*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)
N. Korean Leader Hails Rocket Launch as 'Historic Event'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il hailed the country's recent launch of what it calls a communications satellite as a "historic event" as he visited scientists and staff who worked on the project, Pyongyang's media said on April 24.
North Korea insists the April 5 launch successfully put the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite into orbit, while outside monitors say no such object has entered space.
The U.N. Security Council condemned the launch as violating a 2006 U.N. resolution banning the North's ballistic activity, prompting North Korea to withdraw from nuclear disarmament talks and expel international inspectors in protest. Pyongyang says the U.N. action is unfair, as the North was exercising its sovereign right to space development.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim met the scientists, technicians, workers and officials who contributed to the successful launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 and posed for a photograph with them.
Kim "acknowledged (their) enthusiastic cheers and extended warm greetings to them," the KCNA said.
The "successful launch of the satellite, an aggregate of science and technology, marked a national auspicious event which powerfully demonstrated before the world the dignity and invincible national power of Songun (military-first) Korea... and a historic event which signified the first gun salute heralding the victory in the great struggle to build a great prosperous and powerful nation," the news agency said.
Kim was accompanied by members of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the top military decision-making body, including Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People's Armed Forces and vice-chairman of the NDC, Ri Yong-ho, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, Jon Pyong-ho, secretary of the Workers' Party central committee, Kim Jong-gak, first vice director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, and Kim Il-chol, first vice-minister of the People's Armed Forces, the report said.
N. Korea Endeavoring to Protect Intellectual Property
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on April 26 reaffirmed its commitment to protecting intellectual property by working closely with the international community as it marked World Intellectual Property Day, state media said.
"The DPRK (North Korea) government will as ever increase its efforts to protect the intellectual property and develop it in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization," Minju Joson, the newspaper of the North Korean Cabinet, said in an article released to commemorate the day.
It said intellectual creations are under strict legal protection in North Korea thanks to its well regulated system of protecting the intellectual property.
The North has the articles on the legal protection of copyrights and the right to invention and patent right clearly stipulated in its Constitution, said the article carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
In a related story, the KCNA said the government is striving to legally protect intellectual property and encourage creative activities, enacting laws for the protection of inventions and patent right, regions of origin and industrial designs.
"We have enacted, proclaimed and revised laws and regulations in the field of intellectual property and are working to raise the social awareness of the intellectual property and secure a firm guarantee for the implementation of scientific corporate management strategy," Choe Chi-ho, a senior official at the North's state quality control office, was quoted by the KCNA as saying.
N.K. Vows 'Merciless Strike' against U.S., Marking KPA Anniversary
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea marked the 77th anniversary of its military on April 25 with vows of a "merciless strike" against the United States and its allies, which it accuses of preparing an invasion.
The national event for the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) follows a U.N. action to punish the North for its April 5 rocket launch. The U.N. Security Council froze foreign assets of two firms and a bank in North Korea over their suspected ties to missile and nuclear programs.
"Should the imperialist U.S. and its followers touch even an inch of our territorial land, air or sea, our troops of the Korean People's Army will deal a merciless strike of justice to the enemies to destroy them and thoroughly and eradicate the roots of war on the Korean Peninsula," Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said in an editorial.
"There is no limit to our military, armed with the mighty means of military technology founded on cutting-edge science technology and self-reliant defense industry," said the editorial, according to a report by the North's Korean Central Television.
The editorial also defended the country's rocket launch, saying it has successfully put the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite into orbit. Pyongyang says the U.N. action is unfair, as the North was exercising its sovereign right to develop space.
"Through the successful launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, our army demonstrated its resolute will that it will never tolerate any kind of challenge from the enemies," the paper said.
The sanctions committee of the U.N. Security Council imposed financial and trade sanctions on the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation and Tanchon Commercial Bank on April 24 (New York time).
The committee also banned U.N. member states from trading in dual-use items related to the production of ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
The sanctions decision comes nearly two weeks after the 15-member U.N. Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the launch as violating a 2006 U.N. resolution banning North Korea's ballistic activity.
N. Korean Leader Stresses Urban Design in Tourist City
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited a tourist city and expressed satisfaction with its landscape lit with neon signs, Pyongyang's news agency said on April 27.
Kim visited a statue of his father and the country's founder, Kim Il-sung, a museum dedicated to the late leader, and various tourist facilities in Wonsan, a port city famous for long, sandy beaches and historic sites in Kangwon Province, said the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
"It is necessary to pay special attention to the management of Wonsan City, as it is the city both Koreans and foreigners like to visit," Kim was quoted as saying.
He inspected the Songdowon Open-Air Theatre on the seaside and in the evening took in a bird's-eye view of the city glowing with decorative lights, it said.
Commenting on the success of the local power station, "built by the city on its own," in generating power for Wonsan, Kim wished the city's citizens a "happy life as they enjoy pleasure through hard work," the report said.
Pyongyang's media in January reported on a newly built hydroelectric power plant, the Wonsan Youth Power Station, and Kim's visit there.
Earlier in the day, the news agency reported on Kim's trip to an agricultural university in the same city, where an automated greenhouse was newly built. Dates for both trips were not given, but North Korea's state media usually convey Kim's public activities the day they are made or the following day.
"Wonsan University of Agriculture has an important role to play in the development of the nation's agriculture," he was quoted as saying, and "it is necessary to consolidate the scientific research centers including greenhouses, conduct research work under a long-term plan and pay deep attention to the work and life of the teaching staff and the students."
Kim visited the same university on Feb. 13, before construction was completed.
He was accompanied by Workers' Party officials, including Jang Song-thaek, who is a department director of the party, the report said. Jang, who is also Kim's only brother-in-law, was promoted as a member of the powerful National Defense Commission in an April 9 reshuffle, and has become a regular on Kim's field trips since late last year in a possible sign his influence over state affairs has expanded since the leader allegedly suffered a stroke in August.
North Korea's Ceremonial Head to Visit Africa
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ceremonial head Kim Yong-nam will fly to South Africa to attend the inauguration of the country's new president and also visit Zimbabwe, Pyongyang's news agency said on April 28.
The swearing-in ceremony of Jacob Zuma is set for May 9, but the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not say when Kim will start his trip or what schedule he would follow, only saying the trip would come "soon."
"Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK (North Korea) Supreme People's Assembly, will soon visit South Africa to attend the inaugural ceremony of the president of the country. He will also visit Zimbabwe," the KCNA said.
Kim, 81, represents North Korea on state visits and summits and receives visiting dignitaries as the country's titular head of state. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, 67, rarely travels abroad.
North Korea established diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1998 and signed a bilateral treaty on cooperation in economic, science and technology fields in 2003. High-level officials have since exchanged visits.
South Africa manufactured several small nuclear bombs in the 1980s, but joined the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1991 and announced two years later that its nuclear weapons had been dismantled.
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