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'The Interview' not to be screened here
Updated : 2014-11-28 18:59
By Jun Ji-hye
"The Interview," a U.S. comedy lampooning North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, will not be screened here any time soon, the government confirmed Friday.
A request must be made before an imported film is screened, a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism official told The Korea Times. "No such request has been made," she said, adding that she does not know if any distributor is planning to bring it to local screens.
The movie will be screened in 63 countries during the upcoming Christmas season, according to Voice of America (VOA), citing distributor Sony Pictures.
"The Interview," which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, will be screened in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 25 before hitting screens in European, Middle Eastern and African countries early next year, the VOA report said.
[Propaganda] [Mockery] [Assassination] [Kim Jong Un]
You say ‘lady,’ I say ‘slave:’ Korea’s linguistic divide
Nov 3, 2014
SEOUL – North and South Korea have never found dialogue easy, but academics from both sides currently meeting in Pyongyang are trying to steer things in the right direction by at least getting them to speak the same language.
A 25-year old effort to produce a unified Korean language dictionary is, its compilers say, entering the home stretch in its bid to bridge a growing gap in vocabulary, if not ideology.
Last week, a group of South Korean linguists and lexicographers involved in the dictionary project left for their first meeting in North Korea in five years.
“It’s important work,” said chief editor Han Young-un who believes a growing divergence in Korean usage risks becoming as big a barrier to eventual North-South unification as the heavily militarised border dividing the peninsula.
Speaking to reporters before he left for Pyongyang, Han said the problem was especially pronounced in the language used by professionals like doctors and lawyers.
“It’s so marked that architects from each side would probably have difficulty building a house together,” he added.
After the 1910-45 occupation of Korea — during which Korean was banned in schools and government — both sides of the newly divided peninsula put a priority on the Korean language and literacy.
But more than six decades of almost total separation have seen their common language split almost as radically as their economies and politics.
Some common words have polarized meanings, such as “agassi” which means “young lady” in South Korea, but “slave of feudal society” in the North.
Hastening the fall of the Korean Wall
By Jongsoo Lee
Nov 25, 2014
As Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Western press reexamined the process that culminated in this momentous event on Nov. 9, 1989. Lessons from this German experience have policy implications for the other Iron Curtain that still stands, dividing the Korean Peninsula. Although many factors contributed to the collapse of the Wall, the following seem to be particularly instructive for the present Korean standoff:
First, the fall of the Wall could not have taken place without far-reaching changes in the Soviet Union, the main sponsor of the East German regime and its security guarantor. A key aspect of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms was the Soviet leader’s policy of eschewing the use of force and respecting the popular will in the Soviet satellite countries. This respect for the fundamental human rights and free will of the people had pivotal consequences when thousands of East Germans sought to reach West Germany via Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland in the months leading up to Nov. 9, 1989. Not only did Gorbachev refuse to aid the East German regime in trying to stop this outflow of people, but he actually facilitated their transit into West Germany. This exodus undermined the credibility of the East German regime in the eyes of its people and emboldened East Germans to challenge their regime, leading to the dramatic mass breaching of the Wall.
This is a stark contrast to the present situation in China and Beijing’s policy toward North Korea. Beijing’s leaders seem most concerned with preserving their grip on power in China and preventing a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime
[Unification] [Germany] [Collapse] [Wishful thinking]
In final plea, left-wing party and government trade harsh words on possible disbandment
Posted on : Nov.26,2014 12:05 KST
Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn (far left) and Unified Progressive Party leader Lee Jung-hee (on the right) wait for the opening of a Nov. 25 trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul’s Jongno district on whether to disband the party. (by Lee Jeong-yong, staff photographer)
Unified Progressive Party fighting disbandment on grounds that it seeks North Korea-style socialist rule
“The Unified Progressive Party is a cancerous presence that threatens to collapse the Republic of Korea from within. We shouldn’t hesitate any longer in operating on it by disbanding the party.” - Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn
“The very act of presenting a difference of political opinion as ’hostile actions‘ is what undermines democracy.” - Unified Progressive Party leader Lee Jung-hee
The rhetoric remained harsh to the last. Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn and Unified Progressive Party (UPP) leader Lee Jung-hee both used very strong wording in the final arguments at a Nov. 25 trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul on whether to disband the party, with Hwang going so far as the describe the UPP as “cancerous.”
The arguments came ten months after an unprecedented exchange in a confrontation between the defendants and their accusers back in January. In the meantime, the pile of documents before the Constitutional Court judges has only grown. Case records stretching to some 170,000 A4 pages were heaped in front of the bench. As plaintiff, the Ministry of Justice submitted 2,907 documents; the defendant UPP submitted 908. Deposition records were also included for 18 witnesses and testifiers. Some 550 books were included among the heap.
