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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 March 24, 2023

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

(LEAD) N. Korea fired 4 cruise missiles Wednesday: defense minister

SEOUL-- South Korea's Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said Thursday that North Korea fired four cruise missiles the previous day, though a detailed analysis is still under way to confirm their specifics.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff has said it detected "multiple" missile launches from the North's eastern city of Hamhung on Wednesday morning.

(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. conduct live-fire drills near inter-Korean border

SEOUL/POCHEON, South Korea -- South Korea and the United States have staged a large-scale combined live-fire exercise near the inter-Korean border, the South's Army said Thursday, in a show of the allies' "tremendous" firepower amid North Korea's evolving threats.

The four-day drills took place at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Pocheon, about 30 kilometers south of the Demilitarized Zone, through Thursday, involving some 100 howitzers, armored vehicles and equipment as well as more than 800 troops, according to the armed service.

Minister to seek cooperation with Japan over S. Korean abductees in N. Korea

SEOUL -- South Korea's unification minister said Wednesday he will seek cooperation with Japan to help resolve the issue of Korean nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago, as he embarked on a visit to Tokyo.

"It will be helpful to resolve the humanitarian issue through cooperation with Japan," Kwon told reporters just before heading there for a four-day trip that was arranged at the invitation of the Japanese government. He is expected to discuss Seoul-Tokyo cooperation on North Korea and other pending issues.

(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. set for 'largest-ever' live-fire drills to mark alliance's 70th anniv.

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States plan to conduct their "largest-ever" combined live-fire drills in June as part of a program to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their alliance, Seoul's defense ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry unveiled the program designed to strengthen the allies' solidarity, demonstrate their militaries' technological edge and highlight their focus on "realizing peace through strength via action," according to the ministry.

(LEAD) S. Korea fully restores bilateral military information-sharing pact with Japan

SEOUL -- South Korea on Tuesday fully restored its military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, the foreign ministry said, as part of efforts to thaw long-frozen ties following a recent bilateral summit.

South Korea sent an official letter to Japan earlier in the day via diplomatic channels informing of its decision to fully restore the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between the neighbors, the ministry said.

(LEAD) Impunity for human rights violations, corruption remains widespread in N. Korea in 2022: U.S. report

WASHINGTON -- North Korea continued to show no respect for basic human rights and freedoms of its people in 2022 while impunity for corruption continued to remain widespread, an annual U.S. report said Monday.

The 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said the country had dozens of other human rights issues, ranging from unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government, torture, total state control of expression and media and serious restrictions on freedom of movement and residence to trafficking in persons and punishment of family members for offenses allegedly committed by an individual.

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