ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Threat Against Seoul Narrows Room for Engagement
It is with strong anger and despair that most South Koreans listened to North Korea’s warning to Seoul against joining international sanctions. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland threatened Thursday to take ``corresponding action’’ against the South if the latter ends up joining U.S.-led moves to sanction and stifle Pyongyang. ``The South should hold all responsibility and pay dearly for it,’’ the propaganda machine said. We are dumbfounded at the audacity of the evildoers.
'N.K. ignored maritime agreement 22 times'
A conservative party lawmaker
yesterday questioned the validity of the inter-Korean maritime agreement aimed at preventing the passage of vessels carrying weapons-related material, citing North Korea's failure to oblige by the pact.
A report by Grand National Party Rep. Kim Hyung-o showed yesterday that North Korean vessels ignored South Korean calls 22 times alone this year when passing though South Korean waters. The report was based on data gathered from the Korea Coast Guard.
He claimed that the case showed a lack of efficacy in the inter-Korean agreement to fully prevent the proliferation of North Korean weapons.
The coast guard, however, contends that the cited failures of correspondence were more of a technical problem.
With the U.S. urging a fuller participation from South Korea in the Proliferation Security Initiative, criticism from the conservative camp over the inter-Korean maritime arrangement is likely to continue.
The inter-Korean maritime agreement that went into effect in August last year states that vessels of each Korea must respond when receiving calls from the respective side's sentry posts.
Court agrees to detain 5 as spy inquiry continues
October 30, 2006 ? Prosecutors and intelligence officials continued over the weekend to describe details of an espionage investigation allegedly involving a Korean-American entrepreneur and an official of the left-wing Democratic Labor Party.
[National Security Law] [Human rights]
Korea taking steps to promote hallyu
October 17, 2006 ? With the number of Chinese fans of Korean pop culture rising every year despite concerns about the staying power of the exports, the Korean government has been coming up with several new plans in recent months to support the hallyu boom in China.
To promote Korea's traditional and pop culture to people living in the southeastern part of China, the Korean Tourism Organization is building a public relations office in Guangzhou. Dubbed "Korea Plaza," the center will be one of three new foreign offices the organization is establishing by 2010 in locations in Asia where more hallyu fans reside than anywhere else.
Missile Firing Exercise in S. Korea under Fire
Pyongyang, October 28 (KCNA) -- The south Korean air force conducted a missile Hawk firing exercise in an air-force firing range in Poryong, South Chungchong Province on Oct. 26, according to KBS of south Korea. The firing drill that day was reportedly observed by lawmakers belonging to the "National Defense Committee of the National Assembly."
The south Korean marine corps launched a joint landing exercise together with U.S. troops on Oct. 19 in the presence of "observers." And the south Korean army kicked off a "2006 homeland defence exercise," a large-scale military maneuver, throughout Kyonggi Province on October 25.
All this clearly indicates that the south Korean military war hawks are persisting in their saber rattling to attack the north in order to strain the situation on the Korean Peninsula, pursuant to the U.S. imperialists' evermore undisguised policy to stifle the DPRK, although all the fellow countrymen strongly desire peace.
Two More Arrested on Espionage Charges
By Park Chung-a
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the prosecution on Saturday arrested Choi Ki-young, vice secretary-general of the progressive Democratic Labor Party (DLP), and former student activist Lee Jin-gang, for allegedly contacting North Korean spies in violation of the National Security Law.
However, the arrested and their lawyers are strongly denying the accusations saying that although they had stayed in China they never met North Korean spies.
The DLP protested strongly the arrest of one of its vice secretaries-general, calling the incident ``clear political oppression.''
DLP Chairman Moon Sung-hyun accused the NIS of trying to take advantage of the current North Korean nuclear crisis and for depending on the controversial National Security Law, which is considered by many activists and politicians a remnant of previous authoritarian governments.
[Human rights] [National Security Law]
Security Law Arrests Increase
By Kim Tong-hyung
The number of people arrested for violating the National Security Law, a controversial anti-communist law that progressives want to abolish, rose for the first time in ten years, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
[Human rights] [National Security Law]
North Korean Defectors to Reach 10,000 Next Year
By Lee Jin-woo
There was a time when North Korean defectors were treated as heroes who deserted their impoverished communist state to find a new life in South Korea's capitalistic society.
