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Analysis: Big News From N. Korea?

Officials and analysts said the Arirang festival may be used to forge a festive mood ahead of an announcement of the country's next leader.

Seoul (UPI) Oct 06, 2005
North Korea watchers in Seoul are paying close attention to possible breaking news from the communist nation over the weekend or early next week.

Government officials and analysts in South Korea expect the North to mark the 60th birthday of its ruling Communist Party that falls on Oct. 10 with an announcement such as a leadership reshuffle or major nuclear or economic policies.

In the past, North Korea has unveiled major new policy on the founding anniversary of the Workers' Party.

Ten years ago, when North Korea marked the party's 50th anniversary, its leader, Kim Jong Il, introduced Sungun (army-first) Politics as the country's ruling ideology replacing his late father Kim Il Sung's Juche (self-reliance or self-identity) that dominated for the past decades. Juche was proclaimed the country's ruling principle in 1970 when the Party marked its 25th birthday.

Kim, who was handpicked by his father to succeed him in 1974, was anointed successor on the Party's 35th anniversary in 1980. Five years ago, on the party's 30th anniversary, the junior Kim's birthday was designed the country's national holiday.

In 1980, North Korea also came up with a national unification formula based on an inter-Korean federation system, dubbed "the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo."

"North Korea may announce major new policies on this year's 60th anniversary," said an official at the South Korean Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations.

North Korea began warming up for Monday's party birthday celebrations early this year. In July, 100 days ahead of the anniversary, North Korea announced about 160 joint slogans, urging its people to build a prosperous and powerful socialist nation under Sungun.

The slogans focused on calls for struggles against "U.S. imperialists that have occupied the southern half of the Korean peninsula" to forge a united Korean front against the United States over the nuclear standoff.

The announcement was followed by massive public rallies across the country. The Ministry of People's Armed Forces and other state organizations also held rallies.

In August, North Korea kicked off a two-month gymnastic and artistic performance, called "Arirang Festival," to mark the Party's 60th founding anniversary.

The 90-minute show, which featured some 100,000 performers with synchronized acrobatics on the pitch, was a political show focused on Kim's personality cult.

According to Seoul's Yonhap News Agency, North Korea plans to stage the biggest-ever celebrations for next week's Party birthday.

"This year's Party anniversary will be observed on a scale bigger than ever before," Yonhap quoted an official of the North's National Reconciliation Council as saying in Pyongyang.

The country's leader Kim will attend the main celebrations to be held at a plaza in central Pyongyang. The celebrations would be highlighted by a massive military parade, the official said.

Officials and analysts said the Arirang festival may be used to forge a festive mood ahead of an announcement of the country's next leader.

"At the end of the event, North Korea may announce its leader Kim Jong Il's successor," a South Korean government official said.

Kim may designate one of his three sons to become the country's next leader during the celebrations, they said. Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted diplomatic source in Pyongyang as saying North Korea could announce this month an eventual successor to Kim.

"An announcement about the appointment of a successor could be made as early as this month, timed for the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the (Workers' Party)," the report said.

Jhe Seong-ho, a professor at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, said North Korea may revise the Party chapter to uphold Kim Jong Il to be the leader of unified Korea.

Nam Sung-wook at Seoul's Korea University said the gala events for this year's Party birthday is aimed at tightening the state' grip on the people.

"North Korea may present a blueprint for economic development," he said.

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US Congress Sceptical Over Nuclear Accord With North Korea
Washington (AFP) Oct 06, 2005
The United States Congress expressed scepticism Thursday over a tentative nuclear deal reached with North Korea and warned that legislators might find it difficult to approve energy aid to the Stalinist state.

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