February 28, 2006

North Korea Aid: Profile of Amy Daniels

In September 1997, the first American civilian aircraft in nearly half a century landed in North Korea. It was chartered by the non-profit AmeriCares, and it brought with it 59,000 pounds of nutritional supplements, antibiotics, vitamins, gastro-intestinal medicine, antidiarrheals and infant formula. For the past eight years, the Connecticut-based organization has sent two shipments of medical supplies to North Korean hospitals and orphanages each year.

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October 27, 2005

Ignored: North Korea’s Shadowy Arms Deals with Burma

Reports from two years ago suggest North Korea has been quietly helping Burma’s military regime build a nuclear reactor. While covert interactions between these pariah states have raised alarm in regional and Western security circles for quite some time, most mainstream Western media have ignored them. The following is a review of those activities, based largely reports appearing in the recently defunct Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) and the work of Australian military scholar Andrew Selth:

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October 24, 2005

MIKE CHINOY, CNN's Senior Asia Correspondent

"Making Sense of North Korea"
A Discussion with Mike Chinoy and screening of short documentary, "North Korean Journeys," that spans 14 reporting trips to North Korea between 1989 and 2005.

October 26, 2005
6:30 pm -- 8:00 pm
North Gate Library
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Reception at 5:45 pm in North Gate Hall Courtyard

This is a free event.


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Recent changes in North Korean Central TV

KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) reported in July 2005 that North Korea’s state-run Chosun Central TV is beginning to change. The first sign was the appearance of a different announcer’s backdrop for news programs.

PIC 1. North Korean Chosun Central TV (captured by South Korean KBS1)


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October 20, 2005

DMZ Visit

Today Cheorwon bears witness to Korea's tormented past. Burned out buildings used by the Japanese during colonial rule, a bombed out train that once connected north and south, a bullet-riddled building where anti-communists were tortured and murdered--all testify to the legacy of a divided Korea.

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October 12, 2005

Lost In Purgatory: The Story of South Korean Abductees


This photo, posted on the abductee association’s website, shows South Korean fishermen on a group outing in North Korea in 1974. The men were identified as having been kidnapped during 1971-1972. One-third of the men in the photo are now believed to be dead, according to an abductee who escaped to South Korea in 2000.

Between 1955-1987, South Korea had its own version of a Bermuda Triangle near the 38th parallel, a place where ships and planes would mysteriously disappear. In this version, the vessels and their crews would reappear in North Korea after a few days, victims of abductions the North Korean government has become notorious for.

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October 11, 2005

Harsh Adjustment for North Korean Defectors


North Korean defectors play a unique role in outsiders’ understanding of what has since the 19th century been known as the Hermit Kingdom. They offer a rare glimpse into a country that most foreign journalists are unable to step foot in, much less have access to, making them one of the few first-hand recounts journalists can rely on. However, defector coverage – which often emphasizes their life in North Korea, their dangerous journey, or their reasons for escape – often lacks examination of the defectors’ subsequent experiences in South Korea. This is perhaps based on an assumption that their trials and tribulations have somehow evaporated upon entry into South Korean society. Yet some scholars argue that this is where a new set of challenges awaits.

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October 07, 2005

The Longest Truce: A View From the South

The South Korea I grew up in was much different from the Korea we know today. It did not have the confidence of being the 12th largest trading nation in the world, nor did it have the glow of success from peacefully transforming to an open democracy following a military dictatorship.

Likewise, North Korea was not the impoverished pariah state it is today. It hovered in our backyard as a real military threat, and by all accounts its economy was neck and neck with South Korea’s.

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Film Review: “A State of Mind”


"A State of Mind" (2004) offers a rare and fascinating glimpse of everyday life in North Korea. British director Daniel Gordon got permission to shoot this documentary in Pyongyang after making a previous film in North Korea, “The Game of Their Lives,” in 2002. Ostensibly a sports story about two girls training for the 2003 national Mass Games—the North Korean equivalent of the World Series, Superbowl and Oscars rolled into one—“State” actually is a revealing portrait of the girls’ school lives, family lives, and belief systems in a country about which not much is known outside of the country.

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Orphaned Daughter of North Korea Goes Home, Leaves Again

Lee Hee Sook & family 1941.JPG
Lee Hee Sook (middle row, far left) with her family in North Korea in 1941.

Lee Hee Sook, 74, was born in Cheongjin, North Korea in 1931. A member of one of the 11 million Korean families divided on either side of the 38th parallel after World War II, she is also among the few who have been able to travel back across that line to see her relatives again.

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October 05, 2005

The American Friend


Jason LaBouyer has been to North Korea twice. In July 2004 and again in August this year, the 23-year-old from California’s Yuba City crossed over the 38th parallel—something most Americans have not been able to do since George W. Bush invented an Axis of Evil and made the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a charter member. Both trips were arranged by the North Korean government.

“I travel to the DPRK not as a tourist," he told me shortly after returning from his latest visit, "but as a guest of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries."

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September 23, 2005


The following photos were taken by Megyung Chung, a Los Angeles-based Korean American community organizer who was a delegate to a humanitarian mission to Pyongyang, North Korea in August 2004. The mission was sponsored by the New York City-based Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, a non-profit organization that aims to promote the self-determination and unification of Korea through community development and grassroots organizing. Delegates were able to bring medical supplies to hospitals, witness agricultural development and learn about the education system.

September 22, 2005


In Pyongyang, a symbol of reunification of the Korean peninsula. At the base of the structure are messages of support from various individuals, organizations and nations for re-unification and peace.
Photo by Megyung Chung.


The hammer, sickle and paintbrush symbolize the unity of the worker, soldier and intellectual/artist.



Political art about the nuclear disarmanment issue.
Photo by Megyung Chung.


A Buddhist temple preserved near Myo Hyang Mountain.
Photo by Megyung Chung.