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Expanding the ROKN’s ASW capabilities to deal with North Korean SLBMs
By Sukjoon Yoon
May 28, 2015
North Korea's claimed development of Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) shows that Pyongyang has decided to meet the resolve of Seoul and Washington by doubling down. The claim is not implausible, considering its technological abilities with submarines and missiles: a midget submarine sank a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) corvette, the Cheonan, in 2010, and per North Korea’s own admission, progress has been made with warhead miniaturization.
The Song of Kwangju (Two Marriages and an Anthem)
A Revolutionary Love Story
by K.J. NOH
Marriage of True Minds
In 1982, a modest wedding ceremony was held outdoors. A small crowd of witnesses, friends, and well wishers were gathered, but neither the bride nor the groom were present. The ceremony went ahead anyway, and after the rituals, the following song was quietly sung:
Without love, without fame, without even a name,
Our whole life, we vow to walk together
Time flows on
Only a banner waves
Until a new day dawns
We will not falter
Time flows on
Only the mountains and rivers know
Until a new day dawns
We will not falter
Let’s wake up
Shout with passionate voices,
I’ll go ahead, and you, the living follow!
I’ll go ahead, and you, the living follow!
This was the “soul release-betrothal of light” ceremony of Park Ki-Soon, and Yun Sang Won, held at the Mangwol-dong Cemetery in Kwangju, South Korea, in the cold gray of February 20th, 1982. In the Korean tradition, when two people’s fates are conjoined, even death cannot prevent their coming together. If they die under unjust circumstances, their spirits wander, but cannot pass into the afterlife until the marriage is consummated. Under these circumstances, a shaman is charged to call forth their spirits, and a “soul marriage” ceremony is conducted to unite their souls. “We dedicate this song to the bride and groom, neither of whom can be seen here, at this most beautiful and somber wedding.” said the officiant. The wedding gifts, silk clothes and an embroidered quilt for the couple, were then solemnly burned. The song had been composed especially for their marriage.
Seoul, Pyongyang Reach Deal on Kaesong Wages
North and South Korea agreed Friday to maintain the current wages of North Korean workers in the Kaesong Industrial Complex for the time being.
The Unification Ministry here said North Korea accepted South Korea's call to keep wages at the current level until officials from both sides reach a separate agreement on the issue.
The wage row began when the North revised labor regulations in November of last year without consulting South Korea and notified the South in late February that it wants to raise the minimum wage at the Kaesong complex by 5.18 percent to US$74 a month.
[Editorial] Need to find inter-Korean peace among mixed signals
Posted on : May.25,2015 16:14 KST
Modified on : May.25,2015 16:14 KST
22 trucks carrying fertilizer and agricultural materials move north toward the Unification Bridge in Paju Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. The materials are being donated by the Ace Gyeongam Foundation to farmers in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province in North Korea. The shipment was the first approved fertilizer aid in the five years since the enactment of the May 24 Measures. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
North Korea is sending mixed signals. Since May, Pyongyang has made a number of unexpected moves that have ratcheted up confrontation with Seoul and increased its international isolation. These moves have included North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s abrupt cancelation of plans to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in World War II, news reports about an launch test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), rumors about the purging of Minister of the People's Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol, more strident criticism and bashing of South Korea by various kinds of North Korean organizations and media, including the National Defense Committee and the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, and the sudden cancellation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s permission to visit to the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
There is also widespread pessimism among experts on inter-Korean relations about the chances for improving inter-Korean relations in the short term. These experts suspect that internal politics in North Korea have forced the government to take a harder line on its policy toward South Korea and the outside world.
[SK NK relations] [Blame] [Liberal]
On fifth anniversary, South and North still quarrelling over May 24 Measures
Posted on : May.25,2015 16:20 KST
Modified on : May.25,2015 16:20 KST
Seoul saying dialogue must come before sanctions can be ended; Pyongyang calling for immediate lifting
North and South Korean government remained locked in a tense standoff over the May 24 Measures on their fifth anniversary Sunday.
While Seoul called for dialogue between governments, Pyongyang first demanded the lifting of the sanctions, which were imposed after the ROKS Cheonan warship sinking in 2010.
In a statement released on May 24, the South Korea Minister of Unification said it had “repeatedly expressed that if North Korea agrees to our proposal for dialogue between South and North, we will discuss various issues, including the May 24 Measures, and attempt to establish common ground.”
“Part of this process will include eliciting responsible measures from North Korea,” it added.
The ministry also said it had “not changed in our position that lifting the May 24 measures will require responsible steps from North Korea that the South Korean public can accept on the torpedo sinking of the ROKS Cheonan.”
It went on to say it would continue pursuing inter-Korean exchange and cooperation while the measures remain in place.
“We intend to actively support the many forms of cultural, historical, and athletic exchange currently being pursued at the civilian level for this year’s 70th anniversary of Korean independence and division,” it added.
Pyongyang demanded an unconditional lifting of the May 24 Measures before any dialogue between governments.
In lawsuit to prove her innocence, former teacher seeking less than one penny from government
Posted on : May.25,2015 16:12 KST
Modified on : May.25,2015 16:12 KST
Social activist and Oriental medicine doctor Go-eun Gwang-soon. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
Case is related to illegal and repressive government actions under former military dictator Park Chung-hee
After losing an appeal in a lawsuit asking the government to pay damages for convicting her of violating Emergency Measure No. 9, feminist Go-eun Gwang-soon, 60, appealed to the Supreme Court, lowering the amount of money she is requesting to 1 won (the smallest unit of Korean currency, less than one cent).
With courts moving backward in their rulings on paying damages for past government actions, Go-eun wants to force the Supreme Court to rule that the investigations carried out and judgments made according to the emergency measures were illegal.
No clear consensus on future of NK sanctions
By Jun Ji-hye
There appears to be no consensus on whether to lift the May 24 measures the government slapped on North Korea after its torpedo attack on the Navy's frigate Cheonan in the West Sea five years ago.
Supporters of lifting the sanctions claim that it is time to move on from the tragedy which killed 46 sailors, saying the measures have had no effect on the North.
The biggest advocate of the status quo is the government.
"The government's position has not changed that the North should take responsible actions regarding the Cheonan incident before lifting the measures," the Ministry of Unification said in a statement, Sunday. "Despite maintaining the sanctions, the government will constantly push for exchange and cooperation between the two sides."
The stance coincides with a broader North Korea policy by the current administration that is based on a looser version of reciprocity, bequeathed from the previous Lee Myung-bak government.
Ahn Chan-il, the head of the World North Korea Research Center, backed the government's position.
"The strained inter-Korean relations are due to the North's assertion that it was not responsible for the Cheonan incident," he told reporters. "The North needs to first resolve the problems that it created by simply admitting its fault. Then, the sanctions will be terminated."
