinese counterpart ahead of ROK official’s visit

A high-level North Korean diplomat based in Beijing met a Chinese party official on Tuesday, two days before South Korean and Chinese officials are set to hold talks in Tianjin that reportedly could include discussion of an end-of-war declaration. Beijing’s Liu Jinsong, director-general of the foreign ministry’s Department of Asian Affairs, held talks with Jong […]

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think of regime sympathizers?

“Ask a North Korean” is an NK News series featuring interviews with North Korean defectors, most of whom left the DPRK within the last few years. Readers may submit their questions for defectors by emailing [email protected] and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from Evan Sutton, who asks what North […]

COVAX offers 4.7 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to North Korea

COVAX has allocated 4.73 million more AstraZeneca (AZ) COVID-19 vaccines for North Korea, the global vaccine alliance Gavi confirmed to NK News on Tuesday.  With around 2.1 million AZ vaccines previously assigned, COVAX has now pledged a total of around 6.83 million doses for North Korea — but none have been delivered so far.  “Gavi […]

Why North Korean media stayed silent on new holiday celebrating nuclear missiles

North Korean media appeared to ignore a new holiday established this year to celebrate the country’s nuclear missile development, as Pyongyang may remain cautious about promoting its most destructive weapons. However, questions remain about how the holiday may have been celebrated internally, after state-run outlets made no mention of Rocket Industry Day on Nov. 29 […]

US to maintain military posture in South Korea to deter DPRK, Chinese threats

The U.S. has no plans to change its military posture in South Korea, the Pentagon announced Monday, while stating that it seeks “greater regional access for military partnership activities” in the region to deter Chinese and North Korean military threats. The announcement came as the U.S. Department of Defense unveiled the results of the first […]

Chinese city announces winning bids for upgrades to China-DPRK border station

The Chinese city of Dandong has announced winning bids for upgrades to a key border facility between China and North Korea, recent project documents show, in the latest sign that preparations to resume overland trade continue despite renewed concerns over COVID-19. Dandong Transport Asset Management Co. Ltd. (丹东市交通运输局) revealed the companies that won bids for […]

The dangerous appeal of North Korean culture – NKNews Podcast Ep. 211

North Korean propagandists have churned out a steady stream of cultural products for domestic and foreign audiences over the years — from films, TV shows and radio dramas to comic books and flashy music videos. While always laced with state ideology, these works also evolve in response to changing circumstances and leaders’ whims, providing another […]

North Korean ski resorts prep for tourists despite virus, economic concerns

North Korea’s two largest ski resorts have begun preparing for domestic visitors this winter, according to NK News analysis of satellite imagery, despite ongoing coronavirus-related travel restrictions and leader Kim Jong Un’s recent warnings of “unprecedented” economic problems. After beginning to cover their slopes with artificial snow last week, the Yangdok and Masikryong ski resorts […]

North Korean man arrested 41 days after daring Chinese prison escape

A North Korean man who escaped a Chinese prison in mid-October was arrested over the weekend, according to police in China’s Jilin Province on the DPRK border. Ju Hyon Gon, 39, escaped from prison in the same province on Oct. 18. He was initially arrested in China in 2013 after crossing the border from North […]

Tokyo submits record defense budget to counter threats from North Korea, China

Japan is poised to boost its defense spending by another $6.8 billion (770 billion yen) to combat threats from North Korea and China, expanding its defense budget to its highest-ever amount. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet approved the increase on Friday, pushing the country’s annual defense spending to over $53.2 billion (6.1 trillion yen) for […]

Palestinian envoy exits DPRK while Russian ambassador refutes earlier report

Palestine’s ambassador to North Korea left Pyongyang early on Monday morning, informed sources told NK News, as Russia’s ambassador to the DPRK took issue with specifics of recent reporting on the number of diplomats still active at the Russian Embassy. Ambassador Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan, who had been the longest-serving diplomat in Pyongyang after being […]

South Korean city to make longshot proposal for ferry to North Korea

The South Korean city of Hwaseong, about 26 miles south of Seoul, plans to propose a ferry connecting it with North Korea’s Haeju, as well as other forms of business cooperation with the provincial capital, in a longshot effort to achieve a breakthrough in stalled inter-Korean ties. Lim Jong-seok, the Moon administration’s special adviser for […]

Oxcarts, tractors and hitchhiking: Rural transport in North Korea — in photos

When it comes to getting around the North Korean countryside, it’s rarely as simple as catching a bus or driving across town. Fuel shortages, run-down vehicles and poor infrastructure mean that everyday people must be resourceful to deliver goods and get from point A to B. Most can’t even travel beyond their hometown or region […]

Japan unlikely to support an end-of-war declaration with North Korea: experts

Seoul and Tokyo appear to be at odds again, this time over South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s push to formally end the Korean War, following reports that Japan has voiced its objections to the initiative.  Experts told NK News that the Fumio Kishida administration’s opposition to an end-of-war declaration stems from its worries about being […]

What to expect on North Korea’s new nuclear missile holiday next week

North Korea’s nuclear weapons and defense scientists are set to take center stage next Monday as the country celebrates “Rocket Industry Day” for the first time.  The new holiday falls on the fourth anniversary of the country’s most significant nuclear achievement — test-launching the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking Washington, D.C. — […]

