Inside the North Korean military

The Korean People’s Army constitutes the military force of North Korea and, under the Songun policy, the central institution of North Korean society. Kim Jong-un is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. The KPA defence force consists of five branches: Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force, the Strategic Rocket Forces, and the Special Operation Force. The Worker-Peasant Red Guards also come under control of the KPA. The KPA faces its primary adversaries, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and United States Forces Korea, across the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as it has since the Armistice Agreement of July 1953. As of 2016, with 5,889,000 paramilitary personnel, it is the largest paramilitary organization on Earth. This number represents 25% of the population.

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U.S. aircraft carrier joins South Korea drills

North Korea warns the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills. With the USS Carl Vinson ploughing through seas off South Korea, rival North Korea has warned the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during US-South Korean drills. F-18 fighter jets took off from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered carrier in a dramatic display of US firepower amid rising tension with the North, which has alarmed its neighbours with two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since last year. “While this is a routine deployment for the Carl Vinson strike group, really the centrepiece for us… is this exercise we’re doing with the ROK navy called ‘Foal Eagle’,” Rear Admiral James W. Kilby, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1, said, referring to South Korea as the Republic of Korea.

South Korean president Park Geun-hye impeached

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has now left the presidential palace, two days after judges upheld parliament’s decision to impeach her. Ms Park arrived at her home in southern Seoul amid waving supporters. She has been impeached over her role in a corruption scandal involving close friend, Choi Soon-sil. Ms Park said in a statement: “Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out.” She also apologised to her supporters for “failing to fulfil my duty as president”. Ms Park has now lost her immunity and could face criminal proceedings over accusations she allowed Ms Choi to extort money from companies in return for political favours.
Park Geun-hye was ferried to her private residence in Seoul in a black limousine, chased by a posse of journalists on motorbikes. When she arrived, she waved to cheering supporters, smiling broadly, and shook hands with political allies. She may yet face prosecution and a trial in an ordinary criminal court. Her demise has split the country, with her increasingly vocal supporters saying she is a victim of a political decision. Her demeanour outside her new residence was upbeat and full of smiles. It was not the demeanour of a disgraced, regretful politician.

North Korea’s secretive missile program

North Korea is believed to have more than 1,000 missiles of varying capabilities, including long-range missiles, which could one day strike the US. Pyongyang’s programme has progressed over the last few decades from tactical artillery rockets in the 1960s and 70s, to short­-range and medium-range ballistic missiles in the 1980s and 90s. Systems capable of even greater ranges are now understood to be under research and development.

Missile ranges
Short range: 1,000km or less
Medium range: 1,000-3,000km
Intermediate range: 3,000-5,500 km
Intercontinental range: Greater than 5,500km
Source: Federation of American Scientists

Short-range missiles
North Korea’s modern missile programme began with Scuds, with its first batch reportedly coming via Egypt in 1976.
By 1984, it was building its own versions called Hwasongs.

It is believed to have a variety of these short-range missiles which could target neighbouring South Korea. Relations between the two Koreas are fraught and they remain, technically, in a state of war. The Hwasong-5 and Hwasong-6, also known as Scud-B and C, have ranges of 300km and 500km respectively, according to the US Center for Nonproliferation Studies. These missiles can deliver conventional warheads, but may also have biological, chemical and nuclear capabilities. Both these missiles have been tested and deployed, and the Hwasong-6 has also been sold to Iran.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles

North Korea is believed to be developing its longest-range missile, a road-mobile weapon which observers have dubbed the KN-08 or Hwasong-13. One of the first signs of this development was in September 2016, when the country tested a new rocket engine which some said could power an intercontinental ballistic missile. The US Pentagon believes North Korea has at least six KN-08s in its possession, which could be capable of reaching much of the United States. North Korea is believed to have also developed an upgraded version called KN-14. Neither missile has been publicly tested before.

The strange death of Kim Jong Nam

Security footage of the events leading up to the death of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of Kim Jong-il, leader of North Korea. From roughly 1994 to 2001, he was considered the heir apparent to his father. In May 2001, following a failed attempt to visit Tokyo Disneyland by entering Japan with a fake passport, he was thought to have fallen out of favour with his father. Kim was exiled from North Korea around 2003, becoming an occasional critic of his family’s regime and an advocate for reform. His younger paternal half-brother, Kim Jong-un, was named heir apparent in September 2010. Kim’s death in Malaysia in February 2017 is alleged to have been a result of poisoning by 2 women, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

North Korea must review its policies

Despite the tough new UN sanctions, North Korea has been conducting several long- and short-range missile tests. North Korea seems to have antagonised even its close allies like China through its actions. China, it may be noted, has not used its veto power in the UN Security Council to block the new sanctions against Pyongyang. The missile tests are not going to benefit North Korea in any way at all despite its tall claims. They will result only in more sanctions and sterner policy towards it from the international community. Although the global community is tightening sanctions to punish North Korea for its continuing nuclear and missile development, Pyongyang appears to be defiant. The North has ramped up its threats against South Korea and the US and continues to fire more missiles following the UN’s adoption of a fresh resolution expanding sanctions against it.

