October 18; A theoretical North Korean missile with a range of 8,000km could hit Seattle. But it could also hit Berlin, Oslo, Vienna, Stockholm, Moscow, Warsaw, Helsinki, Bucharest, Ankara, and Tel Aviv. Iran may be a bigger threat. Its upcoming crop of 2,000km missiles can hit Israel, Kiev, Cairo, and Moscow, but future missiles could hit most of Europe within less than 10 minutes.--Stephen V Cole
October 15; North Korea is apparently still in the opium and currency counterfeiting business. Several North Koreans have been caught in recent years passing high quality counterfeits of US bank notes. There are said to be three locations in North Korea where these good reproductions of American paper money is produced. North Korea uses it's diplomats to get the bills into circulation. The drug trade has been going on since the the 1970s. Currently, poppy fields near the China border produce the raw material for a plant that produces about forty tons of opium a year. North Korea has been upbraided for these activities, upon which they deny it, stop for a while, than quietly resume their activities. This illegal trade is a major source of foreign currency, but mainly for goods that will enhance their military power, not feed their starving people.
In 1951, South Korea offered to award a medal to all UN (including US) soldiers who served in the Korean War. The US declined the offer, saying that regulations prohibited US soldiers from accepting gratuities from foreign governments. There was also an internal Army feeling that a medal awarded to everyone who showed up was sort of pointless. The Pentagon has now decided that since US military personnel are wearing foreign medals awarded to everyone who showed up for the wars in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, it would be OK for soldiers who served in Korea to accept the South Korean award. The bronze medal shows crossed cartridges, a wreath, and a map of Korea. It hangs from a yellow ribbon trimmed in red, white, and blue.--Stephen V Cole