ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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'NK sympathizers are unwelcome'
Rep. Moon Jae-in, center, of the main opposition Democratic United Party, speaks during a debate organized by the Kwanhun Club, a fraternity of senior journalists, at the Press Center in central Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Rep. Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) said Wednesday that if followers of North Korea really exist in the legislature as conservatives claim, they need to be kept out of public service.
But while answering questions from veteran journalists during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club Wednesday, the presidential hopeful, cautioned against a witch hunt.
Moon, also former presidential chief of staff under the late former Roh Moo-hyun government, noted that currently there is insufficient evidence to establish that Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the minor Unified Progressive Party (UPP) is a North Korea sympathizer.
“However, if he is found to have been involved in the vote-rigging scandal, I think this could put his parliamentary post at risk.”
Moon’s stance is part of an apparent bid to differentiate himself from unpopular North Korea-sympathizers within the political circle.
[Liberal] [Election] [North Wind]
South Korea plans new naval base near North Korea border
Published: 26 June, 2012, 21:37
South Korea plans to build an advance front-line naval base along the disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea.
The government has approved the project and hopes to bolster its forces along the border with a dock for small warships, according to South Korea’s Defense Minister.
The 23,489 square meters base is planned to be located at Baengnyeong Island, one of five islands recognised as South Korean by the UN after the 1950-53 war. However, Pyongyang has always refused to accept the border line.
The new base will cost Seoul up to $36.6 million and will include barracks and a training ground and accommodate about 100 troops. It plans to be completed by the end of 2014. No more details about the new base have been revealed
Ahn Cheol-soo slightly ahead of Park Geun-hye in recent poll
Posted on : Jun.27,2012 11:54 KST
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Queen of elections sees slight loss of support as memory of general election victory fades
By Hwang Joon-bum, staff reporter
Recent polls results show a narrowing in the support gap between potential presidential contenders Park Geun-hye and Ahn Cheol-soo.
The poll of 1,000 adults across the country was conducted by broadcaster KBS on June 23 and 24. The results found that Park led Ahn in a two-candidate race by 47.5% to 44.3%, a close fight that falls within the poll’s ±3.1 percentage point margin of error (with a 95% confidence level).
Another poll, conducted by MBN and Hangil Research on June 22 and 23, also showed Park and Ahn with respective support levels of 45.8% and 43.8. Realmeter’s June 22 survey, meanwhile, placed Ahn ahead by a whisker, with 48.0% to Park‘s 47.1% with a ±2.5 percentage point margin of error.
Ahn was overwhelmingly ahead of Park until March this year. The tables were turned after Park led the New Frontier Party (NFP) to a parliamentary majority in April’s general election and saw her national profile boosted as a result.
Experts outline North Korea priorities for next administration
Posted on : Jun.27,2012 10:57 KST Modified on : Jun.27,2012 11:43 KST
Korea Peace Forum calls for resolutions to lingering issues in inter-Korean relations
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
South Korea’s next president will take office in February 2013. He or she will start amid some of the worst inter-Korean relations in decades. Some of the next president’s priorities were outlined at a June 26 forum held by the Korea Peace Forum, a research institution and one of the country’s leading civic groups on inter-Korean issues. Forum participants proposed pushing for inter-Korean talks, resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, and improving relations with Pyongyang as major tasks for the first year of the next administration.
The forum, which is co-chaired by former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won and Seoul National University emeritus professor Paik Nak-chung, also said the next administration will need to speak out on North Korean human rights, in contrast with the Roh Moo-hyun or Kim Dae-jung administrations.
The announcement of the “Vision and Tasks for Unification, Foreign Affairs, and National Security for the New Administration in 2013” was made at a press conference on June 26 at the 19th the Press Center in Seoul’s Central District. The format consisted of four major goals and ten tasks.
Member Lee Jong-seok, himself a former Unification Minister, said the new administration “will have to push for dialogue and cooperation without making it contingent on an apology [from Pyongyang] for the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island artillery attack or a resolution to the North Korean nuclear weapons issue.”
On the human rights issue, the forum called for an emphasis on extending civil liberties and guaranteeing basic rights to survival. Its argument is that the next administration will need to be attentive to expanding liberties for North Korean citizens and abide North Korean human rights resolutions from the United Nations.
But the forum also called for a cautious approach on the issue of extending civil liberties that takes into account the sensitivity of inter-Korean relations. On human rights issues, the Kim and Roh administrations focused on humanitarian aid and addressing inhumane conditions resulting from national division, including the separation of families and the holding of South Korean abductees and prisoners of war.
The members also said the next administration will need to reopen the investigation into the Cheonan sinking.
[SK NK policy] [Coverup]
Ex-military officials sued for 2002 naval clash with NK
By Kim Bo-eun
Families of soldiers killed or injured during the 2002 naval clash with North Korea have filed a 600 million won ($514,134) damage suit against former military officials.
Legal sources said Monday that 12 members of the families filed the suit with the Seoul Central District Court against 12 former ranking officials including then Defense Minister Kim Dong-shin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Lee Nam-sin.
The plaintiffs claimed that the South Korean military had detected unusual movements in the North by monitoring communication, but that it failed to accurately deliver the information, making it impossible for them to prepare properly for the attack.
“Those in charge of military information and operations should take responsibility for the loss of the lives of innocent soldiers,” they said, demanding that each victim’s family members should be compensated between 37 and 63 million won.
The second inter-Korean naval battle off the border of Yeonpyeong Island broke out on June 29, 2002 during the Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup. Two North Korean boats crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the western sea and opened fire, killing six and injuring 18.
