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2 Koreas Set to Start Railway Survey
By Ahn Jun-yong
November 29, 2018 09:41
The two Koreas will start a joint survey of North Korean railway lines on Friday that are to be reconnected with the South, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday. The survey will last 18 days.
The UN Security Council early this week granted South Korea an exemption from international sanctions against North Korea for the purpose of the survey.
Seoul plans a ground-breaking ceremony to connect the railroads on the east and west coasts by year's end, but no further work can be done until international sanctions against the North are lifted.
The ministry is expected to deliver about 50 tons of treatment for pine wilt disease to the North Korean border city of Kaesong overland on Thursday to protect rotting ties.
The U.S. gave the green light for the survey but reiterated that North Korea can look forward to a brighter future only if it denuclearizes.
State Department official Marc Knapper said Wednesday, "This bright future includes many different things... It especially includes helping North Korea to integrate with the rest of the international community. Of course, part of this integration could include strengthening rail connection through the region."
"But I think the international community has made very clear that this kind of concrete progress will not occur absent real progress on denuclearization," he added.
He made the remarks at the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum in Seoul.
He added no "significant lifting of sanctions" will be possible until final, fully verified denuclearization.
[Detente] [Railways] [US dominance]
Conscientious Objectors to Spend 36 Months as Jailers
By Yang Seung-sik
November 29, 2018 12:56
The Defense Ministry has reached a tentative decision to make conscientious objectors serve as prison staff for 36 months, it said Wednesday.
The decision comes after the Constitutional Court early this month ruled that conscientious objectors cannot be forced to bear arms and an alternative to mandatory military service must be made available.
At the moment conscientious objectors are simply jailed for the 18 months their military service would take.
The ministry set the period at three years because men with professional skills like doctors and engineers are allowed to work in public health clinics or factories for 34 to 36 months instead of serving in the military.
An Army spokesman said, "Under the Constitutional Court ruling, we need to come up with an alternative to the mandatory military service by the end of 2019. We plan to submit the proposal for National Assembly ratification in February of next year."
"We will give this a try and may fix any problems that arise," the spokesman added.
[ROK Military] [Conscientious objectors] [Repression]
South Korea pushes for groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean connections
Posted : 2018-11-29 15:03
Updated : 2018-11-29 15:04
A train bound from South Korea heads to Jejin Station in Goseong County in Gangwon Province in May 2007 after passing the military demarcation line that divides South and North Korea during a test of the connecting section between Gyeongui Line and Donghae Line. Yonhap
South Korea is sticking to the plan to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road connection projects this year as the two Koreas are to begin a joint inspection of the rail system in North Korea this week, a unification ministry official said Thursday.
After a months-long delay, South and North Korea are set to launch an 18-day joint inspection of the western and eastern railways of the North on Friday. A South Korean train will leave for the North early in the day with dozens of officials and railway experts on board.
This is part of the two Koreas' plan to modernize and reconnect their railways and roads as agreed upon by their leaders in April.
UNESCO Accepts 2 Koreas' Bid to Register Traditional Wrestling
By Ahn Jun-yong, Yang Ji-hea
November 27, 2018 11:17
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has listed traditional wrestling as an intangible cultural asset in both North and South Korea. This is the first time that the two Koreas have listed an intangible cultural asset together.
The Foreign Ministry said Monday that the committee made the decision at a meeting in Mauritius under the official name "Traditional Korean Wrestling (Ssirum/Ssireum)." All 24 member nations voted in favor.
The committee said Korean traditional wrestling "had deep significance for all Koreans. Fundamentally linked to land and agriculture, it is both a national sport and a very popular cultural practice."
[Joint Korean] [UNESCO] [Détente]
Kim Jong-un Unlikely to Visit Seoul This Year
By Jeong Woo-sang
November 27, 2018 12:29
The government's attempt to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Seoul this year is rapidly running out of steam.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters Monday, "We are discussing a reciprocal visit within this year by [Kim] while keeping all options open."
Asked whether a formal declaration of an end to the Korean War is likely to come this year, Kim said, "This is not a decision that involves only the South Korean government but requires agreement by all the relevant parties including the U.S., and discussions are ongoing."
Cheong Wa Dae says it has lived up to core agreements made at the inter-Korean summits in April and September like border disarmament and cross-border railway projects and was optimistic that Kim would visit Seoul this year.
But now it seems to have resigned itself to the improbability of such a visit in the remaining five weeks of the year as U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks have reached a stalemate.
[Seoul visit] [US dominance]
Ssireum becomes first item jointly registered by South and North on UNESCO cultural heritage list
Posted on : Nov.27,2018 16:33 KST Modified on : Nov.27,2018 16:33 KST
Traditional form of Korean wrestling passed in emergency motion
South Korean ssireum athletes in competition
Persistence by South and North Korea has enabled a new chapter to be written in the history of Korea’s cultural heritage. Following an eleventh-hour deal between the two sides, a traditional form of wrestling known as ssireum has become the first Korean item to be jointly registered on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritages.
On Nov. 26, South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announced that UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage had unanimously passed an emergency motion for ssireum’s joint inscription on the list during a meeting on the African island of Mauritius that very afternoon.
“In consideration of the importance of joint registration based on the agreement between South and North Korea, UNESCO immediately tabled ssireum as an emergency motion the day that the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was to meet. The committee, which is composed of representatives from 24 countries, resolved to add ssireum to the list,” a CHA spokesperson said.
There’s no historical precedent for UNESCO deciding to jointly register cultural heritages that have been separately submitted by multiple countries. On Oct. 29, the committee’s assessment board of experts recommended that both “ssireum, traditional wrestling in the Republic of Korea,” submitted by South Korea, and “ssirum, Korean wrestling in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” submitted by North Korea, be added to the list.
[Joint Korean] [UNESCO] [Détente]
Blue House hints Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit may be pushed back to 2019
Posted on : Nov.27,2018 16:40 KST Modified on : Nov.27,2018 16:40 KST
Spokesperson announces that timing depends largely on 2nd N. Korea-US summit
Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum
The Blue House said on Nov. 26 that the timing of a reciprocal visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “requires consideration and judgment as to whether it should come before or after a second North Korea-US summit.”
With the second North Korea-US summit expected to take place early next year, the message appeared to suggest that Kim’s visit could be postponed until 2019.
Speaking at a briefing that day, Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum said, “We are currently considering various possibilities in discussing a reciprocal visit by Chairman Kim within the year.”
“It’s a matter that requires different considerations and judgments as to whether it should come before or after a second North Korea-US summit, and which of those would be more effective in bringing peace and prosperity for the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
[News analysis] Why does conservative opposition resort to flamboyant attacks on inter-Korean military agreement?
Posted on : Nov.27,2018 16:37 KST Modified on : Nov.27,2018 16:37 KST
Many arguments against CMA rebuked by military experts
Yoon Chang-hee, head of the South Korean hydrographic survey team, shakes hands with the head of the North Korean team near a Han River estuary near Ganghwa Island, Gangwha County, on Nov. 5. (photo pool)
“A security catastrophe.” “De facto disarmament.” “A surrender document.” “The military equivalent of South Korea’s IMF crisis.” “National suicide.”
