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  1. Born to a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baek Jong-keon realized the price of his faith in South Korea at an early age. His father had gone to jail for refusing to take up arms, and his three older brothers chose the same path when the time came for them to serve their mandatory military service.  Baek Jong-keon works as an assistant at a law firm in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Bak Se-hwan/The Korea Herald In a country where all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military to defend against North KoreaÂ’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces, it seemed like a bleak future awaited him, too. “I grew up watching my father -- and my three brothers -- go to jail for objecting to the mandatory military service. It was hard to overcome the fear and the pain as a kid,” said Baek, 33, in an interview with The Korea Herald. “ThatÂ’s why I wanted to become a lawyer -- to change the situation.” Baek also chose the life of a conscientious objector in South Korea -- or the life of a convicted “draft dodger.” He was sentenced to 18 months in jail by the Supreme Court in 2016. He served his prison term and was released in May this year. The Korean Bar Association suspended his lawyerÂ’s license for five years, a possibility that he had known since he was preparing for the bar exam. All this, however, does not mean Baek is accepting things as they are. Now working as an assistant at a small law firm, he is fighting to regain his license. He has been rejected once, but is still fighting. He is also fighting for the sake of other conscientious objectors to have the government and society recognize their freedom of conscience and offer them alternative ways to serve the country. “Roughly 400 young conscientious objectors are currently in jail. I think that we should seriously consider giving them alternative forms of military service instead of just treating them as outlaws,” he said. Since 2013, nearly 2,500 people were prosecuted for failing to enlist in the military, according to data from the Military Manpower Administration. The military service law mandates a prison sentence of up to three years for men who avoid the draft. A majority of the 2,500 are JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, who object to any form of militarism. Of the total, 15 are unreligious, objecting conscription based on their personal beliefs and the principles of “no violence” and “no war.” But there are growing signs that the judicial system may be easing its stance on conscientious objectors. This year alone, 40 acquittals were made at lower courts for conscientious objectors, five times more than in 2016, reflecting a possible change in legal perceptions. Although no final decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the acquittals has been made yet, the repeated rulings in favor of the objectors are pressing the government to react. The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the conscription law, with several complaints filed regarding conscientious objection. During his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly last month, new Constitutional Court chief Lee Jin-sung hinted at the need to change the long-entrenched judicial practice against conscientious objection. “We should take the situation seriously where people endure being sent to prison for their adherence to their conscience,” Lee said. Views on conscientious objection seem to be changing as well. According to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission, 46.1 percent of people said last year the government should allow conscientious objection, up 12.8 percentage points from 33.3 percent in a 2011 poll. “The answer is simple,” Baek said. “We just have to adopt legislation that allows conscientious objectors to carry out an appropriate alternative service of a length comparable to that of military service.” Three bills are pending at the National Assembly seeking to add alternative options to the mandatory military service system. Critics argue it is premature to adopt an alternative service program, especially amid ongoing threats from North Korea. It would also affect the morale of conscripted soldiers to see those citing faith -- which is hard to prove -- being allowed to avoid the tough life in barracks. “We do not ask for special treatment,” Baek said. “Some people wrongly assume that we would be exempted from the national duty mandated to all male citizens of South Korea once the court rules in favor of conscientious objection. “But we are willing to serve our country once an alternative service for objectors is introduced. That will allow us to contribute to the community in a way that does not conflict with our conscience, for instance, in the areas of public health, social welfare, the environment and labor,” Baek added. He also believes that religious conscientious objectors have an important role to play. “It is our part not to give up and to keep hope alive. I hope they do not resign themselves to be sent to jail, but keep appealing against the prison term to bring about change,” Baek said. By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com) http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20171204001003
  2. Imagine - calling the other guy Rocketman at the U.N. and getting the whole world to join in the refrain. How can you not give a thumbs-up when a guy does that? And then some kid comes along and photoshops an Elton John concert playing that very song, replacing John's head with Kim's, and inserts the huge video screen backdrop of North Korean rockets wheeling about, the shrill newscaster shrieking, the troops goosestepping - how do you expect any guy with a sense of humor to hold it together? It is as Paul said - the world is a theater. The only thing that might check your hilarity briefly is the unpleasant thought that a misstep, for starters, will result in half the planet up in smoke. But that is small potatoes. Is it reckless? Tillerson certainly seems the more stable of the two, doesn't he? Unless they are both playing good cop/bad cop. And, to be fair, while everyone hopes for diplomacy, the diplomacy that has led straight up to the present situation and will presumably lead up to one where North Korean missiles are parked on your toes, should at least be mentioned as having worked out not that splendidly. Isn't there a Neville someone-or-other who favored negotiations back during another evil time? Or do I misunderstand even that? The trouble with history is that whenever you think you have something figured out, along comes someone from a different perspective to upend all your notions. Meanwhile, it was Putin - mean, nasty, Chief Officer of Evil, His Wickedness, 'murderer and a thug' Putin - all that remains in the West is to photoshop him with Devil's horns, grinning ear-to-ear at his laptop as he hacks US elections - who supplied a key bit of understanding when he visited China. Sanctions will never work on North Korea, he said - Kim will see every single one of his people starved to death before he will give up on his nukes. Why? Because he knows about Libya and Iraq. Though Saddam swore up and down he had no weapons of mass destruction - which turned out to be exactly correct - that did not stop his enemies from taking him out and killing a family member or two in the process. Look, he is not my friend - Putin. I mean, he hasn't exactly been nice to my people, Jehovah's Witnesses, lately, has he? But give credit where credit is due. He nailed it. Tellingly, when CNBC or someone covered that Chinese meeting - if Putin so much as tied his shoe there, they reported it - they covered every detail EXCEPT his statement about Saddam, thus allowing perception to stand in the US that Kim is completely unhinged - a perception he does nothing to clear up by his own pontifications - listening to him is not exactly like listening to John Tesh, is it? Jehovah's Witnesses are neutral in the world's affairs for noble reasons - it is not God's idea for the world to be carved up into scores of squabbling factions ever playing 'King-of-the-Mountain" and he will soon act to bring about his own kingdom replacement. However, another reason to be neutral - albeit a less noble one - is that it is almost impossible to get the truth on anything - you are forever acting in the dark - for every outlet spins 'truth' their own way according to their own agenda. Even Western media condemnation about calling Kim Rocketman must be weighed against their approval of calling Putin a murderer and a thug, a Senator's description that they picked up on and used freely. Is it wise to taunt him like that? Whenever in my house-to-house ministry I spot a murderer and a thug, I cross over to the other side of the street.
