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Korea Was World's Biggest Arms Buyer in 2014
Korea was the world's largest arms importer of 2014, ahead even of perennial top spender Saudi Arabia. Both countries are somewhat captive markets to U.S. arms manufacturers since Washington is a particularly vital ally to both.
Korea "was the world's top weapons buyer in 2014, completing $7.8 billion in contracts," the New York Times on Saturday quoted a Congressional Research Service report.
From 2008-11, Korea ranked a mere 10th after Saudi Arabia, India, the U.A.E., Brazil, Egypt, Venezuela, Iraq, Taiwan, and Israel, and in 2009-2013 eighth after India, China, Pakistan, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and Australia.
The bulk of Seoul's purchases or some $7 billion came from the U.S., which supplied "transport helicopters and related support, as well as advanced unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles," the daily said.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said the high ranking is due to a lot of money being spent last year on large-scale projects like the F-35 fighter jets and a high-altitude drone named Global Hawk. The former was worth W7.34 trillion-worth and the latter W880 billion (US$1=W1,171).
From 2010 to 2014, U.S. weapons accounted for 89 percent of Korea's total arms imports. On the 2014 list of top importers, Iraq ranked second with $7.3 billion-worth of arms aiming to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and Brazil third because it spent big on Swedish aircraft.
The U.S. was largest exporter with $36.2 billion, up from $26.7 billion in 2013 and a 50.4 percent share of the global market. Next came Russia with a distant $10.2 billion, Sweden, France, and China.
Total above-board weapons deals last year amounted to $71.8 billion around the world, up from $70.1 billion in 2013.
[Arms sales] [Military balance]
North, South Women Meet
Submitted by KCNA on Thu, 12/24/2015 - 08:55
Pyongyang, December 24 (KCNA) -- A meeting of women in the north and the south of Korea for national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification took place in Kaesong on Wednesday.
Speeches were made by representatives of women's organizations of the north and the south.
The speakers called on the women in the north and the south to value the agreements reached between the two sides and to thoroughly implement them in order to open a fresh turning phase in improving the inter-Korean relations and achieving independent reunification.
Koreas' women call for efforts to improve inter-Korean ties
SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korean women have called for efforts to bring reconciliation and peace to the Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang's state media said Thursday.
About 60 South Korean women from 35 female activists' organizations visited the North's border city of Kaesong Wednesday for a set of cultural events with their North Korean counterparts.
The world’s largest weapons importer? South Korea
Posted on : Dec.28,2015 17:43 KST
A New York Times report on 2014 US foreign arms sales, including to South Korea. South Korea was the world’s top weapons buyer in 2014, purchasing US$7.8 billion worth of arms.
US government report reveals Seoul purchased US$7.8 billion worth of weapons in 2014, mostly from the US
Last year, South Korea was the world’s largest importer of weapons, a US government report shows, which is an inevitable result of South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s emphasis on providing a military deterrent to North Korea. This prompts the criticism that, ultimately, the only winners of this policy are the world’s arms manufacturers.
On Dec. 26, the New York Times reported that South Korea had signed arms contracts worth US$7.8 billion in 2014 - more than any other country - citing a report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).
[Arms sales] [Military balance]
Debate over size of North Korea’s army reignites
Posted on : Dec.25,2015 09:06 KST
Scholars’ estimate of 700,000 soldiers, drawn from UN census data, contradicts official South Korean government estimate of 1.2 million
2014 militaries in total troop numbers and as % of population
A number of scholars both inside South Korea and in other countries have concluded that the North Korean army is composed of around 700,000 soldiers. This is 500,000 fewer than the South Korean government’s official estimate of 1.2 million soldiers that appeared in a 2014 white paper by the Ministry of National Defense.
This is a sign that the debate among academics about the accuracy of the government’s estimates of the size of the North Korean military may be reigniting. The government has been criticized for using inflated estimates to exaggerate North Korea’s military threat.
“It can be inferred that the approximate size of the North Korean regular army is between 500,000 on the low side and 750,000 on the high side,” said Sogang University Professor Jeong Yeong-cheol in a report recently commissioned by the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee. The report was titled “Population Statistics and Social Change in North Korea: Changes in the Education System and a New Estimate of the Size of the Army.”
Has the Government Thought Through New Arms Projects?
The Defense Ministry on Sunday announced it wants to develop an unmanned stealth attack aircraft that can carry out precision strikes on North Korea's long-range artillery and mobile missile launch vehicles.
