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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 247 (January 31, 2013)

Four North Korean Defectors Return to Their Socialist Homeland

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- Four more North Korean defectors have returned to their socialist homeland after living in South Korea where they had to endure unbearable hardships, the North's media reported on Jan. 24.

   The (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) said a couple and their daughter as well as a woman came back home and held a press conference, explaining how they suffered in South Korea.

   "Our people who were forcibly taken to South Korea through mean tactics are continuously returning to their home, saying good bye to South Korea," the KCBS said.

   According to the report, they are the third group who has come back to the socialist country after defecting to the South since last year, raising the total to eight.

   The North Korean couple said they had difficulty making a living in the South and decided to return home after their daughter was born.

   Another woman said she missed her children she left in the North when she defected.

   "I slipped through China, lying I will bring my children in the North," one of the returnees, Ko Kyung-hee, said during the news conference.

   The North Korean TV report gave no further details, including when they defected and how long they lived in South Korea.

   According to South Korean officials, some North Korean defectors have difficulty adjusting themselves to South Korea's capitalist society. Some fled back to the North after committing crimes in the South, they said.


N.K. Threatens 'Physical Countermeasures' against Seoul over U.N. Sanctions

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Jan. 25 threatened "physical countermeasures" against South Korea if it directly takes part in U.N.-led sanctions against the socialist country.

   The statement carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, claimed that South Korea played an active part in the passage of the U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Pyongyang for launching a long-range rocket on Dec. 12.

   The resolution passed unanimously by the 15-member council on Jan. 23 (Korea time) is the fifth to be slapped on the North for its rocket and nuclear programs since May 1993. It calls for the tightening of existing sanctions, such as imposing travel bans on four individuals and freezing assets belonging to North Korea's space agency, a bank and four trading companies accused of engaging in arms shipments. It also banned technology developments and the transfer of money that supports such operations.

   "If the South takes direct part in the U.N. sanctions, the DPRK will take strong physical countermeasures against it," the statement said, referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

   North Korea also said that imposing sanctions is tantamount to a declaration of war and it will respond immediately to such provocations with counter strikes. The committee that is one of the main conduits for talks with South Korea claimed that any act of aggression will be met by a grand war of unification, hinting it may take military action against the South.

   The committee, moreover, said that there will be no more inter-Korean talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

   "Now that the South Korean conservative groups are desperately kicking up a racket against the DPRK over its nuclear and rocket issue with the United States, there will be no more discussions on the denuclearization between the North and South in the future," it said.

   It said the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is now totally invalid.

   The organization said that as long as the South maintains its anti-North Korea stance there will be no interaction.

   "As long as the South Korean group of traitors persistently pursues a hostile policy toward the DPRK, we will never negotiate with anyone," it stressed.

   The latest remarks by the committee is the third statement issued by Pyongyang since the UNSC passed the resolution.

   The first response was made by the North's foreign ministry just two hours after the international body agreed to penalize the country, while the second came Thursday and was issued by the powerful National Defense Commission. The commission denounced U.N. sanctions and warned future rocket and nuclear tests may directly target the United States.


North Korea Renews Threat to Carry out Nuclear Test

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Jan. 26 renewed its threat to carry out a third nuclear test in defiance of new United Nations sanctions against its Dec. 12 rocket launch.

   "A nuclear test is the demand of the people and no other choice can be made," the North's main newspaper, Rodong Shinmun, said in a commentary. "It is the people's demand that there should be something even greater than a nuclear test," said the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Workers' Party.

   The renewed threat comes only days after the socialist country vowed to abandon all denuclearization efforts on the Korean Peninsula and conduct a nuclear test in response to the expanded U.N. sanctions.

   The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Jan. 23 (Korea time) calling for stronger sanctions against North Korea for its Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket that violated existing U.N. resolutions.

   "The U.N. Security Council gave us no other choice," the commentary said. "We have no choice but to go to the very end."

   On Jan. 25, a U.S. research institute said recent satellite imagery show North Korea is almost ready to carry out its threat to conduct a nuclear test.

   According to 38 North, an analysis program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the Punggye-ri test site in the North's northeastern coastal region appears to be in a state of readiness that would allow the North to move forward with a test once Pyongyang's leadership gives the order.

   The site is where the country conducted its first and second underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.


Top N. Korean Music School Sends Delegation to China for Tightened Exchange

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- One of the top North Korean music schools has dispatched a delegation to China as part of the countries' efforts to step up their cultural exchanges, a report by a Chinese news agency said on Jan. 28.

