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North Korea blames US anti-DPRK rhetoric for preventing return to dialogue

A North Korean “international affairs analyst” slammed the U.S. on Friday for labeling its recent missile tests as threats but not those of South Korea, accusing Washington of a “double-dealing attitude.” In a commentary published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Myong Chol defended the country’s “recent activities” as consistent with its right to […]

Seoul seeks aid for North Korea despite missile tests: unification minister

South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young said Friday that South Korea will continue to seek ways to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea despite Pyongyang’s new cruise and ballistic missile tests this week. At an event marking three years since the Sept. 2018 inter-Korean summit, the minister emphasized that the South Korean government has maintained […]

When assessing North Korea’s missiles, keep a cool head

The following article is an opinion piece by Daniel DePetris. Views expressed in opinion articles are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. With the Biden administration continuing to manage the fallout from last month’s U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the last thing the White House needed was an unannounced missile […]

Guns in one hand: Kim Jong Un’s revitalization of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards

At last week’s military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea’s Worker-Peasant Red Guards took center stage. Equipped with Russian firetrucks and assisted by “military reconnaissance” canines, this militia force appeared before Kim Jong Un to pledge its loyalty to the Korean revolution. The Red Guards are one of North Korea’s most elite paramilitary organizations, and Kim’s […]

As Japanese election approaches, Shinzo Abe’s legacy on North Korea looms large

This week marks one year since Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, stepped down from office. It also comes as the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to soon decide the future of its leadership — and likely Japan’s next prime minister — ahead of a nationwide general election. Foreign policy toward North […]

Photos: South Korea’s new SLBM, long-range, supersonic and ballistic missiles

This week saw at least four known weapon tests on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea tested long-range cruise missiles over the weekend, following up with a train-launched ballistic missile test on Wednesday. South Korea on Wednesday tested two new weapons — a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and a long-range air-to-surface missile — with President Moon […]

The eccentric South Korean intellectual in Pyongyang’s employ

Korea recently experienced yet another spy scandal, as Seoul authorities arrested four political activists who allegedly acted as North Korean agents. Ideology more than money appears to have driven these former firebrands of the students’ movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their arrest recalls the case of Professor Song Du-yul, a prominent guru […]

US State Department condemns North Korea’s train-launched ballistic missile

The U.S. State Department condemned North Korea’s ballistic missile launches this week, calling them a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to neighboring countries and the international community. The U.S. issued the criticism in response to two rounds of ballistic missile tests that North Korea conducted on Wednesday. According to DPRK state […]

US introduces ‘multiple-entry’ passports for aid workers visiting North Korea

The U.S. has introduced a new system that will allow humanitarian workers to visit North Korea multiple times on a single authorization, rather than just once, an update on the State Department website showed earlier this week. Under U.S. travel restrictions in place since Sept. 2017 and renewed earlier this month, American passport holders are […]

North Korea tested new train-launched ballistic missile system: state media 

North Korea tested a new train-mounted ballistic missile delivery system for the first time on Wednesday, according to state media, claiming that at least one missile hit a target “in the waters 800 kilometers (500 miles) off the east coast.”  State media’s report on the test Thursday comes after Japan revised its assessment the previous […]

Kim Yo Jong slams Moon for calling North Korea’s missile tests ‘provocative’

North and South Korea both tested ballistic missiles just hours apart on Wednesday, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in calling the North’s activities “provocative” while defending a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test he attended as self-defensive in nature. In a statement issued late Wednesday evening, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo […]

Seoul seeks to improve inter-Korean relations through 2022 Olympics: Blue House

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he hopes the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympics will be a chance to improve relations with North Korea, according to a Blue House spokesperson on Wednesday. Moon’s remark came during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who visited Seoul for talks. Wang’s visit to South Korea is his […]

South Korea announces successful ballistic missile launch from submarine

South Korea successfully completed an undersea test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Wednesday afternoon, South Korea’s defense ministry and the Presidential Blue House announced. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the country’s defense minister Suh Wook were present for on-site observation during the test conducted by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), according […]

North Korea denounces US ‘challenge’ to Beijing’s One China policy

North Korea voiced support for Beijing’s “One China” policy and denounced U.S. actions related to Taiwan on Wednesday, ahead of a bilateral meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accused the U.S. of interfering in China’s internal affairs in a commentary attributed to […]

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans typically eat?

“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 ask@nknews.org and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from Sukhpal in Slough, U.K., who asks […]

North Korea fires ballistic missiles into the East Sea: South Korea’s JCS

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. North Korea fired two rounds of ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Wednesday afternoon, South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) said shortly after the launches. Later in the day, JCS said the projectiles were “short-range ballistic missiles” launched from the Yangdok area of […]

‘Our Father, Kim Jong Un’: North Korea rolls out new kids music videos

North Korea is expanding a new youth propaganda campaign that appears aimed at reigniting enthusiasm for socialist ideals through celebrity artists, releasing new music videos on Sunday featuring children singing patriotic songs about the ruling party and their “father” Kim Jong Un. The videos, shot in a flashy, modern and personalized style similar to those […]

The US, ROK and Japan hold trilateral meeting after North Korean missile tests

The U.S. special envoy to North Korea Sung Kim and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts discussed the “recent situation” on the Korean Peninsula during trilateral talks held in Tokyo on Tuesday. The meeting follows what North Korea described as “strategic weapon” tests on Sept. 11 and 12, which appear to be new, long-range cruise […]

North Korea-linked account poses as KBS scriptwriter to dupe DPRK watchers

An NK News investigation has uncovered connections between the North Korea-linked phishing scam against DPRK defector Kang Mi-jin earlier this month and at least two other attacks, suggesting the extent of the sophisticated social-engineering scheme is larger than previously understood. Late last month, an account under the name Kim Hui-jung (김희정) attempted to add several […]

South Koreans have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb, polling suggests

A majority of South Koreans have expressed support for developing nuclear weapons every year for the past decade, according to a Seoul-based think tank’s analysis of survey data. A new report from the Asan Institute for Policy Studies shows that the percentage of respondents who agreed that South Korea should develop nuclear weapons stayed roughly […]

Nuclear watchdog chief urges North Korea to uphold nonproliferation treaty

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi urged North Korea on Monday to abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions and implement safeguards consistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Grossi’s statement comes on the heels of the IAEA’s report released late last month that says North Korea restarted the […]

A 200th episode roundtable – NKNews Podcast Ep. 200

This week marks the release of the NK News podcast’s 200th episode. As though to celebrate the occasion, the DPRK has produced a number of newsworthy events in recent days, including a nighttime military parade and long-range cruise missile tests. For this roundtable episode, a large roster of NK News journalists and contributors joins host […]

Why North Korea tested new cruise missiles days after a military parade

North Korea’s reported long-range cruise missile tests over the weekend sought to boost  domestic morale but have potentially larger implications for its ongoing weapons development and geopolitical considerations, experts told NK News on Monday. North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported on Monday that missiles tested on Sept. 11 and 12 flew 1,500 kilometers (932 […]

Kids these days: North Korea calls on youth to emulate their virtuous parents

Under leader Kim Jong Un, the North Korean state has declared young educated people, filled with vital energy and armed with contemporary knowledge, to be the salt of the earth and the country’s hope. Yet unlike during the DPRK’s Chollima period under former leader Kim Il Sung, when mass culture devalued the elderly, messages of […]

The Kim regime’s failed witch hunt against magic and ‘superstition’

Communist regimes did not have much sympathy toward religion, which according to Marx is nothing else but “opium” for the people. However, most communist leaders grudgingly tolerated the existence of religious institutions and associated beliefs, if for no other reason than pragmatism. But North Korea is unique in this regard. From the mid-1950s through the […]

How Xi Jinping’s growing personality cult differs from Kim family worship

The Chinese government recently announced that “Xi Jinping Thought,” the political ideology of the country’s president, would be included in the national curriculum, part of a decadelong drive inside China to boost Xi Jinping’s prestige and status both in the PRC and around the world.  On the surface, Xi’s growing personality cult mirrors the Kims’ […]

North Korea tested new long-range cruise missiles over weekend: state media

The North Korean military successfully tested new nuclear-capable “long-range cruise missiles” on Saturday and Sunday, according to the state-run Voice of Korea (VOK).  Calling it a “strategic weapon” developed over the past two years, state media said the cruise missiles will serve as an “effective deterrent ensuring the security of our state more firmly and […]

North Korea’s military parade targeted domestic audience: experts

North Korea hosted another military parade this week but did not reveal missiles or other new weapons tech — a departure from most recent processions. Instead, “paramilitary and public security forces,” some even riding horses, motorcycle sidecars or firetrucks, filled Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square past midnight on Sept. 9. The composition of the parade, […]

US court sentences Canadian man for role in North Korean hacking scheme

A U.S. federal court has sentenced a Canadian man to 11 years in prison for laundering money for North Korean hackers and in other criminal schemes, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this week.  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia sentenced Ghaleb Alaumary, 36, of Mississauga, Ontario to 140 months in […]

US blocks more than $31 million in North Korean assets

Washington blocked $31.69 million in North Korea-related assets last year in connection with U.S. sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism, the U.S. Treasury Department announced this week. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the Treasury Department provided the amount of frozen funds in its Terrorist Assets Report published on Wednesday. “Because the North […]

Bottoms up! The culture of drinking in North Korea

The following article is the eleventh 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 culture, language and food of North and South Korea have diverged in many ways […]

US says offer for dialogue with North Korea stands after military parade

The U.S. government stressed on Thursday that its offer to engage with North Korea stands, after Pyongyang held a military parade and appeared to ramp up activity at its primary nuclear reactor. The U.S. State Department told reporters that Washington doesn’t have a specific reaction to the parade but is aware of recent developments in […]

Kim Jong Un visits shrine with wife, meets military parade paratroopers

Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reappeared in state media for the first time in over four months on Friday, as she and Kim were reported to visit the shrine to former DPRK leaders on national foundation day. Kim and Ri were joined on Thursday by the top leadership […]

North Korea’s Olympic ban creates opportunities for ROK, China: experts

The International Olympics Committee’s (IOC) decision on Wednesday to suspend North Korea for its absence from the Tokyo Games appeared to shut down hopes for sports diplomacy at next year’s Winter Games in Beijing. But experts told NK News that the penalty could actually prove a boon for efforts to engage Pyongyang — if South […]

China tells UN ‘The Mole’ isn’t a credible source for sanctions investigations

U.N. investigators should not use a Danish-made documentary about North Korea sanctions violations as a “credible source” for inquiry, China has reportedly told the U.N. Panel of Experts (PoE). China articulated its position about “The Mole” in a letter responding to the Panel’s questions about some of the activities portrayed in the documentary — which […]

No new ballistic missiles shown at overnight parade in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a “parade of paramilitary and public security forces” just after midnight featuring troops, SWAT teams and students carrying small arms and marching through central Pyongyang, but no missiles or heavy weapons were displayed. Kim did not make a speech, but top official Ri Il Hwan defended the country’s […]

North Korea barred from 2022 Beijing Olympics after IOC suspension

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended North Korea until the end of 2022 in response to its “unilateral decision” not to participate in the Tokyo Summer Games earlier this year. The decision, announced Wednesday, comes after the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics earlier this week. North Korea did not send a delegation to […]

Sources say parade imminent: roads closed in Pyongyang, citizens gathering

UPDATE: Sources reported fireworks in downtown Pyongyang at midnight and again around 1:00 a.m. on Sept. 9, suggesting the event took place during that time. A hurriedly organized parade event is imminent for a midnight kick-off in Pyongyang, multiple informed sources told NK News, likely to include a range of military assets. Citizens were preparing […]

National Assembly speaker repeats call for inter-Korean parliamentary conference

South Korea’s National Assembly speaker requested international support this week for an inter-Korean parliamentary conference, while repeating Seoul’s stance that it does not pursue “unification by absorption.” During a visit to Austria for the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, Park Byeong-seug advocated hosting inter-Korean dialogue between the two Koreas’ parliaments “without any conditions,” […]

What a path toward a deal with Pyongyang looks like

After an extensive policy review, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden finally revealed its North Korea strategy earlier this year, retaining the goal of complete denuclearization while aiming to forge a new path from his predecessors. Yet while officials have indicated that Biden does not seek the grand bargain pursued by Donald Trump nor […]

Preparations ramp up for North Korean military parade in Pyongyang

Civilians have started outdoor practices in downtown Pyongyang for an upcoming parade, multiple informed sources told NK News, though questions remain as to when it will take place. The increased activity comes after thousands of troops appeared in satellite imagery practicing for a military parade at a training base in the capital. North Korean authorities […]

Nearly half of Americans seriously concerned about DPRK’s nuclear program: poll

About half of all Americans are “extremely or very concerned” about North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a new U.S. poll released Tuesday, with two-thirds of respondents also expressing serious concerns about cyberattacks. The AP-NORK Center for Public Affairs Research survey of more than 1,700 adults from Aug. 12-16 found that 47% of Americans are […]

North Korean hackers breach prominent defector’s accounts in targeted attack

In a multilingual social engineering attack, North Korean hackers broke into several accounts of a prominent defector and used their access to send a malicious document to a contact working on DPRK issues, an NK News investigation found.  The attackers also used one of the accounts to message journalists at NK News in an attempt […]

A very North Korean way to die

Contrary to what we often read, North Koreans are not that different from us. They have hopes and dreams. They date and fall in love. They celebrate marriages, births and graduations.  They also mourn the loss of their loved ones. But until recently, how people do this in North Korea has largely been a mystery. […]

Renewal of North Korea travel ban: A missed opportunity for DPRK-US diplomacy?

