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PM nominee resigns
Updated : 2014-05-28 21:01
Ahn Dae-hee leaves the government complex building in Changseong-dong, Seoul, Wednesday, after announcing the withdrawal of his nomination for the post of prime minister. / Yonhap
By Chung Min-uck
Prime Minister nominee Ahn Dae-hee withdrew his nomination Wednesday over a mushrooming controversy concerning a large sum of money he received in lawyer's fees after he retired.
Ahn's withdrawal is expected to deal a body blow to President Park Geun-hye's bid to regain public trust after the Sewol ferry disaster.
North, South Korea warships swap artillery fire
May 23, 2014
SEOUL – North Korea on Thursday fired shells into waters near a South Korean warship on patrol south of the disputed Yellow Sea border, prompting the evacuation of residents on a nearby island, officials said.
Two shells fell near the South Korean ship, which was sailing near the front-line island of Yeonpyeong, the South’s defense ministry said.
“North Korea fired shells which fell near our ship, but it did not cause any damage to our ship,” a ministry spokesman said.
[NLL] [Clash] [Media] [Heading]
Park Geun Hye Group's Story about "Shelling by North" Dismissed
Pyongyang, May 27 (KCNA) -- Nowadays the military gangsters of Park Geun Hye are despicably trying to cover up their unpardonable provocations committed in the sensitive waters in the West Sea of Korea, a hot spot.
The spokesman for the Command of the Southwestern Front of the Korean People's Army gave the following answer to the question put by the newspaper Joson Inmingun on Monday in this regard:
From olden times, lies and hypocrisy are the last card for criminals and cowards.
They are none other than the military gangsters of south Korean puppet military gangsters.
As already reported, the Command of the Southwestern Front of KPA released a crucial report in which it clarified the stand to wipe out to the last man the provokers who fired at warships of the KPA and peaceable Chinese fishing boats on May 20.
Much upset by the situation, the gangsters suddenly blustered that the KPA fired two shells at their warship on May 22.
However, this false story was immediately branded as a poor deceptive farce.
Under this situation they should have come to their senses.
But the group of Park Geun Hye started to cook up a bigger lie to cover up their provocation like a fool who jumps into the lake to escape rain.
Park Geun Hye personally convened an urgent meeting of ministers in charge of security and the puppet ministry of defense let its foolish spokesman term the just assertion of the KPA "sheer lie," staging a double farce.
They said two water columns were spotted in the waters 150m away from their navy warship as shells were fired by the north.
Nobody knows about this, except for those who asserted they witnessed the water columns.
Criminals see a pole as a scaffold. Those military gangsters mistook rising waves for water columns and shelling.
What is ridiculous is that they have kept mum about the cause of the columns of water and the firing point.
In reference to this, Kim Min Sok, spokesman for the puppet defense ministry, uttered: It was hard to properly detect the base from which shells were fired because there is a case in which it is difficult to discern the base of shelling under certain circumstances and a radar for detecting shelling which should have operated round the clock failed to do so that day.
N.Korea Fires at S.Korean Warship
A North Korean artillery battery on Thursday evening fired two shells in the direction of a South Korean missile cutter that was performing routine duties about 10 km south of the sea border, the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said.
The shells fell some 150 m from the boat.
According to the JCS, several North Korean Navy boats were on standby near the Northern Limit Line at the time and fighter jets were scrambled.
The cutter fired five shells in response into waters near a North Korean patrol boat 2 km north of the NLL, and South Korean fighter jets made a sortie in the direction of the NLL.
Catholic Cardinal harshly criticized in new book
Posted on : May.22,2014 15:48 KST
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung taken to task for assailing efforts to push for Pres. Park’s resignation
By Lee Jae-sung, staff reporter
A Catholic priest released a book roundly criticizing Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul.
Rev. Kim In-guk’s new book “It’s Time to Fight the New Dictator,” published by Cheol-su and Young-hee, compiles conversations with journalist Son Seok-chun. The book represents a detailed rebuttal of Yeom’s criticism of movement by the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice (CPAJ) to push President Park Geun-hye to step down.
Liberal figure blames Park for sunken ferry
By Jun Ji-hye
Rhyu Si-min, a former welfare minister, has stirred controversy over his remarks that the deaths of so many people were forecasted right after President Park Geun-hye took power.
His statement referred to the Sewol ferry disaster that left more than 300 dead or missing, most of them high school students.
"I had said so many people would die or be sent to prison under the Park regime," Rhyu said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, the current situation seems to be going in that direction."
Rhyu made the remarks in a video clip to promote the minor opposition Justice Party's podcast for the June 4 local elections. He is a member of the party.
"The enormous death of innocent children occurred during the seven-year rule of the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye governments," said Rhyu. "The Sewol tragedy resulted from the two presidents' appointment of incompetent figures to high-ranking positions, and those people's corruption has caused a malfunction of the government's safety administration."
[Sewol] [Park Geun-hye]
KPA deny responsibility for exchange of fire on NLL
North Korea say that South Korean vessel incurred into DPRK territory and fire "preemptively"
May 23rd, 2014
North Korea has claimed on Friday that the South Korean navy vessel the ROKS Yoon Youngha fired on the North preemptively on Thursday and that South Korean official reports to the contrary are fabricated.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Thursday that North Korea fired two artillery shells near a South Korean warship on patrol near the disputed maritime border the Northern Limit Line (NLL), 14km from Yeonpyeong Island and that the ROKS Yoon Youngha fired back in response.
However in a report published on the state run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the Southwestern front of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) claimed that South Korea had “spread false stories peppered with lies and hypocrisy in a bid to mislead public opinion.”
The report claims that the South Korean vessel had crossed the NLL and had fired upon the North preemptively under the pretext that they were searching for illegal Chinese fishing activity.
