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List of S.Koreans to Perform in Pyongyang Finalized
By Jung Sang-hyuk
March 28, 2018 13:27
The final list of South Koreans who will perform in Pyongyang next month has been announced.
There will be 11 acts taking part in the performances there, including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Baek Ji-young, Jung In, Seo-hyeon, Ali and Red Velvet.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism said Tuesday, "Over 190 people including singers and staff along with a taekwondo demonstration team will perform two concerts in Pyongyang on April 1 and April 3. We are currently in talks with North Korea to work out the details of the performances."
Rapper Psy, who earned global fame with his megahit "Gangnam Style" and was expected to join until the last minute, will not take part after all.
North Korea reportedly expressed reservations about Psy's over-the-top performing style.
North and South Korean leaders to meet for historic summit on April 27
By Ben Westcott and Yoonjung Seo, CNN
Updated 0807 GMT (1607 HKT) March 29, 2018
he leaders of North and South Korea will meet on April 27 for the first time since 2007, the two countries announced Thursday after high-level talks.
The landmark meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un will be held at Freedom House on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), according to the joint statement issued after the talks.
Officials from both sides will hold working-level talks on April 4 to prepare for the meeting and agree on security and media arrangements, it added.
The summit will be seen as a victory for Moon, who has long been pushing hard for diplomatic relations with North Korea. He said at his swearing-in ceremony in 2017 "for peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do."
Document Details Horrific N.Korean Massacre in Korean War
March 29, 2018 14:03
North Korean troops massacred some 2,000 abducted South Koreans over the course of three days during the Korean War, a U.S. military document recalls. The document titled "Legal Analysis of Korean War Crimes Case Number 141" gives a detailed account of the atrocity.
A single unit under the North Korean Home Affairs Ministry slaughtered some 2,000 South Korean public servants on a hill northwest of Kiam-ri, South Pyongan Province in October 1950.
The massacre came a month after South Korean and allied forces started marching north again after the amphibious Incheon Landing in September that year turned their fortunes around.
The North Korean unit took over from other troops some 2,000 prisoners in an area called Sibyeon-ri in the document and presumed to be in Yangyang-gun, Gangwon Province.
The prisoners were South Korean public servants who had been abducted in Seoul and Kaesong, which was in South Korea before the war, during the North Korean invasion.
The massacre began around midnight on Oct. 8. Some 800 to 1,000 prisoners were shot dead by 4 a.m. the following day, and the carnage started again at midnight on Oct. 9. y 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 10, all were dead.
To save time, the North Koreans proved keen students of other totalitarian regimes by making the prisoners stand on the edge or even inside three mass graves before they shot them and then simply covered them with dirt. The mass graves were later identified by South Korean and U.S. military investigators.
Told about the massacre by local informants, the U.S. military started an investigation in November that year. The document also illuminates the horrific mistreatment of the prisoners. They were given almost nothing to eat on their journey, and anyone who fell behind was beaten. Sick prisoners were sent to the end of the line and shot. By the end of their trek some 200 prisoners had died that way.
The 80-page document was written by a U.S. military command in the rear area in June 1953 based on the testimonies of three captured North Korean soldiers who had taken part in the massacre, civilian witnesses, and on-the-spot investigations.
The document was spotted by an association that looks out for South Koreans abducted by North Korea from Prof. Lee Young-jo of Kyunghee University.
Lee Mi-il of the association told reporters in front of Cheong Wa Dae, "If the upcoming inter-Korean summit fails to handle this kind of case, then any peace is false."
"If anybody is to talk about peace on the Korean Peninsula and cessation of the war, they should first solve the issue of abduction victims from the Korean War that was overlooked in the armistice negotiations," Lee said. "We strongly urge that the matter should be put on the agenda of the inter-Korean summit."
in any form or by any means without prior written permission.
[Korean War] [Massacre] [Canard] [Conservatives] [Summit18]
High-level inter-Korean talks to take place on Mar. 29
Posted on : Mar.26,2018 17:26 KST Modified on : Mar.26,2018 17:26 KST
The two sides will meet at the Tongilgak building in Panmunjeom to discuss summit preparations
Working-level talks regarding the Kaesong Industrial Complex were held at the Tongilgak building on the North Korean side of the Panmunjeom Joint Security Area on July 7, 2013. The talks spanned 16 hours over July 6 and 7. (Photo Pool)
High-level inter-Korean talks to prepare for an anticipated 2018 inter-Korean summit in late April will be taking place on Mar. 29 at the Tongilgak building on the North Korean side of the Panmunjeom Joing Security Area.
“On the morning of Mar. 24, the North agreed over the Panmunjeom liaison channel to our Mar. 22 proposal to hold high-level talks to prepare for the summit,” a Ministry of Unification senior official said on Mar. 25
“The North will be sending a three-member delegation led by Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) chairman Ri Son-kwon, and agreed to continue discussing practical matters over the Panmunjeom liaison channel,” the official added.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Will Psy perform 'Gangnam Style' in North Korea?
Posted : 2018-03-26 15:08
Updated : 2018-03-26 15:11
Seoul is pushing for "Gangnam Style" star Psy to perform in next week's historic concerts by South Korean artists in the North's capital, multiple reports said.
A team of at least nine South Korean pop acts are set to visit North Korea next week for two concerts in Pyongyang, the first of their kind for more than a decade.
The shows -- part of reconciliatory moves ahead of a planned inter-Korean summit in April -- feature many top stars including K-pop girlband Red Velvet.