However, some experts have called for immediate action.
Roh son's speech creates stir
Roh Kun-ho, the only son of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, speaks on behalf of his family during the memorial service to mark the senior Roh's death at Bongha Village in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, Saturday. / Yonhap
NPAD stiff suffering fractional feud
The son of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, harshly criticized the Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung at a memorial service for his father, Saturday.
However, political analysts believe Roh Kun-ho's speech may hurt the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) Chairman Moon Jae-in's leadership, and boost Kim's profile as a presidential candidate.
Roh committed suicide in 2009 by jumping off a cliff near his retirement home in Bongha Village in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province.
"I would like to express my special appreciation to a guest who has attended the event," the junior said during the memorial event in the village.
The Saenuri leader was the first ruling party chairman who has participated in such a service.
"He read part of a transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit (between Roh and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il), criticizing President Roh for giving up the Northern Limit Line (NLL)," Roh added.
[Roh Moo-hyun] [NLL]
N.Korea's Behavior Gets Increasingly Alarming
North Korea on Wednesday abruptly withdrew permission for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit the inter-Korean Kaeseong Industrial Complex. "No explanation was give for this last-minute change," Ban said. "Pyongyang's decision is deeply regrettable."
Ban is the chief of the world's top international body. He may be a former South Korean foreign minister, but he should be regarded as a messenger of peace transcending borders and nationalities. North Korea's abrupt cancellation is a major diplomatic discourtesy that no other country could imagine committing.
Geologists Calculate Effect of Mt. Baekdu Eruption
An eruption of Mt. Baekdu on the border between North Korea and China could cause up to W11.2 trillion in damage to South Korea, geologists speculate (US$1=W1,094).
The scientists from Pusan National University studied the potential damage from a powerful volcanic eruption followed by a northeasterly wind that sends volcanic dust across South Korea.
The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, supposes that volcanic ash would fall on Gangwon Province eight hours after an eruption and cover the entire nation within 48 hours.
The entire nation would suffer W4.5 trillion worth of crop damage, and all airports except Jeju would have to be closed for up to 39 hours, leading to property damage of up to W61.1 billion.
Possible earthquakes triggered by the eruption would crack walls in buildings over 10 stories even 500 km away in Seoul, causing more than W13 billion worth of property damage in the capital. The total damage was estimated at W11.2 trillion.
Mt. Baekdu erupted in 1373, 1597, 1702, 1898, 1903 and 1925, suggesting that another eruption may be on the cards fairly soon, with the temperature of the underground hot springs rising steadily to 83 degrees Celsius since July last year and helium concentration increasing sevenfold compared to ordinary levels.
Yoo Sung-ho, a geologist at Pusan National University said, "The aim of the study was to ensure proper safety measures are prepared."
Korean Air 'nut rage' woman freed from jail
South Korean high court reduces and immediately suspends prison term of Cho Hyun-ah, whose tirade about snacks turned airliner back from runway
Associated Press in Seoul
Friday 22 May 2015 07.14 BST Last modified on Friday 22 May 2015 07.18 BST
A South Korean court has released from jail the former Korean Air executive whose onboard “nut rage” tantrum delayed a flight in 2014.
Cho Hyun-ah, who is the daughter of the airline’s chairman, did not violate aviation security law when she ordered the chief flight attendant off a 5 December flight, forcing it to return to the gate at John F Kennedy Airport in New York, according to the Seoul high court, which on Thursday immediately suspended her prison term.
S. Korean Puppet Forces Slammed for Abusing Humanitarian Issue for Their Sinister Political Purpose
Pyongyang, May 21 (KCNA) -- Park Geun Hye in a "congratulatory speech" on May 19 urged the DPRK to "resume the reunion of divided families", talking about "pain of divided family members at advanced ages" and "government-level efforts". Earlier, she brought together riff-raffs of delegations of "people of provinces in the north" at which she talked rubbish that the above-said reunion has not taken place due to the north, claiming that "the north is refusing even the proposal for dialogue" though the divided families are suffering bitter pain.
The south Korean puppet forces are letting the "10 million divided families committee" and other human scum organizations and conservative media mislead public opinion at home and abroad, asserting that the north is to blame for the failure to hold the reunion of divided families and their relatives.
They are claiming that they would try to do something to substantially settle the issue of reunion but have blocked the way of all contacts and visits between the north and the south. Yet, they are calling for "responsible steps" on the part of someone in a bid to stir up the atmosphere of confrontation.
A spokesman for the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society in a statement on Wednesday termed it shameless sophism of those who derailed the reunion of divided families and an unpardonable politically-motivated provocation against the DPRK.
The south Korean belligerent forces are talking about "pain of divided families" and "their sufferings" while staging the north-targeted nuclear war drills strongly denounced and rejected at home and abroad. This is the height of hypocrisy and brazen-faced red herring, the statement said, and noted:
A flurry of rhetoric let loose by the Park Geun Hye group is nothing but a cynic ploy to paint itself as "humanitarians" in a bid to evade the blame for having driven the inter-Korean relations into a catastrophe and mislead public opinion at home and abroad and thus tide over the serious crisis of the regime.
The Park group is behaving so disgustingly as to vociferate about Natural Law and "pain" while incriminating the meeting of fellow countrymen. It is little short of rubbing salt into the wounds of the divided families and their relatives once again.
With no rhetoric can the puppet group evade the blame for having derailed the above-said reunion.
[News analysis] With Ban Ki-moon’s visit called off, inter-Korean relations still stalled
Posted on : May.21,2015 17:28 KST
Modified on : May.21,2015 17:28 KST
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the UN Global Compact at the Conrad Hotel in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood, May 19. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
Ban’s critical comments about N. Korea, and UN affiliation, may be why Pyongyang abruptly revoked his invitation
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been under constant pressure to play a significant role in improving inter-Korean relations before completing his term at the end of next year. After North Korea abruptly revoked permission for Ban’s visit to the Kaesong Industrial Complex on May 20, the day before he was supposed to arrive, it appears likely that inter-Korean relations will remain will remain in their current poor state for some time to come.
Pyongyang: protesting nuclear weapons and human rights issues?
The prevailing view among analysts is that North Korea’s sudden cancelation of Ban’s visit was a response to comments made the previous day, when Ban criticized North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and called for reforms and opening.
Describing North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, Ban said, “I believe it would be better for North Korea to have close exchanges with the international community, to open up, and to focus on its living conditions and economic development.”
Ex-German leader predicts huge costs for S-N unification
By Kim Hyo-jin
Gerhard Schroder / Yonhap
JEJU ? Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has advised the Park Geun-hye government to push for structural reform in preparation for a future unification.
