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North Korea Reiterates Plan to Continue Satellite Launches

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea reiterated the claim that it will "continue to launch satellites" as a rightful means to develop the country's space technology during an October United Nations session.

   The long-standing claim came in a speech delivered on Oct. 19 by a North Korean delegate during a U.N. General Assembly session.

   The unnamed delegate said North Korea will "continue to launch satellites in order to build a strong and powerful nation while exercising (its) fair rights to space development," the North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) belatedly reported on Oct. 25.

   "(Pyongyang's) effort to develop space (technology) is an execution of a sovereign state's autonomous rights and a lawful exercise of the rights of a nation that has joined two international treaties for space development," the KCBS quoted him as saying.

   The delegate also added, "Some countries claim that (we) cannot even launch a satellite for peaceful purposes because of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, which prohibit us from using ballistic missile technology," according to the KCBS. "(We) strongly oppose the militarization of space development programs as well as turning the matter of space technology into a political issue."

   Although the KCBS did not disclose any details as to who the delegate was, North Korea watchers presume it may have been Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon, given that he took part in the U.N. General Assembly as the head of the North Korean delegation.


N.K. Slams U.S. Envoy's Calls for Commitment to 2005 Nuclear Accord

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Oct. 25 denounced recent calls by U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies for the communist nation to abide by its commitments under a 2005 nuclear agreement reached at a six-party meeting.

   In an interview with the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unidentified spokesman for the country's foreign ministry said the remarks were nothing more than "ludicrous statements" that failed to capture the essence of the nuclear issue, according to a KCNA dispatch monitored in Seoul.

   Speaking to reporters in Seoul on Oct. 19, Davies called on Pyongyang to "follow through their obligations and commitments" as contained in the Sept. 19, 2005, joint statement.

   In the statement, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons programs in return for economic and political assistance from the other five nations in the multilateral forum -- South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

   The North later reneged on the deal and conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

   "It is illogical for the U.S. to urge the DPRK (North Korea) to honor its obligation while it is not complying with what it committed to do in the September 19 joint statement," the spokesman was quoted as saying in a separate English-language dispatch from the KCNA.

   "The statement specifies the U.S. political, military and economic commitments to fundamentally end its hostile policy toward the DPRK as a chief culprit of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula," the spokesman claimed. "The U.S., quite contrary to its commitments in the joint statement, wantonly violated the sovereignty of the DPRK and openly and systematically stepped up military threats and economic sanctions against it."

   The official also argued Washington's "increased hostile policy" toward North Korea pushed the country into building up its nuclear program "both in quality and quantity."


North Korea Starts Work on Rason Economic Zone Office

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Oct. 26 it has started to build a management office for a special economic and trade zone to be jointly developed and operated by the North and its strongest ally, China.

   According to the KCNA, dozens of high-ranking officials from the both countries attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the office building of the Rason Economic and Trade Zone Management Committee.

   The North has been ramping up efforts to develop special economic zones in Rason, the North's northern tip, and on Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa islands, bordering China.

   South Korea's relations with the North have been frozen since President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008, virtually cutting inter-Korean economic cooperation.

   In response, the North has deepened its ties with China in an effort to help revive its moribund economy alongside stricter international sanctions following its nuclear and rocket tests. In 2011, Pyongyang's trade with China accounted for about 89 percent of its total, according to the Bank of Korea in Seoul.

   The report said the potential success of developing such economic zones is likely to serve as a catalyst for the North's opening over the long haul, but will also make it more economically reliant on China.

   Meanwhile, the KCNA said a ceremony also took place for the opening of the Rajin-Wonjong road in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone.


North Korea Designates November 16 as 'Day of Mother'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean has designated Nov. 16 as the "Day of Mother," the Pyongyang's state media said, as the country moves to promote Kim Jong-un as the leader of the people among women and to consolidate unity among residents.

   "North Korea's State Stamp Bureau issued a new postage stamp to commemorate the establishment of the Day of Mother," the North's official KCNA said on Oct. 27, adding the date for the mother's day event was set by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly back in May.

   The fixed date falls on the same day as when founding leader Kim Il-sung gave a speech under the title "The duties of mothers in educating their children" during a national rally for mothers in 1961.
Reports of the newly established mother's day were first introduced by the North's media on Sept. 22 through a remark made by Kim Jong-un during his inspection of Pyongyang Floriculture Institute.

   "As the Day of Mother was instituted in the country, it would be nice to buy flowers and present them to mothers and housewives on that day," he said.

   At the time, North Korea watchers presumed mother's day would fall near Sept. 22, a day when the North's media normally give eulogies to Kim Jong-suk, the wife of Kim Il-sung, while commemorating the anniversary of her death.

