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N.Korea Falls Silent Over Family Reunions
North Korea responded with deafening silence to South Korea's proposal of a meeting of officials to discuss fresh reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
A Unification Ministry official on Tuesday said North Korea informed the South through a hotline in the border truce village of Panmunjom that there was "no message to deliver today."
The government expressed regret.
On Jan. 24, Pyongyang sent a message through the Red Cross proposing unconditional resumption of the reunions and saying it is "determined to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity."
The ministry official said the government will "wait until Wednesday for further responses."
Seoul officials believe the North's silence stems from a delay in decision-making, because Pyongyang asked for the hotline at Panmumjom to be manned for an extended period.
Some North Korea watchers believe Pyongyang is unhappy with the date South Korea proposed, Feb. 17-22, which overlaps with former leader Kim Jong-il's weeklong birthday celebrations.
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Tuesday urged South Korea to "join hands" with the North to improve inter-Korean relations but did not comment on the date the South proposed for the reunions.
North Korea would apparently prefer to hold the reunions after joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises end in late February.
Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said, "North Korea is probably mulling the right timing as it is reluctant to pour cold water on a developing atmosphere of dialogue that was difficult to create."
Some experts point out that ongoing live-fire naval drills by South Korea in the West Sea are likely to have irked North Korea. But a government official warned against such speculation, saying, "North Korea made no mention of that through the Panmunjom hotline."
[Divided families] [Military exercises]
NK demands Seoul stop live-fire exercise
By Kang Seung-woo
The defense ministry said Tuesday that North Korea’s National Defense Commission sent a fax to the National Security Office, Monday, urging the cancellation of a live-fire drill near the South’s northwestern border islands. The one-day exercise started later in the day.
“North Korea called on South Korea to scrap its plan to hold a live-fire artillery exercise, threatening grave consequences,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a briefing.
According to Kim, the ministry’s policy director immediately replied to the North, stressing, “The drill is a legitimate exercise that is held in its own territorial waters, and proposed family reunions should not be affected by it.”
Pyongyang offered to hold reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War last week and Seoul proposed Monday that the two sides hold them between Feb. 17 and 22. However, the North has yet to reply to the proposal.
[Provocation] [NLL] [Military exercises]
Grave of N.Korean Leader's Grandfather Found on Jeju
The graves of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's maternal grandfather and great-grandfather have been discovered on Jeju Island.
Ko Kyong-taek was born on the island in 1913 and lived there until he moved to Japan. His daughter Kyong-hui later married then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Ko's background in what had become South Korea was swept under the carpet. The location of his grave was so far unknown.
But there is some propaganda mileage in the home of Kim Jong-un's maternal family. On April 3, 1948, Jeju was the scene of a communist revolt that ended with a bloody crackdown. Many people headed to Japan to escape the bloodshed.
S. Korea proposes reunions Feb. 17-22
By Chung Min-uck
South Korea has proposed an inter-Korean family reunion from Feb. 17 to 22, the Ministry of Unification said Monday.
“Considering the separated families’ desire to reunite, we propose to hold the reunion program from Feb. 17 to 22 at Mt. Geumgang,” the ministry said in a message delivered to Pyongyang through a communication channel at the truce village of Panmunjeom.
The North had proposed Friday a reunion event as part of its latest conciliatory gestures towards the South, at Mt. Geumgang, a scenic mountain resort on its east coast, after Lunar New Year holiday which ends Feb. 2.
President Park Geun-hye, during her New Year’s speech earlier this month, called for resumption of family reunions.
In its proposal, the South also offered to hold Red Cross talks Wednesday at Panmunjeom to discuss details, and is expected to select up to 100 individuals for the reunion.
“We hope the North will respond positively to our proposal and give momentum in improving inter-Korean relations,” ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told a regular briefing, Monday.
Despite the ministry’s denial, experts say Seoul has factored in joint military exercises with Washington, which will kick off late February and last until April, when deciding the date for the reunion.
[Divided families] [Joint US military]
Rep. Lee refuses to answer at 'treason' court hearing
In left photo, members of conservative civic groups hold banners at Suwon District Court, Monday, calling for strict punishment of Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) who is on trial for fomenting armed insurrection. At the same time, in right photo, members of the UPP stage a protest and collect signatures for a petition demanding his release. / Yonhap
By Nam Hyun-woo
Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP), who was indicted on charges of conspiring treason, refused to answer prosecutors’ questions during a court hearing on Monday.
In his 43rd trial in Suwon District Court, prosecutors planned to question Lee. However, before questions began, Lee said, “I refuse to give any answer since the whole case was fabricated by the National Intelligence Service.”
He said his refusal is also a show of protest against the prosecution, which sought detention warrants on a number of UPP members at Lee’s office when prosecutors raided there, saying it was clearly “political retaliation” against him.
S.Korea in Fresh Proposal for Family Reunions
The government sent a message to North Korea on Monday proposing to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War in mid-February, before joint South Korea-U.S. exercises start.
The aim is to prevent North Korea from using the military drill as an excuse to call off the reunions again.
A high-ranking government official on Sunday, "We've come to the conclusion that the sooner we hold the family reunions the better. Since it takes two or three weeks to prepare the event, we plan to propose a meeting before the lunar New Year’s holidays begin" on Jan. 30.
Seoul hopes to send a team of officials to prepare and check the facilities at the Mt. Kumgang resort in North Korea during the holidays.
North Korea has demanded that the South halt the joint military exercises. But on Jan. 24, Pyongyang sent a message through the Red Cross proposing unconditional resumption of the reunions and saying it is "determined to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity."
[Divided families] [Joint US military]
[Column] Unification through absorption is almost impossible
Posted on : Jan.26,2014 12:03 KST
By Kim Gye-dong, Yonsei University professor
The South Korean government and media have more frequently mentioned the possibility of Korean unification since the beginning of this year. As unification has been brought up at a time when the South Korean government appears unwilling to talk or reconcile with the North, it seems that Seoul is expecting unification by absorption. There is scant possibility that North Korea is going to collapse, but if that does happen, the success or failure of unification by absorption will depend on whether South Korea has jurisdiction over territory now in North Korea.
Pres. Park maintains her critical stance on North Korea
Posted on : Jan.27,2014 15:53 KST
Modified on : Jan.27,2014 16:01 KST
President Park Geun-hye speaks at a meeting of her secretariat held at the Blue House, Jan. 27. (Blue House pool photo)
With Pyongyang seeking dialogue, Park calls the North’s latest moves a “campaign of conciliatory propaganda”
By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent and Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
President Park Geun-hye is refusing to let her guard down against North Korea, making numerous hard-line remarks in the past few days despite repeated signals that Pyongyang wants dialogue.
Just one day after North Korea accepted a proposal to hold reunions between divided families, Park was back to showing deep distrust, referring to North Korea as an “unpredictable place” waging a “campaign of conciliatory propaganda.”
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Park Geun-hye]
Reunions of divided families could take place in mid-February
Posted on : Jan.27,2014 15:58 KST
Modified on : Jan.27,2014 16:00 KST
A staff member from the desk where members of divided families register for possible family reunions checks a clipboard at the Korean Red Cross offices in Seoul’s Jongno district, Jan. 26. (by Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
Timing will have to be decided in consideration of ROK-US military exercises and late NK leader Kim Jong-il’s birthday
By Choi Hyun-june and Ha Eo-young, staff reporters
Reunions between members of divided South and North Korean families may take place as early as mid-February.
The reunions, which have already been postponed once, appear likely to go ahead this time, but a number of key variables remain, including South Korea’s military exercises with the US and the still-idle Mt. Keumgang tourism venture.
[Divided families] [Joint US military]
DPRK renews call for end to mutual provocation with ROK
Xinhua, January 25, 2014
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday held a news conference at the United Nations, calling for an end to provocation between DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) while asking Seoul to scrap a planned military drill with the United States.
Sin Son Ho, the DPRK's ambassador to the United Nations, repeated the three proposals originally presented in an "open letter" from Pyongyang to Seoul last month, calling for an end to recriminations and military provocation between the two to stop and prevent nuclear confrontation.
Sin Son Ho (C), ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Nations (UN), speaks during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, on Jan. 24, 2014. DPRK on Friday held a news conference at the United Nations, calling for an end to provocation between DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) while asking Seoul to scrap a planned military drill with the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]
"We propose taking practical measures to be beneficial to each other to prevent a nuclear holocaust from being inflicted on the Korean peninsula," he said.
If the joint ROK-U.S. military exercises were not canceled because they "are so precious and valuable, they had better hold the exercises in a secluded area or in the United States far away from the territorial land, sea and air of the Korean peninsula," he added.
DPRK's National Defense Commission made the three-point " proposal" on Jan. 16, calling for the two countries to make concerted efforts to push for a thaw in relations starting from Jan. 31, the Lunar New Year's Day, and for ROK to stop its annual military drills with the United States.
The ROK Defense Ministry responded last week that the joint military drills between Seoul and Washington would be conducted as scheduled despite the DPRK peace proposal.
"Key Resolve and Foal Eagle will be carried out as scheduled," ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. "If North Korea makes military provocations citing our normal military exercises, our military will sternly and ruthlessly retaliate against such provocations."
N.Korea Urges End to Military Acts in Letter to S.Korea
North Korea's National Defense Commission has sent an open letter to South Korean officials saying Pyongyang is "determined to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity."
The North's official Korean Central News Agency carried the letter on Friday, which also vowed to work to "completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and re-energize multi-faceted North-South cooperation and exchanges."
However, the letter also called for an end to South Korea's joint military drills with the United States, while defending its own nuclear force, which it said was only for self-defense.
Last week, the commission sent a series of proposals urging South Korea to cancel schedule joint exercises with the U.S. Seoul dismissed the calls as deceptive propaganda exercises, saying that as a democracy it didn't carry out preemptive strikes and questioning the North's intentions.
North Korea traditionally demands the South to call off the drills, scheduled for February and March this year, considering them a prelude to invasion, but this year it also suggested both sides take steps to ease tension, including a moratorium on mutual verbal attacks.
"Our important proposal puts the shameful past behind while containing our army and people's immutable will to improve inter-Korea relations together," said the North's state-run television network, KRT.
Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.
N. Korea accepts Seoul’s offer to hold family reunions
Posted on : Jan.25,2014 13:27 KST
On the morning of Jan. 24, Pyongyang sent an open letter to Seoul on the direct orders of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposing that North and South Korea work on improving inter-Korean relations and ceasing all hostile military activity through the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea .
Pyongyang’s acceptance comes after Seoul had insisted on actions and sincerity instead of words
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
On the evening of Jan. 24, Pyongyang suddenly accepted Seoul’s proposal to hold reunions of divided families. The North Korean Red Cross proposed holding the reunions at Keumgang Mountain after the Lunar New Year holiday at a time that is convenient for South Korea, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency reported.
The South Korean government immediately welcomed the North’s abrupt acceptance, which came just an hour and a half after South Korea’s rejection of a proposal contained in an open letter to Seoul. That letter was issued on the direct orders of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposing that North and South Korea work on improving inter-Korean relations and ceasing all hostile military activity. This was eight days after the North made its “important proposal” on Jan. 16, which conveyed the same message.
The question now is whether the reunions can be a way to improve inter-Korean relations, as North and South haven’t held talks since summer of 2013.
[Divided families] [Overture]
[Editorial] We need more than empty talk to hit the ‘jackpot’ of unification
Posted on : Jan.24,2014 16:05 KST
Park Geun-hye continues to talk about how Korean unification will be like winning the jackpot. After first bringing up the idea at the New Year press conference on Jan. 6, Park went a step further on Jan. 22 at the Davos Forum in Switzerland. “I believe that unification would not only be hitting the jackpot for Korea, but also for all of our neighbors in Northeast Asia,” Park said.
In and of itself, the unification-as-jackpot theory makes a fair amount of sense. If North and South Korea were reunited peacefully, the Korean peninsula would emerge as an economic community, which would also have a positive effect on the three northeastern Chinese provinces and the Russian Far East. Furthermore, this would result in a peace dividend by reducing military spending, while accelerating the economic integration of Northeast Asia.
Another potential advantage of peaceful unification is a reduction of the so-called “Korea discount,” which results from the fact that the peninsula is divided. Indeed, reducing popular opposition to unification and promoting a positive attitude to the subject is one of the president’s responsibilities. This is especially true considering that the younger generation is leery of the cost of unification and tends to view it not as necessary but rather as optional.
But without any concrete plan for bringing it about, the unification-as-jackpot talk is nothing more than hot air
NDC of DPRK Sends Open Letter to South Korean Side
Pyongyang, January 24 (KCNA) -- The National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK Thursday sent an open letter to the authorities, various political parties, social organizations and people of various circles of south Korea by a special order of the first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army.
The letter says:
The history of the territorial partition which has lasted for several decades has brought untold misfortune and pain to the Korean nation.
Foreign forces are wholly to blame for this tragic and disgraceful history of the Korean nation which started following the liberation of the country.
C.C., DPRK Red Cross Society Sends Notice to S. Korean Red Cross
Pyongyang, January 24 (KCNA) -- The Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society sent a notice to the south Korean Red Cross on Friday.
The notice said:
The crucial proposal and open letter of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK to terminate the evermore escalating distrust and confrontation between the north and the south and pave a wide avenue for improving the inter-Korean relations are now positively supported and approved by all Koreans who aspire after the nation's reconciliation and unity and the country's reunification.
The open letter sent to the south Korean authorities by the NDC of the DPRK in the wake of the crucial proposal made to them on January 16 fully reflects the patriotic decision and noble sense of responsibility of the supreme leadership of the DPRK to put an end to the history of the territorial partition and national split in view of the hard reality to which the Korean nation can no longer remain a passive on-looker and open a fresh phase of national reunification.
The C.C., the DPRK Red Cross Society proposed the south side to arrange the reunion of separated families and their relatives from the north and the south with the Lunar New Year's Day as an occasion, prompted by the single desire to open a way of improving the relations between the north and the south in practice as desired and wished by all Koreans at home and abroad.
[Divided families] [Overture]
NK proposes reunions of separated families
By Jun Ji-hye
North Korea made a proposal Friday for a reunion of families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Pyongyang’s Red Cross proposed that the event be held at the Mt. Geumgang resort in the North, asking South Korea to decide a time at its convenience after the weather becomes warmer.
The government confirmed that the North sent a telephone message to the chairman of Seoul’s Red Cross via Panmunjom at around 6:30 p.m.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North’s Red Cross said, “Taking the Lunar New Year holiday as an opportunity, we suggest holding a reunion event to comply with the desire of separated families in the two Koreas and to improve inter-Korean relations.”
[Divided families] [Overture]
Even military dictators dialogued with North Korea
by Paik Haksoon
14 January 2014 / 14?1? 20143
In Paik Haksoon’s inaugural NAPSNet Special Report and Nautilus’ first Korean-language Special Report, Dr Paik argues that in order to have peace, there has to be dialog. The Top leaders from both sides of the Demilitarized Zone have to start that dialog. Simply talking to each other is neither a reward nor unprecedented.
Paik Haksoon (???) is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This article originally appeared in??? ???, ???? on 8 January 2014. It is re-printed here with Pressian’s permission.
The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.
[SK NK negotiations] [Incomprehensible machine translation]
Pyongyang calls on Seoul to have dialogue
North Korea called again for inter-Korean talks Friday, this time in the form of an "open letter."
"It is our determination to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, resume the tour of Mt. Kumgang and reenergize multi-faceted north-south cooperation and exchanges," the powerful National Defense Commission said in what it says is an open letter to South Koreans.
The move came after the South Korean government rejected the North's dialogue offer, with "unacceptable" pre-conditions attached, earlier this month.
Pyongyang demanded the cancellation of annual joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.
In its new overture, the North said it did not call on South Korea to stop "ordinary military drills."
"It urged them to halt drills for a war of aggression to be staged against their compatriots in collusion with outside forces," the commission said, according to an English-version report by Pyongyang's official news agency, the KCNA. (Yonhap)
Seoul hardens line amid NK peace offensive
The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014
KOREA - South Korea appears to be hardening its stance against North Korea as the Kim Jong-un regime steps up its peace offensive, which Seoul sees as an attempt to build rationale for a possible military provocation.
The communist country's propaganda machine has been churning out articles and editorials calling for efforts to improve inter-Korean relations in line with its leader's New Year address. Last week it offered reconciliation through the cessation of slander and military drills with the US
Unfazed by the South's rebuff the following day, the North pledged to undertake "practical behaviour" first to demonstrate its steadfast resolve to realise its "crucial proposal."
But Seoul remained aloof, warning Pyongyang against misleading public opinion with groundless claims and calling for action toward denuclearization to prove its sincerity.
Pres. Park says N. Korea will have to change
Posted on : Jan.22,2014 12:11 KST
Modified on : Jan.22,2014 12:16 KST
In Switzerland, Park discusses bringing about circumstances that induce change in the North
By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent in Bern and Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
President Park Geun-hye came out with another provocative statement on Jan. 20 during a summit in the Swiss capital of Bern.
“North Korea may need to change by itself, but if it can’t do that, then we need to create an environment where it has no choice,” Park said at the summit with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter. Terms like “change,” “openness,” and “reforms” are seen as taboo in North Korea, since they hint at the possibility of regime change.
Park’s remarks in Bern continued a trend since the start of the year of dismissing Pyongyang’s proposals for improved relations as “lacking sincerity.”
“North Korea has been talking about improving inter-Korean relations recently, but it’s difficult to sense any sincerity,” Park continued. “What we need more than anything else is the North Korean leadership’s strategic determination to abandon its nuclear program.”
N. Korea criticizes Pres. Park’s comment about unification being “the jackpot”
Posted on : Jan.21,2014 15:41 KST
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gives his televised New Year’s address on Jan 1. The address was broadcast at 9 am by North Korea’s official Korean Central Television. (Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap News)
Magazine article argues that Park is harboring ideas about “unification by absorption”
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
Criticizing the comment that President Park Geun-hye made during her New Year’s press conference on Jan. 6 that unification would be like hitting “the jackpot,” North Korea said that the remark is “fueled by delusions about unification by absorption.” Pyongyang also called once again for the South to accede to its “important proposal” to stop engaging in “mutual slander and hostile military activity.” But the South Korean government snubbed the proposal once again, demanding that the North prove its words through action.
North Korean weekly overseas newspaper the Tongil Shinbo ran an article on the third page of its Jan. 18 edition titled, “‘Unification Like the Jackpot’: What Is the Problem?” “The words of the leader of South Korea are not being admired; rather, they are facing the criticism and the ridicule of the Korean people,” the article said. “Park’s words are fueled by delusions about unification by absorption, by the hope for a sudden change in North Korea.”
“In order to embrace unification, we must first improve the abnormal relations between North and South Korea. That’s why the Republic [North Korea] spoke at the beginning of the year about creating an atmosphere for improving inter-Korean relations. Instead of this atmosphere for improving inter-Korean relations, the South is severely antagonizing its own flesh and blood through confrontational words and actions,” the paper said.
This is the first time that North Korea officially mentioned Park’s remark about unification being like winning the jackpot. Significantly, the article criticized Park directly for talking up unification while refusing to respond to North Korea’s calls for improving inter-Korean relations and for ending slander and refraining from hostile military activities.
Despite this, the South Korean government brushed aside North Korea’s request yet again. Referring to North Korea’s requests during the regular briefing, Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Ui-do said, “We think that North Korea is the one that is slandering us. The North should not wait until the Lunar New Year but should desist from slander and libel right away.”
[Takeover] [Unification] [Park Geun-hye]
N. Korea describes importance of developing its economy
Posted on : Jan.22,2014 12:18 KST
Pyongyang’s overtures for peaceful relations with Seoul appear related to goal of economic advancement
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
North Korea stated a position that it sees establishing a peaceful environment to grow its economy and improve its population’s standard of living as an important goal.
Analysts said the column showed economic issues to be the key reason the North has been actively calling on South Korea to improve relations and halt hostile military actions since the beginning of 2014.
Pyongyang‘s position was presented in a Jan. 21 column titled “Defending peace is the firm resolve of our republic,” published in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
“The issue of establishing a peaceful environment in our republic, in its intense struggle to build its economy and improve the people’s living standard, is an extremely important one,” the piece said.
It went on to say that its recent “momentous proposal” to South Korean authorities was “part of these efforts.” On Jan. 16, North Korea sent a proposal to the South calling for a halt to “mutual slander and hostile military actions.”
The statement calling for peaceful environment between the two sides on economic grounds echoes the conclusions of expert analyses. Wonkwang University president and former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun and Inje University professor Kim Yeon-chul, among others, have said Pyongyang appears to need a more stable relationship with the South because of internal issues, including that of the economic situation. Specifically, the Kim Jong-un regime feels obliged to produce economic results as it begins its third year in power, a goal that requires stable relations with Seoul, Washington and Beijing.