South Korean primary schools had their children write essays after reading books on North Korean heroes like Yi Ung-pyong, who fled in his MIG-19 fighter jet to Seoul in 1983 and Kim Man-chul, a North Korean doctor who defected to South Korea with his family in 1987.
But the situation is now different for North Korean defectors, especially since the annual number of those refugees surpassed 1,000 a few years ago.
N. Korean Defector's Life in Seoul Ups and Downs
By Lee Jin-woo
Chon Chol-woo, a North Korean defector-turned businessman, poses for a photo in front of one of his restaurants near Hak-dong Station on subway line No. 7 in southern Seoul on Oct. 20.
/ Korea Times Photo by Lee Jin-woo
Many South Koreans in their 30s or older won't take too long to recognize Chon Chol-woo's face as his witty sense of humor and North Korean dialect made them laugh on various television programs in the 1990s. At a time when North Korean defectors were rare, he gave them a glimpse of the forbidden land across the heavily fortified inter-Korean border.
When it comes to the low employment rate of North Korean defectors, Chon, as an employer, said he has faced difficulty in hiring North Korean defectors despite the government subsidies for doing so.
Since 2000, the government has provided half the monthly salary, up to 700,000 won per month, for two years to those who hire North Korean defectors.
``Frankly, it's not easy to teach North Korean defectors who face great culture shock in South Korean society,'' he said. ``Both South Korean employers and North Korean defectors should make mutual efforts to understand each other at least for the first six months, but it isn't easy at all.''
Chon said many of North Korean defectors he has met have been depressed and lost confidence. He also said that the government's subsidies for North Korean defectors have undermined their motivation to overcome their difficult situation.
``North Korean defectors are put into situations similar to American Indians who live on reservations,'' He said. ``It's hard to expect them to be hardworking when they can make a living by getting government support and aid from local churches.''
Candidates Differ Over Nuclear North
By Park Song-wu
Presidential hopefuls are carefully presenting their opinions on Seoul's North Korea policy as it inevitably became one of the most critical campaign issues for next year's presidential election since Pyongyang's nuclear test early last month.
Each politician's overall view on the nuclear test is generally in sync with the respective parties.
Uri Suffers Political Fallout From Nuke Test
By Park Song-wu
As Pyongyang's nuclear test on Oct. 9 is considered one of the most depressing development for the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, its repercussions for South Korea's political affairs are expected to last until December 2007, when the presidential election takes place.
386ers 'Briefed Pyongyang on S.Korea's Internal Problems'
Five former student activists arrested on charges of spying for North Korea delivered at least 46 encrypted reports to the North containing highly confidential information about the ruling-party leadership, military and civic organizations, investigators said Sunday. Reports by the alleged spymaster of the group known as Ilsimhoe, Chang Min-ho (44), deal with presidential hopefuls of the opposition Grand National Party and the operation plans of North Korean spies here. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) suspects that North Korea is trying to influence the presidential election next year and is investigating what concrete instructions Pyongyang gave its spies here and its plans for next year.
[National Security Law]
Spy Scandal Shakes Labor Party
By Kim Rahn
The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) faces the greatest crisis ever following an allegation that the progressive party's former and incumbent key postholders were detained for working as North Korean spies.
The prosecution plans to request arrest warrants for current DLP Vice Secretary General Choi Ki-young and another man identified as Lee on charges of spying for the North and violating the National Security Law.
It arrested three others on Thursday _ former DLP member Lee Jung-hoon, 43, Korean-American businessman Chang Min-ho, 44, and former student activist Sohn Chong-mok, 42.
Chang allegedly visited North Korea three times since 1989 without government permission, joined its ruling Workers' Party and served as a North Korean mole in past years. Choi, Sohn and the former DLP member Lee joined Chang's March trip to China, where they met North Korean spies.
Investigators suspect they received instruction from the North's agents about DLP's management and agitation in anti-U.S. rallies in South Korea under their direction. The prosecution is questioning whether they actually carried out the instructions, that is, the spying.
[Human rights] [National Security Law] [Anti-Americanism] [Sovereignty]
Top Intelligence Chief Quits
By Ryu Jin
A full-scale reshuffle of President Roh Moo-hyun's foreign and security lineup has became inevitable as Kim Seung-kyu, chief of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), tendered his resignation, according to officials yesterday.
Sources said Yoon Kwang-ung, the outgoing defense minister, is likely to be picked as the new chief of the anti-espionage agency, while Song Min-soon, the top presidential security aide, is considered the most viable candidate for the foreign minister's position.