"Structural reform will enable South Korea to realize a successful unification," Schroder said during a session at the 10th Jeju Forum, Thursday.
"Considering North Korea's situation now, the unification cost will be enormous. But if one side has a well-established social and economic system, it can help absorb the shock after unification."
The ex-German leader shared his insights into unification methods during the annual forum that attracted about 4000 attendees.
He said social reform was necessary to lay the ground for the Korean unification, saying, "the earlier, the better."
Schroder was in power from 1998 to 2005, when the nation suffered in the aftermath of unification. During the decade after unification, the national debt doubled, from 500 billion to 1.1 trillion euro.
To revive the debt-laden economy, he came up with the so-called Agenda 21, which featured a flexible labor market, reform of the social welfare system, a decrease in tax rates and deregulation.
[Unification] [German model]
Wars of words escalating between South and North Korean leaders
Posted on : May.20,2015 16:45 KST
Modified on : May.20,2015 16:45 KST
South and North are ratcheting up their potshots against each other’s leaders.
The escalating rhetoric could spell trouble for planned joint events to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration and the 70th anniversary of Korean independence.
From the South, President Park Geun-hye herself took center stage on May 19. Speaking in a celebratory address at the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul, Park declared that North Korea “has recently raised military tensions with its test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and shocked the international community with its politics of terror, purging even some of [leader Kim Jong-un’s] closest associates on the inside.”
It was the second time Park targeted Kim over the issue, after remarks made on May 15.
Park also said that “solving the North’s nuclear and missile issues and guiding it toward reforms and openness is an important key to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.”
Meanwhile, North Korea continued with a second straight day of extreme rhetoric against Park, this time referring to her as an “old hag” and “political whore.”
North Korea heaps harsh words on Pres. Park for “silly sleepwalker’s dreams”
Posted on : May.19,2015 16:47 KST
Modified on : May.19,2015 16:47 KST
Vitriol-filled statement bashes Park for her criticism of North’s human rights record and alleged purges
Pyongyang is ramping up its criticisms of President Park Geun-hye for her allegations that North Korean Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol was purged.
The development casts renewed doubts on expectations of a thaw in inter-Korean relations amid increasingly unclear prospects of joint events for the 15th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration of 2000. An anticipated May visit to North Korea by Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation chairperson Lee Hee-ho has been postponed. Lee is the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung (in office from 1998-2003).
A statement delivered on May 18 by a spokesperson for North Korea’s national alliance of labor groups heaped harshly worded criticisms on the South Korean President.
“Recently, Park Geun-hye has been coming out with her silly sleepwalker’s dreams about how we are going to collapse soon because of some ‘instability’ in our system,” the statement said. “Meanwhile, she’s yelling about how she’s ‘not going to tolerate’ North Korea’s human rights issues anymore.”
The statement went on to single out Park’s family history for particularly harsh invective.
“Every fiber of Park Geun-hye’s being is filled with the twisted character of someone who has lived a solitary life since losing her mom and dad to tragic early deaths and a fearsomely writhing lust for power to indiscriminately crush others,” it said.
[Column] The NIS peddles unconfirmed intelligence to manipulate the media
Posted on : May.18,2015 13:50 KST
Modified on : May.18,2015 13:50 KST
North Korean Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol (circled) appeared in a documentary film that aired on Korean Central Television on May 11, along with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The NIS claimed on May 13 that Hyon had been executed on Apr. 30. Usually, when an official is purged in North Korea, the state then removes their image from all documents and media. (KCTV/Yonhap News)
If alleged execution of Hyon Yong-chol in North Korea ends up being false, trust in intelligence agency will fall even further
The way that the alleged purge of North Korea‘s Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol was reported in the South Korean media reveals to the public what is currently wrong with the National Intelligence Service (NIS). It shows how the NIS, South Korea’s main spy agency, appears to have actively peddled unconfirmed intelligence.
At 8:30 am on May 13, the NIS reported before the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that Hyon Yong-chol had been sent to the firing squad for treason. The agency was in such a hurry to set the date for the briefing that hardly any lawmakers from either party were able to attend, and the briefing itself apparently wrapped up after an NIS official read a document for half an hour.
[Hyon Yong Chol] [Canard] [NIS]
[Photo essay] May 18 continues to this day
Posted on : May.18,2015 13:39 KST
Modified on : May.18,2015 13:39 KST
“The May 18 Democratization Movement did not end with the deaths early in the morning on May 27, 1980, the day the movement was crushed by military force. It was reborn as a long march toward democracy in South Korea and is still alive today. Democratic development in South Korean society has reached a point where there is no longer a place for military dictatorships, and the history of unjust governments trampling on the rights of the people will not be repeated.”
These words are written on the May 18 Memorial Monument at the National Cemetery in the Mangwol neighborhood of Gwangju. The May 18 memorial service is being held at two locations, because this year the government prohibited the chanting of the lyrics to “March of the Beloved”, so civic groups related to May 18 refused to participate in the official ceremony, and are holding a separate memorial elsewhere.
3 men indicted for producing meth in NK
Updated : 2015-05-17 22:13
Prosecution says two involved in plot to kill noted defector
By Lee Kyung-min
Three South Korean men have been indicted for producing methamphetamine in North Korea with the help of a North Korean spy, the prosecution said Sunday.
Two of the three suspects were also charged with plotting to murder anti-Pyongyang advocates, including Hwang Jang-yup, the highest-ranking North Korean defector, before Hwang died of a heart attack in 2010.
The prosecution said that it discovered the case after securing testimony from a former North Korean spy.
"This is the first time that we have obtained hard evidence that the North is resorting to drug production to earn foreign currency," a prosecutor said.
The three men ? surnamed Kim, 63, Hwang, 56, and Bang, 69 ? are suspected of producing a total of 70 kilograms of methamphetamine from June to July in 2000 in North Korea's Hwanghae Province.
Former Cyber Command spy-ops head sentenced to prison for 2012 election interference
Posted on : May.16,2015 14:59 KST
Modified on : May.16,2015 14:59 KST
Lee Tae-ha, former head of the psychological operations division at the R.O.K. Cyber Command, uses a document folder to cover his face after arriving at Seoul Eastern District Court for the ruling in his case related to political interference in the 2012 presidential election, May 15. (News1)
The former head of the psychological operations division at the R.O.K. Cyber Command was sentenced to two years in prison for political interference in the 2012 presidential election.
Lee Tae-ha, 62, had been charged with political interference and incitement to destroy evidence under the Military Criminal Act for enlisting the organization’s commanders in a systematic operation to spread internet and social media posts slandering opposition candidates and politicians and supporting ruling party candidates and policies during the election.
