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New Frontiers in Korean Studies
By Steven Denney and Darcie Draudt | May 30, 2017 | No Comments
Presenters and discussants at The George Washington University workshop “Korea and the World: New Frontiers in Korean Studies. | Image: Steven Denney/Sino-NK
The George Washington University recently received funding to start a new Institute for Korean Studies. Pursuant to this, the institute’s interim director, Dr. Gregg Brazinsky, organized a workshop on May 23-24 for young Koreanists across multiple disciplines. Under the theme “New Frontiers in Korean Studies: Korea and the World” 10 young scholars presented their work, all of which pursue new directions in understanding Korean history, politics, and society. Discussants included Mitch Lerner (The Ohio State University), Harris Mylonas (The George Washington University), Jiyoung Lee (American University), James Person (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), Arissa Oh (Boston College), among others.
The topics ranged from South Korea’s wartime black market to the interaction between North and South Korean students at foreign schools. Two of Sino-NK’s senior editors were among the 10 who presented. Below is a short summary of the work they presented.
Defector-turned-journalist feared kidnapped to North Korea
Posted : 2017-05-30 14:33
Updated : 2017-05-30 14:44
By Park Si-soo
A North Korean defector who worked in South Korea as a journalist has gone missing at a border town between China and the North, according to reports.
He is believed to have been kidnapped to the North, according to South Korean news outlets, citing unidentified sources. The man, 60, was visiting Yanji in China's Jilin Province for reasons unknown.
He defected to Seoul in 2011 and has worked at an online news outlet specializing in North Korea. He has reportedly been out of contact since Monday morning.
"There was no problem in contacting him until Sunday, but it's been impossible since 7 a.m. Monday," Yonhap News Agency quoted a family member as saying. "He has made overseas trips many times, but we have never experienced a situation like this."
South Korea's foreign ministry is trying to find him, with cooperation from Chinese police.
FM nominee under growing suspicion of corruption
Posted : 2017-05-29 16:11
Updated : 2017-05-30 16:31
By Kim Rahn
Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha is being embroiled by growing suspicions of corruption, casting gloom over the National Assembly's approval for her nomination.
Some new findings were different from what Cheong Wa Dae initially explained, causing controversy over her false explanation.
Film About Roh Moo-hyun Draws Huge Crowds on Opening Day
By Kim Sung-hyun
May 29, 2017 11:58
A documentary about former President Roh Moo-hyun drew a record 78,737 viewers on opening day last Thursday and is being screened in 579 theaters across the country.
"Our President" is being distributed by CGV Arthouse, a subsidiary of CJ-owned theater chain CGV, and 42 percent of the 579 screens belong to CGV.
The conglomerate defended itself against accusations that it is pandering to new President Moon Jae-in, who was Roh's right-hand man, by choosing to open the film on such a scale.
Another Roh-inspired film, "The Attorney," also attracted big crowds at the time of its CGV release in 2013 but landed CJ in hot water with Cheong Wa Dae, which tried to pressure the food and media conglomerate to fire those responsible, apparently because President Park Geun-hye had been irked by the film's progressive slant.
"We didn't suddenly decide to distribute the film just before the presidential election in May," a CGV spokesman said.
[Editorial] On 37th anniversary, more truth of Gwangju massacre must come to light
Posted on : May.18,2017 18:21 KST Modified on : May.18,2017 18:21 KST
All attendees, including President Moon Jae-in, participate together the Gwangju Democratization Movement 37th anniversary commemoration ceremony, at the May 18th National Cemetery in Gwangju, May 18. Last year the bereaved families held their own ceremony due to disagreement with the Park Geun-hye administration.
After a ban lasting from 2008-16 under the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, the song “March for the Beloved” rang out in unison from all attendees at a 37th anniversary event on May 18 to commemorate the Gwangju Democratization Movement. It’s symbolic in itself that the song, which has now become a symbol of that movement, was again sung in chorus. The 37th anniversary ceremony was the largest yet, attended by President Moon Jae-in and around 10,000 veterans of the May 18 Movement and surviving family members. It’s good to see the new administration’s efforts to deeply inscribe the spirit of that movement.
But it is dismaying to know that apart from the state-level celebrations, the truth of what happened in 1980 remains shrouded in mystery. The nature of the cover-up is clearly shown in the Hankyoreh’s reporting on documents acquired on Army Security Command distortions of the May 18 movement. It is shocking to learn that the Command set up a secret organization to misrepresent and lie about the movement ahead of a 1988 National Assembly hearing on it. Called the “May 11 research committee,” the secret organization submitted key documents to the National Assembly that painted Gwangju citizens as rioters and depicted the suppressive actions of the martial law army as legitimate defensive measures. The time of the citizen army‘s first weapon seizure on May 21, 1980, was altered from 5:30 pm to 8 am, which was before the martial law army opened fire. The aim was to make it seem as though the citizens had fired first on the airborne troops. The committee also ordered the deletion of Training and Doctrine Command situation log records of the 7th Airborne Brigade suppressing citizens to conceal the brutal slaughter perpetrated by the troops.
It’s deplorable that these illegal misrepresentations at the direction of a state institution resulted in a failure to punish the deaths of the citizens killed in the file in front of the former South Jeolla Provincial Office as “homicide for the purposes of insurrection” in the prosecutors’ 1996 investigations of May 18 and the coup of Dec. 12, 1979. More distressing still, those manufactured falsehoods later became the official line of the Ministry of National Defense, and are the roots of the fabrications about May 18 that continue to circulate on the internet.
After nearly a decade of freeze, Moon admin. working to reopen inter-Korean relations
Posted on : May.28,2017 10:42 KST Modified on : May.28,2017 10:42 KST
Members of World Vision, Good Neighbours and other private humanitarian groups hold a press conference with food and agricultural goods that they were not permitted to convey to North Korea, calling on the government to allow exchange with North Korea, at the Press Center in Seoul, June 22, 2010. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
New government details plans to carry out Moon’s campaign pledge to increase cooperation and seek North Korea’s peaceful denuclearization
After receiving its first briefing from the Unification Ministry on May 26, President Moon Jae-in’s governance and planning advisory committee urged the Ministry to take a more active role in improving inter-Korean relations. On the same day, the Ministry approved an application by a private-sector organization for contact with North Korea for the first time in a year and four months and launched the new government’s efforts to reestablish inter-Korean relations, which are currently severed.
“The Unification Ministry has fallen on hard times, and inter-Korean relations have deteriorated over the past nine or ten years. I have very mixed emotions,” said Lee Su-hoon, chair of the advisory committee’s diplomacy and security subcommittee, on the morning of May 26 before the briefing at the advisory committee’s office in Seoul. The transitional committee for the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-13) considered shutting down the Unification Ministry altogether, and it failed to do much to improve inter-Korean relations during the administration of Park Geun-hye (2013-16), which focused on sanctions and pressure. This was the background for Park Gwang-ok, spokesperson for the committee, remarking after the briefing that he “agreed with the need for the Unification Ministry to play a more proactive role so that South Korea can take the lead in creating peace on the Korean Peninsula and forging a new relationship with the North.”
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK relations]
With private group’s approval, inter-Korean exchange being resumed
Posted on : May.28,2017 10:40 KST Modified on : May.28,2017 10:40 KST
Lee Yu-jin, Ministry of Unification deputy spokesperson
Around 20 groups have submitted requests for permission to contact North Korea since Moon Jae-in took office
Private exchange between South and North Korea is finally resuming after long being strictly prohibited.
