Kim Jong-un Promises War

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HOLLYWOOD, California -- Could James Franco and Seth Rogen start a war? Until yesterday, that notion seemed absurd. But now, Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has promised 'merciless' retribution if Columbia Pictures releases the film The Interview, which stars both Franco and Rogen.

In a nutshell, The Interview is a comedy in which the two superstar's characters team up in order to assassinate Kim Jong-un. After realizing that the press are given unparalleled access to international dignitaries during media ops and conferences, the two plan to murder the North Korean leader during an interview. Admittedly, the nature of the movie is combative, and should be expected to draw criticism, especially from the real-life man who is caricatured and assassinated in the film.

But, is the movie an "act of war," as Kim Jong-un alleges? Few think so. But for years, North Korea has inflated their international ego with empty [yet still terrifying] threats. In March 2013, Kim Jong-un warned that he would attack parts of South Korea using nuclear weaponry which he did not yet possess. Since then, Kim Jong-un has proudly planned nuclear attacks on Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Obviously, the film is controversial, even to many who do not sympathize with Kim Jong-un or his agenda. To me, The Interview is a more inflammatory version of Team America World Police, which featured marionette characters, including a crew of American special forces who penetrate North Korea in order to foil Kim Jong-il's fictitious attacks against America. A main difference between The Interview and its predecessor are that the new movie stars a Kim Jong-un lookalike, which is more provocative than a war between puppets. And also, the fictional plot in Team America is actually true-to-life today, where Kim Jong-un promises war against those who oppose or disrespect him, even Hollywood creatives.

Essentially, Kim Jong-un is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Columbia Pictures, which is almost certainly a lose-lose proposition for North Korea. Either Kim Jong-un engages the United States government in so-called catastrophic attacks, or Kim Jong-un will publicly undermine his brawny remarks with failure to follow through. Inaction, following such severe threats, will certainly show the limitations of Kim Jong-un, no matter his Herculean confidence. Both outcomes will augment doubts about Kim Jong-un's executive rationale and international image.

While I understand how the movie can be incendiary to a North Korea audience, I feel that making a movie, a piece of art, about assassinating a world leader is far less offensive than a national government guaranteeing nuclear warfare against the people of the world. Kim Jong-un has little room with which to point fingers, especially in terms of needless threats against oppositional nations.

It is unlikely that Columbia Pictures will withhold the release of The Interview. After all, the First Amendment protects free speech and those who practice it. But as human beings, I believe we should be promoting love and peace more than division and homicide, especially in the art we produce.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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American Man Detained in North Korea

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Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 09:36 p.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Kim Jong-un clapping" Photo by: Petersnoopy October 9, 2010 http://www.flickr.com/photos/54050720@N05/6549444309/

PYONGYANG--North Korea has detained an American man as he tried to leave the country following his tourist trip which began on 29 April 2014. State media identified the man as Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 56, of Maimisburg, Ohio and he is the third American citizen to be detained by Pyongyang in the past 18-months.

He was arrested for what they describe as activities inconsistent with his stated intent on his tourist visa. Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that he allegedly left a Bible in a hotel where he had been staying. North Korea has been promoting tourism in an effort to attain foreign currency, but the country is sensitive to how visitors act while in the country.

The State Department has warned against travel to North Korea, and being part of a tour group will not prevent possible arrest. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there’s “no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad,” though they cannot give any further information about specific details without consent from the individual.

Because the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in North Korea, the Swedish Embassy handles consular matters for Americans in North Korea and are working to return Fowle to his three children, ages 9,10, and 12, and his wife, Tatyana, a 40-year-old Russian immigrant.

The Swedish embassy has been in contact with one of the other two U.S. detainees, Kenneth Bae, 45, a Korean-American missionary from Lynwood, Washington who is serving 15 years of hard labor for alleged hostile acts against the state aimed at bringing down the regime of Kim Jong-un.

North Korea contains state-controlled churches but forbids independent religious activities. Bae is fearful for his health after he was returned to labor camp following a stay in the hospital. He told Swedish diplomat, Cecilia Anderberg, that he has likely lost 10 pounds since his return to the camp. Bae spends eight hours a day doing manual labor with his hands, and he suffers back and neck pain.

