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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 116 (July 22, 2010)

Kim Jong-il Inspects Newly Reclaimed Tidal Flat, Aqua Farm

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has recently inspected a newly reclaimed massive tideland to be used as a large-scale agricultural, fishing and industrial site.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on July 15 that Kim provided field guidance to the 88-million-square-meter Taegyedo Tideland on the northern tip of the west coast.

   The North Korean leader was accompanied by Jang Song-thaek; vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; and Kim Phyong-hae, chief secretary of the North Pyongan Provincial Committee of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea, the KCNA said.

   The project, the largest ever in the history of tideland reclamation in North Korea, was initiated by the late North Korean founder Kim Il-sung in the early 1980s, and succeeded by his son and present leader.

   The KCNA said the reclaimed area connects Taedasas Islet, Kacha Islet, Soyondong Islet and Taegye Islet in the West Sea, with dikes extending several kilometers.

   Kim "highly praised the builders and their helpers for having successfully built one more great structure in the era of the Workers' Party," the report said.

   The leader also called upon workers at the reclaimed land to complete the planned second-phase project to reclaim tideland in Kwaksan County.

   In a separate report on the same day, the KCNA said Kim also inspected a newly completed aquiculture ground and oyster farm at the Amnok River Fishery Station.

   According to the report, Kim expressed "great satisfaction" after looking around the facilities but also underscored the need to introduce more "advanced scientific" means to increase productivity.

   On July 20, the KCNA also reported that Kim watched a performance by the art squad of the Kimjongsuk Pyongyang Silk Mill and the Pyongyang Textile Mill.

   The performance included the chorus song "The General Is Our Father," dialogic poem "We Sing of the Loving Care Shown by the Three Commanders of Mt. Paektu," and the female chorus and pangchang "Recollecting the Birthplace."


N. Korea Reports Increased Production ahead of Party Meeting

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's media have raised propaganda highlighting increased production and innovation in farming and light industries, both of which are closely related to people's livelihoods, ahead of a meeting of core ruling party delegates.

   In September, the socialist state will hold its first meeting of senior Workers' Party delegates in 44 years, a move that observers say may be aimed at paving the ground for leader Kim Jong-il to transfer power to his third son, Jong-un.

   The (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) reported on July 15 that the farmers at cooperative farms throughout the country have stepped up production in rice paddies and corn fields armed with "the passion to greet the party meeting with great farming output."

   Radio Pyongyang also reported that factories in various regions have increased output of "people's goods," noting items such as blankets, wardrobes and roof tiles, in preparation for the upcoming party meeting.

   The Rodong Sinmun, the paper for the Worker's Party, also carried an editorial on the same day that focused on the party's policies on light industries and ways to improve people's livelihoods.

   On July 18, the KCBS reported that Kimilsung University and the State Academy of Science, along with a string of bodies, ranging from those in government and education to commerce, have held pep rallies and adopted resolutions supporting the upcoming party meeting.

   Experts in South Korea say that this year's meeting may aim to fill some seats in the politburo of the party that remain empty due to the deaths of elderly members and, more importantly, to consolidate a hereditary power transfer.

   Kim Jong-il is said to have suffered a stroke in August 2008. South Korean intelligence believes that the youngest of the leader's three sons, Jong-un, is being groomed to succeed him.


N. Korean Cabinet Discusses Economic Policies for Third Quarter

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The North Korean Cabinet has recently convened to plan the country's economic policies for the third quarter of this year amid deepening economic woes and growing social deviation, its official news media said.

   In the extended plenary session, the Cabinet discussed measures to boost the country's economy for the third quarter while also going through its economic performance and budgeting for the first half of the year, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said July 17.

   Attended by top members of the Cabinet, Premier Choe Yong-rim presided over the meeting for the first time since he was promoted to his current post at a rare parliamentary session in early June, in which the North Korean Cabinet conducted a major reshuffle of senior officials.

   The KCNA said that Vice Premiers Ri Thae-nam and Pak Su-gil gave a briefing on the items discussed at the meeting, but did not provide the exact date and details of the session as is customary for the reclusive country.

   The meeting was also attended by the workers directly under the Cabinet, administrative officials, top officials from each city, county and province, and directors of the North's main factories and industrial plants.

   North Korea is currently facing severe economic difficulties, which were further aggravated when South Korea -- one of the North's two major business partners along with China -- cut off nearly all trade with the country in reaction to a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in late March, which it blames on the North.


AFC Chief Makes Two-day Visit to Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam met with a North Korean official in Pyongyang on July 19, the second and last day of his two-day trip to the country, the North's media said.

   "Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, met and had a talk with Mohamed Hammam Saad Al-Abdulla, chairman of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and his party at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on July 19," said the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in a brief dispatch.

   The AFC chief, also an executive member in FIFA, arrived in Pyongyang on July 18 to launch FIFA's "Goal Project," which helps underdeveloped countries build football fields and other sport facilities, according to the Web site of the AFC.

   According to the AFC, Hammam planned wide-ranging talks with the president of North Korea's football governing body and sports minister, before flying to China on July 19.

   North Korea, which lost all three group matches in South Africa at its first World Cup in 44 years, was offered free World Cup footage in line with FIFA's policy to promote football in poor countries.

   In a separate report later on July 19, the KCNA also said that a new training camp with 60 beds has been built for the North's national football team under the FIFA Goal Project.

   The report said the camp, with a floor space of more than 2 100 square meters, has bedrooms, dining halls, bath rooms, a swimming pool and a video room, adding the opening ceremony took place on July 19 with the attendance of Hammam and North Korean officials.


North Korean FM Departs from Pyongyang to Attend ARF Meeting

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Foreign Minister departed from Pyongyang for Hanoi on July 20 to attend an annual regional security forum, the North's state media reported.

   The annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be held in Hanoi on July 23 with top diplomats from 27 member countries attending.

   "A DPRK (North Korea) delegation headed by Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun left Pyongyang on July 20 to attend the ARF to be held in Hanoi," said the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), monitored in Seoul.

   The delegation will also visit Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia after the regional forum, according to the KCNA.

   The sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan is sure to be the top agenda item at this year's meeting, although the communist country has denied any responsibility. A multinational probe led by South Korea concluded that a North Korean torpedo attack sank the 1,200-ton corvette, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

   South Korea is expected to seek a strongly worded statement internationally condemning the North's military provocation. The U.N. Security Council already issued a presidential statement "deploring" the attack, albeit without directly referring to North Korea as the perpetrator.


North Korea Reaches Quarterfinals at U-20 Women's World Cup

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany and is set to face the host nation for a spot in the semifinals.

   North Korea, champions of the 2006 tournament, finished second in Group B to Sweden after losing 3-2 to the Europeans on July 20. Other group rivals, Brazil and New Zealand, lost to the Asians in earlier matches.

   The match between North Korea and Sweden was a hard fought, with the game tied at 2-2 early on in the second half.

   North Korea, however, suffered an unexpected blow with 15 minutes remaining after Hyon Un-hui, while trying to clear the ball after a save by goalkeeper Hong Myong-hui, accidentally pushed it into the North Korean net.

   The North Koreans will face Germany, top finisher of Group A, on July 25.