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Park takes nation for ride back to past
By Kang Seung-woo
Are we hurtling back to the 1970s when a head of state was equivalent to a king or queen endowed with almost unlimited power?
Certainly, President Park Geun-hye, who was elected through a popular vote, was expected to be the last person to emulate such an anachronism.
However, judging by Park's fight with her former loyalist, people could think they are back in an era when democracy was sacrificed for the purpose of economic promotion.
While vetoing a revision bill for the National Assembly Law, Thursday, Park slammed the Saenuri Party leadership — particularly floor leader Rep. Yoo Seong-min — and denounced the bill as unconstitutional. Cheong Wa Dae and Park's followers have been eager to force Yoo out, holding him responsible for the feud between the presidential office and the party.
Military Marks 13th Anniversary of Naval Skirmish
Politicians and other luminaries attended a ceremony on Monday marking the 13th anniversary of the Yeonpyeong Naval Battle at the Navy's 2nd Fleet headquarters in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
The clash is currently being glorified in the slick, partly crowdfunded film "Northern Limit Line."
More than 700 guests included the families of the sailors who died in the skirmish on the West Sea as well as surviving crewmembers, Defense Minister Han Min-koo, the heads of the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, and Gyeonggi Province Governor Nam Kyung-pil.
A bereaved mother strokes a monument during a ceremony on Monday for sailors who died in the 2002 naval clash near the border island of Yeonpyeong in the West Sea. A bereaved mother strokes a monument during a ceremony on Monday for sailors who died in the 2002 naval clash near the border island of Yeonpyeong in the West Sea.
"The sailors clearly demonstrated our proud history of letting no one cross an inch of our maritime border," Han said. "They move us emotionally and give a life lesson to remember. And their spirit continues to thrive in our hearts every day."
It was the first time an incumbent defense minister delivered a speech at the anniversary of the skirmish that left six South Korean sailors dead and 18 wounded. Thirteen North Koreans died.
Previously the government opted for low-key events to mark the anniversary, partly for fear of agitating the North, which does not acknowledge the Northern Limit Line.
Two skirmishes took place near the Northern Limit Line after North Korean patrol ships crossed it and opened fire on South Korean vessels. The other was on June 15, 1999.
'Northern Limit Line' Draws More Than 1 Million Viewers
The movie "Northern Limit Line," which depicts a bloody naval skirmish with North Korea 13 years ago, has drawn more than 1 million viewers in the first four days of its release.
The movie took the No. 1 spot at the box office on Saturday with over 437,000 viewers. On Sunday it drew another 400,000, surpassing a total of 1 million.
High school students enter a cinema to watch High school students enter a cinema to watch "Northern Limit Line" in Incheon on Sunday.
A spokesman for distributors NEW said the feat was particularly striking since this is a slow season in the movie industry.
The spokesman added "Northern Limit Line" is pulling crowds at the same rate as previous box office hits "Masquerade" (2012) and "Ode to My Father" (2014), both of which attracted more than 10 million viewers.
Many people are going to see the movie in groups. CGV movie theaters said the chain is getting inquiries about group reservations for parties ranging in size from 20 to 80."
"I was surprised to see the move raise W30 million in funding from supporters just a few days after we launched a crowd funding effort to produce it. And now I'm surprised again," said director Kim Hak-soon (US$1=W1,120).
Only 2% of Seoul's Foreign Aid Went to N.Korea
South Korea gave W56.6 billion in humanitarian aid to North Korea over the past five years, less than two percent of the W3.37 trillion it provided in Official Development Assistance to other countries over the same period (US$1=W1,120).
Seoul gave W2.267 trillion to 70 developing countries last year. Some W36.7 billion went to Sri Lanka, more than twice as much as to North Korea.
But Sri Lanka's per-capita GDP stood at US$3,153 in 2013, more than five times more than North Korea's.
Many countries that get generous aid from South Korea are better off than North Korea. Azerbaijan and Colombia for instance have a per-capita GDP of more than $7,000.
While aid to foreign countries increases every year, aid for the North has been declining from W198.3 billion in 2007 to W14.1 billion last year. It fell to a low of W2.3 billion in 2012.
Meanwhile, the international community gave North Korea W330.7 billion in aid over the last five years, including W36 billion from Switzerland and W25.9 billion from Sweden. The two countries have no political interests in the North.
The situation is the same for South Korean charities. World Vision and Good Neighbors for instance spent W419.3 billion to help African countries in 2013 but only W5.1 billion on North Korean aid.
Some experts warn that Seoul cannot afford to neglect North Korea if it wants to rein in the cost of reunification.
One staffer at the Korean NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea said, "This is like ignoring our own backyard while cleaning up somebody else's."
