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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All Headlines 16:00 March 15, 2019

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

N. Korea holds parliamentary elections

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea held parliamentary elections Sunday, a key political event likely to cement national unity and leader Kim Jong-un's grip on power amid uncertainty over tough nuclear negotiations with the United States.

The communist state will elect new deputies for the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, its rubber-stamp legislature, in the polls held every five years. They will replace those picked in the first parliamentary elections under the current leader in March 2014.

North Korean voters, aged 17 or order, were scheduled to cast their ballots between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

N. Korea's myth-making approach shows signs of change under young leader: experts

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent call on propaganda workers to focus more on his "human" side might be the latest sign of a change in the regime's myth-making efforts as a tool for the Kim family to hold onto power, experts said Monday.

In a letter sent to a national conference of propaganda officials held in Pyongyang earlier last week, Kim emphasized that they should stay away from the "mystification" of their leader, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency.

"Mystifying a leader's revolutionary activity and appearance would result in covering the truth," Kim was quoted as saying. "Absolute loyalty would spring up when (they) are mesmerized by the leader humanly and comradely."

N. Korea stresses economic development during parliamentary elections

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to a top science university in Pyongyang to cast his vote in Sunday's nationwide elections is seen as reflecting his focus on economic development, experts said Monday.

North Korea held the elections Sunday to choose new deputies for the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, the country's rubber-stamp legislature. The polls, held every five years, were set to replace those parliamentarians picked in the first such elections under the current Kim regime in March 2014.

Elections in North Korea are widely viewed as a formality, as the candidates, who are hand-picked by the ruling Workers' Party, are elected usually with 100 percent of the vote. Voter turnout is also usually close to 100 percent.

N. Korea to limit number of foreign visitors starting next week: report

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will begin restricting the inflow of foreign visitors starting next week as it is struggling to cope with a surge in the number of tourists following the first U.S.-North Korea summit last year, Chinese media reported Tuesday.

North Korea plans to restrict the number of visitors to the country to 1,000 per day starting Monday, the state-run Global Times said, citing a source.

The number of foreign visitors to North Korea peaked around July and August last year, with about 1,800 daily visitors on average, it said.

N.K. leader not mentioned among deputies newly elected to parliament

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not included in a list of deputies newly elected to the communist state's rubber-stamp parliament, state media reports showed Tuesday, sparking speculation about what the unprecedented move means.

Kim's name was not mentioned when the Korean Central Broadcasting Station, a state radio network, called out the names one by one of all 687 deputies elected to the 14th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) in Sunday's nationwide polls.

It would mark the first time in North Korean history that the highest leader has not held a seat in the SPA. Both of Kim's predecessors, his grandfather and national founder Kim Il-sung and his late father Kim Jong-il, concurrently held parliamentary seats.

S. Korea to closely watch possible shift in N.K. power structure following elections

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Wednesday it will pay keen attention to North Korea's power structure after the North's leader Kim Jong-un was not included in a list of deputies newly elected to the communist state's rubber-stamp parliament.

North Korea held nationwide polls Sunday and elected 687 deputies for the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, but Kim was not in the list unveiled by its state media. It marked the first time in North Korean history that the leader has not held a seat in the SPA.

"We will continue to pay attention to whether there has been a personnel reshuffle or change in the power structure, and closely monitor the results of the first meeting of the SPA, which has been usually held in early April," Baik Tae-hyun, the unification ministry's spokesperson, said during a regular press briefing.

KCNA in brief

-- A delegation of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) led by Han Man Hyok, vice department director of the Central Committee of the party, returned home on March 8 after visiting Russia for events marking the 70th anniversaries of founding leader Kim Il-sung's first trip to the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the agreement on economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

-- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a message of greeting to Bashar Al-Assad, president of the Syrian Arab Republic, on March 9 on the occasion of the March 8 Revolution Day in Syria.

-- A government economic delegation led by Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong Jae returned home on March 9 after taking part in the 9th meeting of the North Korea-Russia Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation in Trade, Economy, Science and Technology.

-- Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, sent a message of sympathy to Sahlework Zewde, president of Ethiopia, on March 11 over the airliner crash in the African nation.

-- Premier Pak Pong-ju inspects various industrial sites, including Pyongyang Pharmaceutical Factory, Pyongyang Dental Hygiene Products Factory, Posan Iron Works, Jangsan Mine and Ramjong Mine. (reported on March 12)

-- Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho sent a congratulatory message to Palamagamba John Aidan Mwaluko Kabudi on his appointment as minister of foreign affairs and East African cooperation of Tanzania on March 12.

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