North Korea Jams GPS Signals in the South
On Friday, South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning warned that North Korean forces were using radio transmissions to jam GPS signals in the region of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi. It said that the disruptions had been ongoing for about a month and had affected over 100 airplanes and vessels, though no resulting accidents have yet been reported.
South Korean authorities traced the signals to Haeju, on the southwestern coast, and to Diamond Mountain, in the southeast.
The jamming is not the first instance; North Korea has attempted the tactic in the past, notably in 2012, when over 250 commercial airplane flights had to switch to an alternate navigation tool due to jammed GPS.
The regime is facing a new source of internal pressure in addition to diplomatic tensions with neighbors. On Wednesday, the North Korean government warned its citizens to prepare for another "arduous march" of famine as new U.N. sanctions take hold. "We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again," said the state official paper Rodong Sinmun. "Even if we give up our lives, we should continue to show our loyalty to our leader, Kim Jong-un, until the end of our lives."
During the last "arduous march," in the 1990s, at least several hundred thousand (and perhaps as many as several million) died of starvation.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (file image)
Residents of Pyongyang have been ordered to donate two pounds of rice per month to state warehouses, and farmers are being forced to give an additional cut of their crops to the military.
Separately, the New York Times reports that cross-border traffic continues unabated in the town of Dandong, China, which handles 90 percent of North Korea's trade with the outside world. The report suggests that bribes and smuggling are commonplace, and that the new U.N. sanctions appear to be having little to no effect - including the inspection requirement for North Korean cargoes, which local authorities do not enforce.
NK News also reports that waterborne shipments of North Korean coal continue to move across the Yellow Sea to China, despite a general ban on the nation’s iron ore and coal exports. In talks leading up to the recent U.N. sanctions resolution, China successfully negotiated for continued trade with Pyongyang so long as it was conducted for “livelihood purposes,” a loophole which observers suggest may permit continued, unfettered commerce between the two long-time trade partners.