Critics have resorted to coarse characterizations in their attacks on the inter-Korean military agreement reached on Sept. 19. They are denouncing the agreement as not only utterly undermining the South Korean military’s security capabilities, but also causing a military disaster that exposes Seoul to a surprise North Korean attack. Many are voicing the even more extreme position that South Korea faces the “threat of communism,” having been taken in by Pyongyang’s false peace offensive.
Among the people making these claims, quite a few are individuals who have served in the past as Minister of National Defense or a high-ranking officer in the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). It is certainly worrying when these kinds of arguments are being made by the people who once commanded South Korea’s military. But a closer examination of their claims shows a number of exaggerations and distortion. A few of them are closer to outright deceptions – cloaked in the mantle of “military expertise.”
A North Korea guard post is demolished in the mid-region of the DMZ on Nov. 20. (provided by the Ministry of National Defense)
Joint use of the Han estuary would allow a surprise NK army crossing?
Former JCS deputy chairman Shin Won-sik has claimed that if the Han (Imjin) River estuary is opened for joint use, North Korean special forces could “cross the Han at any time and invade Seoul.” The message is that the Gimpo Peninsula could become the equivalent of the Ardennes, which German troops used for a surprise attack on France during World War II – and that the South Korean military is repeating the error of the French, who let their guard down in the belief that the German armored units could never cross the region.
But many military experts see a surprise attack by North Korean special forces as effectively impossible.
“The Germans’ surprise attack through the Ardennes was a case of achieving a partial success by taking advantage of deteriorating weather conditions and the darkness of night,” said Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) research fellow Kim Seong-geol.
“The radar on the South Korean military’s reconnaissance aircraft can be used to detect North Korean troop movements under all weather conditions,” Kim added. Additionally, the South Korean marines also have a strong line established on the Gimpo Peninsula.
Militarily, a crossing of the Han River estuary would be a tall order. During the Korean War, North Korea’s elite 6th Division was held up for over three days attempting to cross through the region. The crossing was obstructed by natural obstacles including currents running 1.0–1.5m per second and the broad tidal flats exposed during low tides. Overcoming those barriers would require large-scale equipment of the kind that would inevitably show up on the South Korean military’s detection network.
[Detente] [Conservatives] [Pushback]
Korean lawmaker belittles Philippines
Posted : 2018-11-26 14:20
Updated : 2018-11-26 15:37
Rep. Lee Un-ju / Korea Times file
By Jung Min-ho
A high-profile Korean lawmaker has come under criticism after belittling the Philippines in defending the economic policies of former military dictator Park Chung-hee.
In a recent interview with Dong-A Ilbo, a local daily, Rep. Lee Un-ju of the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party said "Koreans would have lived in a country worse than the Philippines" if Park had not ruled the country in such a way.
"There have been many dictators across East Asia and Africa. Most of them failed to develop the economy, unlike former President Park. We should recognize his achievement," she added in a comment apparently aimed at Ferdinand Marcos, the late Philippine strongman who ruled the country from 1965-86.
While some Koreans take her remarks only as a political attack against liberals, who generally share negative views about Park, others find them offensive to the people of the Philippines and diplomatically problematic.
[Park Chung-hee] [Marcos] [Philippines]
Ideology dispute stops Kim Jong-un puzzle sales
Posted : 2018-11-26 15:54
Updated : 2018-11-26 15:54
Sales of EBS Media and Scholas' puzzle set titled "Leaders ushering in the era of peace of the Korean Peninsula" have been put on hold. Captured from Scholas website
By Jung Da-min
Sales of a three-dimension puzzle series, including one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have been put on hold after accusations that the puzzle glorifies Kim.
"We are planning to resume selling of the series, but will exclude the Kim Jong-un set," an official of Scholas told The Korea Times Monday. Teaching aid maker Scholas manufactures and markets the puzzles with EBS Media, the state-run education broadcaster's subsidiary for content applications.
Kim's puzzle is part of the "Leaders ushering the era of peace of the Korean Peninsula" series in which card instructions describe Kim as "the youngest head of state in the world." It also highlights Kim's role in the April 27 inter-Korean summit and June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit.
"... Kim Jong un, by reaching agreement with U.S. President Donald Trump on complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula, has set a new index toward world peace," the last paragraph reads.
Critics argue that this glorifies the North's leader.
Children assemble the puzzles made of Styrofoam and paper without using glue and scissors. As well as the North's leader, there are puzzles of President Moon Jae-in, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The new series of 3D puzzles titled "Leaders ushering the era of peace of the Korean Peninsula" consists of four sets for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Captured from Scholas website
Posters featuring portraits of Kim Jong-un and his grandfather and father ? North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il ? have earlier caused controversy.
Separately, on Nov. 9, three-member Indie band Standing Egg posted on its Facebook account a figurine of Kim Jong-un's likeness, saying it was "too cute." It was on display at an exhibition titled "BukJoseon (North Korea in Korean) Fantasy" at Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Faced with critical comments, Standing Egg deleted the post and apologized for causing political controversy.
"We took this work (figure) as witty and satiric pop art," the band said in a statement.
Kim Jong-un's possible Seoul visit stirs up ideological divide
Posted : 2018-11-25 15:26
Updated : 2018-11-26 10:13
A college student gives a speech during a rally organized by progressive activists at Gwanghwamun Square, downtown Seoul on Nov. 18, to welcome North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's possible visit to the South. / Korea Times photo by Suh Jae-hoon
By Yi Whan-woo
Progressive-minded activists are calling for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul promptly to speed up inter-Korean reconciliation.
But this has irked some conservatives because the activists are holding rallies where they speak highly of Kim and demand that South Koreans should welcome him in a "respectful manner."
On Nov. 18, left-wing activists organized a rally at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul. The rally was the second of its kind since the group was launched on Nov. 7.
The group, roughly translated as the Committee for Paektu Praise, is named after the Mount Paektu bloodline, a three-generation lineage of North Korean leadership descended from founding leader Kim Il-sung.
The rally was held only 50 meters from the U.S. Embassy in Korea. The event involved speeches in which participants welcomed the young North Korean leader's possible visit to the South in advance.
They underscored Kim's promise to come here during his September summit with President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang and hung massive photos of the two leaders holding hands and a panoramic view of Mount Paektu.
Among the placards were ones reading "We welcome Chairman Kim Jong-un's Seoul visit," and "Let's bring forward unification by implementing the agreements reached by the leaders of the South and the North."
[Interview] KVA chairman advocates trust in inter-Korean military agreement
Posted on : Nov.25,2018 13:29 KST Modified on : Nov.25,2018 13:29 KST
Former JCS chairman Kim Jin-ho stresses peace and conflict resolution over ideological battles
Kim Jin-ho, chairman of the Korean Veterans Association, in an interview with the Hankyoreh in Seoul on Nov. 22. (Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
“Our military reached an agreement. If we can’t trust that, isn’t that the same as saying we need to dissolve our military?”
Kim Jin-ho’s voice gradually calmed. The 77-year-old chairman of the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) was responding to a question asking for his thoughts on claims by some reserve generals that an inter-Korean military agreement reached on Sept. 19 represents a “disaster” that has “compromised South Korea’s security capabilities.”
Kim seemed frustrated to hear such arguments coming from the people who once directed the armed forces. Taking place on Nov. 22 at the KVA building in Seoul, Kim’s interview started off with words of concern about the recent situation with differences between progressives and conservatives over the military agreement.
[Detente] [ROK Military]
Military experts caution against politicization of Comprehensive Military Agreement
Posted on : Nov.25,2018 13:09 KST Modified on : Nov.25,2018 13:09 KST
Several voices reiterate that CMA has negligible impact on military readiness
A seminar titled “The Sept. 19 Comprehensive Military Agreement: Its Significance and Challenges,” hosted by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 23. (provided by the KIDA)
During a seminar titled “The Sept. 19 Comprehensive Military Agreement: Its Significance and Challenges” that was held at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 23 by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), multiple experts on military affairs warned against over-the-top political bashing of the military agreement as representing capitulation to North Korea. Even on a military level, experts repeatedly emphasized, the comprehensive military agreement (CMA) would have a negligible impact on the South Korean military’s readiness.
Friday’s seminar was hosted by Hwang Byeong-mu, professor emeritus at the Korea National Defense University. During a presentation in the seminar, Kim Yeong-jun, a professor at the Graduate School of Security Affairs at the Korea National Defense University, said that “the military agreement reached by South and North Korea on Sept. 19 is a military confidence-building measure designed to minimize the possibility of unintended conflict” and argued that “making indiscriminate criticism without offering a policy alternative is unproductive and serves to politicize discourse.”
Ahn Gwang-su, head of KIDA’s Center for Research in Military Affairs and Development, addressed the CMA’s suspension of maritime gunnery and mobility exercises. “North Korea has between three and five times as many forces positioned in the areas in question. Reducing this threat is more beneficial for us,” Ahn said.
[Detente] [ROK military]
Inter-Korean military roads linked at Arrowhead Hill via DMZ
Posted on : Nov.23,2018 15:45 KST Modified on : Nov.23,2018 15:45 KST
Road to serve in joint exhumation of Korea War MIA/POW remains
South and North Korean military officials and soldiers greet each other at military roads connecting South and North Korea through the DMZ, which were successfully linked on Nov. 22 at Hwasalmeori (Arrowhead) Hill in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. (provided by the Ministry of National Defense)
The location of the inter-Korean military road linked through the DMZ IN Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province
Military roads connecting South and North Korea through the DMZ were linked on Nov. 22 at Hwasalmeori (Arrowhead) Hill in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, previously the site of intense combat during the Korean War. The opening adds another route between the two sides at the Korean Peninsula’s center to join others running parallel to the West Sea (Seoul-Sinuiju) and East Sea railway lines. Cheorwon is passed by National Road 3, which once linked Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province, to Chosan in North Korea’s North Pyongan Province before transportation routes between South and North were severed 70 years ago.
The route opened on Nov. 22 is an unpaved tactical road for joint exhumation of the remains of Korean War MIA/POW, which is set to begin in earnest next April following an inter-Korean military agreement on Sept. 19. It marks the first time South and North Korean military authorities have linked up a military route through the DMZ since the armistice agreement was signed in 1953. In their military agreement, the two sides agreed to build a 12m-wide road in the exhumation region and connect it with the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) to allow the exhumation process to proceed more smoothly.
National Intelligence Service director says another inter-Korean summit to be held “in near future”
Posted on : Nov.23,2018 15:51 KST Modified on : Nov.23,2018 15:51 KST
Suh Hoon also addresses reports on international hacking by North Korea at Natl. Assembly Intelligence Committee
NIS Director Suh Hoon on his way to give a report to the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly on Aug. 28. (National Assembly photo pool)
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) announced that another inter-Korean summit “will be held in the near future.”
The report from the NIS came during a closed-door plenary session of the Intelligence Committee at the National Assembly on Nov. 22 with NIS Director Suh Hoon in attendance, Liberty Korea Party (LKP) ranking committee member Lee Eun-jae said. Lee quoted the NIS as saying during the report that day that the South Korean government must “continue to insist on holding [the summit] on our side, since the last summit was held in Pyongyang.”
“The date is only being given as ‘the near future,’ which could be within the year or not,” Lee also reported the NIS director as saying.
According to Lee, no mention was made of any “particular variables” in the process leading up to the summit.
The NIS director also reported that it was closely observing the international hacking activities that North Korea has been regularly involved in.
Russians upset over gang-lynched Russian-Korean boy
Posted : 2018-11-23 14:28
Updated : 2018-11-23 14:42
Four middle school students who allegedly lynched a peer to death on an apartment rooftop in Yeonsu-gu District in Incheon leave Incheon Namdong Police Station for questioning at Incheon District Court on Nov. 16. Yonhap
By Ko Dong-hwan
Russians in Korea are upset and bitter after a gang of teenagers allegedly lynched to death an Incheon boy, 14, whose mother was Russian and father Korean.
The outrage was evident in online communities frequented by Russian residents here, according to a Russian friend of the victim's mother on a Korean morning radio show on Nov. 20.
Some Russians lamented that under Korean juvenile laws, the three male and one female middle school students who allegedly took the victim's life cannot be jailed.
"All the Russian parents from our communities are enraged that because the suspects are 14 years old they cannot go to jail," said Maria, who said she had known the victim since he was a boy, on CBS.
She said, "The tallest one among the suspects was particularly close to the victim when they were children" because they used to spend time eating and playing at the victim's home.
"How can this happen?" she asked.
But she said the victim had been like an outcast among his peers and that he was frequently ostracized and victimized. One peer used to demand something from the victim, such as a pizza, in exchange for spending time with him "like a fox" in front of a rabbit.
North Korea blows up 10 guard posts to ease tensions with South
Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press Published 4:54 a.m. ET Nov. 20, 2018
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Tuesday blew up some of its front-line guard posts as part of an agreement to ease tensions along its heavily fortified border with South Korea, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said.
In September, the Koreas’ militaries agreed at a leaders’ summit in Pyongyang to eventually dismantle all guard posts inside the 248-kilometer (155-mile) -long, 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) -wide border. They later withdrew weapons and troops from 11 of their guard posts and decided to completely dismantle 10 of them by the end of November.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry said it confirmed the dismantling of 10 North Korean guard posts on Tuesday. A ministry statement said North Korea had informed the South of its plans in advance.
South Korea began dismantling 10 of its guard posts with dynamite and excavators last week. Ministry officials said Tuesday that they haven’t completed the demolitions yet.
2 Koreas Build New Cross-Border Road
By Jun Hyun-suk
November 21, 2018 10:20
The two Koreas have completed another cross-border road at Arrowhead Ridge in the demilitarized zone in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. It is the third cross-border road after one on each coast.
The two Koreas have been removing landmines and building a road for personnel and equipment since October ahead of a joint excavation of the remains of soldiers who died in the Korean War.
The South built a 1.7 km-long road from the wire-fenced area on its side to the military demarcation line, while the North built the stretch on its side of the MDL.
There is speculation that the new road will be used to help excavate the ancient palace site of Gung Ye, the founder of the short-lived Later Koguryo Kingdom in the early 10th century, and build an eco park in the DMZ, forming part of a planned highway from Seoul to Wonsan.
Moon to Invite Kim Jong-un to Next Year's ASEAN Summit
By Jeong Woo-sang
November 15, 2018 11:55
President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that he wants to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit Seoul is hosting next year. The summit was launched in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of relations between South Korea and ASEAN member countries. The second was held in 2014.
