o North Korea staged a variety of celebratory events like massive "Parade and Mass Demonstration" (September 9) and "Heroes' Rally in Military-first Era" (September 5-6) on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the founding of its regime September 9.
- Without presenting any new policy plans to the nation, North Korea attempted to solidify loyalty to Kim Jong-il by stressing military-first politics, vitalization of the people's economy and construction of a strong and prosperous nation.
* The size of the events was somewhat smaller than that of the 50th anniversary held in 1998. The events were also subdued and restrained, apparently in an effort not to make strident remarks regarding the six-way meeting on North Korea's nuclear program.
o September and October marks Autumn Sanitation Months, where North Korea called on each agency, factory, enterprise and home to observe strict hygienic standards September 16. The step was seen as an attempt to improve sanitary environment aggravated by chronic food and energy shortages and dearth of medicine.
o North Korea recently tried to boost allegiance to Kim Jong-il among the young generation by strengthening ideological education on a sustained basis. To do this, it awarded the title of "Hero" to four junior middle schools, held meetings to celebrate army enlistment by graduating classes at middle schools, had meetings to "vow revenge," as well as poem and song recitals and oratorical contests.
o North Korea held the 8th National Presentation of Science and Technology in the Information Science Sector September 15-16 in a bid to emphasize hard work on laying the foundation for the information industry by encouraging scientists to gather and analyze information and exchange experiences in retrieval and security technologies as well as to spur motivation in research and development.
o The State Tourism Bureau propagandized the installment of an oversize TV set in the lounge of Pyongyang's Sunan Airport in what appeared to be an attempt to expand the tourism infrastructure to lure foreign visitors and to enhance Pyongyang's image.
Relations with South Korea
o In reaction to the US request to South Korea for an additional dispatch of troops to Iraq, North Korea denounced the move repeatedly through its front organizations and media outlets, although the South Korean government has yet to decide on the matter.
- Defining the Iraq war banditry, aggressive war in a sovereign state," the North Korean National Peace Committee in a spokesman's statement on September 13 maintained that "attempts to make additional dispatch of troops constitute pro-U.S. subservient behavior and a criminal act against the people."
o The eighth inter-Korean military working-level meeting, held at Panmunjom's "Unification Pavilion (North Korean side)" on September 17, contributed to the promotion of military confidence building and stable inter-Korean economic cooperation by adopting a "supplementary agreement" related to temporary uses of roadbeds along the main roads inside the South-North Control Zones in the Eastern and Western regions.
o Citing South Korean broadcasts, North Korea reported unusually promptly on September 15 damage in South Korea caused by Typhoon Maemi.
o Concerning a joint maritime exercise held by the United States, Australia, Japan and France under the Proliferation Security Initiative 120 miles off Australia's northeastern coast September 13-14, was denounced by North Korea, which mobilized all its media outlets.
- The North Korean Central News Agency said in a comment September 16 that the "joint maritime exercise is an international net encircling North Korea and a scheme to militarily strangulate us" and that it has "no alternative but to equip itself with a physically strong deterrent means to cope with the situation."
o On the occasion of the first anniversary of the North Korea-Japan summit meeting, North Korea said the relations between the two countries has somewhat regressed during the past year. In a statement issued by the spokesman of its foreign ministry September 16, it said improvement of North Korea-Japan relations depended on whether or not Japan was willing to take responsibility for its past.
o A delegation of North Korea's State Quality Control Bureau visited China September 13 and concluded with China an agreement on cooperation in the quality certification area.