ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Robots may guard DMZ, create lucrative market
September 29, 2006 ? A group of Korean companies has developed a sentry robot that can support troops along the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas and guard key military installations, government officials said yesterday.
The robot, developed by a group led by Samsung Techwin Co., has the ability to detect, give warning and provide suppressive fire against intruders, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said
Recently Disclosed Crimes of Successive Dictators in S. Korea under Fire
Pyongyang, September 27 (KCNA) -- Groups of traitors in south Korea fabricated shocking anti-communist conspiratorial cases, triggering off tragic massacre of progressive figures and patriotic people. These were hideous crimes against the nation and thrice-cursed human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Rodong Sinmun Wednesday says this in a signed commentary in connection with the recently disclosed truth about "case of the south Korean National Liberation Front" and the "case of the Association of the Protected" in south Korea.
Families head north to pay respects to ancestors
September 29, 2006 ? A group of 50 South Koreans will have the chance of a lifetime to pay respects to ancestors buried at a North Korean cometery that has been off limits to them since the Japanese colonial days.
The group includes 26 families of former independence fighters who helped establish Korea's provisional government in Shanghai during the colonial period.
The trip has been approved by the South Korean government. The delegation will fly to Pyongyang on Saturday via Beijing, returning on Wednesday.
According to Cho Young-nam, director of the ministry's social and cultural exchanges bureau, the trip will be the first government-sanctioned visit to the North's Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery, because South Koreans are usually prohibited by the country's anti-communist National Security Law from visiting the site.
[National Security Law] [Human rights]
Regular Briefing by Minister of Unification
(September 21, 2006)
The ROK-US Summit Meeting Was Successful.
Minister Lee said, "The ROK-US summit meeting on September 15 was successful. The two leaders reached an agreement on several issues such as transfer of wartime operational control and ROK-US FTA. In addition, they reaffirmed peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through the six-party talks, and agreed to draw up common and comprehensive approach."
Lee also said, "These agreements can be interpreted as an important opportunity to solve the pending nuclear issue through further talks, though the situation has grown more serious over the past few months since the North’s missile firing in July. I expect the nuclear issue to enter upon a new phase based on these agreements and the Ministry of Unification will also do its best to take proper measures."
Missile command center set to open tomorrow
September 28, 2006 ? South Korea's military will open a missile command center tomorrow at an undisclosed location in the central part of the country, the Army said yesterday in a statement.
The center will be headed by a brigadier general and will serve as the nerve center for South Korea's various missile units, the Army said. Those include tactical missiles, new cruise missiles and drones armed with bombs.
Besides missiles, the command center will oversee operations related to North Korea's missile bases.
The center is designed to increase the efficiency of the country's command of its various missile units.
The battalion-sized unit of army tactical missile systems has a range of 270 kilometers (167 miles).
The cruise missiles, meanwhile, have a range of 500 kilometers, which is expected to double in the next five years.
Seoul plans to develop the drones armed with bombs in the future.
The military expects the new missile command will be able to neutralize the North's long-range artillery, which could fire on Seoul during the initial stages of a war.
The Defense Ministry estimates the North has over 13,000 artillery pieces.
by Kim Min-seok
Address System to Get Makeover
By Kim Tong-hyung
Korea's address system based on land-lot numbers will be rearranged around street names by 2011, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said Wednesday.
Critics have long complained that addresses based on land-lot numbers, a system adopted almost a century ago, are confusing and cause unnecessary expenses, such as traffic congestion, as cities become larger.
By rewriting addresses using street names and the serial numbers of listed buildings in those areas, government officials hope to save an annual 4.3 trillion won ($4.5 billion).
According to the ministry, Korea is the only country among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members using an address system based on land-lot numbers. The Japanese colonial government introduced the system during its rule between 1910 and 1945.
The calls for changing the land-based address system have been growing in recent years, with people relying increasingly on computer-drawn maps or location-based services on mobile-phones and navigation systems.