Moon made the comments during the ASEAN Summit in Singapore, in response to a suggestion by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. "If the political situation on the Korean Peninsula becomes more peaceful, I will actively consider inviting Chairman Kim," Moon said.
Kim has never attended any international summit.
Moon met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit in Singapore.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, "The two leaders discussed their opinions on a comprehensive easing of sanctions" against North Korea.
[Moon Jae-in] [ASEAN] [Detente]
Senior N.Korean Apparatchiks Arrive in S.Korea
By Yoon Hyung-jun
November 15, 2018 11:19
A group of five North Korean officials led by Ri Jong-hyok, the vice chairman of the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, arrived at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday for an event hosted by the Gyeonggi provincial government and a civic group.
Kim Song-hye of the United Front Department, who was also expected, canceled citing "personal reasons" just an hour and a half before the delegation's arrival.
North Korean officials led by Ri Jong-hyok (right), the vice chairman of the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, arrive at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday. /Newsis
The cancellation comes soon after the North called off high-level talks with the U.S. last week. Kim Song-hye is a close aide to Kim Yong-chol, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man who was supposed to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York.
The North Korean officials are staying at a hotel in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province until Saturday. Some conservative groups protested near the hotel.
N.Korean Propaganda Vows to Keep Nukes
By Kim Myong-song
November 15, 2018 13:30
North Korea has been telling its people that it will not give up nuclear weapons even after the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September, according to the Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.
Jiro Ishimaru of Osaka-based AsiaPress International told RFA, "Even after Kim met with [U.S. President Donald] Trump, progress on a peace treaty has been slow. So Kim must feel the need to assure people domestically that he has no intention to let go of nuclear weapons."
North Korean propaganda media have been criticizing a new South Korea-U.S. working group that will review inter-Korean projects to see if they violate international sanctions.
[US NK Negotiations] [Deterrent] [Public opinion]
Moon invites ASEAN leaders to special summits in S. Korea next year
SINGAPORE, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in invited leaders of Southeast Asian nations Wednesday to special summits South Korea plans to host next year to mark the 30th anniversary of its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
President Moon Jae-in speaks during a Korea-ASEAN summit in Singapore on Nov. 14, 2018. (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in speaks during a Korea-ASEAN summit in Singapore on Nov. 14, 2018. (Yonhap)
Moon extended the invitation during a Korea-ASEAN summit in Singapore, renewing his commitment to further bolstering relations with the region. Moon said he feels a "special camaraderie" with ASEAN as the two sides have similar experiences of overcoming colonial occupation and realizing economic development.
N.Korean Navy Ordered to Defend Maritime Border
By Yoon Hyung-jun
November 14, 2018 10:54
The North Korean People's Army recently sent an urgent order to naval troops to defend the "invariable maritime demarcation line in the West Sea," according to Daily NK on Tuesday.
The Army was referring to its own delineation of the maritime border, which differs from the Northern Limit Line drawn up by the U.S. and its allies after the Korean War.
The Army ordered them "to defeat any enemy attacks at sea immediately and resolutely," "never to be carried along by the current mood of peace between the two Koreas."
The order apparently aims to tighten morale and could also hint at tension within the North Korean military between hardliners and those who support rapprochement between the two Koreas.
Meanwhile, Voice of America reported that a new big octagonal building has been erected in Yongbyon, North Pyongan Province. It is about 40 m wide and some 10 m tall.
Nick Hansen of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University speculated that it could be an artillery practice target since several tanks have been spotted nearby.
Unification Ministry approves visit by North Korean delegation
Posted on : Nov.13,2018 17:21 KST Modified on : Nov.13,2018 17:21 KST
Delegation to attend international forum on Asia-Pacific peace and prosperity
Kim Yo-jong, first vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, gets off at Jinbu Station to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Feb. 9. Circled in red is Kim Song-hye, an official at North Korea’s United Front Department. (photo pool)
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has approved a visit to the South by a North Korean delegation consisting of seven high-ranking officials, including Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, and Kim Song-hye, head of the United Front Department’s tactical office.
“Seven North Korean officials, including North Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee Vice Chairman Ri Jong-hyok, are planning to visit South Korea on the afternoon of Nov. 14 to attend an international forum on peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region that will be held in Goyang by Gyeonggi Province and the Asia-Pacific Exchange Association. We approved their visit to South Korea today,” the Unification Ministry announced on Nov. 12. The North Korean delegation will remain in South Korea from Nov. 14 to 17.
Moon to step up peace diplomacy
Posted : 2018-11-12 16:56
Updated : 2018-11-12 18:12
By Kim Yoo-chul
President Moon Jae-in will seek wider support for inter-Korean agreements to defuse tension and promote peace at upcoming ASEAN and APEC meetings, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday.
In a press release, the presidential office said Moon will visit Singapore for four days from Nov. 13 to participate in summits with ASEAN as well as ASEAN+3, which includes South Korea, China and Japan.
President Moon will then fly to Papua New Guinea to take part in the APEC forum for two days.
It's still unknown whether the President will directly pitch his "sanctions-easing" message during his planned summits with Asian leaders after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korea's Kim Yong-chol was delayed. Washington said the U.S. remains focused on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit in June.
Cheong Wa Dae said Moon will hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the ASEAN and APEC sessions. The presidential office said talks are underway for Moon's in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the sessions. A face-to-face meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been confirmed.
"At meetings with Pence and Xi, President Moon plans to share the latest updates and progress on North Korea's denuclearization-related issues and ask them to help South Korea's efforts aimed at keeping the momentum of denuclearization talks alive without a further impasse," Cheong Wa Dae said.
President Moon has played something of a surrogate role for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the international diplomatic stage, but Moon's "sanctions-easing" message toward North Korea ? after the North has taken measures like dismantling its nuclear test site ? apparently fell flat during the President's recent visit to European capitals.
Cheong Wa Dae said President Moon intends to suggest strengthening strategic talks on all levels with ASEAN members, as South Korea is moving ahead with its "New Economic Roadmap on the Korean Peninsula" as part of its New Southern Policy.
"The roadmap will include detailed plans on how to boost trade volume between South Korea and ASEAN members," Cheong Wa Dae said.
Under the New Southern Policy, South Korea is expanding economic cooperation with ASEAN members on multiple fronts.
[Moon Jae-in] [US NK Negotiations] [Intermediary] [Wishful thinking]
Air Force introduces 1st refueling aircraft
Posted : 2018-11-12 16:50
Updated : 2018-11-12 17:48
An Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) arrives at an airbase in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, Monday. This is the Air Force's first in-flight refueling aircraft. / Yonhap
By Lee Min-hyung
The Air Force took delivery of an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) in-flight refueling aircraft, Monday, in a move to increase the tactical flight time for its fighter jets.
The A330 MRTT, which can carry up to 111 tons of fuel, is a military version of the civilian A330 airplane. The Air Force plans to conduct a month-long inspection of its first in-flight refueling aircraft at its base in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, after which the plane will go into service if its performance is accepted.
It plans to introduce three more MRTTs by the end of next year, seeking to fully use the aircraft in its multi-purpose role, such as by transporting troops and cargo.
