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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 225 (August 30, 2012)

N. Korea Appears to Strengthen War Deterrence: Choson Sinbo

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Tokyo said on Aug. 23 that North Korea has chosen to strengthen its war deterrence as a counter step toward the U.S. war policy.

   The insistence by the Choson Sinbo, under an article titled "Adoption of an important decision on the security of peace," came in reference to earlier comments by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well as the North's statements regarding the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, the annual joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.

   Stressing that North Korea has long condemned the military drills, the newspaper said the North will "reexamine its nuclear program, use military force to protect the unity and reconciliation of its people, and no longer turn to dialogue to solve disputes."

   The newspaper claimed that even an accidental collusion could ignite a war, adding that the North accused the U.S. of provoking war and plotting to tear down the country,
The newspaper also said that the North "will take all actions to meet its status as a politico-military power," without elaborating on details.

   Concerns persist that North Korea may soon conduct a third nuclear test to make up for its botched rocket launch in April this year.

   The military exercises kicked off in the South on Aug. 20 for a 12-day run, mobilizing some 56,000 South Korean troops and about 30,000 U.S. soldiers.


North Korea to Participate in 2012 London Paralympics

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean athletic team has left Pyongyang for London to participate in the London Paralympics opening on Aug. 29, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Aug. 25.

   It is the first time the socialist nation has participated in a Paralympics. Kim Mun-chol, vice head of the Central Committee of the Federation for the Care of the Disabled of (North) Korea, is leading the team.

   North Korea established the (North) Korean Sports Association of the Disabled (KSAD) in January 2010 and has vigorously sought to join the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in a bid to take part in the 2012 London Paralympics.

   The IPC granted North Korea the status of a provisional member, making its athletes eligible to compete, in March of this year.

   To prepare for the Paralympics, North Korean disabled athletes reportedly underwent joint training with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing.


N.K. Again Warns of War against S Korea-U.S. Joint Military Drill

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader once again warned of "the all-out battle" against the South, denouncing an ongoing joint military drill between South Korea and the United States, the North's state media said on Aug. 26.

   South Korean and U.S. forces began a 12-day annual joint military exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, on Aug. 20 to test and improve their defense posture against North Korea, mobilizing some 56,000 South Korean troops and about 30,000 U.S. soldiers, according to military officials.
Seoul and Washington "are staging large-scale war drills for aggressions targeted against us," North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was quoted by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying during his speech at an Aug. 25 anniversary to celebrate what the communist country claims as former leader Kim Jong-il's start of "the military-first revolutionary leadership."

   "There is a limit to our patience," Kim said, adding he had "finally signed" an order of "battle to an all-out counter-offensive."

   The North Korean leader threatened on Aug. 18 to turn the west sea into "a graveyard of the invaders" during a visit to a front-line artillery unit near the tense western sea border that was responsible for the North's deadly bombardment of South Korea's Yeonpyeong island in 2010.

   North Korea has long denounced the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, claiming they amount to a prelude to war. Seoul and Washington have countered that the drills are defensive in nature.

   The young leader, during his visit to the frontline eastern sector, also watched a performance by the Moranbong Band with his wife Ri Sol-ju to celebrate the anniversary, according to the KCNA.


North Korea Holds Massive Meeting to Celebrate Youth Day

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea held a massive rally in Pyongyang on Aug. 27 to celebrate Youth Day, which was televised live by the (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory message that was read out during the celebration. In attendance were North Korean dignitaries including Premier Choe Yong-rim, Choe Ryong-hae, chief of General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA), and other senior officials of the party, the state and the army.

   "The celebrations of Youth Day this year are a grand political event that demonstrates the loyalty and stamina of the Korean youth dynamically advancing toward the final victory following the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) while glorifying the proud history and tradition of the Korean youth movement that has emerged ever-victorious thanks to the WPK's idea of attaching importance," Kim wrote in his message.

   North Korea has celebrated Youth Day since 1991, to commemorate the inauguration of the Joson Communist Youth League by the country's founder and late leader Kim Il-sung on Aug. 28, 1927. This year's celebration, however, was unprecedentedly massive.

   To add to the festive mood, North Korea held torchlight relay races over two courses from Aug. 13. A torch carried by members of the young vanguard arrived in Pyongyang on Aug. 24 to mark Youth Day.

   Another torch was carried by North Korean soldiers from Mount Osong, near the border with South Korea, to Pyongyang.

   North Korea watchers in Seoul say the massive celebrations were designed to cement loyalty to young leader Kim Jong-un in various walks of society since his inauguration of as the north's top leader. North Korea has been exerting special efforts to draw the loyalty of the young generation.

   Kim Jong-un has taken measures to celebrate the first Youth Day in the new century of "Juche," or self-reliance, with splendor as a great event of the entire country, the north's media was quoted as saying.

   The watchers say the north's leadership believes the young generation will be a mainstay of the new regime and it is them who will inject fresh energy into north Korean society, including at production sites.

   By making young people a force loyal to Kim Jong-un, North Korea hopes to strengthen Kim's regime.

   Meanwhile, North Korea on Aug. 29 held a massive torch parade to mark the country's "Youth Day," with tens of thousands of people holding torches in unison to form the names of leader Kim Jong-un and his father and grandfather, and signs pledging loyalty to the leader.

