ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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On History, Nationalism and a Northeast Asian Community
Upon my inauguration in February 2003, I laid out three major national policy goals: Establishment of participatory democracy, balanced development of society, and the opening of a new era for a peaceful and prosperous Northeast Asia. This third objective has served as the backbone of my government’s foreign policy – an attempt to build a Northeast Asian community through a new regional order of cooperation and integration that transcends old antagonisms and conflicts among countries in this region. I believe this policy is vital in ensuring our survival and enhancing our prosperity.
N. Korea Test-Fires Missiles as South Launches U.S.-Equipped Destroyer
By Hans Greimel
Saturday, May 26, 2007; Page A19
SEOUL, May 25 -- North Korea fired a salvo of short-range test missiles into its coastal waters Friday, flexing naval muscles as South Korea launched its most advanced destroyer, armed with a high-tech U.S. air defense system.
The moves came during a continued standoff over implementing communist North Korea's promise to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The divided Koreas are scheduled to hold high-level reconciliation talks in Seoul in several days.
Reaction to the missile launches was muted -- unlike the response in July to the North's test of a long-range missile capable of hitting Japan and perhaps parts of the United States, and in October to the North's underground detonation of a nuclear weapon.
South Korea said that Friday's missile test apparently was part of the North's annual military exercises and involved short-range missiles, adding that the firings were unlikely to derail next week's talks.
The 7,600-ton, KDX-III-class destroyer set sail Friday afternoon from the southern port city of Ulsan. Its Aegis combat system is able to detect and trace about 1,000 targets and then attack 20 of them at the same time, South Korea's navy said in a statement.
South Korea and Japanese analysts said the missile test was most likely a response to the South's new ship. "North Korea fired them as a warning to South Korea's deployment of its Aegis-equipped destroyer," said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a North Korea expert at Japan's Waseda University. "This shows North Korea, whose navy is rather small, is extremely alarmed."
N. Korean Ship Sails in South Waters
The Associated Press
Sunday, May 20, 2007; 3:14 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- A North Korean cargo ship arrived in South Korean waters for the first time in more than 50 years on Sunday, as commercial shipping services began to open up between the divided countries, officials said.
The 1,850-ton Kang Song Ho with a crew of 27 anchored near the southeastern port of Busan early Sunday for inspections by South Korean maritime authorities, said Kim Na-young, a coast guard official.
Google Korea to censor search results
An age-verification system will censor search results, at government urging.
Friday, May 18, 2007; 12:32 AM
Google Korea plans to introduce an age-verification system to its search engine later this year that will restrict adult-themed searches to those 19 years of age and older, it said Thursday.
Users will be asked to verify their age when searching for any of about 700 words in Korean judged to be adult and supplied to the portal by the Korean government, said Lois Kim [cq], a spokeswoman for the company in Seoul.
Users will have to enter their name and national resident registration number, which will be checked against a database to verify the user -- or at least the person whose data has been entered -- is old enough.
In response, the Korean government has discussed regulating certain aspects of online life and has even blocked access to some Web sites, such as those related to North Korea.
Study Finds 25 Countries Block Web Sites
By ANICK JESDANUN
The Associated Press
Friday, May 18, 2007; 12:46 AM
NEW YORK -- At least 25 countries around the world block Web sites for political, social or other reasons as governments seek to assert authority over a network meant to be borderless, according to a study out Friday
some countries, censorship was narrow. South Korea, for instance, tends to block only information about its neighboring rival, North Korea.
Yet researchers found no filtering at all in Russia, Israel or the Palestinian territories despite political conflicts there.
N.Korea Seeks Sea Border Talks at Military Conference
Two-star generals from South and North Korea met in Panmunjom on Tuesday to talk about security arrangements for trial runs of the reconnected cross-border Gyeongui and Donghae railway lines. But the meeting got off to a rocky start when the North Korean side insisted on discussing the two countries' western sea border, an issue which was not on the agenda.
North Korea demanded that the issue of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border that was drawn up after the Korean War, be included on the agenda of the military meeting. North Korea has insisted that the NLL is not the legitimate marine border in the West Sea, and a new border needs to be set. [NLL]
Roh Could Meet Kim Jong-il in July or August
Cheong Wa Dae is considering a second inter-Korean summit in the second half of the year, just so long as North Korea implements its initial obligations under a Feb. 13 denuclearization agreement. A government official on Tuesday said the office was "considering an idea where the inter-Korean relationship in general, including a summit, goes one step ahead of six-party talks or talks about a peace framework" for the Korean Peninsula. That would mean a reversal of the earlier position that inter-Korean rapprochement would follow the outcome of the multilateral talks.
