ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Dog's Life in Korea
By Jon Huer
Korea Times Columnist
Koreans are often targets of derision and criticism among animal lovers for eating dogs. And, as summer approaches, there is no way an honest observation on Korean culture can leave out the perennial dog eating controversy.
Now, an opposite phenomenon is spreading in Korea: There's a wild race in Korea to see who can treat dogs best. Pet shops are springing up all over the country and the demand for highly priced pet dogs is skyrocketing.
It's fashionable for young women to carry the dogs into restaurants, trains, buses, or subways, as if they are humans, snugly settled in their owners' coat pockets or bags.
Dogs face several extreme fates here. Some of them are eaten, some of them are treated like human babies, and some are neither humanized nor eaten, but abused beyond imagination. While some Koreans eat dog stew (boshintang), another group of Koreans cannot do enough for their dogs. There's a pet dog rage in Korea, which is about as wildly popular as boshintang.
Chile, France Locked in Wine War Here
By Kim Tong-hyung
Chilean wines have played the role of regent in the absence of a French king. Montes Alpha or 1865 are tantalizing taste buds of Koreans not just for their taste.
However, with an impending free trade accord between Korea and the European Union expected to trim the prices of ``Old World'' wines on local shelves, the French are gearing to fight back against their bulky ``New World'' foes, including the Americans and Australians.
Whatever the outcome of this renewed wine battle, the winners are likely to be Korean customers, who have grown tired of paying decent money for what are often generic and watery drinks.
French wine had enjoyed more than a decade of supremacy here until last year, when Chilean wine topped sales, forcing the first change in the No.1 spot since 1993.
Free Trade to Stir Up Wine Competition
Competition among global wine brands in Korea is expected to be stirred up by free trade. Korea and the EU agreed this week that they would try to get a free trade deal signed next week at the G20 meeting in London. The EU, especially France, is the biggest wine exporter to Korea.
Korea agreed it would immediately eliminate a 15-percent tax on European wine if the FTA with its second biggest trading partner is ratified. That would add to the FTA with Chile, which went into effect in 2004 and will allow Chilean wine to land in Korea duty-free beginning next month.
A tax on wine from the United States would be immediately removed if Korea's FTA with that country is ever ratified. Experts say the abolition of tax on foreign wine will ignite a price war as it will lower the costs of wine by 10 to 20 percent on average.
Commemorating Reverend Mun Ik-hwan’s reconciliation efforts
Chung Kyung-mo, Journalist in Japan
It was around 10 a.m. on March 25, 1989, when Reverend Mun Ik-hwan and I boarded a special plane waiting for us in Beijing, guided by Chu Chang-jun, then the North Korean Ambassador. Thanks to our discreet actions, neither the Korean Embassy in Tokyo nor even Chongryon (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) central headquarters got wind of it; We were able to depart safely for Pyongyang and we breathed a sign of relief. Once on board, a crew member immediately came over to let us know that a group of North Korean and foreigners were waiting for our party at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, and inquired if we could prepare a statement to deliver upon our arrival.
We had the one and a half hours of flight time between Beijing and Pyongyang to draft an outline, and that responsibility naturally fell on me, as I was serving as Rev. Mun’s secretary. Why was Rev. Mun heading to Pyongyang? Wasn’t he moving closer every second to Golgotha, the site where Jesus was crucified, to carry the cross in resolving the division that imprisoned the Korean people?
March 31 is the 20th anniversary of South Korean reunification activist Rev. Mun Ik Hwan’s first visit to North Korea. Rev. Mun visited Pyongyang publicly for the first time and announced a joint statement with Kim Il-sung, at that time chairman of North Korea on April 2. After that visit, he was arrested by the South Korean government, however he became a symbol of reunification.
Amnesty Condemns Arrest of YTN Union Leader
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) called on the South Korean government to immediately release the union leader of YTN as a walkout by hundreds of unionized employees at the cable news channel entered its third day Wednesday, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Korea Develops Homemade Stealth Technology
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea has developed five types of indigenous radar-evading stealth materials that will be applicable for its warship and aircraft programs beginning this year, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) said Tuesday.
According to the ADD, the homemade stealth technology has satisfied about 70 percent of operational requirements of the country's military.
``The indigenous stealth technology has been proven quite effective,'' Lee Hyo-jong, chief researcher of the ADD, told reporters, adding the development began in 1999 with an investment of some 9.1 billion won ($6 million).
Irony of Inter-Korean Relations
By Tong Kim
With a publicly scheduled satellite launch and erratic, unilateral control of access to the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, in addition to intensifying vilification of the South Korea government, North Korea is upping the ante for the South. Yet no breakthrough is in sight to the deadlock of the inter-Korean relations that have reached a dangerous point.
Militarism and Anti-militarism in South Korea: “Militarized Masculinity” and the Conscientious Objector Movement.
Vladimir Tikhonov (Pak Noja)
Korea – “a national defense/conscription state"
It is a well-known fact that warfare and obligatory military service system long played decisive role in the formation of modern nation-states, first in Europe and later elsewhere in the world. While externally the military prowess of a given state was (and still is) decisive for defining its place in a competitive international system explicitly based upon an equilibrium of military force and hegemonic interstate relations , internally conscription-based national armies formerly served as main pillars of the state, linking conscript-age able-bodied males with the nationalist ethos  and acculturating them to views and practices often referred to as “militarized masculinity culture”.
