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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 240 (Dec. 13, 2012)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

N. Korea Stresses Economic Attainment on Kim Jong-il's Death Anniversary

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Ahead of the first anniversary of its late leader Kim Jong-il's death, North Korea has been emphasizing the economic achievements made over the past year under its new leader Kim Jong-un.

   North Korea's state media have also touted the country's attainment of each production goal at manufacturing sites across the country.

   The media said in unison the production attainment was made possible by the fervent efforts of the country's laborious workers who have good memories of the deceased leader who died of a massive heart attack on Dec. 17 last year.

   North Korea's Central Broadcasting Station reported on Dec. 7 the country's manufacturing division has had good results thanks to the county's "speed battle" since the beginning of the year for production increases.

   The broadcasting station said as of Dec. 5 the socialist country has accomplished 100 percent of its annual goal of overall industrial output. It also attained 113.7 percent of its daily necessities production goal.

   "This achievement was possible as workers at the electronics division have made ardent devotions for the production goal attainment with their pledge of tears and blood dedicated to the deceased great leader Kim Jong-il," it said.

   As of the end of November, the machinery sector produced 107 percent of its goal, it said, adding that the workers have made brilliant results thanks to ardent yearning for Kim Jong-il.

   The broadcasting station also said in a commentary the hydroelectric power stations across the country have outperformed the goal for November electricity generation. It said, for example, Sotusu Hydroelectric Power Stations outperformed the electricity generation target with 120.3 percent, while Hochon River and Jangjin River stations attained 107.6 percent and 109.3 percent, respectively.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) expressed confidence about the country's ambitious economic development and revitalization programs, saying the country's ruling Workers' Party has its own strategy for economic progress and revitalization.

   The Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party, carried articles on Dec. 10 on the exploits of Kim Jong-il in anticipation of the first anniversary of his demise. The articles included photos showing him giving field guidance to the Wonsan Salt Works, Taedonggang Foodstuff Factory and Kanggye Knitwear Factory.

   An article in the newspaper said the idea of "By our nation itself" is the noble legacy passed on to fellow countrymen by Kim Jong-il.

   Saying the Korean people strongly yearn for Kim Jong-il, another article in the newspaper introduced a meeting that was held in Hamhung to mark the anniversary of Kim Jong-il's guidance to South Hamgyong Province.

   The paper also chronicled the achievements of the Kim family, saying many construction projects have been completed in Pyongyang this year.

   Also, the KCNA released a report on Dec. 7 on the great innovations made by the army and people of the DPRK (North Korea) with Kim Jong-il's patriotism.

   "With the flame of industrial revolution in the new century, producers of the Huichon Ryonha General Machine Plant made great innovations in finishing the combined machining center, the mother machine for processing the main body of CNC machine tools," the KCNA said.

   It said the construction of the Huichon Power Station was completed before the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung, "the Day of the Sun."

   The Tanchon Port was built despite the rough sea off the east coast. The completion of Nampho-Pyongyang sea water pipeline made it possible to draw sea water from the West Sea to Pyongyang, contributing to improving the living standard of the people in the capital, according to the KCNA.

   The Taedonggang Tile Factory turned into a comprehensive building materials production center, providing a giant stride forward for putting the building materials industry on juche, modern and scientific bases.

   A high-temperature air-combustion heating furnace and reactive power compensation device, technologies of worldwide concern, were introduced to the hot rolling process of the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, it said.

   "This marked an event of turning point in the development of the country's metal industry," it said.

   The Hungnam Fertilizer Complex built a high-capacity methanol production process and the Sunchon Chemical Complex successfully established an integrated automation system, it added.

   According to analysts, North Korea's propagation of its economic achievements is aimed at rallying support from the people who are plagued with economic hardships and famine.

   It is also intended to show the current leader Kim Jong-un has been placing emphasis on the economic development under the legacies bequeathed by the later leader Kim Jong-il.

   North Kore has emphasized it will become a "prosperous country" by this year under the instruction of the late leader Kim Jong-il.

   This is an indication the North will continue to push for the goal to become a thriving nation even though Kim Jong-il has passed away.

   Economic stories are gaining prominence in the North's newspapers this year. North Korea watchers in Seoul interpreted the appearance of economic stories on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun recently as North Korean authorities placing greater focus on economic development in order to attain people's support. It is also related to the increase in the propaganda economic achievements stories, especially in the field of science and technology.

   In his speech on the centennial of his grandfather Kim Il-sung's birth on April 15, Kim Jong-un said it is the party's firm determination that the North would never tighten the people's belts any more. Kim's statements and speeches in recent months have shown his view of economic issues. In a statement on April 6, Kim stressed all projects should be subject to the goal of developing the national economy and improving living conditions for its citizens.

   Despite the Pyongyang regime's propaganda for its economic achievements, North Koreans are showing cold reaction to the North's reality, according to foreign news reports and North Korean defectors.

   The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported from Beijing recently that North Koreans are struggling to survive day to day.

   The British newspaper introduced a North Korean woman in her 40s who said that, "For 15 days after Kim Jong-il died we had to mourn, every day. We had to go to the big portrait in the town and to the statues."

   The woman surnamed Song said, "Who knows what people thought? I was neither sad nor happy. My life is so hard, I just wondered: Where will things go?"

   "We were worse than pigs. We would mix grass and corn powder and make it into porridge and eat that." In the cities, the desperate begged for food, she said.

   Though the mass deaths from starvation had ended, malnutrition and early mortality were rife. "The country is totally broken," Song said. "Even teachers and nurses are selling corn noodles in the markets."