North Korea: Closed, Hungry, Heavily Armed

A statue in Pyongyang of the late Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea and is called the Great Leader. (By Blaine Harden / The Washington Post)
A statue in Pyongyang of the late Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea and is called the Great Leader. (By Blaine Harden / The Washington Post)
Letter from South Korea
SEOUL -- "I am fool." That self-assessment comes from Oh Kil-nam, a South Korean economist who moved to North Korea a quarter-century ago, dragging along his unhappy wife and two teenage daughters. He then defected to the West, leaving his family stranded in a country his wife had called "a living...
 
TOKYO -- Strong-armed currency reform in North Korea, which has confiscated the savings of small businesses and forbidden the use of foreign money, is now causing runaway inflation and contributing to food shortages, according to several reports from inside the closed state.
 
In N. Korea, resistance is the new currency: Power of private markets appears to weaken leader's near-absolute authority (Post, December 27, 2009)
 
In North Korea, the military now issues economic orders (Post, November 3, 2009)
 
N. Korea Swiftly Expanding Its Special Forces: Commandos Trained in Terror Tactics In Effort to Maintain Military Threat (Post, October 9, 2009)
 
North Korean Prisons Have Become a System of Extortion, Refugees Say (Post, October 6, 2009)
 
N. Korea's Hard-Labor Camps: On the Diplomatic Back Burner (Post, July 20, 2009)
 
North Korea Tightening Its Restrictions on Markets, Food Aid (Post, July 14, 2009)
 
China Trade Helps Shield N. Korea: Cash Aids Military, May Offset Sanctions (Post, June 27, 2009)
 
Economic Experiment of the Two Koreas Is Fighting for Its Survival (Post, June 19, 2009)
 
Global Insurance Fraud By North Korea Outlined: Government Has Collected Millions Of Dollars on Large, Suspicious Claims (Post, June 18, 2009)
 
N. Korean Women Who Flee to China Suffer in Stateless Limbo: Many Are Sold Into Marriage (Post, June 10, 2009)
 
N. Korean Defectors Bewildered By the South (Post, April 12, 2009)
 
North Korean Missile Test a Growing Possibility (Post, March 27, 2009)
 
At the Heart of North Korea's Troubles, an Intractable Hunger Crisis (Post, March 6, 2009)
 
N. Korea Discordant on Obama Era, Nuclear Arsenal: Better U.S. Ties Seen, But Arms to Remain (Post, January 18, 2009)
 
Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp (Post, December 11, 2008)
 

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