NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 14 (July 31, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea's Major Economic Sectors Grow Briskly in H1
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's major economic indicators showed strong growth in the first half of this year due to the wise leadership of the party, the organ of North Korea's Cabinet said, adding that the communist state will open the gate to becoming a "great, prosperous and powerful country" within a few years.
According to Minju Joson, the organ of the North's Cabinet, which was issued on July 19 before being acquired in Seoul on July 30, an extended plenary meeting of the Cabinet presided over by Premier Kim Yong-il ascertained that the major indexes of production grew between 20 and 100 percent on-year in the first six months of 2008.
The newspaper said the North's generation of power for the first half of 2008 increased 17 percent from a year ago, while coal production gained 7 percent during the same period.
Railway transportation edged up 3 percent, and rolled steel production jumped 150 percent from a year ago, it said.
The budget income for the period rose 16.3 percent on-year, while budget expenditures grew 16.5 percent from a year earlier, the paper said.
The organ, however, did not specify the date of the meeting, which was also attended by representatives and managers of major economic institutions and enterprises.
Analysts in Seoul say the North Korean economy was buoyed by heavy oil aid sent by member states of the six-way talks. The aid was provided as the North made progress towards nuclear disablement.
According to the Bank of Korea in Seoul, the North posted minus growth in its economy for the second consecutive time in 2007.
North Korea Calls for Cooperation among Developing Countries
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea urged cooperation among developing countries especially in the updating of production facilities as well as science and technology exchanges, adding that "aid" from the imperialists can not be trusted.
"If developing countries actively boost cooperation and exchange on the principle of satisfying each other's needs, they can push forward the updating of production facilities without any help from the imperialists," Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said on July 24.
"For developing countries to boost cooperation and exchange in the field of science and technology is one of the most important matters in effecting South-South cooperation," it added. The article was carried by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, which was monitored in Seoul.
North Korea's production facilities are mostly outdated. The organ of the communist country, whose state ideology is Juche (self-reliance), said such South-South cooperation between developing countries is based on the principle of "collective self-reliance."
"The imperialists are not sincere in helping developing countries in their economic development," the organ said, "It is the real intention of the imperialists to subjugate developing countries economically and intensify the exploitation and plunder of them."
Meanwhile, North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun attended a ministerial meeting of the non-aligned movement in Tehran, Iran, from July 27 to 30, following his signing of a treaty of amity and cooperation with Southeast Asian countries in Singapore on July 24.
N. Korea Threatens S. Korea over 'Enemy' Comment
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea threatened the South on July 24 with an unspecified "tougher countermeasure," three days after Seoul's defense minister called the communist state an "enemy" that poses a threat to national security.
North Korea said the remarks amounted to an "unpardonable provocation" and that the comment clearly shows there has been no change in South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's hostile stance toward Pyongyang, despite his recent peace overtures, according to the North (Korean) Central Broadcasting Station.
"The comments amount to an unpardonable provocation and clearly show that the Lee Myung-bak group's anti-DPRK (North Korea) confrontational madness has become more serious," the Secretariat of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the state-run radio station.
"We will never pardon the thoughtless remarks by the Lee Myung-bak group and will respond with a tougher countermeasure," the North's quasi-governmental organization said, without specifying what the countermeasure might be.
The angry reaction came three days after South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee singled out North Korea in responding to a question by lawmakers about which country poses the greatest threat to the South's capitalist system.
"Regardless of whether North Korea is our prime enemy or not, the military is educating (soldiers) that North Korea is 'a present enemy'," he said.
North Korea cut off dialogue with South Korea and threatened to turn Seoul into ashes after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Kim Tae-young told lawmakers in late March that there are contingency plans to strike the North's nuclear weapons site if it should ever appear that the North was poised to attack.
President Lee proposed to resume dialogue with North Korea July 11 in his first parliamentary speech since taking office in late February. But the proposal -- seen by news media and North Korea experts as a "meaningful" softening of the president's position -- was overshadowed when a South Korean woman vacationing in the North's Mt. Kumgang resort was shot to death by a North Korean soldier.
N. Korean Circus Troupe to Tour Europe: Report
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top circus troupe will travel to Europe next month for a three-month tour aimed at strengthening cultural ties with the continent, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan reported on July 25.
Choson Sinbo, the newspaper published by the General Association of North Korean residents in Japan, said the Pyongyang Circus Troupe will visit the Netherlands in August and then move to Germany, showing off about 10 different types of stunts during its tour.
Formed over 50 years ago, the troupe is one of North Korea's foremost cultural groups, making a visit to South Korea in 2000 on the eve of the first inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.
"This will mark the first time that the troupe has given a solo performance in Europe," the paper said, adding the tour will help improve relations between North Korea and European nations.
North Korea Cannot Unilaterally Give up Nukes
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea cannot unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons when it is technically at war with the United States, a pro-North Korean newspaper published in Japan said on July 26.
Choson Sinbo said Pyongyang cannot easily surrender its nuclear deterrent, as such a move would be tantamount to lowering its guard while facing an enemy.
"Unilateral disarmament under such circumstances is not possible," said the newspaper run by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
The newspaper then called for a peace regime to be set up between North Korea and the U.S. to replace the fragile armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The paper added that efforts to implement the third stage of the six-way agreement -- which requires North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic assistance and political assurances -- will be a difficult task.
The six-way talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea have strained relations among regional powers since the 1990s. The talks are attended by the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China.
"It will be much more complicated than disabling the North's nuclear facilities and reporting past nuclear activities," it said.
North Korea Urges Control of Budget Misappropriation
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- An economy magazine of North Korea urged control of fiscal affairs and warned against budget misappropriation, drawing attention to the suspected prevalence of the latter in the management of the socialist economy.
The Study of Economy, a quarterly magazine in the North, said in its second edition of this year, that strengthening control of public finances is an important guarantee that the country will acquire enough funds to turn the nation into an economic power by 2012, adding not a penny of public funds should be misappropriated or diverted in any part of the people's economy. The magazine was acquired in Seoul on July 29.
Such a statement implies that there are not a few cases of budget misappropriation and misuse in the North's economy, which remains in the doldrums.
In a seemingly related event, from spring this year, the North launched an inspection of border trade with China, while carrying out a shake-up of officials dealing with economic exchange with the South.
The magazine said notably that stern discipline in fiscal affairs will guarantee enough funds for the management of state and enterprises, while getting rid of all kinds of embezzlement before making effective use of funds.
"The state's finances must be managed according to one discipline and under legal control, and all the public funds should be used at stated use and items," it added.
North Korea's Historians Rebuff Japan's Claim to Dokdo
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean historians rebuffed Tokyo's recent claim to a set of South Korean-controlled islets in the East Sea, saying the Korean people will never allow Japan to realize its anachronistic ambitions for "overseas aggression."
According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a spokesman for the History Society of the DPRK (North Korea) made a public statement July 29 saying that history testifies to the fact that the islets, which the North calls "Tok Islet" in English, is part of Korea's inviolable territory.
The reaction came following Japan's announcement in mid-July that it will teach its primary and middle school students that the Dokdo - as they are referred to here -- are part of Japan.
"Korea was the first country that discovered the islet and annexed it to its territory ... Historical materials proving this fact have been recently unearthed in different places one after another," the spokesman said.
Tongil Sinbo, a weekly magazine in Pyongyang, also said in its July 26 edition that Kimilsung University has a number of ancient papers proving that Dokdo is part of Korea, quoting a professor of history at the North's top university, which is named after the nation's founder.
The North's position on Dokdo is in line with South Korea's, despite chilled relations between the nations.