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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 May 08, 2020

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

N.K. leader reemerges after 20-day absence amid rumors over his health

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a fertilizer factory completion ceremony, state media reported Saturday, his first public appearance after 20 days of absence that sparked rumors about his health.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim cut the tape at the ceremony marking the completion of Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, on Friday.

Photos released by KCNA showed Kim, dressed in a dark Mao suit, cutting the red ribbon during the ceremony and talking to accompanying officials with a smile on his face. They did not show any signs of an illness.

N.K.'s official paper reports on Kim sending gratitude to propagandists

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed gratitude to state propagandists, the country's main newspaper reported Monday, days after dispelling persistent rumors about his health with his first public appearance in about three weeks.

"Comrade Kim Jong-un sent gratitude to exemplary instructors for carrying out their responsibility and role as basic propagandists, which have led workers to implement the party's policies," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said.

The paper said the instructors are full of passion to live up to the leader's expectations by continuing to "ideologically" encourage workers to continue their "frontal breakthrough" and move forward.

N.K. paper highlights fertilizer plant construction after Kim's attendance at completion event

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Monday highlighted the construction of a fertilizer plant after leader Kim Jong-un attended a ceremony for its completion last week in his first public activity following a weekslong absence that sparked speculation about his health.

In its front page, the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, carried comments contributed by factory managers from diverse sectors who lauded the completion of the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory.

"We keenly felt that we can achieve whatever objectives they might be once we move forward relentlessly with a spirit of self-reliance," a factory manager was quoted as saying.

N.K. media touts fertilizer factory completion as first feat of 'frontal breakthrough' drive

SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper on Tuesday touted the recent completion of a fertilizer factory as the first key outcome of its "frontal breakthrough" drive aimed at developing its economy crippled by international sanctions.

The Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, has drawn global attention as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a ceremony marking its completion Friday after a 20-day absence that fueled rumors of his failing health.

"The whole area of Sunchon is a political frontline where the legitimacy of the frontal breakthrough ideology is proven as a reality, and a precious outcome that adds vitality to the chemical industry, part of the twin pillars of the economic development," the Rodong Sinmun said in a piece.

N.K. media decries 'fake news' in S. Korea

SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Tuesday denounced "fake news" in South Korea, after media speculation here over North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health was proved to be wrong following his resumption of public activities last week.

The website, Meari, did not specifically mention the speculation, but its criticism appeared to target South Korean media that linked Kim's weekslong absence from the public eye to the possibility of his health problems.

Kim resumed his public activity during a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory Friday. The young leader had not been seen since he led a ruling party politburo session on April 11.

N. Korean leader receives commemorative medal from Russia

SEOUL, May 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a commemorative medal from Russian President Vladimir Putin, state media reported Wednesday, amid the two countries' stepped-up efforts to strengthen their bilateral ties.

The medal was granted on Tuesday "on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Russia's victory in the Great Patriotic War," the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to the end of World War II.

Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora delivered the medal to the North's Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon during a ceremony held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, it added.

N.K. leader sends verbal message to Xi Jinping on China's success on COVID-19

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a "verbal message" to Chinese President Xi Jinping, lauding Beijing's success in stemming the spread of the new coronavirus, state media reported Friday.

In the message, Kim "congratulated him, highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"Kim Jong Un wished Xi Jinping good health, expressing conviction that the Chinese party and people would cement the successes made so far and steadily expand them and thus win a final victory under the wise guidance of Xi Jinping," it added.

N. Korea slams S. Korea for recent military drill

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea lashed out at South Korea on Friday for conducting military exercises in and above the Yellow Sea, calling it a "total denial" of an inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement.

In a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the spokesperson for the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces denounced the joint Navy-Air Force drills as "the height of the military confrontation."

"The recent joint drill was staged in the air and sea in the biggest hotspot area in the West Sea of Korea in which military conflicts occurred between the North and the South in the past, and it was openly launched, assuming there were a 'strange sign' and 'provocation' from us," the spokesperson said.

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