Former first lady could visit North Korea and meet Kim Jong-un
Posted on : Jun.27,2015 16:51 KST
Modified on : Jun.27,2015 16:51 KST
Lee Hee-ho, widow of former president Kim Dae-jung
South Korean government now mulling permission for meeting that would be scheduled for June 30
The North and South Korean sides are scheduled to meet at Kaesong on June 30 to discuss plans for Lee Hee-ho to visit North Korea. Lee is the widow of former president Kim Dae-jung (in office 1998-2003) and the chair of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center.
“Five South Koreans including director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center and former Culture Minister Kim Seong-jae and Secretary-General Yun Cheol-gu will be visiting Kaesong at 10 am on June 30 to meet with North Koreans including Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee Vice Chair Maeng Kyong-il,” a spokesperson for the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center told the Hankyoreh over the phone on June 26.
“We are planning to propose that Lee Hee-ho visit North Korea before Aug. 15 and meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.”
On Friday, the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center asked South Korea’s Unification Ministry for permission to visit Kaesong in North Korea.
[Kim Dae-jung] [Peace effort]
Young People 'Would Run if N.Korea Attacks'
Four out of 10 Seoul residents would simply flee to another country if another war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, a poll suggests. Also, more than 60 percent of Seoul residents said they have no idea what the instructions are in the event of a war.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government surveyed 3,039 residents earlier this month and found that 36.2 percent would escape to a safer place, while 5.6 percent said they would leave Korea. Only 11.6 percent said they want to take up arms to defend the country, and the remainder would be willing to give the military some auxiliary support
Viewers look at posters of the film Viewers look at posters of the film "Northern Limit Line" at a theater in Seoul on Wednesday.
Responses varied according to age group. Among teens, 63.7 percent said they would flee, and so would 60.2 percent among people in their 20. Only 9.1 percent of teens and 13.1 percent of 20-somethings said they would head to the battlefield.
People in their 50s or older were made of sterner stuff or more conservative disposition with 73.8 percent saying they would help the forces directly or indirectly
The survey shows Seoul residents were poorly equipped for an emergency. Only 34.4 percent said they have a rough idea of what steps they need to take in the event of a war, and only four percent said they knew exactly.
The remaining 60 percent said they vaguely recall the manual or are completely unaware.
[Military balance] [Public opinion]
[Editorial] To address human rights, improve inter-Korean relations
Posted on : Jun.24,2015 17:55 KST
Modified on : Jun.24,2015 17:55 KST
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (center) and other participants applaud at the opening ceremony for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul, June 23. Second from the right is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. (by Lee Jong-geun, staff photographer)
The United Nations opened a North Korea human rights office in Seoul on June 23. It’s the institution’s first local office for examining the North Korean human right situation and developing measures to improve it. As predicted, North Korea has been up in arms over the opening. It’s a sign that the goal of promoting human rights in the country will not be easily met.
The government in Pyongyang recently said that it would “regard the insistence on establishing a human rights office in Seoul as an overt declaration of war” and threatened to “use all means and methods available to mercilessly punish it.” It also cited the office’s opening as one of its reasons for not participating in the Gwangju Summer Universiade athletic event next month.
This attitude looks likely to deepen the gulf between North Korea and the international community. The opening of the office is a follow-up measure to a Feb. 2014 report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which concluded from a yearlong study that crimes against humanity were taking place in the North. Human rights are a universal value, and Pyongyang needs to reason that the international pressure is only going to grow the more it denies its human rights problems.
It’s also important how the international community chooses the address the human rights issue. Brute force will only increase the chances of conflict, and could make the human rights situation worse for people in North Korea.
[Human rights] [Softwar] [Inter-Korean relations]
When North Koreans Go South, Some Go Professional
By Jason Strother
25 June 2015
When Park Gun-ha defected to South Korea in 2005, he first hoped to find a well-paid farm assignment separating newly hatched male and female chicks. But, like many other moments in his life, things did not go as planned and the former North Korean customs officer instead migrated to Thailand to sell cosmetics. He was later deported back to South Korea, where he began studying in Seoul to become an electrician.
Yet another unexpected career turn placed Park at the helm of a Seoul-based activist group called the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS). When he testified with 20 other refugees at the UN General Assembly in New York earlier this year in April, a North Korean envoy tried to interrupt the witnesses and started a shouting match.
“North Korea is scared of what we are saying, so they’re threatening us,” the 52-year-old said of the fight. “To do this kind of work you have to be passionate and have expertise.”
Park and NKIS are part of a cottage industry of North Korean defector-run associations in South Korea. Their raison d’être is to protest the Pyongyang regime and advocate for the over 28,000 North Korean refugees who have resettled south of the DMZ since the Korean War’s 1953 armistice, the overwhelming majority arriving in just the past 15 years.
