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2008/08/21 10:42 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 17 (August 21, 2008)

   *** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS

Koreas Mark Aug. 15 Liberation Day at Separate Events

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Reflecting the chilled inter-Korean relations, South and North Korea marked the Aug. 15 Liberation Day anniversary at separate functions instead of a joint event, as previously held. From 2001-2006, the Koreas held joint celebrations for the anniversary marking the day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.

   The two Koreas decided on separate events in June, when civilian delegations completed a joint event marking the eighth anniversary of a landmark summit between the two countries.

   North Korea did not hold a massive meeting for Liberation Day, but its main newspaper urged Japan to give compensation for the brutal colonial rule of Korea and the looting of Korea's priceless resources.

   According to the North's main Internet media site "Uriminzokkiri," meaning "Between Our People," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, claimed that the history of Japan is the history of invasion and looting, saying, "The history of crime will be neither covered nor destroyed."

   In an editorial, Rodong Sinmun also said that the liberation of the country put an end to the dark era of national suffering, and the Korean people have since then become the proud masters of a sovereign and independent state to build a new life. "The modern history of Korea is the history of President Kim Il-sung, and the country is Kim Il-sung's Korea shining with his august name."

   Meanwhile, the North, South and Overseas Side Committees for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration on Aug. 15 issued a joint statement on "the Japanese imperialists' vicious colonial rule over the Korean nation," saying that "Japan has not yet admitted the thrice-cursed crimes it committed against the Korean people, but is getting more frantic in distortion of its history of aggression, moves to grab Dokdo islets and political suppression of Koreans in Japan."

   "Japan, far from making reparation, is whitewashing its history of aggression and crimes and openly betraying its scheme for reinvasion," the statement said. If Japan does not want to see itself isolated in the international community, it should make an apology and reparation for having imposed numerous human and material losses upon the Korean people and put an immediate halt to the distortion of history, it said.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-il received a message of greetings from Russian President Dmitri Anatoliyevich Medvedev on Aug. 15 on the occasion of the day of Korea's liberation.

   "The Korean people gained freedom through the protracted self-sacrificing struggle against colonial subjugation," the Russian president's message said. "And the Soviet Army made a decisive contribution to defeating Japanese militarism in the Far Eastern region. We support constructive cooperation and development between the north and south of Korea to strengthen the security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and overall in Asia."

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S. Korea Pulls More Workers From N. Korean Resort

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Upon the request of North Korea, additional South Korean and foreign workers have left a South Korean-run resort in North Korea this week amid lingering tension over the killing of a South Korean tourist there.

   South Korea suspended tourism to the North's Mt. Kumgang resort after Park Wang-ja, a 53-year-old housewife from Seoul, was shot dead by a North Korean soldier while vacationing at the resort on July 11. The resort on the North's east coast has been open to South Korean tourists since 1998.

   The North's tourism authorities in control of the area asked Hyundai Asan, the tour operator, to further cut the number of residents at the resort to 200 by Aug. 20, Kim Ho-nyoun, spokesman for the Unification Ministry, told reporters on Aug. 18. The request came after North Korea announced it will eject "unnecessary" South Korean personnel from the resort in steps beginning Aug. 18.

   "I understand a senior-level official of the North's Guidance Bureau for the Comprehensive Development of Scenic Spots visited Hyundai Asan's office at Mt. Kumgang last week to deliver the verbal message," Kim said.
As of Aug. 18, 536 workers, including 114 South Koreans, were staying at the resort, with 337 of them scheduled to return to the South by Aug. 20. Following the pullout, only 199 people -- 74 South Koreans and 125 other nationals deemed "necessary" to manage the resort -- will remain, according to the ministry.

   North Korea has rejected Seoul's demand for a joint probe into the killing, defending the shooting as a "self-defense measure." Park had entered a fenced-off North Korean military zone while strolling along the beach within the Mt. Kumgang resort.

  (END)