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from The Great Debate:

Responding to North Korea

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Now that Pyongyang has conducted its third nuclear test, the international community must accept what it cannot change: North Korea is a nuclear-arming state.

No sanctions, no carrots, no rhetoric, no threat, no military act is likely to change this fact. The question now is how to minimize risks. First, we need to take a deep breath before we leap to any new policy.

The impulse to push the North’s nuclear toothpaste back into the tube will remain. But sanctions have repeatedly failed. For reasons known only to itself, China — the one country that can effectively pinch North Korea both economically and politically — continues to provide Pyongyang with energy and foodstuffs. Beijing’s policy will likely continue.

What about military action? Contemplated during the Clinton administration and perhaps since, it never has been attractive and is now likely less so, for several reasons.  Yes, intelligence now knows the address of Pyongyang’s Yonbong enrichment plant. But not the presumed additional sites. Nor can it reliably pinpoint stocks generated by the North’s now moribund plutonium production program, given the country’s vast network of hardened caves.

from Photographers' Blog:

Window to North Korea

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By Bobby Yip

A ten-day media tour to North Korea is a challenge for the authorities, as well as a challenge for the press. As one side tries to highly control what should be seen and who should be interviewed, the other side tries to show the world what the reality is.

Except visits to scheduled events, in most cases photographers are not allowed to walk on the street to take photos. Many of my images were shot through the window of a media bus or on one occasion through the window of a train. Watching the street scenes and the village scenes along the way, I felt an isolation between the people and me. I also sensed the isolation between the people themselves. It is the ideology behind the surface which distinguishes North Korea from many other countries, and it shows on the streets.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 10 October 2010

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North Korea opened its doors and the internet to the World's media to allow a glimpse of the parade which marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party. More importantly, it gave the world its first independent look at the protege Kim Jong-un. China based Chief Photographer Petar Kujundzic took full advantage of the opportunity.  The warmth of the picture of the women soldiers smiling - a rare glimpse into the world from which we normally only get formal, over compressed and pixelated images.

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North Korean female soldiers smile before a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

from Global News Journal:

North Korea tries fast food. Juche Burgers for the masses?

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There are no McDonald's, Starbucks or KFC joints in reclusive North Korea, but there is the Samthaesong Soft Drink Restaurant, which is the North’s take on fast food complete with waffles on the menu. The communist state, which has its “juche” ideal of self-reliance as a guiding principal, said the restaurant offers the finest fast food in the land made from home-grown ingredients.

Even though the restaurant will serve the masses in Pyongyang, most North Koreans outside the capital struggle to find enough to eat in a country that battles chronic food shortages.

from Global News Journal:

North Korea’s “Dear Leader” opens umbrella boom

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Kim Jong-il may be at the forefront of a fashion trend that has just hit the streets of Pyongyang: Using oversized umbrellas as parasols.

The North Korean leader started travelling this year with a soldier whose job is to carry a large black umbrella to protect him from the sun.

from Global News Journal:

How Ill is Kim Jong-il?

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Photo:A compilation by Reuters of pool photographs and images provided by North Korea's KCNA news agency showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from 2004 to 2009. The photograph in the lower right was released this week by KCNA

By Jon Herskovitz

The image the world once had of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, with a trademark paunch, platform shoes and a bouffant hair-do, is gone and may never come back. He has now become a gaunt figure with thinning hair who has trouble walking in normal shoes, let alone ones with heels 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) high like he used to wear.

from Global News Journal:

North Korea provides internet comic fuel

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Despite the seriousness with which the world takes North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, the isolated country remains a rich source of humour for cartoonists, satirists and comedians around the world.

 

The diminutive, bouffant-haired leader, Kim Jong-il, has already been the star of a satirical full length cartoon, plaintively singing “I'm so ronery” in Team America, while plotting to blow up the world.

from Changing China:

Waiting for the IAEA

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There is a strong element of farce to covering the North Korea story, which should perhaps come as no surprise considering what an unusual, isolated place it is and how hard verifiable news is to come by.

One never knows quite what to believe, with all the strange stories that seep out about Kim Jong-il's love of pizza, the rants of North Korea's official KCNA news agency and numerous other bizarre tales, including these two.
(http://www.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUSSEO26227220080314)

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