The ministry claims the drone is part of the government's "creative economy" initiative.
But it sounds suspiciously like a rehash of the so-called "Lightning" project in 2011 that aimed to develop a precision-guided ballistic missile with a maximum range of 100 km. The government said in early 2013 it has secretly completed the system capable of destroying North Korea's multiple rocket launchers and long-range artillery within five minutes after fighting escalates. A year later it was scrapped due to insurmountable technical problems.
Then there are the "Cheonmu" multiple-launch rocket system and plans to extend the range of the 155-mm howitzer rounds. The drone project has led to predictable criticism that the military is embarking on yet another costly project simply to get into President Park Geun-hye's good books by paying lip-service to her policy ideas.
When questions arose in the early phase of the Park administration over the exact definition of her "creative economy," a key Cheong Wa Dae official said, "The opposite of creativity is imitation. A creative economy refers to the pursuit of a new path without copying others."
But spending huge sums of money to develop weapons that already exist elsewhere is not very creative. Of course money should be no object when it comes to protecting the lives of citizens, but the government needs to be absolutely sure that the projects will live up to their goals.
[Military balance] [MISCOM]
S.Koreans Live 12 Years Longer Than N.Koreans
South Koreans live about 12 years longer than their compatriots in North Korea, recent figures show.
According to Statistics Korea on Sunday, the life expectancy of South Koreans is 78.2 years for men and 85 for women this year, but in North Korea it is 66 years for men and 72.7 for women.
The difference is due mainly to infant mortality rates. The number of infant deaths in the North is 22 per 1,000 newborns, 7.6 times more than the 2.9 deaths in the South.
Statistics Korea said the rate in the North could fall to 7.1 by 2055, but it would still be larger than South Korea's 0.6 by the same year.
There is also a difference in nutrition. As of 2013, South Koreans consumed 3,056 kcal of food per day, compared to a mere 2,094 kcal in the North.
The figure for the North falls short of both the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's daily recommendation of 2,500 kcal and the global average of 2,870 kcal.
Meanwhile, there were 100.1 men for every 100 women in the South, compared to 95.3 men in the North.
[N-S Comparison] [Sanctions] [Demographics]
National Police Agency head proposes limits to size of public gatherings
Posted on : Dec.22,2015 18:04 KST
Critics say the call for “standardization of the numbers of marchers” in downtown areas is simply as attempt to control popular demonstrations
Kang Sin-myeong, NPA commissioner general
The head of South Korea’s National Police Agency called the gathering of large numbers of people at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul a “public security threat in and of itself.”
NPA commissioner general Kang Sin-myeong also advocated introducing fines for “events where attendance of 5,000 people is reported and tens of thousands of people end up showing up,” a reference to the peacefully staged second Pan-National Rally for Prayer for the Quick Recovery of Baek Nam-gi, Restoration of Democracy, and Promoting Public Welfare on Dec. 5.
Critics are accusing the police of attempting to implement de facto controls on popular gatherings by declaring a Dec. 19 cultural festival at the square an “illegal (unreported) demonstration in disguise” and threatening legal action.
Police charge union leader with sedition, first such charge in 29 years
Posted on : Dec.19,2015 19:21 KST
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions president Han Sang-gyun is taken from Namdaemun Police Station to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul’s Seocho district, Dec. 18. (Yonhap News)
Civic groups and labor unions planning another large-scale rally in locations around the country, where protestors will wear “loud” masks
Police have asked prosecutors to charge Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU), with sedition, an additional charge. The decision to charge leaders of the KCTU with sedition – a crime that has lain dormant for 29 years – is likely to incite controversy.
“The extreme illegality and violence that occurred during the demonstration were not spontaneous acts by a few protestors but were rather part of a detailed plan by key leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the leaders of related organizations who had prepared for a violent demonstration. After adding sedition according to the criminal code to the other charges against Han, we handed him and his case over to the prosecutors,” the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said on Dec. 18, referring to a national rally that was held on Nov. 14.
SK chief's daughter heads home after piracy mission
The second daughter of SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won will return to Korea this week after six months in Somalia fighting pirates, Yonhap reported Sunday.
Chey Min-jung will return on Wednesday.
She was part of the Korean Navy's 19th batch of troops sent to Somalia aboard the KDX-II destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin in June.
She was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant on Dec. 1.
