*** NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea Denounces Defectors as Apostates
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 7 denounced defectors as "apostates who have turned their backs on the country for a handful of money" amid growing disputes in the South regarding defectors.
An activist-turned-lawmaker from the Seoul's main opposition Democratic United Party called defectors as traitors during an impromptu meeting with a defector-turned-college student at a bar on June 1 and the remarks has since been the point at issues in the South.
The report came in a post titled, "the reason why defectors are apostates," written on June 7 by the North's propaganda Web site "uriminzokkiri."
The Web site spouted that defectors are traitors, saying that those who abandon their families to free themselves from hunger cannot be considered human beings.
"(Defectors) are no more than despicable human scum and should be called insects which are better-off dead," the post said.
The post said that an apostate refers to someone who has deserted his or her loyalty, principles and beliefs.
South Korea is currently home to more than 23,500 North Korean defectors, while tens of thousands of defectors are believed to be hiding in China.
"Uriminzokkiri" and other North Korea media outlets, such as the Korean Central Television and the North Korean Central Broadcasting Station, rarely use the word "defector."
49 N. Korean Athletes to Compete in London Olympics
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will field 49 athletes in 11 sports in the upcoming Olympic Games in London, the country's official news agency reported on June 8.
Thirty-five female and 14 male athletes have so far qualified for the July 27 through Aug. 12 games in women's football, marathon, table tennis, wrestling and weight lifting, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
The weight lifters and wrestlers are expected to achieve good results, the report said, adding that expectations are also high for women's football.
North Korea won four golds in the 1992 Olympics, and two golds at each of the 1996 and 2008 Games.
North Korea Again Rules out Nuclear Test
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on June 10 that it has no immediate plan to conduct a third nuclear test.
The North's latest announcement made through a statement issued by its foreign ministry spokesman came amid growing international concern about its possible nuclear test following April's failed rocket launch.
"(South Korea) seeks to rattle the nerves of the DPRK (North Korea) in a bid to cause it to conduct a nuclear test, though such a thing is not under plan at present, and take such strong retaliatory measures as Yeonpyeong Island shelling incident," said the statement carried by the KCNA.
"This scenario is aimed to strain the relations between the DPRK and the countries around it and create an atmosphere of putting pressure and sanctions on it," the statement said, accusing the South of "defaming" the celebrations of the Day of the Sun, the anniversary of the (North) Korean Children's Union and other auspicious events in the North.
In a similar statement issued on May 22, Pyongyang ruled out an imminent nuclear weapon test, but vowed to expand and bolster its nuclear deterrence as well as its sovereign right to launch satellites, while slamming the Group of Eight nations' condemnation of its failed long-range rocket launch in April.
There has been speculation that the socialist country may carry out a nuclear test to try to compensate for April's botched rocket launch. The long-range rocket, which Pyongyang claimed was meant to put a satellite into orbit, exploded soon after lift-off on April 13. South Korea and the U.S. said it was a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology.
The North has a track record of carrying out a nuclear test following a long-range missile test. In 2006, the North conducted its first nuclear test, three months after the test-firing of its long-range Taepodong-2 rocket. The second nuclear test in 2009 came just one month after a long-range rocket launch.
North Korean Leader Releases Treatise on Grandfather
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made public a treatise on his grandfather, the North's founder Kim Il-sung, in April to celebrate the centenary anniversary of the senior Kim's birth, Pyongyang's media reported on June 12.
In the treatise, titled "The Great Comrade Kim Il-sung Is the Eternal Leader of Our Party and People," Kim Jong-un wrote, "Comrade Kim Il-sung was the most prominent leader and peerlessly great man in the 20th century," according to an English-language report by the (North) Korean Central News Agency.
"He was highly praised and deeply trusted by the world people as an iron-willed commander, outstanding strategist and a symbol of victory in the anti-imperialist struggle as he defeated the formidable enemies, the Japanese and U.S. imperialists who were superior in numerical strength and military technique with politico-ideological, strategic and tactical superiority in the last anti-Japanese revolutionary war and the Fatherland Liberation War," said the treatise.
He also stressed that the North's party, army and people would faithfully carry forward the ideas and causes of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il and accomplish the revolutionary cause of "juche," or self-reliance, under the uplifted banner of "Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism."
N.K. Threatens to Reveal Presidential Hopefuls' Remarks in Pyongyang
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea threatened on June 11 to disclose remarks made by South Korean presidential hopefuls during their respective visits to Pyongyang years ago, in an apparent bid to interfere directly in the South Korean presidential race.
In its latest attempt, the North threatened to reveal the "flattering remarks" made by the ruling Saenuri Party contenders Reps. Park Geun-hye and Chung Mong-joon and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo, saying they had all made "pro-North Korean" remarks.