Time to Think About N.Korea After Kim Jong-il
Many people were surprised when they saw a photograph of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il touring a swimming pool at Kim Il Sung University, which was published Friday by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency. The image of Kim in the photo raised questions, not only about the health of the North Korean leader but also about the need to be prepared for the future of the Korean Peninsula after he dies.
Kim is 67 this year.
South and North Korea paly a reverse chicken game on Gaeseong Complex
Analysis] The two Korea are trying to pass all responsibility of the possible colsure of the Complex to the other side
North Korea restored the hotline between military authorities in North and South Korea on Saturday, after having shut it down in protest of the “Key Resolve” joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States March 9-20. It then used the hotline to say it was allowing the free travel of South Korean personnel to and from Gaeseong Industrial Complex, returning travel between Gaeseong and the South to normalcy after various disruptions during the exercises.
[US joint military]
N.Korea to Reconnect Military Phone Line with South
North Korea has re-established a key military phone line with South Korea, after severing it nearly two weeks ago. That makes it easier for the two sides to conduct simple communications. However, tensions remain high prior to the North's promised missile launch.
South Korean officials say North Korea informed them Friday of plans to reconnect a military phone line at the heavily armed border between the two countries. The North severed the line earlier this month in protest of two weeks of annual military drills between South Korea and the United States. The drills wrapped up Friday, and the inter-Korean phone lines are expected to be operational by Saturday. The lack of a phone line made it difficult to coordinate limited border crossings by South Koreans who manage a joint North-South industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong.
[Joint US military]
How has the Lee administration contributed to rising tensions on the peninsula?
Lee administration is considering actions that could aggravate the North and further diminish its own influence in regional relations
The administration of President Lee Myung-bak continues to take actions that risk exacerbating already serious tensions between North and South Korea. It is openly participating as a co-sponsor in the United Nations’ human rights resolution on North Korea, something that will invariably infuriate the Northerners, and is openly considering full participation in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative.
Speaking to reporters at the Central Government Complex in Seoul’s Doryeom-dong, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Friday that “if North Korea fires a missile, that brings up the issue of non-proliferation and could lead us to consider participating in the PSI.”
Defense Ministry links disciplinary actions to deteriorating inter-Korean relations
Dismissal of military judicial officers for filing petitions against ‘subversive books’ criticized by GNP lawmaker as unjustifiable
» The Defence Ministry posted an announcement on its web site March 20 saying “what is most needed to maintain a perfect military readiness posture is strict military discipline and the firm establishment of a clear chain of command,” as justification for its recent dismissal of two military judicial officers who filed petitions against the ministry’s classification of a list of books as “subversive.”
In connection with the dismissal of military judicial officers who submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court regarding the designation of “subversive books,” a Ministry of National Defense representative explained Friday that severe disciplinary actions were “inevitable, because of a security crisis that is becoming more serious each day recently.” This is being seen by some as an attempt to use the deteriorating state of inter-Korean relations, as seen in North Korea’s rocket launch activity and its closure of passage to and from the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex, to counter objections in the legal world and civic society that soldiers are being deprived of their Constitutional right to jurisdiction claims.
[Human rights] [Role of ROK military]
Spy Copter Operations Hit Obstacle
By Jung Sung-ki
Operation of South Korean Army's surveillance helicopters has hit a snag as a U.S. firm supplying spare parts has gone bankrupt, an Army source said Friday.
According to the source, only two of the 13 Bo-105 helicopters operated by the Army are able to fly surveillance missions at the moment because the company producing the target acquisition and designation system (TADS) filed for bankruptcy.
TADS is the combined sensor and targeting unit fitted to the AH-64 helicopter. It contains stabilized electro-optical sensors, a laser rangefinder and laser target designator. The TADS allows Bo-105 helicopters to detect the movements of armored vehicles and mechanized units 18 kilometers away in daylight and 5.3 kilometers at night.
The Korean military plans to commission the development of TADS units to local defense manufacturers, said the source.
The Bo-105 is a light, twin-engine, multi-purpose utility helicopter developed by Eurocopter. Its production ended in 2001. South Korea produced the helicopter locally between 1999 and 2001 under a license agreement. The per-unit price is about 10 billion won.
The helicopter is supposed to conduct surveillance missions against North Korea's armored units in the case of conflict, along with U.S. Apache Longbow attack helicopters.
N. Korea may initiate surprise attack on S. Korea: ministry
SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will likely carry out a surprise attack on South Korea, simultaneously with the communist state's launch of what it calls a communications satellite in early April, South Korea's defense ministry warned Wednesday.
The latest warning followed Pyongyang's threat last week to push ahead with its planned satellite launch in the sea off the Korean Peninsula between April 4-8.
"There is a good possibility North Korea may make a surprise but limited attack on some areas along the inter-Korean border, with global attention mounting on its planned missile launch," the ministry said in a report presented to a special parliamentary committee on inter-Korean relations.
If it does attack, the North's goal would be to create conflict between different factions in the South, the ministry report said.
"It appears the North is trying to incite internal conflict in the South while pressuring the United States' Obama administration to come to bilateral talks at an early date," it said.