Chey, who became a commissioned officer in November last year, stands out among Korea's chaebol, or conglomerate, families where second and third generations follow in the footsteps of their parents. She is the first woman from the family to enlist in the military. Her grandfather is former President Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993).
Her father, who heads the nation's third largest conglomerate, is back on the job after serving part of a four-year prison term for embezzling 46.5 billion won ($39.3 million).
[Chaebol] [Roh Tae-woo] [Corruption] [Tribute]
Under Pres. Park, “A full-scale destruction of higher education”
Posted on : Dec.18,2015 15:45 KST
Students from national universities chant slogans calling for social and educational democracy during a memorial ceremony for Busan University professor Ko Hyun-cheol (in the funeral portrait), who committed suicide in August in protest of the university‘s system of selecting a president, next to Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Oct. 2. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
Recent survey of university professors indicates widespread mistrust of government’s education reform policies
“There’s no education in universities. We can’t harness any critical opinions, and so there’s just this wraithlike defeatism. It’s an embarrassment.”
This harsh assessment of the South Korean educational system was delivered by a professor at one of the country’s national universities, who claims that educational democracy has “withered” as a result of Ministry of Education pressures undermining the roles of everyone from schoolteachers to professors - and even university presidents - since the Park Geun-hye administration took office.
“A full-scale destruction of higher education has been taking place under the Park administration,” said Roh Joong-kee, a professor of sociology at Hanshin University.
One of the ministry’s moves has been a decision to reduce university enrollment numbers by 160,000 students through 2022, with a list of “underperforming universities” published last August. Whereas Park’s predecessors under the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-13) had merely used financial support as a way of pressuring universities into restructuring, the current administration appears to be adopting more coercive methods with its outlining of specific reduction targets.
[Park Geun-hye] [Education] [Repression]
The Anti-Terrorism Act of South Korea and the Controversy Surrounding It
In continuation of the story of how South Korea is fighting against international terrorism, we would like to note the discussions around the potential adoption of a special Act on the matter. This Act is supposed to create a legal platform that will enable measures to be taken for the prevention of terrorism, and the draft Act was submitted to the National Assembly 14 years ago, after the terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001. However, it has still not been approved.
This is due to the fact that the opposition forces, generally in agreement that it is necessary to adopt the Anti-Terrorism Act, oppose, however, the expansion of authorities of the National Intelligence Service. Currently, in case of a terrorist threat, a special working group is created, which is headed by the Prime Minister; but the new Act that is promoted by the governing party, envisages the creation of a counter-terrorism system, the main role in which will be taken on by the National Intelligence Service. In light of a number of scandals associated with the attempts of the security services to get into internal politics, it is perceived as an attempt to increase its authority, and most importantly, to get financing to counter the threat.
Korea Slides on World Peace Index
The World Peace Index hit its lowest level as conflict proliferated around the world. The index measures the state of peace in 143 countries based on various factors.
The index last year was 67.4 points out of 100, down 2.2 points from the previous year, the Seoul-based World Peace Forum said in a report published on Sunday.
The score was the lowest since the index was first measured in 2000.
It was affected significantly by the economic crisis in Europe and political turmoil following the tragically misnamed Arab Spring.
South and North Korea ranked 51st and 114th on the list of individual countries, each down four places. South Korea scored 72.9 points, and North Korea 56.1 points.
email@example.com / Dec. 15, 2015 13:17 KST
A time of regression: S. Korea’s democratic rankings slide
Posted on : Dec.16,2015 18:01 KST
International watchdogs drop S. Korea in assessments of democracy, at a time of political disengagement
It’s a time of regression. Basic rights are being trampled; institutions are backsliding. Political freedoms are shrinking while young people shiver in deprivation, their dreams dashed. The despairing lamentations of today‘s “Hell Joseon” - a new coinage meaning “Hell Korea” - brim with hate and hostility, while the political system that is supposed to resolve conflicts has long since fallen into a state of suspended animation. A crisis of democracy - there seems to be no other way to describe the reality today. It’s the grim landscape wrought in South Korean society today by two years and ten months of a brute force administration under President Park Geun-hye.
Intractable N.Koreans Scupper Cross-Border Talks
Talks between vice ministers from the two Koreas on Friday and Saturday collapsed after the North Korean side refused to discuss any of the issues on the agenda.
