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N.Korea Reiterates Threats of 'Special Action'
North Korea on Thursday denied that dire threats of "special action" issued Monday would mean merely a repeat of the deadly shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
The official propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said if South Korea dismisses the warning as something similar to the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, "it is a big mistake." In an editorial headed, "Do They Still Not Understand Our Determination to Retaliate?" the website said the North's "revolutionary forces never utter empty words."
"Our revolutionary forces decided to take special action in order to obliterate the group of traitors led by Lee Myung-bak and defend our supreme dignity," it thundered. "We will lay Lee Myung-bak's group to ashes with unprecedented means and our own ways."
Confession by actress in 20s stuns Koreans
Allegations that senior government officials and business tycoons got together with female celebrities at bars many times have recently caused a stir.
An actress in her 20s said that such a thing occurs frequently in the Korean entertainment industry.
The actress, who made her debut more than two years ago, recalled that a TV program director asked her to go to bed with him in return for her appearance in a soap opera.
In an interview with CBS Radio, she said he told her that “I’m willing to make you a Cinderella. Are you willing to do something for me?”
Asking for anonymity, she said similar things occur many times in the industry.
Park grappling with new headache ? MB
By Kang Hyun-kyung
After achieving a dramatic victory in the April 11 parliamentary elections, Park Geun-hye can’t be blamed for wanting to distance herself from President Lee Myung-bak to rally supporters ahead of the presidential election slated for December.
Now seems to be the perfect time for this as investigations of President Lee’s aides and relatives are underway for their alleged involvement in various bribery scandals.
[Park Geun-hye] [Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
Lee suffers end-of-term syndrome
Former Korea Communications Commission Chairman Choi See-joong enters the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul, Wednesday, without answering reporters’ questions before being grilled over bribery allegations.
/ Korea Times photo by Cho Young-ho
Presidential mentor grilled over bribery allegations
By Na Jeong-ju
Traditionally, corruption scandals rock administrations at the end of their terms.
History appears to be obviously repeating itself as the big guns who helped President Lee Myung-bak win the 2007 election and enjoyed riding on the cusp of power are now succumbing to a backlash for their avarice.
Amid morning drizzle, former Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Chairman Choi See-joong, who is referred to as Lee’s mentor, was summoned by prosecutors Wednesday on charges of taking huge bribes.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
N. Korean leader learning through trial and error
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Of late, the young North Korean leader had made a few blunders in foreign policy, evidence he is learning through trial and error.
The North’s wrong choices of rhetoric and warnings against South Korea come months after the death of Kim Jong-il in December cast the spotlight on his third son Jong-un as his successor is inexperienced and little known to the outside world. Jong-un is believed to be in his late 20s.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said the North Korean military’s threatening of special action against the South is an example signaling the Stalinist state’s leadership is on the wrong track.
[Buildup] [Kim Jong Un]
Seoul Must Stand Firm Against N.Korean Thuggery
North Korea issued a brazen threat against South Korea on Monday, warning that it would take "special actions" that will "start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors" -- shorthand for the Lee Myung-bak administration.
"Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style," it said (the English is the North Korean regime's own).
Two Koreas changing the game
NK's recent provocations leave Seoul and Washington with few options
» North Korea Workers’ Party international secretary Kim Young-il shakes hands with Chinese president Hu Jintao in Beijing, April 24. (AP Newsis)
By Kim Kyu-won, staff writer
This was the word North Korea experts used to describe the recent volley of hard-line statements between Seoul and Pyongyang. Analysts suggested the situation may be a replay of previous instances where the Lee Myung-bak administration took a hard line on North Korea in an effort to “change the game,” only to have a concerned Pyongyang come back with even more provocative statements.
The barrage of strong words from Lee began with a radio broadcast on Apr. 16, shortly after the general election. At the time, Lee said, “the US$850 million spent on the missile launch could have bought 2.5 million tons of corn, the North Korean food shortfall for the past six years.” He also said, “In preventing itself from receiving 240,000 tons of nutritional aid by backing out of the North Korea-United States agreement [reached on Feb. 29], it basically took food away from its people.”
He followed this up with remarks made on an Apr. 19 visit to the Agency for Defense Development in Daejeon, where he said South Korea “can deter enemy provocations when it is strong. Then [North Korea] can’t behave rashly.”
Will it lead to President?
MB's big brother targeted in bribery probe; political mentor Choi to be questioned
By Na Jeong-ju
Allegations that a former aide of President Lee Myung-bak’s elder brother Lee Sang-deuk took a large sum of money in bribes emerged Tuesday, a day after the President’s mentor Choi See-joong admitted receiving cash from a businessman, which he used for Lee’s 2007 presidential campaign.
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
N.Korea Ratchets Up Threats Against South
A presenter on North Korean Central TV makes a special announcement on Monday. /Yonhap A presenter on North Korean Central TV makes a special announcement on Monday. /Yonhap
North Korea on Monday ratcheted up the belligerent rhetoric against the South, threatening "peculiar means" to destroy South Korean targets.
