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Survey shows conservatives leading ahead of election
Ahn Chul-soo’s possible participation is still a wildcard
» Chart: Which party do you support in the April General Election?
Rows from top to bottom Saenuri Party, Democratic Unity Party, United Progressive Party, Liberty Forward Party, K Party(People’s Thought), New Progressive Party, Creative Korea Party and undecided or didn’t answer. Findings are expressed as percentages.
By Son Won-je and Im In-tack
A recent survey shows the Saenuri Party leading the Democratic Unity Party by 5.3% ahead of April’s general elections. Survey respondents also showed more trust in the SP‘s efforts to reform their nomination process for the elections.
NK deploys upgraded long-range rocket launchers: source
North Korea has developed and deployed improved long-range multiple rocket launchers in time to celebrate the centennial of its founder's birth this spring, a source here said Monday.
According to the source, North Korea recently completed upgrading the previous model of its 240-millimeter rocket launchers, and named them 'Juche 100 Guns,' after the North's primary ideology of self-reliance.
The source said the new launchers have more than doubled the range of the earlier version, which could fire up to 60 kilometers, and that they have been deployed to some artillery units
North Korea strikes back over defectors
By Kim Young-jin
North Korea accused South Korea of abducting its people and using the issue of defectors to further isolate the Stalinist regime Saturday amid intense international scrutiny over its reportedly brutal punishment of those caught fleeing.
The statement, issued by the North's Red Cross Society, came amid international concern over the plight of dozens of North Koreans thought to be in grave danger of being returned to their homeland after a period of detention by China.
"The North Korean defector issue is not an issue of refugees but the outcome of efforts by hostile forces to isolate the DPRK in the international community and to lure and abduct our people," the statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said, using the acronym for the North’s official name.
No conservative alliance ahead of election
Parties remain separated by differences, won’t join forces as liberal parties did
» Lee Hoi-chang. (Hankyoreh photo file)
By Seong Yeon-cheol
Former Liberty Forward Party leader Lee Hoi-chang said on Friday that he had rejected a proposal for integration from the Saenuri Party. ?
?“Saenuri Party floor leader Hwang Woo-yea came to see me after the Lunar New Year public holiday and suggested a party merger, but I flatly refused it,” Lee said in an interview with MBN. “The aim of the Liberty Forward Party is to break the two-party structure and secure a position as a sound third party, and Hwan's suggestion went against the party's aim.” ?
Lee Myung Bak's Pro-Japanese Remarks Condemned
Pyongyang, February 24 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea Friday gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA in connection with the disclosure of the truth behind pro-Japanese remarks made by south Korea's Lee Myung Bak on Tok Islets.
WikiLeaks recently disclosed that when Fukuda, the then Japanese prime minister, said in July 2008 that Tok Islets would be written as part of Japan's territory in the new guidelines on teaching social subjects in primary and secondary schools of Japan, traitor said, "Wait for a little as it is difficult now."
This issue was opened to public by Japanese newspapers at that time, stirring up a big furor in south Korea. But the Lee Myung Bak regime stubbornly insisted he never made such remarks, glossing over the issue.
Kim Jong-un Inspects Nuclear, Missile Unit
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (second from left) inspects the North Korean Army’s 842nd Unit. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap New North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the North Korean Army's 842nd Unit, North Korea's state-run media reported on Tuesday. The unit, which is under the direct control of the General Staff in charge of all military operations, is said to be tasked with handling the North's nuclear weapons and medium and long-range missiles.
Who Has His Finger on the Nuclear Button in N.Korea?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's official visit on Tuesday to Army Unit 841, which handles the North's missile systems, suggests he has gained full control of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons, experts say. Baek Seung-joo at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses said on Wednesday, "Last month, U.S. officials started saying that the regime has regained stability, which is based on the view that Kim Jong-un has gained control of the North's nuclear weapons."
Daewoo Shipbuilding Wins Huge U.K. Navy Contract
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering won bids to build four 35,000-ton next-generation support tankers for the British Royal Navy worth a total of US$700 million on Wednesday.
This is third-largest order ever recorded in Korea's defense-related exports, following an order for $1.08 billion worth of submarines from Indonesia, and another for K-9 self-propelled artillery from Turkey worth $1 billion. It is also significant in that it was an export deal to Britain, which built the world's first modern warships.
South Korean security law takes aim at pro-North activists[Tronto Star]
By Steven Borowiec
When Kim Jong-il died in late 2011, videos of sobbing North Koreans sparked international discussion, as many questioned the sincerity of the theatrical crying.
While it’s impossible to know how North Koreans really feel about the regime in Pyongyang, there is no question about Hwang Seung-ho’s love for North Korea
Assembly speaker indicted over bribery
By Kim Rahn
Prosecutors have indicted National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae without physical detention for his involvement in a vote-buying scandal during the ruling party’s 2008 leadership race.
It is the first time for an incumbent speaker to be indicted.
Kim Jong-un Crops Up in History Texts
New history texts for junior high schools that will be used in the upcoming semester will include an entry about new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Following the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December last year, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology sent notices to publishers of high-school textbooks advising them to see if there are any areas of their books that need to be amended.
[Kim Jong Un]
Maestro Chung Myung-whun Invites N.Korean Orchestra to France
Chung Myung-whun Renowned conductor Chung Myung-whun has invited North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra for a joint concert with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra in Paris on March 14. Chung, who leads both the French orchestra and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday, "I waited all of my life for musicians from the South and North to meet, but because of the frozen relations between the two I decided to hold a concert in France led by a [South] Korean conductor and North Korean and French musicians."
