NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 72 (September 17, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea Has High Expectations for Hatoyama
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean newspaper on Sept. 8 expressed high expectations about the incoming Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama after his party's landslide election victory.
Hatoyama's Democratic Party won a huge poll victory last month, ending more than 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party. The Japanese parliament formally named Hatoyama as prime minister.
Minju Joson said the election results are described by some politicians and opinion leaders as a political "earthquake," not merely a "change."
"The Japanese people and newspapers have that much expectation for the political path of the new government to be led by the Democratic Party," said the newspaper of the North Korean Cabinet.
Hatoyama has said he wants Japan's relationship with the U.S. -- a key trade partner and the Asian power's strongest ally -- to be more equal and he was in favor of an "East Asian community."
The North indirectly expressed its high expectations for better relations with Japan. "With the launch of the new administration in Japan, of global interest is what political path Japan would take after a regime change," the newspaper said. "Some predict the Japanese regime led by Democratic Party would take a path of reconciliation with Asian neighbors, keeping itself way from the United States."
But there exist negative views that predict no radical change in relations between Japan and the U.S., the daily said. "We'll have to wait and see if what policy will be adopted by the ruling Democratic Party."
The North Korean newspaper urged Hatoyama's party to carry out its campaign pledges, saying Japanese politicians should not forget the truth of the history that the voice of the people is the voice of the God.
North Korea Plans to Extend '150-day Battle'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea plans to extend a campaign urging citizens to work harder for 100 more days, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on Sept. 11, in what appeared to suggest the results of the drive fell short of expectations.
The so-called 150-day Battle, which compels North Koreans to work harder and put in longer hours, began on April 20 as part of the country's efforts to resolve food shortages and rebuild its frail infrastructure. The intensive drive was initially scheduled to end on Sept. 17.
But Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based paper that reflects North Korea's official position, said North Koreans will continue to work hard under a renewed "100-day Battle," stretching the labor drive into the end of December.
In the 150-day drive, "many units have been achieving fruitful results. Without slowing down a bit, (the North Korean people will) keep up their vigor during the 100-day Battle," the paper said.
North Korea seeks to build a Kangsong Taeguk (great, prosperous and powerful nation) by 2012, the birth centennial of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung and the year when current leader Kim Jong-il turns 70.
The economic goals of the initial campaign were likely not met, given the country's dilapidated infrastructure and tightening U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear test in May, said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University in Seoul. The sanctions ban the North Korean arms trade, a major source of income for the impoverished state, and limit cash flows into the country.
"I suspect they didn't make any notable achievements," Kim said. "North Korea's economic situation is not good enough to produce results that are visible to its citizens."
With the nationwide drive, the country also wants its citizens to remain united around leader Kim Jong-il while its diplomatic stalemate with the United States continues, he added.
N. Koreans Urged to Learn After Leader's 'Fighting Spirit'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea urged its people to follow leader Kim Jong-il's "fighting spirit" as the authorities are reportedly set to extend a "150-day campaign" till the end of the year.
"Fighting spirit literally means the spirit of an aggressive war," Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's Workers' Party, said.
It quoted Kim as telling a group of North Korean officials in July that he has worked his whole life with fighting spirit and strong will power and will continue to do so in the future. He also said such a spirit was reflected in a "150-day campaign" and a bigger economic campaign known as a second Chollima Movement, the daily reported.
Kim allegedly launched the second Chollima Movement last November, a revival of a postwar economic campaign launched in 1958 by his late father and state founder Kim Il-sung to rebuild the country out of the rubble of the Korean War. The original movement, named after a mythical winged horse, continued through the early 1970s.
North Korea began the 150-day campaign on April 20 to follow up on the bigger economic campaign. The 150-day campaign was to finish on Sept. 17, but the authorities plan to start another short-term campaign that will last for 100 days this time as soon as the earlier one finishes, according to Choson Sinbo, newspaper of the pro-Pyongyang Koreans in Japan. The daily serves as Pyongyang's unofficial mouthpiece.
"We should engage in a full-scale war to make a great innovation or a great leap in all fronts, keeping afloat the elevated mood from the 150-day battle," the North said. "We should fight and fight to achieve a final victory in the fruitful struggle to shine this year as a decisive year in the construction of a Kangsong Taeguk (strong, prosperous and powerful country)," it asked.
North Korea aims to build a thriving nation by 2012, the centanary of late leader Kim Il-sung's birth and the 70th birth anniversary of current leader Kim Jong-il.