Song raised hackles in Washington last week by describing the U.S., a strong ally of South Korea, as a country which has staged the largest number of wars in history.
``The U.S. has probably been involved in the largest number of wars in the history of mankind,'' he was widely quoted as telling a forum. ``If we leave our fate in the hands of the U.S. just for the sake of falling in step with the international community, it would amount to giving up our own destiny.''
Washington called for an official explanation for those remarks and Song clarified that he was just stressing that, in that regard, it is important to harmonize North Korea policies of the allied powers, according to officials
Korea University Plans to Build New Campus
By Kang Shin-who
Korea University plans to establish a new campus in a Multifunctional Administrative City (MACC), which will be located in Yongi-Kongju in South Chungchong Province.
The school unveiled its plans last year to set up a new international campus in the region to propel its global education program.
Lee Defends N. Korea Policy
By Kim Sue-young
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok yesterday defended Seoul's engagement policy toward North Korea, as disputes have intensified between the liberal and conservative forces here.
In a radio interview, the outgoing minister criticized Rep. Kim Yong-kap of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), well known for his ultraconservative character and ``red baiting'' remarks, for his condemnation of the government policy.
Seoul Develops 1,000-KM Cruise Missile
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea has developed a cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers to counter North Korea's short- and medium-range missiles, a government source said yesterday.
The 1,000-kilometer range means the missile is able to hit strategic targets, including missile bases and nuclear weapons facilities entrenched deep in mountainous areas in the communist country. It is also capable of reaching as far as Beijing and Tokyo.
``The military has conducted a successful test of the missile recently,'' the source said on condition of anonymity.
He said the missile, aided by the Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) system, hit targets with a margin of error of plus or minus five meters during tests.
The missile will be part of the arsenal of the Navy's advanced vessels, including the 7,000-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers that will be built from 2008, the source said, adding the Defense Ministry and the state-run Agency for Defense Development are now developing cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers.
[Military balance] [Double standards]
Choi's Funeral Same Day as Park Chung-Hee Death
By Kim Rahn
This is why history is full of irony. Former President Choi Kyu-hah's funeral was held yesterday, Oct. 26, the same date as some unforgettable incidents in modern Korean history.
Choi, who was prime minister during the Park Chung-hee regime, was inaugurated as president in December 1979. His predecessor, Park, was assassinated on Oct. 26, 1979.
He was in the middle of the politically turbulent period surrounding Park's death and the military coup by Army Major Gen. Chun Doo-hwan. Choi had to step down after eight months as president, handing leadership to his successor, Chun, and keeping mum about the coup until his own death.
On the same day in the same year, the construction of Sapkyochon sea wall in South Chungchong Province was completed. Former President Park took part in the completion ceremony during the day; he was shot dead in the evening.
On Oct. 26, 1905, independence fighter Ahn Joong-geun assassinated Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese governor-general of Korea, who played a key role in Japan's annexation of the peninsula. Ahn was executed in China in 1910.
Conservatives Slam Roh for Pro-Pyongyang Policies
By Jung Sung-ki
A group of 200 conservative figures from various walks of life yesterday called on the government to actively sanction North Korea for its nuclear test on Oct. 9, in close cooperation with the international community.
The group, named the National Crisis Council of Korea (NCCK), issued its third statement criticizing the Roh Moo-hyun government for pursuing lukewarm policies toward the Stalinist regime.
Businessman 'Ran N.Korean Spies for 13 Years'
The Korean-American businessman Chang Min-ho, who is accused of spying for North Korea, was a resident spymaster for the communist country for 13 years, investigators say. They say Chang was recruited by the North Korea's Liaison Department, which is in charge of espionage in the South under the Workers Party, in September 1993.
The National Intelligence Service and prosecutors said Chang at the orders of the department set up an underground network of veteran pro-democracy student activists with records of violating the National Security Law. They allegedly included a former member of the opposition Democratic Labor Party's central committee, Lee Jung-hun, businessman Sohn Jung-mok, DLP vice secretary general Choi Ki-young, and another man identified by his surname Lee, all of whom are in custody.
[Human rights] [National Security Law] [Disinformation]
S.Korea Won't Stop and Search N.Korean Ships
South Korea will not intercept North Korean ships around the peninsula under UN Security Council sanctions against the renegade country, Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan indicated Friday.