Differing interpretations of a dictator’s legacy
Newly opened Park Chung-hee memorial stirs controversy over costs and interpretation of history
» Saenuri Party chairperson Park Geun-hye looks around the Park Chung-hee Memorial Library opened near World Cup Stadium in Seoul, Feb. 21. Park is the daughter of the former president, who was assassinated in 1979. (Photo pool)
By Park Tae-woo
The controversial Park Chung-hee Memorial-Library finally opened in Seoul’s Sangam district on Tuesday.
The three-story Memorial-Library, which cost 20 billion won ($17.75 million) in state funds, has a total area of 5260 ?, with an exhibition hall on the first floor, an exhibition hall and a general reading room on the second and a special materials reading room on the third. The library on the second and third floors is due to open this summer. The majority of the exhibits illustrate Park‘s economic achievements, such as agricultural development, dam and motorway construction, development of heavy and chemical industry and the Saemaeul (New Village) Movement.
[Editorial] Memorial hall should not distort memory of dictator
It is unfortunate that the vested interests in today‘s South Korea have a bloodline that stretches back to those who collaborated with the Japanese colonizers, and those who protected dictatorial governments after liberation. In order to hide this blemish, they have had to step up the anti-Communist, Cold War ideology and suppressions, while manipulating history and distorting scholarship. The Park Chung-hee Memorial Hall that opened yesterday was one of this movement’s longstanding goals, a signal of the persistence of efforts to twist memory.
[Park Chung-hee] [Japanese colonialism]
Ex-presidential aide gets 18-month prison term over bribery
A former chief public-relations secretary to President Lee Myung-bak was sentenced to one and a half years in jail on Wednesday for taking bribes from a troubled savings bank seeking his influence to avoid regulatory punishment.
Chung to perform with NK-French joint ensemble in Paris next month
By Do Je-hae
Conductor Chung Myung-whun announced plans to collaborate with musicians from North Korea in Paris in March.
“North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Brahms' symphony No. 1 together at the Salle Pleyel Theater in Paris on March 14 at the invitation of the French side," Chung said.
He said the decision was made during his meeting with North Korean musicians early this week on the sidelines of his Asian performance tour in Beijing
Odds of NK missile interception doubtful
Chun Koong missile interceptor
By Lee Tae-hoon
Experts raised questions Wednesday about South Korea’s move to counter North Korean ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical and nuclear warheads by pushing the envisioned development of advanced interceptors.
N. Korea warns it won't overlook upcoming nuclear summit in S. Korea
SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Wednesday it would take unspecified actions against South Korea over next month's nuclear security summit to be held in Seoul, calling the event "an intolerable grave provocation."
South Korea is scheduled to host the second Nuclear Security Summit from March 26 through 27 to bolster international safeguards and help prevent nuclear terrorism. The meeting is scheduled to bring together top leaders from about 50 nations, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who hosted the first summit in Washington in 2010.
S.Korea Ignores Threat from Pyongyang to Retaliate for Artillery Drill
South Korea went ahead with an artillery drill Monday near a disputed maritime border despite an unusually explicit threat by North Korea to retaliate by shelling inhabited islands in the West Sea.
Officials in Seoul say the morning exercise was routine and included the firing of self-propelled howitzers and mortars. Attack helicopters also joined the exercise on the western frontier islands. A spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says no shots were fired towards the Northern Limit Line, which is the disputed maritime border.
N.Korea Threatens Over Military Drill
North Korea on Sunday threatened a "merciless counter-strike" a day before a South Korean firing drill in the West Sea and warned residents on the five northwesternmost islands to "evacuate to safety in advance."
In an "open notice," the North Korean western front command claimed nearby waters are under North Korean sovereignty. The North will retaliate the moment South Korea starts "a reckless military provocation in these waters and even a single column of water is found to have risen there," it added.
[Buildup] [Provocation] [Inversion]
S. Korea conducts live-fire drills despite N. Korean threat
SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea carried out live-fire drills near its western border islands Monday, despite North Korea's threat of retaliation.
"We had our routine maritime firing drills for about two hours starting 9:30 a.m.," an official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. "These were designed to test our weapons at Marine Corps units on the Yellow Sea and also to maintain our military's combat readiness in the area."
The drills took place in waters near Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands, located just south of the tense Yellow Sea border with North Korea. They came a day after the North's military vowed to "promptly make merciless retaliatory strikes" if the South violates its territorial waters.
North Korea declines South’s offers to talk
Pyongyang insists on apology, leaving Koreas at loggerheads once again
» Copies of Time Magazine featuring new North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un on the cover sit on newsstands in Seoul, Feb. 19. (Photo by Ryu Woo-jong)
By Kim Kyu-won, Staff Writer
North Korea refused a pair of overtures for dialogue from the South Korean government in recent weeks.
According to an opinion piece in the Saturday edition of Minju Choson, the newspaper of the North Korean Cabinet, “It is petty trickery for the South Choson [Korean] authorities to go on and on about all these ’reunions‘ and ’interchange efforts‘ on one hand, and insist on adhering to the ’May 24 measures’.”
The May 24 measures were drafted by the South Korean government in the wake of the Cheonan warship’s sinking. They discontinued all exchange and cooperation with North Korea with the exception of the Gaesong complex.
“If the traitorous thugs [the South Korean government] truly want reunions of separated family members and relatives and cooperation on interchange, they should respond to the open list of questions announced by the Political Bureau of our Republic’s National Defense Commission,” the piece continued.
Command of Forces of KPA in Western Sector of Front Issues Open Notice
Pyongyang, February 19 (KCNA) -- The Command of Forces of the Korean People's Army in the Western Sector of the Front issued an open notice on Feb. 19 as regards the plan of the south Korean military warmongers to stage a brigandish naval shelling drill in the waters around five islands in the West Sea of Korea on Feb. 20 with the territorial waters of the north side as their target.
The notice says:
Such move of the war-like forces is a premeditated military provocation to defend the illegal "northern limit line" at any cost and drive the overall situation on the Korean Peninsula into the phase of war by straining the situation in those waters to the highest pitch of tension.