The cruel tales and emotional exhibitionalism of North Korean children’s shows

The North Korean system strives to mold people throughout their life, and those efforts begin from the cradle. Beyond just bringing up children as smart, hard-working members of society, DPRK education seeks to inculcate specific ideological values — hate the Americans and Japanese, worship the leaders and socialist collectivism. Imbuing youngsters with these values is […]

Experts doubt that ‘Squid Game’ has been smuggled into North Korea

Reports that the Netflix hit “Squid Game” has been spreading in North Korea, even leading to one smuggler being sentenced to death for selling copies, have drawn widespread media attention in recent days.  But experts familiar with contemporary North Korean border restrictions told NK News it’s virtually impossible that “Squid Game” has made into the […]

Lee Jae-myung vows to meet Kim Jong Un but rejects Trump’s ‘rosy’ approach

Donald Trump’s approach to striking a “big deal” on denuclearization with North Korea was too “rosy,” progressive presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung said on Thursday, vowing to meet U.S. and DPRK leaders in person to resolve the deadlock since the failed Hanoi summit. Lee added that international sanctions to squeeze Pyongyang’s weapons development have not worked […]

On North Korea, it’s not just the US that’s using ‘strategic patience’

Since the latter years of the Barack Obama administration, “strategic patience” has been a euphemism for playing it safe on the Korean Peninsula. It has become a term of disdain for both engagers and containers, as it is hostile to North Korea in appearance yet enables it in effect. Whatever else one says about Obama’s […]

Canada spots 24 suspected ship-to-ship transfers in DPRK sanctions operations

Canada has spotted at least 24 ship-to-ship transfers and over a hundred “vessels of interest”  potentially violating sanctions against North Korea since mid-October, the country’s Ministry of Defense confirmed on Wednesday. Canadian naval and air assets — including the HMCS Winnipeg frigate and a CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft — are currently in the Indo-Pacific as […]

Book review: ‘Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea’

Many are familiar with stories of North Koreans who risk their lives to escape their home country, but lesser known are the tens of thousands of people that immigrated to the DPRK from Japan, lured by promises of community and equality. Facing discrimination and low social status in post-war Japanese society, some 93,000 ethnic Koreans […]

Interview: Past US envoy for DPRK says end-of-war declaration a ‘positive step’

Declaring an end to the Korean War could be a “positive step” to resolve the ongoing deadlock in talks with North Korea, Washington’s former top nuclear negotiator with Pyongyang said in an interview with NK News on Tuesday. “Does it resolve fundamental issues in the Korean Peninsula? Of course not. Is it a step forward? […]

A diplomat’s life: Navigating North Korea’s complex travel permission system

The following article is the tenth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

Dozens of Russians leave from Pyongyang amid ongoing exodus of embassy staff

Dozens of personnel attached to the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang will board a train to leave North Korea on Wednesday, multiple informed sources told NK News, further shrinking the significantly reduced international presence in the DPRK capital. The large exodus of staff means only two active diplomats will remain at the Russian Embassy, along with […]

North Korea emphasizes winter COVID measures as snow hits country

North Korea says it remains free of COVID-19 after testing 734 more people, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday, as the country’s state media warns of rising cases globally due to colder temperatures. According to the WHO’s weekly situation report, the DPRK screened 162 people with flu-like illness or severe acute respiratory infections […]

ROK presidential candidates slam North Korea on anniversary of Yeonpyeong attack

South Korea’s leading presidential candidates sharply criticized North Korea for its attack on Yeonpyeong Island, as the nation marks the 11th anniversary of the deadly artillery shelling near the inter-Korean maritime border. Democrat Lee Jae-myung and conservative Yoon Seok-youl both referred to the attack, which killed two civilians and two ROK soldiers, as a “provocation” […]

North Korea’s response to global warming – NKNews Podcast Ep. 210

A North Korean delegation recently joined the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, one of the first times DPRK representatives have attended such an event in person since the pandemic began. Yet North Korea’s participation was no anomaly: The country has long joined international efforts to combat global warming, including the Paris Agreement and […]

Preparations in ‘final stage’ to reopen North Korea’s border with China: MOU

North Korea will soon resume overland trade with China, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) suggested on Monday, nearly two years after the country closed its borders to keep out COVID-19. Describing preparations as “in the final stage,” ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo declined to specify a timeline for when the border would reopen.  “Signs of preparations […]

North Korea holds space conference, says launching satellites will help economy

Major players in North Korea’s aerospace sector gathered last week to discuss “peaceful space development” plans and how to link new satellite technology research with economic growth, state media reported on Sunday, as concerns remain about potential military applications of the country’s space program. The event comes after DPRK leader Kim Jong Un ordered development […]

Yoon Seok-youl calls DPRK a ‘failed’ state, vows to defend democratic values

North Korea is a “failed” state that has followed an “obsolete” socialist model, conservative ROK presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl said on Monday, after his liberal opponent earlier rejected the premise of ideological competition between the Koreas. Yoon of the main opposition People’s Power Party (PPP) faulted the Pyongyang leadership for setting a “wrong” socialist direction […]

Revival of ‘Three Revolutions’ a sign Kim Jong Un is losing ideological control

North Korean state-run media recently reported that exemplary workers gathered in Pyongyang for the “5th Conference of Frontrunners of the Three Revolutions,” a mere six years after the last conference. Three Revolutions refers to radical change in the areas of culture, ideology and technology, and it began as an ideological and cultural movement during Kim […]