The official said the best thing would be if North Korean leader Kim Jong-il comes to South Korea, returning former president Kim Dae-jung's historic Pyongyang visit in 2002. But he added that "neutral" areas like the North Korean border city of Kaesong or Mt. Kumgang would also make "a good venue." Pundits speculate that Seoul has in mind a meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il after foreign ministers from the six countries meet and the initial steps under the February agreement are implemented
Let the North Wind Blow by Kim Dae-joong
This year, the question whether there will be another inter-Korean summit before the presidential election is getting more attention. It is still too early to say whether the summit will be held. But it is certain that the Roh Moo-hyun administration and progressives in society are putting the top priority on making it happen. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il must have been toying with the idea of gratifying their desire, weighing possible gains and losses.
Unification Minister in a Hurry to Reward N.Korea
Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said Friday inter-Korean relations "could serve as the momentum for progress in the six-party talks." He added, "What's important is not which should come first between South-North relations and the six-party talks, but how efficiently goals can be reached." In other words, he believes aid must be provided to North Korea at a quicker pace than the communist country's denuclearization.
N.Koreans Lying About Time in S.Korea to Go to U.S.
An increasing number of North Koreans are allegedly trying to find their way into the U.S. or Europe by posing as recent defectors even though they have lived in South Korea with government support.
Bookstore hit with Nat'l Security Law
Police raided the offices of an internet book seller that had been selling the North Korean novel Ggot Paneun Cheonyeo ("The Flower Girl") and South Korean publications that circulated mostly underground in the South's universities during the 1980s, when pro-democracy campaigns prevailed across the nation against the dictatorship of then general-turned-president Chun Doo-hwan, and arrested the bookstore's chief executive on charges of violating the National Security Law.
The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency arrested the 52-year-old individual, who is only identified as a surname Kim, on May 1 and sought an arrest warrant against him on May 3 on charges of possessing and selling "publications advantageous to the enemy" under the notorious National Security Law. Police said Kim violated the National Security Law by selling the publications such as The Flower Girl and The Sea of People ("Minjungui Bada"), which hail North Korean regime and emphasize a social revolutionary ideology, via the Internet.
[National Security Law] [Human rights]
Seoul's point man on N. Korea vows to maintain ties with Pyongyang
South Korea will continue to improve its ties with North Korea despite the delayed shutdown of the North's nuclear reactor and any other obstacles that may be created along the way, Seoul's point man on the communist nation said Friday.
"I believe we cannot give up South-North relations under any circumstances and that we must never stop trying to create alternative solutions" to difficulties, Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung told a regular press briefing.
Easy, Dirty and Wasted Money for N.Korea
The Unification Ministry on Wednesday decided to offer W70 million to support a goodwill bicycle race from Pyongyang to Nampo, that includes tours to the Juche Tower in Pyongyang, climbing Mt. Myohyang and golf tours in the North Korean capital (US$1=W927). In December last year, one South Korean group supporting North Korea fabricated documents pledging 12,000 pushcarts to North Korea and received around W240 million from the Seoul government.
From 2004 until last year, the South Korean government indirectly supported a North Korean entity called the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee with around W26 billion in loans. In March, South Korea's Unification Ministry wasted W3.6 billion by rushing to contract a ship to deliver heavy oil to North Korea before the North had even started acting on an agreement to scrap its nuclear weapons program. Late last year, an Uri Party lawmaker who came back from his visit to the North boasted that he had promised to build pig farms there at the cost of billions of won.
High-profile defector wins passport
May 04, 2007 A prominent North Korean defector yesterday won a lawsuit against the Korean government allowing him to get a passport which had been refused, analysts said, due to fears that his criticism of the North might undermine inter-Korean relations.
Kim Dok-hong filed the suit against the Foreign Ministry in 2005 after he was denied a passport several times, starting in 2003.
The 68-year-old former senior official of the North's ruling Workers Party wants to visit the United States to speak about human rights conditions in the North. The government cited concerns about Kim's safety.
Ready to run
May 04, 2007
At Jejin Station on the east coast of South Korea, railroad officials yesterday checked a train to be used in the scheduled test of the restored inter-Korean railroads on May 17. In the pilot operation to reconnect the East Coast Line and the Gyeongui Line, trains from both sides will cross the demilitarized zone. North Korea has broken a promise to hold similar trial runs three times in the past [photo]
Kim Yong Nam Meets South Korean Delegation
Pyongyang, May 3 (KCNA) -- Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, met and had a talk with a delegation of the Northeast Asia Peace Committee of the Uri Party of south Korea led by Kim Hyok Gyu, a national assemblyman from the party, in a compatriotic atmosphere at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Thursday.
