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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 37 (January 15, 2009)

All Headlines 10:30 January 15, 2009


Seoul Publishes Dictionary of Literary Terms Used by Both Koreas

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- While the two Koreas have drifted apart politically, they may come to understand one another better in terms of literature via a recently published encyclopedia containing over 700 literary terms used in both Seoul and Pyongyang.

Dozens of South Korean authors, literary critics and professors spent more than two years preparing and revising the "Literary Dictionary of the Korean Century," which aims to bridge the gap between the literary phraseology of the two divided countries. It is the first compilation of terms used in one or both of the two Koreas since their division in 1948.

"Writers in the two Koreas have been using literary terms from the West that they translated separately for more than half a century," said South Korean author Kim Hyung-soo on Jan. 6, who participated in the project. "As literary exchanges with North Korea will become more frequent in the future, there was an urgent need for us to have a unified literary dictionary."

"It is regretful, however, that we could not consult North Korean authors," he added. "That would have made the book complete."

Seoul and Pyongyang have been using different literary terms for the past century, a result of their geographic separation and political diviision, Kim explained.

While the capitalist South has increasingly adapted to literary terms used by Britain and the United States, its socialist neighbor has depended heavily on Russian phraseology.

For example, the term "modernism" is defined in the South as "an art trend based on contemporary movements," North Korea defines it as a "decadent art trend by the bourgeoisie."

The dictionary, compiled by Seoul's Arts Council Korea and published by Book Asia, contains 705 terms, including such phrases as "classicism," "allegory" and "expressionism." It also includes terms unfamiliar to South Koreans, such as "Byeoksoseol," short fictional works based on pressing issues, and "Maldadeumgisaeop," which refers to a 1966 decision by the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung banning the use of all foreign languages."

South Korea's literati are growing increasingly interested in North Korean literature, especially after the publication of "Hwang Jini," a novel by North Korean author Hong Seok-jung which was awarded Seoul's prestigious Manhae Literature Award in 2005.


S. Korean Organizations Send Humanitarian Aid to N. Koreans

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Despite frozen ties between the two Koreas, provincial governments, civic groups and farmers' organizations in the South are providing rice and other farm produce to impoverished North Koreans for humanitarian purposes.

The provincial government of Jeju Island is to go ahead with its annual shipment of tangerines and carrots to North Korea despite the central government's refusal to pay part of the cost, officials said.

The semi-tropical island has sent more than 10,000 tons of tangerines and carrots to North Korea every winter since 1998, with the central government paying for about half the cost.

But the humanitarian project came to a halt this winter as Seoul's Unification Ministry refused its customary funding of the shipments amid frozen inter-Korean relations.

The Jeju government decided to send a smaller shipment of aid this year -- 300 tons of tangerines and 1,000 tons of carrots worth about 600 million won (US$441,176) -- to North Korea starting on Jan. 16, ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun and Jeju officials said. "The North said it will receive the shipment as part of non-governmental inter-Korean projects," the spokesman said.

Tangerines are a local specialty that do not grow in North Korea's cold weather. Jeju Island initially intended to send 10,000 tons of tangerines and carrots, but the amount was slashed as it had to fund the aid on its own.

But non-governmental aid continued, with a South Korean farmers' organization, the Korea Peasants League, shipping rice to North Korea last week following a shipment of food aid worth 380 million won for mothers and children in North Korea from the Buddhist group Jungto Society.

The Korea Peasants League said last week it sent 174 tons of rice to North Korea and pledged to continue non-governmental humanitarian aid amid damaged inter-Korean relations.

The group said they have arranged to have a ship collect rice from across the country at ports along the coast. The boat left the southern island of Jeju on Jan. 5 and departed from the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, on Jan. 9., arriving at the North Korean port of Nampho on the same day, they said.

"We hope this shipment will be a small seed to normalize frozen inter-Korean relations," the group's Jeju branch said in a statement.

The South Korean government suspended its customary food and fertilizer aid to the impoverished state last year as North Korea cut off dialogue and intensified its anti-Seoul rhetoric. Non-governmental aid has continued in spite of the ongoing political stalemate.

The latest shipment by the Korea Peasants League includes some 60 tons of rice donated by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a labor umbrella group. The union group and the farmers are calling for legislation that would implement the regular delivery of rice aid to North Korea.

"The government should give up its Cold War North Korea policy and promulgate a policy of co-existence," they said in a statement.


S. Korean Nuke Envoy to Visit Pyongyang to Examine Nuclear Fuel Rods

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea's deputy nuclear envoy will visit North Korea on Jan. 15 to examine unused nuclear fuel rods stored at the North's main nuclear plant which are being disabled under a multilateral deal, Seoul's foreign ministry said on Jan. 13.

Hwang Joon-kook, director general of the ministry's North Korean nuclear affairs bureau, left Seoul for Beijing on Jan. 14, from where he was to depart to Pyongyang the following day, the ministry said.

Hwang will be accompanied by several South Korean nuclear experts during the open-ended trip, which may provide a breakthrough in the stalled-six way talks on Pyongyang's atomic weapons program.

"Our fact-finding team will focus on the technical and economic aspects of a decision on the handling of North Korea's unused fuel rods," the ministry said in a press release. Diplomatic sources said the fact-finding team will study the economic and technical feasibility of buying the fresh fuel rods.

The delegation will visit Pyongyang and Yongbyon, the hub of the North's nuclear program, but a schedule has not yet been fixed for a meeting with North Korean officials.

North Korea declared last year that it has some 14,000 unused fuel rods, each one measuring about 60 centimeters long, stored at the Yongbyon site.

The total amount is equivalent to 100 tons of uranium, a ministry official said in a background briefing for local reporters. He declined to calculate its market value, citing fluctuations in uranium prices.

"We delivered our intention of visiting North Korea late last year and the North recently responded to it," the official said on the customary condition of anonymity. "North Korea asked us to travel via Beijing, not the inter-Korean border."

If the trip is made, Hwang will be the highest South Korean government official to visit Pyongyang since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February last year, pledging to get tough on the socialist neighbor.

Inter-Korean relations have since been frozen, with North Korea cutting off virtually all official contact with Seoul. Their border is tightly sealed and North Korea bars any cross-border travel by South Korean officials.

Under an aid-for-denuclearization deal signed with South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan in 2007, North Korea has nearly completed disablement of the plutonium-producing reactor. The six-way talks currently remain deadlocked over ways to verify the North's declaration of its nuclear program.

Under the six-party agreement, North Korea has so far received over half of the promised 1 million tons of fuel oil in return for the slow-going removal of the 8,000 spent fuel rods at its Yongbyon plant.

Cash-strapped North Korea has indicated that it prefers selling the unused rods to a third country rather than scrapping them.

Removing the unused rods from the nuclear facilities is the last of 11 disablement steps. South Korea hopes it can use the unused North Korean fuel rods for its own nuclear power plants.

South Korea currently has 20 nuclear power plants in operation and several more under construction.

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