Last week, the U.S. State Department renewed a Donald Trump-era travel ban to North Korea for the fifth year running. Citing danger to American citizens of “serious arrest” should they travel to the DPRK, Washington justified the extension on the basis that risk levels have not fundamentally changed since it first imposed the travel restriction.  […]

NATO accuses North Korea of ‘spreading dangerous technology’

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg slammed North Korea for violating arms control rules and advancing nuclear capabilities on Monday, calling for a stronger Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to help enforce global norms against nuclear weapons. During the 17th NATO conference on arms control and weapons of mass destruction on Monday, Stoltenberg […]

North Korea reveals new top military brass days after politburo meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s inner circle in the politburo presidium welcomed a new member and the party chose a new chief of weapons manufacturing, state media announced Tuesday, following a politburo meeting last week where the appointments were likely made.  According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the recently demoted top military […]

Understanding North Korea’s ‘final victory’ and why it matters

Two months after the Korean War began, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung sent Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a telegram that said, “We have firmly resolved to win the final victory in the struggle against the American interventionists, who are trying anew to enslave Korea.” More than 70 years after Kim first mentioned the “final […]

North Korea self-reports it’s still COVID-free after declining Sinovac vaccines

North Korea has discovered no cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 683 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as Pyongyang rejected an offer of around 3 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. The DPRK administered tests for 101 people with flu-like illness or respiratory infections and 582 health care workers from Aug. […]

North Korea calls Human Rights Watch a ‘puppet’ of the US

North Korea slammed the nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Sunday, calling the organization a “mouthpiece and puppet” of the U.S. over its reaction to alleged human rights violations in Afghanistan. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) shared a statement by a senior researcher at an entity called the Association for Human Rights Studies, […]

A Canadian detained in China – NKNews Podcast Ep. 199

In Aug. 2014, Chinese state security personnel arrested the Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt at a restaurant in the northeastern city of Dandong. Kevin, who had operated a coffee shop with his wife in the city since 2008, would end up spending the next 775 days in Chinese detention on accusations of espionage, in […]

Chinese city bordering North Korea cracks down on ‘illegal’ foreigners

Chinese government authorities in a city bordering North Korea are cracking down on foreigners illegally entering and staying in the area, according to a municipal angency’s announcement this week. The directive targeting foreigners follows unverified reports in July that China forcibly repatriated 50 North Korean escapees, as well as a recent meeting between a North […]

Siberian jackpot: When North Koreans paid bribes for Soviet logging jobs

In early July, the U.S. State Department published its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report, which predictably accused Russia and some other countries of supporting the forced labor of North Korean workers.  The report states that Russian authorities, in violation of U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, issued 3,000 student and workers visas to North Korean citizens […]

When North Korea shined at the ‘Olympics of the Left’

The Soviet Union and aligned states had a tense relationship with the early Olympic movement, to say the least. In the early years of the competition, the USSR saw the Games as dangerously capitalist and “bourgeoisie.”  In response, the Soviets created their own Spartakiad games, inspiring mass games throughout the communist world, including North Korea’s […]

Unification minister hopes to extend inter-Korean tourism to Russia and beyond

South Korea’s unification minister Lee In-young said he hopes inter-Korean tourism will expand to Russia and other areas once the two Koreas’ relations improve, speaking to a Russian economic forum this week. According to the Ministry of Unification (MOU), Lee joined the 6th Eastern Economic Forum in Russia virtually on Thursday and expressed his hopes […]

Kim Jong Un raises ‘urgent’ issues of food supply, COVID and flooding

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on officials nationwide to ensure a successful harvest this year, “reawaken” local anti-COVID measures and improve consumer goods production and flood prevention efforts, state media reported on Friday. Kim made the orders at the third politburo meeting of 2021, held on Thursday in Pyongyang, according to the state-run […]

New South Korean missiles will be stronger, more precise and fly longer: MND

South Korea will introduce “stronger” missiles that can travel further and strike targets with greater precision, according to the country’s new five-year defense road map released on Thursday, amid signs of an arms race on the Korean Peninsula. The plan follows the termination of missile guidelines that have limited South Korean weapons development, announced at […]

North Korea refuses offer of 3 million Sinovac vaccines

North Korea has rejected COVAX’s offer to provide around 3 million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, a World Health Organization (WHO) official confirmed to NK News on Wednesday. “[The] DPRK has communicated to Gavi that it would be looking at future opportunities for COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX,” Edwin Salvador, the WHO representative to North Korea, […]

ROK unification ministry seeks bigger budget, more money for humanitarian aid

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) hopes to spend over $500 million dollars on inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation, according to its 2022 fiscal budget proposal released Thursday. The ministry asked for nearly $1.29 billion (1.5 trillion won) for the 2022 fiscal year, a 1.6% jump over last year’s budget, in a proposal that it will officially […]

Resumption of Yongbyon activity was not surprising: Former unification ministers

The apparent resumption of activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility was not a surprising move, three former South Korean unification ministers under progressive administrations said on Tuesday at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Unification (MOU). The former ministers’ remarks come after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report last […]

US bars travel to North Korea for another year, citing ‘serious risk of arrest’

U.S. passport holders will continue to be prohibited from traveling to North Korea after the U.S. State Department extended a travel ban on the country, according to a department spokesperson on Wednesday. The ban was initially imposed in Sept. 2017 in response to the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in […]

North Korean diplomat dies after car accident in Vladivostok

Two North Korean nationals linked to the DPRK consulate in Vladivostok died following a car accident on Monday morning, NK News confirmed on Wednesday. One of the deceased was the DPRK consul to Khabarovsk, who died after receiving initial treatment in a hospital, Interfax reported on Tuesday. The consul’s name was E.R. Pak, another Russian […]

At least one Mercedes-Benz shipped to North Korea in 2019 despite sanctions

A Hong Kong firm shipped a luxury class Mercedes-Benz car to North Korea in late 2019, information in a forthcoming U.N. report seen by NK News shows, indicating that international sanctions haven’t dampened the DPRK’s interest in luxury goods. An S-Class Mercedes-Benz was delivered in a shipment facilitated by Yee Fat Motor Trading Company of […]

Cost-sharing deal on Seoul’s contribution for US troops enters into force

The six-year U.S.-ROK cost-sharing deal over Seoul’s contribution for the U.S. troop presence in South Korea went into effect on Wednesday, according to the country’s Ministry of Foreign affairs (MOFA), following the National Assembly’s ratification of the agreement a day earlier.  Also known as the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), the cost-sharing deal signed in April […]

South Korean envoy visits US to talk North Korean nukes, humanitarian aid

The U.S. and South Korea continue to closely monitor North Korea’s nuclear activities, Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy said during a visit to Washington this week, following reports of new activity at a key nuclear facility in the DPRK. Noh Kyu-duk met his U.S. counterpart Sung Kim in Washington on Monday, according to the U.S. State […]

South Korea’s defense ministry proposes 4.5% increase in military budget

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday that it will seek a 4.5% increase to the national defense budget for next year, as Seoul eyes “all-round” security threats including from North Korea. The ministry will ask for nearly $48 billion (55.23 trillion won) for the 2022 fiscal year in a proposal that it […]

Alleged North Korean collaborator claims he was preparing for unification

A key suspect in a major espionage case involving South Koreans who allegedly worked for North Korea has denied the accusations against him, telling NK News that his activities were part of efforts to promote unification. Son Jong-pyo, the 47-year-old operator of pro-Pyongyang media outlet Chungbuk Youth Newspaper, was one of four South Koreans whom […]

Creativity and propaganda in North Korean music – NKNews Podcast Ep. 198

Music is an omnipresent part of North Korean life, from the eerie electronic ballad that plays every morning in Pyongyang to the propaganda tunes sung to accordion accompaniment at schools and workplaces.  For this week’s episode, Professor Keith Howard joins the NK News podcast to discuss the role of music and dance as vehicles for […]

Biden’s North Korea policy inflexible, ‘lacks novelty’: former Chinese official

The Biden administration’s North Korea policy “lacks novelty” and “substantive changes,” a retired senior Chinese official told a forum in Seoul on Tuesday, despite a recently finished policy review process meant to differentiate fresh U.S. efforts from the past. Ning Fukui, China’s former ambassador to South Korea and a former deputy special representative for Korean […]

Seoul’s unification minister claims Pyongyang receptive to inter-Korean aid

International sanctions should not get in the way of humanitarian assistance for North Korea, South Korea’s unification minister Lee In-young said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Tuesday. Speaking at the Korea Global Forum for Peace 2021, the minister argued that it is “international common sense and a consensus” to […]

Kim Jong Un meets disaffected youth who found redemption through hard labor

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met a group of young men who were reportedly “lagging behind” ruling party expectations before earning a fresh start laboring at “difficult” work sites this year, state media reported on Tuesday. Kim also took a group photo on Monday with thousands of young North Koreans who took part in […]

‘Urgent need’ for talks with North Korea, White House says after nuclear report

The White House stressed the “urgent need” for dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea on Monday following news that the North had restarted activity at its primary nuclear reactor for the first time in three years. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report last week explaining that signs indicate North Korea appears to […]

New North Korean nuclear activity ‘deeply troubling’: IAEA

North Korea appears to have restarted its primary nuclear reactor for the first time in three years, according to a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the nuclear watchdog calling the development “deeply troubling.” The reported activity since early July comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in January […]

Don’t sugarcoat it: Why candor is the best policy with North Korea

While the world watches whether North Korea and the United States can agree on removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and normalizing relations, German Ambassador Thomas Schäfer’s new book should be on the table.  Schäfer served as ambassador in Pyongyang from 2007 to 2010 and again from 2013 to 2018, and is one of […]

North Korea reports no COVID cases after testing 665 more people

North Korea claims that it has tested an additional 665 people for COVID-19 but discovered no positive cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s weekly situation report, released on Monday, states that the DPRK conducted the latest round of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests from Aug. 12-19 on 97 people with flu-like […]

DPRK promises to build ‘strongest war deterrent’ in response to military drills

North Korea has threatened to strengthen its preemptive strike capabilities in response to recent U.S.-ROK joint military exercises, recycling language and criticisms that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister made in an earlier statement. The DPRK foreign ministry released a statement on Saturday describing the nine-day drills, which concluded on Aug. 26, as […]