On hand were Jong Tok Gi, vice-chairman of the National Reconciliation Council, and officials concerned.
Roh Empowers 3 Confidants With North Korea Card'
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Rep. Kim Hyeong-joo of the pro-government Uri Party singled out Thursday three politicians who are believed to have been empowered by President Roh Moo-hyun to play the ``North Korea card.''
They include two former Prime Ministers Han Myeong-sook and Lee Hae-chan, along with Rep. Kim Hyuk-kyu of the Uri Party, the lawmaker said in an interview with Dong-A Ilbo newspaper.
N. Korea calls for general-level military talks
North Korea Wednesday proposed holding high-level military talks with South Korea next week to prepare for the agreed-upon test runs of reconnected cross-border railways, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
"North Korea has proposed general-level talks from May 8-10 at Tongilgak, a pavilion on the northern side of Panmunjom, in a telephone message signed by Army Lt. Gen. Kim Yong-chol," a ministry spokesman said.
More inter-Korean talks set today
May 02, 2007 South and North Korea are scheduled to talk about swapping raw materials and natural resources this week, the Unification Ministry said yesterday.
South Korea agreed last month to provide raw materials to the North to help it produce clothing, footwear and soap in June in return for natural resources.
To work out details for the project, the two sides will hold working-level negotiations in the North Korean border city of Kaesong for two days starting today.
Initially, South Korea agreed to offer raw materials to help the North's struggling light industry sector in 2005. In return, the North was to provide the South with minerals, such as zinc and magnesite, after mines were developed with South Korean investments guaranteed by Pyongyang.
But the economic accord was not implemented as North Korea cancelled the scheduled test runs of the cross-border railways in May 2006. The new test runs are scheduled again for May17.
Seoul Proposes Inter-Korean Military Talks
South Korea has proposed holding working-level inter-Korean military talks late this week to prepare for the test runs of relinked cross-border railroads on which the two sides agreed in Pyongyang on May 17, the Defense Ministry announced Monday.
We Could End Up at the Mercy of the U.S., China and Japan
The United States and Japan reaffirmed the strength of their alliance during a summit in Washington D.C. on Friday, the first meeting of their heads of government since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office. U.S. President George W. Bush said, "There was never a time when the U.S.-Japan alliance was stronger." The two leaders even wore badges that showed the flags of both countries and images of shaking hands. Some two weeks ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Japan, stressing "friendship" throughout his trip. Wen hardly ever mentioned Japan's wartime history.
These are all vivid efforts by the three big powers in their competition to create a new framework of restraint and cooperation and to ensure their individual benefits within that framework. The problem is that these efforts are taking place without Korea.
South Korea is stuck in the middle of the paradoxical political climate of Northeast Asia. Our economy has already become seriously dependent on China, but we must still lean on the U.S. alliance when it comes to security matters. On top of that, we are burdened with the tinder box known as the North Korean nuclear program. One wrong step and we could end up being at the disposal of the U.S., China and Japan.
Sunshine's architects criticize Roh's NK policy
Some of the key figures behind former president Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine policy regarding North Korea are speaking out against the current government of Roh Moo-hyun's approach to Pyongyang, saying the current government should move forward on relations with North Korea instead of, in their view, treating the relations as something secondary to the six party process and resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Their criticism has become increasingly public as complications over the North's money in Macao's Banco Delta Asia become prolonged.
Inter-Korean summit or Four nation summit
At a forum organized by the pro-government Uri Party in Gwangju on April 25, former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said, "It is not only undesirable but also unpractical that North Korea and the United States even take the lead in discussions on establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.''
"The two Koreas should build a consensus between themselves before there is a summit involving North Korea, South Korea, China, and the United States," he added.
North Koreans arrive for May Day event
April 30, 2007
A group of 60 North Korean officials and workers arrived in South Korea's southeastern city of Changwon yesterday to take part in a joint celebration of Labor Day. Led by Won Hyong-guk, a vice chairman of the North's General Federation of Trade Unions, the North Koreans arrived at Gimhae Airport just outside Busan on a direct flight from Pyongyang.
The visit is the first of its kind since the end of the Korean War. The delegation will participate in joint events to celebrate Labor Day tomorrow, May 1.
The North Koreans are also scheduled to visit places considered politically sensitive, such as a national cemetery in Masan dedicated to the people and activists who were killed in the 1960 democratic uprising that led to the fall of the Syngman Rhee government.
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