ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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With reunion cancellation, Seoul rejects tourism talks
Shin Yang-soo, vice president of an association of businesses at Mount Kumgang resort, is disappointed by the cancellation of reunions and the breakdown of negotiations on resuming tours to Mount Kumgang. [NEWSIS]
Disappointed by North Korea’s canceling of this week’s reunions of war-separated families, South Korea warned that there would be no negotiations on resuming business at the jointly-run Mount Kumgang resort.
North Korea continued to condemn South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s “confrontational policies” yesterday, which it claimed would bring “crisis” to inter-Korean relations. It was the third consecutive day of complaints following its unilateral scrapping on Saturday of the reunions, which were scheduled to start on Wednesday for six days.
The outcome of N. Korea canceling family reunions
Posted on : Sep.23,2013 16:01 KST
Experts interviewed by the Hankyoreh says Pyongyang wants to have the lead in inter-Korean relations
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer and Ha Eo-young, staff reporter
With North Korea’s unexpected and unilateral on Sept. 21 decision to indefinitely delay the scheduled reunions of families divided by the Korean War, inter-Korean relations are rapidly growing chillier. The South Korean government criticized the delay as “inhumane,” while Pyongyang responded that South Korea was responsible.
The Hankyoreh contacted some experts on diplomatic and security affairs to hear why inter-Korean relations - which had appeared to be thawing - suddenly got worse; what can be done to resolve the latest setback; and what the prospects are for the six-party talks, which are still stuck in limbo.
¦ Why did North Korea delay the reunions?
The experts agreed that the delay was North Korea’s strategic response to the South’s passive attitude toward resuming tours to Mt. Keumgang and that it was an attempt to take back the lead in inter-Korean relations.
NK criticizes Park's principle
By Jun Ji-hye
North Korea blamed President Park Geun-hye’s firm principles in dealing with inter-Korean affairs, Monday, for its suspension of reunions between separated families and the recent deterioration in South-North relations.
The Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said, “Park has clung to anti-unification attitudes that blocked improvement of inter-Korean relations, and incited confrontation between the two Koreas.”
South Korea Goes All In On Missile Defense
By Zachary Keck
July 26, 2013
South Korea’s Defense of Ministry submitted a budget to Parliament on Wednesday asking for 214.5 trillion won (US$192.6 billion) for the fiscal years between 2014 and 2018, Yonhap News Agency reported.
That breaks down to a yearly average of US$38.52 billion; according to Yonhap, South Korea spent US$29 billion on defense last year, although the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) put the figure at US$31.7 billion. Parliament has approved around 34.5 trillion won (US$31.05 billion) for FY 2013.
The budget proposal submitted on Thursday focuses heavily on beefing up South Korea’s missile defense, with such capabilities accounting 13.7 percent of the entire budget request. This in essence proposes funding the improved missile defense capabilities the Republic of Korea (ROK) has announced in rapid succession since North Korea’s latest missile and nuclear tests in December 2012 and February of this year.
[Missile defense] [Military expenditure]
Political Firestorm in South Korea
by GREGORY ELICH
Actions by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) have generated a political furor that is growing by the day, pitting the ruling New Frontier Party against the main opposition Democratic Party and threatening the existence of the Unified Progressive Party.
The NIS intervened in the election of December 2012 in an endeavor to bring victory to conservative candidates. NIS director Won Sei-hoon ordered the agency’s psychological warfare division to launch a campaign to discredit liberal and left political candidates. Agents were instructed to each create three or four posts on the internet per day, praising the ruling party and attacking the opposition. Three teams were tasked to carry out this mission, and one team alone generated an average of 1,200 to 1,600 posts per month. Won was motivated by a paranoid McCarthyist frame of mind, and he was heard to say, “If there is a person or a force which condemns the government and the ruling party, they are no different from North Korea even if they are our citizens.”
Work Starts Again at Kaesong Complex
Work resumed on Monday in the factories of the Kaesong Industrial Complex for the first time since North Korea closed the border to South Korean workers and goods 166 days ago.
A government official here said more than 70 percent of the 123 South Korean factories there either held trial runs or resumed full-fledged production. According to the Unification Ministry, 739 South Korean workers headed to the industrial park Monday morning, while 450 of them will stay there.
Man Killed Trying to Defect to N.Korea
A man in his 40s was shot and killed by South Korean border guards while attempting cross the border into North Korea on Monday.
The guards spotted the man trying to swim across the Tanpocheon Stream, a tributary to the river, near the demilitarized zone in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. They shouted warnings and then shot and killed him when he didn not stop.
Ex-Premier Gets 2 Years in Jail
The Seoul High Court on Monday sentenced former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to two years in prison for receiving W900 million in illegal campaign funds from a businessman (US$1=W1,082).
The verdict overturns an acquittal at first instance and comes on top of a fine of W883 million.
Operations resume at Kaesong Industrial Complex after 166 days
Posted on : Sep.17,2013 16:15 KST
After a 166 day shutdown, North Korean workers get back to work at a factory in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Sept. 16. (provided by the Ministry of Unification)
Companies gradually restarting production after being idle since April shutdown
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer
South and North Korean workers arrived at the Kaesong Industrial Complex on Sept. 16, marking its first day of operation since it was shut down 166 days ago in April.
A total of 821 South Korean workers arrived, with around 400 of them staying overnight at the complex to speed along the preparations to restart the factories.
But it was already too late for textile and sewing factories to fill their fall orders, and without orders for the winter, the rate of operation is expected to be low for the time being. As of Sept. 16, 50-60% of the company’s 123 tenant companies had started again.
NK, opposition to test Park's political acumen
By Kim Tae-gyu
Fresh from the end of the long Chuseok holiday, President Park Geun-hye faces two very difficult tasks ? persuading the opposition to return to the National Assembly and resetting a policy on an unpredictable North Korea.
How to deal with them may determine the success of Park’s presidency in its early stages.
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has vowed to keep up with its outdoor protests that started early last month to call for a thorough investigation into alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election by the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
Could a group of progressive party members really have overthrown the government?
Posted on : Aug.30,2013 11:16 KST
Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki purses his lips as he listens to questions from reporters about the charges brought against him by the National Intelligence Service, at the National Assembly in Seoul, Aug. 29. (Newsis)
Charges against Lee Seok-ki and UPP members will only stick if evidence exists of a detailed and credible plan to carry out insurrection
By Kim Jung-pil and Lee Jeong-yeon, staff reporters
Until the National Intelligence Service (NIS) cited “conspiracy to overthrow the government” on its search warrant for Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, the charge had been a “dead letter” charge that had not been used in years. “It was seen as something out of the Yushin era [the government of President Park Chung-hee during the 1970s], and there were just a few lines about it in the criminal law textbook,” said a source with prosecutors, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Now that the NIS has trotted out the troubling charges, attention is turning to how much evidence it uncovered to support the charges of plotting an insurrection and whether the charges can actually be applied.
¦ A serious plan and the ability to pull it off?
According to accounts on Aug. 29 from prosecutors, the NIS, and politicians, Lee, 51, is being charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government by forming an underground organization. The NIS search warrant gave the initials of an organization called “RO,” or a so-called “mountaineering group.” The claim is that around 130 people gathered at a religious building in Seoul’s Hapjeong neighborhood last May to plot an overthrow of the system by destroying oil and communications infrastructure. The people in question are also said to have sung North Korean revolutionary songs such as “Song of the Red Flag.” The NIS is charging them with conspiracy to carry out an insurrection according to the Criminal Act, and praising and inciting the enemy according to the National Security Law.
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