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N. Korea regularly hosting int'l events despite sanctions regime

All Headlines 11:02 October 09, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is hosting international events on a regular basis despite stringent sanctions imposed by the United Nations, an examination of media reports showed Sunday.

Careful checks of official news reports coming out of the reclusive country by Yonhap News Agency showed that from Sept. 8 through the last day of the month the North effectively had some sort of gathering every four days, and that this continued into October.

The latest event held in Pyongyang took place on Oct. 5-7 and was sponsored by several government ministries with participants engaging in discussions on sustainable growth.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) scholars from Canada, Malaysia, China, India, the United States and Britain took part in the talks along with diplomats and representatives from international bodies.

Last month, the communist country highlighted that it played host to an international product exhibition; a symposium on its juche ideology, North Korea’s guiding philosophy; the Pyongyang film festival; a science book fair; and an event to mark the 70th anniversary of one of its leading universities.

It also celebrated international senior citizens day and even held the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival for two days starting on Sept. 24.

Yonhap said that on average all the events translate into one gathering being held every 3.7 days in the one-month period.

North Korean watchers said that hosting the events in the face of stringent sanctions imposed by U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2270 in early March may be aimed at showing the world that the country is unaffected by whatever action other countries take.

"The move can be interpreted as a propaganda ploy to show that it is not hurt by whatever sanctions are applied," a government official here said.

This view was echoed by Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University.

"Pyongyang is saying that no matter what actions are taken by the international community, it is not being hurt in the least," the scholar speculated.

He added by showing off that it is not affected, the North may be trying to get countries not to pursue additional sanctions for its fifth nuclear test conducted on Sept. 9.

The UNSC as well as leading countries such as the United States have vowed to make the North pay for its latest provocations by implementing even harsher sanctions.

On the other hand, North Korean experts in Seoul said that while the regime may try to portray a picture of normalcy there has been a drop in the number of participants this year when compared to the past.

In the Sept. 5-8 international product fair companies from 15 countries were present, down from 20 last year.

At the film festival the North claimed 100 films were shown, but sources said the actual numbers were far smaller.

"The fact that the North did not give exact numbers is indicative that not too many foreign films were screened," a source pointed out.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
(END)

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