North Korea far and away the world’s most corrupt country: Report

North Korea is the most corrupt country in the world, an anti-corruption association said on Thursday, marking the second year in a row the DPRK received the ignominious title. Trace International ranked North Korea 194th of 194 countries under its matrix that assessed countries in four categories: business interactions with government entities, anti-bribery deterrence and […]

Yoon Seok-youl’s rise doesn’t bode well for inter-Korean relations

In less than four months, South Korean voters will cast their ballots to determine who will be their country’s next president, with wide-ranging implications for the DPRK.  The ROK has a two-party system in everything but name. Lee Jae-myung, former governor of Gyeonggi Province, will represent the progressives, while former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl will […]

China expands manhunt for escaped North Korean prisoner, ups bounty to $110,000

Chinese authorities are expanding their search for a North Korean man who escaped prison last month, raising the reward to $110,000 for information leading to his arrest, according to police in the border city of Dandong. Ju Hyon Gon, 39, reportedly crossed into China in 2013 before robbing and stabbing a woman. He was arrested […]

North Korean ideological movement ‘losing steam,’ better rewards needed: Kim

Update: State media reported on Monday, Nov. 22 that the conference ended over the weekend and attendees adopted a resolution on carrying out Kim Jong Un’s instructions. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to expand a loyalty reward system to spur development as a core ideological movement is “losing steam,” according to new instructions […]

North Korea opens up about ‘law-breaking’ youth in bid to inspire loyalty

North Korean state TV aired an interview with a former criminal who redeemed himself and achieved a coveted meeting with Kim Jong Un, as part of a new propaganda campaign that seems to be aimed at preventing youth from abandoning their worksites. The campaign — which is taking place amid an apparent labor shortage — […]

After months of promising gains, North Korea-China trade stumbles in October

North Korea-China trade fell 40% between September and October, Chinese customs data shows, ending what was four consecutive months of steady gains between the two countries.  According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC), China imported just $2 million worth of goods from North Korea in October, a 86% drop from the prior month […]

Yoon Seok-youl’s DPRK policy ensures return to ‘fire and fury’: Democratic Party

Conservative South Korean presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl would return the Korean Peninsula to the “fire and fury” tensions of 2017 if he wins, progressive Democratic Party (DP) lawmakers alleged on Thursday. The accusation comes after Yoon said in an interview with the Seoul-based Kookmin Ilbo newspaper the previous day that he may scrap the Sept. […]

Former USFK commander calls end-of-war declaration a ‘gamble’

The former commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) cautioned against an end-of-war declaration with North Korea, warning that it could re-open the door to hostilities on the peninsula. Speaking at a conference in New York City on Wednesday, Robert Abrams claimed there is “a body of evidence” that there will be calls in the United […]

US again designates North Korea as violator of religious freedoms

The U.S. designated North Korea as a violator of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act for the 21st consecutive time, the State Department announced on Wednesday. In a statement released Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to press all governments to “remedy shortcomings” in their laws and practices, calling […]

Unification minister predicts no North Korea nuclear, ICBM test ‘for time being’

North Korea is unlikely to test any nuclear weapons or long-range missiles in the immediate future, South Korea’s Minister of Unification Lee In-young said on Wednesday, as the country’s March 2022 presidential election fast approaches. Speaking at an international symposium in Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, Lee also once again pitched the idea of formally […]

The US must work with China to denuclearize North Korea

In the last several decades, U.S. antiproliferation measures, from sanctions to détente, have not brought concrete or substantial progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The time has come to formulate a new, effective policy to achieve regional peace and economic prosperity. Yet such a policy won’t succeed without enlisting China’s cooperation, a reality […]

A diplomat’s life: Pyongyang meals for diners with adventurous palates

The following article is the ninth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

Top Biden aide stresses US-China coordination on DPRK after leaders’ summit

Coordination between the U.S. and China is “very important” to bringing North Korea back to the dialogue table, the top U.S. security adviser said on Tuesday, following a virtual summit between the two countries’ leaders. During the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping “exchanged views” on regional and international issues, including […]

Seoul megachurch receives sanctions waiver to resume DPRK hospital construction

A South Korean church has received an international sanctions exemption from the U.N. to send more than 1,200 items needed for the long-suspended construction of a cardiac hospital in Pyongyang, the U.N. website showed this week. The exempted items are “for a project treating severe diseases of vulnerable groups in DPRK through Pyeongyang Cardiac Hospital,” […]

Female breadwinners in North Korean households – NKNews Podcast Ep. 209

The Arduous March famine of the 1990s forced many North Korean women to engage in informal economic activity to support their families, even as the state required their husbands to continue reporting to official but unpaid jobs. The result was that many women came to be their families’ primary breadwinners in a traditionally patriarchal society.  […]

Decades later, still no clear solution in sight for Japanese abduction issue

Forty-four years ago, 13-year-old Megumi Yokota disappeared on her way home from school in Niigata, in central Japan, one of over a dozen victims Tokyo says North Korean agents abducted in the 1970s and 80s. Earlier this month, her mother Sakie Yokota, who has become the international face of these abductees, urged new Japanese Prime […]