At the meeting in the border town of Kaesong, South Korea called for a comprehensive tally of all families separated by the Korean War and regular family reunions, building an eco-park within the demilitarized zone, and easing travel, communications and customs for businesspeople at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
But the North Koreans refused to discuss any of it until the South agreed to resume package tours to the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort, which until their suspension in 2008 were a substantial cash cow for the regime.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Kumgangsan] [Inversion] [Sanctions]
[Analysis] Two developments could have big repercussions on Korean peninsula
Posted on : Dec.14,2015 15:43 KST Modified on : Dec.14,2015 15:43 KST
Sudden cancellation of Moranbong concerts in Beijing happens on same day as breakdown of inter-Korean talks
South Korea’s chief representative at the recent inter-Korean talks Vice Minister of Unification Hwang Boo-gi comes into the press room at Kaesong Industrial Complex to announce the outcome of the meetings, Dec. 12. (pool photo)
Only a few hours apart on the afternoon of Dec. 11, there were two developments that could reverse the trend toward improving relations on the Korean Peninsula seen over the past few months.
One of these was the abrupt return to Pyongyang of North Korea’s Moranbong Band, just before it was scheduled to perform in Beijing in “concerts of amity between China and North Korea” (in the words of Song Tao, Head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China). The other was the breakdown of the first round of inter-Korean government talks, held for two days at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
While the two events were separate and no doubt a number of factors played a role their occurrence, they are noteworthy considering that they both resulted from decisions made by Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea.
The cancellation of the Moranbong concerts could slow or reverse the trend to normalize North Korea’s relations with China, which had accelerated after Liu Yunshan, a member of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, visited North Korea and met Kim on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) in October. In the same way, the failure of the inter-Korean government talks could weaken or erase the momentum of the agreement reached during the “two plus two” high-level inter-Korean talks held on Aug. 25.
The Juche-following “Doctors’ Plot” in the Republic of Korea
According to Yonhap News Agency, December 1, 2015 nine oriental medicine doctors and three medical students in the Republic of Korea have been charged with treason and propaganda in favour of North Korea.
The suspects are not named, but as the Prosecutors informed, the case brought against them is on charges of breach of the “National Security Act”, which prohibits promoting North Korean ideologies or speaking positively about North Korea in public.
One of the Doctors, whose identity is also withheld, (only age is known – he’s 42) is also charged with possessing a total of 527 printed materials that are classified as “benefiting the North”, including the memoir of Kim Il-sung, writings of Kim Il-sung and of Kim Jong-il and other North Korean content, promoting the ideas of Juche.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/13/the-juche-following-doctors-plot-in-the-republic-of-korea/
DPRK blames Seoul for not reaching inter-Korean deal
Xinhua, December 13, 2015
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday blamed Seoul for the breakdown of two-day vice ministerial-level talks held at the border city of Kaesong, claiming that South Korea refused to discuss several core issues.
The official KCNA news agency said that the DPRK side has "made every possible sincere effort" and offered "constructive proposals" to tackle some of the most urgent and realizable issues, such as the resumption of the tour to the DPRK's scenic spot of Mt. Kumgang and reunion of separated families from both Koreas.
But the South Korean side rejected discussion of several core issues including the resumption of Mt. Kumgang tour and made unreasonable assertions, which caused the inter-governmental talks to produce no outcome, the state media said.
South Korean media earlier reported that the senior-level dialogue, which continued for two days at the DPRK's Kaesong Industrial Complex, ended earlier Saturday without any joint press release and that the two sides also failed to reach an agreement on a schedule for the next round of talks, indicating a de-facto failure.
The two sides "did not reach any agreement," Hwang Boo-gi, South Korea's vice unification minister who led the three-member delegation, told reporters at Kaesong.
From the very beginning, the high-level talks showed signs of differences over sensitive issues such as the regular reunion of Korean families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Pyongyang has wanted the resumption of tour to the DPRK's scenic resort of Mt. Kumgang. The tour, launched in 1998, was suspended in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK solider after allegedly venturing into an off-limit area.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Kumgangsan]
Report: under current stalemate, reunification would cost US$2.2 trillion
Posted on : Dec.12,2015 12:25 KST Modified on : Dec.12,2015 12:25 KST
New research assumes reunification date of 2026; says increased economic cooperation could ease costs
The cost of Korean reunification will be an estimated 2.5 quadrillion won (US$2.2 trillion) higher if inter-Koreans relations remain in their current stalemate and only limited economic cooperation takes place than if there is full-scale cooperation, recent research findings show.
