ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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What’s the real reason the Sewol left port that night?
Posted on : Jun.29,2016 17:57 KST
The Sewol ferry sinking on Apr. 16, 2014. Two years and two months have passed, but the facts of the case have still not been properly revealed. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
Investigation shows the ferry was overloaded with iron bars meant for Jeju naval base, and may have left to keep the construction schedule
It has been officially confirmed that the Sewol ferry was carrying 410 tons of iron bars meant for construction at the time of the sinking. The government acknowledged that 278 tons of these iron bars were bound for the construction of the naval base on Jeju Island.
But instead of closing the case, the government’s confirmation is only stirring up more suspicions. If the investigative period of the Special Sewol Investigative Commission comes to an end on June 30 as the government intends, we will be even further away from learning the truth about the tragedy two years ago that claimed the lives of 304 people, nine of whose bodies have never been recovered.
The real reason the ferry was overloaded: how many iron bars were bound for the Jeju naval base?
The causes of the sinking of the Sewol as ruled by the Supreme Court were that the ferry was overloaded with cargo, that the cargo had not been fastened down securely enough, and that the ferry had undergone structural changes. In connection with overloading, which is one of these causes, the revelation that the Sewol was carrying a large amount of iron bars intended for use in constructing the Jeju naval base is raising new questions.
“The results of our exhaustive investigation is that the Sewol was carrying a total of 2,215 tons of cargo at the time of the tragedy even though the maximum amount of cargo it was authorized to carry was 987 tons, which means it was overloaded by 1,228 tons,” the commission said on June 27. The commission learned that iron bars accounted for 410 tons of this cargo and that a portion of these iron bars were supposed to be transported to the naval base on Jeju Island.
[Sewol] [Jeju] [Bases] [Coverup]
'N. Korea selling counterfeit money to terrorists'
By Yi Whan-woo
Updated : 2016-06-27 19:33
North Korea is suspected of working with international criminal organizations and terrorist groups to circulate counterfeit American and Chinese currencies, North Korean defectors and analysts in Seoul said Monday.
They also said the cash-strapped regime may try to expand trafficking networks in drugs, weapons, cigarettes, and counterfeit luxury goods as alternative means to generate hard currency following a series of sanctions against it.
"It will be difficult for North Korea to circulate all its super notes on its own without being undetected after printing them on a large scale," said An Chan-il, a defector who is a researcher in charge of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul.
"Its banks may use fake $100s and $50s in domestic transactions with individual customers. But it certainly would need connections with Chinese criminal organizations and Russian mafia to supply the counterfeit dollars en masse abroad."
[Counterfeit] [Canard] [Terrorism]
[Column] Let the flowers of peace bloom in West Sea waters of conflict
Posted on : Jun.27,2016 17:59 KST
Current turmoil involving illegal Chinese fishing cries out for sustained cooperation
As South Korean fishermen in the West (Yellow) Sea watch Chinese fishing boats swarm to the Northern Limit Line (NLL), they ask where our government is. Under pressure from public opinion, the government has made a show of force.
Will the government crackdown make a difference? Probably not, because the government is ignoring the bigger problem. The illegal fishing by Chinese boats around the NLL is the consequence of South Korea‘s relations not with China, but with North Korea.
The Chinese fishing vessels sail along the NLL and into South Korean waters and then escape into North Korean waters when they run into a patrol. They know full well that no North Korean patrol boats will be after them.
We need to remember the Daecheong naval skirmish in 2009. A North Korean patrol boat that approached the NLL to apprehend Chinese fishing ships was sunk by South Korean warships. A similar situation occurred in 2014.
The South Korean military’s top priority is defending the NLL. They have achieved that goal, but what is the result? Chinese fishing ships have descended on the area, taking advantage of the fact that North Korea can’t patrol it and South Korean fishing vessels have trouble getting close.
For Chinese fishermen, tension on the sea means opportunity. The heart of the issue is that it’s impossible to stop the Chinese fishing ships unless peace comes to these waters.
The waves of tension have been crashing on the West Sea for nine years now, and the fishermen are facing profound despair.
The government always talks about taking measures to help them. But talk is cheap, and what good would their measures do anyway when the fish aren’t biting and the tourists aren’t visiting?
