ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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North Korea calls for lifting of sanctions
Posted on : Aug.29,2014 16:17 KST
Kim Yang-gon, North Koreaqn Workers’ Party of Korea secretary
S. Korean delegation that recently visited the North relays message seeking resumption of cooperation and exchange
By Seong Han-yong, political correspondent
The chairman of North Korea’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee made a call for the lifting of the May 24 Measures, South Korea’s 2010 sanctions against the North, a former Minister of Unification said in a lecture on Aug. 28.
“We’re proposing dialogue, exchange, and cooperation. President Park Geun-hye needs to make the decision to lift the May 24 measures,” Kim Yang-gon was quoted as saying during the lecture by former Minister of Unification Lim Dong-won at the Shinhan University Institute for Peaceful Unification of the Korean People, a research center headed by director Lee Jong-chan. In addition to chairing the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, Kim is also the Workers’ Party of Korea secretary for South Korean affairs and director of Pyongyang’s Unified Front Department.
Kim spoke to Lim for an hour after delivering a commemorative wreath and message to a group of South Koreans visiting on Aug. 17 to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Among the visitors was former lawmaker Kim Hong-up, the former president’s son.
“Now is a time when the important thing is practice, not rhetoric,” Kim was reported as saying. “We need a practical determination from the supreme leader.”
[Sanctions] [Kim Dae-jung] [Overture]
Over Half of S.Korean Schoolkids Want Reunification
More than half of schoolkids and teachers here believe that reunification between the two Koreas is necessary and worry that North Korea could start another war.
The unification and education ministries surveyed 116,000 students and 3,130 teachers across the nation, and 57.7 percent said North Korea is highly likely to start a war again.
It is the first state-level survey conducted after a special committee formed by President Park Geun-hye in February to prepare for reunification .
Progressive reverend detained for violating surveillance act
Posted on : Aug.27,2014 16:07 KST
Rev. Han Sang-ryeol
After being released from prison, Rev. Han Sang-ryeol has refused to keep police informed of his whereabouts and other vital info
By Park Im-keun, North Jeolla correspondent
On Aug. 25, Rev. Han Sang-ryeol, 64, senior advisor to the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements (KAPM), was arrested by police on charges of violating the Security Surveillance Act, provoking a backlash from civic groups.
The North Jeolla Province Alliance for Peace and Human Rights and 21 other civic organization and advocacy groups in North Jeolla Province called for Han’s release on Aug. 26.
[Human rights] [Unification]
By James Church
25 August 2014
Building bridgesHere we are, almost at the end of the US-ROK joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), and the situation is eerily calm. DPRK commentary at the start of the exercise last week was relatively restrained, especially in view of the warnings the North had issued over the preceding months. Meanwhile, North Korean reaction to numerous recent ROK offers to reengage has been of the kicking-the-tires variety. So, is it safe to ask: Are we out of the woods? Have we successfully tiptoed past Vesuvius?
For once, we appear to have stumbled into a charmed glen of rationality. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but we can work with the image for now. So far, signs that things are heading in the right direction come not so much from something the North Koreans have said, but from the sounds of silence. Indeed, one of the hardest things to teach new analysts is how to listen for what isn’t said, and then figure out what it means.
[NK SK relations]
N.Korea Likely to Resume High-Level Talks
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun on Friday urged the South Korean government to implement various past agreements and added Seoul recently said it would discuss any issues arising between the two Koreas.
This apparently referred to Seoul's pledge not to restrict the agenda for another round of high-level cross-border talks proposed on Aug. 11.
On Aug. 17, Kim Yang-gon, the director of North Korea's United Front Department, complained to New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker Park Jie-won and others who were on a visit to the North that Seoul was proposing another round of the talks even as South Korea-U.S. military drills were getting underway.
[NK SK relations]
[Column] Really, where was Pres. Park while 304 of her citizens were drowning?
Posted on : Aug.21,2014 17:19 KST
An image from Aug. 3 of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper’s website, questioning President Park Geun-hye’s whereabouts for seven hours on Apr. 16, the day the Sewol ferry sank.
The Blue House is still avoiding disclosure of where the president was for seven crucial hours as the Sewol sank
By Lee Je-hoon, senior staff writer
“August 10. Morning: Spent at villa in Narusawamura Village, Yamanashi Prefecture. Afternoon: 12:46 - Lunch with mother (Yoko), senior secretary at Ricenta, Italian restaurant in Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi. Back to villa at 2:03. 6:34 - Dinner with friends at Kokyu, Chinese restaurant in Yamanashi. Back to villa at 8:59.”
“August 11. Morning: Spent at villa. Afternoon: 2:59 - Arrived home in Tomigaya, Tokyo. 5:58 - Treated at dentist’s office in first House of Representatives members’ hall. 6:48 -- Dinner at Ryugetsuen barbecue restaurant in Yotsuya, Tokyo, with Jiji Press commentator Kiyotaka Kato, political journalist Yoshimasa Suenobu, and former Cabinet adviser Yoichi Takahashi. Home by 9:14.”