For a better life, North Koreans turn 'traitor'
By Choe Sang-Hun International Herald Tribune
Published: September 25, 2006
Desperate for safety and cash, either to send home or for food, many North Korean women in China volunteer to live with men in the countryside, where young women are in short supply. Some are sold for 7,000 yuan, about $900, to 15,000 yuan, said Noh Ok Je, an official at Good Friends, a human rights group in Seoul.
Lee Kum Soon, a director at the government-funded Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said many women were sold "without even knowing they are being traded for money."
The longer they stay in China, the more severe the punishment that awaits them - and their families - back home, Lee said.
The criminal code of North Korea defines those who leave the country without government permission as "traitors to the fatherland," and calls for at least seven years in labor camps.
About 70 percent of the 1,383 North Koreans who reached South Korea last year were women.
Alternatively, they send money home. With no banking links between the two Koreas, sending money often requires using intermediaries in China who typically charge two dollars for each dollar delivered.
[Manipulation] [Sanctions] [Refugee encouragement]
Members of Posco unions receive strict prison terms
September 26, 2006 ? POHANG, North Gyeongsang ? In an unusually strong ruling, the president of a union that seized Posco's headquarters here in July was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison yesterday. Twenty-six other union members also received jail time, according to the ruling issued by a Pohang court.
Lee Ji-gyeong, the union president, received the longest sentence. Jeong Eun-sik, a union vice chairman, and five other union leaders each were sentenced to 2.5 years.
Nine working-level union officials and two members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions got 2 years in prison, while nine other members of the construction union received 1.5-year jail terms.
They were charged with violence, confinement, interference with business, property damage and other infractions. "Considering the significance of the illegal activities and damages, we decided to strictly punish the suspects," said the ruling, issued by Judge Lee Young-jik. "Illegal activities cannot be allowed."
Another 31 defendants received suspended sentences. The unions plan to appeal. The defendants occupied the Posco headquarters in Pohang, causing an estimated 1.6 billion won ($1.69 million) in damage.
[Human rights] [Double standards]
Thinking the unthinkable: Korean War II
September 25, 2006 ? The transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops back to Seoul has triggered a heated debate as to whether South Korea is ready to take on the responsibility.
The question is being answered mostly with the assumption that the U.S. military ? either in numbers called for by current plans or in a somewhat smaller number ? will come to the defense of the South. But there is also another question, which many defense analysts both in and out of the government seem reluctant to discuss: How well do South Korean forces measure up against North Korea's military machine one-on-one?
There is an often-heard adage that North Korea's troops are underfed, lack sufficient training because of constraints on fuel and ammunition and are equipped with Soviet-era weapons. North Korea's defense budget in 2003 was $5 billion by a Defense Ministry estimate, compared to Seoul's $21 billion last year. To the extent that those estimates and assumptions reflect reality, they underline the caution voiced by military experts here that assessing the military balance on the Korean Peninsula is not just a matter of counting cash, boots and artillery pieces. There are many unknowables, analysts say, and only educated guesses are possible.
Cruise missile draws threats
September 25, 2006 ? Pyongyang complained Saturday that the development of a medium-range cruise missile by Seoul was a "provocative act" and a military threat, and could plunge the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear war.
Posted on Uriminzokkiri, a Web site operated by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the Kim Jong-il regime said, "This is a very risky provocation and a criminal act that draws the whole nation into the abyss of a nuclear war." It accused the South's military of having developed the weapon with the intention of attacking the North.
Last week, an official with the South Korean Defense Ministry said that a newly developed cruise missile with a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles) could target North Korean missile bases near the border with China and other strategic targets. The range of the missile, Seoul said, would be doubled within the next five years. The cruise missiles would be fitted onto new South Korean submarines as well.
by Brian Lee
N. Korean defectors arrested for drug smuggling
Four North Korean defectors have been arrested here on charges of smuggling drugs from and into South Korea, the Seoul prosecution said yesterday.
