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1% of Public-Sector Jobs to Go to N.Korean Defectors
The government will set a 1-percent quota for North Korean defectors in administrative assistant jobs at public agencies, it said Thursday. The government made the decision on the assumption that about 3,000 North Koreans arrive in South Korea on average every year who have a hard time adapting to their new environment partly due to difficulties finding jobs.
Some 200 North Korean defectors are expected to be employed as administrative assistants this year, given that the total hired by the central and local governments is about 20,000 annually.
Gov't Officials at Loggerheads Over N.Korea Strategy
Senior government officials on Thursday hurried to contradict one of their number who earlier said an apology by North Korea for deadly provocations last year is "no precondition" for six-party nuclear talks. On the contrary, they stressed Seoul's position over the North's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island remains unchanged.
Unification Minister Hyun In-taek on Thursday told KTV, "Substantive six-party talks will resume only if the North takes responsible steps" over the provocations and shows it is sincere about denuclearization. Chun Young-woo, the senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, said an apology from the North cannot solve all inter-Korean problems. "The relationship can improve only if the North both dismantles its nuclear program and changes its attitude" over the attacks.
The senior official, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, had made the offending comment on Wednesday, immediately after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg met Foreign Ministry officials. The subsequent denials give rise to suspicion that ministries are at loggerheads over their strategy involving inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization.
[SK NK policy] [Dissension] [Capture] [US Dominance]
Expert: NKorea won't see improved ties with SKorea
By EDITH M. LEDERER
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 10:29 AM
DAVOS, Switzerland -- A leading international expert at one of China's top universities predicts that North Korea will not improve relations with South Korea while Lee Myung-bak is still president of the south.
Yan Xuetong says that's because of Lee's abandonment of the "Sunshine policy" of economic engagement with the isolationist Communist state and his tough approach to Pyongyang.
Yan, who is dean of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University, said this means North Korean officials will be "very patient" and will wait to engage with South Korea's next president in two years when Lee's term ends.
Speaking at a panel Wednesday at the World Economic Forum, Yan said China's main concern is to avoid war on the Korean peninsula and ensure stability.
"So at this moment, from my understanding, our policy is very clear - try to stabilize the (Korean) relationship and prevent any military clashes," Yan said.
"The question is how should we make this region peaceful?" he said. "That's why we strongly support the Sunshine policy because the Sunshine policy can keep (the) North and South at peace."
Apology No Precondition for Talks with N.Korea, Seoul Says
A senior South Korean government official on Wednesday said an admission from North Korea that it sank the Navy corvette Cheonan or an apology for its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island are "not a precondition to the resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks."
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan meets U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in Seoul on Wednesday. The official spoke on the customary condition of anonymity after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg met Foreign Ministry officials to brief them on the latest U.S.-China summit. But the North "has to show through action that it is sincere about denuclearization if the six-party talks are to resume," the official added.
N.Korea Backpedals Over Talks
North Korea on Wednesday complained the South should set no "unilateral preconditions" for dialogue or "attempt to dictate the order of various talks," apparently irked by the South's insistence that Pyongyang must apologize for last year's provocations before talks can progress to other issues.
S.Korea officially requests inter-Korean military talks
Questions linger over whether resolving inter-Korean issues or returning to six-party talks will become the priority
» Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan, left, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, right, greet each other at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Jan. 26. (Photo pool)
Yi Yong-in, Staff Writer
The Ministry of National Defense sent a telephone message to North Korea on Wednesday on behalf of Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin proposing to hold a working-level meeting. The message sent via inter-Korean military communication lines proposed senior-level inter-Korean military talks at the House of Peace in the South Korean section of Panmunjeom at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11. The representative to this meeting is to be at the colonel or general level.
West Sea Island Residents to Get Monthly Support
Starting in February or March residents of the five West Sea islands near the Northern Limit Line could receive monthly government support of around W50,000-60,000 (US$1=W1,118).
The Ministry of Pubic Administration and Security said Tuesday the plan was decided upon in a Cabinet meeting as part of a Special Law on supporting the residents there.
Only registered residents who have lived on one of the five islands for at least six months will be eligible.
Military’s media ruse
The Navy released this photo to media on Jan. 24 after the elite special naval troops UDT/SEAL succeeded in the rescue operation of 21 crewmembers of a cargo ship Samho Jewelry hijacked by Somali pirates.
The Navy said at the time that the photo was taken on around Jan. 21 or 22, shortly after the successful rescue operation, on the deck of destroyer Choi Young. The Navy also said that there were missing wounded soldiers and soldiers guarding arrested pirates in the photo.
The photo, however, was found to have been taken on Dec. 10, 2010 when the troops engaged in their combat training session.
SKorea offers date for meeting with North Korea
By KIM KWANG-TAE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 26, 2011; 2:06 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea on Wednesday proposed a date to North Korea for the rivals' first official contact since the North's deadly shelling of a South Korean island late last year.
The proposal for a preliminary meeting in two weeks on resuming high-level military talks came as a senior U.S. diplomat visited Seoul to show solidarity with a close U.S. ally and to talk about ways to deal with North Korea.
Seoul Wants Nuclear Talks with Pyongyang
South Korea is to send a message to the North on Wednesday or Thursday calling for denuclearization talks. Seoul is also going to accept a proposal from Pyongyang for military talks.
"Inter-Korean talks will give the same amount of importance to the denuclearization issue as to the question of North Korea taking responsible steps over its sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island," a government official said. "If the North accepts our proposal, we'll propose a preliminary round of high-level denuclearization talks."
S.Korean Firms Need to Register to Trade with North
South Korean companies doing business with North Korea will have to go through a registration process starting in the first half of this year.
Currently, as long as the product category is approved, any company can do business with the North, but under the new program, all South Korean companies must be officially registered with the Unification Ministry before they can trade with the North.
The ministry aims to revise the law in the first half of this year to ensure that the registration program works effectively.
The two Koreas: Talking peace, with menace
January 23rd, 2011
Author: Aidan Foster-Carter, Leeds University
‘We are ready to meet anyone, anytime, and anywhere … We propose discontinuing to heap slanders and calumnies on each other and refraining from any act of provoking each other.’
This is not the kind of language we are used to hearing from Pyongyang lately. Yet that was the offer apparently made on 5 January — but by whom, exactly? The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) referred to a joint meeting of the ‘government, political parties and organisations.’ None of the latter were named. That seems a bit vague.
And the addressee? ‘We courteously propose having wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations with the political parties and organisations of south Korea, including its authorities.’ Putting it that way posits the ROK government as just one interlocutor among many: A long-standing trope in the North’s tactics to delegitimise South Korea. That pushes all the wrong buttons.
North Korea: Push could soon turn to shove
January 23rd, 2011
Author: Andrei Lankov, Kookmin University and ANU
Last year was a dangerous year in Korea. Alas, 2011 might become even worse.
At first glance, this statement might appear excessively pessimistic. After all, in the last few weeks tensions on the Korean Peninsula were decreasing, North Korea suggested negotiations and South Korea also said that talks might be a good idea.
However, the appearances are misleading. A better look at the recent crisis and the current mood in Seoul and Pyongyang gives little ground for optimism. It seems that both North Korean strategic calculations and South Korean assumptions about ways to handle its uneasy neighbour will bring the crisis back with a vengeance.
What we have seen throughout last year was another exercise in habitual North Korean brinkmanship.
Spotlight on S.Korea's Special Forces
The Navy's elite UDT/SEALs rescued the crew of a South Korean freighter from Somali pirates on Friday, but their success masks cracks in the structure of South Korea's dwindling special forces.
The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine all have special forces, but their combined number is less than 20,000. The top unit is the Army Special Warfare Command. About 10,000 SWC troops are tasked with infiltrating deep behind enemy lines for reconnaissance and surveillance, destruction of key military facilities, sabotage and kidnapping of enemy VIPs.