The first naval skirmish in Yeongyeong Island took place in 1999.
Lee vows not to tolerate N. Korean provocations
SAN FRANCISCO (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday Korea will no longer put up with North Korean provocations, vowing to strike back harder at the communist regime if it attacks the South.
"We, the Republic of Korea, have always put up with (North Korean provocations), not because we lacked strength, but in order to maintain peace," Lee said during a meeting with South Koreans in San Francisco.
[Inversion] [Lee Myung-bak] [Buildup]
Kim Hyon-hui plays the KAL 858 victim on conservative television
Posted on : Jun.26,2012 13:46 KST Modified on : Jun.26,2012 14:57 KST
By Jin Myeong-seon, staff reporter
Cha Ok-jeong, 75, hates the mere mention of the name Kim Hyon-hui. That’s the name attached to the person who robbed Cha of the thoughtful husband who always brought her favorite fruit back with him when he returned from traveling abroad.
Cha's husband Park Myeong-gyu was 52 when Korean Air Flight 858 from Baghdad went down in the Andaman Sea in the sea off Myanmar on Nov. 29, 1987. Its 20 crews and 95 passengers, including Park, were never found.
Kim Hyon-hui was fingered as the terrorist who planted the bomb. Kim confessed that December to planting an explosive on the plane at the instruction of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The aim was to disrupt the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, stir up disorder around election time, and trigger a class struggle in South Korea.
Those embers of anger were rekindled when Cha heard the name again recently. Now 50, Kim appeared on a TV Chosun, the broadcasting branch of the conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper, current affairs programs on June 17 and 18 claiming that she was framed by the Roh Moo-hyun administration and a left-wing group.
[KAL858] [Coverup] [Northwind]
Why Didn't FTAs Reduce the Price of Some Imports?
The price of goods from Europe and the U.S. is generally going down thanks to free trade agreements, but some things like electric toothbrushes, whiskey and beer either cost the same or have become more expensive.
The Fair Trade Commission on Thursday said it monitored the price of 22 imported goods over the last 100 days and found that 15 of them got cheaper but the price of the rest either stayed the same or went up. The 22 items were those where tariffs were either scrapped or considerably reduced under the FTAs.
Maestro Chung to Lead Charity Concert for N.Korean Children
Conductor Chung Myung-whun, art director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, will hold a charity concert in the capital in August to help children in North Korea.
Chung will lead the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "Choral" at Yonsei University's open-air theater on Aug. 4.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chung said, "The political situation between North and South Korea is still not good, but I think the two are one family, not two different nations, and I will continue to try to build bridges between the two through music."
Besides the charity concert, the orchestra will perform in Japan on Aug. 1 and 2 and at the Seoul Arts Center on Aug. 7.
Reassessing the Sunshine Policy
By Evan Ramstad
Should South Korea return to the Sunshine Policy for dealing with North Korea? Moon Chung-in says yes.
Evan Ramstad / The Wall Street Journal
Moon Chung-inMr. Moon, a Yonsei University political scientist, magazine editor and close advisor to former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, is so eager to restore the battered reputation of the Sunshine Policy that he’s written an English-language book about it.
Mr. Moon hopes to influence the political debate ahead of South Korea’s presidential election in December.
Under the Sunshine Policy, initiated by Mr. Kim and continued by Mr. Roh, South Korea reached out to the North with economic aid and passive language in hopes of starting projects that would create a wedge between the North Korean regime and its people, creating the “sunshine” that would lead to greater reforms.
On Sunday, the candidate who is most likely to revive the Sunshine Policy (or major aspects of it) Mr. Roh’s former chief of staff Moon Jae-in formally announced he will run for president. Moon Jae-in is a political newbie, having just won his first election, a Busan district seat in the April race for the National Assembly.
In the book, called “The Sunshine Policy: In Defense of Engagement as a Path to Peace in Korea,” Moon Chung-in argues the policy never really got a chance to work.
While most people view the policy as lasting for the ten-year period of the Kim and Roh presidencies, Mr. Moon says that it was in action for less than a year. The reasons: North Korea resisted it for much of Mr. Kim’s presidency and the election of George W. Bush as U.S. president in 2000 thwarted its effectiveness until the final months of Mr. Roh’s presidency.
Here are extended excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Moon about the book, the political scene and the contradiction of progressives who fought for human rights and democracy in South Korea but won’t criticize North Korea’s dictatorial regime.
WSJ: What is the main thing you’re trying to get across in the book?
Mr. Moon: What I wanted to convey to Western readers is very simple. A lot of people say the Sunshine Policy failed. But the longevity of the Sunshine Policy was just nine months. June to December 2000 and October to December 2007. The rise of Bush destroyed everything. And then the Lee Myung-bak government came and derailed everything achieved in the Roh Moo-hyun government. Therefore, it is not ten years of Sunshine Policy. It was less than one year.
[SK NK policy]
Seoul asks tourists not to eat at overseas North Korean restaurants
Posted on : Jun.23,2012 12:33 KST
In retracted claim, NIS said restaurant revenue supports dictatorship
By Park Byong-su staff reporter
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) sent a notice to major overseas in countries with North Korean restaurants. The notice was meant to discourage local Koreans and tourists from patronizing North Korean restaurants.
According to accounts Friday from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), the NIS sent the notice to about 20 overseas missions, such as in Italy, the Czech Republic, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as a general consulate in Qingdao, China. Between June 11 and 19, about 10 missions put up a message on their home pages titled "Please do not use North Korean restaurants."