The prosecution said a 46-year-old defector, identified only by his surname Yoo, is accused of colluding with his girlfriend Bae to import 1.8 kilograms of Philopon from China through Incheon Port.
With 0.03 grams counting as one dosage, the amount is estimated to be as many as 60,000 dosages, the prosecution said.
Prosecutors said Bae obtained the drugs from a North Korean residing in a North Korean town near the border with China. But the origins of the drugs are still unknown, according to the prosecutors.
Both suspects have been indicted for violating narcotics laws.
Including the North Koreans, the Seoul prosecution has indicted a total of 88 drug violators since January this year and seized more than 5 kilograms of drugs.
The prosecution says the increase shows that South Korea is becoming an "intermediary station" for international drug dealers to circulate narcotics worldwide.
Rights body demurs on intervening with North
September 23, 2006 ? The National Human Rights Commission has dismissed a petition by an alliance of civil rights groups who say they are trying to save the life of a North Korean political prisoner sentenced to public execution in the communist country.
The commission and the rights groups said yesterday that the petition had been dismissed on Sept. 12 because the laws governing the human rights commission are only applicable to South Korean citizens and foreigners in South Korea.
"The man in concern is a North Korean citizen and the case took place in North Korea," the human rights commission said. "The offender is the North Korean government; thus we believed that this case was beyond the investigative authority of the National Human Rights Commission."
S. Korea Develops Cruise Missile
The government has developed a cruise missile capable of striking most of the strategic targets in North Korea amid the drawn-out tension over the communist country's nuclear and missile programs, a military source said yesterday.
The missile, which has a range of 500 kilometers, will be deployed to a guided missile headquarters to be established in the central part of the country and will be mounted on 1,800-ton class submarines to be introduced next year, the source said, requesting anonymity.
[Military balance] [Double standards]
The 2nd Culture Festival for Unification -World United to Be One-
(September 13, 2006)
Education Center for Unification holds 'The 2nd Culture Festival for Unification' at the Center, located in Suyuri, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul, from September 18 to September 20. About 3,000 students and citizens are expected to participate in the festival, whose theme is 'World United to Be One'.
The festival is planned for the purpose of raising teens' interest in unification and sharing culture related to unification with citizens by connecting culture events and education.
Seoul has longer-range cruise missile
September 21, 2006 ? Seoul's military has developed a cruise missile with the range to attack North Korea's ballistic missile bases, a senior military official said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters on background, the official said the new missile has a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles), and predicted that the range would be doubled within the next five years.
The missiles are also part of the armament that will be fitted on three new submarines that will join the Navy's fleet next year.
The new missile, developed in Korea, is reportedly similar in structure and guidance technology to the U.S. Tomahawk, but with a shorter range.
[Military balance] [Double standards]
Letters show Unification Ministry pressured Woori
September 21, 2006 ? Contrary to its statement on Tuesday, the Unification Ministry pressured Woori Bank to consider allowing North Korea to open a bank account, government documents obtained by a Grand National Party lawmaker showed yesterday.
A Unification Ministry official who asked not to be named said it was just a discussion and not formal pressure against the bank. He said the bank made its own decision, without being pressured by the ministry. [Kaesong] [Sanctions] [Finance]
S.Korean Dollar Payments to Kaesong Illegal
The government has illegally remitted dollars to North Korea that could have helped Pyongyang launder money since the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea went into operation 18 months ago. According to Finance and Economy Ministry papers acquired by Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Kei-kyung on Wednesday, the government even revised laws to make dollar transactions to North Korea from South Korean companies operating there possible.
[Pro-Americanism] [Sanctions] [Finance]
Kim's niece kills herself in Paris
September 19, 2006 ? A 29-year-old North Korean woman committed suicide in Paris, France last month; intelligence sources have confirmed that she was a niece of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader. The incident was another incident in a series of turbulent lives of women associated with North Korea's ruling dynasty.
