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All eyes on U.S. prisoner during Dennis Rodman return visit to N. Korea

3 Sep

By Nate Thayer

NKNews.org see full story at: http://www.nknews.org/2013/09/all-eyes-on-u-s-prisoner-during-dennis-rodman-visit-to-n-korea/

Eccentric U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman will arrive in North Korea today for a five day mission where all eyes are on the plight of detained American citizen Kenneth Bae, a prisoner who on Thursday Rodman promised to talk personally to Kim Jong Un to secure his release.

Despite comments suggesting otherwise, all eyes are focusing on whether Rodman’s visit will now lead to the eventual release of the imprisoned American, especially in light of the basketballer’s Thursday pledge to personally raise the issue during his planned meeting with Kim Jong Un.

“I will definitely ask for Kenneth Bae’s release,” Rodman told Huffington Post TV of his forthcoming visit.

Rodman’s personal manager A.J. Bright told NK News that the focus of the trip would be sports diplomacy and had “no comment” when asked about the issue of Kenneth Bae being on any agenda, echoing comments made by Rodman Tuesday morning to Reuters news agency.

But the sports diplomacy trip to North Korea follows a mission cancelled Friday to release the prisoner by U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean human rights Ambassador Bob King, an eleventh hour development that left U.S North Korean experts utterly baffled and State Dept. “surprised and disappointed”.

“King was not going there to negotiate the release of Bae. It was 100% agreed he was bringing Bae home–a done deal,” a U.S. government North Korean specialist who spoke with Ambassador King Thursday told NK News. “He was going there to pick up the package.”

Had Ambassador King made his scheduled trip to Pyongyang, he would have been the highest level U.S. official to have visited the isolated nation since the young leader, Kim Jong Un, took power in December 2011…….(NKNews.org see full story at: http://www.nknews.org/2013/09/all-eyes-on-u-s-prisoner-during-dennis-rodman-visit-to-n-korea/)

Syrian Chemical Weapons: The odd tale of a lone Israeli spy and North Korea

27 Aug

The odd tale of a lone Israeli spy and North Korea

Given the current crisis over use of chemical weapons in Syria, here is a link to a recent story on NKNews.org on clandestine North Korean Syrian chemical warfare cooperation (see full story at NKNews.org http://www.nknews.org/2013/06/the-odd-tale-of-a-lone-israeli-spy-and-north-korea/)

Explosion kills Syrian technicians on North Korean train, Israeli agent spotted in Pyongyang
an-israel-spy-in-north-korea (1)
BY NATE THAYER , JUNE 20, 2013

WASHINGTON D.C. – In the weeks after the mysterious Ryongchon train explosion that killed a dozen Syrian weapons scientists in North Korea on April 22, 2004, the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs announced they were investigating reports that an Israeli Mossad spy travelling on a stolen Canadian passport was in North Korea around the time of the blast.

Zev William Barkan was last seen in late April in Pyongyang, North Korea, after travelling there from Beijing using a Canadian passport issued under the name Kevin William Hunter, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail and other media reports. “The Canadian passport of Kevin William Hunter was said to have been reported stolen in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on April 11, 2004”—11 days before the massive blast, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, at Ryongchon.

“Israel Mossad agent in North Korea?” read the headline in the August 4 Jerusalem Post, adding “New Zealand passport scam takes Canadian twist.”

The Canadian Press reported “Federal officials are investigating whether a suspected Israeli spy is travelling in Asia on a stolen Canadian passport.”

It said “agencies are checking allegations that Zev William Barkan – embroiled in a New Zealand espionage caper – is using a Canadian passport issued under the name Kevin William Hunter.”

“That part of the story’s being checked,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Reynald Doiron. “All of that being put together, we should have a clearer picture.”

Foreign Affairs spokesman Reynald Doiron told Canadian CTV television that “We are checking the information. We know some of the answers but not all of them and we are determined to get to the bottom of this.”

(see full story at NKNews.org http://www.nknews.org/2013/06/the-odd-tale-of-a-lone-israeli-spy-and-north-korea/)

The violent consequences of the North Korea-Syria chemical arms trade

27 Aug

A recent story on NKNews.org on the North Korean Origins of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program has renewed timeliness given the current crisis over chemical weapons use against civilians in Syria

(full story at NKNews.orghttp://www.nknews.org/2013/06/the-violent-consequences-of-the-north-korea-syria-arms-trade/

Clandestine cooperation between pariah states has left trail of bodies
BY NATE THAYER , JUNE 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The blast at the al-Safir facility in July 2007, killing Syrians, Iranians and at least three North Korean ballistic missile specialists, is just one occasion in which underover operatives have died working on Damascus’s WMD arsenal.

