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N.Korea 'Would Be Wiped off Map' If It Uses Nukes
By Kim Jin-myung
January 30, 2018 11:23
Defense Minister Song Young-moo on Monday warned the North Korean regime would probably be wiped off the map if it uses nuclear weapons against the U.S. or South Korea.
Song was speaking at the sixth Fullerton Forum, a multilateral security conference, in Singapore.
But he added the regime probably knows that and is aware of its weaknesses in conventional warfare. Kim Jong-un's nuclear threat "is not something that will actually happen, but rather a propaganda strategy," he said.
Song added the time is long past when anybody can use their nuclear arsenal, no matter how powerful, and it would be "anachronistic" for the regime to think of using nuclear weapons.
[Deterrence] [SK NK policy] [US dominance]
[Reportage] Saemaeul Movement Theme Park celebrates former president Park Chung-hee
Posted on : Jan.28,2018 17:54 KST Modified on : Jan.28,2018 17:54 KST
A five-meter-high statue of former president Park Chung-hee in front of the Saemaeul Movement Theme Park in the Sangmo neighborhood of Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. Engraved into the marble around the statue are a list of his achievements, a chronology, the National Education Charter, and the notes of the “Saemaeul Song. (by Kim Il-woo, Daegu correspondent)
Total costs for the project are over $133 million, and visitors have declined in recent years
“Park Chung-hee Road.” “Saemaeul Movement Theme Park.” It was around noon on Jan. 23, and signs were posted along the six-lane road in front of former President Park Chung-hee’s birth home in Sangmo, a neighborhood in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province.
“Park Chung-hee Road” is the name given to this road by the city of Gumi. Inside the Saemaeul Movement Theme Park, large buildings loomed to the right. Bearing the names “Exhibition Hall” and “Global Hall,” they flanked the marble-built Saemaeul Plaza. North of the plaza were a training center and an “eco/tree house.” A road led uphill to the west, where a 1970s-era neighborhood was recreated as the “Saemaeul Theme Village.”
A recreation of a 1970s-era neighborhood called the “Saemaeul Theme Village” at the Saemaeul Movement Theme Park in the Sangmo neighborhood of Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province as it appeared on Jan. 23. (by Kim Il-woo, Daegu correspondent)
From the village, a road led south to a five-meter-high statue of Park. Engraved into the marble around the statue were a list of his achievements, a chronology, the National Education Charter, and the notes of the “Saemaeul Song.” The strains of that song could be heard playing around the statue. Further south of the statue, a construction sign was posted, explaining that the “Park Chung-hee Historical Library” was being built with a target completion date in June 2019. Such was the progress of “Park Chung-hee Town,” which spans a total area of 330,000 square meters.
[Park Chung-hee] [Saemaul]
Moon's Approval Ratings Plummet Over N.Korea
By Jeong Woo-sang
January 26, 2018 12:35
President Moon Jae-in's approval rating fell below 60 percent for the first time, according to a survey Thursday.
Realmeter polled 1,509 adults across the country from Monday to Wednesday and found that 59.8 percent still feel Moon is doing a good job, a decline of 6.2 percentage points from only last week. But 35.6 percent feel he is doing a bad job, up 6.3 percentage points.
The plunge seems to stem from the double whammy of an unpopular crackdown on Bitcoin speculation and the government bending over backwards to accommodate North Korea for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
In the Daegu and North Gyeongsang regions, a traditional bastion of the conservatives, Moon's approval rating plunged a whopping 16 percent. But it also fell 5.9 percentage points in the Gwangju and Jeolla region, which is a liberal stronghold.
It fell 4.2 percentage points among people in their 20s and 6.2 percentage points among those in their 30s, who his main support base. Among those in their 40s it nosedived 9.4 percentage points.
The honeymoon appears to be over. Realmeter put Moon's approval rating at a whopping 84.1 percent in May 2017, when he was one month into the presidency, and it remained between 65 and 75 percent until the end of last year.
"While there had already been controversies over the North's Olympics participation, such as forming a joint women's ice hockey team, disapproval of the Moon administration grew with the visit of a delegation led by [bandleader] Hyon Song-wol and the North preparing a military parade on the eve of the Olympics," Realmeter said.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "We humbly accept the public sentiment."
The presidential office hopes Moon's approval rating will rise again once government spending on job growth and support for the minimum wage hike go into effect.
[Moon Jae-in] [Olympics18] [Polls] [Conservatives]
British celebrity embroiled in racism controversy
Posted : 2018-01-24 15:31
Updated : 2018-01-25 18:59
Captured from MBC Every1
By Jung Min-ho
A British man who rose to instant fame after appearing on a popular TV show in Korea has been embroiled in a racism controversy for a comment during the show and his behavior on Instagram.
Simon Burfiend, 25, one of the three main cast members for the latest season of "Welcome! First Time in Korea?" on MBC Every1, has been criticized by thousands of Koreans for what he said during the episode aired on Jan. 18.
In the episode, Burfiend and the two others visited a bakery in Seoul and shared their opinions about the taste of its bread. In response to another cast member's comment, "This is very much like a bakery in the U. K," Burfiend said, "Yes, this is quite civilized."
Coffee to be banned at middle, high schools
Posted : 2018-01-25 18:07
Updated : 2018-01-25 21:44
By Kim Hyun-bin
Buying coffee at a school cafeteria or vending machine could become a part of history starting July.
The National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee has passed a revised bill recently that will prohibit coffee and high-caffeine-concentrated products from being sold in elementary, middle and high schools, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Thursday.