At a National Assembly audit of the Foreign Ministry, the vice minister, acting for Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, said, "We are not fully taking part in the Proliferation Security Initiative around the Korean Peninsula because there is a high possibility of armed clashes if the PSI is carried out." That suggests even if Seoul plays a greater part in the PSI, it will not participate in actual inspections.
ROK amphibious landings
Korean marines go ashore in the vicinity of Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province in their first solo landing drills at division level on Friday, backed up by the country's Army, Air Force and Navy./Yonhap
Solo landing drill
October 28, 2006 ?
Troops hit the beach in an amphibious landing drill yesterday near Pohang, North Gyeongsang province. Military officials said the first solo exercise on this scale involved 8,000 soldiers and was part of preparations for Seoul's reacquisition of wartime military control of its troops. By Kim Tae-sung
[Military balance] [Double standards] [Sovereignty]
Spy chief quits, 4th vacancy in security lineup
October 28, 2006 ? Kim Seung-kyu, the head of the National Intelligence Service, handed in his resignation Thursday after 15 months at his post, the agency's publicity office announced yesterday.
The chief spy resigned to avoid "being a burden to the president in shaping a new security and diplomacy cabinet," the agency statement said.
Yoon Tae-young, President Roh Moo-hyun's spokesman, suggested that the resignation, the third evidently linked to criticism of the administration's North Korea policies, would be accepted quickly.
Korean troops go it alone in an amphibious drill
October 28, 2006 ? POHANG, North Gyeongsang - The South Korean military conducted its first large amphibious solo exercise yesterday, a part of its preparations for Seoul's reacquisition of wartime military control of its troops.
The Defense Ministry said the exercise involved about 8,000 troops, 20 naval ships and 40 helicopters. The scenario for the exercise was a landing and support operation to establish a beachhead. One civilian ship, used as a troop transport, was also used to study the possibility of using such ships in military operations.
The single-division drill was viewed by several dozen reporters and senior officers from all branches of the Korean military.
The drill was another in a series of reactions by Seoul to recent saber-rattling by North Korea, in addition to showing its ability to conduct wartime operations without U.S. military support. Such solo exercises in the past have involved only battalion-size units, roughly 1,000 men.
In recent weeks, Seoul has also announced successful tests of two new types of cruise missiles, the first with a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles) and the next with double that range. The Agency for Defense Development has also said it is working on a cruise missile with a range of 1,500 kilometers.
[Military balance] [Double standards]
Assembly manages to condemn Pyongyang
October 13, 2006 ? The National Assembly yesterday managed to pass a resolution condemning North Korea's announced nuclear test, but not until after several delays and rounds of bickering between the two major parties in the legislature.
The final resolution "strongly deplores" the "unpardonable" nuclear test, urges North Korea to "abandon nuclear weapons and all related programs" and calls on Pyongyang to return to the stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea renounced the treaty in 2003 and expelled international monitors at its nuclear site in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang.
South Korean troops told to be ready
October 13, 2006 ? In a message to the armed forces, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung gave orders yesterday to be ready around the clock to repel any possible threat and provocation from North Korea, the Defense Ministry said.
"The ministry has assurances that the United States is committed to its nuclear umbrella ... and the two countries are working closely to share intelligence," the message said.
Right after North Korea's reported nuclear weapon test on Monday, South Korea sent more troops to land and sea borders and activated task forces for crisis management.
But it is maintaining its usual surveillance and defense levels. The troops are currently at the Watchcon 3 surveillance status and Defcon 4 defense readiness status.
Governing Party Opposes Blockade of NK Ships
By Park Song-wu
The governing Uri Party yesterday strongly criticized the government for its apparent readiness to increase Seoul's role in a U.S.-led international scheme to interdict suspicious arms shipments, targeting rogue states like North Korea.
Calling it a ``dangerous idea,'' Rep. Kim Geun-tae, chairman of the liberal party, claimed that Seoul should not fully join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which was launched in May 2003 by Washington, as it could trigger a full-scale armed conflict at sea.
Late last year, Pyongyang also branded the PSI a ``fuse'' that invites ``a fire cloud of war.''
S. Koreans Seem Unfazed by Threat
By Park Chung-a
Trucks carrying 50,000 briquettes from a South Korean civilian relief group Love Call cross into North Korea at the Tonghae highway transit office in Kosong, Kangwon Province, Thursday. /Yonhap
Despite North Korea's claimed nuclear test on Monday, which clouds national security, the South Korean public has shown little panic.
