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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All Headlines 16:00 July 19, 2019

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

N.K. propaganda outlets stress direct dialogue with U.S.

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- Two North Korean propaganda outlets on Saturday emphasized the importance of direct talks with the United States, saying that talks with South Korea are meaningless.

Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean propaganda website, issued a commentary saying it is much more productive for the country to hold talks with Washington, which has authority over Seoul.

"It is much more productive for us to directly deal with the U.S. who has direct power over South Korea to discuss pending issues, instead of talking with the opponent who cannot move a step without the authorization of the U.S.," Uriminzokkiri said.

N. Korean propaganda outlet slams Japan's export restrictions

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda media outlet on Saturday slammed Japan's recent restrictions on high-tech exports to South Korea, saying the measure mimics the "trade war" between the United States and China.

Japan began to tighten regulations on shipments to South Korea of three materials essential to the production of semiconductors and display panels.

South Korea suspects the move may be retaliation for South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Koreans who were forced into labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

N.K. outlet calls for S. Korea's bold, independent steps for better inter-Korean ties

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Sunday criticized South Korea for linking inter-Korean relations to progress in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

The criticism, made by Uriminzokkiri, is the latest in a series of appeals that state media and propaganda outlets of the North have made to urge the South to pursue improvement in cross-border relations independently of the United States.

Uriminzokkiri, the propaganda website, said in an article that the South Korean authorities have been minding the U.S. too much and making "ridiculous claims" that the inter-Korean ties would be pursued in accordance with progress in Washington-Pyongyang talks.

N.K. newspaper slams Japan for export curbs on S. Korea

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Sunday denounced Japan's export restrictions against South Korea as an "unacceptable political provocation," as Tokyo raised accusations the South leaked sensitive industrial materials to the communist nation to justify the export curbs.

"What we cannot put up with is that the Japanese reactionary forces are trying to justify the economic retaliatory measure against South Korea by raising accusations against us," the Rodong Sinmun said. "This measure by Japanese authorities are obviously an unacceptable political provocation against us."

On July 4, Japan imposed restrictions on exports to South Korea of key materials used in semiconductor memory chips and smartphones in an apparent move against last year's ruling by Seoul's top court ordering Tokyo to compensate Korean wartime forced laborers.

N. Korean premier inspects drought-hit area

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new premier, Kim Jae-ryong, called for efforts to secure water supplies for farming during his recent trip to one of the country's drought-hit areas, North Korean media reported Sunday.

"Visiting the Unhye Co-op farm in Unchon County, (Kim) stressed the need to push ahead with the work to prevent the drought damage of crops, including the issues of creating many wells, tube-wells and water holes in every work-team and sub-workteam and securing the source of water by building auxiliary dams at every valley of mountains," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The KCNA earlier reported that drought and high temperatures may have been persisting on the west coast and in middle inland areas of the impoverished North.

N. Korean propaganda outlet promotes tourism to Mount Kumgang

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- A tour program to North Korea's scenic Mount Kumgang will kick off later this month, a North Korean propaganda outlet said, as the impoverished country seeks to expand its tourism industry in the face of global sanctions crippling its economy.

DPRK Today said in an article on Sunday that the four-day program will begin in late July for a run through the end of November and includes hiking, fishing and spa treatment.

In April last year, the Kumgangsan International Travel Co. promoted a similar tour program via one of the North's newspapers. The program is believed to be for foreigners.

N.K. propaganda outlet urges S. Korea to ditch 'toadyism,' prioritize cross-border ties

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet denounced South Korea on Monday for what it called pro-American "toadyism," urging Seoul to prioritize the Korean people and seek inter-Korean policy independently of outside intervention.

North Korean media has been stepping up calls for South Korea to voice its own opinions in pushing for inter-Korean projects as their agreed-upon cooperation has been stalled amid a lack of progress in denuclearization negotiations between the North and the U.S.

"Inter-Korean relations have been in limbo again as the promises that the North and the South made in front of our people due to (South Korea's) servile toadyism of minding the U.S. more than the interest of our own people," Meari, a North Korean propaganda website, said.

N. Korea braces for monsoon season

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korean media called Monday for thorough preparations for floods ahead of the full-swing start of the annual monsoon season.

The North's state TV forecast nationwide rain Monday, urging its people to stay alert against any possible water-related damage to their livestock and farming fields.

The report came a day after the TV aired pictures showing facilities, homes, rice paddies and roads washed away by downpours in June.

Nearly half of N. Koreans suffer from undernourishment: U.N. report

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- Nearly half of North Korea's total population suffer from undernourishment, a recent U.N. report said as the impoverished country grapples with worsening food shortages.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday, the prevalence of undernourishment in North Korea's total population came to 47.8 percent from 2016 to 2018.

The number is sharply up from the 2004-2006 period, where the comparable figure stood at 35.4 percent, and also up from 43.4 percent reported in the 2015-2017 period.

N.K. says planned S. Korea-U.S. military drill will affect working-level nuclear talks

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Tuesday that the agreed-upon resumption of working-level nuclear talks with the United States would be affected if the U.S. goes ahead with joint military exercises with South Korea.

A spokesman of the North's foreign ministry made the remark, referring to the 19-2 Dong Maeng exercise slated for next month. The remark indicates the North could reconsider the agreement to resume working-level talks if the planned exercise takes place.

The North has long denounced such exercises as a rehearsal for invasion of the country.

N. Korea's handler of party coffers presumed to have been replaced: source

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean official handling the ruling party's finances is presumed to have been replaced, a government source said Wednesday.

Han Kwang-sang appears to have been replaced by Kim Tong-il as director of the finance accounting department under the Workers' Party of Korea, according to the source.

"We presume that he is the new director of the finance accounting department," the source told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity. "It is still necessary to make additional efforts to confirm it."

N. Korea completes nomination of candidates for local elections

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has completed the nomination process for candidates in its upcoming nationwide elections to choose new deputies for local assemblies, Pyongyang's state media reported Friday.

The nomination process was completed Wednesday for candidates who will run for people's assemblies in provinces, cities and counties, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The North is scheduled to hold elections Sunday to choose new deputies for local assemblies. It held the previous such elections in 2015, when 28,452 deputies were elected for four-year terms.

N. Korea beefs up efforts to lure foreigners with various tour programs

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be intensifying efforts to attract foreign tourists by unveiling various tour programs in time for the summer vacation season in an apparent bid to cushion the impact of global sanctions crippling its economy.

On Friday, DPRKorea Tour, a website run by North Korea, promoted a tour program to Mount Paekdu, the highest mountain on the Korean Peninsula, on July 30-31.

That program appears to include trips to major scenic spots at the mountain and other major cities as it said customers could have a chance to watch a mass gymnastic performance to be held in a stadium in the North Korean capital.

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