This detailed list of the activities of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, Aug. 10 and Monday, Aug. 11 was printed on page 4 of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. It includes the names of whom he met where and where, and what they did, all recorded down to the minute. Lunches with this mother, dentist appointments, and dinners with media officials are all fair game for disclosure. The “Prime Minister’s day” is a daily feature in major Japanese dailies, drafted by reporters with Kyodo News and Jiji Press from their own observations and information provided by the Prime Minister’s office.
The question of President Park Geun-hye’s “missing seven hours” on Apr. 16, the day of the tragic Sewol ferry sinking, is one that demands an answer. Not a single passenger returned alive during or after those seven hours. Yet the inconsistent details offered by the Blue House and Saenuri Party (NFP) to date are only feeding the questions swirling around the gap. On July 30, Cho Won-jin, the party’s secretary on the National Assembly special committee for a parliamentary audit of the disaster, responded to the opposition’s demands to call Blue House first deputy office chief Jeong Ho-seong for a hearing by saying, “Does this mean we’re supposed to be talking about the president’s private life?” By Aug. 13, he had changed his tune and was declaring that “everything the President does from when she wakes up until she goes to bed is working hours. She doesn’t have a private life.” Saenuri floor leader Lee Wan-koo said on Aug. 1, “Everything the president does is an issue of national security.” So what is one supposed to make of the Japanese newspapers sharing the Prime Minister’s schedule down to the minute, or the White House releasing US President Barack Obama’s schedule down to five-minute blocks?
[Sewol] [Park Geun-hye]
The Pope Francis circus leaves town, and nothing much has changed
Posted on : Aug.20,2014 15:45 KST
Kim Young-oh, father of a high school boy who died in the Sewol tragedy, shows how much weight he has lost in his 36-day hunger strike calling for the legislation of a special Sewol Law, after a press conference entitled “President Park, please listen to the pope’s message”, in Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, Aug. 18. Lee Bo-ra (right), a practitioner of internal medicine from Seoul Metropolitan Dongbu Hospital, examined Kim and said he should see a specialist in restorative therapy. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
Father of Sewol victim becoming frailer by the day, seeking legislation of special Sewol Law
By Park Ki-yong, staff reporter
On Aug.19, it was drizzling in Gwanghwamun Square, just like the day before. The heartfelt consolation of Pope Francis had given the bereaved Sewol victims’ families a time of healing, but since the reality remained the same, the scene at the hunger strike tent remained the same, too.
There were some small changes, however. The pope’s interest had made the glances of passersby linger a little longer on the tent of the families on hunger strike. Holding their umbrellas, people gazed on the bereaved families with regret, or severity, or concern.
[Editorial] Stop the wasteful inter-Korean battle of nerves
Posted on : Aug.19,2014 17:18 KST
Aug. 19 was the date that the South Korean government proposed for holding high-level talks with North Korea, but the date has passed without the talks being held. This shows that it is not easy even for representatives from the two sides to sit down together. Both sides bear responsibility for this state of affairs.
Senior figures from North Korea shared their true feelings with Park Ji-won, lawmaker from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, who visited the Kaesong Industrial Complex to receive a condolence flowers on the fifth anniversary of the death of former president Kim Dae-jung. Park reported that Kim Yang-gon, head of the Workers’ Party of Korea Unified Front Department and secretary for South Korea-related affairs, had taken issue with the joint US-ROK military exercises, the demands for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons, and the South Korean media’s criticism of North Korea.
21 Cyber Command officers charged with political intervention
Maj. Gen. Baek Nak-jong, who heads the Criminal Investigation Command of the Ministry of National Defense, bows during a press conference at the ministry in Seoul, Tuesday, after announcing the result of an investigation into allegations that the Military Cyber Command launched an online smear campaign ahead of the 2012 presidential election. / Yonhap
By Jun Ji-hye
Twenty one officers of Cyber Command, including two former commanders, were charged with intervening in politics during the weeks before polling day for the 2012 presidential election, according to the investigation bureau of the Ministry of National Defense, Tuesday.
It added, however, that there was no systematic intervention at the command level or any collaboration with the National Intelligence Service to exert influence on the electoral process.
[In-depth report] Just why has Pope Francis been received so warmly in South Korea?
Posted on : Aug.18,2014 12:11 KST
Modified on : Aug.18,2014 17:39 KST
A crowd of around one-million assembled around Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on Aug. 16 for the ceremony led by Pope Francis to beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 other martyrs. The crowd occupied a stretch of around 1.5km, from Gwanghwamun to Seoul Plaza, in front of City Hall. (pool photo)
The pope has brought a rare voice of selflessness and care for the needy to an increasingly materialistic society
By Song Ho-kyun, Choi Woo-ri and Lee Jae-uk, staff reporters
“No matter how hard, unfair, and difficult things are, there’s not a single person you can trust and rely upon. Perhaps that’s why people are so excited about the pope.”
