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2008/11/06 11:26 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 28 (November 6, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Pyongyang to Push Science, Tech Development till 2022

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which started its third five-year science and technology developmental plan this year, will continue pursuing the program in consecutive five-year blocks until 2022, a pro-Pyongyang monthly magazine in Japan said in its November issue, quoting a top official of the North's science organization.

   According to Joguk, which is published by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, Ri Ui-gu, vice president of the State Academy of Sciences, said the socialist country will push through the five-year plans consecutively until the year that the North commemorates the 110th birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung.

   The North carried out two consecutive three-year science and technology plans from 1988 to 1993, while it also conducted two five-year plans back-to-back from 1998 to 2007.

   "In 2022 the contribution by science and technology to national economic development will surpass 50 percent, while the hi-tech industry's contribution to the gross national product will account for more than 20 percent," Ri said without providing more concrete figures.

   For this purpose, the North is preparing for moves to upgrade national investment in science and technology to 3 percent of GNP, Ri added.

   Factories and enterprises should invest more than 2 percent of their income into research and development now, while the science and technology sectors can use about 5 percent of foreign currency payment, Ri said.

   He also said the North will set up a fund for developing science and technology with contributions from overseas Koreans and local people.


North Korea Adopts Regulation about Service Sector

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will the modernization of restaurants, public bathhouses and other service industry businesses for the purpose of improving their operation, according to an official newspaper monitored in Seoul.

   Such "convenience facilities" will be modernized and operated normally with the adoption of a new regulation by the socialist country's Cabinet, Minju Joson said on Oct. 23.

   The regulation will set up an institution for organizing and operating such businesses, the paper said, adding the Cabinet has strongly guaranteed to meet the daily needs of the people.

   The commerce ministry is now making rules to carry out the regulation, it added.


North Korea Holds National Meeting of Red Cross

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Red Cross Society held a two-day national meeting near the end of October to discuss the group's development strategy and operations until 2012.

   According a report by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Oct. 31, the meeting was held at the Chollima House of Culture in Pyongyang beginning on Oct. 29 and was attended by members of the Central Committee of the society and Red Cross officials in the capital and nearby areas.

   The North's civil organization for humanitarian activities also invited a delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and International Red Cross members working in the socialist country for the meeting, the KCNA said.

   The North's Red Cross held a similar meeting on May 18-19, 2004, to discuss its plans until 2010.

   At the meeting, Jang Jae-on, chairman of the Central Committee of the DPRK (North Korea) Red Cross Society, called for intensifying activities for health and hygiene with an emphasis on providing relief to victims of disasters and promoting the general well-being of the people.

   The society also pledged to solve the humanitarian issues between the two Koreas on the basis of two inter-Korean declarations, adopted in 2000 and 2007, respectively.

   Reunions of separated families, usually facilitated by the Red Cross societies of both Koreas, have been suspended this year amid chilled inter-Korean relations.


Kim Jong-il Makes Second Public Appearance in Two Days

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has visited two military units to observe drills and encourage soldiers, North Korean media reported on Nov. 4.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), however, did not provide information on the locations of the units and when the visits were made.

   The report comes just two days after North Korea showed on Nov. 2 several photos of Kim watching a soccer game between soldiers believed to have been taken in late October.

   In the photos, Kim was seen smiling, with his weak left arm showing a possible sign of paralysis.

   South Korean officials have said Kim suffered a stroke and is recovering from brain surgery, adding that the North Korean leader has no problem controlling state affairs despite some health problems.

   Kim inspected military unit 2200 and instructed the soldiers to strive to "strengthen and develop the North Korean military with invincible revolutionary force," according to the KCNA.

   In another visit to military unit 534, Kim ordered the soldiers to "consolidate their unbeatable military force by increasing political training in combat," the report said.

   Kim has visited a food processing plant, farm and other facilities of unit 534 in years past.

   Accompanied by several senior military leaders, Kim took photos along with the soldiers of the units, according to the report.

   The KCNA also reported on Nov. 5 that Kim and a group of soldiers viewed a musical and dance performance without elaborating on the time or location of the event.

   Kim, accompanied by several senior military officers and officials of the North's ruling Workers Party, praised the performance as "a masterpiece of epochal significance" for the military, the report said.

   Kim's reported public appearance is the third of its kind since Nov. 2, and is apparently aimed at dispeling speculation that his health is failing.