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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 218 (July 12, 2012)

Survey Shows 7 out of 10 S. Koreans Believe N. Korea Could Collapse

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Seven of 10 young South Koreans believe the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea may collapse, a new poll showed on July 5.

   The telephone survey of 1,000 adults released by the National Unification Advisory Council found that 74.6 percent of those questioned said the socialist country could collapse.

   Of them, 14.3 percent said the fall of the Kim regime could take place in the next few years while 60.3 percent said it could take time before the regime collapses, according to the poll.

   Meanwhile, 18.6 percent of those surveyed said the North could last more than 30 years.

   The survey questioned 1,000 people aged between 19 and 40 across the country between April 6 and 8, and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, according to the presidential advisory body on unification.

   The survey results came a day after the council said Kim is unlikely to face any challenges to the power he inherited upon the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

   The council made the assessment on the grounds that North Korea has been ruled by Kim's family since its foundation in 1948 and that China supports the new leader, believed to be in his late 20s.

   China's endorsement is widely seen as crucial in keeping the Kim family dynasty, as the impoverished North has long relied on diplomatic support and economic aid from its key ally.


U.S. Has Received 135 N. Korean Refugees Since 2006: State Dept.

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States received five North Korean refugees in June, statistics showed on July 7, bringing the number of North Korean defectors who settled down in the States to 135 since 2006.

   The U.S. has to date accepted 11 North Korean refugees for the fiscal year 2012 that began in December, according to figures released by the State Department.

   The total breaks down to nine for the fiscal year 2006, 22 for 2007, 37 for 2008, 25 for 2009, eight for 2010 and 23 for 2011.

   The North Korean refugees were admitted into the U.S. under the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which calls for the provision of financial aid to help improve North Korea's human rights and acceptance North Korean defectors into the U.S.

   In 2008, Congress approved the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act for another four years, calling for "activities to support human rights and democracy and freedom of information in North Korea," as well as "assistance to North Koreans who are outside North Korea," and 12-hour daily broadcasting to North Korea.

   Hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees are believed to be hiding in China.

   Most North Korean refugees, fleeing poverty, aim to make their way to South Korea via neighboring China.

   South Korea has received more than 24,000 North Korean defectors since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

   China has come under criticism for repatriating North Korean refugees under a secret agreement with North Korea, categorizing defectors as economic immigrants rather than refugees, despite the danger of persecution back home.


U.S. Lawmakers Investigate U.N. Agency for Dealings with N. Korea

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- A U.S. House committee said on July 9 that it will launch a probe into allegations that a U.N. agency has had illicit transactions with North Korea and Iran.

   The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), based in Geneva, has come under scrutiny for a technology-supply project with the two nations, both under U.N. sanctions.

   The 185-member body, which promotes the use and development of intellectual property, has provided North Korea with desktop computers, servers, printers and firewalls, according to media reports. It has also shipped information-technology equipment to Iran.

   "The revelation that a UN agency has been supplying the brutal regimes in Iran and North Korea with sensitive technology is deeply disturbing, and must be thoroughly investigated," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in a statement. She is the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
"Providing these thugs with sensitive technology has the potential to enable their dangerous agendas. This serious offense cannot go overlooked or unpunished," she added.

   The WIPO admits to its support program for North Korea and Iran, but denies that its activities are in violation of U.N. sanctions.

   U.S. government officials also said they are reviewing relevant documents to shed light on the allegations.


U.N. to Help Koreas Form Joint Teams at 2015 World University Games

GWANGJU (Yonhap) -- The U.N. will help the two Koreas form unified teams in some events at the international collegiate athletic competition to be held here in 2015, officials said on July 9.

   The organizing committee for the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju and the U.N. Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) will sign a cooperation agreement on July 10, officials said. Kang Wun-tae, mayor of Gwangju, and Wilfried Lemke, the special U.N. adviser on sport for development and peace, will attend the signing ceremony.

   Under the deal, Lemke will assume the role of a mediator as the two Koreas attempt to form unified teams at least for a select number of events at the World University Games, better known as the Universiade, according to officials.

   They also said the UNOSDP and the local organizers will promote sports exchanges between the divided Koreas starting next year. The U.N. body will also try to invite North Koreans to its Youth Leadership Camp and stage it in Gwangju, a metropolitan city some 330 kilometers south of Seoul, every year until the Universiade.

   Officials said this will be the first deal of its kind between the U.N. and an organizing team of an international sporting event in Asia.

   "We will try to engage North Korea in regular sporting exchanges until 2015," a Gwangju official said. "Our goal is to send joint Korean teams in two or more events at the Universiade."

   Lemke is known to have played a key role in forming a unified Korean team for the Peace and Sport Cup table tennis tournament held in Doha, Qatar last November.

   Gwangju officials said Kang is scheduled to visit London during the 2012 Summer Olympics starting later this month, and will seek cooperation from international sports officials in putting together joint Korean teams.

   The two Koreas have competed as a single nation at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and also at the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship. But they have never competed as one or have formed unified teams for events at the Olympics, Asian Games or Universiades.

   They have marched together at opening ceremonies, though not since the 2007 Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China.

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


U.S. Raps N. Korea for Use of Disney Characters without Approval

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- In its first formal response to a North Korean performance featuring Disney characters without authorization, the U.S. government on July 9 stressed the importance of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR).

   "All countries should abide by the rules and laws of international commerce, including respect for IPR," a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency on the customary condition of anonymity.

   The remarks came after North Korea's state media showed Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh taking the stage in North Korea during a concert for new leader Kim Jong-un last week.

   Performers danced while clips of Disney movies such as "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White" and "Dumbo" played on a paneled backdrop for the show in Pyongyang.

   Walt Disney Co. announced that it had not authorized or licensed North Korea's use of the company's characters.

   The State Department focused on the issue of intellectual property rights rather than a possible positive impact from North Korea's embrace of characters viewed as symbols of U.S. culture.

   "We advocate for the effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights around the world," the official said. "This fosters innovation and creativity, promotes economic development, increases U.S. business and private sector growth and investment -- including foreign investment -- and creates fair market access and consumer choices for goods and services."


N. Korean Officials Received Economic Training in China: Reports

SHENYANG (Yonhap) -- North Korean government officials have received training in China between November and April on how to develop and manage special economic zones, a Chinese newspaper said on July 9.

   A total of 100 officials in charge of managing the North's economic zones participated in the training program, which was sponsored by Beijing's Ministry of Commerce, according to the Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai.

   The officials, divided into groups of around 20, learned about economic theories at several universities in northeastern China and also visited special economic zones in Beijing and other regions, the newspaper said.

   Meanwhile, sources said on July 4 that a separate North Korean delegation comprised of academics and trade ministry officials are currently in China to receive a two-month training on ways to revive their country's economic zones.

   Pyongyang has designated two islands on its border with China as well as two northeastern port cities as special economic zones.

   None of the North's economic zones are reported to have made much progress, but North Korea watchers say the two allies' recent moves show that they may now be pushing to develop these areas and promote economic cooperation.