The Air Force has a budget of 1.5 trillion won ($1.32 billion) for the four aircraft.
The MRTT will be mainly used to refuel the Air Force's F-15K and KF-16 fighters, and the 40 F-35A stealth fighters that are set to be delivered to Korea by the end of 2021.
For example, the F-15K fighter jet can stay in the air for 90 minutes through aerial refueling. As of now, the aircraft can only carry out 30-minute missions without aerial refueling.
"The introduction of the A330 MRTT allows the Air Force to conduct aerial missions in a much more efficient way," a military official said. "The primary role of the MRTT is to enhance the nation's defense readiness in the air and give fighter jets more loiter time when performing missions," he added
"On top of that, the MRTT is a versatile aircraft. The Air Force plans to use them when carrying out relief and disaster rescue activities."
The Air Force said it has yet to draw up a specific plan over how to use them during its annual exercises.
The military official said the Air Force has finished pre-training pilots for the MRTT, but still requires more time to complete management procedures for the planes, crew and engineers.
The MRTT is 59 meters in length with a wingspan of 50 meters.
Its introduction comes at a time when relations between Seoul and Pyongyang are improving. When it was first decided to introduce the aircraft in 2015, Pyongyang criticized the move, calling the decision a "war crime."
[Military balance] [Escalation]
Korea-Spain aircraft deal shrouded in mystery
Posted : 2018-11-11 17:32
Updated : 2018-11-11 17:33
A400M Airbus transport aircraft
By Lee Min-hyung
Wang Jung-hong, head of DAPA
The defense procurement agency's reported plan to sign a military aircraft swap deal with Spain is drawing attention here, as it would mark the first time for a Korean manufacturer to export trainer jets to Europe.
Under the plan, Korea is expected to sell 30 KT-1 basic trainer jets and 20 T-50 advanced trainer jets, manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), to Spain. The European country also reportedly plans to sell four to six A400M Airbus transport planes to Korea as part of the aircraft exchange deal.
The reported contract, if signed, raises hopes for Korea and KAI to tap deeper into Europe and raise its global profile in the defense industry. The deal is estimated to be worth 2 trillion won ($1.77 billion).
But Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) denied the reported plan, saying "no discussion is underway" between Seoul and Madrid over the aircraft swap deal.
"Spanish military and government authorities have yet to contact us via official routes over the deal," an official from DAPA said Sunday. After reports over the possible swap deal surfaced in recent weeks, the defense procurement agency has contacted Spain to confirm whether the country is considering the deal, but the Spanish government denied the rumor, according to the official.
The rumor came as a Spanish defense ministry reportedly plans to sell to other countries 13 of 27 A400M planes it has ordered from Airbus.
Ranking defense officials from Korea and Spain will meet next week in the latter's capital city for a joint defense committee meeting.
For this reason, media attention has been on whether both sides will have any in-depth discussion on the reported aircraft deal. But DAPA denied the possibility that either side will bring it to the dialogue table during the meeting.
"The possible swap deal is not on the dialogue agenda for the meeting," the DAPA official said. "As there have been no official proposals from the Spanish authority, the issue will not be discussed at all."
Last week, local reports said a Spanish defense official delivered the country's interest in signing the swap deal in a meeting with a Korean official on the sidelines of the Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K. in July. Some reports claimed Korea has not responded to the offer.
But DAPA said it conducted an internal fact-checking process over the report, and nothing has been confirmed over whether the Spanish authority has contacted the Korean defense procurement agency over the swap deal.
DAPA is in a position that the possible aircraft exchange contract is a win-win deal for both sides and it will welcome the reported contract if Spain delivers an official proposal.
KAI is also willing to sign the big deal with Spain, as the company has recently failed to win a U.S. jet contract. In September, the U.S. Air Force awarded a $9.2 billion Advanced Pilot Training (APT) contract to a Boeing-led consortium.
At that time, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and KAI failed to compete against the low-price strategy from the Boeing consortium.
KAI was desperate to win the bid, as the APT project was cited as a golden opportunity for the Korean company to raise its global brand image. On top of that, KAI believed the project would pave the way for the company to sign more mega contracts in the U.S. and other overseas markets.
Jeju prepares for Kim Jong-un's visit by helicopter
Posted : 2018-11-11 14:49
Updated : 2018-11-11 17:35
Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong visits Baekrokdam, a crater lake on top of Mount Halla, with journalists on Saturday. Yonhap
By Jung Da-min
Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong is considering building a helipad on top of Mount Halla in preparation for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's possible visit to the island.
Jeju, along with Seoul, is one of the most likely locations to be included in Kim's itinerary.
President Moon Jae-in has expressed hope that Kim will travel to Seoul within this year and they will scale South Korea's tallest mountain Halla on Jeju together in a reciprocal show of appreciation to Kim, after the two visited North Korea's tallest mountain, Mount Paektu, in September.
"It would be tough to reach the summit of Halla on foot because unlike Paektu (whose top can be reached by lifts), nothing has been installed in Halla to keep the mountain's nature undamaged," Won told reporters who climbed the 1,950-meter mountain on Saturday.
"We need to check if a helicopter can land inside the Baekrokdam crater," Won said, referring to the volcanic crater at the mountain's peak. He added a helipad would be built in one of two spots _ one inside the crater and the other close to a nearby trekking course.
Despite a seeming slowdown on North Korea's denuclearization talks, South Korea is working aggressively to keep the momentum for peace and denuclearization alive. The southern government on Sunday sent tangerines to the North, in response to North Korea's previous gift of mushrooms to President Moon Jae-in during his Pyongyang visit.
[Kim Seoul Visit] [Jeju]
Two Koreas complete withdrawing firearms at guard posts
Posted : 2018-11-11 17:31
Updated : 2018-11-11 18:00
South Korean Army soldiers leave a guard post located in the inter-Korean border area, Friday. The two Koreas finished withdrawing firearms and troops from 11 guard posts on each side, Saturday. / Courtesy of Ministry of National Defense
By Lee Min-hyung
The two Koreas completed withdrawing firearms and soldiers from 11 guard posts respectively on each side as of Saturday, as part of joint efforts to disarm inter-Korean border area, the Ministry of National Defense said Sunday.
"Military authorities from the two Koreas finished withdrawing firearms, military equipment and troops at the guard posts to fulfill a joint military agreement signed on the sidelines of the inter-Korean summit in September," the ministry said in a statement.
The two Koreas plan to destroy 20 out of the 22 guard posts by the end of this month. They will maintain one post on each side, according to the ministry.
After destroying the posts, the Koreas will conduct a joint verification sometime in December to check whether the posts have been completely destroyed, the ministry said.
[Detente] [DMZ] [Tension reduction]
Gov't Whacks Billions on Cross-Border Budget
By Jun Hyun-suk, Yoon Hyung-jun
November 09, 2018 13:16
The Defense Ministry belatedly asked lawmakers to approve another W10.1 billion in next year's budget to finance spending on a cross-border military agreement.
According to Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Baek Seung-joo on Thursday, the Defense Ministry had allocated W15 billion in the 2018-2019 budget on inter-Korean military projects, or W4 billion this year and W11 billion next year (US$1=W1,117).