[Sanctions] [SK NK policy]
Ahn Cheol-soo still sending mixed messages on political future
Posted on : Jun.21,2012 11:43 KST Modified on : Jun.21,2012 12:04 KST
With the presidential election just six months away, software mogul expected to decide fairly soon
By Kim Bo-hyeop, staff reporter
According to a four-line commentary Ahn Cheol-soo sent to reporters on June 19, the software mogul is still noncommittal about the possibility of entering politics. The short message, directed at the Democratic United Party, merely said that people should respect each other’s territory without hurting one another. It said nothing about what Ahn would be doing, when, or how. Yoo Min-young, who has been acting as his media liaison, said on June 20 that Ahn was “focusing deeply on the question” of whether to run for the presidency.
[Election] [Ahn Cheol-soo]
Philippines to buy TA-50 light attack aircraft from Korea: report
HANOI (Yonhap) -- The Philippine air force will purchase 12 TA-50 light attack aircraft from South Korea in a deal worth 25 billion pesos (about US$591.3 million), a local news report said Wednesday.
Each aircraft costs 1.25 billion pesos with the dozen fighter jets expected to be delivered by 2013, ABS-CBN news of the Philippines reported on its Web site, citing officials at the Philippine air force.
South Korea rolled out the armed version of its T-50 supersonic trainer jet early last year and has deployed the TA-50 in stages since then.
The TA-50 is designed as a full-fledged attack platform as it can carry precision-guided weapons such as AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and TGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles.
[Arms sales] [Missiles]
Only Democracy Can Save N.Koreans from Starvation
Accounts from defectors that thousands of people are starving to death in North Korea's rice bowl of South Hwanghae Province brings to mind a theory formulated by Indian economist Amartya Sen, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Sen said mass starvation in a particular region is more closely related to whether the area is ruled by a democratic or autocratic system than whether there is a real shortage of food.
[Manipulation] [Spin] [Logic]
Lee Jae-oh picks a fight with the Yushin Princess
Posted on : Jun.20,2012 15:09 KST
Without mentioning conservative frontrunner Park Geun-hye by name, presidential hopeful criticizes female leadership
By Hwang Joon-bum, staff reporter
New Frontier Party (NFP) lawmaker Lee Jae-oh recently announced his intentions to run for the NFP candidacy in December’s presidential election.
“It is hard to believe that someone has leadership only because she is a woman. Especially when she has not experienced the reality of the divided country and not fulfilled the military duty,” said Lee at a press conference at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
“What do you think of female leadership in terms of political development in Korea?” a reporter from Japan’s Sankei newspaper asked. Lee answered, “I think it is premature unless South and North Korea are reunified.”
Lee’s statement was apparently aimed at Park Geun-hye, the only female candidate for South Korea’s presidency.
Lee confidant admits to secret meeting with NK official in 2009
A key aide to President Lee Myung-bak has admitted to a secret meeting with a top North Korean official in Singapore in 2009 to seek a summit between their leaders.
Yim Tae-hee said in a television interview that he met with Kim Yang-gon, North Korea's point man on the South, in Singapore in October 2009 to discuss details of a possible summit.
In the interview with Channel A, Yim said "it is true" he met with Kim in Singapore. Yim was serving as labor minister when he traveled to the Southeast Asian country in 2009.
When asked if he had met Kim more than three times, he said "several times," though he did not clarify whether those meetings were all in Singapore or in other countries.
Surviving KAL Bomber Speaks Out on TV
Kim Hyun-hee, the last surviving bomber of Korean Air flight 858, has appeared for the first time on a TV talk show to tell her side of the story. In the two-part talk show on TV Chosun broadcast on Monday and Tuesday, Kim said former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally ordered the 1987 bombing of the flight in order to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and foment fear in the South. At the time she felt no pang of conscience but was overwhelmed that she had been chosen by the "dear leader" to carry out a huge mission, she recalled.
[KAL 858] [Buildup] [North Wind] [Kim Hyun-hee]
Leftist party set to shift stance on NK
By Kang Hyun-kyung
The leftist Unified Progressive Party (UPP), accused of having stayed silent on North Korea and the human rights of its citizens, showed signs of scrapping its decade-old stance on Pyongyang, Monday.
The shift comes as the UPP faces mounting criticism for allegedly having a pro-North Korea stance.
A task force within the party released a set of guidelines for policy directives on diverse issues, including North Korea. Among several issues, the minor party described the human rights situation there as “grave” according to universal standards.
[Buildup] [North wind]
Army must keep troop level at 420,000 through 2030: military experts
The Army needs to slow down its troop reduction and maintain a troop level of at least 420,000 through 2030 in the face of North Korea's 1.02-million-strong army, two military experts claimed Tuesday.
Under the Army's troop-cut plan, which has been in the offing for years to streamline and modernize its forces, the number of its troops will be reduced to about 500,000 in phases by 2020 and 387,000 by 2030, from the current level of 650,000.
The plan has drawn concern since North Korea's two military attacks in 2010 -- the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island -- killed 50 South Koreans, mostly soldiers.
Moon Jae-in to run for president
Posted on : Jun.18,2012 15:42 KST
Moon Jae-in announces his plans to run for the Democratic United Party’s presidential nomination in front of Independence Gate in Seoul, June 17. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Senior advisor faces hurdles to DUP nomination, then December‘s election
By Song Chae Kyung-hwa and Kim Bo-hyeop, staff reporters
Moon Jae-in has officially announced his candidacy for South Korea’s presidency. On June 17, Moon declared that he would realize a “change in administrations, change in politics, and change in eras.”
