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2009/06/04 10:30 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 57 (June 4, 2009)

  
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korean Leader Inspects Chemical Complex

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il inspected a chemical complex and called for the early completion of a gasification project to increase fertilizer production, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 28.

   The KCNA did not say when Kim made the visit to Namhung Youth Chemical Complex in the city of Anju in the North's South Pyongan Province.

   During the visit, Kim instructed officials at the complex to use modern production processes to increase the varieties of chemical goods produced for the country's economic development and the people's lives, the KCNA said.

   According to the KCNA, Kim also said "the most important task facing the complex at present is to finish the gasification process construction in a short span of time (so as to) start fertilizer production."

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

   The KCNA also said on May 31 that Kim watched an art performance given by the State Merited Chorus on the occasion of the opening of the Kalma Theater at an army rest home in Wonsan, Kangwon Province.

   One day later, the KCNA said Kim Jong-il watched a performance given by the members of the art groups of families of servicemen of Unit 529 and the Navy Command of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) who participated in the second round of the second-term contest among art groups of families of KPA servicemen.

  
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North Korea Looks to Reduce Number of Smokers

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea is aiming to cut the number of smokers in the country to 30 percent of the population next year, state media said on May 30, quoting a senior public health official.

   Hong Sun-gwang, vice director of the State Hygienic Control Board, said in an interview with the North's Korean Central News Agency that the nation's smoking rate decreased to 54.7 percent as a result of the government-led drive to combat smoking.

   Pyongyang signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control presented by the World Health Organization in June 2003, according to the report.

   Hong attributed the drop to efforts by the North Korean government that set a goal of decreasing the smoking rate to 30 percent by 2010 and has directed greater attention to the campaign.

   "The government, above all, provided the legal environment for lowering the smoking rate. On this basis, it has consistently conducted the anti-smoking campaign such as establishing a smoking order, controlling disorderly smokers through education and strictly banning all kinds of advertisements promoting tobacco goods," Hong was quoted as saying.

   Pyongyang organized a state committee to control smoking in order to convert the anti-smoking campaign into a state hygienic activity, he said.

   He also said North Korea plans to mark this year's World No Tobacco Day which falls on May 31 with various events under the theme of "tobacco health warnings."

   "On the occasion of the day, anti-smoking propaganda activities ... are vigorously conducted at provincial hygienic propaganda halls and non-smoking signs are put up in public health and educational institutions and public places," the official added.

  
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N.K. Teens Actively Participating in Red Cross Volunteer Service

SEOUL (Yonhap) - The (North) Korean Red Cross has organized various volunteer activities for teenagers, a pro-Pyongyang daily in Tokyo said on May 30.

   The Red Cross has put its focus on teenagers since it opened local branches in provinces, cities and counties throughout the country in 2004, according to Choson Sinbo, a daily put out by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

   A branch office in South Pyongan Province, for instance, has recently launched a hygienic guard and a forestation guard, both composed of teenagers, and various other programs to raise the role of youth volunteers, the newspaper said.

   "These programs include teaching of the first-aid general knowledge for primary and middle school students and planting of 2 million trees participated by some 20,000 Red Cross Youth members," it said.

   Propaganda activities have been vigorously conducted on various occasions to teach youth members about measures to prevent traffic and other accidents and the importance of tree planting, the daily said.

   Youth activities also provide a good chance for adults to learn about rules and basic principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the report added.

  
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North Korea Celebrates International Children's Day

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea on June 1 observed International Children's Day with various commemorative events, state media said.

   Nurseries and kindergartens in Pyongyang and local cities offered sports and amusement games and art performances on the day, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   In Pyongyang, there was a joint meeting of North Korean and foreign children as well as women at an amusement park, the report said.

   Also on hand at the meeting were Kim Jung-rin, secretary of the Workers' Party, Education Minister Kim Yong-jin and female foreign diplomats residing in Pyongyang.

   An exhibition of calligraphic works and drawings by North Korean and Chinese children was also opened at the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace in the capital city in celebration of the anniversary, the KCNA said. It did not mention when the exhibit closes.

   The opening ceremony was attended by Jon Yong-jin, vice chairman of the (North) Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, officials concerned and schoolchildren in Pyongyang. Also present was a delegation of the Shanghai Association for Cultural Exchanges with Foreign Countries, led by Gao Ling, assistant to the secretary general of the association, and staff members of the Chinese embassy there.

   North Korea has observed International Children's Day since 1950. Another major commemorative day for children is the June 6 founding day of the Children's Union, a social organization for students aged seven to 14.

  (END)