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Come Together: North and South Korea
MOUNT KUMGANG, NORTH KOREA - AUGUST 26: North Koreans on a bus hold hands of their South Korean relatives to bid farewell after the separated family reunion meeting at the Mount Kumgang resort. Almost a hundred South Koreans crossed the heavily armed border to meet their separated families for the first time since the 1950-53 Korean War, during a family reunion at North Korea.
MOUNT KUMGANG, NORTH KOREA - AUGUST 26: North Koreans on a bus hold hands of their South Korean relatives to bid farewell after the separated family reunion meeting at the Mount Kumgang resort. Almost a hundred South Koreans crossed the heavily armed border to meet their separated families for the first time since the 1950-53 Korean War, during a family reunion at North Korea. Lee Su-Kil-Korea Pool/Getty Images
Although the Korean War technically never ended, North and South Korea are acting more peacefully toward each other than they have in a long time.
Eighty-nine families separated before and during the war were reunited for the first time in over six decades last week. It was the first reunion event since 2015, and more are scheduled to occur over the coming weeks.
What does this reconciliatory gesture mean? From The New York Times:
Although the two countries remain locked in a political standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons program, these reunions are seen as an important step toward reaffirming the countries’ shared history and culture. But they are also a sobering reminder of how far apart the capitalist South and the totalitarian North have drifted since the war.
Leaders of North and South Korea also announced earlier this month that they would hold a third summit in Pyongyang in September. And South Korea is moving forward with a plan to open a “liaison office” in North Korea sometime this year.
As relations thaw, what would it take for North and South Korea to reunify? And what role, if any, does the United States play in the prospect for peace?
Show produced by Bianca Martin, text by Kathryn Fink.
Victor Cha Professor, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service; senior adviser and Korea Chair, CSIS; author of "The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future" and former director of Asian Affairs at the White House National Security Council @VictorDCha
Jean H. Lee Director, Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy Woodrow Wilson Center; @newsjean
Ann Babe Independent journalist; contributor, The California Sunday Magazine @ann_e_babe
[Divided families] [US NK policy]
[Interview] London’s Koreatown offers glimpse of a reunified Korea
Posted on : Aug.26,2018 11:21 KST Modified on : Aug.26,2018 11:21 KST
North Korean defectors and South Korean expats live side-by-side in New Malden
Seong Cho-rong, 32, a researcher from the ethnomusicology doctoral program at The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, talks with the Hankyoreh at the National Gugak Center in Seoul on Aug. 21. (Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
“There are currently about 700 North Korean defectors in England, about 500 of whom live in New Malden, London’s Koreatown. Given that North and South Koreans live there together, whenever there’s a Korean event, there are three songs that are always played: ‘Hometown Spring,’ ‘Our Wish’ and ‘Arirang’.”
On Aug. 21-23, The ICTM MEA Symposium of the Study Group on Music of East Asia was held at the National Gugak Center, in Seocho, Seoul. One of the participants was Seong Cho-rong, 32, a researcher from the ethnomusicology doctoral program at The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
In Seong’s view, New Malden, which is called home by about 20,000 Koreans in total, is like a city from a future where South and North Korea are already reunified. That’s because the North and South Koreans who live there form close relationships as they live side by side and sing “Arirang” together, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Seong is in her third year of a research project called “The Music and Cultural Lives of Koreans in England” and gave a presentation at the symposium titled “Healing and Rebuilding through Music: London’s North Korean Refugees.” The study points to the role that music plays when it comes to how North Korean defectors living in London adapt to Korean culture.
[Inter Korean] [Diaspora] [Unification]
Koreas may hold another family reunion in October
Posted : 2018-08-26 14:47
Updated : 2018-08-26 18:00
Tweet Follow @koreatimescokr
Park Choon-ja from the South, right, kisses her older sister from the North during a reunion event on Saturday. / Joint Press Corps
By Kim Bo-eun, Joint Press Corps
The two Koreas agreed on the need to hold another round of separated family reunions within this year, and the head of South Korea's Red Cross said this could be in late October.
"My North Korean counterpart Pak Yong-il and I discussed holding another family reunion like the one being held now within this year," South Korea's Red Cross President Park Kyung-seo said in a press conference held at Mount Geumgang in the North, Saturday.
Park said the Koreas will discuss the date at working-level meetings, but said the event could be held "in late October, considering weather conditions."
[Photo] 2nd round of 21st divided family reunion continues
Posted on : Aug.25,2018 16:06 KST Modified on : Aug.25,2018 16:06 KST
The second round of the 21st reunion for divided Korean families continued at Mt. Kumgang Hotel in North Korea. On Aug. 25, individual reunions were held from 10 am to 3 pm for 81 families. They had lunch together after talking to each other in glee for the first two hours. The above photo shows South Korean Kang Du-ri, 87, with her older sister Kang Ho-rye, 89. (photo pool)
Police under Lee Myung-bak used illegal hacks to monitor online activity of civic groups
Posted on : Aug.24,2018 16:06 KST Modified on : Aug.24,2018 16:06 KST
National Police Agency also initiated internet campaign to manipulate public opinion
During the administration of ex-president Lee Myung-bak, the police illegally monitored email without warrants and tracked the IP addresses of people who had written posts on the message boards of civic groups, investigators have learned. In effect, the police were “hacking” civilians who weren’t under any specific criminal charges. Evidence has also emerged that tens of thousands of politically charged comments were written by the National Police Agency’s security and intelligence bureaus.
The special team of investigators at the National Police Agency (NPA) that is currently investigating the police comment case announced on Aug. 23 that it had requested arrest warrants for a total of four individuals, including one current senior official and three former senior officials who had served as director generals of the NPA’s security and intelligence bureaus between 2010 and 2012. These officials are being charged with illegal wiretapping and a campaign to manipulate political opinion online.
