Korea: No Sex, Please, We're Socialists

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October 15, 2007: It's become more difficult to get laid up north. For the past year, the North Korean secret police have shut down the private rooms in restaurants, resorts and bars, where prostitution took place. But the secret police were more concerned about the use of these rooms for private conversations, than for illicit sex. The police believed that criminals and corrupt officials, not to mention foreign spies, were using these rooms for meeting and planning. The secret police are also down on prostitution, as the women can be used as spies, to wheedle information out of their clients.

October 14, 2007: Japan admitted that it is having secret talks with North Korea to resolve various sensitive issues. The main one is the North Korean kidnapping of Japanese in the past, and accounting for all those taken. It was difficult to negotiate this in the open, so the talks have been taken behind closed doors, where everyone can speak frankly, without having to worry about media fallout.

October 13, 2007: South Korea is carving out a place for itself in the international arms market. It is selling its new jet trainer, the T-50 (which doubles as a light bomber) to Singapore, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, a new medium transport helicopter, to compete with the U.S. UH-60 and similar models on the international market, is in development.

October 12, 2007: Israel has acknowledged that the September 6 air raid in Syria was to destroy a construction site where North Korea was helping the Syrians to build a nuclear reactor, for the production of nuclear bomb fuel. North Korea, which usually stays out of Middle Eastern politics, loudly protested the Israeli raid, which Syria also protests, but insists never took place. North Korea and Syria are both upset at the ease with the Israelis got past the Russian made air defense systems. North Korea uses similar equipment, and has sent officials to Syria to evaluate the situation, and whether it's worth continuing the nuclear weapons program.

October 11, 2007: South Korea has agreed to advocate international banking organizations, like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to resume lending to North Korea. That is unlikely, since North Korea reneged on billions of dollars of foreign debts in the 1990s, and shows no signs of having changed its attitudes. But the north is pressuring the south for help in obtaining foreign loans. China has been pressuring the north to reform its economy, and allow more foreign investment. But the north fears losing control of an increasingly angry and restive population.

October 5, 2007: A meeting between top officials from North and South Korea revealed the kind of aid the north was demanding, and what concessions is was willing to make. Food and fuel are the most desperately sought items. The north also wants help in upgrading regional hospitals, which are decades behind in terms of medical equipment. In most rural parts of North Korea, the only medical care you can get is first aid. The north also wants the south to build them drug production plants, for simple pharmaceuticals. The north will allow the south to install unrestricted Internet access in the closed industrial parks in the north, where South Korean firms have built plants that use very cheap northern labor. These "special economic zones" have become problems for both Koreas. For the north, their workers are exposed to South Korean managers and technicians, and find out how bad off the north is. For the south, there are constant pressures to pay bribes, or import forbidden goods. Recently, a southern firm was caught illegally exporting special cloth needed to make commando parachutes. The corruption in the north is partly the result of a tradition of secret police tactics that allowed anything, as long as results were obtained. Thus threatening or blackmailing the South Korean firms to smuggle in forbidden (usually military) materials is probably widespread.

 

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