Jang Kum-song, who was studying in Paris, was found in August by her chauffeur and her maid two days after her death at a villa in Paris.
The incident nonplused French and South Korean intelligence authorities, who had followed her life in Paris closely, according to a Korean intelligence official. Ms. Jang was the only child of Jang Song-thaek, first vice department director of the North's Workers' Party, and Kim Kyong-hui, the party's light industry department director and younger sister of Kim Jong-il.
"She was tall and beautiful by western standards," this source said, "and her friends did not know that she was from North Korea."
Another source said the cause of her death was an overdose of sleeping pills. She reportedly committed suicide because her parents opposed her marriage to a suitor and had pressed her to return to Pyongyang. The French authorities cooperated with the North Korean government to send her body to Pyongyang secretly, the source said.
Ms. Jang's parents, ironically, had married despite strong opposition from Kim Il Sung, the North Korean founder. The Great Leader exiled her fiance to Wonsan, in the North Korean eastern province of Kangwon, but they were allowed to marry in 1972. Mr. Jang rose in the North Korean power elite, but was demoted in 2003 for alleged abuse of authority. He made a political comeback last January, the intelligence sources said.
Kim Jong-il himself fell in love with Song Hye-rim, an actress, in the late 1960s. He reportedly forced Ms. Song to divorce her husband; she produced an heir, Kim Jong-nam, in 1971. But the marriage was never recognized by Kim Il Sung, and Mr. Kim eventually separated from her.
Ms. Song later died in exile in Moscow; another of Kim Jong-il's mistresses, Ko Yong-hee, died in exile in Paris two years ago.
by Lee Young-jong
Korea's Suicide Rate Highest in OECD in 2005
By Lee Hyo-sik
The number of suicides rose to an all-time high of 12,000 last year as more people took their own lives amid economic hardship, recording the highest suicide rate among the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Unification Minister Sends Condolence to North Korea
By Park Song-wu
Minister of Unification Lee Jong-seok on Monday sent a telegram of condolence to Pyongyang, regarding the death of Lim Dong-ok, North Korea's point man on inter-Korean relations, officials in Seoul said.
Lim, who handled the cross-border relations for decades, died from an ``incurable'' disease at age 70 on Sunday, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. He has suffered from lung cancer, a source in Seoul said.
Pyongyang aide's remarks stir rare rebuke
June 14, 2006 ? A Unification Ministry spokesman grumbled yesterday about recent remarks from a North Korean official about South Korean politics.
Ahn Kyong-ho, who is scheduled to arrive in Gwangju today to lead a delegation commemorating the anniversary of the 2000 North-South Korean summit, said on Saturday that inter-Korean relations would be threatened if the conservative Grand National Party won next year's presidential election in South Korea.
He also said the peninsula was at risk of a "fire of war" instigated by the United States.
Northerners Pay Tribute to May 18 Victims
By Seo Dong-shin
KWANGJU _ North Korean delegates paid tribute at the National Cemetery to victims of the Democratic Movement of 1980 after they arrived here for joint celebrations of the sixth anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit Wednesday.
It was the first time North Koreans officially visited the cemetery, which houses hundreds of students and civic activists who were killed here during their pro-democracy struggle against martial law in May 1980.
New Point Man on NK Faces Tough Battle at Hearing
By Seo Dong-shin
Lee Jong-seok, unification minister-designate, has recently been busy preparing for the upcoming National Assembly confirmation hearing.
The former deputy chief of the National Security Council (NSC), who used to mastermind South Korea's policy on North Korea behind the scenes for more than two years, has every reason to keep himself busy thinking out strategies on how to face conservative lawmakers in the bright parliamentary light.
Of the five Cabinet minister nominees who will undergo hearings from Monday to Wednesday, Lee is the ``most unwanted'' from the viewpoint of the largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP), along with Rep. Rhyu Si-min of the ruling Uri Party, nominee for the position of minister of health and welfare.
