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Mystery woman spotted near Kim Jong-un in recent months sparks speculation

kim jong un mystery woman
  • An unidentified woman has recently been seen in Kim Jong-un’s inner circle.
  • First noticed in February, the mysterious woman is often seen by Kim’s side wearing a suit dress and glasses while carrying a black handbag.
  • The woman, who is speculated to be Kim’s relative, is estimated to be in her 30s or 40s.
  • She was at Kim’s side last week during a concert, and was also seen carrying folders during Kim’s speech to North Korea’s parliament.

A mystery woman spotted in Kim Jong-un’s inner circle in recent months is sparking speculation about her identity.

The woman was first noticed in February and has since been photographed near Kim. She is typically seen wearing a suit dress with glasses and carrying a black handbag. 

North Korea passes ‘irreversible’ law declaring itself a nuclear weapons state

North Korea
  • On Friday, North Korean state media reported the passing of new legislation permitting the launching of nuclear weapons.
  • In the official report released by KCNA, the nuclear forces are a “powerful means of defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and fundamental interests of the state.”
  • In his speech at the Thursday SPA meeting, Kim Jong-un emphasized his will to “never give up nuclear weapons” and accused the U.S. of attempting to weaken the country.
  • North Korea’s response came soon after the 2022 Seoul Defense Dialogue and a Tokyo trilateral meeting between the United States, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea has passed an “irreversible” law declaring itself a nuclear weapons state.

On Friday, North Korean state media reported the passing of new legislation permitting the preemptive launching of nuclear weapons when the leadership is threatened. The new law updated the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) previous stance of maintaining their nuclear weapons until other countries also denuclearized and not using them preemptively against non-nuclear powers.

‘Positive thinking’ is ‘very necessary’ for denuclearization of North Korea: South Korean official

  • The 2022 Seoul Defense Dialogue gathered 54 countries in collaboration against international security threats.
  • On Wednesday, the panelists — led by Beom Chul Shin, the vice minister of the Ministry of National Defense in the Republic of Korea — addressed international cooperation for the denuclearization of North Korea.
  • Shin presented three major efforts in the fight for denuclearization and emphasized the need for international cooperation.
  • The panelists unanimously agreed that international cooperation was critical when striving towards North Korea’s denuclearization.
  • Although North Korea’s nuclear capabilities present itself as a looming threat, Shin maintained an optimistic view.
  • “[This] kind of positive thinking is very necessary to solve North Korea’s nuclear problem. So I am still positive. In the end, we are winning,” Shin declared.

The 2022 Seoul Defense Dialogue addressed the complete denuclearization of North Korea, noting “positive thinking” as key.

At the beginning of this week, national security experts from 54 countries gathered at Lotte Hotel in Seoul in collaboration against international security threats. The central theme for the 10th annual Seoul Defense Dialogue is “How to Address Complex Security Challenges: Fostering International Solidarity.” The dialogue began on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and will continue to Thursday, Sept. 8. 

Kim Jong-un’s sister tells S. Korea’s ‘simple’ president to ‘shut his mouth’

  • Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong called South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol “simple” and “foolish” for proposing economic aid in exchange for nuclear disarmament.
  • Kim Yo-jong suggested that Yoon “shut his mouth” and called his plan “childish.”
  • To mark his 100th day in the office, Yoon proposed that South Korea would provide the North with food, energy and infrastructure if they abandon their nuclear program.
  • South Korea’s Unification Ministry expressed disappointment over Kim Yo-jong’s comments and stated that it will “threaten peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong called South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol “simple” and “foolish” for proposing economic aid in exchange for nuclear disarmament. 

To commemorate Yoon’s 100th day as the president of South Korea, he proposed an aid plan to provide North Korea with food, health care and the means to modernize their electricity generation systems.

North Korea offering 100,000 ‘volunteers’ for war against Ukraine, says Russian state media

North Korea 100,000 volunteers Russia
  • North Korea recently offered to send 100,000 “volunteers” to Russia to help the Kremlin in its war against Ukraine, Russian journalist Igor Korotchenko alleged on Russian state media Russian Channel One.
  • Korotchenko went on to praise North Korea’s “wealth of experience with counter-battery warfare,” adding, “If North Korea expresses a desire to meet its international duty to fight against Ukrainian fascism, we should let them.”
  • North Korea currently has the fourth-highest number of active-duty military personnel in the world with nearly 1.3 million, compared to the United States (1,388,100), India (1,455,550) and China (2,185,000).
  • North Korea also offered to send more than a thousand workers to Russia to help rebuild Ukraine post-war.

Russian state media said North Korea recently offered to send 100,000 “volunteers” to aid the Kremlin in its war against Ukraine.

Russian journalist Igor Korotchenko alleged on Russian Channel One last week that “100,000 North Korean volunteers are prepared to come and take part in the conflict” in Ukraine and aid Russia. The claim has yet to be verified.

Kim Jong-un declares N. Korea ‘ready to mobilize’ nuclear weapons and ‘eliminate South Korea’

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice that he was ready to fight the U.S. and “eliminate” South Korea.
  • He also assured citizens that the country’s armed forces were “thoroughly prepared” for any crisis and that their “nuclear war deterrent” was “ready to mobilize its absolute power” at any given time.
  • The speech marked Kim’s first public appearance in nearly three weeks, and was one of the strongest rhetorical statements against South Korea in recent times.
  • Newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, had pledged to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang.
  • Former President Moon Jae-in was heavily criticized by many for being too soft towards North Korea, and “so desperate” to please the supreme leader.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice that he is ready to fight the U.S. and “eliminate” South Korea.  

