Exclusive: North Korea’s monster fake out

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Exclusive: North Korea’s monster fake out

An arms control policy expert says that a military video put out by North Korea in March may have been faked to cover up an unsuccessful ballistic missile launch. His team deconstructs the images to try to verify them.

August 16, 2022 · 12:15 PM EDT

Kim Jong-un and his generals cheer after the apparent launch of the Hwasong-17 long-range missile in March.

Korean Central Television

On March 24, exactly one month after Russia invaded Ukraine, North Korea put itself back on the world’s center stage by announcing that it had successfully launched a long-range ballistic missile called the Hwasong-17, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads all the way to the continental US.

The weapon is considered such a game-changer that people in the nonproliferation community even have a nickname for it: the Monster Missile.

What makes the Hwasong-17 different isn’t its range — it is its payload. North Korea has had a missile that can reach the US for some time now, but it can only carry one warhead.

“What they really want to do is put multiple warheads in a missile,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control policy expert and the East Asian director of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey which tracks these sorts of things. “They need that to overwhelm our missile defenses.”

Just days after the March launch, North Korea released a video lauding the achievement. It is unintentionally hilarious, opening with Kim Jong-un — the Great Leader — in a “Top Gun”-like leather jacket, checking his watch as if he were late for a train. He’s flanked by two generals in uniform, and the trio are being trailed by an enormous mobile launch vehicle, rocket included.

The actual launch didn’t take place until around minute four. That’s when we saw ignition, smoke and then liftoff before the camera cut to a still photograph of Kim and a bunch of his generals excitedly punching the air. The only trouble was, it may not have happened that way. According to Lewis, it may have been an elaborate ruse.

“We think they tested two missiles in March, one that worked and one that didn't,” he told the Click Here podcast, revealing his team’s analysis for the first time. “The simplest answer is that they launched the big one on March 16th. But it blew up. So, they came back a few days later, launched a different missile,” and put it all together to imply that the Hwasong-17 test had been a success.

Looking through a soda straw

Back in the 1990s, when Lewis was starting out in the nonproliferation business, satellite imagery was expensive and mostly controlled by governments. But over the past decade, the quantity of satellite imagery has increased exponentially. Private imaging satellites from firms such as Maxar, Capella Space and Planet Labs have provided researchers and analysts with access to hundreds of thousands of images they rarely saw before.

The result is that they can now keep track of everything from crop yields to troop movements, and they have all kinds of satellite images to choose from — high-resolution ones that can make out cars, and even individuals, to lower-resolution shots that indicate a building, but turn a moving car into a mere smudge. Companies like Planet try to take a picture of the whole world every day at about 3 meters (10 feet) in resolution.

Lewis said, to be able to track events in places like North Korea, his team studies moderate-resolution images to spot change, which then allows them to use high-resolution pictures to zero in on what might be unfolding on the ground.

“High-resolution images only give you a picture of a very small area,” Lewis added. “It is like looking at the Earth through a drinking straw.”

And if you know exactly what you’re looking for, it is invaluable.

Back in 2018, Pyongyang released photos of Kim touring a factory where proliferation experts believed the regime was making crucial parts for short-range ballistic missiles. One of the propaganda photos North Korea released was of Kim looking at a map, which, on closer inspection, suggested the plant was about to undergo a huge expansion.

“They had not started the expansion yet. So, it was just this tiny, tiny, tiny little facility,” Lewis said.

So, his team tasked a high-resolution satellite, with that soda straw view, to take a closer look, and that allowed them to watch as North Korea knocked down buildings and built new ones. 

The construction became one of the first real indications that North Korea was stepping up its short- and medium-range ballistic missile program. “And we really got that all from just Kim standing in front of a map,” Lewis said. “And then Planet's 3-meter imagery, tipping us off as to when the construction of that facility had started.”

He’s all ears

North Korea has tested two kinds of ballistic missiles: a short-range one it says it would use against American forces, should they ever invade from South Korea or Japan; and a long-range one — like the Hwasong-17 — featured in that March propaganda film, which has been an obsession of Lewis and his team since the spring.

“Sometimes, people say, ‘Why would you look at propaganda? It's just lies,’” Lewis said. “The answer is, when you catch someone in a lie, then you’ve learned something very interesting about what they care about, what they want you to think and what they want you not to know.”

Case in point, Kim's preoccupation with a particular part of his anatomy.

“My favorite thing that North Korea loves to lie about — which they’ve stopped doing, so I’m a little disappointed — is to adjust the size of Kim Jong-un’s ears,” Lewis said.

