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Mongolian President Arrives in Pyongyang and Meets with Kim Yong Nam

28 Oct
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a delegation of senior Mongolian government officials arrived in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) for a four-day visit ending on 31 October.  President Elbegdorj’s visit will commemorate the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Mongolian relations and lead to the expansion of the countries’ bilateral ties.  Greeting Elbegdorj at Pyongyang Airport were Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]), Pak Ui Chun (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ri Ryong Nam (Minister of Foreign Trade), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff), Son Kwang Ho (Vice Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kwang Il Ryong (Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport), Hong Kyu (DPRK Ambassador to Mongolia), Kim Jin Bom (Vice Chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the DPRK-Mongolia Friendship Association) and other DPRK officials.  Also greeting President Elbegjorj at the airport was Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Elbegdorj was accompanied by his wife, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold, Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga, Secretary General of the National Security Council Tsagaandari Enkhtuvshin, Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Tserendejid Byambajav, Vice Minister of Road Transport Khabshai Erjan,  Presidential National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Lundeg Purevsuren, Presidential Advisor for Mass Liaison and Mass Policy Amgalanbaatar Ganbaatar,  Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pureb Altangerel and other Mongolian government officials.  During the welcoming ceremony for the Mongolian delegation, President Elbegdorj reviewed an honor guard consisting of the KPA’s three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards.  Representatives of DPRK women workers and children of Mongolian diplomatic staff stationed in the DPRK presented floral bouquets to Elbegdorj and his wife.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Following the delegation’s arrival, Elbegdorj and senior Mongolian officials met with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang.  Attending the meeting from the DPRK were Pak Ui Chun, Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kim Jong Suk (Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), Pak Kil-yo’n (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs), Kwang Il Ryong, Hong Kyu and other DPRK officials.  According to KCNA, “both sides exchanged views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations of friendship and other issues of mutual concern” during the meeting and the “talks took place in a friendly atmosphere.”

Kim Jong Un Visits 11 May Factory, Views Mobile ‘Phone Handset

11 Aug
Kim Jong Un gives instructions on production at the 11 May Factory, after viewing the "Arirang" model handheld 'phone.  Seen in attendance is Ri Jae Il (L), a KWP senior deputy department director and close aide to Kim Jong Un (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un gives instructions on production at the 11 May Factory, after viewing the “Arirang” model handheld ‘phone. Seen in attendance is Ri Jae Il (L), a KWP senior deputy department director and close aide to Kim Jong Un (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the assembly shop at 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the assembly shop at 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 10 August (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) toured the 11 May Factory.  He was accompanied by Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Deputy Department Directors Ri Jae Il (Ri Ch’ae-il) and Kim Pyong Ho (Kim Pyo’ng-ho).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearances were visits to the construction sites of the Mirim Riding Club and Munsu Wading Pool.

A view of the "Aririang" model phone handset, produced by the 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A view of the “Aririang” model phone handset, produced by the 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un toured various shops in the factory, including the assembly shop. He was briefed about the mobile ‘phone handset model “Arirang.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “highly appreciated the creative ingenuity and patriotic enthusiasm with which the officials and employees of the factory laid a solid foundation for mass-producing hand phones by building a new modern hand phone production process” and “praised them for developing an application program in Korean style which provides the best convenience to the users while strictly guaranteeing security.”  After being briefed about the “Arirang” phone’s performance he said “that a hand phone is convenient for its user when that part of the phone is sensitive” and “these hand phones will be very convenient for their users as their camera function has high pixels.”  KCNA reported that production of the “Arirang” ‘phones began “only a few days ago and were in high demand by people.”  Whilst looking at the logo on the ‘phone, Kim Jong Un said “that mass-production of goods with DPRK trademark can instill national pride and self-respect into the Korean people” and “how nice to see hand phones being successfully produced with indigenous technology.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said that “only when the quality of products is improved while boosting their production, people will like home-made things and they will be in high demand” then issued instructions for the 11 May Factory.

Kim Jong Un previously visited the 11 May Factory in late July 2011 with his father, late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).