The clandestine weapons collaboration between North Korea and Damascus in recent years has left a trail of bodies from Moscow to the Syrian desert to North Korea in a deadly game of spy versus spy hidden in the shadows of the Middle East.

A mysterious blast nine years ago was one of many incidents in which individuals, including North Koreans, have met violent ends cooperating with Syria in developing weapons of mass destruction.

Photo of crater after explosion, Ryongchon 2004 | Picture credit: David Hill, ECHO

Photo of crater after explosion, Ryongchon 2004 | Picture credit: David Hill, ECHO

(full story at NKNews.orghttp://www.nknews.org/2013/06/the-violent-consequences-of-the-north-korea-syria-arms-trade/

Pyongyang Porn: “Some readers may find the book objectionable” @NKNewsorg

23 Aug

Excerpts from Pyongyang Porn

“Some readers may find the book objectionable”
BY NATE THAYER , AUGUST 23, 2013
For the full story, go to NKNews.org at http://www.nknews.org/2013/08/pyongyang-porn/ , the news organization that comprehensively provides quality journalism on all North Korea. Below are excerpts…….
cammy-smithwick-pyongyang-fuck-kim-jong-un-ladies-stockings (1)

Artwork by NK News illustrator Cammy Smithwick

 

Mhari Yi, who moved to Edinburgh to attend Napier University and stayed on to work, was excited as she embarked on a new side career as a budding author. She lived happily for ten years in Edinburgh, Scotland, she said in several interviews with NKNews.org

On May 12, 2012, she published a book. On May 14, she wrote on her blog “I am so happy. My first book has been published!” But Miss Yi had also set another precedent: she is the first to penetrate the virgin North Korean porn market, dragging the famously thin-skinned and prudish dictatorship against their will into the hard core world of erotic literature.

The cheeky promotional blurb for Pyongyang F@%K: Deep inside North Korea declares the barely legal protagonist “Dae is a young Korean girl who has just turned 18 and is looking for a little fun. Now is the time for a little excitement deep inside North Korea.“

If the North Korean government gets wind of the erotica author’s work, Miss Yi may find herself on the receiving end of a serious tongue lashing.

In August, 2012 an obscure Australian weekly paper angered North Korea by publishing a graphic of the London Olympic medal count which labeled Pyongyang “Naughty Korea” and its southern neighbor as “Nice Korea.” Pyongyang went ballistic and fired off a missive (that is missive, not missile) over state media for the “sordid behavior” of “challenging the authority of the dignified sovereign state” calling the Melbourne mX a  “naughty paper” and a “symbol of rogue paper for its misdeed to be cursed long in Olympic history.”

But the 31 year old porn writer has been much naughtier………..

BEGGING FOR MERCY

In Pyongyang F@%K: deep inside North Korea, the protagonist, the barely 18 Park Min Dae, engages in a series of bawdy Pyongyang romps using her wicked talents to seduce top party cadre, distracting them from their revolutionary duties, under the gaze of the ubiquitous portrait of the regime’s dictator, Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.

Miss Park, with breasts “like grapefruit” and buttocks “like two luscious juicy melons placed perfectly together” starts “working for the party” as a photographer for the Pyongyang Times.

On her first day on the job, she intends “a lot more than a boring first day at work”, returns to her bosses house and seduces him, only to then have North Korean intelligence agents appear out of nowhere and drag her now ex-boss off to his certain fate. Her future now firmly in the hands of the feared secret police, the very naughty Miss Park prostrates herself in front of the portraits of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and begs for mercy–and offers other rather risque, specific compensatory incentives to the secret police agents–and she is given a break, only to ratchet up and continue her subversive erotic antics. She returns home and tells her mom that her boss had quit but “the new one may even give me a promotion!”

The British Foreign and Commonwealth office helpfully suggests, in its travel advice offered to UK citizens visiting Pyongyang , to refrain from “perceived insults to, or jokes about, the North Korean political system and its leadership which are severely frowned upon,” adding that visitors have “found themselves in trouble for not paying what was deemed to be a sufficient level of respect.”…………

……………………………………….In Pyongyang F@!!k, Miss Park’s parents leave a life of luxury “in Japan to live in Pyongyang, North Korea. I know reading this now you may think why on earth someone would do something so stupid?” she writes. Her father was then taken by the secret police “who had come at night but I heard many rumors from my friends that my dad had been a bad man and had committed crimes of treason against the state and our Dear Leader.”

She probably made a good choice to use a pseudonym when she penned her no holds barred erotica set in North Korea. The Pyongyang authorities are famously grumpy when it comes to challenging the official propaganda portraying the Godlike virtues of the hereditary Kim family regime.