But the other W10.1 billion is new. It breaks down into W8.18 billion to tear down guard posts in the demilitarized zone and W1.96 billion to move artillery training exercises from western islands near North Korea.
When Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo was asked by lawmakers last month whether the existing defense budget was enough to cover inter-Korean military projects, he replied, "I believe so." On Thursday Jeong apologized to lawmakers and said some areas of the budget "had not been calculated."
The latest budget request still does not include the estimated cost of establishing a military direct line with the North and the operation of a joint military committee.
Opposition party lawmakers fear snowballing costs for other inter-Korean projects. The general consensus is that South Korea's bill for upgrading North Korea's ailing railway system could rise from the government estimate of W40 trillion to W100 trillion, but the government only requested W295.1 billion.
For the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, which opened last month, the Unification Ministry initially requested W860 billion but ended up spending more than W10 billion.
The government here also foots the entire bill for reunions of families separated by the Korean War. And W4 billion out of W8.5 billion the Unification Ministry requested to set up video reunion sites will be used to refurbish North Korean facilities for the project.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said both South and North Korea will retain one out of the 11 guard posts they agreed to dismantle along the heavily-armed border. Although arms and troops will be taken out, the structures will stay.
The South will retain the guard post closest to the East Sea, which was the first one built after the armistice.
"We considered the historical value and peaceful use of the guard post," a ministry spokesman said. North Korea decided to keep a guard post in the central part of the demilitarized zone. A government official said, "Both guard posts are in key military areas and both sides considered those factors."
Inter-Korean film festival to be held in Gangwon in August 2019
Posted on : Nov.10,2018 15:11 KST Modified on : Nov.10,2018 15:11 KST
The Pyeongchang International Peace Film Festival, hosted in the name of peaceful inter-Korean relations, will take place next August in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, Gangwon Province. Organized by the Gangwon Film Commission in coordination with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean Film Council, the festival is part of a project to commemorate 100 years of Korean filmmaking. The event will mark the first inter-Korean film project since the screening of a North Korean film in the Busan International Film Festival during the term of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
[Inter Korean] [Roh Moo-hyun]
South and North to each preserve 1 of 11 GPs scheduled for probational dismantlement
Posted on : Nov.9,2018 18:10 KST Modified on : Nov.9,2018 18:10 KST
Posts selected for preservation based on historical value and potential peaceful use
Yellow flags are hoisted over DMZ guard posts (GPs) selected for dismantlement on Nov. 4. (Yonhap News)
South and North Korea have agreed to each preserve one of the 11 guard posts in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) they had agreed to completely dismantle by the end of this month. South Korea has selected a guard post along the East Sea and North Korea a guard post in the central area.
“During the 10th general-level military talks and correspondence, the South and North Korean militaries shared the sense that some guard posts are worthy of preservation and agreed to each preserve one of the 11 guard posts that are supposed to be dismantled on a trial basis,” South Korea’s Ministry of Defense announced on Nov. 8.
According to the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), signed on Sept. 19, the two sides are supposed to remove firearms, equipment and troops from eleven guard posts in the DMZ on a trial basis and then completely dismantle the facilities by the end of this month.
Senior N.Korean Officials to Visit South for 'Informal' Event
By Kim Myong-song
November 08, 2018 11:07
The central government in Seoul has no plan to meet a delegation of seven senior North Korean officials who will visit Gyeonggi Province at the invitation of the local government next week, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday.
The delegation will be led by Ri Jong-hyok, a vice chairman of the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, and Kim Song-hye of the United Front Department.
Asked by reporters whether the government has plans to meet them, ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said, "They're coming to attend an event sponsored by a local government and civic groups. I understand that [North Korea] hasn't asked our government's opinion about it."
But the denial has raised eyebrows because the North Korean officials are very senior cross-border negotiators.
Ri, a veteran apparatchik handling South Korean affairs, was deeply involved in launching package tours to Mt. Kumgang and the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex. There is speculation that he will deliver a letter to Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung from leader Kim Jong-un inviting Pope Francis to Pyongyang.
Kim Song-hye, one of the few female apparatchiks involved in South Korean affairs, has attended various kinds of cross-border talks since 2005. She accompanied Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong during her visit to South Korea in February and visited the U.S. in late May with Kim Jong-un's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol. She was also to have attended high-level U.S.-North Korea talks scheduled for Thursday in New York, but they were canceled at the last minute.
"It's unusual for senior North Korean officials to attend an event sponsored by civic groups," a researcher at a government-funded think tank pointed out. "This suggests that they have something to discuss in secret with South Korean officials."
[SK NK Negotiations]
[Photo] Seoul to build system of bike-exclusive lanes throughout city
Posted on : Nov.8,2018 17:15 KST Modified on : Nov.8,2018 17:15 KST
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is launching its “Eco-Bike Line” project, a system of highways and paths designed exclusively for bicycles. The lanes will be properly separated from roads so as to ensure the safety of cyclers and address the discomfort and inconvenience of having to share the same space with vehicles. However, critics have lambasted the project as exacerbating the vehicle-centric approach to travel by excluding cyclists from main roads. The city announced on Nov. 7 that it will be holding a contest for ideas on how to make the project as effective and safe as possible. The photos show the Cycle Snake project launched in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2014 (above), and an illustration of what London’s Sky Cycle project is expected to look like. (provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government)
High-ranking defector cancels event appearance over 'threatening letter'
Posted : 2018-11-08 15:33
Updated : 2018-11-08 18:17
A progressive university students' group posted a screenshot of their email to Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea in 2016, on Facebook Tuesday. Captured from @univjinbo's Facebook account
By Jung Da-min
Thae Yong-ho, a high-ranking North Korean defector who has backed sanctions on North Korea, called off attending a public event early this week after receiving a threatening letter from an online community for progressive students.
The letter warned him to stop "activities hindering reunification" of the two Koreas or the community's members will move to "arrest" him.
Such criticism is not unusual for Thae, who fled to Seoul in August 2016 while serving in the United Kingdom as North Korea's deputy ambassador. He has been a target of harsh words from progressive activists who support the Moon Jae-in administration's North Korea-friendly policies. But it is the first time he has canceled an appearance following criticism.
The community posted the letter's full text on its Facebook account Tuesday, the day it sent the letter to the defector and the cancelation took place.
[Thae Yong Ho] [Defector industry] [Protest]
7 N. Korean officials to attend intl. conference in Gyeonggi Province
Posted on : Nov.7,2018 17:31 KST Modified on : Nov.7,2018 17:31 KST
Seven North Korean officials, including Ri Jong-hyok, director of the National Reunification Institute and deputy head of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Kim Song-hye, head of the Secretarial Bureau of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRK), is set to visit South Korea for an international conference hosted by Gyeonggi Province on Nov. 14-17. Kim Song-hye (in the red circle) was a member of the delegation that accompanied Kim Yo-jong, vice director of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee, when she attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The upcoming international conference will focus on measures for peace in Asia and the Pacific region.
Two Koreas discuss expanding cooperation on health issues
Posted : 2018-11-07 11:19
Updated : 2018-11-07 15:27
South and North Korea held talks Wednesday to discuss ways to jointly fight contagious diseases and expand cooperation on health-related matters.
South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol met with his North Korean counterpart, Park Myong-su, with other ranking officials at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong. The meeting started at around 10 a.m. the government said.