North Korea threatens special military actions
Peninsular relations at a low of Pyongyang targets South Korean president and conservative media
» North Korean soldiers attend a rally condemning South Korean president Lee Myung-bak in Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang, April 20. The banner reads, “Let‘s smack down all the provocative sources who dare to slander our highest dignity!” (Reuters, Newsis)
By Kim Kyu-won and Lee Soon-hyuk, staff writers
North Korea declared that it would initiate “special actions by revolutionary military forces” against President Lee Myung-bak and certain conservative news outlets.
The statement is seen as stemming from the longstanding tension in inter-Korean relations and irresponsible attempts by the North and South Korean governments to use the situation for domestic political advantage.
MB’s closest confidant says his campaign was funded by bribes
Explosive allegations hit home for the Blue House, already reeling from illegal surveillance scandal
» Choi See-joong, former Korea Communications Commission chairman
By Ahn Chang-hyun, staff writer
It’s one problem after another for the Blue House.
With prosecutors currently investigating former staff members over involvement in illegal surveillance of civilians, the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea’s presidential office and residence) is now reeling from explosive remarks by former Korea Communications Commission chairman Choi See-joong on Lee Myung-bak’s presidential election fund.
Blue House spokesman Park Jung-ha had no comment on the allegations Tuesday, noting that the prosecutors’ investigation is still ongoing. Despite the calm exterior, things are quite different on the inside.
A key Blue House official said simply, “We took a beating and we thought we had just managed to move on, and now we’re getting hit with a second tide.”
The shock may have been especially severe for the Blue House because Choi is closer than anyone to President Lee Myung-bak. As a member of the so-called “Council of Six” who managed Lee‘s election team, he ranked alongside Lee Sang-deuk, a New Frontier Party lawmaker and the President’s older brother, as one of the top two contributors to the administration‘s launch.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
[Editorial] Calm down, two Koreas
North and South Korea are having quite a clash of strong emotions. Now the special operations action unit in the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Supreme Command has made an “announcement” to South Korea that is, for all intents and purposes, a declaration of war. It threatened, “special actions that, once initiated, will in three to four minutes, or indeed less time than that, wipe out all the gangs of rats and the roots of provocation in roaring flames through special means that have not been seen before, and through [North Korea’s] own style of methods.”
KPA Supreme Command Warns Lee Myung Bak Group of Quick Action
Pyongyang, April 23 (KCNA) -- The special operation action group of the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army issued the following notice Monday:
The indignation of the army and people of the DPRK at the group of rat-like Lee Myung Bak is running high.
Shouts "Destroy", "Beat to death" and "Tear to death" are ringing out on this land
[NK SK policy] [Lee Myung-bak] [Buildup]
N. Korea threatens military strike against S. Korean president
View Photo Gallery — North Korea issued an ominous new threat Monday in its campaign against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The move came less than two weeks after a failed rocket launch attempt.
By Chico Harlan, Published: April 23
TOKYO — North Korea issued an ominous new threat Monday in its campaign against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, vowing to carry out a special military attack that would reduce parts of Seoul to ash “in three or four minutes .?.?. by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”
The warning came as government officials in Seoul and Washington are watching for clues about the emerging strategy of new and untested leader Kim Jong Eun, who came to power four months ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. This month, the young leader broke a weapons-testing moratorium by firing a long-range rocket, the first suggestion that he will try to consolidate power domestically by showing off his country’s military might and keeping the outside world on edge.
[Media] [Conditionality] [Buildup]
Most Koreans Think Chaebol Are in Bed with Gov't
Most Koreans believe that cozy ties with the government have enabled corporate behemoths like Samsung and Hyundai Motor to achieve massive growth that dwarfs all other enterprises. In a survey, 75.6 percent said the government's conglomerate-centered policies are the reason for their stupendous profits, and a mere 3.8 percent attributed them to the efforts of the conglomerates alone.
Workers’ View of Korea #1 (April 2012)
The Research Institute for Alternative Workers Movements International Department has finally started an english language newsletter in earnest.
We hope to use "Workers' View of Korea" to provide our allies overseas with information and analysis of struggles going in Korea.
We welcome your interest and feedback.
Research Institute for Alternative Workers Movements
The Research Institute for Alternative Workers Movements is affiliated to People's Solidarity for Social Progress, a social movement organization.
70,000 Korean Chinese Face Loss of Jobs Here
Around 70,000 ethnic Koreans from China working here face the end of their temporary employment visas. Korea opened its doors to ethnic Koreans mostly from China in 2007 to make up for a shortage of workers here in so-called 3D -- dirty, dangerous and difficult -- jobs.
But the four-year, 10-month work visas start to expire this year, the Justice Ministry says. The 70,000 ethnic Koreans face the tough choice of staying on illegally or heading home.
Defiant N.Korea Holds Anti-South Rally
North Korea said Friday a rally was being held in Pyongyang's central square to protest against South Korea's government, which has been sharply critical of the North's failed rocket launch last week.
In typically aggressive language, the official Korean Central News Agency said the square was crowded with military members and civilians who vow to "wipe out" South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's administration.
[NK SK policy] [Lee Myung-bak]
Progressive party divided over N. Korea
By Kang Hyun-kyung
North Korea has become a political hot potato in the minor Unified Progressive Party (UPP) ahead of the competition to select the lineup of its new leadership, including its chairman. The leadership contest is slated for next Sunday.
