ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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War’s anniversary finds South with stronger military
Advantages the North held in 1950 negated by boost in air, naval power
June 25, 2009
Korean soldiers stand in a row yesterday each wearing military uniforms that have undergone changes from past to present at the Third Field Army Command in Yongin, Gyeonggi, on the eve of the 59th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53). [YONHAP]
When North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel on June 25, 1950, sparking the Korean War, Russian-made T-34 tanks led the way.
Today, the situation is quite different, experts said.
In terms of troops, the North still has an advantage. The South has 650,000 troops while the North can field 1.19 million. The South’s combat hardware, however, now outclasses the North’s in many ways, particularly in naval and air power, military experts noted
Defense reforms aimed at North
Plans include a cyber warfare unit, peacekeeping force
June 27, 2009
Despite lowering its targeted defense budget by trillions of won over the next 11 years, South Korean forces will be equipped with sufficient strike capabilities against North Korean nuclear and missile threats. The South Korean military will also form a cyber warfare command and set aside about 3,000 troops in a standing unit that can be readily dispatched to overseas peacekeeping operations.
South to Boost Surgical Strike Capability Against North
Minister of National Defense
By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean military plans to speed up efforts to deploy ground, air and naval weapons systems for use in strikes against key facilities in North Korea in the event of war, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.
Do North Korean hackers exist only in the imagination of South Koreans?
Tue, 06/23/2009 - 4:50pm
An interesting piece in StrategyPage asks whether we can trust the reports on growing cyber-attacks by North Koreans leaked by the South Korean military and intelligence services (in fact, I was surprised to hear Estonia's defense minister use the increase of attacks on South Korea as evidence that cyberwarfare is a growing threat during last week's cyberwarfare conference in Tallinn).StrategyPage makes an intriguging argument that the graduates of the mysterious Mirim College - North Korean factory of cyberwarriors - may not be as skilled as the South Koreans present them.
South Korea Getting Hammered More
June 23, 2009: The South Korean military reports that attacks on their data networks are up 20 percent this year, with hundreds of serious attempts each day, to hack in and steal defense secrets. More North Korean locations are showing up as the source of these attacks. This appears to solve the growing mystery about what the mysterious North Korean Cyber War units were up to.
hus some conclude that the growing number of North Korean connections are actually the result of Chinese hackers trying to make it look like the North Koreans are responsible for some of the growing number of attacks on Western targets.
[Cyberwar] [Hype] [China confrontation]
Korea Develops Anti-Submarine Missile
The Korean-made long-range anti-submarine missile The Korean-made long-range anti-submarine missile "Red Shark" is fired from a naval destroyer. /Courtesy of the Agency for Defense Development
Korea has developed a long-range anti-submarine missile which can hit an enemy submarine about 20 km away. The "Red Shark" has a longer range and far sharper accuracy than the light torpedoes normally fired by conventional vessels or aircraft.
The Agency for Defense Development on Monday said the Defense Acquisition Program Agency developed the Red Shark at a cost of about W100 billion (US$1=W1,276) over nine years.
Report: Korea Ranks 11th in World Defense Spending
Korea spent US$24.2 billion on defense in 2008, up seven percent from $22.6 billion in 2007, according to an annual report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Tuesday. This makes Korea the 11th largest defense spender in the world. Korea is also the third largest arms importer after China and India.
Great losses in N. Korea policy for small political gains
Park No-ja, Professor of Korean Studies, University of Oslo, Norway
As security issues on the Korean Peninsula have been gaining worldwide attention recently, I have been receiving frequent phone calls from the Norwegian press. Most of the journalists ask for the “reason” why North Korea is focused on developing nuclear capabilities and missiles. If I ask the journalists what they think the answer is, they often say something like “to draw the attention of the new administration in the U.S. and to achieve internal unity during the third-generation transfer of power.” Of course, their ideas are not completely off the mark.
North Korea’s long term goals in overseas policy are to normalize relations with the U.S. and to enter the global capitalist system. In this regard, its development of weapons of mass destruction has functioned both as a “guarantee” making it impossible for the U.S. to invade North Korea and as a “core card” drawing the U.S. to the table for negotiations.
[NK US policy} [SK NK Policy]
North-South Working Contact Made
Pyongyang, June 19 (KCNA) -- The north-south working contact for the revision of contracts on the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) was made in Kaesong on Friday.
At the contact the north side said that the working contact was arranged to keep the work in the KIZ on a normal footing as it finds itself in a very difficult situation owing to the recently changed inter-Korean relations.