Kim Jong Un (R) visits the 11 May Factory with his father, late leader Kim Jong Il, in July 2011 (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

Kim Jong Un (R) visits the 11 May Factory with his father, late leader Kim Jong Il, in July 2011 (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

DPRK Internet Access Blocked

14 Mar
(KCTV file screengrab)

(KCTV file screengrab)

Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March (Wednesday) that the DPRK was blocked from accessing the Internet.  The several thousand DPRK citizens with dedicated connections experienced trouble accessing the Internet and a number of DPRK websites (such as KCNA the Korea Sports Foundation)  on the (.kp) top-level domain [IDNccTLD] could be neither be accessed nor viewed.  For several hours on 13 March, some state media sites on the (.kp) domain were viewable.  On 11 March (Monday) the website for the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun had provided a message in Korean that said there were problems with its server.  ITAR-TASS, which maintains a correspondent in Pyongyang, reported: “Access to the Internet was blocked in North Korea on Wednesday. According to an informed source, Internet resources of the country have come under a powerful hacker attack from abroad.”

DPRK TV News Reports on Richardson-Schmidt Visit to Grand People’s Study House and KIS University

10 Jan
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) takes a photograph of the Chuch'e Tower (R) from the balcony of the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) takes a photograph of the Chuch’e Tower (R) from the balcony of the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

DPRK state media aired a brief story (33 seconds) at the end of its 9 January (Wednesday) television newscast which showed former Governor Bill Richardson, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen and members of their delegation touring the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang.  The television news story showed Richardson and members of the delegation visiting a circulation desk at the DPRK’s national library, using the library’s computer terminals and taking souvenir photographs of the Chuch’e Tower from the study house’s balcony.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (2nd L) and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (3rd L) begin a tour of the Grand People's Study House in central Pyongyang on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (2nd L) and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (3rd L) begin a tour of the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

The Richardson-Schmidt delegation visit an information desk at the Grand People's Study House (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

The Richardson-Schmidt delegation visit an information desk at the Grand People’s Study House (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen uses a computer workstation during a tour of the Grand People's Study House, the DPRK's national library, on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen uses a computer workstation during a tour of the Grand People’s Study House, the DPRK’s national library, on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

DPRK state media also aired a brief story (32 seconds) on Gov. Richardson, Mr. Schmidt and the delegation touring the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University toward the end of the 8 January (Tuesday) newscast.

Eric Schmidt (2nd L) talks with Bill Richardson (3rd L) during a tour of the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University.  Also in attendance is Korea expert Dr. Tony Namkung (L) (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Eric Schmidt (2nd L) talks with Bill Richardson (3rd L) during a tour of the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University. Also in attendance is Korea expert Dr. Tony Namkung (L) (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson, Eric Schmidt and members of their delegation tour a classroom at the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson, Eric Schmidt and members of their delegation tour a classroom at the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt (C) tour a lecture hall at Kim Il Sung University's E-Library (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt (C) tour a lecture hall at Kim Il Sung University’s E-Library (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

During its stay in the DPRK, the delegation met with several groups of DPRK officials, including a vice minister of foreign affairs, and visited the Korea Computer Center and the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  With the exception of these two brief stories on Korean Central Television [KCTV] news and several short news items in DPRK print media, the delegation’s visit was a low-visibility event in DPRK state media reporting.

The delegation departed Pyongyang on 10 January (Thursday) and arrived in Beijing.  Richardson said that DPRK officials assured him at one meeting that a 44-year old Korean American who was arrested and detained since early November 2012 was in good health and would soon be put on trial.  Richardson also said that during an interaction with DPRK officials he asked the country to stop nuclear and missile testing.  At a media availability in Beijing, Richardson and Schmidt said that they encouraged DPRK officials to expand access to the internet and cell ‘phones.  According to The Guardian Richardson said that “The internet is important for the welfare of the North Korean people, to expand mobile technology, to expand cell phone use” and Schmidt remarked that “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically.”