Two schools of thought exist on North Korea in the minor party.
Radicals, who have remained silent over North Korea’s human rights abuses, revealed their discontent about the U.N. Security Council’s reaction to North Korea’s rocket launch. In a press release, Woo Wie-young, a UPP spokeswoman, said the punishment-oriented response would not help ease tensions in the region.
[Liberal] [Satellite] [SK NK policy]
New Bomb Shelters on West Sea Islands Complete
Residents of the westernmost islands now have new bomb shelters 17 months after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010. The government spent W53 billion (US$1=W1,141) on seven shelters on Yeongpyeong Island, 26 on Baeknyeong, and nine on Daecheong. The project began in March last year.
Can North Korea break from the past?
US and South Korean officials hoping recent friction is leftover from Kim Jong-il
» North Koreans pose in front of a portrait of Kim Il-sung decorated with the Ki milsungia flower, a hybrid cultivar of orchid, April 17. (AP Newsis)
By Park Byung-soo, staff writer, Kwon Tae-ho, Washington correspondent
The Korean Peninsula is in a state of uncertainty with the abandonment of a Feb. 29 agreement between Washington and Pyongyang. The Feb. 29 agreement, signed in Beijing, had improved the chance of dialogue, which has since disappeared. The US cancelled promised food aid after North Korea went ahead with a rocket launch on Apr. 13, despite warnings from other countries. Pyongyang had agreed to halt all such launches under the terms of the deal.
[US NK negotiations] [Satellite] [Inversion]
Seoul plans more sanctions for North Korea
Unification Minister pledges strong response to rocket launch, but still chance for dialogue
By Kim Kyu-won, staff writer
Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik stated plans to sanction North Korea for its Apr. 13 rocket launch, but also said that he would with continue his “flexibilization” approach and that proposals for dialogue with Pyongyang still stand.
Speaking at a talk with ministry journalists Wednesday morning, Yu said he planned to continue with the approach of increased flexibility in spite of the rocket launch.
[SK NK policy] [Satellite] [Spin] [Sanctions]
[Editorial] Encourage change in North Korea
On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously called North Korea’s launch of a long-distance rocket a violation of a UN resolution. Notable is the fact that China agreed to the statement. China, like the other nations involved, is interested in preventing a nuclear test in North Korea.
This month’s Security Council (UNSC) president, US ambassador Susan Rice read a statement “strongly” condemning the launch. The statement ordered the sanctions committee to increase restrictions on the movement of North Korean goods and people. The presidential statement itself is not legally enforceable, but is significant in that it reaffirms the resolution and increases pressure on North Korea.
Lee Myung Bak Regime of S. Korea Will Face Stern Punishment: KPA Supreme Command Spokesman
Pyongyang, April 18 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army on April 18 issued the following statement:
The army and people of the DPRK celebrated in splendor with great national pride the centenary of the auspicious 100th Day of the Sun amid great attention and expectation of the whole world.
NK threatens to blow up Seoul over defamation of its leader
North Korea urged South Korea Thursday to offer an apology over the alleged defamation of Pyongyang's milestone festival, a day after its military threatened to blow up Seoul.
The latest harsh rhetoric comes amid tensions following the North's failed rocket launch last week. The U.N. Security Council has condemned the launch and called on member states to find ways to tighten sanctions on the communist country
Korea deploys new missile capable of hitting anywhere in NK
South Korea has deployed a new long-range cruise missile that puts nuclear and missile sites in the entire North Korean territory within striking distance, defense ministry officials said Thursday, amid growing security jitters sparked by the North's botched rocket launch.
The new, home-grown cruise missile has a range of "more than 1,000 kilometers and can immediately strike anywhere in North Korea," said Maj. Gen. Shin Won-sik, the senior official in charge of policy planning at the ministry.
[Military balance] [Missile]
Seoul to continue humanitarian aid for Pyongyang despite rocket launch
Korea will keep providing humanitarian aid to North Korea despite international condemnation over Pyongyang's botched rocket launch, Seoul's point man on the North said Wednesday.
South Korea will "maintain humanitarian aid for vulnerable people through international organizations," Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a meeting with reporters.
South Korea says newly deployed cruise missiles can hit anywhere in North, serve as warning
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, April 19, 5:57 PM
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has unveiled new cruise missiles it says are capable of hitting any target in North Korea.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that it has completed deploying the missiles. Officials say the deployment should serve as a warning to North Korea.
Pyongyang on Sunday unveiled a new long-range missile during a military parade and conducted a failed long-range rocket launch two days earlier. North Korea says the launch was aimed at putting a satellite in orbit. The United States and South Korea called it a test of ballistic missile technology.
Relations between the Koreas have deteriorated badly in recent years. Pyongyang on Wednesday repeated its threat of waging a “sacred war” against Seoul.
[Missile] [Media] [Double standards] [Inversion]
'Parknomics' in the making
Park Geun-hye, left, head of Saenuri Party’s interim leadership body, sells a large crab at a traditional market in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province in a campaign for the National Assembly elections earlier this month. / Korea Times file
Park seeks to create market economy with human face
By Kim Tae-gyu
Incumbent President Lee Myung-bak stressed a business-friendly approach from the very beginning of his term in early 2008 under which the CEO-turned-politician has phased in a set of policies favoring big companies.
