Korea: Attacking "The 600"

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December5, 2006: The U.S. has identified several thousand North Koreans, from about 600 families, who provide the senior leadership for the dictatorship. The U.S. is imposing more sanctions, and surveillance, on these people. Recently, an export ban was placed on the sale of many luxury goods (plasma TVs, MP3 players, etc) to these folks. Such goodies can still be gotten, but it will cost more. Sanctions on the country of North Korea will hurt the average North Korean more than a member of "The 600."

December 4, 2006: Three unusually loud explosions were heard on the south side of the DMZ. North Korea said nothing about it, and it's assumed that the cause was either construction (of more underground facilities) or a military exercise. Many things happen up north, that go unexplained.

December 3, 2006: The lack of movement, over a long time, in areas where the North Korean army stores its trucks and armored vehicles, indicates that most of this stuff is inoperable. Lack of fuel and spare parts has left many vehicles just sitting out in the open for years.

December 2, 2006: It's a grim Winter in North Korea. Food aid is below what is needed. Largely this is because donors know that much of the food aid is taken by the government and sold in the market, or exported to China for cash. The government keeps most of the population on a semi-starvation diet, as another form of control.

December 1, 2006: Two new illegal North Korean scams have been discovered. One was quite simple. Some 15,000 North Koreans were allowed to go to Europe to take jobs, but their families were held hostage back in North Korea, and nearly all the money they made (above basic living expenses) was seized by the government. The other scam was even more lucrative, bringing in over $100 million so far. This involved insurance fraud. The government would "sell" many cheap policies, and then fake claims. It made money because the state owned insurance company laid off much of the risk, as is common world wide, to international "reinsurance" companies. The foreign reinsurance firms are the ones taking the losses from this scam, which, although under investigation, continues to operate.

November 28, 2006: North Korea continues, as it has for the last sixty years, to practice diplomacy that is long on smoke, and short on substance. The usual demands, like direct talks with the U.S., are just another ploy to put nervous neighbors on the defensive, and more inclined to give in to North Koreas extortion demands.

 

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