NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 25 (October 16, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)
North Korea Marks Ruling Party Anniversary, Kim Doesn't Show
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea quietly celebrated the 63rd founding anniversary of its ruling party on Oct. 10 without its reclusive leader making an appearance.
North Korean media outlets have not reported an appearance by Kim at any of the events marking the anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.
Instead, the North's propaganda machines urged their people rebuild the country's moribund economy by uniting under the 66-year-old leader.
"We, with the great power of unity, must exert an all-out struggle to achieve the great goal of building an economic power that was put forward by the party," Rodong Sinmun, the North's most influential newspaper, said in an editorial.
"We should launch an aggressive struggle and make a storm of leaps in all fields of the socialist construction with a strong belief and optimism in the future of a strong and prosperous country," the newspaper said.
Experts say Kim, who reportedly is recovering from a stroke and underwent brain surgery last month, may still show up at events to mark the anniversary to prove he is still in control.
North Korea has vowed since late last year to rebuild its economy by 2012 on what would be the 100th birthday of late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.
The newspaper, which is the mouthpiece of the Workers' Party, claimed a breakthrough in efforts to become an economic power this year, as it marked the 60th anniversary of the communist regime while striving to increase industrial output.
Other state media have reported that high-ranking officials of the North Korean government and military visited Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where the embalmed body of the late leader lies in state, to pay tribute in celebration of the anniversary.
The officials laid a flower basket before a statue of the elder Kim, with a ribbon saying "The Great Leader, Comrade Kim Il-sung will be immortal," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.
Recalling the 63-year-long history of the party, Rodong Shinmun also said the "watertight unity" between the party, military and the people under the "energetic" leadership of "Great General" Kim Jong-il made it possible for the country to survive the collapse of the Soviet Union.
North Korea "firmly defended socialism and opened a grand era of the construction of a strong and prosperous country amid vicious anti-DPRK schemes by the U.S. imperialists and their allies and huge economic difficulty," the daily said.
It is a "miracle" that could only be achieved by the country's "Beloved General," it stressed.
The North Korean leader is believed to have attended a student football match on Oct. 4 after vanishing from the pubic eye for some 50 days, according to the North's state media. No photos or video footage, however, were released.
Kim's conspicuous absence from a parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the regime last month fueled speculation that his health is failing.
Kim Jong-il's Discourse Belatedly Announced
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean media belatedly announced on Oct. 10 the publication of a long essay written by Kim Jong-il and called for citizens to unite around the socialist state's leader.
The 16-page discourse is titled "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea Is a Self-Reliant Socialist State with Invincible Might," according to the (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) and Radio Pyongyang.
The discourse had been reportedly delivered to state-run newspapers on Sept. 5 ahead of the country's 60th founding anniversary. The report on essay's release Oct. 10 coincided with the 63rd founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.
In the discourse, Kim gave a brief account of the socialist state's history and praised Kim Il-sung, his late father and North Korea's founder.
He urged his people to make the country into a "great, powerful and prosperous nation" by 2012, when North Korea will mark what would be the 100th birthday of the late Kim.
He also referred to two inter-Korean summit declarations, calling them a "banner" to uphold.
The KCBS broadcasted the content of the essay for as long as 50 minutes, and said on Oct. 12 that party members and workers were moved and excited upon hearing it. Other media also ran coverage of the discourse repeatedly.
North Korea Opens Web Site to Publicize Pyongyang
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea recently opened a Web site to publicize Pyongyang as overseas Koreans increasingly show interest in the country's capital.
According to the North's official Web site on Oct. 11, the (North) Korean Committee for Aiding Overseas Compatriots is administrating the new homepage for Pyongyang, titled Ryugyong (www.ryugyongclip.com). Ryugyong is the ancient name of Pyongyang.
The committee is the North's channel for getting overseas Koreans' support for humanitarian aid for the North and economic cooperation.
The homepage contains diverse data showing Pyongyang's long history and shining culture, along with video and pictures about today's Pyongyang, said Uriminzokkiri, the North's official Web site monitored in Seoul.
High-quality pictures and videos are sold online for two and 10 euros, respectively.
N.K. Media Release Photos of Kim Jong-il Inspecting Army Unit
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The North's state-run Korean Central Television Broadcasting Station (KCBS TV) on Oct. 12 aired photos of the country's leader Kim Jong-il inspecting a front line military unit amid ongoing speculation that he is ailing.
It marked the first time in 58 days that photos of Kim in public have been broadcast by North Korean news media.
Kim, 66, has been out of public view since Aug. 14 when he reportedly inspected a military unit in the socialist country. His conspicuous absence from major events, including a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the country, fanned speculation that he is not well.
South Korean intelligence officials have said Kim is recovering from a stroke and received brain surgery in mid August. North Korean officials have vehemently denied such statements.
The 10 photos broadcast repeatedly by the North's KCBS TV show Kim conversing with soldiers, clapping and watching a firing drill in his trademark dark sunglasses and olive green jumper.
He looked to have lost some weight, possibly due to illness, but there was otherwise little change in his appearance.
No video footage has been released by the state broadcaster.
Kim inspected a female artillery company of People's Army Unit 821 to evaluate their readiness, attend a firing drill and take photos with soldiers there, the TV report said.
It did not reveal the time or location of the visit.
North Korea observers in Seoul said that KCBS TV and Radio Pyongyang aired dozens of separate reports on the same day on Kim's tour of the army base, after 20 such reports the day before.