o The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly put on notice August 7 that the first session of the 11th-term assembly will convene September 3 in Pyongyang. High on the agenda is the expected re-appointment of Kim Jong-il as the chairman of the National Defense Commission, with election of leadership posts of the presidium and other state agencies, and approval of an enactment and revision of the laws.
o North Korea has engaged in developing some 230 small and medium-size coalmines nationwide for the last seven months in an effort to solve energy shortages. Faced with the difficulty of securing crude oil, due to its international nuclear issue, North Korea appears to be concentrating on solving the fuel problem for regional economic development and daily lives of the people.
o Setting August as the "Month of Technical Management Improvement," North Korea stressed the need to enhance the productivity of its backward industrial sector. It said revolutionary measures must be formulated to drastically improve its technical management at all levels of economic institutions, factories and enterprises.
o To meet the needs of the information age, North Korea has been keen on building an IT and communication infrastructure necessary for its economic development. Since the second half of last year, it has tried to turn out relevant hardware, build a nationwide computer network and introduce mobile communication.
o North Korea reported on August 12 that it has completed a ten year reforestation over an area of 600,000 Jeongbo, or 5,950 square kilometers, to restore barren forest resources to their former state. However, reforestation would take longer as haphazard management of mountainous areas, misuse of forest resources as firewood, and logging to earn foreign exchange continue to persist.
o The 29th National Youth and Student Sports Meeting for the (Kim) Jong-il Peak prize was opened August 11 to scout outstanding athletes who would compete in various international sports competitions as well as boost physical performance of the young adults.
Relations with South Korea
o The representative of the Pyongyang chapter of the Democratic Front of the Korean People, an underground anti-Seoul organization, said in a press conference August 12 that the organization had decided to directly relay broadcasts of the (North) Korean Central Broadcast on occasion of the August 15 Liberation Day.
- The move is seen as a North Korean attempt to induce South Korea to cease its broadcast toward the North by further strengthening Pyongyang's psychological warfare against the South. It appears that the anti-Seoul broadcast run by the 'Voice of National Salvation', which had been suspended on August 1, has been replaced with regular broadcasts of the Pyongyang Central Broadcast.
o In an inciting message addressed to the South Korean people August 13, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland and Minhuahyeop, a dubious organization purporting to seek reconciliation between North and South Korea, condemned radical rightist forces in the South, saying that they were trying to revive a fascist dictatorial regime. The message tried to instigate a struggle against South Korea's opposition Grand National Party.
o North Korea has made it clear that it would continue to maintain the current inter-Korean relationship by reopening Mt. Geumgang tours on August 13, which had been temporarily suspended on August 6, to pay respect for the death of Hyundai Asan chairman Chung Mong-hun. It has also notified the South of its intention to exchange on August 18 written notices giving effect to the four agreements on inter-Korean cooperation, and agreed to the sixth working-level contact for connection of trans-border railways and roads in Gaeseong August 19-20.
o In a statement issued August 13 by its foreign ministry spokesman, North Korea put forth a three-point proposal on the six nations meeting on the nuclear issue. The three points are : (1) U.S. renunciation of its hostile policies, (2) conclusion of North Korea-U.S. non-aggression treaty and (3) an absolute refusal to an early inspection of its nuclear facilities. The statement was regarded as an attempt to take the initiatives in agenda-setting and meeting formula at the multi-lateral negotiations.
o In a Rodong Sinmun commentary August 11, North Korea said the Japanese government had recently requested the United States to continue to retain U.S. military options against Pyongyang. It denounced the move as an "ambition to reinvade Korea."
o The North Korean Journalists Union concluded an agreement of friendship and cooperation with its Chinese counterpart on August 10. North Korea is expected to use the pact as a tool to boost its external image as well as to strengthen its propaganda activities toward the Chinese propaganda workers.