NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 82 (November 26, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea Tells Citizens to Keep Their Hair Tidy
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has ordered men not to grow their hair long and women to keep their hair tied up, according to a recent edition of the country's party newspaper, in what appears to be an attempt to filter out foreign influences.
In an article titled "Tidy Up Your Hair Korean Style," Nov. 14 edition of Rodong Sinmun, published by the Workers' Party, presents an officially recommended hair code for its citizens that it says is "very important" for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The paper was acquired by Yonhap on Nov. 19.
"To keep your hair tidy and simple, as befits the socialist lifestyle and the contemporary sense of beauty, is a very important matter for setting the ethos of a sound lifestyle in the country," the paper said.
"A short hair cut is the basic style for men," it said, adding that trimmed hair makes men look "elegant, neat, ambitious and passionate."
"For women to have their hair down and mussed up" does not suit the "people of the revolutionary age," the paper said.
The paper also recommended short hair or plaited hair for female students, permed or tied-up hair for middle-aged women and a traditional bun style for elderly women.
N. Korea Criticizes U.S. Military in S. Korea During Obama Trip
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea blamed the U.S. military in South Korea for stoking regional tension in contrast to its own "sincere" peace efforts, a routine claim that surfaced again as U.S. President Barack Obama visited Seoul on Nov. 19.
Otherwise, North Korea quietly observed Obama's two-day trip in Seoul, during which he announced that the U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, Stephen Bosworth, will visit Pyongyang on Dec. 8 to engage the isolated country.
"The DPRK (North Korea) has made sincere efforts to defuse the tension on the Korean Peninsula and improve the inter-Korean relations," Rodong Sinmun, the North's major newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said.
"However, the bellicose forces of the U.S. and South Korea are going ahead with frantic moves for a war of aggression against the DPRK," the paper argued in an article carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency.
Some 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, serving as a safeguard against the North. Obama accentuated the U.S. troop presence here by choosing a U.S. air base as his single private tour in the country and the last destination of his Asia trip.
"America's commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK/ South Korea) will never waver," Obama told some 1,500 U.S. service members who gathered at the Osan Air Base, south of Seoul.
The North Korean paper claimed, "The U.S. imperialist aggressor forces' presence in South Korea and their daily intensifying moves for a war of aggression against the DPRK are the main factor of disturbing peace and security on the Korean Peninsula."
North Korea Sends Delegation to IMO Assembly in London
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Nov. 21 that a delegation of its officials has left for London to attend a session of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
"A delegation of the State Maritime Supervision Bureau led by its Director Ko Nung-du left here by air on Saturday to attend the 26th general assembly of the International Maritime Organization to be held in Britain," Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA said.
The event will be held at the IMO headquarters in London from Nov. 23- 4 Dec.4.
North Korea joined the IMO in 1986 and its embassy in London has served as Pyongyang's diplomatic mission to the IMO, the United Nations' specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.
In March, the North notified the IMO via an email of its plan to fire a long-range rocket and conducted the launch the following month.
N. Korea Blames S. Korea for No Progress in Bilateral Ties
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Seoul has snubbed Pyongyang's efforts to improve inter-Korean relations, a North Korean state newspaper claimed in a commentary on Nov. 21.
Criticism of the South Korean government by the North is not new but the latest attack was unusual in that the condemnation was leveled squarely at Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, naming Seoul's point man on Pyongyang directly.
"Due to our efforts to address the abnormal situation in North-South relations, a condition has been created to develop North-South ties to meet the demands of the contemporary era," Rodong Sinmun, the North's major newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said.
In particular, the North has offered a series of peace overtures either formally or unofficially toward the capitalist neighbor in recent months, it claimed.
But South Korea's "anti-reunification, conservative forces" including Hyun are ignoring North Korea's active efforts, it added.
The newspaper said progress in inter-Korean ties is "unthinkable as long as confrontational groups such as Hyun In-taek and the unification ministry exist."
It is the first time that the North's media has released criticism using Hyun's name since a delegation of high-ranking North Korean officials met South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in August during its trip to Seoul to attend the funeral of former president Kim Dae-jung. North Korea also freed a South Korean worker who had been detained there for months.