Last Friday, North Korea issued new threats against South Korea, further escalating tensions between the two sides. North Korea’s state media said Kim Jong-un ordered the country’s military to be on high alert and ready for an attack against South Korean leaders. Due to aggressive polices of the Kim regime, the country remains isolated among the world community and the people of the country are suffering badly. Families in the communist state, according to reports, struggle to secure everyday essentials. Despite the widespread poverty, the country’s military spending is quite high. The powerful military seems to control the country’s entire resources. The freedom of speech is restricted. Full Internet access is not allowed and political activities are very rare. The country is facing tough challenges on economic, political and foreign-policy fronts. It is high time for North Korea to rethink its policies towards the rest of the world and join the international community as a full-fledged and responsible member. Isolation is not the answer to today’s problems.

Khawaja Umer Farooq

North Korea launches long-range rocket

A satellite put into orbit by North Korea does not appear to be transmitting, but the rocket used to get it there delivered twice the payload of a previous launch in 2012.

A US B-52 flying with South Korean F-15K fighter jets

A US B-52 Stratofortress (bottom R) flying with South Korean F-15K fighter jets (top) and US F-16 fighter jets (bottom L) over South Korea. The US sent a heavy bomber over South Korea on January 10 in a show of force as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un insisted his country’s latest nuclear test was carried out in self-defence. 

North And South Korea – The World’s Most Dangerous Border

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is the buffer zone between North and South Korea, running across the peninsula roughly following the 38th parallel. It was created by agreement between North Korea, China and the United Nations in 1953. The DMZ is 250 kilometres (160 miles) long, and about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) wide.
Within the DMZ is a meeting-point between the two nations in the small Joint Security Area (JSA) near the western end of the zone, where negotiations take place. There have been various incidents in and around the DMZ, with military and civilian casualties on both sides. Several tunnels are claimed to have been built as an invasion route for the North Koreans.

 Location 

The Korean Demilitarized Zone  is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula. It was established at the end of the Korean War to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ is a de facto border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. The DMZ roughly flows the 38th parallel north on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and the east end lying north of it. It was created as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement between North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Nations Command forces in 1953. The DMZ is 250 kilometres (160 miles) long,  approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) wide and, despite its name, is the most heavily militarized border in the world.   The Northern Limit Line, or NLL, is the disputed maritime demarcation line between North and South Korea in the Yellow Sea, not agreed in the armistice. The coastline and islands on both sides of the NLL are also heavily militarized.

 History 

The 38th parallel north—which divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half—was the original boundary between the United States and Soviet Union’s brief administration areas of Korea at the end of World War II. Upon the creation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, informally North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK, informally South Korea) in 1948, it became a de facto international border and one of the most tense fronts in the Cold War.
Both the North and the South remained dependent on their sponsor states from 1948 to the outbreak of the Korean War. That conflict, which claimed over three million lives and divided the Korean Peninsula along ideological lines, commenced on June 25, 1950, with a full-front DPRK invasion across the 38th parallel, and ended in 1953 after international intervention pushed the front of the war back to near the 38th parallel.

 Joint Security Area

Inside the DMZ, near the western coast of the peninsula, Panmunjom is the home of the Joint Security Area (JSA). Originally, it was the only connection between North and South Korea[9] but that changed in 2007 when a Korail train crossed the DMZ to the North on the new Donghae Bukbu Line built on the east coast of Korea.
There are several buildings on both the north and the south side of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), and there have been some built on top of it. The JSA is the location where all negotiations since 1953 have been held, including statements of Korean solidarity, which have generally amounted to little except a slight decline of tensions. The MDL goes through the conference rooms and down the middle of the conference tables where the North Koreans and the United Nations Command (primarily South Koreans and Americans) meet face to face.

North Korea Celebrates Hydrogen Bomb Test

On 6 January 2016 at 10:00:01 UTC+08:30, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, approximately 50 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Kilju City in Kilju County. The United States Geological Service reported a 5.1 magnitude earthquake from the location; the China Earthquake Networks Center reported the magnitude as 4.9. 
North Korean media made announcements that the regime had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which had been claimed to have existed the month before the test was carried out.  However, third-party experts, as well as officials and agencies in South Korea, doubted North Korea’s claims, and contend that the device was more likely to have been a fission bomb such as a boosted fission weapon.  Such weapons use hydrogen fusion to produce smaller, lighter warheads suitable for arming a delivery device such as a missile, rather than to attain the destructive power of a true hydrogen bomb. 
Background 
North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) had previously conducted three underground nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013, drawing sanctions from the United Nations Security Council. The presidents of the United States and South Korea urged North Korea to rejoin the six-party talks in October 2015. The presidents also warned North Korea against a fourth nuclear test. 
In December 2015, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un suggested that the country had the capacity to launch a hydrogen bomb, a device of considerably more power than conventional atomic bombs used in previous tests.  The remark was met with skepticism from the White House and South Korean officials. In a New Year’s Day speech, Kim Jong-un warned that provocation from “invasive outsiders” would be met with a “holy war of justice”.
North Korean claims 
The North Korean government described the test as a “complete success”  and characterized it as self-defense against the United States. Korean Central Television (KCTV), the North Korean state-owned media channel, said that “the U.S. has gathered forces hostile to [the] DPRK and raised a slanderous human rights issue to hinder [the] DPRK’s improvement. It is [therefore] just to have [an] H-bomb as self-defense against the U.S. having numerous and humongous nuclear weapons. The DPRK’s fate must not be protected by any forces but [the] DPRK itself.” Ri Chun-hee, the television news anchor who announced the deaths of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, emerged from retirement to announce the H-bomb test to both the domestic and international audience.