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(LEAD) N. Korea dissolves state-run firm in charge of attracting foreign investment: gov't

All Headlines 16:57 February 01, 2013

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea dissolved a well-known state-run company in charge of attracting foreign investment due to its unsatisfactory performance, South Korea's Unification Ministry said Friday.

"Daepung International Investment Group seems to have been disbanded, probably due to poor performance," a ministry official said in a briefing on governmental and personnel changes taken under the Kim Jong-un regime over the past year.

The country also broke up another extra-governmental organization in charge of trade promotion and foreign investment with its work believed to have been reassigned to the government's Commission for Joint Venture and Investment, according to the official.

Daepung Group was established at the instruction of the North's highest political body, the National Defense Commission, in January 2010 as a means to attract foreign investment.

The group oversaw the now-suspended joint tourist program in Mount Kumgang on the eastern coast of North Korea.

The cross-border program had served as a cash cow for the North before Seoul halted it in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at the resort.

The ministry official also underlined the dramatic ascent of Jang Song-thaek, the powerful uncle and guardian of the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un took power after his father Kim Jong-il's sudden death in December 2011.

The North established a high-profile government body, the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, in November last year and named Jang as its head.

The official also confirmed the removal of U Tong-chuk, a powerful figure under the late leader, who escorted the funeral coach of Kim Jong-il with a few other officials.

U is confirmed to have been dismissed from his positions as a member of the Central Military Commission as well as a member of the National Defense Commission, she said.

"U has not been seen in (the North's reported) public events since last April ... there has been much intelligence through various channels that U has health problems including a cerebral hemorrhage," the official said.

The country officially designated July 17, 2012 as the day Kim Jong-un was awarded the marshal title, which gave him the right to command the country's 1.2-million-strong army, the official also noted, adding that the country may celebrate the day every year down the road.


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