North Korea says U.S. threats make war unavoidable on Korean peninsula: KCNA

UNTV News   •   December 7, 2017   •   4674

U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets take part in a joint aerial drill exercise called ‘Vigilant Ace’ between U.S. and South Korea, at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) – Large military drills being carried out by the United States and South Korea and U.S. threats of a preemptive war against Pyongyang have made the outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula “an established fact”, North Korea’s foreign ministry said.

A spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry also blamed “confrontational warmongering” remarks by U.S. officials for pushing the peninsula to the brink of war.

“The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?” the spokesman said late on Wednesday in a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency.

“We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it,” he said.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen markedly in recent months after North Korea’s latest missile and nuclear tests, conducted in defiance of international pressure and United Nations resolutions.

North Korea said last week it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile yet, which was capable of reaching the United States.

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said at the weekend the possibility of war with North Korea was “increasing every day”.

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also urged the Pentagon on Sunday to start moving U.S. military dependants, such as spouses and children, out of South Korea, saying conflict with North Korea was getting close.

On Wednesday, a U.S. B-1B bomber joined the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which are called “Vigilant Ace” and will run until Friday.

North Korea, which regularly threatens South Korea, the United States and their allies, has denounced the exercises.

“Recently, as the U.S. is conducting the largest-ever joint aerial drill on the Korean peninsula targeting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its high-level politicians are showing alarming signs by making bellicose remarks one after another,” the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said, using North Korea’s official name.

“These confrontational war-mongering remarks cannot be interpreted in any other way but as a warning to us to be prepared for a war on the Korean peninsula,” he said.

The rising tensions coincide with a rare visit to the isolated North by United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman this week, the highest-level U.N. official to visit North Korea since 2012.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk met Feltman in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Wednesday and discussed bilateral cooperation and other issues of mutual interest, KCNA said.

Reporting by Soyoung Kim in Seoul; Editing by James Dalgleish and Paul Tait

Seoul restaurants offer rare taste of North Korean food

UNTV News   •   December 4, 2019

The facade of Pyongyang Suljib (Pyongyang Tavern), in the neighborhood of Hongdae, with colorful posters that mimic the propaganda of the North Korean regime, in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 16, 2019 (issued Dec 4, 2019). EFE/Andrés Sánchez Braun

SEOUL — Two restaurants in the neighborhood of Hongdae in Seoul are offering South Korean diners a chance to sample the flavors of their neighbor to the north in an experience that used to be rare, but which, thanks to improving diplomatic relations, is becoming increasingly popular.

Southerners can sample the flavors and atmosphere of an eatery in North Korea, officially still an enemy state of the South since the Korean War that ended with a ceasefire in 1953, although no formal truce was ever signed.

Warmer relations since a diplomatic thaw last year has changed how Seoulites view Pyongyang, a factor which has been instrumental in opening these eateries, the owners say.

Unlike most North Korean restaurants, which are run by defectors and their descendants and are quite modest and traditional, both eateries are operated by South Koreans.

“There’s no place like this in Seoul,” the owner of Pyongyang Suljib in the heart of Hongdae, told EFE.

Customers are greeted with huge posters imitating the propaganda of the Pyongyang regime and songs from the North, such as the ubiquitous “Bangapseumnida” (“Nice to meet you”).

Slogans like “Let’s put together a great harvest of empty bottles” provide a comic turn to the traditional motivational phrases used in the North; some even go a step further, such as the one bearing the message, “Those who are caught smoking on the premises will be executed by firing squad.”

As well as sampling Northern specialties such as naengmyeon — Pyongyang-style fried noodles — the eatery mimics one from North Korea down to the finest details to complete an exotic and entertaining experience for its mostly young crowd.

The attention to detail can be seen in beer bottles sporting labels that copy Taedongang — the most famous North Korean beer, which is banned in the South — to furniture acquired in Dandong, a border town in China where many North Koreans sell their wares.

But the venture has attracted its share of controversies, according to the owner, who wished to remain anonymous after backlash from conservative South Koreans.

After the restaurant’s opening was announced in October, a group of nationalists protested outside the premises and complained to the police that it praised the North Korea regime, an activity banned under the National Security Act.

At another establishment, Chin-Chin — a restaurant that opened this summer in Yeonnam district, chef Lee Jin-ho has spent months perfecting a menu that covers the best of North Korean fare.

Lee features classics such as handmade Pyongyang sundae, a blood sausage similar to black pudding, and dwaeji gukbap — pork soup with rice — offering tastes which locals won’t have ever had a chance to sample first-hand, as traveling to the North is banned.

“We used to have the same kind of dishes but they developed their own food culture the last 70 years. There’s also a lot of different (regional) renditions that we South Koreans haven’t tried,” he said.

Lee highlights the Chinese influence on Northern recipes as one of the main differences, which has led to the use of ingredients such as spring onion and doubanjiang — a spicy sauce made of fermented beans — that are not part of Southern cuisine.