Apparently, the Great Leader thinks his ears are too big, or at least he did.

“We would just see image after image after image when they had made his ears a little bit smaller,” Lewis said. “He clearly cares about his ears. His ears look totally normal to me, I don’t see what the problem is.”

Which brings us back to the March video. Not long after it was released, a senior correspondent at NK News named Colin Zwirko suggested that something was off.

“He was the first person who said, ‘I don’t think this is right,’” Lewis said. “And that's music to our ears, because that is like waving a red flag at a bull … And my whole team was like, ‘Well, let's check that out.’”

Microanalysis as a superpower

Lewis has an office at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey, but can rarely be found there. He tends to sit in the graduate research assistant room because, he said, it is more fun.

“I have a very nice office. It has lots of books in it,” he said. “The one thing it does not have is the other human beings that I need to be successful and feel fulfilled at work.”

The people he likes to sit with are a kind of super-smart Team America: Lisa Levina speaks Korean and models rockets; Steven De La Fuente is great with satellite images and heat maps; John Ford has an uncanny ability to remember everything he sees; Tricia White, among other things, finds clues in social media; Michael Duitsman is an expert on shadows; and Ben Mueller comes from a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] background, so they call him the “Walking Computer” because he seems to be able to answer just about any question they put to him.

The superpower they share? Microanalysis — the ability to spot the tiniest of incremental changes and give them meaning. 

When Duitsman began to dig into the March video this past spring, he started with something easy to measure: the angle of the sun. The March 24 launch was billed as having taken place in the afternoon, but Duitsman said video seemed to have been filmed in the morning.

“There are tools online that you can use to measure the angle of the sun at a particular time of day and determine which direction the shadow should fall,” he said. “We could compare the direction the shadow would fall at the two different launch times and determine how that compared with what was seen in the video.” 

They had their first thread, and they started to pull.  

Burn scars don’t lie

Months later, Lewis sat down with the Click Here team to explain the team’s investigative process. He began with an image from the North Korean video. He pointed out what looks like that mobile launch truck that was dogging Kim’s heels in the opening scenes of the video. It is sitting on a tarmac at a funny angle and if you look really closely, you can see a white spot that looks like that missile standing up on its end.

“And what's notable about this is there's enough detail in this drone image that you can tell exactly where on the road this truck is,” Lewis said.

Then, he pulled up a second image from Planet Labs — a high-resolution satellite picture from March 16, almost 10 days before the Hwasong-17 launch was supposed to have happened. And it's exactly the same spot.

“You can see all the same buildings,” Lewis said. “You can see the same fields. The road looks the same, even the damage to the road is identical. And you can really see that detail and the truck is gone, but there's a black kind of smear. And that smear is the burn scar.”

The March 16th satellite image from Planet Labs shows a burn scar in the exact spot from which the Hwasong-17 was supposed to have launched more than a week later. Arms control policy expert Jeffrey Lewis thinks there was a bait-and-switch.


Jeffrey Lewis and Planet Labs

It’s the kind of burn scar that’s left after a fiery missile launch, and the half rectangle pattern appears to trace the outline of a launch truck, like the one in the video. The only problem? This photo was taken eight days before the North Koreans claimed to have launched the Hwasong-17.

“It's almost like you went and looked at Kim Jong-un and, and you asked him like, ‘Hey, did you eat those brownies?’ And he says, “No, I don't know who did it,” but he's got chocolate smeared all over his face,” said Lewis. “I mean, it's just such a perfect giveaway.”

When Lewis and his team went back over the satellite images from March 24, the day the North Koreas claimed they successfully launched the Monster Missile, the burn marks were nowhere to be seen. In fact, there’s no evidence that a missile was launched that day at all.

Mystery Solved

Lewis readily admitted that the process by which his team pieces together something like this is a really chaotic, iterative process of pulling in all kinds of data, comparing, organizing and then bouncing explanations off your colleagues.

“What happens is you start to realize what the answer is,” he said. You know, there's almost a kind of gravity that the truth has where it's clear that one answer is simpler than the others, one answer explains all the evidence pretty well.”

And the simple answer in this case: North Korea launched two missiles in March. One that worked and one that didn’t. Lewis and the team believe they launched the Monster Missile on March 16. They filmed it. Kim was there. It was on that launch vehicle in the movie, but it blew up, so they couldn’t announce it.

“So, they came back,” Lewis said, “and they launched a different missile that they were pretty sure would work.”