The team of investigators is charging a police superintendent surnamed Min, who was the head of the security and cyber investigation team for the NPA’s security bureau in 2010, with violating the Protection of Communications Secrets Act. The investigators have confirmed that Min acquired hacking equipment and illegally read the emails of subjects of an internal investigation without a warrant.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Surveillance]
Defense Ministry considers 1.5 to 2 times length of regular service for conscientious objectors
Posted on : Aug.23,2018 16:39 KST Modified on : Aug.23,2018 16:39 KST
Regulations would set annual cap of 600-700 alternative service members per year
Taiwanese alternative service personnel help a senior citizen after his treatment in Taichung. (Hankyoreh archives)
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on Aug. 22 that the government is considering setting the period of alternative service for conscientious objectors to compulsory military service at 1.5 to two times the length of regular military service, and restrict the number of conscientious objectors to between 600 and 700 per year.
“This will prevent conscientious objection being used as a tool for evading military service, and ensure fairness between alternative service and other military duties. We are currently working on a proposal based on the principle that alternative service should not be punitive in nature,” stated an MND official at a press conference held at a ministerial building in Seoul’s Yongsan District.
This is the first statement the MND has issued on the issue since the Constitutional Court declared on June 28 that the absence of alternative service was unconstitutional.
The government plans to come up with a draft plan for alternative service by the end of August through a working group that includes representatives from the MND, Ministry of Justice and Military Manpower Administration, and finalize the plan for submission to the National Assembly by the end of September.
“If the legislative process at the National Assembly is finished during the first half of next year, we may be able to implement the system from Jan. 1, 2020, after completing preparatory work in the latter half of 2019,” the ministry spokesperson added.
1.5 to two times the length of active duty service
The MND announced that it is reviewing two possibilities for the length of alternative military service, with the first being twice the length (36 months) of active duty service, and the second being 1.5 times the length (27 months) of active duty service.
Regarding the first option, the MND said that many people believed that “it’s a length that can discourage draft dodging as well as ensure that active duty conscripts do not feel unfairly treated.” They further explained that it would resolve any potential issues of fairness in comparison to specialized research personnel, public health doctors, and public-service advocates. France and Finland have alternative military service that is twice as long as active duty service.
South Korean government considers deleting language that describes North Korea as enemy
Posted on : Aug.23,2018 16:36 KST Modified on : Aug.23,2018 16:36 KST
Defense Ministry’s 2018 White Paper expected to use revised wording
The 2016 Defense White Paper
The South Korean government is considering deleting a phrase from this year’s biennial Defense White Paper which states “the North Korean regime and military are our enemies.”
In a text message sent to accredited journalists on Aug. 22, the Ministry of National Defense stated, “We expect to make a decision when the Defense White Paper is released in December after careful deliberation on the expressions used towards the North Korean military.”
Earlier on the same day, a Yonhap News article quoted a high ranking government official as saying, “We are actively considering deleting the phrase ‘the North Korean regime and military are our enemies’ from the 2018 Defense White Paper which will be released at the end of the year.”
The text message from the ministry was a response to this report, but did not attempt to refute the claim.
[SK NK policy] [ROK military]
Former DSC commander visited Blue House on day of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment
Posted on : Aug.22,2018 17:23 KST Modified on : Aug.22,2018 17:23 KST
Visit occurred amid plans to illegally proclaim martial law
Former DSC commander Oh Hyun-chun
Cho Hyun-chun, former commander of the Defense Security Command (DSC), visited the Blue House while he was in the middle of preparing for an illegal proclamation of martial law, the Hankyoreh has confirmed. On top of that, the visit occurred on the very day that former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was being impeached in the National Assembly.
Indeed, it was after that point that discussion about a martial law proclamation began inside the military. This is further kindling suspicions that the DSC commander had an inappropriate meeting with Park while her authority was suspended by the impeachment and that the two discussed concrete ways to respond to the candlelit rallies, including proclaiming martial law.
[DSC] [Coup] [Candlelight Revolution]
Pyongyang media reports on reunions of separated families
Posted : 2018-08-23 10:27
Updated : 2018-08-23 17:46
Members of separated families reunite in Mount Kumgang in the southeast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Aug. 20, 2018. Families of South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, finally reunited in tears and joy as they had never seen each other for decades until Monday when the rare reunions were held in Mount Kumgang in southeast DPRK. Xinhua-Yonhap
North Korea's state media reported Thursday on this week's reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, calling them part of "practical" measures to enforce the April inter-Korean summit agreement to enhance cross-border ties.
"During the first reunion held from August 20 and 22, the families and relatives from our side met their flesh and blood from the south and exchanged their inmost thoughts in a happy homely atmosphere," the North's Korean Central News Agency said in an English-language article.
On Monday, 89 elderly South Koreans crossed the border into the North to attend the family reunions at the eastern scenic mountain resort of Kumgang, which were held for three days until Wednesday. They met 185 people from the North found alive in the impoverished country.
A second round of reunions is set to take place from Friday through Sunday. A total of 83 North Korean people will meet their families living in the South. More than 300 South Koreans will travel to Mount Kumgang.
There are about 57,000 South Koreans wishing to reunite with their family members in the North. Before this week's reunions, the two Koreas had held 20 rounds of such events since their first inter-Korean summit in 2000. (Yonhap)
Sea of Tears: The Tragedy of Families Split by the Korean War
by Simone Chun
August 21, 2018
This past July marked the 65th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War. In addition to leaving nearly 5 million dead, injured, or missing, this bloody conflict forcibly separated nearly 10 million Korean families on either side of the 38th parallel.