Within the Army SWC, the 707th Special Mission Battalion is the elite commando. It combats terrorism, protects VIPs and carries out top-secret operations.
The SWC also plays a role in UN peacekeeping operations, including the Dongmyeong Unit stationed in Lebanon. The Amy also has a special operations brigade whose duties are to mop up North Korea's light infantry troops if they infiltrate South Korea.
[Military balance] [Buildup]
N.Korea Holds Public Execution Over S.Korean Propaganda
Some 500 people in North Korea attended a public execution of a man and a woman caught reading South Korean propaganda, an activist claimed Sunday citing sources in the North. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea said security services rounded up some 500 people including 50 family members of South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims and made them watch the execution.
[Defector reports] [Media]
N.Korea Sells Products in South Under False Labels
North Korean products are being sold in South Korea labeled as Russian after the South stopped all cross-border trade in May last year. The North is desperate to unblock the flow of hard currency and is pushing for resumption of dialogue over the Kaesong Industrial Complex and lucrative package tours to Mt. Kumgang.
Head-Scratching Over N.Korean Offer of Military Talks
Kim Yong-Chun There was surprise Thursday when North Korea proposed high-level military talks about the North's provocations last year, with one senior South Korean government official saying Pyongyang "has never proposed a meeting in such a form before."
He said North Korean Defense Minister Vice Marshal Kim Yong-Chun is not expected to attend due to failing health, "and this seems to be the reason why North Korea proposed high-level talks rather than ministerial talks."
Another senior official said the North Korean delegation is likely to be headed by Lt. Gen. Kim Yong-chol, director of the Reconnaissance Bureau.
Framework of inter-Korean military talks remains uncertain
The first military talks during the Lee administration remain uncertain with the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island issues
» Kim Jong-il, chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission, and son Kim Jong-un, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK, third from left, tour a factory in Pyongyang. (Korean Central Television Yonhap)
Son Won-je, Staff Writer
High-level talks between North Korean and South Korean military leaders and authorities are in sight for the first time since the Lee Myung-bak administration took office, but a number of hurdles remain before they actually come to pass.
The first is the preliminary meeting toward the holding of senior military talks as proposed by North Korea will take place Thursday. The South Korean government plans to propose a time, place, and delegation plan for this meeting via military communications lines some time in the middle of next week.
The South Korean government is threatening to only proceed to the main talks if the agenda of responsible measures from North Korea regarding the Cheonan sinking and artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island and a firm promise not to engage in further provocations is set in stone at the preliminary talks. Experts are predicting that if North Korea dodges the issue with the argument that the matters can be discussed in detail at the main talks, Seoul will not be able to reject the main talks out of hand, if only out of consciousness of the positions of the U.S. and China, both of which hope to see inter-Korean dialogue.
Seoul to push for Pyongyang's apology
By Kim Se-jeong
Seoul is expected to push Pyongyang to admit responsibility for two serious attacks last year on a South Korean warship and an island at the upcoming inter-Korean military talks, while having a separate dialogue on denuclearization.
Kim Min-seok, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said Friday, “The preparatory talks are likely to be held in February, as the government will notify the North of the venue and the date early next week.”
The talks will be the first contact following working-level military dialogue between the two Koreas last September.
Immediately following a U.S.-China summit, North Korea sent a telegram calling for the high-level talks.
SKorea accepts NKorean proposal for defense talks
By FOSTER KLUG
The Associated Press
Friday, January 21, 2011; 8:10 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's acceptance of North Korea's offer of high-level defense talks won't solve the rivals' differences overnight: Suspicion is high on both sides, and Seoul still wants an apology for the sinking of one of its warships.
But after months of enmity that had the Koreas trading threats of war, face-to-face talks would be a breakthrough. The new development came just hours after the leaders of the South's ally, the United States, and the North's ally and benefactor, China, jointly urged the Koreas to improve communication.
The Koreas, however, will have to put aside their considerable military and political animosity for any talks to set up a new round of international negotiations on the long-sought U.S. goal of ending North Korea's nuclear programs
Lee Myung Bak, Pragmatic Moderate? The Way We Were, 2007
By Aidan Foster-Carter
Kim Man Bok on the front page of the January 10, 2008 edition of the JoongAng Ilbo.
In 1962, Decca records turned down the Beatles, saying guitar groups were on their way out. A few years later, the teenage Janis Ian’s manager rejected an offer for her to headline at some unknown gig in a muddy field in upstate New York; so Janis never got to play Woodstock.[i]
And then there was Kim Man Bok. On December 18, 2007, a day before South Korean voters swung right and elected Lee Myung Bak as their new president, the ROK’s then spy chief (director of the National Intelligence Service, NIS) popped across the border and drove up to Pyongyang—those were the days—for a chat with his DPRK counterpart, Kim Yang Gon.
The latter’s opaque title—Director of the United Front Department in the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)—belied the fact that both Kims essentially had the same job: to keep tabs on the other side. Kim Yang Gon was, and still is, Kim Jong Il’s point man on South Korea. Kim Man Bok was the main man on the North for the South’s then president, the late Roh Moo Hyun.
Scrapping the Second Summit: Lee Myung Bak’s Fateful Mis-step
By Aidan Foster-Carter
Counterfactuals may be in vain, yet they are insistent. If Lee Myung Bak had been the pragmatic moderate he claimed to be, and had kept on with his predecessors’ policy of engagement with Pyongyang—as many expected he would—where might Korea be now? Surely in no worse state than today’s edgy gloom, and arguably much safer and better off.
Let us revisit the long-lost autumn of 2007. At the time, this writer held scant hopes of the second inter-Korean summit. After a decade, Seoul’s sunshine policy was looking jaded and one-sided: the sound of one hand giving. I feared that the South’s then president Roh Moo Hyun—in his dog days with just a few months left in office—might just hand over the farm, and that a wily Kim Jong Il would run rings around him on his home turf in Pyongyang. (It was a bad sign that no one insisted on reciprocity; Kim should have, of course, come to Seoul.)
N.Korea Wants to Talk About Provocations
North Korea on Thursday called for high-level military talks to South Korea to discuss the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year. The North has pushed for all manner of talks but so far refused to talk about the attacks.
A government spokesman said Seoul would be willing to attend the talks if the agenda includes a promise from the North "to take responsible steps" over the sinking and the artillery attack and "to refrain from further provocations." He added Seoul will propose a preliminary round to discuss the agenda. The government also decided to propose high-level inter-governmental talks to discuss denuclearization.
The North's Minister of the People's Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun sent a message that morning to Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, the Unification Ministry said. The North offered to "express its views on the Cheonan incident and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and discuss ways to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula."
Seoul accepts NK military talks proposal
By Kim Se-jeong
The government Thursday accepted a North Korean proposal to hold high-level military talks on pending issues.
The North made the proposal, saying the agenda will be “to exchange views on the Cheonan sinking and the artillery attacks on Yeonpyeong, and to alleviate military tension on the peninsula.”
In response, the Ministry of Unification said Seoul will take part in the inter-Korean talks since they touch upon the issue of responsibility for the incidents.
The proposal came after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao -- after a summit in Washington -- urged the two Koreas to resume dialogue to stop the North's provocations and nuclear weapons programs.
Robert Park speaks out on North Korea
By Kim Young-jin
Robert Park, the American missionary detained by North Korea last year for crossing its border, is speaking out against human rights abuses in the isolated state despite deep emotional wounds that remain as reminders of his time there.
South Korea accepts North Korea's proposal for talks
By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 9:47 AM
TOKYO - South Korea on Thursday accepted North Korea's proposal for high-level military talks, Seoul's Defense Ministry said, setting up the neighbors' first significant bilateral dialogue since November's artillery strike against a South Korean island.