John Lauder used to serve as director of the CIA’s nonproliferation center and he said that the secret sauce in looking at satellite imagery like this are the signatures that Lewis and his team put together.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘OK, great. Here's a picture or a video of a missile launch,’ but it's all the little things to go with it,” he said, “like burn marks and the trailers in the background and the vehicles that are in the back that help, over time, to give us a real sense about what's going on.”

Lauder said he is a “believer in those capabilities and what folks like Jeffrey Lewis are doing,” but the downside to all this transparency is that it permits adversaries to understand just how much they are revealing by releasing things like that March video. “Maybe the North Koreans will be a little smarter next time when they put together a video that might give something away.”

And there will be a next time. Kim may have given up on photoshopping his ears, but he’s unlikely to shake his obsession with his Monster Missile. And both Lauder and Lewis said that eventually, he’ll get the Hwasong-17 to succeed.

“And one of the things I'm concerned about,” Lewis said, “is we're not really emotionally ready to have that conversation.”

This story originally appeared in The Record.Media. It was written by Dina Temple-Raston and Will Jarvis, with additional reporting by Sean Powers.

Related: Japan gears up for evacuation drills amid spate of North Korean missile tests

South Korea announces North Korean ballistic missile launch

The General Staff of South Korea reported that the DPRK launched a ballistic missile According to Seoul, North Korea launched a ballistic missile for the 18th time since the beginning of the year. The last time the DPRK conducted a launch was in mid-May, when Biden visited Japan, the Japanese government reported 72/756543910757721.jpg” alt=”South Korea reported the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile” />

North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile towards the Sea of ​​Japan (East Sea), South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, Yonhap reports.

The military has not yet released details.

North Korea has been actively conducting missile tests since the beginning of this year. In March, the country tested a new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile. Later, the authorities called the tests of tactical guided weapons successful. South Korea identified it as an upgraded KN-23 missile modeled after the Russian Iskander system.

On May 4, North Korea fired a projectile that looked like a ballistic missile that fell into the sea was reported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea. Three days later, the launch of what was believed to be a ballistic missile was reported by the Japanese government and the Committee of Staff of South Korea. As the latter noted, it could have been launched from the Sinpo submarine in the direction of the Sea of ​​Japan.

On May 12, North Korea launched ballistic missiles. which fell outside the exclusive economic zone of Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Defense pointed out.

North Korean missile launches also occurred after US President Joe Biden's visit to Japan and the May 22 Quad summit. South Korea reported the launch of three missiles and calculated that it was the 17th since the beginning of the year.a. According to Tokyo, two of the three rockets flew 300 and 750 km and fell in the eastern part of the Sea of ​​Japan outside the exclusive economic zone. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi sent a protest to the DPRK and called the missile launches a provocation.

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In A Few Days South Korea And The United States fired missiles back. Seoul launched Henmu-2 ballistic missiles, and the US — one ATACMS projectile towards the Sea of ​​Japan. In this way, the Allies showed the possibilities of “immediate strike” by the allied forces.

In late May, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Pak Chin and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi condemned the latest North Korean missile launches. They agreed to strengthen trilateral cooperation in order to fully denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and stressed their readiness to meet with representatives of North Korea.

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Washington, Seoul and Tokyo condemn North Korean missile launches

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, South Korean Foreign Minister Pak Chin and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi condemned North Korea's latest missile launches in a joint statement, emphasizing readiness for contacts with Pyongyang without preconditions. The statement of representatives of the diplomatic departments is published on the website of the US State Department.

“The United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan strongly condemn the recent launches of ballistic missiles by the DPRK, undertake to strengthen trilateral cooperation for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and also emphasize the continued openness to meetings with the DPRK without preconditions,— says the statement.

In addition, representatives of the diplomatic departments of the three countries expressed concern about the “serious difficulties” North Korea due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were reminded of the offer of assistance in this regard.

Seoul said on May 25 that North Korea had fired an unidentified ballistic missile eastward, marking the 17th missile launch from North Korean territory, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The Japanese Ministry of Defense clarified that the missile fell into the sea. NHK sources in the Japanese government noted that this happened outside the country's exclusive economic zone.

In Japan, the North Korean missile launches were called a provocation and protested through diplomatic channels. Tokyo believes that in this way the DPRK expressed its attitude towards the visit of US President Joe Biden to Japan.

The South Korean authorities, in response to the launches of the DPRK, conducted missile tests together with the United States. According to Yonhap, South Korea launched a Hyunmu-2 rocket, and the US — one ATACMS projectile towards the Sea of ​​Japan. In this way, the Allies demonstrated the ability to “immediately strike” from the allied forces.

