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2009/06/25 10:32 KST

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Kim Yong-nam Vows to Shatter U.S. and South Korean Provocations

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea's No. 2 leader on June 18 vowed to "resolutely" shatter the "political and military provocations" of the U.S. and South Korea and achieve Korean reunification as the socialist state marked the anniversary of the beginning of leader Kim Jong-il's public career.

   The North Korean rhetoric is routine, but the timing makes it significant.

   Tension on the Korean Peninsula has gone up since the North conducted its second nuclear test on May 25, following its first test in 2006. The North later declared it would bolster its "nuclear deterrent" and threatened war in protest of U.N. sanctions for its test.

   "We will resolutely frustrate the reckless political and military provocations of the U.S. imperialists and the South Korean conservative regime, their lackey, who are persisting in the anachronistic policy to stifle the DPRK (North Korea) while going against the trend of the times, and certainly realize the historic cause of national reunification," Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, was quoted by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying.

   Speaking in a national meeting held in Pyongyang to mark the 45th year of Kim Jong-il's work in the Workers' Party Central Committee, Kim Yong-nam described it a "historic event that provided sure guarantee for carrying forward and accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche (self-reliance) and brought about the bright future for the Party and the revolution, the country and the nation."

   Kim Jong-il began his public career as an instructor, the lowest-level post, of the Organization and Guidance Department of the Workers' Party on June 19, 1964, right after graduating from Kimilsung University. He was named party secretary in charge of organization and propaganda, the highest post in the communist party next to then General Secretary Kim Il-sung, in 1973 and designated as successor the following year.

   Kim Yong-nam said North Korea is at a historic turning point of revolution, apparently referring to the country's preparation to have Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Jong-un, succeed his ailing father.

   "Today, we are at an important historic turning point of our revolution," Kim said. "Before long, a monument in honor of a thriving nation of the Kim Jong-il era will rise high on the land of the fatherland."

   He called on the nation to unite around the "commanding post of the revolution" and build a thriving socialist nation at an early date, according to the KCNA.


North Korean Fund for Disabled Opens Beijing Office

SEOUL (Yonhap) - A North Korean relief fund for disabled people has opened a branch office in Beijing, a pro-Pyongyang daily reported on June 18, citing a North Korean official.

   "It is the first time that a (North Korean) fund for (the) disabled has an office at a foreign country," Kim Yong-chol, 55, vice president of the North's federation for the protection of disabled, told Choson Sinbo.

   The Beijing office will be in charge of fund-raising and promoting North Korea's policy for the disabled, according to the newspaper of pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan.

   The office will create a joint fund with related organizations in China and cooperate with them, the daily added.

   Kim said the North may invite donors from the outside world to a tour of the country's facilities for the disabled.

   North Korea enacted a law on the protection of the disabled in June 2003. In recent years, it has bolstered the welfare system for the disabled, opening an educational course to develop the blind and deaf into athletes or artists and pushing to build a rehabilitation center for the disabled in Pyongyang.


North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Hints at Power Succession

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has reportedly made public remarks indicating the reclusive dictator is planning to transfer power to his youngest son, Jong-un.

   Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, on June 23 quoted Kim as recently saying, "A revolutionary tradition created by our founding leader (Kim Il-sung) is the strong root of our party and its revolution. Our revolution has been successful because the blood of juche (self-reliance) has been inherited by successive generations."

   The newspaper said Kim made the remark during his tour of one of the North's "revolutionary sites" in northern part of the country.

   The remark was intended to pave the road for North Korea to carry on the tradition of revolution, according to Rodong Sinmun, but North Korea watchers in Seoul said it indicates he has plans for another father-to-son power transfer.

   Kim, who reportedly suffered a stroke in August, is believed to have named his third and youngest son, Jong-un, as his successor. Many analysts link the envisioned leadership change to the North's recent aggressive behaviors, marked by nuclear and missile tests.


Kim Jong-il's Translator Named N. Korean Envoy to Egypt

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The main English language-translator for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was appointed as the country's ambassador to Egypt, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said on June 22.

   Ri Hyok-chol was given the post by a decree of the Presidium of the North's parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, the report said in a one-sentence dispatch without elaborating.

   Ri, born into a working-class family, is known to have worked his way up the career ladder with his English proficiency. He interpreted for Kim during his meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000.

   While in university, he was chosen to study abroad on a government scholarship. He honed his English skills at a university in the South American country of Guyana from 1978-1982, and after returning home, worked as a professor and simultaneous interpreter at various international meetings.

   Believed to be in his 50s, he is known to belong to the international department of the Workers' Party, which staffs translators for Kim in eight major languages -- English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and German.

   The appointment of Ri took place amid brisk diplomatic and economic exchanges between the two countries, which formed diplomatic relations in 1963.

   The Cairo-based Orascom Telecom installed a new mobile phone service in North Korea in December. Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Hussein Haridi visited Pyongyang in February.


North Korea Prepares for Natural Disaster: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea is preparing for natural disaster as summer droughts and cold weather are forecast for the country's west and east coastal areas, a pro-Pyongyang daily said on June 23.

   The North's Hydrometerological Service said residents in part of the North's west coastal areas will see drought and those in the east coastal areas will suffer from cold weather between mid-June and July, according to the Choson Sinbo newspaper.

   It also said, quoting Kim Mun-wuk, a senior official of the service, torrential rains are forecast from the middle of July and August across the country, later than the average year. To cope with the heavy rains, Pyongyang plans to organize a provisional anti-flood committee to devise comprehensive measures to prevent flooding, including the establishment of early flood warning systems, said the newspaper of Chongryon or the Pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

   For farms in the west coast where drought is forecast, the authorities are building new water reservoirs, repairing irrigation system and launching a campaign to prevent harmful insects, the newspaper said. In the east coastal areas, the government is taking necessary measures to prevent the cold weather from delaying the growth of crops, it added.


North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Watches Russian Opera

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il attended a performance by a Russian dance ensemble with his vice foreign minister and party officials, the North's media said June 24.

   Kim's outing comes 10 days after he reportedly viewed a Chinese opera produced by a local art troupe on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between North Korea and China.

   Kim was greeted by Elena Scherbakova, director of Russia's Igor Moiseyev Dance Company, which is currently touring North Korea, and watched a series of Russian, Ukrainian and Korean dance performances presented by the company, said the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

   "He expressed thanks for this and had a warm conversation with the guest," the report said.

   "He highly praised the artistes of the dance company for having conducted enthusiastic performing activities in Pyongyang and local areas during their visit to the DPRK (North Korea)," it said.

   He was accompanied by Kang Sok-ju, first-vice minister of foreign affairs, along with senior party officials and military generals, it said.