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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 216 (June 28, 2012)

Construct of Changjon Street in Downtown Pyongyang Completed

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The construction of Changjon Street in downtown Pyongyang, including a spate of high-rises apartments, was completed in mid-June just 13 months after groundbreaking for it, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on June 20.

   Demonstrating the completion of the street, which is one of projects to make North Korea a powerul country, high-ranking officials from the party, government and army, attended a completion ceremony.

   They included Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA); Premier Choe Yong-rim; Choe Ryong-hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) and director of the General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA).

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un paid deep attention to building the street, the North's news outlet said, adding, "There are in the street edifices, skyscrapers and multi-storied apartment houses, public buildings and welfare and service centers."

   The new street has been located in the Mansudae area where the statues of former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il stand, the KCNA said.

   Pyongyang citizens started moving into the apartments just after the completion ceremony. "The street lined with high-rises is now crowded with newcomers," the KCNA reported on June 23.


North Korea's Kaesong Applies for World Heritage Designation

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has asked UNESCO to designate its southern border city of Kaesong as a World Heritage Site, according to the U.N. body in charge of heritage.

   The North's move was made public a day after the World Heritage Committee opened its 36th session in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The session is to last until July 6. The committee has a final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List.

   In 2011, North Korea proposed historic monuments and sites in Kaesong for inscription on the list, though its bid failed due to insufficient documents.

   The International Council on Monuments and Sites, an advisory body to UNESCO, plans to visit Kaesong between July and October for an on-site inspection, according to South Korea's Cultural Heritage Administration.

   The World Heritage Committee is expected to decide whether to place Kaesong on the UNESCO's World Heritage List during the 37th session slated between late June 2013 and early July 2013.

   North Korea has cooperated with South Korea to better preserve the ruins of Manwoldae, the royal palace of the Goryeo Dynasty that ruled the Korean Peninsula from 918 to 1392.

   Kaesong served as the capital for most of Goryeo's reign. Now it is home to an industrial complex run by the two divided Koreas.


Pyongyang Denounces U.S. for Firing at North Korean Flag

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea vowed on June 25 to further strengthen its nuclear deterrent to cope with what it called U.S. hostile policy, leveling criticism at the latest South Korea-U.S. joint military drill.

   The latest rhetoric came after North Korea's flag was fired upon during a South Korea-U.S. joint live-fire drill near the border with the North on June 22. The socialist nation, which conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, has made similar threats in recent years.

   "It is an extremely grave military action and politically-motivated provocation to fire live bullets and shells at the flag of a sovereign state without a declaration of war," the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said in an English-language statement carried by the KCNA.

   The unidentified spokesman also claimed the "reckless act" by the U.S. was the most vivid expression of its hostile policy toward the North.

   North Korea "will further bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense as long as the U.S. ... persists in its hostile policy towards" Pyongyang, the spokesman said in the statement.

   North Korea has long used the term, "nuclear deterrent," to refer to its nuclear arsenal.

   The North frequently accuses the United States of hostility toward Pyongyang and plotting with South Korea to invade North Korea.

   In March, U.S. President Barack Obama said during a trip to Seoul that Washington has no hostile intent toward North Korea and is prepared to improve relations between the two.

   The North's latest threat comes on the 62nd anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter North Korea's possible aggression.


N.K. Slams U.S. for Raising 'Non-existent' Issue of Human Trafficking

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has accused the United States of slandering Pyongyang over what it claims is non-existent human trafficking.

   Human trafficking "does not exist" in the North "where everybody is equal and the people's true democratic rights and freedom … are legally guaranteed," the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said on June 26 in an English-language statement carried by the KCNA.

   The statement came days after the U.S. State Department ranked North Korea as one of the countries with the poorest record of fighting human trafficking.

   North Korea is a "source country for men, women and children who are subject to forced labor, forced marriage and sex trafficking," the State Department said last week in its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

   The North's statement dismissed the U.S. report as "lies and fabrications" and claimed that the U.S. is the kingpin of human trafficking in the world.

   The North's Foreign Ministry also said that the U.S. move proves that Washington remains unchanged in its hostile intention to isolate and stifle North Korea.

   The ministry warned that the U.S. hostile policy would eventually make North Korea bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense, referring to its nuclear arsenal.

   In a separate statement on Monday, the North's ministry vowed that the North will further strengthen its nuclear deterrent as it denounced the U.S. for firing at the North Korean flag during a recent South Korea-U.S. joint live-fire drill.

   In March, U.S. President Barack Obama said that Washington has no hostile intent toward North Korea.


North Korea Names Filmmaker as New Culture Minister

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has named a filmmaker as its new culture minister in what could be an attempt to take advantage of movies to further consolidate the power of its young leader Kim Jong-un.

   Hong Kwang-sun, who served as director of a movie studio affiliated with the military, replaced An Dong-chun as the country's new culture minister.

   Hong's appointment was confirmed on June 27 when he identified himself as culture minister in a contribution by him posted on the Internet edition of the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

   North Korea's state media did not officially report the replacement.

   In the article, Hong praised Kim Jong-un for dedicating everything to bring happiness and prosperity to the socialist country.

   Yoo Dong-ryul, a senior research officer at the Seoul's state-run Police Science Institute, said the appointment suggested that "North Korea will use movies to build a personality cult around Kim Jong-un."

   Kim Jong-un took over the socialist country following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il.