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2009/12/10 11:41 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 84 (December 10, 2009)


North Korea Accuses South of Prepping for War

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused South Korea on Dec. 2 of staging military drills near the inter-Korean border, calling them "war maneuvers" targeted against the northern neighbor.

   Citing a military source, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) gave a detailed account of what it claims were South Korea's latest military exercises just south of the heavily fortified border.

   "The war-like forces of the South Korean puppet army are these days staging frantic war maneuvers targeted against the DPRK (North Korea) in the area along the forefront," the report said, citing an unidentified source.

   The report claimed the South Korean army's Ssangyong unit commenced a large field mobile exercise involving troops, tanks and armored cars in the cities of Chuncheon and Hwacheon, Gangwon Province, on Nov. 30.

   On Nov. 27, the North claimed South Korea dispatched military trucks carrying at least 20 pieces of 105mm artillery from Munsan, a western border town, toward the military demarcation line.

   South Korean artillery and tank units also fired more than 200 shells from Dec. 1 to 2, "inciting a war atmosphere," the report claimed.

   "The madcap maneuvers for a war of aggression against the north being staged by the war-like forces of the south Korean puppet army in the area along the forefront are a blatant challenge to the desire of all the fellow countrymen for independence and reunification," the report said.


North Korea Shows Interest in 'Green Growth'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea is taking great interest in the issue of "low-carbon, green growth" aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to its monthly magazine.

   Defining a low-carbon economy as one that seeks to minimize emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, Chollima, a North Korean monthly magazine, said in its November edition, "Now is the golden opportunity to transform the world economy into a low-carbon economy."

   It is necessary to build a low-carbon economy because developments in science and technology and the ensuing construction of plants have led to diverse changes such as desertification and global warming, posing a threat to the very existence of mankind, said the magazine that was belatedly obtained in Seoul.

   "The goal of a low-carbon economy is to boost energy efficiency through technological innovation and managerial improvements and change the pattern of consumption focused on fossil fuels," Chollima stressed.

   Building a low-carbon economy will not only prove effective in protecting the environment, but also provide an impetus for the growth of the global economy, the magazine said, adding experts see the outbreak of the global financial crisis as a catalyst for green growth.

   North Korea, which has joined both the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of global warming and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, enacted an environmental law in April 2005, which lists the destruction of the ozone layer and global warming as the causes of environmental destruction.


N. Korea Paints Rosy Outlook Amid Reports of Currency Panic

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea expressed confidence on Dec. 4 that its effort to build a strong socialist economy is gaining momentum thanks to its people's determination, amid reports of internal disorder sparked by Pyongyang's surprise currency reform.

   "The Korean people today, demonstrating their mental power of self-regeneration and fight against hardships, are making strenuous efforts to build a strong, prosperous and powerful socialist nation," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   North Korean media remained silent as the drastic currency revaluation, reportedly implemented on Nov. 30 without warning, reportedly threw its citizenry into panic.

   The KCNA instead presented a rosy picture for the North's isolated economy, underlining the nation's unity, self-sufficiency and scientific feats such as the April launch of the Kwangmyongsong-2.

   Pyongyang claims the launch successfully orbited a satellite, while outsiders say no such satellite entered space and view it as a failed missile test. The U.N. Security Council adopted a punitive resolution against the North following the launch.

   The reason the satellite launch was a success "is because the (North) Korean people exerted a strenuous struggle with an independent spirit and conviction that their own style and their own power are the best way," the KCNA said.

   "There are quite a few things that are still in shortage for the Korean people," the North said, in a rare acknowledgement of hardship inside the communist state, "But nothing is impossible."


North Korea Lambasts Seoul over Human Rights Campaign

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea lashed out Dec. 5 against a proposed South Korean law addressing the communist neighbor's widely-reported human rights abuses, calling it an "unpardonable and grave hostile act."

   A subcommittee at the National Assembly passed the bill on human rights in North Korea late last month, hoping to get it passed in parliament before the session ends on Dec. 9.

   The bill calls for the foreign ministry to appoint a special envoy on North Korean human rights that would cooperate with the international community and the Seoul unification minister to draw up a plan every three years to improve the North's human rights conditions and report results to the National Assembly.

   "This is an intolerable insult and unpardonable politically motivated provocation to the DPRK (North Korea) as it is a revelation of the ambition of traitors to the nation to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK because they are steeped in it to the marrow of their bones," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   The KCNA said that the move "proves that the smear anti-DPRK human rights campaign of the puppet clique of South Korea has reached a graver phase." The conservative South Korean administration of President Lee Myung-bak co-sponsored this year's U.N. resolution condemning the North's human rights situation.

   "It is an unpardonable and grave hostile act for them to go mad with an anti-DPRK smear campaign under the pretext of human rights," it said. "It is impossible to expect any improvement in the north-south relations as long as the anti-reunification forces in south Korea go frantic with the moves to escalate confrontation with the DPRK, swimming against the trend of the times."

   The KCNA continued, "The human rights issue does not exist under the dignified socialist system in the DPRK where the popular masses fully enjoy an independent life as a full-fledged master of the state and society with all kinds of political freedom and rights substantially guaranteed."

   The U.N. and many global agencies argue on the basis of defector testimony and other evidence that "systemic, widespread, and grave violations" of human rights are prevalent in North Korea.


North Korean Computer Game Program Wins Global Contest

Seoul (Yonhap) -- A North Korean computer program recently won the 3rd Computer Go Program Contest held in Japan, beating competitors from the United States and other countries.

   The program outperformed more than 30 programs developed by ace teams from various countries including Japan, the United States and France, the North's Korean Central Television Broadcasting Station reported.

   "Young scientists of North Korea upgraded the level of the go program by making the core module of their program in Korean-style and independently setting up the process of simultaneous search," it said.

   The win came despite the unfavorable situation in which its developers were barred from participating in the contest due to the "Japanese reactionaries' hostile policy toward North Korea," and only ordinary computers could be used for their program, the station claimed.

   With the latest victory, North Korea retained the title of the international go program contest for the seventh time.

   Developed by the (North) Korea Computer Center (KCC), the artificial intelligence program began to draw international attention after winning the global championship for the first time in 1998.


North Korea Confirms H1N1 Outbreak

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Dec. 9 acknowledged for the first time that it has domestic cases of Influenza A, raising international concern that the virus may spread rapidly among its impoverished population.

   "New Influenza A/H1N1 broke out in some areas of the DPRK (North Korea) amid the growing of [the disease's] victims worldwide," the North's Korean Central News Agency said.

   Nine people have been confirmed to have the new flu virus in Sinuiju, a northern town bordering China, and in the capital, Pyongyang, the report said, citing the Ministry of Public Health. Its State Emergency Anti-epidemic Committee has taken actions to prevent a pandemic and enhance medical treatment for patients, the report said.

   "The relevant organ is further perfecting the quarantine system against the spread of this flu virus while properly carrying on the prevention and medical treatment," the report said.

   The official confirmation comes a day after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ordered his government to help North Korea deal with a possible outbreak of the virus, saying it could do serious damage throughout the impoverished state.

   Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid group, said in its Monday bulletin that about a dozen people have died from the disease in North Korea. Schools started winter vacation a month early on Dec. 4 due to the rapid spread of disease, the aid group said, citing sources inside North Korea.

   Seoul's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, was considering sending a message to North Korea to discuss the aid measures, such as shipments of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu and other medicine.

   During previous pandemics, such as the avian flu outbreak in 2005, the isolated North promptly called for international help.