“The confirmed fact goes to prove that warships of the puppet navy intruded deep into the waters of the DPRK side beyond the maritime guard demarcation line of the KPA side for preemptive firing,” the report read.
Rodong Sinmun Blasts Park Geun Hye Military Gangsters' Shelling
Pyongyang, May 23 (KCNA) -- On May 20, gangsters of the south Korean puppet navy perpetrated such a grave military provocation as firing at warships of the Korean People's Army on routine guard duty in the southwestern waters of the DPRK side and peaceable Chinese fishing boats.
Rodong Sinmun Friday in a commentary brands this as a deliberate and premeditated grave provocation.
It goes on:
It is an undeniable clear fact that the Park Geun Hye group, driven into the worst ruling crisis due to the ferry Sewol sinking disaster, is working hard to find a way out of it in escalating the military confrontation between the north and the south and igniting a war.
The puppet warmongers' military provocation may lead to an all-out war against the north at any moment
Command of Southwestern Front of KPA Once Again Warns S. Korean Forces
Pyongyang, May 23 (KCNA) -- The Command of the Southwestern Front of the Korean People's Army released the following report Friday:
Running high is the resolution of all the officers and men under the Command of the Southwestern Front of the KPA to mercilessly retaliate against the military hooligans of Park Geun Hye who opened fire at warships of the KPA on their routine guard duty and peaceable Chinese fishing boats.
It is against this backdrop that the puppet military hooligans, not yet coming to their senses, spread false stories peppered with lies and hypocrisy in a bid to mislead public opinion.
In the afternoon of May 22, they made much fuss, floating misinformation that they opened fire in retaliation against the shells fired by the KPA at their warships in waters near Yonphyong Island.
They even staged the farce of sending a warning message on behalf of the chief delegate of the south side to the north-south general-level military talks in which they claimed the KPA side "made a provocative firing" in wanton breach of the Korean Armistice Agreement and the north-south agreements in a bid to label it a "provocateur" by telling sheer lies.
The confirmed fact goes to prove that warships of the puppet navy intruded deep into the waters of the DPRK side beyond the maritime guard demarcation line of the KPA side for preemptive firing under the pretext of intercepting the peaceable Chinese fishing boats and tried to convince the public that the shelling was made by the KPA.
CPRK Slams S. Korean Puppet Group for Cooking up "North Wind"
Pyongyang, May 23 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) gave the following answer to a question raised by KCNA Friday in connection with the fact that the south Korean puppet group is going busy cooking up the provocative "north wind" to tide over the crisis caused by the ferry Sewol disaster:
The puppet conservative group's anti-DPRK smear campaign and provocative racket are aimed to cook up the "north wind", calm down the anger of the people of all social standings and their anti-"government" spirit running high with the Sewol tragedy as an occasion. They are also designed to divert elsewhere the public attention, tide over the current crisis, rally conservative forces in a bid to turn the situation ahead of the elections to local self-governing bodies in its favor.
It is a trite method employed by the group to cook up "north wind" at every election in order to tide over its ruling crisis and garner more votes.
[Sewol] [Election] [North Wind]
Last word not said on the Northern Limit Line – Delury
Time ripe for applying Trustpolitik to the Yellow Sea maritime border – expert
May 22nd, 2014
Ole Jakob Skåtun
While Thursday’s firefight between North and Sorth Korea along the Northern Limit Line (NLL) seemed dramatic to many, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, historian and Yonsei University North Korea-watcher John Delury says.
“This (the NLL) is the weakest link in the chain, in terms of where conflict could erupt,” he told NK News on Thursday, following the early evening exchange of fire.
[NLL] [Trustpolik] [KR-summit07]
Experts See Peaceful Reunification as Most Promising Scenario
Experts at home and abroad believe that mutually agreed, peaceful reunification of the two Koreas would be the best scenario to bring about what President Park Geun-hye has touted as a potential economic "bonanza."
The Chosun Ilbo and the Ilmin International Relations Institute at Korea University questioned 135 North Korea experts -- 86 from overseas and 49 from South Korea.
The foreign experts come from the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and Europe and are either specialists in North Korean affairs or security or former government officials.
Asked about the prospects of reunification within the next 10 years, 80 percent of the experts said this could only come about as a result of regime collapse in the North.
[Unification] [Collapse] [Logic]
Cardinal Yeom Returns from Kaesong Industrial Park
Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung speaks to the press at a border checkpoint after returning from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea on Wednesday. Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung speaks to the press at a border checkpoint after returning from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea on Wednesday.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung visited the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex on Wednesday, the first time for a South Korean prince of the church to visit the communist country.
"Visiting the Kaesong Industrial Complex where South and North Koreans work together, I saw hope that [the two Koreas] can overcome pain and sorrow," Yeom said on return.
Accompanied by six priests and two other officials from the Archdiocese of Seoul, Yeom left for North Korea on Wednesday morning and spent about eight hours there.
"Although Kaesong is just 60 km from Seoul, I felt like the people in the two cities live far away as they cannot freely cross the border to meet each other," he told reporters.
Yeom met South Korean staff in the industrial park but no North Korean officials, and was not permitted to say mass.
How to avoid cultural mistakes in Korea
By Joel Lee
A post titled "20 Cultural Mistakes to Avoid in Korea'' on culture and travel website Seoulistic.com has generated much chatter for its sarcastic take on aspects of Korean cultural behavior that foreigners regard as odd.
The author, Ken Lee, is a London-born teacher currently living in Gwangju who is carving out a presence in the blogosphere.
Some of Lee's observations could use a 21st century update; no, most Koreans will not always expect you to share your food with them. And it's rare to see a woman scolded for dressing too sexily these days.
To be fair, Lee does provide some tips that would allow foreigners to convey an impression they are appreciative of the local culture, although in many cases they might overdo it.