The maritime ecosystem is rapidly deteriorating as well. When the Han River estuary’s ecosystem is disrupted, the effects go all the way to the middle of the West Sea.
The fishermen know the answer. In fact, anyone who looks at the issue rationally can see the way out. It’s no surprise that Saenuri Party lawmakers and the mayor of Incheon, who also belongs to the Saenuri Party, are talking about in inter-Korean joint fishery and an inter-Korean maritime market.
Some critics ask how the Saenuri Party can dare say such things after they scrapped the October 4 Joint Declaration. But at least they’ve come around now, and we should welcome their support.
Still, we need to be sure we understand the concept of an inter-Korean joint fishery. It would be easy to think that we could just pay the North Koreans for a fishery, but that’s not what it means. A joint fishery would turn the waters into a demilitarized zone. They would be waters of peace. The idea is to create a shared sea that does not belong to anyone.
If we insist on the solid line of the NLL, clashes will be inevitable. The only way to enable cooperation between North and South Korean fishermen is to accept the wisdom of a dotted line. The economic approach is unlikely to work on its own; peace and the economy must go hand in hand.
[NLL] [Peace effort]
DPRK proposes inter-Korean conference for reunification
Xinhua, June 27, 2016
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday proposed a conference with South Korea to discuss reunification of the Korean nation and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The proposal, in the form of a letter, was sent to South Korean authorities by the DPRK's preparatory committee for this proposed joint meeting, the official KCNA news agency reported.
The DPRK proposed a meeting either in the capital city of Pyongyang or the border city of Kaesong with the participation of political parties, organizations and personages from the DPRK, South Korea and abroad.
The date will be around Aug. 15, when both countries celebrate the anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonization.
Pyongyang also proposed a working-level contact to discuss the setup of a joint preparatory committee for such a conference, at a place to be agreed upon.
In late May, the DPRK's Ministry of People's Armed Forces under the National Defense Commission proposed twice to Seoul a working-level contact for talks between militaries of the two countries in order to defuse tensions and create confidence-building atmosphere.
South Korea flatly rejected the offer, insisting that the DPRK take denuclearization measures first.
At the ruling party's national congress in early May, the DPRK's top leader, Kim Jong Un, proposed talks at all levels with South Korea so as to remove misunderstanding and distrust.
Lawyers group says NIS went too far in keeping defectors out of Hanawon
Posted on : Jun.26,2016 07:03 KST
Group that defected from North Korean restaurant still being kept out of normal defector protocol
On June 24, MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society accused the director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of overstepping his authority by making the unusual decision to not send the waitresses who defected as a group from a North Korean restaurant in China to the Settlement Support Center for North Korean Refugees, called Hanawon.
MINBYUN said on Friday that the NIS director overstepped his authority when he made the custody decision instead of the Unification Minister, which it claims violates the National Intelligence Service Act
[Election defection] [NIS]
PM calls Pyongyang's dialogue offer 'deceiving'
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, second from left, pledges allegiance along with others attending the 66th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War held at Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Songpa-gu, Seoul, Saturday. / Yonhap
By Ko Dong-hwan
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn condemned North Korea's latest test of mid-range missiles earlier this week in his speech commemorating the Korean War that began on June 25, 1950, saying that the test proves Pyongyang's offer to hold inter-Korean dialogue is "deceiving."
Poll: fears of war in Korea have increased since Park gov’t took office
Posted on : Jun.24,2016 13:59 KST
Responses also show that among young people a greater belief in individuals and families over the state
South Korean annual poll on national security
Fears of war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula have grown substantially since the first year of the Park Geun-hye presidency, a recent survey shows.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Security (MPSS) announced findings on June 23 from an annual survey on South Koreans’ perceptions on national security. Conducted between May 30 and June 13 by the polling organization Korea Research Center, the survey examined 1,000 university students, 1,000 adults aged 19 and over, and 1,000 young people from around the country.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy] [Public opinion]
Most Koreans ready to fight if war erupts
Updated : 2016-06-24 15:01
By Choi Sung-jin
Eight out of 10 Korean adults are willing to fight if war breaks out, a survey shows.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Security said Friday that it asked 3,000 people -- 1,000 adults aged 19 or more, 1,000 college students and 1,000 adolescents -- whether they would fight if war breaks out, and 83.7 percent of adults answered "yes."