But Seoul is also seeking to include Psy in the lineup, South Korean media reports said, citing sources in the government and the K-pop industry.
The 40-year-old rapper/singer became an international sensation in 2012 when his wacky but catchy "Gangnam Style" music video went viral on Youtube, pushing him into global stardom.
The song satirised the lifestyle of the wealthy denizens of Gangnam in Seoul, the South's richest district, and the video has been viewed more than 3 billion times, spawning a host of imitations.
"We have formally proposed to the North to add Psy to the lineup," Seoul's MBC TV station late Sunday quoted a Seoul government official as saying.
But Pyongyang opposed the idea, it said, adding the conservative North was apparently concerned about the singer's provocative performance style.
[Inter Korean] [Culture clash]
Jeju Island marks 70th anniversary of 1948 massacres
Posted : 2018-03-26 16:08
Updated : 2018-03-26 16:17
Empty tombs placed in the Jeju 4.3 Peace Park commemorate 3,895 people whose bodies were never recovered after being arrested without due process. / Korea Times photo by Jon Dunbar
By Choi Ha-young
Camellia, called dongbaek in Korean, is an iconic flower of Jeju Island. The flower bursts into bloom during winter and begins to fall from trees as spring comes. Islanders, fearing misfortune, tend not to plant dongbaek trees on their properties. The bloody red flowers falling remind of families and friends beheaded in the bloody spring of 1948.
Seventy years have passed since the beginning of the massacres, which claimed 25,000 to 30,000 lives ? about 10 percent of islanders. This year's decennial event is especially meaningful for Jeju residents, since it could be the last one for most of the aging survivors.
It's not very long ago that islanders could openly mourn the victims, said Ko Wan-soon, 80, who lived through a massacre in the island's northern Bukchon Village. There, 398 people were shot dead within only two days, the second-largest number of victims in Jeju.
[Jeju Massacre] [Syngman Rhee]
North Korea slams S. Korean military for backpedaling against peace mood
Posted : 2018-03-25 16:11
Updated : 2018-03-25 18:40
North Korea blasted the South Korean military on Sunday for acting against the conciliatory mood developing on the Korean Peninsula, saying that the South is engaging in military maneuvers against Pyongyang.
The North criticized South Korea's decision to deploy F-35A stealth jets and moves to buy more long-range air-to-ground missiles as part of a bid to strengthen weapons systems.
The military is scheduled to formally unveil the first F-35A stealth fighter aircraft for its military in a rollout ceremony this week. Seoul's arms agency said it signed in February a purchase deal for 90 more Taurus bunker-buster missiles.
"(Such announcements) are open provocations against the negotiating party and a dangerous move that runs counter to the current mood for reconciliation and unity that the two Koreas had not witnessed in a long time," said a commentary carried by the North's ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.
The commentary also said that "Negotiations and maneuvers for a war cannot stand together," and "Pursuing military options never works with us."
[ROK military] [F-35] [Detente]
South Korean lawmakers demand execution of North’s Olympic delegate
Feb 23, 2018
SEOUL – South Korean lawmakers protested Friday over a visit by a top North Korean general for the Pyeongchang Olympics, labelling him a war criminal over the 2010 sinking of a warship and calling for his execution.
Kim Yong Chol will head an eight-member delegation to arrive on Sunday for the Games’ closing ceremony — which will also be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, creating protocol headaches for Seoul officials.
Kim is widely blamed for a spate of attacks against the South including the torpedoing nearly eight years ago of the Cheonan, a Korean corvette, with the loss of 46 lives.
Some 70 lawmakers of the conservative Liberty Korea Party staged a protest outside the presidential Blue House, urging President Moon Jae-in to scrap the visit.
“Kim Yong Chol is a diabolical war criminal who attacked the South . . . He deserves death by hanging in the street,” the party’s parliamentary floor leader Kim Sung-tae said in a statement.
“Even if the heavens split in two, we cannot allow such a heinous criminal — who must be sliced to death — to be invited to the Olympics closing ceremony,” he said.
Unification ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said the South Korean government was aware of widespread misgivings about Kim Yong Chol’s visit to the South, but accepted it as the “chances for improving inter-Korean ties and a peace settlement might be improved.”
[Cheonan] [Conservatives] [Kim Yong Chol]
New jeans, new schools, new worries: North Korean family settles into South Korea
By Anna Fifield March 23 at 4:18 PM
A family of North Korean defectors hugs in a hotel room after escaping from the country. (Paula Bronstein/For The Washington Post)
Last August, they were making a terrifying escape from North Korea, fleeing over rivers, on buses and in rickety taxis through China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
The fisherman and his wife hadn’t been doing too badly in North Korea, by the low standards of the North Korean countryside. But they wanted a good education for their children, a teenage boy who loved art and computers, and an 8-year-old girl who liked whatever her brother liked.
This month, just a few weeks after emerging from the South Korean government’s resettlement program for North Korean refugees, the kids were preparing to enter new schools. Schools with books and electricity and teachers who didn’t need to be bribed into giving lessons.
[Refugee reception] [Media]
South Korea says North agrees to hold summit preparation talks on March 29
North Korea has agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea on March 29 at the border truce village of Panmunjom to prepare for a summit of their leaders planned for April, the South said on Saturday.
The flag of North Korea is seen in Geneva, Switzerland, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy
A team of three officials will be led by Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of North Korea’s committee for the peaceful reunification of the country, the North told its neighbor early on Saturday, the South’s Unification Ministry said.
