Tag Archives: north korea

Hushpuppi ‘linked’ to North Korean money laundering, robbery.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI has linked Instagram celebrity, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a.k.a Hushpuppi, to North Korean hackers said to be the biggest bank robbers in the world.

The Justice Department in a detailed statement released on Friday, February 19, alleged that Hushpuppi took part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

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According to the statement, his role was as a collaborator with a North Korean money launderer, Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

“Alaumary agreed to plead guilty to the charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2020.

“Alaumary was a prolific money launderer for hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and other online fraud schemes. Alaumary is also being prosecuted for his involvement in a separate BEC scheme by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

“With respect to the North Korean co-conspirators’ activities, Alaumary organized teams of co-conspirators in the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars obtained through ATM cash-out operations, including from BankIslami and a bank in India in 2018.

“Alaumary also conspired with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019”the statement read

Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai in June 2020, and extradited to the US where he is being charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from “business email compromise” (BEC) frauds and other scams.

His trial was to have commenced late last year, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Read the full US Justice Department statement on Hushpuppi’s alleged involvement with the three North Korean military hackers

A federal indictment unsealed today charges three North Korean computer programmers with participating in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to conduct a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies, to create and deploy multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform.

A second case unsealed today revealed that a Canadian-American citizen has agreed to plead guilty in a money laundering scheme and admitted to being a high-level money launderer for multiple criminal schemes, including ATM “cash-out” operations and a cyber-enabled bank heist orchestrated by North Korean hackers.

“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“The Department will continue to confront malicious nation state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same.”

“Today’s unsealed indictment expands upon the FBI’s 2018 charges for the unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime,” said the FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.

“The ongoing targeting, compromise, and cyber-enabled theft by North Korea from global victims was met with the outstanding, persistent investigative efforts of the FBI in close collaboration with U.S. and foreign partners. By arresting facilitators, seizing funds, and charging those responsible for the hacking conspiracy, the FBI continues to impose consequences and hold North Korea accountable for its/their criminal cyber activity.”

“The scope of the criminal conduct by the North Korean hackers was extensive and long-running, and the range of crimes they have committed is staggering,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California.

“The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime.”

“This case is a particularly striking example of the growing alliance between officials within some national governments and highly sophisticated cyber-criminals,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Michael R. D’Ambrosio.

“The individuals indicted today committed a truly unprecedented range of financial and cyber-crimes: from ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns, to digital bank heists and sophisticated money laundering operations. With victims strewn across the globe, this case shows yet again that the challenge of cybercrime is, and will continue to be, a struggle that can only be won through partnerships, perseverance, and a relentless focus on holding criminals accountable.”

The hacking indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Jon Chang Hyok (???), 31; Kim Il (??), 27; and Park Jin Hyok (???), 36, were members of units of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which engaged in criminal hacking. These North Korean military hacking units are known by multiple names in the cybersecurity community, including Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38). Park was previously charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in September 2018.

The indictment alleges a broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy, in the United States and abroad, for revenge or financial gain. The schemes alleged include:

Cyberattacks on the Entertainment Industry: The destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014 in retaliation for “The Interview,” a movie that depicted a fictional assassination of the DPRK’s leader; the December 2014 targeting of AMC Theatres, which was scheduled to show the film; and a 2015 intrusion into Mammoth Screen, which was producing a fictional series involving a British nuclear scientist taken prisoner in DPRK.

Cyber-Enabled Heists from Banks: Attempts from 2015 through 2019 to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta, and Africa by hacking the banks’ computer networks and sending fraudulent Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) messages.

Cyber-Enabled ATM Cash-Out Thefts: Thefts through ATM cash-out schemes – referred to by the U.S. government as “FASTCash” – including the October 2018 theft of $6.1 million from BankIslami Pakistan Limited (BankIslami).

Ransomware and Cyber-Enabled Extortion: Creation of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, and the extortion and attempted extortion of victim companies from 2017 through 2020 involving the theft of sensitive data and deployment of other ransomware.

Creation and Deployment of Malicious Cryptocurrency Applications: Development of multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications from March 2018 through at least September 2020 – including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale – which would provide the North Korean hackers a backdoor into the victims’ computers.

Targeting of Cryptocurrency Companies and Theft of Cryptocurrency: Targeting of hundreds of cryptocurrency companies and the theft of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency, including $75 million from a Slovenian cryptocurrency company in December 2017; $24.9 million from an Indonesian cryptocurrency company in September 2018; and $11.8 million from a financial services company in New York in August 2020 in which the hackers used the malicious CryptoNeuro Trader application as a backdoor.

Spear-Phishing Campaigns: Multiple spear-phishing campaigns from March 2016 through February 2020 that targeted employees of United States cleared defense contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, the U.S.Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Marine Chain Token and Initial Coin Offering: Development and marketing in 2017 and 2018 of the Marine Chain Token to enable investors to purchase fractional ownership interests in marine shipping vessels, supported by a blockchain, which would allow the DPRK to secretly obtain funds from investors, control interests in marine shipping vessels, and evade U.S. sanctions.

According to the allegations contained in the hacking indictment, which was filed on Dec. 8, 2020, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and unsealed today, the three defendants were members of units of the RGB who were at times stationed by the North Korean government in other countries, including China and Russia. While these defendants were part of RGB units that have been referred to by cybersecurity researchers as Lazarus Group and APT38, the indictment alleges that these groups engaged in a single conspiracy to cause damage, steal data and money, and otherwise further the strategic and financial interests of the DPRK government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

Money Launderer Charged in California and Georgia

Federal prosecutors today also unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for his role as a money launderer for the North Korean conspiracy, among other criminal schemes. Alaumary agreed to plead guilty to the charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2020. Alaumary was a prolific money launderer for hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and other online fraud schemes. Alaumary is also being prosecuted for his involvement in a separate BEC scheme by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

With respect to the North Korean co-conspirators’ activities, Alaumary organized teams of co-conspirators in the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars obtained through ATM cash-out operations, including from BankIslami and a bank in India in 2018. Alaumary also conspired with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019. Last summer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles charged Abbas in a separate case alleging that he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from BEC frauds and other scams.