A report titled “Reunification Costs by Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Level and Their Implications” published by the National Assembly Budget Office (NABO) on Dec. 11 calculated estimates of post-2026 income changes and unification costs for North Korea under three different scenarios of inter-Korean economic cooperation over the ten years from 2016 to 2025, assuming a peaceful reunification in 2026.
The three scenarios were (1) a continuation of the current stalemate situation with only limited economic cooperation, (2) expansions of proactive humanitarian aid in terms of food, healthcare, and agricultural development assistance, and (3) combination of humanitarian aid with encouragement for economic investment in areas such as social overhead capital (highways, railways, participations in North Korean special economic district development, and expansion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex).
[Unification cost] [Absorbption]
Vice-chairman of preparation committee stresses need for “peaceful reunification”
Posted on : Dec.12,2015 12:21 KST Modified on : Dec.12,2015 12:21 KST
Chung Chong-wook, vice-chairman of South Korea’s Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation
On visit to the US, Chung Chong-wook says an absorption scenario would be an “uncontrollable situation”
The vice-chairman of South Korea’s Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation (PCUP) noted the dangers of an absorption scenario on the Korean Peninsula and stressed the need for an eventual peaceful unification while visiting the US this week.
PCUP vice-chairman Chung Chong-wook was speaking during a seminar at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. on Dec. 10.
“An absorption scenario would bring about an uncontrollable situation not only for South Korea, but even for the US,” he warned.
“Not only that, but the more important thing is the possibility it would bring disaster in North Korea,” he added.
Citing mass violence such as a slaughter of civilians by an organized military as a possible example of a disaster, Chung stressed, “What we want is peaceful reunification, and for North Korea to be a partner in efforts to bring this kind of unification about.”
Chung went on to say that the PCUP is “working toward unification on the assumption that it has to be peaceful.”
“We are aware that the path to peaceful unification is fraught with danger, but there is no other alternative,” he declared.
When asked whether the PCUP would continue to exist after the current administration under President Park Geun-hye, Chung replied, “I hope so.”
While Chung’s remarks about peaceful reunification appeared to reflect the PCUP’s position or current mood, they do not appear to have been the result of in-depth discussions with Park or the Blue House.
Meanwhile, Seoul National University economics professor and PCUP economic specialist committee member Kim Byung-yun, noting the growth in the North Korean economy over the past four years despite international sanctions, said the “current moment appears to call for engagement policy.”
By Yi Yong-in, Washington correspondent
NK delegate proposes to 'bring down walls and open big road'
The North Korean delegate proposed to "bring down walls and open a big road" at the first general meeting of the vice ministerial talks between the North and South at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, Friday morning.
"We came yesterday (to Gaeseon
The North Korean delegate proposed to "bring down walls and open a big road" at the first general meeting of the vice ministerial talks between the North and South at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, Friday morning.
"We came yesterday (to Gaeseong) and thought about ongoing projects while looking around downtown Gaeseong," Jon Jong-su, vice director of the secretariat of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, said in an introductory remark.
"The weather is cold because it is winter but anyhow, with the North and South having met, let us have a long-due dialogue. Although it is winter, let us make an effort on each part to make the warm spring sun come out."
[Overture] [SK NK Negotiations]
S.Korean Priests to Hold Mass in Pyongyang
South Korean priests are to hold mass in Pyongyang at Easter and other major feast days.
Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, the archbishop of Gwangju and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, made the announcement on Monday after visiting Pyongyang last week.
"We agreed with the North Korean side to cooperate so priests from the Archdiocese of Seoul will visit Changchung Cathedral in Pyongyang to hold mass on major Catholic holy days every year," he said.
Kim's visit at the head of a 17-strong delegation was arranged by the conference's special committee on national reconciliation.
NIS apparently wrong on “dismissal” of North Korean official
Posted on : Dec.7,2015 17:14 KST
A photo of People’s Army deputy chief of general staff and firepower command bureau director Pak Jong-chon (circled in blue) seated near North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that appeared in the Dec. 5 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
Pak Jong-chon’s recent appearance in state newspaper shows that NIS had faulty intelligence in claimed he’d been relieved of duties
A high-ranking North Korean official claimed by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to have “apparently been dismissed” in a report to the National Assembly last month is still in place, a recent photograph indicates.
The status of People’s Army deputy chief of general staff and firepower command bureau director Pak Jong-chon is raising questions about whether the agency is packaging unfiltered reports from North Korea as checked and confirmed “intelligence.”