Once the revised bill passes through National Assembly vote it could go into effect as early as July.
Under the current law, products high in calories or caffeine or low in nutrition are restricted or banned at schools to improve students' health, with the exception of coffee which is classified as an adult beverage and has been sold in school vending machines and snack shops for teachers to consume.
However, once the bill is passed no coffee will be available even for teachers.
'Pre-Olympic military parade will give North Korea PR advantage' [VIDEO]
Thu, January 25, 2018 | 16:51
Posted : 2018-01-25 14:55
Updated : 2018-01-25 15:28
North Korea uses parades to show the world its military prowess. This parade in April 2017 celebrated the 105th birthday of the country's founder Kim Il-sung. / Yonhap
By Oh Young-jin
North Korea reportedly plans to stage a massive military parade on Feb. 8 to celebrate its armed forces. The next day, South Korea will hold the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The North will send a delegation to the Games, with its team marching with South Korean athletes and officials under the name "Corea," using a common flag. The Seoul government has put up with internal criticisms to allow North Koreans into the joint ice hockey team, surely at the expense of South Korean players.
[Olympics18] [NK military] [Conservatives]
North and South Korea Are Talking: Keep Expectations Low
By Steven Denney | January 23, 2018
Image: Steven Denney/Sino-NK
It should have surprised nobody that Pyongyang would seek to capitalize on South Korea’s desire to host a positive, peaceful and perhaps even profitable Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month. Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Address was like death and taxes: predictable. The North wants to refashion the dynamic of international relations in Northeast Asia — if only for a while — now that the law of diminishing returns on raised tensions has kicked in, and other actors are arrayed against it and its scheme to become a full-fledged nuclear state (albeit each with a different degree of fire and fury).
But what about the South Korean side? How does the voting public regard the latest outbreak of inter-Korean engagement? After all, it takes two to tango; and in the case of the ROK, a liberal democracy, that really means 50 million. What is North Korea’s pleasant face doing to the popularity of the Moon Jae-in administration at home, and what does it suggest about the future of today’s dialogue? Steven Denney investigates.– Christopher Green, Senior Editor.
North and South Korea Are Talking: Keep Expectations Low
by Steven Denney
Both North and South Korea have agreed to march their Olympiads under a single flag at the opening ceremony to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which will be attended by a North Korean delegation, and to field a joint women’s ice hockey team. These agreements, including a commitment to military-to-military talks, are what follows from the first official dialogue between the two Korea on January 9.
[SK NK Negotiations]
This Is No Time to Weaken the Army
January 22, 2018 13:28
The Defense Ministry plans to reduce the Army from 618,000 men to about 500,000 by 2022 and shorten mandatory military service from 21 months to 18. That is the equivalent of two divisions disappearing every year. The plans were originally hatched in 2006, when the North Korean nuclear program was far less of a menace than it is now.
The low birthrate continues to reduce the number of enlisted men, but North Korea is close to developing a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on an intercontinental missile. The head of the defense committee in the U.S. House of Representatives said American troops are training for an actual military engagement with North Korea. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate into a full-blown war any minute if North Korea refuses to sit down for talks after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and resorts to further provocations.
[ROK military] [Conservatives] [Military balance]
Cheong Wa Dae denounces ideological offensive over Olympics
Posted : 2018-01-23 16:27
Updated : 2018-01-23 18:29
By Kim Rahn
Cheong Wa Dae has expressed discontent at an escalating political offensive over North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, reiterating the need for unified efforts to successfully host the Games.
The stance comes as opposition parties and some conservative groups criticize that Pyongyang is hogging the limelight of the sports event and Seoul is conceding too much to the North with some even calling the PyeongChang Olympics "Pyongyang Olympics" and burning a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the North Korean national flag.
Moon's popularity waning amid rows over North's Olympics participation
Posted : 2018-01-22 15:48
Updated : 2018-01-22 20:45
By Kim Rahn
President Moon Jae-in
President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has dropped to almost its lowest level since his inauguration in May, according to the latest poll released Monday.
The decline in public support for Moon is largely attributed to controversies over North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the government's dubious stance on cryptocurrencies and the ongoing investigation into former administrations, analysts said.
According to the survey conducted last week by Realmeter with 2,509 adults, Moon's support rate stood at 66 percent, down by 4.6 percentage points from the week earlier.
It is the second lowest it's been since the third week of September last year, when the rating was 65.6 percent following North Korea's sixth nuclear test.
Some 29 percent said Moon was not doing well in state management, up 5.5 percentage points from a week earlier.
The decline was attributable to the controversies over the North's participation in the Olympics and regulations on cryptocurrencies, as well as Moon's "fury" remark about former President Lee Myung-bak's criticism of the prosecution's ongoing investigation, the poll agency said.
[Olympics18] [Moon Jae-in] [Polls]
Moon tries to muster support for North Korea's Olympics participation
Posted : 2018-01-22 15:51
Updated : 2018-01-22 15:52
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged public support for North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, calling it a rare chance to restart international talks on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
"Right now, we are facing a very precious opportunity to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is entirely due to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games that allowed the South and the North to sit face to face. Such dialogue came dramatically, while the possibility of war again loomed," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top secretaries held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
"But the current condition is so fragile that no one can be optimistic about how long the dialogue will last," he added.
The president insisted the North's participation in the Winter Olympic Games itself will help ensure the success of the quadrennial event, slated to be held from Feb. 9-25.
