N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea

N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea
JISHOU, HUNAN — Nearly a month after 13 North Korea restaurant workers in Ningbo, China, left for South Korea, the North Korea government is still trying to save face. First, the North accused the South of forcibly abducting the 12 women and one man, but that idea didn’t hold much water after Chinese officials publicly stated the group had legal exit papers and were free to leave China. Reuters also reported that four of the women had gone shopping for backpacks two days before they left, and had told the salesclerk they were going on a trip. The North demanded their return, asserting the South had violated their human rights and threatening serious consequences if South Korea did not comply. South Koreans officials firmly said, “No way.” Official state media in the North have not reported on the defections, even as the government arranges melodramatic appeals for the foreign media. In the North Korea capital of Pyongyang, on April 20, North Korea trotted out seven tearful young women for an exclusive interview with CNN. The women, who all claimed to be former workers at the Ningbo restaurant, pleaded for their comrades to return, and told the CNN correspondents the 13 ...

S. Korea rejects North’s accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China

S. Korea rejects North's accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China
An embarrassed North Korea has accused its arch-enemy, South Korea, of abducting 13 defectors from Ningbo, China, last week. South Korea, meanwhile, insists the group came of their own free will. North Korea also obliquely criticized “a country” — namely, China — for assisting in the alleged (and imaginary) abduction. The 12 female employees and a male manager left Ningbo in Zhejiang Province on April 5, and arrived in Seoul to seek asylum on April 7. A Chinese foreign ministry official confirmed that the group had legal travel documents, suggesting China did not prevent their departure. North Korea has demanded the 13 be returned immediately, or South Korea would face “unimaginable serious consequences.” The article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carries a statement of an unnamed spokesperson from North Korea’s Central Committee of the Red Cross Society. “We sternly denounce the group abduction of the citizens of the DPRK as a hideous crime against its dignity and social system and the life and security of its citizens,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. “The recent case of ‘group defection’ cooked up by the puppet group is a crucial provocation against the DPRK which can never be tolerated ...

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea
In what could be a slap in the face to its North Korean ally, China has allowed 13 restaurant workers to leave China legally to defect to South Korea. The 12 women and 1 man had been working at a North Korean-run Pyongyang restaurant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, but left China with the proper legal documents, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday. Illegal workers in China are usually repatriated to North Korea if they are caught, but the restaurant workers likely had Chinese work or business visas. North Korea maintains 130 government-run restaurants around the world to bring in badly needed hard currency. News media have reported that workers in these restaurants are closely monitored and are rarely given freedom to move about. South Korea announced the defection on Friday, but said nothing about the workers leaving China. But Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang said at a routine news conference that 13 North Koreans “were found exiting the Chinese border with valid passports” on April 6. China is North Korea’s only ally, and provides considerable aid (while also taking natural resources) from the so-called Hermit Kingdom. North Korean defectors found in China are generally sent back home, where they ...

Attendee posts YouTube video of N. Korean defector’s talk in Beijing; transcript below

Attendee posts YouTube video of N. Korean defector's talk in Beijing; transcript below
A recording of North Korean defector and author Hyeonseo Lee’s talk in Beijing March 27 has been posted on YouTube by a member of the audience. Taken with a cellphone camera, the hour-long video captures most of Lee’s remarks at The Bookworm-Beijing before a small, mostly non-Chinese audience. The video is shaky and the audio is not especially clear. I’ve provided a partial transcript below. Lee’s sharp criticism of China’s policy to repatriate defectors back to North Korea was already reported by Agence France Presse, and re-published widely across Chinese social media the same day. Chinese immigration officials then told Lee she would have to cut short her visit to China, and return home to South Korea immediately. Lee is the author of The Girl with Seven Names, a memoir of her escape in 1997 at the age of 17 from her hometown into neighboring China, and her eventual arrival in South Korea in 2008. She later returned to northern China to smuggle her mother and brother across China to join her in South Korea. She has also appeared at TED events and spoken to human rights organizations across the world about the situation in North Korea, and the hardships ...

