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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 112 (June 24, 2010)

North Korea Pledges Intense Struggle against U.N. Sanctions

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 18 pledged to vehemently fight against the international community's efforts to punish the country in a form of U.N. sanctions for the March sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, vowing to respond with harsh countermeasures.

   The pledge came in an address delivered by Choe Thae-bok, secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, in a national meeting held at the April 25 People's Army House of Culture in Pyongyang to mark Kim Jong-il's start of the work of the WPK Central Committee.

   According to Pyongyang's account, Kim Jong-il started to work in a department of the WPK Central Committee on June 19, 1964, right after graduating from Kimilsung University, which is named after his father.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Choe as saying, North Korea "will deal merciless blows at any act for 'punishment'… and 'sanctions'" on the country.

   The North's finger-pointing comes amid ever-mounting tension between the two Koreas, which further deteriorated after South Korea referred the Cheonan incident to the U.N. Security Council in early June for a rebuke of the North.

   Remarking that South Korea has "pushed the inter-Korean relations to a total collapse," Choe outrightly condemned the South for referring the sunken ship case to the U.N. with the U.S. in order to impose additional sanctions on poverty and famine-stricken North Korea.

   "The South Korean group of traitors is now getting frantic with its unprecedented conspiratorial moves to escalate confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea) after orchestrating the case of the sinking of a warship of the (South's) puppet army in collusion with the U.S. imperialists," Choe said.

   Choe also emphasized that North Korea will further step up the military base to preserve its brittle socialist regime, hinting at possible military provocations or additional missile and nuclear tests if driven into a corner by the U.S. and South Korea's hard-line policy.


N. Korean Leader Makes Robust Outings amid Tension with S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- In one of his most energetic public outings this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il inspected a training base for military officers and a string of industrial facilities, the socialist state's official media reported on June 20.

   Kim "inspected the training center for commanding officers of (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 593" while visiting a mine, an electronics factory, a co-operative farm and a machine complex in northwestern North Korea, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in reports datelined on June 19. Pyongyang's media usually report on Kim's activities a day later.

   The reports did not say where the training base was, nor did it reveal the ranks of the officers.

   The trips come as South Korea is implementing a raft of measures to punish North Korea both economically and politically after it blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of its warship in March.

   Denying its role, North Korea has threatened war if it is punished for the sinking that killed 46 sailors.

   Since apparently suffering a stroke 2008, 68-year-old Kim has stepped up his public activities. The number of his outings reached an all-time high last year, coming in at about 200.


North Korea Says It Will Not Endure U.S. Mudslinging Attempts

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea lashed out at the U.S. for engaging in a smear campaign against it, after a U.S. official blamed the North for allegedly pirating signals from South Korea to broadcast the World Cup, the official (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on June 21.

   A spokesman for the North's foreign ministry was quoted by the KCNA as saying, the U.S. went as far as "imprudently" calling it a "criminal state" based on "false reports" that suspected North Korea may have obtained unlicensed signals from South Korea, and the North pledged it "will never allow the U.S. to sling mud at it."

   In response to spokesman for U.S. Department of State Philip Crowley's ungrounded denunciation of North Korea's piracy, the spokesman stressed the socialist country broadcast the World Cup matches through a "legitimate" means by making "an agreement with the relevant international organizations."

   Crowley's accusation comes amid a tightening war of nerves between the two countries over the North's attack on the Cheonan, which worsened after the U.S. adamantly pushed ahead with the U.N. sanctions on North Korea by taking the case to the Security Council in early June to make it account for its military provocation.

   FIFA said on June 14 that North Korea signed a deal with the Asian-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) to air matches live in the socialist country.

   Previous talks between South Korea's broadcaster SBS, which has the sole World Cup broadcasting rights for the Korean Peninsula, and the North collapsed over frayed political tension between the divided countries.


S. Korean Pastor on Illegal Visit to North Korea Interviewed in Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A South Korean pastor, on an illegal trip to North Korea, denounced the Seoul government on June 22 for negating an inter-Korean summit agreement reached in 2000 pledging to reconcile, the North's media said.

   Rev. Han Sang-ryeol entered North Korea on June 12 apparently via Beijing to attend a joint ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the summit agreement. The Seoul government outlawed Han's trip and indicated that he may be arrested when he returns home.

   Pro-unification activists of both Koreas had jointly marked the June 15, 2000 summit until a conservative government, led by President Lee Myung-bak, was installed in Seoul in 2008 with a get-tough policy toward the North intent on developing nuclear weapons.

   Inter-Korean relations have deteriorated in the recent past after Seoul openly held North Korea responsible for sinking one of its warships near the Yellow Sea border on March 26 with the loss of 46 sailors.

   North Korea has denied any involvement in the ship sinking and warned that it would go to war if punished over the incident. South Korea has taken the case to the U.N. Security Council to censure the North.

   According to anti-government groups in Seoul, Han and other South Korean activists had sought government permission for a trip to Pyongyang for this year's anniversary ceremony but their request was turned down.

   Under the national security law, all South Koreans need government permission for a trip to North Korea.

   During a news conference at the People's Palace of Culture in the North's capital, Pyongyang, Han criticized the Seoul government for denying the summit agreement and making anti-unification moves by cutting off all cross-border exchanges, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   The KCNA report, monitored in Seoul, said the pastor will return home by way of the truce village of Panmunjom on the Aug. 15 Korean Independence Day from Japanese colonial rule.

   Foreign journalists based in North Korea attended the news conference, it said.