In comparison, 63.2 percent of college students and 56.9 percent of teenagers expressed an intention to serve in a war.
[War] [Public opinion]
Trial of defectors from N. Korean restaurant suspended
Posted on : Jun.22,2016 16:29 KST
13 North Korean workers (one man and 12 women) at an overseas restaurants who entered South Korea on Apr. 7, wearing masks to prevent their identities. This picture was provided by the Ministry of Unification, which did not specify when or where it was taken. (provided by the Ministry of Unification)
Group of lawyers still trying to determine whether or not the waitresses defected of their own free will
A habeas corpus trial for 12 waitresses who defected as a group from a North Korean restaurant in China before the Apr. 13 general elections was suspended on June 21.
The trial is being held to determine whether the waitresses were admitted to a South Korean protection facility against their will. The court’s move to end the hearing after the women did not report to the courtroom prompted attorneys with the group MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, which made the initial request, to file a motion to change the judge.
According to accounts by sources from the court and MINBYUN on June 21, attorneys with the law firm Bae, Kim & Lee, which is representing the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said the 12 waitresses had “refused to appear in court” for the closed-door hearing by Judge Lee Yeong-je of the 32nd criminal division at Seoul Central District Court earlier that day.
[Election defection] [NIS]
Why is the government hiding away N. Koreans who defected from restaurant?
Posted on : Jun.21,2016 17:01 KST
The whole process of bringing the defectors to and settling them in South Korea has differed from standard protocol
An apparently unprecedented situation is unfolding as the South Korean government insists on hiding away the waitresses involved in a group defection in April from a North Korean restaurant in China. The situation has changed markedly since Apr. 8, when Seoul took the initiative to tell the media that the group defection had taken place and was the result of its sanctions encouraging patrons to avoid the restaurants. The government’s approach to receiving and managing the defectors has been almost without precedent in terms of practices and systems for settlement assistance.
[Election defection] [NIS]
S. Korea says no exchange or dialogue with N. Korea until September
Posted on : Jun.20,2016 16:44 KST
Amid sanctions and overseas diplomacy, Seoul is betting that by September the North will have no choice but to change tune
On June 19, a high-ranking official in the South Korean government said that the government did not intend to engage in any kind of exchange and cooperation projects or dialogue with North Korea until September and that it would not allow any exchange, cooperation or contact between the private sector and North Korea either.
“The government’s view is that by August or September, North Korea will be unable to endure the sanctions of the international community and will have no choice but to change its attitude,” the official added.
By September, about six months will have passed since the UN Security Council adopted Resolution No. 2270 and South Korea and other countries imposed their own sanctions on North Korea in response to the North’s fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.
[SK NK policy] [Rebuff] [Sanctions]
Navy Drill Prepares for Clashes with N.Korea
South Korean Navy vessels conduct a drill in the West Sea on Thursday. /Courtesy of the Navy South Korean Navy vessels conduct a drill in the West Sea on Thursday. /Courtesy of the Navy
The Navy is conducting drills for a potential clash on the West Sea as North Korean fishing and patrol boats are massing on the maritime border at the height of the blue crab season.
A Navy spokesman said around 200 North Korean fishing vessels are operating near the Northern Limit Line, around 1.7 times more than last year, and they are accompanied by more patrol boats.
Symbol of inter-Korean cooperation in danger of permanent closure
The Gaeseong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean factory park just two hours from Seoul, had served as a testing ground for unification since operations began there in 2004. / Courtesy of The Korea Times
By Choi Sung-jin
In her Memorial Day speech on June 6, President Park Geun-hye said, "It is really pitiable that national division is becoming increasingly rigorous reality." The remark came nearly four months after President Park shut down, abruptly and one-sidedly, the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC), the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
Again, South Korea’s top intelligence agency changes its motto
Posted on : Jun.14,2016 16:52 KST
National Intelligence Agency new motto touts “the protection and glory of the Republic of Korea”
The new logo of the National Intelligence Service
After eight years, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) has changed its organizational motto again.
The NIS announced on June 13 that it had adopted the new motto of “soundless (sic) dedication solely for the protection and glory of the Republic of Korea.” The service described it as “meaning that we intend to guard this five-thousand-year-old country from threats and become a cornerstone for the limitless development and prosperity of the great Republic of Korea.”
