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2009/01/08 10:44 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 36 (January 8, 2008)

   *** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

North Koreans Rally Across the Country for New Year Projects

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Mass rallies were held across North Korea to encourage residents to implement the tasks proposed in a joint editorial on New Year's Day. The country's news outlets also made extensive news coverage of North Koreans' energetic study of the editorial and determination to implement the tasks set forth in the editorial.

   The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said 100,000 residents of Pyongyang gathered at Kimilsung Square in the capital on Jan. 5 to pledge their commitment to the New Year economic drive set up by leader Kim Jong-il.

   The joint editorial, which was published by the organs of the North's three major institutions -- namely the party, the military and the Kimilsung Socialist Youth League -- announced the North's policy priorities for the year.

   Kim did not appear at the rally in Kimilsung Square, according to a report by the Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS). Attending the rally were Premier Kim Yong-il, Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) Choe Thae-bok, Vice President of the SPA Presidium Yang Hyong-sop, Workers' Party Central Committee Secretary Kim Jung-rin and other key officials of the North's Cabinet, as well as other state and capital city organizations.

   North Korea customarily holds a series of mass rallies across the country after rolling out New Year policies through a joint newspaper editorial. This year's editorial, issued on Jan. 1, reaffirmed Pyongyang's commitment to rebuild the country's ailing industrial infrastructure and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

   Pyongyang citizens vowed to "widely open the gate to a powerful, prosperous nation by 2012 by reaching a revolutionary peak in all sectors of socialism like the time when the Chollima movement reached its peak after the war," the broadcaster said. The rally was also reported by Radio Pyongyang.

   The Chollima movement, named after a mythical winged horse, was initiated by North Korean founder Kim Il-sung in 1956 to mobilize North Korean citizens to rebuild the country from the rubble of the Korean War (1950-53).

   The revival of the post-war movement signaled Pyongyang's desperate efforts to resuscitate the country's ailing economy -- particularly to solve food shortages "on our own," analysts say.

   In addition to the economic issues, the citizens in the rally also pledged their loyalty to Kim's "military-first" or Songun policy and all-out efforts to increase production in electricity, coal, agriculture and daily equipment, the reports said.

   Mass rallies took place in the Jagang, South Hwanghae, Kangwon and Ryanggang provinces on Jan. 6 to vow to implement the "militant tasks laid down in the joint New Year editorial in hearty response to the letter of the employees of the Chollima Steel Complex," according to the KCNA.

   Attending the rallies were leading officials of local party, power and economic organs and working people's organizations, people from all walks of life and youth and students, the news agency said. "Read out there was the letter of the employees of the complex addressed to all other working people across the country," reports said.

   They resolved to renew their determination to make a leap forward on all fronts through a great revolutionary surge by fully displaying great mental power augmented in the crucible of the Songun revolution, reports said.

   The KCNA also reported on Jan. 6 that North Koreans are studying the content and ideology in the joint editorials to make a great leap in all fields in constructing Kangsong Taeguk, a great, prosperous and powerful country.

   To this end, North Korean news media have sent out a series of programs explaining the contents of the joint editorial so people in the country can easily understand for their future action.

   Meanwhile, the North's factories, businesses and cooperative farms are launching various programs on their own so workers are able to study the main contents of the country's new policy priorities and tasks in the New Year.

   Following Pyongyang's New Year message, North Korean media began to report North Koreans' brisk work in its agriculture and energy industry. "The heat wave of a production increase" swept through Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, North Korea's first thermal energy plant, to "achieve the energy production plan for the first day of the New Year by 110 percent," the KCBS reported on Jan. 2.

   The radio station also reported that workers fixed irrigation ditches and blasted a mountain to create a mine in response to the New Year message.

   In other activities, North Korea's chemical industry vice minister said his country will normalize the production of chemical fertilizer by the year 2012, the 100th birthday of the North founding leader Kim Il-sung. In an interview, Han Sung-jun said if the technical renovation is finished soon, the country's production of chemical fertilizer and caustic soda will be sufficient for domestic use without relying on imports.

   Meanwhile, light industry Vice Minister Jo Jong-ung said that of daily necessities, clothing will be emphasized this year, adding the textile division is one of the most important parts in the basic livelihood of residents, together with food and housing.

   The North's main newspapers also called for the construction of the socialist country. "The joint editorial serves as a militant banner as it fully reflects the plan and determination of leader Kim Jong-il to bring about historic leaping advances on all fronts of the socialist construction and open the gate to a great prosperous powerful nation without fail," said the Rodong Sinmun on Jan. 6 in an editorial.

   The newspaper for the Workers' Party said, "All the officials and members of the Party and other working people should glorify this year as a year of the great revolutionary surge through an all-people general offensive true to the idea and spirit set forth by the joint editorial."
"The economic potential of the DPRK remarkably augmented by Kim Jong-il on the basis of the examples set in the creation and construction in the 21st century one by one in the course of his Songun leadership and the modern science and technology serves as a solid foundation whereby the country can make a historic leap forward in all fields," the newspaper said.