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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 217 (July 5, 2012)
*** NEWS IN BRIEF

N. Korea Claims Oldest Salt-making Site on Korean Peninsula

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean archaeologists have discovered the remains of a salt producing facility presumed to be from the ancient or earlier times, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on June 28.

   Archaeologists of the North's top Kimilsung University have unearthed the remains at a farming field in Nampho on the North's west coast, according to the Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper seen as a mouthpiece of the Pyongyang regime.

   Remains of a salt producing site can be significant archaeological evidence for measuring economic levels of the people who lived in the area where the remains were unearthed. Experts in Seoul say no such remains from a period before the ancient era have been found on the Korean Peninsula.

   Found at the site were about 50 round-shaped embankments of different sizes, which are believed to have been used for making salt, the newspaper said. Pieces of iron kilns, pottery and bricks from the ancient era were also found at the site, it added.

   The newspaper then said the remains may be those of a salt well used to lock salt water for producing salt.

   It did not mention in detail about the presumed age of the remains but stressed that the remains are highly likely from a period before the ancient times, pointing to the location of the site as one of the North's main archaeological sites for remains from the Neolithic and Bronze ages and ancient times.

   But South Korean archaeologists say the North's claim on the discovery of the remains of a salt-making site may be true but needs to be verified further.

   "It is hard to determine that the remains were those of a salt-making facility simply based on the materials released by the North," an expert said. "We need a separate verification."

  
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N. Korean Woman Claims She Was Lured to Defect to S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean woman claimed on June 28 that she was lured by South Korean agents to defect to the South, North Korea's official media outlet reported.

   According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Park Jung-suk claimed during a news conference in Pyongyang earlier in the day that she fled the socialist state on March 29, 2006 to meet her father who had settled in the South after the 1950-53 Korean War.

   She claimed that she was tricked into defecting to the South, but returned to the North on May 25.

   According to the report, Park said North Korean defectors, frustrated with their lives in the South, want to return to their homeland.

   Seoul's Unification Ministry said it is checking whether the woman really defected to the South, as was claimed.

   More than 24,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the war, according to the Unification Ministry.

  
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North Korea Blasts Japan for Claims to Remote Islets

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, like its estranged southern neighbor, has stepped up its offensive against Japan for repeatedly laying claim to a group of tiny islets hundreds of kilometers to Japan's south, calling the move an "ambition for territorial expansion."

   In an interview with the KCNA on June 28, an unnamed spokesman for Pyongyang's foreign ministry said Japan's claims to the Okinotori islets, about 1,700 kilometers south of Tokyo, are nothing more than "absurd assertions" that bring instability to the region.

   Japan and South Korea have also been at political odds over Tokyo's repeated claims to the South's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

   The North Korean spokesman's remarks came after the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf decided earlier this month not to recognize the islets as Japanese territory as they are also considered rocks and therefore have no exclusive economic zone.

   "Shortly ago, a U.N. organization on the continental shelf boundary issued a written advice disagreeing with Japan's proposal for the extension of continental shelf," the spokesman told KCNA, in an English-language dispatch monitored in Seoul. "However, Japan distorted it in its selfish interests and asserted that (Okinotori) was recognized as islet. This is an example signaling Japan's ambition for territorial expansion."

   The spokesman said the islets are mere rocks that do not fit the category of islands as defined by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

   "Nevertheless, Japan tried to make (Okinotori) an islet and put its surrounding seabed under its exclusive control. This is the sinister intention sought by brazen-faced Japan," the spokesman said.

   The official also spoke of Tokyo's claims to Dokdo, warning the international community to be "vigilant against Japan's ambition for territorial expansion and thoroughly reject it for peace of the world and welfare of mankind."

  
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North Korean Media Promote Hymn to Kim Jong-un

SEOUL (Yonhap) --North Korea's state-run media have been playing a new hymn dedicated to the country's leader Kim Jong-un in an apparent effort to reinforce his personality cult and justify the regime's hereditary succession of power.

   The title of the song, "Onwards toward the final victory," is the last phrase of Kim's speech on April 15, which marked the 100th birth anniversary of his grandfather, the country's founding leader Kim Il-sung.

   North Korean media outlets, including the Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Radio Pyongyang, have been playing the hymn several times a day since the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Workers' Party, published the score on its front page last Tuesday.

   The broadcasts claim the song is gaining popularity across the nation and generating enthusiastic responses from soldiers, workers and college students.

   It is the first time North Korea has publicly promoted a propaganda song written for Kim since the young leader in his late 20s took power following his father's death in December.