As regards the prevailing situation, the Command of Forces of the KPA in the Western Sector of the Front is authorized to issue the following notice:
The territorial waters of the DPRK side in the West Sea of Korea are the waters where its sovereignty is exercised.
Once the group of traitors starts a reckless military provocation in those waters, trespassing on the DPRK's inviolable marine demarcation line, and in case just a single column of water is observed in its territorial waters, the KPA will promptly make merciless retaliatory strikes.
In this regard, all civilians who either live or engage in occupation on five islands in the West Sea and in their vicinity are advised to evacuate in advance to safe areas before nine o'clock on Feb. 20 when the puppet military warmongers will kick off the provocative naval shelling.
The Lee Myung Bak group of traitors should not forget the lesson taught by the Yonphyong Island shelling case that occurred on Nov. 23, 2010.
North Korea warns South over military drill near sea border
Military officer says North will launch 'merciless retaliatory strikes' if South Korea conducts live-fire drill this week
Associated Press in Pyongyang
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 February 2012 17.27 GMT Article history
North Korean soldiers pay respects to the late Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. Photograph: Kcna/Reuters
North Korea will launch "merciless" strikes if South Korea conducts live-fire drills near their disputed sea border, a North Korean officer has said.
North Korea did not want a war but its people were ready to "dedicate their blood to defend their inviolable territory", officer Sin Chol Ung of the North's Korean People's Security Forces told the Associated Press. "We are monitoring every movement by the South Korean warmongers. If they provoke us, there will be only merciless retaliatory strikes," Sin said.
South Korea will stage one-day artillery drills on Monday from frontline islands off the western coast, including one shelled by North Korea in 2010, according to Seoul's joint chiefs of staff. It said South Korea informed North Korea of its training plan on Sunday.
Main parties set to face off over free trade agreement
Park Geun-hye hones in on KORUS FTA as rallying cause
By Song Chae Kyung-hwa and Kim Oi-hyun
A clash is brewing between the Saenuri Party and opposition parties over the South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). The battle will take place against the backdrop of April’s general election.?
Rocky seas around Jeju naval base
New report finds technical issues with capacity and construction
By Huh Ho-joon, Senior Staff Writer
Contrary to the promise of the Ministry of National Defense to build a combined civilian and military tourist port that allowed access to 150,000 tonne cruise ships, large ships may be able to pass safely through the port as it currently stands.
Pororo aims to be world's beloved icon
Strategic marketing grabs global children
By Kang Ye-won
Standing next to a Pororo statue, Ahn Ye-eun, 4, was jumping nonstop with excitement at a Pororo-themed park in Shindorim, southern Seoul.
“She’s been speechless ever since she got here, she’s probably thinking she’s dreaming now,” said Yoo Jung-ran, 60, a grandmother who babysits Ahn and her brother, Hyun-sung, 7.
And the success with the business followed with media close-ups and frenzies, Choi said. Last July, Radio Free Asia reported that the U.S. would ban Pororo based on the trade restrictions due to it being animated in North Korea. Soon local media picked up on the story, saying Pororo was not welcome in America.
“Because of all the noise and speculation from the Korean media on the possible U.S. ban on Pororo, before we even had an investigation, we got a call from the American government, asking what is Pororo?” Choi said with a chuckle. “Obviously (the U.S. State Department) was not aware of Pororo until then, and it later clarified that it had nothing to do with its trade ban.”
From late 2002 to early 2005, a North Korean firm called Samcheonri took part of subcontracting jobs for Iconix working on the animation including modeling, texturing and rendering. At that time, the U.S. had trade sanctions against North Korea, thus anything made in the North had to get approved by the State Department. Because the cartoon was not part of North Korean exports, it was never on the ban list.
Seoul snubs NK’s warning of strikes for drills
By Park Si-soo
South Korea said Sunday it will conduct joint live-fire drills with the United States Monday as scheduled near the disputed western sea border despite a North Korean warning of military retaliation. The joint exercise will continue until Friday.
The decision came hours after North Korea issued a statement Sunday calling on residents of five South Korean islands near the border to “evacuate to safe areas” before the beginning of the drills at 9 a.m.
Kim Jong-un Promotes Officer Behind Yeonpyeong Attack
Kim Kyok-sik, the man responsible for the shelling of Yeonpyong Island in 2010, appeared at a ceremony marking Kim Jong-il's birthday on Thursday, giving the lie to rumors that he was sacked. He is now apparently chief of the army’s general staff.
Kim Kyok-sik stepped down from his leadership of the West Sea naval forces in last year, triggering rumors that he was fired and was not included among 232 officials entrusted with planning the late North Korean leader's funeral in December
DUP Joins Opposition to Nuclear Summit
The main opposition Democratic United Party has decided to join a coalition of over 40 political parties and organizations that oppose the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit slated for March 26.
The international event brings together 49 heads of state including from the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, and the EU as well as UN and IAEA officials.
Ambassador to the US abruptly resigns
Speculation Han Duck-soo‘s sudden departure is a ploy by Lee regime to get one last appointment
» Ambassador Han Duck-soo. (Newsis News)
By Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer and Kwon Tae-ho, Washington Correspondent
With little warning, South Korean ambassador to the US Han Duck-soo, 63, has expressed his intention to resign. The Cheong Wa Dae began searching Thursday for a replacement after Han expressed his plan to resign to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan. The abrupt nature of Han’s resignation is sparking a flood of speculation.
Some analysts in and around the Cheong Wa Dae said they suspected Han’s unexpected departure was an attempt to furnish “one last post” as the administration enters its final year. Among the names being mentioned as Han‘s possible successor are former Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, Cheong Wa Dae senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security Chun Young-woo, and former Minister for Trade Kim Jong-hoon.