With less than a year of his tenure remaining, the business-centric ``MBnomics’’ is expected to give way to that of his successor, possibly one of the strongest candidates for the next presidency ? leading Saenuri Party campaigner Park Geun-hye.
Her economic philosophy, or ``Parknomics,’’ can be summarized as the moderate quest for a market economy, according to her aides. Parknomics has gained prominence as she spearheaded the ruling party’s unexpected victory in last week’s parliamentary elections.
Main opposition leader resigns
Han Myeong-sook, chairwoman of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), speaks during a press conference in the party headquarters in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, Friday, to announce her resignation to take responsibility for defeat in Wednesday’s National Assembly elections. Korea Times photo by Koh Young-kwon
By Chung Min-uck
Han Myeong-sook, chairwoman of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), resigned from her post Friday taking responsibility for the defeat in the just-ended National Assembly elections.
“I am stepping down from the party’s top post, holding myself responsible for the defeat in the parliamentary elections,” said Han at a press conference at the DUP’s headquarters in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul. “Yet, I will still assist the DUP in taking over power through the presidential election.”
Is President political baggage?
Park may keep Lee at arm’s length
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Will President Lee Myung-bak be political baggage or an asset to Park Geun-hye, leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, in her bid to become the next president?
Lee is so unpopular that the opposition alliance tried unsuccessfully to turn the April 11 National Assembly elections into a no-confidence vote on his administration. It is widely believed that the opposition’s poor campaigning saved the administration from more embarrassment.
[Park Geun-hye] [Lee Myung-bak] [Election]
Did North Korea spoil election fete here?
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Two Koreas drew global media attention last week as North Korea’s unsuccessful rocket launch amid international condemnation virtually coincided with a voter-driven election drama in South Korea.
Considering the reclusive nation’s previous attempts to meddle in the South’s domestic politics, the timing of the two events may have been linked.
[Satellite] [Election] [North Wind] [Inversion]
Opposition Wins Big Among Facebook, Twitter Users
The opposition parties had stronger support in Wednesday's general election in areas where people use social media more actively. The main opposition Democratic United Party and Unified Progressive Party lost to the ruling Saenuri Party in most provincial constituencies except for the Jeolla Provinces but dominated wired Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, which account for more than half of the number of facebook and Twitter users in Korea.
Kim Hyung-joon, a political science professor at Myongji University, said, "Messages on these sites tend to be progressive, so young people in the Seoul metropolitan area who use them regularly favor opposition parties, whereas provincial areas, where the population is dominated by the elderly, are still a social-media black hole."
A survey by Millward Brown Media Research for the Korea Advertisers Association found that out of 10,000 social media users over 18 nationwide, more than half were in the Seoul metropolitan area -- 24.8 percent in Seoul and 30 percent in Gyeonggi Province. Those in their 20s made up 58.2 percent and those in their 30s 27.8 percent.
Asked about their political inclination, 45.2 percent identified themselves as progressive, four times more than 11.4 percent conservatives.
Busan was the city with the second highest number of social media users with 7.77 percent. While the opposition only managed to win two seats in Busan, it still garnered a respectable 31 percent of total votes. Kim said, "Opposition parties are winning more and more votes in Busan. This trend may well have something to do with the increasing use of social media among young people there."
[Social media] [Demographics]
Ahn Chul-soo looming as a political wildcard
In the wake of election losses by the opposition, Ahn still hovering on political periphery
» Ahn Chul-soo listens to reporters’ questions after voting in Wednesday’s general election, at Hangang Elementary school voting station. (by Ryu Woo-jong, staff photographer)
By Kim Bo-hyup, staff writer
Ahn Chul-soo has offered no official opinion on Wednesday’s general election. A source close to Ahn says he probably regrets the result.
[Ahn Chul-soo ] [Election]
Domestic Debates and Assessment of Extended Deterrence in South Korea: A South Korean Perspective
By Jong Kun Choi
April 10, 2012
For several decades, even after the Cold War, the practice of containment policy against North Korea left a strong cognitive imprint on the strategic thinking of the Republic of Korea and the United States. The question of what should be done to deter North Korea’s military provocations was mainly focused on the concern that the failure to stand firm against the North would erode the reputation of the ROK-US alliance for containment of potential challenges. Consequently, strategic writings were generally preoccupied with signaling the intention to punish the North even when the stakes were low, which in turn would make the commitment less credible. In addition, the emergence of a nuclear North Korea has prompted the question of whether or not the strategic interests of the US and the ROK are intrinsically identical in deterring North Korea. And the problem is such that predominant strategic theories on deterrence against the North, largely shaped in the context of superpower deterrence, do not always have well-operationalized and ready-answer to what best deters North Korea’s military provocations.[i]
[SK NK policy]
Saenuri Party Pulls Off Surprise Win in General Election
The ruling Saenuri Party pulled off a dramatic victory in Wednesday's close-run general election to end up with a majority in the National Assembly. Out of 300 parliamentary seats, the Saenuri Party won 152 as against 127 for the main opposition Democratic United Party and 13 for the DUP's coalition partner, the Unified Progressive Party.