The 48-year-old has an academic background linked to controversial figures such as Professors Song Du-yul and Kang Jeong-koo, both of whom created a stir with their allegedly pro-North Korean arguments and are heartily disliked by the conservatives.
In a book titled ``Understanding Modern North Korea'' published in 2000, Lee claimed his ``immanent-critical approach'' toward North Korea is different from those of the two sociology professors. Nevertheless, some conservative lawmakers plan to ask Lee blunt questions such as on which side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) he stands on, according to political sources.
Lee's past record while serving as the NSC deputy chief has not made him popular with the conservatives.
The Hankyoreh historic front pages
South Korean to conduct in North
September 16, 2006 ? South Korean maestro Chung Myung-whun will conduct North Korea's orchestra in Pyongyang next month in a joint festival commemorating the renowned composer Yun Isang, organizers here said yesterday.
The two Koreas will mark the 89th birth anniversary of Yun, who was born in the South and spent most of his life in Germany, with the Oct. 18-20 festival, they said.
The joint event comes amid the prolonged stalemate of inter-Korean exchanges due to the North Korean nuclear and missile issues. The North cancelled most joint events after it test-fired missiles in July and experienced heavy flood damage.
"We hope this will make a breakthrough," said Seo Jeong-won, of the Isang Yun Peace Foundation, which organized the festival with the North.
Pyongyang confirmed its intention Thursday to invite Chung, conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and about 50 other southern musicians and scholars, Seo said.
It is the first time the two Koreas will jointly pay tribute to the composer, even though they have held separate annual events for him. Yun (1917-1995), who expressed the glory and pain of the Korean people through Western instruments, was better recognized in the North and Germany than in the land of his birth.
After visiting Pyongyang in the 1960s, he was accused of being a communist spy by the South Korean government and arrested on manipulated charges.
[Human rights] [Joint Korean]
Alleged spy's e-mails to 'East Place' detailed
September 16, 2006 ? The written arraignment of an alleged North Korean spy arrested in July reveals many of the codewords that he used in his e-mails with Pyongyang.
Jong Gyong-hak, 48, was indicted yesterday and detained by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, an official there said yesterday.
The arraignment documents reveal the following details.
Mr. Jong used code words in his e-mails with Pyongyang starting in June 2001. The term "East Place" described North Korea, while the South was "NamKyong."
China was called a "second hand market," while places such as Laos were covered with the code name "noodle factory." Hong Kong was described as the "red flower garden." The headquarters directing his spying activities had different aliases, such as "Friend," "Michael," "Hunter," and "Hellen."
Mr. Jong's espionage in the South started in March of 1996 when he posed as a Thai businessman and asked South Koreans at trade companies here to show him the country.
Civilians Killed During Korean War Exceed 17,000
By Kim Rahn
The police and the army massacred some 17,000 civilians during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to a truth commission at the National Police Agency yesterday.
The commission said at least 17,716 civilians, who the authorities believed were leftists, were killed during the war, including members of the Bodo League.
The Bodo League was organized in 1949 under the rule of then-President Syngman Rhee. Authorities listed people suspected of Communist activities and forced them to swing to the right.
The number of Bodo League members is estimated at 200,000 to 300,000. Civic groups have claimed the authorities killed the Bodo League members amid worries that they would collaborate with the invading North Korean troops.
The massacred civilians included 5,413 members of the Namno Party, a communist organization established in Seoul after Japanese colonial rule ended in 1945, 3,593 Bodo League members, 1,897 activists in young communists' groups, and 48 people who had never been involved in leftist activity.
The truth commission said the actual figure could be larger, as it was drawn only from police data.
Regarding the case of an anti-state group detected in 1979, the commission said it was a socialist group organized by South Koreans, not a spy ring linked to North Korea as the government had announced at that time.
