Newspaper review: 'No panic needed over North Korea'


The danger posed by North Korea is debated by Saturday's papers, following the state's warning to foreign diplomats that it will not guarantee their safety after 10 April.

Under the headline "the nuclear threat is as great today as it has ever been", the Daily Express suggests the statements coming from Pyongyang are a major cause for concern.

It argues the state is making "direct threats about where it will attack - and how".

But the Guardian is not so sure. It has interviewed North Korean defectors in the south, and concludes from their comments that "all Kim wants is a large cheque".

The paper believes Kim Jong Un is trying to pressure the United States into offering talks on aid and a peace treaty.

And while it admits it is unclear how far he is willing to go to achieve that aim, it maintains he is aware that "all-out war and the continuation of his dynasty are mutually exclusive".

The Times agrees with this argument, insisting "there's no good reason to panic".

It concludes that "Kim Jong Un and his lieutenants are not madmen, but well-practiced blackmailers".

The paper also suggests the North Korean leader is trying to win what it calls "prestige with the domestic population and the military machine", as well as an end to joint US and South Korean military exercises in the region.

'Unreal for farmers'

Elsewhere, the headline in the Daily Telegraph is "chaos over tax shake-up", as it suggests changes to the pay-as-you-earn system - which comes into force this weekend - will leave many businesses and families heading into a "nightmare" and struggling with red tape.

And in other economic news, the Independent carries a warning about the damage done to Britain's wheat crops by poor weather during the past year.

The paper reports that, as a result, the UK may later this year become a net importer of wheat for the first time in a decade.

National Farmers Union spokesman Mike Thomas is quoted by the paper, saying "the last 12 months have been unreal for farmers".

Millions of tonnes of household waste that people have put into recycling bins are in fact being shipped abroad and buried in landfill sites, according to the Daily Mail, which leads with the headline: "Recycling: The great con trick".

The paper reports rubbish is being sent to countries such as China, Indonesia and India, adding the UK Environment Agency has now asked local authorities to check what contractors who handle their waste are doing with it.

'Old hag'

The Financial Times underlines the results of an opinion poll conducted for it by Ipsos Mori, which suggests support for the Conservative Party among lower-paid women - such as hairdressers and factory workers - has fallen by 12% in the past year.

The "collapse" in support from these voters is "a huge dent" in the Tories' 2015 election hopes, it says.

Meanwhile, the Sun and the Mirror reveal that Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has sparked anger in Argentina by referring to Argentine President Cristina Kirchner as an "old hag".

The comment was apparently made to a colleague before a press conference, but was picked up by a microphone.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph carries an exclusive interview with the jockey Katie Walsh - who is due to compete against her brother Ruby in the Grand National at Aintree.

The paper reveals their father, trainer Ted Walsh, wants his daughter to make history by becoming the first female winner of the race.

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