north korea

petersnoopy via flickr Creative Commons

A month into a continuing series of threatening ultimatums from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the 30-year old leader has an international fever that his fore-fathers would envy. Official statements and propaganda videos, such as last week’s reel of Jong-un shooting a handgun during a military drill, are soaking up views around the world.

Through aggressive threats and flashy shows of power, the North Korean leader has proven himself to be the champion of manipulating tense global news-wires. Conversely, he is the also subject of countless humorous memes. Here to discuss Kim Jong-un’s social media strategy is John Hudson, writer for Foreign Policy’s flagship blog Passport.

America is no stranger to North Korea in the headlines; South Korea's army is on alert today after a suspected cyberattack by their northern neighbors. The eniamatic empire is still living under the cloud of its departed dictator, Kim Jong Il. Now celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice is setting his sights on an “unauthorized autobiography” based on late North Korean leader. The late public figure and his country isn’t often associated with comedy these days, but Malice seeks to use humor to elicit understanding amidst a strong cultural divide.

Photo courtesy of Philipp Meuser of Dom Publishers

The well-publicized (albeit failed) launch of a satellite by North Korea last month sent a signal to the international community: Kim Jong-un is carrying on in the brinksman-like tradition of his father Kim Jong-il. Between them, they’ve built and maintained what is arguably the most isolated country on the planet – the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea or DPNK. Most of us will never visit the country, or see the grand monuments or stadia of its capital, Pyongyang.

As North Korea reaches the final stage of preparations for a long-range rocket launch, concern is growing that it is in the early stages of preparing its underground test site for another nuclear explosion.

Pyongyang established the pattern three years ago when it tested a similar rocket and then followed it a month later with a nuclear test.

This time around, there may be a more urgent need to test a nuclear device. The bomb is very likely the result of a significant expansion of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

As North Korea gears up to launch a long-range rocket, political changes are afoot, too: Pyongyang has consolidated its succession process, giving a new title to its new leader, Kim Jong Un, who came to power in December after his father's death.

The rocket launch, which could come as early as Thursday in North Korea, has been condemned by the international community as being in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. So why now?

Recent developments in North Korea are puzzling watchers of the "Hermit Kingdom" in both the U.S. and South Korea.

There are some signs of change within the new leadership in North Korea — and there are signs of resistance to change as well.

When he was in Seoul, South Korea, last week, President Obama said he didn't know who is calling the shots in Pyongyang, which is making it difficult to determine what's next for North Korea.

President Obama came to South Korea to talk about global nuclear security with world leaders, but found himself trying to build a unified front against North Korea's planned rocket launch next month.

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak strenuously warned North Korea not to go ahead with the launch. In a speech Monday at the summit in Seoul, Obama used some of the toughest language he has ever used addressed to the leaders of North Korea.

Cold winds blow through pine trees and across nearby mountains. On the horizon are guard posts and cameras. There's little movement, except for wildlife.

U.S. Lt. Col. Ed Taylor, lives and works on the Korean armistice line that has divided North and South for almost six decades. He even sleeps in a bed right next to North Korea.

"I cannot compare it to anything I've ever done. And I say that with 23 years in the Army and two deployments to Iraq," Taylor says.

North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.

U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.

Kim Jong Il's funeral was probably not intended to give birth to any memes, but when the hearse in the military procession featured a giant picture frame, the Photoshoppers' eyes got wide and the ideas started to flow.

<a href="http://kimjongildroppingthebass.tumblr.com/" target=Blank">Kim Jong-Il Dropping the Bass</a> Tumblog

The famous Tumblog Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things has already updated its "about" section to read in the past tense - it now says "the dear leader liked to look at things." Now the remixers have found a whole new side of the North Korean leader - as a DJ. Check out Kim Jong-Il Dropping the Bass to see him in action.

[via Cifanic]

(Photo by Joseph A. Ferris via Flickr Creative Commons)

South Korean troops are on high alert today after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong iI. Kim’s chosen successor and third son, Kim Jong Un, now becomes the figurehead of an exalted dynasty that is revered by the citizens, despite a dismal quality of life inside of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea or D.P.N.K.