Are conservatives shifting toward NK engagement?
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, left, shakes hands with Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik during their meeting in Seoul, Wednesday.
By Kim Young-jin
An ongoing effort by Seoul’s progressive mayor to engage North Korea through cultural activities with the city of Pyongyang is raising eyebrows as the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration has apparently reacted positively to the proposal.
The interest in the plan, which involves the Seoul city orchestra playing in the North Korean capital, appears to reflect the conservative camp’s keen awareness of growing public sentiment toward engagement with the North ahead of the parliamentary election in April, observers say.
KORUS FTA battle coming in April general election
Rival politicians who clashed on free trade set to go head to head in Gangnam
By Lee Tae-hee
Democratic Party lawmaker Chung Dong-young and former Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon had a number of face-offs during the final National Assembly debates just prior to the railroading of the South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement ratification in October. Now the two men, who battled each other from the two extremes on the KORUS FTA issue, may be facing off once again for Seoul‘s Gangnam-B seat in April’s general election.
Chung has already announced his intent to run, while the Saenuri Party is currently mulling a nomination for Kim.
Former presidential aide returns home after being questioned
President Lee Myung-bak's former senior secretary returned home late Wednesday after being grilled by prosecutors for his suspected involvement in the allegations that former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae bribed fellow lawmakers to win the ruling party's chairman post in 2008.
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
Park pledges measures to break away from past
By Chung Min-uck
Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the interim leadership committee of the ruling Saenuri Party, Wednesday pledged to make a break from the party’s past in the lead up to the April 11 general election.
The ruling party has recently been hit with a series of corruption scandals involving its former party chairman and close aides of President Lee Myung-bak.
Ex-presidential chief of staff met N. Koreans in Beijing: source
BEIJING (Yonhap) -- Yim Tae-hee, a former South Korean presidential chief of staff, recently met with North Korean diplomats in the Chinese capital, a source here said Thursday.
"Yim and an accompanying person met with two diplomats from the North Korean embassy here from Feb. 2 to 4," the source said. "I heard Yim told North Koreans that if Pyongyang shows more flexibility with issues on the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and on the Mount Geumgang resort, then there could be more room for discussions."
Yim was reportedly accompanied by a North Korean expert surnamed Yoo, who is also an entrepreneur.
Yim had previously contacted North Korean government officials in Singapore while he was the minister of labor in 2009. He didn't meet any North Korean officials from Pyongyang's ruling Workers' Party in Beijing, the source said.
Yim downplayed his latest meeting with North Koreans, telling Yonhap News Agency over phone that it was only "a private visit" to China.
Chaebol leaders above the law
Despite a flurry of sentences, conglomerate leaders manage to avoid time behind bars
By Han Gwang-deok, Senior Staff Writer
Not one of the top ten conglomerate heads sentenced to prison since 1990 served time, according to an analysis by Chaebul.com. All were eventually pardoned on the pretext of “saving the economy.”
The study‘s results, released Tuesday, found that seven heads from among the top ten conglomerates in terms of assets were sentenced to a collective total of 22 years and six months in prison since 1990, but all were given suspended sentences. In contrast, just 25% of people from the general public received suspended sentences in criminal cases last year.
PM calls for full-scale defense posture for successful nuclear security summit
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik on Wednesday called for establishing a strong, integrated defense posture to successfully host the nuclear security summit next month.
The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will be held from March 26-27 and aims to bolster international safeguards and prevent nuclear terrorism, according to its organizers. The global summit is the second of its kind, with the first in the U.S. in 2010. Top leaders from 50 nations including the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Britain and France are expected to attend.
Majority of young voters would choose Ahn for president
Survey shows candidates‘ support strongly correlated with age of voters
» Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology dean Ahn Chul-soo, Roh Moo-hyun Foundation chairman Moon Jae-in, Saenuri Party emergency measures committee chairwoman Park Geun-hye from left.
By Kim Bo-hyeop, Staff Writer
A total of 34.3% of survey respondents gave Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology dean Ahn Chul-soo as their choice when asked who was best suited to be South Korea’s next president. Coming in second was Roh Moo-hyun Foundation chairman Moon Jae-in (23.6%), followed by Saenuri Party emergency measures committee chairwoman Park Geun-hye (21.2%).
The survey, which questioned 500 people in their twenties, thirties, and forties for a total sample of 1,500, also had Ahn ahead of Park in the Yeongnam region, where support for the Saenuri Party is strong.
Seoul proposes Red Cross meeting with NK on family reunions
South Korea on Tuesday proposed holding a Red Cross meeting with North Korea to discuss reinstating reunions of family members separated for nearly six decades.
South Korea's Red Cross chief Yu Jung-keun made the offer in a message to her North Korean counterpart earlier Tuesday through their channel at the border village of Panmunjom, according to the South Korean government.
Hopes Fade for N.Korea Human Rights Bill
The National Assembly is expected to ignore a bill symbolically asserting the human rights of North Koreans, the second parliament to prevent the bill's passage into law.
"The chances of the North Korean human rights bill being dealt with during the current National Assembly are now slim as the [ruling] Saenuri Party has no interest in the pending bill," a government official said Monday.
Ahn Cheol-soo Supporters Form New Party
Supporters of software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo are forming their own political party. Around 120 members founded the tentatively named "Youth Hope Plan Party" on Sunday.
Chaebol control pervades life in Korea
Figures show stunning rise in conglomerate power over recent years
By Kim Jin-cheol
Company worker Kim Seo-min woke up to the sound of the alarm on his Galaxy S 2, made by Samsung Electronics. He had “Hetban” instant rice and seaweed, made by CJ, for breakfast. Wearing a Rogatis suit, made by Cheil Industries, and with a Hazys coat, made by LG Fashion, draped over his arm, Kim stepped out into the car park holding a can of Lotte “Let‘s Be” coffee. Because of the snow that had been falling all night, Kim he decided to take subway line 9, operated by Hyundai Rotem, to work. The subway was packed with passengers fixated on their smartphones. After wondering for a moment whether to change to fourth generation LG U+ because SK Telecom’s 3G network wasn‘t very fast, he arrived at work. He turned on his computer, made by Samsung Electronics, and began working.
