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N.K. leader donates US$500,000 to pro-Pyongyang residents in Japan

All Headlines 11:57 March 24, 2011

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il donated US$500,000 to pro-North Korean residents in Japan to help them recover from a killer quake and tsunami that left thousands dead and missing.

The aid from the cash-strapped country was announced Thursday in a brief dispatch from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Separately, North Korea's Red Cross sent relief funds of $100,000 to its Japanese counterpart and expressed deep sympathy to the victims of the catastrophe, the KCNA said in a separate dispatch.

The KCNA did not give any further details on whether there were any casualties among pro-North Korean residents.

An official of the pro-North Korean association in Tokyo told Yonhap News Agency by phone that some of the residents could have been killed during the disaster. He did not elaborate and asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of Koreans live in Japan, many of them descendants of Koreans forcibly brought to Japan as laborers during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The ethnic Korean community, however, was later divided into two separate groups, with each supporting South and North Korea, respectively. The two Koreas remain technically at war since their 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire.

North Korea and Japan have no diplomatic relations.

In another dispatch dated Wednesday, the KCNA reported that Kim Jong-il and his youngest son and leader-in-waiting Kim Jong-un enjoyed a demonstration performance of synchronized swimming at the Changgwang Health Complex in Pyongyang.
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