The motto change is the NIS’s third. Previously “we work in the shadows toward the bright land” since the 1961 founding of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), it was changed to “intelligence is national power” with the Kim Dae-jung administration’s 1998 renaming of the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP) to its current National Intelligence Service. The motto was changed yet again to “nameless dedication to freedom and truth” during the first year of the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2008, after the NIS decided the existing motto “failed to properly reflect our duties and functions as an intelligence organization and our agents’ sense of mission.”
Army to deploy delivery drones in 2018
The Army's delivery drone
By Jun Ji-hye
The Army plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed to deliver supplies to troops as early as 2018, officials said Wednesday.
The Army conducted a demonstration of a delivery drone earlier in the day at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters in South Chungcheong Province, during which the drone airlifted a 15 kilogram package to a designated spot.
The demonstration was watched by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Jang Jun-gyu and other senior officials.
[UAV] [Military balance]
End the Anti-union suppression in Yoosung Enterprise, a Hyundai Motor's subcontractor
Professors for Democracy
Opposing the Global Automaker's Anti-Labor Suppression in South Korea: International Petition against Hyundai Motor's Illegal Crackdown of its Subcontractor's Union, Yoosung Enterprise
Tragic Death of a Union Activist
A few months ago, Han Gwang-ho, a union activist of Yoosung Enterprise Co. Ltd., one of the major subcontractors of the global automaker, Hyundai Motor Company, committed suicide in protest of the anti-union repression carried out by the management—a campaign that has lasted over five years. Since 2011 when Yoosung labor union went on strike to abolish the overnight shift, the management employed all available means and resources in order to frustrate the union’s attempts, both illegal and extra-legal, including declaring lockouts, firing union leaders, imposing disciplinary penalties on union members, filing damage suits against the union, establishing a "yellow" company union, threatening/spying on employees, among other actions. The result of the years of labor suppression is astonishing. Besides the economic hardship due to layoffs and damage payments, 43.3% of the employees have been diagnosed with high-rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, four union members have been admitted as industrial injury victims by the labor administration for their work-related psychological disorders—an outcome that is highly rare considering the government agencies’ longstanding pro-management stance in South Korea. In the midst of hundreds of lawsuits and years of exhausting confrontations between the union and the management, Mr. Han finally ended his 43-year life last March after receiving another summons by the company’s disciplinary committee.
Pyongyang claims S. Korea tried to abduct fishing boats
Updated : 2016-06-12 11:24
North Korea said Saturday Seoul had "captured" its fishing boats that crossed the inter-Korean sea border earlier this week, adding that South Korea also tried to abduct its fishermen.
On Wednesday, a North Korean fishing vessel was sent back home after it accidentally crossed the border. The vessel was reported by a South Korean fishing boat some 21 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, in the East Sea.
On the scandal of the North Korean escapee waitresses
Prior to the parliamentary elections in South Korea, the news was awash with a beautiful story regaling readers with the refrain: “they chose freedom!”. 13 people (12 women and one man, the manager) escaped from the North Korean restaurant, Ryugyong, in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province in Southeast China to South Korea.
At first, the story was presented in the finest of “cold war” traditions. The news broke of specially selected staff, middle-class immigrants who had ended up in China, where they began to watch South Korean TV series and surf the net. It was then that they understood how they had been deceived by the North Korean propaganda and how good life in the South is, thus making the decision to escape. What’s more, prior to the upcoming WPK Congress, the authorities had begun to demand large cash transfers, while the ban on South Korean tourists visiting North Korean restaurants had caused restaurant revenues to drop, and its staff had come under threat of repressions…
South Korea’s Refusal to Engage in Dialogue on Military Matters and the Reality
On May 23, the Republic of Korea officially rejected the North’s proposal that the South respond to Kim Jong-un’s announcement of possible inter-Korean military negotiations. Seoul’s official response stated that the North should take clear steps to show its willingness to nuclear disarmament before the start of negotiations. A representative of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense reported, that Seoul expressed its regret that Pyongyang had proposed holding negotiations without a mention of the issue of its nuclear program. He emphasised that Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament should be the top priority of inter-Korean dialogue. Pyongyang received this response via the military hot line between ministries. Moon Sung-keun stressed that the North should through real actions confirm its readiness to embark upon denuclearisation if it really strives for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
Preparing for Korean Unification?
