NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 69 (August 27, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF
Chinese Nuclear Envoy Wu Dawei Visits Pyongyang
SEOUL (Yonhap) - Chinese nuclear envoy Wu Dawei ended a five-day visit to Pyongyang on Aug. 21, North Korea's state media confirmed, as Washington and Beijing try to reopen multilateral negotiations on the socialist state's nuclear program.
Wu met his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan as well as Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and the North Korean foreign minister Pak Ui-chun, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
"They discussed in-depth issues of common interest, including bilateral relations and the regional situation," the KCNA said without elaborating further on the meetings.
The top nuclear envoys of China and North Korea seem to have discussed in-depth how to resume the stalled six-party denuclearization talks. They may also have focused on making a compromise between the North's demand for a bilateral talks with the U.S. and Washington's call for such a meeting within the framework of the six-party talks.
In Pyongyang, Wu paid a tribute to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang where the embalmed body of the former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung lies in state, and watched "Arirang," a massive gymnastic display of 100,000 people, the KCNA said. The North earlier made no report of Wu's arrival in Pyongyang on Aug. 17.
China has called on North Korea to return to the denuclearization talks on scrapping the North's nuclear program in return for massive economic aid and political incentives. The negotiations also involving South Korea, Japan and Russia have been stalled since last December over how to verify North Korea's past and present nuclear weapons activities.
North Korea has boycotted the meeting in protest over the U.N. Security Council's sanctions on its long-range missile and nuclear tests.
North Korea this month freed two U.S. journalists and a South Korean worker it has detained in separate cases since March and agreed to restore inter-Korean tourism and other cooperation programs that had been suspended since last year due to political tensions between the two governments.
North Korea also sent a high-level delegation led by Kim Ki-nam, secretary of the Workers' Party, to attend a national mourning ceremony for the deceased former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
N. Korean Media Swiftly Reports on Delegation's Activity
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state media carried a series of unusually swift reports on Aug. 21 on the country's delegation visiting South Korea "under authorization" from its leader Kim Jong-il.
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a wreath sent by Kim for late former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was "courteously placed by the special envoy group" at the public mourning center at the National Assembly.
"The group courteously conveyed the message of condolences and words of profound consolation sent by Kim Jong-il to the bereaved family of the deceased," it added.
Hours earlier, the KCNA reported that the delegation, led by a Workers' Party Central Committee secretary, departed for Seoul on a chartered plane. The report came just after the delegation embarked on their trip.
Such swift reporting is unusual for the secretive communist country's tightly contolled media, which often carries belated reports on leader Kim Jong-il's official activities and visits by high-profile foreign figures.
The visit by the North Korean officials to the South is the first in nearly two years.
The North's six-member team paid a visit to President Lee Myung-bak at Chong Wa Dae on Aug. 23 to discuss the stalled inter-Korean relations.
The North's official media also promptly reported on the talks held, saying "Issues of developing relations between the North and the South were discussed."
N. Korean Leader Calls For Rapid Growth in Economic Campaign
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il issued a statement on the economy two months ago, calling for rapid growth in the renewed post-war economic campaign, a state broadcaster reported Aug. 24.
The statement was released June 25, the anniversary of the beginning of the 1950-53 Korean War, the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) said.
Kim revived the post-war economic movement with a trip to a steel factory at the end of last year to achieve the state goal of opening the gate to a thriving nation in 2012, the centenary of former North Korean leader and state founder Kim Il-sung's birth.
The original "Chollima" movement was launched in 1958 by the late Kim to rebuild the country out of the rubble of the Korean War, and continued through the early 1970s.
In the statement read before senior workers of the Workers' Party, the military and state economic offices, Kim urged the nation to create a storm of "a new revolutionary grand upsurge on all fronts" to attain the national goal in time, KCBS said.
Kim also encouraged the people to remain mentally strong to build an economic power.