Youth leaving home for coal mines to fight ‘cultural infiltration’: Kim Jong Un

North Korean teenagers and twenty-somethings are following the government’s call to leave home for coal mines and construction sites, and the country’s leader Kim Jong Un reportedly thanked them for their sacrifices in a new letter released in state media on Sunday. Kim also used the opportunity to hit out at the U.S., saying “the […]

A North Korean culinary odyssey: What it’s really like eating in Pyongyang

The following article is the tenth 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. For many, the opportunity to taste new foods and explore a different gastronomic culture […]

Aid workers, activists urge US to lift DPRK travel ban ahead of renewal deadline

In Sept. 2017, following the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, Washington banned U.S. passport holders from traveling to North Korea. Four years later, the prohibition is still in effect. The U.S. State Department is expected to announce soon whether to extend the ban, as it is set to expire on Aug. 31. Ahead […]

North Korea upgrades new skyscraper to 80 floors, making it 2nd-tallest in DPRK

North Korean soldiers have finished framework construction of an 80-story skyscraper in Pyongyang, state media claimed Wednesday, revealing that designers added about 30 floors to what was originally planned to be a 50-odd-story building. Though state media has yet to reveal the skyscraper’s precise height, it is likely that its 80 floors will be taller […]

What North Korea gains from participating in the ASEAN Regional Forum

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is one of the few multilateral platforms that North Korea regularly engages with, providing one of the best settings for the DPRK to share its views and engage with other regional countries. Yet North Korea did not send its foreign minister to this […]

Amid economic crash, DPRK tried to import $1 million in Lexus vehicles in 2020

North Korea attempted to acquire multiple high-end Lexus sport utility vehicles worth more than a million dollars in total last year, a forthcoming U.N. report shows, suggesting that DPRK interest in sanctioned luxury cars has not ceased despite recent COVID-19-related economic woes. A Nanjing-based company was involved in efforts to supply Lexus LX570 SUVs to […]

DPRK claps back at UN chief, defends lockdown against human rights concerns

A North Korean foreign ministry official stressed that the country’s COVID-19 prevention measures do not violate its people’s human rights, slamming claims of abuses in a recent U.N. Secretary-General’s report. In a strongly worded statement issued Wednesday, Director-General Jo Chol Su of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Department of International Organizations argued that the […]

US approves sale of $258 million worth of guided munitions to South Korea

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of guided munitions worth up to $258 million dollars to South Korea, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said on Wednesday (U.S. time). In a press release, the agency indicated that the sale will support joint U.S.-ROK preparations for the possibility of armed conflict with North Korea, […]

North Korea to convene major legislative meeting in late September

Hundreds of North Korean delegates from around the country will meet on Sept. 28 to discuss local economic development, youth education and other issues at the second Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) session this year, state media announced on Thursday. The presidium of the SPA also adopted changes to road traffic and forestry laws in a […]

North Korea exports beer made with rice to China after declaring food crisis

North Korea exported over 300,000 bottles of rice-based beer to China in July, according to the latest trade data, a month after DPRK leader Kim Jong Un declared a “food crisis” and the need for emergency food distribution. According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), North Korea exported $39,604 worth of beer totaling 163,852 […]

How to tell if you’ve been hacked by North Korea

Even good antivirus apps and the latest software updates can fail to protect a computer from North Korean hackers, cybersecurity firm Volexity’s latest analysis of the malware spread via dailynk.com shows.  So-called watering hole attacks like the DailyNK hack are not as common as phishing attempts via email but are even more insidious, said Tom […]

Continuing arms race between Koreas risks deepening security dilemma

During his time in office, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has reserved much talk for his peace overtures toward North Korea. Yet behind the heady optimism of the 2018 summits, joint sports teams and plans to regenerate economic cooperation — as well as the recent rapprochement following the reconnection of inter-Korean hotlines — the Moon […]

US envoy meets ROK unification minister, stresses dialogue with North Korea

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim met with South Korean unification minister Lee In-young on Tuesday and stressed the importance of resuming dialogue with North Korea. Kim’s meeting with Lee came on the last day of his four-day trip to Seoul as part of his continuing diplomatic efforts to bring North Korea back […]

Hacked DailyNK website infected broad range of organizations

The North Korean malware attack against Seoul-based DailyNK has spread across multiple companies that accessed the website over the past few months, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has told NK News.  The infections contradict Daily NK’s claim that hackers inserted the malicious code on pages only accessible to its own staff, and raises questions about the organization’s […]

Top US official says Washington seeking bilateral talks with Pyongyang

The U.S. envoy for North Korea continued to press Washington’s willingness to engage with Pyongyang, reiterating in an interview with South Korea’s public broadcaster that the two sides can talk “anytime, anywhere, without preconditions.” Speaking to the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) in Seoul, U.S. special envoy to North Korea Sung Kim said the U.S. “has […]

Sports, not sanctions, will encourage North Korea to denuclearize: ROK governor

The international community should reconsider whether sanctions have achieved any progress toward North Korea’s denuclearization, the South Korean governor of the only province spanning both Koreas told NK News in an exclusive interview. Speaking to NK News at the Jeongseon Forum on Thursday, Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon also said Pyongyang is uncomfortable with offers […]

UNICEF secures another sanctions exemption to send COVID aid to North Korea

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received another sanctions exemption extension to send humanitarian aid to North Korea aimed at helping the country with COVID-19, according to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1718 Sanctions Committee website. UNICEF has an additional 12 months to provide medical and respiratory equipment including oxygen concentrators, patient ventilators […]

Failing to foresee China’s entry into the Korean War – NKNews Podcast Ep. 197

Less than three months after the outbreak of the Korean War, U.N. and ROK troops made their now-famous amphibious landing at Incheon and began to push north. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, from his perch in Tokyo, ordered troops to continue past the 38th parallel all the way to the border with China, ultimately triggering the […]

As Kim Jong Un slims down, North Korean state media covers body weight issues

As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to slim down rapidly, North Korean state television aired a new cartoon last week featuring criticism about a girl’s weight, the latest of several broadcasts about diet in North Korean state media. The state media focus on body weight has emerged alongside Kim’s shrinking waistline since around […]

Top presidential candidate calls for ‘conditional’ North Korea sanctions relief

The ruling party’s frontrunner for the 2022 presidential election has argued that North Korea sanctions should be lifted but must “snap back” if Pyongyang reneges on its denuclearization promises, in the first major policy statement on North Korea by a top candidate. The Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung, the progressive pro-engagement governor of Gyeonggi Province known […]

Half a dozen North Korean domains offline after apparent server outage

At least half a dozen North Korean websites and email servers dropped off the internet last weekend in a sign of growing instability of the country’s IT infrastructure. The server outage on Saturday night disrupted access to the websites of Air Koryo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Naenara web portal, Kim Il Sung University, […]

US, ROK to keep close eye on North Korea amid joint drills: foreign ministry

The United States’ top North Korea envoy visited Seoul this past weekend, meeting with his South Korean counterpart to discuss ongoing U.S.-ROK military drills and humanitarian assistance to the DPRK. Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that Sung Kim and South Korea’s Noh Kyu-duk met on Monday and pledged to keep a close eye […]

North Korea channels Chinese and Russian criticism of US over Afghanistan

North Korean state media has accused the U.S. of being the “main culprit” raising tensions and sabotaging global peace, citing Chinese and Russian criticisms of U.S. actions in Afghanistan. “The international society is now growing vocal in its condemnation of the United States over the crisis in Afghanistan,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported […]

North Korea says it’s still COVID-19 free, develops new testing equipment

North Korea has continued to report zero cases of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, as state media reported that the country has domestically developed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment used in virus testing.   The DPRK reported that it conducted PCR tests for COVID-19 on 679 people from Aug. 5-12, according to […]

Washington’s top North Korea envoy visits Seoul amid ongoing US-ROK joint drills

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a four-day trip, less than two weeks after North Korea protested against the ongoing U.S.-ROK joint military exercises.  According to the U.S. State Department on Friday local time, Kim is set to meet his South Korean counterpart — Special Representative for […]

Kim Jong Un visits construction site for new luxury apartments in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a construction site for new terraced apartments in Pyongyang for the third time this year, applauding builders for making progress despite economic “difficulties,” state media reported on Saturday. The front page of Saturday’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed the North Korean leader holding an umbrella while guiding officials […]

Seoul-based nonprofit publishes human rights dossiers on 30 North Koreans

The Seoul-based Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) announced on Thursday that it has published dossiers on 30 North Koreans alleged to have committed human rights abuses in the country, an effort the group claims will “increase accountability for crimes against humanity.” At a seminar hosted by NKDB in Seoul, the nongovernmental organization […]

North Korean sports fans revel in the highs and lows of competition

The following article is a column by Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours. North Korea may have withdrawn from the Olympics and other international sports events during the pandemic, but it would be a mistake to think the country doesn’t care about athletics. Socialist countries traditionally take sports extremely seriously, both as a way to […]

North Korean rocket launch site, villages flooded as state media silent

More heavy rains in August have wiped out North Korean villages, damaged a key missile and satellite launching base and destroyed a major rail bridge for the second time in a 12-month period in the country’s northeastern region, according to NK News analysis of satellite imagery. State-run media has so far remained silent on the […]

South Korea detaining North Korea-linked ship suspected of sanctions violations

South Korea detained a U.N.-sanctioned oil tanker linked to North Korea in May after it entered the Busan area disguised as a Mongolia-flagged vessel, NK News confirmed on Friday. Sailing under the name Shun Fa but sanctioned by the U.N. under the name Billions No. 18 for illicit ship-to-ship fuel deliveries to North Korea in […]

COVAX offers almost 3 million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to North Korea

COVAX has offered to provide around 3 million doses of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to North Korea, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the DPRK Edwin Salvador told NK News on Thursday. North Korea is also slated to receive 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, but the delivery had been delayed for months due to […]

The strange case of the Japanese man who chose to stay in North Korea

Stories abound of North Korean agents abducting foreign nationals and using them for statecraft. Under the auspices of Kim Jong Il, who directed kidnapping operations while his father ran the country, the DPRK snatched people from across the world to serve as language tutors or even as spouses for wanted terrorists. While the roster of […]

Chinese, Russian diplomats accuse US of escalating tensions with North Korea

China’s Special Representative on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming met Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov on Thursday, accusing the U.S. of provoking North Korea and calling for less pressure on the DPRK, according to Liu’s official Twitter account. The remarks closely mirror criticism of ongoing U.S.-ROK military exercises by three North Korean ambassadors in […]

What the US withdrawal from Afghanistan means for North Korea

The North Korean leadership likely views the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a positive development for its strategic ambitions.  Since the inception of the DPRK in 1948, Pyongyang has officially claimed to be the legitimate government of the entire Korean Peninsula and officially pursues reunification as an inter-Korean policy goal. Despite the rapid development of […]

Seoul says second half of 2021 ‘very important’ period to resume talks with DPRK

South Korea’s unification minister continues to hold out hope for talks with North Korea and a possible breakthrough in the coming months, despite the ongoing ROK-U.S. military drills that Pyongyang suggested would eliminate chances for dialogue. Speaking at a biennial conference hosted by the Korean Political Science Association on Wednesday, Lee In-young said that the […]

Hackers infect DailyNK website with malware to spy on readers

For at least two months, hackers linked to North Korea have been attacking readers of the DailyNK website with custom malware capable of stealing files and passwords, cybersecurity firm Volexity revealed in a report on Tuesday.  The attack used two known vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers to install malware dubbed “Bluelight,” […]

US to keep troops in South Korea after Afghanistan pullout: White House

The U.S. has no intention of withdrawing any forces from South Korea, the U.S. national security adviser said on Tuesday, as allies monitor the U.S. pullout from and subsequent collapse of Afghanistan. Jake Sullivan delivered the reassurance at a press briefing in response to a question about whether U.S. troops would leave the Korean Peninsula. […]

Germany wins sanctions exemption to send COVID test equipment to North Korea

The United Nations has granted a new sanctions exemption to Germany to send medical equipment to North Korea “for the prevention and control of COVID-19,” according to the U.N. website, with the planned shipment to take place “as soon as possible.” The country will have until April 23, 2022 to deliver “six units of a […]

Ask a North Korean: Do North Koreans believe in UFOs?