Interview: Why COVID-19 shut the door on Kim Jong Un’s Singapore vision

There are worrying similarities between North Korea’s Arduous March, a period in the mid to late nineties of widespread famine and death, and the situation in the country today. The Arduous March occurred due to the breakdown of the state economy following the disintegration of the Soviet empire. North Korea’s monetary and material aid dried […]

Kim Jong Un returns from long absence to visit ‘utopian’ town project

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned from one of his longest-ever breaks from public view to visit a “utopian model rural city” project in the north of the country, according to state media on Tuesday.  Kim inspected towns surrounding Samjiyon on an unspecified date near the northern border in order to understand the status […]

Lee Jae-myung’s team slams Yoon Seok-youl’s DPRK views as ‘fear-mongering’

Conservative South Korean presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl’s stance against an end-of-war declaration is based on “exaggerated” arguments and “fear-mongering,” the campaign team of his progressive opponent said on Monday. In a statement, Lee Jae-myung’s campaign slammed Yoon’s claim that formally declaring an end to the Korean War will weaken the U.N. Command or reduce domestic […]

Train to Pyongyang: The joys of traveling by rail in North Korea

The following article is the fifteenth in a multipart series by Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours about being a North Korea tour guide. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. Train travel, like so many other activities, transforms from the everyday and mundane to a […]

‘No disagreement’ with US on push for end-of-war declaration: ROK diplomat

A senior South Korean diplomat has assessed that Washington and Seoul have no difference of opinion on pushing for an end-of-war declaration, claiming that “good results” will soon emerge from efforts to establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. The diplomat’s remarks come after the U.S. national security adviser stated last month that the […]

North Korea one of only two countries yet to begin COVID-19 vaccinations: WHO

North Korea has found zero positive cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 697 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the agency’s chief stated that the DPRK is one of only two countries that hasn’t yet administered vaccines to its people. Health authorities in the DPRK tested 109 people with flu-like illness […]

North Koreans gather in capital for big ideology conference this week

Exemplary North Korean workers are gathering in Pyongyang this week for a meeting focused on improving ideological purity and worksite competition around the country, state media reported on Monday. The “5th Conference of Frontrunners of the Three Revolutions” is the latest in a series of large-scale political meetings this year meant to reiterate the party’s […]

Why North Korea won’t hold its ‘mass games’ spectacle this year

North Korea’s “mass games” propaganda spectacle appears likely to take its first year off since 2017, even as the ruling party celebrated the 50th anniversary of the organizing body Mass Gymnastic Production Company this week. The shows typically involve tens of thousands of children and adults dancing, performing acrobatics and forming giant propaganda art backdrops. […]

Conservative presidential candidate comes out against end-of-war declaration

South Korea’s leading conservative candidate for president in next year’s elections said Friday that he does not support an end-of-war declaration between the two Koreas, breaking from the current Moon Jae-in administration under which he previously served as chief prosecutor. Speaking at a press conference, Yoon Seok-youl said there would be “big side effects” to […]

Two South Koreans in Japan sought to obtain foreign currency for North Korea

Two South Korean nationals arrested in Japan last year allegedly sought to obtain foreign currency for North Korea under the direction of a DPRK spy, NK News confirmed on Friday. According to a government intelligence source, Japanese authorities arrested the two South Koreans — Kim Jong-suk and Kim Jong-kap — in fall 2020 on allegations […]

Too good to be true: North Korean films that double as propaganda for the South

It used to be that official North Korean propaganda left no doubts about which Korea was the better place to live. In the 1960s and 70s, films like “On the Way of Growth” and “Fates of Kumhui and Unhui” presented a contrast between the modernized and developed North and the dirty and archaic South. South […]

Seoul raises hope for peace through forestry cooperation with Pyongyang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to participate in international efforts to address climate change, framing forestry initiatives in particular as a pathway to greater inter-Korean ties. Moon delivered the remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit on Thursday, a little more than a week after making a similar pitch at […]

North Korea urges embassies in Pyongyang to place import orders

North Korean authorities urged the handful of remaining embassies in Pyongyang to prepare orders for foreign supplies and products, multiple informed sources told NK News, a sign that trade with the outside world may continue to creep up. The development comes amid recent indicators that North Korea may soon open a COVID-19 disinfection zone to […]

The secret to success in North Korea? Workers’ Party membership

North Korea effectively has a one-party system. In theory, there are two other auxiliary parties, but in real life, they exist only on paper. So for every North Korean, the word party unconditionally means the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). According to WPK statutes, every citizen of the DPRK above the age of 18 can […]

Japan retracts its assessment that North Korea launched two SLBMs last month

Japan’s Ministry of Defense has retracted its initial assessment that North Korea tested two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) in October, bringing Tokyo’s analysis in line with U.S. and South Korean claims of a single projectile. In a statement released Tuesday, the ministry stated that it will review response procedures and improve its capabilities so that […]

Kim Jong Un not seen for a month, longest absence in 7 years

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not made a new appearance in state media for 30 days as of Thursday, marking the longest period of absence from public activities since 2014 and coming amid an uptick in reports of health issues this year. Kim last appeared in state media on Oct. 12, in coverage […]

North Korea promotes amateur golf scene amid severe economic downturn

While North Korean state media continues to push daily reminders of current “unprecedented” economic challenges and demands that people mobilize to “difficult” worksites, foreign-facing propaganda is promoting the rise of golf hobbyists and a new luxurious golf course. The English-language Pyongyang Times reported on Tuesday that more “amateur” golfers have been regularly honing their skills […]