Paying tribute 33 years later
Posted on : Jan.22,2014 14:23 KST
Victims of the “Burim Case”, which is depicted in the film The Attorney, visit the grave of former president Roh Moo-hyun in Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang Province, Jan. 21. The Attorney is based on Roh’s efforts as a lawyer to defend a group of students, teachers and workers who were illegally detained then tortured by the government of dictator Chun Doo-hwan in 1981. The victims were charged with being pro-North Korea forces under fabricated evidence. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
[Roh Moo-hyun] [Chun Doo-hwan]
[Editorial] The Attorney bringing out skeletons from the closet
Posted on : Jan.21,2014 15:44 KST
The movie The Attorney - which deals with late former president Roh Moo-hyun’s time as an attorney - passed the 10 million viewer mark, the tenth time a movie in Korea has accomplished that. Considering that the film addresses the life of a former president, assessments of it will vary according to one’s political views. The factual accuracy of the events depicted in the movie has become a hot topic, and it is not uncommon to hear people connected with the Burim Incident in 1981 - which serves as the backdrop of the film - to reminisce about their experiences. However, as interest in the movie increases, we regret to see figures with skeletons in their closets not only trying to justify their past actions but even attempting to twist the truth.
Speaking in an interview with the Hankyoreh about defendants’ claims that they had been tortured, Choi Byung-guk, the chief prosecutor in the Burim Case and a former lawmaker, said, “They insist that they were tortured, but they are doing that to cover up their own actions. During the investigation, I visited the anti-communist office where they were interrogated in Busan and asked the suspects whether they had been tortured. They told me that they had not.”
“Later, during the trial, the suspects claimed they had been tortured,” said Go Young-ju, a lawyer who took part in the investigation as a prosecutor, in an interview with an online newspaper. “During the investigation, they didn’t say even once that they had been tortured.”
[Chun Doo-hwan] [Human rights] [Repression] [Torture]
It Is Steadfast Will of DPRK to Champion Peace: Rodong Sinmun
Pyongyang, January 21 (KCNA) -- It is the consistent policy and the firm will of the DPRK to champion peace, says Rodong Sinmun in a bylined article Tuesday.
The DPRK has so far put forward a slew of proposals to end the fragile ceasefire mechanism and replace it with a lasting peace-keeping one and made sincere efforts to realize them.
The recent important proposals made by the National Defence Commission of the DPRK to the south Korean authorities are also part of such efforts.
All Koreans in the north and the south of Korea desire peace and peaceful reunification.
Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, large-scale joint military drills, which the U.S. and south Korea are planning to stage from late February, are the extremely dangerous actions to push the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.
As even a minor military conflict may immediately lead to an all-out war on the peninsula, no one can vouch that the above-said war exercises targeting the other side will not develop into a real war.
[Joint US military] [Overture]
Seoul Wary of N.Korean Overtures
Seoul is wary in the face of North Korea's repeated overtures over the past week, with several officials voicing suspicion of a hidden agenda. Some believe North Korea's gestures are perfunctory or aimed at justifying a provocation against South Korea in the weeks ahead to distract attention from the execution late last year of former eminence grise Jang Song-taek.
? Peace Gestures
In an editorial on Monday, North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun daily called for an "immediate end" to derogatory comments from both sides, saying they only "heighten tensions." The North also called for a halt to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills scheduled for late February.
When South Korea declined, Pyongyang promised to take "substantial steps" first to demonstrate its resolve to realize this "crucial proposal."
President Park Geun-hye on Monday nonetheless ordered the military to remain alert, but North Korea merely repeated the proposal. Meanwhile, North Korean special forces have been conducting infiltration drills near border areas.
Rodong Sinmun Calls for Improved North-South Ties
Pyongyang, January 20 (KCNA) -- Only when the north-south relations are improved to be turned into the ones of deep trust and unity, can the basic conditions for national reunification be provided and independent reunification, peace and prosperity be achieved by the concerted efforts of all Koreans, says Rodong Sinmun Monday in a bylined article.
It goes on:
Improving the north-south relations is the essential task for ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and realizing the independent reunification of the country and the prosperity common to the nation.
Smash film The Attorney passes 10-million viewer mark
Posted on : Jan.20,2014 14:05 KST
Story based on former president Roh bases its success on multi-generational appeal
By Hong Seok-jae, cinema correspondent
On Jan. 19 - only 33 days after its release - The Attorney passed the 10 million viewer mark, making it the 10th film released in South Korea to be seen 10 million times or more. Though it hasn’t hit the mark set by Avatar (13.62 million tickets), which holds the South Korean box office record, The Attorney is now the ninth most popular Korean film of all time.
How could The Attorney have sold more than 10 million tickets? While the film was highly anticipated, it created controversy even before its release because it’s based on the early years of the late former president Roh Moo-hyun.
Pres. Park calls for tight security stance as N. Korea makes peace overture
Posted on : Jan.20,2014 13:55 KST
Inter-Korean tensions expected to continue through upcoming S. Korea-UN military exercises
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter and Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent in Bern
In response to repeated proposals from North Korea on Jan. 16 and Jan. 18, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that the South should take even more precautions about provocations from the North at times like this. Park’s words have been criticized as pouring cold water on the possibility of improving inter-Korean relations and in fact are giving the North an excuse to make a military provocation.
“At times like this - when North Korea is engaging in this kind of propaganda campaign - there is even more reason to do everything we can to maintain an impregnable security stance in which we take every precaution against provocations from the North,” Park instructed ministers in the areas of diplomacy and security on Jan. 18, during her trip to India.[Overture] [Rebuff] [Park Geun-hye]
[Overture] [Rebuff] [North Wind]
N. Korea connects politics and military to economic development
Posted on : Jan.20,2014 14:08 KST
Pyongyang’s recent calls to stabilize inter-Korean relations appear motivated by desire to set the stage for economic improvement
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
The primary reason that North Korea is calling for an improvement in inter-Korean relations and an easing of tensions appears to be economic. A North Korean article that came to light recently argued that political and military stability are critical to building the economy.
The latest issue of the quarterly publication of North Korea’s Social Science Institute - published on Nov. 15, 2013, and viewed on Jan. 19 - included an article titled, “Major Issues Pertaining to Making the North Korean Economy Stronger by Establishing and Expanding Economic Development Zones.” The article identified “creating the right political and military environment” as one of the five important tasks for developing economic zones.
The other four tasks were building infrastructure such as roads and railroads, enacting laws for the special economic zones that take into account the profit of the government and of investors, providing benefits for foreign investors, and operating and managing projects in a way that is suitable to the characteristics of the zones. In November 2013, North Korea announced plans to set up 13 special economic development zones around and one special economic zone in Sinuiju with the goal of attracting foreign capital and developing rural regions.
[Overture] [SEZ] [NK SK policy]
NK expected to make more conciliatory moves
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korea watchers said Sunday that Pyongyang’s series of conciliatory offers are aimed at solidifying its rule over its people as well as chipping away at South Korea’s strong North Korean policy.
The Stalinist country formally proposed Thursday halting all cross-border “slander” starting Jan. 30 and called for mutual action to prevent a “nuclear holocaust” on the Korean Peninsula, only to be snubbed by the South the following day.
Park calls NK offer 'ploy'
By Kim Tae-gyu
BERN, Switzerland ? President Park Geun-hye is showing few signs of changing her position on North Korea and Japan.
Arriving here Sunday after a state visit to India, she is expected to turn up the pressure on Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum (KEF) in Davos and may also use it as a platform to tell the world how she distrusts Pyongyang.
She made herself clear on the North in India, Saturday, before her departure.
“The North is staging propaganda offensives so we must be on full alert in preparation of possible provocations,” Park said.
Pongyang pledges to take steps to ease inter-Korean tension
North Korea will take the first steps to fulfill its proposal made earlier this week to end inter-Korea tensions, the country's main newspaper said Saturday, calling on Seoul to follow suit.
"Our will to fulfill the latest important proposal is solid," said the Rodong Sinmun daily, which is run by the governing party. "As we have declared, we will first show our actions to fulfill it," it said.
The newspaper article, however, did not elaborate on what specific actions the country will take.
By Robert Carlin
17 January 2014
Is this any way to run a dance hall? The music has stopped, the lights have been turned off, and someone, apparently, has spat in the punchbowl.
Seoul today rejected, seemingly without qualification or counteroffer, the January 16th proposal of North Korea’s National Defense Commission (NDC). It’s entirely up to Seoul to handle its own business, but on reflection, it would not seem to be the most productive approach to simply rebuff Pyongyang’s proposal on all counts. Worse, it was rejected on the basis of arguments that appear as if Seoul is grasping for reasons. Grasping? How about: “Well, they slander us more.” Or: “Well, they exercise, too.” This is the “your-mother-wears-combat-boots” approach of the schoolyard. If the North’s proposal is seen as a game, then why not beat them at their game? Why not call their bluff? And if it turns out to be not entirely a bluff, holy Toledo, what a nice surprise. The Great Wheel might actually creak ahead a millimeter or two.
It took Washington only a few hours to react negatively to the North’s proposal, although, seemingly with a wee bit more finesse than what came out of Seoul. Presumably, Washington is giving this more careful thought than might be immediately gleaned from the responses of the official US press spokespersons, which were pretty much just taken from the official-press-spokesperson-response bibles. Having dispatched in short order the idea of stopping the exercises, Washington fell into its familiar catechism on the North’s “international obligations” etc.
For the North and South to engage in this sort of exercise—proposal, counterproposal—is as, I’ve said before, part of a familiar dance. Some of what the North proposed yesterday is what is sometimes called unilateral confidence building measures. They are not supposed to be the end of the process but the beginning, the entry point. Seoul’s rejection in so categorical a way seems to be cutting the process short. If getting nowhere is what South Korea wants, that’s pretty surely what it will have
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Joint US military]
Most S.Korean Men Would Marry N.Korean Women
Seven out of 10 single men in South Korea are open to the idea of marrying a North Korean woman, but no South Korean woman would marry a North Korean man, according to a straw poll.
The poll perhaps reflects the popular belief here that beautiful women come from North Korea and handsome men from the South.
Matchmaking company Bien-Aller polled 558 single South Koreans online, and 68.8 percent of men said they are "somewhat positive" about the idea of marrying a North Korean woman, while 84.2 percent of women were "somewhat negative" and 15.8 percent "very negative."
"Women in this country are so picky in choosing their husbands that men are considering North Korean women as an alternative," a spokesman for the company said. "But women place prime importance on educational background, income and manners and have very negative views of North Korean men, whom they associate with soldiers or starving people."