No. 1 on Lee's list to avoid is "sitting on elderly seats in subways." If all seats on a subway are taken except those at the far end that are reserved for the elderly, should you go and take it?
Cardinal Yeom Visits N.Korea
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung left for the Kaesong Industrial Complex on Tuesday, the first time for a South Korean prince of the church to visit the communist country.
The Archdiocese of Seoul on Tuesday said seven priests and Yeom will visit the industrial complex jointly run by the two Koreas on Wednesday morning. They will meet with South Korean businessmen and Catholic staff and pray for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Yeom had hoped to visit Pyongyang too, but North Korea declined the request.
Yeom, who is archbishop of Seoul as well as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Pyongyang, had expressed hopes to say mass in Kaesong, which falls under his jurisdiction, around Christmas last year, but due to the political turmoil following the purge of Jang Song-thaek the plan fell through.
Profit-oriented healthcare leads to preventable deaths
Posted on : May.21,2014 11:45 KST
Modified on : May.21,2014 16:22 KST
Sewol tragedy and deaths from treatable illnesses leading to reflection over the prevalence of private medical care
By Kim Yang-joong, medical correspondent
In early April, a 48-year-old man surnamed Seo died of tuberculous pleurisy in a nursing home in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. He had been diagnosed with tuberculosis at the hospital at the beginning of Jan. 2014, but the nursing home was not capable of treating pleurisy, which involves inserting a tube into the chest cavity (where the heart and lungs are located) to siphon out pus.
The nursing home was not able to send him to a general hospital, either. Seo was a recipient of the basic livelihood assistance. He had no one to look after him, and no money.
At last, a social welfare worker at the nursing home filed a request for emergency medical assistance with Goyang City and used the funds to transfer Seo to a general hospital. But after 50 days at the bigger hospital, Seo was discharged because of 6 million won (US$5,850) in hospital bills. A few days after returning to the convalescent hospital, he breathed his last.
“If he had died of an untreatable disease, I probably wouldn’t feel so frustrated about it. The patient had pleurisy, which is completely treatable. In the end, he died because he didn’t have any money. Surely the hospital’s profit isn’t more important than people’s lives,” a doctor working at the nursing home said on May 20.
Prioritizing money over human lives, a tendency that was made abundantly clear in the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry, is also found in the medical world, which deals directly with human lives.
In South Korea, people boast about the top-of-the-line university hospitals and world-class treatments available there, but it has long been the case that these are only provided to those who can afford them. The medical treatment that is supposed to protect the public’s health and the public’s lives has been entrusted to private hospitals that prioritize their bottom line.
90% of hospitals in South Korea are privately run, the highest percentage in the world. It is higher than the OECD average of 28%; it even surpasses the percentage of 75% in the US, which is well known for the dominance of private medical care.
Sewol families unimpressed by Park's created tears
By Ko Dong-hwan
President Park Geun-hye, usually as emotional as a rock, showed her tears on live television on Monday as she announced the disbanding of the coast guard over its botched rescue of passengers on the sunken Sewol ferry.
Families of the victims, however, weren't too impressed about Park, who was criticized in the accident's early aftermath for refusing to hold herself accountable for her government's supposed ineptitude.
The Sewol ferry sank off the waters of the southwestern island on April 16 with 476 people aboard, including hundreds of high school students. Only 172 of them were rescued with the remainder confirmed as dead or missing.
Critics have been accusing the government of bungling its emergency response and failing to properly enforce regulations that would have stopped the ship's operators from putting profit before safety.
Speaking to a MBC radio show on Tuesday, Yoo Kyung-eun, a spokesman for the "Emergency Family Committee for the Sewol Ferry Disaster,'' gave Park's speech 50 points on a scale of 100.
"The president did discuss some issues we have been trying to get out, but still lacked commitment in finding the missing bodies,'' he said.
Yoo also wondered whether announcing plans to dismantle the coast guard was smart when the coast guard continues to serve the key role in finding the bodies on the submerged ship.
[Sewol] [Park Geun-hye]
S. Korea snubs N. Korea's proposal for joint ceremony on 2000 summit
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday rejected a North Korean proposal to hold a joint ceremony next month to mark the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.
Unification ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin said it is in appropriate for South Korea to commemorate the summit with North Korea, citing the current status of cross-border relations.
[Summit00] [SK NK policy]
[Analysis] Pres. Park’s Sewol address: apology and high-handed measures
Posted on : May.20,2014 11:46 KST
Modified on : May.20,2014 12:02 KST
President Park Geun-hye steps aside from the podium to bow in apology for her responsibility for the Sewol ferry sinking, during her public statement from the Blue House, May 19. (by Lee Jeong-yong, staff photographer)
Response measures were announced without any consultation, in the President’s usual unilateral style
By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent and Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
The public statement that President Park Geun-hye made on May 19 can be roughly divided into two sections: an apology and response measures.
At the end of the statement - after apologizing, stating that “the ultimate responsibility for not responding properly to the accident lies with the president” - Park weeped as she intoned the names of those who sacrificed their lives for others in the Sewol accident. While her tears come 34 days after the Sewol went down, the statement represents a major improvement in terms of apology and consolation for the bereaved families.
[Sewol] [Park Geun-hye]
No questions asked as Pres. Park sheds her crocodile tears
Posted on : May.20,2014 11:52 KST
Modified on : May.20,2014 13:43 KST
President Park Geun-hye weeps as she reads out the names of people who sacrificed their own safety to save others aboard the Sewol ferry, during her public statement from the Blue House, May 19. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
More than one month after Sewol sinking, President reads prepared statement and leaves for the UAE
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
President Park Geun-hye took the podium by herself on the morning of May 19 for a public address on the Apr. 16 Sewol ferry disaster. She spoke unaccompanied and exited alone.