Court upholds innocent ruling in anti-communist torture case
Posted on : Nov.26,2014 15:21 KST
Modified on : Nov.26,2014 15:42 KST
In 1976, man was beaten, sleep-deprived into false confession of communist activities
On Dec. 3, 1976, a man surnamed Yang (now 77 years old) on Jeju Island received a visit from two men who claimed to be employees from Jeju Provincial Office.
When the men told Yang that they needed some help preparing a report for President Park Chung-hee’s first inspection of Jeju Island, he went with them to help.
Their destination, Yang would soon discover, was not the Provincial Office, but rather the Jeju branch of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency’s (KCIA) anti-communist operations.
Yang was escorted into the basement, where public servants who had been so friendly until then suddenly showed their true colors. “Listen here, buddy, why didn’t you tell us that your brother is a member of Chongryon?” they asked brusquely. Chongryon, General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, is an organization of pro-North Korea ethnic Koreans in Japan.
Yang had been brought to the building without a warrant, and from that day forward he was subjected to beatings. He was transported to the basement of the KCIA’s headquarters on Namsan Mountain in Seoul, where the torture continued.
After telling Yang that he could not leave the room until he confessed, his interrogators stripped him down to his underwear and told him to write a confession. The light of the two massive lamps in the interrogation room was so bright that he could barely keep his eyes open.
[Park Chung-hee] [Repression] [Torture]
Man acquitted, 30 years later, for “subversive books” on capitalism and revolution
Posted on : Nov.26,2014 15:28 KST
A Korean translation of E.H Carr’s "What is History?"
In rare move, judge apologizes for failure to honor its duty as a protector of human rights
A man who served 30 months in prison for reading “subversive books” in the 1980s has been belatedly acquitted, three decades later.
Judge Byeon Min-seon of the Seoul Northern District Court’s fifth division rendered a not-guilty ruling on Nov. 25 in the retrial of a 53-year-old surnamed Kim who had his prison sentence for violating the National Security Law upheld by the Supreme Court in 1982.
Kim was a student at Kyung Hee University in June 1981, the year after the so-called “Seoul Spring,” when he was arrested without warrant for anti-government activities and aiding North Korea for joining the Democratic Students’ League (DSL), which had been classified as an anti-government organization.
S. Korea returns 10 N. Korean fishermen
South Korea on Wednesday returned 10 North Korean fishermen rescued from their boat drifting in the South's eastern waters, the unification ministry said.
The South handed over the vessel and the fishermen to the North at around 1:30 a.m. through the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea.
It had an engine glitch and was found near the uninhabited islets of Dokdo on Sunday night.
All of them expressed their desire to go back to the North, the ministry said.
Despite military tensions, the two Koreas have the practice of repatriating civilians who accidentally land in each other's territory in a humanitarian move. (Yonhap)
Parties locked over NK human rights bills
By Jun Ji-hye
Government subsidies for anti-North Korea activists have emerged as a bone of contention at the National Assembly as rival parties are competing to get their respective human rights bills related to North Korea passed.
The subsidies allegedly have been used to fund the campaign of releasing balloons containing leaflets criticizing the Pyongyang leadership that are blown across the border.
The ruling Saenuri Party said Monday it favored keeping the subsidies for civic groups as a tool against North Korea, while the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) argued that it will only anger the North.
[Human rights] [Softwar]
N.Korea Approves Visit from Former 1st Lady
Former first lady Lee Hee-ho, the widow of President Kim Dae-jung, has received the green light for a visit from North Korea.
She will stay at the Baekwhawon State Guest House and visit two daycare centers for children there.
Kim Sung-jae of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center said Friday that his delegation met with officials from North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles cross-border affairs, to lay the groundwork for her trip.
Kim said he told the North that Lee would like to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and that the two sides agreed to meet again to confirm the date of her visit.
Former president’s widow likely to visit North Korea soon
Posted on : Nov.22,2014 15:25 KST
Lee Hee-ho, widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, meets Kim Jong-un after a memorial ceremony for deceased former leader Kim Jong-il, in Pyongyang, Dec. 2011. (from Korean Central Television)
Lee Hee-ho visited North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-il, and has had a standing invitation since then to return
Lee Hee-ho, widow of late former President Kim Dae-jung will cross the military demarcation line on an overland journey to Pyongyang, North Korea.
There has been much speculation about whether Lee will meet Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, and North Korea seems to be hinting that this is possible. However, it is unclear whether Lee’s visit to North Korea will take place this year.
Kim Seong-jae, director of the Kim Dae-jung Academy (and former Culture Minister) met with reporters at the Dorasan immigration checkpoint in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 21. Kim was returning from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where he had met North Korean officials to discuss Lee’s visit to Pyongyang.
“In regard to how she will get to North Korea, we agreed on the overland route. For accommodations, we arranged for Lee to stay at the Baekhwawon State Guesthouse, where she also stayed on two previous visits,” Kim told reporters.
“North Korea also said that it would allow Lee to visit two preschools in Pyongyang,” he added.
2 Koreas Bolstering Troops, Weapons Along West Coast
North and South Korea have been bolstering troops and weapons along the western coast following the North's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010.