July 27, 1953 marks the date on which an agreement signed by allies and leaders of the North and South sides of the peninsula led to a cease-fire, bringing a bloody three-year war to an inconclusive stalemate. 

New photos of North Korean defectors being dragged back at border sparks condemnation from Seoul

  • On Wednesday, South Korea’s presidential office condemned the former progressive administration’s decision to repatriate two North Korean fishermen in 2019 amid newly released photographs of the men being forcibly moved across the border.
  • President Yoon Suk-yeol’s spokesperson Kang In-sun denounced the act as “a crime against humanity that violated both international law and the constitution.”
  • The fishermen, who were accused of killing 16 of their shipmates, had been described as “heinous criminals” by then President Moon Jae-in’s spokesperson Kim Eun-han.
  • In the newly released photographs, the fishermen are seen being dragged by South Korean men in military uniforms at the truce village of Panmunjom.
  • Eight lawmakers, including Moon’s former situation room chief Yoon Kun-young, accused the president of re-opening the case to deliberately undermine the opposition party.
  • While it is unconfirmed, it is suspected that the men were publicly executed in Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, South Korea’s presidential office condemned the former progressive administration’s decision to repatriate two North Korean fishermen in 2019 amid newly released photographs of the men being forcibly moved across the border.

The images were made public by Seoul’s Unification Ministry. In response, President Yoon Suk-yeol’s spokesperson Kang In-sun called the decision “a crime against humanity that violated both international law and the constitution.”

North Korea records first COVID-19 deaths after ‘explosive’ outbreak

  • North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.
  • Around 18,000 people experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone.
  • One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
  • The country has called the outbreak in Pyongyang a "major national emergency" but has yet to confirm the exact number of confirmed positive cases.
  • News of its first-ever COVID-19 death was confirmed after the government imposed “maximum emergency measures,” including a nationwide lockdown, to contain the outbreak in the capital.
  • Some experts stated that a significant outbreak could quickly overwhelm North Korea’s poorly equipped health facilities. They also pointed out that only a few of the country’s 25.8 million citizens have been vaccinated.

North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.

Around 18,000 people in the East Asian country experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone. One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.

North Korea launches 3 ballistic missiles amid its first COVID outbreak

  • On Thursday, North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea, just hours after confirming its first-ever coronavirus outbreak.
  • They are the first missiles to be fired since South Korea’s conservative new president Yoon Suk-yeol took office on Tuesday.
  • The news also comes amid U.S. President Biden’s scheduled visit to South Korea’s capital next week. Concerns about North Korea’s weapons are expected to be a high-priority topic.
  • Kim announced that there would be a complete lockdown of cities to stop the spread of the virus. He communicated that control of transmissions was critical to eliminate the spread as quickly as possible.
  • The country’s largely unvaccinated population of 26 million is likely to suffer more casualties, as a result of its poor healthcare system, than its industrialized nation counterparts.

On Thursday, North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea, just hours after confirming its first-ever coronavirus outbreak.

The short-range missiles were just the latest weapons demonstration, among the over 13 reported launches this year alone. 

North Korea fires ballistic missile, Japan and South Korea report, in 13th launch this year

  • Japan and South Korea reported that North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday.
  • The latest test was North Korea's 13th launch of the year, including the reportedly failed missile test on March 16 and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on March 24. 
  • In response, the U.S. military said in a statement: “While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory, or that of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation,” read the statement.
  • After North Korea’s military parade on April 25, Kim Jong-un vowed to develop nuclear arms "to deter war."
  • "True peace can be trusted and national dignity and national sovereignty can be guaranteed by the powerful self-defense force that can overcome the enemy," he warned. 

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, marking yet another launch since leader Kim Jong-un warned of “preemptive” use of nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that the North Korean government launched the missile from Sunan, a district in Pyongyang. 

Kim Jong-un sends rare praise to outgoing South Korean President Moon in ‘letters of friendship’ exchange

Kim Jongun Moon Jaein North South Korea
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged "letters of friendship" with outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in less than three weeks before Moon’s term ends in May.
  • On Wednesday, Moon sent Kim a letter with a commitment to continue pursuing the unification they previously declared through several inter-Korean summits in 2018.
  • Kim mentioned in his response to Moon that he “appreciated the pains and effort taken by Moon Jae-in for the great cause of the nation until the last days of his term of office."
  • Conservative People Power Party’s Yoon Suk-yeol, who is set to take office as South Korea’s president on May 10, has said that while he is open to resuming reconciliation talks with North Korea, he plans to bolster South Korea’s defenses.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged warm words with outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in less than three weeks before Moon’s term ends in May. 

North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported there was an “expression of their deep trust” between the two leaders which came in the form of an exchange of letters this week. 

Why only the poorest North Koreans live in the country’s high-rise penthouses

  • A new 80-story residential skyscraper in North Korea is part of the country’s growing efforts to build thousands of apartments for residents; however, defectors are saying that a lack of working elevators and sufficient water supply has resulted in the top floors being undesirable to many.
  • The large-scale housing development is a goal and point of pride for Kim Jong Un, who has vowed to build thousands of high-quality apartments.
  • In North Korea, housing options are assigned, and the buying and selling of homes are illegal.
  • The editor of Daily NK, a Seoul-based news publication covering stories about North Korea, says many believe the apartments are not ready to be inhabited and that while some include furniture, many don’t have working water.

North Korea has finished construction of an 80-story residential skyscraper complete with penthouses in the capital of Pyongyang, but only some of the least fortunate in the country reportedly choose to live on the top floors of the country’s high-rise apartments. 

Defectors have said that many North Koreans take issue with the higher floors of these apartments due to a lack of working elevators, electrical issues, minimal water supply and poor overall safety and quality, according to Reuters