"However, if it ends just at that, we will have no way of knowing how difficult the problems we may face in our foreign and security relations in the future, and creating another opportunity for dialogue will not be easy," the president said. "We need wisdom and efforts to continue the miraculously earned opportunity for dialogue even after the end of PyeongChang (Olympics)."
The remarks come amid growing public criticism over an agreement between the divided Koreas to form a unified women's hockey team for the upcoming event.
The South Korean public, as well as some hockey players, reacted with anger that the decision may take away the chance for many South Korean hockey players to play in the event that only comes around every four years.
Moon asked the people to support the decision in that it helped resume dialogue between the two Koreas, and that it may also help lead to a resumption of denuclearization talks.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Wishful thinking]
Grasping the olive branch
Posted : 2018-01-08 17:31
Updated : 2018-01-08 18:44
By John Burton
Many things divide North and South Korea. But the two appear to share the same growing fear that a possibly mentally unstable U.S. president could plunge the Korean Peninsula into a horrendous conventional war and even a nuclear one.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un spotted that opportunity to win over South Korea when he proposed in his New Year address holding direct talks with Seoul, which will result in today's scheduled meeting between the two sides in Panmunjeom, their first high-level dialogue in two years.
Kim's clever diplomatic move underscores that this year could determine the future relationship between Washington and Seoul. It will also provide a test of how willing President Moon Jae-in is to stand up to the Trump administration and whether that will force the U.S. to take a less aggressive approach to Pyongyang.
[Overture] [NYA18] [Moon Jae-in] [US NK policy]
Prayers for peace, hopes for unity at the DMZ
In South Korea's Gangwon province, setting of the upcoming Winter Olympics, there is a generational divide on North-South reunification
By Andrew Salmon Gangwon province, January 22, 2018 10:46 AM (UTC+8)
In an observation pavilion overlooking the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, in front of an audience that included serving military officers in camouflage fatigues, Kang Kwan-sun sang for peace.
Dressed in white – the Korean color of mourning – she sang, “Come to us, come to us,” in the melancholy wail of pansori, or traditional Korean opera.
She was joined on the improvised stage by a male performer stripped to the waist, who smeared his body in paints of red and blue – a disturbing dance symbolizing a divided people, a divided peninsula.
Beyond the performers spreads a rugged mountainous panorama. A military guard post could be seen perched on a razor-back ridge. The ridge-line plunges down to a coastline, where brilliant blue waves broke on a white sand beach.
The long stretch of coastline is heartbreakingly beautiful but also strangely sinister. Completely still and completely empty, this is the DMZ: no man’s land.
South Korea looks to make high level inter-Korean talks a regular event
Posted on : Jan.20,2018 15:25 KST Modified on : Jan.20,2018 15:25 KST
(From left) Kim Tae-nyun, chief of the Democratic Party’s policy committee, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha salute the flag prior to the ministerial New Year’s reports on the progress of the security situation in South-North relations at the National Assembly on Jan. 19. (Yonhap News)
Road map for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is beginning to take shape in the areas of diplomacy and unification
The South Korean government is pushing to turn high-level inter-Korean talks into a regular event to carry forward the momentum from its current dialogue for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The Moon administration also plans to focus its diplomatic capabilities on proceeding from the current dialogue into bilateral discussions to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
With these efforts, a “road map” for achieving peace and stability on the peninsula is taking clear shape in the areas of diplomacy and unification. The details were shared by five government agencies – including the Ministries of Unification, Foreign Affairs, and National Defense – in New Year’s reports to Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Jan. 19 at the annex of the Central Government Complex in downtown Seoul.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Prosecutors may finally be catching up with former president Lee Myung-bak
Posted on : Jan.17,2018 16:42 KST Modified on : Jan.17,2018 16:42 KST
Testimony from a former NIS official reportedly shows that Lee was the real owner of DAS
Testimony by former president Lee Myung-bak’s closest associates is gradually backing him into a corner. While he has dodged numerous allegations over the past few years, there is reason to think he won’t be able to escape from the prosecutors’ current investigation.
Former National Intelligence Service (NIS) Strategic Coordination Chief Kim Ju-seong, 71, who reportedly testified that Lee had known about the diversion of money from the NIS’s special activity fund, has been regarded as one of Lee’s most trusted confidantes. The prosecutors have acquired testimony that Kim – who was the NIS treasurer who personally delivered money to the Blue House – told Lee about the diversion of funds during a private meeting.
[Lee Myung-bak] [NIS] [Corruption]
Testimonies indicate former president Lee was aware that NIS funds had been illegally diverted
Posted on : Jan.17,2018 16:40 KST Modified on : Jan.17,2018 16:40 KST
Former president Lee Myung-bak answers a reporter’s question while on his way to an end of the year party at a restaurant in the Gangnam district of Seoul on Dec. 18. (by Shin So-young, staff reporter)
Senior prosecutor: “A direct criminal investigation of Lee Myung-bak is now inevitable”
The Hankyoreh has learned that South Korea’s prosecutors have acquired testimony indicating that former president Lee Myung-bak was aware that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had been illegally diverting money from its special activity fund to the Blue House during his presidency. “A direct criminal investigation of Lee Myung-bak is inevitable now,” a senior prosecutor said.
Hankyoreh reporters learned on Jan. 16 that Lee had a one-on-one meeting in his office at the Blue House with former NIS Strategy Coordination Chief Kim Ju-seong in May 2008, at Kim’s request. Kim reportedly told Lee
[Lee Myung-bak] [NIS] [Corruption]
Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend Attends Cross-Border Talks
January 16, 2018 12:48
The leader of North Korea's famous Moranbong girl band and rumored former girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was among North Korean officials who met their South Korean counterparts on the border Monday.