Accompanying Mitigation Efforts

Throughout the investigation, the FBI and the Justice Department provided specific information to victims about how they had been targeted or compromised, as well as information about the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by the hackers with the goals of remediating any intrusion and preventing future intrusions. That direct sharing of information took place in the United States and in foreign countries, often with the assistance of foreign law enforcement partners. The FBI also collaborated with certain private cybersecurity companies by sharing and analyzing information about the intrusion TTPs used by the members of the conspiracy.

In addition to the criminal charges, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Treasury, today released a joint cybersecurity advisory and malware analysis reports (MARs) regarding North Korean cryptocurrency malware. The joint cybersecurity analysis and MARs highlight the cyber threat North Korea – which is referred to by the U.S. government as HIDDEN COBRA – poses to cryptocurrency and identify malware and indicators of compromise related to the “AppleJeus” family of malware (the name given by the cybersecurity community to a family of North Korean malicious cryptocurrency applications that includes Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale). The joint cybersecurity advisory and MARs collectively provide the cybersecurity community and public with information about identifying North Korean malicious cryptocurrency applications, avoiding intrusions, and remedying infections.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI also obtained seizure warrants authorizing the FBI to seize cryptocurrency stolen by the North Korean hackers from a victim in the indictment – a financial services company in New York – held at two cryptocurrency exchanges. The seizures include sums of multiple cryptocurrencies totalling approximately $1.9 million, which will ultimately be returned to the victim.

Jon, Kim, and Park are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

In relation to the case filed in Los Angeles, Alaumary has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation of Jon, Kim, and Park was led by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, which worked closely with the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office. The U.S. Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office and Global Investigative Operations Center provided substantial assistance. The FBI’s Cyber Division also provided substantial assistance.

The investigations of Alaumary were conducted by the U.S. Secret Service’s Savannah Field Office, FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and the U.S. Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office and Global Investigative Operations Center. The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division also provided substantial assistance.

The case against Jon, Kim, and Park is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, with substantial assistance from Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antony and Shobaki are also prosecuting the case against Alaumary, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia and the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) provided substantial assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antony and Shobaki, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Galatzan of the Asset Forfeiture Section, also obtained the seizure warrants for cryptocurrency stolen from the financial services company in New York.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance throughout these investigations, as did many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés, as well as foreign authorities around the world. Numerous victims cooperated and provided valuable assistance.”

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#Newsworthy

United States meets Japan, South Korea on North Korea review.

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The United States consulted jointly Thursday with South Korea and Japan, allies often at odds with each other, as President Joe Biden reviews how to move forward on North Korea.

Senior US diplomat Sung Kim and his counterparts promised “close cooperation” in a videoconference and “expressed their continued commitment to denuclearization and the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” the State Department said.

The Biden administration says it is reviewing how to move forward with North Korea after former president Donald Trump held three splashy meetings with leader Kim Jong Un but failed to reach a lasting deal.

The Trump administration argued that it ended a diplomatic logjam and effectively stopped North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, although critics say that Pyongyang nonetheless advanced on the programs.

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Biden is expected to take a more low-key approach and his administration has pledged also to raise concerns over cybersecurity, with the Justice Department on Wednesday charging three North Korean intelligence officials over massive hacks.

Trump had strong relationships with both the Japanese and South Korean leaders, but relations between the two neighbours hit new lows during his presidency in disputes linked to the legacy of Japanese colonial rule.

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#Newsworthy

US justice dept charges North Korea of $1.3bn theft.

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The Justice Department did not specify exactly how much it believed the defendants have stolen altogether.

The US Justice Department charged three North Korean military intelligence officials Wednesday in a campaign of cyberattacks to steal $1.3 billion in crypto and traditional currencies from banks and other targets.

The first action against Pyongyang by President Joe Biden’s administration took aim at what the department called “a global campaign of criminality” being waged by North Korea.

The department accused the three of a wide-ranging hacking and malware operation to obtain funds for their government while avoiding punishing UN sanctions that have cinched off its sources of income.

Over at least seven years, the officials created malicious cryptocurrency applications that opened back doors into targets’ computers; hacked into companies marketing and trading digital currencies like bitcoin; and developed a blockchain platform to evade sanctions and secretly raise funds, the department said.

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The case filed in federal court in Los Angeles builds on 2018 charges against one of the three, identified as Park Jin Hyok.

He was charged with the 2014 hack of Sony pictures, the creation of the notorious WannaCry ransomware, and the 2016 theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh.

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The new charges added two defendants, Jon Chang Hyok and Kim Il.

The allegations said the three worked together in the North Korean military intelligence’s hacking-focused Reconnaissance General Bureau, better known within the cybersecurity community as the Lazarus Group, or APT 38.

In addition to the earlier charges, the three allegedly operated out of North Korea, Russia and China to hack computers using spearfishing techniques, and to promote cryptocurrency applications loaded with malicious software that allowed them to empty victims’ crypto wallets.

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They allegedly robbed digital currency exchanges in Slovenia and Indonesia and extorted a New York exchange of $11.8 million.

In a 2018 scheme, they robbed $6.1 million from ATM machines from Pakistan’s BankIslami after gaining access to its computer network.

The Justice Department did not specify exactly how much it believed the defendants have stolen altogether.

