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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 248 (February 7, 2013)

N. Korean Appeals for Military Volunteers ahead of Planned Nuclear Test

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea is urging its youth to voluntarily join the military en masse in an apparent effort to unite its people ahead of what appeared to be an imminent atomic test, according to media reports from the reclusive country.

   Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, carried an article on Jan. 31 featuring a university architecture student who suspended his studies to join the military in a bid to help defend his country from outside threats.

   The same article also reported that a group of middle school students eagerly pledged to join the army and that a growing number of young people are planning to join or reenlist in the military.

   A Jan. 26 report by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also stated that "Many young people are volunteering for military service, out of their will to annihilate the enemies."
According to North Korea experts in Seoul, the socialist regime often uses its propaganda media outlets to instill a sense of patriotism among its people when it believes the country faces a crisis.

   The North issued similar calls for enlistment in 1993 after it withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, touching off acute tension with the outside world.

   "North Korean authorities are encouraging the youth to enlist and trying to dramatize the pressure from the outside world and the sense of crisis in a bid to set the social mood to unite before the nuclear test," said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University.

   North Korea has strongly indicated that it is in its final stage of preparation before conducting another nuclear test in response to a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch.

   South Korea officials believe that North Korea is technically ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time upon approval by the North Korean leader. The communist regime had previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.


N. Korea Blasts U.S. for Staying Silent on Japanese Spy Satellites

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea criticized the United States for staying silent about the recent launch of two spy satellites by Japan, which it claimed showed the double standard employed by the superpower on international affairs.

   Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK), on Feb. 1 said Washington has consistently been at the forefront of penalizing countries that have tried to thwart its ambitions to dominate the world.

   It said, on the other hand, the U.S. turns a blind eye to actions taken by its allies and those that meekly follow its leadership role.

   The newspaper said U.S. policymakers manipulated the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to condemn the peaceful launch of its long-range rocket on Dec. 12, while completely ignoring provocations by Japan.

   Tokyo sent two new satellites into space Sunday that can help the government keep better track of developments taking place in Northeast Asia, and in particular North Korea. Japan said its H2-A rocket that took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture carried satellites equipped with a radar and high-grade optical imagery sensors.

   The socialist country, meanwhile, warned it will build up its nuclear deterrence capability, hinting it can detonate another nuclear device soon. The North tested a nuclear device in 2006 and in 2009.

   Rodong Sinmun, also said that the UNSC had failed in its task to be fair in its decision-making process and reflect sovereign rights of its member states. Pyongyang has said that launching of the five long-range rockets since 1998 had nothing to do with developing weapons of mass destruction. The country stressed the latest Unha-3 launch is part of its project to use space in a peaceful manner.

   It said the security council has become a puppet international organization, and its members are only interested in pursuing short term goals and being controlled by the United States.


Pro-N. Korean Paper Urges U.S. to Ease Tensions on Korean Peninsula

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korean newspaper published in Japan called on the United States on Feb. 1 to end 60 years of conflict on the Korean Peninsula by signing a peace treaty.

   "The war that began over six decades ago is moving towards a final phase," Choson Sinbo said, adding that only "peace talks" between North Korea and the U.S. can end the perennial crisis.

   The newspaper, published by the General Association of Korean Residents, a pro-North Korean residents' group in Japan, noted that Pyongyang has long urged Washington to make a choice on what actions it will take to end the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

   The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, with no permanent peace treaty signed. About 28,500 U.S. troops are still stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against the North.

   North Korea has long demanded that the uneasy Korean War armistice agreement be replaced with a peace treaty, but Washington maintains that peace talks would be possible only when the North's socialist regime gives up its nuclear weapons program.

   Tension on the Korean Peninsula has risen sharply in the recent past after North Korea fired off a long-range rocket. Pyongyang claims that the rocket launching was only to put a satellite into orbit but South Korea, the U.S. and other regional players believe it was a test of the North's long-range missile technology.

   The U.N. Security Council subsequently adopted a resolution tightening its earlier sanctions against North Korea. North Korea is now reacting with a threat to conduct another nuclear test.

   South Korea, joined by the U.S., warns of stronger punitive sanctions if North Korea went ahead with the threatened atomic test.

   North Korea had previously detonated two nuclear devices.


