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North Korea's inter-Korean policy for 2003

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Jan 02,2003
North Korean and other media Wednesday predicted that 2003 would be a year of confrontation between the United States and Koreans. North Korean state-run media stressed the need to continue reconciliatory momentum with South Korea to keep the Bush administration in check. Choe Song-ik, North Korean representative to last year's inter-Korean ministerial talks, said in an interview with a Japan-based North Korean daily, the Chosun Shinbo, that the two Koreas would continue the promised joint economic projects like railways and an overland route to Mount Geumgang step by step. Observers believe the North's embrace of the South has to do with the emergence of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who is widely seen as the heir to President Kim Dae-jung's sunshine policy of engaging the North. Seoul may be the only breathing room for the North, which is being pressured by the United States and other countries that condemn Pyeongyang for its nuclear ambitions. "Roh’s victory in the presidential election clearly showed South Koreans' desire for reconciliation, union and easing of tension within the region," North Korean ambassador to Russia, Pak Ui-chun, told the Voice of Russia on Wednesday. "We are willing to join hands with those who put priority on cooperation between the two Koreas, and Roh shall be addressed precisely under this principle." "Reunification on the Korean Peninsula is a long-cherished desire of all Koreans and we shall fight to pursue that goal with our own hands, free of foreign influence and under the principles of the June 15 [2000] Joint Declaration," Pak said. Seoul, in general, welcomes the North's intention to continue engagement. "The problem is, of course, whatever project we try, it's going to have its limits given how the talks on the North's nuclear development are affected by the outside world,” a Seoul official said. "Pyeongyang has yet to catch on what kind of position they're in or else, even if the 9th inter-Korean Cabinet does take place, most of the inter-Korean agendas will be wasted on addressing the North's nuclear programs instead of more practical issues." And until then, the government officials say, North will be nothing more than another burden for Seoul to carry in international politics, experts say. Other portion of the North Korean New Year editorial went to justifying the nation's policy that put priority in military servicemen calling this year a year of "bold offensive and great change" to build a powerful and prosperous nation. "Giving a top priority to the army is the most steadfast idea of independence against imperialism...We should attach importance to the defense industry and direct primary efforts to it," three North Korean three major mouthpieces - Rodong Sinmun, Josoninmingun and Chongnyonjonwi. Radio Pyongyang put it as a life-and-death matter to advocate army-first policy to prevent U.S. invasion and it is one policy that helps to determine whether one is a patriot or a traitor. Separately, the reports has it local cities including the capital city of Pyeogyang are enjoying various fireworks and performance to celebrate of opening of another year. Cities are decked with neon signs of "Happy New Year" "United Strength" "Absolute Support of Party" along with North Korean national flags and red flags. Street lamps are decorated with celebratory lantern, flowers and strings. Auditorium and city halls were filled with people trying to view special New Year art performances or new movies that opened for the occasion. Local restaurants are serving dishes of pheasant, deer, catfish and other traditional and characteristic treats. Some even set up extra outdoor stand for customers- something they've likely caught on since the nation Arirang Festival intended for foreign tourists but ended with a flop due to lack of promotion and general ill preparations matched with bad timing - never to compete with World Cup. The statue of Kim Il-sung the late-founder of North Korean regime and Kumsusan Palace where his glass casket is lain was visited by many high-level officials as well as those in various state organizations and ordinary people in Pyongyang. "We'll be facing difficulty from outside," the North's state-run news agency said. "People are enjoying the New Year nevertheless under firm belief that we can still win this yet as we continue to push ahead with our socialist value."
by staff reporter
January 02, 2003




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