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North Korean Workers’ Party, printed a front-page photograph on the “fourth artillery rally” in its Dec. 5. This image shows Pak seated in the same row as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un four seats over to his right.
The image suggests that the NIS was incorrect in reporting to the National Assembly Intelligence Committee on Nov. 24 that Pak had been relieved of his duties. During that meeting, the ruling Saenuri Party’s secretary on the committee, lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo, cited an NIS report claiming that Second Corps commander Kim Sang-ryong had been demoted and Pak had been dismissed.
[Canard] [NIS] [Intelligence]
Five S. Koreans' total assets are larger than North's GDP
By Choi Sung-jin
Updated : 2015-12-08 14:28
Five South Koreans are on the list of the 400 richest people in the world, announced by Bloomberg Monday.
The combined assets of the five, including Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Chairman Suh Kyung-bae of Amore Pacific, amounted to 40 trillion won ($34.6 billion), exceeding North Korea's gross domestic product last year.
Also on Bloomberg's billionaire list are Lee Jay-yong, Chung Mong-koo and Chey Tae-won, who are running Samsung Electronics, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group and SK Group, respectively.
The five Koreans' total worth, including stock and cash, reached 40.17 trillion won, 18.3 percent more than North Korea's nominal GDP of 33.94 trillion won in 2014, as seen in Statistics Korea's data. Their assets also accounted for 2.7 percent of South Korea's GDP.
Korea to Develop Stealth Attack Drone
Seoul hopes to develop an unmanned stealth attack aircraft that can carry out precision strikes on North Korea's long-range artillery and mobile missile launch vehicles, according to a source.
The military source said the government has selected 31 defense projects for research until next year, including a tactical strike system using stealth drones.
The drones would avoid radar detection and carry out strikes on North Korea's long-range artillery, mobile missile launchers and multiple rocket launchers. They would also be capable of carrying out kamikaze missions on large targets. To strike smaller targets, they would fire several submunition rounds that can identify targets with sound and heat sensors.
The military is already developing medium-altitude drones that can fire missiles at targets, but they lack a stealth function and cannot stay in the air for a long time behind enemy lines.
The Defense Ministry plans to work out a concept for the drones' operations by next year and deploy them warfare-ready by the mid-2020s.
The Agency for Defense Development has a budget of W380 million for the first stage of research (US$1=W1,161
Military to develop stealth unmanned aerial vehicles
By Rachel Lee
Korea plans to develop stealth unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to counter North Korea's long-range artillery and mobile missile systems, the military said Sunday.
The development program is part of 31 research projects scheduled to be conducted by the end of next year, officials said. The stealth UAVs, if developed, will be tasked with monitoring and destroying the North's mobile missile systems and long-range artillery.
The stealth UAVs will fly at higher altitude than North Korea's aerial defense systems are capable of targeting and attack the North's long-range missiles and mobile missile systems, including 240mm multiple rocket launchers and 170mm self-propelled guns. The targets also include Scud, Rodong and Musudan missiles.
Doubts grow on NIS reports about NK officials
By Choi Sung-jin
Unlike recent reports from the National Intelligence Service, the status of Park Jeong-cheon, deputy chief-of-staff of the People's Army in North Korea, remains undiminished.
The Rodong Shinmun, the voice of the North Korean Workers' Party, carried a photo in its Saturday issue showing Park seated in the same row as Kim Jong-un. Park, like other officials, was seen jotting down Kim's remarks about North Korean artillery.
The South Korean spy agency reported last month that Park appeared to have been dismissed, taking responsibility for failing to cope effectively with South Korea's response during the landmine crisis in August.
Hwang Byeong-seo, the No. 2 man in North Korea, about whose status the NIS also raised questions recently, was also at the Saturday event.
Some diplomatic watchers have expressed concern about the NIS's reckless intelligence about North Korea, saying that not only will it weaken people's trust in the top spy agency but adversely affect the inter-Korean relationship.
Equally problematic are the lawmakers who disclose the intelligence to news media even before the politicians verify the authenticity.