N. Korea Denounces U.S. for Approval of S. Korean Space Rocket

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea again warned on Feb. 2 of "toughest retaliation" against the United States over the United Nations Security Council's recent resolution condemning its rocket launch, accusing Washington of having double standards for its own space program and South Korea's rocket launch.

   The accusation came three days after South Korea successfully launched its first space rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, putting a 100-kilogram science satellite into orbit.

   An unidentified spokesman for the North's foreign ministry claimed that the U.S. "supported and defended" the South Korean space rocket, also known as Naro, and drew "worldwide censure and derision," according to an interview carried by the KCNA on Feb. 2.

   North Korea invited fresh UNSC sanctions by launching a satellite-carrying long-range rocket late last year. The communist state claimed the satellite launch was part of its peaceful space program, but the Security Council maintained it was still in violation of previous U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang that condemned any test or use of ballistic missile technology.

   The U.S., along with the rest of the international community, however, welcomed Seoul's successful launch of its space rocket, drawing a clear line between the two Koreas in terms of the transparency of their programs.

   "You know our view that there is no basis for comparing the behavior of the ROK (South Korea) in space with the behavior of the DPRK (North Korea)," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing on Thursday, adding Pyongyang is "completely proscribed under binding U.N. Security Council resolutions from any kind of launching," while Seoul "has developed its space launch program completely responsibly."

   In the briefing, Nuland used the acronyms of the formal names of the Koreas -- the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

   Dismissing the U.S. response as "sophism," the North's foreign ministry spokesman said the United States' different stances toward the rocket launches by South and North Korea were a fallacy.

   "The U.S. denied the DPRK's right to launch satellite for no justifiable reason but blindly connived at the satellite launch by its stooge South Korea. This is the height of double standards and impudence," the spokesman was quoted as saying in the English version of the KCNA report.

   Stressing its "independent and legitimate" right to satellite launch, the spokesman warned of "toughest retaliation" against the U.S.

   "The American way of thinking, American standard may work on other countries but never on the DPRK. The U.S. brazen-faced double standards and high-handed hostile act are bound to face the DPRK's toughest retaliation," the spokesman said.

   The communist country has threatened to detonate a nuclear device in retaliation for the U.N. Security Council's passage of a resolution condemning its Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch, and intelligence efforts have recently spotted a series of signs of preparations for the test.


North Korea Highlights Party Cells Asserting Loyalty to Leader

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Thousands of grass-roots socialist party cadres swore loyalty to leader Kim Jong-un after a rare meeting convened for the first time in five years, the North's media reported Feb. 2.

   The meeting of "secretaries of cells" came as North Korea is trying hard to rally its people behind the young leader who has vowed to detonate another nuclear device in a show of force against U.S.-led outside threats.

   According to North Korean media, the party cells, whose number is believed to exceed 10,000, met in Pyongyang during two days starting Jan. 31 to review what they discussed at a party meeting. The earlier meeting was the first of its kind since 2007, according Seoul officials.

   In what appeared to be an unusual move, Kim personally greeted the party cells at the end of their two-day study sessions and took photos together with them, the North's official Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station said in a report, monitored in Seoul.

   Party cells are political "grass-roots" organizations of the North's ruling Workers' Party, and each group is made up of 5 to 30 members.

   The broadcaster said the study sessions focused on the importance of obeying Kim's leadership and that secretaries were called on to transform the cells under their control into viable fighting organizations.

   All cells who attended the session reconfirmed their allegiance to the leader and resolved to make North Korea a Kangsong Taeguk, or a prosperous and powerful nation with strong military and economic clout, the TV report said.

   Other dignitaries present included Kim Young-nam, the president of the Presidium of the country's Supreme People's Assembly, and party politburo members, Choe Yong-rim and Choe Ryong-hae, the report said.


More N. Koreans Cited for Playing Roles in Long-range Rocket Launch

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Thousands of North Korean scientists, engineers and workers have been additionally cited for their contribution to the country's successful long-range rocket launch in December, the North's media reported on Feb. 2.

   The latest citations were in addition to 101 North Korean scientists and engineers who had been honored with the "Hero of the Republic" titles following the Dec. 12 rocket launch that Pyongyang claimed allowed it to place a satellite into orbit.

   In a report, monitored in Seoul, the North's official KCNA said thousands of scientists, engineers and workers were additionally awarded medals, titles and prizes. It did not give the exact number of awardees.

