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2009/11/05 10:52 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 79 (November 5, 2009)


N. Korean Ministry behind July Cyber Attacks: Spy Chief

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Seoul's intelligence agency has named North Korea's telecommunications ministry as the origin of a series of cyber attacks in July on scores of state and private Web sites in South Korea and the United States, lawmakers said on Oct. 30.

   The National Intelligence Service (NIS) had initially assumed North Korea was the likely cause of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that affected 26 targets, including the Web sites of the presidential offices in Seoul and Washington. But the latest comments mark the first time the agency has named a specific organ as the user of the Internet protocol (IP) address linked to the attacks.

   "Our search into the route of the DDoS attacks on South Korean and U.S. sites found a line coming from China," NIS chief Won Sei-hoon said in a closed-door meeting of the National Assembly intelligence committee on Thursday.

   "The line was found to be on the IP that the North Korean Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is using on rent (from China)," he said. His remarks were quoted by committee lawmakers who attended the meeting.

   No significant damage was reported from the July attacks, though investigators failed to determine who was behind them.

   Won refused to comment further, saying that to "answer in specifics would risk revealing national strategies."


U.N. Set to Adopt Annual Resolution on N. Korean Human Rights

NEW YORK (Yonhap) -- U.N. members have begun work on adopting an annual resolution condemning human rights abuses inside North Korea, diplomatic sources said on Oct. 30.

   The European Union and Japan submitted the draft resolution, co-sponsored by 49 nations including South Korea and the U.S., to the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, according to the sources.

   The U.N. has issued a similar resolution condemning the communist nation's "abysmal" human rights record every year since 2005. South Korea, under the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration, co-sponsored the resolution for the first time last year, ending Seoul's long-held practice of abstaining from a series of votes on North Korea's human rights condition in an apparent attempt to avoid antagonizing Pyongyang.

   As in previous years, this year's draft resolution expresses serious concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in North Korea over the past year, including continued use of torture and public executions.

   It also welcomes the resumption of an inter-Korean event to briefly reunite families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. Hundreds of families from the two Koreas met early this month in the first government-arranged reunion in two years, riding on Pyongyang's efforts to reach out to Seoul and Washington.

   The resolution is expected to pass the Third Committee of the U.N. around Nov. 20 and the General Assembly will vote on it in early December, according to the sources.

   In a report to the U.N. earlier this month, Vitit Muntarbhorn, the special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, said one-third of the North's 24 million populace suffer from food shortages.

   "The freedoms from want, from fear, from discrimination, from persecution and from exploitation are regrettably transgressed with impunity by those authorities, in an astonishing setting of abuse after abuse," said the Thai professor.

   He described the North Korean regime as "repressive and cruel."


Mobile Subscribers in North Korea Growing at Faster Clip

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The number of mobile subscribers in North Korea is growing at a faster clip, reaching an estimated 100,000 as of the end of September, the Voice of America reported on Oct. 31.

   The figures were taken from data released by EFG-Hermes, an Egyptian investment bank, the report said.

   According to the data, the number of North Korean mobile subscribers more than doubled from 48,000 at the end of June, it said.

   Naeem Holding, another Egyptian investment bank, predicted that the number of mobile subscribers will increase to 123,000 at the end of this year, followed by 310,000 at the end of 2010 and 568,000 in late 2011, the report said.

   Egypt-based mobile operator Orascom Telecom launched mobile services in North Korea in December of last year and has since reported brisk sales.


Seoul, Washington Round out Plans to Handle N.K. Regime Collapse

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the U.S. have completed joint action plans to respond to a regime collapse and other internal emergency situations in North Korea, a ranking government source said on Nov. 1.

   The so-called "Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5029," drawn after years of bilateral consultation, dictates respective military responses by Seoul and Washington to several types of emergency situation in the communist North -- a civil war, an outflow of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the kidnapping of South Korean citizens, a mass influx of refugees or a natural disaster, said the source.

   Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source also noted that South Korea's military will play a leading role in enforcing OPLAN 5029, with the exception of the elimination of nuclear weapons and related facilities that will be handled by the U.S.

   "South Korea and the U.S. had long worked on Concept Plan 5029 to prepare for a regime collapse and other internal emergencies in North Korea. Since its inauguration last year, the Lee Myung-bak government has pushed to convert the concept plan into an operational plan and it was recently completed," said the source.

