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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 215 (June 21, 2012)

Pyongyang Denounces Clinton for 'Reckless' Remark on N.K's Human Rights

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 17 slammed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for what it calls "reckless remarks" on the North's human rights and public livelihood issues.

   In a spokesman's remark given to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North's foreign ministry urged Clinton to pay more attention to the issues of U.S. economic crisis and huge hordes of jobless people, instead of "imprudently" talking about the North's internal issues.

   "U.S. authorities are imprudently talking about 'human rights record' in the DPRK (North Korea) and 'the issue of its people's living' these days whenever an opportunity presents itself. Typical of them is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton," said the unidentified spokesman.

   "It was the U.S. that has long antagonized and threatened the DPRK, compelling it to build defense capability to cope with it. It is, however, urging the DPRK to give priority to 'people's living.' This is a hypocritical act of causing illness and then administering medicine."

   Referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "young man" in a news conference in Washington last week, Clinton urged him to choose between continued dictatorship and a "transformative" leadership.

   The North Korean official went on to reiterate Pyongyang's determination to push ahead with nuclear program.

   "The dear respected Kim Jong-un has already set forth a goal of Korean-style development and strategies and tactics for enabling the Korean people to live well with nothing to desire more in the world...The DPRK will make sustained efforts to bolster up its nuclear deterrent to guarantee the peace and security of the country and the nation as long as the U.S. persistently antagonizes it, in actuality, while saying that it has no hostile intent on the former," he said.

   "Hillary would be well advised to pay more attention to the issues of economic crisis and huge hordes of jobless people, which have become so serious that they may dash the hope of the administration of the Democratic Party for stay in power."

   The international community had both hopes and doubts over the North's leader reportedly in his late 20s. He took over power half a year ago after the sudden death of his father, Kim Jong-il, who ruled the communist nation for 17 years.

   The Kim Jong-un regime first showed signs of active engagement with the U.S., producing a Feb. 29 deal on some good-will steps, including the suspension some of its nuclear activities. But the North frustrated and angered the world with a long-range missile launch in April.


'Mount Kumgang Tour Is Wide Open for South Koreans,' North's Web Site

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has claimed the North has already invited South Korean businesspeople to rejoin the tour program to Mount Kumgang in the eastern coastal region, which has been suspended for nearly four years.

   In a report on June 18, the North's propaganda Web site "uriminzokkiri" said the country adopted a special law on the Mount Kumgang international tourist zone last year, insisting, "We have opened widely for South Korean businesspeople who have property at Mount Kumgang to participate in the new tourism business."

   The Web site also said the South Korean businesses expressed understanding toward the North's measures, with an intention to participate in the tour program.

   While criticizing Seoul's attempt to put the brakes on the resumption of the stalled mountain resort, the Web site said South Korean authorities are continuously making nasty and perverse remarks about the tour program that was jointly operated for a decade.

   Pyongyang's criticism was a response to recent remarks by South Korea's Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik, who took a negative view on the immediate resumption of the Mount Kumgang resort.

   Minister Yu, the point man on North Korea, said recently at the eastern border village of Goseong, Gangwon Province, that the Seoul government may be able to consider resuming the suspended the tour to the scenic mountain resort through dialogue with North Korea if Pyongyang takes steps to guarantee the safety of South Korean tourists.

   The two Koreas jointly ran the tour program at the scenic resort for a decade before Seoul halted it in the wake of the 2008 shooting death of a tourist by a North Korean soldier at an off-limits area of the resort.

   Further responding to the South Korean minister, the Web site said the North implemented maximum safety measures for South Korean tourists when the South Korean chairwoman of Hyundai Group previously visited Pyongyang.

   Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of Hyundai Asan Corp., the inter-Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, has operated the tour program. Hyun met the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il three times, starting in 2005.

   "Nevertheless, the South is trying to divert its responsibility for the suspension of the Mount Kumgang tourism program to us, while justifying its confrontational attitude toward North Korea," it claimed.

   Hyun, who took over the conglomerate from her late husband Chung Mong-hun in 2003, has been strongly committed to maintaining the group's business presence in the North despite the cooling of cross-border relations after conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008.

   Seoul has demanded a formal apology from Pyongyang for the shooting incident, in addition to improved security measures for tourists, as prerequisites for resuming the tour program, a key cash cow for the North.

   The North, however, previously expelled South Korean workers from the resort and disposed of all South Korean assets there after it unsuccessfully tried to pressure Seoul to resume the tour program.


North Korea Condemns U.S. for Breaching Armistice Agreement

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea condemned the U.S. for strengthening its military power in South Korea and warned that it will bolster its military capabilities in all ways to defend the country, the North's news outlets reported on June 18.

   "(North Korea) is watching with high vigilance the U.S. preparations for war and is increasing self-defense capabilities in every way to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the nation," a spokesman at the North's foreign ministry was quoted by the KCNA as saying.

   The remark came days after U.S. Army Gen. James Thurman, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, called for deploying additional attack helicopters in South Korea and increasing the capacity of ballistic and guided missiles, on June 12.

   "It is a violation of the armistice agreement and an open provocation against the DPRK (North Korea)," the spokesman said, also in regards to the U.S.-South Korea meetings and U.S.-Japan-South Korea joint military exercises.

   Adding that the intentions of the U.S. hinder the economic construction of the country and improving the living standards of its people, the spokesman said, "The U.S. is apt to vociferate about the provocation by the DPRK, but in fact, it is the arch criminal who escalates military tension by pursuing hostile policy toward the DPRK."

   The spokesman went on to say that the U.S. is subjugating "South Korea into a servant executing its war policy."

   On June 13 and 14, the foreign and defense ministers of the South and U.S. held meetings in Washington to strengthen the bilateral alliance and cooperate on North Korea issues.

   Furthermore U.S.-Japan-South Korea joint military exercises will be staged on June 21 and 22 in the West and South Seas of Korea and the U.S.

   North Korea has termed the trilateral drills "military provocations," accusing the U.S. of making "arms buildup moves" in South Korea.

   The two Koreas are still technically in a state of war, having signed no peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against the North.


N. Korea Marks Anniversary of Kim Jong-il's Start of Work at the WPK

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 18 marked the 48th anniversary its late leader Kim Jong-il started work at the ruling party, the first such celebration since the death of the longtime ruler last December.

   A national meeting was held at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang in honor of the elder Kim's start of work at the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK), with high officials from the party, government and military in attendance, the KCNA reported.

   Indicating the importance of the meeting, the participants included four members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee -- Kim Yong-nam, Choe Yong-rim, Choe Ryong-hae and Ri Yong-ho.

   The new leader Kim Jong-un, however, was not reported to have been present.

   Kim Jong-il started his political career at a department of the Central Committee on June 19, 1964, right after graduating from the North's prestigious Kimilsung University, with a degree in economics.

   Praising Kim Jong-il as the outstanding builder of the WPK who developed it into a Juche-oriented (self-reliance) revolutionary party, Kim Ki-nam, a member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the WPK Central Committee, said in the meeting, "Thanks to his leadership, the WPK has advanced along the road of victory."

   He also said the late leader's idea of party building and goals were successively being carried out by the new leader, adding that the party, military and its citizens will "materialize the idea of Kim Jong-il and accomplish his cause."

   And strings of festivities were held in line to mark the anniversary of the late Kim's start of work. The Mansudae Art Troupe put on a music and dance performance at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on June 19, while other performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Pyongyang Circus were held in the city.