   The report said seven people, including Ri Ung-won and Kim Song, received the coveted Order of Kim Jong-il, while 20 others received the Kim Jong-il Prize. The report did not say what roles they had played in the rocket launching.

   Kim Jong-il is the late North Korean leader credited with the North's nuclear and rocket development. His death in late 2011 opened the way for his young son, Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, to take over.

   The KCNA also said the Kim Jong-il Youth Honor Prize was given to 27 people, with many others getting various recognition such as the People's Scientist title, the Order of National Flag Class, the Medal of Merit, the Order of Labor and Distinguished Military Service Medal.

   North Korea is reportedly pushing to carry out its third atomic test in defiance of the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its rocket launch which Western experts regard as a test of its intercontinental missile technology.


N. Korea Threatens 'Deadly Retaliation' against S. Korea If It Imposes Sanctions

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Feb. 2 threatened "deadly retaliation" against South Korea if it takes part in any form of sanctions imposed on the communist country for its December long-range rocket launch.

   "The DPRK (North Korea) is fully ready for both economic and military sanctions and anyone who encroaches upon its dignity and sovereignty even a bit with any form of sanctions will not be able to avoid deadly retaliation," North Korea said in the form a statement issued by its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland that handles inter-Korean relations.

   The committee's statement, carried by the KCNA, said a recent meeting of South Korean security ministers, chaired by President Lee Myung-bak, can only be seen as fueling confrontation with the North.

   It said comments made at the meeting can be seen as an attempt to wreak havoc with inter-Korean relations to the point that they cannot be repaired even if a new administration takes office in Seoul later this month.

   During a meeting of its security ministers on Jan. 31, South Korea warned that it will slap tough sanctions on North Korea if it moves forward to test another atomic device. The North had previously detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.

   The North's statement, in particular, denounced the U.N. Security Council resolution tightening sanctions against the isolated country, and made clear that further provocations can lead to grave consequences.


N.K. Denounces U.N. Resolution as Grave Obstacle to Its Economic Development

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Feb. 4 denounced the latest U.N. sanctions imposed for December's long-range rocket launch as a "grave obstacle" to its efforts to rebuild the tattered economy, saying such sanctions will only harden its resolve to further strengthen its self-defense power.

   In January, the U.N. Security Council toughened sanctions on the socialist nation for carrying out a long-range rocket launch in December in violation of U.N. resolutions over concern such a firing could be used to develop missile technology.

   The sanctions "are composed of hostile measures aimed at hampering the economic development of our nation as well as the improvement of people's living and consolidation of our defensive power," the North's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an article.

   The sanctions posed "a grave obstacle to our efforts to build an economy in which people do not need to tighten their belts," it said.

   The newspaper also accused the U.S. of leading the outside world's hostile actions toward the country, saying the U.S. and its allies are imposing "the most unfair and vicious" sanctions in all sectors in North Korea, including trade, finance, investment, real estate, insurance, transportation and mail shipments.

   The U.S. now is limiting trades of almost all kinds of goods, even those necessary for the livelihoods of ordinary North Koreans, it said.

   The on-going sanctions are pressing the North to strengthen its defensive power, another article on the Feb. 4 issue also claimed, stressing the country's pledge to step up "war deterrence power."

   The latest in a series of the country's denouncements of the U.N. resolution came amid rampant speculations that the country may conduct another nuclear test in the coming weeks.

   Following the adoption of the resolution in January, the North has repeatedly threatened to detonate a nuclear device. South Korean officials said the country is technically ready to conduct a nuclear test upon approval from the North Korean leader.

   Meanwhile, Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan, suggested that North Korea could take an unspecified action if its third nuclear test is met by another U.N. sanction.

   The paper claimed that the U.S. will be compelled to choose between confrontation and dialogue with North Korea, noting that the six-nation denuclearization talks were resumed two months after Pyongyang's first nuclear test in October 2006.


N. Korea Enters Celebratory Mood ahead of Feb. 16 Birthday of Late Leader

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has entered a celebratory mood ahead of late leader Kim Jong-il's birthday on Feb. 16, one of the most widely-celebrated national holidays, even as the country faces accelerating tension with the international community over its plan to test a nuclear bomb, according to North Korean media outlets on Feb. 5.

   The birthday of Kim Jong-il, known in the North as the Day of the Shinning Star, was designated as the most important national holiday in 1995, and has since been widely celebrated every year.