Former IAEA official: DPRK unlikely to invite inspectors without nuclear deal

The DPRK likely has “residual angst” about the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after it caught the country under-reporting activity including nuclear reprocessing in the 1990s, a former IAEA legal official who has participated in high-level negotiations told NK News.  Laura Rockwood, who helped negotiate the 1992 Safeguards Agreement on nuclear nonproliferation, said North Korea […]

A diplomat’s life: Dining on pizza and ‘meat in bread’ in Pyongyang restaurants

The following article is the eighth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

North Korea seeks ‘close’ foreign cooperation on women’s rights, health

North Korea seeks “close” cooperation with the international community over women’s rights and health, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday, a rare expression of interest in humanitarian collaboration during the pandemic. The vague remarks appear in a screed criticizing the “plight” of women in Western countries and follow a freeze in most […]

China’s new COVID controls risk upending trade restart with North Korea

Chinese authorities in Liaoning Province bordering North Korea have strengthened local COVID-19 control measures, potentially upending efforts to restart overland trade between the PRC and DPRK, recent government announcements reviewed by NK News indicate. Late last month, Chinese officials in the northeastern province noted an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Dalian, a major port city […]

North Korean workers stuck in Qatar nearly 2 years after UN sanctions deadline

Two North Koreans are still in Qatar awaiting deportation to their home country, Doha told a U.N. committee in a report made available Monday, nearly two years after U.N. sanctions made it illegal for DPRK citizens to work abroad. Qatar said in the report that it previously violated those sanctions by allowing one North Korean […]

Washington to Beijing: ‘Put some bite’ into sanctions against North Korea

The U.S. Department of Defense has accused China of not using its influence over North Korea in a “constructive way,” urging the country to take stronger sanction enforcement measures. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby delivered the assessment in a press conference on Monday after China, along with Russia, circulated a draft proposal to members of […]

North Korea rumblings in European capitals – NKNews Podcast Ep. 208

South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to Europe late last month to attend the G-20 summit in Rome and COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, among other diplomatic meetings, and North Korea also made headlines by sending a delegation to the U.N. climate conference. But they weren’t the only ones in town: NK News’ own Jeongmin […]

North Korea warns vaccines aren’t a silver bullet, again says it’s COVID-free

North Korea has found no cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 669 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as the country’s state media warns that more contagious mutations are undermining the effectiveness of vaccines. According to the WHO’s weekly situation report, DPRK authorities screened 98 people with flu-like illness or severe acute […]

Why the Sandinistas sent Kim Il Sung a stuffed crocodile carrying drinks

Tucked away in North Korea’s International Friendship Exhibition, north of Pyongyang, is a one-of-a-kind gift — a stuffed crocodile carrying a tray of drinks. The Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua sent this quirky gift to their North Korean comrade, Kim Il Sung, in the 1980s, and it has come to symbolize the relationship between the Workers’ […]

Not just summits: North and South Korea have met nearly 700 times since 1970s

South Korea and North Korea have held a total of 667 inter-Korean meetings over the past 50 years, underscoring the multiple levels at which dialogue is possible with Pyongyang, according to a new report published by Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Monday. While summit meetings between the leaders of the two Koreas are the […]

German warship arrives in Japan to join DPRK sanctions mission for first time

A German warship has arrived in Japan to help monitor potential North Korean sanctions violations in the Indo-Pacific for the first time ever this month, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The “presence and training” mission has been in the works for months, and the U.S. secretary of defense previously discussed the deployment […]

North Korea launches artillery drill to ‘increase combat capabilities’

North Korea’s mechanized troops conducted an artillery competition on Saturday, according to state media, the first time this year that such a drill was publicized without the presence of leader Kim Jong Un. Reportedly led by Pak Jong Chon, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the […]

Yoon Seok-youl, wild card on North Korea, wins conservative presidential primary

Former prosecutor general Yoon Seok-youl won the conservative opposition People Power Party’s (PPP) presidential primary on Friday, setting up a face off with the progressive candidate Lee Jae-myung in March next year. In his victory speech, Yoon pledged to cooperate with the international community to denuclearize North Korea, though the political novice has revealed few […]

Pandemic ‘paranoia’ in Pyongyang stalled warming ties with Beijing: Report

China-DPRK relations have stagnated over the last year due to Pyongyang’s extreme COVID-19 prevention measures, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) states in a report released Wednesday, as the country’s near-total border lockdown stymied both trade and diplomatic exchange between the two communist nations. The DoD attributes the DPRK’s pandemic policy to “paranoia” in the […]

Window on the world: How global expos encourage engagement with North Korea

Expo 2020 opened in Dubai last month after nearly a year of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While North Korea is not one of the countries taking part in the world fair, Pyongyang has not shied away from participating in such events in the past. The DPRK appears unlikely to make a habit of […]

North Korea casts itself as victim of US vilification over nuclear capabilities

North Korea told a U.N. committee on Thursday that it is subject to arbitrary vilification over its nuclear and weapons programs, questioning why U.S. and South Korean missile tests don’t face the same international scrutiny. Speaking at a meeting of the U.N.’s Sixth Committee, DPRK delegate Kim In Chol slammed the U.S. for its “double-dealing […]

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about traveling abroad?