Prior to his announcement at a press conference in Seoul’s West Gate Independence Park, the Democratic United Party lawmaker posted a short online video in which he explained his reasons for running.
Moon said, “I plan to become the president of our country”.
“The ‘our country’ I am aiming for is not a country that we leave to politicians, but one where citizens participate directly in politics,” he added.
Pro-N. Korea lawmaker hit for rejecting national anthem
Rep. Lee Seok-ki
Parties call Lee ‘anarchist,’ add pressure for his resignation
By Lee Tae-hoon
The ruling and opposition parties joined forces Sunday in lashing out at pro-North Korean lawmaker Lee Seok-ki for having rejected the county’s national anthem “Aegukga.”
Lee, a legislator of the minor opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), who is being pressured to give up his seat for his sympathetic views toward Pyongyang, argued “Arirang,” an old folk song used by a South-North Korean combined sports team in lieu of their respective national anthems, should be adopted as a replacement.
Following the revelation, the parties called the controversial lawmaker an “anarchist.”
[Buildup] [North wind]
'Flower of unification' in hot seat
Rep. Lim Su-kyung
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Rep. Lim Su-kyung of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) is facing mounting pressure from North Korean defectors here and abroad to resign after revealing her hatred of them earlier this month.
She was once called the “flower of unification” by North Koreans after she flew to Pyongyang from Germany to attend the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students there in June 1989 and met the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung during her stay. After returning to Seoul in August 1989, she served a jail term for violating the National Security Law.
On Friday, a former North Korean diplomat, who defected to the South in 2000, voiced deep concern about what he called the North Korean sympathizer’s undesirable effect on politics here.
[Buildup] [North wind]
Marines to hold drills near border with North Korea
INCHEON (Yonhap) -- South Korean marines will begin three-day drills this week near the Yellow Sea border with North Korea to sharpen their ability to cope with provocations by the enemy, military officials said Sunday.
The drills will take place from Monday to Wednesday on Ganghwa Island and some parts of Gimpo City and an unspecified number of marines, police and government officials will be mobilized, officials said.
Military officials advised civilians in the areas to cooperate with security checks during the drills. Gimpo is a base for the 2nd Division of the Marine Corps.
S. Korean embassy staff add to NK defectors' blues
By Chung Min-uck
It is well-known that female North Korean defectors, even after successfully crossing the border, often fall victim to sex trafficking in China and live in fear of enforced repatriation back to their homeland where appalling conditions that violate human rights await.
Recently, a fresh allegation was made regarding ordeals some defectors are forced to endure in foreign countries before they head to South Korea.
Bad treatment from staff in South Korean embassies overseas surfaced as another trial they have to overcome, according to a human rights worker helping North Koreans.
MB could be caught in a Triple Crown investigation
Posted on : Jun.15,2012 16:14 KST
Allegations of illegal surveillance is just one of MB’s worries as his term winds down
By Ahn Chang-hyun, Blue House correspondent
As President Lee Myung-bak approaches the end of his term, the Blue House is being coming under fire from three directions at once. The last six months of Lee’s term could easily see him subjected to a series of special prosecutorial or parliamentary investigations into cases of corruption and wrongdoing in which he has been directly or indirectly implicated. These include illegal surveillance of civilians, the use of state funds for an expensive retirement residence and the forging of a letter as part of the so-called “BBK scandal.”
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
250 dollar grandfather! Why did you do that?
Posted on : Jun.14,2012 14:54 KST Modified on : Jun.14,2012 17:56 KST
Policemen guard Chun‘s house, blocking the passage, last January.
250 dollar grandfather
By Yoo, a fifth grade student at Yeonhui elementary school in Seoul
250 dollar grandfather lives in my village.
I listen to the radio with my daddy,
You say you have only 250 dollars.
So how can you live in that big house?
What did you do that was so bad that people need permission to pass your house?
Every May 18, people talk about our village.
Is that due to you, grandpa?
I was so curious I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I searched the internet closely and learned about the horrible things you’ve done.
Why did you order guns to be aimed at citizens?
Do you know how many people died?
Are you scared to be punished?
So is that why policemen protect you?
250 dollar grandpa!
Please confess your misdeeds and beg to be forgiven.
Of course, those victims who died because of you can‘t come back to life
But, you should leave people’s heart no more hurt..
Am I wrong?
Please answer me, 250 dollar grandpa
** This poem was written by a boy who lives in the same neighborhood as Chun Doo-hwan, former dictator and president. It is common for Korean children to address elderly men as ‘grandfather’, even if they aren’t related.
Former dictator: deadbeat or real estate tycoon?
Posted on : Jun.13,2012 15:22 KST
Former president Chun Doo-hwan attends his granddaughter‘s wedding at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul. The luxurious nature of the wedding was criticized. (Newsis)
Chun Doo-hwan claims he is unable to repay debt to government while linked to slew of valuable assets
By Kim Oi-hyun and Yoo Shin-jae, staff reporters
In 2003, former president Chun Doo-hwan paid a fine of 290,000 won (about US$250), after which he claimed to have only 291,000 won left. Chun, whose guilt on charges of receiving bribes from large corporations was confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling in 1997 that ordered him to pay a total of 220.5 billion won (about US$189 million) in fines. He paid only 53.2 billion won and still owes 162.3 billion.
It’s a question then how he manages to live an apparently extravagant life. On June 5, Chun’s 27-year-old granddaughter was married at the opulent Shilla Hotel in Seoul in an expensive ceremony.