Some of the members, however, had tried to contact the North but failed. The commission said it did not find any newer facts, but did not believe investigators' testimony at the time that there was no torture involved in extracting confessions.
[Korean war events] [Human rights]
Korea to Develop High-Tech Fleet Combat Systems
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea will spend about $156 million to develop weapons and radar systems for a new fleet of 2,300-ton frigates over the next five years, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said yesterday.
``The combat systems will be installed on a new fleet of Ulsan-I warships to replace the aging frigates and cruiser patrols,'' it said in a statement.
Weekly Briefing by Minister of Unification
(September 7, 2006)
Conservative group slams event to honor activists
Says some of the dead were agents for North
September 13, 2006 ? A conservative group yesterday called for the prosecution of the organizers of an event designed to honor 500 deceased democracy activists, saying that it honored some North Korean agents and fighters for communism.
An alliance of liberal civic groups organized the event to remember the activists, who were either killed or committed suicide while working for democracy.
South Korea Ranks 8th in Military Spending
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) _ South Korea is the 26th most populated country in the world, while its territory ranks 116th largest, and it comes in seventh in terms of oil imports and eighth in military spending, according to the updated World Factbook published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Updated on Sept. 7, the factbook says North Korea's population ranks 49th while its territorial area ranks 116th.
The country has a higher birthrate (15.54 per 1,000), ranking 143rd, than South Korea (10 per 1,000), which comes in 202nd.
North Korea's military expenditure is placed 22nd.
[Military balance] [Statistics]
Military expenditures - dollar figure
CIA World Factbook 7 September 2006
[According to these CIA estimates, the US spends 103 times as much as the DPRK, Japan 8.9 times, and ROK 4.2 times]
[US military] [Military balance]
The President's N.Korea Doctrine
President Roh Moo-hyun, referring to North Korea's missile tests in July, said Thursday the Taepodong-2 missile the North unsuccessfully launched "was not capable of reaching U.S. territory but its range was too long to target South Korea," and concluded the test was therefore conducted "for political purposes." He added South Korea sees "no signs or evidence that North Korea will carry out a nuclear test or if so, when." Speculation without evidence or signs just makes people feel uneasy, he added, and makes inter-Korean relations difficult to boot.
On Sept. 1, the U.S. carried out a missile intercept test in which a missile launched in California hit a missile similar in size and speed as the North's Taepodong-2 fired earlier from Alaska. Had Washington thought North Korean missiles shoddy, it would not have conducted a test that cost US$85 million.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's visit to China had looked imminent, with his special train seen apparently standing by in a border town. That was until Beijing denied news reports about it earlier in the week. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "As far as I know there is no such arrangement for him to visit."
In saying so, however, the spokesman did not deny earlier news reports that an invitation to visit China was extended to Kim. No wonder his remarks did not squelch speculation that Kim would visit China in the near future, if not now, for talks with President Hu Jintao on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Seoul Defends Cross-Border Aid
By Lee Jin-woo
A claim that South Korea has donated too much to the communist North with little to show for it got under the skin of the Ministry of Unification last week.
In a written refutation under the name of its spokesman Friday, the ministry said more than half of the 2.8 trillion won ($2.9 billion) that the Roh Moo-hyun government has spent to better inter-Korean relations has actually been used to improve livelihoods of South Korean farmers.
``Under the contract between the two Koreas, South Korea is required to purchase rice at an international standard price, which is far lower than the domestic market price,'' the ministry said. ``Some 1.48 trillion won has been spent for sending superfluous South Korean rice, which is more than five times more expensive than the international standard price, to the North.''
As a result, the ministry said, the government has sent only 1.3 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in aid, mostly 1.3 million tons of rice and fertilizer, to North Korea since its inauguration in February 2003.