The judgment comes after a previous military court ruling handing down suspended and deferred sentences, respectively, against former commanders Yeon Je-wook and Ok Do-gyeong, who were prosecuted on the same charges. Both Yeon and Ok were found guilty of political interference, but the court accepted the “need to execute cyber warfare duties” as an extenuating circumstance.
The latest civilian court ruling, which found the Cyber Command’s activities to constitute active election interference and included a jail sentence, is now raising questions about whether the military court went too easy in its punishment.
[Election] [Cyber Command]
NIS under scrutiny for claiming Hyon Yong-chol’s execution
Posted on : May.15,2015 17:28 KST
Modified on : May.15,2015 17:28 KST
North Korean Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol (circled) appeared in a documentary film that aired on Korean Central Television on May 11, along with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The NIS claimed on May 13 that Hyon had been executed on Apr. 30. Usually, when an official is purged in North Korea, the state then removes their image from all documents and media. (KCTV/Yonhap News)
News of the alleged purge of North Korean Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong-chol is putting the National Intelligence Service (NIS) under scrutiny.
Many are now asking whether the NIS may have called its own credibility into question as an intelligence organization by recklessly disclosing not only verified intelligence but also the circumstances under which that information was collected.
Many experts are now questioning the veracity of claims that Hyon was executed, noting the continued appearance of his face on North Korean television, even after his reported purge.
For now, the NIS is expressing confidence in its claims, leading to speculation it may have based them on testimony from high-ranking refugees or examination of satellite video footage.
[Hyon Yong Chol] [NIS] [Canard]
For “March for the Beloved”, ministry says sing, but don’t chant
Posted on : May.15,2015 17:36 KST
Modified on : May.15,2015 17:36 KST
The Gwangju Democratization Movement Museum in Gwangju’s East district, located in the former Catholic Center building, the day before its May 13 opening. Around 80,000 items are exhibited there, including official documents, relics and diaries by students and citizen victims. In this photo is a bullet hole shot by military marshal forces. (Yonhap News)
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans’ Affairs (MPVA) is stirring up controversy with claims that chanting of the lyrics to the song “March for the Beloved” could hurt unity in South Korea, citing its use as background music in North Korean films.
Now the ministry has announced plans to once again perform a choral rather than chanted rendition of the song at this year’s government-sponsored event commemorating the May 18 Democratization Movement.
“A chorus will be performing ‘March for the Beloved’ at the memorial ceremony for May 18 Democratization Movement, and those who wish to will be able to sing along,” the ministry said in a May 14 press release.
The policy is a rejection of demands from civic groups related to the May 18 movement and others insisting that the song should be chanted at this year‘s ceremony, as was done in years prior to 2008.
As a reason for disallowing the chanting, the ministry noted the “dispute over the meaning of ‘beloved’ and ‘new day’ [in the lyrics] after [the march] was used as background music for ’Symphonic Poem for the Beloved,‘ a 1991 North Korean film about the Gwangju Democratization Movement which was co-written by South Korea’s Hwang Sok-yong and North Korea’s Ri Chun-gu.”
DPRK conducts artillery-firing drill near disputed border
Xinhua, May 13, 2015
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted an artillery-firing drill, as it warned, on Wednesday night near the disputed maritime border with South Korea.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted by local media as saying that the DPRK started the live-fire exercise from 9 p.m. local time (1200 GMT), mobilizing coastal cannons and warship guns.
The exercise lasted for about an hour and a half, with some 130 rounds of artillery shells fired. No shell landed in South Korea's territorial waters.
The firing exercise was carried out in waters about 10-12 km north of South Korean border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong, which the DPRK designated as artillery fire areas.
The areas are located just 1 km north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which Pyongyang has denied as an official inter-Korean sea border as the NLL was drawn by U.S.-led forces after the three- year Korean War ended in 1953.
[NLL] [Military exercises]
Time to Prepare for Regime Change in N.Korea
North Korean Army chief Hyon Yong-chol was executed for treason on April 30, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers here Wednesday.
According to the NIS, Hyon was caught dozing off during a military rally on April 24-25 and failed to obey or complained about Kim's orders. Hyon was apparently executed by anti-aircraft gun as hundreds of people watched the gruesome spectacle at a military academy in Pyongyang.
The NIS said that several other key North Korean officials were purged over the last six months, including Ma Won-chun, the director of a new agency under the North's National Defense Commission overseeing the construction industry, Pyon In-son, a vice minister of the People's Armed Forces and central party finance and accounting cadre Han Kwang-sang.
[Editorial] An important moment to choose inter-Korean dialogue over confrontation
Posted on : May.11,2015 16:32 KST
Modified on : May.11,2015 16:32 KST
North Korea has been busy the past few days raising military tensions with the South. It’s even more worrisome to see this trend intensifying between South and North at a time after late April’s US-Japan summit and the May 8 China-Russia summit left an even clearer impression of a global antagonism taking shape between Washington/Tokyo and Beijing/Moscow. It’s also troubling to think military tensions may spoil the growing resumption of private inter-Korean exchange since the South Korea-US joint military drills ended on Apr. 24.
On May 8 and 9, Pyongyang sent two separate notices claiming the South’s “infringement of territorial waters” in the West (Yellow) Sea and warning of a targeted strike against South Korean warships. The May 8 notice from the Southwest Front Command, which was addressed to the Blue House Office of National Security and came via the West (Yellow) Sea military communications line, mentioned the possibility of an “unannounced targeted strike” against South Korean warships crossing our maritime demarcation line in the West (Yellow) Sea. Another provocative message sent on May 9 dared the South to “try to oppose us if you have the courage.”
That wasn’t all from North Korea, which also staged a show of missile force. On the afternoon of May 9, it launched three KN-01 anti-ship missiles with an estimated firing range of 100 km over the waters near Wonsan. That same day, the (North) Korean Central News Agency reported a successful submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test launch with leader Kim Jong-un observing.
'NK provocations must be dealt with sternly'
President Park Geun-hye joins national security officials for a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Tuesday. / Yonhap
By Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye called Tuesday for stern retaliation against any possible provocations from North Korea.
"President Park called on the military to maintain a watertight readiness posture and retaliate against the North, if provoked," presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said in a briefing.
Park held a meeting with top security officials at Cheong Wa Dae ? participants included National Security Office (NSO) head Kim Kwan-jin, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Defense Minister Han Min-koo and National Intelligence Service chief Lee Byung-ho.
Her strong remarks came after the Kim Jong-un regime ramped up hostile rhetoric over border islands, threatening to attack South Korean naval ships intruding into its self-proclaimed territorial waters in the West Sea.