The north side chided the south side for deciding to fully participate in the PSI right after the contact began, without making any sincere approach towards the contact, and zealously joining in the "sanctions".
Korea Falling Behind in Trade with China, Japan
As of 2008, Korea's top trading partner was China followed by Japan. But Korea's trade surplus with China has been shrinking since 2005, while the chronic deficit in trade with Japan shows no signs of improving.
Yemen killing carries signals
This week's slaying of a young South Korean woman in Yemen could send two signals to Korea.
One is to stay out of nations deemed to be dangerous. And at least one expert says the killings indicate a distinct elevation of Korea's national status.
Given the Islamic world's lingering animosity toward the United States despite President Barack Obama's efforts at reconciliation, some observers suggest Seoul's ties with Washington may have rendered it a more attractive target for terrorists.
Kim Dae-jung's remark draws backlash
Conservatives yesterday denounced former President Kim Dae-jung for his controversial remarks that referred to President Lee Myung-bak as "dictator."
In a speech Thursday during a ceremony commemorating the June 15 Joint Declaration adopted at his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000, Kim said that dictatorship was ruling the country and that the gap between the wealthy and the poor was widening.
"Let's not keep our heads low and try to flatter a dictator," Kim said.
[SK NK policy]
Statement from Professors in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy
10 June 2009
The following represents the considered view of professors at colleges and universities throughout North America whose thoughts are with Korea and Korea’s democracy. In light of recent developments in South Korea, we, the undersigned, cannot but express grave concern. Nurtured by the toils and sacrifice of many, democracy is a proud asset of the Korean people. The world has watched as the Korean people have moved deliberately, with determination and at human cost, from dictatorship toward democracy, over the last half a century. Regrettably, since the inauguration of the President Lee Myung-bak administration, Korean democracy has lost its way.
[Editorial] S. Korea government’s failure on detainee issue in Kaesong
For the first time since companies began operations in the Kaesong (Gaeseong) Industrial Complex in 2005, a company has decided to leave. It has been reported that other companies have been thinking about moving their production equipment south or to Southeast Asia. One reason cited is the issue of the South Korean Hyundai Asan employee who has been detained by North Korea for two and a half months, and the South Korean government does not even know where he is being held. This is where inter-Korean relations presently stand.
Police Clash With Demonstrators in Central Seoul
Rep. Lee Jung-hee of the Democratic Labor Party lies down in Seoul Plaza while scuffling with police Wednesday. Hundreds of South Koreans gathered in central Seoul to hold a rally in commemoration of the June 10 pro-democracy movement. / Yonhap
Despite a police blockade, thousands of South Koreans gathered in downtown Seoul Wednesday, accusing the incumbent administration of undermining the nation's hard-won democracy and demanding an apology over the suicide of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
June 10 marks the 22nd anniversary of South Korea's pro-democracy struggle and comes just weeks after Roh, once a champion of democracy and clean politics, leapt to his death amid a pressing corruption probe. The liberal leader's death has fueled anger among South Koreans, with critics charging the investigation was too harsh and politically driven.
Actress' Heirs to Compensate Advertiser for 'Disgrace'
Late actress Choi Jin-sil A court has ruled that the heirs of the late actress Choi Jin-sil must compensate an advertiser since she failed to maintain her dignity as a model when pictures of her after a beating by her then-husband Cho Sung-min were publicized in media. A construction company sued Choi in 2004 for W3 billion (US$1=W1,250) for damages incurred and the modeling fee paid.
The Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a ruling that cleared Choi of responsibility and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court.
The company paid Choi W250 million in March 2004 for modeling for apartment buildings. The contract included a clause that if Choi disgraced the image of the company by damaging her social and moral image through her own fault, she would repay the firm twice the modeling fee. Five months later, pictures of her beaten and of the inside of her house in a chaotic state were released.
Because Choi died in October 2008 when the case was under Supreme Court review, her status passed to her eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Choi's mother is acting as legal guardian.
[Human rights] [Bizarre]
Seoul Slaps Sanctions on NK Firms Over Missile Test
South Korea has imposed financial sanctions on three North Korean companies for a long-range rocket launch that Pyongyang conducted in April in defiance of repeated warnings by the international community, Seoul officials said Tuesday.
Under the sanctions, enforced as of June 1, the three North Korean firms are prohibited from doing any kind of business with South Korean companies and their assets in South Korea can be frozen, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
The three are Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Tanchon Commercial Bank and Korea Ryongbong General Corporation, all of which are suspected of having ties with the North's missile and nuclear programs.
The move is meant as a follow-up to similar sanctions brought against those firms by the United Nations on April 24, in the wake of Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch on April 5. North Korea insists the launch sent a satellite into orbit, but its neighbors say it was a cover for a missile test.
No South Korean companies currently maintain business relations with any of the three North Korean firms. None of the North Korean firms hold any assets in the South, either, the ministry said.
[Sanctions] [Satellite] [Spin]
S. Korean Officials Travel to NK Ahead of Talks
An advance team of South Korean officials left for North Korea Tuesday as Pyongyang gave notification of delegates that will attend inter-Korean talks later this week on continuing a joint business venture in the North.
N.Korea Succession 'Telegram' Baffles Watchers
Mystery shrouds the exact contents of a telegram sent out on May 25 whereby the North Korean regime allegedly informed its overseas missions that Kim Jong-un, the third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was appointed as his father's successor.
South Korean intelligence agencies admit they do not know the exact wording as the information was obtained through witness accounts, not the actual hard copy.
How North Korea sent the telegram to its overseas missions is also not known. Some reports say it was an e-mail, but one diplomat said, "No country sends out a telegram of such great importance by e-mail, which is vulnerable to hacking."
Lee Says No Compromise with N.Korea
President Lee Myung-bak said Saturday his country will not let North Korea use it nuclear threat to win concessions, and he called for Pyongyang to return to six-party disarmament talks.
Rev. Kang Commits Suicide
By Kim Hyun-cheol
Rev. Kang Hee-nam, who led a progressive movement in the 1990s, was found dead Saturday in an apparent suicide at his house in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.
Kang, 89, was reportedly found by his wife in the boiler room after hanging himself.
He left a note in which he purportedly urged the Korean people to stand up against the Lee Myung-bak administration, police said.
Kang was formerly co-leader of the Pan-National Alliance for the Reunification of Korea, or Beomminnyon, established in 1990.
Leading the group for nearly a decade, Kang was jailed three times. In July 1994, he was charged for attempting to cross the inter-Korean border to express his condolences over the death of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.
Most recently, Kang staged a nine-day hunger strike last month to protest the government's hawkish stance toward Pyongyang.
A funeral ceremony will be held in Seoul, Wednesday, before his cremation in Jeonju.
[SK NK Policy]
'Unbridled Samsung' Begins Father-to-Son Succession
While North Korea has been paving the way for its succession from the ailing Kim Jong-il to his third son, Jong-un, South Korea's largest conglomerate has been also engaged in a similar father-to-son power transition, Hankyoreh reported Saturday.
In a piece Saturday, entitled "Unbridled Samsung: Speeding up Lee Jae-yong succession?" the newspaper said that the retired former Samsung owner, Lee Kun-hee, was cleared of all legal charges, except for tax evasion, which would pave the way for the transfer of the management control to his only son, 41-year-old Jae-yong.
9th anniversary of the adoption of the June 15 north-south joint declaration.
Warm greetings from the Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People!
We are sending this letter on the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the adoption of the June 15 north-south joint declaration.
As you know well, the June 15 joint declaration adopted on June 15, 2000, has opened a wide avenue of dialogue, reconciliation, visit and cooperation based on the idea of “By our nation itself”. This helped to remove distrust and misunderstanding between the north and south and dynamically promote reconciliation and unity.
The Terrible Secrets of N.Korea's Mt. Mantap
North Korea's nuclear tests and their results have been of great interest to us, but the way the lead-up to these two tests has been kept a secret in such a small country has been mostly overlooked. And there has been absolutely no information regarding human rights abuses or radioactive contamination in the area.
Do N. Korea’s Bellicose Acts Hurt Liberals?
By Kang Hyun-kyung
There is bad news hiding in the good news for liberals that for the first time in the last four years they outpolled conservatives in the latest opinion poll.
Leaders of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) face an uphill battle to maintain the momentum in the situation where continuous threats from North Korea obviously help conservatives.
[Threat] [SK NK policy] [Inversion]
Heightening tensions on peninsula attributed to North Korea’s transfer of power
Observers say nuclear tests and rocket launches may be credited to Kim Jong-un to demonstrate his abilities to lead a “strong and prosperous state”
It is being confirmed that North Korea’s power structure has entered a giant vortex of transformation. This is surfacing as a key factor that could shake up the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
South Koreans Indifferent to NK Threat
Munitions technicians install an air-to-ground missile on an F-15K fighter at an Air Force base in Daegu, Wednesday, as North Korea moves to test-fire an inter-continental ballistic missile. Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear weapon’s test and missile launches last month. / Yonhap
By Do Je-hae
North Korea is determined to prove its nuclear capacity to the world and inter-Korean relations are at their worst in recent years, but South Koreans are seemingly indifferent to what some perceive as signs of serious military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.
Also, indifference to the North's military threats is in part due to an established South Korean perception that the North is not in a position to start a war, the professor said.
``The probability of a war is minimal. North Korea will not start a war they cannot win. They know that any further provocation will be met with massive retaliation," Koh added.
Citizens and foreigners also shared the view that North Korean nuclear threats will not translate into immediate danger.
[Threat] [Military balance]
N.Korean Navy 'Steps Up West Sea Activities'
North Korea has apparently instructed naval troops in the West Sea to stockpile more than twice the normal amount of ammunition and artillery shells and staged an unprecedented surprise landing exercise.
A South Korean military source on Monday said the North Korean military has recently instructed patrol boats and coast artillery batteries under the West Sea Navy fleet in Nampo to stockpile more than double the amount of ammunition and shells they keep in normal times. That could be preparation for a possible clash with South Korea.
The surprise landing exercise on the west coast involved high-speed air-cushioned landing craft. The same source said a landing exercise during the month of June was unprecedented in North Korea. "The exercise seems to be a kind of saber-rattling," he said. He suggested that the North is attempting to show South Korea that it could carry out a provocation by a surprise landing.
GNP lawmakers ask President Lee to address the people’s grief
To counter “Roh effect,” GNP special committee also recommends personnel reform in party leadership, the Cabinet, and the Cheong Wa Dae
» Lawmaker Won Hee-ryong presides over the Grand National Party (GNP) special committee on political reform at GNP headquarters in Yeouido, June 1.
A Grand National Party (GNP) special committee on political reform chaired by Rep. Won Hee-ryong called on President Lee Myung-bak to issue a statement to address people’s grief. Won also demanded a shakeup in the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) and government personnel in order to cope with a decrease in support for the GNP since the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
Civic organizations ask President Lee to apologize for Roh’s death
Talk of a referendum of no confidence in the government spreads, and citizens demand the resignation of Prosecutor General Lim and Minister of Justice Kim
» Family members pay their respects to the late former President Roh Moo-hyun at the incense burning place in Bongwha Villige located in South Gyungsang Province on June 1, a week after his suicide death.
Civic organizations asked President Lee Myung-bak to apologize for the former President Roh Moo-hyun’s death on Monday. They also urged him to dismiss Public Prosecutor General Lim Chae-jin and Minister of Justice Kim Kyung-han.
Experts forecast a gloomy June for Korea’s already unstable peninsula
[Analysis] Observers anticipate a vicious circle of sanctions and provocations with N. Korea, while Lee administration seeks a hardline Obama administration position
» U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Susan Rice, center, leaves a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council of the UN plus Japan and South Korea, during which the ambassadors talked about North Korea, at the UN Headquarters building in New York, June 1. (AFP)
The instability of the Korean Peninsula seems to be getting gloomier. Diplomacy has been caught in a cycle of confrontation since North Korea fired a long-range rocket on April 5, and tensions are on a continuous high in this situation in which one never knows if someone might pull the trigger. Experts meanwhile are saying that a forecast for the month of June is impossible, however, indicate that a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea, the South Korea-U.S. summit in Washington on June 16, and North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or an accidental clash in the West Sea will serve as major factors.
From the perspective of projecting a forecast, the problem is that all these factors could very possibly be bearish ones that trip up everyone. Firstly, the UNSC resolution for sanctions on North Korea is expected to be stronger than Resolution 1708, which was passed in October 2006. It appears the core content of the current resolution will be financial sanctions on North Korea. In the case of 2006 sanctions, North Korea responded by readying additional nuclear tests, but China mediated, and in accordance with a tripartite agreement between North Korea, China and the U.S., the six-party talks were restarted and things proceeded towards negotiations.
Police destroy memorial for late President Roh
Immediately following the public funeral service, riot police destroy the citizen’s memorial in front of Duksu Palace and blockade Seoul Plaza again
» A citizen grips the portrait of the late President Roh Moo-hyun amid the police destruction of the incense burning place in front of Duksu Palace at dawn on May 30, the morning following the public funeral service.
