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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

16:00 March 27, 2020

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

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N.K. leader guides artillery fire competition: KCNA

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has guided an artillery fire competition on the western front, state media said Saturday, the second such guidance in about a week.

The competition Friday involved large combined units of the Korean People's Army, with the participation of the artillery units under the 3rd, 4th and 8th corps of the KPA, the Korean Central News Agency said in a report.

"The Supreme Leader expressed satisfaction, saying that the firing skill of the artillerymen on the western front, those under the 3rd Corps in particular, was remarkably great," said the English report. "And he spoke highly of them, noting that it was just like hitting the target with sniper rifle."

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N. Korea fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles toward East Sea: JCS

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Saturday fired two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, the latest in a series of such launches this month.

They were fired northeastward from areas near its western county of Sonchon in North Pyongan Province at 6:45 a.m. and 6:50 a.m., respectively, the JCS said, adding that they flew around 410 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of around 50 km.

"South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities are analyzing other specifics," the authorities said. "Our military is monitoring the situation in case there are additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture."

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N. Korea's parliament to hold plenary session April 10: KCNA

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's parliament will convene a plenary session in Pyongyang on April 10, state media said Saturday.

The presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) on Friday released its decision to convene the third session of the 14th SPA, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

This will mark the first time in about eight months for the North to hold such a gathering.

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N. Korea cancels art festival over coronavirus

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has cancelled an art festival due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, its state media said Saturday.

North Korea decided not to hold the April Spring Friendship Art Festival in Pyongyang, Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean propaganda website, reported.

The art festival, which started in 1982, is a biennial event honoring the birth anniversary of the North's late founder, Kim Il-sung, on April 15. The festival invites art troupes from other countries and showcases various music and dance performances.

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N.K. says leader Kim oversaw test of newly developed tactical guided weapon

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen a test of a newly developed "tactical guided weapon," state media reported Sunday, a day after South Korea said the communist nation fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday that the North conducted the launches from areas near its western county of Sonchon in North Pyongan Province, and the missiles flew around 410 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of around 50 km.

It was the North's third such weapons test so far this year.

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Trump sent letter to Kim offering help on virus outbreak: Kim's sister

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, offering help with the communist nation's fight against the coronavirus, Kim's sister said Sunday.

The letter is a "a good example showing the special and firm personal relations" between Trump and Kim, said Kim Yo-jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the North's Workers' Party, in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

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N.K. paper calls for unconditional adherence to coronavirus quarantine rules

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper called Monday for "unconditional and absolute" adherence to coronavirus quarantine regulations, saying allowing exceptions to the law could affect the very existence of the country.

The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, made the appeal in an editorial, stressing that it is also an important political issue for all people to strictly abide by regulations and order established under the national emergency quarantine system.

"If there are people who do not abide by the law among those who do, it gravely affects the existence and progress of the country ... respecting and following the law is an obligation that cannot be violated," the paper said.

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N.K. party officials congratulate artillery unit in rare visit

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- Officials of two key departments at North Korea's ruling Workers' Party visited a western military unit to congratulate soldiers after they won a recent artillery fire competition overseen by leader Kim Jong-un, state media reported Thursday.

The group visit to the artillery battalion of the 3rd Corps of the Korean People's Army is seen as unusual as it came amid intensified efforts to prevent the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus since the North declared a national emergency system in late January.

"On Mar. 24, officials of the Organizational Leadership Department and the Information and Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) paid a congratulatory visit to the artillery battalion," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

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Two foreigners, 2,280 N. Koreans left under coronavirus quarantine: KCNA

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- About 2,280 North Koreans and two foreigners remain under coronavirus isolation in the communist nation, state media reported Friday, as the quarantine has been lifted for people with no symptoms during the isolation period.

"One additional foreigner was released from quarantine, leaving two foreigners quarantined as of now," the official Korean Central News Agency said. Earlier state media reports said that all but three foreigners were released out of the reported 380 foreigners under quarantine.

The KCNA said those subject to "medical monitoring" have been released from quarantine one after another if they have no symptoms following the isolation period, and about 2,280 people across the country remain under the monitoring quarantine.
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