Korea: Desperate Measures

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December 19, 2007: Economic conditions in North Korea continue to deteriorate. Most North Koreans get only a few hours of electricity a day. In addition to the usual shortage of oil, a drought has cut back on hydroelectric energy production. Meanwhile, the North Korean government is planning to ban the sale of everything, except food, in the free markets. This is an attempt to stem the growing theft in government enterprises. Workers are stealing whatever they can, to sell in the markets, so they can buy food and fuel. The economic situation, for most North Koreans, is worse than ever, and people are taking increasingly desperate measures to get by. Rebellion is still considered out of the question. The well fed and well armed secret police and military are still ready, and willing, to kill anyone who rebels.

December 17, 2007: Japan successfully tested the new anti-missile capabilities of its Aegis equipped warships. The U.S. ship based anti-missile system has worked for years, and Japan is the first export customer for it. The SM-3 missile fired from the destroyer Kongo, intercepted the ballistic missile at an altitude of 160 kilometers. Three other Japanese warships will have their Aegis radars upgraded to fire the SM-3 anti-missile missiles. This will provide Japan with more protection from North Korean missile attack.

December 11, 2007: For the first time since 1950, train service between the north and south was restored. This will make it easier to ship relief supplies to North Korea, and will provide another source of income (transit fees for South Korean good shipped through North Korea to China, Russia and Europe.) It took years of negotiation to get this far, and the North Koreans are expected to introduce more difficulties in the future.

 

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