‘Keyboards instead of guns’
In addition, the charges said, Kim Il developed the blockchain-based digital currency-like “Marine Chain Token” which ostensibly was an instrument for investors to buy shares of shipping vessels.

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He marketed opportunities to invest in the scheme in Singapore, without telling potential investors that it was mainly designed to hide ship ownership identities to help North Korea avoid sanctions, the charges said.

All of the actions, the Justice Department said, were to “further the strategic and financial interests of the (North Korean) government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.”

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“North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement.

“Nation-state indictments like this are an important step in identifying the problem, calling it out in a legally rigorous format, and building international consensus,” Demers said.

In parallel, the department announced that Ghaleb Alaumary of Mississauga, Canada, had pleaded guilty to one charge of acting as a money launderer for the North Koreans.

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Alaumary helped arrange for money to be removed from ATMs hacked by the North Korean operation.

He was also, the department said, a “prolific” money launderer for other hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank theft, and fraud schemes based on hijacking companies’ email.

The case announced Wednesday was the first open action taken against North Korea by the Biden administration, amid ongoing tensions over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that threaten the United States and allies.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the administration is reviewing policy toward the country.

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The review “will take into account the totality of the malign activity and the threats that are emanating from North Korea,” Price said.

“Most frequently we speak of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, but of course, its malicious cyber activity is something we are carefully evaluating and looking at as well,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

Kim’s wife makes first public appearance after 1-year.

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Kim has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife made her first public appearance in over a year, state media reported Wednesday, after speculation her absence could be coronavirus-related, or because of a potential pregnancy.

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Ri Sol Ju, believed to be in her early 30s, joined her husband at a concert commemorating the birthday of his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il.

The anniversary celebrating the second member of the Kim dynasty to lead the now nuclear-armed North Korea is known as the Day of the Shining Star and is one of the country’s most important public holidays.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of the couple smiling broadly and applauding the performers at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang.

“As the General Secretary came to the auditorium of the theatre together with his wife Ri Sol Ju amid the welcome music, all the participants burst into thunderous cheers of ‘Hurrah!’” the official KCNA news agency reported.

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None of the audience members or performers wore facemasks in the pictures.

Ri was last seen in January 2020 at an event for the Lunar New Year holiday.

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Her extended absence prompted questions over her health, whether she might be in seclusion to avoid any risk of coronavirus infection, or pregnant — the couple are believed to have three children.

This picture taken on February 16, 2021 released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 17 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) watching a performance for celebrating the birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT /

The impoverished country has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year, to try to protect itself from the pandemic that has swept the world since first emerging in neighbouring China.

Kim has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

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Wednesday’s report and photos came a day after South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that Ri was “playing well with her kids”, and was refraining from public activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before her lengthy absence, Ri joined her husband on numerous “field guidance trips” and for meetings with foreign leaders, including the South’s President Moon Jae-in and China’s Xi Jinping.

“Because of Covid, no foreign leaders made visits to the North last year, nor was Kim able to make such trips that would require his wife’s attendance,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

“It looks like Ri just focused on raising her kids, ensuring they are safe and well.”

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A former star singer, Ri, believed to be in her early 30s, emerged into the public eye in 2012.

She is regarded as one of the most high-profile women in the isolated, deeply patriarchal nation, alongside her husband’s sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: South Korea says North Korea ‘tried to hack’ Pfizer vaccine.

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The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

North Korean hackers tried to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in a search for information on a coronavirus vaccine and treatment technology, South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday, according to reports.

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The impoverished, nuclear-armed North has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year to try to protect itself from the virus that first emerged in neighbouring China and has gone on to sweep the world, killing more than two million people.

Leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

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And the closure has added to the pressure on its tottering economy from international sanctions imposed over its banned weapons systems, increasing the urgency for Pyongyang to find a way to deal with the disease.

Seoul’s National Intelligence Service “briefed us that North Korea tried to obtain technology involving the Covid vaccine and treatment by using cyberwarfare to hack into Pfizer”, MP Ha Tae-keung told reporters after a parliamentary hearing behind closed doors.

This picture taken on February 11, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 12, 2021 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a performance celebrating the Lunar New Year in North Korea.

North Korea is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in the South and elsewhere.

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Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly with Germany’s BioNTech, began winning approval from authorities late last year.

It is based on technology that uses the synthetic version of a molecule called “messenger RNA” to hack into human cells and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.

Pfizer says it expects to potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses in 2021.

The company’s South Korean office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP.

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Both it and BioNTech said in December that documents relating to their vaccine were “unlawfully accessed” during a cyberattack on a server at the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s medicine regulator.

The comments came after the Amsterdam-based EMA said it had been the victim of a hacking attack, without specifying when it took place or whether its work on Covid-19 was targeted.

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Cyber-heists
The allegations come only a week after a confidential UN report seen by AFP said North Korea had stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its weapons programmes.

Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, the document said, with the vast majority of the proceeds coming from two thefts late last year.

Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare abilities first came to global prominence in 2014 when it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview”, a satirical film that mocked leader Kim.

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The attack resulted in the posting of several unreleased movies as well as a vast trove of confidential documents online.

The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Pyongyang’s hackers were blamed for the 2017 WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, which infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks”.

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Nuclear talks between it and Washington have been stalled since a summit between Kim and then-president Donald Trump in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

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#Newsworthy

Kim Jong Un blast officals over economic downfall.

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North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under Kim.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused top officials of “self-protection and defeatism” and largely blamed them for the country’s economic plight, state media reported Friday.

At a meeting of top cadres, state news agency KCNA said Kim had “sharply criticised” officials responsible for laying out plans for various sectors’ growth this year, saying they did not reflect the “idea and policy” announced at January’s Party Congress.

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That Congress, the first of its kind in five years and only the eighth in North Korea’s history, set out a new economic plan.