The two sides met in the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss details of the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which will involve a vast contingent of cheerleaders for a tiny group of athletes.
Hyon Song-wol appears to be a powerful figure in her own right and apparently still enjoys the trust of her ex-boyfriend.
Hyon attended the talks in a blue formal dress with a badge bearing the portraits of North Korean nation founder Kim Il-sung and former leader Kim Jong-il. She greeted the South Korean delegates with a smile.
Hyon Song-wol, the leader of North Korea's Morangbong troupe, arrives at the truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Monday with her clutch bag (in a red circle). /Yonhap
One Unification Ministry official who was there said, "I could feel an air of composure and confidence." Another South Korean delegate said North Korea's chief delegate Kwon Hyok-bong and Hyon "spoke almost equally" -- a noteworthy detail in obsessively hierarchical North Korea.
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Moranbong]
N.Korea Miffed at Moon's Commitment to Denuclearization
By Lee Yong-soo
January 15, 2018 09:42
North Korea on Sunday slammed President Moon Jae-in's fresh commitment to denuclearization and warned it can still call off its participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
"They should know that train and bus carrying our delegation to the Olympics are still in Pyongyang," the official KCNA news agency grumbled. "We will as ever strive to improve the North-South ties but will never remain an onlooker to sordid acts of chilling the efforts."
The North was peeved by Moon's remarks at a New Year's press conference Wednesday that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula "is a fundamental aim that can never be compromised." Moon also hailed sanctions and pressure led by U.S. President Donald Trump.
[Olympics18] [Denuclearisation] [Moon Jae-in] [Tragedy]
NIS special activity funds investigation expands to former president Lee
Posted on : Jan.14,2018 14:33 KST Modified on : Jan.14,2018 14:33 KST
Former President Lee Myung-bak (right) and the man referred to as his “steward,” former Blue House general affairs and planning secretary Kim Baek-joon. (Hankyoreh Archive)
Prosecutors conducted a surprise raid on former Blue House officials
Prosecutors investigating the illegal diversion of special activity funds from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) are now turning their attention to the Blue House under former President Lee Myung-bak (2008–13).
On Jan. 12, the investigation team conducted a surprise raid in connection with the case. While the prosecutors have remained extremely cautious for fear of facing “targeted investigation” allegations, the public’s attention is already turning to the case’s potential to reach as far as Lee.
The second special investigation division of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, which has been investigating the illegal diversion of NIS special activity funds, conducted search and seizure operations on Jan. 12 targeting the offices and homes of former Blue House general affairs and planning secretary Kim Baek-joon, former second civil affairs secretary Kim Jin-mo, and former personal presidential secretary Kim Hee-joong. [NIS] [Lee Myung-bak]
South and North Korea Talks: A Thaw in Relations?
January 13, 2018
Gregory Elich interviewed by Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.
The recent talks between North and South Korea, what if any progress was made in thawing relations between the two countries, what to expect politically from the Winter Olympics being held in South Korea, and why South Korean President Moon continues to desire close relations with the Trump Administration.
[Radio interview] [SK NK Negotiations]
Push to End South Korea Abortion Ban Gains Strength, and Signatures
By Motoko Rich
Jan. 13, 2018
SEOUL, South Korea — Lee Na-yeon was 18 years old and in her first semester in college when she discovered, to her dismay, that she was pregnant.
Ms. Lee went to a hospital and had an abortion. But as a graduate of a Catholic high school where she had been shown graphic videos portraying abortion as murder, she felt scared and tormented by guilt.
She had also broken the law.
Abortion is illegal in South Korea with just a few exceptions, such as when a woman has been raped or her health is at risk. It is one of just a handful of the world’s richest countries to have such restrictive abortion laws. Women can be sentenced to a year in prison or ordered to pay fines of two million won (about $1,840) for having abortions, while doctors who perform them can get up to two years in prison.
Now, a group of women’s advocates is pushing to overturn the ban, and the country’s Constitutional Court is set this year to review a case that challenges the law’s constitutionality.
Last fall, more than 230,000 people signed an online petition submitted to the presidential office, known as the Blue House, calling for abortion to be legalized.
[Abortion] [Human rights]
An Olympic Glimmer on the Horizon – North Korea and South Korea Stepping Down the Escalation Ladder
by Patrick T. Hiller
The world is a month away from the PyeonChang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. My friends in South Korea have already bought tickets for multiple events. What a wonderful opportunity for the parents to expose their two boys to displays of athletic skills and friendly competition between nations in the Olympic spirit.
All is good, except for the fear of nuclear war triggered by impulsive leaders in North Korea and the United States
[False balance] [Liberal] [SK NK Negotiations]
Inter-Korean working level talks proposed for Jan. 15
Posted on : Jan.13,2018 15:01 KST Modified on : Jan.13,2018 15:01 KST
Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon shakes hands with Ri Son-gwon, chair of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland to open the inter-Korean dialogue held at the Peace House in Panmunjeom on Jan. 9. (Photo Pool)
The discussions would focus on the issue of North Korean participation the Pyeongchang Olympics
The South Korean government proposed holding working-level talks with North Korea on Jan. 15 to discuss the issue of the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This increases the likelihood that inter-Korean military talks will not be held until after Jan. 20.
“This afternoon, we used the liaison channel at Panmunjeom to transmit a message from Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, head of the South Korean delegation to the high-level inter-Korean talks, to Ri Son-gwon, head of the North Korean delegation to the talks. In the message, we suggested holding working-level talks about North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at the House of Peace on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom on Jan. 15 at 10 am,” the Unification Ministry said on Jan. 12.