By Georgy Toloraya
09 June 2016
A growing number of policymakers and experts in South Korea, the United States and other countries now presume that the best solution in principle for the North Korean nuclear problem and the larger “Korean issue” is unification, implying a peaceful takeover of the North by the South. This has been especially true in the latter half of Park Geun-hye’s presidency; where since her Dresden speech, this issue has been at the forefront of government and public discussion. Some commentators in Seoul have concluded that unification is not only desirable but also quickly achievable, as evidenced by indications that the North Korean regime is about to collapse. Though I see no signs of brewing instability as I write this in Pyongyang, South Korea’s only reasonable course of action is to prepare for the possibility that international pressure will someday bring the North to its knees, as analysts assess the plausibility and desirability of such a scenario.
Tensions Palpable at Inter-Korean Border Crossing
The Joint Security Area of the border truce village of Panmunjom was ringing with muffled North Korean propaganda broadcasts on Wednesday as tensions remained high along the inter-Korean border.
Reporters were given a tour of the JSA at the invitation of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. The South plays no propaganda broadcasts in the JSA, but a North Korean announcer could be heard apparently denouncing South Korea, though it was difficult to understand what she was saying due to the poor quality of the loudspeakers.
Crab season bringing more heated tensions in West Sea
Posted on : Jun.10,2016 12:50 KST
Due to poor relations, South and North Korea have been unable to coordinate a response to illegal Chinese fishing
A blue crab war is raging in the West (Yellow) Sea as the July spawning season nears, yet worsening inter-Korean relations and mounting military tensions have left Seoul all but ignoring the severe situation of illegal fishing by Chinese boats.
The South Korean government sent a message of strong protest to China and called for appropriate measures on illegal fishing in the wake of a recent incident in which South Korean fisherman seized two illegal Chinese fishing boats south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea. Seoul is also expected to demand measures from Chinese authorities at a ninth bilateral cooperation meeting on fishing issues to be held in South Korea in late June or early July.
Beijing has said it will continue working to enforce strict punishments against illegal fishing while providing guidance and education to fisherman. But the approach has had very limited effectiveness so far, with even Beijing lamenting the limits to its ability to crack down.
The biggest issue appears to be the lack of proactive efforts by Seoul - a problem that stems for the most part from worsening ties with Pyongyang. Illegal Chinese fishing boats have worked mainly in the waters around the NLL, decimating the blue crab population with dragnets. At a distance of just 1.4 to 2.5 km from the NLL, the area north of Yeonpyeong Island is vulnerable to North Korean coastal artillery and warships. As a result, Navy and Coast Guard crackdowns on illegal fishing have been limited. Military tensions have been particularly high lately as inter-Korean relations have deteriorated and all dialogue channels have been shut off.
[NLL] [Unintended consequences]
NK offers inter-Korean unification meeting
By Jun Ji-hye
North Korea has offered to hold a nationwide rally with South Korea to discuss ways to bring about unification on the Korean Peninsula, its state media said, Friday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North said anyone from the two Koreas who hopes for unification, including government officials, members of political parties and civic groups, can participate.
The offer was the latest in a series of dialogue proposals to Seoul since the high-profile ruling Workers' Party congress ended on May 9.
"We propose opening a nationwide grand meeting for reunification on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of Korea's liberation, prompted by the ardent desire ... (of) improving inter-Korean relations and accomplishing the cause of national reunification by the concerted efforts of all Koreans," the KCNA said in an appeal addressed to "all Koreans."
[Interview] Sunshine policy “spokesman” - “Why I’ve failed as a professor”
Posted on : Jun.8,2016 17:37 KST
Dutch treat. Koreans who often encounter people from overseas tend to operate under the belief that they should “go Dutch” whenever they meet someone from the US or elsewhere in the Western world. But sometimes they will instead offer to pay for everything after a meal with an American. The dining partner initially is shocked and refuses. Over time, however, he or she will begin inviting the other person over for meals. This, he explained, is the same spirit underlying the Sunshine Policy and its idea of “giving first and receiving later.” It’s a clever metaphor befitting the policy’s “international spokesman,” the only civilian to participate in the first two inter-Korean summits as a special delegation member.
