North Korea has sentenced two American reporters to 12 years of hard labor for allegedly crossing its border with China. The sentencing has deepened the communist country's dispute with the U.S. over nuclear weapons and missile testing.
“North Korea's Kim moves to anoint youngest son as heir,” Reuters announced in the title to a June 2 release. The North’s current communist dictator, Kim Jong-il, is apparently considering his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, to be his successor. USA Today reported also on June 2 that the South Korean paper Dong-a Ilbo was saying that North Koreans are singing a song “hailing the dictator's third son as ‘Commander Kim.’ ”
While the Chinese government is busying itself with further cracking down on censorship of the Internet, television, and the printed word, human rights groups report that political dissidents — anyone who criticizes the present regime or reports the truth of what goes on in China (journalists, lawyers, etc.) — are being detained and questioned until after the Tiananmen Square anniversary on Thursday.
According to a May 29 AP release, North Korea has test-fired another short-range missile. “South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the latest test launch was a surface-to-air missile designed to defend against aircraft or other missile attacks. It said the missile was believed to be a modified version of the Russian SA-5.” Also reported was the fact that anonymous U.S. officials in Washington “said there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles,” possibly indicating there will be a test firing from that location in the near future.
One day after Russia said it was going to step up its military surveillance around North Korea in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test explosion and short-range missile tests, U.S. and South Korean forces also increased their level of watchfulness. CNN reported on May 28 that this puts U.S. and South Korean forces at their second-highest “Watchcon” alert level, a level that was last used when North Korea exploded a nuclear test device in 2006.