The South upgraded the firepower of artillery units along the west coast shortly after the provocation and is now focusing on drones and tactical airships to deploy in the tense region bordering North Korea.
A military source said Thursday, "We're in the process of procuring a mid- to high-altitude drone that is more advanced than the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft we currently possess." The source added a final decision will be made next month to choose one of two Israeli drones under consideration.
[Military balance] [NLL]
Former Unification Ministers unite to criticize Pres. Park’s policies
Posted on : Nov.21,2014 12:22 KST
Formal Ministers of Unification discuss policy during a Unification Talk Show at the office of Gukje Shinmun, as part of the Hankyoreh-Busan International Symposium, Nov. 19. From left to right, Pukyong National University Professor Lee Jeong-ho, Wonkwang University President Jeong Se-hyun, Korea Peace Forum co-chair Lee Jong-seok and Yonsei University Professor Moon Chung-in. (by Lee Jeong-yong, staff photographer)
Comments on ineffective unification policy made at the Hankyoreh-Busan International Symposium
Three Unification Ministers from the administrations of former South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun appeared together to roundly criticize the reunification policy of current president Park Geun-hye. The former ministers also underscored the necessity of moving quickly to establish peace on the Korean peninsula and of starting a process of reunification based on economic cooperation.
The three figures spoke at the Unification Talk Show, which was jointly organized by Korea Peace Forum and Autonomy 21. The event was held in the auditorium at the office of Gukje Shinmun in the Yeonje District of Busan on the evening of Nov. 19, with around 100 people in the audience, as part of the Hankyoreh-Busan International Symposium.
At the event, Jeong Se-hyun, President of Wonkwang University, who served as Unification Minister from 2002-2004, during the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, declared that the North Korean policy of the Park administration lacks methodology.
[Unification] [Park Geun-hye]
DPRK denounces Hoguk military drills in S.Korea again
PYONGYANG, Nov. 13 -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday again condemned South Korean authorities for conducting the largest ever "Hoguk" military drills that started Monday despite Pyongyang's effort to improve north-south relations.
"The Hoguk drills more bellicose than ever before are an intolerable mockery at all Koreans and the international community desirous of improved inter-Korean relations and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and an unpardonable grave provocation," the National Peace Committee of Korea said in a statement.
The committee also accused Seoul of firing bullets at DPRK's warship on routine patrol in hot-spot waters off the western coast and conniving at the drop of anti-DPRK leaflets, which drove the north-south relations to an extreme phase of confrontation.
The "Hoguk" annual drills, which are scheduled to run from Nov. 10 to Nov. 21 this year and are the largest ever, mobilize 330,000 troops. Last year, about 80,000 soldiers participated in the exercise.
The drills also involve about 23,000 mobile military equipment, 60 warships and numerous airplanes, according to South Korea's defense ministry.
The "Hoguk" drills replaced in 1996 the Team Spirit exercise between South Korea and the United States.
[Military exercises] [Hoguk]
N. Korea denounces South ahead of Yeonpyeong anniversary
State media lashes S. Korea for failing to learn from Yeonpyeong 'defeat'
November 21st, 2014
North Korea on Friday denounced South Korean military and government ahead of the anniversary of the Yeonpyeong bombardment, claiming stating that the South should learn the lesson of the fatal bombardment four years ago.
With the South Korean and United States militaries conducting their joint Hoguk exercises, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency criticized plans for the drills to end with a service commemorating the November 23, 2010 incident.
[Joint US Military] [Hoguk]
Cyber Command repeatedly interfered on behalf of ruling party
Posted on : Nov.20,2014 11:56 KST
Cyber Command director Cho Hyun-chun (second from the left) takes an oath during a parliamentary audit of the Ministry of National Defense, in Seoul’s Yongsan district, Oct. 8. Seated in the front is Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo. (by Lee Jeong-a, staff photographer)
Before every election, agents posted online comments in favor of Saenuri, and against the opposition
At every major election - the by-election on Oct. 26, 2011, the general election on Apr. 11, 2012, and the presidential election on Dec. 19, 2012 - the South Korean military’s Cyber Warfare Command has actively sided with the Saenuri Party (NFP), a document shows.
This is the first time that reports have confirmed the specific ways in which cyber command agents were interfering in politics, which included posting and sharing messages on Twitter and other social media.
According to the list of charges against Ok Do-kyung and Yeon Je-wook, former directors of the cyber command, that the Hankyoreh received from the office of Saenuri Party (NFP) lawmaker Jeon Hae-cheol on Nov. 19, the Cyber Command made a concerted effort during every major election.
[Cyber Command] [Election]
Government announces plan to build North Korean economy post-reunification
Posted on : Nov.19,2014 16:21 KST
Feasibility called into question, in part due to the wide disparity between South and North Korea’s levels of economic development
Rebuilding the North Korean economy after reunification is likely to cost around US$500 billion, but the government said that it can raise this money without increasing taxes, through state-funded financial organizations and investment from the private sector.
