North Korean Periscope, Two


TOKYO (majirox news) – Majirox News brings you short items about North Korea that have appeared in Japanese or Korean media but not been widely picked up in Western media.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid — For all of you that have a secret fetish about North Korean girls in uniform, here’s a site that will bring sweat to your brow:

Although Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, has so little traffic that in the words of one recent visitor, “You can crawl into the middle of the street and take a snooze at high noon if you have a mind to.” What little traffic exists is directed by attractive, poised traffic ladies, apparently chosen for their good looks, and decked out in what passes for high fashion in North Korea, that is, if you consider peaked hats and bellboy jackets the height of fashion. As another visitor to North Korea said, “They’re the only thing in North Korea worth looking at.”

A whole internet cult has sprung up around them and rumor has it that Playboy has even approached several traffic ladies asking them to pose. The mind boggles at the very thought. Could Pyongyang traffic ladies promote understanding between nations? At this point just about anything is worth a try.

Hello, Hello, Anybody There? — Recently, the president of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom company flew into North Korea, where he received a red carpet welcome, including a banquet with the Dear Leader. While Orascom may not be a household name in Europe and the United States, it is one of the largest cell phone companies in the Middle East and Africa with over 120 million subscribers.

It was also fairly gutsy as Orascom’s president managed to talk the North Koreans into starting a joint venture in 2008 to supply cell phone service to North Korea. Perhaps because he was already accustomed to navigating the waters of volatile one party states with rulers for life, North Korea did not seem like too big a challenge.

North Korea’s Central News Agency claimed that “70% of all of North Korean territory enjoys cell phone service.” Of course, there is a catch. Only the most trusted party cadres are allowed cell phones.

Cell phones are a huge status item because North Korea has only 300,000 cell phones—at least legal ones. No one knows how many illegal cell phones there are in North Korea, where getting caught with one can mean a stiff prison term.

There are now enough, however, to establish a fragile link with the South, where calls come through Chinese networks, whose roaming areas overlap deep into North Korea.

“Don’t ask me how I get the numbers,” said a representative of one of South Korean news agencies. “I talk for less than 20 seconds and hang up. There’s too much risk of being triangulated by North Korean intelligence.”

Most illegal phones are used for smuggling or talking to relatives in China, but perhaps someday Kim Jong-il will get news he does want to hear on a cell phone.

North Korean Army Deserters
—Since the sinking of the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan in disputed waters on the west coast of Korea on March 27, and the rise in tensions between the two Koreas, the North Korean Army has seen an upsurge of desertions.

Many flee to China’s Jilin Province one of two Chinese provinces that borders North Korea and has a large ethnic Korean population. North Korean deserters try to blend in among the population, but many find it hard to stay concealed for long, and when that fails, they take to the woods, robbing farmhouses for food.

Recently two deserters murdered a Chinese farmer who caught them robbing his farm. Chinese border police and troops are still trying to catch them.

“In many areas along the border,” reported Japanese sources, “the border police in their familiar uniforms have disappeared and have been replaced by regular units of the People’s Liberation. The only people allowed into these areas now are locals with special passes. Foreigners and Chinese from other areas are all turned back.”

The visible presence of regular troops along the border may have given rise to the rumor that Chinese troops are now stationed in some particularly sensitive areas in North Korea.

North Korean Periscope 1 link —

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