   Another song titled "Footsteps" was released in 2009 in honor of the then heir apparent.

  
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N.K. Vows to Continue Space Program and Bolster Nuke Deterrence

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on July 2 it will continue its space development efforts for "peaceful purposes," repeating its stance in defiance of the international community's call for an end to any action that could ratchet up ongoing tensions.

   In an interview carried in English by the KCNA, a spokesperson from North Korea's Foreign Ministry also vowed the country would strengthen its nuclear deterrence against what it calls the "hostile policy" of the United States.

   North Korea launched a long-range rocket in April, claiming it was to put a satellite into orbit. South Korea and the U.S. believe it was a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology.

   The rocket launch effectively negated a Feb. 29 deal with the U.S. under which Pyongyang would freeze nuclear and missile tests in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid.

   "The U.S. violated the independent and legitimate right of the DPRK (North Korea) to launch satellites and is increasing its military pressure upon it and frantically stepping up the preparations for a war against it," the spokesperson said, using the acronym for the North's official name.

   "This is a vivid expression of its hostile policy towards the DPRK which clearly proved the falsity of the commitment made by the U.S. in the February 29 DPRK-U.S. Agreement that it respects the former's sovereignty and does not antagonize it," he added.

   He said the U.S. is using food aid to his country for its own political purpose, adding that Pyongyang "never accepts such food motivated by a sinister political aim."

   "As already clarified more than once, it will steadily push forward the space development for peaceful purposes. The DPRK will also steadily bolster up its nuclear deterrence," he noted.

  
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N. Korea Says 51 Athletes to Compete in London Olympics

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A total of 51 North Korean athletes will compete in the upcoming London Olympics, up from 49, the North's state-run news agency said on July 4.

   The increase is because two additional athletes -- a male diver and a female boxer -- recently qualified for the Olympic Games that will run from July 27 through Aug. 12, the KCNA said.

   The North Koreans will compete in 11 events, including women's football, marathon, table tennis, judo, wrestling, weightlifting, shooting, archery and synchronized swimming, the KCNA said.

   North Korea won four golds at the 1992 Olympics, and two golds at each of the 1996 and 2008 Games.

   It remains unclear whether North Koreans can watch the games as South Korea's SBS television network has retained the rights to air the quadrennial sporting extravaganza for the entire Korean Peninsula.

   In 2010, North Korea aired the World Cup finals in South Africa with the help of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and football's international governing body FIFA.

  
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N.K. Praises Founding Leader on 40th Anniversary of Inter-Korean Communique

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Marking the 40th anniversary of the inter-Korean joint communique, North Korea on July 4 praised its founder Kim Il-sung for his "endless efforts" in laying the "cornerstone of unification" through the 1972 communique.

   The North's state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said, "The historic agreement between the North and the South, the first of its kind, is the fruit of founder Kim Il-sung's endless efforts to achieve unification as well as his ardent support for his homeland and the people."

   The newspaper went on to uphold current leader Kim Jong-un as the prominent heir, while at the same time blaming South Korea and the U.S. for the recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

   Radio Pyongyang, the North's official media outlet, also aired appraisals of the former leader, attributing the joint statement as "an everlasting achievement that could only be accomplished by late founder Kim Il-sung."

   The July 4 joint communique, signed in 1972 by late President Park Chung-hee and Kim Il-sung, outlines the basic principles for unification and the future direction of cooperation between North and South Korea.

   The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

  
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Pro-Pyongyang S. Korean Activist Meets with N. Korea's No. 2 leader

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A South Korean unification activist on an unauthorized visit to North Korea met with the socialist nation's No. 2 leader on July 4, Pyongyang's official news agency reported.

   Ro Su-hui, 68, a leader of a pro-Pyongyang organization, has been in North Korea since March 24 on an unsanctioned trip to attend a memorial service to mark the 100th day anniversary of the death of Pyongyang's long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

   He is scheduled to return to the South through the border village of Panmunjom on July 5.

   On the eve of his return, Ro met with Kim Yong-nam, the North's ceremonial head of state considered second in line to leader Kim Jong-un, "in a compatriotic atmosphere," the KCNA said in a brief dispatch.

   Police in South Korea say they will arrest Ro at the border village for questioning about his pro-North Korean activities in the North. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of sneaking into the North, according to police.

   North Korea has warned the South against arresting Ro. Seoul's anti-communist National Security Law prohibits citizens from visiting the North without prior approval or from praising the North.

  (END)
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