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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 24 (October 9, 2008)

All Headlines 10:53 October 09, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Encourages Participation in Ongoing Census

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has encouraged public participation in a rare census, which is ongoing nationwide as of early October, saying it is a project for personal happiness and posterity as well as national prosperity.

Kim Kon-do, head of the Central Statistics Bureau, said in an interview with the (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station on Oct. 3 that every resident across the country should display high responsibility in joining the census survey.

The census, which is the second to be carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the North following one taken in 1993, is to be conducted from Oct. 1-15. The North entered the UNFPA in 1985.

"The purpose of the census is to contribute to building a socialist Kangsong Taeguk (great, prosperous and powerful country) through collecting various data including change of national population and the social composition of the populace," Kim was quoted as saying.

The survey will include the following items: sex, age, relation to household head, ethnic group, academic achievement, licenses held, occupation, marital status, and births and deaths.

It also deals with the form and size of the home, the conditions of cooking fuel, drinking water and bathroom facilities.

Kim said the authorities have published posters promoting participation in the census, adding the survey pertains to both children and the elderly.

Meanwhile, an official of the UNFPA expressed satisfaction about the North's ability to conduct the survey, according to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia on Oct. 8.

The socialist country will mobilize as many as 140,000 survey agents, who will visit households with help from 10 international observers funded by the UNFPA.


North Korea Completes Ryesong River Power Station

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which suffers from acute energy shortages, completed a hydroelectric power station on Ryesong River located in its southern area, the North's news media said on Oct. 3.

The (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station said the completion of the No. 1 Ryesong River Power Station in North Hwanghae Province was celebrated with a ceremony attended by Premier Kim Yong-il and workers at the dam compound.

Kim Jong-il gave "field guidance" at the construction site as his first public activity of this year on Jan. 6, following his earlier visit to it on Nov. 1, 2006.

At that time, Kim said that to build hydropower stations is not only economical but also a shortcut to satisfactorily meeting the increasing demand for electricity.

In the ceremony, Kim Jong-il's thanks were delivered to the concerned workers, shock brigaders and technicians amid applause at the completion ceremony, the broadcaster said, adding the completion of the power station will contribute to improving the economy and people's lives with more electricity production.

The broadcaster also stressed that Kim gave deep attention and appreciation to the construction workers, while urging them to finish the No.2 power station on the river.


N. Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Seen in Public: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has watched a soccer game, the socialist state's news agency reported on Oct. 4, marking his first public appearance since speculation arose that he had suffered a stroke.

The 66-year-old Kim, who reportedly underwent surgery after suffering from cerebral hemorrhaging in August, enjoyed a college football match, according to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"After watching the match, Kim Jong-il congratulated the players on their good results, saying that the revolutionary and militant students in our country are good at art and sporting activities," the KCNA reported.

Kim reportedly suffered a stroke in mid-August and underwent brain surgery which forced him to miss a key national event last month marking the 60th founding anniversary of the socialist country.

Kim's absence prompted rampant speculation in the world on the leader's health. North Korean government officials have denied the reports about Kim's ill health.

South Korea's main intelligence agency and a key presidential aide had said that Kim has recovered well enough to brush his teeth on his own and to stand with some assistance.

He has been out of the public view for more than a month, his last appearance being on Aug. 14 when he reportedly inspected a North Korean military unit.

Kim's 51-day absence from the public eye is the longest stretch since 2003 when he quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and didn't have any public engagements for 49 days.


N Korea Has Replaced Its Railways Minister: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Jon Kil-su, a career transportation official, has been named North Korea's new railways minister, according to the country's official media monitored in Seoul on Oct. 5.

The appointment of Jon Kil-su as the North's railways minister was confirmed in a report by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency that covered the ground-breaking ceremony for a project aimed at renovating a cross-border rail link between North Korea and Russia.

Jon, who headed the transportation ministry's transportation command bureau, has been promoted to replace Kim Yong-sam as the top railways official in the North's government, the report said. The outgoing minister had served in the post since 1998.

North Korea and Russia are pushing to modernize their dilapidated railway cross-border rail links between Rajin and Khasan.

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