But it also revealed the extent of the isolated country’s financial woes, with Kim repeatedly apologising for mistakes in economic management and saying the last five years had been the “worst” time.

Wrapping up the four-day meeting, Kim was quoted Friday as slamming officials for their lack of “innovative viewpoint and clear tactics” in solving those issues.

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In one example of poor performance, he singled out agriculture officials who had set grain production targets “irrespective of the present situation where the farming condition is unfavourable and the state is unable to supply enough farming materials”, in an unusually candid account.

Other sectors were lambasted for “absurdly low” production quotas, with officials accused of “trying to find a breather and make a pretence of doing work.”

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under Kim.

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 12, 2021 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking during the third-day of the 2nd plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in North Korea. (Photo by – / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / South Korea OUT /

A summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

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Nuclear talks have been stalled ever since, while North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

Pyongyang is also under increasing financial pressure as the coronavirus pandemic and floods last summer put its flagging economy under yet more strain.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: Iran resumed missiles collaboration with North Korea in 2020 – UN.

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The report’s experts monitor the multiple sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to attempt to force it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

North Korea and Iran resumed cooperation on the development of long-range missiles in 2020, according to a UN report that also confirmed Pyongyang continues to violate various nuclear resolutions.

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The annual report, produced by an independent panel of UN experts, was submitted to the Security Council on Monday and seen by AFP.

It said Tehran denies any such missile cooperation with North Korea.

But according to an unnamed member state, North Korea and Iran “have resumed cooperation on long-range missile development projects,” the report states.

This picture taken on February 8, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 9 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending the first day of the 2nd plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in North Korea. (Photo by STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT /

“This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020.”

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The report’s experts monitor the multiple sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to attempt to force it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

In a December 21 reply, Iran stated the “preliminary review of the information provided to us by the (experts) indicates that false information and fabricated data may have been used in investigations and analyses.”

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In their assessment of North Korea, the experts said Pyongyang “maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

Pyongyang last year announced preparation for testing and production of new ballistic missile warheads and development of tactical nuclear weapons.

“It produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure. It continued to seek material and technology for these programs from overseas,” the expert report states.

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The experts also investigated cases in which North Korea acquired ships, sold fishing rights and continued to export coal in violation of sanctions.

North Korea’s border closure due to the pandemic may have hampered those shipments, however.

The experts also found that North Korea had continued to import more refined petroleum than is allowed under its 500,000-barrel limit, sometimes by using “elaborate subterfuge.”

“According to imagery, data and calculations received from a member state covering the period 1 January to 30 September, in 2020 these illicit shipments exceeded the annual aggregate 500,000-barrel cap by several times,” the report states.

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Last year, like the year before, the US presented satellite imagery and data to show North Korea was surpassing its quotas.

China and Russia, North Korea’s main supporters, have rejected the US claims and say petroleum imports are much smaller.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: N/Korea leader, Kim’s sister blast S/Korea

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Experts suggest it is unlikely, given that the virus first emerged in neighbouring China, its main provider of trade and aid.

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has slammed the South’s foreign minister as “impudent” for casting doubt over Pyongyang’s claim that the country has no coronavirus cases, state media reported Wednesday.

Nuclear-armed Pyongyang closed its borders in January, sealing itself off from the outside world in an effort to avoid contamination, and has long insisted that it has had no cases.

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Kim himself reiterated the claim at a huge military parade in October.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a forum in Bahrain on Saturday that it was “hard to believe” that the North had no coronavirus cases, adding that Pyongyang had been unresponsive to Seoul’s offers to help tackle the disease.

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The pandemic “in fact has made North Korea more North Korea — ie more closed, very top-down decision-making process where there is very little debate on their measures dealing with Covid-19”, Kang said.

“All signs are that the regime is very intensely focused on controlling the disease that they say they don’t have.”

Kim Yo Jong, sister and key adviser to the North Korean leader, condemned Kang in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday, calling her comments “impudent” and accusing her of seeking to worsen the already strained inter-Korean relationship.

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“It can be seen from the reckless remarks made by her without any consideration of the consequences that she is too eager to further chill the frozen relations between the north and south of Korea,” Kim said.

“We will never forget her words and she might have to pay dearly for it.”

The statement came with discussions between Pyongyang and both Washington and Seoul at a standstill following the collapse of the 2019 Hanoi summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump over what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

In June, Pyongyang blew up a liaison office with the South on its side of the border — paid for by Seoul — saying it had no interest in talks.

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The North also has yet to comment on the election of Joe Biden as US president, nor has its state media reported the result. Biden has previously characterised Kim Jong Un as a “thug”.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement came with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who has led denuclearisation talks with Pyongyang under the Trump administration, currently on a visit to Seoul.

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#Newsworthy

North Korea still on ballistic missile development – United States warns

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The US government warned Tuesday that North Korea continues to acquire materials and equipment for its ballistic missile program, despite claims in Washington that Pyongyang has pulled back on its nuclear ambitions.

In a joint global “advisory” the Treasury, Commerce and State Departments detailed North Korea’s ongoing efforts to obtain everything from forestry trucks for missile launchers to common metals and materials that can be used in rockets, warning sellers to beware of sanctions on the country.

“The United States is committed to disrupting North Korea’s ballistic missile procurement network and promoting accountability for entities and individuals assisting or providing support to North Korea’s ballistic missile program,” the Treasury said.

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The State Department said Pyongyang’s missile development efforts “pose a significant threat to both regional and global stability.”

People watch footage of a North Korean missile test at a railway station in Seoul Jung Yeon-je AFP/File

The advisory came as negotiations between the two countries aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons progress, launched with fanfare at a 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, have remained at a standstill since early last year.