“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 ask@nknews.org and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from Jimmy, who asks about how North […]

North Korean diplomats lash out at US in interviews with foreign media

Three North Korean ambassadors slammed the United States in interviews with Chinese, Russian and Syrian media last week, while taking aim at ROK-U.S. joint military exercises that began Monday. Experts said the interviews with Russia’s TASS, China’s Global Times, and Syria’s Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), coming during a week when top North Korean officials […]

The man that might have saved North Korea and Afghanistan

The world has looked on in shock and sorrow this week as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban after the United States’ 20-year nation-building experiment. Progress made toward women’s rights, press freedoms and secularism appears to be collapsing in a matter of days.  Thousands of kilometers away, millions live under the rule of Kim Jong Un […]

Hotline fling? North Korea ignores Seoul’s calls for more than a week

South Korea’s unification and defense ministries told NK News that North Korea has not answered calls via inter-Korean hotlines for a week as of Tuesday, as Pyongyang takes issue with ongoing U.S.-ROK military exercises. Experts say the DPRK will continue to leave Seoul hanging unless the Kim regime sees an opportunity to extract some sort […]

Pyongyang or bust: DPRK tourism and the pandemic – NKNews Podcast Ep. 196

North Korea was the first country to stop all international travel following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Jan. 2020, and it may well be the last to reopen after the pandemic finally ends. The self-imposed lockdown has had huge consequences for the country’s economy — including the small but not insignificant tourism sector. This week, […]

North Korea may soon receive textbooks, medical equipment from US-based NGO

The United Nations has extended a sanctions exemption for an international medical mission organization, greenlighting shipments of textbooks as well as medical equipment within the next year, according to the U.N. website. SAM Care International, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that conducts medical aid work at a hospital in the North Korean capital and in the […]

North Korea reports no COVID cases amid rumblings of humanitarian aid

North Korea claims it still has had no cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 693 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), amid reports that humanitarian aid flows into the country may soon resume. The latest round of polymerase chain reaction testing brings the total number of people tested in the country to […]

US-ROK joint military drills to kick off on Monday for nine-day run: JCS

The U.S. and South Korea will kick off annual joint military drills on Monday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), with the exercises to continue for nine days. The drills follow statements from top North Korean officials Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Chol in recent weeks denouncing the joint training and […]

South Korean president once more pitches COVID-19 cooperation to Pyongyang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday once again floated the idea of North Korea’s participation in a regional cooperation initiative on health security issues. In a speech commemorating the 76th anniversary of Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule, Moon described projects discussed in the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public […]

No thanks: Places you do not need to visit in Pyongyang

The following article is the ninth 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. North Korea is in many ways a similar travel experience as many other countries. […]

Help on the way? UNICEF could provide vaccine storage equipment to North Korea

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will have another 12 months to send humanitarian assistance items into North Korea after the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) extended a sanctions exemption for the organization, the UNSC 1718 Sanctions Committee website showed on Friday.  The items, worth $4.42 million, were initially approved by the UNSC in June 2020. […]

Photos: Toothpaste, candies and an IV — North Korean trash washes up in South Korea

South Korea’s east coast doesn’t usually experience much surf. But huge waves rocked the shoreline throughout an NK News visit to the Goseong area — adjacent to the inter-Korean border — from Wednesday to Thursday. And with those waves came lots of trash — wrappers, bottles and containers — from neighboring North Korea. Though DPRK […]

As economy struggles, North Korea invokes self-reliance to inspire workers

Recently under leader Kim Jong Un, North Korean media has reemphasized the official state ideology of Juche, or self-reliance, as a cornerstone of national pride and patriotic vigor. Articles published in July celebrated “the new century of Juche” and commemorated Kim Jong Il’s supposed formulation of the Juche idea “into a complete theory scientifically showing […]

Amid food crisis, North Korea promotes elite homes with too much to eat

North Korean state media revealed in June that the country was going through a “food crisis” and that Kim Jong Un ordered his government to revive food distribution to alleviate the emergency situation. Now, state television is projecting an image of stability and elite lifestyles in a new public service announcement encouraging parents not to […]

Chinese court sentences DPRK consultant Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison

A Chinese court sentenced Michael Spavor, a Canadian citizen and consultant on North Korean business issues, to 11 years in prison for spying, a charge that critics say is linked to a Beijing campaign to pressure Ottawa over its 2018 arrest of a Chinese business executive. According to the ruling released on China’s Dandong Intermediate […]

North Korea unlikely to engage in talks despite joining ASEAN forum: experts

North Korea’s participation in the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, a rare appearance by the country at an international conference during the COVID-19 pandemic, is unlikely to signal greater interest in diplomatic engagement on Pyongyang’s part, experts told NK News this week. In a statement released by ASEAN on Monday, the […]

North Korea creates ‘central command team’ for flood damage recovery

North Korean officials are operating a “central command team” to handle “state emergency measures” such as flood damage relief, state media reported on Tuesday. The announcement came after devastating floods hit the country’s northeast last week, destroying more than 1,000 houses and forcing 5,000 people to evacuate. “The central team for guiding the project for […]

North Korea refuses to answer inter-Korean hotline calls for second straight day

North Korea has not responded to calls from South Korea via recently reconnected inter-Korean hotlines for a second straight day, according to Seoul’s unification and defense ministries on Wednesday morning. The unification ministry confirmed to NK News that the North has not responded to a regularly scheduled phone call via the inter-Korean liaison office channel […]

Tensions rise as another top DPRK official blasts Seoul over US-ROK drills

Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s senior official in charge of South Korea affairs, slammed Seoul on Wednesday morning for pushing ahead with planned U.S.-ROK military drills. “As we have already clarified, we will make them realize by the minute what a dangerous choice they made and what a serious security crisis they will face because […]

US harbors no hostile intent toward North Korea: State Department

The U.S. harbors no hostile intent toward North Korea, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, denounced upcoming U.S.-ROK military drills and pledged to further develop nuclear weapons. “First, let me reiterate that the joint military exercises are purely defensive in nature. We have […]

North Korean TV airs first Tokyo Olympics coverage days after closing ceremony

North Korean state television aired its first coverage of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday days after the closing ceremony was held, offering citizens what may be their first glimpse of the event where no DPRK athletes competed. Korean Central Television (KCTV) aired 70 minutes of a women’s football group stage match between the United Kingdom […]

Zooming in: How North Korean conducts spy operations in South Korea

On South Korea’s coasts, reminders of North Korea’s proximity are everywhere for miles south of the border: military guard posts overlooking sprawling beaches, rows of barbed-wire fences, warnings about washed-up mines.  Yet looking out from these shores at night, it’s hard not to wonder whether North Korea might still be sending spies into the ROK […]

Hackers use malicious PDFs on inter-Korean issues as lure

A recent cyber campaign against professionals working on inter-Korean issues shows that North Korean hackers continue to tailor their malware for highly specific targets, cybersecurity experts told NK News on Tuesday.  Using malicious PDF documents purporting to offer information on inter-Korean topics, the DPRK-linked Kimsuky group specifically targeted professionals using an older version of Adobe’s […]

North Korea ignores calls from South Korea weeks after hotlines reconnected

North Korea on Tuesday afternoon did not answer calls from South Korea made through key inter-Korean hotlines reconnected just two weeks ago, South Korea’s unification and defense ministries confirmed to NK News.  The development follows North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo Jong’s statement earlier in the day slamming the U.S.-ROK joint drills starting this week […]

Telling North Korean resettlers’ stories with fashion – NKNews Podcast Ep. 195

Some 33,000 North Korean defectors have entered South Korea since 1998, but many report that they encounter discrimination in the South due to their backgrounds, as well as challenges stemming from culture and language differences between the two Koreas. On this week’s podcast, Jihyun Kang and Marie Boes, founders of the fashion brand ISTORY, discuss […]

North Korea reopens Pyongyang locations to foreigners, easing COVID restrictions

North Korea will allow foreigners to visit 22 locations in Pyongyang that were previously off-limits due to COVID-19 measures, the Russian Embassy in the DPRK said Monday, after waves of diplomats and aid workers left the capital in recent months due to stifling pandemic restrictions. “The embassy has received a note from the Protocol Department […]

Kim Yo Jong promises nuke buildup, demands US military leave South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned the U.S. that Pyongyang will further build up its military and nuclear weapons in response to joint U.S.-South Korea military drills expected to go ahead this month. “We are spurred to further strengthen our national defense and strong preemptive strike abilities to swiftly respond […]

North Korea ignores some areas, favors others in latest flood recovery efforts

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and state media have ignored some areas of the country devastated by last week’s flooding while favoring others for immediate relief, NK News analysis of satellite imagery and state media shows, as the northeast region braces for heavy storms again this week. Days after NK News revealed evidence of […]

North Korea complains about ‘hostile’ foreign pressure at ASEAN forum

A senior North Korean official attended the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) last Friday, complaining of “hostile” pressure from other countries and stressing Pyongyang’s efforts to improve its economy. NK News has learned that An Kwang Il, the North’s ambassador to Indonesia, attended the forum and mainly talked about Pyongyang’s COVID-19 quarantine measures and policies to […]

South Korean ministries gearing up for North Korea humanitarian assistance 

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration may be turning to private and nonprofit groups to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea as severe weather, natural disasters and COVID-19 lockdowns batter the DPRK. The unification and foreign ministries have budgeted tens of thousands of dollars for projects to analyze the work of foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that […]

North Korea maintains it’s COVID-free as it prepares vaccine supply chains

North Korea tested 674 people for COVID-19 around the last week of July and found no positive cases, the country told the World Health Organization (WHO), as a U.N. agency reported that it is working with the country to prepare supply chains for future vaccine distribution. The DPRK tested 99 people with flu-like illness or […]

Kim Jong Un orders disaster relief days after major flooding hits North Korea

A provincial military commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) held an emergency meeting earlier this week to discuss countermeasures for destructive flooding in the region, according to state media on Sunday, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered instructions for disaster relief apparently without visiting the area. The Korean Central News Agency […]

North Korean weightlifters’ Olympic absence provided opening for other athletes

Choe Hyo-sim, a 27-year-old North Korean weightlifter, was a strong contender for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Five years ago, she won silver in Rio, and she was expected to compete for the women’s 59kg in Tokyo. But Choe did not get her chance at this year’s Summer Games, and she was not the […]

UNICEF helping North Korea prepare supply chains for COVID vaccines

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is helping North Korea prepare supply chains needed to store, distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines within specific temperature ranges, the U.N. agency’s spokesperson told NK News on Thursday, amid questions about the country’s “technical preparedness” for a mass inoculation campaign. The spokesperson also confirmed that North Korea has […]

Homestays and adventure travel at far-flung North Korean destinations

The following article is the eighth 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. Pyongyang is, more often than not, at the center of foreign tourists’ trips to […]

YouTube terminates new North Korean propaganda channel, weeks after launch

YouTube has already terminated a new North Korean channel launched in late July in connection with a resurgent propaganda push, monitoring by NK News showed on Friday, the latest in a string of YouTube actions against DPRK-linked channels. The Sonamu TV channel — which featured a handful of blog-style videos starring female host Jin Hui […]

Over 1,000 homes destroyed from flooding this week, North Korean media says

Heavy rain and flooding destroyed over 1,000 houses and large areas of farmland in rural parts of northeast North Korea earlier this week, state-run television reported on Thursday, showing images of inundated homes and collapsed riverbanks. The state media broadcast confirms NK News analysis of satellite imagery showing that entire neighborhoods and schools washed away […]