“This morning, North Korea sent a message through a communication channel in Panmunjom agreeing to our suggestion made on the 22nd to hold high-level inter-Korea talks,” the ministry said in a statement.
Kim Jong-un Silent on Summits with Moon, Trump
By Lee Yong-soo
March 22, 2018 12:56
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has retreated into silence after signaling his willingness to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump to a South Korean envoy early this month.
The state media have also had little to say about what could potentially be two momentous events. One diplomatic source said, "Kim Jong-un is probably monitoring the behavior of the U.S. and moves by other countries as he calculates his next move."
Kim dispatched his Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to Sweden and Choe Kang-il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, to Finland, apparently to gauge the true intentions of the U.S. government.
Some believe Kim and his top officials may be trying to come up with some way of selling the need to scrap the regime's nuclear weapons to the North Korean public, who have been fed relentless propaganda that it is necessary.
A government official here said, "There are several areas in Kim Jong-un's pledge to the South Korean envoys that clash with propaganda doctrine."
[Summit18] [Kim_Trump_talks18] [NK deal]
K-pop stars to perform in North Korea in art troupe visit
By Yoonjung Seo, CNN
Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT) March 20, 2018
South Korean K-pop group Red Velvet takes part in the G-100 Dream Concert in November.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN)They wowed the crowd at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with hits like "Peek-a-boo" and "Bad Boy," and soon the girls from K-pop group Red Velvet will be synchronizing their steps on a stage in the North Korean capital.
Arrest warrant sought for ex-President Lee Myung-bak
Posted : 2018-03-19 17:40
Updated : 2018-03-20 17:25
By Lee Kyung-min
The prosecution sought an arrest warrant for former President Lee Myung-bak, Monday, as it claimed he was highly likely to destroy evidence given his continued denial of the corruption allegations including bribery in the amount of 11 billion won ($10.5 million).
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office requested the Seoul Central District Court to issue the warrant, the validity of which will be determined after a judge holds a hearing to question Lee and review the prosecution's charges as early as Thursday.
The request came three days after the team leading the investigation conducted an official briefing for Prosecutor General Mun Moo-il, Friday, seeking direction for the ongoing investigation into Lee.
The request was widely expected given the volume of evidence connected to a series of allegations, the gravity of which requires Lee's detention, given that a bribery conviction involving 11 billion won would carry a minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum of life.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
160 S.Koreans to Perform in N.Korea
By Kim Myong-song
March 21, 2018 09:25
About 160 South Koreans including veteran singers Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee and girl group Red Velvet will give two concerts in Pyongyang in early April, according to the Unification Ministry on Tuesday.
The two Koreas issued a joint press release after cross-border talks in the truce village of Panmunjom that day.
Hyon Song-wol (left), the head of the Samjiyon Orchestra, and singer Yoon Sang enter a meeting room in the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday.
The South Koreans will perform in Pyongyang between March 31 and April 3. Other performers include Choi Jin-hee, Yoon Do-hyun, Baek Ji-young, Jung In, Seo-hyun, and Ali.
It will be the first performance by South Korean artists in North Korea in 16 years. Cho, Lee, and Yoon have performed there before. Cho gave a solo performance in August 2005, and Lee performed there in 2003.
Clockwise from top left, Yoon Do-hyun, Choi Jin-hee, Baek Ji-young, Seo-hyun and Red Velvet
Yoon Sang, a singer and record producer, led a South Korean delegation to the talks Tuesday, while Hyon Song-wol, the head of the Samjiyon Orchestra, headed the North Korean delegation.
Korea to Slash the Number of Top Brass
By Yu Yong-weon
March 20, 2018 11:06
The Defense Ministry wants to slash about 100 generals over the next four years from the top-heavy roster of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, according to a government source on Monday.
About 90 generals will be lost to the Army alone, which has a whopping 313.
The ministry plans to put the reduction plan in a report to Cheong Wa Dae next month after gathering opinions in the military this month.
"The Moon Jae-in administration originally sought to cut the number of top brass by about 80 as part of a defense reform plan," the source said. "But Defense Minister Song Young-moo wants to slash another 20 Army generals."
The plan is focused on the Army, which is seen as wielding undue clout and enjoying undue privileges in the military overall.
Little resistance is expected because the ministry has already been carrying out a reform plan that aims to cut troop numbers by 118,000 to around 500,000 and revamp military organizations by 2022, which means many command positions will disappear anyway.
Korea has 6.4 Army generals per 10,000 troops, close to the 6.6 of the U.S., the world’s biggest military power.
[ROK military] [Moon Jae-in]
S.Korea to Take More Discreet Delivery of New Fighter Jet
By Jun Hyun-suk
March 19, 2018 09:48
The military is toning down a handover ceremony for a batch of new F-35A state-of-the-art fighters from the U.S. as an inter-Korean summit looms. The jets, which cost W7.3 trillion, are intended to counter the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea (US$1=W1,067).
The event will be held at the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas on March 28. Air Force Chief of Staff Lee Wang-keun and Jeon Jei-guk, the chief of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, both abruptly canceled plans to attend.
"Neither can attend the ceremony," a military spokesman said. "Lee must stay in the country to maintain military preparedness while [President Moon Jae-in] is on an overseas trip, and Jeon will accompany the president."
The military will not invite reporters either.
The stealth fighter is a key part of the "kill chain" preemptive strike system of the South Korean military, avoiding radar detection to strike the North's nuclear and missile facilities and key installations of the regime like the presidential palace in Pyongyang.