[SK NK Negotiations]
In the Nuclear Standoff, Ordinary North Koreans Disappear
An advocate for North Korean refugees outlines an alternative approach to political change and regional peace in Korea.
By Andy Heintz, January 8, 2018.
Pyongyang, North Korea (stephan / Flickr)
Sokeel Park is the director of research and strategy for Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an organization that rescues North Korean refugees without cost or conditions and helps them on their journey to South Korea. LiNK also has resettlement programs that help North Korean refugees adjust to life in a new country.
Since its inception, LiNK has rescued 733 refugees.
Refugees take a huge risk by trying to escape North Korea. If they make it to China, they are still in danger of being arrested and forcibly repatriated to their native country, where they could face severe punishments, including torture, forced abortions, forced labor, spending the rest of their lives in a political prison camp, or even death. Even if they avoid Chinese law enforcement, without sufficient resources they are vulnerable to sex trafficking and other illicit industries.
LiNK features empowerment programs that allow North Korean refugees to offer insight into North Korea, as well as media and other campaigns that educate the global community about the conditions in the country and the potential for ordinary North Koreans to drive change in their country. The organization exists to empower the North Korean people.
Park narrated a LiNK documentary called the Jangmadang Generation that shares the perspectives, experiences, and hopes of the urban youth in North Korea with the international community. In the documentary, eight young North Korean defectors offer amazing stories of resilience, creativity, and quiet rebellion in the country. It shows how teenage smugglers, guerilla marketing, covert entrepreneurs, and illegal foreign media have given a new generation North Koreans a glimpse into the outside world.
Moon Mustn't Waver on N.Korean Denuclearization
January 11, 2018 13:22
President Moon Jae-in in his New Year's press conference on Wednesday said, "The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which was declared by the two Koreas, is a fundamental aim that can never be compromised." He added that inter-Korean relations cannot progress unless the nuclear standoff is resolved.
North Korea's position is that the nuclear issue involves only the U.S., while talks with South Korea should encompass only economic matters. But Moon has made it clear that he does not intend to dance to that tune. His comments will help ease many fears at home and abroad that Seoul could weaken international efforts to pressure North Korea for the sake of political gain at home.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Conservatives] [Self delusiomn]
[Editorial] Wise to avoid denuclearization during initial round of inter-Korean dialogue
Posted on : Jan.11,2018 17:05 KST Modified on : Jan.11,2018 17:05 KST
The high-level inter-Korean talks held on Jan. 9 produced results that exceeded the initial expectations. North Korea not only announced that it would send a large-scale delegation including high-ranking officials, athletes and cheerleaders, but it also agreed to hold military talks. Despite this, the conservative press and some opposition parties criticized the government for not pressuring North Korea hard enough on the question of denuclearization. This attack goes too far and ignores reality.
Aside from a few people on the fringes, there is hardly anyone, whether progressive or conservative, who opposes the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. South Korean President Moon Jae-in himself definitively stated during his New Year’s press conference on Jan. 10 that “the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is both the process and the goal of peace. This is our basic position on which there can be no concessions.” But these inter-Korean talks were organized around North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and that should be their priority. Standard procedure is to proceed to humanitarian discussion of reunions of the divided families and military talks aimed at preventing accidental clashes, which will naturally lead to discussion of denuclearization.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Denuclearisation]
President Moon renews commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula
Posted on : Jan.11,2018 17:14 KST Modified on : Jan.11,2018 17:14 KST
Improvements in inter-Korean relations can contribute to resolving the NK nuclear issue
In a New Year’s address and press conference on Jan. 10, President Moon Jae-in shared his commitment to using the resumption of dialogue and improved inter-Korean relations to achieve denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. He also sent the clear message that the international community’s intensive sanctions and pressure against North Korea were intended to bring Pyongyang into dialogue, while stressing that Seoul would cooperate closely with Washington in pursuing inter-Korean dialogue and encouraging Pyongyang to begin dialogue toward denuclearization.
“The ultimate goal of our diplomacy and national defense is to prevent war from happening again on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in his New Year’s address.
“I do not want immediate reunification,” he added.
Moon went on to state his goal as “resolving the North Korean nuclear issue during my term and establishing robust peace.” It was a reiteration of the “four nos” approach previously stated in his first South Korea-US summit in June 2017 and a Körber Foundation speech in Germany the following July, in which he said Seoul would not adopt hostile policies toward the North, attempt a preemptive attack, pursue regime change or collapse in Pyongyang, or attempt to artificially hasten reunification.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy]
Defense Ministry begins preparing for military talks with North Korea
Posted on : Jan.11,2018 17:08 KST Modified on : Jan.11,2018 17:08 KST
South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon (left) shakes hands with Ri Sonn-gwon, chair of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, following the high-level inter-Korean talks held at Panmunjeom on Jan. 9. (Photo Pool)
Dialogue likely to be held in tandem with inter-Korean dialogue concerning Olympics
Following the agreement reached in the high-level inter-Korean talks, South Korea’s Defense Ministry has begun the basic preparations for holding military talks.