Minju Joson Condemns S. Korean Authorities' Unethical Actions
Pyongyang, February 12 (KCNA) -- The Seoul Central District Court of south Korea on Feb. 8 issued a warrant of arrest for two members of the Council for Promoting the Reunification of Our Nation by Federal Formula on the charge of violating the "National Security Law" (NSL). They were reported to have tried to set up an incense-burning altar in December last year.
Meanwhile, the prosecution is also mulling arresting members of the Association of Victims of NSL on the same charge.
Demise of pro-Lee figures looming large
President Lee Myung-bak looks serious as he gets into a car at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Saturday. He accepted the resignation of senior presidential secretary for political affairs Kim Hyo-jae upon returning from an eight-day visit to
Turkey and three oil-rich Middle East countries. Yonhap
By Lee Tae-hoon
Political figures who had their heyday for showing loyalty to President Lee Myung-bak are fast falling into the shadows, beset by a series of corruption scandals.
The number of pro-Lee lawmakers in the former Grand National Party, which recently changed its name to Saenuri, once accounted for nearly two thirds of the conservative party’s some 170 parliamentary seats.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
Civic Group Defies Ban on Meeting with N.Koreans
A South Korean civic group left Seoul on Thursday to meet with a North Korean group despite a government ban here earlier in the week.
A three-member delegation from the South Korean end of the June 15th Joint Declaration Committee leave the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang on Friday to meet their North Korean counterparts.
A spokesperson for the committee said the group decided to go through with the meeting in hopes of reviving civilian-level exchanges between the two Koreas and improving inter-Korean ties.
The Unification Ministry said each South Korean delegate will be subject to a fine of up to W1 million for violating the ban (US$1=W1,116).
[Human rights] [SK NK policy]
N.Korea Rejects Talks About Pest Control
North Korea has rejected Seoul's request for talks about a joint pest control exercise.
A North Korean propaganda website took issue with a South Korean ban on a meeting of a civilian cross-border committee, and said Seoul's refusal meant the South "is no longer fit to discuss" any improvement in inter-Korean relations.
Seoul on Wednesday proposed holding inter-Korean talks over pest control near a UNESCO historic site from the Koguryo Kingdom near Pyongyang.
Since last year North Korea has been requesting pesticides from charities in the South to control pests damaging pine trees near the complex of Koguryo tombs.
National Assembly speaker sheepishly resigns for corruption
Park Hee-tae likely not the last casualty of ‘money envelope’ scandal at the GNP convention
By Kim Jong-cheol, Political Correspondent
National Assembly speaker Park Hee-tae has stepped down due to the infamous bribery scandal at the Grand National Party (former Saenuri Party)’s convention. This latest resignation shows the irreversible extent of the scandal’s damage to the ruling camp.
Defence administration blushing over podcast ban
Minister Kim Kwan-jin seeking to hunt down person responsible for leak
By Lee Soon-hyuk
The Ministry of National Defense issued orders to ferret out the official who leaked information about recent directions to prohibit and delete smartphone applications and podcasts such as Naggomsu in the Army’s consolidated maintenance depot and VI corps.
Korea to boost 12 key defense technologies
By Lee Tae-hoon
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Thursday that it will provide financial support of up to 1 billion won ($896,629) for each of 12 high-priority weapons component development projects.
A spokesman of the state-run arms procurement agency said that the list of 12 weapons parts include the inertial navigation unit (INU) for the K-9 self-propelled 155mm howitzer.
[Editorial] Follow civil society’s lead on engagement with North Korea
Representatives from over 200 organizations including political parties, religious groups, labor groups, and civic groups are calling on the government to reexamine its policies and pursue a shift in inter-Korean relations. The participants at a joint meeting yesterday presented five ideas for such a shift, specifically the continuation of private interchange and humanitarian efforts, reunions of divided families, the resumption of the Mt. Kumkang tourism venture, suspension of the May 24 measures taken in the wake of the Cheonan sinking and guarantees for joint inter-Korean events to commemorate the June 15 and October 4 declarations.
[SK NK policy]
Polls ahead of presidential election show a tight race
Recent data shows Moon Jae-in slightly ahead of Park for the first time
» Moon Jae-in and Park Geun-hye
By Son Won-je, Staff Writer
A survey has found that support for Roh Moo-hyun Foundation director Moon Jae-in has moved ahead of Saenuridang emergency measures committee chairwoman Park Geun-hye for the first time.
Polling agency Realmeter stated on Monday that the result of its regular weekly survey for the first week of February showed support for Moon to be at 44.9%, compared to 44.4% for Park. The survey was conducted between January 30 and February 3 among 3,750 voters around Korea, aged at least 19 years old, and used an automatic answering system and involving 20% mobile phones and 80% land lines. It has a 95% confidence level and a sampling error of ±1.6%. Earlier, a survey conducted by the Donga Ilbo on January 24 revealed that Moon had narrowed the gap with Park to 8.3% in a two-candidate battle, with 38.4% support versus Park’s 46.7%. In this Realmeter survey, Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology dean Ahn Cheol-soo held a 11.5% lead over Park in a two-candidate race, with 51.5% support in comparison to Park’s 40.4%.
Ahn Cheol-soo keeps political option open
Ahn Cheol-soo, left, an IT-mogul-turnedprofessor, shakes hands with Park Young-sook, former chairwoman of the Korea Foundation for Women, after discussing how to operate a charity foundation that the former has promised to launch at the Press Center in downtown Seoul, Monday.