The South Korean government announced on May 26 that it had approved a request to contact North Korean residents by the humanitarian aid group Korean Sharing Movement (KSM). It was the first approval for contact with North Korea granted to a private South Korean group since the North’s fourth nuclear test in Jan. 2016.
“The government’s position is one of responding sternly to North Korea’s provocations while considering humanitarian aid and other forms of private interchange on a flexible basis, to the extent that it does not compromise the framework of international sanctions against the North,” explained Ministry of Unification deputy spokesperson Lee Yu-jin in a May 26 briefing.
[SK NK policy] [Inter-Korean]
No Kettles, Just Cuddles
By Sino-NK | May 26, 2017
In this edition of #Shigak, we look at a week of rapid-fire personnel picks, with women making notable inroads in the ministries of Foreign Affairs and the implacably conservative Veterans and Patriots Affairs. We’ve also got news of amended policing tactics that imply — at least to begin with — a more trusting view of the protestors and their motivations, and the move from military to diplomatic leadership in the Blue House office in charge of national security.
UN-affiliated group decries “arbitrary detention” of S. Korean labor leader
Posted on : May.25,2017 17:18 KST Modified on : May.25,2017 17:18 KST
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions president Han Sang-gyun puts on a headband as he leaves the Jogye Order of Buddhism in Seoul’s Jongno district, Dec. 10, 2015. The Supreme Court is scheduled to make its final ruling on Han’s case on May 31. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
Group recommends release of assembly organizer Han Sang-gyun, and says his detention is a violation of human rights
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), which is affiliated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), described the detention of Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), on charges of organizing public assemblies in 2015 as an “arbitrary detention” that violates the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The working group also recommended that Han be released.
Roh Moo-hyun’s vision being revived on 8th anniversary of his death
Posted on : May.24,2017 17:32 KST Modified on : May.24,2017 17:32 KST
At memorial ceremony, President Moon vows to achieve goals of unity and reform
1,004 yellow butterflies flew into the sky as Owl Rock on Bongha Mountain looked on. The event was organized by the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation with the hope that the spirit of former president Roh Moo-hyun (in office 2003-08) would rest in peace and fly in freedom. After looking up at the flying butterflies for a while, President Moon Jae-in pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed his teary eyes. Moon had visited Bongha Village on May 23 of each year since Roh’s death in 2009, but the situation was different this year. Moon was Roh’s friend and last Chief of Staff, as well as the chief mourner of his tragic death, and is now president of South Korea. (Owl Rock overlooks Bongha Village, and is the point Roh jumped from when he committed suicide.)
“For today, at least, I think that Roh Moo-hyun is hidden somewhere among us and that he feels grateful to all of us and is feeling great,” Moon said. He brought to this memorial service, the eighth to be held since Roh’s death, the news that political power had changed hands for the first time in nine years, and he began his remarks with a smile and an unusually peaceful expression on his face. Roh’s supporters hold that Roh’s suicide was instigated by political retribution, and at previous memorial services, they have booed, cursed and thrown water at right-wing politicians. But this year’s memorial service toggled between laughter and tears.
[Roh Moo-hyun] [Moon Jae-in]
S. Korea's FM nominee says 'MORE POWERFUL' sanctions needed against N. Korea
Posted : 2017-05-25 11:27
Updated : 2017-05-25 11:29
President Moon Jae-in's nominee for the country's top diplomat said Thursday that humanitarian aid to the North should be provided regardless of political considerations.
Kang Kyung-wha, recently tapped to lead the foreign ministry, still emphasized that it is necessary to seek "more powerful" sanctions against North Korea in case the regime carries out additional provocations.
"It is a universal value to provide humanitarian aid to where human beings are suffering. It is also the principles of the U.N. to (seek) it separately from any political considerations, and I think that we should do so," Kang told reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
Kang made the remarks upon returning home from New York. She had worked at the United Nations for about 10 years.
Asked whether she believes humanitarian aid to the North should be provided despite Pyongyang's continued provocations and nuclear aspirations, she said yes, adding that it is in line with the spirit and principles of the U.N. to extend help to those in need.
Since liberal President Moon took office May 10, there has been a change in mood regarding providing help and assistance to the impoverished Northern neighbor.
Moon has said that he will push for a "two-track" approach toward the North in which he seeks sanctions against provocations and at the same time engagement and dialogue aimed at tackling the nuclear stalemate.
In line with Moon's policy, she said, "Should there be additional provocations, I think more powerful sanctions are needed."
[Kang Kyung-wha] [Sanctions]
Moon needs 'carrot and stick' for N. Korea
Posted : 2017-05-24 18:11
Updated : 2017-05-25 11:38
This is the sixth in a series of interviews with international experts on Korea giving advice to President Moon Jae-in on how to overcome challenges and create a better future for the Korean people. ? ED.
By Kim Jae-kyoung
President Moon Jae-in should utilize the right balance of "carrot and stick" to make North Korea behave, according to Tara O, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies).
[SK NK policy] [MISCOM]
Moon administration considering reopening private sector inter-Korean exchange
Posted on : May.23,2017 17:18 KST Modified on : May.23,2017 17:18 KST
South Korean government not looking to resume full-fledged dialogue yet, but could reinstate Panmunjeom hotline
“We mean to carry out a flexible review of private-sector exchange and other key issues dealing with inter-Korean relations in a way that does not damage the international community’s framework of sanctions against North Korea,” said South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesperson Lee Duk-haeng on May 22. Lee’s remarks are noteworthy considering that they come amid a series of applications for contact with North Korea that organizations providing humanitarian aid to North Korea have submitted around the time of Moon Jae-in’s inauguration as president. The question is whether private-sector exchange can be used to thaw inter-Korean relations, which were frozen during the administrations of former presidents Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) and Park Geun-hye (2013-16).
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy]
[Interview] An activist on a mission to bring peace to East Asia
Posted on : May.23,2017 17:24 KST Modified on : May.23,2017 17:24 KST
Suh Sung, a peace and human rights activist and a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University
Suh Sung suffered for 19 years of unjust imprisonment, now leads peace historical tours across the region
“Since being released after 19 years in prison, I’ve been interested in the issues of abolishing torture and releasing political prisoners. I’ve had a lot of conversations while traveling around not only Japan but also the US, Canada, Europe and South America. But during my world travel and while looking at the situation in Northeast Asia, it occurred to me that human rights and unification advocacy, as important as they are, are not as important as preventing wars from occurring. I’ve dedicated myself to the cause of peace from my belief in the importance of keeping the peace,” said Suh Sung, 72, when asked about his peace activism.
In Nov. 2016, Suh, who is a peace and human rights activist and a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University, published “The Fugazi of East Asia.” The book, a travelogue that delves into history and the humanities, is based on Suh’s visits to the scenes of state violence and human rights violations in East Asia. “Fugazi” is a word in the Okinawan language meaning a “big wind,” and this is the nickname that Suh was given by friends in Okinawa for his passionate work on behalf of peace and human rights. On May 21, a Hankyoreh reporter interviewed Suh, who since March has been a visiting professor at the Center for Jeju Islanders in Japan at Jeju National University.