Men are usually are more interested in looks and associate North Korean women with beauty, perhaps from looking at pictures of North Korean performers. In contrast, women here usually picture North Korean men as short, skinny and clad in ill-fitting uniforms.
[Image] [Public opinion] [Propaganda]
N.Korea Calls for End to 'Mutual Denunciation'
North Korea on Thursday called for an end to mutual denunciations between North and South Korea.
North Korea's National Defense Commission on Thursday in a statement called on the two sides to stop irritating each other as Lunar New Year's Day approaches at the end of this month.
But it also called for suspension of joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises scheduled for late February, proposing that both sides "stop all activities of irritating each other on the ground, in the sea, and in the air, including the five islands in the West Sea."
The two sides should take measures to "prevent a nuclear catastrophe," it added.
"Once these proposals are put into practice, all pending issues, big or small, including the reunion of separated families, will be resolved," it pledged.
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Joint US military]
Seoul snubs North Korea’s “important proposal”
Posted on : Jan.18,2014 13:38 KST
S. Korean government expresses doubts over Pyongyang’s sincerity while sticking to an inflexible attitude regarding inter-Korean relations
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter and Park Hyun, Washington correspondent
The South Korean government dismissed the “important proposal” of North Korea’s National Defense Commission on Jan. 17 because of doubts about Pyongyang’s sincerity. Seoul believes that the North is waging a camouflaged “peace offensive.” In fact, government officials even disparaged North Korea’s proposal, labeling it as “distortion of the facts and absurd claims, intended to manipulate public opinion.”
Experts believe that the South reacted in this way because Pyongyang made an offer that would be difficult for it to accept.
“If North Korea truly wished to ease inter-Korean tensions, it would have made a more practical offer, such as calling for talks with the South, instead of asking for US-ROK military exercises to be canceled, an offer that is impossible for the South to agree to,” said a senior official at the South’s Unification Ministry on condition of anonymity.
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Joint US military] [Spin]
[Editorial] To improve relations, both South and North need to take real steps
Posted on : Jan.18,2014 13:32 KST
Modified on : Jan.18,2014 13:38 KST
It was a mistake for the South Korean government to brusquely dismiss on Jan. 17 the “important proposal” that North Korea made the previous evening. While it is true that the North’s behavior is somewhat crude and there were some dubious aspects in the proposal, the right choice - the responsible choice - that the authorities in Seoul and Pyongyang must make to improve inter-Korean relations is sitting down together and holding talks.
[Overture] [Rebuff] [False balance] [Liberal]
NDC of DPRK Advances Crucial Proposals to S. Korean Authorities
Pyongyang, January 17 (KCNA) -- It is the 14th year in the 21st century amid the deepening bitterness the Koreans suffer from the national division.
As the times go by, the nation has suffered ever-bigger pain of territorial division and national partition which were imposed at the hands of outsiders.
Out of the resolute determination to end this, the peerless patriot declared his iron will to bring earlier national reunification and peace and prosperity with his patriotic mind at a significant moment when the first day of this year dawned, warming up the 3 000-ri territory and the minds of all Koreans and the world people.
But only the present authorities of south Korea have showed ill-boding movements from the outset of the new year, not doing away with the inveterate bad habit of escalating confrontation.
They build up the public opinion to convince the people that the present stalemate in the north-south ties is due to the DPRK. They are saying this or that over the internal affairs of the other side and have become talkative about the non-existent "provocation" and "threat", not content with their dream for sort of "emergency", deliberately straining the situation.
They are even calling for staging from the end of February aggressive Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises which they have waged every year under the pretext of "annual and defensive exercises" by resorting to the decade-old trite method.
Ssangryong landing operation which is envisaged to be included in the war exercises is said to be held in the biggest scale targeting an attack on Pyongyang.
[Overture] [Joint US military]
Seoul rejects NK call on joint US drill
By Chung Min-uck
The government rejected North Korea’s proposal for the cancellation of joint military exercises with the United States for next month, Friday.
The North proposed a halt to cross-border slandering as well as ROK-U.S. drills, Thursday, saying that if this was accepted, it would engage in dialogue, including talks for the resumption of inter-Korean family reunion programs.
“Our military drills are annually conducted for defensive purposes,” Kim Eui-do, spokesman for the Ministry of Unification told a regular briefing. “The North should take responsible steps for its past provocations instead of taking issue with our legitimate military exercises.”
Nationalism in an Era of Strength and Prosperity: Politics and People in Post-Developmental South Korea
By Steven Denney | January 16, 2014 | No Comments
Eugène Delacroix's famous "La Liberté Guidant le Peuple," a artistic manifestation of the age of nationalism, depicted where many claim it began: France. | Image: Wikimedia Commons
>“La Liberté Guidant le Peuple,” an artistic manifestation of the age of nationalism where many claim it began: France. | Image: Wikimedia Commons
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “nationalism” describes two distinct phenomena: “The attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity, and the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) self-determination.” Thus it is absolutely central to understanding the modern nation-state. Writing for CSIS PacNet Newsletter in the fall of last year, Steven Denney and Karl Friedhoff looked at both phenomena in the economically advanced, materially abundant contemporary South Korea.
Using a military parade that took place in Seoul (yes, Seoul) during October that year as a jumping off point, the two reflect on its significance and contextualize the event using the latest “gusts of popular feeling.” Overall, they find that the latest in public opinion data collected by the Public Opinion Studies Center at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies reveals a shift in the way South Koreans see South Korea vis-à-vis other countries in the region and the way they identify themselves in relation to North Korea. The data indicates a steady increase in confidence and a withering of ethnic-based identity. Most notably, Denney and Freidhoff find the most drastic shifts in opinion amongst the youngest voting-cohort, giving, they claim somewhat prematurely, reason to suspect that a new national identity is taking shape. Were it to be borne out over the longer term, of course, this “new national identity” could have significant implications for unification as much as for South Korean domestic policy. — Christopher Green, Co-Editor
North Comes to Mind First When Foreigners Think of Korea
North Korea is the first thing that comes to the mind of foreigners when they think about Korea.
For the third year in a row, North Korea ranked at the top of the image foreigners most often associated with Korea, according to the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.
The reclusive dictatorship clearly has a negative impact on international perceptions of South Korea. A prime example of the North Korean risk was just after the North conducted its third nuclear test in March of last year and ratcheted up tensions on the peninsula, prompting foreign investors to leave and sending local financial markets into a tailspin.
It was a sobering reminder of the so-called "Korea discount," which results in Korean shares being undervalued.
The council surveyed 50 countries in cooperation with the Samsung Economic Research Institute and found that although South Korea ranks 13th in the world in terms of economic and technological prowess, it ranks only 17th in terms of overall national image.
Experts believe that reunification would narrow the gap to a great extent.
Call to Revise Plans for Defense Against Nuclear Rockets
Experts are calling for South Korea to improve its missile defenses given the growing threat that North Korea will one day be able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to be carried by a rocket.
Prof. Choi Bong-wan of Hannam University said he carried out a computer simulation where North Korea fires a medium-range ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear warhead. The aim was to see what types of interceptor missiles would allow South Korea to deal most effectively with the threat.
Choi was speaking at a seminar hosted by the National Assembly's Defense Committee on Wednesday.
Lee Myung-bak to Publish Memoir Abroad
Former president Lee Myung-bak is expected to publish a memoir in English around the end of this year, according to his former media adviser Lee Dong-kwan on Wednesday.
The ex-president "plans to publish the memoir overseas," Lee Dong-kwan told the Chosun Ilbo. "He'll focus on unpublished stories of his diplomatic activities and his meetings with foreign leaders" such as former U.S. President George W. Bush and incumbent Barack Obama.
Every Monday morning, Lee Myung-bak reviews old files together with former Cabinet members and senior presidential secretaries.
Controversial domestic issues that blighted Lee's presidency will get more space in a very different Korean version to be published later.
Lee Dong-kwan said the ex-president will "offer his own views" on the corruption-riddled mega-project to improve the country's major waterways and mass protests that paralyzed his administration in the early months. The aim is to be "judged fairly by history and the people," the adviser added.
Park Fears N.Korean Provocation Early This Year
The purge of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-taek will make Kim more vulnerable in the long run, President Park Geun-hye told CNN on Tuesday.
The execution may have helped Kim tighten his control further, but perhaps only temporarily. "I am concerned about deepening volatility on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region," Park added.
She also expressed worries that the North could launch provocations sometime between January and March. She said domestic and international assessments "speak to the gravity of the situation." "One thing that is very clear is that any provocations will be met very firmly. I cannot be clearer about that," she said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning is upgrading computer security because the North is sending out emails to key South Korean officials in the foreign affairs and unification sector and is trying to hack small and medium-sized IT companies, according to a spokesman Tuesday.
[Provocation] [US joint military]
Asian Leadership Meet to Focus on Korean Reunification
The prospects of Korean reunification and its consequences for Asia will be the focus of this year's Asian Leadership Conference. The conference, now in its fifth year, takes place on March 3-4, and is hosted by the Chosun Ilbo and TV Chosun.
The future of Asia will be hugely affected by whether North and South Korea can end their Cold War confrontation and enter an era of unity. The conference will seek out new directions for Asia after reunification and look at potential pitfalls.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush, who led six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff during his two terms, is among the participants. Also attending the conference is Lothar de Maizière, who was the last East German prime minister just before reunification, to offer his insights on the last 25 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
[Editorial] Desperate measures are needed for the pathetic Democratic Party
Posted on : Jan.14,2014 14:35 KST
Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil gives a press conference at the National Assembly announcing his plans to reform the party, Jan. 13. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)
At a press conference on Jan. 13, Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil promised that the party would set aside old ways of thinking and acting and start political reforms, even if it means remaking the party from scratch. Asked about the relationship with independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo, Kim said, “As we compete with Ahn in political innovation, we will decide according to the will of the people in our decision about whether it is necessary to restructure the political opposition.” On the issue of a human rights law for North Korea, the party head announced that the Democratic Party would draft a law for North Korean human rights and livelihood.
While Kim said at the press conference that he would reform the party even if it meant remaking it from scratch, he did not show nearly enough of the resolution he would need to accomplish this. Kim proposed measures such as overcoming factionalism, banning slander and inappropriate language, running the party in emergency mode, and making nominations in a transparent, bottom-up manner, but none of these are extraordinary measures.
In its current state, the Democratic Party, South Korea’s main opposition party, is truly pathetic. Despite being a sprawling party with 127 seats in the National Assembly, the Democratic Party has been left in the dust by the Saenuri Party (NFP) in terms of approval rating and is even surrendering second place to the new political group led by Ahn Cheol-soo. If elections were held right now, it is not even clear that the Democratic Party could maintain its claim to being the main opposition party.