Park began the address with an apology.
“As a President who must bear responsibility for citizens’ lives and safety, I sincerely apologize for the suffering that the public has gone through,” she said, stepping out from behind the podium to deliver a deep bow.
Her voice was low during the apology. But when criticizing the inept response by government officials and pledging punishment of companies that focused solely on profits, she stared straight ahead with a stern expression, stressing each word.
Park appeared composed throughout the somewhat lengthy 24-minute address, but her voice began to quiver in the final two minutes as she mentioned the names of some of the victims: Kwon Hyuk-kyu, who is still missing after giving his life vest to his five-year-old sister; Jeong Cha-woong, a high school student who jumped into the water to rescue classmates and was later found dead; and Choi Deok-ha, another high school student who was the first to alert emergency services to the sinking.
As she continued to recite the names of teachers at Danwon High School who lost their lives, Park’s eyes began to well up. By the time she mentioned the names of crew members and a civilian diver who also perished, she was in tears.
She then finished the address and left the podium without taking questions.
During the address, Park proposed putting up a memorial to the Sewol victims and designating the date of the tragedy, April 16, as “National Safety Day.”
Later that afternoon, Park departed for a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, where she is to attend the installation of the first reactor at a nuclear power plant that is currently under construction there.
[Park Geun-hye] [Sewol] [Nuclear energy]
Leaning Building Collapses During Demolition
A studio apartment building in Asan, South Chungcheong Province lies in rubble after demolition on Sunday. A studio apartment building in Asan, South Chungcheong Province lies in rubble after demolition on Sunday.
The seven-story apartment building in Asan, South Chungcheong Province that suddenly tilted to one side last week collapsed completely during demolition.
According to the Asan municipal government, the demolition began at 8:20 a.m. on Sunday and was scheduled to take two days. But as two excavators were destroying the pillars in the third and fourth floors, the whole building toppled.
"There were seven or eight people working near the demolition site, but nobody was hurt and no damage was done to the surrounding buildings," according to an Asan city spokesman.
The building is one of a pair of twin buildings that were due to be completed by the end of this month. It suddenly tilted more than 20 degrees on May 12.
The police have obtained testimony from a staffer at the building site that the foundations had been poorly laid and are investigating whether foul play was involved.
Citizens arrested at Sewol candlelight protests
Posted on : May.19,2014 15:06 KST
Citizens participating in the ‘5.17 Nationwide People’s Action in commemoration of Sewol ferry tragedy’ commemorate the Sewol ferry victims and condemn the government’s inept response at Cheonggye Square in central Seoul on the evening of May 17. (by Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
Tens of thousands still coming out to protest government’s response to the Sewol ferry sinking
By Park Ki-yong and Jin Myeong-seon, staff reporters
95 protesters from the May 18 Sewol Ferry tragedy demonstration at Gwanghwamun Square were arrested and taken to a local police station. The police also stated they would file criminal charges against all 113 people who had been arrested a day earlier. The government is taking strong action against citizens raising critical voices over the government’s inept response to the tragedy.
On Monday morning, President Park Geun-hye made a public apology in which she vowed to disband the Coast Guard for its bungled handling of the rescue operation. Park also said that she would reorganize the government to improve its disaster response capability.
15,000 teachers sign statement assailing Park administration
Posted on : May.16,2014 11:47 KST
Modified on : May.16,2014 11:51 KST
Education Ministry looking into possibility that Teacher’s Day statement violates laws on public officials’ conduct
By Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporter
Over 15,000 schoolteachers marked Teacher’s Day on May 15 with a statement harshly criticizing President Park Geun-hye for the response to last month’s Sewol ferry sinking.
“We no longer need a President who has neither the will nor the ability to save people’s lives,” the statement declared.
Scholars blast government’s complicity in Sewol tragedy
Posted on : May.15,2014 16:05 KST
Salisbury University professor Nam Tae-hyun (center) speaks at a press conference announces a statement signed by 1,074 scholars denouncing the South Korean government’s inept response to the Sewol crisis, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., May 14. (by Park Hyun, Washington correspondent)
Academics in S. Korea and abroad call on government to reflect and take measures to prevent further tragedies
By Park Seung-heon, staff reporter and Park Hyun, Washington correspondent
On May 14, the day before Teacher’s Day, 1,304 academics from Korea and elsewhere joined the ranks of those who are reflecting on and showing contrition for the widespread flaws in South Korean society that were brought to light by the sinking of the Sewol ferry.
“What we witnessed as the Sewol was sinking was the sinking of the system that we call the state and the sinking of ethics, conscience, and responsibility. We propose that the entire Korean people view the tragedy of the Sewol, which revealed the true desolation of our society and the helplessness of our government, as an opportunity to reflect and to repent,” said a statement signed by 131 professors at Yonsei University.
N. Korea lashes out after spokesperson’s harsh remarks
Posted on : May.14,2014 12:38 KST
Modified on : May.14,2014 14:34 KST
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours North Korean Air Force Unit unit 447 in an image reported on May 14 by Korean Central News Agency (News1)
Media report says Kim Min-seok’s comments are “a vain challenge” that N. Korea “will not overlook.”
By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer
In response to comments made the previous day by Ministry of National Defense Kim Min-seok, spokesperson, that “North Korea needs to quickly go away,” North Korea said on May 13 that Kim will “pay a dear price for running his mouth.”
On Uriminzokkiri, a website run by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the North Korean body for relations with the South, an article by someone named Park Chong-yon denounced the remarks as “a grave provocation and a vain challenge that we will not overlook.”