54% of Eligible Voters Go to Polls
Voter turnout in Wednesday's general election was 54.3 percent, 8.2 percentage points higher than the previous general election, but a percentage point lower than the 2010 regional elections.
After victory, NFP looks ahead to December’s presidential election
Opposition has golden opportunity slip through its trembling figures
By Sung Han-yong, political correspondent
The April 11 general election has concluded with an unexpected victory for the New Frontier Party led by Park Geun-hye. Park’s strategy distancing herself from President Lee Myung-bak by abandoning the Grand National Party name and persistently campaigning has succeeded. With all votes counted, the New Frontier Party (NFP) has a majority of 152 seats.
As recently as the end of last year, the ruling party was facing a political crisis so great that they feared winning fewer than 100 seats in yesterday’s general election. The party was plagued by a steady stream of corruption scandals. Increased inequality made the conservatives appear out of touch with the economic reality faced by South Koreans. The use of illegal surveillance tactics and gagging of the media reminded many of the country’s old dictatorial governments.
Park Geun-hye is almost single-handedly responsible for changing the party‘s fortunes
[Park Geun-hye] [Election]
Drive to discredit Lee likely to prevail
President Lee Myung-bak and his wife Kim Yoon-ok cast their ballots at a Seoul polling station in parliamentary elections, Wednesday. / Korea Times
By Kang Hyun-kyung
There is no mercy for the sitting president. Analysts Wednesday predicted that President Lee Myung-bak will have to weather harsh times in the post-election season as presidential hopefuls are set to attack him to rally support from the public.
In the post-election season, contenders, especially in the ruling camp, will try to distance themselves from the unpopular President as the clock is ticking toward the presidential election slated for December
[Lee Myung-bak] [Park Geun-hye][Election]
Time to Think About the Lot of Ethnic Koreans from China
The grisly murder of a young woman by an ethnic Korean man from China was followed by the stabbing of the owner of a job search agency in Seoul by another, apparently resulting from an argument over back wages. The incidents have stoked resentment of ethnic Koreans from China, with calls for their deportation and other denigratory comments about them cluttering up the Internet.
Around half of the 1.36 million foreigners in Korea are Chinese, and 70 percent of them, or 460,000, are ethnic Koreans
General election shines light both into the past and future
As voting kicks off, still no clear picture of how the contest will turn out
By Kim Jong-chul, senior staff writer
Wednesday’s election for the 19th National Assembly has dual significance: a retrospective one, as the trial of four years of the current government, and as a look to the future, a prelude to the presidential election looming at year’s end. The outcome appears likely to provide some idea of the future course of governance, as well as clues about the presidential contest to come.
The ruling and opposition parties wrapped up their campaigning Tuesday with midnight calls for their supporters to go out to the polls.
Speaking at a press conference at the New Frontier Party’s Yeouido headquarters, party leader Park Geun-hye declared, “It is up to the people of South Korea whether the country will choose confusion and division or open up future hope.”
19.6% go to polls as of 11: a.m., up 0.4 pts
Polls opened Wednesday in tightly contested general elections that are likely to strip President Lee Myung-bak's ruling party of its control of parliament and set a crucial tone for December's vote to pick his successor.
The quadrennial poll is to elect a new 300-member National Assembly, but it takes on extra significance as the results are likely to affect the presidential election just eight months away. It is the first time in 20 years the two big elections take place in the same year.
N. Korean rocket launch complicates post-poll politics
Officials of the ruling Saenuri Party make a final check of a situation board containing the list of the party’s candidates running in the 19th National Assembly elections at the party’s headquarters in Seoul, Tuesday, the eve of the poll. / Yonhap
By Kang Hyun-kyung
The nation will go to the polls Wednesday, a couple of days before North Korea’s planned launch of a satellite on the back of a long-range rocket, to select 300 National Assemblymen.
Judging by images shown near the launch pad and satellite footage, intelligence sources presumed the reclusive state may go ahead with the liftoff Saturday.
[SK NK policy] [Satellite]
A Conundrum and the ‘Seventh Party’: Envisioning Peace and Security in Northeast Asia
Apr. 08, 2012
Just one week before the recent North Korean announcement of a forthcoming satellite launch, which was met by a chorus of denunciation around the world, a non-governmental “Six Party” conference gathered on March 7 to 9 at Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, New York City, under the name of the 2012 New York Conference on Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia. Its co-sponsors were the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, the Center for Peace and Public Integrity at Hanshin University, the National Association of Korean Americans, and the Pacific Century Institute.
The following article is a slightly revised version of a paper prepared for the opening Session of the conference devoted to a presentation by one speaker each from the participating countries (US, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and North Korea). Professor Paik here adds a postscript, dated March 28, on the significance of the New York meeting in light of subsequent
Paik Nak-chung, emeritus professor of Seoul National University and a prominent scholar, author, critic and activist, is one of Korea’s most incisive contemporary public intellectuals. His latest book in English is The Division System in Crisis: Essays on Contemporary Korea, University of California Press, 2011.