[Refugee reception] [Defector industry]
Seoul to Help Drought-Stricken N.Korea
South Korea is willing to offer support to North Korea which is suffering from what it claims as the worst drought in a century, the Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said Wednesday.
"South Korea is willing to provide necessary support to the North to promote cooperation, just like helping a friend in need," he said.
He also expressed his hope for talks to improve bilateral relations.
"South Korea is ready to talk with the North to improve the strained inter-Korean relations, but North Korea doesn’t appear to be very enthusiastic," he added.
Battleship movie explodes onto screens
A scene from "Northern Limit Line" / Screen capture from YouTube
"Northern Limit Line," which depicts conflict between South and North Korean battleships in June 2002, has pushed aside other movies in ticket sales after opening on Wednesday.
The drama topped the box office on the day with an audience of about 153,000, according to the Korean Film Council.
The movie, directed by Kim Hak-soon, portrays the 25-minute battle between four South Korean battleships and two North Korean battleships that had infiltrated the West Sea across the northern limit line (NLL) and sailed south to near Yeonpyeong Island. Six South Koreans died in the battle and 19 were wounded.
Navy soldiers are watching "Northern Limit Line" premiered at the Navy 2nd Fleet Command Center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. / Yonhap
Reaction to the movie has been mixed. While some praised its actors, others criticized the screenplay.
They questioned whether a TV news clip that shows late former Korean President Kim Dae-joong visiting Yokohama, Japan, for the 2002 FIFA World Cup final reflects the director's political bias.
N. Korea sentences two S. Koreans to life in prison
Posted on : Jun.24,2015 17:43 KST
Modified on : Jun.24,2015 17:43 KST
South Korean national Kim Kuk-ki during a press conference in North Korea where Pyongyang claimed that Kim and another South Korean, Choi Chun-gil had been arrested for spying in North Korea, Mar. 26. South Korea’s Ministry of Unification denied that the two men are spies and asked that they be deported to South Korea as soon as possible. North Korea now has a total of four South Korean detainees, after a missionary priest was detained in Oct. 2013 and on May 2 North Korea announced the detention of one university student. (Kyodo/Yonhap News)
Announcement apparently retaliation for S. Korea permitting the opening of an office in Seoul to monitor N. Korea human rights
North Korea sentenced Kim Guk-gi, 61, and Choi Chun-gil, 56, two South Korean citizens that it had detained, to life in prison.
“Kim Guk-gi and Choi Chun-gil, spies and agents for the puppet regime who were apprehended while plotting and spying against the Republic under the control of the Americans and their puppet regime in South Korea, were tried in the Supreme Court and sentenced to life in prison,” the Korean Central Television (KCTV), North Korea’s state news broadcaster, said on June 23.
Analysts believe that the verdict was a response to the establishment in Seoul of a UN office for North Korean human rights on the same day.
The South Korean government expressed its regret about the sentencing. “By unilaterally carrying out a show trial without any kind of prior notification to the South Korean government or to the families of the accused and by unfairly sentencing them to life in prison, North Korea is in flagrant violation not only of international practices but also of human rights and the humanitarian spirit,” said a statement released by the spokesperson of the Unification Ministry.
This past March, North Korea announced in a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report that it had arrested Kim, a missionary, for espionage. North Korea accused Kim of being hired by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) while he was running an underground church in China to provide information about the routes used by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to move through China.
The KCNA reported that Choi had also been hired by the NIS to purchase North Korean military uniforms for South Korean commandos to wear when infiltrating North Korea.
Human rights commission sides with police who impeded Sewol fasting and meetings
Posted on : Jun.24,2015 17:48 KST
Modified on : Jun.24,2015 17:48 KST
Police told participants to remove paper signs, which the commission then ruled was an act of their own free will
Priests and nuns with the Catholic Priests‘ Association for Justice (CPAJ) held daily fasting and prayer meetings last August calling for an investigation and special law on that April’s Sewol ferry sinking, which claimed over 300 lives. After the meetings ended, they would walk 1.5 km to Seochon Gallery to look at work by one of the victims, a Danwon High School student and aspiring designer named Park Ye-seul.
On four separate occasions, police blocked the priests, nuns, and civic group members along the way. By traveling in a group wearing 8-1/2" x 11" pieces of paper, reading “Sewol tragedy fasting and prayer meeting” and “One-day public fast,” they charged, the participants were engaging in an “illegal unreported march.”
[Sewol] [Human rights]
N.Korea to Boycott Summer Universiade in Gwangju
North Korea has told the hosts of the upcoming Summer Universiade in Gwangju that it will boycott the event for political reasons, organizers said Monday.