US, South Korean officials discuss North Korea issues, humanitarian cooperation

U.S. and South Korean officials discussed denuclearization issues and humanitarian cooperation during interagency talks this week, the U.S. State Department said Thursday (U.S. time), as Seoul reviews support for aid work in North Korea following the recent restoration of inter-Korean hotlines. U.S. Deputy Special Representative for the DPRK Jung Pak hosted the first interagency director-level […]

How North Korea has limited, controlled and surveilled dangerous outsiders

The spectacular evacuation of a Russian family from North Korea in a rail pushcart — and subsequent, far from ceremonial exits of diplomatic staff from the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began — has drawn considerable attention to the country’s shrinking foreigner population, with international agencies withdrawing personnel and only 10 embassies still in operation […]

Seoul may finance aid groups working with ‘vulnerable’ North Koreans

The South Korean government is reviewing ways to promote private humanitarian aid work on North Korea, Seoul’s unification ministry said Thursday, some 10 days after the two sides renewed contact via key inter-Korean hotlines. The statement came after South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing anonymous sources, reported the previous day that the Ministry of Unification […]

Ideology still drives North Korea and China together

Despite the collapse of the Communist Bloc, shared ideological principles and revolutionary values still bind North Korea-China relations. While some analysts emphasize geopolitics and economic issues as the cornerstone of the contemporary North Korea-China alliance, it would be wrong to deride ideology as an outdated component of this diplomatic relationship. Too often, outside observers overstate […]

Crises mount in North Korea as major flooding follows drought, food shortages

Major flooding washed away homes, roads and bridges along North Korea’s east coast in recent days, according to NK News analysis of satellite imagery, as DPRK state television said that some areas have already seen over 580 millimeters of rain (23 inches). The floods come on the heels of a monthlong heat wave and drought […]

Seoul refutes spy chief’s claim that Kim Jong Un requested hotline reconnection

The two Koreas reached the decision to reconnect inter-Korean hotlines through mutual agreement, not due to a unilateral request from the DPRK, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) said Wednesday, refuting a claim made by the country’s intelligence chief the previous day. Park Jie-won, the head of National Intelligence Services (NIS), reportedly told the National […]

North Korea lost the war of ideas a long time ago

The following article is an opinion piece by South Korea-based writer John Lee. Views expressed in opinion articles are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. Although Koreans on both sides of the DMZ share a common ancestry, language and culture, the Korean Peninsula has also been divided for over 75 […]

US: ‘No plans’ to engage with North Korea at ASEAN event this week

The U.S. State Department reiterated Washington’s offer to meet and talk with North Korea “anytime, anywhere, without preconditions” on Tuesday, but suggested that the two sides would not connect at a virtual forum this week. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is hosting a series of meetings to discuss regional cooperation and other issues. […]

North Korea planning to operate border disinfection complex within weeks: NIS

North Korea plans to begin operating a disinfection complex under construction near the China-DPRK border sometime this month to resume cross-border trade, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, relaying information he received from a briefing with the country’s intelligence agency. NK Pro reported in April this year that the DPRK is turning an airfield […]

US Secretary of State to urge ASEAN to ‘fully implement’ North Korea sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hopes to persuade members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to fully implement North Korea sanctions, the State Department said on Monday. Blinken will join five virtual ministerial meetings related to ASEAN this week and will discuss North Korea and other issues with the 10-member states, a […]

North Korea produces new vanity vlogs in social media propaganda comeback

North Korea’s social media propaganda operations have made a resurgence in recent weeks after going mostly quiet late last year, resuming months after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on the nation’s propagandists to regroup and improve their messaging abroad. In four new vlogs, a female host named Jin Hui speaks Mandarin Chinese and […]

How Trump brought Korea to the brink of nuclear war – NKNews Podcast Ep. 194

Some observers have argued that North Korea followed a familiar pattern of raising tensions for the purpose of extracting concessions during the 2017 nuclear crisis, maintaining that there was never any serious danger of war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula. On this week’s podcast, Professor Van Jackson explains why 2017 was different: Donald Trump’s […]

How Kim Il Sung’s friendship with a king led North Korea to the World Cup

Mention Italy to any North Korean and they will almost certainly bring up the 1966 World Cup, when the DPRK shocked “The Blue” to reach the quarterfinals.  Sadly, North Korea’s soccer teams are unlikely to replicate this success any time soon due to COVID-19 concerns. The DPRK has withdrawn from one major international competition after […]

South Korea’s ruling party divided on whether to favor drills or diplomacy

The U.S. and South Korea have not yet determined the “schedule, scale and means” of their upcoming joint drills and the two allies will make a decision on it together, South Korea’s defense ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan said on Monday. The comments come after the North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo Jong implied on Sunday […]

North Korean trade hits 30-year low amid sanctions, COVID-19 pandemic: report

North Korea’s trading activity hit its lowest level in over three decades last year due to sanctions and COVID-19 control measures, according to a new report from a South Korean state-funded agency. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) stated that North Korean trade volume shrunk to $863 million in 2020. That is the lowest since […]

Mysterious spot and bandage appear on back of Kim Jong Un’s head

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared with a dark spot on the back of his head during public activities last week — the latest health-related issue Kim has faced in recent years.  The cause or nature of the large, dark green spot or bruise on the rear right side of his head, which was […]

North Korea again reports no COVID cases, as Seoul pushes humanitarian aid

North Korea has once again reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 after another week of testing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as Seoul pushes to send humanitarian aid to the North following the restoration of inter-Korean hotlines. In its weekly situation report, the WHO said the DPRK tested a total of 681 people […]

Seoul seeks video calls with North Korea days after reconnecting hotlines

South Korea sent a document to North Korea requesting discussions on an inter-Korean video call system, a few days after the two sides reconnected hotlines, the unification ministry said on Monday. The document is the first sent across the border via the communication channels since their restoration, a ministry official told NK News on Monday. […]

North Korea seems to deny claim of 50 escapees forcibly repatriated from China

North Korea’s foreign ministry on Monday appeared to reject claims by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others that China forcibly repatriated North Korean escapees, accusing the international nonprofit of being “anti-China” and spreading a “rumor.” HRW cited Radio Free Asia reporting in a July 22 statement that criticized China for allegedly sending back around 50 […]

US seizes Singaporean oil tanker for violating North Korea sanctions

The U.S. has seized a Singapore-owned oil tanker that engaged in illicit ship-to-ship deliveries of petroleum products to North Korean vessels — a violation of U.S. and U.N. sanctions. According to a statement released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, a New York federal court issued a judgment of forfeiture and authorized U.S. […]

Kim Yo Jong slams US-South Korea joint drills, casts doubt on leader summit

Regular U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises should be canceled and a North-South leader-level summit remains unlikely in the short term, according to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, in a statement released Sunday night. Kim accused the Blue House of “inflating the significance” of last week’s reconnection of hotlines between […]

Prejudice, not just COVID, is behind DPRK’s expected absence from Paralympics

With North Korea already out of the ongoing Summer Games, it’s increasingly unlikely that they will participate in next month’s Tokyo Paralympics due to COVID-19 concerns. The Paralympics would be the latest in a growing list of international sporting events that the DPRK has refused to send athletes to due to the pandemic. Most recently, […]

North Korea isn’t fretting about a long COVID-19 lockdown

New developments over the past month have underlined a surprising fact about North Korea’s COVID-19 response: Despite serious economic difficulties due to its border lockdown, the country is not in a terrible rush to vaccinate its population. Talks this year with the global vaccine alliance Gavi have yielded little results, as Pyongyang has completed only […]

South Korea greenlights first aid to DPRK since Sept. 2020

South Korea has approved requests to send private humanitarian aid to North Korea for the first time since last September, the unification ministry announced on Friday, though it remains unclear whether Pyongyang will accept any outside aid due to fears of COVID-19 infection. The move follows the surprise thawing of inter-Korean relations earlier this week […]

Kim Jong Un gathers military for four-day lecture, criticizes US military drills

North Korean state media revealed Friday that Kim Jong Un chaired another big military event in Pyongyang earlier this week, criticizing U.S. military drills during a first-of-its-kind “workshop” for Korean People’s Army (KPA) commanders and political officers from July 24 to 27. The state media report on Kim Jong Un’s speech and other speakers during […]

North Korea withdraws from 2022 Asian Cup soccer tournaments

North Korea has withdrawn from two regional soccer competitions scheduled for next year, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), as the country continues to shun international sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on Thursday, AFC announced that North Korea will not participate in the U23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan in June […]

North Korea hides news of inter-Korean hotline reconnection from its people

Major North Korean state media outlets have yet to tell the country’s people about the reestablishment of inter-Korean hotlines this week, a stark contrast to the South Korean government’s jubilation. Experts said the omission indicates Pyongyang’s wariness about public perception during the COVID-19 lockdown and difficult economic situation, as it warms to dialogue more than […]

Restored East Sea hotline another buoy to inter-Korean talks

The two Koreas continued their restoration of contact lines this week, reestablishing a military hotline on Thursday after resolving technical problems two days after Seoul and Pyongyang announced they had reestablished other inter-Korean communication channels. The East Sea military hotline between the South and North was fully restored at 9 a.m., South Korea’s Ministry of […]

Australian sentenced to 3.5 years for brokering arms sales with North Korea

A court has sentenced a Sydney man to three and a half years in prison for brokering the sale of military equipment, coal and other sanctioned commodities by North Korea, according to Australian authorities. The Supreme Court of New South Wales found that Choi Chan Han provided sanctioned services by brokering North Korea’s sale of […]

Kim Jong Un makes rare visit to Chinese friendship monument on war anniversary

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare visit to the Friendship Tower in Pyongyang on Wednesday to offer respects to Chinese soldiers who helped fight American troops during the Korean War. It was only Kim’s second appearance at the capital’s main site commemorating China-DPRK ties following his visit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping […]

In diplomacy with North Korea, Moon Jae-in dances alone

The following article is a column by Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary senior research fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University in England. According to some Western cultural stereotypes, Koreans tend to be direct and “in your face.” Japanese, by contrast, can be elaborately indirect and circumlocutory to avoid giving offense. It seems nobody told […]

When North Korean doctors stood up to the government against overwork

The Kim family regime is often accused of working its population to extremes for little pay in the hopes of increasing economic production, and such overwork in North Korea isn’t a recent phenomenon. In the late 1950s, Pyongyang policymakers announced the Cheollima, or ​​thousand-mile horse, mass labor mobilization campaign. Inspired by China’s Great Leap Forward, […]

A hotline history: Why North Korea changes the game when it picks up the phone

North Korea is picking up the phone again, and history shows that major developments in inter-Korean relations could be just around the corner. On Tuesday morning, both North and South Korea confirmed that key communication channels had been reestablished, after nearly 13 months of silence from Pyongyang since it cut all its hotlines with Seoul […]

Washington, Beijing welcome surprise restoration of inter-Korean hotlines

Both Washington and Beijing welcomed North and South Korea’s decision to restore hotline communications this week, despite bilateral tensions that have made it difficult for the U.S. and China countries to find common ground on North Korea issues. South Korea’s Blue House made a surprise announcement on Tuesday that the two Koreas had reestablished communication […]

Kim Jong Un compares COVID-19 ‘hardships’ to Korean War at veterans conference

Elderly veterans of the Korean War gathered in Pyongyang Tuesday night for the first-ever outdoor national veterans conference, complete with fireworks and a speech by Kim Jong Un in which the leader compared pandemic “hardships” to those of the war. In his speech at the Seventh National Conference of War Veterans, the North Korean leader […]

North Korea tests 691 more people for COVID-19, reports zero positive cases

Correction (July 28, 2021 at 9:33 p.m. KST): This article has been updated to remove a discrepancy in WHO data concerning total samples collected for COVID-19 tests. North Korea continues to claim that it is free of COVID-19 after testing an additional 691 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as state media stresses […]