[Chun Doo-hwan] [Corruption]
[Editorial] North Korea repays good will with spite
Posted on : Jun.13,2012 15:35 KST
Gyeonggi province governor (second from left) and Lee Jae-ho, (second from the right), on a 2005 visit to Gosung county in North Korea’s Gangwon province.
North Korea has leapt into the fray of the South Korean “ideology” controversy by threatening to reveal things New Frontier Party presidential hopefuls said and did during their previous visits to the country. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) issued a statement a few days ago titled “All That Will Come of the ‘Pro-North Purges’ Is Mockery and Shame.” It suggested that the North may disclose the actions of Park Geun-hye, as well as lawmaker Chung Mong-joon and Gyeonggi province Gov. Kim Moon-soo, on their visits to North Korea in years past. Leaving aside any question of the content, this cannot be seen as anything but a shameful breach of etiquette and a futile gesture.
There are a few possible explanations for these actions. One is that Pyongyang wants to quiet the pro-North ideological controversy in the South and prevent the ruling party from using allegations of following Pyongyang as a political weapon. This is suggested by the statement’s claims that Park “made a number of North-friendly statements while observing different places,” or that “the people of South Korea will faint immediately when we reveal all the things [Chung and Kim] said during their visits.” It is also possible that North Korea wanted to elicit a response from Seoul that would allow it to further develop its “relationship of antagonistic coexistence.” Now facing the task of entrenching a vulnerable third-generation leadership, the North may sense a need to foment antagonism with the South.
[NK SK policy]
Noh Tae-woo fighting for his illicit funds
Posted on : Jun.13,2012 15:38 KST Modified on : Jun.13,2012 17:50 KST
Former president filing a lawsuit against his father in law to get back money he’d stowed away
By Kim Jeong-pil and Hwang Chun-hwa, staff reporters
Former President Noh Tae-woo, 80, recently filed a lawsuit against his son's father in-law, Shin Myung-soo, former chairman of Shindongbang Corporation. Noh accused Shin of having without permission used a secret fund that he asked Shin to keep. Noh is seeking the restitution of funds. This cause may sound appealing, but the size of the secret fund is much larger than the amount of restitution. As such, there have been speculations that Noh is trying to acquire the amount difference between the fund and the restitution using this case.
[Roh Tae-woo] [Corruption]
Ruling party’s ideological witch-hunt may have backfired
Posted on : Jun.13,2012 15:28 KST
Park Geun-hye on her 2002 visit to North Korea where she met with Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang’s official state guesthouse.
Attempts to oust UPP lawmakers on ideological grounds raise questions about the NFP’s democratic credentials
By Cho Hye-jeong and Seong Yeon-cheol, staff reporters
The New Frontier Party (NFP) decided on June 12 to let up on its efforts to brand political opponents as pro-Pyongyang, in what observers are saying is a response to concerns that a backlash against the red-baiting tactics could boomerang and hurt its chances in the upcoming presidential election.
Some within the party said that while the accusations of allegiance to North Korea could deal a blow to the opposition, the NFP had “more to lose.” Another factor cited by analysts was the possibility of the controversy hurting the party‘s leading presidential contender, Park Geun-hye.
Seoul considers N. Korea drought aid
By Kim Young-jin
South Korea is concerned about a lingering drought in parts of North Korea and could consider aid measures if enough data were collected on the conditions, an official said Wednesday.
North Korea has reported only one to five millimeters of rain have fallen in parts of Pyongyang and the provinces of Pyongan and Hwanghae since April, representing the lowest amount for the capital city in 105 years. Concern is high that autumn crops could be affected.
N.Korea Threatens to Dish Dirt on Presidential Hopefuls
North Korea on Monday weighed into South Korea's impending presidential race by taking aim at Saenuri Party contenders Park Geun-hye, Chung Mong-joon and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo. The North threatened to reveal what it said were flattering remarks the three made during their visits to the North.
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued what it called a "public interrogation" of the Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling party and claimed they would "lose face" by continuing to accuse opposition lawmakers of being pro-North Korean when Cheong Wa Dae, the government and Saenuri Party themselves were full of people with "internal ties" to the North.
Seoul Practices Striking N.Korean Command Posts
South Korean military authorities would respond to any fresh provocation from North Korea by striking key command posts as well as the actual source of the attack and its support groups.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday conducted an emergency preparedness drill on the ground and in the air on the assumption that the North launches a long-range artillery attack.
The JCS checked the Army's missile command and frontline corps and Air Force units, a spokesman said. The drill began at 4 a.m. without prior notice on the assumption that the JCS receives an emergency report of long-range artillery shooting at the northwesternmost islands and the Seoul metropolitan area.
South Koreans could be able to send money to the North soon
Posted on : Jun.12,2012 13:43 KST
Amendment to act will allow remittances to be sent to impoverished North Koreans
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
South Koreans and North Korean defectors will soon be able to send money freely and legally to family members in North Korea.
The Unification Ministry announced on June 11 that it had provided notice of a planned amendment to the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act that would allow people with family members in North Korea to send them up to a certain amount to cover living and medical expenses without requiring approval.
S. Korea Urged to Answer Questions about "Forces Following North"
Pyongyang, June 11 (KCNA) -- The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea issued on Monday an open questionnaire demanding the south Korean authorities and the "Saenuri Party" give clear answers in the world's eyes to the questions about the on-going unprecedented hysteria calling for "eliminating the forces following the north".