In an email to the organizing committee, North Korea said it is cancelling plans to send athletes due to the opening of the Seoul office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday, which will monitor and document human rights abuses in the North.
Thousands Crowd Preview of Cross-Border Skirmish Flick
Thousands of people flocked to pre-screenings Monday of a movie about a bloody naval skirmish with North Korea 13 years ago.
One preview of "Northern Limit Line" based on the second naval clash in the border island of Yeonpyeong in the West Sea in 2002 was held at the 2nd Fleet base in Pyeongtaek south of Seoul, where some 2,000 military staff gathered.
The film resonated particularly with sailors stationed at the 2nd Fleet.
On June 29, 2002, two North Korean patrol boats crossed the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea and attacked two South Korean patrol boats that warned them to turn back. Six South Koreans and 13 North Koreans were killed.
Book depicts life of military leaders
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Choi Yoon-hee, second from right, patrols along a barbed wire fence near the border with North Korea, Wednesday. Military commentator Kim Jong-dae, in his new book "Desperate Generals," sheds light on the power struggle among military generals. / Yonhap
It is clear that the military has played an important part in Korea's modern history ? it cultivated a brilliant and respectable group of military leaders who sacrificed themselves to defend the country during the Korean War and Cold War.
Today, however, amid the rampant military corruption, many ask, "Does Korea still have good military leaders? In all seriousness, can we consider the incumbent generals as true patriots?"
Kim Jong-dae, who has been commenting on military issues for over two decades, attempts to answer those questions in his new book "Desperate Generals," in which he sheds light on how some military generals in the country, which is still in a quasi-state of war with the North, have been engaged in groupism and power struggle in his new book "Desperate Generals."
In the book, the former defense official for the Roh Moo-hyun administration and the chief editor of the monthly military magazine Defense 21 Plus, tells the story of past and present military generals based on his interview with them.
Defense Ministry Wants Budget Over W40 Trillion
The Defense Ministry is asking for a 7.16-percent increase in its budget for next year, making it over W40 trillion for the first time (US$1=W1,120).
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday said it asked the finance ministry for W40.14 trillion for next year, up from W37.456 trillion this year.
It wants to spend W1.57 trillion on a preemptive defense against North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles.
Reflecting the government's policy to increase the birthrate, the ministry will give conscripts with children a childcare stipend of W200,000 a month.
President Park Geun-hye has promised to double the pay of conscripts during her term, and the monthly pay of a corporal will rise to W178,000 next year.
email@example.com / Jun. 18, 2015 11:59 KST
[Military expenditure] [Preemptive]
N.Korea Sends Back 2 S.Koreans
North Korea on Wednesday handed over to the Unification Ministry here two South Koreans who had trespassed across the Chinese border in May.
Ministry officials took over the couple at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, a ministry spokesman said.
They are a 59-year-old man identified as Lee and his 51-year-old wife identified as Jin who went missing while traveling in the border area.
"The government will check their health and find out why and how they entered the North in the first place," the spokesman added. "No investigation has been conducted yet."
On Monday, the North Korean Red Cross sent a fax announcing it would return the couple, who "illegally entered" the North.
It is rare for the North not to hold back South Koreans who cross the border for a long time.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Pyongyang decided to send them back home from a "humanitarian point of view… although they deserve legal action for their wanton violation of the law."
Supreme Court overturns case on wrongful terminations of journalists
Posted on : Jun.17,2015 17:37 KST
Modified on : Jun.17,2015 17:37 KST
With ruling, administration saves face while journalists still left trying to clear their names
The Supreme Court recently issued a number of decisions overturning a Truth and Reconciliation Commission ruling finding the Park Chung-hee regime (1961-79) and Dong-A Ilbo newspaper responsible for wrongful terminations at the newspaper in 1974 and ordering payment of damages in connection with the dismissals.
The decisions mean a victory for the state, the Park administration, and the Dong-A Ilbo in a forty-year battle by the Dong-A Committee for Free Press.
The Supreme Court’s second division under Justice Kim Chang-seok ruled on June 16 that it had overturned the original court ruling in a case filed by the Dong-A Ilbo against the state claiming its reputation had been damaged by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s false claim that it had “capitulated to the administration” in dismissing the journalists.
“While [the claim] may be viewed ultimately as illegally because of the mistaken acknowledgement of facts in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission decision, there is no evidence to conclude that the government employee in question violated objective duty of care,” the court said.
“Substantial grounds also exist to conclude that the Commissions believed in the truth [of pressure from the regime] when it announced the decision,” it added, dismissing the state‘s liability for payment of damages.
In 1974, Dong-A Ilbo journalists published a “declaration of the practice of a free press” to oppose the military government’s controls on the media. In response, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (precursor to today‘s National Intelligence Service) pressured advertisers into not buying space in the newspaper’s pages. Forced to survive off donations from the public, the newspaper dismissed or gave indefinite suspensions to 124 journalists.
