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2009/05/21 11:00 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

N. Korea Steps Up Propaganda Activities for Economic Campaign

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has dispatched artists and propaganda officials to factories and cooperative farms to boost the morale of workers in a new short-term economic campaign, state media said on May 15.

   Pyongyang is believed to have launched the campaign called a "150-day Battle" in early May for completion by the Oct. 10 founding anniversary of the Workers' Party, with the broader goal of building a thriving nation by 2012, the centenary of late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's birth.

   The North often holds such campaigns known as "speed battles" when is necessary to produce tangible economic achievements in a short period of time before major anniversaries.

   "Now vigorous agitation for increased production is going on in the DPRK (North Korea) to powerfully inspire the working people in the 150-day campaign," the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.

   "Professional art troupes, art propaganda squads and itinerant art propaganda teams across the country found themselves in various economic sectors to carry on intensive agitation for increased production," it said.

   Pyongyang's leading art groups such as the Phibada Opera Troupe, State Folk Art Troupe and the State Theatrical Company formed a joint propaganda squad to encourage workers at the Sungri Motor Complex in Dokchon, South Pyongan Province, according to the report.

   Artists of the Mansudae Art Troupe, the Cinema and Radio Musical Company and other art organizations were visiting the Kumsong Tractor Plant, the February 8 Vinalon Complex, the Ryongsong Machine Complex, the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex and other industrial establishments in South Pyongan and South Hamgyong provinces.

   Acrobats of the Pyongyang Circus presented "joyful" acrobatic pieces at the Taean Heavy Machine Complex to cheer up workers there, the KCNA said.

   "These agitation activities are bracing up the revolutionary zeal of the Korean people in the building of a thriving nation by letting raging waves of a new revolutionary upsurge sweep the whole country," it commented.


Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair Closes

SEOUL (Yonhap) - Pyongyang's annual spring international trade fair came to an end on May 14 wrapping up a four-day schedule, state media said the following day.

   "There were brisk economic transactions" among the firms participating in the fair, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said without giving further details of the trade.

   About 200 enterprises and organizations from various countries such as China, Russia, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, Vietnam and Poland took part in the Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair, according to the KCNA report. The count included 60 North Korean firms, it added.

   On display were some 65,700 items of about 15,700 sorts, including machine tools, electric and electronic equipment, petrochemicals, vehicles, medicine and foodstuffs.

   "Representatives of different countries and region discussed possibilities of multifold trade activities and concluded export and import contracts with each other," the KCNA said. "It marked a good occasion for developing friendship and exchange and cooperation in such fields as trade, economy, science and technology."

   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.

   "The annual Pyongyang international trade fair ever grows in scope and standard," the North said without specifying details.

   Choson Sinbo, the newspaper of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said on the same day a total of 167 firms from North Korea and 17 foreign countries took part in the fair. The number represents an increase of one country and 10 firms from a year ago, the daily said quoting North Korean organizers of the event.

   But the report showed slightly more than 100 participants were from China. Pyongyang set up a special exhibit hall called "the Chinese wing" for them as the two countries mark the 60th year of diplomatic ties this year, the newspaper said.

   It also said this year's autumn fair is scheduled for Sept. 21-24 and large foreign enterprises such as the Egyptian telecom giant Orascom have already applied for participation.

   Orascom operates a third-generation mobile phone network in North Korea.

   Hit items in the spring fair were Chinese-made heating and air-conditioning equipments, Australian beef and processed North Korean marine products, the same newspaper said on May 16.


North Korea on High Alert As Type-A Flu Spreads

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has stepped up quarantine measures and public health education to prevent an outbreak of type-A influenza, state media said on May 17, as the number of cases worldwide neared 10,000.

   "As the new influenza virus has yet to arrive in our country, the State Emergency Anti-epidemic Commission is strictly making efforts to prevent the spread of the virus," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.

   Inspections of travelers and foodstuffs arriving at North Korean airports and sea ports have been strengthened, the report said. Those suspected of being infected are being placed under medical surveillance in isolation, it added.

   The North has a tight system for quickly reporting any suspected case of the disease, distinguishing common colds from type-A H1N1 and sharing information on the disease, the broadcaster boasted.

   Public health officials are making efforts to increase the public awareness of the disease and its danger, it said.

   As of May 20, the type-A flu has been confirmed in more than 9,830 people in at least 40 countries, with most of the cases in Mexico and the U.S. The global death toll was at 83 -- 74 in Mexico, seven in the U.S., and one each in Canada and Costa Rica.


N. Korean leader Kim Jong-il Visits Mines in Remote Province

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has given field guidance in several mines and emphasized that the health of the workers is more important than underground treasure, state media said on May 20.

   Kim, 67, visited mines in Komdok area in South Hamgyong Province, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, reporting on his latest public activity after a 12-day interval, the longest this year.

   Kim toured production facilities and a mining village at the Taehung Youth Hero Mine and gave "heartfelt thanks" to the workers, the KCNA said.

   Kim also visited the Komdok Mining Complex, North Korea's largest lead and zink production base, the news agency said.

   "He stressed that deep care should be always shown for the miners' life, saying that health of the workers, a precious asset of the Party and the revolution, is more valuable than underground treasure," the report said.

   Kim was accompanied by Workers' Party Secretary Kim Ki-nam and the party's department directors, Pak Nam-gi and Jang Song-thaek, it said.