Suh was imprisoned in Apr. 1971 as part of an alleged spy case involving ethnic Koreans from Japan, which was fabricated by the Yushin dictatorship under former president Park Chung-hee (1961-79), and was released in Feb. 1990, after 19 painful years. Since his release, he has dedicated himself to the cause of peace and human rights.
[Park Chung-hee] [Repression] [Zainichi]
Gov't Gears up for More Engagement with N.Korea
By Kim Jin-myung
May 23, 2017 10:11
Government officials are mulling the reopening of the cross-border Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was closed down after North Korean conducted a nuclear test back in 2016.
Cheong Wa Dae officials are also talking about the possible resumption of package tours to North Korea's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort, which were halted in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by North Korean soldiers.
The new government here is even considering resuming inter-Korean ceremonies to mark the historic June 15 Joint Declaration made back in 2000 by President Kim Dae-jung and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that started an uneasy thaw.
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday appointed a special aide on diplomacy and security, Moon Chung-in, who has been a leading advocate of engagement with the North.
[SK NK policy] [Engagement]
[News analysis] Pres. Moon seeking integrated policy where “security is the economy”
Posted on : May.22,2017 17:28 KST Modified on : May.22,2017 17:28 KST
From left to right, Office of National Security chief Chung Eui-yong, Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-hwa, unification, foreign affairs, and national security special aides Moon Chung-in and Hong Seok-hyun
Moon seeking to institute a new vision of defense, with “national security and foreign affairs as two sides of the same coin”
President Moon Jae-in appointed staffers to direct the new administration‘s foreign affairs and security policy on May 21, including former ambassador to Geneva Chung Eui-yong as Blue House Office of National Security (ONS) chief.
The ONS now appears poised to handle practical duties on foreign affairs and national security issues, while Moon himself coordinates the policy focus and direction. As an approach to his foreign and security policy, Moon said he would be focusing on “an integrated policy philosophy where security is the economy and public livelihoods.”
Chung, who will be serving as foreign and security policy control tower for the new administration, comes from a diplomatic background. His nomination was predicted early on from his activities as head of the “public agreement” advisory organization to Moon’s election camp and his leading role in the deployment of special envoy delegations to four major countries as head of the Blue House’s foreign affairs and national security task force after Moon took office on May 10.
Moon nominates female former UN Secretary General advisor as Foreign Minister
Posted on : May.22,2017 17:27 KST Modified on : May.22,2017 17:27 KST
Nomination of Kang Kyung-hwa is notable for Kang‘s unconventional background, track record of diplomatic success
Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-hwa
President Moon Jae-in has made another surprising appointment by naming Kang Kyung-wha, 62, special policy adviser to the UN Secretary-General, as his first nominee for foreign minister. South Korea’s foreign ministers have typically been male experts on North America who began their diplomatic careers by passing South Korea‘s foreign service exam, but Kang is a female human rights expert who did not take the foreign service exam and who has built her career on multilateral diplomacy. She is the first woman to be nominated for foreign minister since the ministry was established in 1948. In regard to how Kang upsets mainstream expectations, her nomination is comparable to the appointment of Pi Woo-jin as Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Moon Taps UN Bureaucrat as Foreign Minister
By Kim Jin-myung, Jeong Woo-sang
May 22, 2017 10:28
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday tapped Kang Kyung-hwa, a special advisor to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as his foreign minister.
Kang (62) told the Chosun Ilbo, "The president has appointed me to such a significant post, so the only thing on my mind is to do my best."
Currently in Geneva, Switzerland on UN business, she added, "I need a little bit of time to gather my thoughts on various issues. I've lived overseas for 10 years working for the UN, so I intend to return to Korea as soon as possible after I go back to New York."
Kang would become Korea's first-ever female foreign minister if her appointment is confirmed by the National Assembly. Born in Seoul in 1955, Kang lived in the U.S. from 1964 to 1967 when her father, former KBS announcer Kang Chan-son, was sent to work for Voice of America.
[Kang Kyung-hwa] [Moon Jae-in] [US dominance]
S. Korea likely to resume humanitarian aid, civilian exchanges with N. Korea
Posted : 2017-05-22 10:54
Updated : 2017-05-22 15:06
South Korea plans to resume humanitarian assistance to North Korea and civilian inter-Korean exchanges to an extent that the move would not compromise the international sanctions regime, a government official said Monday.
The government said that it will sternly respond to North Korea's provocations but also does not believe that long-strained inter-Korean ties will help stability on the divided peninsula.
"The government plans to flexibly review (the resumption) of civilian inter-Korean exchanges to the extent that they do not violate international sanctions," Lee Duk-haeng, spokesman at the Ministry of Unification, told a regular press briefing.
[SK NK policy] [Aid] [Sanctions] [US dominance]
President names new foreign, finance ministers, chief security officials
Posted : 2017-05-21 11:53
Updated : 2017-05-21 11:56
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday announced his picks for the new finance and foreign ministers, while appointing his new chief security advisor.
Kim Dong-yeon, president of Ajou University, has been tapped as the new finance minister, who doubles as a vice prime minister, the president said at a press conference.
The earlier-than-expected announcement apparently highlights the importance of economic problems the country is facing and the importance the chief executive places on the economy.
Still, the focus of the latest personnel reshuffle is centered on security as the president also named his nominee for new foreign minister, chief of the National Security Office and two special envoys on security and diplomatic issues.
Kang Kyung-hwa, a special advisor to the U.N. secretary-general, has been named to head the foreign ministry.
Chung Eui-yong, a former lawmaker who has been leading a special security advisory group for Moon since the president came into office on May 10, has been appointed to head the National Security Office.
Moon Chung-in, an honorary professor at Seoul's Yonsei University, and Hong Seok-hyun, former head of a local newspaper and former ambassador to the United States, have been named special envoys for diplomatic and security issues, Moon said. (Yonhap)
N.Korea's Missile Development Is Moon's Biggest Challenge
May 16, 2017 13:01
North Korea launched a new intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday to a height of more than 2,000 km, demonstrating how swiftly the regime's development of weapons of mass destruction is evolving. The North claims the new missile can deliver a 500 kg nuclear warhead to a target "on the U.S. mainland."
That seems unlikely, but experts say the North could produce an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland if three high-thrust engines are combined and mounted on a three-stage projectile.
Elated by the latest achievement, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "warned the U.S. should not to disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific region operations are in [North Korea's] sighting range for a strike and that it has all powerful means for a retaliatory strike."
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Deterrence] [IRBM]
What to Expect from the New President of the Republic of Korea.
Even before the new president of South Korea entered office, we wrote an article highlighting the problems that awaited the successor to Park Geun-hye’s presidency. And at this point, the author would want to draw the readers’ attention to the fact that in assessing the course of action that the current leader of the Republic of Korea would assume, we must divorce ourselves from pleasant illusions associated with the dual logic that if the past president was bad, it naturally follows that the present one will be good, and that he will definitely try to do things differently and better. The question of how this usually ends is best answered illustratively by the example of Donald Trump, and how the attitude of the public towards him dramatically shifted during his first hundred days in office.
In all fair assessment, Moon Jae-in is more than likely to take a different stance on many issues. However, this is not so much related to ideological differences existing within the state as to the factional struggles. Such a kind of logic and way of thinking requires the opposition to criticize any initiative of the current administration, and on having come to power, they are as a matter of principle always obliged to oppose its decisions.