'Unification offers new impetus'
Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, speaks during his new year press conference at the party’s headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, Tuesday. / Yonhap
By Jun Ji-hye
Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, said Tuesday that unification between the two Koreas would create a new growth engine for their economies.
His remark came a week after President Park Geun-hye likened unification to hitting the jackpot during her New Year press conference.
In his New Year press conference, Hwang also said the ruling party will increase research into unification between the two Koreas and reorganize the party to concentrate on what measures would need to be taken to enable the process.
“The governing party will strengthen the role of an internal unification committee that was set up earlier,” said Hwang. “We will also set up a unification research center in the Yeouido Institute (YDI) to study what would constitute a potential Constitution for a unified Korea.”
The YDI is a policy think tank of the governing camp.
He pledged to push for legislation of the North Korean Human Rights Law in February.
The chairman said his party will actively support North Korean defectors so that they can act as mediators between the two Koreas. Hwang cited the passing of a law to improve human rights and living conditions of North Koreans as a short term measure.
“Pyongyang’s human rights issue should not be neglected because such rights are universal values for all human beings. A law to institute systems to improve human rights and boost relevant activities is definitely necessary,” said Hwang.
Citing a suggestion from his main opposition Democratic Party (DP) counterpart Rep. Kim Han-gil for a similar law the previous day, Hwang called on the DP to cooperate on the legislation in February.
He added that the governing side will look closely into sudden changes in the reclusive state to accomplish the goal of denuclearization.
[Unification] [Strategic incoherence]
Mixed messages lead to ongoing freeze in inter-Korean relations
Posted on : Jan.11,2014 13:05 KST
South and North still not able to find common ground on issues such as divided family reunions and tourism to Mt. Keumgang
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
As the battle of nerves between North and South Korea continues over the reunions of families divided by the Korean War and the resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, there is unlikely to be much improvement in inter-Korean relations for the time being.
On Jan. 10, the government in Seoul repeated its proposal to North Korea for divided family reunions, adding that it would be possible to discuss a specific offer about tourism to Mt. Keumgang if the North should make an official offer. But in regard to North Korea’s calls for the resumption of tourism to Mt. Kumgang, the South Korean government maintained its standard position that it will deal with tourism separately from the issue of the divided families.
CPRK Secretariat Deals with Angry S. Korean Public Mindset
Pyongyang, January 10 (KCNA) -- The Secretariat of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea on Friday issued information bulletin No. 1057 dealing with the angry public mindset in south Korea.
It said: "How are you" has become a popular phrase symbolic of the anti-"government" public mindset.
A wall-paper was displayed at Korea University, which carried the question "How are you" and the answer "Not fine." This sparked off a campaign of displaying similar wall papers. It is rapidly spreading among people of different social standings including university students, high school students, employees, housewives and even among Koreans overseas.
Such wall papers are seen on the walls of major buildings and public places. Internet websites are deluged with such words as "The president is only fine, but the people are not fine," "We are not safe owing to the revival of yusin dictatorship," etc.
This shows mounting curses and resentment of south Koreans from different social standings against the puppet conservative group which turned south Korea into a veritable hell.
The Dainty Minuet Phase: In Which Our Characters Circle Each Other Warily
By Robert Carlin
10 January 2014
This is almost getting to be fun, right? Will they boogey, or won’t they? Pyongyang yesterday issued its response to the proposal in ROK President Park Geun-hye’s New Year’s press conference for family reunifications. Yonhap labeled the North’s answer a rejection, but that looks to be a little harsh. Where we are now is that neither side wants to be seen as shutting down this opening phase of offer/counter-offer. It was fairly certain (and Seoul may well have made its offer with this calculation in mind) that the North would not accept the South’s counter-proposal to Kim Jong Un’s suggestion that the two sides stop “slander.” Proposal-counterproposal, this is, after all, a game the two sides have played for decades. The rules are fairly well understood, the out-of-bounds markers clearly delineated. At this point, the ball appears to be still in play.
But how can that be, if the North turned down the South’s offer? A look at language and context reveals several interesting points. First, the language of Pyongyang’s reply, which came in a message from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, is remarkably soft. Noting “with great regret” that there was no fundamental change in the South’s position, the message nevertheless tossed President Park a bone, characterizing her proposal for family reunions as “a good offer if it was prompted by its sincere good will to alleviate the pain resulting from division and improve the inter-Korean relations,” and noting that the North “was glad the south side proposed it.”
[Divided families] [SK NK Negotiations]
Students Plan Visit to N.Korea in Dokdo Campaign
A group of university students and a freelance writer publicizing Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo want to visit North Korea in August of this year to promote their cause.
The Unification Ministry said on Wednesday it has received an application from the group calling themselves the "Dokdo Racers." A ministry official said, "We can't give them a quick answer due to the many variables in inter-Korean relations, but we should be able to reach a decision by May at the latest."
[Dokdo] [Joint Korean]
“Textbook war” ending in miserable defeat for conservatives
Posted on : Jan.8,2014 16:15 KST
Former comfort woman victim Kim Bok-dong speaks outside Seoul Western District Court calling for the resignation of the Minister of Education for approving Kyohak Korean history high school textbooks that distort historical facts, Jan. 7. Also at the press conference were families of victims of the April 3, 1948 Jeju Uprising, independence fighters and Koreans who were forcibly mobilized by colonial Japan. (by Lee Jeong-ah, staff photographer)
The few schools that selected distorted Korean history textbooks now dropping them under citizen pressure
By Eum Sung-won, staff reporter
A decade-long battle by right wingers over history textbooks is being thwarted by sensible citizens, with a less than 1% selection rate for a Korean history textbook developed by conservative scholars and published by Kyohak.
The so-called “textbook wars” are shaping into a miserable defeat for conservatives. The battle started in 2003 when the publishing company Kumsung’s contemporary Korean history textbook was labeled “leftist”.
On Jan. 7, opposition lawmakers with the National Assembly’s Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee released figures from sixteen metropolitan and provincial offices of education on Korean history textbook selection rates. A total of 2,370 high schools nationwide were surveyed. Outside the Seoul area, where final figures were not yet available, the only school in the country found to have selected the Kyohak textbook was Cheongsong Girls’ High School in North Gyeongsang Province. The numbers suggest that the book, the subject of controversy over numerous errors and what critics have called the whitewashing of Japanese collaboration and military dictatorship, is failing to find schools willing to select it
Park advised to ease sanctions, engage North
Frozen relations give superpowers too much leverage in North Asia
As China’s military presence and Japan’s nationalism swell, specialists in North Korean affairs are advising President Park Geun-hye to mend fences with Pyongyang by lifting sanctions against the regime.
The so-called May 24 measures were economic sanctions imposed by former president Lee Myung-bak in the aftermath of the sinking of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan in March 2010. They were imposed a few weeks later.
The sanctions ban most government-level assistance and cross-border businesses.
They prohibit North Korean ships from sailing in South Korean waters and South Korean people from visiting, investing or opening any new businesses in North Korea.
The sanctions froze most inter-Korean interactions, with the exception of business at the nine-year-old Kaesong Industrial Complex, some humanitarian aid and religious events.
According to the analysts advising Park, prolonged tension on the Korean Peninsula will make South Korea more dependent on protection by superpowers, and neighboring countries will use heightened tensions to expand their military reach in the region. South Korea will be the big loser.
[Park Geun-hye] [Nordpolitik] [Sanctions]
South Korea dismisses Kim Jong-un’s call for better ties with North
3 January, 2014 – South China Morning Post
South Korea yesterday dismissed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s calls for improved ties and urged his government to take nuclear disarmament steps first.
Kim made the overture in his New Year’s Day speech on Wednesday, which also included typical rhetoric against Seoul and Washington and a warning of a possible nuclear war.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do said yesterday that North Korea must first make “sincere” efforts for nuclear disarmament if it wants to improve strained ties with Seoul.
Reunification 'Would Boost Korea's Credit'
Global investment banks predict that Korea reunification would benefit the country's credit rating as constant cross-border tensions end.
The view is shared by Citibank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie and Morgan Stanley.
The Chosun Ilbo asked the six for their outlook for Korea's sovereign credit rating, national brand value and economic health following reunification. With the exception of Morgan Stanley, they forecast the country's sovereign credit rating would rise by more than two notches.
Morgan Stanley noted that reunification costs would add to the fiscal burden but projected the sovereign credit rating would rise at least one notch over the mid to long-term.
South Korea's sovereign credit rating according to the Fitch ratings firm stands at AA- at present and would go up to AA+, just one notch below the top rating of AAA and the same as the U.K. and France.
It would be the fourth-highest credit rating after the U.S., Germany and Singapore and two notches above Japan.
Yoon Deok-ryong at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy said, "The North Korea security risk has always been a main reason for demerits in evaluations by international ratings firms, so when that disappears, foreign direct investment, which remains the lowest among OECD member nations, could surge."
Cross-Border Family Reunions Mustn't Be Tied to Business
North Korea on Thursday rejected an offer by President Park Geun-hye to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War during the Lunar New Year holidays. "How can the separated family members meet comfortably when shells and bullets are being fired and the South again is bracing for a large-scale joint military exercise" with the U.S., it demanded.
But it added that if the South "has nothing new going on and is willing to discuss our suggestions, we will meet another day in good time."
It is a trademark North Korean move to refuse family reunions citing the joint South Korea-U.S. military drills that take place in February and March each year. But they will take place as long as North Korea presents a significant threat, and should not stand in the way of humanitarian projects like family reunions.
[Divided families] [Joint US military]
N.Korea Rejects Proposal of Family Reunions
North Korea on Thursday rejected South Korea's proposal for fresh reunions of families separated by the Korean War during the Lunar New Year holidays.
The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland on Thursday accused media and government officials in the South of making "impudent remarks and actions" as well as carrying out military drills.
But it added, "If the South has nothing new going on and is willing to discuss our suggestions, we will meet another day in good time."
"How can the separated family members meet comfortably when shells and bullets are being fired and the South again is bracing for a large-scale joint military exercise," with the U.S., it added.
A Unification Ministry official said this implies family reunions cannot take place unless South Korea halts joint military drills with the U.S. and agrees to talk about resuming package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort.
[Divided families] [Joint US military] [Kumgangsan]
North Korea rejects South’s offer to discuss divided family reunions
Posted on : Jan.10,2014 11:06 KST
South and North at loggerheads over the issue of tying reunions to resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
North Korea officially rejected the proposal made by President Park Geun-hye during her New Year’s press conference to hold reunions for divided families around the Lunar New Year. At the same time, the North did not completely rule out the possibility of holding reunions later, saying that it is willing to sit down with the South at an appropriate time if the South is willing to also talk about North Korea’s proposal of resuming tourism at Mt. Keumgang.