South Korea was keen to buy them in its regional arms race with China and Japan. Japan already has F-35As, while China has deployed stealth jets developed with its own technology.
Seoul is buying 40 F-35As altogether by 2021, each priced at over W120 billion, bringing the total price to W7.34 trillion including munitions and other weapons.
A military officer said, "It's a pity that the roll-out will be scaled down given how important they are and how much they cost."
"It's hard to understand why the government is scaling down the ceremony of the fighter jet, a key weapon in our response to North Korea's threats, although there has been no change in the cross-border military confrontation," a retired general said.
[F-35] [[Tribute] [Military balance] [China confrontation]
Majority of South Koreans feel that North Korean attitude is changing
Posted on : Mar.18,2018 16:14 KST Modified on : Mar.18,2018 16:14 KST
Two thirds of South Korean public believes that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons
Blue House Office of National Security director Chung Eui-yong meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Mar. 5. (provided by Blue House)
As the dialogue phase that began during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics continues with the upcoming inter-Korean summit and the North Korea-US summit, more than half of respondents in a recent public opinion poll felt that North Korea’s attitude has changed.
The poll, which was carried out by Gallup Korea from Mar. 13 to 15 on 1,003 adults around South Korea, had a sample error of ±3.15 percentage points and a reliability level of 95%. When respondents in the poll, which was published on Mar. 16, were asked about North Korea’s attitude, 53% said it had changed and 34% said it had not. That was nearly double the percentage (28%) of respondents who thought that North Korea had changed when Gallup carried out a poll between Jan. 2 and 4, immediately after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his desire to engage in inter-Korean dialogue during his New Year’s address.
There was also a change of attitude about the prospects of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. During the January poll, 90% of respondents said that the North will not give up its nuclear weapons, but the percentage in this poll was 64%, a 26-point drop over the past two months. In contrast, the percentage who think that the North will give up its nuclear weapons rose 16 points, from 6% in January to 22% in this poll. The percentage of respondents who thought that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons hovered between 7% and 11% in three Gallup polls in 2014.
[SK NK attitude] [Nuclear weapons]
Blue House to propose high-level inter-Korean talks in advance of summit
Posted on : Mar.17,2018 16:13 KST Modified on : Mar.17,2018 16:13 KST
President Moon briefs Trump, Abe on recent developments in the Korean Peninsula political situation
Blue House chief of staff Im Jong-seok chairs an inaugural meeting of the inter-Korean summit preparatory committee at the Blue House on Mar. 16. From right are Im, senior presidential secretary for public relations Yoon Young-chan, Unification Vice Minister Chun Hae-sung, Blue House chief of state affairs Yoon Keun-young, National Intelligence Service director Suh Hoon, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, and Office of Government Policy Coordination director Hong Nam-ki. (Yonhap News)
The Blue House made a decision on Mar. 16 to propose high-level inter-Korean talks to North Korea later this month in advance of a late April summit between South President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Moon called US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the same day to share recent developments in the Korean Peninsula political situation and news about preparations for the summit.
In an inaugural meeting presided over that day by its chairman, Blue House chief of staff Im Jong-seok, the inter-Korean summit preparatory committee decided to make an official proposal to Pyongyang for high-level talks at the end of March, Im said.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Three main agenda items announced for inter-Korean summit
Posted on : Mar.17,2018 16:17 KST Modified on : Mar.17,2018 16:17 KST
Blue House to focus on denuclearization, a permanent peace agreement, and progress on inter-Korean relations
President Moon Jae-in gives a congratulatory address at the “Busan Harbor Future Vision” event in Busan on Mar. 16. (Blue House Photo Pool)
The three main agenda items for the inter-Korean summit that were announced by Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok on Mar. 16 following the first meeting of the preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit fit together like interlocking gears. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the establishment of a permanent peace and progress on inter-Korean relations must all be in sync for affairs on the Korean Peninsula to move forward.
The first agenda item mentioned on Mar. 16 by Lim, the committee chair, was the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. “The ultimate issue is denuclearization. The results of the special delegation’s visit to North Korea seems to indicate that the North wants to resolve this fundamental issue, too,” a senior official at the Blue House said. This suggests that there is no significant disagreement between South and North Korea about dealing with the issue of denuclearization, the fundamental issue on the Korean Peninsula, during the inter-Korean summit.
Denuclearization is both an internal issue on the Korean Peninsula between South and North Korea and an international issue largely between North Korea and the US.
Lee Myung-bak claims forged evidence in denying bribery and corruption allegations
Posted on : Mar.16,2018 16:07 KST Modified on : Mar.16,2018 16:07 KST
An arrest warrant for the former president could come as quickly as next week
Former president Lee Myung-bak leaves the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on the morning of Mar. 15 following a 21-hour questioning session by prosecutors. (Photo Pool)
Former President Lee Myung-bak, 77, denied all claims made by associates and family members over 21 hours of questioning by prosecutors. Lee, who returned home from questioning early in the morning on Mar. 15, also said that original Blue House documents containing evidence to support the allegations were “forgeries,” without providing a basis for his claim. While he admitted to receiving US$100,000 (around 100 million won) from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) through former Blue House personal presidential secretary Kim Hee-joong, he stated that he would “not give details” about how it used.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
Preparatory committee formed for April inter-Korean summit
Posted on : Mar.16,2018 16:10 KST Modified on : Mar.16,2018 16:10 KST
The date, protocol, and summit agenda are all items which need to be finalized
Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok (left), who will lead the inter-Korean summit preparatory committee, and Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.
