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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 230 (October 4, 2012)

N. Korea Denounces U.S. Efforts to End North-Myanmar Ties

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced Sept. 28 the U.S. recent calls on Myanmar to end the Southeast Asian country's ties with the socialist North.

   "After first demanding suspension of military ties, the U.S. now came to openly press Myanmar to end relations with us, branding us as a 'bad friend,'" the North's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said in a dialogue reported by the state-run (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   Denouncing the U.S. anti-North calls on Myanmar, the North said the "bad friend" title is better suited for the U.S.

   In her September meetings with Myanmar President Thein Sein and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the U.S., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concerns over the country's alleged ties with North Korea.

   Clinton also expressed the U.S.'s willingness to ease sanctions on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, if the Southeast Asian nation comes clean on its suspected ties to North Korea.

   "The U.S.'s hostile, oppressive policies toward North Korea have not changed a bit," the North Korean spokesman said in the dialogue with the state news agency.

   Calling for a change in the U.S.'s stance toward the North, the spokesman also said, "If the U.S. sticks to its hostile, outdated anti-North policies, it would not be able to put up with (its presence) on the Korean Peninsula."


North Korean, U.S. Envoys Hold Informal Meeting in China

DALIAN, China (Yonhap) -- A North Korean nuclear envoy said on Sept. 28 she held an informal meeting with her U.S. counterparts on the sidelines of a security conference in Dalian, China, where long-standing tensions over the North's nuclear ambition top the agenda.

   Choe Son-hui, the North's deputy chief envoy to the six-party talks, told Yonhap News Agency she met with U.S. representatives on Sept. 27 evening during the two-day Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) conference that ends on Sept. 28.

   Asked whether she met with the U.S. side on Sept. 27, Choe replied, "I met." She did not elaborate further, but a diplomatic source in China said Choe held a "casual meeting" with Clifford Hart, the U.S. envoy for the six-nation talks on the North's nuclear program.

   Han Song-ryol, the North's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, also attended the 30-minute meeting between Choe and Hart, according to the source.

   After a morning session on Sept. 28, Han told reporters he discussed "outstanding bilateral issues" with U.S. officials, but was tightlipped on the substance of the Sept. 27 meeting.

   The source said Pyongyang and Washington appeared to reaffirm their existing stances over the North's nuclear issue.

   Organized by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the NEACD has served as an opportunity for informal dialogue between North Korea and its nuclear negotiation partners.

   For the first time since 2009, senior officials from the six nations involved in stalled six-party talks gathered at the annual security conference.

   On Sept. 27, Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters that South Korea's deputy chief nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, had "no plan" to hold a one-on-one meeting with Choe on the sidelines of the forum.

   The six-party talks were last held in late 2008 and diplomatic efforts to resume negotiations have been frozen since April, when North Korea defiantly launched a long-range rocket that failed moments after lift-off.


North Koreans Observe Chuseok Holiday with Various Events

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Koreans observed Chuseok, the Korean harvest holiday that fell on Sept. 30 of the lunar calendar, laying wreaths at national cemeteries and visiting ancestral graves, according to the North's state-run media.

   On the one-day holiday, high-ranking officials including the nation's Premier Choe Yong-rim participated in wreath-laying ceremonies at the national cemeteries, Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery on Mt. Taesong and the Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery, the North's ruling Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said.

   Kim Jong-un did not attend any of the ceremonies, but sent wreaths to the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery on Mt. Taesong and the Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery.

   North Korean news outlets, including the country's main Internet-based media Uriminzokkiri, underlined Kim Jong-un's leadership on the national holiday by saying, "North Korean citizens are giving thanks to Kim Jong-un for his efforts to blossom and expand the country's traditions."

   Uriminzokkiri also said many people played various traditional games to celebrate the Korean Thanksgiving Day," stressing that Chuseok is one of the most celebrated national holidays of the year.

   North Korean citizens got together with their families in their hometowns and visited their ancestors' graves to pay respects and show signs of gratitude, local media reports said.

   The (North) Korean Central Television Broadcasting Station also aired a taped final of the 10th National Ssireum (Korean wrestling) Tournament for the Grand Bull Prize, held earlier in September, as well as an art film titled, "What Happened on Chuseok Holiday."

   Defectors from the North say most Pyongyang citizens stay in the capital city during the Chuseok holiday as bad traffic and time constraints usually prevent most of them from going to the countryside to visit their hometowns.

   "Since Chuseok in North Korea is only for one day, most people in Pyongyang do not have the time to visit their hometowns in the countryside, especially due to the terrible traffic," a North Korean defector said. "Normally, families in Pyongyang hold memorial services at home early in the morning and spend the afternoon at amusement parks or at the Moranbong Theatre."

   The North's entertainment facilities, including the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground on Rungna islet in Pyongyang that opened in July, would thus have been filled with families from the capital during Chuseok, according to the defectors.

   The socialist country once banned official celebrations of the Chuseok holiday to reject Korea's feudal traditions, only allowing visits to ancestral graveyards since 1972.

   Chuseok was made into a one-day holiday later in 2003 under the directive of late leader Kim Jong-il to give greater importance to traditional holidays, according to the Choson Sinbo, a Korean-language pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan.


Kim Jong-un Congratulates 63rd Founding Anniversary of China

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Oct. 1 sent a congratulatory message to Chinese President Hu Jintao on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese government, the North Korea's official KCNA reported.
"We, on behalf of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) and the government and people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK/ North Korea), extend a warm congratulations and greetings to you and, through you, to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government and people of China on its 63rd anniversary," Kim was quoted as saying.

   Kim, who took over from his late father Kim Jong-il in December, expressed hope that the traditional alliance between the two communist allies will continue through cooperation between the parties, governments and peoples of the two countries.

   China has been the sole benefactor of North Korea, which is struggling amid tough international sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests in recent years.


At U.N. Speech, N. Korean Diplomat Threatens Nuke War on Peninsula

NEW YORK (Yonhap) -- A senior North Korean diplomat on Oct. 1 warned of a nuclear war on the peninsula, saying it has become the most dangerous zone in the world.

   Addressing a U.N. General Assembly session under way here, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon put the blame on South Korea's conservative government of Lee Myung-bak for "the worst" inter-Korean ties.

   "Since taking office, the current South Korean government led to the worst situations in North-South relations by making all inter-Korean agreements null and void, including the June 15 Joint Declaration and Oct. 4 Declaration," he said.

   Pak was referring to two inter-Korean summit deals in 2000 and 2007, which called for nascent measures toward reconciliation on the peninsula and expansion of economic cooperation between the capitalist South and the communist North.

   The South "rubbed salt into the wound" of the northern people and caused them to feel shame and political terror, he claimed.

   He also reiterated Pyongyang's criticism of the U.S. policy.

   "Today, due to the continued U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK (North Korea), the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tensions is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean Peninsula, which has become the world's most dangerous hot spot, where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war," Pak said.

   He used much of his speech in the 193-nation assembly's annual meeting to extol the Kim Jong-un regime. Pak also argued that his country has a "mighty weapon to defend" its sovereignty.

   "Our dear respected marshal, Kim Jong-un, is firmly determined to make our people, who have overcome manifold hardships, enjoy a happy life to their heart's content in a prosperous, socialist state," he said.

   Inter-Korean relations are said to be at the nadir amid North Korea's repeated provocative acts, highlighted by a nuclear test in 2009 and a couple of deadly attacks on the South that killed a total of 50 soldiers and civilians, since the Lee administration was inaugurated in 2008.