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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 January 31, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

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Kim Jong-un's aunt makes 1st public appearance in over 6 years

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- Kim Kyong-hui, a once-powerful aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has made her first public appearance in more than six years since the execution of her husband, Pyongyang's state media showed Sunday.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong-un attended a concert celebrating Lunar New Year's Day on Saturday at the Samjiyon Theater in Pyongyang with his wife, Ri Sol-ju. The KCNA, monitored in Seoul, added that Kim Kyong-hui joined the leader and his wife in the audience.

According to photos released by state media, Kim Kyong-hui was seen sitting between leader Kim's wife and his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong. In the KCNA article, her name was listed right after Choe Ryong-hae, the North's No. 2 leader.

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N. Korea criticizes S. Korea for 'military buildup targeting it'

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea criticized South Korea on Monday for its moves "to strengthen military capabilities aiming at" the communist neighbor.

Issuing an article, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed that the South's defense authorities have raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula and stoked the danger of war by deciding to pour "huge amounts of money" into securing advanced weapons over the next several years.

Pointing to recent calls by South Korean military leaders, including Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki, for a staunch readiness posture, the KCNA said they "made much fuss with ulterior motives from the beginning of the year."

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N. Korea orders quarantine of all foreigners arriving via China

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has decided to keep all foreigners arriving in the country via China isolated for up to one month as part of efforts to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus in the reclusive country, according to the Russian mission in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

The North Korean foreign ministry's protocol department made the notice to the Russian Embassy earlier in the day, saying employees of diplomatic missions to the North are also subject to the measure and that they will be put under medical supervision during the period, the Russian Embassy in North Korea said in a Facebook post.

The department said these measures are aimed at protecting the life and safety of people, as well as preventing the pneumonia-like illness from further spreading.

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N. Korea's official newspaper calls fight against coronavirus matter of national existence

SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper called Wednesday for a nationwide drive to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, calling such preventive efforts an "important political matter" that could affect national existence.

North Korean media outlets have reported almost daily on the fast-spreading outbreaks of the pneumonia-like illness in China and other nations, and Pyongyang's measures to keep the virus from spreading into the country, though it has not confirmed any case of its own.

"All party organizations should regard efforts of blocking the spread of the new coronavirus as an important political matter that has to do with national existence and strengthen (relevant) political activity," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, said in an article.

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N.K. crop output drops 12 percent in 2018-2019: USDA

SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's crop and grain production fell 12 percent from 2018 to 2019 amid unfavorable weather conditions, a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report said, as the impoverished country continues to struggle with food shortages.

The "DPRK Food Grains Situation Update in MY 2018-19" report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, showed an estimated 4.9 million tons in crop yields during the period of November 2018 to October 2019, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year.

The production of rice, a key staple food for Koreans, fell from 1,573 tons to 1,378 tons during the period. Production levels for corn, soybeans, wheat and barley all dropped.

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N. Korea closes air, train routes with China over coronavirus fear

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has shut down all its air and railway routes across its borders with China in an apparent effort to prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus into the country, according to the British government.

Pyongyang has announced that "all air and train routes between North Korea and China are temporarily suspended as of 31 January 2020" in response to the outbreak of the new virus across the globe, the British foreign ministry said on its website.

The move came as Pyongyang has been stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly illness, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
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