NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 75 (October 8, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea Awards Honor to Egyptian Mobile Investor
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea awarded the chief of Orascom Telecom Holding, a major Egyptian investor in the country, one of its highest honors on Sept. 30, state media said.
Naguib Sawiris received the "Order of the DPRK Friendship First Class" for contributions made to relations between the two countries "with his boundless respect and reverence for leader Kim Jong-il," the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Present at the ceremony was Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the country's nominal No. 2 leader, and Ryu Yong-sop, minister of post and telecommunications, it said. Kim later met with Sawiris, it added.
Orascom opened mobile phone service in Pyongyang in December after establishing Koryolink, a 75-25 percent joint venture between the company and North Korea.
Orascom reported last month that its operating profit from North Korea reached US$2.49 million in the April-June period, soaring about eight-fold from $312,000 the previous quarter.
The number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 47,863 as of end of June, Orascom said.
North Korea first launched mobile phone service in Pyongyang in November 2002, but banned it after a deadly explosion in the northern Ryongchon train station in April 2004.
North Korean Leader Stresses Self-supporting Economy
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently inspected production facilities for food and other daily goods in Pyongyang, lauding workers for making progress in building the "nation's self-supporting economy," the North's media reported on Oct. 1.
Kim gave field guidance to workers at the Pyongyang Catfish Farm and praised them for bringing about "unprecedented innovations" in fish farming in recent years, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Kim was accompanied by Kim Ki-nam, a secretary of the Workers' Party's central committee, and other senior party officials, according to the agency. The report did not say when the visit was made.
Kim also made a visit to the December 7 Factory, saying with pride that the nation's self-supporting economy is "now making rapid progress," according to the report.
Kim Jong-il also stopped by Kimilsung University in the country's capital and inspected its newly completed swimming pool, the KCNA said.
N.K. Media Call for Thorough Implementation of Summit Accords
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea's state media renewed their demands for Seoul's implementation of agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries in the past as they observed the second anniversary of the Oct. 4, 2007 summit.
The two Koreas' formerly reconciliatory relations soured after South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February last year and linked cross-border relations to North Korea's nuclear disarmament.
After a long stalemate, political relations now appear to be improving following conciliatory moves by the North. But Seoul remains unchanged with its refusal to carry out the summit agreements, parts of which require huge investments from South Korea.
In a signed article dedicated to the anniversary, Rodong Sinmun said, "It is quite possible for the Korean nation to open up a new era of independent reunification, peace and prosperity when it acts as indicated by the October 4 Declaration."
"It is an urgent requirement of the reality to develop the inter-Korean relations from a new angle and achieve the independent and peaceful reunification of the country under the banner of the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration," said the newspaper of the Workers' Party.
Minju Joson, the organ of the Cabinet, also called for Seoul to change its attitude. "It is the steadfast stand of the DPRK to expand and develop inter-Korean relations and achieve the independent reunification, peace and prosperity by thoroughly implementing the inter-Korean declarations," the newspaper said in a commemorative editorial.
"The implementation of the declarations entirely depends on the stance and attitude of the South side," it stressed.
Uriminzokkiri, known as Pyongyang's official Web site, described the October 2007 summit agreement as a landmark event in the history of the pro-reunification movement. "The history and reality demand the entire nation render full support for the June 15 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4 Declaration," it claimed.
Radio Pyongyang urged all Koreans on the Korean Peninsula and overseas to launch a struggle to implement the inter-Korean declarations.
North Korean Media Underscore 'Mangyongdae Family'
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea's state newspaper has repeatedly underscored the revolutionary tradition of leader Kim Jong-il's family on the anniversaries of some of his forefathers' deaths.
The "Mangyongdae family is a patriotic and revolutionary family that sacrificed them for the country and the nation generation-after-generation," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party, said in an article to mark the 131st anniversary of the death of Kim Eung-u, the great-great-grandfather of leader Kim Jong-il, on Oct. 4.
The North again used the theme of the "Mangyongdae family" or "Mt. Paektu bloodline" in state media and national meetings this year, apparently to justify another father-to-son power transfer in the world's most tightly controlled socialist country.
Mangyongdae refers to the birthplace of Kim's late father and state founder Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang, while Mt. Paektu, which borders China, is the official birthplace of current leader Kim Jong-il, although Soviet records show he was actually born in a Soviet village.
Seoul officials say Kim, the 67-year-old leader who reportedly suffered a stroke last summer, has tapped his third and last son, Jong-un, as successor. But Pyongyang has yet to announce his status as heir. The current leader took over after his father died in 1994.
"The patriotic spirit of Mangyongdae family inherited from late Kim Eung-u is more splendidly splashing light in this great Songun (military-first) age," the newspaper claimed. "The bloodline of the Mangyongdae family is being succeeded firmly thanks to the existence of Great General," it stressed, referring to leader Kim Jong-il.
On Sept. 2, the 54th anniversary of the death of Kim Bo-hyun, the great-grandfather of Kim Jong-il, the same newspaper described him as the "head of the Mangyongdae family that brought the rise of the Great Sun of the nation."
The North earlier called him as "a devoted patriot" for refusing to take a Japanese name even though he faced harsh treatment from Japanese colonizers. Koreans were forced to change their names to Japanese ones when their country was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-1945.
N. Koreans Enjoy Chuseok Holiday, Praying for Leader's Health
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Koreans observed Chuseok, the Korean harvest holiday that fell on Oct. 3 this year, praying for leader Kim Jong-il's health and visiting their ancestral graves, state media said.
Recent photos of Kim suggest he has somewhat but not fully recovered from a stroke he reportedly suffered in August last year.
"Today, a full-moon night event is being under way with a large crowd missing the Beloved General (Kim Jong-il) and heartily praying for his well being, united in one mind," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Leader Kim Jong-il and other high-ranking officials started the holiday by placing flower baskets at the tombs of Kim's late family members and at national cemeteries, where the country's patriots are buried, according to the news media. Among the officials were Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, O Kuk-ryol, vice president of the National Defense Commission, and Choe Tae-bok, secretary of the Workers' Party Central Committee.
Family members gathered early in the morning in front of the tombs of their ancestors and bowed, they said.
Radio Pyongyang attributed the restoration of Chuseok as one of the country's biggest traditional holidays to Kim Jong-il's love for the people.
North Korea once prohibited official celebrations of Korea's traditional holidays -- Lunar New Year's Day and Chuseok -- under the socialist banner that rejects Korea's feudal traditions. But it allowed visits to ancestral graveyards for Chuseok in 1972 and restored Lunar New Year's Day in 1989.
The one-day Lunar New Year holiday was expanded to the current three-day holiday, and Chuseok was made into a one-day holiday in 2003 under the directive of leader Kim Jong-il to give greater importance to the traditional holidays, according to Choson Sinbo, a Korean-language newspaper in Japan that usually conveys North Korean policy.