   "If the South Korea-U.S. combined forces intervene in North Korea's internal instabilities, the South Korean military will assume the leading role in consideration of neighboring countries, while the U.S. military will be responsible for the removal of the North's nuclear facilities and weapons."

   He noted that South Korea and the U.S. will continue to complement and develop specific details of OPLAN 5029.

   The two countries have expressed concern that the outbreak of an internal emergency in North Korea could lead to the transfer of its WMDs and relevant technologies to terrorist groups or other countries.

   The two Koreas remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

   South Korea's 655,000-strong military, bolstered by 28,500 U.S. troops, confronts North Korea's 1.2-million-strong force along the world's most heavily militarized border.


Female Dancer Video Circulating in North Korea: Defector

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A video clip showing female dancers in skimpy costumes performing to American music is being secretly circulated in North Korea via CD-ROMs, a North Korean defector said on Nov. 2.

   The video, obtained by Yonhap News Agency from the defector, who requested anonymity, would not be considered obscene elsewhere in the world. But revealing outfits and American music are both considered taboo in the conservative North.

   In the clip, several groups of four women in crop-tops and thigh-length shorts or skirts dance to fast disco music on a brightly-lit stage. Their outfits are made of shiny gold, red and blue fabrics, and the dancers perform in a way that would be considered lewd in North Korea -- raising their bare leg and shaking their chests and hips. The video has captions giving the title of each song as it is played, and includes "Aloha Oe," a Hawaiian folk song.

   The defector said the dancers are members of the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, a group that mostly performs for the upper class. The video provides no clue about where, when or for whom the show was held. Applause is heard after each performance, suggesting there is an audience in front of the decorated stage.

   "I don't know when this show was staged, but this is a performance by the Wangjaesan Light Music Band staged for a certain group of high-class people. It is secretly being distributed and is getting popular among ordinary people," the defector said. He said the clip was being circulated via computer CD-ROMs.


International Sanctions against N. Korea Ineffective: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Economic sanctions imposed on North Korea by the international community have failed to have a noticeable impact, a report by a state-run think tank in Seoul said on Nov. 2.

   The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) report claimed that United Nations resolutions 1695 and 1718 passed after the North fired off a long range missile and tested a nuclear device in July and October of 2006 had little impact on the country's overall trade.

   The two resolutions called for a ban on parts, materials and technologies that could be used in the development of missiles and all transactions related to components that can make weapons of mass destruction.

   They also ban trade of luxury goods and permit foreign countries to inspect North Korean cargo ships suspected of moving contraband.

   "Analysis of trade activities showed that export and import volume of the communist country may have increased after restrictions were imposed," the paper by Jeong Hyung-gong and Bang Ho-kyung said.

   The two research fellows added that they have found no evidence to substantiate a decrease in trade and speculated that North Korea's external commercial transactions actually grew with non-socialist bloc economies.

   "The lack of effectiveness can be attributed to the inability of the sanctions to gain wide participation among U.N. members," the report said.

   It said to overcome such shortcomings it may be prudent to utilize the six-way talks framework aimed at getting Pyongyang to halt its nuclear program.

   The two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and China are members of the six-way talks. Pyongyang had bolted from the talks but has hinted that it may return if it can hold bilateral talks with Washington to resolve outstanding differences.

   The paper said using the six-party talks could influence the G20 economies that account for roughly 70 percent of all trade with the North, to take part in any trade restrictions down the road.

   Jeong and Bang, in addition, pointed out that it is important to take into account that both China and Russia have been reluctant to actually punish the North.

   Lack of participation by the two countries that border the North could be responsible for the absence of any real impact by the sanctions.

   "It may be important to balance sanctions with benefits that can nudge the North forward," the experts said, "making clear that South Korea must be willing to provide aid if Pyongyang decides to give up its nuclear ambitions."

   This, they said, could get the North to realize that if they discontinue and dismantle nuclear program, tangible gains will follow.

   The KIEP paper, meanwhile, said that it may be advisable for Seoul to use the United Nations Security Council and six-way talks when implementing sanctions against Pyongyang, instead of taking a bilateral approach.

   Beside the two U.N. resolutions passed in 2006, the international body penalized North Korea in 1993 after it walked out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and in June of this year when the communist country detonated a second nuclear device.