UNDP Returning to North Korea

The scandal-plagued U.N. Development Program, just shy of two years from a report that found massive irregularities in its finances and operations in North Korea, is planning to return to North Korea. You will recall that among other items, the U.N. found $3,500 in counterfeit currency in a safe in New York. The cash may …

House Moves to Cut Funds for UNDP, Human Rights Council

Each entity has recently brought particular discredit on itself, and in each case, there is a North Korea nexus.   The UNDP  recently failed a UN internal audit after U.S. diplomats outed the organization for allowing its Pyongyang operations to become, as a U.N. staffer put it, “an ATM machine” for the regime.  It turns out …

N. Korea Denies Misuse of UNDP Funds

Update 1/26:   The UNDP North Korea program has pretty much hit the wall.  The UN says  it will “adjust the North Korea program and delay its implementation” until “approved,” which most likely means until the audit is completed.   The U.S. annual allocation to the UNDP remains, but it has decided to withhold  all of those funds …

Dear President Park: Make Reunification Your Legacy

Last week was a tough week for Park Geun-hye, when her party lost its majority in the National Assembly. The simplest explanation for this is that historically, ruling parties usually take beatings in mid-term elections, particularly when their own voters don’t show up to vote. The ruling party may poll well in the abstract, but …

And now, a brief Marxist-style criticism of North Korea’s class struggle and internal contradictions (Updated)

Yonhap reports that North Korea has cut its grain imports from China by more than in half in the first quarter of this year “due to an increase in the country’s grain production last year.” A fall in market prices for corn corroborates that there is a greater supply of corn than usual; ordinarily, spring …

Open Sources

Among reporters who aren’t terribly experienced as North Korea watchers, there’s been much recent excitement about the prospect of North Korea and South Korea talking again. I see little harm and some good in working-level talks between generals, but I think the exuberance of these cub reporters is misplaced. Look more closely, and all of …

Kevin G. Hall’s Counterfeit Journalism (Updated)

[Update 28 Jan 08:   I’m going to keep flogging this story until I’ve corrected the record.  A reader (thank you)  directs me to this Bloomberg story by none other than Bradley K. Martin and Hideko Takayama.  This one is second only to Steven Mihm’s  for  the quality of its  investigative reporting.  If you’ve read …

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Senate Subcommittee Finds Massive Irregularities in UN’s North Korea Development Aid

[Scroll down for updates.] The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has just released its report on the UN Development Program’s North Korea scandal.  Previous postings here concern the U.S. Ambassador’s original complaint,  Ban Ki Moon’s unrealized promises  of a full investigation, and the suspicious  termination of a whistleblower.  First, the main findings: 1. UNDP operated …

Anju Links for 23 Jan 08

WHAT HE SAID:  Richardson has a must-read commentary on State’s persistent clinging to the assinine  idea of removing non-complaint, non-performing, unreformed North Korea from the terror-sponsor list.  He does a terrific job on tracking how State airbrushes its justification for listing North Korea year-by-year.  I could only add that  the idea of rewarding people who …

Links for 8/24: OFK Forecast, A Family’s Escape, Flood Updates, Nuke Talks ‘Positive’ But Stalled

More Sunshine, But Overcast Later:   The Daily NK tracks the GNP’s North Korea policy.  I could more credibly  claim to do eye surgery with a whipsaw than say just what that policy is today, but good for them for taking that one on.  Although things can change very quickly in South Korean politics, Lee …

“Famine in North Korea:” An Interactive Review (2 of 3)

[Part I is here.]   IV.  Aid We will probably never know how many people died in North Korea’s last Great Famine, but can we prevent the next one?  This regime  seems so  indifferent to the suffering of its people — even  determined to perpetuate it — that well-meaning aid agencies have  been forced to …

Ban Ki Moon’s ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ Fails the North Korean People and the U.N., Again

Not only is the UNDP scandal  not going away, it’s confirming how little has changed with both the U.N. and Ban Ki Moon.  For the U.N., corruption and cronyism still triumph over accountability.  For Ban, the fear of offending Kim Jong Il and of controversy in general to be the guide that principle and promises …

All Quid, No Quo

If Andrei Lankov is right and most North  Koreans secretly  know that they don’t really live in an earthly  paradise, these must be confusing times.  Any of them who mull the oddities of the wider world in the privacy of  their own minds must be asking themselves:  “Why do they pay us?”  If North Korea …

State: N. Korea Spent UN Funds to Buy Property in France, Britain, Canada

The UN has released the results of a preliminary audit report on the UN Development Program’s operations in North Korea.  Those operations were shut down  following revelations that the UN gave the  regime  cash with few conditions and little accountability, and essentially became its “ATM machine.”  Among the juicy revelations is that the UN  was …