This is the argument that Shin Je-yoon, chair of the Financial Services Commission, is planning to make in a presentation titled “Unification of the Korean Peninsula and Financial Policy Challenges,” which he will deliver on Nov. 19 during a conference about unification and finance hosted by the Korea Finance Corporation (KoFC).
The Financial Services Commission estimates that it will cost around US$500 billion to raise the North Korean per capita GDP (gross domestic product) from its current level of US$1,251 to US$10,000 within two years.
US$140 billion will be needed to build up infrastructure inside North Korea, including railroads (US$77.3 billion), roads (US$37.4 billion), and power generation (US$10.4 billion), while US$35 billion will be spent on setting up industries, such as electricity and electronics (US$2 billion) and farming and fisheries (US$27 billion).
[Unification cost] [Takeover]
A North Korean Trio’s Quick Spurt down South
Alexander Vorontsov | 19.11.2014 | 00:00
The US and its allies have added systematic attacks on North Korea’s human-rights record to their traditional arsenal of tactics for exerting pressure on that country. These attacks have been launched before, but lately they have become more extensive than ever, and the «human-rights offensive» itself now looks like a carefully designed, long-term strategy. The first element in this strategy was the North Korean Human Rights Act passed by the US Congress - yet another example of American lawmakers interfering in the internal affairs of another state.
Then a certain Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, based in the US, published a its «Report on Human Rights in North Korea», which urges the UN Security Council to officially address this issue. It also recommends that the UN General Assembly pass a corresponding resolution, that a discussion of human rights in North Korea be brought before the European Parliament, and that the matter then be referred to the International Court of Human Rights in the Hague, in order to convince the international community that North Korea is an «evil regime with no place in the modern world», «a land of darkness, where there are no human rights,» and that correspondingly punitive measures should be taken.
[Human rights] [Softwar] [UNUS]
Former first lady gets approval to visit N. Korea
South Korea on Wednesday approved a trip to North Korea by aides to the wife of former president Kim Dae-jung this week aimed at discussing her possible visit there, the unification ministry said.
Lee Hee-ho, the widow of the late president, hopes to travel to the communist nation on a humanitarian mission. President Park Geun-hye responded positively to Lee's plan.
A group of Lee's aides is scheduled to meet with North Korean officials in Kaesong, the North's border town, on Friday.
"The government has approved their application for a visit to North Korea," the ministry's spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.
Five officials from the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center and the Friends of Love, a charity founded by Lee, plan to visit Kaesong, together with two drivers, according to Lim.
Bank Bonds Would Pay for Bulk of Reunification Costs
The government estimates that rebuilding the North Korean economy after reunification would cost US$500 billion. A new road map envisages establishing banks in North Korea and raising $250-300 billion by issuing bonds there.
This would mean that more than half could be raised without billing the taxpayer.
The blueprint was released by the Financial Services Commission on Tuesday. It estimates that $500 billion is needed to raise the North's per capita GDP from an estimated $1,251 in 2013 to $10,000 within 20 years. The plan is to rely heavily on state-run financial institutions, considering the limited government budget.
It envisages setting up subsidiaries of state-run financial institutions like Korea Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Industrial Bank of Korea in the North and investing $30 billion in them over 20 years in addition to the $300 billion from bonds.
The blueprint also includes private investment of $107.2-$186.5 billion from home and abroad for special economic zones or lucrative projects. Once the North Korean economy is developed, the commission expects that $330 billion can be collected in taxes over 20 years, of which $100 billion would be earmarked for reconstruction of the North.
The commission claimed this would minimize the government's financial burden.
[Unification] [Wishful thinking]
N. Korea remains beyond Park's reach
By Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye's sudden proposal for a trilateral summit with China and Japan is an apparent bid to restore Korea's frayed relations with the latter nation. This offer appears to have been designed to calm concerns over Korea's increasing diplomatic isolation amid the changing geopolitical landscape in Northeast Asia.
However, there has been no such "reconciliatory" mood in the troubled inter-Korean relations because President Park is sticking to a policy toward North Korea that mainly focuses on exerting pressure on the North, further pushing bilateral relations toward confrontational mode.
Analysts are advising the Park government to seek ways of being assertive about Pyongyang rather than just adopting a strong stance that may create an opportunity to use as leverage with the reclusive state.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
S. Korea to host meeting of conservative party leaders
Leaders of conservative parties from around the world will gather in Seoul this week to discuss ways to boost freedom and democracy, officials of South Korea's ruling party said Sunday.
The 2014 Party Leaders Meeting of the International Democrat Union (IDU) will kick off Wednesday for a three-day run, bringing together some 110 representatives from 40 counties, according to the officials of the Saenuri Party.
Under the theme of "Strengthening Freedom and Democracy -- Meeting New Challenges," the meeting will be focused on the future of conservative politics, development of the world economy and global peace, and promotion of exchanges and cooperation among conservative parties.