Although the stock market saw a sharp fall on the first day, it stabilized over the following three days. This attitude is dramatically different from that during the nuclear crisis in 1994, when people indulged in panic buying.
Lee Chol-ki, an international relations professor of Dongguk University, considers the public attitude mature and positive. ``In contrast to attitudes during the Cold War era, South Koreans have become more objective and balanced in their views on North Korea's military situation and the security of the Korean Peninsula,'' Lee said. ``The change is largely due to the South Korean government's consistent engagement policy toward the North.''
Comments on the October 25 Statement
Comments on the October 25 Statement by Spokesperson of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland(October 26, 2006)
p061026.pdf , p061026.doc
As the South Korean government has already declared, North Korea’s nuclear test is a serious threat to the stability and peace in Northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula. It goes against the expectations of the international community, which longs for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and wants peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue through dialogue.
Roh: Threats North cites are 'exaggerated'
October 12, 2006 ? Pyongyang's claim that it needs nuclear weapons to counter the threats from the United States is off the mark, President Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday afternoon, according to the Blue House spokesman, Yoon Tae-young.
"From our perspective, the security threats that North Korea claims to face do not exist or are exceedingly exaggerated," Mr. Roh said in a meeting with National Unification Advisory Council members at the Blue House.
When it pledged on Oct. 3 to conduct a nuclear test, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency added that "our nuclear weapon thoroughly aims to confront the threat of invasion by the United States." The agency announced six days later, on Monday, that North Korea had conducted a test, causing Mr. Roh to say he might rethink the administration's conciliatory policy toward the North.
Mr. Roh's comments yesterday continued to reflect a new and notably different stance toward the communist state, this time in his thinking about its nuclear weapons. In 2004 in Los Angeles, for example, Mr. Roh said North Korea "has a point" in saying it needed nuclear weapons for self-defense.
Let the Sunshine Policy set
It is difficult to understand why former president Kim Dae-jung is propagandizing his Sunshine Policy following North Korea's nuclear weapons test. He asked President Roh Moo-hyun not to give up or adjust the Sunshine Policy in a Blue House meeting on Tuesday. In addition, he made a speech for the Sunshine Policy at Chonnam National University yesterday. The Sunshine Policy might have been a useful North Korea policy when Mr. Kim was in office. But now that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, it has become difficult for South Korea to carry out the policy. Still, Mr. Kim is persisting on the policy, causing confusion and disruption among South Koreans.
"North Korea has never said it would develop nuclear weapons because of South Korea's Sunshine Policy. It said that it was developing nuclear weapons as a last resort to survive, because the United States was hard on the country," Mr. Kim said. He also said the North Korea nuclear issue deteriorated because diplomatic efforts between Pyongyang and Washington failed, though inter-Korean relations were successful. His remark can be interpreted as saying it is the United States that causes trouble and North Korea's nuclear weapons development is an inevitable choice to survive.
Seoul Moves to Block Passage of NK Ships
By Kim Yon-se
South Korea is preparing a contingency plan to ban North Korean ships from plying the South's territorial waters if they are contaminated by radiation from a nuclear test it conducted on Monday the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said yesterday. It added that it was consulting with the Ministry of Unification on the plan.
It is speculated that this preparatory step is being taken ahead of a planned U.N. sanctions or a U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) operation aimed at interdicting Pyongyang's suspected transport of banned materials through sea lanes
Conservatives Back UN Sanctions
By Jung Sung-ki
Former lawmaker Kim Dong-gill speaks during a meeting of leaders of conservative groups at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul, Wednesday. About 100 conservative figures issued a statement denouncing North Korea's proclaimed nuclear weapon test on Monday. /Yonhap
A group of 100 conservative 0figures from all walks of life yesterday denounced North Korea's proclaimed nuclear test on Monday and called for tougher sanctions on the communist state.
The group, named National Crisis Council led by former Seoul Mayor Kim Sang-hyun, urged the Roh Moo-hyun administration to stop all inter-Korean businesses such as the Mt. Kumgang tourism project, and actively participate in U.N.-led sanctions against the North.
``We ardently welcome the U.N.'s sanction against North Korea. All Korean people who love freedom give all our support to the policies of the U.S. and Japanese governments in trying to prevent the North's possession of nuclear arms at all costs,'' said a statement issued by the group.