Following the appointments of the members of the preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit led by Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, and the scheduling of the committee’s first meeting on Mar. 16, attention is focusing on what role the committee will play in the future. To start with, the committee needs to carry out technical discussions with North Korea to finalize the exact date for the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which is supposed to take place at the end of April, to ensure the summit goes smoothly.
Another likely focus for the committee is arranging the protocol of the summit and the agenda that Moon and Kim will discuss. Since this summit will be held in the Panmunjeom Joint Security Area – unlike the previous two summits, which were held in Pyongyang – and since relatively little time remains, the two sides are likely to concentrate on the basic agenda of the summit.
Chung Eui-yong wraps up his March “special envoy diplomacy” tour
Posted on : Mar.16,2018 16:00 KST Modified on : Mar.16,2018 16:00 KST
Blue House National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong returned to South Korea on Mar. 15 after a whirlwind two week diplomatic tour across two continents. Chung and NIS Director Suh Hoon met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Mar. 5 before travelling to Washington, D.C. to brief US President Donald Trump on the results of their meeting with Kim on Mar. 8. Following their talk with Trump, the pair announced that the US President had accepted Kim’s invitation for a summit, tentatively scheduled to take place in May.
Chung has spent the past week in China and Russia, enlisting the cooperation of Chinese and Russian leaders in diplomatic endeavors to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establishing a permanent peace regime between South and North Korea.
Nobel Peace Prize for this guy?
Posted : 2018-03-16 09:30
Updated : 2018-03-16 09:30
By Oh Young-jin
If there could be lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula after two summits by the end of May, all three protagonists ? President Moon Jae-in, U.S. President Donald Trump and, yes, North Korea's young dictator Kim Jong-un ? would deserve a piece of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Gov't disapprove S. Korean firms' Gaeseong complex visit
Posted : 2018-03-15 14:01
Updated : 2018-03-15 19:32
By Kim Rahn
The current reconciliatory mood will not directly lead to the reopening of the inter-Korean Gaeseong Industrial Complex, the Ministry of Unification said Thursday.
Ministry officials said shutting down the complex was part of sanctions imposed on North Korea, which are unlikely to be lifted unless the North takes steps for denuclearization.
The ministry deferred its approval for South Korean companies' request to visit the complex. The companies last month sought permission to inspect their idle factories, saying they need to check the facilities and find ways to preserve them after two years of suspended operations. Thursday was the deadline for the government to decide whether to approve the visit.
Officials said they understand the need to inspect the facilities, but added North Korean authorities have not sent documents necessary for South Koreans to visit the North, including invitations and personal security guarantees.
"As an inter-Korean summit and Washington-Pyongyang talks are ahead, we may find other ways if the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula improves," a ministry official said.
He said despite the planned summits, pressure and sanctions against the North are still valid.
"The government's stance has not changed: any economic exchanges, including the Gaeseong complex resumption, can happen only when there is progress on North Korea's denuclearization," the official said.
It was the companies' fifth request to visit North Korea since the complex was shut down in February 2016. The former Park Geun-hye administration closed it, saying money given to North Korean workers was used in developing the country's nuclear and missile programs.
[Kaesong] [US dominance]
President Moon plans to submit amendment on presidential term limits to National Assembly
Posted on : Mar.14,2018 17:19 KST Modified on : Mar.14,2018 17:19 KST
Proposed constitutional changes would expand individual rights and increase decentralization of power
President Moon Jae-in holds a copy of the draft constitutional amendment alongside Jung Hae-gu, chairman of a special advisory committee on constitutional reform, while posing for a commemorative photo on Mar. 13. (Blue House Photo Pool)
On Mar. 13, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was briefed on a draft constitutional amendment proposed by a special advisory committee on constitutional reform, chaired by Jung Hae-gu, that would give presidents up to two consecutive four-year terms, expand individual rights and increase the decentralization of power. After the briefing, Moon said he was planning to submit the draft to the National Assembly himself by Mar. 21 if the ruling and opposition parties prove unable to come up with their own consensus amendment.
[Moon Jae-in] [Term limit]
Ex-President Lee Grilled Overnight
By Yoon Ju-heon
March 15, 2018 09:08
Ex-President Lee Myung-bak was interrogated on corruption charges at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office until Thursday morning.
He then returned to his home in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul around 6:30 a.m., after more than 21 hours of questioning. Neither supporters nor opponents showed up when Lee left home, seen off only by a handful of aides, or arrived at the prosecutors' office.
Former President Lee Myung-bak arrives at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' office in Seoul on Wednesday.
Lee is suspected of having taken bribes worth W11 billion, including W6 billion that he forced Samsung to pay in U.S. legal fees for DAS, an auto parts company nominally owned by his brother, in 2009 (US$1=W1,065).
The bribes also include W1.75 billion he allegedly pocketed from the National Intelligence Service's secret funds while in office.
Prosecutors suspected that as the real owner of DAS, Lee amassed slush funds worth W30 billion.
Former President Lee Myung-bak leaves the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' office in Seoul on Thursday morning. /Yonhap
Lee denied the allegations, saying his eldest brother Lee Sang-eun was the bona fide owner of the firm and he did not know that Samsung paid the legal fees.
He will not be questioned again before prosecutors decide whether to seek an arrest warrant in the coming days.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
Ex-President Lee Faces Questioning in Corruption Probe
By Yoon Ju-heon
March 14, 2018 09:29
Ex-President Lee Myung-bak appeared for questioning at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Wednesday morning on a slew of corruption charges.
