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2008/09/25 10:55 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 22 (September 25, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Begins Autumn Harvest Amid Food Shortage

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has begun this year's fall harvest, its state-run radio said on Sept. 18, amid reports that the country is suffering from a serious food shortage.

   Aid groups have said the North faces its worst food shortage since the late 1990s, when up to 3 million people are believed to have starved to death. Major flooding in 2007 has contributed to the recent shortage.

   "The rice harvest has begun in farm villages of South Hwanghae Province," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported.

   "Beginning with the Saegil cooperative farm in Sinchon County, rural villages and cooperative farms in Jaeryong and Yonbaek fields have launched a rice harvest competition," the broadcast said.

   Farms were decorated with large signboards and banners bearing slogans calling for all-out efforts to reap a bumper crop, the report said.

   The U.N. World Food Program recently appealed to international donors to provide an additional US$60 million in emergency aid to North Korea. It said the North could slip back into famine without additional aid worth about US$500 million in the next 15 months.

   North Korea's grain crop last year reportedly amounted to 4 million tons, 1 million tons short of what the country needs to feed its population.


N. Korea Encourages Preparation for Census in October

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has encouraged preparation for a nationwide census to be conducted from October 1-15, saying it is the patriotic duty of the people to respond to the census sincerely, according to its official newspaper.

   Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, on Sept. 21 called for national participation in the survey as a means for building an economic power, while adding that the survey will contribute to social management and obtaining necessary data about the population and socio-economy.

   The article was carried by Uriminzokkiri, the North's official Web site, which is monitored in Seoul.

   The census is the second one to be carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the North following one in 1993, the newspaper said, adding it entered the UNFPA in 1985.

   The survey will include the following items: sex, age, relation to household head, ethnic group, academic achievement, licenses held, occupation, and marital status, and births and deaths, according to the organ.

   It also deals with the form and size of the home, the conditions of cooking fuel, drinking water and bathroom facilities.

   The socialist country will mobilize as many as 140,000 survey agents across the country, who will visit households for half a month with help from 10 international observers funded by the UNFPA.

   Meanwhile, the UNFPA has had agents in the North for over one year to prepare for the census, using equipment such as 171 desktop computers and 10 projectors, according to Washington-based radio station Voice of America on Sept. 18.

   The results will come out around October 2009. According to the latest CIA data, the North's population is 23.43 million.


N. Korean Media Reports Kim Jong-il's Activities despite Rumors of Illness

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Despite speculation that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is bedridden by illness, the North's broadcaster reported that Kim is still active and is carrying out his duties as usual.

   The North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) on Sept. 22 said Kim sent his thanks to officials and workers, who have harbored loyalty to the party and the Suryong (leader), for their good deeds.

   Kim did not attend the ceremony for the country's 60th founding anniversary on Sept. 9, and speculation about his failing health has been swirling ever since.

   However, according to the North's official media, Kim has no problem with his health now.

   "The officials and workers are filled with revolutionary zeal after receiving thanks from the Great Leader Kim Jong-il," the KCBS said.

   They include workers of a rubber factory in Pyongyang, youth workers in dam construction, managers and workers in a clothing factory and retired soldiers-turned-lecturers.


North Korea Urges Succession of Revolutionary Spirit

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- As North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is still veiled in speculation about his health, the North's mouthpiece has urged loyalty to Kim and the succession of revolutionary spirit from the previous generation.

   Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, on Sept. 23 said in its editorial that the succession of the revolutionary spirit from the previous generation is the decisive factor in the destiny of the revolution on the way to Kangsong Taeguk (great, prosperous and powerful country).

   The newspaper also said that the older generation's revolutionary spirit, based on the single-hearted devotion toward the Suryong (leader), led to great miracles.

   Kim Jong-il, who has not been seen publicly since mid-August, did not appear at the historic military parade commemorating the North's 60th founding anniversary on Sept. 9. He is reportedly suffering from a stroke.

   "Like the previous generation, who steadfastly pushed their way of revolution along with Suryong, let's follow and serve the Dear General (Kim Jong-il) to become real revolutionaries," the newspaper said.

   The organ added that glory and happiness is endless for the current generation, as long as Kim Jong-il is the leader of Kangsong Taeguk.

   According to Pyongyang's reports, the target year of Kangsong Taeguk is 2012, which is the 100th and 70th birthday year of late leader Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively.

   Earlier on Sept. 20, the organ also encouraged the loyalty of youth, saying the third and fourth generation of the revolution displayed their rock-hard will on the 60th birthday of the socialist country.