[Repression] [Park Chung-hee]
S. Korean Trespassers Handed over to South Korean Red Cross
Pyongyang, June 17 (KCNA) -- A relevant institution of the DPRK intercepted south Korean man Ri Chang Ho, 58, and woman Jin So Yong, 50, who illegally entered the area of the DPRK on May 11.
Their trespassing should be handled by the law of the DPRK as it is a wanton violation of the DPRK's law but the DPRK side decided to send them back from a humanitarian stand as they frankly admitted they deliberately committed the crime and earnestly requested for forgiveness.
The chairman of the Central Committee of the Red Cross Society of the DPRK sent a notice on Monday to the president of the south Korean Red Cross in which he said the repetition of the similar illegal acts by south Korean residents might entail serious consequences.
The trespassers were handed over to the south Korean Red Cross via Panmunjom on Wednesday.
Stop the Revision to the "Guidelines for US-Japan Defense
Cooperation" that is a Threat to the Korean (Chosun) Peninsula
as well as to World Peace!
National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) Korean Christian Federation (KCF)
June 8th, 2015
"He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3 NRSV)
On April 29th, 2015 US President Obama and Japan Prime Minister Abe opened a summit
at the White House and agreed upon revisions to the "Guidelines for US-Japan Defense
Cooperation" regarding the range of Japanese self-defense forces around the world including
the Korean (Chosun) Peninsula. This amendment gives wings to the military buildup of
World War II War Criminal Japan, and we cannot cease our dismay that it utilizes a
reinforcement of US military supremacy.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [US Japan alliance] [Religion] [Joint Korean]
CCA Shares Concerns of North and South Korean Churches
June 15, 2015 | Posted by admin in News
North-South Korean Church leaders express concern over Revisions to “Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation”
The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) shares the concerns expressed by the North and South Korean church leaders about the revisions to the “Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation” which will be a threat to peace and security in East Asia.
The General Secretary of the CCA, Dr. Mathews George Chunakara commented that “the anxiety expressed by the leaders of the North and South Korean churches in a joint statement issued on 8 June 2015, is valid in Asia’s emerging geopolitical context”. He has stated that “As the U.S-Japan bilateral defense cooperation makes new provisions, the peace and security in Asia is threatened especially in contexts of Japan revising its defense posture as well as the Japanese government’s decision to reinterpret a constitutional provision to allow Japanese participation in collective self-defense”
[Japanese remilitarisation] [US Japan alliance] [Religion] [Joint Korean]
N.Korea Steps Up Coat-Trailing Across Sea Border
North Korean patrol boats have crossed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, four times this month alone.
North Korean patrol boats crossed into South Korean waters across the NLL four times this month alone, according to a report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted to Saenuri Party lawmaker Song Young-keun on Tuesday.
There had been no incursions from January through March but one each in April and May. The patrol boats were apparently adrift with engine trouble and immediately turned back when warned by South Korean Navy ships.
But the incursions this month were a different matter and gave every impression of being deliberate. On June 11, a North Korean boat crossed the NLL in a thick fog and ignored a warning from a South Korean Navy ship. It only turned tail when warning shots were fired.
N.Korea Opens Door for Cross-Border Dialogue
North Korea on Monday said there is no need for the two Koreas to avoid talks if an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation is created.
In a statement quoted by its official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean government said it is "determined to improve inter-Korean relations, which are in a serious crisis, and pave the way for national reconciliation and unity."
This was the first official approach since a surprise visit by senior officials to the Asian Games in July last year.
But the statement stipulated five conditions if dialogue is to resume: "rejecting outside forces" and seeking reunification at the will of the Korean people; no integration of different systems; an end to annual South Korea-U.S. military exercises; an end to propaganda against the North Korean regime; and removing obstacles that stand in the way of exchanges and cooperation -- likely a reference to sanctions.
In response, the Unification Ministry here urged the North to immediately stop creating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to come to the dialogue table without irrational preconditions.
In Korea, criticizing McDonald’s can make you a criminal
Posted on : Jun.16,2015 16:07 KST
Modified on : Jun.16,2015 16:07 KST
Gu Gyo-hyun, chair of the Part Time Workers’ Union
Prosecutors and police seeking arrest of union leader reeks of unfair suppression of organized labor
Is raising questions about the treatment of part-time workers at one of the world‘s ’top ten best places to work’ enough to land you in jail?
Prosecutors and police filed a second time for arrest warrant against the chairperson of the Part Time Workers’ Union, who staged a surprise demonstration at a McDonald’s restaurant. One of the grounds they gave for the request was the standing of McDonald’s Korea as one of the country‘s “best places to work” for 2015.