   The recent move comes as the socialist regime is pushing to build up the young Kim's image among women as a leader representing the people, and to promote solidarity among North Korean citizens.

   The new postage stamp shows an image of a mother and a child together with the words "Day of Mother" written at the top, according to the KCNA.


N. Korea Publicizes Scientific Achievements in Light Industrial Field

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has stepped up publicizing its achievements in the scientific development in the light industrial field and held a series of presentations to show off its "achievements."

   The KCNA said on Oct. 29 that big achievements have been made in the light industrial field of the North Korea through a dynamic mass technological innovation movement.

   The Pyongyang Children's Foodstuff Factory established a combined automation system of universal production processes, the KCNA said.

   The infant dry milk workshop of the factory computerized the spraying process and improved the packing process while the bean milk workshop invented a bean milk jet boiler, increasing its production capacity twofold.

   The factory also developed various kinds of foodstuffs, including rice-protein peptide powder and tangle soup makings, which are considered beneficial for children's health.

   The Pyongyang Hosiery Factory invented a new method of producing patterned hosiery, a method that does not need some former processes but makes it possible to produce quality and stylish patterned hosiery at less cost.

   The Ryuwon Footwear Factory recently introduced a multi-color printing technology into production of various kinds of sports shoes and developed a screen printing process and a new footwear design program. The factory has steadily increased its capacity of developing new products by dint of science and technology, and its products are now very popular among local residents.

   North Korea also held a series of presentations featuring its sci-tech achievements in October.

   The events included the 23rd national software contest and exhibition opened at the Three-Revolution Exhibition on Oct. 18; a national presentation of sci-tech achievements in the coal industry at the Sunchon Area Youth Coal Mining Complex on Oct. 23 and 24; and national exhibitions of sci-tech achievements in casting, printing and machine-building industries at the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, Taean Heavy Machine Complex and Pyongyang General Printing Plant from October 23 to 26.

   the KCNA says such events will be helpful in spurring its rise as an economic power.

   Experts believe North Korea has been stepping up the publication of its achievements in the light industrial sector and the improvement of its people's livelihoods in relation to its economic reform plans.


N. Korea's Leader Sends Sympathy to Cuba over Hurricane Sandy

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un has sent a message of sympathy to Cuban President Raul Castro following storm-related casualties and damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the North's state media reported on Oct. 30.

   In the message, Kim extends "deep sympathy and consolation to you and, through you, to the Cuban government and people and the inhabitants in the afflicted areas," according to the KCNA.

   Kim said he was "convinced that under your leadership the Cuban party, government and people would eradicate the aftermath of the natural disasters and bring the life of the inhabitants in the afflicted areas to normal as soon as possible."

   Superstorm Sandy reportedly claimed 11 lives and affected about 35,000 homes in eastern Cuba and was marching inland along the U.S. East Coast on Oct. 30.


N. Korean Leader's Wife Makes First Public Appearance in 50 Days

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attended a concert with her husband this week, the country's state media said on Oct. 30, the first time she has appeared in public in more than 50 days.

   Ri and Kim attended a performance by the Moranbong Band on Oct. 29, which marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Kim Il-sung Military University, according to the KCNA.

   Ri had not appeared in public since Sept. 8, leading to speculation she could be pregnant or the communist nation's military leaders disapproved of her active public role.

   After being first introduced by the North Korean media as the first lady in late July, the 23-year-old woman had often been spotted accompanying her husband on inspection trips across the country till early September.

   "Our supreme leader and the head of the state, Kim Jong-un appeared in the auditorium with his wife and comrade Ri Sol-ju. A windstorm of hooray instantly burst out," the KCNA noted.

   Ri's media return came one day after the KCNA reported Kim Jong-un's visit to the prestigious university on Oct. 29.

   It was also Kim's first reported public appearance since he was last seen on North Korean media on Oct. 14, attending an establishment anniversary of other colleges.

   The couple also watched a national sports competition with Kim highlighting the need to increase support to promote physical training.

   The widespread speculation that Ri may be pregnant gained further ground after the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried photographs of the first lady attending the performance on its Internet Website.

   Wearing a beige round-neck, knee-length coat, Ri appears to have put on weight, particularly around her stomach, in the image. Her face also appears fuller than in her frequent media appearances in July.

   "It seems that Ri Sol-ju has a swollen face and a protruding belly," a government official said, requesting anonymity. "She was wearing a coat that does not show her body line, but in my opinion she is likely to be pregnant."

   South Korea's intelligent agency has previously said the Kim-Ri couple is presumed to have a child, although the gender and age of the child is not known.