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2008/08/28 11:03 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 18 (August 28, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Popular Pyongyang Eatery Reopens after Renovation

SEOUL (Yonap) -- A famous Korean restaurant in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was crowded with customers when it reopened after months of renovation, a state-run daily there reported on Aug. 20.

   "The Chongryugwan restaurant resumed service on Aug. 13 after undergoing renovation for citizens," reported Minju Choson, an organ of the North's Cabinet monitored in Seoul. "Newly equipped with modern facilities, the restaurant bustled with thousands of citizens that day," it said.

   Among those invited to the opening were Korean war veterans, decorated soldiers, scholars, and officials in charge of the electrical power, transportation and metal industries, the report said.

   The restaurant serves traditional Korean noodles, soups and various types of bread, drinks and sweets, it added.

   The impoverished North has remodeled Chongryugwan as part of a project to improve Pyongyang's "gray city" image, timed this year to mark the 60th founding anniversary of the country.

   Under the program, which began in 2002, roads in the capital city have been repaired, along with houses, river bridges, movie theaters and restaurants, according to sources in Seoul. New lighting was also installed in monuments throughout the city, they said.


Impoverished N. Korea Develops 'Hunger-delaying' Noodle: Newspaper

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, experiencing the worst food shortages in nearly a decade, has a developed a new food-type which delays the feeling of hunger, a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan said on Aug. 23.

   The newly-developed soybean noodle, made with a mixture of beans and corn, is almost two times higher in protein and five times higher in fat than the normal dish consumed by North Koreans, Choson Sinbo reported. Soybean noodles are a traditional Korean dish, popular both in the Seoul and Pyongyang.

   "The new noodle will delay the feeling of hunger for a lengthy time after eating," Bang Hyeong-guk, chief of the North Korean food research institute told the newspaper. "The noodle does not turn soft with time or include any artificial flavoring."
The noodles are expected to be popularized throughout the hunger-stricken country soon, the newspaper said.

   The World Food Program has recently asked South Korea to contribute up to US$60 million in food aid to Pyongyang, citing the worsening food shortages in the Stalinist state.

   Approximately 6.2 million among the population of 23 million will be fed with the aid, which could buy about 75,000 tons of rice or 150,000 tons of corn, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.


N. Korea Marks Anniversary of Kim Jong-il's Military-first Politics

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea marked on Aug. 24 the 48th anniversary of Kim Jong-il's start of the Songun (military-first) politics, which prioritizes the armed forces in all policy decisions.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a national meeting took place at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang in observance of the anniversary, with major members of the country's hierarchy such as cadres of the party, army and state attending.

   North Korea has observed the anniversary since 2005, apparently to give added historic meaning to Kim's prioritization of the army over the past decade.

   The date commemorates Aug. 25, 1960, when Kim gave on-the-spot guidance to the Guard Seoul Ryukyongsu Tank Division 105 of the North's Korean People's Army (KPA).

   Kim Jong-gak, first-vice director of the General Political Department of the KPA, stressed the need for Songun politics amid a "tense" situation on the Korean Peninsula in his report at the meeting.

   He said the army and the people of North Korea will never be content to sit back and watch as the "belligerent" United States and South Korean forces stage "frantic anti-DPRK (North Korea) war moves," using the acronym for the North's official name.

   Kim's comments were apparently in reference to the recent South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, and came as relations between the North and the U.S. soured over a disagreement in protocol regarding its nuclear verification.

   Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in an editorial dedicated to the anniversary that it will make the utmost efforts to strengthen Pyongyang's military power regardless of changes in the political situation, adding that a military-first politics is the basic strategy to build a socialist power.


North Korea's Olympic Team Returns Home

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Olympic team returned home from Beijing Aug. 26 with a relatively impressive medal count of two golds, one silver and three bronzes in the Games, the North's official news outlet said.

   The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the Olympic delegation flew back home after participating in the 29th Beijing Olympic Games, which ran for 17 days from Aug. 8.

   "They were met at the airport by Kim Jung-rin, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and Vice Premier Kwak Pom-gi," the KCNA said.

   It did not say whether the North held a welcoming ceremony for the Olympic delegation.

   On the previous day, the North's Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station belatedly reported the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

   The North ended up 33rd in the medal rankings after sending its largest-ever delegation the Games -- 134 people, including 63 athletes in 12 events.

   Pak Hyon-suk won a gold medal in women's weightlifting, claming the first gold for North Korea in 12 years, while Hong Un-jong bagged the other gold in the vault event of women's gymnastics.