[Sunshine policy] [Liberal]
Helper Describes Flight of N.Korean Women from China
The North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri on Tuesday alleged that three North Korean women who fled from China to South Korea were "abducted" by South Korea's National Intelligence Service.
The website also published the photos, identities and passport numbers of two South Koreans and a Korean-Chinese man it accuses of "luring and abducting" the women at the orders of the NIS.
But Yoon Jae-hong, one of the men in the pictures, denied the claims. "They were anything but kidnapped," he told the Chosun Ilbo. "They were the ones who asked us to rescue them. The NIS has nothing to do with this
Korea Develops Wheeled Armored Vehicle
Korea has developed its first armored combat vehicle with ordinary wheels instead of caterpillar treads. It will be deployed warfare-ready next year.
Research and development began in December 2012, and the vehicle passed the final test on May 9, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday.
Production will begin late this month and a total of 600 such vehicles will be produced by 2023.
A newly-developed wheeled armored vehicle /Courtesy of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration A newly-developed wheeled armored vehicle /Courtesy of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration
The K200 and K21 armored vehicles in current service all have caterpillar treads and can make a maximum speed of about 70 km/h on ordinary roads.
The new armored vehicle has eight tires and can make 100 km/h. With tactical tires and an air pressure regulator, it can move around in mountains and in water.
The military expects it to improve infantry performance significantly. There will be two models -- a combat vehicle for search and reconnaissance missions in mountainous frontline areas and an infantry transport vehicle in rear areas.
DAPA is also planning to develop models for anti-aircraft warfare and command posts.
The vehicle is similar in terms of performance to the U.S. military's Stryker armored vehicle, deployed warfare-ready in 2002, or the Boxer jointly developed by Germany and the Netherlands, deployed warfare-ready in 2008. But it is only half the price.
DAPA is also eyeing opportunities of selling it overseas.
[Military balance] [Arms sales] [Arms manufacturer]
Defections from N.Korea Start Rising Again
Some 590 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea in the first five months of this year, 16 percent more than in the same period last year, the Unification Ministry said Sunday.
This is the first time since Kim Jong-un took power in the North in late 2011 that there has been a notable increase despite more stringent controls.
Numbers dwindled over past years from 2,706 in 2011 to 1,276 in 2015. A ministry official said numbers could reach 1,500 this year if the trend continues.
North Koreans are affected by harsh international sanctions imposed in the wake of the regime's latest nuclear test, and a forced labor drive ahead of a Workers Party congress in May has been widely unpopular.
Altogether some 29,380 North Koreans have defected over the years, reaching 30,000 in September or October this year on current showing.
[Editorial] Why did fishermen on Yeongpyeong Island make such a desperate move?
Posted on : Jun.7,2016 16:51 KST
A Chinese fishing boat operating illegally near the West (Yellow) Sea Northern Limit Sea, in the area of Yeonpyeong Island, June 6. The boats operate in a group, then when South Korean patrol boats approach, they flee back to the northern side. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
Recently, fishermen from Yeonpyeong Island off Incheon personally captured two Chinese fishing boats that were operating illegally in the waters near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West (Yellow) Sea. They finally decided to take action themselves after impatiently watching while the boats evaded the South Korean Coast Guard and Navy and decimated the blue crab population with their dragnets. We can only wonder just what on earth the authorities have been doing this whole time to allow things to reach this point.
Illegal fishing by Chinese boats grows more serious with each passing year. Between the 2014 and 2015 fishing seasons, the number of Chinese fishing boats detected by the Navy’s radar network near the NLL rose from 19,150 to 29,640. According to reports, this year’s blue crab catch by South Korean fishermen has dropped to around one-third its 2015 levels. The fishermen themselves claim to have pleaded numerous times for the Navy and Coast Guard to solve the illegal Chinese fishing problem, to no avail. They‘ve also warned that if the government doesn’t fix things, they will have to take matters into their own hands.
[NLL] [Unintended consequences]
More Defectors Open Their Own Business
Only around 1,200 out of some 26,000 North Korean defectors who live here own a business.