U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has offered to go to North Korea to help with Bae’s release. For a second time, North Korea has rescinded its invitation to Ambassador Robert King, with no explanation. Former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Donald Gregg, has visited Pyongyang, but for matters unrelated to the 3 Americans held captive.

Matthew Miller, or Miller Matthew Todd, 24, is being detained for improper behavior after he entered North Korea on April 10th with a tourist visa, tore it up, and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum with North Korea “as a shelter.” Last year an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War, Merrill Newman, was freed from Pyongyang, after being held for several weeks following an organized private tour in the country. He was released after involuntarily giving a videotaped confession apologizing for killing North Koreans during the war.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick

Kim Jong-un's North Korea Revealed on Hidden Camera

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Jessamy Nichols and Ayanna NahmiasLast Modified: 01:56 a.m. DST, 28 January 2014

Starving North Korean Children, 1997, Photo by Justin Kilcullen (Cropped)

PYONGYANG, North Korea - Unfortunately not all countries in today’s world govern on a moral foundation of democracy and human rights. However, many fall into the improving category, because in recent decades many governments have moved towards elections, freedom of the press and media, and openness to adopting other global cultural and political norms.

And then there’s the farthest end of the spectrum where the most egregious offenders remain. Countries like Syria, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Myanmar, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, etc. (Source: Maplecroft).

Though life under these regimes is brutal and the citizenry victimized, in North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the human rights abuses are on steroids. In the DPRK, there is no pretense toward basic human rights. To ensure complete dictatorial control, the borders are almost completely shut off to global interaction, media is censored, and propaganda is par for the course. Couple this with the possession of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and you have one of the world’s biggest threats to international peace wrapped up in one small country.

In Middle Ages fashion, Kim Jong-un rules with an iron fist that dictates how citizens speak, express themselves and live their lives. Carrying on the legacy of his father, Kim Jong-il, the current Kim continues to govern the country using public executions, intimidation, political prisoner camps, military threats, and ludicrous laws. Leaving the country without permission is even illegal, so citizens are forced to agree with Kim politically, economically and so forth because dissent routinely results in public executions. Even Kim's uncle, Jang Song-taek, was recently executed, purportedly because of his push for economic reforms.

This dismal and desolate state of affairs inside North Korea provides us with many sad and discouraging mental images, but what’s worse is that the citizens of North Korea cannot have their voices or stories heard because of North Korea’s paranoiac laws governing access to citizenry, as well as travel in and out of the country.

Luckily in the past few months, director James Jones worked with a Japanese journalist, Jiro Ishimaru, to use an underground network of North Korean reporters to gain a glimpse of the “real” North Korea. The insight and findings were made into a film entitled Secret State of North Korea, released earlier this month. The film gives voice to the growing skepticism and disapproval inside North Korea, where citizens are hungry for foreign movies and music and are eager for the day Kim is out of power.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19stdf_secret-state-of-north-korea_shortfilms

At this point, Kim’s method of rule continues to get more bizarre and far-fetched, as the state-controlled media boasts lies about landing people on the moon and Kim hosts parties with Dennis Rodman. Although, the potentially unbalanced retired basketball player, Rodman, has been to DPRK and is friendly with Kim, this by no mean implies that the country or its dictatorship is on the verge of embracing freedom or equality for its populace or a rational approach to international diplomacy.

Throughout history, nations and governments fall from within. When dictators start "partying" with former American basketball players, can the end be far behind? This type of hubris and excess, mixed with an increasingly frustrated population is a recipe for political pressure, friction, and eventual regime change.

It is widely accepted fact that a nuclear armed DPRK would have disastrous geopolitical consequences and thus all means public and private, have been brought to bear to prevent their success in this area. But the true defeat will come through the hands of the proletariat, and for them to be successful, the international community needs to continue to assert more pressure.

In this day and age of hackers, nothing is more porous than the Internet, and information is key, and knowledge is power. With the slightest bit of prodding, and continued calls for North Korea reform, the population could gain the impetuous they need to force Kim into improvements. Dictatorships are not sustainable, so let’s hope we see the end of North Korea’s sooner rather than later.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Undeterred by Threats North Korea Prepares for Missile Launch

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:19 p.m. EDT, 22 April 2013

Anti-North Korean Nuclear Bombs, Photo Courtesy of Reuters UNI-8RSOUTH HAMGYEONG PROVINCE - Despite continued international pressure, North Korea is reported to have moved two short-range missile launchers to its east coast.

