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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 239 (Dec. 6, 2012)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

N. Korea Boosts Condolence Mood in Various Forms for Kim Jong-il's Death

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Memorializing its late leader Kim Jong-il, North Korea has been stepping up its efforts to boost his "immortal image of a great leader" in various forms, with state media propagating his "brilliant deeds and achievements." The father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un died of heart disease on Dec. 17 last year.

   The socialist country has started to commemorate the death of Kim Jong-il, a government source in Seoul said on Dec. 3, amid speculation that the country's planned space launch may have been timed to match the first anniversary of Kim's death.

   "The North started a condolences period from Dec. 1 and entered 'a mode of condolences' as far as I know," the government source said on condition of anonymity. Other sources said the North may commemorate Kim's death until the end of December.

   Marking the condolences period, the country's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, carried the notes and lyrics of a song about Kim Jong-il on its front page on Dec. 2, along with several articles written in commemoration of the late leader.

   The country's Korean Central Broadcasting Station also aired a documentary featuring Kim's field activities during his life time the same day.

   Another government source in Seoul said the North is reportedly summoning its officials overseas back home to cherish the memory of the late leader. When the officials and business people come back, they will have opportunities to have business and investment talks with Pyongyang officials.

   Under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un, the impoverished country is struggling to rehabilitate its faltering economy, mainly through economic cooperation projects with other countries.

   The source said he learns that even the ethnic Korean communities in China are instructed to send their businessmen to North Korea to have business talks.

   In a related development, the North Korean state media also reported that many foreign countries have formed a number of committees and organizations for remembering Kim Jong-il.

   The countries that formed the committees are African countries, including Ethiopia and Guinea; Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh and India; and South American countries such as Brazil. Russia and many other European countries, including Austria and Italy, also formed similar organizations to commemorate the late leader, the state media reported.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Asia-Pacific Regional Committee for Supporting Peaceful Reunification of Korea appealed to the organizations for friendship and solidarity with the Korean people in the Asia-Pacific region on Nov. 23, saying that Kim Jong-il is the symbol of the greatness of the DPRK (North Korea).

   North Korean media also introduced an article from a Brazilian magazine, which carried the brilliant achievements of Kim Jong-il during his lifetime. In Bangladesh, a seminar, cinema and photo exhibition for the late leader were held.

   The KCNA introduced the Uruguayan paper La Juventud, which carried a special write-up with a portrait of the smiling leader Kim Jong-il on Nov. 24 on the occasion of the first anniversary of his passing.

   "Kim Jong-il left the great exploits of guaranteeing the eternal foundation of socialist Korea and its rosy future as a legacy," the paper noted, adding he possessed extraordinary ideological and theoretical wisdom as his natural disposition.

   According to the KCNA report, a new Korean documentary film "Fatherly General Was together with Workers" was shown at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on Dec. 1.

   Watching the film were senior party, state and army officials, including the country's ceremonial head Kim Yong-nam, premier Choe Yong-rim and Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the politburo of the Korean People's Army.

   The film makes an "epic representation of the leadership exploits of Generalissimo Kim Jong-il, who put deep trust in the Korean working class and provided an eternal foundation for the prosperity of the country throughout the period of his revolutionary leadership," the KCNA said.

   "The film shows that Kim Jong-il brought up the working class to be the vanguard force boundlessly faithful to the party and the leader and core unit for building socialism."

   North Korea's eulogy of Kim Jong-il stems from the need to consolidate the internal unity among people who are plagued with extreme poverty and famine, according to experts.

   They said the North will find a breakthrough from the difficult economic situations and the planned rocket launch is one way to bring unity among people and support for the new leader, on the occasion of the first anniversary of Kim's death.

   Experts said the North's planned space launch may have been designed to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of Kim.

   Pyongyang said on Dec. 1 that it plans to launch a rocket carrying a "working satellite" between Dec. 10 and 22, with much of the world suspecting it is in reality testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

   In a report by the KCNA, the North's Korean Committee for Space Technology said, "The DPRK plans to launch another working satellite, the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by its own efforts and with its own technology, true to the behests of leader Kim Jong-il."

   Analysts also said North Korea appears to have multiple motivations behind its plan to launch a long-range rocket for the second time in less than a year.

   "North Korea seems to be striving to establish its image as a space power as the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death comes near," said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. "Through such efforts, Pyongyang also appears to try to strengthen its domestic foundation for the Kim Jong-un regime."

   North has said that the deceased leader Kim Jong-il has established the foundation of North Korea becoming a space power.

   It also boasts that the country has succeeded in launching Kwangmyongsong-1 and Kwangmyongsong-2 satellites into orbit in 1998 and 2009, respectively, under the "great leadership of Kim Jong-il."

   After the failure of its much-hyped rocket launch in April, North Korea may urgently need a successful launch to get its people to unite and support the new leader, they said.

   They also note that the rocket launch, in addition, is widely seen as Pyongyang's symbolic gesture to officially usher in a prosperous and powerful nation.

  (END)
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