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North Korea: According to information relayed by defector sources, the health of Kim Kyong-hui -- the aunt of Kim Jong Un -- has deteriorated because of the execution of her husband, Chang Sung-taek. She was unable to attend the memorial event for the second anniversary of the General's passing because of health problems. She reportedly has travelled overseas to receive treatment.

The sources said her health wasn't great as it was and she suffered a heart attack when her husband was executed by firing squad.

Comment: With Kim Kyong-hui's departure, the closest relatives of the late Kim Chong-il have been removed as advisors and counselors to Kim Jong Un. The North Korean government contains many cousins and distant relatives of Kim Jong Un. Execution of a family member is a serious cultural transgression that reportedly has unhinged many people because of its ruthlessness, according to defector sources.

At a minimum, the young Kim has shown he is no respecter of family. That is a serious liability in a culturally Confucian society. Kim Jong Un is being manipulated to follow the same path his father followed, relying on soldiers. Everybody but possibly the senior military officers despised Kim Chong-il. Kim Chong-il realized how much he had been manipulated only in the last year of his life, based on the changes he tried.

North Korea-South Korea: For the record. North and South Korean delegates held a fourth meeting at Kaesong to complete the normalization program for the joint industrial complex.

Correction: In November 2010 North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island (Y-P Do), not Baengnyong Island (P-Y Do). The current threat is against P-Y Do. Both are offshore islands on which South Korean Marines are stationed. Special thanks to a Brilliant and careful Reader for the correction.

Burma-North Korea-US: The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a Burmese military officer and three Burmese enterprises. They have been added to the Specially Designated National List (SDNL) for engaging in weapons trade with North Korea.

Representatives from Excellence Mineral Manufacturing Co., Ltd., and Soe Min Htaeik Co. recently met with North Korean authorities to facilitate the import of military supplies for use in North Korea's weapons programs.

A third company, Asia Metal Company Limited, is thought to have constructed factory facilities for use by the Myanmar (Burma) Directorate of Defense Industries (DDI). Press sources estimate that some thirty North Korean nationals are currently employed on the site.

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