Tears flow at reunion for divided Korean families
Posted on : Aug.21,2018 17:24 KST Modified on : Aug.21,2018 17:24 KST
Heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes of families reunited after 67 years
Lee Geum-seom, 92, who lives in South Korea, embraces her son Ri Sang-chol, 71, who lives in North Korea, after seeing him for the first time in 67 years at the 21st reunion for divided Korean families on Aug. 20 at the Mt. Kumgang meeting hall. (joint photo pool)
The mother flung her arms around the son she had lost while fleeing from the fighting 67 years ago. “Sang-chol!” she cried, intoning the name of the boy she had missed for decades.
During the 21st reunion for families divided by the Korean War, which was held at Mt. Kumgang, in North Korea, on Aug. 20, 92-year-old Lee Geum-seom, who lives in South Korea, sobbed as she stroked the face of her 71-year-old son Ri Sang-chol, who lives in North Korea. Geum-seom’s family had been fleeing from the horrors of the war when she was separated from her husband and her four-year-old son.
“Mom, this is what Dad looked like, Sang-chol said, showing Geum-seom a picture of her husband, taken before he passed away. Sang-chol couldn’t stop the tears flowing from his eyes in apparent pity for the tragic lives of his father and mother, who had been divided, just like the Korean Peninsula itself.
“How many kids do you have?” the nonagenarian asked, rattling off a series of questions to satisfy the maternal curiosity she had carried around her entire life. Sitting there hand in hand, they shared their stories. But pitiless time passed by in the blink of an eye.
On Monday, which was the first day of the event, the South Korean participants comprising 197 people, representing 89 families, arrived at Mt. Kumkang. South Korean Han Shin-ja, a 99-year-old woman on the verge of her 100th birthday, was reunited with the daughters she had left behind in the North: 72-year-old Kim Gyong-sil and 71-year-old Kim Gyong-yong. When their mother approached, the North Korean sisters greeted her with a deep bow and burst into tears. At a loss for words, Shin-ja moaned and managed to say, “Goodness gracious!”
Liberated from Japan only to be divided by civil war
When Han fled during the war, she had only been able to take her youngest daughter, a newborn. She had left her older daughters, who were 4 and 5 years old at the time, in the care of her parents and aunt, thinking she would return in a few months. Guilt at the thought that she had orphaned her own children robbed her of sleep for countless nights. The afflictions of old age have left her hard of hearing for more than a decade now, and the cataracts in her eyes have dimmed her vision. Even so, she instantly recognized the faces and voices of her daughters.
South Korean Kim Hye-ja, 76, had already been talking with her North Korean younger brother Kim Eun-ha, 75, for five minutes when she finally broke down and cried. “It’s really you!”
After Korea was liberated from Japan’s colonial occupation, Hye-ja had followed their father to South Korea while Eun-ha had joined their mother at her parents’ house. When the war broke out, their separation became permanent. Eun-ha took out a photograph of their late mother and showed it to his sister. “That’s Mom! I feel so bad for Dad!”
North Korean media makes rare comment on South Korean spy movie
Posted : 2018-08-21 15:08
Updated : 2018-08-21 15:13
By Jung Da-min
Poster for "The Spy Gone North." Courtesy of CJ Entertainment
North Korea's state-run Korea Central News Agency recently commented on the movie "The Spy Gone North," although not directly mentioning the title. It is rare for the North's media to comment on movies or dramas from other countries, especially from the South.
The movie is based on the real story of Park Chae-seo, a South Korean spy who later was found guilty in the South for his shifting allegiances between the two Koreas.
The KCNA report highlighted South Korean news agency Newsis' recent interview with Chung Dong-young, who is known to have met Park in late 1990s as an opposition party member.
Chung was a presidential candidate and is now leader of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace.
The movie's main focus is on the "Black Venus Case," in which Park was allegedly involved in an attempt to sway voters using the "Northern Wind," the North's political influence on the South.
[North Wind] [Media] [Inversion]
War-separated families meet for first time in 65 years
Posted : 2018-08-20 16:05
Updated : 2018-08-20 21:47
Lee Keun-sum, left, 92, from South Korea, hugs her son Ri Sang-chul, 71, from the North, at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on the North's east coast. They split in 1951, when the son was only four, at the height of Korean War. Eighty-nine South Koreans, mostly in their 70s and older, met about 180 long-separated relatives in the reunion, which will continue through Wednesday. / Korea Pool
By Kim Bo-eun, Joint Press Corps
Relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War tearfully reunited at Mount Geumgang in North Korea, Monday, for the first time in 65 years.
Participating from the South were 89 people who registered with the Korean Red Cross to find their relatives in the North, accompanied by family members.
Kim Choon-sik, 80, embraced his two sisters as they wept in his arms.
S.Korea Should End Wasteful Debate Over National Legitimacy
By Sonu Jong from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk
August 16, 2018 13:45
The Republic of Korea was founded on Aug. 15, 1948. President Moon Jae-in, however, said two years ago that this fact was a "silly claim that denies the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea." After becoming president, Moon said March 1, 2019 should be the actual 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic, commemorating as it does the birth of the Independence Movement.
The March 1 Independence Movement and the Korean government-in-exile are undoubtedly significant, and the Constitution traces the republic's legitimacy to these historical events. Nonetheless, the Republic of Korea was not born until Aug. 15, 1948 from the efforts of those independence fighters and in the vortex of global politics. There should be no disagreements over this fact, and no need to denigrate the significance of Aug. 15, only because one is praising and appreciating the March 1 Independence Movement even more. Unfortunately, that is precisely what the Moon Jae-in administration is doing, just as it refuses to acknowledge Syngman Rhee as the country's first president.
That stubbornness has erased the significance of the country's 70th anniversary, and North Korea is in a sense filling that void by putting on a massive celebration of its own 70th anniversary less than a month later, on Sept. 9.
Kim Jong-un announced in his New Year's address that he plans to treat this year's Sept. 9 anniversary as a "major cause for celebration" and referred to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as a "good opportunity to show off our proud heritage." The North sent its athletes with a big entourage of cheerleaders to Pyeongchang, and there is no doubt that North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics eased cross-border tensions. Now it is hijacking South Korea's 70th anniversary as well.