Rodong Sinmun said despite Pyongyang's good-will gestures, Hyun's ministry is opposing inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.
It singled out preconditions set by the ministry for the resumption of the tourism business to Mt. Kumgang along the North's east coast that has been suspended since the shooting death of a South Korean housewife visiting there by a North Korean soldier last year.
The ministry has called for the North to make a sincere apology, allow joint investigation into the case, and guarantee the safety of tourists for the resumption of the tourism project, a cash cow for the impoverished communist regime.
Kim Jong-il Inspects Police Headquarters, Indicating Strong Social Control
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has inspected the headquarters of the People's Security Ministry, state media said on Nov. 22, in a move seen as a bid to tighten internal control amid rising social unrest.
It marked Kim's first reported visit to the South Korean equivalent of a police headquarters since September 1998 when his first term in office began.
During the undated visit, the leader "expressed great satisfaction over the fact that all commanding officers and public security persons of the ministry have performed their duties in a responsible manner, deeply aware of the sense of their honorable mission as the first line unit in the class struggle and the interior force of the Party and praised the efforts made by them," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
After expressing the expectation that the public security officials "would protect the gains of the revolution and lives and properties of the people with their lives in the future, too," Kim set forth "important tasks which would serve as guidelines for further increasing the combat capability of the interior force," the KCNA said. But it did not mention what the tasks are.
He was accompanied by Kim Ki-nam, secretary of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK), Jang Song-thaek, department director of the WPK, and its other leading officials, the report said.
Kim's inspection to the headquarters of the People's Security Ministry is seen as an effort to tighten control on people through the ministry amid reported rising social unrest caused by chronic economic woes and food shortages.
The 67-year-old leader, who suffered a stroke in August last year, has reportedly tapped his youngest son Jong-un as successor.
Some analysts say Kim may have felt the need to remove any potential resistance by those complaining about another father-to-son power succession to make it work, through the ministry's increased role.
The report came after the KCNA said Kim has visited the July 18 Cattle Farm under the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 580 and asked the farm to increase beef production.
In two separate dispatches released on Nov. 22, the KCNA said Kim Jong-il has enjoyed an art performance given by members of the itinerant art squads of the Kim Jong Thae Electric Locomotive Complex, the Taean Heavy Machine Complex and the Tobacco Complex and the art circle of the Pyongyang Children's Foodstuff Factory.
Kim Jong-il then attended art performance given by soldiers of a company under KPA Unit 147, the KCNA said.
The North later reported Kim's visits to factories and enterprises in North Pyongan Province.
The KCNA said on Nov. 23 that Kim has provided field guidance to the Unsan Tool Factory and lit a torch to "bring about a radical turn in tool production."
The following day, the news agency said Kim inspected industrial establishments in the same province, including the Ryangchaek Bearing Factory and the Sinuiju Shoes Factory.
Kim Jong-il meets with China's Defense Minister Visiting Pyongyang
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Nov. 25 met with Liang Guanglie, China's defense minister who was visiting Pyongyang, the North's state media said the following day.
While saying Kim received Col. General Liang and his party on a visit to the North, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, "The Chinese defense minister courteously conveyed to Kim Jong-il the regards of Chinese President Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China."
The KCNA also said, "Kim Jong-il expressed thanks for this and asked Liang Guanglie to convey his regards to Hu Jintao bnefore having a cordial and friendly talk with Liang."
The meeting was attended by Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People's Armed Forces, Kang Sok-ju, first-vice minister of Foreign Affairs, the KCNA added.
Liang Guanglie arrived in North Korea on Nov. 22 as the first leg of his three-nation tour that countinues in Japan and Thailand until Dec. 5.
During the stay in the North, Liang held talks with Kim Yong-chun, who later hosted a reception for the Chinese delegation on Nov. 22.
"The visit to the DPRK (North Korea) by the Chinese defense minister will be of support and encouragement to the Korean army and people, and mark an important occasion in promoting the development of the traditional relations of friendship between the armies of the two countries," Kim was quoted by the KCNA as saying.