Nevertheless, two months before a presidential election, Trump and his campaign have claimed success in dealing with North Korea.

“In North Korea, the president lowered the temperature, and against all odds got the North Korean leadership to the table. No nuclear test. No long range missile test,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Republican National Convention last week in support of Trump.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: North Korea looking to ‘blame Seoul’ for its first case

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North Korea is seizing on the return of a defector from the South to point the finger at Seoul for the arrival of coronavirus in the country after months of denying it had any cases, analysts said Monday.

Pyongyang imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong, saying it had found a suspected COVID-19 infection in a defector who had returned across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, state media reported at the weekend.

For months the North had denied having any cases of the virus that swept the world after first emerging in neighbouring China — its main diplomatic backer and trade partner — raising scepticism among observers.

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And Seoul officials said Monday that the man believed to be the re-defector has never been confirmed as a coronavirus patient in the South, nor a contact of a confirmed case.

The South has carried out more than 1.5 million tests as part of an extensive “trace, test and treat” model that has largely brought the outbreak under control.

Analysts said the North was likely to have already had virus cases, and Pyongyang was looking to blame Seoul for the outbreak, rather than its own longstanding ally Beijing.

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“North Korea may try to use the defector’s return to deflect the blame for an outbreak that has already occurred, or for any future quarantine failures,” said former US government North Korea analyst Rachel Lee.

“It could take issue with South Korea’s poor frontline security,” she told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media). “It could even claim that South Korea purposefully sent the defector back to North Korea to spread the virus there.”

Duyeon Kim, a Korea expert at the International Crisis Group, added that by blaming an imported case from the South, the North “can now legitimately and openly accept” aid from Seoul.

The North could “further send a message about defectors painting them as enemies of the state”, she added in a tweet.

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Pyongyang has repeatedly excoriated leaflet-sending defectors and the Seoul government in recent weeks, worsening already frozen inter-Korean ties and culminating in the North blowing up a liaison office on its side of the border.

Return visitor
It is extremely rare for North Korean defectors to return to their original country, where rights groups say they face severe punishment for leaving — the South’s Unification Ministry says only 11 are known to have done so in the last five years.

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 23, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Kwangchon chicken farm under construction in Hwangju County. STR / AFP / KCNA VIA KNS

It is even rarer for them to travel through the Demilitarized Zone, one of the world’s most secure borders, replete with minefields and guard posts.

But the South Korean military said a North Korean defector was believed to have returned to the North from Ganghwa island, on the Han river estuary northwest of Seoul.

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He was not officially identified but according to multiple media reports and defectors he is a 24-year-old who defected in 2017, also by swimming across a river.

He is being investigated on rape allegations in the South, they added.

Last month he appeared on a YouTube channel run by another defector, and said it took him more than seven hours to swim across the inter-Korean border when he went south.

Afterwards, he “cried for 10 days, as I kept on thinking about my family” back home, he said in the interview.

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Seoul’s health authorities said his name did not appear in the South’s database of confirmed coronavirus cases, nor its list of their contacts.

Two individuals who had contact with the suspected re-defector were tested on Sunday and both tested negative, added Yoon Tae-ho of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.

This picture taken on July 26, 2020 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 27 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking at a ceremony. STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

The North’s medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate to deal with any epidemic and Pyongyang closed its borders in late January — the first country in the world to do so — in an effort to protect itself against the coronavirus.

The situation in Kaesong “may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster”, official news agency KCNA reported at the weekend.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: North Korea report first suspected case

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North Korea declared its first suspected coronavirus case on Sunday, becoming one of the last countries to do so as the number of people infected worldwide passed 16 million.

The isolated, impoverished state had until now insisted it had not detected a single COVID-19 case — even as the pandemic swept the planet, overwhelming health systems and trashing the global economy.

At least 645,000 people around the world have succumbed to the respiratory disease, with North Korean arch-rival the United States the worst-hit country by far.

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“The vicious virus could be said to have entered the country,” leader Kim Jong Un said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

Authorities locked down the city of Kaesong, near the frontier with South Korea, as state media said a defector who left for the South three years ago had returned and was suspected to be infected with the coronavirus.

But experts believe the contagion is likely to have already entered North Korea from neighbouring China, where the new disease emerged late last year.

The pandemic’s spread is still accelerating, with more than five million cases declared since July — a third of the total number of cases since the catastrophe began.

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Even in recent days, there has been an alarming uptick in infections, including in places that had appeared to have controlled their outbreaks.

One of those was Australia, which on Sunday suffered its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with 10 fatalities and a rise in new infections despite an intense lockdown effort.

“These things change rapidly, but we have to say these numbers are far too high,” said Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria state, where the latest outbreak is centred.

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 23, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting the Kwangchon chicken farm under construction in Hwangju County. STR / AFP / KCNA VIA KNS

No fireworks
Around a quarter of the world’s 16 million confirmed COVID-19 cases are in the United States, which recorded more than 68,000 new infections in the past 24 hours.

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After a drop in transmission rates in late spring, the country has seen a virus surge — particularly in California, Florida and Texas, which is also bracing for the first Atlantic hurricane of the year.

Daily US fatalities have exceeded 1,000 for the past four days, rapidly increasing the country’s death toll to more than 146,000.

“I’m still concerned that America doesn’t take it as seriously as the rest of the world,” said British golf star Lee Westwood, voicing his hesitation to travel there despite a new quarantine exemption for professional golfers.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, which also count for a quarter of total cases, governments are not planning a return to normality any time soon.

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New Year’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro have been cancelled as Brazil grapples with a spiralling virus crisis.

“There is no great reason to celebrate, with more than 80,000 deaths” from coronavirus in Brazil, an official told AFP.

Holiday woes
Meanwhile, Europe has reported around three million infections — despite being largely open for summer holidays within the continent.