The police and prosecutors are now facing criticism for siding too much with the company and focusing solely on surface aspects of the law in order to get the warrant they wanted.
The union provided details on June 15 about the warrant for chairperson Gu Gyo-hyun, in which prosecutors and police described the union’s protests as “repeat offenses.” Their claim is that thirteen unannounced gatherings and demonstrations organized by Gu in front of the McDonald‘s Korea headquarters and other locations between Nov. 2014 and May 2015 constituted violation of domicile and obstruction of duties.
The new tactics appear to have been influenced by a court’s rejection of their previous warrant request for Gu on May 3. In that ruling, the court argued that “domicile requires defined, objective factual circumstances, where the alleged crime for which the warrant was requested was a single 20-minute occupation of a place of business.”
[Labour] [Human rights]
North Korea says it’s open to dialogue with the South
Posted on : Jun.16,2015 16:10 KST
Modified on : Jun.16,2015 16:10 KST
A photo of North Korean navy missile launches from the June 15 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly observed the exercises. (Yonhap News)
Seoul says North Korea is insisting on too many preconditions before holding talks
On June 15, the 15th anniversary of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration, North Korea issued a statement in which it said that the governments of North and South Korea can sit down for talks and negotiations and urged South Korea to take “real action.”
Since North Korea took the unusual step of issuing a “government statement,” a format that carries the highest degree of authority, there is hope that Pyongyang is expressing its willingness to engage in dialogue with Seoul.
Just after the release of that statement, the North Korean Red Cross Central Commitee said by fax that two South Korean detainees would be repatriated on Wednesday via Panmunjeom Peace Village.
But since North Korea is still placing preconditions on dialogue - asking South Korea to stop conducting joint military exercises with the US, to desist from slander of North Korea including the launch of propaganda balloons, and to revoke the May 24 Measures - it is unclear whether this will actually lead to the resumption of talks.
[Overture] [US Joint military]
Stand of DPRK to Bring about Landmark Turn in Improving Inter-Korean Relations Clarified
Pyongyang, June 15 (KCNA) -- The DPRK government Monday released a statement to mark the 15th anniversary of the north-south summit, the first of its kind in the history of national division, and the publication of the June 15 joint declaration.
Leader Kim Jong Il provided the Pyongyang summit and adopted the June 15 joint declaration true to the noble intention of President Kim Il Sung who dedicated all his life to the cause of national reunification. It marked a historic event which brought about a turning-point in improving the north-south relations and achieving national reunification, the statement notes, and continues:
The publication of the June 15 joint declaration made it possible for the north and the south of Korea to defuse the distrust and confrontation which had lasted for more than half century and greet a new era advancing toward reconciliation, unity and reunification by concerted efforts of the Koreans.
Had the north-south relations made steady advance along the way indicated by the June 15 joint declaration, eye-opening changes and successes would have been achieved in the drive for national reunification, the desire of the Korean nation.
[Overture] [NK SK policy]
S. Korea remains cautious on NK's dialog proposal
By Yi Whan-woo
Seoul urged Pyongyang to come to the table for inter-Korean talks unconditionally, Monday, in response to the repressive state's proposal that it is open for talks if certain conditions were met.
"The government has repeatedly made it clear that it respects all inter-Korean agreements, including the June 15, 2000 Joint Declaration," the Ministry of Unification said.
"We are also open to discuss various issues concerning the mutual interests of the two Koreas.
"We ask North Korea to come to the table for dialogue instead of making inappropriate claims as preconditions for talks," the ministry added.
The announcement came after North Korea said earlier in the day that it was willing to engage in talks with South Korea if an "atmosphere for trust and reconciliation is formed."
In its statement, Pyongyang listed several preconditions for dialogue that Seoul has repeatedly turned down in the past for being unrealistic.
It demanded that the two Koreas should collaborate "independently" on inter-Korean and re-unification affairs without "capitalizing on international powerhouses."
Korea neglects memory of provisional government
Members of the Korean provisional government pose in front of the government complex in Shanghai prior to their return to Korea on Nov.13, 1945. / Korea Times file
Historians call on commemorative projects to revive its fading legacy
By Do Je-hae
As Korea marks the 70th year of liberation from Japan, scholars and relatives of those who led the nation's provisional government are calling for commemorative projects to revive interest in the fading legacy of the historic administration.
There has been much media coverage on various aspects of Japanese rule in this landmark year in Korean history, but the activities of the provisional government have received scant attention.
Successive governments have been negligent in properly honoring the legacy of the provisional government. Advocates are hoping that this will change ahead of the centennial of the nation's interim government-in-exile during Japanese rule (1910-1945) in 2019.