This was the first inter-Korean talks related to health issues in 11 years. The two Koreas previously held similar talks on December 2007.
The two sides were to discuss topics, such as how to work together to prevent contagious diseases from coming into the peninsula.
"We will faithfully participate in the meeting in order to achieve results in areas like improving health for people, as well as devise ways to halt an inflow of diseases," Kwon told reporters in Seoul before leaving for the talks.
In recent months, Seoul and Pyongyang have been holding a series of meetings on various cooperative projects on railway connections, forestry and other areas, all of which they believe will help ease tensions and build mutual trust. (Yonhap)
[Inter Korean] [Health]
Safety Concerns Trump Combat Readiness in Military
By Kwon Seon-mi
November 06, 2018 11:46
Safety concerns increasingly trump combat readiness in the Army as a new generation of coddled young men embark on their mandatory military service and officers grow wary of taking responsibility.
A National Assembly audit last month revealed that the Army has not trained new military recruits in the use of hand grenades for the last three years. The measure was taken after one conscript died and two were injured during a grenade-training exercise in September 2015.
A probe was launched to look into faulty grenades, but the cause of the accident remains a mystery.
Such incidents are far from rare in the military, and the knee-jerk reaction by top brass has often been simply to scrap dangerous tasks to avoid being held responsible.
But critics said that approach is harming the military's readiness to deal with a crisis.
When one unit conducted target practice with grenade launchers earlier this year, the first gunner fired the launcher but the projectile got lodged in the barrel. The projectile was eventually launched, but the commanding officer immediately halted the drill citing safety concerns.
Moon prepares for possible reciprocal visit from Kim Jong-un to be held within the year
Posted on : Nov.6,2018 16:58 KST Modified on : Nov.6,2018 16:58 KST
S. Korean President asks national assembly to release statement welcoming N. Korean leader
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (third from left) poses for a commemorative photograph with the leaders of the National Assembly’s five political parties on Nov. 5 before a meeting of the permanent governance deliberation body at the Blue House. (Blue House photo pool)
Given the delay of the second North Korea-US summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the schedule of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s reciprocal visit to Seoul was being arranged on the assumption that the visit would take place before the end of the year. Moon asked the National Assembly to issue a statement welcoming Kim Jong-un to Seoul while promising not to push ahead with the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration.
To sum up the accounts provided by the floor leaders from the five parties who attended the meeting of the permanent governance deliberation body that convened at the Blue House on Nov. 5, Moon said that since the second North Korea-US summit had been delayed until next year, deliberations were underway about whether Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul should take place before or after the summit.
While the final decision has not been made, Moon said, preparations are being made on the assumption that the visit would take place within the year. While the Blue House had previously declined to comment on discussion of the delay of the North Korea-US summit until next year, which it described as “a matter being deliberated by North Korea and the US,” Moon’s remarks basically make the delay official.
“Chairman Kim’s and the South Korean government’s positions are not the only factors affecting efforts to arrange Chairman Kim’s visit to Seoul within the year. These efforts are inevitably impacted by the results of the North Korea-US negotiations,” Moon said, dismissing the possibility raised in some quarters of Kim visiting Seoul independently from the North Korea-US negotiations.
[Kim Seoul visit]
A two-man demonstration against punitive alternatives to military service
Posted on : Nov.6,2018 16:32 KST Modified on : Nov.6,2018 16:32 KST
Jeong Hyeon (left), served 18 months for conscientious objection to military service. On Jeong’s right is Oh Gyeong-taek, who is currently on trial for conscientious objection, is facing 36 months, twice the period of standard military service, in a corrections facility. The two men engaged in a demonstration against systems of punitive alternative service imposed on conscientious objectors in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul on Nov. 5. (Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
[ROK military] [Conscientious objectors]
Talks underway to end Korean War: NSO chief
Posted : 2018-11-06 16:57
Updated : 2018-11-06 18:03
National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong, right, answers questions during a government audit of Cheong Wa Dae and the presidential national security team at the National Assembly, Tuesday. On the left is presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok. Yonhap
By Kim Yoo-chul
South Korea is still trying to work out a deal to officially declare an end to the Korean War by the end of this year, expecting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul "soon," presidential National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong said Tuesday.
"Seoul is discussing with key stakeholders in denuclearization talks to make a declaration ending the Korean War by the end of this year," Chung said during a National Assembly audit of Cheong Wa Dae and the presidential national security team.
South and North Korea begin trial dismantlement of guard posts surrounding DMZ
Posted on : Nov.5,2018 16:38 KST Modified on : Nov.5,2018 16:38 KST
11 GPs on each side marked with yellow flags in beginning phase of disarmament
South and North Korea hoist yellow flags at 11 guard posts on each side of the DMZ in the beginning of the trial phase of the disarmament process mentioned in an inter-Korean military agreement signed on Sept. 19. (provided by MND)
On Nov. 4, South and North Korea hoisted yellow flags at 11 guard posts on each side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), marking the beginning of an attempt to dismantle these guards posts on a trial basis. South and North Korea raised yellow flags that measured 4m wide and 3m tall on Sunday morning in order to clearly identify the guard posts that are being closed, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) explained.
Former Jeju Seongsangpo police chief recognized for saving lives during Jeju Uprising in 1950
Posted on : Nov.5,2018 16:22 KST Modified on : Nov.5,2018 16:22 KST
Mun Hyeong-sun saved 221 innocent people by refusing to follow execution order
“Now that new light is being shed on the Jeju Uprising, I’m glad his actions are finally receiving recognition, even though 70 years have passed since then.”
Kang Sun-ju (86, Pyoseon Township, Seogwipo) made the remarks when a memorial bust of Mun Hyeong-sun (1897–1966) was unveiled at the Jeju Provincial Police Agency on Nov. 1. Mun is remembered for preventing a massacre of civilians by disobeying his superior’s commands during the uprising, which began on Apr. 3, 1948.
In Aug. 1950, during the Korean War, Mun was serving as the police chief in Seongsanpo. When he was ordered to execute people who had been rounded up by the martial law command on the suspicion that they might cause problems, he informed his superiors he would “not carry out an inappropriate” command and spared the lives of 221 people.
“When Mun released me and the other innocent people who had been detained at Seongsanpo Police Station, he told us there was no need to thank him and urged us to become people who would contribute to society,” Kang recalled.
Koh Chun-eon (94, Daejeong Township, Seogwipo), who was nearly executed during the Jeju Uprising, attended the event in a wheelchair to express his gratitude to Mun for saving the lives of Jeju residents. In Dec. 1948, when Mun was police chief in Moseulpo, he persuaded more than a hundred locals who were likely to be executed to make a confession and then let them go with a warning. To honor Mun’s actions, the locals set up a stone memorial for him in Seogwipo’s Daejeong Township in July 2005.
Mun is one of the figures honored in the “Apr. 3 Heroes” section of the Jeju Apr. 3 Peace Park, and he was selected to be the police hero of the year in a memorial service on Police Day, which fell on Oct. 25.