"It is not proper for legislators belonging to the Intelligence Committee to immediately convey NIS reports to the media," said Professor Moon Jung-in of Yonsei University. "It is necessary to enhance the parliament's role in verifying the intelligence"
[Canard] [NIS] [Intelligence]
[Editorial] The debate over one rally shows just how far S. Korean democracy has fallen
Posted on : Dec.5,2015 14:35 KST
Farmers and citizens wear masks at the front gate to Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul’s Jongno district praying for the recovery of farmer Baek Nam-gi, on Nov. 28, the day that President Park Geun-hye compared mask-wearing protesters to ISIS. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
The mere fact that we’ve been having a fierce debate over whether or not it’s okay to hold a single rally shows just how far South Korea has slid in historical terms since the current administration took over. Court decisions have confirmed that assemblies and demonstrations are a Constitutional right, not something the administration can arbitrarily decide to ban. It is only right, then, that the pan-national rally is going ahead today.
Given all the headaches in getting the rally to happen, we need to make the most of it. The popular indignation rally on Nov. 14 was a huge gathering of rare proportions, yet the main focus was on the secondary question of why violence was used, rather than the essential question of why so many people had gathered in the first place. The administration and conservative media led the way in distorting the issues, and the police used every weapon in their arsenal to try to ban today’s event. Their attempts failed, and now we are free to go back to the basic question.
The biggest reason so many people are flooding the squares is because of their anger with the one-sided way the administration is running things.
NK defectors' happiness fades after 10 years
North Korean defectors who settle in South Korea find life drastically less satisfying after 10 years, Yonhap reported Thursday.
Citing a Korean Institute of National Unification report, defectors rated life in the South after 10 years 2.73 points out of four. The report surveyed 240 people.
Initially, those who settled into the capitalistic society saw contentment grow to 3.07 points after four to six years from 3.06 in the first three years or less. After seven to nine years in the South, they rated life at 2.99 points.
The report said former North Koreans found adapting to the capitalistic notions of labor, competition, distribution, merit-based society and private property difficult.
There are about 27,500 defectors living in the South.
Kim Jong-un's Aunt to Sue Defectors for Defamation
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's aunt is suing several prominent defectors for defamation in Seoul, her lawyer Kang Yong-suk said Tuesday.
Ko Yong-suk, the sister of Kim's mother Ko Yong-hui, looked after Kim when he was at school in Switzerland. She has been living in the U.S. since she sought asylum there in 1998.
The lawsuit was filed after discussion with her husband, Lee Kang, who also goes by the name of Park Kun. During a recent visit to Seoul, Lee handed Kang copies of his and Ko's passports and signed a power of attorney.
Ko and Lee are suing three defectors who have often appeared on South Korean TV. The couple demand W10 million (US$1=W1,159) from each of them for claiming that Ko's father worked for the Japanese occupiers and that she was behind the expulsion of Kim Jong-nam, Kim’s older half-brother who now lives in China.
In civil lawsuits a lawyer can attend court hearings on his client's behalf. Even foreign nationals can file a lawsuit with a Korean court if they can prove that they suffered damages from illegal activities in the country.
S. Korean Catholic bishops delegation to visit North Korea
Posted on : Dec.1,2015 17:05 KST
Three-day visit to be forum for discussion on increasing inter-Korean cooperation and exchange
A delegation from National Reconciliation of the Korean People, part of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of [South] Korea (CBCK), will visit North Korea from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4. The committee received an official invitation from the North Korean Catholic Association.
A total of 17 people will join the delegation to North Korea, including Archbishop Hyginus Hee-joong Kim, Bishop Kim Un-hoe, chair of the Committee for National Reconciliation, and Archbishop Cho Hwan-gil and Bishop Lee Gi-heon, both of whom are also committee members. The delegation will be led by Archbishop Kim Hui-jung, who is the president of the CBCK.
The trip to North Korea - which marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule and the division of the peninsula into North and South - is intended to foster discussion about continuing forms of cooperation and exchange, including repairing Changchung Cathedral in Pyongyang, and interaction between Catholics from North and South Korea with the goal of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
[Inter Korean] [Religion]
In South Korea, a Dictator’s Daughter Cracks Down on Labor
The government has banned a massive rally scheduled for this weekend, but activists are vowing to defy the order.
Following in the footsteps of her dictator father, South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, is cracking down on labor and citizens groups opposed to the increasingly authoritarian policies of her ruling “New Frontier” party known as Saenuri.
The situation could reach a critical point this weekend, when tens of thousands of workers organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) join forces with farmers, students, and other civic organizations in a national action in Seoul to protest Park’s conservative labor, education, and trade policies.
On Saturday, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency banned the march, with Park’s Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong vowing to “uproot illegal and violent demonstration…no matter how much sacrifice is required.” Meanwhile, the president herself equated the protesters—some of whom wear masks as protection from riot police—to terrorists.