North Korea to Hold International Trade Fair in Pyongyang
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will hold an international trade fair next week, state media said on Sept. 14, a biannual event where it seeks to draw foreign investment and boost technology exchanges.
The Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair, set for Sept. 21-24 at the Three Revolution Exhibition, will present machine tools, electric and electronic equipment, transport equipment, petrochemical and medical goods, food items and daily necessities, said the (North) Korean Central News Agency.
Participating businesses are going to come from 16 countries or regions -- China, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Australia, Austria, Italy, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Finland, Poland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the host, the report said.
The North began its fall trade fair in 2005 and the spring fair in 1998 with goals of promoting its homegrown goods and acquiring advanced technology from foreign countries. This year's spring fair was held in May.
N. Korean Leader Confident over Building 'Thriving' Nation
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il voiced confidence that his country will become a "thriving" nation during visits to modernized machine plants, Pyongyang's media said on Sept. 14.
Kim's visits to the Pukjung (North Korea-China) Machine Complex and the Rakwon Machine Complex in the North Pyongan Province, which borders China, came a day after he inspected a naval unit.
Kim "stressed that the DPRK's (North Korea's) cause of building a thriving nation is sure to be successfully accomplished thanks to such heroic workers as the (province's) workers", the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English language report.
The Pukjung complex originally started as a heavy oil engine manufacturer after the 1950-53 Korean War, but "has turned into a large machine-building center making a great contribution to the nation's shipbuilding industry and the development of economy," the report said.
Kim "expressed great satisfaction over the fact that the workers of the complex produced efficient machines as required by the new century," it said.
Kim also praised workers at the Rakwon complex who have newly manufactured a "modern" oxygen plant.
Kim was accompanied by Kim Phyong-hae, chief secretary of the North Pyongan provincial committee of the Workers' Party, Kim Ki-nam, a secretary of the party's central committee, and party department directors, Pak Nam-gi and Jang Song-thaek, the KCNA said. Kim had a photo session with the workers, it added.
Kim's latest trip was his 105th this year. He made 74 trips and 54 trips during the same period last year and in 2007, respectively, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.
N. Korean Leader Calls for Full Efforts Ahead of Harvest
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il directed officials to mobilize all resources to harvest crops this autumn, a state-run newspaper said, amid chronic food shortages in the socialist state.
"We will have to make a full use of all our capacity in autumn harvest," Rodong Sinmun, mouthpiece of the North Korean Workers' Party, reported Kim as telling officials in an editorial published on Sept. 16. It did not say when or where Kim made the remark.
North Korea's state media reported last week that farmers were busy preparing for the upcoming autumn harvest.
"Success or failure of this year's crop production largely depends on how we do battle for the autumn harvest and in threshing grain," the newspaper said. "The entire party, the state and the people must put themselves forth for the autumn harvest battle," it stressed.
Farmers were urged to "arm" themselves with "indomitable mental power," harvest crops quickly and demonstrate to the outside world their spirit for "a new revolutionary grand upsurge."
The North suffered a devastating famine in the 1990s that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. It has relied heavily on foreign food aid since.
Unusually mild weather last year helped North Korea's grain harvest expand to 4.3 million tons, compared with 4 million tons in 2007, according to South Korean government data.
The North reportedly did not suffer any major flood damage from this year's torrential summer downpours, but Seoul still expects the country will fall short by 1 million tons of the food needed to feed its population of 24 million this year.
Chinese Special Envoy in North Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A special envoy of the Chinese president arrived in North Korea on Sept. 16 to hold talks with its first-vice foreign minister, Pyongyang's official news wire reported, amid speculation that China is trying to draw the North back to six-nation denuclearization talks.
"Dai Bingguo who is special envoy of Hu Jintao arrived in Pyongyang by plane, together with Wu Dawei, vice minister of Foreign Affairs and Fu Ziying, vice minister of Commerce," the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief dispatch.
The Chinese delegates watched the "Arirang" mass games at May Day Stadium and attended a welcoming reception held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang later that night, according to the report.
North Korean officials attending the reception included First-vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il, it said.
In a related report, China's official Xinhua news agency said earlier in the day that Dai and Kang "thoroughly exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern."
The trip comes amid reports that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao may visit the North in early October.
North Korea has withdrawn from the six-party talks, which Beijings hosts, and has insisted on bilateral dialogue with the United States. Dai, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington in July, was expected to deliver the U.S. government's viewpoint that any one-on-one talks should be within the six-nation format, according to observers in Seoul.
Dai was also expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il while in Pyongyang.