That puts the proportion at 4.9 percent, far fewer than the 15.4 percent among born-and-bred South Koreans.
But the signs are encouraging since the proportion of defectors who own a business has increased from a mere 1.2 percent in 2011.
A North Korean defector works in her clothes repair shop in Seoul. She manages five branches and employs six defectors. A North Korean defector works in her clothes repair shop in Seoul. She manages five branches and employs six defectors.
A spokesman for the Korea Hana Foundation, which helps defectors settle here, said, "Many defectors are over 40, and people in this age group tend to prefer to start their own businesses rather than working for someone else."
More than half of all defectors are over 40, which makes it difficult for them to find permanent employment in someone else's company.
Park urges Pyongyang to give up nukes in memorial speech
President Park Geun-hye said Monday that South Korea will join forces with the international community to induce North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons development program and return to the negotiation table during a Memorial Day speech.
"North Korea must realize that the international community will roll out tougher sanctions as the regime clings to the development of nuke and missiles," Park said, adding the country will eventually fall into further isolation and self-destruction.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
S. Korea taking very different approach to latest defection of N. Korean restaurant staff
Posted on : Jun.3,2016 16:57 KST
Questions remain as to why in this case defectors traveled overland without passport, and Seoul has announced few details
On June 1, the South Korean government would only officially confirm the fact that three waitresses from a North Korean restaurant in China’s Shaanxi Province had fled to South Korea.
This is distinctly different from the detailed announcement that was made five days before the general election on Apr. 13, when the South Korean government held an emergency briefing about the group defection of 12 staff and one manager from a North Korean restaurant in China’s Zhejiang Province.
While the Chinese government said that the group of North Koreans who had defected from Zhejiang Province had left the country using legal passports, it is not commenting about the Shaanxi Province defection. And while North Korea described the group defection from Zhejiang Province as “enticement and abduction” by South Korean intelligence agents, it has made no particular response to the Shaanxi Province defection.
As this shows, the South Korean, North Korean and Chinese governments have adopted distinctively different attitudes to the defection of North Korean employees from North Korean restaurants in Shaanxi Province and Zhejiang Province.
As his term ends, Ban Ki-moon may refer to Kofi Annan’s legacy
Posted on : Jun.3,2016 16:48 KST
Ban could either blunt his message of human rights to appeal as a presidential candidate, or work for fairness as Annan has
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean gem. During the Roh Moo-hyun administration (2003-08), masses of budget money and staff were poured into making him into Secretary-General. Once he got the position, the people of South Korea were elated to have produced the “President of the World.” So-called “Ban’s kids” proclaimed their hope to someday become diplomats and work for international organizations.
Many foreign news outlets have called Ban incompetent and opinions of him are only likely to get less kind as the end of his term approaches on Dec. 31. The unhappiness is sure to grow as the debate over his post-UN presidential candidate plans escalates.
Ban’s predecessor Kofi Annan wasn’t particularly lauded during his term as Secretary-General either. He had an affinity with the public and outstanding media responsiveness, and he was also very aware of the UN’s situation, having come up through the ranks in technical positions there before rising to the top post. Yet he also had to put up with being called the “pro-US Secretary-General.”
[Ban Ki-moon] [UNUS]
3 N.Korean Restaurant Staff Arrive in Seoul
Three North Korean women who recently defected from a restaurant in China have arrived in South Korea, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday.
The ministry declined to say how they made their way to Seoul, but sources said they came via Thailand and have been here for a few days.
According to the source, the three women are from Pyongyang. Two were born in 1987 and one a year later.
They had been working in a North Korean restaurant in Shenyang, Liaoning Province but moved to a joint North Korean-Chinese shabu-shabu restaurant in Weinan, Shannxi Province because business was bad.
From there they were able to escape, the source said.
Seoul confirms defection of three more North Korean restaurant staff
Posted on : Jun.2,2016 15:41 KST
The North Korean restaurant in Xi‘an, China where staff are thought to have defected from
In contrast with larger group defection in April, Seoul releases no information beyond confirming fact of defection
The South Korean government officially confirmed on June 1 that three waitresses from overseas North Korean restaurants recently arrived in South Korea, including two who fled a restaurant in China’s Shaanxi Province in mid-May.
“It is true that staff from a North Korean restaurant in a third country recently entered [South Korea],” the Ministry of Unification confirmed.