In an apparent bid to save face, Kim Jong-un, the youthful North Korean leader, is pushing ahead with his plans to flex his nuclear aspirations.

This planned test comes on the heels of heightened hostility in the Korean peninsula.

This planned missile launch is scheduled to occur nearly a year to the date of a humiliating failed rocket launch at a commemorative festival for the late Kim Jong-il.

According to Reuters, "an unidentified South Korean military source told the South's Yonhap news agency that satellite imagery showed that North Korean forces had moved two mobile missile launchers to South Hamgyeong province for short-range Scud missile tests."

The North moved two mid-range Musudan missiles in early April and placed seven mobile launchers in the same area, Yonhap said. A North Korean show of force could be staged to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of its army on April 25."

This latest demonstration of aggression a recalcitrant North Korea steadfastly defies a U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at curtailing North Korea's ability to develop the technology necessary to deliver a nuclear warhead mounted long-range missile.

In February, North Korea engaged in its third test of a nuclear weapon, which according to Reuters, instigated new U.N. sanctions which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korea's threats of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.

This past weekend, Pyongyang signaled a willingness to discuss disarmament, but rejected any consideration of a solution which would require the relinquishing of its nuclear weapons.

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Humiliating North Korean Rocket Crash

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:19 p.m. DST, 13 April 2012

North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

PYONGYANG, North Korea - Yesterday, amid the fanfare of ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder and "eternal president" Kim Il-sung, his grandson, Kim Jong-un suffered a humiliating set-back when the rocket that was to herald his military might and validate his ascendancy, disintegrated shortly after lift-off.

North Korea’s defiance in launching the rocket despite threats by America and Japan to shoot down any missile launches from the Communist state is definitely a loss of face for Kim Jong-un’s government.

It was speculated by observing nations that the missile may have crashed due to the unusual silence from the North Korean government shortly after the launch.  News outlets who were in contact with reporters who had been allowed into the country to witness the event, receive little or no information from their people on the ground.

In fact, one reporter stated that no one in the press corps had been informed of the launch, much less of the outcome. Officials did not come to present a press conference to confirm the success or failure of the launch, and their ‘handlers’ were as dismayed with the lack of guidance from senior leaders.

Later, the country's official news agency confirmed that the rocket launch was a failure, after officials in other countries said that the suspected long-range missile had crashed into the sea. In addition to the loss of the rocket, the North Koreans said that the satellite that they intended to launch into space was also destroyed in the crash.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfJLXFMyvXk]

"The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit. Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure," North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported.

In order to minimize its overt disregard of the UN resolution that prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology, Pyongyang claimed that the purpose of Friday's launch was to put a weather satellite into space. However, non-proliferation experts express skepticism since this is the third time that North Korean has initiated long-range missile tests.

South Korean and other nations in the Northeastern Asia feel that this launch was an extremely aggressive act that threatens the peace, stability and security of the region. They view this launch as particularly troublesome given North Korea's previous pattern of failed rocket launches followed by nuclear testing, which many view as the actual goal of these exercises.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Friday's launch despite its failure.

"[It] is deplorable as it defies the firm and unanimous stance of the international community," a statement from his office said. "The launch is in direct violation of Security Council Resolution 1874 and threatens regional stability."

The United States meanwhile condemned North Korea's "propaganda" displays.

"North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry," Jay Carney, the White House spokesperson, said.

Osamu Fujimura, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said the rocket launch was a "grave provocation".

The Group of Eight (G-8) bloc of industrialised nations also condemned the launch, while China called for calm on the Korean peninsula.

"We hope all parties can maintain calm and restraint and not do anything to harm peace and stability on the peninsula and in the region," Liu Weimin, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement. (Source: Aljazeera)

The world must wait and see North Korea’s next move toward continued nuclear testing and aggressive posturing in the region, but the UN Security Council has gone on the offensive and said it would meet in an emergency session on Friday to discuss the situation.