Game of phones? Experts assess the first inter-Korean call in over a year

The resumption of communication through hotlines between the two Koreas is an encouraging sign, experts told NK News on Tuesday, but some cautioned against overestimating the significance following a long diplomatic dry spell between the South and North. “What’s most important here is that there is some room for improvement in inter-Korean relations,” said Lee […]

Stocks surge in South Korea on hopes of renewed inter-Korean projects

The stock prices of several major companies linked to inter-Korean projects increased sharply on Tuesday following the news that North and South Korea had reestablished key communication channels. Investors appeared to eye the possibility of new construction and tourism opportunities stemming from increased inter-Korean economic cooperation, which has been practically dormant since Seoul-Pyongyang ties soured […]

Front row at the Korean War armistice talks – NKNews Podcast Ep. 193

For this special National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day episode, Korean War veteran Richard Underwood joins the podcast to talk about experiences before and during the Korean War, including meeting Syngman Rhee, seeing a young Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang and working as an interpreter at the Kaesong peace talks. For more on Richard Underwood’s […]

US-China coordination on North Korea may be long way off, experts say

The U.S. and China will likely struggle to find alignment on security issues like North Korea, experts indicated Tuesday, as a high-level meeting this week once again highlighted bilateral tensions. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other PRC officials on Monday and discussed a range of issues […]

North Korea confirms hotline reconnection, seeks ‘big stride’ toward trust

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to make a “big stride” in recovering inter-Korean trust, DPRK state media said Tuesday morning, confirming Seoul’s announcement the same morning that the two Koreas agreed to restore communication lines that were cut off for more than a year. According to the […]

Seoul announces hotline communications breakthrough with Pyongyang

South Korea and North Korea reestablished key communication channels on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., the Blue House said on Tuesday, adding that the two Koreas have also been in active communication through letters between their respective leaders since April this year. The news comes more than a year after North Korea announced it would […]

Kim Jong Un reappears after two-week break, visits cemetery on war anniversary

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reappeared in state media on Tuesday after another two-week break, visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery at midnight to mark the July 27 Korean War armistice anniversary.  2021 is the 68th anniversary of the armistice agreement signed in 1953 by North Korea, China, and the U.S.-led United Nations […]

Blistering summer heat wave is killing North Korean crops: state media

North Korean provinces and counties are suffering under a blistering heat wave and drought that has hurt agricultural production, DPRK state media reported Monday, likely worsening what the country has described as a “food crisis.”   The Rodong Sinmun stated that a heat wave has continued in “most areas” in North Korea since July 12, drying […]

India closes embassy in DPRK following departure of diplomats

An exodus of diplomats and expats from North Korea has forced the Indian Embassy in Pyongyang to close indefinitely, an informed source told NK News on Monday, further curtailing international diplomatic activity inside the country. The last three people affiliated with the Indian Embassy left North Korea on Friday via China, along with some 30 […]

Ask a North Korean: How do North Koreans care for their mental health?

“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 ask@nknews.org and including their first name and city of residence. Today’s question is from Jack, who asks how North Koreans […]

Elderly North Korean war veterans fly into Pyongyang for major conference

North Korea will hold a major gathering this week for thousands of Korean War veterans, state media announced Monday, saying participants arrived in Pyongyang by plane over the weekend. The Seventh National Conference of War Veterans may be held around July 27, the anniversary of the end of the Korean War, but satellite imagery also […]

Kim Jong Un sends message of sympathy to Xi Jinping over deadly floods

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a “verbal message of sympathy” to Chinese leader Xi Jinping over deadly floods that recently devastated areas in central China, DPRK state media reported on Saturday. “The respected Comrade Kim Jong Un expressed profound sympathy to General Secretary Xi Jinping and deep condolences to the victims and the bereaved […]

Absence of North Korean women’s soccer team at Olympics a loss for diplomacy

North Korea has had one of the most competitive and successful women’s soccer teams for decades, winning the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Asian Cup three times and the Asian Games another three times. Yet the team, which also reached the quarterfinals of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will be a conspicuous no-show as the […]

South Korea does not pursue ‘unification by absorption’: ministry

The South Korean government’s official stance is that it “does not pursue unification by absorption,” a Ministry of Unification (MOU) spokesperson stressed on Friday, after an opposition party leader voiced support for the idea. Lee Jun-seok, the leader of the main opposition People’s Power Party, argued in a TV debate earlier this week that the […]

Tourism off the beaten path in North Korea’s capital city

The following article is the seventh 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. Many travelers to North Korea are surprised to discover how relatively normal their trip […]

‘Substantial’ new evidence delays case of only North Korean in US custody

Attorneys representing the only North Korean citizen currently in custody in the U.S. agreed to delay further deliberations until September, as prosecutors claimed they are pursuing “substantial” new evidence.  Mun Chol Myong was arrested by Malaysian authorities in 2019 for alleged money laundering on behalf of the North Korean government and was extradited to the […]

Another group of diplomats and expats leaves North Korea via China

Another group of diplomats and expats left North Korea by land via China on Friday, informed sources told NK News, further shrinking the number of foreigners still living in the capital city. The full foreign staff of the Indonesian Embassy to the DPRK joined the delegation, as well as the sole remaining Bulgarian Embassy staff […]

Photos: North Korean capital bustling with changes amid prolonged lockdown

The North Korean capital was bustling with new construction activity in early 2021, according to high-resolution satellite imagery, despite persistent economic difficulties and a prolonged pandemic-related lockdown. Authorities have shifted priorities in recent years when it comes to top-down construction projects — appearing to temporarily abandon some of their largest projects while launching newer and […]

Four in 10 South Koreans think their military is stronger than North Korea’s

A recent survey suggests that South Koreans’ confidence in their military compared to North Korea’s has grown in the last two years, but a significant number still believe the North’s capabilities outweigh the South’s. The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) collected the data in April 2021 when putting together its annual survey on South […]

US, South Korea to work toward ‘diplomacy and dialogue’ with North Korea

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and foreign minister Chung Eui-yong on Thursday and stressed “diplomacy and dialogue” with North Korea to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea’s Blue House and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Security threats from the DPRK in […]

Sherman to visit China as US stresses ‘alignment’ with Beijing on North Korea

In a surprise move, the U.S. deputy secretary of state will travel to China to discuss North Korea and other areas of “alignment,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson announced Wednesday. Deputy secretary Wendy Sherman kicked off an eight-day Asia tour this week, with her original itinerary placing her in Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. She […]

Working with the disabled in North Korea – NKNews Podcast Ep. 192

Humanitarian professional and author Carla Vitantonio joins the NK News podcast this week to discuss her four years in North Korea working with and for people with disabilities, the impact of international sanctions on humanitarian aid and leaving a diplomatic job to work at a nongovernmental organization (NGO). Vitantonio was a country director and project coordinator in […]

How to reduce the risk of getting hacked by North Korea

While North Korea’s hacker army continues to batter major corporations around the world, experts say it’s important to remember that most security breaches attributed to the DPRK start with a single employee — and often a single click. Individuals can significantly lower their risk of getting hacked by paying close attention before opening that link […]

Top US official begins Asia tour stressing denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

Updated on July 21, 2021 at 2:27 p.m. KST with Sherman’s meeting with abductee victims, U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral talks U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman discussed the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during bilateral talks with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo on Tuesday in Tokyo. As Sherman’s eight-day Asia trip kicked off this […]

Interview: Wi Sung-lac says Singapore summit ‘ruined’ denuclearization talks

The U.S.-DPRK denuclearization talks were doomed once former President Donald Trump signed a joint statement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, a former chief nuclear negotiator for South Korea told NK News. In an exclusive interview, former Ambassador Wi Sung-lac also said Moscow has more “bandwidth” to cooperate on DPRK denuclearization than […]

Despite signs of crisis in North Korean leadership, regime can weather the storm

Beginning from last spring, a number of signs have indicated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is experiencing health problems. The nature of these health issues is unknown, but the reactions of North Korean authorities, as revealed in state media and recent changes to the ruling party’s statutes, suggest they are serious enough to […]

China’s glass-floor tourism craze arrives at North Korea’s doorstep

Chinese tourists now have a new way to see North Korea — from a glass-floor suspension bridge hanging hundreds of feet directly above the river that separates the two countries. The Changbai Millennium Cliff City, which opened on Saturday, features a large ferris wheel, a catapulting swing ride that launches tourists out toward the North […]

Utilizing artificial intelligence to improve women’s rights in North Korea

North Korean women suffer pervasive violations of their human rights, but they are also leading market actors in an economy struggling to transform. Though they face extremely low public health standards and egregious patterns of harassment, these women may be the country’s most promising partners for international humanitarian and development cooperation. The COVID-19 pandemic has […]

Pop-aganda: North Korean accordionists cover Norway’s greatest hits

In 2012, five young North Korean accordionists went viral on YouTube, a website banned in their home country, with a short arrangement of the hit 1980s song “Take On Me,” even receiving a shoutout on the U.S. television show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” The sprightly cover of the a-ha hit was the brainchild […]

North Korea delays major farmers’ meeting amid ‘food crisis,’ drought fears

North Korea appears to have delayed its first major farmers’ congress in five years as the country faces mounting challenges from intense summer heat and what Kim Jong Un recently called an emergency “food crisis.” State media first announced in April that the Ninth Congress of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea (UAWK) would […]

Long critical of unification ministry, North Korea condemns call to shut it down

North Korean state media slammed South Korea’s conservative party on Sunday, following recent remarks by party leader Lee Jun-seok that Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) should be abolished. DPRK state-run website Uriminzokkiri amplified South Korean media reports that were critical of Lee’s proposition, saying that some called Lee’s dismantlement idea “foolish, irresponsible and absurd.” The […]

North Korea tells WHO it has no COVID cases after testing additional 696 people

North Korea has once again reported no cases of COVID-19 in the country after testing an additional 696 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as the country told the U.N. last week that a lack of medicine and health professionals “remain as challenges.” The DPRK has now collected a total of 66,142 samples […]

Widespread deforestation threatens to leave North Korea buried in the pines

If you’d picked up the Rodong Sinmun on March 2, the story of the day would have been clear. Right on the front page, the Pyongyang daily exhorted citizens to work, not in harvesting wheat or smelting iron, but in planting trees. North Koreans should strive together, the paper urged, battling with a “patriotic mind” […]

Sinuiju, North Korea’s most popular destination at the Chinese border

The following article is the sixth 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. Sinuiju has long been one of the most visited parts of the DPRK, with […]

Just two North Korean defectors reach South Korea from April to June

Only two North Korean defectors entered South Korea from April to June this year, the fewest ever in a single quarter, Seoul’s unification ministry announced on Friday. Only one male and one female defector arrived in the country during the second quarter of 2021, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, the lowest-ever quarterly figure […]

More than 90% of South Koreans think North Korea won’t give up nukes: survey

The vast majority of South Koreans think that North Korea won’t abandon its nuclear weapons, according to a new survey released Friday. The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) asked 1,003 South Koreans their views on a number of inter-Korea issues in an annual survey and found that 90.7% of respondents did not believe denuclearization […]

US deputy secretary to visit Tokyo, Seoul for trilateral talks on North Korea

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit Japan and South Korea for talks with her counterparts on North Korea and pandemic relief, among other issues, the U.S. State Department said Thursday. Sherman, South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo will discuss “regional security issues such […]

North Korea warns of health problems due to ongoing heat wave 

North Korean state media is warning citizens of the deadly potential of an ongoing heat wave, amid dangerously high temperatures in areas of the country lacking regular access to electricity and air conditioning. The warning comes as countries around the world have reported unusually high numbers of deaths from extreme heat attributed to the worsening […]

North Korea admits medical supply ‘shortage’ in new United Nations report

North Korea this week admitted a “shortage” of medicine in the country in a rare report to the United Nations, but it’s not meant as a cry for help for immediate foreign assistance, an official from South Korea’s unification ministry said on Thursday. North Korea submitted its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on the […]