Dismissing the south Korean puppet conservative group's racket as despicable politically-motivated terrorism against the patriotic forces for reunification and progressive and pro-reform forces and another serious provocation against the DPRK, the open questionnaire noted:
1. Why should those who call for achieving reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification by the concerted efforts of Koreans in line with the inter-Korean declarations be labeled "forces following the north"?
National reunification does not allow classifying Koreans into forces following the north or the south as it is a national cause to be carried out by all Koreans in the north and the south as a driving force.
Is the group going to discuss the issue of national reunification with outside forces, if it is not willing to join hands with compatriots?
North Korea signals reengagement: experts
By Chung Min-uck
North Korea is signaling willingness to reengage with the outside world following a botched rocket launch in April, experts said Monday.
“By saying it had no immediate plans to conduct a third nuclear test, the North seems to be feeling the international pressure,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute.
On Saturday, Pyongyang stated through its foreign ministry spokesman that “(South Korea) seeks to rattle the nerves of the DPRK (North Korea) to cause it to conduct a nuclear test, though such a thing is not being planned at present.”
Korea to Export Minesweeper Boats to India
Arms manufacturer Kangnam is to export eight Korean-made minesweeper boats to India and transfer related technology.
The firm has been making so-called mine counter-measures vehicles since the 1980s and provided the Korean Navy with a dozen of them. They are used to detect and destroy underwater mines.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration confirmed that the Indian government selected the Korean firm as the priority negotiating partner in January last year and the contract is now being finalized. It is worth US$500 million.
Two of the eight will be built by Kangnam and India's Goa shipyard will build the rest with the Korean firm's technolog
EU Liquor Mark-Up 5 Times Higher Than Import Prices
Liquor imported from the EU is being sold for more than five times the import price even after the Korea-EU free trade agreement went into effect. In a report for the Fair Trade Commission on Sunday, the Green Consumer Network in Korea said the average consumer price of European liquor is W13,501 (US$1=W1,175) per 100 ml, 5.1 times the average import price of W2,664.
Retail margins account for W10,837. The actual import price of W2,664 includes tariff reduced from 20 percent to 15 percent as a result of the FTA, liquor tax, and education tax.
"People generally believe that liquor prices are high due to the tax, but it’s actually a small portion in the consumer prices. The reason prices skyrocket is that retailers seek high margins," the civic group said.
Liquor prices have even increased since the FTA took effect in July last year. The average consumer price rose 0.2 percent in May on-year.
Jinro Soju Is World's Bestselling Spirit
Jinro and Lotte Liquor are not only the two top soju brands in Korea but the No. 1 and 3 spirits in the entire world. Jinro has been the top-selling soju brand in the world since 2001, and Lotte Liquor third since 2007.
It is surprising to see soju, which is drunk mostly in Korea, outsell vodka, whiskey and rum.
But the British industry magazine Drinks International surveyed the global market for spirits and liqueurs with research firm Euromonitor and found that Jinro soju ranked at the top with sales of 61.38 million boxes, 2.5 times more than second-ranked Smirnoff vodka, whose sales totaled 24.7 million boxes. Lotte ranked third with 23.9 million boxes sold.
The other Korean dynastic power transfer
Posted on : Jun.11,2012 16:08 KST
Children of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee. Lee Jae-yong (from left), Lee Bu-jin and Lee Seo-hyun,
Samsung descendents lining up to take their place in the empire
By Kim Jin-cheol, staff reporter
The grandchildren of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull are lining up for powerful positions within their family’s empire. The competition has already begun.
Children of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, current president Lee Jae-yong and Lee Seo-hyun, were made executives in 2010.
Most expect Samsung Electronics and Finance to be taken over by Lee Jae-yong, Logistics and Service to Lee Bu-jin, and Cheil Industries Inc. and Cheil Worldwide Inc. to Lee Seo-hyun, respectively.
Former dictator comes out of isolation to salute military academy cadets
Posted on : Jun.11,2012 16:15 KST Modified on : Jun.11,2012 16:38 KST
Chorus of 610 to commemorate 6/10
Critics allege honoring former dictator sets a bad example for young people
By Lee Kyung-mi and Ha Eo-young, staff reporters
Former President Chun Doo-hwan made it out of his reclusive life in Seoul’s Yeonhui neighborhood to conduct a cadet review at the Korea Military Academy (KMA) last week. Chun led South Korea with an iron fist from 1980-1988. He was at one point sentenced to death for high treason and mutiny for his role in directing a 1979 coup and the 1980 massacre in Gwangju.
May 18 Memorial Foundation executive director Song Sun-tae told the Hankyoreh in a telephone interview on June 10 that it was “highly unfortunate for the military and people of South Korea” that Chun and other Fifth Republic figures presided over a parade at the KMA, an institution where honor and morale are paramount.
[Chun Doo-hwan] [Dictators]
South and North Korea hold meetings in China
Posted on : Jun.8,2012 16:15 KST
While central governments are still antagonistic, there are signs of cooperation at lower levels
By Kim Bo-keun, director of the Hankyoreh Peace Institute
North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-un plans to increase economic cooperation with China, says Ri Chang-dok, vice chairman of North Korea’s National Reconciliation Council (NRC). Provinces such as Liaoning near the countries’ shared border will be focal points of the new development.
Ri‘s comments came at a forum held in Dandong, China by the Hankyoreh and the cities of Incheon and Dandong. It is being held from June 7-8 on the theme of economic cooperation between South and North Korea and peace in Northeast Asia. The symposium also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and China.