[Insurgency] [Spin] [US Joint military] [Role of ROK military]
Seoul Mulling List of Targets for N.Korea Sanctions
The South Korean government is considering drafting a list of targets for sanctions in North Korea in case the North launches a long-range missile. The projected list is aimed at stepping up pressure on the North under UN Security Council 1718.
[Sanctions] [SK NK policy] [UNUS]
Will N.Korea Face Fresh Sanctions?
Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee told a National Assembly session on Tuesday North Korea will be in violation of a UN Security Council resolution whether it launches a missile or, as it claims, a satellite and faces UN sanctions. The remarks follow a similar warning from the U.S.
The warning is based on the paragraph 5 of the UN Security Council Resolution 1718 adopted on the heels of North Korea's nuclear test in October 2006. The paragraph "decides that (North Korea) shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching." (sic)
Korea's Own 'Wine Doctor' Recalls Oenophile Struggle
Bang Jin-sik, is a wine consultant in Korean Air's catering department. The 58-year-old received a doctorate from Kyonggi University in 2005 for a dissertation on wine, the first Korean so decorated.
What helped him to get through was his unwavering passion for wine, which began when he was a child. Born the third son of a family that owned a vineyard in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, it might be natural for someone to enjoy "homemade" wine from an early age.
"I was assigned to the Paris office of Korean Air in 1988, and there I drank wine almost daily," he recalls. "After two years of drinking wine every day, I began to understand it. I had about 800 wine labels when I came back to Korea from France. Now I have a collection of 3,000 labels."
New results in two spy cases from the 70s and 80s
Truth commission recommends the state apologize for torturing 3 S. Korean men into giving false confessions of spying for N. Korea
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Jinsil Hwahae Wi) announced on March 17 its findings in the “Kim U-cheol Brothers Spy Case” and the “Kim Sang-sun Spy Case,” both from the 1970s and 1980s, and that it is formally recommending an apology by the state.
Seoul Rules Out Closure of Gaeseong Complex
South Korea's unification minister said Wednesday that his government is not considering closing a joint industrial complex despite lingering uncertainty over border stability after North Korea arbitrarily blocked visits by South Korean workers and cargo trucks, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday.
The North Korean military sealed the border twice last week as a U.S.-South Korean military exercise got underway in and around South Korea. The border was fully opened Tuesday, normalizing traffic to the joint complex in the North's border town of Gaeseong.
[Joint US military]
Korea to Upgrade Global Image
By Na Jeong-ju
The government aims to raise Korea's standing in the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, one of the most widely accepted measurements of a country's global image, from the current 33rd among 50 countries to 15th place by 2013.
To attain the goal, Korea will increase its contributions to the international community, develop its technological prowess and nurture its culture and tourism industries, the Presidential Council on Nation Branding said in its first report to President Lee Myung-bak Tuesday.
Tension With N. Korea Worsens Korea’s Global Image
President Lee Myung-bak, center, speaks at the start of a meeting on ways of improving Korea’s global image at Cheong Wa Dae, Tuesday. Seated at second from left is Euh Yoon-dae, chairman of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding which plays a central role in reorganizing the government’s branding campaign. / Yonhap
By Na Jeong-ju
About half of foreigners here regard military tension on the Korean Peninsula as the biggest obstacle to Korea's efforts to improve its image abroad, a survey showed Tuesday.
In a survey of 1,000 expatriates in Korea, conducted jointly by the Presidential Council on Nation Branding and the World Research, 48.4 percent of respondents said Seoul's confrontations with Pyongyang had the most negative impact on South Korea's global image.
Korea's lack of contribution to the international community came next with 44.1 percent, followed by political and social instability with 41.5 percent and a lack of ``charm'' as a site for tourists and immigrants with 38.8 percent.
[Dilemma] [Image] [SK NK policy]
Sixty Years after Division, Korean Language Has Gone in Separate Directions
The two Koreas differ in more than just political ideology. Since the Korean Peninsula was divided more than 60 years ago, the way North and South Koreans speak has gone separate ways. And, for thousands of North Korean refugees, the language divide is one of their biggest challenges to adjusting to life in South Korea.
When you listen to South Korean and North Korean newscast you might not hear much of a difference, but for many of the 15,000 North Koreans who have defected to South Korea, the difference is loud and clear.
For them, language is one of the hardest parts of adjusting to life in their new home.
The North Korean language is a relic. It has not changed that much since the 1940s, whereas South Korean has added a wealth of new vocabulary.
Kim adds, unlike in South Korea, where many English words are intermixed with Korean, the Pyongyang government has prevented foreign words from entering the vernacular.
Kim says, for these reasons, many North Korean defectors believe they speak a more pure form of the language than their South Korean counterparts.
[Globalisation] [US dominance] [Nationalism]
Opposition parties and civic groups urge government to revamp its N. Korea policy
Groups also hope to engage a broad range of citizens toward finding a solution to the crisis in inter-Korean relations
The Democratic Party and three other opposition parties, religious leaders and civic and social groups held an “emergency meeting for a breakthrough in the crisis of inter-Korean relations” at the National Assembly on Monday, urging a complete about-face in North Korea policy from the government
[SK NK policy]
Gaeseong discussion shifts direction
Will either of the two Koreas play the Gaeseong card to overcome the impasse in inter-Korean relations?
» South Koreans who were stranded at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex for three days after North Korea closed the inter-Korean border call their relatives after passing through the Dorasan customs, immigration and quarantine facility near the DMZ in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on March 16.