/ Korea Times photo
by Choi Heung-soo
IT mogul unveils plan for charity foundation
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Ahn Cheol-soo, an IT mogul-turned-professor, indicated Monday he would seek political participation if he thought he could play a role for the betterment of the society.
During a press conference in downtown Seoul, Ahn said he had been thinking how he could make positive changes in society. “Politics can be one of the areas (where I can make a difference),” he told reporters when asked about his future plans.
But the dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University cautioned against any political reading into his donation of wealth to establish a charity foundation. He insisted his purpose was pure: doing something good for the underprivileged.
The computer expert, who founded anti-virus software company AhnLab, remained mum on the hot issue of whether he will run in the presidential race, refusing to answer the question directly.
Alien spaceship found in Baltic Sea: report
An international team of oceanic experts have found an alien ship from Planet Gootan National on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
The ship was abandoned, but experts from the U.N. Panel of Extraterrestrials told WWN that the Gootans were using the Baltic Sea as a base to spy on humans.
N.Korea 'Developing Kamikaze Drones'
The North Korean military is developing unmanned "suicide" attack aircraft to target South Korean troops on the northwesternmost islands, a South Korean Army source claimed Sunday. The South Korean military in turn plans to procure all-weather unmanned tactical dirigibles capable of carrying out reconnaissance missions even in bad weather to deploy on the islands.
[Military balance] [UAV] [Bizarre] [Media]
Questions behind true motivation for blocking of North Korean websites
Experts say government’s real intention is to weaken progressive forces
» North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un conducts a field inspection of a tank division near Pyongyang as his first official activity as North Korean leader, Jan. 1. (KCNA Yonhap)
By Kim Kyu-won, Staff Writer
Every morning, many press reporters access North Korean news reports through proxy servers by visiting the websites of major North Korean media like the KCNA, Rodong Shinmun, Uriminzokkiri and the Choson Sinbo, the organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. Unification Ministry beat reporters have for a long time been accessing North Korean sites through proxies.
Not only reporters, but Unification Ministry officials, too, use proxies. In Unification Ministry departments outside of the ministry’s intelligence center, which can legally receive North Korean television, radio and communications, civil servants access North Korean communications and newspapers through proxies. Unification Ministry civil servants sometimes put into order statements or editorials from North Korean websites and share them with the pressroom.
Overseas Koreans less than eager to vote
Low rate of permanent overseas voters registration may work against conservatives
By Kwon Tae-ho, Washington Correspondent
As of Sunday, with one week remaining until the deadline, the rate of registration for overseas Korean voters has failed to pass 4%. Overseas voting is being introduced for the April 11 general election this year. The low rate of registration among those residing permanently overseas and comparatively high rate among those temporarily abroad, is ending the common notion that the overseas votes would work to the advantage of the ruling party.
Data released on Sunday by the National Election Commission shows that 3.8% of those eligible to vote as part of the overseas voting system (14,193 overseas voters and 69,870 absentees abroad) had registered at one of Korea’s 158 diplomatic offices overseas.
NK developing unmanned attack aircraft: source
North Korea is developing unmanned attack aircraft using U.S. target drones purchased from the Middle East, a military source in Seoul said Sunday, indicating the aircraft will likely target the South.
"North Korea recently bought several U.S. MQM-107D Streakers from a Middle Eastern nation that appears to be Syria, and is developing unmanned attack aircraft based on them," the source said on condition of anonymity.
The MQM-107D Streaker is a high-speed target drone used by the U.S. and South Korean militaries for testing guided missiles.
[Military balance] [UAV]
Where Next for N.Korea's Foreign Policy?
Han Sung-joo How will North Korea pursue foreign relations in the post-Kim Jong-il era? It is not an easy task to predict at a time when it remains uncertain exactly who will take power and through what process. But it is possible to estimate what policy choices North Korea will be given based on the behavior the Kim Jong-un regime has shown so far and from the responses of neighboring countries.
Unpopular party makes unpopular name change
Voices from inside and outside Saenuridang displeased with the new name
By Im In-tack
According to survey results announced on Friday, only one in five members of the public claims to like the Grand National Party's new name, “Saenuridang.” ? ?
The survey was conducted by Realmeter and shows most respondents held negative views, with 21.2% of respondents agreeing with the statement “I like it” and 38.0% opting for “I don't like it.” The survey showed overwhelmingly negative opinions among young people and political independents. Supporters of parties other than the GNP all held negative opinions. Even among supporters of the GNP, only 42.6% claimed to like the name. ?
Podcast called “pro-North Korea” by army unit
Unit now sheepishly retracting claim that Naggomsu is pro-North
By Lee Kyung-mi
Netizens are taunting an army unit after learning it designated the podcast "Naneun Ggomsuda” (Naggomsu) as a "pro-North Korean" app and ordered it deleted.??
The Army's consolidated maintenance depot (CMD) in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do on Jan. 31 sent out an official notice in the name of the unit commander to units ordering that pro-North Korean smart phone applications be deleted. The notice designated eight apps as pro-North Korean and ordered their deletion, and called for smart phones to be checked to see if they've been deleted every third Wednesday, when cyber-security checks are made. The eight pro-North Korean apps were "Naggomsu"; "Smart Candle," which lets users know where candlelight protests are; "Smart Card," which includes criticism of the current administration's unification policies; "Gaka Retirement Countdown," which shows how many days remain in President Lee Myung-bak's term; "Aeguk Jeonseon," run by the Internet media "Voice of the People"; "Southern Headquarters of the Pan-National Alliance for Reunification of the Fatherland," run by the organ of the Pan-National Alliance for Reunification of the Fatherland; "North Korea World," with North Korean travel information; and "Kim Jong-il Puzzle."
