o North Korea appears to be trying to show off its political stability amid mounting international tension over its nuclear development by convening the sixth session of the 10th Supreme People's Assembly on March 26. It notified the delegates to register with the assembly March 24-25. It remains to be seen if new policy initiatives will come up in the meeting.
o North Korea attempted to consolidate its internal unity in the face of the current tension by emphasizing the spirit to protect Kim Jong-il to death. It also tried to maintain a high-level combat preparedness posture through "enthusiasts meetings" on March 2 for the title of "Oh Joong-heup's seventh Regiment."
o On the 57th anniversary of the promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law, North Korea launched propaganda campaigns on the excellence of the socialist agrarian system and highlighted Kim Jong-il's leadership and his on-site guidance performances.
o North Korea encouraged the population to step up reforestation campaigns by holding tree planting rallies and memorial tree-planting events attended by high-level officials from the party, administration and the military on the occasion of Arbor Day and springtime tree planting months (March and April).
o North Korea raised its denunciation of the United States to a new level, while shifting blame on America in connection with the nuclear issue. It heightened denunciations as it called for a higher-level productivity in the electricity and coal sectors.
- It also sought to accelerate the construction of power stations in the Yeseong River and Wonsan Youth Power Stations and elsewhere.
o The newspaper Joseon Sinbo reported February 27 on the appearance in Pyongyang of sales-stands of roast chestnuts and sweet potatoes. The peddlers are trying to maximize profits by purchasing raw materials and selling off themselves, a move worth paying attention, given the recent North Korean economic circumstances.
Relations with South Korea
o North Korea sent to Seoul a large delegation to co-host an inter-Korean peoples' assembly on the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement Day and made the most of it in instigating anti-American, anti-war struggles, rather than anti-Japan denunciations as in the past. They were calling on the South Korean people to join them in their anti-American cause.
o The secretariat of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland warned March 4 against the "special prosecutor law," which would investigate certain remittances to North Korea during the Kim Dae-jung administration. It said the law would freeze inter-Korean relations. The warning was regarded in the South as an attempt to agitate South Koreans to oppose the "special prosecutor law."
o The second contact of promotion teams for the construction of the inter-Korean reunion center for separated families, was made in Mt. Geumgang March 3-5, but the teams failed to narrow differences on the size of the center.
o Recently, North Korea was raising military tensions on a sustained basis as shown in accosting a U.S. reconnaissance plane March 2 by its MiG fighters over international waters, intrusion of the Northern Limit Line by a MiG jet February 20 and firing of a surface-to-ship short-range missile four days later.
o The 13th joint chairmen's session of the National Alliance of Youth and Students for Unification, an outlawed inter-Korean student organization in the South, was held via fax. Participants assessed last year's activities, set forth this year's direction for their activities and adopted a letter of appeals to youth and students in both Koreas.
o Through a bill of indictment drafted by the Lawyers Committee, North Korea reiterated February 28 the necessity of contracting a non-aggression treaty with the United States to resolve the nuclear issue, saying the pact ratified by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives should be an international commitment in its nature.
- Meanwhile, in an interview with the (North) Korean Central News Agency February 28, a spokesman for the foreign ministry disclosed North Korea's position on resolving the nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations and called for direct North Korea-U.S. talks.