In a telephone message that the secretariat of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) sent to the South Korean Unification Ministry on the afternoon of Jan. 9, the CPRF said that it is pleased to see that the South is making another proposal for the reunions now. Nevertheless, it rejected the idea of holding the reunions around the Lunar New Year, suggesting that divided families and relatives would not be able to meet in peace as long as South Korea continues its military exercises. At the same time, the CPRF said that the North “could sit down with the South at an appropriate time if nothing else is taking place in the South and if the South is willing to discuss our proposals as well.”
The Unification Ministry sent a telephone message to North Korea proposing that they hold divided family reunions around the Lunar New Year on Jan. 6, immediately after President Park made the same proposal in her New Year press conference.
[Editorial] To improve relations, both North and South need a paradigm shift
Posted on : Jan.10,2014 11:11 KST
On Jan. 9, North Korea rejected the South Korean government’s proposal for a working-level meeting to prepare for holding reunions of divided families around the Lunar New Year. This is likely to be a sore disappointment for families who had been hopefully awaiting the reunions.
The North made the wrong choice by rejecting the proposal. It had its reasons, including the South’s military exercises and its lack of willingness to consider the North’s proposals, but linking the reunions with other issues is not a humanitarian position. The South’s military exercises are annual events that are not intended to provoke the North. The North’s attitude does not match the spirit of Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address, in which he said that an atmosphere must be created in which inter-Korean relations can be improved.
[Divided families] [Joint US military]
[Analysis] Family reunions delayed but not rejected
Posted on : Jan.10,2014 11:09 KST
Family members who participated in the Chuseok reunion event coordinated by South Korea and North Korea in Mt. Kumkang shed their tears over having to depart, Sept. 27, 2009.
Issue remains stuck on disagreement over linking family reunions to resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang
By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer
On Jan. 9, the South Korean government gave a positive interpretation of the CPRF’s message, declaring it to be not a rejection of the reunions but rather a delay. But the government remains opposed to resuming tourism to Mt. Keumgang, which is effectively the condition that the North has placed on holding divided family reunions.
“North Korea’s telephone message rejected the working-level meeting that we proposed holding on Jan. 10 to prepare for the divided family reunions,” said Kim Ui-do, spokesperson for the Unification Ministry. At the same time, Kim said, “We think that the North is not saying it will not participate in the reunions, but rather that it wants to delay them.” In support of this interpretation, Kim noted that the North did not explicitly state that it rejected the proposal to hold the reunions, instead saying that it could sit down with the South at an appropriate time.
CPRK Secretariat Sends Notice to Unification Ministry of S. Korea
Pyongyang, January 9 (KCNA) -- The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) sent a notice to the Ministry of Unification of south Korea Thursday via Panmunjom.
The notice recalled that all Koreans and public at home and abroad are becoming more vocal calling for the improvement of the inter-Korean relations, greeting the New Year, pointing out that the same situation as what happened last year should not be allowed to repeat itself.
The notice said:
Prompted by this purpose, we clarified an important principled stand on improving the relations between the north and the south on the occasion of the New Year and showed our will in practice.
The south side, however, behaved from the outset of the New Year quite contrary to our sincere efforts; media, experts and even authorities were indiscreet in their speeches and behaviors. It staged war drills firing bullets and shells.
What was worse, the south side at a New Year press conference argued even our internal matter pro and con, blaming us.
As regards the principled questions raised by us, it gave incoherent answers to them under the pretext of the nuclear issue.
[Divided families] [US joint military]
Like father, like daughter
President Park Geun-hye, left, and her father and former President Park Chung-hee
By Kim Tae-gyu
President Park Geun-hye is apparently following in her father Park Chung-hee’s footsteps in her governing style, observers said Tuesday.
In her first New Year press conference Monday, Park disclosed a three-year project aimed at boosting the economy with a host of quantitative goals, similar to the five-year plans of the 1960s and ‘70s.
Former President Park took advantage of these to develop the economy, which his proponents say helped Korea rack up fast growth in national output during his rule from 1961 through 1979.
“Almost everybody would have thought of the five-year economic development plan while watching the press conference by (the current) President Park,” said Professor Kim Sang-jo at Hansung University.
[Park Geun-hye] [Park Chung-hee]
Seoul to separate family reunions from tours to Mt. Geumgang
By Chung Min-uck
Seoul on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to separating the issue of resuming inter-Korean family reunions from restarting tours to the Mt. Geumgang resort in the North.
“In the event that the North make a counter-offer to hold talks on restarting the Mt. Geumgang tours along with the family reunions, they will be dealt separately,” said an official at the Ministry of Unification which handles inter-Korean affairs. “The two issues are of a different nature.”
[Divided families] [Kumgangsan]
Park Calls for Fresh Cross-Border Family Reunions
President Park Geun-hye speaks during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Monday. /AP-Newsis President Park Geun-hye speaks during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Monday. /AP-Newsis
President Park Geun-hye on Monday proposed to North Korea a fresh round of reunions of families separated by the Korean War on the Lunar New Year's Day, which falls on Jan. 31.
She made the call in the first press conference of her tenure as president. "We need to open an era of national unification by ending inter-Korean confrontation, and removing war and nuclear threats," she said.
[Editorial] Park’s first press conference lacks feeling and vision
Posted on : Jan.7,2014 11:43 KST
She says compromise is not communication and sticks to her own bullish way
On Jan. 6, President Park Geun-hye held a press conference for domestic and foreign reporters, her first since taking office. At the press conference, she explained her plan for running the country in the second year of her presidency.
Park made her intentions to stimulate the economy clear, as a large part of her comments was dedicated to economic issues. But overall, instead of presenting a new message or plan, Park basically reiterated her standard positions.
The press conference was particularly disappointing in the sense that she ignored public demand to use the conference as a chance to launch a new style of communication.
The press conference was lacking in both form and of content. In the Q&A session with reporters, Park referred to her notes for her responses, as the Blue House acquired all of the questions in advance and prepared the president’s answers.
Not only does following a prepared script not match the format of a conference, but it also disappointed the public expectation that they would hear Park speak for herself. It is not easy to deduce the leadership philosophy or vision of a president who simply reads off answers prepared by her advisors.
It was extremely regrettable that Park reaffirmed her hard-line stance on public demands for communication at the press conference. “As I see it, attending perfunctory meetings and accepting or compromising with positions that go against the public interest is not compromise,” Park said.
As Park would have it, true communication only takes place when Park meets with people that she has on her own decided are not working against the public interest. Park is arbitrarily and arrogantly saying that she will select partners for communication as are convenient for her.
Park also didn’t offer any real solutions for current political issues. She effectively rejected requests for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate state institutions’ interference in the 2012 presidential election, explaining that the cases are still being tried. She also made it clear that discussion about rooting out political involvement by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) ended with the first round of legislation that was passed at the end of 2013. It is precisely this approach that caused the NIS incident to snowball over the past year.
In the area of foreign affairs and national security, Park simply proposed a meeting of divided families around Lunar New Year to North Korea without departing from her standard position. She stayed on message with her emphasis of the necessity of unification - saying “unification is the jackpot” - but she did not offer a plan to achieve this. Given her emphasis on resolving the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons, it is difficult detect any signs that she means to seek a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations.
At least Park proposed meetings between divided families. The government needs to make this happen and use it as a chance to bring North and South back to the table for talks.
[Park Geun-hye] [Nordpolitik]
In first press conference, Pres. Park calls reunification “the jackpot”
Posted on : Jan.7,2014 15:01 KST
Modified on : Jan.7,2014 15:21 KST
Despite comments on seeking to improve inter-Korean relations, Park doesn’t mention concrete, proactive measures
By Ha Eo-young, staff reporter
President Park Geun-hye expressed her “welcome” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent proposal for improved inter-Korean relations, during a New Year’s press conference on Jan. 6, calling reunification “the jackpot.”
But her positions on reunification and message of welcome remained vague, with many obstacles remaining to any concrete ways of dealing with North Korean denuclearization and other practical issues.
In her first press conference as president on Jan. 6, Park said, “In a nutshell, I think reunification would be the jackpot.” She went on to call reunification “an opportunity for our economy to make a big leap forward.”
She went on to outline a list of policies for 2014 aimed at laying the groundwork for the peninsula’s eventual reunification, including efforts to solve the North Korean nuclear issue and establish peace, more humanitarian support for North Korea and a “recovery of similarity” between North and South, and stronger international coordination to build up support for reunification.
[Park Geun-hye] [Nordpolitik] [Unification]
Catholic’s first special mass of 2014 against Pres. Park
Posted on : Jan.7,2014 14:47 KST
Members of Catholic Priests Association for Justice from across Gyeonggi Province hold the first special mass of 2014 calling for President Park Geun-hye to resign and former President Lee Myung-bak to be held accountable for his deeds as president, in Suwon, Jan. 6. Around 300 people participated in the mass calling for those responsible for interference in the 2012 presidential election to be punished and for President Park to repent for her damage to South Korean democracy. In front of the cathedral, members of a conservative Catholic civic group attempted to disrupt the mass and threatened the participants. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
[Religion] [Park Geun-hye]
`I am willing to meet Abe, Kim'
President Park Geun-hye speaks during her first New Year press conference at Cheong Wa Dae, Monday. / Yonhap
President lays out 3-year-plan for $30,000 era, 70% employment
By Kim Tae-gyu
President Park Geun-hye said Monday that she is prepared to meet with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
However, she came up with conditions to be met in advance before she would get together with the heads of the two estranged neighbors for the first time since her inauguration last February.
“To achieve peace on the Korean peninsula or prepare for reunification, I will stick to my previous stance that I am willing to meet with the North Korean leader at any time,” Park said in her New Year press conference, .
“However, I am against talks for the sake of just talks. The environment should come first, where tangible results can be produced for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy] [Preconditions] [Media] [Heading]
How are you nowadays?” movement shows young people turning away
Posted on : Jan.6,2014 11:52 KST
Poster movement is not political, but a channeling of emotions that had been kept inside
By Kang Myung-koo, Seoul National University professor of communications
When Korea University student Ju Hyun-woo asked how we are doing nowadays, he was not asking about values and ideology, information and knowledge, facts and logic, or assessment and judgment. Instead, Ju seemed to be saying that he was feeling a lot of pain and frustration and that he wanted to know if others felt the same way.