Lee Gil-won, 54, was speaking to a Hankyoreh reporter at the beatification ceremony for Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 other martyrs, which was held at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, on Aug. 16. A yellow ribbon, commemorating those who were lost in the Sewol tragedy, was pinned to his chest.
Although four months have already passed since the Sewol tragedy, the pope has not ignored the voices of the people who have nowhere to turn, including the families of those who died in the tragedy, who continue their struggle on the streets. Residents of Miryang and Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island, relatives of the victims of the 2009 Yongsan Tragedy, a violent clash at a redeveloped building, and dismissed Ssangyong Motor workers were all given official invitations to the mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on Aug. 18.
Kim Dan-a, 27, identifies herself as an atheist, but she said that the leadership vacuum may be the reason for the Pope Francis phenomenon. Kim says that she was overwhelmed when she saw the pope holding the hand of Kim Yeong-oh, who is on the 34th day of his hunger strike, before the beatification ceremony began.
N. Korea sends condolence flowers in the name of Kim Jong-un
Posted on : Aug.18,2014 17:51 KST
The wreath of condolence flowers presented by Kim Yang-gon, North Korea’s top official for relations with South, for the fifth anniversary of former President Kim Dae-jung’s death, at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, on Aug. 17.
Kim Yang-gon visited the Kaesong Industrial Complex to deliver the flowers, expressing dissatisfaction with Seoul’s policies
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter in Kaesong
North Korea sent condolence flowers and messages in the name of leader Kim Jong-un for the fifth anniversary of former President Kim Dae-jung’s death on Aug. 17. Also, North Korea complained about the government of President Park Geun-hye’s North Korea policies.
Staff from the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center (Chairperson Lee Hee-ho, also Kim Dae-jung’s widow) went to the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea to receive the condolence flowers and messages. The delegations from South and North met in the conference room of North Korea’s Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau.
The North’s delegation was led by Kim Yang-gon, head of the Workers’ Party of Korea Unified Front Department and secretary for South Korea-related affairs, along with the vice chairman Maeng Kyong-il. New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker Park Ji-won, former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, and former lawmaker Kim Hong-up, Kim Dae-jung’s second son, were the representatives from the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center.
[Kim Dae-jung] [Overture]
North Korea criticizes Pres. Park’s Liberation Day address as “trite”
Posted on : Aug.18,2014 18:06 KST
In newspaper column, North Korea reiterates position that lifting of sanctions needs to come first to improve relations
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
In a response to President Park Geun-hye’s Liberation Day address, North Korea has criticized the president’s comments as “trite”. In the Aug. 15 address, Park urged North Korea to work together on the environment, people’s livelihoods, and culture.
On Aug. 17, the Rodong Shinmun, the official newspaper of the Korea Workers Party, published a signed column titled, “Can You Open the Doors of Cooperation without Removing the Lock of Confrontation?”
“President Park‘s address only reiterated her trite arguments without offering any intelligent solutions to the issues affecting inter-Korean relations. It was only pretense with no substance, and it was trite in its repeated attempts to shift the blame. Nowhere in the address was there a trace of a sincere or serious attitude about actually resolving the problems of inter-Korean relations,” the column said.
“The road to inter-Korean cooperation is blocked off by the May 24 measures, which are inherently opposed to reunification. As long as these measures are left in place, it doesn’t make sense for Park to speak about making progress on the environment, people’s livelihoods, and culture,” the column continued.
Through these comments, the North appeared to be taking issue with the fact that Park said in her address that preparation for reunification was a duty that could no longer be delayed while refusing to adopt a forward-looking position on major unresolved issues including lifting the May 24 measures and resuming tourism to Mt. Keumgang.
The column also is notable for referring to President Park as “the ruler of South Korea.” When inter-Korean relations were at a low point since Park was inaugurated as president of South Korea, Pyongyang sometimes used expressions such as “puppet ruler” and “political whore.”
[Park Geun-hye] [Ploy] [Sanctions]
Kim Jong Un Sends Wreath to Bereaved Family Members of Kim Dae Jung
Kaesong, August 17 (KCNA) -- A wreath sent by Kim Jong Un, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of demise of former President Kim Dae Jung was conveyed to his bereaved family members on Sunday.
The wreath was courteously conveyed by Kim Yang Gon, secretary of the C.C., the Workers' Party of Korea, to Kim Hong Op, son of Kim Dae Jung.
The ribbon of the wreath bore letters "In memory of late former President Kim Dae Jung" and "Kim Jong Un".
Kim Yang Gon courteously conveyed the words of profound sorrow sent by Kim Jong Un to the bereaved family members on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of demise of Kim Dae Jung.