As of March 16 North Korea was allowing South Koreans only to return to the South, by land, from the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex, and was still prohibiting travel into the North.
This latest position on the part of Pyongyang has, in turn, caused a shift in the focus of discussions in South Korea from concern about the safety of Southerners in Gaeseong to how viable the industrial complex will be in the long turn
Getting past the limitations surrounding Gaeseong
North Korea began allowing South Koreans to return to the South from the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex on Monday, having prohibited them from doing so beginning Friday. The move appears to be aimed at avoiding further criticism for keeping Southerners against their will on the one hand, while still using the industrial complex as leverage against the South on the other. By all appearances, the situation is going to continue until March 20, when the joint South Korea-U.S. Key Resolve military exercises come to a close.
The North is in the wrong here. Failing to guarantee free passage to and from Gaeseong for both people and goods is going to seriously hurt business activity at the industrial complex. Many companies are already having problems with production, and it won’t be easy for things to return to normal there, as if nothing was ever the matter at all, even if the North later allows for smooth passage. We hope the North takes a good look at the damage it is doing.
[US Joint military]
North Korea Fully Reopens Border
North Korea Tuesday fully reopened its border for goods and people headed for a joint industrial complex in the communist country, according to South Korean factory owners.
"North Korea informed us overnight that all bans on crossings will be completely lifted today," Yoo Chang-Geun, vice chairman of the Corporation of Kaesong Industrial Council, was quoted as telling AFP.
S. Korea to Buy Cargo Planes for Special Forces
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea is pushing to procure advanced transport aircraft for use in delivering special forces to enemy areas at low altitudes in case of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, a military source said, Monday.
The C-130J Super Hercules built by Lockheed Martin has become the de facto sole candidate for the 725-billion-won ($500 million) program as the French-led European consortium EADS recently expressed intent to drop its bid due to integration problems on its A400M model, the source told The Korea Times.
The agency now has a keen interest in the newer C-130J-30 ``stretched'' variant, with the longer fuselage, for special operations, including attacks on North Korea's short-range Scud missile sites, as well as international peacekeeping operations, said the source.
``The larger transport planes will play a crucial role in conducting independent or joint airlift operations at low altitudes with U.S. special forces, both in peacetime and wartime, as well as carrying out overseas peacekeeping missions, particularly after 2012 when South Korea takes over wartime operational control of its forces from the United States,'' the source said, asking not to be identified.
[Military balance] [Joint US military][OPLAN]
GNP to Hold Parliamentary Hearing on KAL 858 Bomber
The ruling Grand National Party will hold a National Assembly hearing about allegations by the surviving bomber of Korean Air flight 858 that the previous government bullied her into backing a conspiracy theory surrounding the 1987 bombing. Kim Hyun-hee, the former North Korean agent now living in the South, has claimed that the National Intelligence Service under the Roh Moo-hyun government leaned on her to appear on a TV program that would examine whether the incident was a setup by South Korean intelligence.
GNP lawmaker Gu Sang-chan, a member of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, on Sunday said, "If anybody attempted to force Kim to give false testimony on the bombing of the KAL flight, we must find out truth about who did it and why.” The hearing is to be in April.
Still no explanation from North on 3rd day after inter-Korean border closing
Hundreds of S. Korean workers still stranded at Gaeseong, as the future of inter-Korean relations hangs in the balance
» The Tongil (Unification) Bridge in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, is blocked on March 15, the third day after North Korea closed the inter-Korean border.
North Korea yesterday kept the border closed for a third consecutive day, leaving hundreds of South Korean workers stranded at the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex. The closure has touched off concern about the safety of the civilians stranded there, with many experts worrying that it is a bad decision that could undermine Pyongyang’s credibility overseas and cast a dark cloud over the future of the industrial park and inter-Korean relations as a whole.
It remains unclear why the North has made the unilateral decision to close the border, risking a backlash. North Korea has been tight-lipped about its motivations, but observers have suggested some plausible scenarios.
One possibility is that the closure may be representative of Pyongyang’s reaction toward the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise Key Resolve, which started early last week and will continue through March 20. A high-ranking South Korean government official said, “(The border closure) might be a temporary but strong response to specific parts of the Key Resolve military exercise.”
Key Resolve involves defensive training in preparation for aggression from the North and the possibility of a counterattack from the South Korea-U.S. forces, including a possible invasion of the North (sic).
[Spin] [US Joint military]
Inter-Korean border closing puts S. Korea between a rock and a hard place
S. Korea has run out of means with which to pressure the North, leaving it with no effective way to tackle the current deadlock
» The CEO of a company operating within the Gaeseong Industrial Complex buries his face in his hands as he listens to a speech by Unification Minister Hyun In-taek at the Central Government Complex on Sejongno Boulevard on March 15. Hyun indicated that the government will not block South Koreans from traveling to and from Gaeseong if the North re-opens the inter-Korean border on Monday.
The South Korean government remains relatively calm in response to the North’s decision to close the inter-Korean border, leaving hundreds stranded at the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex. The border was closed for the third consecutive day on Sunday.
More Koreans Support No Political Party
The number of Koreans without political affiliation is growing. According to a survey by Research & Research released Thursday, support for the ruling Grand National Party was 36.3 percent, down 0.8 percent, and for the main opposition Democratic Party 14.3 percent, down 2.5 percent from last month’s survey. The group without affiliation to any political party grew from 29.5 percent to 36.6 percent, larger than support for any political parties and the largest since R&R began surveys in May 2006.