Pyongyang Demands Answers from Seoul
Pyongyang on Thursday issued an "open questionnaire" that demands answers from Seoul if relations between the two Koreas are to improve.
The official KCNA news agency said that the questionnaire came from the policy department of the National Defense Commission, which "solemnly urges" South Korea to answer it "since it loudly trumpets a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and improvement of relations."
The department is also known as the General Reconnaissance Bureau, the headquarters of the regime's anti-South Korean operations, led by Kim Yong-chol.
The questionnaire consists of nine questions. It asks whether Seoul can "feel deeply sorry and be determined to apologize" for having banned all but a handful of South Koreans from paying their respects after Kim Jong-il's death; whether it is willing to "officially express its intention at home and abroad to implement the joint declarations" adopted after the first and second inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007; and whether it will "declare to the world" that it no longer blames the North for the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
[SK NK policy]
GNP Changes Name to 'Saenuri'
The ruling Grand National Party on Thursday decided to change its name to "Saenuri" (new world). The old name thus vanishes into history 14 years and three months after the party was founded on Nov. 21, 1997.
The party's emergency council decided to put the decision to a vote at a national committee session on Feb. 13 before registering the new name with the National Election Commission.
"Saenuri is a compound word from words 'sae' (new) and 'nuri' (world) that is bigger than a nation. As a whole, it means a new world or a new country," spokesman Hwang Young-chul said.
Conservative party hoping for a “new world”
In an effort to change its tired image, former GNP adopts a new moniker
By Im In-tack
On Thursday, the Grand National Party announced it would change its name to the “Saenuri Party”. Saenuri means “new world” in Korean. The party’s emergency measures committee held a plenary session in the morning where the amendment was approved by vote. Final confirmation for the name change will be sought at a national committee meeting on February 13.
North Korea’s wish list falls on deaf ears in Seoul
NDC’s requirements in advance of dialogue unlikely to be met by the South
By Kim Kyu-won, Staff Writer
North Korea’s National Defense Commission, which is considered the country’s highest organ of leadership, on Thursday publicly issued list of nine points ahead of the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and improved relations. This is the first substantial response from the North Korean government to the suggestion of “high-level talks” that the South Korean government has been making since the beginning of the year. Around half of the questions will be hard for the South Korean government to accept and it is unclear whether the announcement will help improve North-South relations.
First on the NDC’s list was a demand that the South Korean government apologize for not sending official condolences after the December 2011 death of NDC chairman Kim Jong-il. The North also demanded that the South openly declare that it would no longer badmouth the North regarding the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. It asked, too, for a total cessation of the “Key Resolve” joint military exercise due to take place at the end of this month, and the abolition of anti-North Korea laws, such as the National Security Law. It is unlikely that the South Korean government will fall in line with these measures.
“It is regrettable that North Korea is taking such an obstinate stance at such an important time, and we will not answer each individual question,” the Ministry of Unification stated. “We hope [the North] will respond in a sincere manner to our efforts to resume dialogue.”
[NK SK policy] [Rebuff]
Open Questionnaire of the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK
Pyongyang, February 2 (KCNA) -- The Policy Department of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Thursday issued the following open questionnaire to the south Korean authorities.
The south Korean puppet group is crying out for resuming north-south dialogue and mending ties from the outset of the new year.
Lately it has so gone shameless as to urge the DPRK to come out for contact at an early date, saying it keeps the door of dialogue open.
It went the lengths of warning that the north should not miss the window of opportunity and time has come for it to respond.
Behind the scene, the group has been keen on discussing the schedule for Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises targeted against the DPRK and hatching whole gamut of anti-DPRK confrontation plots, claiming that it can not give up the fundamentals of the theory of adherence to the principle.
Officials of Policy Department of DPRK NDC Interviewed
Pyongyang, February 2 (KCNA) -- A press conference took place here today as regards the issue of the open questionnaire of the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK.
Present there were Ri Son Gwon and Hong Sok Il, officials of the Policy Department of the DPRK NDC, and media persons in Pyongyang.
The question raised by a KCNA reporter: The Lee Myung Bak group of traitors is making much effort to create an impression of "flexibility" while talking about the resumption of dialogue, improved relations and the like though the DPRK declared it would never deal with the group. What the group is after?
Ruling party changes name to 'Saenuri'
By Chung Min-uck
The ruling Grand National Party announced its new name “Saenuri,” Thursday, intended to revamp its image ahead of the April general elections. “Saenuri” is Korean for “new world.”
The party’s official English name will be introduced later.
'Secret weapons account for 30% of LIG Nex1 sales'
By Lee Tae-hoon
LIG Nex1, one of the country’s top three defense contractors, researches and develops, and produces a “classified arsenal” worth 300 billion won ($268 million) annually, an industry source said Thursday.
“Secret weapons account for 30 percent of the company’s gross sales, which can be translated to about 300 billion won,” the source familiar with the production of classified projects said asking for anonymity.
Sales by LIG Nex1 were the second highest in the country in 2009 at 938.1 billion won, making it one of the world’s top 100 arms manufacturers, according to figures from the Korea Defense Industry Association (KDIA).
[Military industrial complex] [Arms sales] [Military balance]
Ruling party considers inter-Korean youth exchanges as campaign promise
The ruling party is considering programs to promote youth exchanges with North Korea as a campaign promise for April's parliamentary elections, officials said Friday, a move seen as softening the party's hard-line stance on the North.
The Saenuri Party, formerly the Grand National Party, recently changed its policy platform and promised to take a more conciliatory approach to the North goes through a leadership change following the death of leader Kim Jong-il in mid-December.
South Korean indicted for re-tweeting messages from North Korean government
By Associated Press, Friday, February 3, 12:42 AM
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean prosecutors have indicted a Socialist Party member on charges that he reposted messages from a North Korean government Twitter account, a party official said Thursday.