Diplomacy is a constant tug of war. If you lose, you end up getting dragged around by the victor. The most effective card South Korea had, in order to deal effectively with North Korea's massive celebrations, would have been to counter them with its own. It could even have invited Kim Jong-il to Seoul to attend Liberation Day celebrations. That opportunity is now forever lost.
Grace Road church followers detained in Fiji raid
Reports from Fiji say authorities have raided a controversial Korean church's headquarters and detained three of its senior followers.
Shin Ok-ju, the founder of Grace Road Church, has been arrested in South Korea, accused of enslaving some 400 followers in Fiji.
Shin Ok-ju, the founder of Grace Road Church, has been arrested in South Korea, accused of enslaving some 400 followers in Fiji. Photo: Grace Road Church
FBC News reported the raid on the Grace Road Church premises at Navua was a collaboration between the Korean and Fijian police and immigration authorities.
The Director of Immigration Nemani Vuniwaqa said three senior members of the church had been detained over allegations concerning 400 church members in Fijji.
The church's founder Shin Ok-ju was arrested in Seoul last month and charged with enslaving followers in Fiji.
Mr Vuniwaqa said Grace Road Church executives were working with Immigration to locate the other three suspects wanted in connection to the case.
FBC News reports formal investigations by Fijian Police at the request of Korean authorities began last week.
The Fiji Police Force is yet to comment.
South Korea supplies electricity to building set to house inter-Korean joint liaison office
Posted on : Aug.15,2018 16:11 KST Modified on : Aug.15,2018 16:11 KST
Unification Ministry stresses no additional electricity is being supplied to North Korea
Buildings in the Kaesong Complex light up after electricity provided by an electrical substation in Munsan, Gyeonggi Province, electrically connects the two Koreas for the first time in 57 years on Mar. 16, 2005. (Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
South Korean electricity was supplied on Aug. 14 to a building in the Kaesong Industrial Region (Kaesong Complex) that houses an inter-Korean joint liaison office set to office shortly.
The electricity supplied to the building, which formerly housed the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation consultation office, represented only the necessary amount for operation of the joint office. The supply was intended as a test ahead of the office’s opening and is unconnected to a resumption of operations at the Kaesong Complex.
The supply of South Korean electricity to the region is the first in the two years and six months since the complex’s full-scale shutdown in Feb. 2016. South and North Korea are currently carrying out the final renovation efforts on the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation consultation office building to be used for the joint liaison office.
“In the past, we used a small generator to supply electricity for the renovation effort, but in view of cost and efficiency issues, we began distributing a limited amount of electricity as of this afternoon,” a Ministry of Unification senior official said on Aug. 14.
“The electricity for the inter-Korean joint liaison office is intended to guarantee the office’s operation and the convenience of South Korean workers and is not a case of electricity being supplied to North Korea,” the official stressed.
[Kaesong] [Electricity] [US dominance]
Third summit in September is closer to Apr. 27 or May 26?
Posted on : Aug.15,2018 16:08 KST Modified on : Aug.15,2018 16:08 KST
Announcement by WPK’s Rodong Sinmun effectively sets meeting in stone
While South Korean President and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proclaimed a “Spring of One” during the Apr. 27 Inter-Korean Summit, will they be able to similarly declare that “fall has arrived” during the upcoming summit in September? The above photo depicts the “Spring of One” ceremony and performance after the Apr. 27 Inter-Korean Summit. (Blue House photo pool)
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported on Aug. 14 that an agreement had been reached to hold a meeting and summit between the South and North Korean leaders “in Pyongyang within September.” The immediate announcement of the agreement through the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) newspaper – which occupies a position of overwhelming authority in North Korea – effectively sets the meeting in stone. It is a message indicating that despite fears to the contrary, the Pyongyang summit next month will happen as agreed upon.
Then, will the third meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this September be closer to their Apr. 27 summit, which led to the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” or the May 26 summit that resurrected the fading prospects for a North Korea-US summit?
Agreement to hold fall summit also driven by sense of desperation to remedy stalemate
To begin with, it is closer to the Apr. 27 summit in terms of form and protocol as an “official summit” in accordance with President Moon’s agreement to visit Pyongyang for a summit in the Panmunjeom Declaration. But the two sides’ agreement to hold an early fall summit is also informed by a sense of desperation: their need to remedy a situation where implementation of the Panmunjeom Declaration is struggling amid the bottleneck that has emerged in implementing the terms of Pyongyang and Washington’s June 12 Joint Declaration, including the matters of a declaration ending the Korean War and the reporting and inspection of nuclear facilities and materials.
[Summit1809] [Panmunjom Declaration] [US dominance]
Rejected asylum seekers decry 'no honorable return'
Posted : 2018-08-15 09:31
Updated : 2018-08-15 13:34
Tweet Follow @koreatimescokr
Fleeing Bangladesh in fear of religious persecution and applying for refugee status after arriving in Gimpo in 2000, Ronel Chakma Nani, right, has been supporting migrant workers and asylum seekers in Korea as director of the Gimpo Immigrant Center. Photos provided by Gimpo Foreign Citizen Support Center
By Ko Dong-hwan
South Korea is a harsh land for asylum seekers.
Of 40,470 who have arrived here, almost 20,400 have been evaluated since 1994 and only 839 accepted as of June 2018. That's about 4 percent and compares starkly with the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey and the 2.2 million in Lebanon.
So what happens to the 96 percent of asylum seekers in Korea who were rejected?
They have nowhere to go, caught between the country they fled and another country that refuses their entry. They can try a different country but the odds of acceptance are nearly zero. These vagrant souls are haunted by "no honorable return," a phrase coined by Ronel Chakma Nani, the director of the Gimpo Immigrant Center in Gyeonggi Province.