“We’ve been at work on the practical preparations for military talks with North Korea, including the agenda and format, since we proposed them to the North in July 2017. We will move forward with these in line with the North’s response and the present circumstances and environment,” an official with the Defense Ministry said on Jan. 10. Thus far, there has reportedly been no contact between North and South Korean officials to organize the military talks.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Military]
[News Analysis] Future inter-Korean dialogue to encompass family reunions, military talks
Posted on : Jan.10,2018 16:35 KST Modified on : Jan.10,2018 16:35 KST
South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon (left) exchanges joint statements with Ri Son-gwon, chair of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, following the high-level inter-Korean talks held at Panmunjeom on Jan. 9. (Photo Pool)
The two sides agreed to expand topics of discussion following successful initial session at Panmunjeom
Just 10 hours after the beginning of the first inter-Korean talks in over two years, North and South Korea had finalized a joint press statement containing three points and agreed to hold more talks in the future about sports and military issues. The fact that the leaders of North and South Korea had personally arranged the talks through “indirect dialogue” appears to have created the momentum that enabled the two sides to narrow their differences. Not only was the communication channel at Panmunjeom restored prior to the talks, but it was confirmed on the day of the talks that the military hotline near the West Sea had been reconnected on Jan. 3, symbolizing how inter-Korean relations have changed in the New Year.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Two Sides of Korea Are Shaking Hands Again
Another thaw in tense inter-Korea relations is developing, as North Korean reps crossed by foot the Military Demarcation Line (in the DMZ) on January 9 at the Panmunjom, Korea, on the way to talks with South Korean counterparts for sending NK athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
More significantly, both sides also agreed to resume talks on military matters, in addition to re-opening of military hotline few days ago, that may usher in much-needed reduction of tensions in the peninsula.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Inter-Korean Talks 2018: Is a Thaw in Sight?
January 10, 2018
We bring volunteers to train North Korean entrepreneurs inside the country. As such, any de-escalation of tensions is good news to us. Inter-Korean talks began Tuesday morning at the DMZ. While talks are good, they are only a start. In this case, the crux of the issue is still the nuclear/ICBM standoff, and these talks are only a starting point to find a way to resolve the issue. Without compromise on some or all sides, this precious momentum could still easily stall. But as David Carden, the first US resident Ambassador to Southeast Asia points out, sometimes talking about an expanded range of issues alongside the core issue could create negotiating space.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Vice-level ministers to be included at inter-Korean dialogue
Posted on : Jan.8,2018 16:50 KST Modified on : Jan.8,2018 16:50 KST
Inclusion signals that each side wants negotiations to encompass a wide range of issues
Vice Minister of Unification Chun Hae-sung
On Jan. 7, North Korea notified the South of the final list of negotiators who will attend the high-level inter-Korean talks, bringing to an end the selection of negotiators for the talks. The heads of the two teams of negotiators came as no surprise. South Korea’s chief negotiator is Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, an expert with abundance practical experience in inter-Korean exchange, talks and negotiations. North Korea’s chief negotiator is Ri Son-gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF), another veteran negotiator who has represented the North at a variety of military talks and both working-level and high-level talks with South Korea.
More surprising is the fact that the two teams of negotiators will each include two vice minister-level officials. It’s particularly unusual that the teams of negotiators, which are led by the Unification Minister and the CPRF Chairman, also include Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and CPRF Vice Chairman Jon Jong-su.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Two Koreas begin high-level talks on Winter Olympics, ties
Posted : 2018-01-09 13:40
Updated : 2018-01-09 13:42
North Korea's chief delegate Ri Son-gwon, center on the left side, talks with the South's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, center on the right side. / Joint Press Corp
By Ko Dong-hwan
South and North Korea began their first formal talks on Tuesday to discuss the North's potential participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South next month and how to improve their long-stalled ties.
The high-level talks started at 10 a.m. at the truce village of Panmunjom in the border area, according to Seoul's unification ministry.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Koreas to Hold 1st Talks in 2 Years
By Lee Yong-soo, Cho Yi-jun
January 08, 2018 09:47
North and South Korea will hold the first high-level talks in two years in the border truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday.
North Korea on Sunday informed South Korea who will be representing it at the talks, a day after the South sent a list of its own delegation. It will be the first meeting between the two sides since December 2015.
Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said, "The agenda includes matters regarding the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as well as other issues of mutual interest such as improving inter-Korean ties."
A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "Those negotiations must succeed in order to make room for the remaining issues." But there are concerns that North Korea will make demands that are unacceptable for South Korea, like a permanent halt to U.S.-South Korean military drills.
Visitors look toward North Korea at Imjingak Pavilion near the demilitarized zone in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Sunday. /Newsis
U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that he supports the inter-Korean talks "100 percent." "Right now they're talking Olympics. It's a start, it's a big start," Trump told reporters at Camp David.
He added he is willing to talk over the telephone with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. "Sure, I always believe in talking. Absolutely I would do that, I wouldn't have a problem with that at all." But he made it clear that he opposes holding talks without preconditions.
Trump claimed it was his "tough stance on North Korea" that led to the talks and President Moon Jae-in thanked him in a telephone call on Thursday.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Seoul Must Be Firm in Talks with N.Korea
January 08, 2018 13:14
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will meet on Tuesday his quasi-counterpart from North Korea, Ri Son-gwon, who chairs the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. The first high-level inter-Korean talks in two years will discuss North Korea's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and "other issues of mutual interest."
International reaction has been largely positive. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the talks and characteristically took all the credit, saying, "If I weren't involved they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now." The Chinese government said South Korea and the U.S.' decision to halt joint military drills during the Winter Olympics would be reciprocated by a cessation in North Korea's nuclear and missile tests during that period.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said Sunday that North and South Korea must "mutually" head toward cooperation, but the U.S. insists that the pressure on the North must be maintained via sanctions.