Moon to reopen inter-Korean hotline
Posted : 2017-05-17 17:01
Updated : 2017-05-17 17:14
By Jun Ji-hye
The Moon Jae-in government will push for the reopening of an inter-Korean hotline at the truce village of Panmunjeom, a security adviser said Wednesday.
The liaison office in Panmunjeom was shuttered last February after North Korea severed the hotline in protest of former President Park Geun-hye's closure of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean joint venture in the North Korean border city. The shutdown was in response to Pyongyang's nuclear test and missile launches.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy]
Do Not Swear by the Moon: #Shigak no. 41
By Sino-NK | May 17, 2017 | No Comments
The election may be over, but #Shigak is not. In the first installment following Moon Jae-in’s election, we review new political developments, including the new administration’s reaction to North Korea’s latest missile test, profiles of those constituting the new administration, a rather long phone call between Moon and President Xi Jinping, and the return of “March of the Beloved” to its status as official song of the Gwangju Democratization Uprising.
"Dialogue is possible when the North shows a willingness to change it's behavior / attitude."
— Steven Denney (@StevenDenney86) May 14, 2017
North Korea tested another ballistic missile on Sunday, May 14. Writing for CSIS’ Beyond Parallel project, Victor Cha says this was a predictable outcome. Data show a correlation between North Korean provocations (e.g., missile tests) and ROK elections. Summarizing the data findings, Cha writes: “Under Kim Jong-un, the average window for a North Korean provocation bracketed around all ROK elections is 6.5 days (about 1 week). The average for presidential elections is 15 days or about two weeks.”
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy]
President Moon calls for stern response to North Korean ballistic missile launch
Posted on : May.15,2017 17:34 KST Modified on : May.15,2017 17:34 KST
President Moon Jae-in presides over a meeting of the National Security Council on May 14, after North Korea launched a ballistic missile, May 14. From right to left is President Moon, Blue House National Security Office Chief Kim Kwan-jin and Minister of Unification Hong Yong-pyo. (Blue House photo pool)
Response shows tougher tack on North Korea than seen during Moon’s presidential campaign
After North Korea unexpectedly launched a ballistic missile on May 14, the fifth day since the inauguration of Moon Jae-in as president of South Korea, Moon took prompt and stern measures by chairing a meeting of the National Security Council’s standing committee to take the wind out of North Korea‘s sails. During his presidential campaign, Moon had promised to inherit and develop the policy of engagement toward North Korea, but on Sunday he criticized North Korea’s missile launch and called for a stern response and for cooperation with the international community.
During the meeting of the standing committee of the National Security Council that he chaired on the morning of May 14, Moon described North Korea’s missile launch as “not only a clear violation of relevant resolutions by the UN Security Council but also a severe provocation to international peace and safety.” “I express my deep regret for North Korea’s rash provocation and simultaneously offer a stern warning,” Moon said. He also asked the army to “stand ready to make a thorough response to any military provocation based on the strong South Korea-US alliance” and instructed South Korea’s diplomats to work with the US and other allies and with the international community to respond as necessary to North Korea’s provocation.“ Moon repeatedly emphasized measures to counter North Korea‘s nuclear weapons through overwhelming military superiority. ”Based on the strong South Korea-US alliance, the South Korean military needs to keep working to more quickly strengthen our deterrence against North Korean provocations by developing the three Korean systems (Korean Air and Missile Defense, the Kill Chain and Korean Massive Punishment and Retaliation). In particular, it should keep track of progress on Korean Air and Missile Defense and speed up that project.
[Missile test] [Moon Jae-in]
[News analysis] North Korean missile launch presents early challenge to President Moon
Posted on : May.15,2017 17:33 KST Modified on : May.15,2017 17:33 KST
A photo from the May 15 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, of a missile test launch the previous day. The missile launched was a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which North Korea says is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. (Yonhap News)
May 14 launch may have been the highest-flying missile that North Korea has launched to date
On May 14, just four days after Moon Jae-in was inaugurated as president of South Korea, North Korea launched another ballistic missile. Regardless of what Pyongyang may have intended, the likely result is that the new administration will have fewer options to work with. The remarks Moon made during a meeting of the standing committee of the National Security Council that he chaired on May 14 can be interpreted in the same context: “We must respond firmly to provocations to prevent North Korea from coming to the wrong conclusion. We must show the North that even if dialogue is possible, it will only be possible when there is a change in North Korea’s attitude.”
Various experts say that North Korea launched the missile at a high angle, which means that its range can only be guessed at, and that it aimed for the missile to hit a section of the East Sea that is outside of Japan’s territorial waters. This shows that North Korea took elaborate technical steps to tone down the geopolitical impact of the missile launch.
There are several possible interpretations of North Korea’s intentions. Some point to the fact that May 14 marked the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Summit for international cooperation, into which China has poured a great deal of energy, to argue that Pyongyang was trying to send a warning message to China, which has recently been helping put pressure on the North.
It is also possible that this was an attempt to sound out the new government of Moon Jae-in. A senior South Korean government official offered a different interpretation: “The three ballistic missile tests that were carried out in April all appeared to fail, but this test seems to have achieved some degree of success. I think that North Korea carried out the test launch according to its own plan rather than deliberately timing it to overlap with the launch of the new government or the Belt and Road Summit.”
Photos from the Mar. 7 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, of a missile test launch the previous day. (Yonhap News)
With North Korea’s missile launch coming before Moon has even appointed his foreign policy and security team, the new administration is about to get even busier. Despite enjoying momentum in inter-Korean relations thanks to the work of former presidents Kim Dae-jung (in office 1998-2003), Roh Moo-hyun (2003-08) had to delay his summit with North Korea until the end of his term because of the issues of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles. “After the breakdown of inter-Korean relations under the administrations of Lee Myung-bak [2008-13] and Park Geun-hye [2013-16], the Moon administration has to reset relations with North Korea, so [the North Korean missile provocation] is putting Moon in a difficult position at the very beginning of his time in office,” said Kim Chang-soo, director of the Korea National Strategy Institute.
“The US is trying to use pressure to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, while North Korea means to strike a deal with the US after acquiring a definite threat by improving its missiles as much as possible. But putting China and South Korea in an awkward position with unending provocations will ultimately not help Pyongyang create the conditions for dialogue with the US,” Kim added.
[Missile test] [Moon Jae-in] [Hwasong-12]
Key foreign issues facing South Korea’s new leader Moon Jae-in
By Xuan Loc Doan May 12, 2017
As widely expected, South Korea resoundingly chose Moon Jae-in, the liberal candidate from the Democratic party, as its new leader in Tuesday’s snap presidential election. His decisive victory ends nearly a decade of conservative rule and may herald a major shift in the country’s domestic and foreign policies.
Domestically, Moon’s first task is, among many others, to clean up and reform the country’s political and economic system, which is heavily influenced and dominated by its massive conglomerates known as chaebols.
President Moon cancels plans for biased state-authored history textbooks
Posted on : May.13,2017 17:58 KST Modified on : May.13,2017 17:58 KST
President Moon Jae-in signs a directive to mandate singalongs of “March of the Beloved” and to cancel plans for state-authored history textbooks in his office at the Blue House in Seoul, May 12. (Blue House photo pool)
Also, Moon mandates permission of singalongs of “March of the Beloved”, part of plans “intended to restore common sense and justice”
President Moon Jae-in has ordered the scrapping of state-authored history textbooks and directed relevant agencies to hold a singalong of the song “March for the Beloved” during a May 18 event, Senior Secretary to the President for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan announced on May 12.