North Korea bashes Japan’s new defense white paper and its military ‘build-up’

North Korea’s foreign ministry blasted Japan’s recently released annual defense white paper in a statement attributed to a researcher on Thursday. Ri Pyong Dok, introduced as a researcher of the Institute for Studies of Japan, accused Japan of militarizing itself and “poking its nose … into the internal affairs” of North Korea and other countries. […]

Scale of US-South Korea joint drills is a ‘bilateral’ decision: Pentagon

The scale of U.S.-ROK joint exercises is a “bilateral” decision that should be made by the allies, not just Washington, a Pentagon spokesperson stressed in a press briefing on Wednesday, as the two countries prepare to hold drills amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in South Korea. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby added that he […]

An interview with Stephen Biegun – NKNews Podcast Ep. 191

In an exclusive interview with NK News, former top U.S. envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun provides his first-hand account of U.S. negotiations with a rotating lineup of North Korean interlocutors on the country’s denuclearization program and his reflections on the outcomes of that engagement as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from Dec. 2019 […]

An interview with Stephen Biegun, former US special envoy to North Korea

Correction (July 20, 2021 at 9:38 a.m. KST): This article has been updated to reflect that Donald Trump visited the DMZ in June 2019. In an exclusive interview with NK News, former top U.S. envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun attributed the failure of the 2019 Hanoi summit in part to his counterparts’ lack of […]

US commander stresses America’s readiness to prevent attack on South Korea

The United States is maintaining a “full readiness posture” to prevent an armed attack on South Korea, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) said Wednesday, as the two allies prepare to hold joint military drills next month. Adm. Charles Richard made the remarks during his first visit to South Korea since he assumed […]

Kim Jong Un’s young propaganda musicians enjoy access to key Pyongyang palaces

North Korean state media has increasingly promoted a new propaganda band since late June, saying they inject fresh faith in the ruling party and fulfill Kim Jong Un’s orders to start an artistic revolution.  The young members of the Band of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) — named after Kim’s quasi-presidential office — now appear […]

DPRK says it’s pursuing sustainable development, but experts remain skeptical

North Korea says it is making progress toward sustainable development goals (SDGs) that improve the well-being of its people, according to a report it submitted to the United Nations on Tuesday. Adopted by all member states in 2015, the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 17 sustainable development goals that encompass broad areas like […]

Indian ambassador leaves Pyongyang as mass exodus out of DPRK continues

The Indian ambassador to North Korea left Pyongyang by rail on July 2, informed sources told NK News, further diminishing the number of embassies with senior personnel still left in the country. Ambassador Atul Malhari Gotsurve, whose term in North Korea had officially ended last December, accompanied a large delegation from the Russian Embassy exiting the country over […]

North Korea’s relations with Cuba: Revolutionary comrades and brothers-in-arms

Amidst widespread protests in Cuba, the diplomatic relationship between Pyongyang and Havana deserves greater attention.  A shared belief in anti-Americanism and revolutionary socialism forms the basis of North Korea’s longstanding relationship with Cuba. For more than sixty years, the Kim family regime has had close ties with the Cuban communist government, which the North Korean […]

Japanese defense white paper highlights ‘North Korea’s imminent threat’

Japan has cautioned that military developments in North Korea continue to “pose grave and imminent threats” to its security, according to Tokyo’s annual defense report released Tuesday. The 469-page white paper from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) emphasizes that “North Korea already has the ability to attack Japan with nuclear weapons fitted to ballistic missiles.” […]

North Korea, China celebrate ties amid pandemic: unification ministry

North Korea and China have been celebrating their friendly relations on major anniversaries with letter exchanges and a banquet, South Korea’s unification ministry said Monday, with the two sides unable to send delegations due to COVID-19. Ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said that the countries have shown a “trend” of emphasizing their relationship lately, as they […]

Documenting North Korea’s unsolved mysteries and unguarded moments of daily life

From a North Korean football team that mysteriously vanished to an American defector who spent most of his life in the DPRK, three newly available documentaries seek answers to some of the country’s most stubborn enigmas while shining a light on the private lives of citizens in the totalitarian state.  “The Game of Their Lives,” […]

North Korea again self-reports no COVID-19 as number tested exceeds 32,000

North Korea has claimed that it has found no cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 718 people, according to a weekly World Health Organization (WHO) report, pushing the total number of people tested in the country above 32,000. The report released Friday says that all 718 persons tested in the DPRK using polymerase chain […]

Kim Jong Un pushes new musical propaganda campaign as young artists awarded

Following months of pleas from North Korea’s leadership to improve the waning national appeal of the ruling party, state media promoted Kim Jong Un’s favorite new band on Monday for connecting artistically with the population. The Band of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a mixed orchestra and chorus band named after Kim’s quasi-presidential office, reportedly […]

60 years on, China-North Korea treaty still important for cooperation and peace

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the China-DPRK Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, an agreement that still has far-reaching significance for the future development of the two countries’ bilateral relations. There is no doubt that two sides will extend the treaty for another 20 years on July 11, though […]

A lack of flights, hotels is holding back North Korean tourism

The following article is the sixth 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. North Korea may not have a reputation as a tourist mecca, but there are […]

South Korean opposition party leader floats abolishing unification ministry

The recently elected leader of South Korea’s largest conservative party floated the idea of abolishing the Ministry of Unification (MOU) in charge of inter-Korean affairs on Friday, arguing that Seoul should handle the issue of unification as part of its foreign policy. Lee Jun-seok, the 36-year-old leader of South Korea’s conservative People Power Party (PPP), […]

Japan identifies North Korea as major cyber threat in national security document

A key Japanese government cybersecurity organization identified North Korea as one of the primary actors posing cybersecurity threats to the country on Wednesday, as it laid out plans to ramp up Tokyo’s cyber defense capabilities. In a draft of a strategic plan that it adopted on the day, the Cybersecurity Strategic Headquarters (CSHQ) assessed that […]

NIS ties North Korea’s ‘grave’ incident to military grain, disinfection center

The “grave” COVID-19 incident recently referred to in North Korean state media likely related to the mismanagement of military grain and delays in opening a new disinfection center, South Korea’s intelligence agency reportedly told lawmakers on Thursday. In a closed-door briefing, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) also told the National Assembly’s intelligence committee that North […]

North Korean serial ‘Echo of Hallasan’ spins Jeju massacre into tale of unity

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy promoting engagement with North Korea enjoys a mixed public legacy, with critics pointing to its failure to bring about immediate rapprochement between the two Koreas. Yet that appraisal, while understandable on an emotional level given the Korean Peninsula’s long division, overlooks the policy’s real success in easing […]

Top military official confirmed out as Kim Jong Un makes key holiday appearance

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his annual visit to his grandfather’s mausoleum at midnight to mark the anniversary of his death, and there was a conspicuously empty space on the front row of officials next to Kim. With top military official Ri Pyong Chol missing from the front row lineup, state media on […]

Russia says it is willing to provide vaccines to North Korea if needed

Russia is willing to provide COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea if needed, Moscow’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on Wednesday. His offer came a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held an enlarged politburo meeting to scold officials for causing a “grave” incident related to the country’s prolonged COVID-19 […]

U.S. envoy Sung Kim, key Chinese diplomat hold phone talks on North Korea

Liu Xiaoming, China’s special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs, has spoken by phone with Washington’s North Korea policy envoy and called for a “dual-track approach” to solving Korean Peninsula issues. “Pleasure to speak with U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Ambassador Sung Kim on the phone,” Liu tweeted on July 6. “I stressed the need […]

North Korean TV resumes Kim Jong Un propaganda film series after two-year hiatus

North Korea’s propagandists released a new film in a documentary series about Kim Jong Un helping important political and historical figures on Saturday, resuming the series for the first time since 2018. The 90-minute film features scenes depicting Kim meeting or performing extraordinary gestures for a key foundational propagandist, anti-Japanese war heroes and drivers of […]

UN Command suspends DMZ border tours as COVID cases spike in South Korea

The United Nations Command (UNC) announced that it has temporarily suspended visits to the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the inter-Korean border on Wednesday, after two UNC members came into contact with a COVID-19 patient. The announcement came as South Korea’s Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 1,212 more confirmed cases from the previous […]

In Kim Jong Un’s speeches, Marx returns to North Korea

About a decade ago, North Korea took down the portraits of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin from Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, and the last vestiges of Marxism-Leninism in the country were suddenly gone. The disappearance of the portraits followed the 2009 removal of all references to communism from the North Korean constitution, as […]

Laughing along with North Korean comedy films – NKNews Podcast Ep. 190

Dr. Immanuel Kim joins the NK News podcast this week to talk about women and sexuality in DPRK literature, his translation of a popular North Korean novel and the striking sense of humor on display in the country’s short films. Kim is a professor of Korean literature and culture studies at George Washington University and […]

Japan voices ‘deep concern’ about North Korean nukes at nonproliferation meeting

Japan expressed “deep concern” about North Korea’s nuclear weapons at a ministerial meeting on nuclear disarmament on Monday, urging countries to fully implement international sanctions against Pyongyang. State Minister on Foreign Affairs Washio Eiichiro made the remarks at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament in Madrid, which he attended virtually. […]

UK’s outbound North Korea ambassador Colin Crooks to be next ambassador to Seoul

The United Kingdom’s outgoing ambassador to North Korea, Colin Crooks, will be the next ambassador to South Korea, multiple informed sources confirmed to NK News. Crooks, a Korean-speaking career diplomat who has worked as the British ambassador to North Korea since Dec. 2018, will take up his new Seoul-based role in early 2022, an informed […]

North Korea attacks Hong Kong outlet Apple Daily, accuses West of interference

North Korea’s foreign ministry attacked the now-defunct Hong Kong news outlet Apple Daily in a statement on Monday, showing support for the Chinese Communist Party’s recent controversial actions in the city and accusing “western countries” of meddling in China’s affairs. In the statement, the ministry said the independent newspaper Apple Daily “was in the forefront […]

Book review: ‘North Korea and the Geopolitics of Development’

Kevin Gray and Jong-woon Lee’s new book “North Korea and the Geopolitics of Development” offers a fresh perspective on Pyongyang’s current predicament. Rather than focus on the country’s domestic situation in isolation, they seek to analyze the geopolitical “developmental nexus” that gave rise to its persistent underdevelopment. The book is a short economic history of […]

U.S. should address North Korea’s ‘legitimate concerns,’ Chinese FM says

The United States should reconsider pressure on North Korea and address the country’s “legitimate concerns” in response to steps it has taken toward denuclearization, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday. In a keynote speech at the 9th World Peace Forum in Beijing, Wang emphasized the need for “dialogue and peaceful settlement” and “phased […]

Russian Embassy confirms large group of Russians left North Korea last Friday

The Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said Monday that a group of Russian nationals left North Korea by rail on Friday, confirming an NK News report from June that Moscow was planning to evacuate a large number of staff and family from the country. It’s thought to be the embassy’s biggest staff exit since the beginning […]

Japan discriminated against students at North Korea-tied university: UN experts

Top United Nations (U.N.) human rights experts have expressed concern that the Japanese government discriminated against students at a North Korea-affiliated university in Tokyo by denying them access to benefits under a cash distribution program, according to a U.N. letter obtained by NK News. In the seven-page letter sent to the Japanese government in February, […]

North Korean media ignores nuclear missile anniversary after rare 2020 coverage

North Korean state media did not feature any coverage celebrating a key nuclear-capable missile test anniversary on Sunday, after acknowledging the day for the first time in 2020. Pyongyang considers July 4 to be one of the four most significant dates in the history of the country’s nuclear weapons development, as the date marks the […]

North Korea claims no COVID-19 cases, despite recent report of ‘grave’ incident

North Korea has once again reported zero cases of COVID-19 after testing an additional 711 people, according to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) report. The report, released on Friday, came a few days after North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un held an expanded politburo meeting in response to a “grave” […]