Participants include former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, and other high-profile politicians and government ministers, they said, adding German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron will skip the meeting for personal reasons.
Pyongyang condemns S. Korea's warning shots at MDL
North Korea on Saturday condemned South Korea for firing warning shots at its soldiers as they approached the military demarcation line (MDL), warning that such "provocations" will "lead to a great war of justice."
"Recently the South Korean puppet military...have gone extremely reckless in making provocations in the area of the military demarcation line," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported a statement from the Korean People's Army (KPA).
"If they continue the military provocation despite our warning, they will have to pay at the cost of their blood," it controlled, adding that "patrolling in the north's area of the MDL belongs to our legitimate right."
Korean Unification: A Fleeting Opportunity
Alexander Vorontsov | 13.11.2014 | 00:00
The governments of North and South Korea continue to repeat the mantra that they are committed to the idea of unifying their divided people. But as years go by, the tension between Seoul and Pyongyang continues, and there is no progress toward achieving that objective. According to public opinion polls, most South Koreans under the age of 40 are not interested in the unification of the peninsula. Although there is no public discussion, this critically important sector of the South Korean society is against any such plans.
Decades have passed since the country was partitioned. The number of families separated by the demilitarized zone (DMZ) has dwindled and emotions have cooled. Many young people in the South increasingly see North Korea as a foreign country.
Pragmatic calculations now enter the equation: «How much would we South Koreans have to pay for unification? How much would it decrease our standards of living? What if it led to war?»
The once-glowing example of Germany’s unification long ago dimmed in our memory. Experts were aghast after calculating what that merger ended up costing its citizens – it came with a high price tag, even for an economic powerhouse such as Germany.
After analyzing the German experience, a program aimed at building bridges with the North emerged in Seoul during the administrations of South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung (1998 – 2003) and Roh Moo-hyun (2003–2008). The premise was simple enough: we don’t need a war with North Korea, we don’t need that country’s collapse, and we don’t need immediate unification. So what do they need?! Reconciliation, gradual rapprochement, and economic cooperation, paving the way for a future union. These were the years of the «Sunshine Policy» and «reconciliation and cooperation». Two very significant summits between the Korean leaders were held in 2000 and 2007, and bilateral cooperation between the two countries finally blossomed.
But South Korea is a democracy, and after the 2008 elections, right-wing conservatives took office who believed the North to be on the verge of collapse. In an attempt to hasten that outcome, they expanded economic sanctions and increased military and political pressure, among other measures. They felt this would surely spell the end for Pyongyang. Naturally this forced meaningful negotiations, including the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, onto the back burner.
CPRK Secretariat Flails S. Korea's War Exercises
Pyongyang, November 12 (KCNA) -- The south Korean puppet regime kicked off an anti-DPRK war rehearsal, 2014 Hoguk, throughout south Korea on Monday in the plea of "annual exercises".
Taking part in the large-scale military rehearsal to be staged till November 21 are at least 330,000 troops, more than four times those involved in the past, and 23,000 pieces of mobile equipment, 60 warships and various kinds of aircraft. During the rehearsal they will conduct such military drills as "frontline corps' drill for carrying out operation plan", "drill for defending northwestern islands", "naval drill for infiltration into coast" and "combined landing drill". And they will reportedly stage several joint exercises with the U.S. imperialist aggression forces.
In this regard, the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea issued its information bulletin No. 1079 on Tuesday, which said the rehearsal is a preliminary war, nuclear test war for aggression on the DPRK in light of its scale and content.
However, the south Korean puppet warmongers assert that the rehearsal is "aimed to establish the strictest military posture against someone's provocation", the bulletin pointed out, saying:
[Military exercises] [SK NK policy]
Worldwide Campaign to Defend Democracy in South Korea
By Global Research News
Global Research, November 13, 2014
There are two legal proceedings currently underway that will determine the future of democracy in South Korea – the Constitutional Court trial on the Park Geun-hye government’s petition to dissolve the opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP); and the Supreme Court’s final review of the government’s case against UPP Representative Lee Seok-ki et al.
In the fall of 2013, the Park government arrested and charged Representative Lee Seok-ki (right) and six other defendants – all members of UPP – on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government and violating the controversial National Security Law.
Shortly thereafter, the government also filed a petition in the Constitutional Court to dissolve the UPP.
[Repression] [Lee Seok-ki] [UPP]
The state of North Korea’s military: Past, present and future
Five military specialists debate the strengths and weaknesses about North Korea's capabilities
November 13th, 2014
North Korea can’t win a war with the South – particularly in the U.S. is involved – but it has the ability to do significant damage if war takes place.
A panel of military experts surveyed by NK News pointed to new developments in the North’s missile-delivery systems, giving it the increased ability to strike targets inside the South much further away than Seoul. These strikes could hit U.S. military targets, inflict serious damage on the South’s military capabilities and – one expert said – might even render the South a third-world economy again.