Lee read out a brief statement on arrival. "I am deeply sorry for causing concern to the public at a time of economic woes and when national security is at stake," he said.
"I have lots of things to say as the former president, but I know I need to restrain myself and hold back my words," he added, ending his statement with the hope that this would be "the last time" in Korean history that a president has departed in disgrace.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
South Korean special envoys continue tour to brief foreign leaders of China, Russia, and Japan
Posted on : Mar.12,2018 17:26 KST Modified on : Mar.12,2018 17:26 KST
Chung Eui-yong and Suh Hoon will travel to neighboring countries to provide updates on the Korean Peninsula political situation
President Moon Jae-in listens to Blue House National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong describe the results of his visit to the US to meet President Donald Trump along with National Intelligence Service director Suh Hoon (right) at a meeting room in the Blue House on Mar. 11. (provided by Blue House)
After returning from a visit to the US on Mar. 11, Blue House National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon will be departing once again on Mar. 12 on separate trips to China, Russia and Japan. Chung and Suh will be giving these countries a detailed explanation of their visits to North Korea and the US and asking for their support in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula.
The two envoys are expected to emphasize that peace on the peninsula is in these countries’ interests in the hope of reassuring China, which welcomes the rapid improvement in North Korea’s relations with the South and with the US but is concerned about forfeiting its leadership on the Korean Peninsula, as well as Japan, which is suspicious of North Korea’s motivations and is concerned about being sidelined in Northeast Asian affairs.
73% of South Koreans welcome North's peace overtures, skeptical of its commitment
Posted : 2018-03-12 11:06
Updated : 2018-03-12 11:08
A majority of South Koreans welcome North Korea's peace overtures, but many of them remain skeptical about whether the communist regime has any willingness to give up its nuclear program, a survey showed Monday.
The Realmeter survey of 500 adults showed that 73.1 percent welcome the recent surprise developments, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's agreement to hold an inter-Korean summit in late April and his proposal to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.
But some 63 percent of those welcoming the change in the North's attitude, or 45.7 percent of the total respondents, said they don't trust the North's stated willingness to denuclearize. The survey was conducted on Friday, when Trump accepted Kim's meeting proposal, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
[March18_Initiative] [Public opinion]
Koreas brace for new era of détente
Posted : 2018-03-12 14:53
Updated : 2018-03-12 21:01
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late April. It will be the first inter-Korean summit in 11 years. / Graphic by Cho Sang-won
By Kim Bo-eun
Leaders of North and South Korea are set to meet, 11 years since the last inter-Korean summit in 2007.
In April, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet for the first time. It will be Kim's first meeting with a foreign head of state.
During the past seven years of his rule, Kim has hardly engaged in diplomacy _ he only met with delegates of states with friendly relations with North Korea, such as Cuba and China. The meetings all took place in Pyongyang _ Kim has not traveled abroad for diplomacy.
Kim and South Korean envoys to Pyongyang agreed last week for a summit to be held in late April.
What pushed NK to form conciliatory mood?
By Ock Hyun-ju
Behind a sudden change in Kim Jong-un’s posture is a maximum pressure campaign, a looming possibility of Washington’s use of a military option and its confidence to deter the US, experts say
Published : Mar 9, 2018 - 17:00
Updated : Mar 9, 2018 - 18:38
With US President Donald Trump appearing ready to engage with North Korea, questions are rising over what prompted the North Korean leader to offer conditions sufficient to warrant such a reaction from the US leader.
On Friday, the White House confirmed that Trump will meet North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un by May to achieve denuclearization, suggesting that Seoul’s envoys conveyed conditions satisfactory to the US leader.
[March18_initiative] [Kim_Trump_meeting18] [Sanctions]
The Two Koreas Talk: On the path to peace
Mar 6, 2018
Following a two-day meeting with North Korean officials in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy returned to Seoul on March 6. The special envoy had dinner with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on March 5 and a follow-up meeting the next day with North Korea’s high-level officials including Kim Yong-chol, the vice chairman of the Korean Workers Party (KWP) Central Committee.
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un shaking hands with Blue House National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong who led the ROK special envoy
Upon their return to Seoul, the South Korean delegation gave an announcement to the press that summarized the result of the meeting. According to this announcement, the North and South made a major breakthrough in the inter-Korean talks by agreeing to hold a summit as soon as late April of this year.
The following is a translation of the full press announcement by the South Korean special envoy to Pyongyang on the results of their meeting:
The North and South agreed to hold the third North-South summit at Panmunjeom at the end of April and agreed to hold working level meetings for this purpose.
The North and South agreed to establish a hotline between the leaders of both sides to ease military tension and for close consultation, and agreed to have the first call before the third North-South summit.
The North made clear its will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and clearly stated that if military threats against the North are resolved and the security of its system is guaranteed, it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons.
The North expressed readiness to have candid talks with the United States to discuss the issue of denuclearization and normalization of US-DPRK relations.
The North made clear that as long as talks continue, it will not resume strategic provocations, such as additional nuclear or ballistic missile tests. The North also confirmed that it will not use its nuclear or conventional weapons against the South.
In order to continue the positive momentum created through North-South reconciliation and cooperation during the Pyeongchang Olympics, the North invited the South to send a taekwondo demonstration team and an artists delegation to Pyongyang.