North Korea had issued its latest appeal for tension-easing talks earlier in the day, sending a telegram to South Korea's defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin. Seoul's acceptance stands in contrast to several earlier rejections of North Korean overtures and comes after prodding from Washington and Beijing for the resumption of inter-peninsular dialogue.
Just a day earlier, with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington for a summit with President Obama, a U.S.-China joint statement emphasized the importance of an improvement in North-South relations, describing "sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue" as "an essential step
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
Featured Content, Human Security, Inter-Korean / Reunification | January 19, 2011 by admin | 2 Comments
By Sandra Tailleux
It has been reported that the South Korean government has yet again arrested and charged a South Korean national for violating its National Security Law (NSL). The 54-year-old man, Mr. Cho, is accused of praising North Korea via his account on Twitter. It is difficult to sympathize with Mr. Cho’s decision to support such a brutal dictatorship and one might even think that Mr. Cho acted with full knowledge of the risks involved, and must therefore assume responsibility for his actions. Last year, the leftist pastor Han Sang-ryeol, who made an unauthorized trip to North Korea in the summer 2010, was also arrested for violating the NSL.
Is the N.Korean Regime Unraveling?
Chun Young-woo, the presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, reflected government views when he said Friday that North Korean regime would face "a short cut to its demise," experts believe. Chun was speaking in an interview with the U.S.' PBS. Why does the government believe that the regime is on its last legs?
According to government data, the South gave the North a total of US$6.96 billion during the decade of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. The figure covers aid in rice and fertilizers and cash provided under inter-Korean economic cooperation projects. It is 3.7 times the aid China gave North Korea during the same period and equivalent to 90 percent of the North's entire exports of $7.7 billion.
"The North saw an annual trade deficit with China of between $700 million and $800 million, which it covered with aid and trade from the South," a government official said. Last year the North exported some $1 billion to China and imported about $1.8 billion.
But under the Lee Myung-bak administration the North has received no aid from the South in the past three years, in contrast to 2.7 million tons of grains and 2.56 million tons of fertilizers a year under the previous administrations. The aid was worth $3.2 billion.
Pyongyang used to earn some $300 million a year through trade with Seoul, mainly from fishery products and sand, but trade was stopped after the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in March last year. The only hard currency the North earns now from the South is $50 million a year in wages for the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
[Editorial] Bias again to support pro-government newspapers
The Korea Communications Commission’s (KCC) disclosure of detailed assessment marks from a review conducted last December for the selection of providers for general programming and news networks has sparked a growing controversy over perceived bias in the assessments. Recently, Democratic Party Lawmaker Choi Moon-soon revealed a document he had received from the KCC showing assessment details from the evaluation committee. The document shows the assessment outcome in somewhat more detail than the information given by the KCC with the announcement of providers, and certain suspect areas stand out. For this reason, it is justifiable that some are alleging the review was conducted in a way favorable to the pro-Lee Myung-bak administration Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, and Dong-A Ilbo newspapers.
[Media] [Lee Myung-bak]
Defector Offers Insights into N.Korean Arms Buildup
North Korea began building centrifuges to enrich uranium in the late 1990s, a high-ranking North Korean defector said Tuesday. "There is a factory in Huichon, Jagang Province that builds centrifuges," the defector said.
There are fears that centrifuges manufactured in Huichon could have been moved to the nearby Yongbyon nuclear facility north of Pyongyang. Huichon is just 57 km from Yongbyon and the two cities are connected by road and railway.
Regarding North Korea's attack against the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, the defector said it was "probably the result of years of preparation" after naval clashes on the West Sea in 1999 and 2002. He said the skirmish in 1999 killed around 20 North Korean sailors, wounded around 70, sank one vessel and destroyed seven more.
In 2002, six South Korean sailors died, but some dozen North Korean sailors were killed and 15 wounded, and one of the North's vessels was completely destroyed. "When it realized it could not beat South Korea with ships, North Korea turned to torpedoes to plan a surprise attack," the defector said.
[Defector reports] [HEU]
N.Korean Arms Payments 'Passed Through Seoul'
Iran paid North Korea US$2.5 million for arms purchases in 2008 through the South Korean branch of Bank Mellat, U.S. diplomatic cables unveiled by WikiLeaks suggest. They also say that China exported to North Korea dual-use products that could be transformed into parts for Scud missiles.
[Arms sales] [Media]
SKorea: Nuclear push could bring North's collapse
The Associated Press
Monday, January 17, 2011; 1:10 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- A senior South Korean official says North Korea could bring its own collapse if it keeps pouring scarce national resources into its nuclear program and military.
Presidential security adviser Chun Yung-woo says in an interview with U.S. public broadcaster PBS that North Korean leaders' "obsession" with weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons would be "a short-cut to their demise."
PBS has posted part of Chun's interview on its website. His office in Seoul says the full interview will be broadcast Monday in the U.S.
South Korea has used tough language since two attacks last year blamed on North Korea killed dozens of people. But it's still rare for a top Seoul official to publicly speak of on a potential North Korean collapse.
Cheong Wa Dae Firm that N.Korea Must Apologize for Attacks
Chun Young-woo Cheong Wa Dae has poured cold water on hopes that stalled six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear program will be on track to resume after the leaders of the U.S. and China meet on Wednesday. The presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security Chun Young-woo in an interview on U.S. television Friday said the North must first apologize for sinking the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling Yeonpyeong Island last year.
Reserve Forces to Take Part in S.Korea-U.S. Military Exercises
For the first time, South Korea's Reserve Forces will be taking part in joint military exercises with the U.S. in March and August.
According to the Defense Ministry on Sunday, two battalions of the Reserve Forces will be deployed to frontline areas close to the border with North Korea as they participate in the drills.
The deployment of the Reserve Forces is part of the South Korean military's efforts to step up its combat readiness amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong Island late last year.
How Top Global Brands Fall Behind in Korea
What do Google, Polo Ralph Lauren, Wal-Mart and McDonald's have in common? They are world leaders in their field but struggle in the Korean market. And now Starbucks has joined the list.
CPRK Urges S. Side to Honestly Respond to Proposal for Dialogue
Pyongyang, January 14 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea Friday gave an answer to a question put by KCNA in connection with the fact that the north side proposed the south side to have dialogues including talks between authorities and took measures of good faith according to the joint statement of the DPRK government, political parties and organizations.
He recalled that after the joint statement was released the CPRK in a statement of its spokesman formally proposed the south side to have dialogue in order to realize the important proposal clarified in the joint statement and sent to it notices containing technical measures one after another.
He went on:
There is no ground whatsoever for the south side to refuse to accept the recent proposal for dialogue as it did not attach any conditionality to the dialogue and its date and venue, etc. are specified in it and it has sufficient modality and procedures for conducting the dialogue.
By Joseph S.
The Yellow Sea—known as the West
Sea to Koreans—along the west coast of
the Korean Peninsula has been the scene
of numerous naval incidents between the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
(DPRK) and the Republic of Korea
(ROK) since the signing of the Korean
War Armistice Agreement on July 27,
1953.2 The most numerous and violent of
these incidents have occurred in the relatively
confined waters surrounding the
five islands of Paengnyong-do,
Taech’ong-do, Soch’ong-do, Yonp’yong
-do and U-do. There are a profusion of
reasons for this; however, the common
underlying factor is the Northern Limit
Line (NLL), which the DPRK has repeatedly
decried as illegally drawn.3
In October 1999, based upon its claims
On Escalation in Korea
By Paul B. Stares
Despite intermittent crises and many deadly clashes, nearly six decades have passed since the armistice agreement “ending” the Korean War was signed without there being a serious resumption of military hostilities. Though the armed standoff in Korea is hardly a desirable state of affairs, this record can be taken as a reassuring sign of its underlying stability. But how sanguine should we be that the current crisis will recede in much the same way that earlier ones have and that the deterrent relationship will hold? In fact, recent events raise some troubling questions about the volatility of the situation in Korea today.