That said, the North’s military capabilities are still lacking in several areas, most notably in their severely outdated air force, a military ranking system that does not reward merit and fuel shortages that would render the North incapable of waging a war beyond a few weeks.
It was for these reasons that experts surveyed said the North has not started a large-scale conflict.
[Military balance] [MISCOM]
The future of democracy in South Korea
There are two legal proceedings currently underway that will determine the future of democracy in South Korea - the Constitutional Court trial on the Park Geun-hye government's petition to dissolve the opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP); and the Supreme Court's final review of the government's case against UPP Representative Lee Seok-ki et al.
In the fall of 2013, the Park government arrested and charged Representative Lee Seok-ki and six other defendants - all members of UPP - on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government and violating the controversial National Security Law.
Shortly thereafter, the government also filed a petition in the Constitutional Court to dissolve the UPP.
[Lee Seok-ki] [Repression] [UPP]
North Korea criticizes South Korea’s planned unification charter
State media calls charter mockery and insult toward the Korean people
November 13th, 2014
North Korean state media today has again attacked South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s plans to establish a “unification charter,” arguing that it is guise for “unification by absorption.”
The charter was first proposed at the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation in August. Park argues it will serve as a basis for the constitution of a united Korea and plans to declare it next year, the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
DPRK slams Seoul's ongoing military exercise
Xinhua, November 12, 2014
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday slammed South Korea's ongoing military exercise, codenamed "Hoguk," saying the drill is in fact a "preliminary war."
"The rehearsal is a nuclear test war for aggression on the DPRK in light of its scale and content," the secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement.
The statement blamed Seoul for staging the largest-scale war exercise targeting the DPRK while seeking dialogue with it at the same time.
It added that the South Korean authorities just used dialogue as a "camouflage" for their intention to escalate confrontation and step up military moves.
The annual drill, which runs on Nov. 10-21 this year and is the largest ever, mobilizes 330,000 troops. Last year, about 80,000 soldiers participated in the exercise.
The drill also involves about 23,000 mobile military equipment, 60 warships and numerous airplanes, according to South Korea's defense ministry.
The Hoguk drill replaced in 1996 the Team Spirit exercise between South Korea and the United States.
[Military exercises] [SK NK policy] [Park Geun-hye]
Former 1st Lady Prepares for N.Korea Visit
Lee Hee-ho /News 1 Lee Hee-ho /News 1
Former first lady Lee Hee-ho, the widow of President Kim Dae-jung, is getting ready to visit North Korea.
A Unification Ministry official on Thursday said Lee has requested government approval to communicate with North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.
The Kim Dae-jung Peace Center in Seoul said it wants to contact the committee, which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs, to arrange the visit.
The government will permit the visit unless unexpected things happen since the former first lady already discussed the matter with President Park Geun-hye during a meeting last week.
Lee wants to visit the North to distribute woolen hats and mufflers for children there.
Lee is likely to visit the North around the time of the third anniversary on Dec. 17 of Kim Jong-il’s death and may meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Wheels in motion for former president’s widow to visit North Korea
Posted on : Nov.7,2014 16:58 KST
Modified on : Nov.7,2014 16:58 KST
Lee Hee-ho, widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, meets with President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House on Oct. 28, seeking permission to travel to North Korea to provide assistance to North Korean infants and breastfeeding mothers. (Blue House photo pool)
Wife of deceased former President Kim Dae-Jung hoping to help public health of mothers and infants in North Korea
Procedures are under way for an upcoming North Korea visit by the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung.
A Ministry of Unification official said on Nov. 6 that the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center submitted a notice of “contact with North Koreans” the previous morning for the upcoming visit by Lee Hee-ho, Kim’s widow.
“The notice met the conditions, and we accepted it,” the official said.
The filing of a notice of contact is a preliminary step in the official request for a North Korea visit, which the center plans to submit once the schedule, location, and visiting party size are finalized through further contact with North Korea. South Koreans need Ministry of Unification permission for any contact with North Korea in advance, and must report any contact that takes place by happenstance.
South Korea and the Politics of Patience
In the "fast-fast" political culture of South Korea, some leaders are patiently—and effectively—making strides for democracy, clean energy, and maybe even peace.
By John Feffer, November 5, 2014.
Seouls’ Pimatgol, an ancient thoroughfare once used by commoners to avoid having to bow to aristocrats on the main boulevard. (Photo: riNux / Flickr)
Horse Avoiding Alley is almost gone.
For more than half a millennium, this narrow alleyway in the heart of Seoul stretched for several kilometers parallel to and just half block north of the major thoroughfare of Jongno Street. Its name, Pimatgol in Korean, refers to the route that commoners took to avoid constantly bowing to the aristocrats on horses on the main boulevard. When I first visited Seoul in the late 1990s, it was truly breathtaking to walk through the hypermodern city and then duck, suddenly, into this Chosun-era back alley of pungent restaurants and teashops.