“We will not tolerate for an instant the blind acts of Kim Min-seok, who rashly runs amok and spreads the most vicious of rumors while clinging to his delusions about unification through absorption, which are nothing more than a silly dream,” the article said. “It is our intention and our position that we will impose merciless punishment on those who dare to challenge and slander our system and our highest dignity, whoever and wherever they may be.”
[Editorial] No benefit in South and North trading nasty insults
Posted on : May.14,2014 12:47 KST
With the North Korean nuclear issue continuing to get worse, the authorities and state-run media in North and South Korea appear to be moving toward a new conflict, making rash statements instead of looking for a way to resume the six-party talks. This is the time for both sides to exercise self-restraint, restoring stability to the Korean peninsula and giving serious thought to how the nuclear issue can be resolved.
The remarks made by South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok during a regular press briefing on May 12 that “North Korea isn‘t even a country. North Korea needs to quickly go away” are inappropriate, no matter how you look at them. This is tantamount to viewing North Korea as an evil that should not exist and threatening to eliminate it by force. This is at odds not only with the various agreements that North and South Korea have signed but also with the policy toward North Korea adopted by the Park Geun-hye government.
On May 13, Kim explained that he was talking not about North Korea as a whole but rather about the behavior of the North Korean government. Even if that is true, the meaning does not change very much. If Kim’s remarks represent the official position of the government, President Park should come forward to explain whether the government is changing its North Korean policy in this manner. If that is not the case, and Kim misspoke or was expressing his personal view, he should be held responsible.
North Korea has also increased the intensity of its harsh language over the past few months. One representative example is a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland on Apr. 27, which blasted President Park as a “silly girl” and “whore.”
NYT Ad Accuses Korean Gov't of Incompetence, Censorship
A full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday denounced the Korean government's handling of the ferry disaster last month.
The black-and-white ad was paid for by a group of Korean Americans and appeared on page 19 of the daily under the headline "BRING THE TRUTH TO LIGHT" with the subtitle "Why are Koreans outraged by President Park Geun-hye?"
"The South Korean government lacked adequate emergency protocols and proper communication between agencies," the ad alleges.
"They rejected outside help -- from expert civilian divers and the U.S. Navy -- and gave rescue rights to a private company in which the government is a major shareholder," it goes on to say.
"Criticism of President Park's handling of the ferry disaster is being silenced by government censorship of South Korea's mainstream media."
While the first allegation is broadly true, the other two seem fanciful.
The ruling Saenuri Party suspects a plot. "I'm very much concerned about mudslinging even in the foreign media at a serious time like this when I hear about some people here who are spouting political propaganda and attempting to turn the tragedy to their political advantage," party chairman Hwang Woo-yea said.
The ad was crowdfunded by a Korean American woman who late last month posted a message on Missy USA, a popular online forum for immigrant Korean women, saying, "Let's place an ad in the New York Times to press charges against the South Korean government for its incompetence and media control."
The website was the first to reveal the molestation charges against Park's then-spokesman Yoon Chang-jung during her visit to Washington.
But not everyone was in favor of the ad. "It'll boomerang on us, if we blame the South Korean government during a national disaster," one dissenter wrote. But others accused her of being a mole of the Korean government.
Nearly Completed Apartment Block in Danger of Collapse
A seven-story building on the verge of its grand opening abruptly tilted to one side in Asan, South Chungcheong Province on Monday morning.
The building, one of two, was scheduled to be completed at the end of this month.
People watch twin buildings in Asan, South Chungcheong Province after one of them tilted sideways on Monday. People watch twin buildings in Asan, South Chungcheong Province after one of them tilted sideways on Monday.
No injuries were reported as no one was inside at the time.
Police have restricted access to the site and are preparing for a total collapse. Experts assume the cause was faulty groundworks or land subsidence.
Broadcast reporters “Mortified and Ashamed” at their own networks
Posted on : May.13,2014 14:17 KST
Modified on : May.13,2014 15:36 KST
A captured image from an MBC analytical segment planned by Park Sang-hu that included implicit criticism of the “hastiness” of the Sewol ferry victims’ families.
In coverage of Sewol, broadcasters accused of inaccurate reporting and kowtowing to government
By, Kim Hyo-sil, staff reporter
Reporters at broadcaster MBC issued a public apology for coverage of the Sewol ferry sinking and the recovery process.
The move comes amid an outpouring of reflection on the coverage from reporters at another of the country’s three terrestrial networks, KBS. The apologies and criticism from reporters at the public broadcasting networks are a response to public anger over the disaster’s coverage, which has been marked by inaccurate reporting, sensationalism, and “cooperation” with the administration.
On the morning of May 12, 121 members of the MBC journalists' association released a statement titled “Mortified and Ashamed.” In it they declared, “Far from consoling parents who lost their children because of the state’s irresponsibility, we have lectured them and painted them as ‘impatient’ and ‘unpatriotic.’”
Defense Ministry spokesperson says N. Korea “needs to quickly go away”
Posted on : May.13,2014 14:36 KST
Modified on : May.13,2014 15:41 KST
Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Kim Min-seok announces arbitration on the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone, at the ministry’s briefing room in Seoul’s Yongsan district, May 8. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
Spokesperson’s harsh words could be a response to N. Korea’s recent racist and sexist rhetoric
By Park Byong-su, staff reporter
A Ministry of National Defense spokesperson made an outburst on May 12 in which he said North Korea “needs to quickly go away.”
The blunt show of hostility from spokesperson Kim Min-seok, speaking at an official press briefing on behalf of the military, was unusual, with even critics in the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP) criticizing it as “inappropriate.”
Toward the end of a briefing on May 12, Kim responded to North Korea’s repeated denials of responsibility for unmanned aerial vehicles (small drones) discovered recently in northern South Korea. As if anticipating the opportunity, he proceeded into an explicitly emotional tirade against North Korea.