[March18_initiative] [SK NK Negotiations]
Moon Must Not Go Soft on N.Korea
March 08, 2018 13:35
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday reiterated that it is "unacceptable" for North Korea to possess nuclear weapons and said he has no intention of "easing sanctions for the sake of an inter-Korean summit."
Moon made the pledge in a meeting with the heads of the five major political parties at Cheong Wa Dae when he briefed them on a visit to the North by a five-member South Korean delegation. "Easing sanctions may be possible under an international agreement only when there is concrete progress" in U.S.-North Korean dialogue, he said. "The South Korean government is not in a position to unilaterally unravel the standalone sanctions."
North Korea is clearly cozying up to South Korea to buffer the impact of the sanctions and buy more time to develop its nuclear weapons, so Moon's latest comments are very welcome. Since the 1990s, North Korea has kept not a single promise to the U.S. or South Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program. From 2003 to 2008, it dragged out multilateral talks over the scrapping of its nuclear program while secretly bolstering its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
More Inter-Korean Exchanges in the Pipeline
By Kim Myong-song
March 08, 2018 13:00
North Korea has invited a South Korean taekwondo demonstration team and musicians and entertainers for a performance in Pyongyang.
The suggestion came during a visit to North Korea on Monday by National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon.
If this materializes, it will be the first performance by a South Korean ensemble in the North in 16 years.
The South Korean government is apparently keen to carry on the conciliatory mood amid North Korea's recent charm offensive, so it is likely to hold a concert there ahead of a mooted inter-Korean summit in late April.
"The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will discuss the details with its North Korean counterpart to decide on the timing and scale" of the performance, a Unification Ministry spokesman said.
There are hopes that the thaw could lead to other civil exchanges including reunion of families separated by the Korean War.
Conservative leaders challenge Moon over North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize
Posted on : Mar.8,2018 16:37 KST Modified on : Mar.8,2018 16:37 KST
“We need to avoid the attitude that [dialogue] will never work,” says President Moon
President Moon Jae-in discusses the recent visit of the South Korean special delegation to North Korea with the leaders of South Korea’s five political parties at the Blue House on Mar. 7. From left are Lee Jeong-mi (Justice Party), Yoo Seong-min (Bareun Party), Chu Mi-ae (Democratic Party), President Moon, Hong Joon-pyo (Liberty Korea Party) and Cho Bae-sook (Party for Democracy and Peace). (provided by Blue House)
President Moon Jae-in acknowledged the difficulties in ultimately achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but sent a resolute message while explaining his vision and solutions for inter-Korean relations to conservative leaders in a midday meeting with the heads of five parties on Mar. 7 at the Blue House’s Spring House reception room.
Liberty Korea Party (LKP) leader Hong Joon-pyo and Bareun Mirae Party leader (BMP) leader Yoo Seong-min focused most of their remarks on the possibility that recent progress in inter-Korean dialogue might be used to “buy time” for North Korea’s nuclear development.
“The part about [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s] willingness to denuclearize is something they’ve said over and over as a ‘teaching,’ but it has all been lies,” Hong said.
In response, Moon stressed that “nothing is definite yet.”
“We should be wary of rushing to optimism. But we should also avoid an attitude of ‘it will never work’ or ‘we’re just being taken in with this,’” he added.
Hong continued to press Moon by stressing that “we need to be heading toward denuclearization” and warning of “a major national tragedy if we head toward a nuclear freeze or temporary halt to ballistic missiles.”
Shock claim: 'Military action discussed to quell candle vigil'
Posted : 2018-03-08 15:46
Updated : 2018-03-08 16:49
By Jung Min-ho
Top military officials seriously considered suppressing a nationwide candlelight vigil by force after former President Park Geun-hye was impeached by the National Assembly in late 2016, the Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) claimed Thursday.
Citing sources in the military, the CMHRK said senior officials, including Major General Koo Hong-mo, discussed in detail scenarios of quelling millions of street protesters across the nation.
"It is very shocking that they considered using military forces to quell the peaceful protest," the center said. "The military mapped out a plan to trample on citizens with guns and swords in order to suck up to those in power like they did 40 years ago in Gwangju. It is tantamount to a rebellion conspiracy."
[ROK military] [Candlelight Revolution] [Repression]
Highflying South Korean politician quits after being accused of raping secretary
Kim Ji-eun, An Hee-jung’s secretary, gives an interview to JTBC in which she discloses the rape allegations. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Anna Fifield March 6 at 2:38 AM Email the author
TOKYO — A South Korean provincial governor and presidential hopeful resigned Tuesday after admitting he had repeatedly sexually assaulted his secretary, becoming the most high-profile man in that country to fall in a mushrooming #MeToo reckoning.
South Korean film makers, a prominent poet and a prosecutor have all been publicly accused of abusing their power and sexually harassing women who were junior to them.
But the most detailed and serious allegations to date were leveled against An Hee-jung, the governor of South Chungcheong province who ran for the Democratic nomination in last year’s presidential election. Both the nomination and the election were won by Moon Jae-in but An, who was dubbed “An-Bama” after the last American president, was widely considered a front-runner for the next election.
North Korea leader wants to advance Korea ties, makes agreement with South: KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met senior South Korean government officials for the first time and said it is his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties and pursue reunification, the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets members of the special delegation of South Korea's President in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 6, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters
A 10-member South Korean delegation led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong traveled to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Monday in hopes of encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk to one another.
