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Blue House reportedly preparing for Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit after 2nd NK-US summit
Posted on : Jan.23,2019 16:34 KST Modified on : Jan.23,2019 16:34 KST
Officials anticipating visit to happen as early as late March
The Blue House
The Blue House is reportedly preparing for a reciprocal visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the assumption that it will take place around late March at the earliest.
The preparations appear to reflect its aims of using the outcome of a second North Korea-US summit – expected to take place in late February – to ensure “substance” in the inter-Korean summit in Seoul, including areas related to inter-Korean economic cooperation.
“If the second North Korea-US summit takes place in late February as expected, we anticipate Chairman Kim will pay a reciprocal visit to Seoul as early as late March,” a key Blue House official said.
“There’s a good chance some of the sanctions on the North will be loosened or lifted if Chairman Kim and President [Donald] Trump have a smooth summit,” the official predicted.
The official went on to say South and North Korea would “need to fully examine what forms of cooperation and exchange efforts they could have in the economy and other areas based on the agreement at the North Korea-US summit.”
“There’s going to need to be at least a month of working-level efforts to prepare concretely for the summit.”
The same official added, “During this process, we will need to closely coordinate with the US on whether any of the inter-Korean economic cooperation efforts clash with UN or US sanctions, and on which areas it would be possible to circumvent sanctions in.”
[Seoul visit] [Kim_Trump_second_summit] [US dominance]
N.Korean Nukes Dampen Foreigners' Image of S.Korea
By Baik Su-jin
January 23, 2019 12:50
The North Korean nuclear threat was the biggest negative factor in South Korea's image among foreigners, a survey by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism suggests.
Among 8,000 people across 16 countries surveyed, 80.3 percent had positive image of South Korea. For the biggest proportion or 40 percent the country's cuisine was the first thing that came to mind, followed by K-pop with 22.8 percent, Korean culture in general with 19.1 percent and cosmetics with 14.2 percent.
Popular culture encompassing K-pop, soaps and movies was the biggest reason why 35.5 percent liked South Korea, followed by economic status with 17.5 percent, cultural heritage with 12.3 percent and Korean brands and products with 12 percent.
Among respondents with unfavorable views of South Korea, the biggest proportion or 23.3 percent cited the North Korean nuclear threat. South Korea's corrupt politics and endless presidential scandals put off 19.6 percent, and the country’s fractious international relations 13 percent.
By nation, the biggest fans of South Korea were Indonesians with 96.4 percent taking a favorable view, followed by Russians at 95.6 percent, Mexicans at 93.8 percent and Indians at 93 percent.
But 43.3 percent of respondents in Japan had a negative impression and 11.2 percent in China. The figure in the U.S. and the U.K. was 6.8 percent and 6.6 percent.
[Image] [Collateral damage]
Chun Doo-hwan accompanied by police security guards on golf course
Posted on : Jan.20,2019 16:46 KST Modified on : Jan.20,2019 16:46 KST
Critics question legitimacy of using taxpayer money on Chun’s personal security
Ex-president Chun Doo-hwan playing golf in 1999 in Gyeonggi Province. (Hankyoreh archives)
Ex-president Chun Doo-hwan, 88, was accompanied for four police security guards and two police cars when he golfed at a Gangwon Province course (identified by the initial “K”) on Dec. 6, it has been learned.
According to information received from the National Police Agency (NPA) on Jan. 18 by Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jae-jung of the National Assembly Public Administration and Security Committee, a total of two vehicles and four security guards were assigned to Chun on Dec. 6, including one superintendent and three lieutenants. Chun is normally guarded by five police officers at a time. One of the five appears to have stayed behind at his home in Seoul’s Yeonhui neighborhood while the other four went with Chun to golf course K.
[Interview] Jeju prosecutor works to clear the names of Jeju Uprising prisoners
Posted on : Jan.20,2019 16:48 KST Modified on : Jan.20,2019 16:48 KST
Jeong Gwang-byeong sought for “a trial worthy of the name justice”
Jeong Gwang-byeong, a prosecutor with the Jeju District Prosecutors’ Office
“I wanted to allow the Jeju April 3 prisoners to receive a trial worthy of the name justice.”
Eighteen former prisoners from the Jeju Uprising of 1948–49 received the equivalent of an acquittal on Jan. 17 when the charges against them were dismissed in a requested retrial by the second criminal division of Jeju District Court under Hon. Judge Jegal Chang. A month earlier on Dec. 17, Jeong Gwang-byeong, 39, a prosecutor with the Jeju District Prosecutors’ Office, had requested that the court issue a ruling dismissing the charges. It was a deviation from the conventional path taken by prosecutors, who have often pursued guilty rulings even in retrials when clear evidence of injustices has surfaced in their investigations.
Meeting with the Hankyoreh after the ruling, Jeong explained that the reason had been to allow a “trial worthy of the name justice.” Jeong had previously handled retrials in connection with the uprising (known locally as “Jeju April 3”) for the past two years alongside Park Geum-bit (36, 41st Judicial Research and Training Institute class) and Lee Sang-hu (32, two-time bar examination candidate).
Defense White Paper Stops Calling N.Korea 'the Enemy'
By Yu Yong-weon, Yang Seung-sik
January 16, 2019 10:41
The government has officially stopped referring to North Korea as the "enemy" in the first defense white paper of the Moon Jae-in administration.
The biennial document also scraps the phrase "kill chain" and a strategy formerly dubbed "Korea massive punishment and retaliation," which the North has traditionally bristled at.
Instead of referring directly to North Korea, the white paper says, "The military regards forces which threaten and infringe on the sovereignty, territory, citizens and assets of [South Korea] as the enemy."
The Defense Ministry in a statement explained the switch. "Invasions and threats by foreign forces are not restricted to North Korea," it said. "The previous white paper reflected cross-border relations at the time."
[Detente] [ROK military] [Rhetoric]
PyeongChang Global Peace Forum?—?Is there finally hope for peace between the two Koreas?
Dec 20, 2018
Briefing on PyeongChnag Global Peace Forum 2019.
On Monday, September 27th, Francis Daehoon Lee held a briefing on the two upcoming PyeongChang Global Peace Forums?—?the first taking place in 2019 and the second in 2020?—?meant to address conflict between North and South Korea directly. These forums have been made possible due to several historical developments?—?the South-Korean peace demonstrations (2016-17), the Olympics (2018) and the inter-Korean summit.
Defense ministry not to use provocative terms against NK
Posted : 2019-01-11 16:50
Updated : 2019-01-11 17:43
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks in a media briefing at its headquarters in Seoul, in this file photo taken in November last year. / Yonhap
By Lee Min-hyung
The Ministry of National Defense said Friday it will stop using provocative military terms against North Korea to reflect the ongoing peace momentum on the Korean Peninsula.
In a medium-term strategic planning report, the ministry replaced phrases, such as "Kill Chain" and "Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMRP)," with new ones using toned-down rhetoric.
Kill Chain refers to a pre-emptive strike system against possible missile threats from North Korea ? the ministry decided to change this to "strategic target strike." KMRP has also been renamed as "overwhelming response."
The decision came against the backdrop of the inter-Korean reconciliation under which Seoul and Pyongyang are taking a series of steps to ease military tension.
[Detente] [ROK military]
Moon expresses hopes that 2nd NK-US summit will occur soon
Posted on : Jan.11,2019 16:06 KST Modified on : Jan.11,2019 16:06 KST
South Korean President Moon Jae-in described North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent fourth China visit as “a sign that a second North Korea-US summit is at hand and an act of preparation for that.”
Speaking in a New Year’s press conference on Jan. 10, President Moon predicted, “The meeting between Chairman Kim Jong-un and [Chinese] President Xi Jinping will have a positive impact on the success of the second North Korea-US summit.”
“I anticipate hearing before long that high-level meetings are taking place between North Korea and the US toward a second bilateral summit,” he added.
Moon predicted the second North Korea-US summit would be “a setting for negotiating what concrete measures North Korea will take and what corresponding measures the US will take in terms of the processes available to each of them.”
“To resolve the sanctions issue quickly, North Korea will first need to undertake bold and substantive denuclearization measures, and corresponding [US] measures to promote and encourage North Korea’s denuclearization will also need to be considered,” he said.
“That is going to be the most important issue for the second North Korea-US summit,” he added.
A senior official in foreign affairs and national security interpreted the remarks as “signaling that the loosening of sanctions is going to be an important item on the agenda.”
[Moon Jae-in] [Kim_Trump_second_summit] [Sanctions]
Moon says Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit will happen after 2nd N. Korea-US summit
Posted on : Jan.11,2019 16:07 KST Modified on : Jan.11,2019 16:07 KST
Observers predict series of summits involving two Koreas, the US and China throughout 2019
South Korean President Moon Jae-in responds to reporters’ questions during his New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 10. (Blue House photo pool)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in predicted a reciprocal visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that failed to happen before the end of 2018 would come once a second North Korea-US summit has been held.
With Kim inviting Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Pyongyang during their recent fourth bilateral summit and Xi announcing specific plans, observers are predicting a series of summits involving South and North Korea, the US, and China could take place through the end of 2019 once the second North Korea-US summit takes place.
“That matter [of Kim’s reciprocal visit] is tied to the second North-US summit,” Moon said in a New Year’s press conference on Jan. 10.
“Once a North Korea-US summit has taken place first, I suspect [Kim’s] visit will be able to be proceed a bit more smoothly,” he predicted, suggesting the outcome of the North Korea-US summit is being viewed as tied to Kim’s eventual visit to Seoul.
[Seoul visit] [Kim_Trum_second_summit] [US dominance]
Lawmaker Moots Bangtan Boys Concert in Pyongyang
By Choi Yeon-jin
January 10, 2019 11:01
A lawmaker made waves on a slow news day Wednesday by mooting a plan for a concert of boy band Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, in Pyongyang.
Ahn Min-suk of the ruling Minjoo Party told reporters, "I proposed the concert to BTS late last year. I'm still waiting for their answer to my request whether they can make the time for it."
Ahn wants them to perform to celebrate first anniversary of the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September, preferably at the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium where President Moon Jae-in addressed 150,000 North Koreans last September.
Ahn also revealed that the North Korean regime had asked for help renovating the stadium.
BTS' agency Big Hit Entertainment in a statement said it had "nothing to say about such a concert as of now." Some BTS fans opposed the idea they do not want their floppy-fringed idols to be used for political purposes.
Bullet holes from 1980: unforgettable account of Gwangju massacre
Posted : 2019-01-09 17:02
Updated : 2019-01-10 14:07
Bullet holes in the floor and wall of the 10th floor of Jeonil Building in Gwangju are numbered "36" (top) and "71." The holes, among 245 found inside and outside the structure in an investigation by the National Forensic Service, show the building was fired upon from a helicopter during the May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
Military strongman Chun Doo-hwan brutally put down protesters in Gwangju on May 18, 1980, and Jeonil Building in the city bears witness to that.
By Ko Dong-hwan
GWANGJU ? It is hard to miss Jeonil Building, a dilapidated structure next to Gwangju's large public square in front of the former main building of the South Jeolla Provincial Government.
Paint is peeling in spots on the exterior of the white 10-story building, built in the 1960s. In 1980, the square was one of the flashpoints where citizens gathered to protest the power grab by military strongman Chun Doo-hwan, who sent troops in to suppress them with force.
The building was left with 245 bullet holes, with 193 found inside the 10th floor, according to the National Forensic Service that investigated the structure from 2016 to 2017 at the city's request. It was the city government's bid to obtain evidence that Chun ordered military helicopters to open fire at the protesters who were hiding inside.
The NFS report nearly confirmed the bullets were sprayed from a hovering helicopter. It said most of the 17 bullet holes located outside the building appear to have been left by bullets from government-issued carbine rifles.
The Ministry of National Defense's special investigation team for the May 18 uprising reported in February 2018 that around 40 helicopters, including 500MD attack choppers and UH-1H transportation choppers, took part in the suppression of the democratic movement on May 21 and 27.
North Korea calls for inter-Korean unification against foreign power
Posted : 2019-01-07 16:42
Updated : 2019-01-07 16:42
Pyongyang citizens wave the Korean Unification Flag as they watch vehicles carrying South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un through Pyongyang last year. Korea Times file
By Jung Da-min
North Korea's propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri Monday said the unification of two Koreas was necessary to counter a foreign power, which had been the cause of division of the two Koreas. The foreign power is assumed to be the United States.
"The biggest obstacle on the way to prosperity of our people today is the division of people," the pro-Pyongyang outlet said, in a commentary titled "True patriotism is in struggle for the unification of the country."
The commentary highlighted former leader Kim Jong-il's efforts to promote the unification of two Koreas, including the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration in 2000 and the Oct. 4 Joint Declaration and 2007.
[Division] [Joint Korean]
Young North Korean defectors struggle in South Korean schools
Posted : 2019-01-06 10:18
Updated : 2019-01-06 10:18
Teenage North Korean defectors attend a class at Samjung Elementary School in Guro, Seoul.
A growing number of school-age North Korean defectors in the South say they have never attended school and are struggling to keep up with coursework in their new homeland.
Among the more than 31,000 defectors living in the South, about 3,000 refugees are of school age, but their lack of exposure to education and difficulties in subjects like math and English are keeping them behind, South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported Friday.
The young North Koreans are also in a challenging and competitive educational environment, where students supplement mandatory schooling with extra classes at private institutes.
Their parents, however, do not seek out expensive private education unlike their South Korean peers for economic reasons, according to the report.
A survey from 2016 focused on North Korean teens and preteens show nearly half of respondents said "keeping up" with classes in the South posed the greatest challenge in their lives, followed by making friends, adjusting to South Korean culture and maintaining good relations with teachers.
Half of the 857 respondents also said they had never attended school in the North.
North Korean homeless children rose in number following the famine of the 1990s. Many families gave up their children and forced them to seek food and shelter on the streets, according to defector testimonies.
[Refugee reception] [Education]
Mourning a husband 70 years later
Posted on : Jan.5,2019 17:48 KST Modified on : Jan.5,2019 17:48 KST
Lee Im-gyu (97) visits Jeju April 3 Peace Park for the first time to see the gravestone lain for her husband, who went missing during the events of the massacre. (all photos by Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent)
“It must be good to have so many friends.”
The old woman flopped down and stroked her husband’s tombstone. At the age of 97, her skin was deeply wrinkled, with tears visible in her eyes. On Nov. 23, Lee Im-gyu visited Jeju April 3 Peace Park in the Bonggae neighborhood of Jeju City, assisted by her daughter and grandchild. Lee, a resident of the village of Sillye in Seogwipo, was there for the first time since gravestones were put in place for the missing victims of massacres in the wake of the Jeju Uprising.
Lee seemed to have worried that her husband would have been lonely departing this earth before her. Caressing his tombstone, she repeated the words: “It must be good to have friends.” Her eyes were turned toward the rows of countless gray tombstones.
“Why are there so many people who died?” she asked daughter Jeong Yeong-soon, 70. “There are so many gravestones. My God.”
“I know. A lot of innocent people died,” Jeong replied. “It’s just good that there are people who survived.”
N.Korea Lambasts 'Pointless' Railroad Event
By Yoon Hyung-jun
January 04, 2019 11:40
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun on Thursday denounced a ground-breaking ceremony in the North Korean border city of Kaesong on Dec. 26 for a project to reconnect railways and roads severed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The daily complained the ceremony was a "half-baked perfunctory event" since no actual work can start due to international sanctions against the North.
"It would be hard to find a similar example anywhere else on the planet Earth in which a ground-breaking ceremony is held, but no actual work will begin," it said.
[Detente] [Railways] [US disapproval] [US dominance] [Sanctions]
Ideological dispute deepening on NK leader's Seoul visit
Posted : 2019-01-01 17:27
Updated : 2019-01-01 17:27
People who support North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Seoul participate in an event to welcome him in Seoul, Dec. 9. / Yonhap
By Kang Seung-woo
After decades of ideological conflict that drove South and North Korea to the brink of war at times, the two sides have undergone a stunning about-face in their relations, with an unprecedented reconciliatory mood along with three inter-Korean summits last year alone. Another highlight of the changes will be Seoul's bid to host the leader of its northern neighbor this year for another summit.
However, the advancement of bilateral ties is developing another yet unexpected ideological confrontation as rival partisan organizations have started to fight for hegemony ? one side welcoming the envisaged Kim Jong-un's visit to the South and the other side threatening to assassinate him.
Should the Seoul summit get on track, such confrontations are likely to deepen, further dividing South Koreans.
[Seoul visit] [Detente] [Conservatives]
Kim Jong-un Writes to S.Korean and U.S. Leaders
By Lee Min-seok, Yoon Hyung-jun
December 31, 2018 09:30
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a rare letter to President Moon Jae-in expressed hope that the two will meet "frequently" in the New Year, Cheong Wa Dae said Sunday. Kim also apparently sent an "amicable" letter to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters, "Kim offered warm greetings as 2018 comes to an end and called on both Koreas to pursue peace and prosperity together next year."
Kim Jong-un also expressed "regret" that a much-anticipated visit to Seoul did not materialize this year.
A letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a grab from Cheong Wa Dae's Facebook account posted on Sunday
Moon said in a Facebook post, "I welcome Kim's intention to meet frequently in the New Year and discuss measures to achieve peace and prosperity and denuclearization."
The two-page letter was delivered by hand, according to Cheong Wa Dae, though it did not say by whom.
There was speculation that the letter was delivered via a hotline between South Korean National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon and Kim Jong-un's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol.
The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman told reporters Kim "voiced his strong intention to visit Seoul while watching the situation."
Nam Joo-hong at Kyonggi University said the letter "supports the South Korean government's position that inter-Korean relations can spearhead U.S.-North Korean ties."
[Kim Jong Un] [Diplomatic offensive 2019]
A tale of survival and pain following the Apr. 3 Jeju Massacre
Posted on : Dec.31,2018 12:20 KST Modified on : Dec.31,2018 12:20 KST
Jeong Hong-gi recalls how anti-communist forces shot his entirely family in cold blood
Jeong Hong-gi recalls the events of the slaughter of his family in Gashi Village, Pyoseon Township, South Jeju County (today called Seogwipo) during the Apr. 3 Jeju Uprising.
It was around 7 am on Nov. 15, 1948, shortly before sunrise. Jeong Hong-gi (76 years old, a resident of the Donam neighborhood) was at the house of his grandfather, Jeong Song-don, about 10m away from his home. Jeong’s family lived in the hamlet of Anjwa in Gashi Village, Pyoseon Township, South Jeju County (today called Seogwipo). While Jeong’s grandfather was helping him get dressed, they heard gunshots in the distance.
Moon’s disapproval ratings exceed 50% for first time
Posted on : Dec.31,2018 11:46 KST Modified on : Dec.31,2018 11:46 KST
Disapproval ratings for South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s governance have exceeded 50% for the first time, according to the results of a poll conducted by Realmeter that were announced on Dec. 27. The poll surveyed the opinions of 1,003 adults nationwide from Dec. 24 to 26. The results showed disapproval ratings stood at 51.6%, an increase of 5.5 percentage points from the previous week. Conversely, approval ratings shows a decrease of 3.3 percentage points.
[Moon Jae-in] [Polls]
[Editorial] Groundbreaking ceremony hopefully gives momentum to denuclearization negotiations
Posted on : Dec.31,2018 11:50 KST Modified on : Dec.31,2018 11:50 KST
The groundbreaking ceremony for linking South and North Korean railway networks is held at Panmun Station in Kaesong, North Korea, on Dec. 26. (photo pool)
The groundbreaking ceremony for a project to modernize North Korea’s roads and railways and link them to the South Korean network was held at Panmun Station in the North Korean city of Kaesong on Dec. 26. It is very significant that South and North Korea kept the promise they made in the Pyongyang Joint Declaration in September to hold the ceremony before the end of the year, following the agreement to connect the Gyeongui (Seoul-Sinuiju) and East Sea lines in the Panmunjom Declaration on Apr. 27. By overcoming the obstacles presented by sanctions on North Korea to hold the ceremony, the two sides have further reinforced mutual trust.
The groundbreaking ceremony can be regarded as symbolizing the efforts to bring South and North Korea, who have been going down separate roads for nearly 70 years, onto the same path. This is the first step toward prosperity and synergy between South and North Korea, and it is a major contribution to establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. Another reason that this groundbreaking is significant is that it represents a turning point toward enabling the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, which was rendered a virtual island by the peninsula’s division, to be directly reconnected with the Asian continent.
South Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mi and Deputy Minister Kim Yoon-hyuk of North Korea‘s state railway during a signing ceremony for the the linking of South and North Korean railways on Dec. 26. (photo pool)
Another historical milestone was the large number of senior officials from both South and North Korea who expressed their commitment to cooperation by attending the groundbreaking. What is even more notable is the figures from international bodies and related countries who attended the groundbreaking at the invitation of the South Korean government, including railroad officials from China, Russia and Mongolia. The groundbreaking can be taken as an announcement to the entire world that this goes beyond simply connecting the South and North Korean railway networks; rather, it is part of an ambitious plan to link them to the Trans-Siberian Railway and China’s national rail network, thus creating a railroad community in Northeast Asia.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled the plan for the Northeast Asian railroad community in his congratulatory address for Liberation Day on Aug. 15. We look forward to the day that this plan achieves meaningful results in inter-Korean cooperation and the Korean Peninsula becomes a nexus of the Northeast Asian economic network.
[Detente] [Railway] [Wishful thinking]
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