N. Korea Overstating Security Threats: Roh
By Ryu Jin
President Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday that North Korea's claim of security threats from the United States, which it often cites to defend its pursuit of a nuclear deterrent, is either unsubstantial or quite exaggerated
Civic groups of conservatives, top, and pro-North Korean activists, above, held separate rallies and news conferences yesterday at the same time in central Seoul, reacting to news of the North's possible nuclear test on Monday. While 40 conservatives advocated strong sanctions against North Korea, 50 activists urged the United States to stop imposing sanctions against the North and instead have dialogue and negotiation. By Kim Hyung-soo
[photo][SK attitude NK]
Seoul Opposes Military Action Against North
By Park Song-wu
Seoul will not support the U.N. Security Council's (UNSC) move to adopt a resolution that includes a threat of military action against North Korea for its nuclear test, Prime Minister Han Myung-sook said in Seoul on Tuesday.
Her remarks came at an interpellation session in the National Assembly as the council is currently drafting a resolution that is expected to invoke the U.N. Charter's sensitive Chapter 7.
``We must oppose Article 42 (of Chapter 7) to be quoted in the resolution as it is very sensitive and may inflict damage (on the Korean Peninsula),'' Han told lawmakers.
Article 42 allows the use of air, sea, or land forces. Such action can include demonstrations, a blockade, and other operations by the forces of U.N. member states.
Seoul has opposed making an ``umbrella reference'' to the chapter, saying it could open the door for putting the Korean Peninsula in danger of military conflict. Instead, the government wants to specify which article in the chapter will be quoted in the resolution.
[Friction] [Military option]
S. Korean Army Commits Grave Military Provocation
Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) -- The south Korean army committed a grave military provocation in a forefront area on Oct. 7, according to a military source. At around 12:30 that day south Korean troops entrenched at the MP post near Marker of the Military Demarcation Line No. 0815 in the central sector of the front fired at least 60 12.7 mm caliber machine-gun bullets at servicemen of the Korean People's Army on a routine military duty in the area of the DPRK on the opposite side.
This reckless military provocation perpetrated in broad daylight seriously threatened the lives of KPA servicemen.
This is a blatant challenge to the DPRK and an unpardonable military provocation against it.
This incident did not develop into a military conflict between both sides thanks to the KPA's exercise of high degree of patience and self-restraint.
Shots Fired Along Tense Korean Border
Sunday October 8, 2006 1:31 AM
AP Photo SEL102
By HANS GREIMEL
Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Tensions mounted over North Korea's threat to test its first atomic bomb, with shots ringing out Saturday along the border with South Korea and Japan warning of harsh sanctions if Pyongyang goes nuclear
It was unclear whether the North Korean advance was intended as a provocation, or was an attempt to go fishing at a nearby stream, an official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on condition of anonymity, citing official policy. No one was hurt, and the North Koreans retreated.
Make Lemonade Out of Lemons: Invite North Korea to Join Japan/East Sea Survey
by Mark J. Valencia
October 5th, 2006
Mark J. Valencia, maritime policy analyst and Nautilus Institute Senior Fellow, writes, “The joint survey could relieve tension and even be a step towards joint development of resources such as fish, gas and minerals thought to be situated in the disputed area. North Korea should not be excluded from such a cooperative effort and any eventual joint development arrangement. Indeed, rather than ignore North Korea’s claims and concerns and thereby further isolate and antagonize it, the two should invite it to join the survey.”
Illegally Outsourced and Sacked for Demanding Justice! - Support the Union at Marriott's Renaissance Seoul Hotel
Posted to the IUF website on 03-Oct-2006
A determined group of hotel workers in Korea - 13 women and 2 men - are waging a critical battle against outsourcing. Since January 1 this year, members of the Renaissance Labour Union, a member of the IUF-affiliated Korean Federation of Service Workers' Unions (KFSU), have been picketing the Renaissance Hotel in Seoul every day in support of their demand to be reinstated as direct employees of the hotel. The workers - most of whom had worked for the Renaissance Hotel as housekeeping staff since the establishment opened in 1988 - were transferred to a phoney "independent" service company 5 years ago in an operation which the government has determined was illegal but has so far refused to take action against.
[Human rights] [Double standards]
'Walk 2 Hours After 1 Bottle of Soju'
By Park Chung-a
Pocket books that identify exact calories and nutrients of 93 kinds of foods that Koreans eat most frequently will be distributed to people for free, the Ministry of Health and Welfare recently said.