   North Korean radio Pyongyang Radio Station reported on Feb. 5 a wave of North Koreans are visiting Mount Jangja, a historical site in Jagang Province where the late leader is known to have spent his childhood, in commemoration of Kim's birthday.

   A group of young North Koreans went on a group trip to the late leader's birthplace near Mount Paektu from Jan. 22-28 while another band of young workers embarked on a group trip there on Feb. 1, according to North Korean media reports.

   Groups of soldiers and government employees also pledged allegiance to the late leader in Kim's hometown there, the reports said.

   The reports also covered the country's cooking competition as well as a festival and a sports event, all held in celebration of the anniversary of Kim's birth.

   The celebratory mood was being spread even as the country faces rising tension with the outside world for its planned test of a nuclear bomb.

   Following the United Nations' adoption of a resolution designed to punish the North for its Dec. 12 rocket launch, the North has repeatedly pledged to conduct a "high-level nuclear test."

   The international community suspects the rocket launch, which the North said was carried out to send a satellite into orbit, was a covert test of the country's ballistic missile technology.

   The country may continue to fuel the celebratory mood till the birthday in a bid to rally support for the regime.

   "The Kim Jong-un regime may make efforts to show off his leadership and unite his regime by keeping afloat the celebratory mood, spurred by the successful December rocket launch, until the birthday of late chairman Kim Jong-il," professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said.

   The late leader died of a sudden heart attack in December 2011, bequeathing the reclusive country he inherited from his father and founder Kim Il-sung to his third son Jong-un.


N. Korea Threatens to Scrap Joint Industrial Complex with S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Feb. 6 vowed strong measures against what it called South Korea's economic sanctions against the socialist nation, saying it may scrap the joint industrial complex in Kaesong and turn the area back into a military base.

   The threat came two days after Seoul said it will tighten inspection of industrial parts and materials going to the Kaesong complex in the communist state to reflect the recent U.N. Security Council resolution calling for tighter sanctions on Pyongyang.

   "If the South thinks the so-called sanctions against the Kaesong industrial complex can put any pressure on us, they are gravely mistaken," an unidentified spokesman for the North's National Economic Cooperation Committee said in a statement.

   The statement, carried by the North's official news agency KCNA, said Pyongyang will withdraw any privilege afforded to South Korean companies at the Kaesong complex should the South or anyone else even touch the joint complex.

   "And we will take other stern measures such as turning the area back into our military district," it said.

   Currently home to 123 South Korean companies, Kaesong sits just north of the inter-Korean border with all materials needed to produce goods there shipped from South Korea.

   Despite frosty South-North ties under the incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration, Seoul had not halted economic cooperation taking place at the industrial park, which is viewed as the crowning achievement of a 2000 inter-Korean summit meeting.

   Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket carrying a satellite on Dec. 12, prompting the fresh U.N. Security Council resolution as it was seen as a cover to test its ballistic missile technology.

   The communist state had already been banned from using or testing ballistic missile technology under existing U.N. Security Council resolutions that condemned the North's two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.


N. Korea Claims S. Korea's Military Drill Aimed at Provoking War

SEOUl (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused South Korea of preparing to stage a war against the socialist state on Feb. 6, citing a field training exercise by a small infantry unit.

   The accusation came one day after South Korea's 20th Mechanized Infantry Division, named Gyeoljeon, announced its plans to stage a three-day ground exercise in Yangpyeong and Yeoju, both east of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province. The announcement was made solely to warn local residents of possible traffic and other inconveniences.

   A division is a military unit usually consisting of 3,000 to 20,000 soldiers.

   In a report by its Korean Central News Agency, the North claimed the drill "envisages huge forces' mobile exercise to take a start line for attack."

   "The evermore undisguised saber-rattling of the warmongers goes to clearly prove that the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors is desperately pursuing confrontation till the last moments of their office," the report said.

   Pyongyang often denounces South Korea's military drills as preparations for a war against it but usually only when those exercises involve U.S. troops stationed here.

   Earlier this week, South Korea and the United States held a three-day joint naval exercise in waters off South Korea's east coast in an apparent show of force against the communist regime's third nuclear test.

   North Korea earlier had condemned the joint naval exercise as a proof that South Korea and the U.S. are preparing to start a new war against it.

   The two Koreas, divided since the end of 1950-53 Korean War, are still technically at war, since the Korean War ended in an armistice agreement, not in a peace treaty.