"Rejected asylum seekers in Korea have no exit," Nani, who came to Korea from Bangladesh 18 years ago, told The Korea Times. "When they apply for refugee status and get disapproved, they usually appeal. They get disapproved again; they take their cases to a provincial court or as high as the Supreme Court. When that even turns sour, they are left with the only option ? becoming an illegal alien. Even if they sought asylum in another country, what country would possibly grant refugee status to those who were repeatedly disapproved?"
Nani, 46, supports asylum seekers and migrant workers in Gimpo, some 30 kilometers west of Seoul. He has often witnessed rejected refugee applicants see their Korean dreams shattered because their futures are unclear.
They find it difficult to survive, largely because it is extremely difficult to assimilate into Korean society in the face of the high walls of immigration laws and Koreans' biased impression of them.
A Bangladeshi student with a G-1 visa ? which requires a refugee applicant to apply for an extension every three months ? was accepted by an Australian university three years ago. But when the school learned of his status, it refused his enrollment. The same thing happened when he tried to apply to a Korean university. Korean law only allows elementary and junior high education for underage asylum seekers.
[Refugee reception] [Double standards]
Seoul sends advance team for family reunion in N. Korea
Posted : 2018-08-15 16:00
Updated : 2018-08-15 17:55
Ministry of Unification officials get ready to leave Seoul and head to Mount Geumgang in North Korea, Wednesday, to support the cross-border family reunion slated for Aug. 20 to 26. The officials are among Seoul's 18-member advance team tasked with last-minute preparations for the reunion of 181 divided family members. Yonhap
By Yi Whan-woo
South Korea sent its advance inspection team to the North, Wednesday, for last-minute preparations for the reunion of separated families slated for Aug. 20 to 26.
The 18-member team led by Lee Jong-chol, a senior Red Cross official, is tasked with checking the facilities, including accommodations and the banquet hall, of the North's scenic resort at Mount Geumgang on the east coast.
The team members include officials from the Ministry of Unification and Hyundai Asan _ the operator of the now-suspended Mount Geumgang tour project.
They will consult with North Korea and finalize the schedule, travel route and other details concerning the family members who were separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
"The inspection team left Seoul in the morning and headed to Mount Geumgang after reporting to the customs and immigration office on the east coast," the Ministry of Unification said. "They will stay there and support the reunion event until it ends."
The ministry said it will pay special attention to the health and safety of the divided family members, many of them in their 80s and older, amid the unprecedented heat wave that is still sweeping the Korean Peninsula.
Military Plot in South Korea: Mayhem in the Defense Intelligence Agency
13.08.2018 Author: Konstantin Asmolov
We are continuing to follow the scandal linked to the attempted “military coup“. It is worth reminding the readers that, in essence, the events that transpired in March 2017 involved a detailed plan by the Defense Security Command (the name given to the defense intelligence agency in South Korea) to potentially introduce martial law in anticipation of the decision by the Constitutional Court of Korea on Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. The corresponding plan made by intelligence officers contained detailed instructions on deployment, and assigned locations for the army and military equipment.
There was a public outcry in response to this case as soon as it was publicized by the Center for Military Human Rights Korea on 6 July 2018; however, these plans have been public knowledge since March.
Notably, the media has been somewhat prone to exaggeration in its discussions about the “coup”. The plan was to introduce martial law if the court had decided to keep Park Geun-hye in power, which would have resulted in crowds flooding the streets in protest. Instead the plan has been portrayed as if the Commanders had intended to declare a state of emergency to prevent Park Geun-hye from being removed from power, or if she had planned to introduce martial law on announcement of her impeachment.
Blue House says North Korea as host will decide summit date as situation allows
Posted on : Aug.14,2018 17:09 KST Modified on : Aug.14,2018 17:09 KST
Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum says North confirmed its commitment to denuclearization
Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum (Blue House photo pool)
After an agreement was reached in the high-level inter-Korean talks on Aug. 13 to hold a third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September, the Blue House expressed its desire for the summit to be a success.
“Since the general timing and location were determined [during the high-level talks], we hope that these agreements will lead to a successful inter-Korean summit,” said Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum in the daily briefing.
Kim responded to the fact that the date of the inter-Korean summit was not finalized by noting that “North Korea is the host who has invited [President Moon Jae-in]” and that “the date will just be decided in light of North Korea’s situation.”
“During these talks, North Korea once again clearly expressed its firm commitment to denuclearization,” said another senior official at the Blue House.
The Blue House will probably soon be launching a preparatory committee for the third inter-Korean summit, to be held in Pyongyang.
“I expect that a preparatory committee will be initiating [preparations for the talks] before long. The Panmunjom Declaration Implementation Committee and the [summit] preparatory committee will have the same members and mission. That’s probably the approach they’ll take to preparations,” Kim said.
On Mar. 6, ten days after Blue House National Security Office Director Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon returned from a trip to North Korea as special envoys and announced that an inter-Korean summit would be held, the Blue House set up the Apr. 27 Inter-Korean Summit Preparatory Committee, chaired by Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok. On May 3, a few days after the summit, the Panmunjom Declaration Implementation Committee was launched, once again chaired by Im.
[Photo] Law requiring bicycle helmets won’t be enforced
Posted on : Aug.14,2018 17:03 KST Modified on : Aug.14,2018 17:03 KST
Following criticisms of “pen-pushing safety,” the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has announced that it will not enforce its safety law that requires bicycle riders to wear helmets, nor will it punish violators. In a telephone interview with The Hankyoreh, a ministry official clarified that “it has settled with the National Police Agency that although the use of safety helmets is required, the police will not enforce the law.” A judge in the Seoul Central District Court mentioned this makes the law a “mere declaration,” adding it is rare for laws to not include measures for enforcement. (Kim Myoung-jin, staff photographer)
Two Koreas agree on 3rd Moon-Kim summit to be held in September
Posted : 2018-08-13 16:37
Updated : 2018-08-13 17:33
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left in the front row, shakes hands with Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, after the two Koreas agreed to hold a summit in Pyongyang in September, following a ministerial-level meeting held in the North's side of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Monday. Joint Press Corps.
