RFA in the News (August 2016)

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Aug. 31 “Public lectures inspire interest in free flow of information among North Koreans

…. State public lectures criticizing foreign radio broadcasts are also said to have unintentionally contributed to their popularity. “Last spring, the authorities talked about KBS, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Free Chosun, among others, while claiming that anti-Republic plots are being promoted through these channels. That’s how I learned of the existence of these broadcasters,” a different source from North Hamgyong Province said.


Aug. 31 “North Korea building railway-mounted missile launchers, says report

North Korea is constructing a mobile launching system that will permit long-range ballistic missiles to be fired from the nation's railway network, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on 31 August. Sources told RFA that work started in May at a state-run vehicle factory and that six units are being produced a month.


Aug. 25 “China denies rift with Kazakhstan over visas

China Wednesday denied foreign media reports it suspended individual visa services for Kazakhstan, saying reports of a diplomatic conflict between the two countries were "unreal and misquoted."

… Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Tuesday that relations between the two countries were strained, and that China had suspended individual visa services for Kazakhstani citizens. RFA also cited Kazakhstani media Kazinform International News Agency as saying that Chinese Ambassador Zhang Hanhui expressed "strong discontent" for Kazakhstan's inconvenient visa policy toward Chinese citizens.


Aug. 25 “U.S. civic group to provide medical assistance to N. Korea

A U.S. private humanitarian group will send medical aid to North Korea next month as part of its efforts to help the impoverished nation, a Washington-based radio station said Thursday. AmeriCares, a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut, will ship medicine and sanitary goods to seven hospitals and health clinics in Pyongyang, Nampo, North Hwanghae Province and South Pyongan Province, the Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.


Aug. 23 “N. Korea confiscating 'notels' to stop spread of lewd videos of leader

North Korea is confiscating portable media players called "notels" for fear they have helped spread scandalous videos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a U.S.-based media report said Tuesday, citing sources in the North. … The source from the reclusive country's South Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the Pyongyang regime is confiscating notels used by students for educational purposes.


Aug. 20 “The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (August 20)

Radio Free Asia reported that the Lin Htet Zaw and Jade Gold companies were illegally mining on land under the control of the Forestry Department in Indaw Township of Katha District.


Aug. 18 “Will a Chinese Charm Offensive Bring Rapprochement with Burma?

… In an interview with Radio Free Asia, aired on Saturday, Ye Htut said, “Because nearly all ethnic armed organizations that have not yet signed the ceasefire—with the exception of two groups in the south—are based along the Chinese border, we appreciate that China’s role is of the utmost importance to us all.”


Aug. 18 “N. Korea builds new anti-air artillery bases near Pyongyang

North Korea has built new anti-air artillery bases outside Pyongyang, U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. … "The expansion of North Korea's artillery base shows North Korea's intention to protect Pyongyang and its military compounds," RFA said. "This shows the characteristic of Kim Jong-un's government that it will not only develop its nuclear arsenal but also its conventional weapons."


Aug. 15 “North Korea Watching at the Olympics

… Kyu Lee has been covering them and chasing them for nearly two decades. He works for Radio Free Asia, funded by Congress, and whose mission is to get more accurate information into places like North Korea.


Aug. 14 “RFA: N. Korea Gives Banned Substances to its Athletes

North Korea has been manufacturing banned substances on a state-wide level and giving its athletes the drugs to boost their performances. Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Saturday quoted a source in Pyongyang as saying that the Sports Science Research Institute under the North's Physical Culture and Sports Ministry operates two plants in Pyongyang's Potong and Sosong districts that produce drugs for athletes.


Aug. 13 “Crystal meth keeps North Korea’s builders up to speed

Construction workers in North Korea are being fed crystal meth to make them work faster and ensure that prestige building projects in the capital are completed on time. Radio Free Asia, which is funded by the US government, reported that hundreds of thousands of workers had been recruited to finish showcase apartments in Pyongyang.


Aug. 12 “N. Korea revises military exemption rules to address manpower shortages

North Korea has been revising the rules of exempting people from the compulsory military service in a bid to address manpower shortages in the military, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) said Friday.


Aug. 11 “Cambodian-Born Politician Barred From Country

A Cambodian-Australian politician who branded the Cambodian government “a beast” in a radio interview last week has been banned from the country as a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday. During an interview on Radio Free Asia last week, Hong Lim, who was born in Cambodia and is a lawmaker for the Labor Party in the Australian state of Victoria, slammed the Cambodian government while discussing last month’s murder of political analyst Kem Ley.


Aug. 10 “WORLD VIEW: The Olympics are tough for all athletes. For North Koreans, they’re worse.”

It's not clear whether things are much better in Rio. One report from Radio Free Asia's Korean service suggests that North Korean Olympic officials have refused to give the athletes free Galaxy 7 smartphones given by Olympic sponsor Samsung to all athletes competing in the games — quite possibly an attempt to control their lines of communications.


Aug. 7 “Annual festival banned after Tibetans in Kardze decline to fly Chinese flag

An annual religious festival in eastern Tibet’s Kardze County has reportedly been banned after local Tibetans refused to fly the Chinese national flag during the festivities that began from the beginning of this month. The Dhargye monastery in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and lay Tibetans from villages in the prefecture refused to abide by the directives to fly the Chinese national flag resulting in authorities forbidding the religious gathering, the Radio Free Asia reported, citing an unnamed former political prisoner residing in India.


Aug. 6 “In Kuwait, a North Korean Economic Lifeline Comes Under Pressure

On June 8, 2016, Radio Free Asia reported that dozens of North Korean guest workers in Kuwait’s construction industry went on strike after their salaries were not paid. Following a lengthy standoff with their government minders, insubordinate North Korean guest workers were ordered to leave Kuwait and return to Pyongyang.


Aug. 2 “Hungry N. Korean soldiers committing various crimes: report

An increasing number of starving North Korean soldiers are committing all sorts of crimes and inflicting considerable losses on civilians, the U.S.-basedRadio Free Asia (RFA) reported Tuesday, citing sources in the reclusive country. Desperate soldiers in North Hamgyong Province have been raiding civilian homes to steal money and other goods, according to the RFA report.

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