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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 July 31, 2020

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

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N.K. leader adopts 'maximum emergency system' after defector returns with coronavirus symptoms

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened an emergency politburo meeting of the Workers' Party and adopted the "maximum emergency system" against coronavirus after a defector returned home from South Korea with virus symptoms, state media reported Sunday.

During the meeting held on Saturday, Kim also said he took "the preemptive measure of totally blocking Kaesong" after the "runaway" returned to the border city on July 19 after crossing the military demarcation line, three years after fleeing to the South, the Korean Central News Agency said.

"To tackle the present situation, he declared a state of emergency in the relevant area and clarified the determination of the Party Central Committee to shift from the state emergency anti-epidemic system to the maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert," the KCNA said.

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N.K. leader confers pistols to officers on armistice anniversary

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un marked the 67th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War by visiting a war cemetery and presenting army officers with pistols, state media said Monday.

Kim paid homage to the North's soldiers killed in the Korean War and buried at the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery to commemorate the anniversary of the armistice, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The undying feats of the defenders of the fatherland in the 1950s, who provided the valuable mental heritage of the revolution amid the flames of the hard-fought war, would shine long in history," Kim was quoted as saying.

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N. Korea says it supports ARF's peace efforts on Korean Peninsula.

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Monday expressed its support for the international community's peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations.

Diplomats from Asia-Pacific countries held videoconferences as part of the Senior Officials' Meetings (SOM) of three regional dialogue platforms -- the ASEAN-plus-three meeting, which involves the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Korea, China and Japan; the East Asia Summit (EAS); and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) -- last Monday and Tuesday.

Pak Jong-hak, the director of Asian affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, said in a statement that Pyongyang is committed to maintaining its principle position to uphold peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations. He added that the ARF's goals of building trust to further peace and stability is fully in line with North Korea's stance.

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N.K. leader says nuclear deterrence will guarantee national safety permanently

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country's nuclear deterrence will permanently guarantee national security, as he marked the anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, state media reported Tuesday.

Kim made the remark during a speech at a national conference of veterans held Monday to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the end of the three-year conflict, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The Korean War ended in an armistice signed on July 27, 1953, which leaves South and North Korea technically in a state of war. The North calls the war the Fatherland Liberation War and designated the armistice signing date as Victory Day.

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N.K. seals off Kaesong, tightens borders after defector returns with coronavirus symptoms

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is sealing off the border city of Kaesong and tightening its borders, state media said Tuesday, after it claimed that a defector suspected of having virus symptoms recently came back home from South Korea.

The North claimed Sunday that the defector returned to his hometown in Kaesong on July 19 and that multiple tests showed he is suspected of virus infection. The North also said leader Kim Jong-un declared a state of emergency for the region and blocked off the city to prevent the virus from spreading.

"The complete lockdown of Kaesong City, as well as quarantine measures by each region and virus tests are being strictly carried out," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Tuesday.

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N.K. media outlet slams S. Korea for joining U.S.-led RIMPAC exercises

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Wednesday slammed South Korea for its decision to participate in a U.S.-led multinational maritime exercise slated to kick off next month amid global efforts against the coronavirus.

The biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC), designed to enhance combined operational capabilities for maritime security, is set to be held from Aug. 17 to 31.

"This is clearly an invasive and provocative game of war intended to crush our republic and neighboring countries with force and to realize their ambition of dominating the Asia-Pacific region," Uriminzokkiri, one of the North's propaganda websites, said Wednesday.

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N. Korea's No. 2 leader visits Kaesong after lockdown amid virus fears

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's No. 2 leader has visited the border city of Kaesong to inspect antivirus efforts, state media reported Thursday, after leader Kim Jong-un sealed off the town over virus fears following the return of a defector from South Korea.

On Sunday, North Korea said that it has put Kaesong on lockdown, claiming that a "runaway" defector suspected of COVID-19 infection recently came back from the South. Seoul later said a North Korean defector is believed to have swum across the border but doubted he had contracted the virus.

Choe Ryong-hae, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, visited Kaesong and inspected emergency antivirus efforts underway in the town, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
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