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North Korea Halts Nuclear Program For Food

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:33 PM EDT, 29 February 2012

Trident II MissileWASHINGTON, DC - On Wednesday 29 February 2012, the United States and North Korea have reached a nuclear disarmament agreement which hopefully signals a new era of open access to a country that grew increasingly insular under the iron rule of Kim Jong Il.

Under Kim Jong-un's leadership this move seems to signify North Korea's willingness to admit that it is in desperate need of international food aid. This deal, once finalized, will result in the delivery of 240,000 metric tons of food aid.

In the 1990's the country was hit by famine and more than 1 million North Koreans starved to death. Following Kim Jong Ils refusal to participate in nuclear disarmament talks, sanctions against the nation were devastating for the populace but left the ruling elite unscathed.

Stories of 'people eating grass,' were reported and the UN's World Food Programme said in a statement that "North Korea faces its worst food shortage in a decade, with six million people at risk - a consequence of poor economic management of its centrally planned system, a series of bad harvests caused by harsh winters, flooding and exhausted agricultural land, and the regime's unwillingness to spend its dwindling hard currency reserves on buying food for its 24 million people."

In 2009, under his father's leadership, North Korea withdrew from the negotiations and increased its nuclear testing program and refused entry to the country by International Atomic Energy (IAE) Inspectors. As a prerequisite for assistance, the North Korean government must reengage with the 6 nations disarmament talks which were suspended 3 years ago.

The agreement between the US and North Korea will require the immediate suspension of nuclear activities, a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, and unfettered entry into the country by IAE inspectors so they can verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

The announcement follows talks in Beijing last week between U.S. and North Korean negotiators, the first since negotiations were suspended after Kim's death in December from a heart attack.'

Kim Jong-un | North Korea's Military Puppet?

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:10 PM EDT, 26 December 2011

Kim Jong-Un, Photo Courtesy of JongUn.com

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Kim Jong-il, “supreme leader” of North Korea died on Saturday, 17 December 2010, purportedly from a heart attack at the age of 69. Although the North Korean people suffered abject deprivation and human rights abuses under his reign; news broadcasts from state official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) displayed throngs of people wailing and crying in the streets more than a week after his death.

On Tuesday the scene was much more dignified and solemn as the North Korean people and foreign dignitaries prepare for the succession of his twenty-year old son Kim Jong-un. A solemn procession of people filed past the body on display in a glass coffin at the Kumsusan memorial palace in the capital, Pyongyang to pay their last respects.

Kim Jong-il’s passing was a shock and possible bad omen as his death comes days before the beginning of 2012. The regime has promoted next year as the point at which the country would achieve development and prosperity. This vision is at odds with the starvation, torture and prison camps which we described as ‘North Korean Gulags,’ where an estimated 200,000 people are imprisoned in harrowing and horrific conditions.

The KCNA urged the nation's people and military to rally behind and "faithfully revere" the soon to be figure head. Kim Jong-un has been pronounced the "supreme leader" of the 1.2-million strong military, also known as “the revolutionary armed forces." This haste to install him even before the mourning period has passed is a disquieting foreshadowing of a country that could easily fall under greater military control because of a weak successor.

Kim Jong-un made a third visit Saturday to the palace where his father's body is lying in state — this time accompanied by North Korea's top military leaders. Since Kim’s reported stroke in 2008, he had begun to groom Kim Jong-un to take control of the insular state, appointing him a general last year and giving him several high profile roles. Kim Jong-il’s death will also be felt far beyond North Korea's 24 million populations.

The White House said that President Barak Obama is monitoring the situation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton attended the funeral. North Korea has been an international concern because of its nuclear and missiles programs. Seoul's Yonhap news agency said South Korean military leaders had declared an emergency alert following Kim's death and widespread anxiety about potential instability and the implications of the change in leadership.

Chung Young-tae, of the Korea Institute of National Unification, told Reuters: "Any prospect for a strong and prosperous country is now gone. There is a big possibility that a power struggle may happen. It's likely the military will support Kim Jong-un” but that has yet to be determined. Right now it appears the military will continue to wield control over the people to keep them in line and prevent any potential uprising during this tumultuous time.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias