select languages
NorthKorea_titleN.K. NewsletterVantagePointlmenu_bottom
latestnewslatestnews RSS
Home > NorthKorea
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 236 (Nov. 15, 2012)

N. Korea Sys Defector Couple Returned to Pyongyang from Seoul

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean defector couple who fled to South Korea and lived in Seoul for about four years have returned to their homeland, the North's state media reported on Nov. 8.

   The couple, Kim Kwang-hyok and his wife Ko Jong-nam, returned to North Korea on Sept. 12, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, adding they were lured to defect to South Korea in 2008.

   They "were taken away to South Korea by dint of gimmicks, appeasement and manipulation of brokers and agents of the South Korean intelligence agency where they suffered a miserable life," the KCNA said in the report.

   "But they came back home on September 12, keenly aware that they were cheated by them and their stay there would only bring death to them," it said.

   It was the third time this year that North Korea has reported about a story of defectors who fled to South Korea, but returned home.

   More than 24,000 North Koreans have defected to the South in recent decades after traveling through China, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, government data showed.

   Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the North's media reports about defectors who returned home were aimed at increasing propaganda campaigns against defection as its young leader Kim Jong-un appears to be consolidating his grip on power.

   "Publicizing that more defectors have returned home from South Korea after Kim Jong-un took power is intended to solidify internal unity and send a message of pressure to defectors in South Korea," Yang said.


N. Korea's Newspaper Forecasts Improved Economic Cooperation with S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper, gave an unusual prediction of improved economic relations with South Korea amid optimism that the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama and election of a new South Korean president in December may help thaw Pyongyang's relations with the two countries.

   "Domestic (North Korean) economic officials ... are predicting that South-North economic cooperation projects will take off at a high speed only if objective conditions are met," Choson Sinbo said in a news series on economic plans being pursued by the Kim Jong-un regime.

   The newspaper, published by North Korean nationals residing in Japan, is deemed the mouthpiece of the reclusive country. It did not elaborate on what it meant by objective conditions.

   The news outlet also cited the South-North relations as the basis for building peace and economic stability in Northeast Asia, along with joint economic zones with China in Rajin and Hwanggumpyong Island in the northern area of the reclusive country.

   It then referred to leader Kim Jong-un's willingness for unification with the South, expressed in Kim's speech in April. "The phrase that anyone who wants unification and national peace and prosperity will join and walk hand in hand will surely apply to the economic sector," Choson Sinbo reported.

   The newspaper previously reported that the Kim regime does not deem its economic ambitions to be contradictory to its Songun (military-first) politics, advocated by his father and late leader Kim Jong-il.

   The socialist country's new administration is widely believed to be pushing for an expansive economic development plan to shore up the livelihood of its people mainly as part of efforts to solidify its power.

   The North's relations with the South, including economic ties, have remained frozen since Seoul adopted a set of sanctions in 2010, the year the North launched a deadly attack on South Korea's navy ship Cheonan.


N. Korea Expresses Hope for Closer Ties in Message Marking CPC Congress

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has expressed its hope for friendlier relations with China, its major ally and patron, in a letter sent to mark the neighboring country's party congress to usher in a new leadership, the North's state media said on Nov. 8.

   "We will as ever join the Chinese comrades in making positive efforts to put the traditional DPRK-China friendship, the common wealth of the two peoples, on a higher stage," the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) was quoted by the KCNA as saying in its congratulatory message sent to the Communist Party of China (CPC) a day earlier.

   The North also noted that the North Korean party "sincerely wishes the 18th National Congress of the CPC satisfactory success" in promoting prosperity of the Chinese nation and strengthening the party, according to the KCNA.

   "We are rejoiced over the achievements made in China and firmly convinced that the fraternal Chinese people will continue registering good successes in the future, too," the North's party was also quoted as saying.

   On Nov. 8, China opened a weeklong congress in which President Hu Jintao will relinquish his power to appointed heir and current vice president Xi Jinping. It is widely believed the new Chinese leadership will further strengthen economic ties with the North.


N. Korea to Hold Talks with Japan This Month to Mend Ties

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Nov. 9 it will hold talks with Japan later this month in Mongolia to discuss ways to mend their relations.

