The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
North Korea demands immediate release of seized ship in Panama
North Korea’s foreign ministry said late on Wednesday that Cuban arms seized from a Pyongyang-flagged ship in Panama’s waters were part of a legitimate deal and demanded the immediate release of the ship, state media reported.
“This cargo is nothing but ageing weapons which are to be sent back to Cuba after overhauling them according to a legitimate contract,” the Korea Central News Agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying, adding: “The Panamanian authorities should take a step to let the apprehended crewmen and ship leave without delay.”
The ministry said Panama authorities had “rashly attacked” the captain of the Chong Chon Gang after demanding to search its cargo hold for drugs, which were not found on board.
“Yet, they are justifying their violent action, taking issue with other kind of cargo aboard the ship,” the ministry added.
The North Korean account backs up that of Cuba, which on Tuesday claimed the shipment of 240 metric tonnes of “obsolete defensive weapons” including two anti-aircraft missile systems, as its own.
But Panama has urged UN inspectors to scrutinize the cargo, which could constitute a violation of the strict arms sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear programme.