   The scale of the ceremony was larger than usual, and state TV broadcast the event live from Pyongyang's main Kim Il-sung Square, a move seen as aimed at rallying support for the young leader who took control of the country after his father Kim Jong-il died in December.


Kim Yong-nam Visits Tehran for Non-aligned Nations Summit

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), left Pyongyang on Aug. 28 to take part in the 16th summit of non-aligned countries due in Tehran, and to pay an official goodwill visit to Iran, the KCNA reported.

   Kim was seen off at the airport by Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the SPA Presidium, Pak Kil-yon, vice minister of Foreign Affairs, Morteza Moradian, Iranian ambassador to the DPRK (North Korea), and Guan Huabing, charge d' affaires and interim of the Chinese embassy.

   It is a matter of interest whether Kim will meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Tehran.

   Ban, formerly a South Korean foreign minister, said on Aug. 26 he will meet North Korea's number two leader Kim in Iran during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.

   "As there are many occasions for participating heads of state to get together, there will be a chance to meet President Kim Yong-nam and talk about peace on the Korean Peninsula and South-North Korea exchanges," Ban told Korean correspondents in Washington.

   Ban, however, ruled out the possibility of formal bilateral talks with Kim, citing busy schedules for both during the upcoming conference.

   Ban said he will visit Tehran from Aug. 29-31 to join the NAM summit.

   North Korea is among the 120 NAM member states that claim not to be aligned to any major power bloc.

   Earlier, Iranian media incorrectly reported North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would attend the summit from Aug. 26-31.


North Korean Leader Inspects Front-line Military Unit

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made yet another visit to a front-line military unit, state media said on Aug. 28, condemning an annual military exercise in South Korea as a preparation for invasion.

   Kim's visit to troops stationed near the eastern part of the inter-Korean border came days after he visited an artillery unit near the tense western sea border with the South and called for "a sacred war" if the country is attacked.

   The series of visits came as the North kept up hostile rhetoric against the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise that South Korea and the United States kicked off last week to test their readiness against North Korean hostilities.

   "Noting that the enemies are now staging war drills for aggression despite the repeated warnings," Kim ordered the unit to prepare for the "enemies' attempt for a war of aggression and their methods of military actions," the North's official KCNA said.

   Kim taught the unit in detail where it should focus attention to cope with the tense situation "where a war may break out any moment due to the enemies' on-going desperate moves," the KCNA said.

   During his previous inspection of the front-line artillery unit reported on Aug. 18, Kim was quoted as having ordered the unit "to turn the west sea into a graveyard of the invaders."

   The 12-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, which began on Aug. 20, was put on hold temporarily on Aug. 28 as Typhoon Bolaven swept across the Korean Peninsula. The computer-simulated game mobilized some 56,000 South Korean troops and about 30,000 U.S. soldiers this year, according to the Combined Forces Command.

   Pyongyang has long denounced the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, claiming they amount to a prelude to war. Seoul and Washington have countered that the drills are defensive in nature.


Progress Made in Construction of Int'l Trade Center in Rason

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Aug. 28 it is making headway in a joint project with China to build a large-scale international trade center in the newly revamped economic zone in the country's northeast.

   The project to build the Rason International Commerce and Trade Center began in April in Rason in the North's far northeast, jointly funded by the North's Rason Paekho Trading Corporation and a Chinese real estate development company in Qin Huangdao, the North's official KCNA said.

   Rason was designated a special economic zone in 1991, seeking to become a potential hub for international transportation, trade and tourism in the world's most isolated nation. It has been governed by a separate set of laws and rules giving local officials more autonomy.

   The first-stage of construction, of seven buildings for storehouses and a wholesale market, will be finished in mid-October, the KCNA said. The second stage will have nine buildings for shops, restaurants and hotels and is expected to be completed in October of next year.

   The area covers some 40,000 square meters, with a total floor space of 88,000 square meters, the report said.

   "The center is one of the big development projects in the zone," Song Ryang-dok, manager of the Rason Paekho Trading Corporation, was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

   The latest report comes after Jang Song-thaek, the powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, earlier this month met with Chinese President Hu Jintao to forge deals on accelerating joint development of the North's special economic zone, including Rason and Hwanggumpyong Island, according to Chinese officials and the North's media.

   Last week, North Korea hosted an international fair in Rason for potential foreign investors.


North Korea Reports Property Damage from Typhoon Bolaven

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea reported on Aug. 29 that strong winds and heavy rains unleashed by Typhoon Bolaven knocked down thousands of roadside trees, destroyed farmlands and buildings and caused other property damage across the impoverished nation.

   But the North's official KCNA reported no human casualties from the storm.

   The typhoon, which pounded South Korea on Aug. 28 and left nine people dead, "ravaged over 8,500 hectares of maize field, toppled more than 600 roadside trees and removed roofs of several public buildings" in the North's South Hwanghae Province alone, the KCNA said.

   In North Hwanghae Province, the storm "inactivated TV relay facilities, tumbled down more than 2,600 roadside trees and destroyed or damaged some 20 dwelling houses and public buildings" while about 60 hectares of maize was damaged in the city of Nampho near Pyongyang, it said.

   Other provinces reported similar damage, it said.