“North Korea isn’t even a country,” Kim said. “Do they have human rights? Do they have freedom? Doesn‘t the whole thing exist to support one person? And with them continuing to say fraudulent and historically regressive things, they truly are a country that should not be.”
Analysts said Kim’s statement seemed to reflect the military’s hostile views toward North Korea. In particular, it was seen as a possible response to North Korea’s rhetoric since a South Korean-US summit meeting late last month, with vulgar terms directed at President Park Geun-hye and racist comments likening US President Barack Obama to a “monkey.”
But some critics questioned the need for an opposition spokesperson for administration defense policy to make such provocative statements in public.
Saenuri lawmaker Ha Tae-keung responded with a Facebook post calling for Kim’s replacement.
“A Ministry of National Defense spokesperson needs sufficient consideration of inter-Korean relations and diplomacy when he speaks,” Ha said in the post.
[MISCOM] [ROK military]
South Korea’s poverty-stricken elderly
10 May 2014
Authors: Jongmin Shon, Rutgers University, and Howard A. Palley, University of Maryland
Nearly half of South Korea’s elderly (65 or older) live below the poverty-line. In response to economic vulnerability and social isolation, the suicide rate among the elderly has tripled since 2000.The government of South Korea has instituted a number of programs aimed at targeting this situation, but has never made an adequate financial commitment to deal with it.
In 1988, the South Korean government instituted a pension system, but payments under this system have never been adequate. According to the 2012 OECD Economic Survey, public spending for old-age benefits was only 1.6 per cent of GDP in 2007. And according to the Ministry of Budgeting and Finance, only 0.26 per cent of the 2014 national budget is allocated for services and income for the elderly. Given the actuarial basis of the 1988 National Pension Scheme, the elderly receive very small sums — a maximum of US$83 per month from the pension fund — and the full pension age of 60 is gradually being increased to 65. The limited scale of pensions plus a very restrictive public assistance program (which reaches only 3 per cent of the population and constitutes in 2014 only 0.9 per cent of GDP) leave many elderly in dire circumstances.
A Bifurcated Review of De-bordering Korea: Tangible and Intangible Legacies of the Sunshine Policy
By Sino-NK | May 12, 2014
Hazel Smith, in her 2002 critique of the “securtization paradigm” as its applied to the study of North Korea, suggests that the “sunshine” policy is a good alternative to the “bad” and “mad” elements of Cold War era security studies. She argues that a historicized and contextualized “rational actor model” could help policy makers concerned with peace and the elimination of hunger in North Korea see the so-called “hermit kingdom” not as an estranged, misbehaving rogue state, but as just another country. But getting over the legacies of the Cold War is no easy feat, especially in a country seemingly mired in a Cold War-esque bifurcation. Despite arguments to the contrary, it seems that progress is being made. At least that is the overarching theme in De-bordering Korea: Tangible and Intangible Legacies of the Sunshine Policy, a Routledge edited volume on the enduring legacy of the sunshine era. The edited volume makes a case not altogether dissimilar from Smith’s but with a focus that goes beyond traditional economic and political considerations. The implied causation is that the “normalizing” effect the sunshine policy had on North-South relations significantly changed the way the Koreas are represented, reproduced, and discussed. Centered around three themes–Space, People, and Representation–the book illuminates the spatial changes, new human interactions, and new representations of each country.
S.Korean UN Diplomat Cuts Off N.Korean Official
Paik Ji-ah Paik Ji-ah
South Korea's deputy permanent representative to the UN cut off North Korea's deputy ambassador Ri Tong-il at a recent meeting of the Security Council when he ran over time.
Paik Ji-ah, chairing a debate on weapons of mass destruction at the UNSC in New York on Wednesday, twice reminded Ri to wrap up his comments when he spoke for 10 minutes protesting his country's right to possess nuclear weapons, way beyond the allotted four-minute time frame.
When Ri ignored her instructions and continued to talk, Paik shut off his microphone and gave the floor to the Ukrainian representative.
During the debate, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urged the UN to deal firmly with North Korea should it push ahead with a fourth nuclear test. "We must clearly warn North Korea that if it challenges the international community with another nuclear test, it will be met with the most serious consequences," Yun said.
Ri had hinted North Korea would push ahead with a nuclear test if the international community crosses over what he called the "red line."
South Korea holds the one-month rotating presidency at the UNSC after being elected as a non-permanent member for 2013 to 2014.
Park Geun Hye Group Slammed for Floating Again Fiction about "North's Involvement" in "Drone Case"
Pyongyang, May 11 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the inspection group of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK on Sunday issued a statement blasting the south Korean authorities for floating again the fiction about "the north's involvement" in the "drone case", a scenario for escalating the confrontation with their fellow countrymen in the north.
On May 8 the south Korean military staged a farce of announcing the "results of scientific and technological investigation" with those concerned of the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and drone experts attending.
No sooner had the "results of investigation" been announced than jeer and ridicule were heard from across south Korea. "They force us to believe in the faked drones. It's better to believe in invisible ghost." "Is the Defense Ministry allowed to make such mockery of the people?" "If drones crashed, why are their propellers in such good shape? And why is the muffler so clean? It requires an inquiry."
NK again denies drone deployment
By Nam Hyun-woo
North Korea on Sunday refuted a recent announcement from Seoul that three aerial drones which crashed near the demilitarized zone in March and April were sent by the North, describing the statement as "manipulation."
It also repeated a previous call for a joint investigation of the crashed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be conducted.
"Though the South claims the UAVs were sent by the North more than a thousand times, our stance is clear that we are not involved in the drones," an unnamed spokesman of the North Korea's National Defense Commission (NDC) said in a statement.
"South Korean should accept without any complaint the proposal made by North Korea to carry out a joint investigation into the drone case.”