Through the KCNA, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued what it called an "open questionnaire" of the Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling party and claimed they would "lose face" by continuing to accuse opposition lawmakers of being pro-North Korean when Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the Saenuri Party itself were full of people with "internal ties" to the North.
The committee claimed South Koreans "will be stunned" if it makes public what South Korean politicians have said in the North, saying they have made remarks and undertaken acts that were pro-North Korea.
"In May 2002, Park Guen-hye, who received a warm welcome from Dear General (referring to the late leader Kim Jong-il), had made plenty of pro-North Korean remarks during her trip to Pyongyang," the English-language report said.
"The DPRK (North Korea) can make public all what the former and incumbent authorities and lawmakers of the south side did and all places they went and all remarks they made while visiting Pyongyang, if necessary."
The state media continued, "Recently, an unprecedented, insane campaign to crack down on North Korean sympathizers is underway in the South. A gang of conservatives there painted the people who tried to tackle their anti-unification and confrontational acts as North Korean sympathizers, in order to discredit them and ruin their careers."
The North's unexpected statements came as the South Korean media and experts address concerns about some "pro-North Korean" politicians who were elected as lawmakers and as a result will have access to classified information on national security.
A few lawmakers of the minor Unified Progressive Party, including Rep. Lee Seok-ki, are facing mounting pressure to step down for their alleged links to North Korea.
Despite that pressure, the lawmakers have refused to quit and claim the right wing is fanning a "red scare" as a campaign tactic. North Korea's motive in threatening to disclose the right wing politicians' remarks and acts is not clear.
It is interpreted, however, as part of a tactic to influence the presidential election slated for December, considering the North has made similar attempts previously. Pyongyang has consistently released strong-worded statements or verbal attacks before major elections.
Referring to former South Korean intelligence chiefs Lee Hu-rak, Chang Se-dong and Suh Dong-kwon, who made secret trips to Pyongyang in the past, North Korea said they should be considered pro-North Korean since they "made internal contact with us, toured sacred spots of the revolution and even presented gifts."
In her response, Park denied the accusation, saying she "made no pro-North comments whatsoever" during her visit to Pyongyang and urged North Korea to reveal whatever it claims to have.
Chung accused North Korea of "meddling" in South Korean politics and urged the North to stop making "explicit threats" against politicians here ahead of the presidential election.
Pundits said the North is clearly trying to interfere directly in South Korean elections, sending a message to embattled left-wingers in the South that they are not fighting a lonely battle.
The North has long sought to drive a wedge between progressives who support engagement and conservatives with a harder line towards Pyongyang, especially during election season.
N. Korea Says Western Coastal Area Plagued by Severe Drought
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's western coastal area has been seriously affected by lingering drought that started in late April, its official media reported, citing the lowest precipitation in a century.
In a dispatch from Pyongyang on June 12, the KCNA said that 1 to 5 mm of rainfall has been reported in some parts of Pyongyang City, South Phyongan Province and North and South Hwanghae provinces since April, the lowest for Pyongyang City in 105 years.
"There was little rainfall in the flat areas in the central part of the west coast, including Pyongyang, Onchon, Unryul, Jaeryong and Yonbaek plains," said the KCNA.
"There has been no rainfall from late April in Kangnam County in Pyongyang City, Anak County in South Hwanghae Province, Songrim City and Junghwa County in North Hwanghae Province, Ryonggang County and Kangso District in Nampho City and Unchon County in South Hwanghae Province."
The long dry spell is attributable to the protrusion of high pressure from the East Sea and Okhotsk Sea staying in the air above the central part of Korea, preventing low pressure from passing through the central part, it added.
S. Koreans in 50s most aggressive in cryptocurrency investment: survey
(LEAD) BTS becomes first Korean artist to top British albums chart
SHINee Minho, INFINITE Jang Dong-woo to join military
S. Korea to commemorate 5th anniversary of Sewol ferry sinking
S. Korea issues travel ban for Myanmar-Bangladesh border
S. Korea to cut dependency on fossil fuel, shift to renewable energy
N. Korean diplomat Choe Son-hui condemns Bolton
Kumho Asiana likely to sell flagship unit in return for financial help
N.K. leader could hold first summit with Putin next week: sources
(LEAD) N.K. leader could hold first summit with Putin next week: sources
(LEAD) Moon has message from Trump for N.K. leader: CNN
Moon has message from Trump for N.K. leader: CNN
(2nd LD) Ex-lawmaker, eldest son of former President Kim Dae-jung, dies
U.S. spy plane flew over areas around Seoul after N. Korea's test-firing of new weapon: sources
(2nd LD) N. Korea condemns Bolton for 'nonsense' on denuclearization talks