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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 45 (March 12, 2009)

All Headlines 10:55 March 12, 2009

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Haven for Women, North Korea Claims

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea renewed its claim to be a haven for women and called the capitalist world a hell on earth in observance of International Women's Day on march 8.

The North's state media claimed that North Korean women live a happy life in the "warm care" and "love" of leader Kim Jong-il but that women in the capitalist world, including South Korea, suffer from "misery and pain" and "inequality."

"Today, our women fully enjoy their happy life under the warm care of the Great Songun General (leader Kim Jong-il)... being called as female revolutionaries of the Songun age, the most noble and respectful title," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party, said in an article dedicated to the international event.

Kim has ruled the isolated country under the Songun, or military-first, policy since he took over from his father, state founder Kim Il-sung, in 1994.

"Who on earth can be as highly respected and happy as our women?," the article asked.

The North established a gender equality law in July 1946 to guarantee the equal political rights and freedom of women, according to the newspaper. Many women, thanks to the "care" of leader Kim Jong-il, have grown to become socialist revolutionaries, devoted patriots and merited heroines, it claimed.

In South Korea, however, women's general living conditions worsen daily because of "traitor Lee Myung-bak's misrule," the same newspaper claimed in another article.

It cited South Korean news reports on female workers giving up babies due to rising labor instability and the cost of raising a child as examples.

"Gender equality or equality of all people, which capitalist nations trumpet so loudly, is nothing but tricky propaganda," a separate article in Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial titled "Capitalist society is hell for women." It claimed women living in capitalist nations suffer from misery and pain caused by gender inequality.

Experts say Pyongyang's emphasis on gender equality is in fact intended to fill the manpower shortage for the reconstruction of its sagging economy.

In an editorial issued a day before the anniversary, Rodong Sinmun called for women's increased role in "making a new revolutionary upsurge in all fronts of socialist construction."


N. Korea Denounces Int'l Court Decision on Sudanese President

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on March 8 denounced the International Criminal Court's decision to arrest the Sudanese president on war crime charges as "an unheard-of wanton encroachment upon the sovereignty of a sovereign state."

"The court's decision to arrest the head of state who was legitimately elected with the support of the Sudanese people is arousing the deep concern of the international community as it is an unheard-of wanton encroachment upon the sovereignty of a sovereign state," a spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry said.

"It is a super-state act to lord it over sovereign states and freely interfere in their internal affairs in disregard of their sovereignty." The decision, the unnamed spokesman told the North's official Korean Central News Agency, "will only disturb the stability of the international relations and wreck the world peace."

The North's response came four days after the court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

"The Darfur issue is an internal issue of Sudan and it is, therefore, not a matter which allows foreign forces to interfere in it and settle it by hurting the dignity of the Sundanese people," the spokesman stressed.


North Korea to Venture into European Machinery Market

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A state-run North Korean firm plans to main inroads into the European machinery market this year, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported on March 9.

The Korean General Machinery Trading Company aims to establish a new record for exports by 2012, the target year by which Pyongyang hopes to have fully revamped its moribund economy, Choson Sinbo reported.

The newspaper also quoted Kim Hyok-chol, the company's 44-year-old president, as saying he hopes to see the country's exports increase by 130 percent year-on-year in 2009.

Founded in 1958, the firm enjoyed its peak years in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the socialist market existed, according to the report.

It has been experiencing financial difficulty over the past 10 years due to the collapse of socialist bloc and international economic sanctions against North Korea, according to the report.


North Korean Premier to Visit China 'Soon': Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's premier will "soon" visit China, Pyongyang's news agency said on March 10, amid growing speculation the allies may arrange a summit this year.

Kim Yong-il, premier of the North Korean Cabinet, "will soon pay an official goodwill visit" to China at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, said the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency in a one-sentence report.

The report did not say when the visit will be and what its purposes are.

Later of the day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a press briefing that North Korea's premier will "pay an official goodwill visit to China" from March 17-21.

North Korea and China are celebrating the "year of Sino-DPRK (North Korea) friendship" to mark their 60th year of diplomatic relations.

China fought for North Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War against South Korea and the United States and currently remains as the sole major donor to the impoverished North, with the South Korean government's humanitarian aid suspended about a year ago amid faltering relations.

Speculation has mounted that the allies may arrange a new summit this year. Chinese President Hu Jintao invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Beijing through a letter in January, and Kim has accepted it, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

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