However, in a snap decision, Britain’s government said passengers arriving from Spain will have to self-isolate for two weeks, after a surge in cases in the Mediterranean country, with health officials pointing to nightlife as a possible culprit.

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The move, effective from Sunday, has reportedly caught out its Transport Minister Grant Shapps who is holidaying there.

“Various government ministers would have known in advance there was a possibility of imposing a quarantine on holidaymakers returning from Spain,” tweeted opposition MP Diane Abbot.

“But apparently no-one bothered to tell @grantshapps,” she joked.

It marked another hit to Spain’s tourism industry, which is desperately seeking a rebound after lockdowns and border closures pushed around 13 percent of bars, hotels and restaurants to permanently close.

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It mirrors the fiscal pain wrought around the world by the pandemic, particularly in precarious economies where livelihoods are fast crumbling.

In India, for instance, millions of migrant workers who fled cities when COVID-19 hit say they are too scared to return.

Asia’s third-largest economy has reported more than 1.3 million virus cases and is the third worst-hit country behind the US and Brazil.

“We are trying our best to bring back migrant workers, even going to the extent of giving them air tickets, COVID-19 health insurance … (and) weekly checkups by doctors,” real estate developer Rajesh Prajapati said.


#Newsworthy…

Seoul withdraw permits for North Korean defector groups over leaflets

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South Korea revoked the operation permits of two defector groups on Friday for sending anti-North Korea leaflets across the border, officials said, after Pyongyang furiously denounced their activities and blew up a liaison office.

The move is likely to trigger debate over potential infringements on freedom of expression in the democratic South.

The leaflets — usually attached to hot air balloons or floated in bottles — criticise North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over human rights abuses and his nuclear ambitions.

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But by sending them, the two groups “severely hindered” the government’s “efforts for unification”, Seoul’s unification ministry said in a statement.

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They also raised tensions on the Korean peninsula, and “put the safety and lives” of Koreans living in border towns “in danger”, it added.

Revoking the groups’ operational permits does not render them illegal, but will make it harder for them to raise money and deny them access to benefits for registered organisations.

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Both Koreas used to regularly send leaflets to the other side, but agreed to stop such propaganda activities — including loudspeaker broadcasts along the frontier — in the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in at their first summit in 2018.

Park Sang-hak, the leader of one of the groups, told AFP that the South Korean government had “deprived us of the most important value of democracy, which is freedom”.

Last month Pyongyang issued a series of vitriolic condemnations of South Korea over the leaflets, which defectors based in the South continued to send despite the agreement.

It upped the pressure by blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border and threatening military measures.

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Seoul officials previously banned leaflet activities in border areas and filed a police complaint against the groups.

Activists regularly send balloons carrying leaflets criticising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un across the border JUNG YEON-JE AFP/File
Human Rights Watch has condemned the South’s moves, calling them “shameful”.

“Instead of proposing a blanket ban on sending balloons with messages and materials to the North, President Moon should publicly demand that North Korea respect freedom of expression and stop censoring what North Koreans can see,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy Asia director, in a statement last month.

Inter-Korean relations have been in deep freeze following the collapse of a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump early last year over what the nuclear-armed North would be willing to give up in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.


#Newsworthy…

Kim Jong Un suspend plans for military actions against South Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes step back after weeks of escalation amid stalled denuclearisation talks.


North Korea has announced it will suspend “military action plans” against South Korea, after a meeting of the governing party’s Central Military Commission presided over by leader Kim Jong Un, the official KCNA news agency said on Wednesday.

The video conference meeting on Tuesday also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country”, KCNA reported.

The committee members “took stock of the prevailing situation” before deciding to suspend the plans, the report said, without elaborating.

Political tensions between the two Koreas have been rising over Pyongyang’s objections to plans by defector-led groups in South Korea to fly propaganda leaflets across the border. North Korea is also suffering under economic sanctions that it wants eased as part of denuclearisation talks that have been stalled for months.

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North Korea claims the defectors’ campaigns violate an agreement between the two aimed at preventing military confrontation, and has accused them of insulting the dignity of North Korea’s supreme leadership.

In recent weeks, North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office on its side of the border, declared an end to dialogue with South Korea, and threatened military action.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned last week of retaliatory measures against South Korea that could involve the military, although she did not elaborate.

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The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army later said it had been studying an “action plan” that included sending troops into joint tourism and economic zones, reoccupying border guard posts that had been abandoned under an inter-Korean pact, taking steps to “turn the front line into a fortress”, and supporting plans for North Korea to send its own propaganda leaflets into South Korea.

North Korea suspends plans for military action against the South
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suspended military action plans against the South, state-run media reported Wednesday, a week after the army threatened to redeploy forces to demilitarized border…

North Korea’s military was seen putting up loudspeakers near the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a military source told Reuters on Tuesday. Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday that the loudspeakers were being removed.

Yoh Sang-key, spokesman of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said Seoul was “closely reviewing” North Korea’s report but did not elaborate further. He also said it was the first report in state media of Kim holding a video conferencing meeting.

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Reporting from Seoul in South Korea, Media personnel said the North’s actions follow a now-familiar pattern of “increase in tensions with a lot of vitriol, rhetoric and threats only for it all to be dialled down”.

“It seems North Korea has achieved its interim objective, in terms of getting international attention and reminding the United States where the Korean Peninsula is. It has certainly unnerved South Korea – that may lead to more humanitarian aid, which South Korea can give despite international sanctions,” he said.

“This has been important also for the individuals involved. We’ve had Kim Yo Jong coming to the fore and increasing her stature on the Korean Peninsula and the world stage. It has allowed Kim Jong Un, in his first statement in all of this, to appear as the voice of reason and dial things down – really doing a kind of good-cop bad-cop routine, with Kim Jong Un emerging as a good cop on the day before an important anniversary.”