OFFENDING THE LEADERSHIP

In June last year, upset at South Korean media, North Korea threatened the “reduction to ashes in three or four minutes, by unprecedented unusual means” several offending newspapers.

One particular newspaper in South Korea merited a declaration from the famously thin skinned Korean Central News Agency that military “strategic rocket forces” had “zeroed in” on the journalists and then broadcast the precise military map coordinates of the papers office in downtown Seoul……Less than a week later the newspaper was the target of a sophisticated cyber attack, destroying their databases and temporarily paralyzing production.

“We have dispatched our investigators urgently to the Joongang Ilbo to secure evidence,” Jong Seok-hwa, chief investigator of South Korea’s government Cyber Terror Response Center said in an interview with a Seoul newspaper. ”We have never seen a strong attack like this before.”

KCNA added the international media were “dens of heinous provocateurs hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership” concluding they “should not be allowed to exist.”

In Pyongyang F@#k: deep inside North Korea, after her father was disappeared, her mother then “married the head of the peoples party in our province” who the randy Miss Park proceeds to tease and seduce.

The book is decidedly not family friendly reading.  A disclaimer says “some readers may find the book objectionable, saying it contains references to “voyeurism, exhibitionism, anal play, anal sex, oral sex, extended orgasms, graphic language, vaginal sex and cock sucking. “

It can be assumed that among those “readers who find the book objectionable” would include the ruling officials in the “workers paradise” of North Korea…….

……And she might take special note of the helpful British Foreign Office tip on traveling to Pyongyang that it is “not advisable to bring books” as “these and any other literature deemed subversive or pornographic by the North Korean authorities risk being confiscated from travelers on arrival.”

She might even want to remain alert when in Edinburgh. In July 2010, two North Korean diplomats walked into the Rangoon, Burma office of ……the author of “Kim Jong Il: The Dear Leader of North Korea,” one ordering him to immediately stop distributing his book, while the other diplomat confiscated all the remaining unsold 310 copies. “They said I used two American books as references,’ Hein Latt, 62, told Reuters at the time……

“To tell the truth, I gave the books to them because I am afraid of North Koreans. I know more about them than others because I am writing about them.” He said one spoke “English but the other didn’t. He just stood there and collected the books.” The North Korean diplomats didn’t even offer to pay for them. And the Burmese language book had been approved by the Burmese Ministry of Information Press Scrutiny Department, a government hardly known for its fidelity to press freedoms or tolerance for political controversy.

“If anything came of my silly little erotica, I would love it to be that someone gets more interested in North Korea,: Miss Yi said. “ It really is shocking how little is publicized about the horrors that occur in North Korea!”

Mhali Yi, when asked if she is single, says: “One could say that. I’m not in a serious relationship at the moment. It’s not something I’m currently looking for as I don’t wish to be tied down.”

That likely would be the most pleasant of her possible fates if the North Korean regime got their hands on the Edinburgh lass.

For the full story, go to NKNews.org at http://www.nknews.org/2013/08/pyongyang-porn/ , the news organization that comprehensively provides quality journalism on all North Korea.

North Korea’s Hall of Mirrors: Fake Global Network of Shell Companies Key to Illicit Arms Exports

31 May

North Korea’s Global Hall of Mirrors: Shadowy front companies crucial to banned Pyongyang arms exports

Investigation reveals complex web of false shell corporations spanning the world enabling DPRK arms exports

By Nate Thayer
NK News
May 30, 2013

(See entire story at NK News http://www.nknews.org/2013/05/the-front-companies-facilitating-north-korean-arms-exports/ )
Four years after an aircraft was seized in Bangkok with a cargo of illicit weapons being sent from North Korea to Iran, the UN and other governments have concluded an investigation revealing new details of a sophisticated worldwide criminal network to circumvent UN sanctions designed to halt the proliferation of nuclear, missile, and other technologies to some of the world’s most volatile conflicts.

Dozens of shell companies involving at least 16 countries were created in the weeks before the aircraft was seized – paper industries designed to disguise the shadowy players behind the 2009 arms shipment that almost evaded international law enforcement.

On the night of December 11, 2009, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand called the Prime Minister with an important request: U.S. intelligence had information a cargo plane had departed Pyongyang smuggling 35 tons of clandestine arms and was scheduled to land in Bangkok to refuel. The U.S. wanted the Thai army to seize the aircraft and its cargo, banned under international laws mandated by United Nations sanctions.

But when the aircraft was seized at 4.00pm the next day, the international intricate web of shell companies simply vanished into thin air.

In reality, they never existed except on paper.

The companies were all mail drops hurriedly established in obscure offices spanning the globe. They were all creations of other legal companies that exploited loopholes in national laws from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Ukraine to London – established to hide the true identities of the owners.