Noting that Kim Dae Jung performed great feats on the road of national reunification, Kim Jong Un said the feats were more deeply cherished by people.
The relations between the peerless great men and Kim Dae Jung are the noblest and sincerest ones established on the road of working for the country, nation and reunification, Kim Jong Un said, hoping that the bereaved family members and those concerned of the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center would remain true to the intention of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and the intention of Kim Dae Jung.
Being excited with the message of condolence, wreath and kind words personally sent by Kim Jong Un, Kim Hong Op and those concerned of the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center extended to him the warmest thanks reflecting the warm feelings of the bereaved family members and those concerned of the center.
[Kim Dae-jung] [Overture]
North Korea rejects Park's peace initiatives
Updated : 2014-08-17 18:43 loading
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korea on Sunday rejected President Park Geun-hye's latest peace initiatives.
President Park said in Friday's Liberation Day speech that the two Koreas should cooperate to preserve their cultural heritage, and invited the North to a biodiversity conference in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, in October.
"The congratulatory speech by the leader of the South offers no solution that would improve inter-Korean relations, but merely reiterates her existing stance," stated the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party.
"As a matter of fact, there is no sincerity in her stated wish to mend cross-border ties."
The newspaper made it clear that the abolition of the "anti-unification May 24 sanctions" could bring the North back to the negotiations despite the present climate of distrust and confrontation.
[Park Geun-hye] [Ploy] [Sanctions]
NK leader sends wreath to mark ex-President's death
Rep. Park Jie-won, left, of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, shakes hands with Kim Yang-gon, director of the North Korean United Front Department, at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea, Sunday.
By Kang Seung-woo
A wreath, presented by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of former President Kim Dae-jung, is taken to one of the South Korean delegation's cars.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a wreath Sunday commemorating the fifth anniversary of the death of former President Kim Dae-jung.
Kim Yang-gon, director of the North Korean United Front Department, delivered the flowers to a South Korean delegation that traveled to the North's border city of Gaeseong.
The dictator also sent a telegram to the delegates - who included Kim's second son, Hong-eop, and four former aides including Rep. Park Jie-won of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy and former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won - expressing his condolences.
[Kim Dae-jung] [Overture]
by Marcus Noland | January 31st, 2012 | 06:21 am
Mention the name “Lothar de Maiziere” in most conversations and one will elicit blank stares. But de Maiziere, who visited Seoul in November, is actually one of contemporary history’s more interesting personages. He was elected to the parliament as a Christian Democrat in East Germany’s only free election, served as Prime Minister for 5 months, and signed the unification treaty, essentially turning off the lights on the communist system. He visited Seoul as part of a 20 person German delegation that had come to South Korea at the behest of Deputy Unification Minister Kim Chun Sig, to make sure, as German magazine Der Spiegel put it, “history repeated itself.” The three part series in Der Spiegel, by Jochen-Martin Gutsch, is well worth reading.
[Unification cost] [Germany]
Warning Shots Fired as N.Korean Fishing Boat Strays
A North Korean fishing boat crossed the de-facto maritime border near Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea on Tuesday morning but retreated after a South Korean patrol boat fired warning shots.
The fishing boat "crossed about 900 m into South Korean waters," a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said. "A South Korean speedboat reached the scene immediately and sent warning messages four times. When the fishing boat didn't respond, the speedboat fired two warning shots from a 76 mm gun."
The fishing boat then returned to the North across the Northern Limit Line.
North Korea offers proposal to reduce tensions: Indonesia
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 18:53
Jakarta: North Korea has come up with a "concrete proposal" that could reduce tensions in the region, Indonesia's foreign minister said Wednesday after talks with his counterpart from the North.
"During the discussion, I received one very specific, concrete proposal from the (North Korean) side for us to communicate to the other side," Marty Natalegawa told reporters.
He refused to elaborate but added: "I think it will be very useful to explore to try to create a new momentum to reduce the tensions in the area."
S. Korean politicians to receive condolence flowers in North Korea
Posted on : Aug.16,2014 14:11 KST
Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jeong-il at a inter-Korean summit in June 2000
Groups will travel to Kaesong to get a token to mark the fifth anniversary of former president Kim Dae-jung’s death
By Ha Eo-young, staff reporter
A group of politicians are planning to visit Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea on Aug. 17 to receive condolence flowers for the fifth anniversary of former President Kim Dae-jung’s death (Aug. 18).
The group includes New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker Park Ji-won, former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, and former lawmaker Kim Hong-up.
“We were contacted indirectly [by North Korea] on Aug. 14, and after coordinating our schedule with the Ministry of Unification, we’re set to visit Kaesong at 5 pm on Aug. 17,” said Park in a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh.
“We’re traveling with former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, the former lawmaker Kim Hong-up, who’s Kim Dae-jung’s second son, and staff from the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center,” he added.
