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2008/11/13 11:03 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 29 (November 13, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Institutionalizes Social Security System

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Cabinet recently adopted a decision to institutionalize the social security system, the North's news outlet said on Nov. 6.

   According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Cabinet made the regulations for the enforcement of the social security law to correctly implement the state's social security policies and laws and establish a stricter system and order in social security work.

   The North, which praises itself as a socialist paradise of the people, suffered from devastating floods and famine in mid-1990s before it introduced market-friendly reform in July 2002, reportedly resulting in an increasing income gap between rich and poor.

   The resolution detailed principles and methods to be observed in improving social security work, such as who should be the recipients of social security allowances. Also included in the resolution were details on standards, preferential treatment, social security procedures, disbursement of social security funds, organization and management of social security organs, and production and supply by subsidiary mechanisms, the KCNA said.

   The resolution will "enable the welfare recipients to enjoy greater benefits of social security at the expense of the state by steadily consolidating and developing the social security system," the KCNA added.

   Meanwhile, the Cabinet also adopted a decision on the regulation of public services along with social security.


N. Korean Ambassador to Sweden Serving as New Envoy to Finland

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The North Korean ambassador to Sweden is concurrently serving as the socialist nation's envoy to Finland, according to a North Korean state radio report on Nov. 6.

   Ri Hui-chol presented his letter of credentials to Tarja Halonen, the president of Finland, on Oct. 31, the North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.

   Residing in Sweden, Ri also serves as the North's ambassador to the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia and Iceland.

   North Korea and Finland opened diplomatic ties on June 1, 1973.


North Korea Issues Speedy Reports of Obama Victory

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea reported the election of Democrat Barack Obama as the new president of the United States two days after the announcement of his victory.

   The North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) announced on Nov. 7 that the 47-year-old African American candidate won the election in a landslide over his Republican rival John McCain on Nov. 4.

   Such speedy reporting on the U.S. Presidential election is in contrast to past election reports by the North's media, which waited eleven days after George W. Bush's first victory in the 2000 elections before issuing a report. Bush's re-election in 2004 was not announced until five days after the results were known.

   The KCBS report said Obama will be inaugurated in January as the 44th U.S. President without providing any additional comments.

   Choson Sinbo, the organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, announced on Nov. 7 that a new U.S. President appealing for change has been elected, adding that the political situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula will likely advance into a new phase.

   The organ is widely seen as representative of the North's official position.


N. Korea Seeks to Join Global Space Race

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Nov. 7 the world's interest in "peaceful" research and development of space exploration is expanding and that it will step up efforts to join the growing trend.

   "Our republic has been exercising its rights fairly in the field of peaceful expansion into and research of space and will advance more vigorously toward a goal that we have already chosen and put forward," declared Rodong Sinmun, the North's most influential state-run newspaper.

   Carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, the article did not give specific details of the goal.

   It said that space exploration, which used to be a monopoly of developed countries in the West, is now a global trend.

   Many developing countries such as China, India, Colombia and Angola have launched or are accelerating research activities to send satellites or unmanned shuttles into space, the newspaper said.

   North Korea fired a long-range missile, called the Taepodong-1, over Japan in August 1998.

   Pyongyang claims the missile carried the North's first satellite, named Kwangmyongsong-1, and that the satellite had entered into orbit five minutes after the missile launch. U.S. observers say the satellite launch had quickly failed.


Kim Jong-il's Discourse Regarded by N. Koreans As 'Policy Speech'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Koreans are interpreting the most recent discourse from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as an administrative "policy speech" and thoroughly delving into it to carry out his directions, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on Nov. 11.

   According to Choson Sinbo, the organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, people across North Korea have been studying Kim's work and are pledging to push through projects in line with Kim's statements.

   The North rarely uses the term policy speech, while Kim Jong-il himself seldom gives such speech in public. Kim Il-sung, the father of Kim Jong-il and the North's founder, made a similar speech in December 1986.

   The North's news media broadcast the younger Kim's work, titled "The DPRK (North Korea) is a Socialist State of Juche (Self-reliance) with Invincible Might," on Oct. 11 amid overseas speculation about the leader's failing health.

   Kim's work, which North Korea says was originally given to the North's two major newspapers on Sept. 5, seemed to be aimed at providing a substitute for the leader's absence from celebrations of the North's 60th anniversary on Sept. 9. That event first triggered speculation on Kim's health.

   The North's news outlets have since then aired repeated broadcasts of portions of Kim's 18-page discourse.

   "In recent weeks, General (Kim Jong-il)'s activities have been reported daily and the people are increasingly in high spirits as they look forward to moving ahead with the leader as one body," the organ added.