"From this moment, we will make a sighting strike without any prior warning at any warship of the South Korean Navy intruding into the extension of the demarcation line in the West Sea," the command of the KPA in the "Southwestern Sector of the Front" said in a statement, Friday, sent to the NSO.
A South Korean Series or Following Our Publications
As usual, we track news on hot topics that were the focus in our previous publications.
A possible escalation against the background of US-South Korean manoeuvres.
In a nutshell, all has been done without too much cost. On April 24, South Korea and the USA completed the joint military exercise Foal Eagle which involved 200,000 South Korean and 3,700 American military troops. The manoeuvres were conducted with the participation of land, naval, air and special forces on the ground, in the air and in the sea. The USS Fort Worth, a littoral combat ship with a 3,000-tons displacement, participated for the first time in the exercise.
In response, North Korea fired off several missiles, which was as usual qualified by the South Korean military as “a provocation of the North in protest against the annual joint military manoeuvres with the USA commenced in South Korea on March 2.” So on April 7, North Korea carried out test missile launches with two KN-06 short range missiles that travelled the distance of several tens of kilometres in the direction of the Yellow Sea.
In the meantime, South Korean armed forces continue to monitor the activity of the North Korean Army, preparing for a possible provocation from the North. It was believed that on April 25, which is celebrated in North Korea as the Military Foundation Day, Pyongyang had plans to conduct military exercises or missile launches, but contrary to the predictions of South Korean intelligence service, nothing of that kind happened on that day.
Park Needs to Tackle New Power Structure in Northeast Asia
President Park Geun-hye will travel to Washington next month for yet another summit with U.S. President Barack Obama. This will be her third trip to the U.S.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the U.S. last month and delivered a speech before Congress, while Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to visit in September. Obama wanted to meet with all three Northeast Asian leaders.
There are no very pressing concerns Park and Obama need to discuss. Most of the issues of contention between Seoul and Washington -- FTA ratification, postponement of the handover of full operational control and revision of the nuclear accord -- have been resolved. But there are mounting public concerns that the government is failing to deal with a geopolitical power shift in Northeast Asia.
[Sidelined] [Park Geun-hye]
Former policy makers say all-out war with North Korea is unlikely
Posted on : May.12,2015 15:44 KST
Modified on : May.12,2015 15:44 KST
An area around the Northern Limit Line, with Chinese fishing boats in the background, as seen last October. Though the NLL has been a site of naval clashes in the past, the tension on the Korean Peninsula these days is due to heightened rhetoric from North Korea and South Korea’s recent expression of “regret” about Pyongyang’s actions.
Former high-ranking civil servants in the area of unification think that it is unlikely that an all-out war will occur between North and South Korea in the next 10 years, but that there is a high probability of a local conflict breaking out in the West (Yellow) Sea.
On May 11, the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University announced the results of a questionnaire it conducted between Oct. 2014 and Jan. 2015 of 110 minister- and vice minister-level officials in the Blue House, the Ministry of Unification, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of National Defense and senior officials in the National Intelligence Service who served between the administrations of Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) and Park Geun-hye (2013-present).
82.4% of respondents to the survey believe that it is likely that a local conflict will occur on the Korean Peninsula in the next 10 years. In terms of where such a local conflict might occur, 91.7% of all respondents suggested the waters around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West (Yellow) Sea, including the five islands in those waters. On the other hand, the prevailing view (representing 84.3% of respondents) was that it is unlikely that an all-out war will occur.
74.3% of these former officials thought that the Kaesong Industrial Complex should be kept open even if it requires some degree of sacrifice, and 45% thought that tourism to Mt. Keumgang should be allowed to resume.
51.8% of these officials believe in the possibility of dialogue and compromise with the Kim Jong-un regime, revealing a sharp divide with the general public, 72.5% of whom think that such dialogue and compromise are impossible.
“Former policy makers, who have a lot of experience engaging in dialogue with North Korea, think more highly of the possibility of dialogue and compromise than the public, but they are also more cautious about North Korean provocations,” the researchers said.
By, Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporter
[War] [Clash] [NLL]
In South Korea, a war over how to remember the Vietnam War
Posted on : May.12,2015 15:50 KST
Modified on : May.12,2015 15:50 KST
A “war of memory” over the Vietnam War has been raging in South Korea since the turn of the millennium, a recent paper concludes.
The conflict, which traces back to investigative reports by the weekly newsmagazine Hankyoreh 21 and fact-finding campaigns by civic groups in 1999-2000, is pitting the camp of “official memory” against that of “counter-memory”, showing the social reality of ongoing Cold War-era division.
The paper, titled “Transforming and Reconstructing South Korea’s Memories of the Vietnam War,” was published in the spring 2015 edition of the quarterly “Society and History” by historical sociologist Yoon Chung-ro, a senior researcher at the Academy of Korean Studies.
Korean Envoy Meets N.Korean Head of State in Moscow
Saenuri lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun (rear) and North Korean envoy Kim Yong-nam pose in a group photo after the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Unions victory in World War II in Moscow on Saturday. /AP-Newsis Saenuri lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun (rear) and North Korean envoy Kim Yong-nam pose in a group photo after the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II in Moscow on Saturday. /AP-Newsis
Saenuri Party lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun met North Korea's perennial titular head of state Kim Yong-nam in Moscow on Saturday.
Yoon, who represents President Park Geun-hye to the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II, said that he gave Kim a message of willingness to improve inter-Korean relations.
The Foreign Ministry here on Sunday said it was a brief encounter, so the two were unable to have a deep conversation.
Kim and Yoon met immediately after a massive military parade in Red Square.
"When envoys from around the world walked towards Alexander Garden to lay flowers, Yoon approached Kim, introduced himself as a special envoy from Seoul, gave him his business card, and started the conversation," a ministry official said. "As it took about five minutes to get to Alexander Garden, it was a brief conversation."
[Victory Day Parade]
After a drunken peak, makgeolli’s 3 year hangover
Posted on : May.10,2015 07:11 KST
Modified on : May.10,2015 07:11 KST
Makgeolli exports fell from 458,198kl in 2011 to 15,479kl in 2013, a decline of 71%, due to the use of imported rice, aspartame and plastic bottles.
Five years ago, the makgeolli industry was drunk on itself. Today it lacks the energy it once had. The makgeolli boom began in 2009 and by 2011 production amounts, sales, and exports reached the highest points in history. After 2012, the makgeolli market began declining. Exports fell from 458,198kl in 2011 to 426,216kl in 2013, and sales decreased from around 509.7 billion won ($466.4 million) in 2011 to around 473.8 billion won ($433.1 million) in 2013, declines of 7%. Exports decreased from 43,082kl in 2011 to 15,470kl in 2014, while export revenue plummeted from $52,730,000 to $15,350,000.