The ministry said it could not confirm specifics, including the route taken.
While Seoul did not confirm the date of entry either, sources said it may have been either May 31 or the morning of June 1.
According to sources, two of the women worked at the same restaurant and fled in mid-May, while the third worked at a different restaurant before fleeing in early 2015 and traveling recently to a third country. All are reported to have traveled over land without passports.
In early April, the South Korean government made the unusual move of holding an emergency press conference to announce details about the group defection of 12 waitresses and one manager from a North Korean restaurant in China’s Zhejiang Province.
In contrast, it confined its information on the latest defection to a mere confirmation.
Prior to the Zhejiang case, Seoul had maintained a policy of not confirming even the fact that defections had occurred in order to ensure the safety of the defectors and their family members in North Korea.
By Kim Jin-cheol, staff reporter
N.Korean Defectors Don't Fare Well in S.Korea
A total of 29,137 North Koreans had defected to South Korea as of March this year, 77 percent of them women. But not many have managed to make a success of their lives and integrate into the South.
The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights in a survey on 403 defectors in March found that 57.8 percent make less than W1 million a month, 29.7 percent W1-2 million and only 10 percent more than W2 million (US$1=W1,192).
Some 37.7 percent are living on welfare compared to only 2.6 percent of South Koreans.
Tensions rising in West Sea, amid possibility of armed clashes over NLL
Posted on : May.30,2016 16:49 KST
South and North Korea exchanged fire over the weekend and despite proposals, no military talks scheduled
Military tensions are mounting after a North Korean vessel recently crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West (Yellow) Sea, prompting warning fire from South Korean navy.
The episode comes amid a string of proposals for inter-Korean military talks by Pyongyang since its seventh Workers’ Party congress. Many are now concerned about the risk of an armed clash in the West Sea or elsewhere if the talks do not take place.
Pres. Park’s folly in Uganda
Posted on : May.30,2016 16:42 KST
President Park Geun-hye and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni watch as the South Korean flag is raised during a formal ceremony to welcome Park to Kampala, May 29.
That day, Uganda denied an earlier claim by a South Korean spokesperson that Uganda had claimed it would halt all military cooperation with North Korea in line with international sanctions, AFP reported. (Yonhap News)
[Park Geun-hye] [Uganda] [Spin]
S. Korean firms at joint industrial park boycott gov't support measures
South Korean firms suffering months-long financial damage from the shutdown of a joint industrial complex in North Korea expressed discontent with the latest government support measures on Tuesday, saying the partial aid is not enough to compensate for their losses.
Seoul shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North's border city of the same name on Feb. 10 in response to Pyongyang's January nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in February.
Kerfuffle in Uganda over announcements during Pres. Park’s trip
Posted on : May.31,2016 18:00 KST
President Park Geun-hye and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni walk together at the launch of the Korea Air program in Mpigi, Uganda, May 30. Korea Aid is program to use vehicles to provide healthcare, food and cultural items to remote villages. (Yonhap News)
Ugandan officials make different announcement over whether they will maintain military cooperation with North Korea
When the Blue House announced that Uganda had agreed to end military cooperation with North Korea during South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the country, some members of the Ugandan government were apparently not in the loop. In a bizarre spectacle, the vice spokesperson of the Ugandan government denied the Blue House’s announcement in the foreign press, even as Uganda’s Foreign Minister confirmed the announcement in the local press.
On May 29, Uganda’s deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza took issue with the announcement by Blue House Spokesperson Jung Yeon-Guk that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had given orders to halt military cooperation with North Korea. Bantariza told AFP that the president had not made any such “public declaration.”
According to Reuters, Jung quoted President Museveni as saying during the summit that “We instructed officials to faithfully enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, including the halt of cooperation with North Korea in the security, military and police sectors.”
“That is not true. It is propaganda,” Bantariza was quoted as saying by AFP. “Even if (such an order) was to be made by the president, it cannot be public. It cannot be therefore true and it can’t happen. That is international politics at play.”
After the controversy erupted, the South Korean Foreign Ministry distributed a local interview during which the Ugandan Foreign Minister said exactly what the Blue House had announced.
[Uganda] [UNUS] [Sovereignty]
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