By Kim Yoo-chul, Kim Bo-eun
Leaders of the two Koreas will have their third summit in North Korea's capital next month, representatives of the two countries said in a joint press statement Monday
"South Korea and North Korea agreed to hold the summit in September in Pyongyang," the statement said, although the exact date was not mentioned.
The agreement was made during a ministerial-level meeting at the request of North Korea held on the North's side of Panmunjeom within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
"During the meeting, the two Koreas discussed issues that need to be actively dealt with. They also talked on how to implement follow-up measures to the Panmunjeom Declaration," said the statement.
In a media briefing, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, who led the South's delegation, said the North reaffirmed its commitment for permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and explained its denuclearization measures.
Seoul confirms hopes to hold third summit
Posted : 2018-08-12 16:14
Updated : 2018-08-12 16:27
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By Kim Yoo-chul
Cheong Wa Dae said Sunday it expects to hold the third summit between the two Koreas in North Korea's capital city of Pyongyang, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, Sunday.
"Cheong Wa Dae hopes the high-level ministerial meeting between the two Koreas will discuss specifics about the timing, place and other relevant details of the third inter-Korean summit," the spokesman told reporters in a media briefing. He said Seoul still prefers the North Korean capital as the venue for the next meeting of President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The North's Kim previously invited President Moon to Pyongyang at their April summit in Panmunjeom. Moon accepted the request.
The spokesman said the two Koreas will discuss how to fix specifics and specifications relating to formally ending the Korean War during a high-level ministerial meeting with the North to be held at the North's side of the border village of Panmunjeom, today.
Koreas confirm list of delegates for high-level talks: ministry
Posted : 2018-08-11 16:20
Updated : 2018-08-11 16:34
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South and North Korea have confirmed a list of delegates for high-level talks next week which have been scheduled to discuss preparations for a new meeting between their leaders and review implementation of their previous summit agreements, the unification ministry said Saturday.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will lead the South Korean delegation with Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, as his counterpart for the meeting slated for Monday on the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, which separates the two Koreas, according to the Ministry of Unification.
[SK NK Negotiations]
2 Koreas to Meet Monday to Discuss Next Summit
By Lee Yong-soo
August 10, 2018 10:03
Officials from North and South Korea are to meet in the border truce village of Panmunjom next Monday to prepare for the next summit.
The Unification Ministry said Thursday that North Korea proposed the meeting to check on progress in implementing the agreement from the first summit in April and also to discuss another meeting between their leaders.
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed at the April summit to meet again in autumn, but Seoul wants to bring the meeting forward to late August because denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S. have stalled and it wants to mediate.
Seoul hopes the summit will happen before North Korea marks its 70th anniversary on Sept. 9.
One former Unification Ministry official said, "North Korea had expected to sign a declaration ending the Korean War and get regime security guarantees through back-to-back summits with South Korea and the U.S., but things have not turned out that way. North Korea will try to pressure South Korea to make good on the agreements made during the inter-Korean summit."
High-level inter-Korean talks to take place in Panmunjeom on Aug. 13
Posted on : Aug.10,2018 16:58 KST Modified on : Aug.10,2018 16:58 KST
Officials will discuss implementation ideas for Apr. 27 Panmunjeom Declaration
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon and Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country of the DPRK Ri Son-gwon shakes hands before the high-level inter-Korean talks on June 1 at Panmunjeom’s House of Peace. (Hankyoreh archives)
High-level inter-Korean talks to discuss ideas for implementing the Apr. 27 Panmunjeom Declaration are to take place on Aug. 13 at the Unification House (Tongilgak) on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom.
The talks come over two months after the last high-level meeting on June 1. With the meeting coming amid signs of a stalemate in the political situation as North Korea and the US butt heads over the war-ending declaration and nuclear facility/material reporting and inspection issues, and as North Korea urges the South swiftly implement the Panmunjeom Declaration’s terms, observers are watching to see whether Seoul and Pyongyang can drum up some momentum at the talks and create improvements in their relations.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Panmunjom Declaration]
Pyongyang unlikely venue for 3rd Moon-Kim summit
Posted : 2018-08-10 17:04
Updated : 2018-08-10 19:04
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By Lee Min-hyung
The venue for a third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could be changed from Pyongyang, a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman indicated Friday.
Under the historic April 27 Panmunjeom Declaration following their first summit, Moon and Kim agreed to hold a summit in the North Korean capital sometime this fall.
However, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said the summit might not take place in Pyongyang and a specific venue will likely be confirmed during scheduled high-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang next week.
"Nothing has been confirmed about the venue for the third inter-Korean summit," Kim told reporters at a media briefing. North Korea is likely to deliver its preferred venues during the high-level talks scheduled for Aug. 13, Kim said.
Leaders of the two Koreas will likely discuss details about when to declare the official end to the 1950-53 Korean War during their planned third meeting.
In recent months, North Korea has stepped up criticism of the South in taking an ambivalent posture about the agenda due to the United States.
This is because Washington is in a position to use the declaration of the war's end as a "bargaining chip" to speed up the regime's denuclearization.
The U.S. wants the North to take concrete and verifiable steps to realize its pledge for complete denuclearization.
[Summit] [Venue] [Panmunjom Declaration] [US dominance]
North Korea calls off joint survey on roads with South
Posted : 2018-08-10 10:52
Updated : 2018-08-10 14:44
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North Korea has called off a planned joint field survey of cross-border roads for a modernization project, a unification ministry official said Friday.
The North informed the South late Thursday that it wants to postpone the survey, scheduled to start from Friday, but didn't provide reasons, according to the official.
