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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 January 11, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

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.

N. Korea uses face recognition tech at hospital and other facilities

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has introduced facial recognition technology to manage records of people entering and exiting some state facilities, a propaganda website of the communist state said Saturday.

The website, Meari, said that a key research institute of the Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang has developed the technology and that the face recognition system has been installed at a hospital in the capital and other buildings.

"The face recognition process is speedy and accurate," the website said.

N. Korean leader to turn 35 this week

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to be turning 35 this week, but unlike the birthdays of his father and grandfather, considered among the country's most important holidays, no state celebrations are expected for the young leader.

Kim is known to have been born on Jan. 8, 1984, though the North's government hasn't officially confirmed the date. On the eve of his birthday, the North's state media outlets, including its key mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency, remained mum about his birthday.

The North's 2019 calendar marked the date as an ordinary working day, contrasting with the birthdays of Kim's late grandfather and father, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which are celebrated as national holidays.

WFP says food aid to N. Korea plunges amid sanctions

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- The World Food Program has said the amount of food assistance provided to North Korea has plunged amid international sanctions imposed on the impoverished country.

The U.N. food agency said in a recent report that it provided 363 tons of fortified food to 457,760 pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children under 5, in the North in November. The tally is sharply down from 1,083 tons provided to 475,000 people the previous month.

"Unintended impact of sanctions on supply chain remains a major constraint," the report said. "Six months lead time is required for international procurement and shipping."

N. Korea to elect deputies for rubber-stamp parliament in March

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will hold elections in March to select deputies for its rubber-stamp legislature, its state media said Wednesday.

The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) "decided to call an election of deputies to the 13th SPA on March 10," the North's Korean Central News Agency said.

The current deputies have been formed during its first election under the incumbent leader Kim Jong-un in March 2014.

KCNA in brief

-- N. Korean Premier Pak Pong-ju inspected various units, including the February 8 Jikdong Youth Coal Mine and the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex on Jan. 4.

-- N.K. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho sent a message of greeting to Aung San Suu Kyi, foreign minister of Myanmar, on Jan. 4 on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of its independence.

-- N. Korean Premier Pak Pong-ju sent a congratulatory message to Sheikh Hasina on Jan. 8 upon her reassumption of office as prime minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

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