o North Korea implied that the sale period for "People's Livelihood Bonds", originally set for May 1-July 31, might be extended, given the television reporting on August 18 where chairman Kim Jong-il conveyed his appreciation for the work, and reports that sales had been continuing.
o North Korea has been inducing workers to do their utmost as well as to maximize the festive mood for the 55th anniversary of the founding of its regime, which falls on September 9, by heavily propagandizing performance results of their daily plans of key production indices covering the energy, metal/machinery, and railway transportation sectors and light industries.
o North Korea saw its export decrease by 9.4 percent and import increase by 35.6 percent, respectively, in the first half of the year, compared with a year ago. The substantially expanded trade deficit was apparently attributed to increased imports of food, energy and light industrial goods related to people's daily necessities, plus the implications of North Korea nuclear issue and the outbreak of SARS.
o The South Hamgyeong province's bureau of communication and postal service management completed the work of laying a 100 kilometer segment with fiber-optic cables in an effort to shift to a computer-operated management system, while promoting mobile communication and e-mail. This is expected to contribute to modernizing the information communication field.
o North Korea tried to tighten its internal unity through a strengthened indoctrination of its population, as it urged anti-imperial class-consciousness as well as readiness for mobilization. The move was disclosed through the editorial of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper August 18 and others that maintained that imperialists had been strengthening anti-Pyongyang schemes to strangulate it.
o North Korea urged its population to live like heroes and fight it out, when it marked the 50th anniversary (August 19) of the "National Rally for Combat Heroes". It praised the heroes who demonstrated devotion and combative spirit for the party and the Leader, and repeated propaganda that the "Hero Rally in Military-first Era" will be held in early September.
Relations with South Korea
o In a statement dated August 17, the spokesman of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland strongly implied that North Korea would boycott the Daegu Universiade, as he denounced the August 15 Liberation Day meeting organized by rightist organizations and demanded an apology by South Korean authorities for their actions. Following an expression of regret by the South, the spokesman announced August 19 North Korea's participation in the World Sports Games.
o The Unification Rally for Peace and Unification in commemoration of the August 15 Liberation Day was held in Pyongyang August 15-16 amid the attendance of 339 people from the South, 400 from the North and 150 from abroad. The event contributed to an expanded exchange and cooperation in the private sector and efforts for reconciliation between South and North Korea.
o South and North Korea held their sixth working-level contact on the connection of inter-Korean railways and roads in Gaeseong August 21-22 to discuss designs of signals, communication and power systems and technical assistance for the operations of materials and equipment provided to the North. They adopted a six-point agreement wrapping up the meeting.
o In an apparent attempt to gain the upper hand in the six-nation talks about its nuclear program later in August, North Korea has repeated its basic position every day and stepped up denunciations against both the United States and Japan concerning moves to send the nuclear issue to the United Nations Security Council and the problem of abductee issue.
- North Korea reported on August 16 that the move to send the nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council was intended to make the six-way meeting difficult and to apply international pressure to it, in case the talks ended in failure.
- In a commentary by the Rodong Sinmun August 18, North Korea said that if the abductee issue was on the agenda, the Six-party talks could hardly produce substantive results as the discussion would lead to confusion.
o A visit to North Korea by a high-level Chinese military delegation, led by Gen. Xu Caihu, Chief of the General Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, has provided an opportunity to strengthen the traditional friendly relations between the militaries of the two countries.