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Japan gears up for evacuation drills amid spate of North Korean missile tests

class=”MuiTypography-root-126 MuiTypography-h1-131″>Japan gears up for evacuation drills amid spate of North Korean missile tests

The recent spate of North Korean missile tests is déjà vu for people in Japan.

The WorldMay 9, 2022 · 5:00 PM EDT

People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, May 7, 2022. North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile designed to be launched from a submarine on Saturday, South Korea's military said, apparently continuing a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations that may culminate with a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months.

Ahn Young-joon/AP

North Korea flight-tested a ballistic missile that was likely fired from a submarine on Saturday, South Korea’s military said, continuing a streak of weapon tests that could culminate with a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months.

Before that, on Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese militaries detected a suspected ballistic missile fired from near the capital, Pyongyang.

Both exercises come ahead of the inauguration on Tuesday of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed to take a tougher approach over the North’s nuclear ambitions.

So far this year, North Korea has fired missiles 15 times, including the country's first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, in March, which demonstrated the capability to reach as far as the United States.

In response, Japan is gearing up to restart missile evacuation drills this summer.

The recent spate of North Korean missile tests is déjà vu for many people in Japan.

Back in August of 2017, residents woke up to an ominous alert, reminiscent of an air raid, warning people to take shelter from a passing North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile.

In the northernmost island of Hokkaido, residents practiced ducking and covering their heads. They are told to evacuate to a sturdy building and keep away from windows.

North Korea has been clearly exploiting a favorable environment to push forward its weapons program with the UN Security Council divided and effectively paralyzed over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Related: How governments finance the ruin of our oceans 

The unusually fast pace in testing activity underscores a brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions, experts say.

At an April 25 parade, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to speed up the country’s nuclear weapons development, putting Japan, South Korea and the United States in a direct line of attack.

Hiroki Takeuchi is associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Texas. He said that while Japan has good defense capabilities, it is not prepared against multiple missiles.

“So, the real capability comes from the ability of launching multiple missiles at the same time. And I think it still takes time for North Korea to develop that capability.”

Under the US-Japan Security Alliance, Takeuchi said, the United States is committed to defending Japan.

James Acton is a physicist and co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He said that he’s not sure the US is ready.

“In terms of [US] homeland missile defenses, they have not performed all that well in testing. And moreover, testing was not realistic. So, I believe even with North Korea's older ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles], it still would have been able to penetrate US defenses. But [North Korea is] clearly taking measures to increase its likelihood of penetrating those defenses.”

Acton said that North Korea’s weapons development is believed to exploit gaps in the US arsenal. But it doesn’t mean its technology is entirely reliable.

“The US will test a new missile 10, 20, 30 times before it's ready to deploy because it wants to know it's really, really reliable. North Korea doesn't demand that same level of reliability. You know, it's often content just to see one successful test before it deploys a system.”

James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“The US will test a new missile 10, 20, 30 times before it's ready to deploy because it wants to know it's really, really reliable,” he said. “North Korea doesn't demand that same level of reliability. You know, it's often content just to see one successful test before it deploys a system.”

North Korea appeared to be more than content in showcasing its latest monster missile.

On March 25, North Korea unveiled a dramatic, Hollywood-style propaganda video showing leader Kim Jong-un, clad in a leather jacket and sunglasses, walking in front of the massive “monster” missile.

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Acton said that he thinks that the video was staged.

“North Korea appears to have done two attempted full-scale ICBM tests this year,” he said. “But I've got to say, the first one appears to have been the new monster missile. The second one appears to have been an older ICBM, but still a real ICBM.”

Political scientist Hiroki Takeuchi said that ties between Japan and South Korea may undergo a diplomatic reset, which could prove a deterrent against North Korean provocation.

“The recent statement from the new president of South Korea for changing or improving South Korea-Japan relations is a very good, good sign for both Japan and South Korea to prepare for North Korea's threat.”

Takeuchi said that the new president of South Korea could play a role in forging a trilateral alliance with the United States.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

US proposes new UN sanctions over North Korean missile launches

The United States proposed to introduce new UN sanctions for missile launches of the DPRK According to the US Ambassador to the UN, the DPRK has launched six ballistic missiles since September 21 last year. UN sanctions against the DPRK due to missile launches were first introduced in 2006 by Security Council resolution

The US has proposed to introduce new UN sanctions for missile launches of the DPRK, said the country's permanent representative to the international organization Linda Thomas -Greenfield.