The designation of history textbooks and banning of the “March for the Beloved” singalong were heavily criticized as examples of regressive historical practices by the preceding Park Geun-hye administration.
Yoon explained the abolition of the textbooks was “intended to restore common sense and justice.”
[Textbooks] [Moon Jae-in]
Moon condemns missile launch; dialogue 'possible only when N. Korea changes attitude'
Posted : 2017-05-14 10:47
Updated : 2017-05-14 10:57
South Korean President Moon Jae-in strongly condemned North Korea on Sunday for its latest missile launch, describing it as a grave threat to regional security and a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
He also called on Pyongyang to reverse its course of provocations for the resumption of dialogue while warning that his administration would deal resolutely with its provocations in order to ensure it would not "miscalculate" the situation.
"Even if dialogue is possible, (we) should show (to North Korea) that it's possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude," Moon said, presiding over a session of the National Security Council.
Earlier in the day, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a site about 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang, South Korea's military said.
"North Korea fired an unidentified missile at around 5:27 a.m. today from an area in the vicinity of Kusong, North Pyongan Province," the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The projectile flew some 700 kilometers, it said, adding it's analyzing more details. The flight distance suggests the success of the missile test.
[Missile test] [Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Subservience]
South Korea Doesn’t Have a Clue What To Do About the North
Seoul needs to formulate a concrete strategy on its troublesome neighbor or risk being permanently sidelined.
By Patricia Kim
May 12, 2017
South Korea Doesn’t Have a Clue What To Do About the North
As the world held its breath watching the Asia-Pacific these past few weeks, parsing statements from Pyongyang, Washington, and Beijing, one voice was conspicuously missing from the fray — Seoul’s. One might be tempted to think that will now change. This Wednesday, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared in his inaugural speech that he would do his utmost to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis and to bring peace to the region.
South Korea’s election campaign, however, made evident that neither Moon’s Minjoo Party nor its rivals have a clear strategic vision for how Seoul can manage a belligerent neighbor to the north and a looming great-power rivalry at its doorsteps.
[SK NK policy]
Moon Jae-in Inherits Leadership At An Uncertain Moment For South Korea
by Scott A. Snyder
May 9, 2017
After a historic election in South Korea, progressive Moon Jae-in is the country’s new president. Exit polls estimate Moon won 41% of the vote and conservative Hong Joon-pyo, his closest competitor, has conceded defeat, along with Moon’s other political rivals.
President-elect Moon Jae-in will take office in a South Korea that has been consumed by domestic politics resulting from Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and a compressed national election campaign. But now as president, he will quickly be forced by rising Northeast Asian tensions to reassert South Korean political leadership that has been absent.
Despite aspirations to enhance South Korea’s impact and voice, Moon will face a steep learning curve.
History and the State: Textbook Debate Underscores Deep Divide in South Korea
By Yun Sik Hwang | May 12, 2017
The production and dissemination of modern Korean history is politically and socially divisive in the Republic of Korea (ROK). Under the previous government, seemingly unmanageable differences over school textbooks resulted in the decision to have the state produce a single history textbook (a nationalized history textbook). The decision to retake control of the publication of history textbooks was finalized on October 11, 2015 between the Park Geun-hye administration and then-ruling Saenuri Party, and was followed by Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea’s official declaration abolishing all eight privately published textbooks on October 13. However, this declaration was widely rejected in society, with those in opposition criticizing it for a range of reasons: from the claim that the move represented the restoration of South Korea’s Yushin era (1972-1981) to the less extreme assertion that a state-produce textbook simply wasn’t practical or realizable.
At the heart of the conflict lay divergent and politically-driven views of history.
A new president and new opportunities in Korea
By Mitchell Blatt
China.org.cn, May 11, 2017
Moon Jae-in of the liberal Minjoo Party waves during a celebration event in Seoul, South Korea, on May 9, 2017. Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party said Tuesday that South Korea's presidential election is "a great victory of great people" after most of local media outlets viewed his victory as assured. [Photo/Xinhua]
The election of a liberal, Moon Jae-in, as president of the Republic of Korea presents opportunities for Korean-Chinese relations to move to better ground.
Under the last president, the conservative Park Geun-hye, relations were somewhat rocky. After Park agreed to deploy THAAD, an American missile defense system, China blocked tour groups from visiting Korea and applied other informal economic sanctions. China views THAAD as a threat to its own nuclear deterrent, because the Korea-based long-range radars had the capability to penetrate Chinese territory.
Moon brings to office a desire to improve relations with China and is expected to take a less tough line on North Korea than Park. However, it’s less clear what specific policies will emerge when his stated views are translated into practice.
Declaring an end to authoritarianism, Moon Jae-in sworn in as president
Posted on : May.11,2017 17:31 KST Modified on : May.11,2017 17:31 KST
Moon Jae-in is sworn in as president, at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 10. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
As president, Moon says he will increase government transparency and work to create jobs
Moon Jae-in was sworn in for a five-year term as the 19th President of the Republic of Korea in an oath-taking ceremony at the National Assembly on May 10.
Following the ceremony at the Central Hall of the National Assembly Building in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood at noon, Moon delivered a message to the public stressing “unity and coexistence.”
“My heart beats with a passion to create a country that we have never before experienced,” Moon said.
“In this election, there are no winners or losers. We are companions who must usher in a new Republic of Korea together,” he added.
As president, Moon must now address South Korea‘s diplomatic isolation
Posted on : May.11,2017 17:29 KST Modified on : May.11,2017 17:29 KST
Moon will have to manage relations with US Trump administration, and repair ties with China and Japan
One of the challenges awaiting the administration of South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in, who took office on May 10, is the country’s isolation in diplomacy and security. During the administrations of Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) and Park Geun-hye (2013-2016), inter-Korean relations were completely severed and North Korea significantly improved its nuclear and missile capabilities. The South Korea-US alliance, which is the linchpin of South Korea’s diplomacy, has come under scrutiny since the inauguration of President Donald Trump in connection with the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system and the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). South Korea’s relations with China have chilled over THAAD, while its relations with Japan have soured because of the comfort women agreement and comfort women statues, and it won’t be easy to repair relations with either of those countries. Moon is taking office in a diplomacy and security environment that‘s harsher than any president before him, and he must address these issues immediately.
“I will create the conditions for relaxing tensions on the Korean Peninsula by establishing peace in Northeast Asia,” Moon said during his inaugural address on May 10. During the presidential campaign, he also announced a “bold plan for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” according to which South Korea would resolve the diplomacy and security crisis by taking the initiative for North Korea’s denuclearization. Whereas the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations argued that North Korea must make the first move, Moon’s plan is based on the principle of “simultaneous action,” in which North Korea, the US and other related countries take gradual steps. Moon’s remarks on May 10 that “If necessary, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and, if the conditions are right, to Pyongyang as well” appear to indicate that he will personally oversee this process.
Pro-North Korea newspaper with unusually quick response to S. Korean election
Posted on : May.11,2017 17:20 KST Modified on : May.11,2017 17:20 KST
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observes a factory operated by disabled military veterans, in this photo from the May 10 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. It was Kim‘s first visit to a factory operated by disabled soldiers. (Yonhap News)
Chosun Sinbo says Moon Jae-in’s victory shows the “Power of Candles Brings Change in Administrations”
The Choson Sinbo, a newspaper published by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) that represents the North Korean position, reported on May 10 on Moon Jae-in’s election as President of South Korea.
