North Korea tells foreigners in South to get out now

April 9, 2013

North Korea warns visitors to leave South Korea, Kenya’s new president creates conundrum for West, and the Iron Lady leaves complex legacy. Today is Tuesday, April 9, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

North Korean officials attend a national meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of late leader Kim Jong-il’s election as chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang, April 8, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korea vows merciless war. North Korea told foreigners to exit South Korea in anticipation of a “merciless, sacred, retaliatory war,” yet daily life in Seoul continues as usual:

The North’s latest antagonistic message belied an atmosphere free of anxiety in the South Korean capital, where the city center was bustling with traffic and offices operated normally. Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threat could be partly intended to bolster Kim Jong-un, 30, the third in his family to lead the reclusive country.

Last week, Pyongyang recommended embassy personnel in North Korea leave the country in case war breaks out, but it appears that none have heeded the warning yet. Yesterday, the North temporarily shut down operations at industrial park Kaesong, its last joint operation with the South. North Korea will celebrate the birthday of founder Kim Il-Sung with a public holiday on Monday.

West wary of Kenya’s new president. Western powers must grapple with how to treat Kenya’s new president Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity:

For Western states, big donors to east Africa’s largest economy, Kenya is a vital player in the regional battle against militant Islam. But they now have to juggle their wish for close ties with a policy of limiting contacts with those indicted by the ICC in The Hague.

The U.S. sends $900 million in aid to Kenya each year, and the EU is a large donor and importer of Kenyan goods. The West fears that dampening relations with Kenya would prompt the African country to develop a relationship with Asia instead.  President Kenyatta says he will clear his name of the ICC charges. He was elected on March 4 in a surprisingly calm and orderly process, a relief to those who expected violence reminiscent of elections in 2007.

Divisive ‘Iron Lady’ remembered. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday of a stroke at age 87, left behind a controversial legacy:

While world leaders praised the most powerful British prime minister since her hero Winston Churchill, the scars of bitter struggles during her rule left Britain divided over her legacy. Opponents celebrated in south London and the Scottish city of Glasgow, cheering her death and toasting to the death of “the witch” with champagne and cider.

Thatcher developed a special relationship with U.S. president Ronald Reagan and said Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was someone she could “do business with.” In South Africa, critics remember her opposition to sanctions as a roadblock to the end of apartheid. She implemented conservative policies, with a focus on privatizing state monopolies over gas, oil, steel and others, that still polarize public opinion. Her 11-year stint as prime minister was marked by tax riots and labor disputes. Today, she is remembered by some in England as a modernizing force who saved the UK, and by others as a destroyer of unions who increased economic inequality. Thatcher bitterly resigned after she was ousted by her own Conservative Party in 1990. Thatcher’s funeral service will take place on April 17, in what will likely be the most elaborate funeral ceremony since Churchill’s 1965 state funeral.

Nota Bene: Reuters photography shows Venezuelan crowds wildly cheering Venezuelan presidential candidates as the election approaches.


North Korea’s known unknowns – Reuters columnist John Lloyd unpacks the threat posed by North Korea. (Reuters)

No scoops in Latin – A Finnish radio station broadcasts news in Latin. (The New York Times)

An eye for an eye? – Saudi Arabia denies reports that it condemned a man to be paralyzed for stabbing his friend in the back. (BBC)

Brought to you by child labor – Rising Western demand for palm oil is growing a Malaysian market which exploits children. (The Atlantic)

“The British are watering our whiskey” – In 1973, the U.S. ambassador to the European Common Market sent a warning home to Washington. (Quartz)

From the File:

  • Quake hits near Iran’s nuclear city Bushehr
  • Man shoots dead 13 relatives and neighbors in Serb village
  • Nigerian baby boom clouds prosperity narrative
  • China’s bird flu death toll climbs to eight
  • Afghanistan helicopter crash kills two Americans
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