“ In addition to today's US State and Treasury sanctions, the United Nations is proposing UN sanctions after North Korea has launched six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, '' & mdash; Thomas-Greenfield wrote on Twitter, noting that each of the launches violates UN Security Council resolutions.

On January 12, the US Treasury imposed sanctions against the Russian company Parsec, its employee Roman Alar, and six North Korean citizens living in Russia and China. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken blamed Parsec in his statement in participating in the supply of goods to North Korea for its missile program.

On January 11, South Korea announced the DPRK's launch of an “ unknown projectile. '' The Japanese government suggested that North Korea launched a ballistic missile. After that, the DPRK announced that it had successfully tested a hypersonic missile that flew 1,000 km and accurately hit the target.


On January 5, South Korea and Japan also announced the launch of the DPRK in the side of the Sea of ​​Japan of an unidentified missile, which could be a ballistic missile.

In 2006, the UN Security Council for the first time adopted a resolution condemning the missile tests carried out by the DPRK. The document demanded from all UN members not to allow the import to the DPRK or the export from there of missiles, related materials and technologies that can be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Since then, the sanctions of the international organization have been expanded several times.

In 2020, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for the weakening or suspension of sanctions against some countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including the DPRK.

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North Korea destroyed the liaison office with the South; Beijing imposed coronavirus restrictions; France backs away from chokehold ban

North Korea destroyed the liaison office with the South; Beijing imposed coronavirus restrictions; France backs away from chokehold ban

The World staff

A smoke rises from Kaesong Industrial Complex in this picture taken from the south in Paju, South Korea, June 16, 2020.


Yonhap via Reuters


Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

In a dramatic escalation of tensions, North Korea blew up the liaison office used to improve relations with South Korea on Tuesday. Surveillance video released by South Korea’s Ministry of Defence showed the building, located in the border town of Kaesong, in a large explosion that appeared to bring down the four-story structure. The office, which effectively served as a de facto embassy for the two countries, has been closed since January due to the novel coronavirus.

The destruction of the office adds to tensions that have been rising over recent weeks, as North Korea has threatened to cut ties with the South for what it says is retaliation over propaganda leaflets critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that have been sent over the border by human rights activists. The liaison office between the North and the South was established in 2018 as part of a series of projects aimed at reducing tensions.

What The World is following

In a move to stop a flare-up of new coronavirus cases, Beijing has imposed restrictions on public transport and banned high-risk people, such as those in close contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19, from leaving the city. The new outbreak in China’s capital, where more than 100 cases have been reported since Thursday, has been traced to a large wholesale food center in the southwest of the city. 

Three Indian soldiers were killed today in a confrontation with Chinese troops in the disputed border region of Kashmir. They are the first casualties in decades to result from a clash between India and China in the disputed border region. The two nuclear powers have been locked in a standoff for weeks over boundary disputes.

France is now backing away from an ban on police use of chokeholds announced last week. France reversed course on the ban after officers voiced concerns that the move would threaten their lives. France had announced the ban after weeks of protests following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, which for many recalled the similar death of Adama Traoré in police custody in France in 2016.

From The WorldWhy many in public health support anti-racism protests — with some precautions amid coronavirus

Visitors look at a memorial at the site of the arrest of George Floyd, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, June 14, 2020.


Eric Miller/Reuters 

Many health care workers say the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism are intertwined. So when protests erupted across the globe in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, many health professionals understood the public outcry, despite the risks of being in large crowds.

When ‘oh, fudge’ won’t do: Researchers find benefits to swearing

Researchers at the Swear Lab at Keele University in the UK have studied the benefits of swearing. 



When you stub your toe, there’s nothing like letting out a string of expletives. But it turns out, there’s more to this release than you might think. Researchers have found that swearing can actually increase a person’s pain tolerance — and no, you can’t substitute in a PG equivalent like “Oh fudge!” Only the real thing will do.

Morning meme

What should replace recently toppled statues in the US, Britain and elsewhere? One suggestion that gained some viral traction on social media recently — air dancers.

Retweet if we should temporarily replace all racist monuments with air dancers while we build new non-racist monuments! pic.twitter.com/ln6xkLeO93

— Jack (@GayLaVie) June 10, 2020In case you missed itListen: Public health consequences of protests during a pandemic

People wearing masks and holding signs kneel during a Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square in London, Britain, June 5, 2020.


