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2008/05/29 11:22 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 5 (May 29, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF

N. Korea Denounces S. Korea's New School Guidelines

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 24 claimed South Korea's new educational guideline book on inter-Korean relations is an anti-North book issued by a "Division Ministry," renewing its verbal attacks on the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration.

   The South's Unification Ministry released the educational guideline book, which is to be distributed to elementary and middle schools nationwide, eliminating approaches adopted by the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration and seeking a "balanced perspective" on North Korea.

   The North's main Internet media site Uriminzokkiri, meaning "between our people," said the new book is "nothing but a declaration of confrontation against us" that hopes for the fall of the North Korean regime.

   "This is an anti-communist, anti-North guideline book presented by not a Unification Ministry, but a 'Division Ministry,'" said the Web site in a commentary titled "Is It Unification Ministry or Division Ministry?"
The Web site also criticized President Lee Myung-bak's latest remarks expressing his willingness to help North Korea open itself to the outside world and revitalize inter-Korean relations.

   The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Workers' Party, alleged the guideline book reflects the Lee administration's attempt to bring back the era of confrontation by denying all the successes made in the development of inter-Korean relations.

   "The Lee group is imposing the anti-reunification education on the younger generation, swimming against the trend of the times," it said.

   North Korea in April started unleashing harsh verbal attacks on Lee, who was inaugurated in late February, calling him a "traitor" and "U.S. sycophant."

   Lee, the first conservative South Korean president in a decade, has taken a tougher line toward Pyongyang to differentiate himself from his two liberal predecessors -- Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung -- who maintained the "sunshine policy" of engaging North Korea.

  
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North Korea Hails Settlement of Crisis in Lebanon

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which has stressed the importance of independence in foreign relations, hailed the recent settlement of a dispute in Lebanon, calling it a result of Arab people solving the problem without outside help.

   A spokesman for the DPRK (North Korea) Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 24 said the agreement among various forces in Lebanon a few days earlier proved that the Arab people are quite capable of settling their problems by themselves, according to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 25.

   Lebanon's feuding factions had agreed to form a national unity government after armed conflict in the streets of the capital Beirut and elsewhere in the Middle Eastern country.

   The North's Foreign Ministry has often issued its position on Mideast matters, mainly in support of Arab countries and against Israel and the United States.

   "The agreement was reached to settle the dispute through the mediation of the League of Arab States and Qatar, thus making it possible to defuse the political crisis in Lebanon," the unidentified spokesman was quoted by the KCNA as saying.

   Just as the North welcomed the settlement in Lebanon by the Arab people, it has also stressed the principle of "by our nation" in inter-Korean relations.

   "The DPRK government will as ever positively support the just measures and efforts of the Arab countries and people to settle the Mideast issue," the unidentified spokesman added.

  
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N. Korea Slams S. Korea-U.S. Security Meeting

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Although North Korea has increasingly engaged the United States over its nuclear program, the socialist country denounced an annual security consultative meeting (SCM) between Seoul and Washington in late May.

   The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 26 quoted a spokesman of the (North) Korea National Peace Committee, which deals with propaganda about the South, as saying that the SCM, whose 40th anniversary fell on the next day, has served as an organization for preparing for an invasion of the North.

   The annual SCM, which is chaired by the defense chiefs of South Korea and the U.S., is the highest channel for reviewing and coordinating far-reaching issues between the allies.

   The unidentified spokesman of the committee called for the South Korean people to resolutely reject the SCM and put an end to what the spokesman called the 60-year-long U.S. military occupation of the South.

   The spokesman also said the South's Lee Myung-bak government has intensified joint military exercises with the U.S. since its launch in February for "waging a nuclear war" against the North, calling the Seoul government "warmongers."

   Such a report, apparently trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, came as the North and the U.S. made progress in the six-way talks for denuclearizing the North, which are likely to eventually lead to the lifting of U.S. trade sanctions against the North.

  
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Progress in North Korea-U.S. Ties is Opportunity for Seoul: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Progress in relations between North Korea and the United States is a good opportunity for the Seoul government to abandon its self-contradictory policy against the North, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper claimed on May 26.

   Choson Sinbo, organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said the North and the U.S. are making rapid progress in solving the North's nuclear issue, and that the Lee Myung-bak administration, which prioritizes denuclearization in its policy toward Pyongyang, has a good chance to stop its self-contradiction.

   The newspaper did not give any other details about inter-Korean relations. Ties between the Koreas have been strained since the launch of the conservative government in Seoul in late February, and the North has blasted South Korean President Lee, who has stressed coordination with Washington in dealing with the North rather than inter-Korean cooperation.

   The organ also said the North will blow up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in line with submission of its nuclear report so that the whole world can clearly see its desire for denuclearization.

   On the back of such a "shifting tide," Japan must change its obsession with the "abduction" issue from the Cold war era that has blocked normalization between Tokyo and Pyongyang, it added.

  
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North Korean Liquor Gaining Popularity Abroad: KCNA

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which recently shipped its liquor to the United States, is exporting another local liquor to other countries, according to the North's state-run news outlet.

   The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 26 said "Songak Liquor" produced at the Kaesong Songdo Foodstuff Factory has been gaining popularity among foreign tourists and it is being shipped to China and other countries.

   The report came just after North Korean "Pyongyang Liquor" went on sale in New York in late April.

   In early March, London-based news agency Reuters said Taedong River beer from North Korea is gaining popularity among foreign tourists.

   Liquor is one of the North's few "legal" export items through which it acquires badly needed foreign currency, some analysts say.

   The main raw materials of the liquor are acorn or maize using natural spring water, the KCNA said, adding the liquor is popular for its aroma and mild taste.

  (END)