First, the November 23, 2010 shelling of Yeongpyeong Island by North Korean artillery clearly caught many experts by surprise. North-South relations had been thawing after a summer of heightened tensions following the sinking of the ROK naval ship Cheonan in March. Even the revelation of new nuclear enrichment facilities immediately prior to the attack had seemed to accomplish its putative goal of convincing the outside world that North Korea could not be left to stew in its own juices and that engagement was now imperative. So why would North Korea set back its coercive diplomatic campaign by launching yet another deadly provocation that antagonized everyone—including its principal patron China—just when the wind was clearly beginning to blow in its favor? Did North Korea fail to see this or did it miscalculate the impact of its actions? Did other factors, notably the succession process underway in Pyongyang, affect the calculus or tip the scales in some decisive way?
NKorean sentenced to 10 years in prison in SKorea
The Associated Press
Friday, January 14, 2011; 1:26 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean court has sentenced a North Korean agent to 10 years in prison for plotting to assassinate a high-profile defector.
Seoul Central District Court spokesman Kim Sang-woo says that Ri Dong Sam admitted that he was ordered to kill Hwang Jang-yop, a former senior member of the North's ruling Workers' Party who died of heart failure last year.
US and South Korean Warmongers Can Never Shirk off Responsibility
for Yonphyong Island Shelling Incident
(Detailed Report of the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea)
As was already reported, the south Korean warmongers made a reckless military provocation of firing shells into the territorial waters of our side around Yonphyong Island in the West Sea of Korea, only to meet the decisive punishment of our army.
N.Korea Renews Calls for Talks About Mt. Kumgang, Kaesong
North Korea on Wednesday renewed a call for talks about the resumption of package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort and a meeting about the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex. The call follows an official request on Monday for government and Red Cross talks.
Failure of nominee pushes Lee closer to lame duck phenomenon
Past presidents have also triggered unrest from their ruling party, pushing them into lame duck status
» Chung Dong-ki, nominee to chair the Board of Audit and Inspection, bows after announcing the withdrawal of his candidacy at the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Jan. 12. (Photo by Kim Myoung-jin)
Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer and Hwang Joon-bum
As Chung Dong-ki, nominee for chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection, complained of unfair treatment, the ruling Grand National Party breathed a collective sigh of relief at news of his withdrawal from consideration. The GNP expressed the view that it had avoided getting drawn into a conflict with the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House), but it did not hide its concern about how things will unfold going ahead.
For the past two days, tension and the feeling of walking on thin ice have gripped the GNP. This stemmed their apparent challenge to President Lee Myung-bak, who holds authority for nominations, as the party leadership unilaterally notified the Cheong Wa Dae on Jan. 10 it did not view Chung as an acceptable candidate. The ruling party fell into a debate over a possible compounded “lame duck” phenomenon for President Lee and was abuzz with calls to avoid any further deterioration in relations with the Cheong Wa Dae.
North Side Sends Notices to South Side
Pyongyang, January 12 (KCNA) -- The General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots and the General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone of the DPRK on Wednesday separately sent notices to the Ministry of Unification of south Korea and the chief of the Supporting Team for South-North Cooperation Zones of the Ministry as clarified in the important proposal set forth in the recent joint statement of the DPRK government, political parties and organizations and the statement issued by a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea for putting it into practice.
The north side in the notices proposed having talks for the resumption of the tour of Mt. Kumgang in Kaesong on February 11 and informed that three persons concerned of the north side would go there. The north side also proposed having working talks on the work of the Kaesong Industrial Zone in Kaesong on February 9.
Meanwhile, the north side reopened the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison channel and formally began its work from Wednesday. It also lifted the freezing of the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation and dispatched resident personages there as practical steps as the south side was informed on Monday.
The south side in its verbal notice agreed with the issue of opening the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison channel. But it took such insincere attitude toward the restart of the work of the above-said office, saying it would not send its personnel to it under the pretext of the derailed cooperation and claiming that it is impossible to operate the office and supply electricity to the building.
In this connection, the director of the north side to the office in a notice sent to the director of the south side to the office Wednesday termed its intention not to operate even the office after unilaterally scuttling the north-south economic cooperation a very irresponsible attitude. He once again strongly urged the south side to take early practical measures for the regular operation of the office.
North Korea's military: a bad hand played well
By FOSTER KLUG
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 12, 2011; 7:49 PM
POCHEON, South Korea -- Sleek fighter jets slice through the gray sky above a barren valley. Tanks and troops race across the frozen ground below. Helicopters hover in perfect formation, strafing the hills with fire.
South Korean drills like this one last month send a clear, calculated message: North Korea, despite its threats to turn the South's main city of Seoul into a "sea of fire," cannot compete with such advanced firepower. A military comparison would seem to give the South a lopsided victory, especially when its superpower ally, the United States, is factored in.
The North, however, makes up for its shortcomings with a vast and loyal force overseen by leaders with a reputation for ruthlessness and meticulously planned surprise (sic) attacks. That will not win a war - North Korea would almost certainly lose a conventional face-to-face confrontation - but it allows the North to stand up to the wealthier and better equipped South.
It's an equation that has long bedeviled both the United States and South Korea and left them looking strangely impotent in the face of North Korean attacks, most recently after the Nov. 23 shelling of a front-line South Korean island that killed two civilians and two marines. How to respond to such aggression will likely be a topic of talks when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Seoul on Friday.
[Military balance] [Media] [Clash][Spin]
DPRK's Proposal for Wide-ranging Negotiations
Pyongyang, January 11 (KCNA) -- Recently, the DPRK government, political parties and organizations released a joint statement proposing wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations with their south Korean counterparts.
The statement said the relations between the north and the south of Korea could never be improved through confrontation. They have precedents for having solved problems through dialogue and negotiations and they already adopted good principles and declarations.
The July 4 joint statement was made public in Juche 61 (1972) based on three principles -- independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.
Tweeter indicted for praising North Korea
By Kim Rahn
The prosecution has indicted a 54-year-old man with physical detention on charges of breach of the National Security Law by spreading praise of North Korea through posts on Twitter.
It is the first time here that a social network service has been used to circulate pro-North Korea material indiscriminately, according to prosecutors Tuesday.
2 Koreas restore key hot line despite tension
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 11:52 PM
SEOUL, South Korea -- The two Koreas restored an important cross-border communication channel on Wednesday, though South Korea still rejected North Korea's calls for talks meant to defuse high tensions.
The North cut off the Red Cross communication line at the border village of Panmunjom last year when tension spiked over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on Pyongyang. Relations between the Koreas further soured following a North Korean artillery attack that killed four South Koreans on a front-line island in November.
The North, however, has recently proposed resuming talks with South Korea. It also made conciliatory gestures Monday, offering to restore the Red Cross line and allowing South Korean officials back into a joint factory park in the North.
Seoul has so far rebuffed the dialogue offer as a ploy for aid, saying the North must demonstrate responsibility for last year's two attacks and take steps toward nuclear disarmament before talks can be held.
South Korea, however, decided to let telecommunication workers from the two Koreas restore the Red Cross line - which is used for exchanging messages on humanitarian issues such as reunions of separated families, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.
Reflections on Korea in 2010: Trials and prospects for recovery of common sense in 2011
(The original Korean text is available here)
It seems that Korean society experienced more trials than usual in the year 2010. Perhaps it feels that way because the final weeks since the shelling of Yeongpyeong Island on the West Sea of the Korean peninsula on November 23 have been filled with events that evoke grief, anger, and anxiety.
As for the Yeongpyeong incident 1
itself, whatever its cause or justification, the fact that North Korea deliberately opened fire on South Korean territory is enough to bring shock and anger. To make matters worse, the incompetence and sloppiness of the South Korean government in its initial response caused uneasiness among the citizens, and its belated displays of toughness and escalation of tension, proclaiming “readiness for a full-scale war,” has added to South Korean people’s sense of insecurity and even stirred their anger.
Let us consider just two such, for brevity’s sake. Hypothesis A: Despite all the faults and inconsistencies of the JIG report, the Cheonan was indeed sunk by North Korean attack. Hypothesis B: Even though the full truth is unknown, there at least was no attack by North Korea on the Cheonan.
If, on the other hand, Hypothesis B is correct, the response by the South Korean military becomes somewhat more understandable. As at least key figures in the government and the top military leadership must have known that the Cheonan had not been attacked by the North, the intelligence gathered in August regarding a possible attack on the island could have sounded like yet another habitual threatening by the North.
Time for S.Korea to Develop Its Own Nuclear Arms
Kim Dae-joong After shelling Yeonpyeong Island and sinking the Navy corvette Cheonan, North Korea has now shifted its attitude and is calling for inter-Korean dialogue. China has long urged dialogue and the resumption of six-party nuclear talks, so it will naturally press for talks, and even the United States appears to be leaning toward dialogue. The Barack Obama administration, though still reluctant to go back to the six-party talks, will eventually opt for dialogue lest it should be dragged into a major war over a small island in the West Sea.
[SK NK policy] [Sidelined] [Nuclear weapons]
Seoul Calls on N.Korea to Talk About Provocations
Seoul on Monday urged Pyongyang to come to the table and discuss North Korea's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in March and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November last year. The call came in response to a demand from Pyongyang for "unconditional talks."
S.Korea shrugs off N.Korea's dialogue offer
Source: Global Times [08:25 January 11 2011] Comments By Li Ying
South Korea Monday refused dialogue proposals formally put forward by North Korea in official messages.
In the notice, Pyongyang officially proposed talks between authorities of both sides in Kaesong on January 27 and talks between the Red Cross organizations of the two sides in Munsan on February 1, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The notice also said the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison channel would reopen tomorrow for regular operations.
However, South Korea's unification ministry spokeswoman, Lee Jong-joo, stated that the South would still reject the proposal. "First of all, Pyongyang must show sincerity about its nuclear program and take responsible steps over its provocations," Lee told AFP.
Seoul rejects N.Korean proposal for working-level talks
North Korea has officially proposed Monday inter-Korean working level talks, but South Korea rejected the proposal as a “disguised peace offensive”and pressed North Korea to get more serious about the way it proposes talks.
North Korea said in a letter to South Korea that it would re-open Red Cross dialogue channel and the inter-Korean economic cooperation office at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
In response, South Korea called for North Korea’s responsible measures to the sinking of the Cheonan and artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, and talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
North Side Sends Notices to South Side
Pyongyang, January 10 (KCNA) -- The Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, the chairman of the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society and the chief of the north side to the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation separately sent notices to the Ministry of Unification of the south side, the president of the south Korean Red Cross and the chief of the south side to the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation on Monday. They formally informed them of the practical measures as clarified in the important proposal set forth in the recent joint statement of the DPRK government, political parties and organizations and the statement issued by a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea as regards the measures for putting it into practice.
They proposed having a working contact for talks between the authorities of the north and the south in Kaesong on January 27 and talks between the Red Cross organizations of the north and the south in Munsan, the area of the south side, on February 1. They informed them that the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison channel would be reopened from January 12 and the above-said office would be regularly operated.
S. Korea to Stage Field Tactical Military Exercises
Pyongyang, January 10 (KCNA) -- The 53rd infantry division of the south Korean puppet army announced that it would stage field tactical exercises aimed at invading the DPRK from Jan. 10, according to Yonhap News of south Korea.
The bellicose forces declared that the three regiments of the division would have live firing exercises in the areas of Pusan, Ulsan and Ryangsan, moving with war equipment at intervals of one week.
They claim that the exercises are for coping with someone's "infiltration and local provocation".
Such frantic war moves against the DPRK are arousing strong denunciation and protest from among the people at home and abroad as they drive the situation of the Korean Peninsula to the worst phase.
[Military exercises] [Buildup]
N.Korean Restaurants Abroad Feel the Pinch
Siem Reap, Cambodia's second largest city near the sprawling ruins of the Angkor Wat, has two North Korean restaurants, down from three since North Korea recalled all their expat staff after Kim Jong-il's stroke in 2008 and returned only the employees of two of them. The restaurants rely on South Korean tourists for business since the town is a popular destination for them.
After North Korea's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in March last year, the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia asked tour agencies and South Korean residents' association there to avoid sending visitors from the South there, but local sources say the plea fell largely on deaf ears. But the North's artillery attack on Yeonpyong Island in November last year finally did the trick. The South Korean residents' association in Siem Reap voluntarily boycotted the North Korean restaurants, and tour agencies also voluntarily took them off their itinerary.
[Buildup] [SK NK policy]
Talks with N.Korea Must Tackle Substantive Issues
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland in a statement on Saturday formally called for an "unconditional and early resumption of talks between the authorities of the South and the North." It added that the date, location and level of official dialogue between the two sides can be decided by bilateral agreement but proposed late January or early February for meetings between officials of the Red Cross and the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
What's Happening On The Korean Peninsula?
by Prof. Martin Hart-Landsberg
Global Research, January 4, 2011
What's happening on the Korean peninsula? If you read the press or listen to the talking heads, your best guess would be that an insane North Korean regime is willing to risk war to manage its own internal political tensions. This conclusion would be hard to avoid because the media rarely provide any historical context or alternative explanations for North Korean actions. For example, much has been said about the March 2010 (alleged) North Korean torpedo attack on the Cheonan (a South Korean naval vessel) near Baengnyeong Island, and the November 2010 North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island (which houses a South Korean military base). The conventional wisdom is that both attacks were motivated by North Korean elite efforts to smooth the leadership transition underway in their country. The take away: North Korea is an out-of-control country, definitely not to be trusted or engaged in negotiations.
But is that an adequate explanation for these events? Before examining the facts surrounding them, let's introduce a bit of history. Take a look at the map below, which includes both Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands.
[Clash] [Cheonan] [Coverup] [NLL]
North Korea again proposes talks with South Korea
By KIM KWANG-TAE
The Associated Press
Saturday, January 8, 2011; 2:24 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea reiterated Saturday a proposal for unconditional talks with South Korea to ease tensions on the divided peninsula.
The latest offer comes days after South Korea dismissed earlier calls by the North for negotiations.
Tensions between the two sides escalated after a North Korean artillery barrage on a South Korean-held island near their disputed maritime border killed four South Koreans in November.
The attack - the first on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War - occurred in waters not far from where a North Korean torpedo allegedly brought down a South Korean warship eight months earlier. That attack killed 46 sailors. North Korea has denied responsibility.
"We do not want to see the present South Korean authorities pass the five-year term of their office idly without North-South dialogue," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
"There is neither conditionality in the North's proposal for dialogue nor need to cast any doubt about its real intention," the statement said.
North Korea also proposed holding separate talks later this month or in early February on other issues, including resuming a suspended joint tourism project and cooperation at an industrial complex in the border city of Kaesong. The North also suggested restarting suspended Red Cross talks on humanitarian issues.
North Korea said its offer was "a measure of good faith for opening the channel of dialogue and improving the North-South relations."
"The South Korean authorities should discard any unnecessary misgiving, open their hearts and positively respond to the North's proposal," the statement said.
Unification Ministry Chun Hae-sung said South Korea would review the latest offer, noting North Korea has not sent an official request for talks.
The North this week called for unconditional and early talks with South Korea, but Seoul dismissed the offer and urged Pyongyang to show it has changed through actions, not words.
North Korea's sudden willingness to talk fits a well-established and - for diplomats engaged in the often tortuous negotiations in the past - tiresome pattern. Pyongyang, the complaint goes, creates a crisis and, when panic and fear envelope Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, then offers the possibility of negotiations to win badly needed food, fuel and other aid.
Six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs have stumbled and were last held in December 2008.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Thursday in Washington that North and South Korea should first reopen dialogue, and if Pyongyang "takes concrete actions," the nuclear talks - involving the two Koreas, Japan, the United States, China and Russia - could resume.
The U.S. and South Korea have been vague about what they want from the North to restart talks. Washington has indicated an openness to a resumption but is urging the North to demonstrate it is serious about changing its behavior.
"We are open to dialogue, as we've said clearly, but there are definitely steps that North Korea must take to make it clear that actual face-to-face discussions would be constructive," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a briefing Friday.
S.Korea Must Strengthen Its Special Forces
North Korea has apparently bolstered its special forces by more than 80,000 over the last four years and the number now stands at 200,000. In contrast, South Korea now has a mere 20,000 special forces after they were downsized by around 1,200.
Special forces are deployed behind enemy lines in times of war to engage in irregular activities, such as reconnaissance or sabotage. North Korea already has the largest number of special forces in the world. What is worse, it is increasing its main special forces unit -- the 11th Corps -- and is forming additional light infantry units.
[Buildup] [military balance]
Seoul Dismisses Pyongyang's Call for Dialogue
South Korea has dismissed a call for dialogue from the North as lacking "seriousness."
A Unification Ministry official on Thursday said the government cannot consider North Korea's offer of talks serious unless the regime takes responsible steps over its sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonyeong Island. By "responsible steps," "we mean that the North should show a change that can convince" the South Korean people and the international community, he added
N.Korea steps up dialogue offensive
Analysts say N.Korea is seeking improved inter-Korean relations in order to establish a framework for succession
» Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, left, meets U.S. Secreatary of State Hillary Clinton, right, at the U.S. Department of State on Jan. 5 to prepare for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States on Jan. 19. (AFP Yonhap)
Son Won-je, Staff Writer
Since the beginning of 2011, North Korea has been using various means to wage a dialogue offensive. Following a New Year’s joint editorial urging “resolution to inter-Korean antagonism,” a “government-party-group combined statement” was issued Wednesday with a proposal for a halt to mutual aspersions and holding unconditional talks between North Korean and South Korean authorities.
A number of analysts have stated that the series of North Korean proposals for inter-Korean dialogue are a move to serve two purposes. They include the diplomatic goal of forming an atmosphere conducive to resuming the six-party talks on the nuclear issue and the domestic goal of establishing a succession framework through improved inter-Korean relations.
Rodong Sinmun Calls for Improved Inter-Korean Relations
Pyongyang, January 6 (KCNA) -- It is impossible to achieve independent reunification, peace and prosperity unless the present inter-Korean relations are turned into the relations of reconciliation and unity, says Rodong Sinmun Thursday in a bylined article.
The improved inter-Korean relations are the unanimous aspiration of the compatriots and an urgent demand of the times, the article notes, and goes on:
National reconciliation and unity would be unthinkable without the dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south.
To actively pursue dialogue and cooperation is one of the important ways to solve the issue of the nation's destiny independently and peacefully by the concerted efforts of the Koreans.
S.Korea's Special Forces 'Vastly Outnumbered' by N.Korea's
Special forces conduct a drill at an unidentified military unit in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province (file photo). South Korea's special forces have dwindled to the point that they are outnumbered 10:1 by their North Korean counterparts, a military source said Wednesday.
The source said the South is trying to find a way of countering the 200,000-strong North Korean special forces "because we found a serious imbalance in their strength in the process of re-evaluating threats from the North" following the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in March and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November.
[Military balance] [Buildup] [Media]
Joint Chiefs of Staff Get New Propaganda Department
The Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters has been restructured, adding a new department that will handle propaganda operations against North Korea in peacetime and civil operations in the North in case of a sudden change there or a full-scale war.
"We've reorganized the JCS to ensure efficient operational command and delivery of orders in preparation for the takeover of the wartime operational control of Korean troops from the U.S.," a JCS spokesman said Wednesday. "To reinforce psychological operations, we've established a civil-military department and boosted staff of the command and control room for the rapid and systematic handling of the situation in peacetime."
The new department consists of a civil-military operations section, psychological warfare section, martial law section, and a overseas dispatch section.
The chief of the command and control room, which used to be run by an Army or Air Force colonel or a Navy captain on rotation, will be led by a Navy commodore. Staff will consist of four teams who will work in shifts around the clock.
The distribution ratio among Army, Navy and Air Force officers at the JCS was set at 2.2:1.1:1, compared to the previous ratio of 2.4:1:1, with the Army proportion slightly reduced. But all of the JCS chiefs of operations, of military support, and of strategic planning are Army lieutenant generals, and observers point out that the role of Navy and Air Force top brass has in fact been reduced.
email@example.com / Jan. 06, 2011 11:05 KST
N.Korea Calls for 'Unconditional, Early' Talks with the South
North Korea says it wants to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula by holding what it calls "unconditional and early" talks with the South.
North Korea's government, political parties and social organizations issued a statement carried by the official news media Wednesday, saying they are ready to meet "anyone anywhere" for dialogue on the future of inter-Korean relations.
But South Korean officials dealing with the North were dismissive of the offer, saying they want actions, not words from Pyongyang.
[Overtures] [SK NK policy]
GNP divided over changing presidential term limit in Constitution
The GNP leadership has drawn fire for prioritizing the issue late in the term and with other urgent issues unresolved
» Senior members and Supreme Council members of the Grand National Party hold New Year’s opening meeting of Seoul chapter at the GNP headquarters in Yeouido, Jan. 5. (Photo by Tak Ki-hyoung)
The leadership of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) is drawing criticism not only from the opposition, but from its own ranks after deciding to resume formal discussions of an impracticable amendment of the Constitution. The proposed amendment would adopt a two-term four-year presidency similar to the United States to replace South Korea’s current single-term, five-year system.
During a joint meeting of its Supreme Council and senior members Wednesday, the GNP decided to hold a general meeting of lawmakers some time in mid to late January in order to discuss the amendment issue. At the meeting, Lawmaker Chung Ui-hwa, a member of the Lee Myung-bak faction, said, “We must consider amending the Constitution to reorganize a power structure in which power is excessively concentrated with the president.”
DPRK Releases Joint Statement on Peace and Reunification
Pyongyang, January 5 (KCNA) -- The DPRK government, political parties and organizations at a joint meeting convened as regards the grave situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula and between the north and the south discussed important issues of settling it and opening a new phase for peace and reunification and released a joint statement on Jan. 5.
In the joint statement, they set forth the following important proposal to the south Korean authorities, political parties and organizations, prompted by their patriotic decision to usher in a new era of independent reunification, peace and prosperity, reflecting the unanimous will of all Koreans for peace and reunification:
1. We courteously propose having wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations with the political parties and organizations of south Korea including its authorities.
It is the review of the past three years that the issue of inter-Korean relations can never be solved by confrontation but it only sparks off an armed clash and war.
In order to mend the north-south relations now at the lowest ebb we will conduct positive dialogue and negotiations with the political parties and organizations of south Korea including its authorities, be they authorities or civilians, ruling parties or opposition parties, progressives or conservatives.
We call for an unconditional and early opening of talks between the authorities having real power and responsibility, in particular.
North Korea Calls for Better Relations With South
By MARK McDONALD
Published: January 2, 2011
SEOUL — In an annual New Year’s commentary that is widely seen as an indicator of the country’s political and economic goals for the coming year, North Korea has called for dialogue with South Korea and a relaxation of tensions “as soon as possible.”
“If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust,” said the editorial, carried in the leading official newspapers on Saturday in the North and read on state television there. The commentary, which called for “an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation” with the South, was reported by local news agencies in Seoul.
Seoul to deploy Israeli guided missiles on Yeonpyeong in Feb.
Spike anti-tank guided missile
Attack copters to be stationed on the island
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea’s military plans to deploy Israeli-built precision-guided anti-tank missiles to Yeonpyeong Island next month near the western sea border with North Korea, a government source said Tuesday.
The deployment of the GPS-guided “Spike” missile is part of efforts to help achieve an early fortification of Yeonpyeong and four other islands near the border ? Northern Limit Line (NLL) ? vulnerable to North Korean provocations, the source told The Korea Times.
In its year-end report to President Lee Myung-bak last month, the Ministry of National Defense unveiled a plan to beef up the security of the five islands near the border including deployment of the missiles. The ministry said that it would create a West Sea defense command, comprising 12,000 troops from the three services, to that end.
On top of that, the military has also decided to permanently deploy at least four AH-1S Cobra helicopters to Yeonpyeong in a bid to thwart North Korea’s possible maritime infiltration of the border islands.
[Buildup] [military balance]
Arms exports reach record $1.19 bil.
By Lee Tae-hoon
Despite the global economic recession, Korea’s weapons exports hit a record high of $1.2 billion last year, up about 2 percent or $20 million from 2009, a defense official said Tuesday.
“It was a remarkable achievement, considering that the signing of major contracts were postponed and the global economy was in a slump in 2010,” Chung Jae-yoon, spokesman of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said.
The country’s arms exports, which nosed dived to $253 million in 2006, increased for the fourth year in a row last year, making it one of the country’s new growth drivers.
However, the state-run acquisition agency fell short of meeting its 2010 export target of $1.5 billion, mainly because of a failure to sell T-50 trainer jets to Singapore and partly due to a delay in exporting K9 howitzers to Australia and Egypt.
"Above all, the failure to export T-50 trainer jets last year largely attributed to the lower result," Chung said, adding that the export of the K9 has been postponed due to political circumstances in Australia and Egypt.
Earlier, DAPA pushed to export $500 million worth of the indigenous jets to Singapore, but failed to do so due to its high price. The underperformance of the K9 self-propelled howitzers in the wake of North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeongpyeong Island in November last year is also blamed for its slow sales.
Korea is planning to revamp its arms industry with an ambitious goal of increasing arms exports to $4 billion by 2020.
[Arms sales] [Military balance]
5 more anti-submarine patrol planes to be deployed
A P-3CK, with a 30.37 meter wingspan and 35.61 meters long, equipped with four turbo engines. With its maximum speed of 761 kilometers an hour, it covers 3,835 kilometers in its operational work radius.
The Navy has deployed 5 more patrol planes, exclusive for detecting submarines, in the East and West Sea of the Korean Peninsula, a local daily reported in its Tuesday edition. So far, a total of 11 anti-submarine patrol aircraft have been deployed by the Navy.
“The Navy placed five P-3CKs ? modified from the U.S. version ? into operation on New Year’s Day to enhance anti-submarine capabilities, following the sinking of a warship by a North Korean submarine in the West Sea in March last year,” the JoongAng Daily quoted a Navy officer as saying. So far, the patrol plane fleet has been composed of eight P-3Cs and three P-3CKs.
What Makes S.Koreans Unhappy
South Korea has reached a per-capita GDP of US$20,000, while its economy is the world's 13th largest, but South Koreans are far from happy. According to a Gallup poll, the number of South Koreans who are happy about their lives decreased 10 percent between 1992 and 2010 when the country's per-capita GDP grew threefold. The country consistently ranks at the bottom in various happiness indices around the world.
The Chosun Ilbo, in conjunction with Gallup and Global Market Insight, surveyed 5,190 people in South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Denmark, and Finland on Dec. 16-24. The results show that South Koreans are fatigued by a persistent yearning for material wealth and the constant threat of an attack from North Korea. As a result, the country has the highest proportion of people wishing to emigrate among the 10 surveyed countries.
? Fears of North Korean Attack
South Koreans suffer from the highest level of fear of a war or terrorist attack. Asked whether they are afraid of a nuclear attack or a terrorist threat, 63.4 percent said yes. Huh Jin-jae, a director at Gallup Korea, said, "Anxiety has grown sharply in 2010 due to North Korea's attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyong Island, as well as increased uncertainties posed by the rise of North Korean heir Kim Jong-un."
President’s approval ratings rise above 50 percent
The rise has created tension with the GNP, which believes it should be central with upcoming presidential elections
Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer
New Year’s opinion polls carried out by different press outlets generally showed President Lee Myung-bak enjoying governance support ratings of over 50 percent. The only rating under 50 percent was found in an SBS survey, which showed a support rate of 48.2 percent. In other polls conducted by Munhwa Broadcasting Company (MBC), the Hankyoreh, Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), and the Hankook Ilbo, his rating was above 50 percent, at 53.3 percent, 51.8 percent, 50.9 percent, and 50.1 percent, respectively. This marks a substantial rise from his previous ratings, which hovered in the mid 40 percent range
[Editorial] Lee’s controversial New Year’s address
In the past, there have been some presidents who become more controversial the closer they came to the end of their term. This is said to occur because they developed greater confidence in their governance over the years, as well as increasing tension about how their accomplishments would be evaluated. Accordingly, some presidents proceeded inflexibly with their own fixations rather than carefully checking for any cracks in their governance tasks. This sort of problem was on display yesterday in President Lee Myung-bak’s New Year’s address.
The national security situation on the Korean Peninsula is also a serious concern. It is time for both North Korea and South Korea to find an active means of eliminating potential crisis triggers and reaching a breakthrough in the situation. But with President Lee going back and forth between hot and cold in the area of national security, it is difficult to get a handle on his true intentions. In a talk with overseas Koreans in Malaysia not too long ago, he broached the possibility of a North Korean collapse, saying that “reunification is not far away.” Then, at the end of 2010, he made reference to the need to resume the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue in the New Year. Yesterday, he did not offer any concrete message of dialogue toward North Korea. The farthest he went was to say that “the door of dialogue is not yet closed.” With such an approach, his remarks are unlikely to gain any credence, let alone have an influence inside and outside the country.
[Collapse] [Takeover] [Lee Myung-bak]
Military vows to beef up combat readiness
By Lee Tae-hoon
Amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula, the country’s armed forces have announced a set of measures to bolster their combat capabilities against any possible provocation by North Korea in their New Year messages.
Army chief of staff Gen. Kim Sang-ki said in a speech Monday that he would root out bureaucracy and unnecessary administrative procedures this year to get troops to focus better on military training, and boosting their combat readiness.
Seoul cautious over N. Korea call for peace
Voiceware Text U.S.-China summit unlikely to produce agreement on six-party talks: S. Korea... Soompi.com shows Hallyu where to go Rabbits hop into 2011 art scenes Discovery cancels Jackson autopsy show Young guns get ready for Cup Seoul cautious over N. Korea call for peace Stocks outdo real estate in 2010 Lee’s aide mentioned N.K. collapse and ‘interim entity’: leaked cable Doubts linger over Koreas mending ties Korea to increase female ROTC cadets
While noting North Korea’s renewed willingness to resume the long-stalled talks with South Korea as well as regional partners, the Seoul government appears cautious not to become too optimistic about the unpredictable state’s change of attitude.
North Korea welcomed the New Year on Saturday with an editorial calling for improved ties with South Korea, in its first mention of peace since attacking a Seoul warship and a border island last year.
[Overtures] [Spin] [Buildup]
Seoul Needs Effective Strategy for Inter-Korean Dialogue
North Korea in a New Year's editorial said tensions with South Korea must be defused with the South scrapping its "confrontational" policies that are "opposed to reunification" and urged Seoul to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation. It takes some nerve to make such demands without even an apology for the attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyong Island.
North Korea has made several overtures to South Korea since the start of the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Political Pendulum Swings Back to Conservatism
Koreans are mostly of a conservative political persuasion again after a decade where progressives predominated, a long-term poll suggests.
The "Korea Barometer Surveys" were conducted jointly by Shin Doh-chull, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Gallup Korea on eight occasions from 1994 to 2010.
Lee Vows Stronger Defense in New Year's Address
President Lee Myung-bak made a New Year's address to the nation Monday morning on his policy directions for 2011.
In the speech, which was broadcast live by television, radio and internet, the President promised to focus on strengthening national defenses in response to North Korea's attacks on the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year.
He also vowed to boost South Korea's economy, maintaining the upward momentum from last year and enhancing the quality of life here.
In co-editorial, N.Korea pushes for conditionally relieving inter-Korean tensions
Observers say N.Korea has placed responsibility for relieving tensions on Seoul, and will wait for the response
» North Korean citizens walk along the road with bright expressions in Pyongyang on the first day of the New Year, Jan. 1. (Korea Central News Agency Yonhap)
Son Won-je and Lee Je-hoon, Staff Writers
The most notable aspect of North Korea’s joint editorial for New Year was its advocacy of “relieving the state of confrontation” between North Korea and South Korea.
The joint editorial said the state of confrontation between North Korea and South Korea should be relieved quickly, and that the threat of war should disappear from the Korean Peninsula and both countries should protect peace. With this, North Korea has raised the need to relax military tensions in inter-Korean relations, which had gone to the brink of war due to their artillery attack in November on Yeonpyeong Island. The editorial stressed the need to restore inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation, saying that dialogue and cooperation projects should be actively pushed.
However, North Korea placed the primary responsibility for relieving the state of confrontation on South Korea, and demanded the Lee Myung-bak administration change its North Korea policy. It also said that if a war were to break out, it would bring nothing but nuclear disaster, and that it would not forgive in the least anyone who touches even a little North Korea’s dignity, socialist system, or land, air or seas.
Park Geun-hye remains frontrunner for 2012 presidential election
Polling also shows support for dialogue with N.Korea, and slowing the Four Rivers project
Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer
Former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye continues her commanding lead among candidates for the 2012 presidential election according to various opinion polls conducted by press outlets for the New Year. Behind her is a second-place group including People’s Participation Party policy research institute head Rhyu Si-min, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo.
According to polling results reported Saturday by five press outlets, Park was well ahead of the rest of the pack with a 30 to 40 percent supporting rating among 2012 presidential contenders.
SKorea leader talks tough but opens door to talks
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By HYUNG-JIN KIM and FOSTER KLUG
The Associated Press
Sunday, January 2, 2011; 11:19 PM
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's president vowed Monday not to let North Korea "covet even an inch of our territory." But he also opened the door to possible peace talks, saying North Korean disarmament could lead to South Korean economic aid.
[SK NK policy] [Brinkmanship] [Media]
The Hankyoreh Top Ten News Stories from South Korea of 2010
Heightening military antagonism between North Korea and South Korea: the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of the Cheonan
On the night of March 26, forty-six sailors in the South Korean navy lost their lives when the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan went down in the waters southwest of Baengnyeong Island. The government announced that the cause of the sinking was a torpedo attack by a North Korean submersible and halted all exchange and cooperation with North Korea with the exception of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. On the afternoon of Nov. 23, North Korea carried out an unprecedented artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in which two marines and two civilians perished.
N.Korea calls for ending tensions on Korean peninsula
» New members of the reshuffled cabinet, Dec. 31. From left, Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Chung Tong-ki, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choung Byoung-gug, Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-kyung, Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kim Dong-soo, Financial Services Commission head Kim Seok-dong and Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission Chairwoman Kim Young-ran.
North Korea called Saturday to defusing tension with South Korea, warning of a “nuclear holocaust” should another war break out on the peninsula, as the impoverished communist state made its last annual pitch for economic revival ahead of a landmark year.
A joint New Year’s editorial by the North Korean press did not make clear allusions to the country’s ongoing hereditary succession nor did it repeat the 2010 call for ending the state of enmity with the United States even though it did renew a pledge for denuclearization.
Our hopes for the coming year
Peace Must Bloom in All Our Hearts
South Korea’s three southern provinces were covered in snow. Outwardly, it was a dazzling peace. It might be futile, but we greet the morning of the Year of the Rabbit by earnestly praying that this peace penetrate the skin of this land and take root.
The reality is more bitter than the biting midwinter wind. There is news that in North Korea, they are conducting large-scale amphibious landing drills predicated on capturing the Five West Sea Islands. It is a continuation of the Yeonpyeong Island attack. The South Korean government has made as its New Year’s policy goal inducing North Korea to change. It seems to imply a regime collapse in North Korea. It is not difficult to predict North Korea’s response.
A clash has been avoided, but sharp confrontation and crisis continues. The Barack Obama administration in the United States went into a state of readiness last month with the possibility of war in mind. It is said the concentration of three U.S. carrier groups, including the U.S.S. George Washington, in the Western Pacific was not unrelated to this. It was just 16 years since 1994, when we stood at the brink of war. The United States has used tension on the Korean Peninsula for its own political strategy in Northeast Asia, but it wants to avoid a direct clash.
Accordingly, it has appeared to be uncomfortable with the Lee Myung-bak administration, which has closed the door of dialogue with North Korea.
About this situation, Chinese newspaper The Global Times wrote that the Korean government confuses the edge of a precipice for a football pitch.
This is not simple ridicule. At the time, Chinese President Hu Jintao was keeping North Korea from launching a second provocation. Calls for China to also do something about South Korea were made recently. This is also why the Christmas message of Pope Benedict, who prayed for reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula, was not welcomed. It was just embarrassing.
This desperate reality was reflected in the fact that at the end of the year, elders of society, progressive and conservative alike, released an emergency statement calling on the North Korean and South Korean governments to work for peace. The Lee Myung-bak administration, however, has continued to ignore these calls. President Lee mentioned resolving the nuclear issue through the six-party talks, but the context of his remarks reveals that his sincerity is doubtful. This is why it seems he said it to keep up appearances, thinking of the United States and China.
North Korea Calls for Dialogue With the South
By MARK McDONALD
Published: December 31, 2010
SEOUL, South Korea --- In an annual New Year’s commentary that is widely seen as an indicator of the country’s political and economic goals for the coming year, North Korea called Saturday for dialogue with South Korea and a relaxation of tensions “as soon as possible.”
"If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust," said the editorial, carried in the leading official newspapers in the North and read on state television there. The commentary, which called for "an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation" with the South, was reported by local news agencies in Seoul.
Relations between the Koreas in recent months have been at their most strained since the end of the Korean War in 1953. North Korea allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship in March and later revealed the existence of a modern and previously unknown uranium-enrichment facility.
The situation worsened in November when the North fired artillery at a South Korean island in a skirmish that killed two South Korean marines and two civilians. That was followed by several large and provocative military exercises by the South, including joint maneuvers led by an American aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea.
The North Korean editorial called for an end to those military drills and assailed Seoul’s alliance with the “war hawks" of the United States.
North Korea, with the world’s fourth largest military (sic) , also cautioned that its armed forces remained on guard and would take "prompt, merciless and annihilating action" if necessary.
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