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South Korean stocks whacked as war threat looms

Increasing tensions with North Korea, a strengthening won versus the yen and weak economic growth — things are not looking great for South Korean equities, the second worst performing stock market in Asia this year.

How to report from inside North Korea

NAGANO, Japan — John Everard’s assignment was a shoe-leather journalist’s dream. He got to live in Pyongyang, enjoying the freedom to drive, bicycle and walk just about anywhere within a 22-mile radius from the center — and meanwhile able to interact both formally and informally with locals, using serviceable Korean he’d learned ahead of time in company-paid lessons in Seoul. No wonder Everard has managed to produce one of the best works yet in what may be a contender for the title of the publishing world’s most exclusive genre: real on-the-scene reporting from inside North Korea. He got people to talk with him, and from them he learned important things about lifestyles in the capital.

North Korea threatens to strike South Korea media outlets

Pyongyang has bristled at the slightest knock in Seoul's media coverage, which analysts say is a sign of weakness.
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North Korean performers sing during celebrations to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the country's founding leader Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea has apparently entered into its missile-strike systems the coordinates of major South Korean media outlets.

The reason? Because when Pyongyang paraded thousands of children into the street to greet Kim Jong Un this week, South Korean media reported it as a propaganda stunt.

This couldn't be further from the truth, according to North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. The children were happy to be there, the state media outlet said, and the South's careless criticism amounts to a "campaign of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK."

To set the record straight, here is what happens to children in North Korea:

When babies are born, they are taken care of at palaces of babies and children are rapidly growing at children's palaces, bringing their talents into full bloom.

So, step off South Korea.

The above-said vituperation let loose by the group of traitors is nothing but a shriek made by the group, utterly discomfited by the bright future of the supreme headquarters of the DPRK and rosy future of the younger generation. ... From olden times, idiots are apt to see everything quite different from a reality.

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There is no one at the North Korea zoo (VIDEO)

What the world sees is that Kim Jong Un went to see the animals.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Mangyongdae Funfair amusement park in Pyongyang. (Korean Central News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)

The world watched as Kim Jong Il went from place to place, looking at things.

Now, it seems the honor has been passed along to his son, Kim Jong Un, who took over after Kim Jong Il's death in December.

The latest from North Korea's mouthpiece over the holiday weekend was a video (below) of Kim Jong Un visiting, or shall we say looking at, the zoo.

He appears very pleased to meet the animals and to have run of the place. No other humans, aside from his entourage and the woman who bows with a seal, are in sight.

More from GlobalPost: How serious are North Korea's threats?

The Telegraph reports that the video — along with footage aired the day before on state TV of Kim Jong Un visiting an amusement park, an ice rink and a lowly old street in Pyongyang — is meant to bolster the current supreme leader's image.

That much seems clear, though in and of itself the footage doesn't signal that there is any urgency to do so. Meaning, it appears more run-of-the-mill and a continuation of the traditions we saw in the previous regime than it does a reaction to any particular threat.

The Telegraph does note some key differences between the two successive leaders:

[Kim Jong Un] has a more outgoing image than his father, who spoke just once – a single sentence – at a major public occasion. Jong Un has been seen hugging soldiers and linking arms with women.

What is less run-of-the-mill perhaps is today's report of North Korea's worst drought in 50 years.

According to the AP, which was able to visit at least one hard-hit area, the state is reporting little to no rainfall on the western coast since late April. One farmer the AP talked to — against the backdrop of cracked, parched fields — called the situation a "severe drought."

Video from GlobalPost: A North Korea defector's story

Which points again, perhaps, to the PR machine. North Korea is almost certainly experiencing a drought, and there is no doubt that countless people are suffering as a result. But given how closed the country is, it's impossible to tell how far-reaching the effects of the drought are or how it is being handled by the state.

One thing we can say, however, is that while the drought has reportedly been going on, Kim Jong Un went to see the animals:

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