[Editorial] Saenuri needs to finally clear the air over false NLL scandal
Posted on : May.10,2014 13:47 KST
In the 2012 presidential election, the Saenuri Party (NFP) persistently attacked the opposition claiming that former President Roh Moo-hyun offered to “abandon” part of South Korea’s territory around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West (Yellow) Sea during an inter-Korean summit in 2007. One of the biggest bulldogs was lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun. Now, having departed his post as Saenuri’s senior floor leader on May 8, he has pulled a complete 180, saying Roh “never one used the term ‘abandon’” and admitting, “I don’t think it was about that.”
[NLL] [Election] [Canard] [Roh Moo-hyun]
4 out of 10 S. Koreans unwilling to shoulder unification cost: poll
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Four out of 10 South Koreans are unwilling to shoulder the economic burden of potential unification with North Korea, a poll showed on May 7.
The survey of 1,001 people nationwide found that 44.3 percent of the respondents said they have no desire to pay a dime while 31.9 percent said they are willing to pay less than 50,000 won (US$48) per year as costs of unification.
[Unification] [Public opinion]
Park Geun Hye Censured as Root Cause of Disasters of Nation
Pyongyang, May 2 (KCNA) -- Not a few days have passed since Park Geun Hye took office in Chongwadae in south Korea.
Being fascinated by honey-coated "commitments" made by Park early in her office, many people pinned great hope on her. But as months and years passed by, their hope turned into disappointment, rapidly touching off grudge and anger.
A flurry of censure and denunciation is directed to Park as she has lost all qualities as "president", human being and woman, a clear indication of the people's mindset.
Park is like an "owner of grave keeper's cottage" as she turned the whole of south Korea into a cemetery.
On April 16 ferry "Sewol" sank in waters off Jin Island, South Jolla Province of south Korea. This was a hideous man-made disaster deliberately caused by Park.
[Sewol] [Park Geun-hye]
In New York, Foreign Minister sends hardline message to N. Korea
Posted on : May.9,2014 11:40 KST
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se presides over a meeting of the UN Security Council marking the tenth anniversary of resolution 1540 on nuclear non-proliferation, May 7. Yun stressed international sanctions as a way of punishing North Korea if it goes ahead with a fourth nuclear test. (provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Yun Byung-se advocates new and tougher sanctions if N. Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who is currently visiting the US, sent an extremely hard-line message to North Korea for the third day in a row. Seoul, which has an important role to play in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, could be only making empty warnings unlikely to bring any practical effect, while not offering a solution.
During a debate about weapons of mass destruction hosted by the United Nations Security Council at the UN Headquarters in New York on May 7, Yun criticized North Korea as the only country that has tested nuclear weapons in the 21st century. “If North Korea were to go ahead with another nuclear test in defiance of the collective will of the international community, it will have to pay the heaviest price that it has never seen in the past,” Yun warned.
[SK NK policy] [Test] [UNUS]
Fewer N.Korean Defectors Reaching South
Only 360 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea in the first quarter this year, the Unification Ministry said Thursday.
From 2006 until 2012, the annual figure stood between 2,500 and 3,000, but it fell to an annual average of about 1,500 when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power.
A ministry official said that the number has dropped because the regime has cracked down on defections. "It has tightened border security and is bringing defectors back to the country," the official added.
Last year, defectors on average earned W1.41 million (US$1=W1,024) in South Korea, just 64 percent of the country's average pay of W2.18 million. Unemployment among defectors stood at 9.7 percent, more than three times the average of 2.7 percent.
"Defectors often find it difficult to adapt to the competitive capitalist system, but they also face a lot of discrimination," a government official said.
Gov't to Reduce Restrictions Near DMZ
The Defense Ministry wants to narrow the civilian control line south of the demilitarized zone, it said Wednesday.
After a meeting chaired by Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo, a ministry official said, "We're considering adjusting the civilian control area in a way that ensures troops stationed in the area can carry out military operations."
"But we haven't decided yet how far further we should move the line northward and which area," he added.
The control line was drawn to bar civilians from a buffer zone south of the DMZ for military purposes. The original civilian control line was marked 20 to 40 km south of the military demarcation line, but it was gradually reduced to 5-10 km by 2008.
Three drones were sent from N. Korea: ministry
The defense ministry Thursday announced the three drones found in March and April were all sent from North Korea. Officials brief the result of interim probe in the unmanned drones at the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) in Daejeon, April 11. / Yonhap
Three small drones found near the inter-Korean border in March and April were all sent from North Korea, based on an analysis of geographical data retrieved from the spy aircraft, the defense ministry announced Thursday.
One unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was discovered in Paju, north of Seoul, on March 24, while another was found on a western border island a week later. The third drone was found in a mountain near the east coast on April 6.
The ministry said a team of South Korean and American experts had confirmed the origin of the drones after restoring the coordinates of the geographical positioning system (GPS) stored in their system.
N.Korea Blasts Seoul Over Handling of Ferry Disaster
The North Korean state media have attacked the South Korean government over its handling of the ferry disaster off the southwest coast on April 16.
The official Rodong Sinmun daily carried a photo of South Korean demonstrators holding a sign that read, "Inefficient government, bring the children back to life."
The paper also cited a statement from a South Korean activist group saying that President Park Geun-hye should be hold accountable for the tragedy.
[Ferry Disaster] Man arrested for blaming Korea-U.S. drill for ferry accident
A 50-year-old man has been arrested on charges of spreading a rumor online that a South Korea-U.S. military drill was responsible for last month's deadly ferry sinking off South Korea's southwest coast, police said Wednesday.
The suspect, identified only by his family name Shin, disseminated the rumor that "the ferry Sewol sank because it deviated from its course due to the joint South Korea-U.S. exercise," according to the National Police Agency.