There was a strong response to the question. If his hand-written poster had stated opinions based on factual judgments determined according to values and ideology - if the poster had been intended to provoke responses - it would have been forgotten as just one poster among many. How was it that a single appeal to Korean society at the end of the year was able to stir up our emotions in this way?
The many posters that appeared after Ju’s asked both the writers themselves and other neighbors how we are supposed to survive in this difficult world, what kind of life we are to lead, and what kind of person we should try to become. They did not ask what we think, what we should do, or whether we are happy. Instead, they asked about the well-being of body and soul.
[Editorial] Park needs to articulate a clear policy on North Korea
Posted on : Jan.6,2014 14:32 KST
President Park Geun-hye made some interesting remarks about North Korea during a New Year’s greeting ceremony at the Blue House on the afternoon of Jan. 3. “This is the first Blue Horse year in sixty years,” she said, referring to the year’s designation in the sexagenary cycle. “In such an important year, we need to build peace on the Korean Peninsula, where both anxiety and division have persisted so long, and allow the opening of an age of unification.” This came just a little while after the Ministry of Unification issued a response to North Korea’s own New Year’s address stating that Pyongyang had “made reference to improving inter-Korean relations, but one cannot help questioning their sincerity.” It’s difficult to ignore such vastly differing positions on the North coming from the President and the ministry in the space of just a few hours.
Park’s words were obviously on the abstract and fuzzy side. She did not, after all, talk about any concrete ways of “building peace” or “opening an age of unification.” Still, as long as she is sticking to a “Korean Peninsula trust-building approach” centered on using nominally unconditional humanitarian aid and greater exchange and cooperation to build that trust, it seems reasonable to read her remarks as emphasizing dialogue, interchange, and collaboration.
The ministry’s position seems to be the exact opposite.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
North Korea blasts Seoul’s weak response to dialogue overture
Posted on : Jan.6,2014 14:31 KST
North says that inter-Korean ties now depend entirely on authorities in the South
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
North Korea has issued a strongly worded criticism of Seoul’s tepid response to repeated calls for improved relations since the beginning of the year. A spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF), North Korea’s body for handling relations with the South, was reported by the Korean Central News Agency as accusing Seoul of “making reckless remarks that ruin the chances of improved relations and going ahead instead with rehearsals for a war of aggression against the North” since the new year.
Pyongyang, which asked that outside countries not be involved in inter-Korean relations, accused Seoul of “conspiring and stepping up anti-republic nuclear coordination with the US” and “responding to appeals for an end to slander with more deeply malicious slander.”
“The prospect for the North-South ties entirely depends on the attitude of the South Korean authorities,” it declared, suggesting the ball is now in South Korea’s court.
Meanwhile, on Jan. 2, the South Korean armed forces staged “New Year’s Enemy Full Annihilation” exercises in the area around Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, with units under the Third Army Command participating.
[Editorial] Get to the bottom of the Chae Dong-wook witch-hunt
Posted on : Jan.6,2014 14:36 KST
Former Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook gets into a car to leave Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office after a ceremony where he resigned from his position, Sept. 30, 2013. Chae, who was in charge the investigation into the NIS’s interference in the 2012 presidential election, resigned under pressure after allegations that he fathered a child out of marriage. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) has been implicated in the leaking of personal information about a boy purported to be the illegitimate child of former Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook. The NIS is acting as though this is not an issue, since the inquiry was supposedly done independently by one of its “intelligence agents,” identified by the surname Song, after hearing rumors about the child. It’s a real wonder just how long the NIS thinks it can keep up such a flimsy facade.
First of all, no NIS agent should have been inquiring about the young boy (also surnamed Chae) with the director of the Gangnam District Office of Education in the first place. The NIS is claiming that the purpose was to check out the rumors about Chae’s extramarital child, but is this the sort of thing the NIS is supposed to be doing? And the NIS’s own explanation about it being a “personal inquiry” by one of its agents doesn’t add up. Every time something like this gets out, the administration keeps talking about “personal misbehavior,” doing whatever it can to keep the fire from spreading up the chain of command. It is incomprehensible to suggest that these could have been the independent actions of an agent with the official title of NIS information officer.
Park proposes reunions for families separated between 2 Koreas
President Park Geun-hye proposed Monday to hold reunions for separated families between South and North Korea later this month, expressing her intention to bolster humanitarian assistance and exchanges with the communist nation.
Park also welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year speech calling for better ties with the South, urging Pyongyang to show its intention through action. She also said she is willing to meet with Kim at any time, but stressed that such talks should not be talks for talks' sake.
A Little Dance Music
By Robert Carlin
06 January 2014
While initial reaction to Kim Jong Un’s relatively positive remarks about inter-Korean dialogue in his New Year’s address has been mixed, Seoul has apparently decided to return the volley. In her January 6, 2014 news conference, President Park Geun-hye “welcomed” Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, and said a summit meeting with Kim could occur at any time “if it were required to prepare for unification and a peaceful peninsula.” At the same time, she said that what was important was not words but “action and sincerity,” and in that regard, proposed a resumption of North-South family reunions.
What is going on here? First, it’s important to understand that a New Year’s speech by North Korea’s leader is in many respects like a State of the Union address—i.e., much of it, at least to outsiders, is cotton candy, but occasionally there is something of real substance to which attention must be paid. In New Year’s speeches (or more recently, joint editorials) rarely have sections on inter-Korean relations signaled very much that is new.
[SK NK Negotiations] [KJUNYS14]
Seoul doubts sincerity of N. Korea’s calls for improved relations
Posted on : Jan.4,2014 12:13 KST
Ministry of Unification sticks to line about steps toward denuclearization before real improvement in inter-Korean ties
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
The South Korean government responded negatively to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s reference to improving inter-Korean relations in his New Year’s address on Jan. 1, explaining that there are doubts about Kim’s sincerity. Inter-Korean relations have been strained since the North unilaterally cancelled the reunions of divided families in the fall of last year, and it is likely that relations will remain tense for the time being.
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Precondition]
Anger Sparked over Controversial history book
By Bahk Eun-ji
Several high schools, which chose the controversial Korean history textbook of Kyohak Publishing, have announced the withdrawal of their decision, as parents and students are dead set against it.
Kyohak’s book has created a stir across the nation in the lead up to the beginning of the 2014 academic year. Critics claim that it has an ideologically biased presentation of the history of the Korean peninsula
[Textbook] [Military dictatorships]
Backlash against distorted high school history textbooks
Posted on : Jan.3,2014 15:02 KST Modified on : Jan.3,2014 15:02 KST
A poster put up on Jan. 2 at Dongwoo Girls’ High School in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, by someone identified only as a current student, which reads, “A nation that forgets history has no future”. The poster was taken down by school authorities about ten minutes after it was put up.
Educators, parents and students shunning textbooks for historical distortions and factual errors
By Park Kyung-man, Kim Gi-seong, north and south Gyeonggi correspondents
High schools that have decided to use Kyohak Publishing’s Korean history textbooks this year are facing a strong backlash from various educational stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and alumni groups. The Kyohak textbooks have been criticized for historical distortions and factual errors. Never before have students and teachers stood up in protest of the selection of a particular textbook. As a consequence, a number of schools are deciding not to use the Kyohak textbooks after all and restarting the selection process.
At Unjeong High School in Paju - the only public school in Gyeonggi Province that selected the Kyohak textbooks - a meeting of history teachers on the textbook committee was held on Jan. 2. The committee said it decided during the meeting to revoke its selection of the Kyohak textbooks and to select Korean history textbooks from another publisher. “Students, parents, and the local community made many complaints and voiced their concerns, asking why we chose a textbook that was selected by less than 1% of schools,” said Vice Principal Lee Sun-deok.
As opposition to the textbooks stiffened, Seongju High School in North Gyeongsang Province also decided not to use the Kyohak textbooks, and it was confirmed that Yeongdeok Girls’ High School in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, and Yeoju First High School have begun reconsidering their decisions as well.
They say that this is a backlash to an irrational decision making process at schools that selected Kyohak textbooks for their curriculum, even though the textbooks had been shown to be riddled with errors and were accused of whitewashing dictatorships and those who collaborated with the Japanese.
[Military dictatorships] [Japanese collaborators] [Textbook]
[Editorial] In the New Year, take steps toward improved inter-Korean relations
Posted on : Jan.2,2014 16:31 KST
During his live New Year’s address on Jan. 1, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that he would work actively to improve inter-Korean relations. The day before, on Dec. 31, President Park Geun-hye submitted a column to a daily newspaper in which she said she would work to upgrade the trust-building process for the Korean peninsula. On this occasion, we want to express our hope that the authorities from both South and North will make a proactive effort to improve inter-Korean relations.
Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address was calibrated to maintain stability both inside and outside of North Korea following the purge of Jang Song-thaek. Even while Kim said that “the black clouds of nuclear war aimed at the North are always hovering overhead,” he refrained from any provocative remarks about strengthening the North’s nuclear or missile capability or any overt criticism of the outside world. The emphasis on agricultural innovation and on the monolithic system seemed aimed at calming unrest in popular opinion. The remarks about improving relations between North and South make sense in the same context. However, during his New Year’s address, Kim went no further than saying that a mood was created for improving inter-Korean relations. If the North truly wants to improve ties, it must take action that is more concrete. That could start with resuming the reunions for divided families around the Lunar New Year.
[Inter Korean] [Divided families] [Overture
Kim Jong-un Calls for End to Inter-Korean Strife
Kim Jong-un gives a New Years speech last year (left) and this year. /[North] Korean Central TV Kim Jong-un gives a New Year's speech last year (left) and this year. /[North] Korean Central TV
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a televised New Year's address on Wednesday called for an end to confrontation between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war since the 1953 armistice.
"We will make aggressive efforts to improve relations between the North and the South," Kim said. "It is time to end abuse and slander that is only good for doing harm."
Dressed in a sober gray Mao suit, Kim urged South Korea to improve inter-Korean ties as well.
The speech went on for 27 minutes, but Kim was only shown for about three minutes while the rest of his speech was accompanied by archive footage of the Workers Party headquarters and other landmarks.
The government response here was lukewarm, with one official saying Seoul needs to "monitor" if the North truly changes its behavior.
Meanwhile, the state-run Rodong Sinmun daily in a front-page article referred to Kim as the North's "fate and future" and vowed to follow him for "10 million years."
[NK SK policy] [Overture] [Rebuff]
Will Kim Jong-un Live Up to His Message of Peace?
In a televised New Year's address on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for better inter-Korean relations. "We will make aggressive efforts to improve relations between the North and the South," Kim said. "It is time to end abuse and slander that is only good for doing harm."