Seoul must go into the talks with a clear sense of objectives. Its guiding principle must be that any dialogue must be geared toward solving the North Korean nuclear issue, and no agreements must be entered that make it harder to resolve the standoff. For example, no international principles must be compromised just to ensure a bit of glory for the Pyeongchang Olympics. There can be no promise to halt joint South Korea-U.S. military drills simply for a mere North Korean promise to freeze its nuclear program, because that would simply buy North Korea more time as it tries to perfect a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile.
Seoul would be reduced to a tool in realizing Pyongyang's evil schemes. It must not allow itself to get sucked into concessions that weaken international pressure on the regime.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Conservative]
[Editorial] Inter-Korean talks should create a framework for future contact and dialogue
Posted on : Jan.6,2018 16:15 KST Modified on : Jan.6,2018 16:15 KST
President Moon Jae-in speaks on the phone with US President Donald Trump on Jan. 4. (provided by Blue House)
During a phone call on the evening of Jan. 4, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump abruptly agreed to delay the two countries’ joint military exercises. Immediately afterward, on Jan. 5, North Korea accepted the South’s proposal for high-level inter-Korean talks at Panmunjeom on Jan. 9. Just four days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address, during which he stated his willingness for the North to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, inter-Korean dialogue has become a reality, following the restoration of the Panmunjeom communication channel, which had been disconnected for 23 months, and the delay of the military exercises.
Inter-Korean dialogue will be held for the first time under the current administration, and for the first time since Dec. 2015, over two years ago. The talks will be a challenge even if they go no further than discussing North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which is just over a month away. That is a tight timeframe, if the talks are to cover the scale of participation, the inclusion of cheerleaders and artists, the method and route of their passage to the South, their accommodations and security guarantee, joint statements for the opening and closing ceremonies, and even the possibility of setting up a joint inter-Korean team.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Olympics18]
[News Analysis] Blue House cautious about setting hopes too high for inter-Korean talks
Posted on : Jan.6,2018 16:17 KST Modified on : Jan.6,2018 16:17 KST
The two men who will lead high-level talks, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (left) and Ri Son-gwon, chair of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.
The first round of dialogue will focus on North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics
North and South Korea will soon be sitting down at the negotiating table for the first time in two years and one month. The talks have been made possible by the direct efforts of the leaders of the two sides. The question is whether this can go beyond ensuring the success of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and serve as a catalyst for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula.
One of the characteristics of the talks scheduled for Jan. 9 is that they were achieved through “indirect conservation” between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During his New Year’s address on Jan. 1, Kim described the Pyeongchang Olympics as a great event for the Korean nation and hinted that he would be willing to send a North Korean delegation to the Olympic Games and to participate in inter-Korean talks to make that a reality. Moon responded on Jan. 2 by expressing his “welcome and support” on Jan. 2 and by instructing the Unification Ministry and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to make preparations.
[SK NK Negotiations]
President Moon pledges to unify national discourse on North Korea policy
Posted on : Jan.6,2018 17:03 KST Modified on : Jan.6,2018 17:03 KST
President Moon Jae-in greets a group of leaders from the Korean Senior Citizens Association at the Blue House on Jan. 5. (Blue House Photo Pool)
Remarks are meant to placate concerns of conservatives who are skeptical of dialogue
On Jan. 5, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would not be weakly pursuing dialogue for its own sake as past administrations had done and promised that unifying the national discourse on North Korea policy could ensure success in the future. These remarks appear aimed at easing conservatives’ concerns about inter-Korean dialogue and showing his confidence about taking the driver’s seat on Korean Peninsular affairs.
[Moon Jae-in] [Self delusion]
Investigation reveals how Park received and spent nearly $3 million in illegal payments from NIS
Posted on : Jan.5,2018 17:18 KST Modified on : Jan.5,2018 17:18 KST
Prosecutors detail the illegal personal spending from a slush fund controlled by the former president
Investigation findings released on Jan. 4 by prosecutors indicting former President Park Geun-hye for receiving “special activity funds” from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) show most of the more than 3 billion won provided to have been used in secret and without guiding principles as a kind of slush or “petty cash” fund. In effect, the money was used to fund the manipulation of government operations – a long way from “governance fund for the sake of the state” that former NIS chiefs claimed it to have been. The conclusion reached by prosecutors was that the entire process from requests to designation of payment recipients took place under Park’s control.
[Park Geun-hye] [NIS] [Corruption] [Slush fund]
Koreas to hold high-level talks Tuesday
Posted : 2018-01-05 15:56
Updated : 2018-01-05 17:54
By Jun Ji-hye
North Korea on Friday accepted South Korea's offer to hold high-level talks next Tuesday to discuss the North's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and ways of improving inter-Korean relations, giving an impetus for easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said the North has notified the South its officials will go to the South Korean side in the truce village of Panmunjeom on Jan. 9 for inter-Korean talks.
On Tuesday, the Moon Jae-in government offered to hold the high-level talks, in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's comments the previous day during his New Year address that his regime was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics, calling on authorities from the two Koreas to meet to discuss the issue.
[US NK Negotiations] [NYA18] [Olympics18]
Olive branch from North Korea
Posted : 2018-01-02 16:40
Updated : 2018-01-02 18:18
By Choi Sung-jin
Many observers of international politics, here and abroad, have said 2018 would be a crucial year for the Korean Peninsula.
Nearly one month has passed since the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency reportedly forecasted North Korea would complete its intercontinental ballistic missile system "in three months."
