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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 December 11, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

N.K. allows pilgrimage to Mt. Paekdu despite heightened alert against virus

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears be allowing pilgrimages to Mount Paekdu despite tough antivirus measures, state media showed Wednesday, in an apparent bid to strengthen internal unity amid its prolonged fight against COVID-19.

Mount Paekdu, located along the border with China, is claimed to be the birthplace of leader Kim Jong-un's late father and former leader Kim Jong-il. The mountain is also regarded as a sacred place where his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il-sung staged an anti-Japanese fight during the 1910-45 colonial rule.

The state-run Radio Pyongyang reported Wednesday that several dozen workers, soldiers and officials, including those from the People's Committee of the northwestern province of Jagang, visited the mountain within a little over a month since the trips began on Nov. 1.

N. Korea likely to propose beefed-up 'self-reliance' drive at party congress: think tank

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is likely to propose a beefed-up drive for "self-reliance" at the upcoming party congress to bolster its faltering economy under the strain of global sanctions and the fallout from the global pandemic, a Seoul-based think tank said Thursday.

The Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University also said that the January-February period will be a "golden time" to make progress in the stalled nuclear talks and inter-Korean ties.

The North is expected to hold a rare party congress next month to unveil a new economic development scheme. Observers say that it could disclose new policy direction toward the U.S. and South Korea ahead of the inauguration of the Joe Biden administration in the United States.

N. Korea bans smoking in restaurants, bus stops and public squares

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has designated restaurants, bus stops, public squares and other venues as nonsmoking areas after adopting an anti-smoking law last month, a propaganda outlet said Friday.

DPRK Today, one of the North's propaganda websites, pointed out that smoking is banned in several public spaces, including hotels, stores, restaurants, public baths, cinemas, libraries, gymnasiums, public squares and (bus) stops.

Also designated as nonsmoking areas are ideological education centers, nurseries, schools, medical facilities, public transportation and other places prone to fire and explosions such as forests and gas supply stations.

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