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2008/12/11 13:56 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 33 (December 11, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

'North Korea Has No AIDS Patients': WHO Official

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has no AIDS patients, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Pyongyang said on international World AIDS Day.

   According to a Dec. 4 article in Choson Sinbo, the organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, Umesh Gupta, acting representative of the WHO in North Korea, announced that the DPRK (North Korea) is one country where there are no AIDS patients.

   Gupta's remarks came at a function held at the People's Palace of Culture in the North's capital to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

   The North officially denies the existence of AIDS patients in the socialist country, though a UN agency dealing with the deadly disease estimates they make up less than 0.2 percent of the adult population.

   Ewa Eriksson Fortier, who heads a delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the DPRK, was also quoted as saying that AIDS is not a serious problem in the DPRK. Still, Fortier called for pushing through preliminary prevention projects.

   Choson Sinbo also said in a separate report that students from the North's medical colleges routinely carry out AIDS education programs among the population.


Rodong Sinmun Stresses Socialist Economic Principles

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- As North Korea moves to minimize market functions in the socialist country, its mouthpiece on Dec. 8 stressed the centrality of socialist principles in its "economic construction."

   Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said today's complex situation further compels the country to stick to its socialist economic principles more so than at any other time. It added the U.S. and its allies are trying to stifle the North politically and militarily, while pressuring the socialist country to adopt reforms in line with a capitalist market economy.

   Sources familiar with the issue have said recently that the socialist country plans to restrict general markets operating in the country, as well as other market forces beginning next year.

   The North recently restricted passage into the inter-Korean industrial park located in the border city of Kaesong on Dec. 1 amid frosty relations with Seoul, while reportedly trying to evict Chinese entrepreneurs from its special economic trade zone in the northeast region.

   "Unless we hold to socialist principles, our economic foundation will collapse and we will not be able to protect the system we have built with our blood," the organ said. "Even when some (socialist) countries adopted capitalism, we kept developing our own socialist economy."

   The North introduced market-friendly reforms in July 2002, then backtracked for fear the measures threatened the stability of its regime.


N. Korea Lose to US in U20 Women's World Cup Final

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea failed on Dec. 8 (Korean time) to capture their second consecutive under-20 women's World Cup title after losing 2-1 to the United States in the final, FIFA said on its Web site.

   North Korea's Cha Hu-nam scored in injury time, but the goal came too late to squash the lead the United States built after Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux each scored at the Estadio Municipal de La Florida stadium in Santiago, Chile, the sport's governing body said.

   North Korea, the 2006 debutants and champions, had advanced to the final by beating both Japan and France 2-1 successively. Cha knocked home a volley shot in the 92nd minute, but no further effort materialized against the United States, the 2002 champions.

   North Korea are a powerhouse in women's football. They became regional champions in the Asian Cup tournament in June, and the country also won the under-19 AFC tournament last year.

   Meanwhile, North Korea's Ri Ye-gyong has reaped the Silver Shoe award by scoring the second most goals at the under-20 women's World Cup in which her team finished runner-up, FIFA showed on its Web site on Dec. 9.

   Ri, 19, netted four goals during the 16-nation competition that ended on the previous day in Chile.


North Korea Names New Envoy to Lebanon

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ambassador to Syria has been named to serve concurrently as its envoy to Lebanon, a state media report said on Dec. 9.

   Choi Su-hon submitted his letter of credentials to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and conveyed greetings from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and titular head of state Kim Yong-nam on Dec. 1, according to the North's official Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

   Sleiman said he hoped relations between Lebanon and North Korea would be further enhanced and that the two Koreas would one day be peacefully reunited, according to the report.

   Choi was named the socialist state's envoy to Syria in August. Known for his expertise on the U.S. and international affairs, he previously served as deputy foreign minister in charge of international organizations for more than 20 years.

   Choi has often delivered speeches at the General Assembly of the United Nations as the North's representative, and has led negotiations with U.N. agencies such as the World Food Program and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

   North Korea forged diplomatic ties with Lebanon and Syria in 1981 and 1966, respectively.