While the report is not an official response from Pyongyang, it came unusually quickly in light of precedent. The report was published at around 9:10 am by the Choson Sinbo in an article on its online edition titled “Power of Candles Brings Change in Administrations.”
“Minjoo Party candidate Moon Jae-in was victorious in a presidential election held in South Korea on May 9,” it read, adding that the victory “brings an end to nine years of conservative administrations under Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.” The report came a little over one hour after Moon officially began his term.
[Moon Jae-in] [NK SK policy]
Moon Jae-in's inauguration speech [FULL SCRIPT]
Posted : 2017-05-11 16:04
Updated : 2017-05-11 16:23
Moon Jae-in is sworn in as South Korea's 19th president during an inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly's Rotunda Hall on Wednesday. / Yonhap
The following is an unofficial translation of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in's inauguration speech by the Digital News Department of The Korea Times.
Citizens of South Korea, whom I respect and love, thank you. I bow my head with deep appreciation for your gracious selection. As the 19th president of South Korea, I today take my first step toward the new South Korea. Right now, my shoulders are heavy with crucial responsibilities vested in me by the citizens, and my heart burning with passion to make South Korea a nation never experienced before. My thoughts are now full of blueprints leading to the new world of unification and coexistence.
President Moon Jae-in Goes Right to Work
What a difference -- newly-elected President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has vowed to create open, transparent and caring government, work with the progressive and centrist parties and the conservative opposition to promote needed changes, and address pressing economic and security issues. He stopped by at a rally of the Sewol ferry victims families, who were neglected by the previous administration of Park Geun-hye.
Moon announced the nomination of Lee Nak-yon (Governor of South Cholla Province) as Prime Minister and Suh Hoon (who has worked on previous engagement policies toward North Korea) as National Intelligence Service Director and the appointment of Im Jong-seok (former pro-democracy student movement leader) as the Blue House Chief of Staff. The photo shows Moon with his staff, walking in the Blue House compound.
Moon Jae-in Elected President
By Jung Nok-yong
May 10, 2017 09:24
Moon Jae-in of the left-of-center Minjoo Party has been elected president on Tuesday with 41.1 percent or over 13.4 million votes.
Moon immediately assumes the role of president on Wednesday morning because his predecessor Park Geun-hye was ousted over a corruption scandal and there is no 60-day transition period between administrations.
Moon Goes to Work Immediately
By Jeong Woo-sang, Sun Jung-min
May 10, 2017 10:04
Moon Jae-in is being sworn in as the new president in a brief ceremony at the National Assembly at noon Wednesday and immediately starts work.
New presidents normally have an orderly 60-day transition period between administrations as they put together their Cabinet and staff, but Moon is denied that luxury because his predecessor Park Geun-hye was ousted over a massive corruption scandal in April.
Moon hopes to appoint his chief of staff and top security advisor on Wednesday and will announce his nominees for prime minister this week as he swiftly plugs the power vacuum that has plagued Korea since October.
He is scheduled to speak over the telephone with the leaders of the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
Once he has picked a prime minister, Moon plans to appoint vice ministers who do not have to undergo National Assembly confirmation hearings so they can start the business of government.
One of Moon's aides said, "We need to appoint vice ministers as soon as possible to get each ministry on board."
A formal inauguration ceremony is being considered in about a month. Since 1987, Korean presidents have held their inauguration ceremonies in front of the National Assembly on Feb. 25, but Moon simply does not have the time.
In landslide victory, Moon Jae-in elected president
Posted on : May.10,2017 11:07 KST Modified on : May.10,2017 11:07 KST
After making a speech to thank supporters, President-elect Moon Jae-in waves to the crowd gathered in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square, in the early hours of May 10. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Moon is now tasked with making real the wishes of the candlelight movement that brought him to power
Moon Jae-in, candidate for the liberal Minjoo Party, was elected South Korea’s 19th president. With all votes tallied by the National Election Commission, Moon had received 13,423,800 votes, or 41.1% of valid ballots, clinching the victory with a huge lead over conservative Liberty Korea Party candidate Hong Joon-pyo, who received 7,852,849 votes, or 24.1% of the total. Finishing third with 21.4% of the vote was moderate People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo (6,998,342 votes), who had been neck and neck with Moon in an earlier part of the race, with conservative Bareun Party candidate Yoo Seong-min (6.8%, 2,208,771 votes) and left-wing Justice Party candidate Shim Sang-jung (6.2%, 2,017,458 votes) trailing.
[News analysis] As President, can Moon Jae-in tear down the edifice of corruption?
Posted on : May.10,2017 16:03 KST Modified on : May.10,2017 16:03 KST
Moon rose to power on the spirit of the candlelight revolution, the question now is whether he can follow through
President Moon Jae-in’s final campaign rally was held at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. On the evening of May 8, the area around the podium was packed with supporters holding blue balloons. Even standing on tiptoes, I could barely see over people’s heads. A small placard that said “I’ve waited for 10 years” seemed an appropriate match for a huge flag that said “candlelight revolution.”
The outcome of the presidential election on May 9 launches South Korea’s third government led by democratic reformers, following the administrations of Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) and Roh Moo-hyun (2003-08). Since South Korea‘s Constitution was amended in 1987 to allow direct presidential elections, the forces of the conservative establishment and the forces of democratic reform have swapped power each decade. What significance will Moon’s election hold for this era? What challenges will this era present Moon Jae-in as he embarks on his presidency? These are difficult questions for a reporter focused on his beat. For help, I turned to experts.
[Moon Jae-in] [Reform] [Corruption]
New President Moon pledging improvement of inter-Korean relations
Posted on : May.10,2017 11:11 KST Modified on : May.10,2017 11:11 KST
On foreign policy, Moon says he’ll put THAAD deployment up for ratification, renegotiate two agreements with Japan
Moon Jae-in, in his first official act as South Korean president, speaks by phone with the South Korean military Chief of Staff Lee Soon-jin, at his home in Seoul’s Hongeun neighborhood, on the morning of May 10. Earlier in the day, Moon was informed by the National Election Commission that he is official South Korean president.
Newly elected President Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy pledges can be summed up in three points: restoring inter-Korean relations from the disastrous condition nine years of conservative administrations have left them in, loosening South Korea’s increased military dependence on the US, and using a mixture of sanctions and dialogue to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. All are more or less consistent with the Sunshine Policy agenda of the past.
Moon released a list of pledges on Apr. 28, in which he promised to resume operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was shut down in Feb. 2016, and tourism at the Mt. Keumgang resort, which has been halted since July 2008. His proactive stance was evident in a Facebook message posted in February, which read, “If we can achieve a change in administrations, I will undertake a three-stage expansion of the Industrial Complex to 20 million pyeong [66.1 million square meters].”
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [THAAD]
Moon sworn in, offers to visit N. Korea
Posted : 2017-05-10 17:01
Updated : 2017-05-10 17:31
President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook wave to citizens as they leave a swearing-in ceremony at the National Assembly, Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
Moon vows to become president for all the people
By Kim Rahn
President Moon Jae-in took the oath of office Wednesday, and offered to visit Pyongyang if conditions were met to help resolve the deadlock over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
In a message to the people delivered at the National Assembly, he said he would also go to Washington as soon as possible if necessary.