Thursday marks 70 years since the start of the Korean War. The fighting ended in 1953 with an armistice. A formal peace treaty has never been signed.


#Newsworthy…

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Stay out of our affairs – North Korea warns United States

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North Korea rebuked Washington on Thursday for criticising its decision to cut communication links with Seoul, warning it to stay out of inter-Korean affairs if it wanted to ensure a smooth presidential election.

In a statement carried by the KCNA news agency, a senior North Korean foreign ministry official slammed the “double-dealing attitudes” of the US as “disgusting”.

Washington should “hold its tongue and mind its internal affairs first”, said Kwon Jong Gun, director-general of the Department of US Affairs, if it wanted to avoid experiencing a “hair-raiser” and ensure the “easy holding” of November’s presidential vote.

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The implicit threat comes just a day before the two-year anniversary of the landmark summit in Singapore where Kim Jong Un shook hands with Donald Trump, becoming the first North Korean leader to meet a sitting US president.

Negotiations over the North’s nuclear programme have been deadlocked since the collapse of a second Trump-Kim meeting in Hanoi last year over what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

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Analysts say it has taken no substantive steps towards giving up its weapons but the impasse has left Pyongyang frustrated over the lack of concessions.

It has increasingly turned its anger towards Seoul rather than Washington, carrying out a series of weapons tests in recent months.

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Since last week it has issued a series of vitriolic denunciations of the South, and on Tuesday announced it was cutting all official communication links with its neighbour.

The US State Department said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

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Seoul and Washington are security allies and the US stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it from its neighbour.

Pyongyang is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its banned weapons programmes but has carried out a series of tests in recent months — often describing them as multiple launch rocket systems, although Japan and the US have called them ballistic missiles.


#Newsworthy…

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North korea fires 2 short-range missiles – JDM affirms.

south korean military says it is inappropriate

stop immediately


North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday, the latest in a series of such launches by Pyongyang as the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

The South Korean military condemned the launches as “extremely inappropriate given the difficult situation the world is experiencing due to COVID-19… We urge them to stop immediately.”


North Korea has not reported any cases of the coronavirus, which has turned into a major crisis with more than 11,000 deaths and over 250,000 infections worldwide.

There has been widespread speculation, however, that the virus has reached the isolated nation, and health experts have warned that it could devastate the country given its weak medical infrastructure and widespread malnutrition.


Japan’s defence ministry also confirmed the North Korean launches.

For decades, North Korea’s leadership has faced international criticism for prioritising spending on its military and nuclear weapons programme instead of providing for the population — even during times of famine.


Pyongyang considers its military development necessary for security in the face of what it describes as American aggression. North Korea is under multiple sets of punishing sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Hopes for a thaw after meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump were dented as they failed to produce any substantial progress on denuclearising the Korean peninsula, and Pyongyang has since continued to refine its military capabilities, analysts say.


With the latest launch Pyongyang “continues an international strategy of trying to normalise its missile tests”, Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said. NobleReporters learnt

‘Draconian restrictions’

Shortly before the launch, North Korea’s official news agency KCNA reported that the rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, would convene on April 10.


The event would involve gathering nearly 700 officials in one place, analysts said. Such events have been banned in many parts of the world to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“North Korea would not risk holding such a large-scale national political event if the regime was not confident about preventing or containing the spread of the virus,” NobleReporters gathered


Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in offering “comfort” as Seoul battled what was the worst outbreak of the virus outside China at the time.

South Korea has since largely brought the contagion under control.


KCNA said Saturday Kim oversaw an “artillery fire competition” among combined units of the army on Friday, releasing photos of him along with military officers — none of them wearing face masks.

But despite North Korea’s decision to go ahead with its parliament session, Pyongyang’s “draconian restrictions on movement, mask-wearing propaganda, public punishment of ‘corrupt’ elites violating quarantine efforts, and rush to build medical facilities suggest COVID-19 has penetrated the country,” Ewha University’s Easley said.


“Pyongyang is likely struggling with a coronavirus crisis on a national scale.”

With fears swirling about an outbreak in North Korea, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana earlier this month called for Pyongyang to provide access to outside medical experts and humanitarian assistance.

The UN Security Council said last month that it would make humanitarian exemptions to sanctions on North Korea to help it fight the coronavirus.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un runs from capital.


North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un has reportedly fled his country’s capital Pyongyang for the coast in a bid to escape coronavirus.

An insider in neighboring South Korea revealed to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper that the Supreme Leader fled Pyongyang for Wonsan, a beach resort town.


‘Intelligence analysis suggests that Kim Jong-un has been away from Pyongyang for a considerable time,’ the source told Chosun Ilbo. ‘This appears to be connected with the coronavirus outbreak.’

This comes after it was revealed that roughly 180 soldiers have died after contracting COVID-19 in the secretive state.

A source in the North’s military leaked the death-toll to South Korea’s Daily NK newspaper and said that most occurred close to the border with China. The insider also claimed that a further 3,700 soldiers were under quarantine.

North Korea have repeatedly denied they have any case of COVID-19 within its borders.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 1st patient brutally killed in N’Korea


Though the world has been speculated about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in North Korea, the country insists it doesn’t have a coronavirus problem, even growing furious at a public offer of assistance from the State Department.


For all we know about the North Korean virus response, the government might have simply brainwashed the North Korean people into believing that loyalty to the Workers Party and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un grants immunity to the virus. However, there have been whispers.

A few weeks ago, there were whispers that one of the first coronavirus patients in the country was brutally killed by the regime after escaping from a (probably unimaginably brutal) quarantine. Moreover, according to the rumor, he was executed via the traditional North Korean punishment of extirpating criminals by shooting them with an anti-aircraft slug.