Ri met with Incheon mayor Song Young-gil and Im Dong-won, director of the Hankyoreh Foundation for Reunification and Culture (HFRC) near the Crown Plaza Hotel, the event’s main venue.
Is South Korea lenient on NK sympathizers?
Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the Unifited Progressive Party answers reporters’ questions in the National Assembly last Thursday.
/ Korea Times photo
by Sohn Yong-seok
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Kwon Eun-young, a graduate school student at Seoul National University, recently had a heated debate with her student colleagues about whether lawmakers allegedly displaying sympathy toward an enemy state should be allowed to keep their job.
Some of Kwon’s friends argued South Korea appears to be “too democratic” as those who support or endorse the repressive North Korean regime were elected lawmakers and as a result have access to classified information, she said.
Military vows relentless retaliation if provoked by North
South Korea's military warned Monday that it would "immediately punish the core forces of provocations" if provoked again by North Korea, as the North vowed to attack major South Korean media for insulting its top leader.
The South's warning came after its Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) held an unscheduled readiness exercise earlier in the day to check out its defense posture involving its ballistic missile command, front-line artillery units and the Air Force.
The South's military, which remains on heightened alert following a series of deadly North Korean provocations, vows to retaliate if attacked. Seoul, the South Korean capital city of more than 10 million people, lies within range of North Korean artillery and rockets.
Lee Hae-chan elected new chairman of main opposition party
Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan was elected new chairman of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) in its national convention on Saturday.
In the DUP leadership election held at the KINTEX convention center in Goyang, north of Seoul, Lee defeated his archrival Rep. Kim Han-gil and six other contenders.
The 60-year-old Lee, a seven-term lawmaker, served as prime minister from 2004 to 2006 under the Roh Moo-hyun administration. He also served as the education minister during the Kim Dae-jung administration from 1998 to 1999, presiding over education reforms including revamping the college entrance system.
Ruling party ups attacks on North Korea sympathizers
By Chung Hee-hyung
The ruling Saenuri Party Friday retched up its offensive against the opposition parties describing them as a breed of pro-North Korea sympathizers who may run directly against national security.
When the two lawmakers of the minor Unified Progressive Party (UPP) were found involved in a voting fraud in selecting the party’s proportional candidates, few thought the issue would go beyond alleged voting irregularities and intra-party factionalism.
The Saenuri Party, however, was quick to capitalize on the two lawmakers’ pro-North sympathies. Since then, a parade of conservative politicians joined the fray in attacking not only the individual lawmakers but the entire opposition as well for its pro-North stance.
[Buildup] [North wind]
N.Korean Fighter Jet Sorties Close to Border
A North Korean SU-25 fighter jet flew unusually close to Seoul on Tuesday when it hovered over the border city of Kaesong. A military source here said the fighter jet crossed over the so-called tactical action line and flew over Kaesong for several minutes before returning.
The TAL is an arbitrary line the South Korean military set at 20 to 50km north of the military demarcation line and the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea assuming that North Korean fighter jets can reach the Seoul metropolitan area in just three to five minutes after take-off.
The South Korean Air Force immediately scrambled four fighter jets -- two KF-16s and two F-52s.
A South Korean military official said, "North Korea normally evaluates combat readiness in May and June prior to summer training that begins in August. But it is very rare for a North Korean fighter jet to cross the TAL and comes down to Kaesong."
North Korean fighter jets have been flying southward near the TAL two to three times a day recently and have crossed the line twice this year. "We don't think the move aimed to threaten the South, but we're preparing for the possibility of a military provocation in the air," the official said.
[Provocation] [Inversion] [Hype] [Buildup]
Recent tensions over allegedly pro-North Korea lawmakers has hindered political progress
By Son Won-je, staff reporter
The winds stigmatizing pro-North Korea lawmakers are gathering speed. A series of old tactics has brought public debate over inter-Korean relations to an ugly and unproductive place. Even President Lee Myung-bak has joined in criticizing opposition lawmakers with histories of pro-North activities.
The history of war and division on the Korean peninsula has lent the term “pro-North” senses of darkness and negativity. The term conjures thoughts of North Korea‘s reactionary nature and out-of-date ideology. Conservatives exploit these images of ideological struggle to avoid democratic debate on the issues in South Korea politics.
Leftist party decides to oust 2 pro-NK lawmakers
A progressive South Korean party said Thursday it has decided to oust two alleged pro-North Korean lawmakers and two other party members accused of being involved in an alleged rigged primary.
The move by the beleaguered Unified Progressive Party (UPP) comes amid efforts by conservative lawmakers to strip Reps. Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon of their seats.
The four have faced weeks of pressure to voluntarily step down amid accusations that they were involved in the UPP's alleged rigging in selecting proportional representation candidates for the April parliamentary election.
Fighters scramble against NK jet near Ganghwa Island
South Korea’s F15K fighters
By Kim Young-jin
North Korea has greatly increased exercises involving its fighter jets in recent weeks, including sending aircraft close to South Korean airspace, a military source said Wednesday.
“The number of sorties North Korean jet fighters have been making has risen sharply since mid-May,” the source said. “Up to 50 have been made each day and two to three of them have approached close to the tactical action line (TAC).”
The TAC is a conceptual line designated at 20 to 50 kilometers north of the border by the military which uses it to prepare for an early reaction to an infiltration by Pyongyang.
The source said the increase appeared to be part of summer combat inspections but that the military was closely monitoring the situation.