To address security problems on the Korean Peninsula, Moon said after taking the oath, "I'll fly to Washington, Beijing and Tokyo soon if necessary. And I'll go to Pyongyang if conditions are met. I'll do everything I can for peace on the peninsula."
Suh Hoon, the nominee for National Intelligence Service chief, reiterated Moon's remark.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Conditionality]
Moon Jae-in: Son of war refugees rises to power [PHOTOS]
Posted : 2017-05-09 20:08
Updated : 2017-05-10 09:45
By Jung Min-ho
It was a freezing day in December. About 14,000 North Korean refugees got on the U.S. ship, SS Meredith Victory, at the besieged port of Hungnam in North Korea.
Only hours before Chinese and North Korean communist forces swept into the area, Captain Leonard LaRue ordered to unload almost all of the arms and military supplies from the ship to take aboard as many refugees as possible.
The parents of Moon Jae-in, now the president of Korea, were among the 14,000 who arrived on Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang Province on Christmas Eve in 1950.
So when Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party asked whether Moon considers North Korea as the primary enemy of the South during a TV debate for presidential candidates, he could not say he does. For Moon ? and many others, the question can't be answered simply with a yes or no. It was the homeland his parents missed for the rest of their entire lives, and it still is home to tens of millions of innocent people enduring dictatorship.
Right-wing politicians have been trying hard to paint him as a "North Korea sympathizer." They aren't entirely wrong, but he also deeply appreciates the American captain who saved the lives of his parents, Moon wrote in his biographical book, "From Destiny to Hope."
N. Korea urges S. Koreans not to vote for conservatives
Posted : 2017-05-09 12:29
Updated : 2017-05-09 12:29
North Korea said Tuesday that the conservative bloc in South Korea should not be allowed to take power again as South Korea held its presidential election.
In a move apparently aimed at intervening in the South's politics, Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, said in its commentary that the removal of the conservative group will be a shortcut to new politics and life for South Korea.
[NK SK policy] [SK_election17]
South Koreans elect liberal Moon Jae-in president after months of turmoil
Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, and his wife, Kim Jung-sook, vote at a polling site in Seoul. (Yonhap/European Pressphoto Agency)
By Anna Fifield May 9 at 12:29 PM
SEOUL — South Koreans have elected a new president who is wary of the United States and wants to foster warmer ties with North Korea, opening a new and potentially difficult chapter in relations with Washington.
Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party claimed victory Tuesday night after securing an unassailable lead. With 65 percent of the votes counted, he had 39.6 percent.
His closest rivals, conservative Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, had 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Both conceded while the votes were still being counted.
“From tomorrow onward, I will serve as your president,” Moon told cheering crowds of supporters in Gwanghwamun Plaza, the central Seoul square where hundreds of thousands of South Koreans held candlelight protests against President Park Geun-hye, leading up to her impeachment and triggering Tuesday’s election.
“I will become the president for everyone, even those who didn’t support me,” said Moon, who lost to Park in the 2012 presidential election
"There is a reason we have this alliance, and these things are very difficult to change. It can’t be done by one individual just because he wants to,” Kim said.
[SK_election17] [Moon Jae-in] [US ROK alliance]
[Column] Presidential vote will determine future of inter-Korean relations
Posted on : May.8,2017 16:11 KST Modified on : May.8,2017 16:11 KST
New South Korean administration needs to restore Seoul’s role in managing situation on the Korean peninsula
“The nation must be united through our independent capability and under our watch,” said former president Roh Tae-woo, three decades ago. During his declaration on July 7, 1988, Roh defined North Korea not as an enemy but as part of the national community. A generation has passed since then - and what has happened? Conservatives three decades ago espoused national self-respect, but the conservatives of today don’t have the least amount of self-respect. Conservatives three decades ago were concerned about the nation’s future, but the conservatives of today chase short-term profits. With nothing to defend, conservatives have lost their dignity, and all they have left are worn-out ideological labels.
[SK_Election17] [SK NK policy]
N. Korea calls for end to confrontation on eve of election in S. Korea
Posted : 2017-05-08 14:06
Updated : 2017-05-08 17:49
With South Korea's presidential election just one day away, North Korea on Monday called for an end to the history of inter-Korean confrontation.
"The tragic North-South Korea relations today have been wrought by the conservative groups which, having been in power for the past 10 years, revived the foregone period of confrontation and maximized the political and military rivalry between the same race," the leading ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in a column on its Monday issue.
Anti-Communism Endures: Political Implications of ROK Political Culture
By Steven Denney | May 08, 2017
A not-so-subtle image was recently posted to the Facebook page of the South Gyeongsang provincial campaign office of Liberty Party Korea, the main conservative party and home of presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo. The image suggests that a vote for anyone other than Hong would be akin to a vote for North Korea (see image below-right). Publication of the image may well be in violation of the Public Official Election Act — proceedings are underway as we speak, notes the left-leaning Hankyoreh — but in the strategy itself there nevertheless lies some truth about the South Korean electorate and their political values.
South Korea's elections and the North Korean threat
South Koreans are on the horns of a dilemma about North Korea policy ahead of the presidential election.
Peter Ward is a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.
South Korea is a deeply divided country. It is divided by socioeconomic inequality. It is divided by its past, its present, and its future. But most importantly, it is divided by North Korea and the US.
Within South Korea, North Korea has been a permanent point of friction between Liberals and Conservatives. These two major parties, which represent the centre-left and the centre-right in South Korea's parliament, get into fights that reduce the North Korean issue to a number of hackneyed slogans before every election.
The upcoming election, which will take place on May 9, is no different
The previous administration ended in the ignominy of now former President Park Geun-hye being arrested for her alleged involvement in an extortion ring, where she leveraged her position as president, with a close friend named Choi Soon-sil.
And Park's decisions on her country's North Korea policy, as expected, also played a central role in this scandal.
It has been alleged that Park's friend Choi was directly involved in a decision to close an industrial complex that was viewed as the main symbol of inter-Korean cooperation in early 2016.
Park's liberal predecessors established the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in 2004 inside North Korea to help the country to reform its economy and ease tensions between the two Koreas. In the KIC, South Korean companies were allowed to manufacture their products using North Korean labour.
Choi's involvement in the decision to close down the KIC may be a conspiracy theory, or it may even be true, but the controversy and speculation surrounding this closure demonstrate that policy on North Korea is a highly divisive subject among South Korea's political elite.
A soft approach
The frontrunner in the race, Moon Jae-in, the candidate for the liberal left who lost the presidency in the last election, wants to reopen the KIC. Moon also wants to re-open Mount Kumgang, a tourist resort in North Korea that welcomed tourists from the south between 1998 and 2008.
Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump may have to choose between the safety of Seoul and San Francisco.
It may look like a fair deal to a South Korean liberal, but in a way it misses the point: North Korea did not develop nuclear weapons to force the South Korean government to invest in their development or to send tourists to their beach resorts. Moon's condition to reopen both these establishments is simple: a freeze on North Korea's nuclear programme, and an agreement to start negotiations aimed at ultimately ending it.
Indeed, the North Korean government quite happily developed nuclear weapons and missiles while accepting South Korean investment and aid in the 2000s, and it is unlikely that a future President Moon could stop them continuing to do so.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Agency]
South Korean Elections Sidestep Rising Peninsula Tensions
Senior Advisor, Korean Peninsula
Why have tensions risen on the Korean Peninsula this year?