Now, IB Times, a shady English-language news website with a reputation for occasionally scooping its more cautious competitors, is reporting that Kim Jong Un allegedly ordered the execution of the country’s first coronavirus patient. IBT cited an anonymous twitter account called “Secret Beijing”, claiming it has a history of reporting accurately.

According to Secret Beijing, an anonymous social media commentator, who terms himself as an analyst on China affairs, the patient was shot dead. The story is still developing and there is still no clarity on the details of the patient executed by North Korea.


The account points out that such brutal tactics are in line with the regime’s reputation.

It had been suggested last week that the patient had left quarantine to visit a public bath, and was killed for doing so. The victim caught the virus in China, then brought it back to NK. Pyongyang reportedly told the WHO that it had tested 141 suspected cases of coronavirus, and that all came up negative.

The South Korean press has reported that several cases have been identified in the North, with some of them leading to death, mirroring what’s happening in Iran’s obviously overwhelmed health-care system.

It’s believed that fear of the virus has kept KJU from appearing in public over the past few weeks.


#Newsworthy…

North Korea no longer test nuclear weapons and missiles – Kim Jong-un


North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has said is country no longer felt bound by its self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.

Kim also said the world would witness a new strategic weapon “in the near future,” according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has not conducted a long-range missile test or a nuclear test in more than two years since Kim announced his moratorium at a time when he hoped negotiations with the United States and his budding personal relationship with President Trump would prompt the United States to begin lifting crippling sanctions.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea Leader


North Korea had set a December 31st deadline for the United States to make at least some concessions, complaining that its 18 months of diplomacy with President Trump had yielded limited results.

During a party meeting on Tuesday, Kim said his country “will shift to a shocking actual action” that will make the United States “pay for the pains sustained by our people,” the North Korean news agency said.


#Newsworthy…

North Korea may launch long range missile as Christmas gift.

…US army said, “we’ve got to be at alert

North Korea might abandon it’s missile testing freeze agreed as a sign of ‘good will’ in Nuclear talks between US president Donald Trump and North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un during their last summit.

According to US Military officials, North Korea could test long range missiles able to reach the US mainland this December as a promised ‘Christmas’ gift to the US, a move that could push Trump to abandon his diplomatic stance with Kim and consider racheting up tensions ahead of 2020 elections .

North Korea has warned it will resume its long-range tests if the US does not offer some concessions by the end of this year. Military analysts say Pyongyang is frustrated by a perceived lack of flexibility and creativity from US negotiators.

Negotiations between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump failed in February when the two leaders met for the second time. The U.S. rejected North Korea’s proposal for sweeping economic sanctions relief in exchange for partial denuclearization from North Korea.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, told a group of reporters in Washington on Tuesday that it was also possible North Korea could announce that its self-imposed moratorium on long-range testing was over without actually launching anything.

“Go back to May, and you’ve seen a series of short range ballistic missile [tests], and … a long-range ballistic missile [is expected]” before the year’s end’

“What I would expect is some type of long-range ballistic missile to be ‘the gift
“It’s just a matter of, does it come on Christmas Eve? Does it come on Christmas Day? Does it come in after the new year?” Brown said.

He added, “We’re watching. Our job is to backstop the diplomatic efforts [but] if the diplomatic efforts kind of fall apart, we’ve got to be ready.”

#Newsworthy…

Another missile test done! – North Korea dares Trump.

…come ahead of a year-end deadline

North Korea has confirmed that it conducted another test at a satellite launch site on Friday, December 13th to bolster its strategic nuclear deterrence.

According to North Korean state media outlet KCNA, the test was conducted at the Sohae satellite launch site, citing a spokesman for North Korea’s Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.

It was the second such test at the facility in a week. KCNA on Sunday said that North Korea had carried out a “very important” test on December 7th at the Sohae satellite launch site, a rocket-testing facility that U.S. officials once said North Korea had promised to close.

The reported tests come ahead of a year-end deadline North Korea has put forth for the United States to drop its insistence on unilateral denuclearisation.

Pyongyang has warned it could take a “new path” amid the stalled talks with the United States. The top U.S envoy for North Korea is set to arrive in Seoul on Sunday for meetings with South Korean officials.

North Korea dares President Trump, says it has conducted another

Analysts said such tests could help North Korea build more reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Tension has been rising in recent weeks as Pyongyang has conducted weapons tests and waged a war of words with U.S. President Donald Trump, stoking fears that tensions between the two countries could return. Stephen Biegun, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, will arrive in South Korea on Sunday, Seoul and Washington said on Friday.

#Newsworthy…

Just in💥💥💥 Donald Trump was called an “erratic old man” by the North korean.

Again, North Korea has insulted U.S. President Donald Trump, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man” after he tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wouldn’t want to abandon a special relationship between the two leaders and affect the U.S. presidential election by resuming hostile acts.

A senior North Korean official, former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, said in a statement that his country wouldn’t cave in to U.S. pressure because it has nothing to lose and accused the Trump administration of attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for Washington to salvage nuclear talks.

“As he is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again may come,” Kim Yong-chol said, referring to personal insults and threats of nuclear war that ?Kim Jong-un and Mr. Trump exchanged two years ago.

In a separate statement, former Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said Trump’s comments were a “corroboration that he feels fear” about what North Korea might do when Kim’s deadline expires and warned Trump to think twice if he wants to avoid “bigger catastrophic consequences.”

The North Korean official also said? that? Mr. Trump’s latest tweets showed that ?the president was “an old man bereft of patience.”

Mr. Trump had on Sunday, ?warned that the North Korean leader should not “void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November” by resuming ?hostile acts.

“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way … North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised.” he tweeted

#Newsworthy…