The inspection was supposed to be carried out from Friday until next Friday on the North Korean section of the road running from the border town of Kaesong to Pyongyang.
The survey was in line with the agreement reached by the two Koreas in June to work together in modernizing and eventually connecting roads across their western and eastern borders.
Under the agreement, they promised to work together in examining the conditions of those roads from Friday to Aug. 30. (Yonhap)
[Photo] Civic groups call for implementation of Panmunjeom Declaration
Posted on : Aug.9,2018 17:33 KST Modified on : Aug.9,2018 17:33 KST
Civic groups, including the South Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration, convened at the Franciscan Education Center in Seoul on Aug. 8 to call for the end of sanctions against North Korea and to officially declare an end to the Korean War. The above image shows committee members holding placards that read, “Implement the Panmunjeom Declaration” and “Implement the June 12 North Korea-US Joint Statement.”
[Panmunjom Declaration] [Sanctions]
Military aims to augment troops with IT
Posted : 2018-08-09 17:11
Updated : 2018-08-09 17:19
Cyber security command to be revamped with limited authority
By Lee Min-hyung
The military unveiled reforms Thursday to augment troops with new technology as a way to cope with declining personnel and enhance the military's combat prowess.
The move is aimed at creating a smarter military environment in order to map out advanced training strategies and improve efficiency, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
The ministry said it would widen its use of emerging technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), to establish efficient virtual training to be used by all branches of the armed forces.
The two emerging technologies are the talk of the technology town here and abroad, as they can create simulations of real-world environments. For instance, the Navy is building a computerized virtual submarine training system that can recreate multiple combat scenarios so sailors do not have to conduct real world exercises.
"The VR-based training systems are expected to effectively create an actual wartime environment, thereby reducing accidents from actual hands-on training and cutting costs," an official said.
The move is part of the ministry's ongoing Defense Reform 2.0 drive in which the military is making drastic changes to its structure to root out outdated and corrupt military practices.
[Military balance] [Technology] [ICT]
ROK and DPRK to hold high-level talks for summit preparation next Monday
2018-08-09 15:22 GMT+8
Updated 2018-08-09 17:10 GMT+8
The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed to hold high-level talks next Monday at the border village of Panmunjom, according to Seoul's unification ministry on Thursday.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Summit]
Ordinary Koreans ambivalent about hallyu's success
Posted : 2018-08-08 13:02
Updated : 2018-08-08 13:25
By Dong Sun-hwa
Hallyu has a relatively short history, with the first generation of hallyu born in 2003 thanks to the pan-Asian popularity of TV series including "Winter Sonata." Actor Bae Yong-joon and actress Choi Ji-woo starred in the drama.
In that short period, the Korean wave has come a long way.
There are more than 35 million foreign fans worldwide. That was an estimate by the Korea Foundation in 2016 so the fandom has since grown far larger without a doubt.
Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange also revealed that hallyu exports in 2017 reached 8.8 trillion won ($7.8 billion).
So it is a growth industry but what remains underexamined is what ordinary Koreans think about it.
"I think most Koreans are not that much interested in hallyu," said a marketer at a beauty and health company who is in his 20s. "I have been quite pessimistic about it too, as I thought Korean media was exaggerating its effects and popularity."
He added: "In particular, the aggrandizement was more obvious when it comes to the West ? the media claimed that some singers gained great accomplishments in the West, but I do not think they were really world stars as the news claimed."
North Korea returns South Korean hostage via Panmunjom
Posted : 2018-08-07 15:28
Updated : 2018-08-07 16:21
Panmunjom / Korea Times file
By Park Si-soo
North Korea returned a South Korean citizen who had been held there through the inter-Korean border town of Panmunjom on Tuesday in the latest peace overture toward its southern rival.
The repatriated person is a 34-year-old, whose surname is Suh, said Seoul's unification ministry. He entered North Korea late last month, the ministry said, citing a message from the North.
The person crossed into the South at 11 a.m., it added.
Further details were not available immediately.
According to Yonhap, the North's Red Cross informed the South on Monday of a plan to send the person back.
Ministry officials said the North's "humanitarian" measure which would have a "positive" impact on inter-Korean relations.
The ministry said six other South Koreans were still held captive in the North.
Leftwing Students Demand Jail for N.Korean Defector
By Jung Woo-young
August 07, 2018 11:48
A group of university students rallied in western Seoul last week demanding that two prominent North Korean defectors who are darlings of the conservative press be thrown in jail.
The protesters held up placards and passed out fliers accusing Thae Yong-ho, the former No. 2 man in the North Korean Embassy in London, of being a "pedophile" and "blocking peace and reunification."
The also accused Park Sang-hak, who leads a group that regularly sends propaganda fliers attached to balloons across the border, of "profiteering" from North Korean human rights causes by embezzling donations.
After Thae defected to the South in 2016, the North's official Korean Central News Agency started a smear campaign accusing him of stealing government money and raping a teenager. The Unification Ministry here said the allegations are groundless.
The students call themselves the Progressive Korean University Student Alliance and are believed to be affiliated with the hard-left Unified Progressive Party, which was disbanded in late 2014 in a trial on charges of instigating a rebellion.
The group was launched earlier this month and held a demonstration in front of the Defense Ministry on Aug. 3 calling for the dissolution of the Defense Security Command. They also held a discussion session with North Korean defector Kim Ryon-hui, who has made several desperate attempts to return to her family in the North and is being denied a passport by the South Korean government.
[Defector industry] [Thae Yong Ho] [Paedophilia] [Corruption]
South Korean foreign minister urges international community to support inter-Korean peace
Posted on : Aug.3,2018 17:53 KST Modified on : Aug.3,2018 17:53 KST
Kang Kyung-wha addresses ASEAN members in Straits Times interview
A screenshot of Kang’s interview with the Straits Times (Straits Tiimes website)
The international community needs to maintain “unity as we move forward in achieving [. . .] complete denuclearization [. . .] and also to work towards a lasting peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said during an interview with the Singapore-based Straits Times on Aug. 1.
