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2008/09/04 11:20 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 19 (September 4, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Begins to Teach English in Elementary Schools Again

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will begin to teach English in its elementary schools from September, a move which could be read as a sign that the reclusive country may be preparing to open-up, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on Aug. 30.

   Choson Sinbo, organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said the North will begin the English classes along with computer education nationwide from the third grade of elementary school, as of the second semester of this year.

   English texts and computer study rooms have been prepared, and the elementary teachers have received lectures about the related education since January this year, the newspaper added.

   North Korea originally introduced English education in the fourth grade of elementary school as early as in 1986, since the North's founder Kim Il-sung said in the early 1980s that English education was necessary for adopting science and technology from developed countries like the United States.

   But with lack of preparation for teaching material and teachers, it abolished the English class in elementary school in 1992.

   On the back of rapprochement with the U.S. over its nuclear program, the North also recently invited American teachers to sharpen its students' English for the first time.


N. Korea Says It Can Launch Satellites Anytime

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Aug. 31 celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of Taepodong-1, the socialist country's first self-claimed satellite rocket, claiming that it can do the same anytime.

   Taepodong-1 is a three-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile developed in North Korea and currently in service. The missile was derived originally from the Scud rocket and can allegedly serve as both a nuclear delivery system and a space launch vehicle.

   On Aug. 31, 1998, North Korea proudly announced that it had successfully launched its first satellite, calling it Kwangmyoungsong-1.

   "Our country's technology has advanced to the level where we can freely launch a working satellite at any time," Radio Pyongyang said in a commentary monitored in Seoul.

   "The Kwangmyoungsong-1 was successfully launched at that time in the face of imperialists' attempt to isolate our country and repeated outbreak of natural disasters," said the radio, claiming the satellite was a "purely self-developed North Korean technology."

   The radio quoted a North Korean scientist as saying that the country will continue to send other satellites into space under the name of Kwangmyoungsong.

   On the occasion of the Taepodong-1 launch anniversary, North Korea's other state-controlled media outlets also poured out reports praising the country's rocket and satellite technologies.


North Korea Praises 'Songun Politics' Ahead of Its Diamond Jubilee

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's media in early September praised the Songun (military-first) politics of its leader, Kim Jong-il, as the diamond jubilee of its founding approached.

   The North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station on Sept. 1 said, "For more than a decade, our Army and the people advanced in revolution and construction under the banner of Songun by Kim Jong-il, overcoming unprecedented hardship during the period."

   Uriminzokkiri, the North's official Web site, on the same day said that the economic logic of Songun politics is the best method. Songun politics puts priority on the defense industry, to be diffused and spread to heavy and light industries in the end.

   The reports came ahead of the North's 60th founding anniversary on Sept. 9.

   Since the death of founder Kim Il-sung in 1995, North Korea, under leader Kim Jong-il, has called the present age the Songun age, which prioritizes military affairs.

   The North's news outlet, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on Sept. 1 said, "At least 60,000 main construction objects have been completed in the DPRK (North Korea) for more than the past decade ... These stirring realities are the precious fruition of leader Kim Jong-il's outstanding leadership."
On the next day, the KCNA said, "The general march of Songun revolution is sweeping the DPRK ... The general march is the most powerful mass onward movement."


More Visitors to Remodeled Pongsu Church in Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Pyongyang's remodeled Pongsu Church, one of the four publicly accepted churches in North Korea, has seen an increase in visitor numbers since its redecoration, the North's monthly magazine for overseas publicity said in its latest edition.

   According to Kumsugangsan's August edition, more foreigners, overseas Koreans and church members are visiting Pongsu Church following the remodeling.

   Pongsu Church was supported by South Korea's Presbyterian churches with material aid worth 4 billion won (US$3.46 million).

   The Christian organizations of both Koreas held a thanksgiving service for the remodeling at the church on Aug. 16.

   The magazine quoted Kim Yong-sun, preacher of Pongsu Church, as saying that there is a service every 10 a.m. on Sunday, adding the Sunday service is the basic life of Christians.

   The new church has had a cross made of granite added to its central roof, while decoration of large glass windows were added along with a screen, lights and sound equipment. The number of seats has been increased from 300 to 1,200, too.

   Besides Pongsu Church, the North has Chilgol Church, Changchun (Catholic) Church and Jongbaek (Russian Orthodox) Church, all of which were established after 1988 amid international criticism of its alleged restrictions on religious freedom.