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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 23 (October 2, 2008)

All Headlines 10:54 October 02, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Says Special Attention to International Shipping Services

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea celebrated World Maritime Day on Sept. 26 by directing special attention to its international shipping services, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The DPRK (North Korea) has systematically grasped the international conventions and rules newly adopted or amended and supplemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) since being admitted in 1986," said the KCNA.

The IMO, whose 60th anniversary is this year, celebrates World Maritime Day annually. The exact date is left up to individual governments, but it is usually celebrated during the last week in September.

"The administration is renewing the domestic laws on sea safety and environmental protection in accordance with the actual conditions," the KCNA said. "The administration steps up cooperation with the IMO."

As part of World Maritime Day, North Korea made a study tour of the Hong Kong Maritime Administration in June, and held a national seminar and workshop in September of this year in accordance with the technical and cooperative program of the IMO, the KCNA added.


N. Korea Marks 60th Anniversary of Kimchaek University of Technology

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which has stressed science and technology for its economic development, marked the 60th anniversary of Kimcheak University of Technology, calling the institution its core establishment for producing scientists and engineers, its news outlet said on Sept. 27.

According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a meeting took place at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on Sept. 26 to celebrate the anniversary with Premier Kim Yong-il and other high-ranking officials attending, along with teachers, students and graduates of the university.

"The university serves as the nation's strong center for training scientific and teaching personnel," the KCNA said.

President Kim Il-sung founded the university on Sept. 27, 1948, and leader Kim Jong-il placed such deep trust in the university that he called it a pioneer of the IT revolution in the DPRK (North Korea), it added.

Kim Jong-il gave on-site guidance to the e-library and gymnasium of the university as his first public activity in 2006.

Meanwhile, on the occasion of the anniversary, a national scientific symposium took place Sept. 23-24, followed by a seminar in the gymnasium of the university.

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan, on Sept. 30 said the university is prioritizing IT and nano technology education, as it recently streamlined more than 80 departments into about 30 to broaden the knowledge span of students.


North Korea Shows off Its Economic Accomplishments

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea showcased its many economic accomplishments on the occasion of its 60th founding anniversary, which fell on Sept. 9, saying the nation's economic power became stronger under the Songun (military-first) leadership of Kim Jong-il.

The (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station on Sept. 30 said, "On the occasion of the diamond jubilee of the country, more than 80 factories, enterprises and cultural facilities were built, while more than 60 of them were remodeled across the country."

It cited the following as the proud achievements: construction of a dam, power generators and dikes for tideland reclamation; improvement of processes in an iron mill and tractor plant; progress in mining; modernization of cloth and food workshops; and remodeling of Pyongyang.

"Such are the precious fruition of Songun leadership by Kim without rest and sleep," who came through "blizzard and sultriness to give on-site guidance at the economic facilities," the broadcaster said.

The North's mouthpieces have encouraged the people to make an upsurge in production from early this year to commemorate the 60th birthday of the country with a proud performance.


Ranking N.K. Officials Inspect Local Province amid Leader's Absence

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A group of ranking Pyongyang officials inspected farms in a rural North Korean province, the North's state-run radio said on Oct. 1, as top leader Kim Jong-il entered another month out of the public eye.

"Cabinet ministry and other central government officials visited various sites in Daehongdan County, Ryanggang Province, on Sept. 30," the North's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.

The officials stopped at a pig farm as well as facilities for growing and processing potatoes, the report said.

Kim, who is reportedly recovering from a stroke, was absent from the visit, which was made to mark the 10th anniversary of his essay titled, "On making a revolution in potato farming."

This is not the first time that Pyongyang officials have made a group inspection tour without the leader. High-ranking members of the Workers' Party and the Cabinet visited a state-run farm in the same county without Kim in 2002 to mark the farm's 50th founding anniversary. In 2005, they toured local facilities previously inspected by their leader.

Some North Korea observers say the reportedly ailing leader may continue to send officials on local inspection missions until he recuperates enough to resume public activities.

Among the officials present on the latest tour were Choe Thae-bok, secretary of the Workers' Party Central Committee, Choe Yong-rim, secretary-general of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kwak Pom-gi, deputy premier, and Pak Nam-gi, head of a department of the Party Central Committee, the report said.

Seoul officials believe Kim, 66, suffered a stroke in the middle of August and is recovering after having surgery. North Korean officials, however, have denied speculation over Kim's poor health.

Pyongyang had encouraged its citizens to grow more potatoes in an effort to ease chronic shortages of rice, the country's staple food, since the late 1990s when an estimated one to three million people are believed to have starved to death. The North has since depended on foreign aid handouts to help feed its 23 million people.

Last month, the U.N. World Food Program appealed to international donors to provide an additional US$60 million in emergency aid to North Korea, saying the reclusive state could slip back into famine without additional aid worth about $500 million in the next 15 months.

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