[Kim Dae-jung] [Overture]
[Editorial] Pres. Park’s empty words in Liberation Day address
Posted on : Aug.16,2014 14:28 KST
President Park Geun-hye makes the 69th Liberation Day address at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, Aug. 15. (Blue House photo pool)
There were hopes that President Park Geun-hye would make a proposal during her celebratory address for Liberation Day that could relax the strained relations with North Korea, but she failed to do so. In addition, she only made routine remarks about Japan, which has been slow to address the problems of the past. Nor did she make a single reference to the special Sewol Law, which is the single greatest political issue in South Korea today. She only reiterated her standard position about other domestic issues, including violence in the military and stimulating the economy.
The new projects that Park offered North Korea can be summarized as follows: a cooperative waterway and forest management project, an invitation for the North to send a delegation to the Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity taking place in Pyeongchang in October, cooperation on improving the living environment in villages, and preparation for a joint cultural event on the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation in 2015.
None of these pertain to the main issues affecting inter-Korean relations. Park appears to have been trying to steer clear of the major topics of interest, namely, whether South Korea will lift the May 24 measures and resume tours to Mt. Keumgang. She did not even say anything to reduce worries about unification by absorption, which North Korea has repeatedly criticized of late.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
[Editorial] Both South and North need to change for better relations
Posted on : Aug.13,2014 16:21 KST
It is encouraging that the South Korean government is showing signs of attempting to repair relations with North Korea. However, the potential for progress is limited by the government’s current attitude. North Korea also needs to change its behavior if it genuinely wants to improve inter-Korean relations.
The South Korean government’s proposal for high-level talks with North Korea on Aug. 11 was unexpected and contained little information. According to the government announcement, the proposal expressed little more than the hope that the two sides could discuss various topics of mutual interest, including the idea of holding reunions for divided families around Chuseok (Sept. 8), the Korean harvest festival.
As for the question of whether negotiators would seriously discuss the idea of relaxing or lifting the May 24 measures and resuming tourism to Mt. Keumgang as North Korea wants, the South Korean government only said that it would listen carefully to whatever North Korea has to say on the issue.
There are clear signs that the proposal was decided hastily in advance of Pope Francis‘s Aug. 14 to 18 visit to South Korea, the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian US-ROK combined military exercises that are beginning on Aug. 18, and the Incheon Asian Games, which are scheduled for September. The date proposed by the South Korean government, Aug. 19, even overlaps with the date of the Ulchi exercises, which North Korea prefers to avoid. This approach is little different from the first round of high-level talks in February, which did not bring about an improvement in inter-Korean relations.
[False balance] [Liberal] [SK NK negotiations]
[Interview] Self-defeat and arrogance: the South Korean capitalist model
Posted on : Aug.11,2014 17:04 KST
Lee Byeong-cheon, Kangwon National University professor
Professor traces the history of capitalism as practiced in S. Korea, and argues for a new, civic progressivism
By Lee You-jin, staff reporter
“The South Korean Capitalist Model,” a recent book by Kangwon National University professor and “progressive participation economist” Lee Byeong-cheon, could well be called a history of the South Korean social economy. The subtitle of the book, published by Book World, is “Beyond Self-Defeat and Arrogance, From Rhee Syng-man to Park Geun-hye.” It’s an analysis of the 70-year history of the South Korean economy since liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945, in terms of what it calls the “South Korean Capitalist Model.”
Since the social structure theory from the 1980s and the post-Marxist debate of the 1990s, Lee has been a consistent voice for reflection on “stale progressivism” with the semiannual journal “Citizen and World,” where he has been editor-in-chief since 2002. He has no shortage of experience with being an active player in the heated debate over economic discourse. His latest book shows him making an effort to leave that debate behind and strike a balance between progressivism and conservatism. “It’s a time when we need to move beyond arrogance and self-defeat toward affirmation, reflection, and a new approach,” he writes in the foreword.
“For [South Korean] conservatives, the first Constitution’s [in 1948] idea of seeking harmony between political democracy and economic/social democracy is an inconvenient truth,” Lee said. “But the progressives have their own dilemma, with the conservatives monopolizing the perspective on the country’s success.”
[Capitalism] [History] [ROK]
Far-Left Lawmaker's Prison Term Reduced on Appeal
An appeals court on Monday reduced the prison term of a leftwing lawmaker accused of inciting rebellion from 12 years to nine.
Lee Seok-ki of the hardline Unified Progressive Party was indicted in September last year on charges of conspiring with members of a secretive cell to overthrow the government by force of arms in the event of a war with North Korea.
The Seoul High Court overturned the 53-year-old's conviction for plotting the rebellion and only found him guilty of inciting members of the cell to overthrow the democratic order.