The pocket books, aimed at preventing people from becoming fat by having a balanced diet, have been written following a nationwide survey on Koreans' eating habits conducted in 2001. A total of 400,000 copies of the book will be given to people across the nation
According to the health pocket book, a two-hour walk is recommended to burn off the 540 kcal gained by drinking one bottle of soju.
As soju is usually accompanied by appetizers, one should do even more exercise in order not to become fat.
Parody Sites Anger Government Agencies
By Bae Ji-sook
The Ministry of Male and Family (http://norway.goalibaba.com), a parody site of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF), shut down on Sept. 25 with the organizer of the Web site leaving an apology on the memo board.
The MOGEF asked the Ministry of Information and Communication to find the founder of the site. The ministry brought him to the government complex in Sechongno, Seoul and told him to shut down the Web site. A ministry official said that it gave a ``relatively light'' punishment to the founder, a 20-year-old man studying for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).
Military talks break off after 2 hours of rancor
October 03, 2006 ? Military officers from South and North Korea met briefly on Monday for the first time since the communist country conducted missile tests in July, but they failed to find a way to put stalled inter-Korean relations back on track, South Korean officials said.
"No agreement was made today. But both sides will review the demands from the other," said Army Colonel Moon Sung-mook, chief of the three-member South Korean delegation to the talks. Colonel Moon briefed Unification Ministry officials on the outcome of the talks before holding a press briefing at the Defense Ministry.
During the two-hour talks at Tongilgak, the North Korean administrative building inside the truce village of Panmunjeom on the inter-Korean border, Pak Ki-yong, the North's chief delegate, demanded a halt to anti-communist propaganda activities by conservative South Korean civic and religious groups, Colonel Moon said.
Colonel Pak argued that the activities violated an inter-Korean military agreement made in 2004 under which they agreed to stop issuing propaganda via publications, broadcasting or leaflets along the demilitarized zone.
Upper 1% Own 57% of Land
By Kim Tong-hyung
The wealthiest 1 percent of Koreans, about 500,000 people, controlled about 57 percent of privately owned land at the end of last year, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said yesterday.
According to the ministry, the richest one million Korean taxpayers, or 2.1 percent of the total population, owned more than 35,000 square kilometers of land, which is about 72 percent of the country's individual properties measured at 56,457 square kilometers.
The latest data disclosed by the government reflects a growing inequality in land ownership, already considered among the clearest indicators of the growing gulf between the country's rich and poor.
North Hits South Korea’s Conservatives
By Jung Sung-ki
North Korea Monday protested what it called anti-communist propaganda activities by conservative South Korean civic groups.
During working-level military talks between the two Koreas, Lt. Col. Pak Ki-yong, who led North Korea's three-member delegation, argued that some civic and religious groups in the South violated a 2004 inter-Korean military agreement that bans propaganda activities via publication, broadcasting or hand-out leaflets along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), according to officials of the Defense Ministry.
Official: Seoul is planning air defense upgrade
October 02, 2006 ? Seoul is looking to buy second-hand Patriot missiles from Germany and ground control equipment from the United States in order to strengthen its air defense capability, an official with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said over the weekend.
Pursued for the Air Force, the military intends to buy 48 Patriot-2 missiles by 2008 and spend 1.1 trillion won ($1.16 billion), said the official, who declined to give his name. South Korea hopes to employ a battalion-sized missile unit.
Park Geun-hye announces bid for presidency
In Germany, declares she will seek GNP nomination
October 02, 2006 ? FRANKFURT ? Park Geun-hye chose an unlikely place to announce her long-expected run for president: foreign soil.
The former chairwoman of the Grand National Party officially said on Saturday (Germany time) that she will run in the primary for president.
"I became chairwoman of the party in 2004 when the party was in crisis and I accomplished about 80 percent of the pledges that I made regarding the party's reform," Ms. Park said. "However, because the presidential administration did not belong to our party, many of my policies on the country's economy, peace, welfare and education did not work out as well as I planned. By winning the presidential election, I want to make the country become an advanced, competitive country where people can live comfortably."
Ms. Park has been overseas since Sept. 23, visiting Belgium and Germany. She met on Thursday with Angela Merkel, Germany's first female chancellor.
Ms. Park, the daughter of former president Park Chung Hee, remained confident while peppered by reporters with questions for an hour.
Koreas to Resume Military Talks Today
South and North Korea will hold working-level military talks today, the first meeting between the two sides since the North test-fired missiles in early July, government officials said yesterday.
