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N. Korea imported truckloads of gifts for elite: report

SEOUL, (AFP) - A long convoy of lorries believed to be carrying gifts for North Korea's elite was seen entering the communist state on the eve of a major holiday, according to a South Korean Internet newspaper.

The Daily NK, staffed by anti-Pyongyang activists, said Tuesday it had received video footage of more than 200 trucks crossing the Yalu River nose-to-tail from China on April 14.

The North celebrates the anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-Sung on April 15.

It often marks the occasion by presenting party and military elites with gifts such as televisions, watches and home appliances to foster loyalty to current leader Kim Jong-Il, son of the founder.

Such a massive convoy of vehicles crossing the International Friendship Bridge is rarely seen on a normal day, said the Daily NK, which published photos of the trucks on its website (www.dailynk.com/english)

"It should be taken to be the entry of birthday gifts prepared in China for the birthday" on April 15, the newspaper quoted the source, who provided it with the four-minute footage of the trucks, as saying.

"Expensive electronic goods such as big-screen TVs were also seen being loaded at Hualian Warehouse in Dandong," the source said.

Almost all goods heading for North Korea are stored at the warehouse in the northeastern Chinese city before being transported to nearby Sinuiju city, it said.

Despite its chronic shortage of food, the impoverished North is believed to spend millions of dollars to buy such gifts which are usually distributed on the two Kims' birthdays.

Authorities also customarily present gifts to schoolchildren to mark the holidays, but on a much less lavish scale. The children customarily receive cookies, candy, jellies, rice crackers and five pieces of chewing gum.

<한글 요약>

北, 김일성 생일에 당, 군 고위 관계자들에 선물 세례


북한의 엘리트 집단을 위한 선물을 싣은 대형 트럭들이 줄을 지어 북한에 들어가는 모습이 포착됐다고 한 인터넷 매체가 밝혔다. 

데일리 NK는 4월 14일 200대의 트럭이 중국에서 압록강을 건너 북한으로 들어가는 현장을 찍은 비디오를 입수했다고 화요일 밝혔다. 4월 15일은 김일성의 생일이다. 

북한은 김정일에 대한 충성심을 고조시키기 위해 중요한 날에는 당과 군의 고위 간부들에게 텔레비젼, 시계, 가전 제품 등의 선물을 선사한다. 

데일리 NK는 평일에 이렇게 큰 호송대가 국제친선교를 건너는 것은 예외적이라며 "김일성의 생일을 축하하기 위해 중국이 선물을 보내는 것으로 보아야 할 것"이라고 말했다. 

심각한 식량난에도 불구하고 북한은 수백만 달러를 김일성과 김정일의 생일을 기념하기 위해 사용한다. 

북한의 초등학생들도 김씨 부자의 생일날 선물을 받기도 하는데 주로 과자나 사탕, 젤리, 껌과 쌀과자 등이다. 
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