New commander takes charge of US Forces Korea

General Paul LaCamera took charge of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) as its new commander after a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Humphreys on Friday. The four-star general will command more than 28,500 American troops in South Korea, the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and the United Nations Command. LaCamera most recently served as commander of the […]

Kim Jong Un destroys another of his private airports near mansion compound

Kim Jong Un’s love of flying appears to be fading, as another of the North Korean leader’s private airports near one of his mansion compounds was destroyed in recent months, according to a new NK News analysis of satellite imagery.  Kim appeared to suddenly become interested in flying small planes to his various mansion compounds […]

North Korea’s brief, surreal experiment with passenger cruises

The following article is the fifth 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. North Korea is among the most sanctioned countries in the world and that makes […]

North Korea cracks down on illegal drug use with new law

North Korea passed a law on the “Prevention of Drug-related Crimes” on Thursday to address “harmful illegal acts” to society, according to state media. A top group called the presidium from North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), passed the new anti-drug measure along with laws meant to improve the metal, chemical and […]

Experts divided on what the ‘grave’ incident in North Korea could have been

North Korean state media on Wednesday reported that there was a “great crisis” caused by senior officials’ negligence in implementing decisions made by the ruling party, which was described as an issue related to “prolonged” COVID-19 prevention efforts. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apparently demoted several top officials, including Korean People’s Army Marshals Ri […]

Number of defectors entering resettlement center drop 85% in 1st half of 2021

Only 57 North Koreans entered South Korea’s defector resettlement facility during the first half of this year, according to a report released Wednesday, as COVID-19 lockdowns make cross-border migration more difficult to escape North Korea and transit through other countries. The figure marks a sharp 85% decrease from 380 people during the same period last […]

North Korean hackers likely used new vulnerability to breach ROK defense firm

After a series of hacks against South Korea’s nuclear research and defense sectors, the cybersecurity firm TeamT5 said a group linked to North Korea likely used a previously unknown vulnerability and new malicious tools to break into the highly sensitive systems. According to a report published on Wednesday, researchers said they believe a group labelled […]

Kim Jong Un says ‘hostile forces’ don’t stand a chance against Chinese communism

Correction (July 5, 2021 at 9:43 a.m. KST): This article has been updated to reflect that Wang Wenbin made his comments on June 30. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent congratulatory greetings to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday for the 100th anniversary of the founding of China’s communist party, vowing to stand together […]

Top South Korean official says North Korea did not punt on diplomacy

South Korea’s first vice foreign minister Choi Jong-kun said Wednesday that he remains sanguine about the prospects of a breakthrough with Pyongyang despite North Korea’s latest rejection of talks with the U.S. Choi is one of President Moon Jae-in’s top North Korea officials and played a key role in crafting the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement. […]

Ties that bind: Geopolitics, not socialism, underpin North Korea-China alliance

The relationship between the “hermit kingdom” of North Korea and economic giant China continues to be difficult to comprehend. Though their alliance goes back decades, tensions over the past few years have rebranded them more as “bitter allies” than traditional friends. Next month, however, the two countries are set to reaffirm their Treaty of Friendship, […]

Book review: ‘From Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un: How the Hardliners Prevailed’

It’s rare for German politicians and diplomats to give their accounts of North Korean politics. One of the only such instances came in 1991, when Hans Maretzki published a book on his stint as East German ambassador to the DPRK from 1987 to 1990. It is thus fortunate to have an informative new book from […]

‘Grave’ COVID-19 incident in North Korea prompts politburo meeting: State media

A “grave incident” related to COVID-19 prevention efforts in North Korea prompted leader Kim Jong Un and top officials to hold an enlarged politburo meeting on Tuesday, according to state media. Senior officials, including a top military figure, were apparently removed from key posts as well. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report Wednesday lacked […]

New dictionary aims to help defectors communicate in South Korean workplaces

South Korea has published a new glossary of industry-specific terminology that could help North Korean defectors acclimate to South Korean workplaces, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Tuesday. The book has explanations of workplace terminology in 22 different types of jobs under eight industries: caretaking, beauty, skincare, production, culinary, baking, sales and sewing. Many […]

Memes, NFTs, sanctions: North Korea and the evolving world of cryptocurrencies

As the market for cryptocurrency grows and the wider public engages with the technology behind it, there are new opportunities for illicit actors like North Korea to take advantage of the emerging digital space. At the same time, the reclusive country has inspired artists and others online to create new blockchain assets and one-of-a-kind works […]

Experts warn report on North Korea’s cyber power understates true threat

A new analysis of cyber capabilities and national power has ranked North Korea in the lowest of three tiers, arguing that the DPRK’s offensive cyber operations are of low sophistication and hampered by the limited number of skilled hackers in the country.  The report published on Monday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) […]

When Trump visited the DMZ – NKNews Podcast Ep. 189

In this week’s podcast, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Morrow talks about his unique stories and experiences during his time as commander of the United Nations Security Battalion from June 2018 to June 2020, and as the host of U.S. President Donald Trump during the Panmunjom meeting. About the podcast: The North Korea News Podcast is a weekly […]

Why North Koreans are worried about Kim Jong Un’s weight loss

According to North Korean media, the country’s citizens are reportedly concerned about Kim Jong Un’s recent weight loss. “Seeing respected general secretary (Kim) looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much,” an unnamed man told the DPRK’s state-run TV broadcaster on June 25.  While the country’s tightly controlled media landscape is not the best resource […]

Fertilizer, oil account for most Chinese exports to North Korea in May

Fertilizer and refined oil took up the majority of Chinese exports to North Korea this past May, new Chinese customs data shows. According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), China officially exported $2.7 million worth of goods to North Korea in May. The fertilizer chemicals urea and diammonium phosphate took up around three-quarters of […]

Interview: Former top nuclear negotiator says US, DPRK preparing for ‘hardball’

North Korea will likely return to talks with the U.S., but it is unlikely to present something new and tangible in the near future, South Korea’s former chief nuclear negotiator told NK News. Speaking in an exclusive interview at this year’s Jeju Forum, former ambassador Kim Sook — who served as head of the ROK […]

North Korea self-reports no COVID-19 cases after testing 735 more people

North Korea has continued to maintain that there have been no cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report, after testing an additional 735 people. The country has conducted polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 tests on a total of 31,083 persons, or 61,892 samples, as of June […]

‘Everyone’ in North Korea talking about ‘emaciated’ Kim Jong Un: state media

North Koreans are collectively “heartbroken” by Kim Jong Un’s sudden recent weight loss, according to a Pyongyang citizen who spoke to the carefully controlled state television network on Friday, a rare official acknowledgment of domestic concerns over Kim’s health. “Seeing our respected comrade General Secretary [Kim Jong Un] become emaciated like that, all the people […]

Seoul willing to offer COVID vaccines to North Korea to help it resume dialogue

South Korea is willing to provide COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea in order to help the country reopen its long-closed borders and resume diplomacy with the outside world, Seoul’s top foreign ministry official on DPRK affairs said Friday. Speaking at a Jeju Forum discussion session, Noh Kyu-duk, the South Korean foreign ministry’s special representative for […]

North Korea once again ignores key anti-US holiday in apparent friendly gesture

North Korea has sent a clear signal that it is still leaving space to improve relations with the U.S., after authorities apparently decided to skip public annual celebrations this week of the “June 25 Day of Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism.” State propaganda has traditionally run campaigns on and around June 25 — the day in […]

Why North Korea tourism and cultural exchanges are a force for good

The following article is the fourth 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. Tour companies that facilitate travel to North Korea often attract considerable criticism. This ranges […]

South Korea detains man suspected of spying for North Korea

A researcher affiliated with a progressive-leaning and anti-U.S. organization in South Korea was arrested and charged with meeting and communicating with a North Korean agent, Seoul’s Central District Prosecutor’s office indicated in a statement NK News obtained Friday. Lee Jeong-hoon, 57, a regular contributor to the 4.27-Era website, was accused of breaking the ROK’s National […]

NATO looks East, but implications for the Koreas remain uncertain

In a joint statement issued last week, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) signaled the expansion of its focus to Asia as it seeks to respond to the rise of China as an economic and military power. Observers have keyed in on the communique’s direct comments on China: It describes Beijing as posing “systemic challenges” […]

Kim Jong Un’s new favorite band lives life of luxury in new music videos

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has a new favorite band, and its members appear to be living a life of luxury and total devotion to the ruling party — or at least that’s how state media is portraying them this week after their recent and sudden rise to stardom. Kim’s quasi-presidential office, the State […]

South Koreans divided on whether to provide COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea

People in South Korea are starkly divided on whether Seoul should provide COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea, a poll showed on Thursday. According to the new poll, 51% of respondents opposed the provision of aid, while 45% expressed support. Around 3% remained unsure or didn’t respond. The survey of 1,006 South Koreans, conducted by multiple […]

Russia proposes civil aviation safety agreement with North Korea

Russian transport authorities have been tasked with signing a civil aviation safety agreement with their North Korean counterparts, an order posted on the official Russian government website showed last Friday. Though no Russian airlines currently fly to North Korea, the DPRK state airline Air Koryo normally maintains twice-weekly service between Pyongyang and Vladivostok. The service […]

Moon calls Kim Jong Un ‘honest,’ pushes talks with North Korea as term nears end

South Korean President Moon Jae-in characterized his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un as “very honest” and suggested vaccine diplomacy could jump-start talks with Pyongyang in an interview published on Wednesday. North Korea could still be persuaded to come out for negotiations on its nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles through a “cycle of denuclearization […]

Where is North Korea heading? Major political rule changes may tell us

By far the most serious revision in the new Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) rules is the creation of the “first secretary” position, along with other measures that appear to prepare for the death or incapacitation of Kim Jong Un. But the new statutes also contain a number of other meaningful revisions that warrant consideration, […]

North Korea says it’s not interested in talks with US that will ‘get us nowhere’

North Korea is not considering talking with the U.S., said the country’s foreign minister Ri Son Gwon on Wednesday in a press statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the U.S., let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only […]

Masked heroes in new North Korean propaganda posters amid ‘prolonged’ pandemic

Classic heroes of North Korean propaganda art, such as miners and scientists, are joined by masked farmers and COVID-19 fighters in the country’s latest official propaganda posters, released in state media Tuesday to encourage the population’s compliance with new party directives. The new posters, featuring standard propaganda slogans and artistic characteristics that date back decades, […]

North Korean defector Yeonmi Park muddles human rights message with partisanship

The following article is an opinion piece by South Korea-based writer John Lee. Views expressed in opinion articles are exclusively the author’s own and do not represent those of NK News. The road to freedom for many North Korean defectors is long, perilous and, oftentimes, dramatic. Those that manage to flee the DPRK with their lives […]

North Korea policy coordination to continue without working group, says US

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday stressed that the U.S. and South Korea will continue “close and constant” coordination on North Korea policy after the two allies agreed to scrap their “working group” on DPRK issues. U.S.-ROK engagement “is most certainly not ending, far from it,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing […]

DPRK imports from China collapse as official state media warns of ‘food crisis’

North Korean imports from China dropped by about 90% between April and May this year, new data released by the China General Administration of Customs (GAC) shows, as Pyongyang warned Saturday that the country is undergoing a “food crisis.” The DPRK officially imported just $2.7 million dollars worth of goods from China during May, down […]

South Korean officials emphasize dialogue as Kim Yo Jong slams US

Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the country’s unification minister on Tuesday and voiced support for “meaningful” inter-Korean cooperation and engagement, even as Pyongyang warned that U.S. expectations would lead to “disappointment.” Kim’s meeting with the two came a day after Kim and his […]

Seoul and Washington agree to terminate ‘working group’ on North Korea affairs

South Korea and the U.S. will disband the “working group” created to address North Korea issues during the previous Trump administration, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The U.S.-ROK Working Group was created in Nov. 2018 to more easily coordinate on North Korea’s denuclearization and implement sanctions against Pyongyang. The decision to disband the group […]