   North Korea's Kumsong School sent the student delegation led by the school head, marking its first delegation dispatch since the school was founded in 1966, according to the report by China News Service.

   The delegation arrived on Jan. 26 to the city of Dandong in the Liaoning province, which shares a border with the North, and held a joint music performance with a group of Chinese students as part of youth exchanges between the two countries, according to the report.

   The report said the North Korean school is one of a few prestigious music education institutions in the North and has a 14-year-course curriculum. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju is one of the alumni there, the report said.

   The delegation also went to the construction site for a bridge that links Dandong with the North Korean border city of Sinuiju. They also visited a local orphanage and a memorial hall there, the report said.

   The news agency said the city also has a plan to invite other youth and preschool delegations from the city of Sinuiju later this year in order to mark the 60th anniversary in October of China's participation in the 1950-53 Korean War.

   Experts said the latest visit by the North Korean music school marks the widening exchanges in the cultural sector between the two countries.


North Korea Warns Seoul Not to Abet U.N. Sanction Resolution

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned South Korea on Jan. 29 against any steps thay may abet the latest sanctions resolution by the United Nations Security Council, saying that it views all anti-Pyongyang sanctions as a declaration of war.

   In a commentary carried by the KCNA, the socialist country called on the incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration to carefully digest its warning and not to act in a rash manner.

   The 15-member security council unanimously approved a resolution condemning the North for the launch of a long-range rocket on Dec. 12 and agreed to the tightening of existing sanctions.

   It stressed that Pyongyang considers any move to impose sanctions as being tantamount to calling for war, and outlined the country's willingness and ability to strike back.

   "The DPRK (North Korea) will respond to a war of invasion with an armed struggle to unify the fatherland," the media outlet said, adding that any provocation will be met with indiscriminate retaliation.

   The KCNA said that unless the South gives up its confrontational policy toward Pyongyang there will be no inter-Korean dialogue.

   This remark can be seen as targeting both the present administration and the incoming Park Geun-hye government, which will take power on Feb. 25. Park, who will become South Korea's first female president, has said she will try to talk to the North and push forward a Korean Peninsula trust building process that can benefit all sides.

   The warning comes just days after the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said it considers the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula pledge to be null and void, and warned it will take strong physical action against those forces that try to directly play a part in imposing sanctions.

   The news agency's latest commentary followed a report Monday by the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper published in Japan, that Pyongyang is keenly interested in knowing whether or not Park will respect a 2000 summit agreement between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

   The agreement calls for the two Koreas to work together to ease cross-border tensions and promote economic cooperation. The agreement
collapsed as a conservative government took office in Seoul in 2008 with a get-tough policy toward its socialist neighbor.

   Choson Sinbo claimed that Park's meeting with Kim Jong-il in May 2002 was possible because of the 2000 inter-Korean summit. It pointed out that the president-elect, in the past, had promised to pursue policies that can improve South-North relations.

   The newspaper, however, argued that Park has recently made comments that raise questions about her intentions about inter-Korean relations.

   Park has said that she will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea and that her government will respond firmly to any provocation.


Radio Pyongyang's Website Planned to Launch in February

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea plans to launch a new website of its state-run radio station in February in a move to control how its policies are broadcasted and received by South Koreans and Koreans abroad.

   "Radio Pyongyang will launch its website Minjokdaedangyeol, or the great unity of the people, on Feb. 1. The homepage will serve 70 million (people), all Korean, to kick off the building of a united country," the North's official Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) said on Jan. 29.

   The North's broadcasting station for listeners abroad separated from the KCBS in 1967 to become a broadcasting arm that specialized in disseminating propaganda to Koreans throughout the world. The station was renamed as Radio Pyongyang in 1972.

   Apparently, the secretive nation, which has generally cut its self off from the Internet, has been making efforts in recent years to reach out into cyberspace by launching new official websites as well as renovating those already in existence.
On Jan. 4, the KCNA unveiled its renovated homepage. Since the website opened in October 2010, the KCNA had made only a few changes to its design, but the latest renovation is quite remarkable, observers said.
In July last year, Uriminjokkiri, the North's propaganda website for the South, also opened a separate homepage "Uriminjokkiri TV" for streaming videos about the country's leader Kim Jong-un's official activities.

   According to a long-time North Korea Internet observer, who asked not to be identified, "The North is getting closer to the look and functionality of mainstream Western websites; subject tabs on top, running scripts with important news headlines, scrolling video and photo galleries, segmented news sections, etc."