Tensions are driven higher, as ever, by the North Korean nuclear and missile programs and evidence suggesting that Pyongyang is making notable progress toward deployment. However, this year there have been additional complicating factors.
Vying for Second Place: #Shigak no. 38
By Sino-NK | May 03, 2017 | No Comments
With the election less than a week away, is it the beginning of the end for the conservative splinter party, Bareun, and its presidential candidate, Yoo Seung-min? This question is on the slate in this edition of #Shigak. We also break down the latest polling numbers and take a look at statistics from the OECD on employment (and what is might mean for the election).
[Editorial] New president must prioritize steps toward peace and dialogue with North Korea
Posted on : May.7,2017 08:23 KST Modified on : May.7,2017 08:23 KST
North Korean leader observing naval units in the West (Yellow) Sea, near South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, in this image from the May 5 edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. (Yonhap News)
The nine years of the Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) and Park Geun-hye (2013-17) administrations saw inter-Korean relations hurtling toward catastrophe with the closure of Mt. Keumgang for tourism, the shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and several nuclear tests by North Korea. The US did not actively intervene over this period, following a policy of “strategic patience.” Whoever is elected president on May 9 will immediately be faced with the weighty task of turning back this tide. The issues on the Korean Peninsula require sophisticated solutions, with South Korea playing a pivotal role in its relations with the US, China, and the other countries involved. Whatever happens, the priority must also be on a peaceful situation. That’s why it’s so urgent for the new president to think of proactive and concrete ways of getting Pyongyang to participate in dialogue, such as sending special envoys to the North.
From that standpoint, the pledges for the main candidates fall broadly into two camps: dialogue and negotiation for liberal Minjoo Party candidate Moon Jae-in and left-wing Justice Party candidate Shim Sang-jung, pressure and sanctions from conservatives Liberty Korea Party candidate Hong Joon-pyo and Bareun Party candidate Yoo Seong-min. Moderate People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo is seen as falling somewhere in the middle.
[SK NK policy] [Agency] [Self delusion]
S. Korea to dispatch military officers to NK's friends
Posted : 2017-05-07 16:50
Updated : 2017-05-07 17:33
By Jun Ji-hye
The Ministry of National Defense plans to dispatch military officers to Laos, Iran and Jordan as part of its efforts to enhance cooperation with countries that have traditionally maintained ties with North Korea, officials said Sunday.
The ministry will choose field-grade officers to be dispatched to the three countries ? one for each ? officials said, noting that the measure is aimed at raising pressure on the Kim Jong-un regime that continues to push ahead with its nuclear ambitions.
Exactly when the officers will be dispatched has yet to be determined, they added.
[N-S Competition] [SK NK policy]
The Home Stretch: #Shigak no. 39
By Sino-NK | May 06, 2017
The election may be mere days away, but it continues to throw up some fascinating stories. In this edition of #Shigak, we look at record-breaking levels of early voting — more than a quarter of those eligible have already voted — and what that might mean for final turnout. There is also news of a legal clash between the Minjoo Party, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and private broadcaster SBS, and a veritable tsunami of “confirmation shots” flooding the internet thanks to the relaxation of rules covering election-related photography.[SK_Election17]
Advance voting for presidential election the highest in South Korean history
Posted on : May.6,2017 14:42 KST Modified on : May.6,2017 14:42 KST
People, some of them travellers, line up to cast advance votes for the May 9 presidential election, at Seoul Station on May 5. (by Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
More than a quarter of voters appear motivated by can-do spirit of the successful candlelight movement that ousted Park Geun-hye
The advance voting rate for the May 9 presidential election on May 4 and 5 was the highest in South Korean history at a final tally of 26.06%.
The National Election Commission (NEC) reported on May 5 that 11,072,310 of South Korea’s 42,479,710 registered voters participated in advance voting. In the liberal southwest, early voting rates were above 30% in South Jeolla Province (34.04%), Gwangju (33.67%), and North Jeolla Province (31.64). Sejong had the highest early voting rate among the 17 cities and provinces at 34.48%, while Daegu had the lowest at 22.28%. Busan also fell below the national average at 23.19%.
[Editorial] The South Korean gov’t’s responsibility for $1 billion THAAD bill
Posted on : May.1,2017 17:59 KST Modified on : May.1,2017 17:59 KST
A THAAD interceptor pointed skyward at the deployment site, a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Apr. 28. (Yonhap News)
US President Donald Trump came out for two straight days on Apr. 28 and 29 demanding that South Korea pay US$1 billion in costs for deployment of a THAAD system with US Forces Korea. Trump paid no mind to the existing agreement between the two sides, which has the US covering costs for THAAD’s deployment and maintenance while South Korea provides the site and infrastructure. Blue House Office of National Security chief Kim Kwan-jin said on Apr. 30 that he had confirmed the agreement on the US shouldering THAAD costs in a telephone conversation with White House National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster.
For now, the South Korean government seems to be breathing a sigh of relief. But the public isn’t resting easy. By way of explaining Trump’s remarks, McMaster said they were “made in a general context in line with the U.S. public expectations on burden-sharing with allies.” This sounds as though the same thing could happen again in the future, depending on how the US political situation unfolds.
300 NK defectors throw support behind Moon
Posted : 2017-05-02 15:44
Updated : 2017-05-02 17:36
By Choi Ha-young
A group of 300 North Korean defectors expressed support for Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, Tuesday.
This is the second time defectors have backed Moon who is leading the presidential race. On April 26, 40 other defectors, who are mainly in their 20s and 30s, announced they will help Moon win the election.
Defectors' support for a liberal candidate in an election here is quite rare because they have generally preferred conservatives with relatively more hawkish stances on the Kim Jong-un regime.
"We will support Moon who is the only candidate with reasonable views on North Korea and who can give careful attention to our voice," the 300 defectors said in a statement. "We believe Moon is the most qualified to achieve unification of the divided peninsula."
They claimed some ultra-right organizations, funded by the Federation of Korean Industries, mobilized them for their political rallies last year.
"We've stood by conservative groups, fooled by their honeyed words amid economic difficulties," they said. "However, they have exploited us only for their own needs, disregarding our hardships. We will no longer support them recklessly."
Moon Jae-in’s support rises 40%, while Ahn Cheol-soo’s falls to 24%
Posted on : Apr.30,2017 07:32 KST Modified on : Apr.30,2017 07:32 KST
Latest poll shows Ahn losing conservative voters, and left-wing Shim Sang-jung’s support growing after strong debate performances
Support ratings for major presidential candidates. Data: Gallup Korea
The two-way race between liberal Moon Jae-in and moderate Ahn Cheol-soo has recently given way to a field in which Moon is in the lead, with Ahn trailing and the other three major candidates far behind. This shift shows how progressive candidates are gaining support while the conservative vote is fracturing. The strong showing of left wing Justice Party candidate Shim Sang-jung in the televised debates has grown the pie for progressive candidates, with Shim picking up not only progressive voters but also moderates.
THAAD, Ahn, and the Defector Vote: #Shigak no. 37
In this edition of #Shigak we add the diverse voices of the defector community to the cacophony of election opinion, assess the reasons behind the current, potentially vital dip in Ahn Cheol-soo’s popularity and concomitant rise of Hong Joon-pyo, and review the THAAD-tinged fifth televised debate.
[THAAD] [SK_Election17] [Defector]
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