Freitag, 7. November 2014

Mafia State: The Evolving Threat of North Korean Narcotics Trafficking

….is the title of an article, Peng Wang published with me in the RUSI Journal. The concise abstract describes it:

„The North Korean government has long been suspected of involvement in state-sponsored drug production and trafficking. Research in this field is hampered by the secrecy of the DPRK regime and the dearth of reliable sources. Nonetheless, using Chinese- and English-language sources, Peng Wang and Stephan Blancke look at developments over the past decade, intensified counter-narcotics co-operation between the Chinese and South Korean police forces, and the failure of the North Korean government to control private involvement in the illicit drug business, which has had an unexpected outcome: a crystal-meth epidemic. These trends expose a severe threat to Northeast Asia and the wider international community.“

For those who want to know the detail behind the business:

You can find the article here: RUSI Journal, Oct 2014, Vol. 159, No. 5

It´s an ongoing discussion about the question, if North Korea is a weak state or not – not to talk about a failed state. Thinking about this means thinking about the consequences, if North Korea would be this or would develop in this way. One can assume that problems would arise not with nuclear weapons or related systems – therefore the technical and social control mechanism inside the North Korean system are too tight and e.g. control flights have a close look on the nuclear facilities inside the country. In fact the problems would develop in a way Peng Wang and me described it in our paper.

I recommend a valuable analysis from Stewart Patrick, which is more a general overview and is not focused only on East Asia: Weak Links. Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security
Reading his descriptions of fragile states it becomes clear that the GDP, financial avtivities of the elite, military and security spendings and black market revenue in North Korea are highly connected and should be investigated in a more sophisticated way.

Beside this I also recommend a paper from Nikos Passas, which was published in „Transnational Financial Crime“. In a way it deals with the problems we tried to describe for the border region between China and North Korea: Cross-border Crime and the Interface between Legal and Illegal Actors.

Montag, 2. Juni 2014

North Korea – Still an intelligence problem

Just a short note about a paper I wrote after speaking on North Korea and the problems in analysing organised crime in East Asia at a conference in Adelaide, Australia. 

A few years after Kim Jong Un came into office, North Korea is still
attracting controversy in the headlines, and political sanctions are still in
operation. Despite the harsh measures in place to isolate Pyongyang from
sources of money and luxury, the rulers are able to get what they want
using front companies or the help of other states. The reasons for this are
deeply rooted in the North Korean political structure. A network of high
ranking officials, their children, and political minions are grappling for
power and wealth. Beside the powerful Kim clan there exist other families
in North Korea whose loyalty must be secured with bribes. If the loyalty of
the influential families is eroded, the power base of Kim Jong Un is likely
to soon diminish. As a result, the North Korean government is searching
for sources of money. Illicit drugs may be one solution the ruling regime
find attractive to this problem, but there appears to be a twist: struggling
ordinary citizens are showing signs that they too are taking part in this
illegal enterprise. This is manifested by their willingness to become
involved in crime in the same way as the corrupt regime.

Read here:

Analytical Essay: North Korea – Still an intelligence problem, in: SALUS Journal, Issue 2, Number 2, 2014, Special Issue on the Storage and Use of Information in an Intelligence and Security Context – Beyond 2014. Charles Sturt University, Sydney, pp. 2 – 15.

Montag, 24. März 2014

Kim Jong Un - The Godfather?

I published a new paper about the long lasting discussion about North Korea and its position in the international organised crime scene - as it seems to the outside analyst:

Criminal connections. State links to organised crime in North Korea, in: Jane's Intelligence Review, April 2014, Vol. 26, Issue 04, pp. 34-37.

The picture above shows Russian-made aircraft technical stuff on the Chong Chon Gang.

There are many aspects coming together, showing a dispersed society, looking for income and wealth. And it shows an influential network of younger North Koreans, trying to get more money, more power and more iPhones. In the near future I will publish a few more paper, going deeper into some special aspects of organised crime, the intelligence requirements in collecting data about it, processing it into information and  helping to crack down organised crime networks.

Sonntag, 12. Januar 2014

Wu Jiangxing knows Neuland

Interesting to read what People´s Daily from China is writing about Cyber Warfare last time: Seems the Chinese want a Network Warfare Unit...but don´t they got it already? LOL

Isn´t it some kind of ironic that Wu Jiangxing compares now the Chinese capabilities with the US or others? He is of course an expert and so it it somehow stupid that he acts like a prima donna.

The Chinese are good and Wu as the chief of the Information Engineering University - People´s daily call him an "academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering" - will know this. Its just funny to know - and ironic as well - that the Information Engineering University had some kind of "contact" to the Nortel Network in Canada... Beside this and other interesting adventures he was a 17th Party Congress PLA delegate. And he is a obviously a nationalist. Chinamail titled already in 2007: "From Soldier to Chinese Engineering Institute Academic".

He seems to be friendly, but for all you may smile and say: Jens Rosenke and me will go deeper in our new analysis about Chinese military espionage... coming soon!

Donnerstag, 9. Januar 2014

Jang Song-thaek, the Torch Group and Kiribati passports

After processing a few data about DPRK and trying to understand the dots I begin to understand (I try to!) more and more the reasons why Jang was executed. And it becomes clearer for me how to understand information in this grey zone of dynasties, elites, princelings, cliques, departments in special ministries...There are some parallels to the former Soviet bloc and Western analysts can expect of course more action of this kind. Maybe one can compare this to a mafia operation getting out of control.

But disturbance is not good for business. And so one can read the Chinese media about the consequences.

I can´t believe that a few Kiribati passports will be the end of the story: I guess that the guys from the North will be able to get some very other passports for doing business...

Donnerstag, 2. Januar 2014

Information sharing

Anybody who is interested in information sharing inside intelligence organisations should listen to a very interesting speech by Sean Dennehy, who was involved in the development of Intellipedia. You can find it here.

Well, instead of the boring national media coverage here in Germany there are many useful and valuable discussions and papers about this and similar projects on the international level.