Of course, compared to before 2008, when makgeolli output was less than 200,000kl and sales were less than 200 billion won (US$182.8 million), current output and sales have doubled. The problem is that while there are 900 manufacturers listed nationwide and makgeolli has great growth potential with sales making up 5-6 percent of the entire alcohol market, the makgeolli market is shrinking. Furthermore, during the last few years with foreign wine and beer flooding into South Korea, the ground for makgeolli to develop has been undermined by the craft beer explosion.
Brewing specialists say that makgeolli made by contemporary methods has reached its growth limit. They advise that if makgeolli is going to break free from its post-2011 stagnancy, three obstacles must be overcome: the use of imported rice, the use of aspartame and other sweeteners, and the use of plastic bottles. The way to simply resolve these three problems is to raise the price of makgeolli. Herein lies the concern of makgeolli breweries.
A Hankyoreh intern’s quest for the meaning Makgeolli
Posted on : May.10,2015 06:51 KST
Modified on : May.10,2015 06:51 KST
Korean men drink makgeolli next to Cheonggye stream, east Seoul, Apr. 28. (by Dan Sizer, Hankyoreh English intern)
I’m a little drunk and very sunburned. The two older Korean men I’m sitting with on the concrete bank of a stream in east Seoul are tipsy. One shows me how he can dance on one foot, doing high kicks with the other. We’re on our third bottle of makgeolli.
Makgeolli is rice beer, one of Korea’s oldest alcohols, a fact that many of its elderly consumers eagerly relate with pride. The milky beverage, made from rice, water, and a wheat fermentation starter called nuruk, was first referenced in a twelfth century Chinese Song Dynasty document that describes it as a commoner’s drink, “a thin tasting alcohol of deep hue that does not cause much drunkenness.”
Throughout its millennium-long history, makgeolli has undergone changes in production methods, ingredients, and social connotations. Makgeolli fell to a low point during the Japanese occupation (1910-45) due to laws that taxed and controlled liquor production, and again in the following years due to rice shortages, but in the last decade it has experienced a revival among middle class drinkers and artisan brewers dedicated to preserving its tradition. Still, many others enjoy the brew at family gatherings and in natural settings like near mountains and streams.
To find out just what people thought about makgeolli I set out on my bicycle. My first stop was the stream where I met the two Korean men, who, before I could explain that I only wanted to ask them a few questions, put a paper cup in my hand and filled it to the brim. Thus began my journey.
How to take makgeolli from farmer’s swill to upmarket craft brew
Posted on : May.10,2015 07:01 KST
Modified on : May.10,2015 07:01 KST
Taste of the Moon (Wolhyang in Korean), based near Seoul’s popular Hongdae area, one of the best makgeolli chain
Around 2010, the makgeolli industry enjoyed unprecedented growth, but the traditional Korean rice beer still has a negative image. For many people, makgeolli is something that farmers or manual laborers drink, is cheap, leads to bloating and belching, induces vomiting, leaves a nasty hangover, smells bad, causes indigestion, and only shows up at university festivals and traditional events.
Since 2009, the perception that makgeolli is a healthy alcoholic beverage -suppressing cancer cells and promoting colon function - has gained ground, but this is still not the dominant image. Experts argue that makgeolli’s image, atmosphere, and brand need an overhaul.
South and North Korean civic groups agree to first June 15 joint commemorative event in eight years
Posted on : May.9,2015 17:10 KST
Modified on : May.9,2015 17:10 KST
The South Korean preparatory committee for a joint national ceremony celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Announcement of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration and the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan holds a press conference at the Franciscan Education Center in Seoul, May 8. In the middle is Lee Chang-bok, standing chair of a South Korean committee that is working to implementing the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration, who talked about a recent meeting in Shenyang, China with North Korean counterparts. (Yonhap News)
Civic organizations from North and South Korea agreed to host a joint ceremony on the 15th anniversary of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration in Seoul between June 14 and 16, the South Korean preparatory committee for the ceremony announced on May 8. This joint event could be the first since 2008.
On May 8, the South Korean preparatory committee for a joint national ceremony celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Announcement of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration and the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan held a press conference at the Franciscan Education Center in Seoul. At the press conference, committee members announced that they had met with their North Korean counterparts in Shenyang, China, between May 5 and 7, where they reached this agreement.
Was It Worth Putting Seoul into 'Avengers' Film?
Yoo Jin-woo Yoo Jin-woo
Korea has been swept away by Hollywood blockbuster "Avengers: Age of Ultron," just like anywhere else in the world. Korean Film Council (KFC) data show that the superhero caper is being screened in a massive seven out of 10 movie theaters here, and more than 4 million people saw the movie in its first week of release.
At IMAX theaters the movie sold out 10 days in advance, while shopping mall shelves are filled with Avengers merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to rechargeable batteries. At this rate, it looks set to break the 7.07 million domestic viewership record set by its predecessor.
Does the fact that seven or eight minutes of footage were shot in Seoul have anything to do with it?
The KFC spent W3.9 billion (US$1=W1,082) to have Seoul as the backdrop, under a deal with Marvel where the council agreed to pay 30 percent of the money the U.S. film producer spent shooting scenes in Seoul, which amounted to a staggering W13 billion for 15 days.
That means it cost W8.1 million per second to promote Seoul, at the expense of inconveniences the public had to put up with as sections of the capital were blocked off for filming. Add licensing fees from manufacturers for the film-related products, and the cost would go up even further.
A full-page ad in the New York Times costs W52 million and a one-second spot on Korean TV W1 million to W1.5 million. The KFC paid much more than that to feature the capital in the film, claiming that somehow the effect would be worth W2 trillion in boosting the city's brand image.
The Korea Tourism Organization also said that featuring a location in a film could be great for tourism and that having scenes of "Avengers" shot in Seoul would produce W400 billion worth of effect in promoting the city as well as W2 trillion in boosting its image.
But can that be true? Critics have lamented that Seoul looks virtually indistinguishable in the movie from any other nondescript city in the world, except for myriad Korean-language signs.
It is doubtful any foreign visitors have been fired up to come to Seoul after watching the film. Perhaps only Koreans have rushed to theaters so far to see their own capital, and it hardly needs boosting at home.
It looks like the only ones laughing all the way to the bank are the producers, who got a massive discount on top of their stellar global earnings
Gov't Flailing in Wake of False Prediction About Kim Jong-un
The government on Thursday scrambled to regain its diplomatic footing after a confident prediction that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will visit Moscow -- a day before Russia announced Kim has canceled.
A senior South Korean official on Thursday told reporters in Beijing, "Kim's decision not to travel to Russia will have an effect on North Korea's ties with China," presumably by bringing the two closer.