Toby Melville/Reuters

Thousands have taken to the streets around the world to protest police brutality and systemic racism. But many public health experts are not as distressed about these large demonstrations as one might think. And, as the US targets the International Criminal Court with sanctions, the court makes a breakthrough in Sudan. Also, a team of psychology researchers in the UK has found that swearing can increase a person’s pain tolerance.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

North Korea stops answering daily calls with South; Past epidemics underscore importance of mental health

North Korea stops answering daily calls with South; Past epidemics underscore importance of mental health

The World staff

Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un attends a wreath-laying ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 2019.


Jorge Silva/Reuters/Pool/File Photo


Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

North Korean officials did not answer a routine daily call to the liaison office with South Korea or calls on military hotlines this morning. The move is seen as a first step toward shutting down contact with Seoul. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, threatened last week to close the office unless South Korean groups were stopped from sending pro-democracy leaflets into the North. In an effort to salvage ties, South Korean officials pledged to legislate a ban on the leaflets.

The daily calls between North and South Korea were established in 2018 to reduce tensions after peace talks. The two countries remain technically at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

What The World is following

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he and US President Donald Trump agreed on “some issues” on the conflict in Libya during a phone call yesterday. Turkey and the US support the UN-backed government of Fayez al Sarraj. In recent weeks, Sarraj’s troops have pushed back an assault on the capital of Tripoli by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Russia and US allies, France, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Today, mourners in Houston, Texas, bury George Floyd, a black man killed in police custody whose death has sparked global protests over systemic racism and police violence. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a review of all statues in the city for ties to slavery.

Also a new study of satellite images shows a surge in traffic to hospitals in Wuhan, China, in August, coinciding with a spike in online searches for “cough” and “diarrhea” — suggesting the coronavirus may have been spreading in the city far earlier than reported.

America’s BLM protests find solidarity in South Korea

Protesters in Seoul, South Korea, rallied in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement on June 6, 2020. 


Jason Strother/The World 

Calls for racial justice in the US are compelling some South Koreans to point out xenophobia in their own country and reexamine decades-old tensions between black and Korean communities. Over the weekend, around 100 demonstrators walked through downtown Seoul in protest of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in what was perhaps the first public showing of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the nation.

Past epidemics underscore importance of mental health amid COVID-19

Women wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) ride a subway train in Seoul, South Korea, on June 12, 2015.


Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji 

Calls for racial justice in the US are compelling some South Koreans to point out xenophobia in their own country and reexamine decades-old tensions between black and Korean communities. Over the weekend, around 100 demonstrators walked through downtown Seoul in protest of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in what was perhaps the first public showing of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the nation.

Discussion: Reporting on the 2020 Latino vote amid the pandemic

Young Latinos could swing the outcome of the election — if they cast their ballots. That’s because approximately every 30 seconds, a young Latino turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. For the past four months, The World’s “Every 30 Seconds” project has been following the stories of eight young Latino voters in different corners of the US.

Join The World’s Daisy Contreras for a conversation with three of the eight Every 30 Seconds journalists — Naomi Prioleau of WUNC in Chapel Hill, Max Rivlin-Nadler of KPBS in San Diego and Martha Dalton of WABE in Atlanta — focusing on their experiences reaching out to young Latinos for a yearlong reporting project and the lessons they’ve learned on reporting during the pandemic.

You can watch the Facebook Live Q&A on The World’s Facebook page Wednesday, June 10 at 12pm ET. Ask your questions during the live event or email us at [email protected].

Morning Meme

Someone found it! Thousands have searched but after more than a decade, someone actually found Forest Fenn’s buried treasure — worth more than an estimated $1 million — somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

NEW: A bronze chest filled with gold, jewels, and other valuables worth more than $1 million and hidden a decade ago somewhere in the Rocky Mountain wilderness has finally been found. https://t.co/AzvKoMwjbd

— The Denver Post (@denverpost) June 7, 2020In case you missed itListen: Global protests against racial discrimination continue to spread

A man observes the base of the statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader in the 17th century, after protesters pulled it down and pushed into the docks, following the death of George Floyd, Bristol, Britain, June 8, 2020.


Matthew Childs/Reuters

Protests against racial discrimination and social injustice continue across the globe. At a rally last weekend in Bristol, England, activists pulled down the statue of a 17th-century slave trader and dumped it in the harbor. And, the notion of putting the US military into the streets to quell unrest is a bridge too far for many people, including many military leaders. Also, As East African countries such as Uganda begin easing lockdowns, borders remain a big concern. Truck drivers crossing borders between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

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