   "The DPRK (North K orea) and Japanese governments will hold talks in Ulan Bator of Mongolia on November 15 and 16 under the mutual agreement reached in the wake of the contacts between section chiefs of foreign ministries of the two countries in August 2012," the KCNA said in a brief English-language dispatch.

   The two countries will discuss ways to improve relations, the KCNA said in a separate Korean-language report.

   Japanese media reported on the same day that Tokyo will raise the issue of Japanese abducted by the socialist country.


Role of Cabinet on the Rise in North Korea: Pro-Pyongyang Newspaper

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The role of North Korea's cabinet in designing and running economic policies is increasing, the North's mouthpiece newspaper reported on Nov. 9, hinting at a major change being made in the decision-making process generally dominated by the country's leader.

   "The order is being established and appropriate measures are being taken in order to maximize the potential of the national economy," reported Choson Sinbo, deemed the North's mouthpiece newspaper published in Japan by North Korean nationals. In doing so, "the cabinet government system and the cabinet-oriented system are being strengthened with economy-related matters being resolved through thorough discussion with the cabinet," the newspaper said.

   In a cabinet system, also called the Westminster system, members of the cabinet are collectively responsible for deciding all government policy.

   The North's shift to a cabinet system, although only limited to the economic sector, indicates a major change in the decision-making process from the one-man dictatorship dominated by the North's founding family.

   The newspaper also referred to cabinet Premier Choe Yong-rim's frequent visits to economic establishments, saying the cabinet is receiving support and encouragement to fully play its role from various levels of central and regional committees of its all-powerful Workers' Party of (North) Korea.

   "It is true that efforts to invigorate the economy are being stressed at a different level that is unprecedented," the media outlet said. The environment is being made for officials to successfully push for economic projects beneficial to North Koreans, it noted.


Roller Skating Popular among North Korean Youths in Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Roller skating has become a popular activity for young people in Pyongyang, the KCNA reported on Nov. 12.

   Thousands of students and children flock to the newly-opened Skate Park on the bank of the River Taedong each day, according to the KCNA.

   The Skate Park, which was dedicated in a ceremony on Nov. 9, has a total floor space of more than 13,300 square meters and is equipped with various facilities. It can accommodate about 2,000 visitors a day.

   North Korea has also completed the construction of the People's Open-air Ice Rink and the Ryugyong Health Complex in Pyongyang.

   A primary school student said in an interview with the KCNA at the park that, "It is very interesting to do roller skating. All my classmates now can do it."

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un encouraged Pyongyang citizens to go roller skating. Kim said during his inspection of the skating rink on Nov. 3 before the dedication that roller skating is a good physical sport which people can do throughout the year.

   "The respected Marshal Kim Jong-un said he saw many children doing roller skating in the city when touring the Skate Park before its operation, stressing it has become a tendency for young people and it is a good thing," the news agency reported.

   The KCNA also said elderly people come to the skating rinks each day to enjoy themselves while watching skaters.

   On the same day, Choson Sinbo said the Skate Park was built at the instruction of Kim Jong-un in July when he inspected the construction of the ice rink.

   In his address at the dedication ceremony of the Skate Park, North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim, said that "the facilities are a product of the wise leadership and devoted efforts of leader Kim Jong-il and the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong-un."

   Choson Sinbo also said roller skating is a promising new sport in North Korea and that the country is going to join the international organization of roller skating.

   Besides the Skate Park, North Korea operates many roller skating rinks in scores of parks in Pyongyang.

   Meanwhile, the Ryugyong Health Complex with a total floor space of 18,379 square meters has modern facilities for bathing, hairdressing, beauty and massage treatments and fitness, according to the KCNA. The complex can accommodate at least 7,200 persons a day.

   The People's Open-air Ice Rink with a total floor space of 6,469 square meters and the Skate Park provide facilities for ice skating and roller skating all year round, according to the KCNA.

   That Kim Jong-un actively encourages North Korean people to participate in sports is because of the Swiss-educated leader's personal experiences or his intention to earn the public's loyalty by publicizing the image of a leader who is interested in the people's health, experts of North Korea affairs said.