N.Korea Suffers Withdrawal of Sunshine Policy
North Korea on Monday blocked the inter-Korean border, virtually detaining hundreds of South Koreans at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex in protest against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drill. But the North reopened it just a day later and blocked it again on Friday. There is a great deal of speculation why the North is acting this way.
One expert says Pyongyang was taken by surprise by the unexpectedly serious reaction. Even media outlets that are usually friendly to the North expressed concerns about the hundreds of South Korean who briefly became virtual prisoners in the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex. Having employed a strategy of attacking the Lee administration by sowing conflict between conservatives and progressives in the South, North Korea may have been perplexed by the development, he said.
MONTHLY RECAP: FEBRUARY
Posted Date : 2009-03-03 (NK Brief No. 09-3-3-1)
As February began, North Korea continued to publicly warn that the two Koreas were on a path toward war, stating on February 1 that downward spiraling relations between the two Koreas were brought on by ROK President Lee Myung-bak The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) printed that Lee’s policies toward the North were “the very source of military conflicts and war between the North and the South,” and warned that tensions on the peninsula “may lead to an uncontrollable and unavoidable military conflict and war.”
New report describes slight improvements of human rights in N. Korea
Despite unintended improvements in the rights of regular N. Koreans, class and regional disparity in human rights increasing: Human Rights Commission
» North Korean children have a snowball fight in Pyongyang on November 24, 2008.
“North Korea’s human rights situation is wholly poor. Economic, social, and cultural rights are growing notably worse, while there have been institutional improvements in civic and political rights. Also, the human rights situation is different by social group and region, with continually deepening disparity.”
So goes the National Human Rights Commission’s description of the state of human rights in North Korea in its report, “Findings on the State of Human Rights of the Residents of North Korea,” released March 11.
The report is based on interviews with 122 North Korean defectors, 93 of which are women receiving orientation at a South Korean education facility for new defectors and 30 of which are defectors who came to the South in 2007 and 2008. The interviews were conducted between July 2008 and February of this year. It was drafted by a team of researchers at the University of North Korean Studies led by Professor Lee Woo-young
[Human rights] [Manipulation] [Refugee reports]
Survey: 76% of North defectors saw executions
March 12, 2009
Seventy-six percent of surveyed North Korean defectors say they have witnessed public executions in their homeland, South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission said yesterday.
The rights watchdog released the latest report on the human rights situation in the North based on interviews of defectors who escaped the country during the past two years.
The commission hired the University of North Korean Studies for the survey, in which 152 defectors participated, from July 2008 through last month. In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 defectors who escaped the North in 2007 and 2008, while 122 defectors filled out questionnaires upon their arrival in the South.
Celebrities Return to Schools as Professors
By Han Sang-hee
From boy band members to comedians and musical actors, teaching at school seems like the new trend. Many local stars are now shifting to schools, not as students, but as professors. It's actually a win-win strategy for everyone. Artists can share their expertise with young students who have potential, the schools are getting recognition, and students can learn the real deal from some of their favorite stars.
Crab Fishing Hit by Strained Inter-Korean Ties
Fishermen on the east coast of Korea who are suffering a decline in their catch and an increase in price of fuel for fishing boats are faced with yet another obstacle -- deterioration of inter-Korean relations. Because of mounting tensions between the two Koreas, fishermen are currently unable to haul in their crab nets in northern areas of fishing grounds in the East Sea because military authorities say it is too dangerous to permit fishing there until tensions die down. [NLL]
Elderly Spend 10 Times More on Healthcare Than Teens
Koreans over 70 spend more than 10 times than teens on monthly medical treatment. The National Health Insurance Corporation in a report published Tuesday said senior citizens aged 70 or over had monthly medical expenses of W203,000 on average, while teens spent the least with W19,759 (US$1=W1,512).
Those in their 60s ranked second with W146,020, followed by those in their 50s with W85,465 and children aged 9 or under with W49,481.
The medical expenses of 60-somethings made up 38.5 percent of the total, up more than 10 percent from 26 percent in 2001. Those in their 40s spent W49,133, those in their 30s W34,794 and those in their 20s W26,253.
Is North’s ban on border crossings a calculated act?
[Analysis] Otherwise, was it an intentional attempt to stir up anxiety in the South, a technical error or a policy reversal?
Overland border crossings between South and North Korea resumed Tuesday, a day after the North closed the border. About 80 South Koreans who had been stranded at the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex, located just north of the heavily armed inter-Korean border, due to the closure were set to return home today.
In a press briefing Tuesday, Kim Ho-nyoun, spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry, said, “At around 9:10 a.m. on March 10, the North delivered to us a letter of notification signed by a person in charge of military affairs in the East and West Sea districts via the Gaeseong Industrial Complex Management Committee saying that it approved the movement of people and vehicles over the Military Demarcation Line. Entry and exit to and from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the Mount Geumgang region have returned to normal,” Kim said.
It is difficult to explain why North Korea would have barred overland border crossings for South Korean workers at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex on Monday and reopened the border the following day. Even the views of South Korean government officials are mixed.