Kang is visiting Singapore to attend a meeting of foreign ministers during the 25th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and other meetings associated with ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). A video of the interview released by the Straits Times shows that Kim was answering a question about the key message she planned to communicate during the series of meetings.
“I think what has brought us to this point is the unity of the international community in the message to North Korea,” Kang said, adding that she would “seek the continued support of ASEAN and its member states.”
[Kang Kyung-wha] [US dominance] [Subservience]
Korea to Toughen Refugee Screening
By Lee Min-seok
August 02, 2018 11:06
The government on Wednesday promised to toughen screening of asylum seekers amid a surge of xenophobia over the arrival of hundreds of Yemenis on Jeju Island.
Record numbers of citizens signed a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website urging the government to toughen screening of foreigners.
But Cheong Wa Dae pointed out that Korean independence fighters benefited from generous asylum policies in the early 1900s, freely setting up an interim government in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation of Korea.
[Refugee reception] [Double standards]
Blue House considers third inter-Korean summit this month
Posted on : Aug.2,2018 17:20 KST Modified on : Aug.2,2018 17:20 KST
Works on exemptions to North Korea sanctions for cooperative economic efforts
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their second summit at Unification House (Tongilgak) in Panmunjeom on May 26. Also present are South Korea’s National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon (left) and North Korea’s Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yong-chol (second from right). (provided by the Blue House)
The Blue House is opening up the possibility of another inter-Korean summit ahead of schedule in August while working on exemptions to North Korea sanctions as a precondition to cooperative efforts between the two sides.
Speaking on Aug. 1 in connection with the possibility of an early summit happening in August, a senior House official said, “This is a matter to be decided in consultation with the North, not something we can pursue unilaterally.” At the same time, the opposition added that “every possibility is open” for the South Korean side.
Provided that the conditions are right, the official hinted, the government was willing to push forward the inter-Korean summit from the fall to the end of August.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Summit] [US dominance]
Seoul's Spy Chief to Arrange Fresh Summit with N.Korea
By Lee Yong-soo
August 01, 2018 09:34
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon will visit Pyongyang soon to arrange another urgent inter-Korean summit in late August, a source said on Tuesday.
The leaders of the two Koreas agreed at their summit on April 27 to hold a follow-up summit in autumn.
A government source here said, "We're discussing a follow-up summit in late August" because Seoul wants to play the role of go-between in dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang, which have been unable to make progress on the North's denuclearization.
Suh Hoon (left) and Park Sun-won
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came back empty-handed from a visit to the North early July, having been unable to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Last week, Suh was in Washington, accompanied by Park Sun-won, the former consul general in Shanghai who has been reassigned as his special adviser. They met with American officials to discuss issues like easing some North Korea sanctions and formally declaring an end to the Korean War, government officials said.
Suh is reportedly working out a package of offers to the North.
Seoul is in a hurry because there will not be another slot until late September. The North Korean regime celebrates its 70th anniversary on Sept. 9, and the UN General Assembly opens in New York in mid-September.
"There will have to be some progress in efforts to declare an end to the war this year and improve in cross-border relations, which are two key points" in the declaration signed by the leaders of the two Koreas in April, a government official here said.
Seoul believes that will require easing sanctions to a certain extent.
Beijing has also called for easing sanctions and formally ending the war, but Washington says the North must take concrete steps toward denuclearization first, including supplying details of its nuclear program.
N. Korea urges South to resume Gaeseong, Geumgang projects
Posted : 2018-07-31 17:09
Updated : 2018-07-31 18:31
A commentary of North Korea's state-run media Rodong Sinmun titled "what hinders new journey of North-South relations" in its July 31 edition / Rodong Sinmun
By Park Ji-won
A North Korean newspaper urged South Korea, Tuesday, to take substantive measures to revive the now-dormant Gaeseong Industrial Complex and tours to Mount Geumgang in North Korea.
The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Central Committee of North Korea's Workers' Party, released a commentary titled "What Hinders New Journey of North-South Relations," blaming the South's slow actions for a delay in resumption.
"Although the owner of the presidential office has changed, it is adding new sanction lists jumping on the foreign bandwagon, rather than coming up with measures to resolve the suspension of the operation of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the tour program of Mount Geumgang, which former conservative governments left behind," the newspaper reported Tuesday.
[Detente] [Kaesong] [Kumgangsan]
Pension and livelihood benefits a bizarre combination of “give and take back”
Posted on : Jul.31,2018 17:59 KST Modified on : Jul.31,2018 17:59 KST
Those in lowest income bracket find basic pension system incomprehensible
Civic groups calling for an improved system of pension and livelihood benefits for impoverished seniors gather around Gyeongbokgung Station near the Blue House in Seoul on Mar. 21 to protest the current “give and take back” pension system. (Baek So-ah, staff photographer)
“We’re the poorest ones. Why don’t they give us a basic pension?”
Kim Ho-tae, an 85-year-old resident of a flophouse in the Huam neighborhood of Seoul’s Yongsan district, described the administration’s basic pension policy as “incomprehensible.” Ever since basic pensions were first paid to the lowest-earning 70 percent of seniors over 65 in 2014, he has been traveling to Blue House every July to demand a solution on the matter of the basic pension being “given and then taken back.”
As a basic livelihood security recipient, Kim receives 490,000 won (US$435) in livelihood benefits every month. The amount is equal to the minimum livelihood of 501,600 won (US$445.60) for a single-person household (30 percent of the median income) minus his own recognized earnings (estimated value of income plus assets converted into income). He also receives a basic pension of around 200,000 won (US$178) a month – but it makes no difference, since an equivalent amount is subtracted from his next month’s livelihood benefits.
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