On Sunday, North Korean singer Hyon Song Wol crossed into South Korea with six other members of her advance team, which will spend two days planning cultural performances at the Winter Olympics by the North’s singers, dancers, and pop musicians. Hyon, known as the “girl on a steed” after her most famous song, passed through the Demilitarized Zone in a bus. She was greeted in Seoul by what The New York Times called “a media frenzy.” In addition to Hyon’s 140-strong art troupe, North Korea will send a cheering squad of 230 members and hundreds of others, including a taekwondo demonstration team and officials. Hyon’s visit is part of a geopolitical gambit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to join together the two rival Korean states. At the Pyeongchang Games, to be held east of Seoul beginning Feb. 9, the South and North Korean teams will march in the Opening Ceremony together under one flag, showing a united Korean nation. The two rival … [Read more...] about ‘The Seoul Syndrome’ and the ‘Pyongyang Olympics’? South Korea on Thin Ice
Just hours before the the first of three invitation-only “friendship” concerts meant to revive relations with China, North Korea suddenly canceled the performances—and put its leggy girl pop group on an Air Koryo flight back to Pyongyang. Beijing’s 2,200-seat National Center for the Performing Arts, where the 21-member Moranbong Band had been scheduled to perform Saturday for Chinese officials, dignitaries, and business leaders, said only that the shows had been canceled “due to certain reasons.” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that the concerts “cannot be staged as scheduled due to communication issues at the working level.” So what happened to North Korea’s “dancehall diplomacy”? Speculation is rife that North Korea’s volatile young leader, Kim Jong Un, ordered the band back home to silence chatter about his past sexual relationship with Hyon Song Wol, the leader of the pop group, whose members … [Read more...] about Is This Pop Star in Bed With Kim Jong Un?
TOKYO — Given the febrile global security atmosphere, recent revelations that those responsible for the Brussels attacks also scoped out Belgium’s nuclear facilities have, understandably, caused great consternation in many countries. In Japan, however, the issue of nuclear security is treated with a strangely insouciant attitude by the authorities; unarmed guards keep watch outside of nuclear facilities, there is poor surveillance of sites and, incredibly, there are no mandated background checks on workers, allowing members of organized crime gangs access to radioactive material. There is growing awareness that this is a problem not just for this island country, but for the world. There is every reason to believe Japan is a target of the so-called Islamic State, which was behind the horrific slaughter in Paris in November and in Brussels in March. Early last year, amid worldwide outrage about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a speech in … [Read more...] about Japan Nuclear Plants Are Vulnerable to Terror Attacks