The radio said it would issue the full text of the statement in a series of programs to be aired for five days. The first and second installments were sent Aug. 24-25, and the core of the statement is expected to be issued in coming installments.
North Korea came under further economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council following a long-range missile and nuclear test.
"Imperialists are viciously scheming in all fields to prevent us from building a strong, prosperous and powerful country ... saying we will never be able to be rehabilitated unless we comply with their demands," Kim was quoted as saying by KCBS Aug. 25. North Koreans should fiercely fight against the schemes "with a do-or-die resolution that we will show how we beat them and rise up in the world," Kim said.
Kim also asked officials to aggressively adapt to advanced science and technology, saying introducing other countries' advanced technology does not conflict with keeping national self-esteem when it comes to the fields of economy and science-technology.
N. Korea Threatens 'Merciless Retaliation' for Sanctions
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea repeatedly threatened "merciless retaliation" against the United States and South Korea as a joint military exercise between the two allies got underway Aug. 24.
"It is the consistent position of the army and the people to react to sanctions with merciless retaliation and to confrontation with an all-out confrontation," Ri Yong-ho, chief of the General Staff of the North Korean People's Army, said in a national ceremony commemorating the 49th year of leader Kim Jong-il's "Songun" or "military-first" leadership.
North Korea made similar threats beginning days before the U.S. and South Korea's Ulji Freedom Guardian exercise, held Aug. 17-27. North Korea has typically blasted such joint drills as war preparations, while the allies say they are purely defensive.
Ri said the war games show how the North possesses "a strong nuclear deterrence" only in case of an emergency. North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May, prompting the U.N. Security Council to impose additional financial sanctions against the socialist state.
"The army and the people will deal a merciless and immediate annihilating strike on the aggressors using all means of attack and defense, including a nuclear deterrent, should the enemies violate even an inch into the sky, land and sea of our fatherland," he said.
Ri also called on North Korean citizens "to firmly defend Kim Jong-il politically and ideologically at the risk of their lives," the report said.
Kim Jong-il's "revolutionary leadership," celebrated in newspaper editorials, began when he was only 18 years old. On Aug. 25, 1960, he visited the 105th Tank Division together with his father, then leader Kim Il-sung, and called on troops to be ready to repel a possible act of aggression from the U.S. North Korea began observing the anniversary in 2005, considering the event Kim's first step on the road to making Songun a guiding principle of the country.
After taking over from his father in 1994, Kim officially declared the military, not the working class, the main pillar of the revolution and prioritized the needs of the army above others. He now rules the country in his capacity as chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.
N. Korean Radio Stops Slandering S. Korean President
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea's state radio for anti-Seoul propaganda stopped slandering South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak on Aug. 25 amid Pyongyang's recent series of conciliatory moves toward Seoul.
North Korea has heaped criticism on Lee, who refuses to carry out agreements signed in the past two summits between leaders of the two Koreas, calling him a "traitor," "a U.S. sycophant" since April last year. Lee, who took office in February that year, linked Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament to the implementation of the accords that include large-scale economic cooperation programs requiring huge South Korean investment.
In radio commentaries aired on Aug. 25, Radio Pyongyang avoided all such phrases that have been used to refer to Lee for the first time in more than a year. Other North Korean media will soon likely follow suit in reflection of the recent reconciliatory mood between the two nations.
The (North) Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang's foreign news outlet, once called him "President Lee Myung-bak" on Aug. 23 in a report on his meeting in Seoul with a high-level North Korean delegation. It, however, kept using the slanderous words before Lee's name in other dispatches.
Shifting from its earlier hardline drive, North Korea released two U.S. journalists and a South Korean worker it had detained in separate cases since March and agreed to restore inter-Korean tourism and other cooperation programs that had been suspended since last year due to political tensions between the two governments.
North Korea also sent the high-level delegation led by Kim Ki-nam, secretary of the Workers' Party, to mourn the death of the former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.