It means a military conflict might occur between the two Koreas when spring comes. Or Washington and Pyongyang will try to find a negotiated settlement of the nuclear crisis excluding Seoul. Such a moment may come not long after the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in late February.
Unification Minister likely to head possible inter-Korean talks
Posted on : Jan.4,2018 17:23 KST Modified on : Jan.4,2018 17:23 KST
Ri Son-kwon, chairman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF), announces on North Korean Central Television the reopening of the Panmunjeom communication channel at 3:30 pm (3pm North Korean time) on Jan. 3. (Korean Central Television/Yonhap News)
The North Korean side is predicted to send the head of its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland
If South and North Korea do hold talks, they are likely to be between Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon on the South Korean side and Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) chairman Ri Son-kwon representing North Korea. In response to Cho’s proposal for senior-level inter-Korean talks in a press briefing on Jan. 2, Ri announced a day later that the inter-Korean communication channel at Panmunjeom was being reopened.
“We intend to establish a close linkage with the South Korean side from a sincere good-faith stance,” Ri declared.
A South Korean Unification Ministry source said Ri was “very likely” to hold talks with Cho as CPRF chairman.
“If that happens, there will be ministerial-level inter-Korean talks between the Minister of Unification and the CPRF chairman,” the source explained.
If Ri does participate as Cho’s partner in dialogue, the situation appears unlikely to bring the sort of controversy over “rank” seen during the Park Geun-hye administration. At a June 2017 meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly (North Korea’s equivalent of the National Assembly), the CPRF was upgraded from a peripheral Workers’ Party body to an official state organization, making questions about its official status or representativeness unlikely.
Ri himself comes from a military background and has taken part in inter-Korean general-level talks and military working-level talks since 2005 as a staffer and a delegation member. A source in the South Korean reserves with experience holding talks with Ri described him as a “right-hand man to United Front Department chief Kim Yong-chol, who is in charge of South Korea issues for Pyongyang.”
“He’s a bit impetuous, but he is a highly skilled expert in talks,” the source said of Ri.
By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer
[SK NK Negotiations]
N.Korea Reopens Border Communication Channel
January 04, 2018 09:45
North Korea on Wednesday reopened an inter-Korean hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom so the two sides can discuss its participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The North sent a message to South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, only a day after Seoul proposed reopening the communication channel but did not say whether it would accept Seoul's offer of high-level talks.
"Around 3:30 p.m., a North Korean liaison official called his South Korean counterpart on the hotline at Panmunjom," the Unification Ministry said. "They chiefly talked about communication lines."
They chatted for about 20 minutes.
The North cut the hotline two years ago in protest over Seoul's decision to shut down the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Seoul Must Not Fall for N.Korea's Ruse
January 04, 2018 13:18
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's offer of inter-Korean dialogue by tweeting, "Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not -- we will see!" But that was before he was apparently belatedly briefed about Kim's New Year's address and flew into a tizzy over Kim's boast of a "nuclear button" in his office.
His own nuclear button, Trump boasted, is "much bigger & more powerful." So much for harmony between the allies after President Moon Jae-in here said he "welcomes" Kim's offer of talks.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson also distanced his government from any talks with North Korea, saying "it is their choice" if North and South Korea wish to hold them.
[Overture] [Response] [Conservative]
South Korea offers high-level talks with North Korea on Jan. 9
Posted : 2018-01-02 14:46
Updated : 2018-01-02 14:46
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed a high-level inter-Korean meeting for Jan. 9 at a media briefing at the Government Building in Jongro-gu, Seoul, Tuesday. / Yonhap
By Oh Young-jin
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon on Tuesday proposed a high-level inter-Korean meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom on Jan. 9.
Cho's proposal came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un showed willingness to resume dialogue with Seoul on the issue of the North's possible participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 9.
"We are open to place and agenda," Cho told a briefing.
He said Seoul has been closely coordinating with the United States.
[SK NK Negotiations] [US dominance] [Response] [Overture]
President Moon Jae-in's New Year's Message to the Nation
Posted : 2017-12-31 09:53
Updated : 2018-01-01 15:00
January 1, 2018
The New Year of 2018 has arrived. I hope each and every one of you and your family will enjoy better days filled with joy and laughter throughout the New Year.
We all have prevailed well over many difficulties in the past year. The whole nation came together with one single mind to create a properly functioning country and took a big first step forward.
We made progress in the economy as well. The country achieved the milestone of $1 trillion in trade once again and regained annual economic growth of over 3 percent. These accomplishments are all the more precious because they were made in the face of political turmoil and security challenges attributable to North Korea's repeated provocations.
I am very proud of you all and, as President of the Republic of Korea, I would like to express my profound respect and appreciation to each and every one of you.
In the New Year, I will hold your hand tight and keep moving forward with greater vigor. I will continue to devote my best efforts to set right the flaws of the past and bring about real changes in the lives of the people. Putting top priority in state affairs to improve the quality of people's lives, I will strive to prompt tangible changes to everyday life.
I will make more determined efforts to uphold the will of the people for a fair and just Republic of Korea. I am convinced that building a properly functioning country will provide a greater driving force for social unity and economic growth.
In the New Year, I look forward to seeing various dialogues exchanged at different levels of society, including the tripartite talks among labor, management and the government. If we make a little concession and share the burdens, we will be able to move one step closer to the Republic of Korea where all of us prosper together.
Now the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are only a month away. They are the first Olympics to be held in Korea in 30 years since the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Let us show more love and support for PyeongChang. Your strong interest and full support will make the Olympics a great success.
I wish all of you good health and happiness in the New Year. Thank you.
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