  3. China is calling in the dogs on North Korea. Kim Jong-un has 120 days to close all North Korean businesses within Chinese borders. That means 100,000 workers that help fund the North Korean regime to the tune of ~$230 million a year would be sent home packing. The U.N. turned up the heat on China to crack down on North Korea in light of its nuclear missiles program—two warning shots over Japan and a handful of threats will do that. And China might be the only one with the key to Kim’s heart: trade. China controls 80% of all trade (~$6.3 billion) that enters and exits North Korea. It has already cut off North Korea’s biggest exports (coal and textiles), and is capping the country’s biggest import (oil). If Rogen and Franco couldn’t get Kim to negotiate, maybe China can.
  4. North Korea: Kim jong-un honors hydrogen bomb scientists in series of celebrations Â
  5. North Korea and the United States: The story behind decades of tension Â
  6. via journal.theworldnewsmedia.org Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old student from the US, was arrested in January after allegedly trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel in North Korea. The country’s highest court sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor in prison.
  7. CNN just announced and said this is extremely unusual. I wonder if Trump is going to ask for a "declaration or war" before attacking NK. {sorry please put this under North Korea not Russia}
  8. http://www.neonnettle.com/features/872-us-ambassador-north-korea-behind-us-blackouts-with-emp-attack
  9. As information of the outside world begins to trickle into the people of North Korea following the recent defections from high-ranking North Korean officials, the nation begins to revolt and rise up against their leader, Kim Jong Un. http://www.neonnettle.com/news/1851-north-korea-revolution-the-people-rise-up-against-kim-jong-un
  10. Expectations are running high that North Korea will do something provocative in the next few days — even if it’s just a military parade where they show off mock-ups of missiles — to mark the biggest day of the year on the North Korean calendar. April 15 is officially known in North Korea as “The Day of the Sun” and marks the birthday of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, in 1912. (Incidentally, he was born on the same day that the Titanic sank.) It’s called that because Il Sung means “to realize the sun” in Korean — although this is not the founder’s real name but a nom de guerre. Here’s a brief rundown on why Kim Il Sung — who’s officially “Eternal President,” even 23 years after his death — remains so important in North Korea. Some background Kim Il Sung was an anti-Japanese guerrilla during the first half of the 20thcentury, when Korea was one country and occupied by the Japanese. At the end of World War II, the peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union overseeing the northern half and the United States taking the southern half. Stalin installed Kim Il Sung as the leader of North Korea — but he was not the Soviet Union’s first choice, as former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden recounts in his excellent book, “The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot.” The Soviets’ first choice was a political leader known as “Korea’s Gandhi” but he was not a Communist and did not want the job. So they turned to Kim, who had a reputation in Korea as a heroic fighter in Manchuria against the Japanese. But when the Soviets presented Kim as North Korea’s new leader to a huge crowd in Pyongyang, he did not impress, Harden writes in his book. Kim looked even younger than his 33 years, nervously read a speech written for him by his overlords, and had, in the words of one witness, a haircut “like a Chinese waiter.” But Kim prevailed, largely thanks to a propaganda campaign waged by his Soviet patrons. This became the basis for the personality cult that pervades all aspects of North Korea to this day. Kim Il Sung’s tenure It’s hard to imagine it now, but in the first three decades of Kim Il Sung’s rule, North Korea was doing relatively well. The northern half of the country, long considered the “breadbasket” while the south was the industrial part, had enough food and had the support of its benefactors in the Soviet Union and China. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that South Korea’s economy overtook the North’s. Kim Il Sung traveled and struck up friendships with like-minded countries around the world — and there were many more of them back then. He was widely admired by North Koreans — and even today, defectors to the South often still have some affection for him. All Kim, all the time This, of course, was helped along by the all-encompassing personality cult that means Kim Il Sung’s portrait is hung in every building in North Korea — homes, factories, government buildings — as well as on street corners and railway stations and mountainsides. He’s the subject of many of the movies, music and books produced in North Korea. The best university in North Korea is Kim Il Sung University; North Korea’s “self-reliance” doctrine is called “Kimilsungism”; those who excel at Kimilsungism might win the Kim Il Sung Prize. The central plaza in Pyongyang — and most other towns and cities — is Kim Il Sung Square. North Koreans wear a badge of Kim Il Sung (and sometimes Kim Jong Il too) over their heart. And of course, there are flower displays of the special orchid called Kimilsungia. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/14/why-is-april-15-such-a-big-deal-in-north-korea/?utm_term=.7e2967a978a2
  11. Japan puts its military on alert to shoot down any North Korean rocket that threatens it following an announcement by North Korea of a planned "Earth observation launch".(Reuters) South Korea warns North Korea of "searing consequences" if it doesn't abandon plans to launch a long-range rocket that violates United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibits the country from engaging in any ballistic activities. (Fox News)

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