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2009/04/16 11:02 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 50 (April 16, 2009)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

Hu Jintao Congratulates Kim Jong-il on Reelection

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has sent a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to congratulate him on his reelection to the head of North Korea's highest governing body, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on April 11.

   "The reelection (of Kim Jong-il) as the chairman of the National Defence Commission shows the North Korean people's sincere support and high confidence (in him)," Hu said in the message, according to the KCNA.

   The new Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament, reelected Kim on April 9, ending suspicions that his grip on state affairs had slipped after he reportedly suffered a stroke last summer.

   The message comes at a sensitive time. China had opposed efforts by the U.S. and its allies to sanction North Korea for its rocket launch on April 5.

   But the U.N. Security Council's presidential statement, issued April 13 (local time), condemned the North's launch and called for stricter enforcement of sanctions against it. The statement received unanimous support from the council, of which China is a permanent member.

   "The coherent policy of the Chinese government and Communist Party is to consolidate and develop cooperation and a friendly relationship between China and North Korea," said Hu, according to the KCNA.

   "China will make efforts jointly with North Korea to further develop a cooperative and friendly relationship between China and North Korea on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties and the Friendship Year of China and North Korea."


N. Korea Criticizes Japanese Approval of Ultra-right Textbook

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on April 13 assailed the Japanese government's approval of another controversial history textbook that allegedly glosses over the country's wartime past.

   Japan's education ministry recently approved a textbook authored by a group of nationalist scholars for use at junior high schools, sparking a wave of protests from neighboring countries who share a contentious past with Japan.

   The textbook justifies Japan's colonization of Korea from 1910-45 and glosses over its invasion of other nations during World War II, according to South Korean officials.

   The approval is "a dirty act of distorting history by Japanese reactionaries," said the North's state radio, Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

   "The textbook justifies Japan's aggression and colonization of the Korean Peninsula and consistently distorts historical facts such as its sexual enslavement (of Asian women) and forceful mobilization (of laborers)," the broadcast said.

   Neighboring countries in the region are frequently at odds with each other over their shared history. Many Koreans believe Japan has yet to make a full apology for its past atrocities. Historical records show hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to work at coal mines and military facilities or serve as sex slaves in and outside of Japan in the later years of its 1910-45 colonial occupation of the peninsula.

   Published by Tokyo-based Jiyusha, the newly approved textbook will be used in classrooms starting in the spring of 2010. It remains unclear how many schools will use the book.

   The textbook is the second to stir up such controversey. In 2001, Japan approved a textbook released by right-wing publisher Fusohsa that glorified Japan's imperialist past, drawing strong criticism from South Korea and other Asian nations.


N.K. Unfazed by UNSC Statement Against Rocket Launch, Reports Show

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Unfazed by the U.N.'s condemnation of its recent rocket launch, North Korea on April 14 continued to celebrate its claimed orbiting of a satellite and insisted the launch was receiving international support.

   "Regional organizations and research groups of the Juche (self-reliance) ideology and Songun (military-first) politics in many countries celebrate the successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-2," one headline said in a report carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   Quoting foreign statements North Korea claimed to have received, the KCNA expressed strong discontent over the United States and its allies seeking sanctions against North Korea and arguing its April 5 satellite launch was intended to disguise a long-range missile test.

   The Switzerland-Korea Committee "slashed at the moves of the U.S. imperialists and their followers distorting the satellite launch as 'launch of long-range missile' and crying out for 'sanctions' at the UNSC," a report said on April 13.

   In its statement, the U.N. Security Council condemned the North Korean launch as a breach of a 2006 resolution barring its ballistic missile activity, demanded the country not conduct any further launch and return to the six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program.

   Later in the day, the North took a harsher tone on the Security Council's presidential statement, saying it was quitting the disarmament talks, as it had threatened prior to the launch.