S. Korea's ruling party pulls off upset victory in crucial general elections
(ATTN: UPDATES with fresh figures, quotes in paras 1-3, 8-9, 19-22)
By Chang Jae-soon
SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling party apparently won an outright majority in Wednesday's parliamentary elections in a dramatic upset victory expected to serve as a major boon to its leader and presidential hopeful, Park Geun-hye, just eight months before the presidential vote.
With almost all votes counted, the ruling Saenuri Party was believed to have won 152 of the total 300 seats up for grabs against the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP)'s 127 seats, according to data from the National Election Commission.
[Election] [Park Geun-hye]
Is N.Korea Planning Another Nuclear Test?
News reports suggest North Korea may be trying to reprise the provocations of 2009 and conduct a nuclear test after firing a long-range missile. The North conducted its second nuclear test on May 25, 2009 shortly after it was slapped with UN sanctions over the launch of a long-range missile on April 5 that year.
North possibly preparing another nuke test
Some skeptical that announcement is a red herring election move by conservatives
» North Korea has invited foreign media to Dongchang-ri, the site where the Gwangmyungsung 3 satellite is scheduled to be launched this week. The Enha 3 rocket is in position. (Reuters/Newsis)
By Kim Kyu-won, staff writer
An unexpected press release Sunday from intelligence authorities indicates that North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test following its long-range missile launch scheduled for between April 12-16. There is suspicion over whether the sudden announcement is intended to influence the outcome of Wednesday’s election.
A press release sent to Ministry of Unification reporters Sunday by intelligence authorities stated that North Korea “is secretly preparing for a third nuclear test at Punggye-ri in Kilju County, North Hamgyong province, the location where the previous two nuclear tests were conducted. North Korea is currently digging a new tunnel, and the effort is believed to be in its final stages,” the press release stated. The Ministry of Unification has not publicly announced the identity of the intelligence authorities behind the release.
[North Wind] [test] [Satellite]
Opposition struggles to shift election focus to Lee
Korea's main opposition party struggled Monday to shift the focus of this week's parliamentary elections back to a referendum on the unpopular President Lee Myung-bak and his ruling party as the races grew increasingly tight just two days before the voting.
The Democratic United Party had been forecast to win an easy victory in Wednesday's polls amid widespread perceptions that the gap between rich and poor has widened under Lee's pro-business policies and the benefits of growth in big businesses have not trickled down to the working class.
But the party has seen its once-comfortable lead over the ruling Saenuri Party closing as it fumbled the selection of its election candidates and was hit by revelations that one of its candidates made disgustingly sexist and derogatory remarks in the past.
Analysts and survey experts now say the elections are going to be a dead-heat contest.
[Election] [Lee Myung-bak]
North Korean nuclear test: South’s ‘election ploy’
Published: 09 April, 2012, 15:14
South Korean intelligence has claimed it has information the North is on the cusp of another nuclear experiment following its imminent rocket launch. Experts and politicians have refuted the reports, disregarding them as election tactics.
“We know it’s an election ploy. It’s what the South Koreans call the ‘North Wind’, where they use an instance involving the North to consolidate votes around rival candidates in the South,” Dr. Tim Beal, researcher and Asia specialist told RT.
Opposition lawmakers have also accused President Lee Myung-bak’s ruling party of using the reports to sway the coming elections.
[Satellite] [Test] [North Wind]
Seoul urges response to rocket launch plan
Agencies - Global Times | April 06, 2012 23:50
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a press conference for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, March 27, 2012. Photo: Xinhua
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and a visiting US congressional delegation on Friday called for a united international community's response to North Korea's planned rocket launch this month which they said clearly violates a UN ban.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday urged all relevant parties to exercise restraint to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"China expressed its concern after North Korea announced its rocket launch plan. We believe all relevant parties have the responsibility to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia as this serves their interests," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular press briefing.
"President Lee and the US congressmen shared an understanding that North Korea's long-range rocket launch plan is in clear violation of a UN Security Council resolution and a serious damaging of the February 29 US-North Korea agreement, and should be dealt with through a united response of the international community based on the South Korea-US alliance," South Korea's presidential office said in a statement, according to the Yonhap news agency.
The five-member Republican delegation, including senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Richard Burr of North Carolina, arrived in Seoul on Friday for a three-day visit involving meetings with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and a visit to the border area with the North.
The February agreement was a deal under which Pyongyang pledged to put a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests and to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for food aid from the US.
North Korea is expected to put its Unha-3 long-range rocket on a launch pad as early as Friday or Saturday, Yonhap said. Pyongyang announced it will fire the rocket between Thursday and Sunday to celebrate the centenary of the birth of its late leader Kim Il-sung.
A spokesman for North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said on Thursday the satellite is "peaceful in nature" and warned that intercepting it "is bound to entail tremendous catastrophe" that constitutes an act of war.
South Korea said Monday that the military will track and intercept the rocket if it strays and falls into its territory. Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka has also ordered similar measures.
[Satellite] [Hysteria] [Buildup]
Elections expose generational divide
Election could turn on turnout by young voters, who generally support the opposition
» Voters are expected to cast their ballots largely along generational lines in April 11’s general election. These maps show the distribution of age groups throughout Seoul’s 46 election districts. Left: voters aged in their 20s and 30s. The map on the right shows voters in their 50s and 60s. (Click to enlarge)
By Seong Han-yong, political correspondent
An election variable is defined as “a changeable factor that influences the outcome of an election.” It now appears that turnout will be the deciding variable in the general elections to be held on April 11.
