Melissa Hanham, a Johns Hopkins University blogger who specializes in North Korean studies, speculated that the pesticide factory may have the capability to produce biological weapons such as Anthrax, and the dictator’s visit may indicate a threat to the USA and South Korea.
At the time, CBS’s Dan Rather declared the deal “could end the long-running crisis with North Korea over nuclear weapons” as well as perhaps “open the way for normal relations between the USA and one of the world’s last old-line, hard-line Communist states”.
North Korea’s economy grew at around 1pc in 2014, the fourth consecutive year of positive growth, according to South Korea’s central bank.
In an interview with the BBC, concert organizer Morten Traavik explained why the band felt tied to the country.
South Korean policy is to repatriate any North Korean fishermen unless they specifically ask not to be sent back. The band members deny it and supporters say their predilection for wearing military uniforms on stage is just an intelligent play on totalitarianism and European democracy. Apparently, Laibach will perform songs from The Sound of Music and they’ll cover “We Will Go To Mount Paektu”, a song from the local all-girl group Moranbong Band.
The Laibach performances on 19 and 20 August – which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula’s liberation from Japanese colonisation – would never have been possible without Mr Traavik’s contacts and artistic direction.
Chongryon effectively functions as North Korea’s embassy in the absence of official diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
“It is important to note that this part of the tour in not 100 percent guaranteed”, it said on its website.
A drought could dent economic activity this year, as North Korea has said it is the worst it has seen in 100 years although Seoul has said it seems to be easing.
The images, published on June 6, show North Korean leader Kim Jong-un touring the Pyongyang Bio-technical Institute.
Laibach is the musical wing of the Slovenian art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art), a controversial group that was formed in the 1980s.
The collective’s first ever exhibition is now on display in Ljubljana.