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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All Headlines 16:00 January 04, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

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N. Korea's newspaper calls Samjiyon development fight against hostile forces

SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Friday called for stepped-up efforts to develop the northern county of Samjiyon, known as the birthplace of late leader Kim Jong-il, into the "wealthiest" region in the country, calling it a fight against hostile forces bent on sanctions.

"It will have a bigger political meaning than blowing up a nuclear bomb to build the birthplace of the dear general (Kim Jong-il) into the wealthiest county of our country," the Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial.

"Developing Samjiyon County is a fierce class struggle and a political struggle against hostile forces ruthlessly sticking to sanctions on us," it added.

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N.K. highlights its leader's military accomplishments ahead of anniversary

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Saturday highlighted its leader Kim Jong-un's accomplishments of taking a tight grip on the military and eradicating corruption in the armed forces ahead of a key anniversary.

Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of Kim being designated as the country's top military commander following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December 2011.

Under Kim's leadership, the military's discipline has been strengthened in a way that has made the armed forces show absolute obedience to the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), according to the state-run television network.

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N. Korea holds national meeting to mark anniv. of Kim's assumption of supreme commander

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea held a national meeting last week to mark the seventh anniversary of leader Kim Jong-un taking the post of supreme commander of the country's armed forces, the state-run media reported Sunday.

The meeting was held Saturday in Pyongyang, attended by high-ranking officials of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea (WPK) and the Korean People's Army (KPA) along with many others, including soldiers, students and workers, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of Kim being designated as the country's top military commander following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

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N. Korea's tourism agency appeals to foreigners to visit N. Korea for New Year's celebration

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has unveiled tour programs allowing foreigners to visit the reclusive state and celebrate the New Year's holiday, according to the country's state-run tourism agency Sunday.

The program will run in Pyongyang and at other major tourist attractions from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5, DPR Korea Tour said on its website run by the North's National Tourism Administration.

Travelers will be able to enjoy events ranging from a celebration of the New Year at Kim Il-sung Square in central Pyongyang to an ice sculpture festival and other various arts performances in the North's capital.

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N. Korea calls itself 'utopia,' 'flower garden of human love'

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has called itself a "utopia" and a "flower garden of human love" as it rejected U.S. criticism of human rights violations as an attempt to topple the communist regime.

A North Korean human rights association made the claim in an open series of questions to the United States and the United Nations, claiming that U.S. pressure over human rights is equivalent to "an act of political terrorism" against the country.

"Does the U.S. not want to get over with the old conventions, prejudices and hostile ideas even now when the Singapore North Korea-U.S. joint summit agreement has been declared?" the association asked in the Korean-language questionnaire carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

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UNICEF says US$19.5 mln needed for humanitarian aid to N. Korea this year

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least US$19.5 million is needed to support North Korean children this year amid constraints on assisting the impoverished country due to international sanctions.

The global children's agency said in a report that 10.9 million people in North Korea, including 2.59 million under age 18, are exposed to chronic food insecurity and lack access to basic services, such as health care and sanitation facilities.

Among the total amount of funds requested for this year, $9.8 million is needed for nutritional support, followed by $5.8 million for water, sanitation and hygiene and $3.9 million for health related assistance, it said.

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Minor quake occurs near N.K.'s nuke test site: KMA

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- A 2.8 magnitude earthquake took place near North Korea's northeastern nuclear test site Wednesday in an apparent aftermath of the communist country's previous nuclear test, South Korea's weather agency said.

The quake occurred about 11 kilometers east of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Kilju, North Hamgyong Province, at 7:20 a.m., the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said.

The North carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test at the Punggye-ri site in September 2017, causing several induced quakes thereafter.

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Number of marketplaces in N. Korea exceeds 500: analyst

SEJONG, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has more than 500 marketplaces across the country, a North Korea expert said Thursday, a clear sign of marketization in one of most isolated countries in the world.

The number of markets -- known as "jangmadang" in North Korea -- has rapidly expanded to more than 500 in recent years, Cho Bong-hyun, a North Korea expert at the Economic Research Institute of the Industrial Bank of Korea, said in a report published by the state-run Korea Development Institute (KDI).

The number of markets has risen in recent decades as ordinary North Koreans have been struggling to support themselves following the collapse of North Korea's food distribution system.

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N.K. leader expands public activities in economy, external affairs in 2018: data

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- The number of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's public appearances increased in 2018, mainly in the fields of economy and external affairs amid rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula, government data showed Friday.

Kim appeared in public 98 times last year, up 4.3 percent from 94 in 2017, marking the first time in five years for the number to rise, according to the data compiled by the unification ministry. The tally had been decreasing every year since reaching its peak with 212 in 2013.

Of the total, activities related to the economy accounted for the largest portion with 41.8 percent, up from the previous year when it accounted for 27.7 percent of the total.

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KCNA in brief

-- A delegation of the Foreign Ministry of Laos led by Vice-Minister Khamphao Ernthavanh left Pyongyang for home on Dec. 28.

-- N. Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho sent a congratulatory message to Beibut Atamkulov upon his appointment as foreign minister of Kazakhstan on Dec. 28.

-- A dancing party of women's union officials and members took place at the plaza of the Arch of Triumph on Dec. 30 to celebrate the 7th anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's assumption of the supreme commandership of the Korean People's Army.

-- A delegation of the Ministry of People's Security led by Councilor Ri Song Chol returned home on Dec. 30 after visiting Russia.

-- Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival 2019 opened at Kim Il Sung Square on Dec. 31.

-- N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a message of greeting on Dec. 31 to Raul Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, and Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of victory in the Cuban revolution.
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