The interim government was mostly based in China after it was founded in 1919. It served as the center of Korea's campaign to gain independence from Japanese occupation. The government-in-exile undertook administrative, diplomatic and military activities to gain independence.
The current government recently announced plans to refurbish the memorial halls in Shanghai and Chongqing as part of its plan to mark the 70th anniversary of independence, which falls on Aug. 15. But it made no mention of building a domestic facility for honoring the provisional government.
Maestro Chung Myung-whun Wants to Visit N.Korea
Chung Myung-whun, the musical director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, hopes to take the Staatskapelle Dresden to North Korea in November. Chung is also principal guest conductor with the German orchestra.
Chung told reporters last week, "We will perform in Seoul on Nov. 18 and 19 and plan to go to Pyongyang afterwards. Germany and Korea share similarities [such as experiences of decades of division], and it would be wonderful if the trip to North Korea is allowed."
Chung said the final decision rests with North Korea.
Founded in 1548, the Staatskapelle is one of Germany's leading orchestras, and Chung has been principal guest conductor since 2012. The same year he made his first foray into reconciliation with North Korea through music, conducting a joint concert by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, where he has been music director for 15 years, and North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra.
Chung has caused some controversy here over his high salary and suspicions of embezzlement. But he said he should be judged by his accomplishments with the Seoul Philharmonic over the last decade and added he would gladly step down if he does not deserve the pay checks. He also denied misusing the orchestra's budget for personal purposes.
He leaves the Radio France job in September but is likely to be made honorary musical director.
Inter-Korean commemorative events cancelled
Posted on : Jun.13,2015 14:27 KST
Modified on : Jun.13,2015 14:27 KST
Lee Chang-bok, the South Korea Chair of the All Korean Committee for the Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration (right) meets at a hotel in Shenyang, China with Kim Wan-su, Vice Chairman of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, where they discussed possible events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan and the 15th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration, May 5. It was the first such meeting in five years. (Yonhap News)
South and North unable to find common ground for events to celebrate 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan
The South Korean preparation committee for inter-Korean events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korean independence from Japan and the 15th anniversary of the 2000 Joint North-South Declaration officially announced their cancelation on June 12.
“With our deepest apologies, we inform the people of South Korea that we have been forced to hold the 15th anniversary events for the June 15 Joint Declaration separately in Seoul and Pyongyang,” the committee said in a spokesperson’s statement that day.
The committee blamed the decision on actions by the South Korean government.
“The chief reason [for the decision] is the continued deterioration of inter-Korean relations under the South Korean government’s policies of military pressure and confrontation,” it said.
“Reunification gatherings” that had been prepared for the commemoration are now set to be combined and downscaled into a single event to be held on June 14 at Cheondogyo Central Temple in Seoul’s Jongno District.
Joint events had previously been planned for the occasion, with the inter-Korean preparatory committee previously voting at a representatives’ meeting in Shenyang, China, on May 5-7 to hold them in Seoul.
But the fate of the events appeared sealed on June 1 when the North Korean preparatory committee, amid conflict over Seoul’s demands to “remove overtly political elements” and Pyongyang’s objections, sent a letter on June 1 proposing the holding of separate events in North and South Korea.
In its statement on June 12, the preparatory committee pledged to “make every effort to ensure that joint events are successfully held for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.”
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
[Joint Korean] [Summit00] [SK NK policy]
[News analysis] With crises brewing at home, Pres. Park had ample reason to delay US trip
Posted on : Jun.11,2015 15:34 KST
Modified on : Jun.11,2015 15:34 KST
Blue House Secretary for Public Relations Kim Sung-woo (right) and spokesperson Min Kyung-wook wait to announce President Park Geun-hye’s decision to postpone her trip to the US, at the Blue House press room in Seoul, June 10. (Blue House photo pool)
Park announced she would stay back to manage MERS outbreak, while her PM nominee is another question
In order to placate public sentiment, which has turned against the government after its poor initial response to the MERS outbreak, President Park Geun-hye played a trump card on June 10 by delaying her visit to the US.
By pushing back her visit to the US, South Korea’s most important diplomatic partner, on the pretext of public safety, Park is trying to kill two birds with one stone. She hopes to deflect criticism that she has been sitting on her hands during a national emergency while also finding a way out of a deadlock over her nominee for prime minister and a revision to the National Assembly Act.
Since Park has postponed her trip to the US to deal with the MERS outbreak, the next question is whether she will personally oversee the fight against MERS on a daily basis.
Unsurprisingly, the first reason for Park’s sudden decision to delay her trip to the US just four days before she was scheduled to depart is the steady decline in her approval rating.
Just why has MERS spread so quickly in South Korea?