The food shortages in North Korea also contributed hugely to the differences in the two cuisines. Injo gogi bap, a synthetic meat, was invented as a protein supplement to offset the scarcity of meat by using a thin layer of the residue left from soybean oil production, wrapped around rice and eaten with a spicy sauce. Lee added it to the menu because it is a daily staple for many North Koreans.

The chef had help with the recipes from Ahn Young-ja, who prepared official dinners served to former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un, before defecting to the South.

Getting some of the ingredients — such as the potato flour used for a kind of Northern noodle, the import of which is banned — also proved to be a challenge.

But, judging from his clientele, which includes “a lot of defectors,” Chin-Chin seems to have cracked the code by mixing South Korean potato starch mixed with a dash of buckwheat flour. EFE-EPA

North Korea says up to US to choose what ‘Christmas gift’ it wants

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2019

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (C) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a Township of Samjiyon County, North Korea, 02 December 2019. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attended the ceremony. EPA-EFE/KCNA

Seoul – North Korea on Tuesday said it was up to the United States to chose what “Christmas gift” it wanted as the deadline to resume the stalled denuclearisation talks was drawing closer amid Washington’s continued “dialogue rhetoric”.

“What is left to be done now is the US’ option and it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement published by state news agency KCNA.

The statement quoted Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song saying that Pyongyang had “done its utmost with maximum perseverance not to backtrack from the important steps.”

This refers to North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and medium and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“Drawing nearer is the year-end time limit the DPRK (North Korea’s official name) set for the US. However, the US is keen on earning the time needed for it, talking about the ‘sustained and substantial dialogue,’ far from acting in response to the measures taken by the DPRK first,” Ri said.

The statement said North Korea had “heard more than enough dialogue rhetoric raised by the US whenever it is driven into a tight corner. So, no one will lend an ear to the US any longer.”

It said the talks touted by Washington was, “in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US”.

Experts believe that if there is no progress in talks in the next few weeks, the North Korean regime could carry out new weapons tests from January, especially of intermediate-range missiles.

Bilateral negotiations have not advanced since a failed summit in February in Hanoi, where Washington refused to lift economic sanctions in return for what Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear assets.

Both parties held a working meeting in early October in Stockholm, Sweden, which ended with North Korea accusing Washington of failing to offer anything new and actively maintaining its “hostile policy”.

North Korean media on Tuesday also showed leader Kim Jong-un inaugurating a real estate project near Mount Paektu, a sacred site for the regime.

Given that important decisions have often followed visits to this area, some experts believe that Pyongyang wants to ramp up the pressure with this gesture.

Last week, North Korea fired two missiles into the Sea of Japan (also known as East Sea in the two Koreas) from a super large multiple-launch rocket system, prompting Pentagon to deploy reconnaissance aircraft over the Korean peninsula.

On Tuesday, the US aircraft flew over the region for the fifth time in less than a week in a gesture that some believe may be a deliberate warning message against threats from the North Korean regime. EFE-EPA

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Pyongyang confirms it tested super-large multiple rocket launcher

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2019

An undated photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the test-fire of the super-large multiple launch rocket system conducted by the Academy of Defence Science at an undisclosed location in North Korea (issued 29 November 2019).

Seoul – North Korea confirmed Friday that it tested a super-large multiple launch rocket system a day earlier and that the country’s leader oversaw the test, state media reported.

On Thursday, North Korea fired two projectiles from the launcher from Yeonpo in the country’s eastern South Hamgyong province in a move apparently designed to increase pressure on the United States over their stalled denuclearization talks.

The missiles traveled around 380 kilometers (236 miles) eastward and reached a maximum altitude of 97 km, according to South Korean military authorities, before falling into the Sea of Japan (called the East Sea in the two Koreas).

North Korean state-run agency KCNA said that in addition to the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, other key figures of North Korea’s weapons programs were also present at the launch, including Kim Jong-sik, deputy director of the Military (machine-building) Industry Department as well as Jang Chang-ha, president of the Academy of National Defense Science.

Kim Jong-un expressed “great satisfaction” with the test, which he said proved the weapon’s “military and technical superiority and its firm reliability.”

The launch on Thursday was the 13th weapons test conducted by North Korea this year and the fourth using the super-large multiple rocket launcher, which is believed to be a system with four 600-millimeter launch tubes mounted on a mobile platform.

The regime has already tested this rocket launcher on three previous occasions this year, on Aug. 24, Sept. 10 and Oct. 31.

The latest test seems to be aimed at pressuring Washington to accept new conditions in the disarmament dialogue that has been deadlocked since earlier this year.

Bilateral negotiations have not advanced since a failed summit in February in Hanoi, where Washington refused to lift economic sanctions in return for what Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear assets.

Both parties held a working meeting in early October in Stockholm, Sweden, which ended with North Korea accusing Washington of failing to offer anything new and actively maintaining its “hostile policy”.

North Korea says the White House has a deadline of the end of the year to offer alternative proposals and experts believe the regime could carry out new weapons tests from January if there is no progress, especially of intermediate-range missiles. EFE-EPA

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