5, 2006: The U.S. has identified several thousand North Koreans, from about 600
families, who provide the senior leadership for the dictatorship. The U.S. is
imposing more sanctions, and surveillance, on these people. Recently, an export
ban was placed on the sale of many luxury goods (plasma TVs, MP3 players, etc)
to these folks. Such goodies can still be gotten, but it will cost more.
Sanctions on the country of North Korea will hurt the average North Korean more
than a member of "The 600."
4, 2006: Three unusually loud explosions were heard on the south side of the
DMZ. North Korea said nothing about it, and it's assumed that the cause was
either construction (of more underground facilities) or a military exercise.
Many things happen up north, that go unexplained.
3, 2006: The lack of movement, over a long time, in areas where the North
Korean army stores its trucks and armored vehicles, indicates that most of this
stuff is inoperable. Lack of fuel and spare parts has left many vehicles just
sitting out in the open for years.
2, 2006: It's a grim Winter in North Korea. Food aid is below what is needed.
Largely this is because donors know that much of the food aid is taken by the
government and sold in the market, or exported to China for cash. The
government keeps most of the population on a semi-starvation diet, as another
form of control.
1, 2006: Two new illegal North Korean scams have been discovered. One was quite
simple. Some 15,000 North Koreans were allowed to go to Europe to take jobs,
but their families were held hostage back in North Korea, and nearly all the
money they made (above basic living expenses) was seized by the government. The
other scam was even more lucrative, bringing in over $100 million so far. This
involved insurance fraud. The government would "sell" many cheap
policies, and then fake claims. It made money because the state owned insurance
company laid off much of the risk, as is common world wide, to international
"reinsurance" companies. The foreign reinsurance firms are the ones
taking the losses from this scam, which, although under investigation, continues
28, 2006: North Korea continues, as it has for the last sixty years, to
practice diplomacy that is long on smoke, and short on substance. The usual
demands, like direct talks with the U.S., are just another ploy to put nervous
neighbors on the defensive, and more inclined to give in to North Koreas