Pyongyang proposed the talks via telephone and Seoul accepted, the Defense Ministry said.
The talks will start at 10 a.m. at the Tongil-gak
Roh Pledges Deterrence on Peninsula by 2010s
By Park Song-wu
President Roh Moo-hyun pledged on Sunday to equip the country's armed forces with independent defense capability, enabling them to play a leading role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula by the early 2010s.
In his speech to mark the 58th Armed Forces Day, Roh also said the government will continue to raise the arms budget to empower South Korean troops to serve for the stabilization of the ``peace structure'' in Northeast Asia.
Korea to Deploy Patriot Missiles by 2008
South Korea plans to purchase a surface-to-air missile system from its U.S. manufacturer for deployment by as early as 2008, the Yonhap News Agency reported Saturday, quoting officials of the two countries.
In a Washington dispatch, Yonhap said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that the U.S. manufacturer, Raytheon, has decided to sell a Patriot missile system worth about $1.5 billion to South Korea.
Local Governments Accused of Overspending on English Villages
By Park Chung-a
Concerns are rising over local governments' spending on creating foreign language immersion villages, amid growing debate over foreign language education.
Other than Seoul, Kyonggi Province and Inchon, which already have English villages, Pusan, Taegu and Taejon are also planning English-language villages.
Not only cities but also small districts are following the trend. Currently, more than 30 local governments have announced or are considering plans for building foreign language immersion villages.
Since a large number of local government leaders made public pledges for establishing such villages during campaigns for the May 31 local elections, the boom is expected to expand even further.
Military to Become Smaller but Stronger Than Ever
By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean military has undergone significant development for more than half a century.
Under a 15-year defense reform plan announced last year, the military is set to be transformed into a "smaller but stronger" fit for future scientific warfare. The ROK military is likely to exercise independent command in about three to five years through the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. military.
The Defense Reform 2020 calls for introducing high-tech weapons systems such as airborne early warning and control aircraft, 7,000 ton-class Aegis-equipped destroyers, next-generation combat aircraft and satelliteguided missiles in stages.
The number of troops will be reduced to 500,000 from the current 690,000.
Two Koreas Meet for Snap Military Talks
Mid-ranking military officers from South and North Korea will meet for talks on Monday, the first official meeting between the two sides after North Korea's missile tests on July 5. The meeting at 10 a.m. at the Tongil-gak Pavilion on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom will also be the first military talks in five month, since senior brass met in May.
Park Proposes N-E Asia Bank to Help North
By Ryu Jin
Park Geun-hye, one of the potential candidates for the 2007 presidential race, proposed on Thursday that a regional development bank be set up to help North Korea revive its economy if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear ambitions.
While visiting Germany, she also expressed hopes that the current six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program could be developed into a multilateral security forum for the Northeast Asian region.
``Countries in the region and international organizations need to push for a regional bank if North Korea abandons its weapons of mass destruction including its nuclear program,'' she said in her speech at the Adenauer Foundation in Berlin.
North Calls Missile 'Provocation'
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ North Korea on Friday denounced South Korea for developing a new cruise missile, calling it a ``dangerous arms buildup'' that could hurt inter-Korean relations and bring nuclear warfare on the Korean Peninsula.
Chosun Honorary Chairman Suffers Hate Attack
Chosun Ilbo honorary chairman Bang Woo-young (78) was attacked by two men in broad daylight on his way home from the family graveyard in Uijeongbu. After an event commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the death of former Chosun Ilbo president Bang Eung-mo on Friday, his car stopped to enter a two-lane road ahead and two men in their 20s approached it and smashed the rear window with bricks. Despite being made of thick tempered glass, the window shattered. Bang and his wife, who was with him in the car, suffered no serious injuries.
Investigators look at the car of Chosun Ilbo honorary chairman Bang Woo-young after unidentified assailants lobbed a brick through the rear window in what looked like a carefully planned attack on Friday.
A brick lobbed through the rear window of Chosun Ilbo honorary chairman Bang Woo-young's car in what looked like a carefully planned attack on Friday. The red lettering on the wrapping reads 'enemy' and the black 'Chosun Ilbo.'
The bricks were wrapped in white paper with lettering such as "my condolences" (in red), "of this nation's" (in black), "enemy" (in red) and "the Chosun Ilbo" and plastic-wrapped. Bang's driver chased after the men right after the attack, but the two men ran into a nearby apartment building and escaped over a 3-m wall.
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