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Oct 9, 2015

Taxis parade once-empty streets of North Korean capital

PYONGYANG (Reuters) – Ahead of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party anniversary on Saturday, it is a parade of taxis, not tanks, that stands out most in the isolated country’s capital, Pyongyang.    Parts of impoverished North Korea have been serviced for decades by a small fleet of run-down taxis, but in the last few years the industry has mushroomed in Pyongyang, fuelled by a rising consumer class.

One of the newest players is Air Koryo, North Korea’s national airline, which launched a fleet of sky blue and white taxis when Pyongyang’s new airport terminal opened earlier this year.      “They didn’t just trickle in,” said Rowan Beard, a guide with Young Pioneer Tours, which brings in Western visitors. “Suddenly there were blue taxis absolutely everywhere.”    The for-hire signs on the roofs of taxis cruising for fares now punctuate Pyongyang’s dimly-lit roads at night.    Air Koryo’s taxis include sedans as well as mini buses and SUVs.

Oct 8, 2015

North Korean capital shows flashes of prosperity amid country’s isolation

PYONGYANG, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Smartphones, traffic jams and
modern, energy-saving lights casting a dim glow on the streets -
North Korea’s capital shows signs of change even as it prepares
for a pageant of military muscle and propaganda of the kind the
country is know for.

One of the world’s most inaccessible places, North Korea has
invited foreign journalists to Pyongyang this week for
celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’
Party, and rising wealth is evident despite a creaking state

Sep 10, 2015

In North Korea, deals on the bus make markets go round

SEOUL, Sept 11 (Reuters) – It’s not Amazon or FedEx, but in
North Korea’s fledgling market economy a fleet of repurposed old
passenger buses is the next best thing for moving trade goods,
from rice to textiles and livestock, between far-flung corners
of the country.

Known as “servi-cha” – the name comes from “service” and
“car” – the money-making buses have been transporting goods in
recent years in what satellite imagery shows is an increasingly
robust, if still primitive, network.

Sep 4, 2015

North Korean karaoke stirs fear of mass propaganda sing-along in South

SEOUL (Reuters) – Weeks after South Korea began blasting K-pop and anti-Pyongyang broadcasts from loudspeakers along the border with the reclusive North, a decades-old propaganda war may have erupted on a new front – South Korean karaoke parlors.

Socialist sing-songs are unlikely to resonate in the liberal, capitalist South, but Seoul’s National Security Law has since 1948 penalized people for distributing North Korean propaganda and lawmaker Hong Moon-pyo, of the ruling Saenuri Party, said the songs were like poison.

Aug 26, 2015

Flooding in North Korea kills 40, strands thousands

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – Heavy rain in North Korea killed 40 people, stranded thousands in flash floods and caused “massive” damage on the weekend, the International Federation of the Red Cross said and North Korean media said.

More than 11,000 people were forced from their homes or otherwise affected by the floods, which hit the northeastern city of Rajin, near the border with Russia and China, on Saturday and Sunday, Hler Gudjonsson, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Beijing told Reuters.

Aug 24, 2015

North, South Korea reach agreement to halt tensions

SEOUL (Reuters) – North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday after more than two days of talks to end a standoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.

Under the accord reached after midnight on Tuesday morning, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in a landmine incident and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.

Aug 23, 2015

North, South Korea talk all night, to resume Sunday, in bid to end standoff

SEOUL (Reuters) – Top aides to the leaders of North and South Korea were due to resume talks on Sunday after negotiating through the night in a bid to ease tensions that brought the peninsula to the brink of armed conflict.

The meeting at the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) began on Saturday evening, shortly after North Korea’s deadline for Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts or face military action, and broke before dawn on Sunday.

Aug 21, 2015

North Korea orders troops on war footing after exchange of fire with South

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops onto a war footing from 5 p.m on Friday after his government issued an ultimatum to Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action.

South Korean Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo said it was likely the North would fire at some of the 11 sites where the loudspeakers are set up on the South’s side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), which separates the two countries.

Aug 19, 2015

The flying marshal: North Korea builds private runways for plane-loving Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – His father was afraid to fly, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has taken to the skies, building a series of small runways long enough to land light, private aircraft next to some of his palaces, satellite imagery shows.

Construction on Kim’s personal landing strips began in 2014 and some were completed as recently as last month, according to satellite imagery identified by Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

Aug 10, 2015

Comrade capitalism: North Korea seeks investors for brewery

SEOUL (Reuters) – For the boldest frontier market investor: North Korea is looking to raise $39 million from foreign investors to fund a new brewery in Wonsan, an eastern port city where leader Kim Jong Un has big development ambitions.

The isolated country recently announced more than 100 separate projects seeking foreign investment in the Wonsan-Kumgang Development Zone, a mountainous region where leader Kim keeps palaces and a summer residence.