By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent
South and North begin joint hydrographic survey of waterways near mouth of Han River
Posted on : Nov.5,2018 16:14 KST Modified on : Nov.5,2018 16:14 KST
South and North Korea commenced a joint hydrographic survey of the mouth of the Han River (Imjin River) for joint usage of its waterways on Nov. 5. It was the first joint inspection of the area since 1953. The joint survey team comprises 10 people from each side and includes both military officials and waterway experts. The team gauged the waterways’ depth using sonar to determine whether they were at safe levels for passage via boat. The joint survey was part of an inter-Korean military agreement signed by both sides on Sept. 19 during the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. (Yonhap News)
S. Korean civic group departs for joint event with N. Koreans
Posted : 2018-11-03 15:02
Updated : 2018-11-03 15:02
Members of South Korea's Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC) wait on a bus at a parking lot in Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul, Nov. 3, 2018. The KCRC members were leaving Seoul to attend a two-day joint event with North Koreans at Mount Guemgang on the North's east coast. Yonhap
A South Korean civic organization departed for Mount Geumgang, Saturday, to attend a joint event with North Koreans.
Members of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC) left Seoul to take part in the event with their North Korean counterparts.
The event is to call for the faithful implementation of a recent summit agreement between the two countries' leaders. A delegation of around 300 people, including personnel, journalists and other support staff, was scheduled to cross the border via the Donghae Line land route.
The joint event will be held at Mount Geumgang on the North's east coast for two days. It will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the KCRC and its North Korean counterpart ? which has the same name. The two groups last held a joint event in 2008.
During the visit, the two sides will touch on the issue of exchanges in various sectors.
"We'll meet the North Koreans at Mount Geumgang and will talk about exchanges in six areas: labor, farmers, students, women, religion and culture," a KCRC official in Seoul said.
Moon Says N.Korean Leader Kim to Visit Seoul 'Soon'
November 02, 2018 08:07
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will "soon" visit Seoul as part of a flurry of high-profile diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
During a speech before parliament, Moon said that a second North Korea-U.S. summit is "near at hand" and that Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit North Korea soon. Moon also said he expected Kim to visit Russia soon and that Kim may meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
[Moon Jae-in] [Intermediary]
Blue House confirms Kim Jong-un likely to visit Seoul within the year
Posted on : Nov.2,2018 17:40 KST Modified on : Nov.2,2018 17:40 KST
Officials says reciprocal visit is separate from issue of 2nd North Korea-US summit
A view of the Blue House (Hankyoreh archives)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may pay a reciprocal visit to the South Korea within the year as agreed upon by the two sides’ leaders in their Pyongyang Joint Declaration last September, the Blue House suggested on Nov. 1.
“We see [Kim’s South Korea visit] as proceeding without issues,” a Blue House senior official said in a meeting with reporters that day, adding that the two sides would “continue our discussions.”
“The timeline for Chairman Kim’s reciprocal visit is open. While there may be some variability as the situation progresses, we’re definitely looking at a reciprocal visit in the short term,” the official added.
“We look forward to Chairman Kim visiting within the year,” the official said.
When asked about a possible connection to the schedule for a second North Korea-US summit, the official replied, “I don’t see it as necessarily being greatly tied to that [summit].” The message appeared to suggest the two sides would be pursuing a Seoul visit by Kim within 2018 without being greatly affected by the schedule for the second North Korea-US summit.
[SK NK Negotiations] [Detente] [Kim Seoul2018]
Supreme Court gives first-ever acquittal of conscientious objector to military service
Posted on : Nov.2,2018 17:50 KST Modified on : Nov.2,2018 17:50 KST
From an initial constitutionality review recommendation in 2002 to the earliest first-trial acquittal in 2004, the earliest second-trial acquittal in 2016, and ultimately a Constitutional Court decision last June ordering the institution of an alternative system for mandatory military service – progress in the human rights of people refusing military service on grounds of religion or conscience has been achingly slow. In a full bench ruling on Nov. 1, the Supreme Court determined that the decision not to bear arms constitutes “justifiable grounds” for not enlisting according to the Military Service Act.
[ROK military] [Conscientious objector]
All hostile activity around MDL to cease in accordance with inter-Korean military agreement
Posted on : Nov.1,2018 16:23 KST Modified on : Nov.1,2018 16:23 KST
All land, sea and air operations to halt on Nov. 1, defense ministry announces
A view of a North Korean village in Ongjin County, South Hwanghae Province, across the inter-Korean border on Oct. 31, the eve of the day when South and North Korea agreed to cease all land, sea and air military operations around the MDL. (Yonhap News)
All land-, sea-, and air-based hostile activities around the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) are to be halted as of Nov. 1 in accordance with the military agreement reached by South and North Korea on Sept. 19.
“As of 00 hours on Nov. 1, South and North Korean military authorities will suspend all mutually directed hostile activities on land and sea and in the air,” the Ministry of National Defense announced on Oct. 31.
In their Sept. 19, military agreement, the two sides stipulated that they would be ceasing all live-fire artillery drills and field training exercises at the regiment level and above within 5km of the MDL, designate and operate no-fly zones for all aircraft types, and suspend live-fire and maritime maneuver exercises within buffer zones in the East and West (Yellow) Seas.
“To this end, covers have been placed on the muzzles and barrels of warship and coastal artillery units in the East and West Sea buffer zones, and gun ports have been closed on all coastal artillery on Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong Islands,” the ministry said.
[MDL] [Detente] [Tension reduction]
Seoul rejects union activists' request for North Korea visit
SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry has rejected a request by four labor activists to participate in an event to be held in North Korea to call for the faithful implementation of the summit agreement between their leaders in September, a ministry official said Thursday.
Han Sang-gyun, former head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), and its three other leading members had asked to join the event, which the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC) and its North Korean counterpart plan to hold on Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast on Saturday and Sunday.
"We made the decision by comprehensively considering the nature and purpose of the trip, and through consultation with relevant agencies," he told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Han was sentenced last year to three years in prison for orchestrating a violent anti-government protest in 2015. He was later released on parole.
A delegation of around 300 people, including personnel, journalists and other support staff, will be organized for the first such event since 2008, a KCRC official earlier said.
The event comes amid a growing peace mood following their leaders' summit meetings in April, May and September, in which they agreed to expand cross-border exchanges and contacts in various fields.
[Detente] [Pushback] [Fraternisation] [Trade union]
Speaker hopes Kim Jong-un will address Assembly
Posted : 2018-10-31 17:23
Updated : 2018-10-31 19:17
National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang speaks during an interview with The Korea Times in his office at the National Assembly, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
By Park Ji-won
National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang hopes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will make a speech at the National Assembly in response to President Moon Jae-in's Pyongyang speech in front of North Korean people.
Speaker Moon said in an interview with The Korea Times, Tuesday, that Kim's speech in Seoul could have a symbolic meaning for inter-Korean relations.
"As President Moon Jae-in also gave his speech in front of 150,000 Pyongyang citizens, I think Kim wouldn't have a problem making his remarks at the Assembly," Moon said.
But regarding Kim's visit, which the North's leader promised to will happen within this year at the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit, the speaker said, "As there are uncertainties on the next North-U.S. summit, there is a possibility his trip can be held early next year."
He urged parliamentary leaders including himself to take more responsibility in tackling this historic issue and realize what really matters to seek peace for the country. He said the South should keep close ties with its allies especially with the U.S. and Japan.
[SK NK policy] [Ambiguity]
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