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2009/01/08 10:46 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 36 (January 8, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Cautions against Foreign Investment

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea believes the global economic crisis has left lessons to be learned, including the danger of foreign investment, according to the North's official newspaper obtained on Dec. 26.

   Pyongyang has been encouraging foreign direct investment into the country since the 1990s to resuscitate its ailing economy.

   An Egyptian mobile operator, Orascom Telecom, became the latest firm to invest in North Korea this month, launching a third-generation mobile service and reportedly promising US$400 million for it.

   "If a country does not base its economic development on righteous economic theories and science technology but goes after reckless growth based on survival of the fittest, an economic crisis will come at an unexpected time," Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper published by the North's Workers' Party, said in its Dec. 17 edition.

   The current crisis "shows that a reckless inflow of foreign capital can destroy the nation's economy," the newspaper said.

   The commentary titled "What the Global Financial Crisis Teaches Us" also blamed huge U.S. spending on the Iraq war as one of the primary reasons for the country's current turmoil and called on western powers to "immediately withdraw aggressive foreign policies that infringe upon other nations' sovereignty."

   The socialist country opened a free economic and trade zone in its northern Rajin-Sonbong region in the early 1990s, where Chinese clothing and shoe factories now operate.


N.K. Media Warns of Further Deterioration in Ties with S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean media warned on Dec. 28 the socialist state's relations with South Korea will further deteriorate next year if Seoul sticks to its "confrontational policy" toward Pyongyang.

   Inter-Korean relations have chilled since conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February, vowing to get tough on Pyongyang. Lee maintains that the South will help the North only when the socialist regime gives up its nuclear ambitions.

   Lee's policy is a sharp reversal from the "sunshine policy" of engaging North Korea that his two liberal predecessors advocated for a decade.

   North Korea has accused the South of failing to honor two summit deals calling for massive investment in the North that were reached by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Lee's two predecessors.

   "If the Lee Myung-bak government continues to push for its confrontational policy next year, the North-South relations will further deteriorate," said the North Korean Web site Uriminjokkiri.

   The North's media described the South Korean government's refusal to honor the summit deals as a "touchstone" that led to frayed inter-Korean ties.

   Two South Korean-run sightseeing tours to the North and daily cross-border train service were suspended this year in retaliation for what Pyongyang calls Seoul's "confrontational" policy toward it.

   The halt of the train service, along with restricted border crossings, mean that all cross-border projects -- with the exception of the Kaesong industrial complex -- have been halted. The industrial park located in the North's western border city is home to nearly 90 small- and medium-sized South Korean plants employing some 35,000 North Korean workers.


N.K. Says Seoul and Washington Conducted 2,200 Aerial Spy Missions in 2008

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea claimed on Dec. 30 that South Korea and the United States jointly conducted about 2,200 cases of aerial espionage against it in 2008.

   "These numbers and facts go to clearly prove how frantically and desperately the U.S. imperialist aggressors and the war mongers of the South Korean puppet armed forces have stepped up the preparations for a war of aggression," the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.

   North Korean media publicize monthly and yearly reports on the claimed espionage, as well as details about the jets used.

   This year's report named the U-2, RC-12 and RC-7B planes as some of the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft that flew over North Korea, and the RC-800 and RF-4C planes as the aircraft South Korea used.

   About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.


N. Korea Condemns Israeli Assault on Gaza as 'Barbaric'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Dec. 31 blasted Israel's continuing air raids on Gaza as "barbaric" and called for the immediate suspension of the deadly attacks.

   "Israel mobilized more than 60 fighters and gun ship to launch barbaric air raids on Gaza Strip of Palestine," a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the North's Korean Central News Agency, reported in English.

   "The DPRK resolutely denounces Israel's killing of unarmed civilians as a crime against humanity, a serious provocation against the Palestinians and other Arab people and an open challenge to the Mid-east peace process," the unnamed spokesman said. DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

   The spokesman said, "Israel should immediately stop all military actions and positively respond to the demand of the Arab and other peoples of the world for the comprehensive and fair solution to the Mid-east issue."

   Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's Workers' Party, accused the United States of "sheltering" the raids as an "accomplice in the destruction of peace in the Middle East."

   "There will be no peace in the Middle East as far as Israel's anti-Palestine policy and Washington's two-pronged Middle East policy continue," the newspaper claimed in a Jan. 5 commentary carried on the same day by Uriminzokkiri, the North's official Web site.

   Palestinian medical officials estimated that the death toll during the 11-day war exceeded 560 as of Jan. 6, and the United Nations said that about a quarter of those killed were civilians.

   North Korea has been traditionally sympathetic to the Middle East. It openly welcomed an Iraqi journalist's recent shoe attack against U.S. President George W. Bush, scornfully comparing Bush to "a cock soaked in the rain." The phrase refers to a person of high status who suddenly falls into disgrace.


N. Korea to Improve Ties with U.S., Get Tougher on S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea demonstrated its commitment to denuclearization and improved relations with the United States through its New Year message, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on Jan. 2.

   The socialist country, however, has no intention of budging on inter-Korean relations and the current stalemate will likely continue, said the Choson Sinbo, a Korean newspaper in Japan widely seen as reflecting the views of North Korea.

   In a joint editorial that conveyed its policy goals for 2009, Pyongyang hurled acerbic criticism against Seoul but eschewed its usual offensive against Washington. To "denuclearize the Korean Peninsula" is the North's policy, and Pyongyang "will develop relations with the countries friendly toward us," the editorial said.

   Choson Sinbo attributed the North's softened stance toward the U.S. to Washington's removal of Pyongyang from a terrorism blacklist in 2008.

   "There was no immediate change in the conditions of (North Korean) international economic activities (after the delisting), but it's a fact that the U.S. has made a first step toward a policy shift," the newspaper said.

   "The joint editorial demonstrates the (North's) position that it will improve relations with enemy nations on the principle of independence by continuing to push forward the current denuclearization process," the Choson Sinbo said.

   South Korea, however, saw in the North's New Year message an intensified offensive. The editorial accused Seoul of being "steeped in pro-U.S. sycophancy and hostility towards fellow countrymen."
Pyongyang suspended dialogue last year in retaliation against Seoul's conservative Lee Myung-bak government.

   "No matter how (the Lee government) rehearses kind but hollow words," Choson Sinbo said, Pyongyang's hardline stance will continue until Seoul "implements the 'between-ourselves' spirit, which is the basic idea of the summit declarations."

   The South's Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong said cross-border relations will be "far tougher and more complicated" in the new year than in 2008.

   In his New Year message, Kim urged Pyongyang to stop its verbal offensive against Seoul's president and lift sanctions on inter-Korean exchanges.


N.K. Again Calls for Seoul's Implementation of Summit Agreements

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea stepped up its pressure on Seoul over two agreements signed at summits between their leaders on Jan. 5, saying ties will remain strained without any implementation of the accords.

   "One can hardly think about improvement of North-South relations away from the implementation of the June 15 joint declaration and the Oct. 4 declaration," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party, said in an editorial carried by Radio Pyongyang.

   "We, as presented in the New Year's joint editorial, would permit any element deviating from the historic joint declarations," the newspaper said.

   The two Koreas' once amicable relations sour after South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February and vowed to link economic cooperation programs -- but not humanitarian aid -- to North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

   Pyongyang suspended almost all cross-border projects, including a sightseeing tour to the ancient North Korean city of Kaesong, and imposed strict border controls after months of strained ties to protest what it called Seoul's "confrontational" policy.

   North Korea is especially angry over Seoul's efforts to use inter-Korean relations as leverage in the nuclear dispute and its failure to implement major economic projects that were agreed upon, and that require huge injections of South Korean capital.

   The newspaper asked all Koreans in the two Koreas and abroad to pressure Seoul into keeping the agreements.