North Korea 2019
North Korea. In January, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un visited China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The visit was arranged, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, with the aim of setting up a strategy for a new North Korea-US summit. According to analysts, Kim Jong Un needed Beijing’s support in trying to ease international sanctions against the country. Media stated that North Korea wanted the UN sanctions lifted immediately, while the United States wanted them to continue to apply until North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons.
For the second time, Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met in February. The meeting was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, but was prematurely canceled as the two leaders failed to agree on a joint agreement. Thus, at least temporarily, hopes of a possible nuclear disarmament in North Korea were shattered. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held elections in March for the 687 seats in the country’s parliament, called the Supreme People’s Assembly. For each constituency there was a predetermined candidate for the voters to vote for.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of NK in general and in geography as North Korea in particular.
In April, the Supreme People’s Assembly gathered for its first meeting after the election. Kim Jong Un was re-elected chairman of the “State Business Commission”, a title that means he is the country’s highest leader. In addition, Kim Jong Un received the new title “The highest representative of the entire Korean people”. Further, some reform was made by the government. The country’s formal head of state since 1998, Kim Yong Nam, was replaced by Choe Ryong Hae. Kim Jae Ryong was appointed prime minister, instead of Pak Pong Ju, who has held the post since 2013. According to analysts of Abbreviationfinder, reorganization was the largest in many years.
The same month, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that a source in the South Korean parliament stated that Kim Jong Un dismissed his closest husband, Kim Yong Chol, who handled relations with the United States and South Korea. According to media, Kim Jong Un appeared to have been more dissatisfied with the talks in Hanoi than previously known. The North Korean government blamed the United States for creating “a climate of hostility and mistrust” and demanded the replacement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In the same vein, Kim Jong Un went to Russian Vladivostok for a first summit with President Vladimir Putin. According to analysts, the purpose of the visit was to seek relief for international sanctions against North Korea.
In the spring, the trial ended with the two women who have been prosecuted for the murder of Kim Jong Nam, half brother to Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Nam was murdered at Kuala Lumpur Airport in 2017. A Malaysian court released Indonesian Siti Aisyah in April. The other woman – Vietnamese Đo角n Thị Hương – was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for “causing injury”. The murder charge, which would have resulted in the death penalty in Malaysia, was dropped following pressure from the Vietnamese government. Kim Jong Un, however, is the one believed to have ordered the murder, but North Korea has denied the charges.
South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported in May that former US ambassador Kim Hyok Chol, just as Kim Yong Chol had left his post. According to information from the newspaper, Kim Hyok Chol had been executed and Kim Yong Chol was put in labor camp. The Reuters news agency stated that Kim Yong Chol had been accused of spying on behalf of the United States. According to the assessors, the truthfulness of the data was difficult to assess.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang in June. It was the first time in 14 years that a Chinese leader visited North Korea.
Just over a week later, Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. As the first US president, Donald Trump took some steps on North Korean soil. The leaders agreed to resume talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and robot tests.
North Korea conducted a series of robot tests during the summer. According to North Korea, the fires were warnings as a result of US joint defense exercises with South Korea, which are usually held in August each year. By the end of August, North Korea had conducted a total of seven separate robot tests over the course of less than two months.
In Japan, the robot tests aroused concern. The country’s defense ministry suspected that North Korea was on the verge of developing warheads with the ability to get past Japan’s robotic defense system. At a press conference, Japan’s defense minister said the most recently fired robots were probably a new type of ballistic short-range robots that were more difficult for Japan’s defense system to strike. At the same time, the Supreme People’s Assembly approved amendments to the constitution that further strengthened Kim Jong Un’s power. With the changes, the chairman of the “State Business Commission”, that is Kim Jong Un, became “the supreme leader of the party, the state and the military forces”. By Korean experts, the reform was described as historic, although many felt that it rather established the power already exercised by Kim Jong Un.
The UN stated in a September report that the harvests in North Korea were the worst in five years. The reason was drought as a result of poorer rainfall and poor irrigation.
In October, North Korea launched a new trial. According to the North Korean State News Agency, the robot was a so-called SLBM, which can be fired from submarines. In South Korea, concerns were expressed about the possibility that the robot could have been fired from a submarine. However, the US Department of Defense in the Pentagon stated that the robot had been fired from a platform in the sea. According to the British BBC, North Korea’s test was the eleventh year to date.
According to CountryAAH, the population of North Korea in 2019 was 25,666,050, ranking number 54 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.460% yearly, and the population density was 213.1564 people per km2.