[Column] Clear way to restore inter Korean relation
Kim Yeon-cheol, President, Hankyoreh Peace Institute
Where will the crisis on the Korean Peninsula end? It is fortunate that civilian border crossings to and from the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex have resumed. It was not going to be easy for North Korea to surrender the economic effects of the industrial complex. But it is of concern that channels of communication between military officials on both sides have been cut off completely. What if there’s an accidental clash? Misunderstandings break out when you can’t communicate. Misunderstandings can become the embers that make minor incidents flare up into major escalations. There’s nothing guaranteeing the tension is going to subside once joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises come to a close. Inter-Korean relations have in accelerated crisis, with a continuing cycle of distrust.
Ex-NK Spy Meets Kin of Japanese Abductee
Koichiro Iizuka, left, son of Yaeko Taguchi who was abducted by North Korea decades ago, embraces former North Korean spy Kim Hyun-hui as they meet in Busan Wednesday. Kim who blew up a South Korean jetliner met Wednesday with Taguchi's family members to provide information about their long-lost kin she says aided her espionage training. / AP-Yonhap
A former North Korean spy had an emotionally-charged meeting with the family of Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese woman abducted by the communist nation in the 1970s and asked them not to lose hope for a reunion.
TV celebrity Christina Confalonieri presents Italian wine at the Lotte Department Store in Sogong-dong, Seoul on Monday. /Newsis
S.Koreans Virtual Prisoners at Kaesong Complex
Some 573 South Koreans have become virtual prisoners at the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North. In a statement on Monday, the North Korean Army's General Staff said it will cut off the inter-Korean military communications line during the period of the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises that started Monday and end on March 20.
Under the Armistice Agreement, military authorities in both Koreas must exchange and approve lists of visitors to each side, but with the military communications channel cut off, the Kaesong industrial park has become an island it is impossible for South Korean people to enter or leave. That means some 726 South Koreans and 373 vehicles that were to enter the industrial park and 242 South Korean people and 163 vehicles that were to leave it were stranded on Monday.
[Joint US military]
N.Korea Threatening S.Korea's Private Sector
North Korea's provocations of the South have begun to cross over into the private sector. Previous attacks centered on the government and military, but now airlines and manufacturing companies at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex are suffering. Official inter-Korean communication is all but totally severed. If the security of South Korean civilians is endangered in the North, there appears to be no way to settle this quickly.
[Joint US military]
Is N.Korea Closing Kaesong Industrial Complex?
North Korea on Monday effectively blocked South Koreans’ entry into and exit from the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex by cutting off the North-South military communication channel for the duration of South Korea-U.S. military drills from March 9 to 20. It was only the latest threat to the inter-Korean industrial park.
Pyongyang has recently applied pressure on South Korean firms operating in the joint industrial park. It has reinforced labor rules, threatening to fine South Korean firms up to US$2,000 if they delay a month's pay and order them to suspend operations if they fail to pay their workers altogether.
South Korea’s missile shortage a concern
Everybody knows missiles are going to rain down when the North decides to attack. Training needs to get real.
March 10, 2009
A satellite picture of a North Korean missile base in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province. 1-Missile assembly plant, 2-Control tower, 3-Missile launch pad. [YONHAP]
While North Korea has been in the international spotlight for weeks, and is trying to stay that way with a calculated missile launch, some experts are saying that South Korea’s own missile capabilities fall short when compared with those of the North. The argument has also been picked up by some military officers who say that the imbalance in the missile department needs to be addressed in light of recent developments.
There is a growing consensus in the military following a recent comparative study of the missile technologies of the two Koreas, which revealed that the gap is growing.
“After evaluating the missile firepower of both sides it has been concluded that there is a very serious disparity between South and North. The South’s missile capability is thought to be roughly 10 percent of that of the North’s,” said a military official speaking on condition of anonymity.
NK Reopens Border for Southern Visitors
North Korea has agreed to reopen its border for South Koreans visiting a joint industrial complex, one day after effectively closing the frontier, Agence France Presse reported Tuesday, quoting a business chief.
Yoo Chang-Geun, vice chairman of the Corporation of Kaesong Industrial Council, told AFP the North has agreed to resume immigration procedures from 10:00 a.m. On Monday, the North announced it was switching off military phone and fax lines, which are used to approve border crossings, in protest against the start of a major U.S.-South Korean military exercise.
The Axis of Vaudeville: Images of North Korea in South Korean Pop Culture
This paper examines how South Korean understanding of what it means to be—or to have been—a citizen of the DPRK has evolved during the last decade. How does South Korean popular culture reflect that evolution and, in turn, shape ongoing transformations in that understanding? These questions have significant policy implications and take on a heightened salience given the recent deterioration in relations that has taken place under the Lee Myung Bak administration: is the South Korean imagination being enlarged to make room for an inclusive but heterogeneous identity that accepts both parts of the divided nation? Or, conversely, is a hardening of mental boundaries inscribing cultural/social difference in tandem with the previous decade’s (anything but linear) progress in political/economic rapprochement? In examining these questions, I sample key discursive sites where the South Korean imaginary expresses itself, including music, advertising, television comedy programs, film and literature.
What Koreans Really Think About Ethnic Homogeneity
Korea is rapidly becoming a multicultural and multiethnic society now the number of foreigners living in the country exceeded 1 million as of Aug. 24 or 2 percent of the registered population (49.13 million). A survey on international marriages by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family released Wednesday suggests that the growing number of foreign residents has changed the attitude of South Koreans, who in the past took pride in their ethnic homogeneity.