“Given that the extremists of the Islamic State group hide their faces, we should ban demonstrators from wearing masks in the future,” Park said, before flying off to Paris for this week’s Climate Change Conference. She last visited Washington in October, when President Obama, her country’s strongest ally, promised that the United States “will never waver” in its commitment to South Korea.
But inside Korea, her actions have brought back memories of her father, General Park Chung Hee, who seized power in 1961 and ruled with an iron hand until he was assassinated in 1979 by the director of the country’s equivalent of the CIA.
[Park Geun-hye] [Labour] [Repression]
An interview with Li Ryon Geum in Pyongyang
Date: December 1, 2015
Written by: Rowan Beard
After watching the video of a mother pleading to be allowed to be reunited with her daughter in the DPRK after four years of separation; we wanted to help get her daughter’s message back to her mother in South Korea. Aram Pan of DPRK 360 and Young Pioneer Tours teamed up to achieve this. We found her daughter in Pyongyang, updated her on her mother, and we recorded a very special video. Please enjoy and share.
Many NK defectors resort to selling sex in South
By Jun Ji-hye
A considerable number of female defectors from North Korea have become sex workers here after experiencing difficulties adjusting to life in the South, according to media reports.
KBS, a state-run broadcaster, aired a program on Sunday night about the plight of some 40 to 50 female defectors who work at "ticket dabangs," coffee shops that illegally sell sex, in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Some of these places are owned by North Korean defectors.
The women are usually in their late 30s to mid 40s. The clients, mostly in their 50s to 70s, are not only residents of Hwaseong, but travel to the town from other regions.
The women spend time with clients in karaoke and go to motel rooms with them as well as delivering coffee, which is the ostensible business activity.
A female defector told the program that each client pays 25,000 won ($22) per hour for singing together in karaoke rooms. Another woman asked for a more than 100,000 won to provide sexual services when a member of the production crew disguised as a client contacted her.
It was already known that ticket dabangs recruiting female North Korean defectors are also prevalent in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.
The women said that they used to work at normal companies or work as waitresses in restaurants after they defected, but their monthly salaries of some 1.3 to 1.7 million won was not enough to maintain their livelihood and support their family members left behind in the North.
The war over history in South Korea
The crisis surrounding the attempts to create a standardised history textbook for secondary schools and universities in the Republic of Korea is still ongoing. Protests against the state policy in this sphere even served as a reason for the opposition’s short-term boycott of the sessions of the National Assembly and became one of the battle-cries of the mass anti-government demonstration that took place in the Seoul city centre on November 14, 2015. We will provide more detailed information about that later. As the chairman of the opposition party, Moon Jae-in announced, if the decision to create the standardised textbook is not retracted, Korea’s population will embark on mass protests, moreover, due to the fact that the plan for the preparation of the standardised textbook was approved two days before the end of the 20-day period when the citizens’ opinions about the need to create it were being gathered. The Director of the Department of Education in Seoul, as well as teachers’ associations, including the All-Korea Teachers’ Union all spoke out against the standardisation of textbooks. The statement was signed by more than 21 thousand teachers. In connection with this, the Ministry of Education stated that the actions of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union violate the neutrality of educational institutions.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/01/the-war-over-history-in-south-korea/
One gov’t critic now feeling the brunt of “politics of vengeance and retribution”
Posted on : Nov.30,2015 20:11 KST
Man detained and charged with defaming president after scattering leaflets critical of the president
On Feb. 16, a poet named Byeon Hong-cheol, 46, and another individual, surnamed Shin, 34, scattered 40 or so leaflets in front of the Saenuri Party offices in Daegu with the message, “Is she trying to play up security risks in order to cover up rumors about a tryst with Chung Yoon-hoe? Compared to Park Geun-hye, Lee Myung-bak was a pretty good president!”
After throwing the leaflets on the floor and taking a picture of them, Byeon and Shin picked the leaflets back up and left. After that, they uploaded the picture to Facebook.
As the two explained - and as is implied by the fact that they removed the leaflets themselves - they were not trying to distribute fliers to passersby so much as to put on a kind of “performance” showing their criticism of President Park Geun-hye.
Byeon and Shin thought they had collected all of the leaflets, but some of them were blown away by the wind. A parking attendant found one of the leaflets nearby and reported it to the police. The Daegu Suseong Police Department launched an investigation.
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