N. Korean defector told to leave China after she criticizes gov’t policy

N. Korean defector told to leave China after she criticizes gov't policy
Author and human rights activist Hyeonseo Lee was told yesterday to cut short her visit to Beijing, after her sharp criticism of the Chinese policy of repatriating North Korean defectors got wide media attention. In a Facebook post, Lee, a North Korean defector herself, said Chinese authorities told her she had to return to Seoul, South Korea, a day ahead of schedule. “Honestly, I was hiding in the bathroom at the airport in Beijing waiting for my flight. When I arrived in South Korea, I felt so relieved and grateful for a country that will accept and protect me,” she says in her Facebook post. Lee had come to Beijing for a “meet the author” event Sunday at The Bookworm-Beijing. Her memoir about her own escape from North Korea, The Girl With Seven Names, was published last year. During her talk, she criticized the Chinese policy of sending North Korean defectors back home, where human rights activists say they will be imprisoned or tortured for attempting to leave. Chinese authorities, for their part, claim the North Koreans are “illegal migrant workers,” who must be deported. Although Lee spoke to a mostly Western audience, a Chinese translation of an Agence France-Presse ...

North Koreans liken Obama to ‘monkey in rainforest’

JISHOU, HUNAN — Pissed that American officials, including President Barack Obama, accused it of hacking Sony’s computer systems, North Korean struck back this week, calling Obama “a monkey in a rainforest.” Another blogger, the infamous Chuck C. Johnson of GotNews.com, claims that the slur was not a slur, but a compliment. because reasons. He claims the remark as reported by the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, refers to an idiom, “Even monkeys fall from trees.” 심지어 원숭이는 나무에서 가을 The idiom means even experts can be wrong, or humans are infallible. I’m calling bullshit on this revisionism. The actual words as reported in Korean media are 열대수림 속에 서식하는 원숭이 which translates as “monkey that lives in a tropical forest,” which as far as I can tell is not an idiom. English reports of the North Korean remark have interpreted it correctly, as we might expect. I should confess that I don’t speak or understand Korean. Neither does Chuck Johnson. But I went to Korean language news agencies to find the original remark and their use of it. None referenced an idiomatic meaning, but quoted it verbatim. To me, this suggests it was intended a racial slur, or an ...

I was on the BBC World Service tonight 12

JISHOU, HUNAN — It was only for a minute or two, but my voice went out all over the world. Did you hear me? This morning, I wrote a reaction to former president Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea to retrieve the two American journalists imprisoned there. Tonight, while I was chatting online with one of my students, Lynfay, my website notified me that a comment was awaiting moderation. About 90 minutes later, I decided to check the comment out. My first reaction was disbelief. The comment was from a woman identifying herself as Shaimaa Khalil, a journalist with the BBC World Service, who said she wanted me to say something on the program, “World, Have Your Say.” After four years of dealing with comment spam, I checked out the website and by golly, there really is a Shaimaa Khalil who works for a real BBC program called “World, Have Your Say.” [Sorry, Beeb, this program is broadcast live at 1 am China time, so I have never listened to it and had never heard of it. Nothing personal.] Anyway, Ms Khalil wanted my telephone number so she could talk to me a bit before the program. We spoke briefly ...

Bill Clinton helps North Korea save face 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — A surprise visit Tuesday by former President Bill Clinton may or may not have facilitated the release of two US journalists imprisoned in North Korea, but Clinton’s involvement probably helped North Korea save face. Euna Lee and Laura Ling had been researching human trafficking across North Korea border with China when North Korea soldiers arrested them in March. It’s unclear what side of the border Lee and Ling were on at the time, but they were convicted of entering the country illegally, and were due to start 12-year prison sentences. North Korea’s frail leader, Kim Jong Il, rules the country with an iron hand, and citizens have few freedoms and next to no contact with the outside world. By comparison, China looks like a liberal democracy. North Korea has been making everyone — including China and especially Japan — nervous with its plans to develop nuclear arms. Its relations with the USA are barely cordial, so the arrest and conviction of Lee and Ling made poor relations even worse. According to MSNBC, State Department officials had been negotiating with North Korea’s UN delegation for weeks, and Clinton’s involvement was a related, though “private” affair. It’s a win-win ...
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