Shin posted the claim on an online bulletin board of a portal site, three days after the ferry sank on April 16 and left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Shin also cited warnings of a joint shooting exercise issued for certain areas in the Yellow Sea by the oceanographic administration for April 15-16 to back up his claim. The navigation warnings "show why the ferry Sewol went off the planned course and used a difference route where the accident took place," Shin argued in the posting.
[Sewol] [Joint US military] [Repression]
Was neoliberalism the real cause of the Sewol tragedy?
Posted on : May.2,2014 21:26 KST
Modified on : May.2,2014 22:57 KST
Han Byung-chul, professor at the Berlin University of the Arts
Korean-German philosopher argues that neoliberalism has eroded trust and regulations, making accidents and selfishness more common
By Cho Ki-weon, staff reporter
“The real killer isn’t the captain. It’s neoliberalism.”
The Korean-German philosopher Han Byung-chul, a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts and author of “Fatigue Society,” published a piece in the Apr. 26 edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine describing the sinking of the Sewol ferry as a tragic outcome of the dehumanization caused by neoliberalism.
Han’s book “Fatigue Society” caused something of a sensation in South Korea, with its characterization of modern society as a “performance society” where people work themselves to death or exhaustion without being forced to do so.
In the recent piece titled “The Ship Is Us,” Han writes that the ferry accident “cannot be blamed on a lack of attention from the sailors, a lack of professionalism, or the special circumstances of South Korea.”
“This tragedy is a metaphor for modern society,” he concludes.
Noting that President Park Geun-hye recently described the captain of the ship as a “murderer,” Han observes, “The person who should be first to bear responsibility for the Sewol tragedy is [Park’s predecessor] Lee Myung-bak, the person who pushed the country’s neoliberal policies.”
Han notes that as recently as 2009, a passenger ship was only allowed to operate for 20 years after it was built. That period was extended to 30 years under Lee, who pushed “business-friendly” policies while serving as President from 2008 to 2013.
[Neoliberalism] [Lee Myung-bak] [Sewol]
[Opinion] President Park’s empty words on reunification
Posted on : May.2,2014 21:36 KST
Anastasia Barannikova, Sluzhu Otechestvu Special Correspondent
Park Geun-hye continues to set impracticable standards and Pyongyang unification under unacceptable terms
By Anastasia Barannikova, Sluzhu Otechestvu Special Correspondent
On Feb. 25, President Park Geun-hye announced the creation of a special committee to prepare for unification. During the Asian Leadership Conference, held on Mar. 3-4. The development of a fund to assist the North with the support of surrounding countries and international financial organizations was announced. The fund’s objective is to raise money to cover the costs of unifying the Korean peninsula. On Mar. 28, Park made her “Dresden Declaration” on unification.
These statements themselves are not surprising, given the long-standing desire of both South and North to improve relations and reunify. Nevertheless, the fact that Park’s initiatives were voiced this year raises questions. The timing could have been conditioned by either external or internal factors. In North Korea, they were regarded with suspicion and accused of being detached from reality.
Despite the fact that this year saw the first high-level inter-Korean talks since 2007 and the first reunions of divided families since 2010, inter-Korean relations are generally not good these days. Immediately after announcing creation of a special committee, Park Geun-hye urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program in the name of improving inter-Korean relations. In her Dresden declaration, Park also promised “to help North Korea” once it gives up its nukes. At the same time, Seoul is well aware of Pyongyang’s negative view of such “pre-conditions”. Nuclear weapons became a matter of pride and dignity in the North rather than a bargaining chip. Even without the US, the North would not give up its nuclear program.
[Park Geun-hye] [Dresden] [Unification]
Seoul to host UN office on NK rights
By Chung Min-uck
Updated : 2014-04-30 22:59
The government’s move to host a United Nations office on North Korea’s human rights is likely to aggravate inter-Korean relations, experts said, Wednesday.
“The North will react angrily to the opening of a U.N. human rights office in South Korea,” said Koh Yoo-hwan, a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul. “North Korea has always been sensitive to accusations over its human rights conditions and the move will further aggravate cross-border ties, which remain strained because of the North’s series of military provocations.”
Seoul’s international efforts in urging the reclusive country to improve its human rights have sparked a strong backlash from Pyongyang which has strongly dismissed any accusations made by the U.N. and other countries, labeling them as U.S.-led efforts to topple the North Korean regime.
Reportedly, Seoul once rejected setting up the human rights office for fear that it would hamper humanitarian projects between the two Koreas.
Reversing its position, according to a government source, South Korea is to host the office the U.N. is seeking to open as part of its increasing efforts to bring the North Korean leadership to justice for human rights violations.
“The U.N. will conclude the decision to open the office in Seoul,” the source said.
[UNUS] [Human rights] [Nordpolitik]
N.Korea Fires Shells into Waters Near NLL
North Korea carried out a 10-minute live-fire drill near the de-facto maritime border with South Korea in the West Sea on Tuesday afternoon. But unlike in previous artillery exercises on March 31, no shells fell into South Korean waters.
At 8:52 a.m., the North Korean Army's southwestern frontline command notified its South Korean counterpart of the plan to stage the drill at two coastal bases in waters near Baeknyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island.
At 2 p.m., the North's coastal artillery batteries fired some 50 shells from 130 mm guns with a range of 27 km and 76.2 mm guns with a range of 12 km. All shells dropped about 3 km north of the NLL.
At around 3:30 p.m. the South Korean military lifted an evacuation order for residents on the five northwesternmost islands.
The military here put K-9 self-propelled guns on Baeknyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands on standby in case any shells crossed into South Korean waters. It also scrambled fighter jets equipped with air-to-ground missiles and sent destroyers and missile boats to nearby waters.
During the earlier live-fire drill on March 31, the North fired some 500 shells, about 100 of which crossed the NLL.
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