Exacerbating inter-Korean relations
North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (Jopyeongtong) says it cannot guarantee the safety of South Korean commercial passenger planes in its airspace over the East Sea because of the “Key Resolve” South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise. South Korean passenger airlines quickly changed their routes to circumvent the North’s airspace. Inter-Korean relations have continued to worsen as of late, and this latest development is a whole new phase of deterioration.
Multicultural Couples Remain on Society's Margin
There are now more than 120,000 foreign wives who are married to Korean men and living in Korea. International marriages accounted for 11.1 percent of the country's total matrimony in 2007 -- one in nine couples being multicultural. Over 58,000 babies were born into multicultural families. Korea has briskly become multicultural. But the country has yet to fully accept those from multicultural families as its true members. But unless it embraces them, it will be difficult to gain trust from the international community in this globalized world.
What Was Agreed Between Koreas?
By Lee Tae-hoon
The two Koreas agreed to open each other's airspace between Pyongyang and Daegu, a southeastern city of the South, through the mediation of the International Civil Aviation Organization in October 1997.
The Letter of Agreement between the Pyongyang Area Control Center and the Taegu Area Control Center, signed in February 1998, however, specifies only technical information on aircraft operations, such as coordination and communication procedures.
Unlike recent media reports, the agreement, which neither has binding force nor elaborates on liability, does not state safety measures for passengers or flights except for Y2K contingency procedures. [Joint US military]
War Remains Recovery to Begin Next Week
By Jung Sung-ki
The Ministry of National Defense's agency for war remains' recovery and identification will start operations for this year March 9, the agency said Friday.
Eight teams of the Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) will lead the excavation work in 38 regions across the nation, it said in a news release. Twenty-one teams from Army units will support the agency's operations, it added.
Since 2000, the remains of 2,855 soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War have been recovered, it said. Of them, 2,230 were those of South Korean forces killed in the war and 74 have been identified, according to the release
[Korean War events]
KAL Bomber in Yet Another Letter to the Press
The surviving bomber of Korean Air flight 858 in 1987 has described her feelings before meeting the family of Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese abduction victim she claims was her teacher in North Korea. Kim Hyun-hee (47) sent a letter to Japan's Sankei Shimbun daily.
Kim, now rehabilitated and married in South Korea, claimed her life under the previous administration was that of a "refugee," but said she was now "full of happiness as the day is approaching" when she meets Taguchi's family. "I believe the upcoming meeting will not merely make me happy but providing an opportunity for South Korea and Japan to further understand and cooperate with each other," she said.
Judicial Independence Questioned Over Trial of Anti-US Beef Protestors
By Park Si-soo
The independence of a court was called into question after a senior judge allegedly urged his junior judges to speed up the trial of anti-U.S. beef protestors.
The episode surfaced when Supreme Court judge Shin Young-chul was confirmed to have sent multiple emails to the judges in charge of trials of protestors involved in candlelit rallies against the resumption of imports of American beef.
Violation of human rights in south Korea
It is a unanimous will and aspiration of the Korean people in the north, south and overseas to realize independent reunification under the banner of the June 15 joint-declaration and October 4 declaration.
The historic North-South joint declarations are inspiring the entire Korean nation with the confidence and optimism about the Korea’s independent reunification.
However, the south Korean authorities are suppressing the growing aspiration of south Korean people and maneuvering like fascist to oppress the patriotic democratic forces for reunification.
As soon as Lee Myung Bak took power, he has been entirely reconstructing the former fascist dictatorship saying for regaining so-called “the lost decade”.
President says it’s best if Kim Jong-il retains rule
March 05, 2009
North Korea may enjoy some short-term benefits from escalating tension by preparing for a suspected missile launch, but such a provocative action will play against Pyongyang in the long run, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday.
In an interview with the Australian media, Lee said, “North Korea has taken such actions as firing a missile in the past at times that it sees as appropriate, and I believe it is again trying to take such a strong action because a new U.S. administration has been inaugurated and another round of the six-nation talks could be held in the near future. Such tough action may place North Korea in a better position in negotiations, but in the long run they will not be so rewarding to North Korea in the international community.”
Lee also made a rare, direct comment about the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s health. Kim is believed to be recovering from a stroke he suffered in August.
“It appears from Chairman Kim’s recent activities that there are no serious obstacles for him to continue ruling North Korea, and I think it is better to have a stabilized North Korean regime at this point in time for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation,” Lee said.
Park’s powerfully persuasive presidential pen
March 05, 2009
The late President Park Chung Hee is known for his “letter leadership,” in which he used personal, handwritten letters to deliver messages and promote his policies. [JoongAng Ilbo]
The 299 personal letters of King Jeongjo (1752?1800) made public last week are a reminder that until very recently a handwritten note was the most powerful and persuasive form of communication.
Through the royal correspondence, we can glean insight into the affairs of state at that time and the personal feelings and reflections of a Joseon monarch.
Today, people have plenty of options for sending out messages - mobile phones, e-mail, blogs, online greeting cards, etc. And it’s asy to forget the power of personal, handwritten letters.
One Korean leader known to have taken full advantage of the power of the nib was the late President Park Chung Hee (1917-1979). During his presidency (1961-1979), Park dispatched numerous self-penned missives to people in different sectors of society, from prime ministers and mayors to the bereaved families of drafted soldiers.