Park Jeong-geun, a member of the small Seoul-based opposition party, was indicted earlier this week under the National Security Law, which makes it a crime to praise, sympathize or cooperate with North Korea, fellow party member Kim Seung-il said.
Amnesty International called the government’s action “ludicrous.” Calls to prosecutors seeking comment were unanswered late Thursday.
Park, 23, who runs a photo studio in Seoul, was detained last month for re-tweeting messages posted on the Twitter account of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, Kim said.
Among the messages Park reposted were “Long live Kim Jong Il” and “Dear General Kim Jong Il is the genius of the military and the symbol of victory who the entire world looks up to and follows,” according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Park, however, only re-tweeted the messages to promote freedom of expression and lampoon the North’s government, Kim said. Park has been critical of the North’s government and didn’t intend to praise it, Kim said.
Think Tank Upsets Gov't with Thoughts on Nuclear N.Korea
A government-funded think tank has upset the Foreign Ministry with a report that advises treating North Korea as a de facto nuclear state.
The report published recently by the Korea Institute for National Unification says Seoul "cannot recognize the North as a nuclear state officially, but the stark reality is that the North is a nuclear state from a strategic point of view." South Korea "will have no choice but to formulate strategies toward the North and implement North Korea policy based on this reality."
NKorea stops refusing to deal with SKorean leader, but places preconditions on resuming talks
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, February 2, 8:11 PM
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea is taking a step back from earlier vows that it would never deal with South Korea’s leader, but it is demanding preconditions for resuming talks that include the cancellation of U.S.-South Korea military drills.
South Korea is unlikely to accept most of the demands made in a statement Thursday by the Policy Department of the North’s powerful National Defense Commission. It follows comments Wednesday by a senior U.S. diplomat that Washington is open to diplomacy if Pyongyang improves ties with Seoul.
North Korea is also demanding that South Korea apologize for failing to properly respect late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and that it stop criticizing Pyongyang over two deadly 2010 attacks blamed on North Korea.
[Media] NK SK policy]
Ahn Cheol-soo Overtaken by Roh Confidant in Polls
Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo is either neck and neck or has been overtaken in the latest opinion polls by Moon Jae-in, a close associate of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
A survey by pollster Research View of 1,500 people this week shows Ahn with a 22.7 percent support rating, third after the Grand National Party's Park Geun-hye (35.4 percent) and Moon (25.3 percent). This is the first time Ahn has been overtaken by Moon in opinion polls.
[Editorial] More investigation needed into endemic corruption
The corruption of the current administration is like a great vein of ore: no matter how much you dig, there is no end to it. Suspicions of corruption that erupted yesterday are drowned out up by new suspicions that pop up today. The scale of corruption grows daily, and the details are even more shockingly complicated. This is the true face of the “ethically perfect administration” boasted of by President Lee Myung-bak.
Koreans in North Vow to Make Every Possible Effort for National Reunification
Pyongyang, January 31 (KCNA) -- The North Side Committee for Implementing June 15 Joint Declaration met here on Tuesday, adopting an appeal to all the Koreans at home and abroad.
KCNA had an interview with officials of the committee who participated in the meeting.
Question: I think the appeal reflects the invariable desire of all the Koreans to achieve the reunification of Korea in an independent and peaceful way and in the principle of great national unity.
Yun Tok Su: That's right. Korea was divided into two parts by foreign forces and the Koreans have suffered from more than five decades of the division.
F-15Ks twice as likely to be grounded as older jets
F-15K fighter jet
Difficulties in securing spare parts from Boeing blamed
By Lee Tae-hoon
F-15Ks, the latest and most expensive fighter jets that Korea has acquired, are much more likely to be grounded than the country’s aging jets due largely to difficulty in securing spare parts, according to a confidential parliamentary report
18-month prison term sought for female labor activist
Labor activist Kim Jin-suk
By Kim Rahn
The prosecution has sought an 18-month prison term for Kim Jin-suk, a labor activist who staged a sit-in on a giant crane in the shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction in Busan for 309 days, on charges of interfering with business.
In a hearing at Busan District Court, Tuesday, prosecutors asked the court to hand down the jail term to Kim, who pled guilty.
“By holding the long-term protest, Kim paralyzed the company’s business, disgraced the firm’s image and created a bad precedent that a person can act illegally to attain their purpose. We want the ruling to show those committing illegal acts should take responsibility,” a prosecutor said
[human rights] [Labour]
Internet hot over 'bikini protest'
By Kim Rahn
A “bikini protest” in support of a jailed podcast host is igniting a stir, with some comments by men on the photos revealing women’s cleavage drawing criticism.
The issue arose on Jan. 20 when a woman posted a photo of herself in a bikini on a website calling for the release of former lawmaker Chung Bong-ju, who co-hosted the anti-President Lee Myung-bak talk show “Naneun Ggomsuda” (I’m a petty trickster), often called “Naggomsu.”
Chung was put behind bars late last year after being found guilty of defaming Lee by spreading false rumors about him during the 2007 presidential election.
[Human rights] [Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
GNP announces leftward shift on welfare and North Korea
Ruling party abandons notion of reunification through absorption
By Hwang Joon-bum
The new party platform and North Korea policies announced by the Grand National Party on Monday seem intended to avoid provoking the North if possible. This appears to reflect the idea of the GNP’s emergency measures committee, led by Park Geun-hye, that avoiding provoking the North and building its trust is important.
Most remarkable is the omission of the term, “Working to achieve a transition to liberal democracy.” This was an expression that could mean reunification through absorption of the North. The phrase was in large part aimed more at conservatives in the South than at North Korea itself. While it may have helped gain a few conservative votes, it inevitably had an adverse effect on South-North relations. “If we want the North to talk with us or open up, we have to at least tell it we have no intention of reunifying through absorption,” said one of Park’s advisors.
[GNP] [SK NK policy]
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