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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
N Korea maintains media silence
Pyongyang skyline
Pyongyang's state-run media is not used to breaking news

North Koreans who are reliant for news on their country's official media would have been in the dark on Friday about the rail collision near the Chinese border.

The main evening TV news bulletin broadcast at 8 pm failed to make any reference at all to the disaster.

Much earlier, the morning newscast on Pyongyang radio remained preoccupied with the recent visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Beijing.

The first 30 minutes of the hour-long broadcast were allocated to the following items:

  • Report on the visit to China on 19-21 April by "Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-il"

  • Full text of Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech delivered at a banquet he hosted to welcome Kim Jong-il.

  • Full text of Kim Jong-il's speech delivered at the banquet.

  • Full text of the message sent by Kim Jong-il to Hu Jintao while passing back across the border after completing his visit.

  • Song about General Kim Jong-il.

    The remainder of the broadcast focused on less important events, relating to North Korea at home and abroad.

    These included a report that Congolese radio had carried details of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's "ten-point programme of great national unity for the fatherland's reunification" and Kim Jong-il's "five-point policy of great national unity".

    The radio also broadcast slogans such as: "Let us endlessly glorify the glorious revolutionary history and immortal achievement of Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung who dedicated his whole life for the fatherland and nation!"

    Reports on the ending of the sixth Kimilsonglia flower festival; a piece on the setting up of monuments to the achievements of three revolutionary generals and an item on preparations for 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army also featured.

    There was one item of foreign news: the Dominican Republic has ordered its troops to withdraw from Iraq.


    Friday's North Korean newspapers, as summarised by the official news agency KCNA, are equally silent on the collision story.

    All the papers lead with extensive official accounts of Kim Jong Il's visit to China. They also criticise a South Korean minister for "letting loose remarks seriously rattling nerves in the north over the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula" and attack Japanese yakuza gangsters' for violent attacks against Korean students in Japan.

    Rodong Sinmun carries an article dealing with the "US strategy for domination over the Mideast, a strategy bound to go bust".

    A commentary in Minju Joson "accuses the Japanese reactionaries of ever more undisguised moves for overseas expansion".

    The papers also find time to inform readers that the "Kim Jong Suk Educational and Cultural Study Group" has been formed in Mexico and the "Latin American Institute of the Juche Idea" has opened a room for the study of the Juche Idea in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

    North Korea is ruled on a self-sufficiency principle known as "juche".

    BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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