“Ask a North Korean” is an NK News series featuring interviews with North Korean defectors, most of whom left the DPRK within the last few years. Readers may submit their questions for defectors by emailing [email protected] and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from Justin in Sydney, who asks about […]

Why a papal visit to North Korea doesn’t have a prayer

President Moon Jae-in found time to meet Pope Francis last week for the first time since the heady summitry of 2018. While Catholics constitute a relatively large and politically active part of South Korea’s population, their meeting centered on Moon’s efforts to persuade the supreme pontiff to visit North Korea, the world’s most militantly atheistic […]

North Korean diplomat calls for dismantling ‘illegally established’ UN Command

North Korea’s ambassador to U.N. has called for dismantling the United Nations Command (UNC), arguing that the multinational military force only serves the military and political interests of the U.S. Ambassador Kim Song slammed the U.S.-led command that has been stationed on the Korean Peninsula since the Korean War and demanded its withdrawal in a […]

New evidence again delays trial of accused North Korean money launderer

A U.S. district court on Monday agreed to push back the case of a North Korean man accused of money laundering, the second such delay this year. Malaysian authorities arrested Mun Chol Myung in 2019 on several counts of money laundering on behalf of Pyongyang. Malaysia later extradited Mun to the U.S. in March this […]

Inside North Korea: 12 must-see photos for 2022 and beyond

NK News unveils its annual 2022 wall calendar, a limited edition product designed to help support independent journalism on North Korea. Since 2012, the NK News wall calendar has been the bestselling and most sought-after NK News merchandise item, featuring photos from throughout North Korea. After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the […]

A diplomat’s life: The ephemeral beauty of concrete Pyongyang

The following article is the seventh in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

China urges US to acknowledge North Korea’s ‘denuclearization measures’

China’s foreign ministry said North Korea has taken “denuclearization measures” and urged the U.S. to re-engage with Pyongyang, days after Beijing and Moscow sent a joint proposal to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) seeking DPRK sanctions relief. “China believes the crux of the Peninsula issue lies in the fact that the denuclearization measures the DPRK […]

North Korea says skyscraper project almost done as past developments languish

North Korean state media claimed Wednesday that the country’s top construction project for 2021 featuring an 80-story skyscraper is on track to meet its December deadline, even as the ruling party has failed to finish some high-profile projects in recent years amid material shortages. The project has seen an entirely new neighborhood sprout up in […]

US to seize nearly $1 million from North Korea-backed criminal duo

A U.S. district court ruled on Monday that nearly $1 million in funds linked to a North Korean money laundering scheme must be forfeited to the U.S. government, court documents show, in a blow to Pyongyang’s network of overseas front companies. The ruling by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia comes after […]

Two Koreas should fight global warming together: Former ROK climate ambassador

A North Korean delegation’s attendance at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this week has raised hopes for diplomatic contact on the sidelines of the event, with South Korean officials citing the possibility of talks on forestry cooperation. Such cooperation on climate change issues presents a unique opportunity for the two Koreas to […]

Construction near DPRK-China border bridge latest sign land trade may resume

China appears to be moving forward with the construction of a land port on its side of the New Yalu River Bridge, according to recent bidding announcements, a development that aligns with reports that cross-border land trade may resume soon. On Monday, Xintai Engineering Cost Consulting Co. Ltd. (丹东鑫泰工程造价咨询有限责任公司) published a bid for “competitive consultations […]

North Korea reports no COVID cases after again defending its virus controls

North Korea has tested an additional 691 people for COVID-19 and found no positive cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), after the country’s state media defended its pandemic measures as “realistic and appropriate.” According to the WHO’s weekly situation report, the DPRK screened 109 people with flu-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections […]

The many lives of Yeonmi Park – NKNews Podcast Ep. 207

Yeonmi Park burst onto the scene at the One Young World Summit in Dublin in 2014, when she recounted her life story and appealed for action on North Korean human rights in an emotional speech that went viral online. In the years since, Park has become arguably the world’s most famous North Korean defector, relocating […]

North Korean ambassador to UK attends UN climate conference in Glasgow

North Korean Ambassador to the U.K. Choe Il joined the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) on Monday in Glasgow, Scotland, one of the first international conferences a DPRK delegation has attended in person in nearly two years. Choe reportedly sat through South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s address at the conference, in which Moon pledged […]

With ideology of ‘Kimjongunism,’ North Korea’s leader seeks to be his own man

Last week, South Korea’s intelligence agency claimed that the DPRK has introduced a new ideological concept — Kimjongunism (김정은주의). While the term has not appeared in any outward-facing propaganda from the regime thus far, Kim Jong Un’s adoption of his own “ism” apparently coincides with the removal of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s […]

North Korea strengthens financial control, tackles e-payments in new laws

North Korea has established new laws to strengthen organizational control over markets and financial systems, state media reported on Sunday, with an expert telling NK News that the laws aim to improve the state’s ability to raise revenue. The Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) led by Choe Ryong Hae reportedly met on […]

US, ROK hint at disagreements on ending Korean War after top diplomats meet

The top diplomats of the U.S. and South Korea met on Sunday to discuss North Korea-related issues, signaling broad agreement on the need to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. But readouts from Washington and Seoul after the meeting hinted at possible differences of opinion on an end-of-war declaration, a measure that South Korean President Moon Jae-in […]

