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All Headlines 11:20 May 06, 2010

*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

North Korea Shows Great Interest in Shanghai World Expo

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be very interested in the ongoing Shanghai World Expo as the reclusive country is taking part in the global showcase for the first time, with its No. 2 leader coming out for the dazzling opening ceremony.

The Shanghai Expo kicked off on May 1 for a six-month run with South Korea and some 190 other countries and 50 international organizations participating. Organizers hope to attract some 70 million visitors during the period.

In a report monitored in Seoul, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a DPRK (North Korea) delegation headed by Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, arrived in Shanghai on April 29.

The KCNA said Kim participated in the opening ceremony on April 30, which brought heads of state and government of foreign countries and representatives of international organizations together with senior party and state officials of China.

According to the KCNA, Kim, the North's ceremonial leader, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai on the same day, winning Beijing's promise to further promote relations between the two allies.

"The DPRK delegation's participation indicates that the party and the government of the DPRK attach importance to the Sino-DPRK friendship," Hu was quoted as saying. "The bilateral relations have made steady good development thanks to the concerted efforts of the two sides in recent years."

Hu noted that it is the consistent policy of the Chinese party and government to attach utmost importance to the Sino-DPRK friendly relations and steadily boost the good neighborly and friendly ties.

"He underscored the need to steadily develop the goodwill visits and cooperation between the two sides and support and cooperate with each other in the international arena," the KCNA said.

China is the North's key ally and largest benefactor, as well as the host of the six-way talks on Pyongyang's atomic weapons program.

The KCNA also said Kim met with Mahmoud Abbas, chief of the Palestinian National Authority, in Shanghai on April 30, reaffirming the close ties between the two countries.

The report said Abbas pointed out the excellent bilateral relations between North Korea and Palestine and expressed hope to expand relations in the future. It added that the Palestinian leader presented a gift for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

A spokesman for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Lee and Kim both attended a welcome dinner on April 30 hosted by Hu for foreign leaders, but that they did not have a direct encounter as they were seated at different tables.

When they came across each other during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they shook hands without an exchange of words.

The missed encounter is widely seen as mirroring the worsening of inter-Korean relations, with Pyongyang expelling most South Korean personnel from their joint tour resort and freezing assets there owned by South Korean business partners on April 30.

According to the KCNA, Kim and his entourage visited the North Korean pavilion, constructed and leased by China, on the opening day of the World Expo before returning home.

The North Korea pavilion is nestled in a corner of the Asia section at the World Expo, next to Iran and about 100 meters away from its archrival South Korea.

Furnished simply, the pavilion has a 4-meter high replica of the Juche Tower, a monument in Pyongyang, the report said. Juche refers to the North Korean regime's ideology of self-reliance. The walls are decorated with panoramic photos, labeled in English as a "People's Paradise."

On display are miniatures of tomb murals dating back to Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.-668 A.D.), the Taedong River running through the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, a Korean-style traditional building and rock gardens. The pavilion also featured TV displays presenting North Korea artist's performances and natural landscapes of the country.

In what is seen as a show of Pyongyang's interest in the event, the KCNA reported on May 4 that a new stamp has been issued in the DPRK to mark the opening of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

On the upper part of the sheet is the inscription "Expo 2010 Shanghai China" in Korean, Chinese and English, while the background depicts Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, and Shanghai, according to the report.

Printed in the center is a picture of Pyongyang prospering on the basis of the culture of the Taedong River, as well as the emblem of the exposition and a poster reflecting the ideal of humankind for beautifying towns on the theme of the exposition "Better City, Better Life," it added.

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