[Repression] [Lee Seok-ki]
Lawmaker Lee Seok-ki acquitted of plotting an insurrection
Posted on : Aug.12,2014 11:47 KST
Modified on : Aug.12,2014 11:50 KST
The appeal hearing for Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki on charges of inciting an insurrection at Seoul High Court in Seocho district, Aug. 11. (photo pool)
Lee still guilty of violating National Security Law, and leading incitement of insurrection
By Kim Seon-sik, staff reporter
The appeals court in the trial of Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki acquitted him of the key charge of plotting an insurrection.
But guilty verdicts against Lee were upheld on charges of incitement to insurrection and violation of the National Security Law. The 52-year-old lawmaker was sentenced to nine years in jail, cutting three years off the sentence from the first trial, and had his eligibility to serve in the National Assembly suspended for seven years.
With its ruling, the court declined to acknowledge an actual plotting of insurrection through a so-called “revolutionary organization” (RO), but sided with the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and prosecutors with guilty verdicts on concrete actions by Lee.
The ninth criminal division of Seoul High Court, judge Lee Min-geol presiding, explained its acquittal on conspiracy to commit insurrection on Aug. 11 by saying, “It cannot be concluded that there were even the general contours of an agreement on the time of the insurrection or the division of labor, nor can it be concluded that the plotting proceeded into external preparations.”
[Repression] [Lee Seok-ki]
Seoul makes unexpected offer for high-level inter-Korean talks
Posted on : Aug.12,2014 16:48 KST
The South Korean delegation, led by Kim Kyu-hyun (front-center) to the high-level inter-Korean meeting at the Peace House on the South side of Panmunjeom Peace Village, Feb. 12. Another high-level meeting is being held today. (by Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
Two sides could discuss reunions for divided families, lifting of May 24 measures, cheering squad for Incheon Asian Games
By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
On Aug. 11, the South Korean government abruptly suggested holding a second round of meetings between high-ranking officials from North and South Korea.
“A message was sent to North Korea in the name of chief South Korean representative Kim Kyu-hyun proposing that a second round of meetings take place between high-ranking officials from both sides,” a senior government official said on Monday afternoon. Taking into account the time needed for preparations, the South Korean government proposed Aug. 19 as the day of the meeting and suggested holding it in the Unification Pavilion on the north side of Panmunjeom Peace Village. This would be a follow-up to the first round of meetings between high-ranking officials from North and South, which took place on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14.
“We told North Korea that we hope to discuss various topics of interest to both sides, including the idea of holding reunions for divided families around Chuseok,” the government also said. Chuseok, the Korean harvest festival, is on Sept. 8 this year.
S. Korea offers to hold high-level talks with N. Korea
South Korea offered Monday to hold high-level talks with North Korea next week on the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
In a fax message to Pyongyang, Seoul proposed that another round of talks with Pyongyang take place at the truce village of Panmunjom on Aug. 19, a South Korean government official said.
The South hopes to discuss a possible family reunion event on the occasion of the upcoming Chuseok holiday on Sept. 8, the official said. (Yonhap)
[Divided families] [Media]
Tiptoeing Past Vesuvius
By James Church
11 August 2014
While several other areas in the world have gone completely to hell, Northeast Asia seems only to be rumbling, like Mt. Vesuvius in a long-ago August. The situation now, as then, looks grim, but many people apparently cling to the hope that the little earth tremors and the noxious gas venting from the various fissures will stop in a couple of months, and we can go back to whatever it was we were doing. The ROK’s August 11 proposal to Pyongyang to begin high-level talks “to discuss family reunions and other pending inter-Korean issues in a comprehensive manner” seems a little like throwing a cup of water into the volcano to quiet things down.
The most curious aspect of the current moment is the juxtaposition of light and dark. So much seems to hinge on sports, not the World Cup but the upcoming Asian Games in September in Incheon. Incheon! A South Korean port city on the West Sea, the site of MacArthur’s brilliant outflanking maneuver that sent the North Korean armies reeling and in retreat for all of a couple of months until the Chinese sprang their own trap. The North Koreans have said they want to go to Incheon to attend the games. A decade ago, they took part in games in the South Korean city of Busan, a place they almost reached by other means in 1950. Their cheerleaders wowed South Korean audiences then—at the games, not in 1950—and likely would again.
On July 20, Kim Jong Un himself was cited by DPRK media as saying while at a soccer match, “The participation of the DPRK’s players in the 17th Asian Games offers an important occasion in improving the relations between the north and the south and removing distrust between them.” The substance of what Kim said was perhaps less notable than the timing and his entourage, prominent among which was Kim Yang Gon, long-time party secretary in charge of South Korean affairs who had been out of public view for an extended period.
[Overture] [Rebuff] [Joint US military] [Russia NK] [Park Geun-hye]
Pyongyang blames Seoul for deterioration of inter-Korean relations
Updated : 2014-08-09 13:32
North Korea blamed Seoul for the deterioration of inter-Korean relations Saturday, citing joint military exercises with the United States and a breakdown in talks over the Incheon Asian Games.