Why Kishida is unlikely to improve Japan’s ties with the two Koreas

Fumio Kishida recently became Japan’s 100th prime minister, and his election has kick-started debate about whether the new leader will inaugurate a different era in relations between Tokyo and the two Koreas. Japan has a dominant-party system, but the factions within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) are roughly analogous to parties in more conventional […]

China and Russia submit proposal to ease UN sanctions on North Korea: sources

China and Russia submitted a draft proposal to U.N. Security Council nations on Friday calling for the relaxation of North Korea-related sanctions, citing the absence of nuclear and long-range missile testing by Pyongyang since 2017, multiple informed sources told NK News. The draft proposal is the first one the two countries have put forward to […]

Deep dive in the DPRK: A Danish globetrotter’s unlikely scuba adventure

The following article is the fourteenth in a multipart series by Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours about being a North Korea tour guide. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. A few years ago, a Danish adventurer and diving fanatic named Frode Uhre approached us […]

North Korea’s ‘white tiger’ art studio constructing panoramas and statues abroad

For years, North Korea’s Mansudae Art Studio has grabbed world news headlines for its statue-building enterprises around the world: from the 160-feet-tall African Renaissance Monument in Senegal and the Heroes’ Acre war memorial in Namibia to the bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il that tower over Pyongyang. Yet Mansudae is far […]

Australia deploys warship to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea

Australia has assigned a warship to monitor North Korean sanctions violations, a routine deployment that follows Canberra’s recent signing of a trilateral security pact with the U.S. and U.K. Australia’s defense department announced on Thursday that Australia has deployed the Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga to monitor Pyongyang’s ship-to-ship transfers of goods, which are sanctioned by […]

Moscow urges all parties not to ‘increase tension’ on the Korean Peninsula

Top diplomats from Russia and South Korea met in Moscow and discussed the “urgency” of the resolution of North Korean nuclear issues, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated on Wednesday. The meeting between South Korea’s foreign minister Chung Eui-yong and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov comes as the Moon administration seeks to achieve […]

North Korea securing ‘every grain of rice’ amid apparent food shortage: NIS

South Korea’s intelligence agency said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered that the country secure every grain of rice and devote all-out efforts to farming in North Korea, according to lawmakers briefed by the agency. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) delivered the findings at a closed-door briefing on Thursday, during an annual […]

Photos: War and utopia at latest North Korean propaganda art exhibition

War, missiles, skyscrapers, industrial power, Kim Jong Un’s horse, utopian farm life: These are some of the subjects North Korean artists are exploring these days, according to a state television report on the latest National Art Exhibition going on in Pyongyang this month. The exhibition is being held to celebrate 30 years since former leader […]

Super Mario in Pyongyang: North Korea’s burgeoning video game culture

In recent years, smartphones have become as ubiquitous in Pyongyang as they are in most cities around the world. Locals take calls, send texts and swipe through home screens populated with regime-approved apps, all on imported devices running outdated Android software. They also do something that few associate with one of the poorest and most […]

Snake oil: North Korea peddles folk cures as a panacea for all ills

A glance at the medicine in DPRK mass media is likely to leave the impression that North Koreans live in a medieval society. The monthly magazine Korea Today, special journal Koryo Medicine (고려 의학) and other publications tirelessly extol herbs, moxibustion, acupuncture and all manner of traditional medicine as panaceas for disease. Some of these […]

Black swan meat now on the menu in North Korea as food supply problems persist

As North Korea battles a poor economy and persistent food shortages, the country’s state media has begun to call black swans a new and valuable food source. The introduction of the new food source comes after Kim Jong Un declared a food crisis in June and urged workers last month to come up with ways […]

Kim Jong Un keeps up reclusive streak as boats cruise around east coast mansion

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a habit of taking extended breaks from public view since the onset of the global pandemic in early 2020, and he is now on his eighth absence of two or more weeks this year alone.  He last appeared looking around an exhibition of the country’s largest nuclear […]

A diplomat’s life: North Korea’s brutal training for parades and mass games

The following article is the sixth in a multipart series by Taylor Darby, a pseudonym for a foreign diplomat that worked in Pyongyang for an extended period of time before being forced to leave in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Views expressed in columns are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of […]

North Korea rails against UN special rapporteur for criticizing COVID controls

A North Korean official defended the country’s COVID-19 controls on Tuesday against claims that they are harming its citizens’ human rights, insisting that its stringent measures are reflective of “people-first politics.” The remarks come after Tomás Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur for North Korean human rights, warned in a report to the U.N. General […]

Washington ‘not aware’ of plans to engage with North Korean diplomats at COP26

The U.S. State Department says it isn’t aware of any plans to engage with North Korea at an upcoming United Nations conference, where a DPRK delegation is expected to participate in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The remark follows reports earlier this month that North Korean officials from Pyongyang’s embassy […]

Roh Tae-woo, ROK president who helped shape inter-Korean relations, dies at 88

Roh Tae-woo, the former South Korean president who helped engineer landmark agreements between the two Koreas and normalized relations with other communist bloc nations at the end of the Cold War, died Tuesday at the age of 88. The Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, Exchange and Cooperation — which Seoul and Pyongyang signed in 1991 during […]