Lest Two Koreas Become Strayed Sheep in World Society
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
A fundamental cause of the confusion prevalent in our society stems from the gap between South Korea's actual status in the international community today and the Korean people's perception of it. While South Korea has physically grown up as an adult in the international society, Koreans regard their own country as a teenager. We need to have diplomatic expertise and progressive ideas that commensurate with the country's standing as the world's 10th largest economy. But, our society is still overshadowed by the influence of passive and retrogressive concepts such as the resistant nationalism that characterized the closing days of the Joseon Dynasty at the turn of the 19th century and even the dependency theory of a few decades ago.
It is understandable that some Koreans are attracted by the notion of detaching their country from the influence of the United States, looking at it as a power that turned Korea over to Japan through the Taft-Katsura secret agreement of 1905, was responsible for the division of the Korean peninsula at the end of World War II, and supported the despotic Chun Doo-hwan regime that ruthlessly suppressed the 1980 democratic uprising in Gwangju. As China's national power upsurges, some people even argue that South Korea should make a strategic option of distancing itself from the United States in favor of a pro-Chinese policy.
However, diplomacy should be performed not with emotion but composed judgment. In particular, we have a national task of helping our North Korean brethren survive and establishing perpetual peace between the two Koreas. Should we pursue a foreign policy seized with emotion against America, the poverty and hardship afflicting North Koreans would only worsen and the path of establishing a durable peace on the Korean Peninsula would become thornier. Whether we like it or not, the United States is at the helm of world politics and economy
Most Koreans Would Choose Rebirth Elsewhere: Poll
Most respondents in a recent poll by the image and video portal site Digital Inside said they would hate to be reborn as Koreans. Asked, "If you were born again, would you want to be born as a Korean?" 67.8 percent or 5,681 of 8,406 visitors to the site said they would rather be reborn as a citizen of another modernized nation.
Only 24.4 percent or 2,042 said that they would want to be reborn as a Korean, while the rest were unsure. The survey ran on Aug. 23-31.
Respondents gave a variety of explanations for their choice. The education system and mandatory military service were top among them, as was the need for political, economic and social reforms. Countries that were most popular for reincarnation were Switzerland, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Germany and the U.K.
2007 budget puts stress on welfare and defense
September 09, 2006 ? The administration will present a budget of 239 trillion won ($250 billion) next year, including monies allocated to national funds, an increase of 6-7 percent of this year's budget of about 224 trillion won.
The Ministry of Budget and Planning described the 2007 budget plans at a meeting with Uri Party legislators yesterday. The ministry said the budget's general account would be set at about 169 trillion won, an increase of 7.3 percent from this year's figure. The increase would outstrip Korea's estimated economic growth of 4.6 percent in 2007.
The defense budget will increase by just over 10 percent, to 25 trillion won. The increase will be used mostly to by new weapons, the ministry said, in line with the government's effects to transform the armed forces into a slimmer but more lethal force.
Seoul has promised to add a total of 621 trillion won to defense spending through 2020.
Seoul Denies Human Trafficking Accusations
By Kang Shin-who
Seoul officials yesterday challenged the United States' portrayal of Korea as ``a frequent destination for trafficked women and children from the former Soviet Union and neighboring Asian nations.''
The reaction came after the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report on the status of human trafficking in the 137 countries it surveyed.
[Friction] [Manipulation] [Human rights]
South Korea to purchase reconnaissance planes
September 08, 2006 ? WASHINGTON ? The Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress it plans to sell RC-800 reconnaissance aircraft worth about $200 million to Seoul to boost South Korea's intelligence gathering capabilities. On Wednesday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency asked Congress to approve the sale.
"Korea needs the sustainment support to continue its tactical reconnaissance and signal intelligence (Sigint) operations," said a statement released by the agency, an arm of the Pentagon charged with arms exports.
The main contractors for the procurement project include Lockheed Martin Corp. and L-3 Communications. The U.S. Congress has 30 days to approve the sale, but a rejection is unlikely.
South Korean forces already employ RC-800 planes. The proposed purchase comes amid a deepening nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
[Intelligence] [Military balance]
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