The higher the turnout, the better the opposition’s chances will be. Voters could be motivated to vote out the current administration due to dissatisfaction with its various misdeeds while in power, including recent allegations of illegal surveillance of civilians
NRC Denounces Park Geun Hye for Escalating Confrontation against DPRK
Pyongyang, April 6 (KCNA) -- A spokesperson for the National Reconciliation Council (NRC) issued a statement on Friday denouncing the confrontation moves of Park Geun Hye.
With the approach of the "National Assembly" election in south Korea, Park Geun Hye of the "Saenuri Party" is more undisguisedly revealing her true colors standing for confrontation against reunification, the statement said.
It went on:
Decrying the DPRK's planned launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 as a long-range missile test, Park let loose a spate of sophism that the launch would be a "challenge to the world peace" and the "international pressure should be put on it." She went the lengths of slandering the dignity of the DPRK, while begging someone to "stop deportation of human scum to the north".
[Park Geun-hye] [NK SK policy][Election]
NK steps up propaganda to try to sway upcoming S. Korean polls
North Korea has stepped up propaganda criticizing South Korea's conservative ruling party and its leader Park Geun-hye in what seems its latest attempt to sway upcoming South Korean polls.
In recent weeks, the North's state media have repeatedly called on South Koreans to vote against the conservative party, which has pursued a hard-line policy toward the North.
South Koreans are set to elect 300 lawmakers next Wednesday. Park is running as a proportional representation candidate for the ruling Saenuri Party. She is also widely seen as the party's leading presidential hopeful for the December vote.
[Election] [Park Geun-hye] [NK SK policy]
Politicians Shamelessly Ignore National Security
April 15 marks the centenary of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, and Pyongyang has triggered alarms around the world by announcing it will launch what it claims is a space rocket between April 12 to 16. North Korea could also conduct a nuclear test after the launch. The country that should be most alarmed by the latest developments is not the U.S. or China but South Korea.
The space rocket is evidently a front for the test of a long-range missile that would be able to carry nuclear warheads. North Korea knows that the U.S. does not like its troops becoming potential targets of a nuclear attack. It is obvious that Pyongyang is using the nuclear threat as leverage in attempts to get Washington to reduce its troop levels in South Korea.
Is it President’s Watergate?
2 former aides arrested over surveillance scandal
By Park Si-soo
Is it a Watergate redux or a case similar to U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North taking the fall for late President Ronald Reagan?
Or perhaps, President Lee Myung-bak simply didn’t know anything about his aides hustling and bustling behind his back to spy on detractors.
It may require an independent prosecutor or a parliamentary investigation to find out after Lee leaves office, considering the prosecution’s predilection for those in power
[Surveillance] [Lee Myung-bak]
10 N.Korean Defectors' Odyssey Ends
Three family members of a South Korean prisoner of war who arrived in South Korea from China on Sunday pose in this picture taken in June 2009, just before they entered the South Korean Consulate in Beijing to seek refugee. /Courtesy of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea Ten North Korean defectors who had been hiding in South Korean diplomatic missions in China arrived discreetly in South Korea on Sunday. They consisted of five who had been hiding in the Consulate in Beijing for three years, three of them family members of a South Korean prisoner of war, as well as defectors who were living at the Consulate in Shenyang.
Illegal surveillance details emerge
Intelligence organizations may have spied on civilians, a violation of their mandate
» The memos mentiong the Blue House, NIS, and DSC are shown in the pocketbook of possessed by Won Chung-yeon, an employee of the public ethics division’s first inspection team.
By Gil Yun-hyung, staff writer
Evidence has come up suggesting that illegal civilian surveillance by the public ethics division of the Prime Minister's Office may have been coordinated with intelligence organizations such as the Defense Security Command and National Intelligence Service.
The Democratic United Party's "citizens' committee to try MB [President Lee Myung-bak] and the New Frontier Party" claimed Tuesday that a message reading "Participation from the Blue House, public official, NIS, and DSC" was found in a 100-page pocketbook possessed by Won Chung-yeon, an employee of the public ethics division’s first inspection team, which spearheaded the surveillance effort.
Anti-nuke activists barred from entry to South Korea
Members of Greenpeace will file UNHRC compliant after being turned away
» The Greenpeace ship Esperanza
By Nam Jong-young, staff writer
The international environmental NGO Greenpeace is responding actively after group members were barred from entering South Korea as part of an anti-nuclear campaign. The organization is currently planning to lodge a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over the decision.
The Justice Ministry refused entry to three staffs attempting to enter South Korea on Monday, including Mario D'Amato, head of Greenpeace's East Asia chapter; Fung Ka Keung, regional development director for East Asia; and Rashid Kang, manager for Greenpeace Seoul. The three staff were detained at the airport at the request of the Justice Ministry which cited “potential threats to the public interest" at Incheon International Airport on Monday and send them back to Hong Kong. Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo only was allowed entry to South Korea. He told the Hankyoreh in a Tuesday interview that an official request had been made for an audience with the Justice Minister to hear an explanation.
