NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 56 (May 28, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)
North Korea Says It Has Developed Mobile News Service
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has developed a mobile version of a government Web site to distribute news and other content over wireless phones following the reported launch of a third-generation (3G) wireless communications network there, a state-run Web site said on May 22.
Uriminzokkiri, an official Web site run by North Korea, said that "Ryomyong," a separate site run by the National Reconciliation Council, has launched a "Web page for mobile phones."
The mobile site carries major news from the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and other content concerning major developments in the country, it said, without disclosing the Web address or whether it was accessible domestically or abroad. Details on how to access the Web site through wireless phones were also not provided.
North Korea reportedly introduced a 3G mobile phone network in a joint effort with Cairo-based Orascom Telecom in December. It marked the first time that North Koreans were allowed to use mobile phones since a previous, short-lived mobile service was shut down without explanation in 2004.
In light of the announcement, some experts in the South speculate that the Web page in question may in fact be a recently opened Twitter account page found at http://twitter.com/kcna_dprk.
The micro-blogging site, run by a U.S. venture start-up of the same name, is a widely used platform by media outlets such as CNN to send out real-time news. It can be accessed by smartphones such as Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and Apple Inc's iPhone.
"I think it is highly likely as it is very easy to open up a so-called 'Web version' of any site rather than build up a separate one from scratch which often costs money," an industry insider in Seoul said.
An official at the Unification Ministry confirmed that Web page links posted on the Twitter account connected users to the corresponding story in the KCNA's Web page. All North Korean-run Web sites are blocked in the South and can only be accessed through special government authorization.
N. Korean Leader Attended Musical on Day of Nuclear Test
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il attended an art performance put on by female soldiers, Pyongyang's state media reported on May 25, as international consultations were underway over how to punish Pyongyang's second nuclear test.
Kim "said that it is another aspect of the pride of our army to have such a dependable women's unit," the report said of his visit to the Kamnamu (persimmon tree) company of the Korean People's Army (KPA).
The soldiers presented songs like "Our General Is the Best," "General and Our Kamnamu Company" and "May Soldiers' Songs of Happiness Reverberate Far and Wide," it said.
The soldiers' songs praised "the profound loving care of Kim Jong-il and strikingly demonstrated the might of the heroic KPA which has grown to be a matchless army and the iron faith and will and militant spirit of the KPA," it said.
Kim's entourage included KPA Generals Hyon Chol-hae and Ri Myong-su and Workers' Party Secretary Kim Ki-nam, as well as the party's department directors, Jang Song-thaek, Pak Nam-gi and Choe Ik-gyu, it said. Jang, who married to the leader's only sister, Kim Kyong-hi, is also a member of the National Defense Commission, the highest military decision-making body.
North Korea's second nuclear test, following its first in 2006, drew strong condemnation by the international community. The U.N. Security Council swiftly rebuked the test as a "clear violation" of a 2006 resolution and said it will introduce stronger measures against the North.
N.K.'s Youth Urged to Learn from Member of Kim Il-sung's Old Guard
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea called on the country's new generation on May 25 to be loyal to their leader, taking as a role model a top military official who was a key member of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's fight against Japanese troops in the 1930s.
The call was made in a Rodong Sinmun commentary on a new film featuring the life of O Jin-u, a former People's Armed Forces minister.
A close confident to Kim Il-sung, O also served as head of the General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA), chief of the KPA General Staff and the first-vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. He died in 1995 at the age of 78.
"The movie tells what thorough and true loyalty to the leader of revolution is like," said the newspaper of the Workers' Party.
"It is a very pressing issue of the time regarding the future of revolution to make the new generation vigorously relay the baton handed over from our forefathers and learn from the thoughts and spirits of the first generation of the revolution," the daily said.
The film, titled "White Gem," is bringing a fresh fever of loyalty to the hearts of tens of millions of soldiers and civilians participating in the all-out drive to build a thriving nation, it added.
North Korean Leader Emphasizes Party's Rule Over Military
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has repeatedly stressed the Workers' Party is still above the military, as in other communist states, despite his "military-first" politics, the North's official Web site, Uriminzokkiri, said May 25.
Kim has pursued the policy of priotizing the country's 1.2 million-strong military since he took power after his father, President Kim Il-sung, died in 1994.
Uriminzokkiri introduced Kim's earlier remarks that the People's Army, though it may be a main force in the revolution, is under the leadership of the party.
"If the military is not ruled by the party, it ends up to be a tool of resisting revolution," Kim was quoted as telling army commanders in January 2001.
Without support from the army, however, the communist party becomes worthless even if it wins power, Kim said, asking officers not to forget lessons from history.
Kim again stressed the importance of the party's leadership in January 2005, the Web site said.
"The question of the party's leadership of the People's Army is about the leadership of the supreme commander," he was quoted as saying. The most important thing in strengthening the party's rule over the military is "preparing commanding officers well as the essential framework of the revolutionary armed forces," he said.
Pyongyang Citizens Rally in Celebration of Nuclear Test
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Citizens of Pyongyang held a mass rally to celebrate the country's second "successful" nuclear test, state media said, hailing the blast as a self-defense measure against hostile U.S. policy.
The gathering was held on May 26, a day after the nuclear test was conducted in the country's northeast. For the nation's first nuclear test in October 2006, celebratory rallies were organized 11 days later.
North Korea routinely holds mass rallies in the capital and in smaller towns after important events to maximize the effect of propaganda and solidify internal unity. Such gatherings were also held after a long-range rocket launch on April 5.
Choe Thae-bok, secretary of the Workers' Party central committee, said military threats and economic sanctions posed by the United States propelled the North to conduct the nuclear test.
The nuclear test "was a grand undertaking to protect the supreme interests of the DPRK (North Korea) and defend the dignity and sovereignty of the country and nation in face of the U.S. imperialists' unabated threat to mount a preemptive nuclear attack and sanctions and pressure upon it," Choe was quoted by the North's Korean Central News Agency as saying.
"The situation of the country is growing tenser," he said, blaming the "vicious hostile policy" pursued by the U.S., Japan and South Korea's conservative government.
Watchers say North Korea's foremost goal with the nuclear test was to pressure the Barack Obama administration into starting direct negotiations. Pyongyang believes only bilateral talks can move Washington to normalize relations and lift sanctions against it, they say.
There was no sign, however, of compromise from Washington. Obama strongly condemned North Korea's nuclear test while the U.N. Security Council was working to introduce harsher sanctions against the North.
Minju Joson, the newspaper of the North's Cabinet, rapped the U.S. for rushing to further isolate and sanction Pyongyang, saying the notion was "ludicrous."
"Nothing is going to change" as long as the U.S. maintains its "hostile" policy towards North Korea, the paper said. "It is a ludicrous idea for the U.S. to think that it can defeat us by sanctions. We have been living under U.S. sanctions for decades ... The U.S. hostile policy toward us is like beating a rock with a rotten egg."
Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper that conveys North Korea's stance to foreign readers, said on May 26 that North Korea will continue to raise the stakes no matter how seriously it is punished by the international community, unless Washington takes direct action.
At the rally, Choe also promoted an internal slogan called the "150-day campaign," the North's latest effort to increase labor productivity. The campaign was launched last month as part of the country's pledge to become a strong and prosperous country by 2012, the centenary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth.
The KCNA report did not say how many had gathered at the rally at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium.