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Ex-Spy Chief Lee Dies at 85
Lee Hu-rak, former head of South Korea's state intelligence agency known for a secret trip to North Korea in 1972 to broker a historic inter-Korean agreement, died Saturday of age-related causes, his family said. He was 85.
Lee, the right-hand man of late former President Park Chung-hee, served as director of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency from 1970-1973. He was notorious for oppressing dissidents against Park's iron-fisted rule. Park seized power through a coup in 1961 and ruled the country until 1979 when he was assassinated by another close confidant.
Lee secretly traveled to Pyongyang in 1972, where he met then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung to pave the way for a landmark inter-Korean agreement on the principles for reunification, named the "July 4 South-North Joint Communique."
Lee was elected to the National Assembly in 1979 but was prohibited from political activity the following year on corruption charges as a new military junta took power following Park's death. He was freed from the restriction in 1985 but stayed out of politics until his death.
Lee was admitted to a Seoul hospital in May where he received treatment for his illness that worsened recently, according to Yonhap News Agency.
He is survived by four sons and one daughter.
College Instructor Charged with Spying for N.Korea
Prosecutors on Thursday arrested a college instructor on charges of handing military secrets to North Korea for 17 years. Suwon District Prosecutors' Office identified the 37-year-old instructor at a college in Gyeonggi Province by his surname Lee. He was charged with handing over military secrets to North Korea in return for huge amounts of money for 17 years after being wooed by a North Korean agent while studying abroad.
Koreans' Love Affair with Quick Foods
Without coffee mix, coffee would probably never have grown so popular in Korea. Coffee was first introduced to Korea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the country began to open its doors to the West. Instant coffee was smuggled into marketplaces from U.S. military bases after the Korean War, but coffee remained an occasional treat, served when guests were invited. But when Dongsuh Food launched its own instant coffee in 1970, coffee instantly became a national drink. Before then there were popular traditional beverages like sujeonggwa (fruit punch), sweet rice drink, barley tea and ginger tea, but none were so favored as a dessert drink the way coffee was.
In 1976, Dongsuh Food invented "coffee mix" -- a single-serving packet of coffee mixed with sugar and powdered milk -- for the first time in the world. Doctors warn that drinking too much of it can increase the likelihood of heart disease, but Koreans cannot seem to turn away from the convenience of coffee mix. Despite the burgeoning of fancy takeout coffee shops like Starbucks, which offer superior taste with freshly brewed coffee, instant coffee accounts for around 90 percent of all coffee consumed in Korea.
NIS Chief Avoids Denying Secret Inter-Korean Meeting
National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-hoon on Thursday pointedly avoided denying rumors of a behind-the-scenes meeting between the two Koreas to prepare for a summit. Won was being questioned in a closed-door parliamentary audit at NIS headquarters.
"We can't confirm it because there is a counterpart" to the meeting, Grand National Party lawmaker Chung Chin-sup and Democratic Party lawmaker Park Young-sun, two ranking members of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, quoted Won as saying. The remark is being read as an indirect admission that the meeting took place.
Hansik Globalization Body Planned
By Kim Hyun-cheol
A private foundation will be established this year as part of Korea's campaign to globalize homegrown cuisine, or hansik, Minister for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chang Tae-pyong said Tuesday.
"From next year, academic experts, entrepreneurs and government officials will join forces for a comprehensive and systematic drive to globalize local foods," Chang said in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times at his office on the occasion of the paper's 59th anniversary which falls on Nov. 1
"The foundation will be in charge of charting strategies and implementing programs to make home-grown cuisine popular worldwide," he said.
This year was a preparatory period for promoting Korean food, according to Chang.
He said the campaign was generally satisfactory as foreigners have begun to appreciate the uniqueness of local cuisine.
From next year, a more concrete campaign will start, including commercializing Korean foods and helping local firms and restaurants advance overseas.
Much of the budget will be spent on helping as many Korean restaurants as possible to open overseas, and on marketing local foods, he added.
NK Ministry Behind July Cyber Attacks: Spy Chief
The nation's spy agency has named North Korea's telecommunications ministry as the origin of a series of cyber attacks in July on scores of state and private Web sites in South Korea and the United States, lawmakers said Friday.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) had initially assumed North Korea was the likely cause of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that affected 26 targets, including the Web sites of the presidential offices in Seoul and Washington.
But the latest comments mark the first time the agency has named a specific organ as the user of the Internet protocol (IP) address linked to the attacks.
"Our search into the route of the DDoS attacks on South Korean and U.S. sites found a line coming from China," NIS chief Won Sei-hoon said in a closed-door meeting of the National Assembly intelligence committee on Thursday.
"The line was found to be on the IP that the North Korean Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is using on rent (from China)," he said. His remarks were quoted by committee lawmakers who attended the meeting.
The two faces of Park Chung Hee
Historians still debate Park’s legacy as an authoritarian ruler and the man who industrialized the nation.
October 29, 2009
Like Jekyll and Hyde, former South Korean President Park Chung Hee (1917-1979) has two faces.
One is that of a ruthless military general who liked guns and led a bloody coup d’etat. The other is of a man who sought to escape poverty and spent time with ordinary people drinking makgeolli, the Korean rice wine long popular among tired and hungry farmers.
It’s been 30 years since he died. And historians still debate which of Park’s faces Koreans should embrace.
Seoul mulls German model for release of detainees in the North
Seoul recently said it was reviewing a German model of secretly offering money or merchandise in exchange for the release of South Koreans held against their will in North Korea - apparently making it harder to adopt the idea.
It is estimated that about 560 South Koreans, mostly prisoners of war and fishermen whose boats strayed across the maritime border, are currently held in the North.
The Unification Ministry assigned an affiliate think tank last year to conduct a research on the German "freikauf" program and how South Korea should apply it for its own use.
Between 1963 and 1989, West Germany brought back some 31,700 political prisoners from East Germany by paying some 3.4 billion German marks, or about $51,000 per person.
The entire process was highly confidential, with the church, instead of the West German government, negotiating for repatriation.
Barbed wires 'cut northward' at Korean border where alleged defection occurred
The barbed wire through which a South Korean man is believed to have entered North Korea this week was "torn from south to north," a defense official here said Wednesday, supporting Pyongyang's claim of defection.
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Tuesday a 30-year-old South Korean farmer named Kang Tong-rim crossed the border to fulfill his long "desire for defection," according to Yonhap News.
Park Sung-woo, spokesperson for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the barbed wire at Kang's former army base indicates that someone recently crossed from south to north.
How Can We Break the N.Korean Nuclear Impasse?
Kim Chang-ki Kim Chang-ki
President Lee Myung-bak on Saturday said, "There is no indication that North Korea has decided to abandon its nuclear weapons." He was apparently explaining why behind-the-scenes talks about an inter-Korean summit came to naught.
[SK NK policy]
S. Korean Resident Defects to DPRK
Pyongyang, October 27 (KCNA) -- Kang Tong Rim, 30, who resided in Polgyo Township, Posong County, South Jolla Province of south Korea, Monday came over to the northern half of Korea by crossing the Military Demarcation Line in the eastern sector of the front.
According to him, he served in the First Platoon of the 9th Company under the 3rd Battalion of the 56th Regiment, the 22nd Division of the south Korean army, from September 2001 to November 2003. During the military service he made several attempts for defection with his longing for the northern half of Korea, but in vain.
After being discharged he worked at the Samsung Semiconductor Company as a worker and then left it. He was employed at a pig farm in Polgyo Township before defection.
He is pleased with the accomplishment of his desire for defection.
He is now under the warm care of a relevant organ.
Legacy of Park
Time to Discern Merits and Faults of Ex-President
Few Korean leaders have received more contrasting evaluations than former President Park Chung-hee, who died 30 years ago Monday.
With the passage of a generation since his grim end, the time has long past for Korean society to put Park's 18-year-long rule in order by carefully dividing what he did well from what he did wrong, rather than making a simple, dichotomous categorization of successful industrialization and failed democratization.
Gap with North still wide
October 27, 2009
South Korea’s economy stayed well ahead of the North last year as Pyongyang’s closed economic system hampered its trade and other outbound business activities, government data showed yesterday.
According to the data provided by the Finance Ministry and the National Statistical Office, South Korea’s total trade volume amounted to $857.3 billion last year, 225.6 times larger than the North’s $3.8 billion. South Korea’s exports totaled $422.0 billion compared with $1.1 billion posted by the North, while its imports came to $435.3 billion compared with $2.7 billion by the Stalinist country, the data showed.
The income gap also remained wide between the two Koreas. South Korea’s gross national income stood at $934.7 billion last year, 37.7 times larger than the North’s GNI of $24.8 billion during the same year. South Korea’s per-capita GNI was 18.1 times larger than North Korea’s, the data showed.
In the manufacturing sector, the disparity was more evident. South Korea churned out 4.08 million cars and had a steel-producing capacity of 51.51 million tons in 2007, with the North manufacturing a mere 5,000 vehicles and maintaining a steel capacity of 1.23 million tons in the same year, data showed. The latest tally showed South Korea outperforming the North in both the energy and agriculture sectors, generating 403.1 billion kilowatt hours in 2007 to the North’s 23.6 billion. The South also produced 4.4 million tons of rice, the North, 1.5 million tons.
North Korea did outpace its southern counterpart in the mining industry, with coal production of 24.1 million tons in 2007 compared to the South’s 2.9 million tons, according to the data. Experts attribute the wide economic gap mainly to the North’s closed economic system 9Sic0
[Spin] [Media] [Inversion]
The Exquisite Corpses of Nature and History: The Case of the Korean DMZ
Julia Adeney Thomas
Environmental protection in the Korean DMZ is purely accidental. In 1953, no one gave a thought to protecting wildlife when a temporary truce halted the fighting there. Instead, North and South Korea and their respective allies wanted only to end the human savagery that had killed 10 percent of the peninsula’s civilian population and resulted in military casualties numbering, on one side, 900,000 Chinese and 520,000 North Korean troops, and, on the other, 400,000 United Nations troops.1 The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea backed by the Soviet Union and the Chinese invaded South Korea in an attempt to reunify the nation, a nation divided in the last days of World War II. The 1953 truce, still in effect today, created a narrow no-man’s land roughly along the 38th parallel where no army is supposed to go. Although called the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ, this thin ribbon of territory is decidedly militarized. As the American GIs there say, “there ain’t no D in the DMZ.”2 Unlike every other inch of dry land on the planet besides Antarctica, the Korean DMZ falls outside the control of any single military or any single nation. It is truly a no-man’s land. Reckless human violence has necessitated the evacuation of all human beings, and the unintended result is a zone left free for other species. Although the consequences of the continued low-grade war have been tragic for humans, other creatures have flourished because of our relative absence.
Gov't Promises More Transparent Dealings with N.Korea
A Cheong Wa Dae staffer on Sunday admitted that inter-Korean discussions have reached "confusing proportions" following a week of speculation and reports that a secret meeting took place in Singapore to discuss the possibility of a summit. The official admitted that there is a need for the government to review the channels for such behind-the-scenes negotiations and the way inter-Korean summits are prepared.
Koreans find new ways to honor Ahn
A host of events mark the 100th anniversary of the shooting of colonial Korea’s first resident general
October 26, 2009
A bust of Ahn Jung-geun inside a memorial museum in Lushun, China that just opened to honor those that fought for Korea’s independence. [YONHAP]
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a hero and the death of a statesman.
On the morning of Oct. 26, 1909, at Harbin Station in the city of the same name in northeastern China, Japanese statesman Hirobumi Ito and his entourage got off the train. At that moment, a young man in a black suit approached Ito through the crowd. Three shots rang out. When the smoke cleared, Ito was dead.
The 68-year-old Japanese nobleman was one of the founders of modern Japan and its first colonial ruler over occupied Korea. The daring shooter was Ahn Jung-geun (1879-1910).
[Terrorism] [Japanese colonialism]
888th Wednesday Rally Held in S. Korea
Pyongyang, October 25 (KCNA) -- Victims of the sexual slavery joined the members of the Council for the Solution of the Issue of the Volunteers' Corps, the Puchon Citizens Federation and other civic and social organizations of south Korea in their 888th Wednesday rally held in Seoul on Oct. 21 for the solution to the issue of the "comfort women" for the Imperial Japanese Army.
[Comfort women] [Japanese colonialism] [War crimes] [Joint Korean]
Brothers in South, North Locked in Legal Battle Over Inheritance
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Half-siblings in North and South Korea are involved in a legal dispute over their deceased father's fortune.
The Seoul Central District Court held the first trial of the suit filed on behalf of four North Korean residents by their sister, identified as Yoon, who is a South Korean resident.
She filed the case against her stepmother and half siblings in the South to divide the fortune left by their late father.
The eldest daughter, Yoon came to South Korea during the Korean War with her father, leaving her mother and four other siblings in the North. In the South, he reported his wife was dead and remarried. He died in 1987, leaving a fortune of 10 billion won.
Inter-Korean summit rumors illustrate irregular diplomacy route
As analysts say both Koreas are making gestures that fall short of realizing a successful inter-Korean ministerial summit, speculation abounds about whether they are merely putting on an appearance of an effort in response to pressu
Over the past few days, rumors have been spreading about meetings taking place between North Korea and South Korea in preparation for a possible inter-Korean summit. It is an odd situation in which the customers are being gathered even though the store has not yet opened its doors.
Makgeolli rice wine exports up this year
October 24, 2009
Exports of traditional Korean rice wine surged by more than 20 percent in the first nine months of this year mainly due to strong demand from Japan, a government report said yesterday.
Exports of makgeolli, or rice wine, reached $3.56 million totaling 4,380 tons up until September, the Korea Customs Service said.
This marks a 24.1 percent on-year gain from 3,530 tons worth of the alcoholic beverage exported in the three quarters of 2008, it said. In terms of value, this year’s exports gained 23.2 percent from the $2.89 million tallied for the year before.
Two Koreas 'in Secret Singapore Meeting'
There were secret contacts between the two Koreas in Singapore during Oct. 15-20, possibly to discuss an inter-Korean summit, South Korean officials have admitted. Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials said Kim Yang-gon, the director of North Korea's United Front Department, secretly visited China and contacted a South Korean official. The official has not been identified but is believed to be unconnected to the Unification Ministry.
Moving inter-Korean summit one step closer?
While Cheong Wa Dae goes on record denying a meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore took place, S. Korean officials confirm details about discussing Kim Jong-il’s visit to South Korea
» Kim Yang-geon, the head of the United Front Department of the North Korean Workers’ Party, left, meets with Hyun In-taek, the Unification Minister at the Unification Ministry located in Seoul, Aug. 23.
It was reported by KBS on Thursday that high-ranking officials from South Korea and North Korea met in Singapore to discuss the possibility of an inter-Korean summit.
KBS news confirmed that Kim Yang-geon, the head of the United Front Department of the North Korean Workers’ Party and Won Dong-yeon, the director of Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC), met with high ranking officials from South Korea at Singapore just following their visit to Beijing, Oct. 15.
According to the news, he South Korean high-ranking official said a change in North Korea’s nuclear policy towards complete abolition as a precondition for an inter-Korean summit was discussed during the meeting. He also said that economic aid to North Korea should not serve as a precondition.
2 Koreas 'Preparing for Summit'
A senior government source on Wednesday admitted that North Korea "now wants an inter-Korean summit." But when asked about details, he added, "No comment."
When an assistant U.S. defense secretary last week told reporters that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il invited President Lee Myung-bak to a summit, both Cheong Wa Dae and the White House denied it. But something seems to be afoot.
[SK NK relations] [Overtures]
Location Seen as Key to Inter-Korean Summit
President Lee Myung-bak is apparently reluctant to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, not only because he wants to see progress in North Korea's nuclear dismantlement first but also because he does not want to go cap-in-hand to Pyongyang like previous presidents, sources close to Cheong Wa Dae say.
Seoul May Buy Satellites to Spy on N. Korea
South Korea may buy four spy satellites over the next decade to monitor North Korea, according to the Defense Ministry Wednesday.
"Our ministry has been considering it but no decision has been made yet on who will be involved and details have yet to be fixed," a spokesman told AFP.
He was commenting on a media report that said the ministry would forge technological cooperation with countries including Germany to secure the satellites.
South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, quoting what it said was an internal ministry document, reported that the military plans to spend 600-700 billion won ($514-600 million) by 2020 to buy four spy satellites.
The ministry reportedly said Korea could acquire them relatively cheaply before 2020 if it joins forces with nations such as Germany, which have already developed spy satellites.
The ministry said its own multipurpose satellites, either in space or ready for launch, are unsuitable for military activities since they were developed for the private sector.
The United States, which bases 28,500 troops in South Korea, provides some satellite intelligence on the hard-line communist North to its ally.
[Military balance] [Friction] [Espionage]
'President's Brother Meets NK Official'
By Lee Hyo-sik
A top North Korean official and a South Korean politician may have met in Jakarta, Indonesia, to test the waters for a possible inter-Korean summit, local broadcaster MBC reported Tuesday.
Citing an unidentified diplomatic source in Beijing, MBC reported that Kim Yang-gon, North Korea's point man on the South, and Lee Sang-deuk, a governing Grand National Party lawmaker and brother to President Lee Myung-bak, may have met in the Southeast Asian capital, to prepare for the possible meeting.
[SK NK relations]
Pop culture making inroads into North Korea
Technology makes North's isolation more difficult
By Park Soo-mee
Oct 8, 2009, 06:33 AM ET
SEOUL -- Ten years ago, when Kim Heung-gwang was still teaching computer science at a
university in Pyongyang, you would be considered a serious political criminal if you had
watched smuggled films or TV dramas produced by your enemy states -- South Korea and the
Often, the penalty was as severe as five years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp.
But now, such incidents have become so common on the North's college campuses and rural
villages that the sentence has been reduced to the relatively minor penalty of unpaid labor
of three months or less.
"It's safe to assume that a majority of North Korean residents have watched a South Korean
film or a soap opera at least once," said Kim, who left North Korea in 2004, and established
a think-tank in Seoul called the "North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity."
Voices raised against target crackdown on undocumented migrant workers
» Members of "Free Minu! Stop Crackdown!" urge the government to release a human rights activist who has been targeted and caught by the South Korean government in a crackdown on undocumented migrants in front of the Seoul Immigration Office located in Seoul‘s Sinjeong Neighborhood, Oct. 14.
Demands for rights for undocumented migrant workers who have become integrated members of civil society grow louder over the detention of a human rights activist
In the wake of a hurricane crackdowns on undocumented migrant workers and the detention of 33-year-old Nepali musician and cultural activist Minu (real name Minod Moktan) by the Korea Immigration Service, protests over target crackdowns are growing.
[Human rights] [Migration]
Inter-Korean Thaw Sparks Rumors
Rumor is rife about behind-the-scenes meetings between the two Koreas, especially since a U.S. official claimed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il invited President Lee Myung-bak to a summit.
An academic who advises the government on North Korea policies said, "Rumor has it that a former corporate CEO who is close to Lee is meeting with a North Korean official in a third country like China. Such rumors seem to be rampant because no one can find traces of the National Intelligence Service or the Unification Ministry making contact with North Korean agencies as they did under previous governments."
[Overtures] [SK NK relations]
ran Offers to Mediate Between Two Koreas
Iran's top diplomat says his country is willing to take the role of mediator in a bid to ease tensions across the Korean border.
Iran's official news agency IRNA reported that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the offer to visiting South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon on Sunday.
U.S. Official Says Kim Jong-il Invited Lee for Summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has invited President Lee Myung-bak for a summit, a senior official with the U.S. Defense Department claimed Sunday. He cited the putative invitation as an example of a change in the North toward more friendly relations with its neighbors.
The official was talking in a press briefing for journalists accompanying U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on his way to Asian security talks and a NATO conference. He did not say when Kim invited Lee and what South Korea's reaction was, but publicly announcing a delicate matter between two third countries would still appear to be unusual in international protocol.
Did N.Korea Propose a Summit?
A high-ranking U.S. Defense Department official told reporters last Wednesday North Korea is unexpectedly taking a conciliatory stance, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il inviting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to visit. The comments came during a briefing explaining the itinerary of Defense Secretary Robert Gates during his visit to Seoul on Thursday for the annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM).
N.Korean Hackers Infiltrated S.Korean Military Networks
South Korea's military Internet network was breached for 24 hours by North Korean hackers on March 5, causing around 2,000 national secrets to leak, according to the November issue of the Monthly Chosun out Sunday.
North Korean cyber warfare unit stole confidential information from the Chemical Accident Response Information System (CARIS) set up by the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) using a password obtained from hacking South Korean Army command. A NIER official is quoted as saying, "Our system was hacked into on March 5 and we received a call from the National Intelligence Service on March 6 informing us that our Internet link with Army command had been severed."
Marching for peace and nonviolence
The participants in the World March for Peace and Nonviolence (WMPN, www.theworldmarch.org) continue their journey after viewing North Korean territory from Kangwha Island on Oct. 16, one day after the delegation's arrival in South Korea.
WMPN consists of approximately 40 peace organizations, including World Without Wars, who initiated the march. About 20 participants began the march in New Zealand on Oct. 2.
Koreas fail to agree on more reunions
The inter-Korean Red Cross talks ended yesterday as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on Seoul's proposal to hold more cross-border reunion events for separated families.
"We suggested holding family reunions in Seoul and Pyongyang in November, and again on Lunar New Year's Day (in February) at the Mount Geumgang resort, and repeatedly stressed the importance of making them a regular event," said a Unification Ministry official on condition of anonymity.
"The North did not deny the need for more family reunions but did not show any positive response either."
As expected earlier, North Korea renewed its request for humanitarian aid from the South.
Seoul to Pitch Arms Sales in Air Show
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea is preparing to make all-out efforts to promote and market its indigenous weapons systems to foreign nations during the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2009, opening next Tuesday.
[Arms sales] [Military balance]
N.Korea Sends Confused Messages
North Korea declared an alert Thursday against South Korean intrusions into its waters. The warning came in a statement the North Korean Navy released by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency.
"Some 16 South Korean combat boats intruded into our waters on 10 occasions on Monday alone, claiming that our fishing boats, which were engaged in normal fishing operations, had violated their waters," the North Korean Navy claimed.
The statement said South Korean naval ships seemed to have the "intention to defend the illegally-defined 'Northern Limit Line' under the pretext of cracking down" on North Korean fishing boats. "We shall not sit idly by," it warned. "South Korean military authorities should be clearly aware that warnings will be followed by action."
Asiana to Serve Free Korean Rice Wine to Passengers
With its growing popularity in Korea and Japan, traditional rice wine or makgeolli has made its way onto passenger airplanes. Asiana Airlines said Thursday it will serve the thick, white rice wine to all customers for free on all 22 flights linking Korea and Japan.
The in-flight makgeolli is a specially modified strain made with fermented raw rice. Without odor, it is rich in dietary fiber and decarbonated. Along with the drink, the airline will also serve dotori (acorn) muk, a jelly-like traditional side dish. A company official said makgeolli is popular because it is healthier than other alcoholic drinks and tastes good. The carrier has decided to serve the rice wine on board to help promote Korean cuisine abroad and boost the consumption of rice.
S. Korea’s historical responsibility to Vietnam
President Lee Myung-bak plans to depart for a two-day visit to Vietnam as a state guest starting Oct. 20. This will be the fifth visit to Vietnam by a sitting South Korean President, and follows former President Kim Young-sam’s visit in 1997, late President Kim Dae-jung’s visit in 1998, and late Roh Moo-hyun’s visits in 2004 and 2006. Ever since South Korea and Vietnam overcame a painful past to establish diplomatic relations in 1992, their relationship has made rapid progress in many aspects, including politics, economy, culture and military affairs. Last year, some 500 thousand people traveled between the two countries, and each nation has some 80 thousand to 90 thousand citizens residing in the other. Around 60 to 70 percent of Vietnam’s 90 million people enjoy Korean films and TV programs, while more than 40 thousand Vietnamese women have come to live in South Korea through international marriages. These numbers give an indication of the breadth and depth of advancements in the two countries’ relationship.
South Korea, however, has already done something to hurt the Vietnamese people’s pride ahead of this momentous occasion. In their announcement of plans to introduce legislation to amend the Act on the Honorable Treatment and Support of Persons of Distinguished Services to the State, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs inserted a passage describing the Vietnam War as having “contributed to preserving world peace.” After strong objections from Vietnam, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan hurried to Vietnam to put out the highly urgent fire. This is unlikely, however, to have healed the deep wound the Vietnamese people bear in their hearts.
In an interview with Yonhap News, Vietnam’s ambassador to South Korea, Pham Tien Van, said, “The truth is that South Korea inflicted harm on Vietnam in the past by participating in the war, however, we have never mentioned that fact in order to preserve good future relations between Vietnam and South Korea.”
e hope that during this Vietnam visit, President Lee takes a more advanced stance than those of previous presidents and shows the courage to look squarely at the pain South Korea caused the Vietnamese people. If we consider the way Koreans react when Japan glorifies its colonial rule, we can easily determine what our approach should be in facing this issue.
[Imperialism] [Tribute] [War crimes]
Halt to Intrusion of S. Korean Warships into DPEK Waters Demanded
Pyongyang, October 15 (KCNA) -- The Navy Command of the Korean People's Army released the following report Wednesday in connection with the south Korean military warmongers' unceasing serious military provocations in the waters on the extension of the frontline in the West Sea of Korea:
On Oct. 12 alone the warmongers infiltrated 16 warships into the territorial waters of the north side south of Kuwol Peak in Ssanggyo-ri, Kangryong County, South Hwanghae Province on 10 occasions, asserting that fishing boats of the north side "intruded" into their waters despite the fact that they were engaged in routine fishing operations.
The reckless military provocations by warships of the south Korean navy have created such a serious situation that naval clash may break out between the two sides in these waters.
Koreas Hold Talks Over Family Reunions
A South Korean delegation met with North Korean officials on Friday to discuss cross-border family reunions and humanitarian aid, the latest in a series of inter-Korean meetings to defrost ties between the two sides, Yonhap News reproted.
Retired Gen. Arrested on Charges of Leaking Secrets
A former South Korean Air Force major general was arrested Friday on charges of leaking classified information on long-term air power enforcement programs, including a multi-million-dollar fighter development project, to a Swedish defense firm, prosecutors here said.
The retired officer, identified only by his last name Kim, allegedly handed over confidential information related to the so-called KF-X program, aimed at developing stealth fighters, to the Seoul branch office of Saab, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said.
[Corruption] [Espionage] [Arms sales]
New Fighter Jets Chronically Short of Spare Parts
Faced with a shortage of spare parts for its newest F-15K fighter jets, the Air Force is resorting to stripping components from one jet and putting them into another to keep them flying.
According to documents the Air Force submitted to Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Jang-soo, who heads the National Assembly's Defense Committee, the rate of availability of new spare parts for F-15K fighter jets was 16 percent last year, compared to between 70 to 80 percent for other fighter planes.
N.Korea Is Back on Top of Its Game
North Korea fired five short-range missiles from its eastern coast on Monday capable of hitting targets 120 km away. The missiles pose one of the greatest threats to South Korea. North Korea also declared an area off South Pyongan Province in the west off-limits to ships, which suggests it is preparing to fire missiles from its western coast as well.
Korea Could Ride a New 'Beauty Wave'
Kim Chul-joong Kim Chul-joong
Women walking down the streets of the Apgujeong-dong or Sinsa-dong areas of Gangnam with bandages around their noses or eyes speaking English or Chinese have become a common sight. They make the long trip for cosmetic surgery in the clinics of those areas, mostly from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam or other Asian countries.
One plastic surgery clinic in Gangnam set aside an entire floor for Chinese patients, testifying to the rise of that part of Seoul as the hub of cosmetic surgery in Asia.
Inter-Korean Relations Show Signs of Thaw
Icy inter-Korean relations are starting to show signs of improvement. North Korea on Wednesday expressed "regret" over the deaths of six South Koreans caused by an abrupt discharge of dam water north of the border last month, and South Korea is expected to resume humanitarian aid to the North. "Issues of the joint Kaesong Industrial Estate and package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort will be taken up the next time," a senior official said Wednesday.
Tension between N.Korea and S.Korea over Imjin River flood disaster removed
Observers look to Friday’s Red Cross talks to see if foundation for high-level talks can be set
» The representatives of South Korea on inter-Korea dialogue head to Kaesong through the Dorasan C.I.Q. in Paju City located in Gyeonggi Province for discussions regarding Imjin River flood prevention, Oct. 14.
Factors contributing to tensions between North Korea and South Korea resulting from the Imjin River flood disaster were removed Wednesday at an inter-Korean working-level meeting held 38 days after the incident occurred. During the meeting, North Korea expressed its regrets and condolences on the incident where an unannounced discharge of water from the Hwanggang Dam resulted in the deaths of six South Koreans last month. The South Korean government, which has been calling for a formal apology, immediately announced that its acceptance of the “apology.” Some observers are predicting that the mood for inter-Korean dialogue will carry over to Friday’s Red Cross meeting.
North Korea Warns of Naval Clash
North Korea Thursday accused South Korea of habitually violating a border in the West Sea and warned it will respond with military action should the violations continue.
"The South Korean military authorities' intrusion of warships into the territorial waters of the north side is part of their premeditated moves to deliberately escalate tension in the waters, a hotbed of conflict, and deteriorate the north-south relations once again," the Navy Command of the Korean People's Army said in a report carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea expresses rare regret (sic) over flood deaths
Wednesday, October 14, 2009; 1:37 AM
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea Wednesday expressed regret that its release of water into a river that flows across a military border with the South killed six campers downstream last month, a rare admission of fault by the reclusive state.
Seoul on Alert for More N.Korean Missile Tests
The South Korean military is on the alert for more North Korean short-range missile tests after the North declared a navigation ban also in the West Sea after firing five short-range missiles into the East Sea on Monday.
[Resolution1874] [Sanctions] [US NK policy]
N.Korea Test-Fires 5 Short-Range Missiles
A South Korean official says North Korea test-fired five short-range missiles Monday off the east coast of the communist state. The official says North Korea warned vessels to avoid its east coast from Oct. 10 to 20, an indication that it was planning missile launches. No other details of the missile test were available.
North Korea has carried out several short-range missile tests in recent years off its east and west coasts. South Korean officials have interpreted them as routine military exercises.
Korea to Build 6 'Mini Aegis' Destroyers
The Navy will build six 5,600-ton "mini Aegis" destroyers. Navy headquarters announced the plan in a parliamentary audit at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters on Tuesday, pledging to use the destroyers as part of the main naval combat fleet.
The KDX-IIIA "mini" destroyers are upgrades from the 4,500 ton-class KDX-II without the Aegis capabilities and smaller than the 7,600 ton-class Aegis KDX-III.
The Navy currently has six KDX-II destroyers, including the Munmu the Great, and one KDX-III -- the King Sejong the Great. It pledged to operate an "efficient mobile naval combat fleet" by building the KDX-IIAs from 2019 until 2026. The project will cost more than W3 trillion (US$1=W1,169).
The KDX-IIA destroyers will be equipped with state-of-the-art weapons such as reconnaissance-level high-performance radar, SM-2 guided missiles and a close-in defense weapons system.
2 Koreas Plan Talks on Flood Control, Family Reunions
North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on managing shared waterways and arranging more reunions between families separated by the 1950s war. The move toward dialogue comes despite a series of short-range missile tests by the North, which are being downplayed in the South.
South Korea's Unification Ministry says Pyongyang's launch of at least five short-range missiles did not affect Tuesday's agreement to hold talks.
Lee Jong-joo, a ministry spokesperson, says North Korea has agreed to the South's proposal to discuss flood prevention along the shared Imjin River on Oct. 14. They have also agreed to Red Cross talks on the Oct. 16 dealing with separated families.
Ex-President's Daughter in Moonie Mass Wedding
Shin Dong-uk (left) and Park Geun-ryeung at their wedding Shin Dong-uk (left) and Park Geun-ryeung at their wedding
Park Geun-ryeung, the younger daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, affirms her marriage vows in a Moonies mass wedding on Wednesday. Park and Shin Dong-uk, a professor of cultural studies at Baekseok College, tied the knot in October last year but participate in a mass wedding of the Unification Church at Sun Moon University in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, along with 7,500 other couples from 160 countries.
Shin told the Chosun Ilbo, "Although we did not convert to the Unification Church, when the idea was proposed by the church, we agreed because we wanted to get a blessing from the Rev. Moon Sun-myung, a global religious leader."
Shin denied he married Park for her political connections. "I'm aware that many people suspect that I'm using this marriage to fulfill my political ambitions. But although there were difficulties, we are living modestly and happily and rely on each other."
The colorful couple were both married before, and their union has set tongues wagging because Shin at 41 is 14 years younger than his wife. There have been rumors that the marriage met with disapproval from the bride's older sister, former Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye, and her equally colorful younger brother Park Ji-man, neither of whom attended the wedding.
The mass wedding will be broadcast live on the Internet, and thousands of couples will tie the knot simultaneously around the world, the Unification Church claimed.
Former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok says time to send an envoy to North Korea
Lee says new China-N.Korean economic relationship could displace S. Korea, and Lim Dong-won refutes Lee Administration’s position that N.Korea is yielding to sanctions
“In consideration of the trend towards expanding economic ties between North Korea and China, the strategic activation of inter-Korean economic cooperation is essential.”
At the second monthly “Korea Peace Forum” meeting held at the Dalgaebi Restaurant in Seoul’s Jongno-gu on Tuesday, former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok stressed this idea in a presentation on the path of inter-Korean relations under the North Korea nuclear issue. Lee noted that since Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s two-day visit to North Korea that started on Oct. 4, a “new economic relationship” between North Korea and China has been taking shape
[NK China] [SK NK policy] [Sanctions]
[Editorial] Using Imjin River talks to shift N.Korea policy
This week, a group of meetings is scheduled between South Korean and North Korean authorities. They have agreed to hold working-level talks in Kaesong on Wednesday in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the Imjin River flood disaster, and a Red Cross working-level meeting on Friday. Apart from the Red Cross talks, where matters such as reunions for separated families during the Chuseok holiday and humanitarian aid to North Korea were discussed, this is the first time in over three months that authorities from the two countries have met directly.
When South Korea proposed these talks and a schedule, North Korea accepted immediately without modifications. This is another indication of North Korea’s active determination to improve inter-Korean relations that has been sustained continuously ever since the mourning delegation’s visit to pay their respects at the memorial service of late President Kim Dae-jung in Aug. I
[NK SK policy] [Overtures]
Officials scramble to understand missile launches
October 14, 2009
Fighter jets yesterday take off from the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Nimitz-class U.S.S. George Washington, which is in western Korean waters for a joint drill with Korea’s Second Fleet. North Korea ratcheted up tensions by test-firing short-range missiles into the East Sea on Monday. [YONHAP]
South Korean officials yesterday were scrambling to determine the intentions behind North Korea’s test-firing of five short-range missiles into its east coast Monday.
Military sources in the South said late Monday the North fired five KN-02 short-range, ground-to-ground missiles. Two were reportedly fired in the morning and the remaining three in the afternoon.
[Military balance] [Missiles] [Double standards] [Joint US military] [Media]
N. Korea Expresses Regret Over Flood Deaths
North Korea Wednesday expressed "regrets" over the deaths of several South Koreans caused by its abrupt discharge of dam water last month.
South Korea accepted the expression as a de facto apology.
While there have been unannounced dam discharges almost every year, this year's was the first to claim human lives.
President Lee’s “grand bargain” is ignored during S. Korea-China-Japan summit
While China signals resumption of its role as six-party talks chair, S. Korea sticks to setting precondition of N. Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear program
As far as the North Korean nuclear issue is concerned, the second trilateral leaders' meeting of China, South Korea, Japan held Saturday in Beijing rearticulated a consensus between North Korean National Defense Commissioner Kim Jong-il and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on confirming China’s role as chair nation of the six-party talks following discussions between North Korea and the U.S.
[Sidelined] [SK NK policy] [Sequencing]
North’s wish to thaw ties met with caution
President Lee reaffirms in Beijing need for a nuclear-free peninsula
October 12, 2009
Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak, left, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, center, and Japan’s Premier Yukio Hatoyama, right, hold a joint news conference Saturday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, after they had a trilateral summit meeting. [YONHAP]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed his wish to thaw frozen ties with South Korea, according to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at a summit with South Korea and Japan on Saturday.
“North Korea wants to improve ties not only with the United States but also South Korea and Japan,” said the Chinese leader at a joint press conference after meeting with President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in Beijing.
Kim also asked Wen to deliver his “willingness” for improved relations between the North and the South to Lee, which the Chinese prime minister did at separate meeting with Lee in the afternoon, according to Kim Eun-hye, Blue House spokeswoman, in a press briefing. In response, Lee was quoted as saying, “I can meet [Kim Jong-il] at any time if North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons program.”
[Sequencing] [Overtures] [SK NK policy]
Conservative Groups Downgrade Kim Gu
By Do Je-hae
The conservative Lee Myung-bak administration has been taking a step back from labeling Kim Gu as the "founding father of the nation," as many Koreans have normally perceived him throughout their modern history.
Authorities have put on hold a plan confirmed during the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration to issue a 100,000-won banknote featuring Kim's face.
Ultra right-wing activists have called Kim a "left-wing politician who was against the founding of the Republic of Korea and made no contribution to the new nation," in recently published textbooks.
Such moves seemingly go against the people's general perception of Kim. In a 2008 survey by the Korea Research, 44 percent replied that they associate the establishment of the ROK government primarily with Kim, placing him ahead of Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), the nation's first President.
As the division of the newly-independent country became apparent following Korea's liberation in 1945, Kim led a delegation of former independence activists to Pyongyang to hold unification talks with Kim Il-sung in April 1948.
"Kim believed that forming a separate government in the South would lead to a similar movement in the North, which would ultimately solidify the national division and trigger armed conflict," added Shin.
His concerns turned into a reality ? shortly after Kim was assassinated in what many suspect as a right-wing conspiracy, the Korean War broke out in 1950.
[Kim Gu] [Korean War causes]
Poverty Prompted Escape of 11 N.Koreans
All 11 North Koreans who arrived in South Korea by boat on Thursday reportedly fled dire poverty at home.
"In a joint government investigation, all 11 North Koreans testified that they escaped from the North because it was hard to make a living there. I understand that none of them had any political motivation," a government source said. "The 11 people are members of two families of six and five each. All of them said they want to defect to South Korea."
S.Korean's Ordeal in N.Korean Detention
Yu Seong-jin, who was freed on Aug. 13 after 136 days of being held incommunicado in North Korea, has recounted his ordeal in North Korea in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo. Yu was an engineer for Hyundai Asan at the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Wine Wanes for Chuseok Gifts
Holidays are a traditional time for gift-giving in Korea, and such gifts tend to reflect social trends and public tastes. Looking at this year's most popular gifts for Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving can show how those tastes and trends are changing.
The most remarkable change this year is the falling popularity of wine. Just three or four years ago wine was one of the most welcome presents, widely loved for its refined packaging and convenient shelf-life. But things are different this year. While wine took up 50 to 60 percent of alcohol sales for the Chuseok holidays last year at Lotte Department Store, this year the figure is down to 40 percent, and sales of wine at E-Mart are down 7.1 percent from last year. Instead of wine, this year people are buying low-alcohol sake and traditional Korean liquors. Sales of sake at Lotte Department Store jumped 200 percent compared to Chuseok last year, reflecting the increasing popularity of the Japanese liquor among the younger generation.
President stresses strong military is vitally needed
Speech at anniversary ceremony details forces’ role
October 02, 2009
President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday he envisions a stronger military, urging South Korean troops to reform to meet a changing security environment and newly emerging threats.
Proposal for founding the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo
The proposal for founding the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo clarified in detail the organization principle, the official name of the Federal State, functions of the Federal state and regional governments, operation principle of the Federal State, character of federal state and ten point policy to be accomplished by the Federal State. The proposal for founding the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo
2nd Anniversary of October 4 North-South summit
As you know well, from Oct 2 to 4 two years ago, there were meetings and talks in Pyongyang between Kim Jong Il, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPR Korea and Roh Moo Hyun, the then president of south Korea and the top leaders signed the “Declaration for Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity”.
text of declaration
Seoul Must Take Initiative in N.Korea Issue, Says Lee
President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday said South Korea will take the initiative in global efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
Lee said South Korea "needs to make efforts to persuade participating nations of the six-party talks if it has good suggestions of its own," rather than simply following suggestions put forth by the U.S. or China. He was apparently responding to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell's admission that he had no idea about Lee's proposal of a "grand bargain" to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program.
Stronger Cultural Power to Polish National Image
Hansun Foundation for Freedom & Happiness has issued the 2009 Hansun Total National Power (TNP) Index. This is the fourth and last in a series of articles which analyze all aspects involving national power, and present tasks and strategies the nation should tackle to sharpen its competitiveness. ? ED.
By Cho Jae-hyon
South Korea's hosting of the G20 summit in November next year underscores its increased diplomatic and economic power in the world. As the Seoul Summer Olympics did in 1988, it is expected to provide a boon to its economy and image.
The upcoming summit is also indicative of a power shift to emerging economies from the affluent G8 advanced economies.
'Vietnam War Soldier Is POW, Not Defector to Pyongyang'
By Jung Sung-ki
The government Wednesday restored the honor of one of its soldiers long classified as a defector to North Korea during the Vietnam War.
The restoration came after months of review by a fact-finding panel of the Ministry of National Defense.
The panel concluded that Sgt. Park Seong-ryeol was captured during the war and sent to North Korea against his will, ministry officials said.
Nearly 5,000 South Korean soldiers died and about 10,000 others were wounded in the Vietnam War.
The government estimates some 560 South Korean POWs are still alive in the North. Pyongyang, however, denies holding any South Korean against his or her will.
Koreans, split by war, distraught after reunions
By Christine Kim
Thursday, October 1, 2009; 2:19 AM
SEOUL (Reuters) - Hahm Ok-yeop waited nearly 60 years to see the brother and sister she had left behind in North Korea. Now she wishes she hadn't met them again.
The 74-year-old grandmother was among the 97 South Koreans who crossed the border to the communist North at the weekend to reunite with family members they had not seen since the peninsula was ripped in half by the 1950-53 Korean War.
"I just feel so bad ... worse than I would have if I had not gone," Hahm said in an interview after returning from the fleeting reunions at the South Korean-funded Mount Kumgang resort, just inside the impoverished North.
North Korea’s KCNA criticizes Lee’s “Grand Bargain”
KCNA contends nuclear problems requires North Korea-U.S. dialogue, and Lee’s “Grand Bargain” is merely a hindrance to the solution-making process
North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sept. 30 criticized President Lee’s “Grand Bargain” by saying, “The proposal’s mention of us abandoning our nuclear program without any guarantee that the U.S. will cancel its anti-North Korean policy is hot air.” KCNA also criticized the “Grand Bargain,” saying it contains the same flaws as the “non-nuclear, openness, 3000” Plan that President Lee Myung-bak has promoted since his presidential election campaign. This is North Korea’s first response to President Lee’s “Grand Bargain.”
In an article entitled, “A suggestion that is useless in solving nuclear issues,” the KCNA said that a high ranking official in South Korea suggested the “Grand Bargain” during a visit to the U.S. The KCNA added, “Nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula are the result of the U.S.’s anti-North Korean policies and a matter that should be solved between North Korea and the U.S.” KCNA concluded, “The Grand Bargain’s intention is to interrupt the North Korea-U.S. dialogue in order to disrupt the solution-making process to this nuclear issue.“
The KCNA also said, “We also think South Korea’s presidential advisers are pitiful for suggesting this plan to the President and have caused him great embarrassment in front of the world.”
[SK NK policy] [Sequencing] [Sideling]
One-Third of S.Koreans Misinformed About Korean War
Three out of 10 South Koreans do not know when the Korean War broke out, a poll suggests. In a study by Dongseo Research for the Committee for the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War of 1,000 adults over 19 or older, 33 percent of respondents gave the wrong year when asked when the Korean War broke out or said they did not know.
In a similar survey by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in April, 36.9 percent were ill-informed.
Some 47.9 percent of respondents over 60 were misinformed about the year the Korean War broke out or did not know. They were followed 47.4 percent of those aged between 19 and 29, 24.5 percent of those between 50 and 59, 24.4 percent of those between 30 and 39, and 21.3 percent of those between 40 and 49.
Some 14.6 percent said that it was not North Korea that started the War or did not know who started it.
[Korean War causes]
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