Immediately following the public funeral service for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, riot police destroyed the incense burning place for the late president and began arresting people indiscriminately.
At 5:30 a.m. May 30, the day following the public funeral service for Roh, the police raid and destruction of a memorial site for Roh that citizen’s had spontaneously created last week in front of Duksu Palace in the center of Seoul came as something of a surprise. At that time, seven volunteers had been sleeping in a tent pitched in front of the public incense burning site. A man only identified as 52 years old and by the surname of Kim, said, “I was surprised to find that more than 300 riot police holding clubs were surrounding the incense burning site.”
More than half of Koreans believe President Lee must apologize for Roh’s death
A survey shows support for the resignation of the Justice Ministry and Prosecutor General, and a Democratic Party lead over the Grand National Party
» The monks of Bongwon temple located in Seoul hold a service for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun in front of Duksu Palace, May 31.
In a telephone poll conducted by Hankyoreh and Research Plus, an opinion poll and marketing research company, on Saturday, more than half of Koreans believe that President Lee Myung-bak must apologize for the death of late former President Roh Moo-hyun. On this item, 56 percent of respondents believe Lee should apologize, while 37.5 percent said they did not agree with an apology. Another 51.6 percent also believe members of the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor General should resign over this incident.
An estimated two in three respondents, or 59.3 percent, agreed that Roh’s death was a result of the current president’s acts of political retaliation, while 34.7 percent disagreed. On the question item who shouldered the greatest responsibility, nearly half or 47.4 percent indicated prosecutors and ruling forces, while 27.9 percent said President Roh himself, and 15.5 percent said the media. Of the 47.4 percent, 22.7 percent selected prosecutors as the main parties responsible, 14.2 percent selected President Lee, and 10.5 percent selected the ruling Grand National Party (GNP).
‘Roh effect’ changes South Korea‘s political terrain
Survey shows support for DP has increased by region and age, while analysts suggest it could just mean GNP supporters have gone into temporary hiding
» The graph shows that the approval ratings for opposition Democratic Party(27.1 percent) exceed those for the ruling Grand National Party (18.7 percent) in the end of the May.
Experts are predicting that the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun will have a significant effect on changes in the political terrain.
First, a survey conducted recently by the Hankyoreh showed a reversal in support rates between the top two parties compared to four years earlier in the first half of 2005. According to the Hankyoreh’s cumulative data, the Uri Party, or the previous incarnation of the Democratic Party (DP), entered the general election with an overwhelming edge amid the impeachment crisis of April 2004. However, in the second half of the same year, their support ratings began to drop amid slow progress for four pieces of reform legislation, including an amendment to the National Security Act. By March 2, 2005, a survey showed that the Grand National Party (GNP) had overtaken them.
In a conversation with the Hankyoreh, Yun Ho-jung, head of the DP’s strategic planning committee, expressed astonishment with the ’Roh Moo-hyun effect,’ saying, “The support ratings had not budged even with all kinds of crazy business like party dissolutions, secessions and the forming of new parties or the party’s name changes from the Uri Party to the United New Democratic Party and the United Democratic Party. But, this time it moved.”
Over 500 thousand gather at Seoul Plaza to mourn Roh
S. Korea’s 16th president passes on amid people's shouts of “Our apologies to Roh Moo-hyun, Resurrect Roh Moo-hyun”
» Approximately 500 thousand people gather for the public funeral service held for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun at Seoul’s City Hall Plaza, May 29.
Korean people flew an abundance of yellow paper planes carrying rage, sorrow and hope on May 29, the day “Roh Moo-hyun, the Fool's”funeral ceremony was held. “Roh Moo-hyun, the Fool” is a term of endearment for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun. Citizens coined the phrase when they found that the late former president had devoted himself with great sacrifice and sincerity to the goal of breaking regionalism during his election campaign.
His body left his hometown Bongwha Village located in South Gyungsang Province at dawn and arrived at Kyungbok Palace where his funeral service was held.
When reading the memorial address, former Prime Minister Han Myung-suk’s voice trembled. She and others who spoke during the memorial service expressed their grief and sorrow.
Approximately 500 thousand Korean people gathered at Seoul’s City Hall Plaza carrying yellow balloons to send Roh off. Several citizens started to wail when Roh’s body was hearsed at City Hall Plaza. People shouted, “Our apologies to Roh Moo-hyun, Resurrect Roh Moo-hyun.”
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