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), said in a commentary that Pyongyang's plan to send a cheerleading squad to the Asiad is to promote goodwill between the two sides, but Seoul has intentionally sabotaged the move and has moved to justify its actions.
The two sides have failed to see eye-to-eye on the cheerleading squad issue, especially in regards to who will pay for the group while in the country.
The paper then said that instead of embracing constructive proposals by fellow Koreans, South Korea has moved to strengthen its ties with foreign powers and has participated in military maneuvers that can only be aimed at invading the North.
The communist country has persistently referred to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian as a dress rehearsal for the invasion of the country and should be discontinued.
It then claimed that the South Korean administration is only interested in dodging challenges to its rule and is not interested in the fate of inter-Korean relations.
[Asian Games] [Rebuff] [Joint US military] [SK NK policy]
Park’s unification committee’s first meeting little more than hot air
Posted on : Aug.8,2014 15:00 KST
President Park Geun-hye presides over the first meeting of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation at the State Guest House at the Blue House, Aug. 7. (Blue House photo pool)
Officials insisting on discussing lofty ideas, instead of more pressing topics like the lifting of sanctions
By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent and Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
The first session of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation was held at the State Guest House at the Blue House on Aug. 7, with President Park Geun-hye presiding and around 80 governmental and nongovernmental members in attendance. In contrast to expectations, the topics of lifting the May 24 Measures against North Korea and holding reunions for divided families at Chuseok, the Korean Harvest Festival, were barely even addressed by the committee. This is sparking concerns that the committee will do little more than discuss lofty, unrealistic ideas while not making actual progress toward improving inter-Korean relations.
During the two-hour meeting, Park asked the members of the committee to discuss various concrete plans for implementing the provisions and the spirit of the Dresden Declaration, which she announced in February while in Germany. She also emphasized the need to devise ways for South and North Korea to cooperate on building public infrastructure, including large-scale public works projects such as connecting the transcontinental railroad and the inter-Korean railroad, along with improving the residential environment and expanding small roads.
When the president was asked whether the objective of the government’s cooperation plans for North Korea was to isolate the North or to open it up for reforms, she responded that the government will work to expand cooperation on issues that South and North Korea can begin immediately, issues that do not violate North Korean sanctions imposed by the international community.
“North Korea is opposing our proposals, but if the North continues to make a sincere effort, it will see positive change, too,” Park said.
'Two Koreas should find common ground'
Kim Hyung-deok, head of the Corea Peace & Prosperity Center
By Kim Ji-soo
A North Korean defector has stressed that South and North Korea should find common ground to improve their relations.
"The two Koreas should acknowledge that there are differences. Then they should find their similarities and begin talks from there," said Kim Hyung-deok, head of the Corea Peace & Prosperity Center.
He made the remarks in a recent interview with The Korea Times during a workshop hosted by the nonprofit Global Peace Foundation (GPF) in Seoul.
He added that the two Koreas could start from more accessible topics such as soccer, reunions of the families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and the establishment of another joint industrial park to resemble the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.
Kim fled North Korea in 1993, and trekked through three countries including Vietnam before arriving in South Korea the following year. In the process, he was jailed four times. He requested political asylum but was denied. However, he was never asked to return to the North.
After his defection, Kim became naturalized as a South Korean in 1995. He graduated from Yonsei University majoring in business and worked at various jobs, including at a large-sized corporation. He has also worked as a secretary for a lawmaker, an experience that left him weary of politics.
Hailing from Deokcheon, North Korea, he has lived in both South Korea and North Korea for about the same amount of time to know what will work.
"I know how to deal with North Koreans; they will respect anything written in document and for good reasons," said Kim. He said he believes the South still does not know how to deal with North Korea, thinking that it needs to either engage or impose sanctions on the North. He said he doesn't see the North as a threatening government per se.
Asked whether the decision by North Korea to take part in the upcoming Asian Games to be held in Incheon next month indicates a thaw in inter-Korean relations, Kim said, "North Korea has always participated in sports events when possible. This is nothing more than that," he added.
However, he added that he didn't understand why Seoul attempted to limit the number of North Korean athletes. "The government should have just told the North to pay for its expenses. That would have naturally limited the number of North Koreans attending the Asiad."
[SK NK policy] [Defector] [Overture]
Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea
Seoul/Brussels | 5 Aug 2014
In the shadow of growing North Korean threats, South Korea needs to reform its intelligence apparatus to restore public confidence while enhancing the country’s intelligence capacity.
“In case of a North Korean state collapse and a sudden unification, Seoul would have to make quick decisions to prevent a rapid deterioration of the situation”.