The official speculated that internal matters, the North's nuclear weapons development, difficult security for Kim, and the insufficient economic aid from Russia persuaded Kim not to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations in Moscow of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II on May 9.
Sewol Ferry Families Still Wait for Answers One Year Later
April 23, 2015
KPI | April 23, 2015
A year has passed since the tragic April 16th, 2014 sinking of the Sewol Ferry in South Korea, which left 304 dead – the majority of whom were high school students. Despite it being one of the deadliest disasters in Korean history, there has been no substantive investigation of the tragedy to date. All reports indicate that the ferry was overloaded; that passengers were instructed to remain in their cabins while the captain and the crew abandoned ship; that rescue efforts were delayed or not undertaken for unexplained reasons; and missing or ignored safety regulations were part of the cause.
Joint Press Release of the Seventh Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China
1. The Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China convened in Seoul, for the Seventh Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on March 21, 2015, and engaged in an in-depth discussion on various issues including the current status and future direction of the trilateral cooperation, and regional as well as global affairs.
2. The three Ministers expressed their expectation that trilateral cooperation mechanism may head towards restoration on the occasion of this Meeting, held after almost three years since April 2012. The three Ministers also shared the view that trilateral cooperation mechanism should continue to remain and develop as an important framework of cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity in Northeast Asia.
Government official alludes to resumption of six-party talks
Posted on : May.7,2015 16:40 KST
Modified on : May.7,2015 16:40 KST
Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security affairs
A senior government official drew attention on May 5 with remarks suggesting the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue may be resumed without preliminary denuclearization measures from Pyongyang.
Speaking with Washington correspondents of South Korean media outlets, the official said the talks “could resume officially if North Korea sends clear and concrete signals that it is going to take the early steps toward denuclearization.”
“A year ago, we said we would discuss whether to resume the six-party talks after North Korea had taken its first denuclearization steps, but that is not the position now,” the official added.
[Six Party Talks] [Preconditions]
North Korean Returnees
By John-Patrick Gerard Thackeray
Most Koreans want unification between the two Koreas to happen sooner rather than later. With reports that the North is facing a power struggle, between the Kim regime and others that want reform, it is no wonder many think the North could collapse within the next few years.
But some defectors from the repressive state are increasing the pressure, saying North Koreans are willing to become martyrs for unification.
North Korean defector Kang Chul-ho, who fled to China in 1995, is a founder of the first North Korean church congregations in South Korea and vice president of the North Korean Christian Association. He speaks at many forums and meetings aimed at "ending the Kim regime's reign of terror in North Korea." He says that with the number of North Korean defectors around the world, the regime is more frightened of them than the South Korean military.
South Korean diplomacy accused of being “adrift” without a paddle
Posted on : May.5,2015 14:08 KST
Modified on : May.5,2015 14:08 KST
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se (right) speaks before the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee at the National Assembly in Seoul, May 4. On the left is Minister of Unification Hong Yong-pyo. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
South Korean diplomacy is under heavy fire for being “adrift” and lacking bearings. Some lawmakers are even calling for the resignation of its chief representative, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se.
But with the Ministry continuing to maintain that nothing is amiss, a shift in policy continues to look unlikely.
Its defense of its current diplomatic strategy continues even a US visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week that seems to bear out fears about a new honeymoon between Washington and Tokyo leaving Seoul out in the cold. Speaking before the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee on May 4, Yun said the visit was “part of the US’s summit diplomacy efforts in line with its Asia-Pacific rebalancing policy,” adding that “other major East Asia leaders, including the South Korean President and the Presidents of China and Indonesia are also scheduled to visit the US this year.”
South grants approval for first preliminary contacts with North in five years
Posted on : May.5,2015 14:03 KST
Modified on : May.5,2015 14:03 KST
Participants hold up placards reading “Meeting for Unification” during an event at the Press Center in central Seoul by a committee organized to prepare to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration and the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation from Japan, May 4. (by Lee Jong-geun, staff photographer)
North and South Korea are having their first preliminary contacts in five years for a joint event to mark the 15th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration of 2000.
“We have granted approval for preliminary direct contacts for a joint inter-Korean event for the June 15 Joint Declaration as requested on Apr. 30 by the ‘preparatory committee for joint Korean events for the 70th anniversary of independence,’” the Ministry of Unification said on May 4.
With the approval, a total of eight officials, including five members of the South Korean preparatory committee’s delegation, are set to meet with their North Korean counterparts in Shenyang, China, on May 5-6 to discuss plans for the joint event. Kim Wan-su, chairman of North Korea’s committee for implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration, will reportedly be part of the North Korean delegation.
Seoul’s approval for the preliminary meeting could raise the likelihood that a main event planned for Seoul on June 14-16 will also go ahead. If the joint event does take place this year, it would the first in the seven years since 2008. Preliminary meetings have also been disallowed since 2010.
“Whether to approve the joint June 15 event or other events is a matter to be decided separately after seeing the results of the meetings,” said a Ministry of Unification official.
The approval decision has been read as Seoul’s attempt to bring Pyongyang on board with its own joint inter-Korean events planned for the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation from Japanese occupation. The Ministry of Unification previously granted sweeping permissions on May 1 for inter-Korean exchange by local governments and private groups for the anniversary, while announcing its own plans to commemorate it with joint cultural, historical, and sports efforts by authorities.
By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter
Police stepping up violent crackdowns on protestors
Posted on : May.4,2015 15:58 KST
Modified on : May.4,2015 15:58 KST
Police are ramping up their tactics against demonstrations over the Sewol ferry sinking. Having already made use of bus barricades, they have now added tear gas (capsaicin) cannons to their arsenal.
Civic groups blasted the police for what they called “excessive use of force.”
A “two-day nationwide overnight action” organized by the April 16 Sewol Network to demand the immediate scrapping of the enforcement decree for the special Sewol Law was launched on the evening of International Workers’ Day on May 1 at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul. At around 10 pm, participants attempted a march from Anguk intersection to the Blue House, only to clash with police who had erected a long barricade of buses.
[Editorial] Improving inter-Korean relations requires a bold effort from Seoul
Posted on : May.2,2015 19:47 KST
Modified on : May.2,2015 19:47 KST
So much for the chance of senior officials from Seoul and Pyongyang meeting at a ceremony to be held in Moscow on May 9, the 70th anniversary of the Allies’ victory in World War II. Not only has it been confirmed that Kim Jong-un will not attend the event, but it is unlikely that any senior North Korean officials will attend either.
This is even more regrettable considering the increasing need to improve inter-Korean relations as the alliance between the US and Japan grows stronger. Regardless of this development, we hope that the South Korean government will increase its efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.