The officers listed on company registration papers were “nominee” directors with no power or knowledge over company operations. They received their instructions from the real owners whose true identities, nationalities, and locations they did not know.

Like an optical illusion, the complex global network was a hall of mirrors and the real identities of the powers behind the operation vanished immediately when the cargo was seized.

The only people that proved quickly identifiable were the airplane crew:–one Belarusian and four Ukrainians–who had no idea who they were working for, what cargo they were transporting, who their cache of goods was being delivered to, or even to where it was destined.

But the illicit weapons cache did yield a gold mine of documents that paint a vivid portrait of the complex global network used to evade international and national laws.

Leaked UN reports two weeks ago said their four year investigation into the Bangkok seizure had been concluded, and named three individuals who were part of the intricate web of deceit.

AN INTRICATE WEB

The 52-page confidential report by the Panel of Experts on sanctions against the DPRK named two Ukrainian citizens, Yuri Lunov and Igor Karev-Popov, and one citizen of Kazakhstan, Aleksandr Viktorovich Zykov, for their involvement in the North Korea arms cache seized in Bangkok.

Kazakh Aleksandr Viktorovich Zykov was an international arms trafficker whose company, then registered in the United Arab Emirates, owned the Russian made cargo plane until just months prior to it being used to transport the North Korean arms shipment.

Ukrainian Yuriy Lunov owned the Georgian company, Air West, who held the operating license to the aircraft, and hired the crew to fly the cargo plane.

Ukrainian Igor Karev-Popov was the mysterious figure who was “a UK based European” who controlled the New Zealand registered shell company, SP Trading, which from the shadows leased the aircraft from Air West from SP Trading’s shell mail-drop office in Kiev, Ukraine.

Upon leasing the plane, SP Trading signed an agreement with a just created Hong Kong registered front company, Union Top Management (UTM), which chartered the aircraft.

Four days later the aircraft departed Azerbaijan for a circuitous trip around the globe to Pyongyang.

From shell offices that included Kiev, Ukraine, Auckland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and a mysterious company registered in London, SP Trading and UTM choreographed the operation. The cargo, which included 35 surface-to-air missiles that could theoretically shoot down a passenger plane, originated in Pyongyang and were destined for Hezbollah via distributers in Iran and Syria.

The real beneficial owners of the New Zealand shell company, SP Trading, ltd., and the Hong registered UTM were in real control of getting the weapons from North Korea to Tehran, where they would subsequently have gone to the Palestinian guerrilla army, Hezbollah, via Syria.

The four year UN investigation by the Panel of Experts, in cooperation with a number of law enforcement, aviation, and financial investigators and intelligence agencies, notably New Zealand, uncovered a jigsaw puzzle that has revealed remarkable details of how international criminal syndicated transport illicit commodities under the radar of international and national laws.

A PORTRAIT EMERGES

While North Korea can mask operations within its own borders, there are many national and international laws to abide by in order to operate globally – particularly in shipping, international flight operations, financial systems and company registration. This is compounded within the national borders of countries that are more sensitive to operating within the parameters of international laws and regulations.

Aircraft ownership, operator licenses, safety requirements, cargo manifests, international flight plans, etc, all required documentation – documentation that was found aboard the seized aircraft in 2009, and provided a paper trail that sparked 4 years of international investigation.

“New Zealand authorities investigated the beneficiaries of SP Trading and passed information to the (UN) Sanctions committee,” a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told NK News, confirming their ongoing investigation into who was behind the New Zealand-registered companies linked to the seized plane.

“New Zealand legislation will shortly be passed that will close the loophole for non-resident directors,” the New Zealand government added.

IGOR KAREV-POPOV

The “non-resident director” and beneficiary of SP Trading was Igor Karev-Popov, – the same Igor Karev-Popov identified as sanctioned by the UN Panel of Experts this May, and said to be the most important power behind the network revealed so far.

But while Karev-Popov had never previously been publicly identified by name, the New Zealand government has been aware of his identity since at least 2010.

He is is the mysterious unnamed “UK based client” who was the person behind the creation of the two key paper companies, SP Trading and UTM, who controlled decisions to lease the aircraft, create the flight plan, pay those involved, and, most importantly, approve the cargo manifest that, ultimately contained the 35 tons of proscribed armaments.

The real and beneficial owners of SP Trading and UTM were in control of getting the weapons from North Korea to Iran.

Those involved in the actual transport of the proscribed cargo and who set up the web of front companies, knew very little, if anything, about the scheme they played various compartmentalized roles in. It is routine, in fact, for flight crews to have no knowledge of the specifics of the cargo they are hauling, arms trafficking investigators say…….(See entire story at NK News http://www.nknews.org/2013/05/the-front-companies-facilitating-north-korean-arms-exports/ )

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