North Korea. In February, North Korea conducted its third
nuclear test of nuclear weapons. This was despite clear
warnings in advance from the country's only ally, the
powerful neighbor China, which also expressed strong
dissatisfaction afterwards. The outside world condemned the
unison nuclear test. The UN Security Council found that it
violated UN resolutions and tightened sanctions imposed
following the 2006 and 2009 test blasts. to inspect all
transportation to and from the country.
Countryaah, North Korea responded by screwing up its war rhetoric.
The regime announced a state of war in relation to South
Korea and urged foreigners to leave the country for a
forthcoming attack. Threats were also directed at the United
States; long-range rockets were reported to be ready to fire
on the American mainland. The tone was further sharpened
when the US and South Korea conducted a planned joint
military exercise, and two US bombers flew over South Korea.
In April, North Korea closed in protest the Kaesong Joint
Industrial Zone, which is on the border of the North Korean
side and represents an important source of revenue for
Pyongyang. The 53,000 North Koreans who worked at 123 South
Korean factories in the zone were allowed to stay home. It
was the first time all work had been closed since Kaesong
was opened in 2004. Only in August, after a number of rounds
of negotiations, did North and South Korea agree to resume
operations. As another sign of relaxation, the parties also
agreed to re-allow family reunions.
In the fall, reports came from a UN commission on serious
human rights violations in North Korea. Skipped North
Koreans told of systematic and widespread abuses, including
torture, murder and starvation in prison camps.
A dramatic clean-up at the highest level was carried out
in December before an open curtain. State TV showed pictures
of when Jang Song Taek, the uncle of the senior leader Kim
Jong Un, was abducted by guards during an ongoing party
meeting. Jang had been regarded as a very influential mentor
to the young Kim. After a few days, state media reported
that Jang had pleaded guilty to treason and executed.
In June 2010, Choe Yong-rim replaced Kim Yong-Il as prime
minister. He also became chairman of Pyongyang's Communist
In November, the South Korean right-wing government
launched a provocative military exercise a few kilometers
from North Korea. As in other high-tension security crises
throughout history, the exercise aimed to provoke and test
the North Korean defense. North Korea responded again,
firing the South Korean island, Yeonpyeong with artillery.
The United States backed its right-wing ally and sent the
aircraft carrier George Washington to participate in the
South Korean military exercise in the Yellow Sea. However,
North Korea refrained from responding to the South Korean
provocations. In mid-December, South Korea conducted new
military exercises up the border with North Korea, but this
time, too, North Korea refrained from responding to the
provocation from the south. The right-wing radical
government in the south had for three years laid the policy
of relaxation between the two Koreas in the grave.
Kim Jong-Il died after a long illness in December 2011.
The post of the country's head of state was then taken over
by his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un. Kim Jong-Un also became
Secretary General of the Korean Workers Party, Chairman of
the Party's Central Military Commission and
Commander-in-Chief of the Korean People's Army. The family
dynasty thus continued. On April 11, 2012, Kim Jong-Un was
named First Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party and in
July as Marshal of the Korean People's Army. In July, the
country was hit by severe flooding; 212,000 became homeless;
169 lost their lives and extensive material damage occurred.
That same month, Chief of Staff Ri Yong-ho was replaced at
the post by Hyon Yong-chol. There was no explanation for the
replacement that gave rise to many guesses in the West.