S.Koreans Have Mixed Feelings About Reunification
A majority of South Koreans believe that reunification is in the national interest, but only a few think it will benefit individuals. This was the outcome of a poll conducted by the Chosun Ilbo.
Some 57.2 percent of respondents said reunification will be beneficial to the national interest and 39.4 percent it will not. But a whopping 66.3 percent do not expect it to benefit individual South Koreans directly, more than double the 30.9 percent who said it will.
About a half or 48.6 percent of respondents are concerned that the cost of reunification could overwhelm the potential benefit. Some 31.8 percent said the benefit will outweigh the cost, while 15.5 percent said the cost and benefit will be about equal. Some 4.1 percent gave no answer.
[Unification] [Public opinion]
Pres. Park and Kim Jong-un sound different tones in New Year’s addresses
Posted on : Jan.2,2014 16:12 KST
Kim Jong-un discusses autonomy and conciliation, while Park sticks to standard line on inter-Korean relations
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
On January 1, North and South Korea’s top leaders greeted the new year with two very different New Year’s addresses. President Park Geun-hye, who turns 62 this year, showed a reluctance to take proactive steps to improve relations with Pyongyang, attaching various conditions to the process. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is believed to turn 30 this year, demonstrated an active commitment to achieving the goal.
[Kim Jong Un] [Park Geun-hye] [NK SK policy]
Second consecutive year of fewer N. Korean refugees coming South
Posted on : Jan.2,2014 10:04 KST
Total number has dipped since Kim Jong-un took power due to tighter border control and N. Korea welcoming some refugees back
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
An estimated 1,500 North Korean refugees entered South Korea in 2013.
The estimate, which is roughly equivalent to the 2012 total, shows that the number has dwindled to less than 2,000 annually for the two years since Kim Jong-un took power in Pyongyang.
According to a Dec. 25 announcement by the Ministry of Unification, a total of 1,420 refugees had received protection authorization following government questioning as of November 2013. When the individuals currently undergoing questioning are factored in, the total number of refugees entering the country for the year is expected to be around 1,500 - roughly equivalent to the 1,502 refugees who came to South Korea in 2012.
The number would bring the total refugees arriving since the 1990s up to 26,100. The annual tally of refugees passed 2,000 for the first time in 2006. For five years, it remained in the 2,000 to 3,000 range, with 2,548 in 2007, 2,805 in 2008, 2,929 in 2009, 2,402 in 2010, and 2,706 in 2011.
Kim calls for better S-N ties
By Chung Min-uck
NK leader Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Wednesday called for improved inter-Korean relations.
“We have to make favorable conditions for better South-North relations,” Kim said in his New Year’s message broadcast on state TV and radio.
DPRK leader vows to improve relations with S. Korea
Xinhua, January 1, 2014
Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), vowed on Wednesday to improve inter-Korean relations and strengthen military forces against any provocations.
The DPRK will "create atmosphere to ameliorate the relations between the DPRK and South Korea" by following previous inter-Korean joint declarations, he said in a televised New Year address.
Earlier in December, the DPRK threatened to attack South Korea without any notice in response to anti-Pyongyang rallies on the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il.
At the same time, Kim called for consolidating the DPRK's political and self-defense military might and vowed to "smash any provocation" to guard the country's dignity.
He warned that a massive nuclear disaster would be brought if an all-out war broke out on the peninsula, in which scenario the United States would not be safe either.
He also urged the whole party, military and people to unite in the "single-minded" spirit known as "following nobody, but only loyal to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il," after the execution of Jang Song Thaek, once a powerful senior official in the party, for his "anti-party and counter-revolutionary" crimes.
In the 30-minute message broadcast by the Korean Central TV, Kim reviewed achievements made last year and set forth tasks for 2014, which cover a broad range of areas like economic development, sports, education, infrastructure construction, national defense and external relations, according to the Korean Central Television.
He emphasized agriculture, light industries, coal-mining, electricity, rail transport and metallurgical industries, with a view to increasing output of quality consumer goods and promoting agricultural productivity.
It is the second year Kim has delivered a verbal New Year message, which offers clues to the DPRK's policies for the next year.
The New Year was celebrated with a midnight fireworks display in Pyongyang, along with the completion of Masik Pass ski resort located near the country's eastern coast city of Wonsan.
"The ski resort is a valuable fruition of the deep loving care shown (by the party) for the people to enable them to enjoy luxury and comfort under socialism," the official KCNA news agency quoted Choe Ryong Hae, the military's top political officer, as saying at the opening ceremony of the park on Tuesday.
[Kim Jong Un]
[Editorial] In 2014, time to move forward in history
Posted on : Jan.1,2014 11:52 KST
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and citizens hold a candlelight vigil outside the Kyunghyang Newspaper building in central Seoul as part of “How are you nowadays?”, a social movement protesting the police’s recent raid on the building during the Korean Railway Workers’ Union strike, Dec. 31. (by Kim Bong-gyu, staff photographer)
The New Year is here at last! The reason that the first morning of 2014 feels so special is that the past year was so very long and challenging for the Korean people. Even so, at the beginning of last year, there was a glimmer of hope for the new Park Geun-hye administration, which had vowed to bring in an age of happiness for the Korean people that would include economic democratization, welfare, and peace. At the least, we had hoped that it would look different from the five years of the Lee Myung-bak administration, which had been a regression for Korean society and democracy. However, those expectations were completely betrayed. Economic democratization and welfare proved to have been a sham, empty slogans employed for the election. Once the Park Geun-hye administration removed the mask it had worn to get elected, it turned out to be even more regressive and anti-historical than the Lee Myung-bak administration.
[Park Geun-hye] [Repression] [Lee Myung-bak]
[Column] One year after election interference, time to make dissenting voices heard
Posted on : Dec.13,2013 16:47 KST
Kim Ri-taek, editorial writer
President Park is not about to change her undemocratic ways on her own, so pressure is needed to protect democracy
By Kim Ri-taek, editorial writer
A year ago today, the Democratic Party staff who were guarding the door of a certain apartment in Seoul’s Gangnam district went home for the day. The digital evidence analysis team of the Seoul Police had seized the computers of Kim Ha-young, a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent, and started analyzing it that afternoon.
Surely not even people at the NIS could have guessed that the laptop and desktop computer the police received would become a kind of Pandora’s box that would rock South Korean politics for the next year.
That chain of events eventually led to calls for the president to step down. Backed by the reactionary conservative press, the Blue House and the Saenuri Party (NFP) have said that these calls amount to denying the results of the last presidential election. They have gone so far as to prosecute Catholic priest Park Chang-shin and demand that opposition members of the National Assembly be removed from their posts.
[Election] [NIS] [Park Geun-hye]
Man attempts self-immolation calling for Pres. Park’s resignation
Posted on : Jan.1,2014 11:45 KST
A photo uploaded to Twitter of the flames from an attempted self-immolation on an elevated road near Seoul Station on Dec. 31. (captured from Twitter)
Now in critical condition, man not likely to survive self-inflicted burns, say doctors
By Bang Jun-ho, staff reporter
A man in his fifties is in critical condition after setting himself on fire while calling for a special prosecutor to investigate National Intelligence Service (NIS) interference in last year’s presidential election and the resignation of the winner, current President Park Geun-hye.
According to police and firefighters, the 53-year-old man, identified by his surname Lee, set himself ablaze on an elevated road in front of Seoul Station at around 5:45 pm on Dec. 31. He was taken to Seoul National University Hospital with third degree burns over his body.
NK provocations feared in March
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korea may take provocative action against South Korea in March right after the Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, an affiliated body of the nation’s spy agency said Tuesday.
According to a report by the Institute for National Security Strategy (ISS), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is likely to instigate a provocation in order to strengthen his control within the regime and emphasize the importance of loyalty among the Pyongyang elite.
Last month, Jang Song-thaek, Kim’s uncle who was instrumental in enabling Kim’s transition to power two years ago, was executed on charges of treason, along with other officials, sparking concerns about potential instability in the isolated country.
“To justify its action, it is expected to be conducted right after the end of the Korea-U.S. joint exercise when they are on a lower alert against the Stalinist country,” the report said.
[Joint US military] [Provocation]
Railway strike comes to dramatic end
Unionists accept behind-the-scenes bipartisan compromise proposal
By Kim Jae-won
The union of the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) Monday agreed to end its prolonged strike, accepting a lawmakers’ compromise proposal.
The compromise calls for the ruling Saenuri and main opposition Democratic parties to form a panel, staffed by four lawmakers from both sides, to ensure KORAIL is not privatized. It will be chaired by Rep. Kang Seok-ho of Saenuri.
The panel may be supported by representatives of the union and the government. In return, the workers will be back on the job by 11 a.m. today.
[Railways] [Privatisation] [Labour]
National Security Law violations jump in 2013
By Kang Seung-woo
The number of people indicted on charges of violating the nation’s anti-communist law under President Park Geun-hye reached a 10-year high, according to data from the Supreme Court Monday.
A total of 118 people were prosecuted for violating the National Security Law in 2013, the highest figure since the 167 cases reported in 2002.
Enacted in 1948, the law bans any “anti-state” activities that attempt to praise, encourage or propagandize North Korean political ideals.
The number of people indicted this year is four times higher than the 29 cases in 2006, midway through progressive late President Roh Moo-hyun’s term.
[NSL] [Park Geun-hye]
Defending West Sea
Warships of Korea’s 2nd Fleet Command participate in training in the West Sea ahead of the New Year. The training included firing and maneuvering exercises. / Yonhap
South Korea: rail workers, repression and resistance
Eric Lee 30 December 2013
An almost unreported strike in South Korea, which has just come to an end, epitomises how a ‘free’ market can be incompatible with the liberty of workers to defend their own security.
The mainstream media struggle to understand Korea. Throughout December, global news coverage focussed on the latest purge in North Korea, a former basketball star’s visit to the Communist state, and rising tensions between both Koreas and Japan, following the visit of the Japanese prime minister to a controversial war memorial. But CNN, the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera and others had absolutely nothing to say about a strike in South Korea that has shaken the society profoundly—culminating in mass actions involving hundreds of thousands of people on the last weekend of 2013.
The railway workers’ strike, which began early in the month, took place in a society where workers’ rights are routinely violated. Of course South Korea is infinitely freer and richer than North Korea and a far better place to live: in North Korea, workers have no rights at all and many thousands live as slaves in the country’s extensive Gulag of labour camps. South Korea, on the other hand, has free elections, a free press, freedom of religion, the right to demonstrate. And one would expect it to allow workers to join and create free and independent trade unions, as is the case in most democracies.
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