Following a meeting of senior DPRK and Mongolian government officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday), the two countries signed two economic agreements, along with a technology exchange agreement. DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga signed a cooperation agreement on industry and agriculture. Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Kim Jong Suk and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold signed a cooperation agreement on cultural and sports exchanges and tourism. DPRK Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport Kwak Il Ryong and Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold signed an agreement on cooperation in the road and transportation sectors. Jong Song Chang Deputy (vice) General Director of the DPRK General Bureau of Software Industry and Ambassador Ganbold on behalf of theMongolian IT, Post and Telecommunications Bureau signed a 2013 to 2015 technology exchange agreement “in the field of IT.”
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.
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.
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.”
A national meeting of managers and workers in the DPRK’s post and telecommunications sector was held at the 25 April House of Culture in Pyongyang on 16 September (Monday). Attending the meeting were DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary Kim Ki Nam, DPRK Vice Premier Jon Sung Hun, Chief KWP Provincial Committee Secretaries along with “officials of party and armed forces organs, the Cabinet, working people’s organizations, ministries, national institutions, party and power organs of provinces, cities and counties, exemplary personnel in posts and telecommunications service and officials of relevant units.”
Pak Pong Ju read a letter by Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) “On Bringing About a Fresh Turn in Posts and Telecommunications” which said that “Generalissimos Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) advanced Chuch’e-oriented idea and theory concerning the posts and telecommunications service, indicated orientation and ways of modernizing it as required by the developing revolution and devoted themselves to its modernization” and clarified tasks and ways for the personnel in the posts and telecommunications service to preserve and glorify the immortal exploits of the Generalissimos for the development of Chuch’e-oriented posts and telecommunications and put the service on the world’s advanced level as early as possible by devotedly carrying out the WPK’s policy on posts and telecommunications.” According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un’s letter also “called on all the participants to bring about a fresh turn in the service by successfully discharging their honorable duties and missions in the spirit of devotedly serving the country and people.” Jon Sung Hun delivered the meeting’s report which “referred to the remarkable development made by the service thanks to the patriotic devotion and energetic leadership provided by the Generalissimos” and said that “the posts and telecommunications service has successfully performed its mission and role in the important work for building a thriving nation and improving the people’s living standard.” A series of speakers followed the reading of the letter and report.
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 state media reported on 20 February (Wednesday) that the State Stamp Bureau issued a sheetlet of stamps, which included one of Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) delivering the New Year’s Day Address on 1 January 2013. According to KCNA “the sheetlet is made up of four individual stamps featuring the tasks set forth in the New Year address, on the theme of ‘Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!’, the slogan laid down in the New Year address.” KCNA also reported that other stamps “with serviceperson, worker, peasant and student arm in arm pictured with letters reading ‘The great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism’, shows the fixed will of the Korean army and people to increase the political and military might of the country in every way, rallied closer around the Workers’ Party of Korea, this year marking the 65th DPRK birthday and the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Korean people in the Fatherland Liberation War” and one stamp is “on the subject of ‘Agriculture and light industry constitute the main front in this year’s economic construction’ stresses the idea that a production upsurge should be effected in coal, power and metal industries and railway transport, the four major leading sectors of the national economy, and a springboard for building an economic power should be laid by dint of science and technology.”
According to KCNA, “two other stamps carry the ideas that building a highly civilized country should be sped up to open up a fresh age of civilization in the 21st century and Korea’s reunification be realized on the basis of priority to the nation’s interests and the stand for national unity through removal of confrontation between the north and the south and implementation of the north-south joint declarations.”
On 20 February Japanese-based DPRK media outlet Choso’n Sinbo reported that “According to a relevant official, this is the first instance in the nearly 70-year history of North Korean postage stamps that a stamp bearing the image of the supreme leader giving the New Year’s address has been issued. Small stamps sized 75 x 85 mm and 51 x 39 mm respectfully contain an image of the marshal giving the New Year’s address to all the people on the first morning of the New Year and says, “Comrade Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of our party and people, delivering the historic first New Year’s address.” Choso’n Sinbo also reported that “On stamps with content on striving toward building a socialist civilized country, a soccer player and a Moranbong Band musician were depicted, and on a stamp on the theme of fatherland reunification, the words ‘resolution of confrontation between North and South,’ ‘the nation first,’ ‘placing importance on the nation,’ ‘national unity,’ and “implementation of the 15 June Joint Declaration and 4 October Declaration” were prominently inscribed, along with a map of Korea and a picture of a dove, the symbol of peace” and “Stamps on themes saying ‘Agriculture and light industry are the main fronts of this year’s economic construction’ and ‘Strengthen political and military might in every way’ represent the tasks of the four leading sectors of the people’s economy — including coal, electric power, metals, and rail transport — the launch of practical satellites, and the Sep’o Tableland reclamation battle.”
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.
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.
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.”