Investigating the Daejeon Massacre – NKNews Podcast Ep. 206

Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, South Korean forces killed thousands of political prisoners in Daejeon to prevent them from joining the North Koreans that were rapidly advancing south. The massacre has featured prominently in DPRK propaganda, but it only became a topic for public discussion in South Korea in […]

EU open to video talks with North Korea after diplomats withdraw from meetings

The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula (DKOR) is open to video talks with North Korean diplomats after they withdrew from EU-related meetings in Brussels, the chair of the delegation told NK News on Monday. Two mid-ranking diplomats from the DPRK Embassy in Germany had planned to participate in the meetings this […]

Canadians to privately sponsor North Korean refugees under new program

A Canadian human rights organization has announced a new program that will allow Canadians to privately sponsor North Korean refugees to help them to resettle in the country. The new pilot program in partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will help five North Korean women and their families currently located in transit countries, […]

North Koreans using cash coupons as country struggles to print new bills

Money coupons manufactured by North Korea’s Central Bank are proliferating throughout the country, NK News has independently confirmed, as the DPRK’s COVID-19 pandemic controls reportedly cause cash printing problems. An informed source told NK News that the coupons — which photos show come in a 5,000-won denomination, printed with red ink on white paper — […]

Congressional support for North Korea sanctions undercuts Seoul’s peace drive

Since the concurrent launch of the Biden administration and the 117th U.S. Congress in January, the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government have been fairly united in their assessment of the importance of the ROK-U.S. alliance and how to approach Seoul as an equal partner. Yet in spite of this unity, a contrast […]

North Korea tests 678 additional people and finds zero COVID cases: WHO

North Korea has found no COVID-19 cases after testing an additional 678 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as state media reported on a new, more virulent strain of the coronavirus spreading overseas. The DPRK reported that it tested 113 people with flu-like illness or severe acute respiratory infections and 565 health care […]

North Korea closes weapons expo after 10 days, says event generated ‘new ideas’

North Korea closed an exhibition of nuclear missiles and other new weapons on Friday after a ten-day run, according to state media, with Kim Jong Un’s top military official stating that the event helped generate “new ideas” to speed up weapons development.   The state media report on the expo’s closing ceremony, including rare coverage of […]

Moon vows last-minute push to engage North Korea as his term nears end

South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged on Monday to push for engagement with Pyongyang until the end of his presidency, stating that talks with North Korea remain unfinished. In a 35-minute policy speech at the National Assembly, Moon also celebrated his administration’s accomplishments in inter-Korean relations, which he said have opened the door for peace, […]

‘Reckless interference’ in Taiwan could target North Korea, Pyongyang warns

North Korea’s vice foreign minister warned the U.S. that “reckless interference” in the Taiwan issue could escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s state-run media reported on Saturday. Following U.S. President Joe Biden’s stated commitment on Thursday to come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked, Pak Myong Ho signaled Pyongyang’s support for China and […]

North Koreans pull out of EU-related meetings without explanation

A North Korean foreign ministry delegation from the DPRK embassy in Germany has pulled out of a planned set of EU-related meetings in Brussels, multiple informed sources told NK News on Friday. Two mid-ranking diplomats from the DPRK Embassy in Berlin were supposed to visit the Belgian capital for meetings with the European Parliament’s Delegation […]

Seoul says North Korea’s new missiles at an ‘elementary level’

North Korea’s recent missile advancements appear to be at an “elementary level,” South Korea’s defense ministry said on Thursday, responding to the DPRK’s recent tests of hypersonic and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Kim Man-gi, deputy minister for national defense policy, made the comment in his report at an annual parliamentary audit of the defense ministry, […]

DPRK foreign ministry slams US diplomats for alleged theft in Moscow

North Korea’s foreign ministry took aim at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday after three embassy staffers allegedly stole the belongings of a Russian citizen. In a statement titled “Hobbies of American ‘Gentlemen,’” the ministry said the U.S. should “better control its diplomats who are disgracing themselves by committing all sorts of crimes and […]

China calls for loosening North Korea sanctions despite recent missile tests

China’s ambassador to the U.N. urged the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to relax North Korean sanctions on Thursday, a day after his U.S. counterpart called for more rigid enforcement of the current sanctions regime. Ambassador Zhang Jun, repeating a position China has advocated for years, said in a press conference that the U.N. should roll […]

Just 12 North Korean defectors reached the South from July to September

The number of North Korean defectors reaching South Korea stayed near record lows in the third quarter this year, according to data from Seoul’s unification ministry, with only 12 defectors arriving from July to September. The figure is higher than the two defectors that the unification ministry originally said arrived in the second quarter, the […]

The stop and go success of a North Korean entrepreneur

Let me introduce a North Korean businessman — Mr. Yi, an owner of several small fishing boats. Born in a large port city on the east coast in the mid-1960s, Yi graduated from high school and did his obligatory eight years of military service, joining the Workers’ Party of Korea while in uniform. Once back […]

Far out: Seoul joins space race with test-launch of homegrown rocket

South Korea test-launched its first domestically produced space launch vehicle on Thursday, paving the way for further development of the country’s space industry but falling short of putting a satellite into orbit. The 200-ton liquid-fueled Nuri rocket launched from the Naro Space Center on the southern coast at 5 p.m. KST. The indigenous design aims […]