May 19, 2010 |
Is the regime of Kim Jong Il the cruelest the world has seen since Adolf Hitler's in Germany or Josef Stalin's in the Soviet Union? For all the world has heard about North Korea and its people's suffering, the answer is no. The dubious distinction of cruelest probably belongs to Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. They took over Cambodia in 1975 and ruled from the once-tranquil capital of Phnom Penh until December 1978, when Vietnamese communist troops drove them out. About 2 million people are estimated to have died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, from disease, starvation, executions and torture.
May 7, 2010 |
China's leaders offered up effusive words of praise for North Korea on Friday at the conclusion of a secretive five-day visit by ailing leader Kim Jong Il. Beijing appeared to be going out of its way to be gracious to Kim, a deliberate signal that it is not ready to pull the plug on its relationship with the wayward and often embarrassing ally. The Chinese government also might have wanted to bolster Kim's regime at a time of increasing speculation that the regime could collapse.
May 4, 2010 |
When the "Dear Leader" hits the road for one of his rare trips outside North Korea, he doesn't take chances. And he certainly doesn't take jet planes. Shrouded in secrecy, excursions like this week's train trip to Beijing have all the markings of Kim Jong Il 's eccentric rule: logistics nuanced by enough bling to serve a seven-star hotel, and risk resistance bordering on the obsessive. On previous trips, there hasn't been just one train, but three. South Korean intelligence reports say the mystery entourage has included two dummy trains to confuse any would-be attacker.
May 3, 2010 |
When North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, ventures outside his hermit kingdom, he must be in need of something, and for his current trip to China, the wish list is especially long. From his last real ally, the 68-year-old dictator is seeking protection from international sanctions and the nod to install his twentysomething son as his successor, as well as money to prop up a faltering economy. Famously phobic about flying, Kim reportedly arrived in China on Monday, in a style befitting one of the world's last Cold War dictators: on an armored train and in what was supposed to be complete state secrecy.
March 23, 2010 |
North Koreans who recently fled to China say many of their fellow citizens are losing faith in the regime of Kim Jong Il after a disastrous currency revaluation that wiped out savings and left food scarcer than at any time since the famine of the mid-1990s, when up to 2 million people died. "People are outspoken. They complain," said a 56-year-old woman from the border city of Musan who gave her name as Li Mi Hee. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she added: "My son thinks that something might happen.
February 23, 2010 |
The portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il have been taken down from the classrooms in the run-down Tokyo Chosen No. 2 Elementary School. But a quick look into the teachers lounge reveals the Dear Leader in all his glory. The school for ethnic Koreans in Japan, one of about 60 in the country that are funded by North Korea, faces a delicate balancing act as money from the reclusive regime has decreased amid economic turmoil there. Since the 1950s, the schools have been run by the General Assn.
February 17, 2010 |
The devoted threw a party fit for a prince: There were dancers, singers and synchronized swimmers, not to mention unnamed foreign dignitaries -- all celebrating the 68th birthday Tuesday of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's "Dear Leader." In Pyongyang, the capital, state-run media lauded a national hero "praised by mankind as the most outstanding political elder and the peerlessly brilliant commander of the present era." Outside the isolationist state, though, the take on Kim's milestone was a bit less breathless as analysts questioned his physical and mental health after a suspected stroke in 2008.
February 16, 2010 |
The devoted threw a party fit for a prince: There were dancers, singers and synchronized swimmers, not to mention unnamed foreign dignitaries -- all celebrating the 68th birthday Tuesday of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's glorious "Dear Leader." In Pyongyang, state-run media lauded a national hero "praised by mankind as the most outstanding political elder and the peerlessly brilliant commander of the present era." Outside the isolationist state, though, the take on Kim's milestone was a bit less breathless as analysts questioned his physical and mental health following a suspected stroke in 2008.
February 3, 2010 |
A recent move by North Korean officials to rejigger the nation's economic system has introduced a new level of misery to everyday life. In the last month, the price of rice rose tenfold at private markets, and residents often had to wait in line for hours in subzero temperatures to buy food. Humanitarian aid workers have been unable to travel to large portions of the country because many hotels no longer accept foreign currency and the exchange rate bounces around wildly.