Korea: Fake Currency Blocks Arms Talks


January 25, 2006: North Korea refuses to resume nuclear weapons negotiations unless the United States stops interfering with North Korean counterfeiting (of American currency) and money laundering operations. These activities are a major source of foreign currency for the north, but the U.S. has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea because of it. In a related issue, South Korea, for fear of upsetting the north, has refused to participate in PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative). So far 16 nations have joined PSI, which set up a communications network between naval forces and holds drills covering stopping and searching ships thought to be carrying weapons of mass destruction, components or delivery systems. Another 60 nations have expressed interest in PSI, but not South Korea.

January 21, 2006: Trade between the two Koreas passed a billion dollars last year, with $715 million worth of stuff going north, and $340 million going south. Trade was restored in 1988, and by 1991 was $100 million a year.

January 20, 2006: In the last 53 years, only about 8,000 North Koreans have been able to escape to South Korea. But 40 percent of those refugees made it out in the last two years, another indication of the crumbling of the police state control up north. Some 300,000 North Korean refugees are believed to be in northern China.

January 15, 2006: North Korea has many admirers in South Korea, including the teachers union, which has caused many text books to be rewritten to praise customs up north, and play down (ignore) the bad things (poverty, starvation, political prisoners.) This has led to a widening generation gap, where older people see the north as an evil dictatorship, while many younger South Koreans see the north as a model for the future united Korea. But as more northerners make it out, and speak about the reality of life in North Korea, more South Koreans are questioning the interpretations of the north propagated by radicals in the south.


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