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2009/07/16 10:51 KST

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Blasts S. Korea's 'Insincerity' on Kaesong Complex

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on July 10 warned it will take "firm action" on the troubled joint inter-Korean industrial complex unless Seoul takes a more sincere approach to bilateral talks.

   The North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), quoting an organization handling the Kaesong complex, said that the last four rounds of working-level talks clearly showed Seoul's "true position" on the joint venture located in North Korea.

   The organization claimed in a statement that because of Seoul's "humiliating" behavior, the talks are close to collapse, adding that unless the South desists from insulting the North's good faith and generosity, questions will be raised about the effectiveness of the talks.

   "If the South does not show sincerity in future negotiations, (the North) will take steps that have already been stated," the statement released in Korean said.

   North Korea insisted that monthly wages for local employees be raised four-fold to US$300. It also sought $500 million for a 50-year lease on the park, ditching the $16 million rent deal signed when the park opened in 2004.

   Seoul rejected the demands while pressing for the release of a South Korean worker detained since March on accusations that he criticized the North's political system and tried to entice a North Korean female to defect.

   The joint park just north of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas hosts more than 100 South Korean firms making clothing, kitchenware, electronic equipment and other labor-intensive goods. There are about 40,000 North Korean workers at the complex.


N. Korea's No. 2 Leader Heads to Egypt for NAM Summit

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's No. 2 man left Pyongyang earlier in the day to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to be held in Egypt next week, the communist state's news agency said on July 11.

   Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), was seen off at an airport by high-ranking officials, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   Founded in 1955, NAM has 118 member states, including India, Pakistan and Indonesia, that consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.

   North Korea is a full member of NAM, while South Korea is an observer. Seoul plans to send Park In-kook, its ambassador to the United Nations, to the six-day summit that starts on July 12.


North Korea, China Celebrate 48th Year of Alliance

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Friendship associations from North Korea and China exchanged receptions in their capital cities last week to mark the 48th anniversary of an alliance between the two communist nations, Pyongyang's state media said.

   The two allies signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance on July 11, 1961 in which the two sides are obliged to protect the other from unprovoked acts of aggression.

   In Pyongyang, a reception was co-arranged by the North's Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and the Central Committee of the DPRK (North Korea)-China Friendship Association at the Okryu Restaurant on July 10, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) the following day.

   Present there on invitation were Hao Xiaofei, Chinese charge d'affaires ad interim in Pyongyang and staff members of her embassy, the KCNA said.

   Officials representing the North Korean side were Choe Chang-sik, public health minister and chairman of the Central Committee of the DPRK-China Friendship Association, Kim Yong-il, a deputy foreign minister, O Ryong-chol, a deputy minister of foreign trade and Han Chol, a deputy cultural minister, among others.

   Participants toasted the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Chinese president Hu Jintao and the further development of friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries, the report said.

   Similar receptions were held on July 9 and the following day in Beijing to celebrate the anniversary.

   The July 9 event was hosted by the North Korean Embassy in Beijing and the second one was co-hosted by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China-Korea Friendship Association.

   North Korean Ambassador to China Choe Jin-su and staff members of the embassy attended both receptions, according to the KCNA.

   The KCNA quoted the unnamed chairman of the Chinese-Korea Friendship Association as saying during the July 10 reception that they would as ever make unremitting efforts to steadily develop the friendship between the two peoples and strengthen the exchange and cooperation between the two countries.

   In response, Choe was quoted as saying it is the consistent stand of the North Korean Workers' Party and the Pyongyang government to consolidate and develop the traditional friendly and cooperative relations.

   He also expressed the North's willingness to strive to further develop relations in keeping with the requirements of the new century, the KCNA reported.


N.K. Software Developers Keen to Advance into Overseas Market

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean Internet portal has recently published a list of leading software companies in the reclusive country, hoping to win increased orders from foreign countries.

   The nine state-run companies on the list were Bulgunbyol (Red Star), Samilpho, Osandok, Mangyong, Chongbong, Sobaeksu, Milyong, Samjiyon and Naenara information centers.

   All were established in the past two decades to meet rising domestic demand as well as demands from China, Japan and European countries. Each specializes in a particular field, according to the portal Naenara, which means "My Country" in Korean.

   The announcement detailed the dates that each company began operations, as well as the kinds of computer programs they produce and how many promising computer programmers they employ.

   The portal described Samilpho Information Center as a top developer of computer games using artificial intelligence technology and said it was well known both within the country and abroad.

   It said Chongbong Information Center, with seven years of history, aims to develop the world's No. 1 intelligence-based computer software in the fields of face and voice recognition and inference by 2010.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-il began to place increased focus on the state's computer industry in 1990, setting the industry's development as one of the state's prime goals. He has since set up the Korean Computer Center in Pyongyang as a base for the nation's computer industry and a special after-school program for talented students.

   Starting in September of last year, Pyongyang also incorporated computers as part of the regular curriculum along with English for students in the third year of elementary school or higher.