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All Headlines 10:59 May 22, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Rodong Sinmun Calls for More Propaganda to Construct Economic Power

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- As North Korea is set to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding in September, it urged its officials to make more aggressive propaganda to welcome the festival with economic accomplishments this year.

Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' party, on May 15 said the construction of an economic power is the most important struggle of the current age, and called for conducting a revolutionary offensive of agitation to make sure that a general advance is stepped up throughout the country.

The communist state claims that once the united spirit power of the military and the people is agitated properly, it can overcome any hardship and accomplish anything, therefore stressing the agitation itself.

"The power of the agitation work should be concentrated on solving matters to improve people's lives, as well as constructing economic power," the organ said, adding the whole society should "seethe with the mettle to leap forward" as in nationwide campaigns conducted in the 1950s and 1970s.

In addition, Rodong Sinmun on May 20 said, "All the people should live and work in the same way as the people did in the period of great Chollima surge in the 1950s in order to work epoch-making miracles and feats in the general offensive for the final victory in the struggle to build a Kangsong Taeguk (great, prosperous and powerful nation)."


North Korea Names New Envoy to Congo

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has named its new ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the communist country's state-run news media said on May 19.

Jo Man-sok was named to replace Ri Won-son as the North Korean ambassador to the African country, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Ri has also served as ambassador to Angola, Cameroon, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.

However, the report did not reveal whether Jo will serve in all of Ri's previous posts. North Korea did not provide more detailed biographical information on Jo.

North Korea established diplomatic ties with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1972 when the African country was called Zaire.


Foreign Companies Show Increasing Interest in Trade with North Korea: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- As the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is changing greatly, apparently because of the North Korean nuclear issue, foreign companies from Asia and Europe are showing increasing interest in trade with North Korea, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on May 19.

Choson Sinbo, organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said on the occasion of the 11th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair, which took place May 12-15, that many foreign companies have made contracts with counterparts in the North.

More than 220 companies from various countries and regions, including China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Indonesia, Vietnam and Poland, participated at the fair, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency on May 14.

Choson Sinbo said such a big number of participants was in contrast with the fall trade fair in 2006 when only 60 companies from eight countries joined the annual exhibition amid tension on the peninsula following the North's missile test and the ensuing international sanctions.

North Korea has held international trade fairs in the spring and fall of every year, and the fair this spring was held as Pyongyang took concrete steps to declare its nuclear programs in return for the U.S. lifting of trade sanctions in the framework of the six-way talks for the North's denuclearization.

Another article of Choson Sinbo on May 19 said if the problems in relations between Pyongyang and Washington, which have hindered trade between the North and Europe, are resolved, the North's economic exchanges with foreign countries will grow in an unprecedented manner.


Rodong Sinmun Urges All People to Positively Support Rural Areas

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- As North Korea went through the planting season of rice, its staple, in late spring, Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' party, called upon the whole party, country and all the people to give strong support to rural areas.

The organ on May 20 said, "Now is the most important farming season which determines the accomplishments for the year," echoing a remark by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

According to the North's news outlets, Kim said recently that the food problem is the most urgent matter at present.

Agencies from the United Nations estimate the North will fall short 1.66 million tons of the grain it needs this year, and warn that the North could face a serious famine.

Meanwhile, the U.S. announced it will give humanitarian aid of 500,000 tons of rice to the North starting in June.

The newspaper, however, said the way to solve the food shortage is to increase its own farm production, as the world suffers from increases in food prices and decreases in food reserves.

It also said that labor and farming materials, including "alternative" fertilizer, should be provided to rural areas on time, as even one minute and one second are important during rice planting season.

The North did not receive chemical fertilizer from the South this year due to the political conflict with the new conservative government in Seoul.

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