Daniel Pinkston, Crisis Group’s Deputy North East Asia Project Director
A series of intelligence scandals has plagued South Korea since the fall of 2012, exposing the risk of intelligence failure, the politicisation of intelligence and direct intervention by intelligence agencies in domestic politics. In its latest report, Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea, the International Crisis Group examines measures needed to reduce those vulnerabilities and explains why failure or manipulation of intelligence in South Korea could have serious consequences for security on the peninsula and beyond.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
[NIS] [Collapse] [Takeover]
[Analysis] Why is the political opposition so inept?
Posted on : Aug.2,2014 13:37 KST
Members of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy hold a sit-in demonstration in front of MBC headquarters in Seoul’s Mapo district, Aug. 1. The lawmakers had gone to MBC to investigate why the network had reported that all passengers from the Sewol had been rescued, but were blocked from entering the building. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
To have any hope of remaining relevant, opposition needs a vision and to groom young and fresh leaders
By Lee You Ju-hyun, staff reporter
“I don’t get why they won’t take what’s fed to them. There’s nothing else you can call them but inept.”
This was the verdict from a third-term lawmaker with the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP) after witnessing the opposition’s defeat in the July 30 by-elections. Since arriving in the National Assembly in 2004, the lawmaker has seen three general elections, two presidential elections, and two municipal elections. In the 2004 general election, the opposition earned a majority amid the backlash over impeachment proceedings against then-President Roh Moo-hyun. In the 2010 municipal elections, it put in a strong showing with a campaign going after the ruling party on the controversial Four Major Rivers Project and emphasizing free school meals. But it lost four of the other elections - the 2008 and 2012 general elections, the presidential races in 2007 and 2012 - and played to a tie in the 2014 municipal elections.
The inept opposition today is utterly unfeared by its rival. So how did this situation come about? A look back at a decade of disaster shows a recurring pattern, with every new situation getting the exact same reaction.
North Korea threatens to attack Cheong Wa Dae
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korea has increased its belligerent rhetoric, threatening to attack the White House as well as Cheong Wa Dae, Korea's blue house, if South Korea and the United States go ahead with their scheduled joint military drill.
"All participating forces, military bases in South Korea and overseas, the White House, the Pentagon, and Cheong Wa Dae will be targets of the North Korean revolutionary forces' advanced firepower if the military exercise proceeds," said the Korean National Peace Committee spokesman.
Seoul and Washington are scheduled to hold Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG), an annual joint combat readiness exercise, for about two weeks this month.
In addition, this year's training carries extra significance because the two sides plan to introduce their "tailored deterrence strategy" as part of intensified efforts to handle growing threats from the Kim Jong-un regime.
"The plan is a de facto declaration of a nuclear war," North Korea said. "Their franticness can lead to a collapse of inter-Korean relations and bring the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.
"U.S. and South Korean warmongers should not misjudge our peace-loving effort and patience, and stop the rehearsal for invasion."
[Conditionality] [Joint US military] [Media]
[News analysis] By-elections a disastrous defeat for opposition
Posted on : Aug.1,2014 11:31 KST
Party co-leaders resign after opposition beaten out by ruling party’s standard lines on economy
By Seong Han-yong, political correspondent and Lee Se-young, staff reporter
The results of the July 30 by-elections weren’t a victory for the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP), but a disastrous loss for the opposition. What explains the defeat? Some are pointing to low summertime voter turnout and the Saenuri’s fixed support base, but this is a wishful attempt to blame it all on contextual factors. Low by-election turnout and a fixed Saenuri support base aren’t variables; they’re constants. That’s why the opposition needs a political strategy.
Another take on the result is that the opposition’s “hold the ruling party responsible for the Sewol ferry disaster” frame lost to Saenuri’s “save the economy” frame. This logical stretch is coming from certain entrenched interests and conservative media. Without the option of using President Park Geun-hye as a marketing tactic, Saenuri simply resorted to “livelihood” and “economy” keywords out of habit. Disgust over the Sewol response is not some frame that the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) came up with. Election eve just happened to fall on the 100th day since the disaster, at a time when students at Danwon High School (which most of the victims attended) were testifying in court. Topics like “livelihood” and “the economy” are always important. Anger over the Sewol has yet to cool.
Ruling Party Sweeps By-Elections
The ruling Saenuri Party won a landslide victory in Wednesday's parliamentary by-elections, beating the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy in its traditional stronghold of South Jeolla Province.
Shocked by the defeat, the NPAD has descended into chaos as co-leaders Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil offered to resign.
The by-election was seen as a mid-term verdict on President Park Geun-hye. One of her close aides, Lee Jung-hyun, made history by becoming the first conservative candidate to win a parliamentary seat in the constituency of Suncheon and Gokseong in South Jeolla Province, a traditional stronghold of the opposition.
The ruling party swept 11 out of 15 National Assembly seats up for grabs, which will boost the number its seats to 158 in the 300-seat National Assembly, giving it a comfortable majority.
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