Posted on : Jun.8,2015 16:32 KST
Modified on : Jun.8,2015 16:32 KST
Officials say the virus hasn’t mutated, but a few factors have contributed to a rapid spread
On June 6, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the results of an analysis showing that the coronavirus causing the current outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, in South Korea has not mutated. These findings put to rest domestic speculation that the virus had mutated to allow airborne transmission, which would made it much more contagious.
So what could have enabled MERS to spread so rapidly, infecting 64 people in just 18 days?
N.Korean Defectors Hired as Caddies After Assimilation Program
Four North Korean defectors have gotten jobs as caddies after completing a 12-week training program offered by Golfzon.
The local golf business said, they became full-time caddies and were assigned to its golf club in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province. They are the first people to participate in the program.
North Korean defectors mark their graduation from a caddie training program in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Courtesy of Golfzon. North Korean defectors mark their graduation from a caddie training program in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Courtesy of Golfzon.
The four were chosen after an interview and were taught South Korean culture, golf terms and rules for three months.
One of the defectors said, she had a hard time learning golf terms, which are rarely used in North Korea. "Now, I have got used to them so that I can naturally say 'nice shot.'"
Golfzon joined hands with the Korea Hana Foundation to launch the outreach program, which helps North Korean defectors settle in South Korea.
"We will hire more North Korean defectors and disadvantaged people for various jobs such as golf course manager and restaurant worker," the company said.
Two Koreas fail to jointly celebrate 2000 inter-Korean summit
By Yi Whan-woo
The two Koreas have failed to agree on ways of jointly celebrating the 15th anniversary of the inter-Korean summit at a civic level this year, Seoul's preparatory group said Tuesday.
According to the South Korean side of the pan-national unification preparatory committee, its North Korean counterpart said Monday that it will separately organize events to celebrate the June 15, 2000 Summit.
"The North Koreans told us in a fax message that each side will commemorate the historic day in its respective country," it said in a statement.
The civilian representatives of the two sides sought to jointly celebrate the first-ever inter-Korean summit as part of their efforts to help mend frayed relations between their governments.
Seoul, Pyongyang seek to enhance cultural exchanges
The two Koreas are stepping up collaboration on cultural matters ahead of President Park Geun-hye's visit to the United States from June 14 to 18.
Seoul and Pyongyang jointly launched a taskforce, Monday, to recover historic relics from the site of Manwoldae Palace in North Korea's border city of Gaeseong for operations through November.
The now-demolished palace is one of 12 historical sites in Gaeseong that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) put on the world heritage list in 2013 for "exhibiting cultural and political values" of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).
Civilian representatives from the two counties are also negotiating where to host a joint cultural festival to mark the inter-Korean summit on June 15, 2000.
Police arrest man who burned S. Korean flag at Sewol protest
Posted on : Jun.1,2015 16:38 KST
Modified on : Jun.1,2015 16:38 KST
Investigation ongoing into why 24-year-old man burned the flag; he says it was “spontaneously out of rage” at police
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) requested an arrest warrant on May 31 for a 24-year-old who burned a piece of paper showing an image of the South Korean flag while facing off with police who had erected a vehicle barricade at a memorial demonstration for the first anniversary of the Sewol ferry sinking.
The individual, identified by the surname Kim, is being charged with flag desecration.
South Koreans row back over North Korea anti-aircraft gun execution claim
Intelligence officials say Hyon Yong-chol has been purged from office but they are not sure he was actually machine-gunned to death
Staff and agencies in Seoul
Thursday 14 May 2015 08.01 BST Last modified on Thursday 14 May 2015 12.18 BST
Doubts surfaced on Thursday over the reported execution of North Korea’s defence chief, as the original source, South Korea’s spy agency, said it had been unable to verify he had been put to death.
Briefing a select parliamentary committee on Wednesday, the National Intelligence Service had said Hyon Yong-chol and cited intelligence suggesting he may have been executed using an anti-aircraft gun.
The grim details of Hyon’s demise dominated headlines but the NIS on Thursday stressed that his execution had not been confirmed.
“Hyon has been purged,” an NIS spokesman told AFP.
“And there are intelligence reports that he might have been executed, but this has not yet been verified.”
The Agence France-Presse news agency said the confusion was partly the result of the way NIS briefings to parliament are carried out and reported. They take place behind closed doors, after which selected lawmakers pass on the information to the South Korean media.
According to the lawmakers the NIS said Hyon was purged for disloyalty and dozing off during official events presided over by leader Kim Jong-un.
If confirmed it marks the most high-profile demise of a top Pyongyang official since the purge and execution of Kim’s powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in December 2013.
Jang’s death was confirmed by North Korean state press, but it was widely and incorrectly reported at the time that he had been fed alive to a pack of starved dogs – a version of events that turned out to have originated with a satirist.
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