Parties locked in ‘McCarthyism’ row
President Lee Myung-bak, left, shakes hands with Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party following his Memorial Day Speech at Seoul National Cemetery, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Chung Hee-hyung
President Lee Myung-bak vowed in his Memorial Day speech, Wednesday, not to tolerate forces that deny the order of free democracy, alluding to opposition lawmakers who sympathize with North Korea.
The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) claims Lee and the conservative ruling Saenuri Party are whipping up an ideological witch hunt similar to “McCarthyism.”
However, the situation at the DUP is more complicated. Its stalwart Lee Hae-chan, a candidate for the party leadership in an ongoing election, opposed a bill on North Korean human rights, arguing it was tantamount to intervention into North Korea’s internal affairs.
Transforming South Korea’s defence capabilities
May 28th, 2012
Author: Michael Raska, RSIS
For nearly six decades, South Korea’s approach to security has focused on sustaining the status quo: maintaining deterrence and a robust defence posture in order to prevent another major conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
Three mutually reinforcing strategic pillars — defensive deterrence, alliance with the US and forward active defence — have long defined South Korea’s conception of national security, its force structure and the operational conduct of its armed forces.
But since the late 1990s, South Korea’s security dilemmas have become more ‘fluid’ and multi-faceted. Five key factors have redefined South Korea’s security equation over the last decade: a widening of the North Korean threat spectrum; the US’s defence transformation; China’s military modernisation and increased power projection; South Korea’s aim for greater autonomy, resulting from its improved economic and military capabilities; and subsequent changes in the US-ROK alliance.
[Buildup] [Military balance] [Paradigm]
N.Korea's Nuclear Obsession Is Self-Defeating
North Korea revised its constitution to state that the accomplishments of former leader Kim Jong-il turned it into a "nuclear power and invincible military superpower." There is no other country in the world that identifies itself as a nuclear-armed state in its constitution.
A closer look shows that the North Korean constitution is a joke. A country's constitution sets out the rules for government and guarantees the basic rights of its people. But the North Korean constitution stipulates in its preface that it is a means of legitimizing the ideology of nation founder Kim Il-sung. It therefore represents neither the country nor its people but is merely a tool to support the power of its dictator. The revision merely changes some references to include his son Kim Jong-il.
CPRK Slams Crackdown upon Progressive Party
Pyongyang, May 31 (KCNA) -- The Lee Myung Bak conservative group of south Korea is working hard to prevent the lawmakers from the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) from advancing into the "National Assembly" (NA), labeling them "pro-north leftists" and "communists following the Juche idea."
The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea observed in its information bulletin No. 999 issued Thursday in this regard:
The madcap smear campaign kicked off by the puppet conservative group is nothing but a "witch hunt" of modern version and sordid fascist politically-motivated terrorism perpetrated by the pro-U.S. conservative forces to stay in power.
Many members of the UPP and other progressive forces were elected members of the NA in April, something unprecedented in history. This is a heavy blow at the conservative group including the "Saenuri Party" which faked up at random the pro-U.S. sycophantic and fascist unpopular laws while going unchallenged at the NA after occupying its majority seats, the bulletin noted, and went on:
Roh’s daughter faces questioning
Prosecution probing Korean-American lawyer over apartment deal
By Kim Rahn
Prosecutors are likely to question the daughter of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun over a dubious apartment deal made in 2009, after testimony was recently obtained about her alleged involvement in the deal.
The probe, however, has drawn a backlash from opposition parties that claim the investigation is politically motivated to deal a blow against Roh’s former aides ahead of the December presidential election.
Young South Korean patriots turn to Internet to weed out pro-North Korean views
By Associated Press, Published: May 30
SEOUL, South Korea — Google is not just a search engine for 26-year-old South Korean Ma Han-joo. Nor is Twitter merely a fun way to share pics of K-pop stars. For Ma and thousands of other young conservative activists — many of them teenagers — they are crucial weapons in their campaign to scrub the Internet of North Korea sympathizers.
Ma, whose delicate frame and shy smile makes her an unlikely warrior in real life, uses Google in her spare time to search for blogs, videos and other Internet postings that identify fellow South Koreans who are “sincerely idolizing” communist North Korea.
In the past year, Ma has reported more than 30 online postings that she considered dangerous and which could “brainwash the minds of South Koreans” to the National Intelligence Service. Using search keywords such as “Great Leader” or “Nation’s Sun” — references to the North’s dynastic leadership — she trawls the Internet until finding offending content and then submits a link along with a screenshot online.
[Cyberactivism] [Human rights] [NSL]
Up To 40,000 S.Korean Soldiers Still Buried in DMZ, N.Korea
South Korea has been able to retrieve only a fraction of the remains of some 40,000 soldiers killed in the Korean War, even though the armistice concluded in 1953 stipulates that the two Koreas should exchange the remains of their fallen.
On Friday, the U.S. military handed over some remains of South Korean soldiers that it unearthed in an ongoing search for its own war dead in the North, 62 years after the war broke out.
Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea
President Lee Myung-bak on Monday urged "pro-North Korea" groups in South Korea to wake up to reality and stop blindly accepting nonsense assertions Pyongyang makes, calling their unconditional following of the communist regime "problematic."
It was the first time Lee, who has tried to avoid ideological remarks, has openly criticized those sympathetic to North Korea by using the word, "jongbuk," which means "blindly following the North." Pro-Pyongyang followers are criticized as jongbuk forces in South Korea.
Lee made the criticism in his biweekly radio address, saying North Korea has made "wild assertions" denying its involvement in attacks on South Korea, including a 1983 terrorist bombing targeted at the then South Korean president in Myanmar and the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship.
[Public opinion] [SK NK policy]
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