2 ex-presidential aides arrested in civilian spying case
A Seoul court on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for two former presidential secretaries on charges of instructing the destruction of evidence in an illegal surveillance of a businessman critical of President Lee Myung-bak years ago, court officials said.
Lee Young-ho, 48, a former presidential secretary for employment and labor affairs, is accused of ordering an ethics division official of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to erase data on computer hard drives in 2010 before prosecutors launched an investigation into the surveillance case involving the anti-government businessman
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
Rocket plan shows new NK regime's 'structural intransigence': Lee advisor
North Korea's determination to go ahead with a planned long-range rocket launch is indicative of the new regime's "structural intransigence" under young leader Kim Jong-un and a "self-defeating" choice, a South Korean unification policy advisor said Wednesday.
Hyun In-taek, a unification policy advisor to President Lee Myung-bak who served as Seoul's point man on North Korea for almost three years until last October, forecast a repeat of the North's provocations in 2009, when it last launched a long-range rocket in April then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.
Lee expresses concern about 'confusing' situation ahead of elections
President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday he is concerned the intensifying politicking ahead of next week's general elections may have negative effects on state affairs, a remark seen as referring to the worsening standoff over allegations state authorities illegally spied on civilians.
The surveillance scandal has emerged as a central issue ahead of the April 11 polls.
Poll: Park Geun-hye still leading race to presidency
Survey finds Park currently has more than twice as the support of the DUP's Moon Jae-in
By Sung Han-yong, senior staff writer
According to a March 31 phone poll by the Korea Society Opinion Institute, Park Geun-hye of the New Frontier Party (NFP) is the leading contender in December’s presidential election. 36.2% of respondents said they planned to vote for Park, followed by 17.2% for independent Ahn Chul-soo and 16.3% for Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party (DUP).
S. Korea to strike Pyongyang if N. Korea attacks Seoul
South Korea will attack Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in retaliation if the communist country strikes Seoul, the capital of the South, an official said Monday.
South Korea has set up the principle of tit-for-tat retaliation in dealing with North Korea's possible aggression against Seoul and its adjacent areas, the senior military official said in a recent meeting with reporters.
South Korea "will immediately retaliate" against North Korea "in self-defense in the event of a North Korean provocation," the official said, without elaborating on North Korean targets.
[Buildup] [Media] [Inversion]
How long the President can keep quiet on illegal surveillance?
So far, the Blue House is dumb on whether MB was aware of monitoring of civilians
» After thousands of illegal surveillance by the public ethics division in the Prime Minister‘s Office were disclosed, President Lee Myung-bak’s face noticeably has darkened. President Lee entered the building of the Smile Microcredit Bank at Cheongjin-dong in Seoul‘s Jongro district to chair the 118th meeting of an emergency economic countermeasures for activating microfinance, March 30. (by Kim Bong-gyu, staff photographer)
By Ahn Chang-hyun, Blue House correspondent
With confirmation that the Prime Minister‘s Office carried out large-scale illegal surveillance of civilians, the major question now is whether President Lee Myung-bak knew about it. The case takes on a different nature if it turns out that the president was directly involved.
Evidence from throughout the surveillance process raised doubts about whether Lee was unaware that the monitoring was taking place.
Major focuses of the Blue House are reflected in the details of the surveillance by the Prime Minister’s Office‘s public ethics division. In 2009, it focused on following television network activities and gauged the loyalty of current and former police leaders in terms of “embodiment of the governance philosophy.” For the Lee administration, control of the media and the loyalty of the police have been urgent concerns since it suffered the sting of the candlelight vigils against imports of US beef. If he received any reports on surveillance reports, it would mean he was aware that illegal monitoring was taking place.
[Surveillance] [Lee Myung-bak]
Rival parties call for different approaches to surveillance scandal
Rival parties reacted differently Sunday to a presidential office claim that illegal surveillance of public officials and civilians was more widespread during the preceding government.
Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office, said Saturday that more than 80 percent of 2,619 alleged illegal surveillance cases raised recently by unionists at public broadcaster KBS occurred during the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, the late predecessor of President Lee Myung-bak.
Last week, a KBS labor union disclosed they had thousands of government reports obtained by extensive spying on civilians and public servants, prompting the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) to call on Lee to consider resigning and to dismiss those Cabinet ministers and secretaries responsible.
Power Pack for Home-Made Battle Tank Fails Test
Glitches were discovered during a recent test in the power pack of the homegrown K-2 battle tank that is currently under development. The power pack consists of engine and gearbox.
A military source on Thursday said the domestically developed power pack failed to satisfy three of the requirements, including controlling the speed and power of the cooling fan and acceleration. The source of the glitches has yet to be discovered.
As a result, the military is minded to import German-made power packs that will go into the initial batch of 100 K-2 tanks, out of a total 200 slated for production. Korea has spent around W120 billion (US$1=W1,137) on developing the power pack.
[Military balance] [Arms sales]
40 NK soldiers killed or injured during Yeonpyeong battle: report
More than 40 North Korean soldiers were killed or wounded when South Korea returned fire for the North's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, a media report said Friday, quoting a source familiar with the battalion responsible for the assault.
[Military balance] [Casualties]
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