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2009/05/14 10:53 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Says No Flu Cases, Stockpiling Medicine

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- No type-A influenza case has been reported in North Korea, though authorities are intensifying preventive efforts against the epidemic, a senior official said on May 6, as more cases of the flu were reported worldwide.

   "The country has not yet witnessed any case (of the illness)," Pak Myong-su, vice chairman of the North's State Emergency Anti-epidemic Commission, told the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   "For the present, foreigners entering our country, especially those from outbreak areas, are strictly quarantined in the frontier and those who are suspected to have been infected are under medical surveillance in isolation until they have been confirmed," Pak said.

   "Inspections of pork and pork products, to say nothing of wild boars, is being strengthened as never before," he stressed.

   He also said Pyongyang was prepared to deal with a possible outbreak. "An emergency measure is being taken to store anti-virus medicine to cope with a possible outbreak of the disease."

   North Korea has a diagnosis system for distinguishing common colds from type-A H1N1, the official claimed.

   State TV and publications informed the public of details surrounding the type-A influenza outbreak in various countries, he said.

   As of May 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 4,694 confirmed cases of human infections in 30 countries. All deaths, however, have been restricted to Mexico, the U.S., Canada and Costa Rica.

   The WHO will provide North Korea with "a sufficient amount" of tamiflu to help tackle any possible outbreak of the flu, a Washington-based radio report said on May 8
North Korea is one of the 74 developing countries to receive WHO-provided tamiflu for a total of 2.4 million people, Steven Lauwer, a press officer with the organization's head office in Geneva, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.

   Ships carrying tamiflu were on their way to North Korea after leaving Switzerland, the U.S. and Dubai three days earlier, he added.


N. Koreans Urged to Join '150-day Battle' for Economy

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea is encouraging its people to play an active role in a new short-term economic campaign as part of the broader goal of building a thriving nation by 2012.

   The North launches such campaigns, or "speed battles" when it is necessary to attain an economic goal in a short period of time before major anniversaries. The latest campaign appears to have begun at the start of this month for completion by the Oct. 10 founding anniversary of the Workers' Party.

   Pyongyang last week convened a series of public rallies and released propaganda posters as well as newspaper editorials to mobilize more people in the new "150-day Battle."

   On May 6, members of the General Federation of Trade Unions and the Democratic Women's Union held separate meetings in Pyongyang all resolving to become "honorable winners" in the 150-day battle, according to a report by the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station the following day.

   A youth group a day earlier held a similar meeting in the capital city, vowing to act as a frontrunner in the campaign.

   Pyongyang has produced many sorts of propaganda posters to encourage more people to participate in the campaign, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on May 6.

   Rodong Sinmun, organ of the Workers' Party, the following day released an editorial titled "Let's achieve a shining victory in the 150-day battle in the great power of single-minded unity."

   "Order for the battle were made," the newspaper said. "Now is the time for them (the people) to ensure that our single-minded unity is more powerful than a nuclear weapon and conduct an all-party, all-state and all-people offensive and decisive campaign to achieve the eternal prosperity of the country," it said.

   The paper added: "All the officials, party members and other working people should exalt the honor of victors in the 150-day campaign to successfully accomplish the Party's cause of building a thriving nation."

   North Korea aims to open the door of building a strong, prosperous and powerful country in 2012, the centenary of former leader and state founder Kim Il-sung's birth.


North Korea Marks Month Since 'Satellite' Launch

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 7 reiterated its claim that it conducted a successful satellite launch the previous month, stating the object remained in "normal operation" as it orbited the Earth.

   "The observation by the satellite and a control test were normally conducted," a spokesman for the North's Korean Committee of Space Technology, which orchestrated the launch, said in a statement.

   Pyongyang insists its April 5 rocket launch orbited a communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, while outside monitors say no such object entered space.

   South Korea, the United States and Japan condemned the launch as a disguised long-range missile test, while the U.N. Security Council has since blacklisted three North Korean firms suspected of aiding the country's nuclear and missile activities.

   On the day it launched the rocket, North Korean media said the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite was broadcasting songs praising North Korea's late founder, Kim Il-sung, and his son and current leader Kim Jong-il at a frequency of 470 MHz.

   The unidentified spokesman repeated the claim on May 7. "The melodies of 'Song of General Kim Il-sung' and 'Song of General Kim Jong-il' sent to the Earth at 470 MHz... confirmed that the satellite was accurately put into orbit," he said in the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   Following the launch, the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency in charge of radio frequency allocation for satellites, dismissed North Korea's claim and said it has no information about a North Korean satellite in orbit.

   North Korea withdrew from nuclear disarmament talks and warned of a second nuclear test in protest against the U.N. Security Council's punishment for the launch.


North Korean Leader Visits Industrial Facilities in Huichon

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il paid a visit to industrial facilities in the country's northwest, the state's official media said on May 9.

   Kim was accompanied by Workers' Party officials, including Jang Song-thaek, a department director of the Party and his only brother-in-law, reported the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   The news agency did not say when the visit was made, as is customary with reports on the leader's tours.

   The facilities, Huichon Precision Machinery Plant and Huichon General Machine-tool Plant, lie in the city of Huichon, Jagang Province, bordering China.


Pyongyang International Trade Fair Opens

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea opened an international trade fair with hundreds of international delegations in attendance, state media reported on May 11.

   The four-day Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair drew some 200 enterprises and organizations from various countries such as China, Russia, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, Vietnam and Poland, the North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Radio Pyongyang said.

   On display are some 65,700 items, including machine tools, electric and electronic equipment, petrochemicals, vehicles, medicine and foodstuffs, the broadcasters said.

   "The fair will help develop (North Korea's) foreign trade and economy, while providing a good opportunity to boost economic exchanges among various countries and regions," O Ryong-chol, vice minister of Foreign Trade, was quoted as saying in his speech during the ceremony.

   The event was also attended by Vice Premier O Su-yong and Ri Hak-gwon, head of the North's Chamber of Commerce, as well as foreign trade officials and foreign diplomats in Pyongyang, the reports said.

   The spring fair, the North's largest trade fair, is the 12th such to be held since it began in 1998. A seasonal autumn fair was added to the annual event in 2005.