The late President Park Chung Hee was determined to produce steel, the base material for most manufacturing industries, and he pledged enormous support to Posco, now the world’s second-biggest steelmaker by market value.
Today, a discolored, handwritten memo is witness to Park’s desire to build up the industry. It stipulates Posco has the authority to choose its manufacturers and suppliers, and it contains a government guarantee in case urgent contracts are required.
In the top left corner of the note is Park’s signature, and the date, Feb. 3, 1970.
Another letter by Park, also written in 1970, to former Posco head Park Tae-joon pledging support for the steelmaker.[JoongAng Sunday]
The paper was what the fledgling steelmaker needed to bypass any restrictions that might have blocked its path toward growth and economic strength. [economic system]
NK Fires Back Over Seoul’s Human Rights Remarks
By Kim Sue-young
North Korea fired back at South Korea's concerns over the dire human rights conditions in the secretive state, calling them ``impertinent,'' Wednesday.
Choe Myong-nam, councilor at the North's UN mission in Geneva, Switzerland, claimed the remarks made by Shin Kak-soo, the South's 2nd vice foreign minister, Tuesday, clearly violated inter-Korean agreements.
North Korea ``rejects all stereotypical allegations and will continue to reject the mandate of the special rapporteur on the human rights situation,'' he said, ``as it was motivated by purposes other than genuine concern for human rights.''
Pyongyang scorns Lee Myung-bak’s call for dialogue
March 04, 2009
North Korea dismissed President Lee Myung-bak’s latest call for dialogue as “disgusting sophism” and said cross-border ties are beyond repair.
In a televised speech on Sunday, Lee called on Pyongyang to end its nuclear activities and said, “What truly protects North Korea is neither a nuclear weapon nor a missile but cooperation with South Korea and the international community.”
Gov’t Killed 3,400 Civilians During War
By Bae Ji-sook
More than 3,400 prisoners and ordinary civilians were killed by South Korean military and police during the Korean War (1950-1953), a state-run audit body said Monday.
This is the first time a government agency has acknowledged the massacre of civilians during the war.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Counterintelligence Corps of the Headquarters of the Army, correctional officers and local and military police killed the prisoners and civilians in Busan and nearby areas from July through September in 1950, just after the war broke out. The commission has managed to identify 576 of the victims thus far.
[Korean War events] [Human rights]
N.Korea Fires Artillery Near Border
North Korean artillery forces staged an intensive firing exercise on Tuesday near the Northern Limit Line, the de-facto border in the West Sea, putting South Korean military authorities on high alert.
According to the Defense Ministry, North Korean artillery batteries deployed in Haeju and on the Ongjin Peninsula fired dozens of shells (sic) into the West Sea in the morning and afternoon. Some residents on Yeonpyeong Island reported hearing the report of guns several times between 9 to 10 a.m.
The ministry said the firing seems to be part of "routine winter exercises" and should not be considered a provocation.
S. Korean government blocks civic group’s planned visit to N. Korea
Approval for working-level trip was put on hold one day before group’s scheduled departure
» University students from North and South Korea shake hands during a meeting at Mount Geumgang (Kumgang) on May 23, 2005, when inter-Korean exchanges were permitted. Recently, on February 27, the South Korean government put a hold on approving a trip to the North by a South Korean youth group just one day before the group was scheduled to depart.
The South Korean government has virtually denied approval for a visit to North Korea by a delegation of the Youth Student Headquarters of the Southern Committee for the Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration.
[Human rights] [SK NK policy]
Grappling with Cold War History: Korea’s Embattled Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Gavan McCormack and Kim Dong-Choon
Introduction (by Gavan McCormack)
For the countries of Northeast Asia to construct a future Northeast Asian community, or commonwealth, along something like European lines, a shared vision of the future is necessary, and for that they must first arrive at a shared understanding of the past. The turbulent 20th century of colonialism, war, and liberation struggle looms as a large obstacle. Most attention focuses on Japan (Has it admitted, apologized, compensated for its crimes? Has it been sincere?), or on China (Has it faced the catastrophes of its revolution, including the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution? Has it acknowledged or apologized for them?). As the “Great Powers” of East Asia, however, both Japan and China strive to construct a pure and proud history and identity, and to divert attention from the dark episodes of their past.
Korea is often overlooked. Yet its approach reflects its experience, unique in Asia, as a civil society that has grown out of decades of struggle for democracy and against fierce repression under US-supported military regimes, culminating in the uprising of 1987 and the steady advance of civil democracy in the two decades since then. The Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to explore precisely the sort of skeletons in the national cupboard that many in Japan (most recently General Tamogami, the sacked Chief of Staff of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Forces) refuse to acknowledge, documenting the claims of the countless victims of former regimes and actively exposing its shameful past. It is the sole example in Asia of systematic attempt to explore the wrongdoing of its own governments, seeking closure and healing.
Recent tense situation on the Korean Peninsula
Warm Greetings from Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People (KCSWP)!
As you know well, the recent tense situation on the Korean Peninsula is raising the serious concerns among the progressive people around the world who love the peace and justice.
The KCSWP would like to send you this letter to help your clear understanding of the main reason of the extremely aggravated situation on the Korean Peninsula and the inter Korea relationship.
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