In a move typical of North Korea, the government up there refuses to
allow an aid group to set up a health and nutrition program for babies and
young children, unless the South Korean government, or the aid group, first
pays it a bribe of some $13 million, to build a factory. Caught in the middle
of this, the aid group has halted its efforts to start the health and nutrition
22, 2006: The current price, to bribe a North Korean border guard to let you
enter China, is about twenty dollars. Chinese intelligence constantly talks to
many of these line crossers, some of whom are Chinese agents, and the reports
are grim. It's going to be a hard Winter, with more food and fuel shortages.
People are too cold and hungry to be rebellious, but there is a sense of dread
and despair. Rumors abound of China supporting North Korean Communist
Party officials who back a Chinese style economic reform. This would include
either removing Kim Jong Il from power, or forcing him to implement the Chinese
plan. The hard liners opposing this are mostly senior military people.
But they are having increasing problems maintaining their ancient weapons, and
insuring that their hungry soldiers will obey orders. The big question mark is,
which way will the secret police go?
21, 2006: A South Korean intelligence official said that North Korea did not
have the resources to build smaller and lighter nuclear weapons, ones that
could fit into bombs or missile warheads.
18, 2006: South Korea continues to refuse joining the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI), an organization of nations that will stop ships (especially
North Korean ships) on the high seas, and search them for illegal materials
(some types of weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency.) The PSI was begun three
years ago, and, currently, 70 nations participate. The U.S. has been pressuring
South Korea to join the PSI since the North Korean nuclear tests last
17, 2006: For the first time, South Korea voted against North Korea in the UN.
The resolution condemned North Korea's bad treatment of its own people (which
included letting two million of them starve to death, and locking several
hundred thousand up in prison or slave labor camps.) In the past, South Korea
had sought to avoid criticizing North Korea, in the hope that this would
persuade the northerners to mellow. Since North Korea's nuclear test, public
opinion in the south has shifted against being nice to the north.
UN nuclear inspector, just returned from a visit to North Korea, believes that
the shabby state of North Korean nuclear facilities means that they can produce
enough nuclear material for one atomic bomb a year. It is believed that the
North Koreans currently have enough material for six bombs.
13, 2006: A North Korean merchant ship was detained at the French Pacific
island of Mayotte, and searched for illegal weapons, drugs or other
items. Nothing was found, and the ship, carrying cement to Singapore, was
released. This was the first time the French had enforced the new UN sanctions
on North Korea.