Liang expressed "deep thanks" for the hospitality, according to the KCNA. Also, as a Korean War veteran, he said that he had "witnessed for himself the Sino-DPRK friendly relations sealed in blood while staying in the DPRK as a soldier of the Chinese People's Volunteers more than 50 years ago.
"No force on earth can break the unity of the armies and peoples of the two countries, and it will last forever," Liang said.
The two talked in a "comradely and friendly atmosphere," the report said.
They met again on Nov. 24 for official talks to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.
"The tow sides exchanged opinions on ways of promoting the traditional friendship between their armies and a range of issues of common interest," the KCNA reported, without giving details.
After the talks, Liang visited the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery.
The allies' bilateral relationship showed signs of flagging after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May, with China joining punitive U.N. resolutions against the isolated state. But Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a rare trip to Pyongyang in October, promising large-scale economic aid. During his trip, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told Wen the North would conditionally return to six-nation talks on its nuclear program.
The allies mark 60 years of diplomatic relationship this year. Liang's visit to Pyongyang is the first by a Chinese defense minister since 2006.
North Korea sent a military delegation, led by Kim Jong-gak, first vice-director of the Korean People's Army general political bureau, to China last week.
The exchange of military visits follows U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Asia last week. Obama said in Seoul that the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, Stephen Bosworth, will visit Pyongyang on Dec. 8 to try to bring the communist country back to multilateral negotiations over its nuclear program.
North Korea Calls for Implementation of International Aid Commitments
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has urged the United Nations' food and agriculture agency to take steps to ensure that developed nations implement their proclaimed aid commitments, amid reports of chronic food shortages in the communist country.
The North's Korea Central News Agency on Nov. 25 said that a North Korean representative gave a speech on Nov. 20 in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO's) 36th general assembly, urging the FAO to "take a positive step to ensure that the developed countries unconditionally and sincerely implement the internationally proclaimed aid commitments."
The North's harvest this year is believed to fall more than one million tons short of food to feed its 24 million people. South Korean visitors have reported the ill conditions of rice paddies and corn fields due to the lack of fertilizer.
The World Food Program has said North Korea will need more than 800,000 tons of food aid from abroad to feed its 24 million people this year.
The unidentified representative also noted that the U.N. food agency should "channel primary efforts into creating an international environment for achieving sustainable agricultural development to weather the food crisis."
The FAO, the representative added, should aid its members to "work out agricultural strategies and policies suited to their actual conditions."
The North has frontloaded its efforts to "attain grain production goals to solve the food shortage by its own efforts," the official said, adding that the country will boost cooperative relations with FAO members to ensure world food security.
Seoul has ruled out any large-scale aid, in line with its support for U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear test in May. The punitive sanctions aim to curb financial benefits that flow into the country and could fund its atomic and missile programs.
In October, North Korea requested humanitarian aid from the South during Red Cross talks over cross-border family reunions. It was the North's first official request for assistance from the conservative Lee government.
Russia-North Korea Ties Contribute to Regional Security: Mironov
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Sergei Mironov, Russia's parliamentary speaker visiting Pyongyang, said on Nov. 25 that the close ties between his country and North Korea would contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, the North's media said.
In a speech given to the Supreme People's Assembly at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, the chairman of the Federation Council of Russia said that "close cooperation between the two peoples would greatly contribute to ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia," a report from the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), monitored in Seoul, said.
The Russian parliamentary speaker arrived in Pyongyang on Nov. 24 at the invitation of North Korea and met with his counterpart Choe Thae-bok that day for talks on issues of bilateral interest.
Mironov added in his speech that cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries is "conducive" to the development of the Russia-North Korea relations, and further called for "joint activities in the interests of the two countries' peoples."
Choe said at a reception that Mironov's visit would contribute to expanding the overall relations between North Korea and Russia, the report said.
In August, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev exchanged letters of greeting, which called for enhancement of bilateral ties, despite Russia joining a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea's second atomic test on May 25.
The exchange of letters between the North Korean and Russian leaders suggested that the countries continue to value their longstanding relationship forged during the Cold War era.
Meanwhile, Sergei Mikhailovich Mironov returned home from Pyongyang on Nov. 25 without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, according to the KCNA.