|1. Domestic Affairs
Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong-il attended a
meeting and a dinner reception hosted by the Russian ambassador in Pyongyang
(March 18, Central Broadcasting Station). Kim Kuk-thae, Jong Ha-chol, Kim Ki-nam
and Kim Yong-sun, secretaries of the Workers' Party central committee, Kang
Sok-ju, first vice-minister of foreign affairs, Jang Song-thaek, first vice
department director of the party central committee, and Ji Jae-ryong, vice
director of the international department of the WPK central committee,
accompanied the North Korean leader.
The Kim Il-sung Socialist Working Youth League held a
meeting of deputies (March 21 to 22, at the People's Palace of Culture). It was
the first time in six years for the league to hold such a meeting since its 50th
anniversary in 1996. They adopted a new set of operation regulations. The group
was founded on Jan. 17, 1946, as an affiliate body of the party, and has about
five million members.
The General Federation of Trade Unions held the 47th
plenary session (March 17, in Pyongyang). Participants pledged to work harder to
increase productivity in every field of the national economy ahead of the
upcoming 90th birthday of the late leader Kim Il-sung.
Preparation for the 20th April Spring Friendship Art
Festival (April 14 to 25)is underway. Organizers plan to enlarge the scale of
the festival by inviting 60 countries, up from 46 last year, and extending its
period to 12 days from nine. The festival attracted 80 troupes from 46 countries
in 1999, 80 from 40 countries in 2000 and 84 from 46 countries in 2001.
2. South Korean Relations
North Korea commemorated the 20th anniversary of the
March 18, 1982 anti-American students' arson at the U.S. Cultural Center in
Pusan, South Korea, at a ceremony in Pyongyang (March 18, Central Youth Hall).
Kim Yong-sun, party secretary in charge of anti-South Korean affairs, and Kim
Kyong-ho, the first secretary of the Kim Il-sung Socialist Working Youth League,
attended the ceremony.
North Korea denounced the South Korean-U.S. joint
military exercise. Statements attacking the military drill were issued by the
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (March 14), the
Foreign Ministry (March 18), the General Federation of Trade Unions (March 15),
the Kim Il-sung Socialist Working Youth League (March 16), and the Union of
Agricultural Working People (March 17). Rallies to protest the joint military
exercise took place at Kim Il-sung University (March 21), the Kim Jong Thae
Electric Locomotive Plant (March 21), Chollima Steel Complex (March 22), and
Pyongyang Thermoelectric Power Combine (March 23). Rodong Sinmun ran a
commentary criticizing the military drill.
The National Alliance of Youth and Students for the
Korean Reunification adopted a joint resolution and an appeal for youth at home
and abroad in its 12th co-leadership meeting (March 21, Central and Pyongyang
3. External affairs
Choe Thae-bok, Chairman of the North Korean Supreme People's
Assembly, visited Russia (March 16 to 21). He and Russian officials discussed
issues regarding implementation of the agreements between the leaders of their
countries and bilateral parliamentary exchanges.
The Jurists Association of North Korea issued an
indictment denouncing the United States (March 17, Central and Pyongyang
broadcasting stations). "The U.S. self-righteous acts are criminal acts that
violate international laws," it said.
"The North Korean Red Cross Society is willing to hold a
dialogue with the Japanese counterpart regarding the investigation of an
allegation that Japanese citizens were abducted into North Korea," a spokesman
for the central committee of the North Korean Red Cross Society said in a
statement (March 22).