Today, only a tiny stretch of Pimatgol remains, along with a commemorative placard and a wooden gate that leads into a half-block of modern storefronts.
The fate of Pimatgol reflects the forward-looking trajectory of South Korea. It is constantly leapfrogging over itself, with barely a backward glance, in an effort to keep pace with early adopter Japan and latecomer China. This is a country not of narrow back alleys but of global firsts: cellphones with the first curved touchscreen, the world’s largest rooftop solar power plant, the world’s biggest tidal power plant, and what will likely be the first 5G wireless system.
Fishing for Peace in Korea
A cooperative approach to the environmental damage done by overfishing could change the tenor of North-South relations in Korea.
By Michal Witkowski and John Feffer, November 5, 2014.
Environmental problems, by their nature, don’t respect borders. Air and sea pollution often affect countries that had nothing to do with their production. Many extreme weather events, like typhoons, strike more than one country. Climate change affects everyone.
These environmental problems can aggravate existing conflicts among countries. But they can also bring countries together in joint efforts to find solutions. A case in point is the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in Korea.
The NLL is the oft-disputed border between North and South Korea in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of the peninsula. Although the two countries agreed to a territorial boundary at the 38th parallel following the Korean War armistice, they have never agreed on the maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea, which threads between a number of islands and through rich fishing grounds. Over the years, North and South Korea have exchanged artillery fire across the NLL, and naval vessels as well as fishing boats have clashed in the area on a number of occasions.
Various environmental challenges have only sharpened the conflict. But with a new imperative to address these environmental problems, the NLL can offer the two Koreas an opportunity to chart a new relationship for the 21st century.
The Two Koreas: So Near, So Far
By Aidan Foster-Carter
30 September 2014
There are times when nothing much can happen between the Koreas. This is not one of them.
Since I last wrote here about South-North relations a month ago, there have been several fresh developments. While no one denies that North Korea’s belligerent unpredictability is the main problem, the feeling is spreading that South Korea is not doing as much as it could, or should, to break the current stalemate. Calls are increasingly heard, in Seoul and beyond, for a rethink and reset in inter-Korean relations. Such voices are growing in number and weight.
In a rare display of bipartisanship, on September 21 two lawmakers of the ROK’s liberal main opposition party, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), reached out to President Park Geun-hye’s conservative ruling Saenuri party. Shim Jae-kwon and Kim Sunggon want a joint push to repeal the sanctions on the North which Seoul imposed in 2010 after the sinking of the corvette Cheonan (46 died; Pyongyang still denies responsibility) in March of that year. Called the ‘May 24 measures’ after the date of their promulgation, these sanctions ban all Southern trade with or investment in North Korea—with one massive exception: the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), now the last remaining functional North-South joint venture (JV).
Four years on, Shim and Kim argue, these sanctions have failed to achieve their goal—which was to make Pyongyang ‘fess up. Instead, they have themselves become an obstacle to better North-South ties. Conversely, ending them “would be the starting point for normalizing inter-Korean relations and would contribute to the joint prosperity of all Northeast Asian nations.”
Granted, such views from the political left of center aren’t so surprising. In 2012’s presidential election the liberal candidate Moon Jae-in, far from endorsing sanctions, actually called for an economic union with North Korea. Forty-eight percent of voters supported Moon, but Park narrowly won with 51.5 percent.
[NK SK relations]
South Korea stonewalls on the Sewol
By J J Suh
The Sewol, a South Korean passenger-cargo ferry that was carrying 476 people - including a group of high school students on a field trip to Jeju Island - capsized on April 16, 2014, and sank to the bottom of the sea off Korea's southern coast.
The Korean Coast Guard rescued most of the crew, including the captain, and some of the passengers. Before the Coast Guard or the Navy arrived on the scene, fishing boats and commercial vessels saved other passengers who happened to be on the deck or escaped soon after the capsizing. The rest were, unfortunately, trapped inside and sank together with the ferry. 294 were later found dead, and 10 are still "missing" almost five months after their disappearance.
The ship's sinking may seem an unfortunate accident, and the passengers' deaths its tragic ending. Once the surface is scratched, however, a more complicated picture emerges.
The Sewol sank under the weight of the neoliberal state that diminished its role in safety regulation and oversight. Its passengers drowned to death because the state relegated the rescue operation to a private salvage firm and prioritized its own interests over those of the passengers. But when victims' families demanded the truth, the strong state reared its menacing head by deploying its force to silence them and mobilizing its resources to hide its responsibility.
The Korean state's deregulation and dereliction combined to create the perfect storm that sent the Sewol and its passengers to the bottom of the sea. The state's intimidation has suggested that a cover-up is under way to obscure the state's responsibility, contrary to President Park Geun-hye's public promise to get to the bottom of the accident.
[Sewol] [Neoliberalism] [Deregulation]
Police again stand by as a million of propaganda leaflets launched into North Korea
Posted on : Nov.1,2014 14:49 KST
Conservative and North Korean refugees groups launch balloons filled with CDs and leaflets toward North Korea from Baeknyeong Island, near the waters where the Cheonan warship sank, Sept. 20. (Yonhap News)
Latest launch went ahead without being publicized, and police only sought to protect safety of those involved
The head of the organization of North Korean refugees whose launch of balloons filled with propaganda leaflets instigated retaliatory fire from the North Korean military sent more balloons into North Korea from Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, early in the morning of Oct. 31. The police found out about the unannounced launch before it happened and dispatched officers to the scene, but they just stood by and watched.
“After arriving at the site where I was going to launch the balloons around 10 pm on Oct. 30, I finished the preparations and released them without publicizing between 12:30 and 2:30 in the morning on Oct. 31. I launched a total of 33 balloons containing around a million leaflets,” Lee Min-bok, the person in charge of propaganda balloons for the Campaign for Helping North Korean in a Direct Way, told the Hankyoreh in a phone interview.
The site of the launch - a road in Goseong Village, Changsu Township, Pocheon County - was about 20km from the edge of the DMZ.
[Propaganda] [Subversion] [SK NK policy]
Anti-North Korea leaflets contain what could be illegal messages
Posted on : Oct.31,2014 17:41 KST
The packages South Korean conservative groups launch by balloon to North Korea, containing propaganda leaflets and US$1 bills.
Leaflets contain defamation and falsehoods about former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun
Propaganda leaflets have turned into the single biggest issue in inter-Korean relations. In addition to raising doubts about the prospects of a planned second round of high-level talks, they have also sparked a war of words between authorities in the North, who insist the balloon launches must be stopped before any dialogue, and those in the South, who defend what they are calling the “freedom of expression” of the groups launching them.
Most of the leaflets being sent by North Korean refugee groups include messages that compare North and South Korea and list the superior virtues of the South Korean system. Typically, they paint a picture of a free and abundant South, contrasted against an exaggerated portrayal of the dictatorial and oppressive rule and immorality of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his family.
Now, in a discovery that is expected to further fan the controversy, it has been learned that some of the leaflets also contain messages that could be considered in violation of South Korean law. The content goes beyond “freedom expression” to include defamation and falsehoods, including charges that late former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was a “fraudster.”
[Roh Moo-hyun] [Propaganda] [Subversion]
Shinn: South Korea must work toward unification
Professor feels Park wants to actually unite the two Koreas, rather than peacefully co-exist
October 29th, 2014
South Korean discourse on unification gained new energy earlier this year when President Park Geun-hye called unification a “jackpot” (daebak).
While unification has never been far from the hearts of many older South Koreans, polls in recent years have shown disinterest and even outright opposition to it among the younger generation. In particular, the young cite concern that Korean unification could be an economic nightmare for the peninsula.
Enter Chungang University Professor Emeritus Shinn Chang-min. His book, Unification is a Bonanza in Korean (the English version is called The Road to One Korea: Prosperity in Peace) was released in 2012 and, some argue, was a major influence on Park’s remark. While Shinn is modest about the influence of his book on official South Korean unification policy, he argues that his book lays out a well thought-out roadmap for how the two Koreas could become one again.
Propaganda Tower Demolition Exposes Weak Links in Security
Marines guarding a hill along the inter-Korean border pulled down a giant steel Christmas tree earlier this month that served as a propaganda symbol for the South for 43 years. The Defense Ministry did not inform the press and only admitted it had been dismantled after the media belatedly reported it.
A military spokesman said the heavy steel structure was pulled down due to safety concerns after it was found that the nuts, bolts and other parts had rusted. The public did not pay much attention.
Still, the prevailing view was that the government pulled down the structure just ahead of high-level inter-Korean negotiations, and some accused the government of bending over backward even though there had been no request in all the non-stop rhetoric from the North to dismantle the structure.
A closer look at the situation reveals a different story. After media reported on Oct. 22 that the Christmas tree had been pulled down, President Park Geun-hye asked officials why it was dismantled and whose decision it had been. In other words, she had been left in the dark.
The 18-m tower was built in 1971
Korea Deploys Home-Grown FA-50 Fighter Jets
Korea has deployed its first home-grown light fighter aircraft warfare-ready for the first time.
The Air Force held a deployment ceremony for the FA-50s at an air base in Wonju, Gangwon Province Thursday attended by President Park Geun-hye, government officials and military leaders.
The FA-50 is a remodeled version of the home-grown T-50 supersonic trainer and can carry up to 4.5 tons of weaponry including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and precision-guided munitions.
Park gave a short speech and pushed the button for the sortie of FA-50 fighter aircraft, watching two of the fighter jets demonstrate their operational capabilities.
President Park Geun-hye (front) poses for a photo at an air base in Wonju, Gangwon Province on Thursday. /Newsis President Park Geun-hye (front) poses for a photo at an air base in Wonju, Gangwon Province on Thursday. /Newsis
After the jets were completed in August last year, they were given their own Air Force wing consisting of 20 of them. It became operational last month.
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