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Western professors protest punishment of leftist Korean colleague
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- A group of Western professors protested to South Korea on Wednesday, urging reinstatement of a university faculty member sidelined over his pro-North Korea writings.
A letter, obtained by Yonhap, was endorsed by 33 professors from the United States, Norway and New Zealand and sent to Dongguk University and to South Korea's education minister, demanding that professor Kang Jeong-koo be allowed to continue teaching.
Discipline of Prof. Kang
Intervention by Western Scholars Complicates Matter
The controversy over a college professor's pro-North Korean stance has grown to an international issue as a group of Western scholars intervened to save him immediately after his school disciplined him on Wednesday. It is reported that 33 professors from the United States, Norway and New Zealand sent a letter to Dongguk University and Seoul's education minister, demanding that Prof. Kang Jeong-koo be allowed to continue teaching and researching. In the letter, they also criticized Seoul's National Security Law, which forbids unauthorized contact with North Korea and pro-North Korean activities.
Dongguk barred Kang, a sociology professor, from teaching, and stripped him of research funds, based on the private school act, which allows schools to punish anyone indicted in a criminal case. Kang, who was allowed to retain his professorship, was indicted last December for violating the anti-communist law for his pro-North Korean opinions in a series of columns he wrote
Nobody denies the right to free expression, as the 33 Western professors argued in their letter. But it is a different matter when speaking out threatens national security
[Human rights] [Double standards]
Refugee lives the South Korean dream
February 02, 2006 ? Jong Su-ban is no stranger to starting afresh.
When he opened a takeout store last April serving North Korean snacks to university students in northern Seoul, a string of television appearances at home and abroad seemed to mark him out as one of the few success stories among thousands of North Korean defectors trying to rebuild their lives here.
But as outside pressures threatened to stunt his business growth, Jong folded his restaurant within 49 days of opening.
Armed with his dreams of entrepreneurial success, the 38-year-old defector decided not to throw in the towel. He simply reinvented himself once again.
Since arriving in Seoul in 2000, Jong has tried his hand at inventing gadgets (from massage chairs to 'stamina underwear'), writing scripts for adult movies, match-making for other defectors and running computer training courses.
Now he's back on his feet with "Nalle Nalle" ? a new restaurant named after the North Korean phrase for "quick quick" ? in another trendy district north of the Han river.
"I took what was good and left what was bad. Unpopular dishes were removed," he said of his latest brainchild.
Sponsored by a band of investors, Jong is again attempting to bridge the divide between the two Koreas and bring its all-but-unreachable culture to young southerners, this time in the crowded district surrounding Hongik University.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jong plays the role of manager, waiter and sales clerk, as well as coming up with all of the recipes.
But it hasn't been easy, he said, dealing with the prejudices that are to be expected against people coming from the communist country. Defectors are often viewed warily, treated as second-class citizens and ignored for their lack of familiarity with southern customs.
Kim Dae-jung Seeks NK Visit in April
By Seo Dong-shin
The government relayed former President Kim Dae-jung's hope to travel to Pyongyang by train in April to the North last month, a Unification Ministry official said Wednesday.
The purpose of Kim's visit is to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
``When the North responds to the message, we'll consult it further,'' the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. ``The (South Korean) government is hoping the visit will be carried out, and we will actively support it when it gets underway.''
Ex-Spy Agency Building Reborn as Youth Hostel
By Kim Rahn
This is the Seoul Youth Intercultural Center, which moved into the former spy agency building on Mt. Namsan, central Seoul, Wednesday. The building was transformed into a youth hostel to provide cheap accommodation to tourists and will open on Feb. 23.
/ Korea Times
A former spy agency building has been turned into a youth hostel and will open this month for young Korean and foreign tourists.
The Seoul city government said Wednesday it will open the lodging facility on Feb. 23 after finishing renovations. The six-story building formerly housed the Agency of National Security Planning, predecessor to the National Intelligence Service.
Advanced Missiles to Equip Destroyers
By Jung Sung-ki
Domestically-built long-range cruise missiles will equip the Navy's Aegis destroyers beginning in 2008, a state-funded defense agency said Tuesday.
Seoul renews efforts for generals' meeting
January 31, 2006 ? The two Koreas will try again on Friday to negotiate regular general officers' talks, a long-standing interest of Seoul that the North has regularly dismissed.
Working-level officers of the two countries will meet in Panmunjeom for talks, an official in Seoul said yesterday.
The two sides will try to schedule another round of military talks; the last of two meetings of generals was held at Mount Sorak on South Korea's east coast in June 2004. Neither produced much of note.
South, North Plan Military Talks
By Seo Dong-shin
Working-level military officials from South and North Korea will meet in the border village of Panmujom on Friday to discuss the possible resumption of high-level military talks, according to the Defense Ministry in Seoul Monday.
The meeting comes as the two Koreas agreed at the latest round of ministerial talks held in Cheju Island last December to hold inter-Korean military talks early this year.
At Tongilgak, in the Northern section of Panmunjom, delegates from both militaries are expected to seek an agreement on the date for the third round of general-level military talks, following the second one in June 2004.
But observers believe prospects for reaching an agreement are not bright, considering the upcoming joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. North Korea has argued that the allies' joint drills pose a threat to its security, and cite them as one of the reasons to delay the inter-Korean military talks.
[Joint US military]
Church Group Accused of Defector 'Business'
By Seo Dong-shin
A group of North Korean defectors get off a chartered air plane at Incheon International Airport in this file photo taken on July 28, 2004. They were airlifted from a third country in Southeast Asia to South Korea. /Joint Press Corps
A church-backed civic group aimed at assisting North Korean refugees in China has been shut down following claims that activists sought to profit from the desperate circumstances of communist defectors.
The Christian Council of Korea (CCK) decided last week to close down its subsidiary organization, the Commission to Help North Korean Refugees (CNKR), citing the suspicions.
``We'll close down the commission and it's unlikely there will be any change to the decision, as it was made at the executive committee meeting of the CCK on Jan. 24,'' a CCK official told The Korea Times.
The official, who requested anonymity, admitted that the allegations raised by a recent current affairs program aired on broadcasting network SBS were one of the main reasons for the decision.
``The CNKR was designed to operate based on contributions from donors and church believers,'' the official said. ``But it turned out the principle was not observed (in the cases reported in the program).''
The official was referring to claims that some former and current workers at a number of Seoul-based human rights groups, including the CNKR, pocketed money from North Korean defectors settled in the South in return for promises to bring in family members hiding in China.
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