U.S. sanctions mean that any citizen or business wanting to buy stuff from North Korea has to send a letter to the U.S. government asking for special permission. A few months back, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for those letters.
Our request was granted: We recently received a packet of 18 letters from Americans who wanted to do business with the most isolated nation on the planet. We've posted all of the letters online.
North Korea's most famous museum exhibit, the captured American spy ship USS Pueblo, has been painted and polished for display as part of Saturday's "Victory Day" ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War.
Spanish aristocrat Alejandro Cao de Benos is believed to be the only foreigner working for the North Korean government. He divides his time between North Korea and Europe, where he organizes university conferences on North Korean ideology. He's shown here with a North Korean military officer in Panmunjon, on the border with South Korea.
The sun-soaked Spanish Riviera isn't where you'd expect to find a faithful foot soldier of North Korea. But that's exactly what Alejandro Cao de Benos calls himself.
Cao de Benos, 38, is believed to be the only Westerner ever employed by the North Korean government. He's a Spanish aristocrat, born to a family of landed gentry in northeast Spain, where he agreed to meet NPR for an interview one recent afternoon.
View of what seems to be weapon parts aboard a North Korean-flagged ship on Tuesday.
Credit Rodrigo Arangua / AFP/Getty Images
The crew of a North Korean ship carrying a clandestine cargo of Cold War-era weapons from Cuba has been charged with endangering public security by Panamanian authorities, who seized the vessel earlier this week.
The North Korean vessel en route from Cuba was seized as it attempted to transit the Panama Canal.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
As of this morning, Panama still doesn't know quite what to do with that North Korean cargo ship its impounded. The ship was going through the Panama Canal on its way from Cuba to North Korea. And when Panamanian authorities looked inside under thousands of bags of Cuban sugar, they found parts for missiles, jets and radar systems.
Here to help sort out this discovery is NPR's Tom Gjelten. Good morning.