Arrivals in Sunan

7 Jan
PRC Vice Minister of Commerce Li Jinzao shakes hands with a DPRK official after arriving at Pyongyang Sunan Airport on 7 January 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

PRC Vice Minister of Commerce Li Jinzao shakes hands with a DPRK official after arriving at Pyongyang Sunan Airport on 7 January 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media reported on 7 January (Monday) that China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Li Jinzao arrived at Pyongyang Sunan Airport, at the head of a delegation of trade and economic officials.  During their stay, Li and the PRC delegation will attend the 7th meeting of the DPRK-China intergovernmental committee in economic, trade, science and technology cooperation.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerice Li Jinzao (L) arrives in Pyongyang on 7 January 2013 at the head of a delegation (R) attending the 7th DPRK-China Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee for Economy, Trade, Science and Technology (Photos: KCNA)

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerice Li Jinzao (L) arrives in Pyongyang on 7 January 2013 at the head of a delegation (R) attending the 7th DPRK-China Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee for Economy, Trade, Science and Technology (Photos: KCNA)

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (C) smiles after arriving in Pyongyang on 7 January 2013.  Also in this image is Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) (Photo: KCNA)

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (C) smiles after arriving in Pyongyang on 7 January 2013. Also in this image is Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media also reported on 7 January that a delegation led by former US Ambassador and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson arrived the same day.  Gov. Richardson’s delegation includes Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google.

Andray Abrahamian wrote about the Richardson-Google DPRK visit for the Choson Exchange blog.

(Photos: KCNA)

(Photos: KCNA)

Software and IT Exhibition Opened

18 Oct

An overview of exhibition booths at the 23rd National Software Contest and Exhibition which opened at the Three Revolutions Exhibition complex in Pyongyang on 18 October 2012 (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media reported on 18 October (Thursday) that the 23rd National Software Contest and Exhibition opened at the Three Revolutions Exhibition facility in Pyongyang at which 1,300 computer programs developed by DPRK engineers and technicians will be displayed.  The exhibition’s opening ceremony was held on Thursday at which Chairman of the State Science and Technology Commission Choe Sang Gon said “that the contest and exhibition would offer a good opportunity for introducing the achievements and experience gained in the course of developing Korean-style programming technology and updating production processes.”

KCNA reported that “contest and exhibition are divided into 18 panels including system, artificial intelligence and sci-tech design and calculation” and “will also involve a contest in English-Korean and Chinese-Korean translation programs and anti-virus programs.”  According to KCNA the programs “include valuable process-controlling programs, devices and cells helpful to developing light industry and agriculture, improving the standard of the people’s living, increasing production in power, coal and metal industries and railway transport and various other fields and improving the transportation” and “among them are achievements made by industrial establishments, ministries and national institutions in elevating the level of IT which leader Kim Jong Il praised as pace-setters in the industrial revolution in the new century, and programs presented by teachers, researchers and students of the universities, colleges and centers for training computer talents.”

DPRK citizens view software being exhibited during the 23rd National Software Contest and Exhibition in Pyongyang on 18 October 2012 (Photo: KCNA)

(Photo: KCNA)

Naguib Sawiris Arrives in the DPRK

5 Oct

Naguib Sawiris (3rd L) and a delegation from the Orascom Group pose for a commemorative photograph after arriving at Pyongyang Airport on 4 October 2012 (Photo: KCNA screen grab)

DPRK state media reported on 4 October (Thursday) that Orascom Group executive Naguib Sawiris and a small delegation arrived in the DPRK.  KCNA reported that Sawiris and the Orascom party visited the equestrian statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang.  The Orascom delegation also visited the Pyongyang Children’s Foodstuff Factory. It is not clear with whom Naguib Sawiris will meet during his stay in the country.  News of his arrival in the DPRK was included in KCNA’s report on his paying tribute to the KIS and KJI statues, and was reported on Korean Central Television’s [KCTV] news broadcast the same day.  However, there was no public report as to what DPRK officials greeted him on arrival at Pyongyang Airport.  When Sawiris last visited the country in February 2012 he was greeted by Joint-Venture Investment Committee [JVIC] Vice Chairman Ri Kwang Gun (Ri Kwang-ku’n) and DPRK elite Ri Chol (Ri Ch’o’l).

Naguib Sawiris (R) tours the Pyongyang Children’s Foodstuffs Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

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