[SK NK Negotiations]
Moon to send top security adviser, spy chief as special envoys to North Korea
Posted : 2018-03-04 11:54
Updated : 2018-03-04 14:38
National Security Office (NSO) head Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Suh Hoon.
- The pair are expected to visit the North early this week
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday named his top security adviser and the chief of the country's spy agency as his special envoys to visit North Korea this week for talks that are widely expected to focus on resuming dialogue between the communist state and the United States.
Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential National Security Office, will lead the five-member delegation to Pyongyang that will include Suh Hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
The delegation also includes Chun Hae-sung, vice minister of unification, Yun Kun-young, a Cheong Wa Dae official, and Kim Sang-gyun, a senior NIS director.
They will embark on a two-day trip Monday, using a special direct flight to Pyongyang, Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told a press briefing.
The delegation "is expected to hold talks with North Korea's high-level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship," Yoon said.
"Especially, it will hold discussions on the creation of conditions for North Korea-U.S. dialogue aimed at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the development of South-North Korea relations," he added.
The South Korean officials will also visit the United States in the near future to explain the outcome of their trip to the reclusive North, according to Yoon. (Yonhap)
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Intermediary] [Tragedy]
President Moon finalizing selection of special envoy to North Korea
Posted on : Mar.3,2018 15:22 KST Modified on : Mar.3,2018 15:22 KST
A priority is determining the willingness of North Korea to hold dialogue with the US
National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon
Early next week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will reportedly be announcing the selection of National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon or Blue House National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong to lead a special delegation to North Korea. Sources say that the delegation could visit the North as early as the middle of next week.
“Since [President Moon] said it would happen soon, it probably won’t be that long,” a senior official at the Blue House said on Mar. 2 in regard to the timing of the delegation’s visit to North Korea.
During a telephone call with US President Donald Trump on the evening of Mar. 1, Moon said he was planning to send a special envoy to North Korea soon in response to the visit by North Korean special envoy Kim Yo-jong. Suh and Chung are reportedly being considered to lead the delegation, with Moon still mulling over his final decision.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Tragedy] [NIS] [Intermediary]
[News Analysis] A variety of factors will go into choosing special envoy to North Korea
Posted on : Mar.3,2018 15:24 KST Modified on : Mar.3,2018 15:24 KST
NIS Director Suh Hoon is regarded is the likely person to head South Korean delegation
Blue House National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong
While Kim Jong-un has not had any foreign contact since becoming supreme leader of North Korea in 2011, South Korean government officials are on the verge of meeting him personally for the first time to discuss denuclearization and improving inter-Korean relations. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has reportedly considered the question of who should be the special envoy to carry out this mission from a variety of angles.
The special envoy to North Korea must be an official who is high enough in rank to serve as a proxy for Moon, one of Moon’s trusted allies who is able to communicate frankly with him, and a figure with an accurate understanding of affairs on the Korean Peninsula. It is for these reasons that National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon is regarded as the likely person to lead South Korea’s special delegation to the North.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Tragedy] [NIS] [Intermediary]
Blue House waits to hear Pyongyang’s response to “denuclearization methodology”
Posted on : Mar.1,2018 17:33 KST Modified on : Mar.1,2018 17:33 KST
Moon administration considering sending special envoy to North Korea before dispatching one to US
President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean Workers‘ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol at the Pyeongchang Olympics closing ceremony on Feb. 25 while Ivanka Trump looks on. (Photo Pool)
Amid growing curiosity about the “denuclearization methodology” proposed by President Moon Jae-in through a visiting North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics closing ceremony, the Blue House is reportedly watching to see the North’s response following its analysis of the proposal.
The Blue House also dismissed suggestions from some quarters that it first send a special envoy to the US before sending one to North Korea, with some officials cautiously suggesting Seoul first needs to hear Pyongyang’s response and send a special envoy to the North or hold high-level inter-Korean talks as needed in the process.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Tragedy] [Denuclearization]
Moon to Send Special Envoy to N.Korea
By Jeong Woo-sang
March 02, 2018 10:16
President Moon Jae-in talked with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump by phone on Thursday. Their discussion comes as the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang ends.
Moon briefed Trump on developments in inter-Korean talks with a high-level North Korean delegation during the Olympics, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.
Moon also thanked Trump for sending Vice President Mike Pence and his daughter Ivanka to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
President Moon Jae-in (right) talks with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump by phone at Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday. /Yonhap
"The two leaders agreed to continue their efforts to maintain the momentum for South-North dialogue so it may lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Yoon said in a statement. "Moon told Trump that he plans to send a special envoy to North Korea, who will reciprocate the visit by [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong] and confirm details of issues discussed during a high-level North Korean delegation's South Korea visit."
The White House said, "[Moon and Trump] noted their firm position that any dialogue with North Korea must be conducted with the explicit and unwavering goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization."
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert echoed that statement during a regular press briefing. "We share the principle of denuclearization and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that hasn't changed," she said.
[Moon Jae-in] [US dominance] [Tragedy]
N.Korea's Kim Yong-chol Wraps up Reclusive Visit
By Lee Yong-soo
February 28, 2018 11:26
Senior North Korean apparatchik Kim Yong-chol, the head of the United Front Department, wrapped up a three-day trip to South Korea on Tuesday. Kim waved at South Korean reporters as he crossed the border but did not reply to their barrage of questions.
Apart from attending the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Kim was mostly holed up in his hotel, where he met with senior South Korean government officials. No photos or videos of the meetings were revealed by the government.
[Kim Yong Chol]
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