When asked why Kim Jong-un would not be attending the event, Russian officials said the decision was connected with internal issues in North Korea. However, no noticeable changes have been detected inside the North.
It is more likely that there was a hitch as North Korea and Russia tried to hammer out the agenda. This may have involved North Korean demands for Russian aid or the protocol for treatment of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim’s decision not to attend was a mistake in the sense that he missed an opportunity to burnish North Korea’s international image and to work on relations with South Korea. President Park Geun-hye also moved too quickly to decline the invitation to attend the event.
[Victory Day Parade]
How ethnic nationalism undercuts multiculturalism on the Korean peninsula
30 April 2015
Author: Eun Jeong Soh, ANU
North and South Korea are widely regarded to be ethnically homogenous societies. But with minority populations having grown ?in numbers and importance in both Koreas, demographic homogeneity has become a myth.
Yet the importance of ethnic nationalism as an underlying identity of the two states prevents a genuine transition to a multicultural society in both cases. In both Koreas, policies that disproportionately focus on reaping benefits from minorities, and a lack of public consensus on what constitutes multiculturalism, have led to human rights violations and social conflict.
The ideal of creating a modern nation-state for the Korean people underpinned the founding of ?both North and South Korea. But the nation-building process also produced minorities. In South Korea, discrimination on the basis of regional origin increased under the authoritarian regimes led by Park Chung Hee and Chun Doo Hwan? and continues in public discussions today. In North Korea, the social stratification (songbun) system divides the population into three major categories, and 51 subcategories, on the basis of how one’s grandparents participated in the emerging state’s anti-colonial communist revolution.
The most important minority group in South Korea today is ethnic Korean Chinese. Increasing numbers of ?ethnic Korean Chinese have migrated to South Korea under the diaspora (dongpo) policy, which loosened entry and residency regulations. Today, the ethnic Korean Chinese population in South Korea reaches 500,000 — 39 per cent of the total foreign nationality population. Despite sharing the same language and working in sectors where there is the most need, ethnic Korean Chinese continue to face prejudice and discrimination from broader South Korean society.
South Korea’s migration policy ?is designed to satisfy small- and medium-size businesses’ demand for cheap labour. This policy focus means the rights of migrant workers have not been protected effectively. Under the Employment Permit System, adopted in 2004, migrant workers continue to experience abuse and exploitation. They face restrictions when changing workplace and are prohibited from forming or joining labour unions. A 2014 Amnesty International report detailed abuses of migrant workers ?in the farm and fishery sectors and recommended that the government allow workers greater freedom to change workplace and enforce work condition standards across all sectors.
S. Korea to raise defense spending by 2020
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Monday it will sharply raise the defense budget over the next five years to beef up its capabilities against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
The budget injection of 8.7 trillion won (US$8.03 billion) is based on the assessment that Pyongyang is believed to have reached a "significant" point in efforts to master the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads that fit atop missiles.
It is part of the ministry's budget plan for the 2016-2020 fiscal period, which calls for 232.5 trillion won in total, a 7 percent increase on average during the cited period compared to its 2015-2019 version.
While costs for maintaining troops are set at 155.2 trillion won and the rest will be for the improvement of military capabilities, the government, specifically, is to invest 6 trillion won in building the country's preemptive strike apparatus, the Kill Chain, and 2.7 trillion won into the development of the low-tier air defense program, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, over the next five years.
The aggregate amount is 700 billion won more than the budget plan stated in the 2015-2019 period, which reflects Seoul's will to ensure a stronger deterrence against the belligerent North.
Key assets for the Kill Chain incorporate multi-purpose satellites, Global Hawk unmanned aircraft and Taurus missiles. The KAMD system includes patriot interceptors and mid-range surface-to-air missiles, or M-SAM.
As part of efforts to effectively cope with North Korea's local provocations and to prepare for all-out war with the enemy, Seoul plans to spend 1.8 trillion won on acquiring surveillance systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and detection radars.
In the face of the North's growing security threats online, South Korea plans to earmark 100 billion won to build a multi-layer protection system and to create a mock training field.
"The mid-term budget plan also focuses on improving circumstances at the barracks and increasing monthly payments to enlistees by more than double," a ministry official said. "We also aim to augment the investment in research and development from the current 6.5 percent of the total defense budget to 8.4 percent by 2020 to further promote defense fields."
[Military expenditure] [Kill chain] [Preemptive]
Blunder Should Be a Wakeup Call for Spy Agency
The National Intelligence Service found itself with egg on its face on Thursday when media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un canceled his planned trip to Moscow for Russia's Victory Day celebrations. The NIS had confidently told lawmakers only a day earlier that Kim was going.
Asked by lawmakers whether the NIS checked hotel reservations in Moscow, NIS chief Lee Byung-ho said the North Korean Embassy is spacious enough to accommodate Kim, making hotel reservations unnecessary. He added, "Considering Kim Jong-un's capricious nature, we do not know what will happen at the last minute," but the prevailing view was that Kim would make the trip.
Ahead of Iraq Deployment, 37 Korean Troops Convert to Islam
28 May 2004
"I became a Muslim because I felt Islam was more humanistic and peaceful than other religions. And if you can religiously connect with the locals, I think it could be a big help in carrying out our peace reconstruction mission." So said on Friday those Korean soldiers who converted to Islam ahead of their late July deployment to the Kurdish city of Irbil in northern Iraq.
At noon Friday, 37 members of the Iraq-bound "Zaitun Unit," including Lieutenant Son Hyeon-ju of the Special Forces 11th Brigade, made their way to a mosque in Hannam-dong, Seoul and held a conversion ceremony.
Soldiers from Zaitoon Unit pray after conversion ceremony at a mosque in Hannam-dong, Seoul on Friday./Yonhap Soldiers from Zaitoon Unit pray after conversion ceremony at a mosque in Hannam-dong, Seoul on Friday./Yonhap
The soldiers, who cleansed their entire bodies in accordance with Islamic tradition, made their conversion during the Friday group prayers at the mosque, with the assistance of the "imam," or prayer leader.
Zaitun Unit Corporal Paek Seong-uk (22) of the Army's 11th Division said, "I majored in Arabic in college and upon coming across the Quran, I had much interest in Islam, and I made up my mind to become a Muslim during this religious experience period [provided by the Zaitun Unit]."
He expressed his aspirations. "If we are sent to Iraq, I want to participate in religious ceremonies with the locals so that they can feel brotherly love and convince them that the Korean troops are not an army of occupation but a force deployed to provide humanitarian support."
[Islam] [Bizarre] [Tribute]
S. Korea to let more journalists head north
Shanghai Daily, May 2, 2015
South Korea will push to allow more journalists to travel to North Korea to cover a wider range of cross-border exchange projects such as sports and academic programs, it said yesterday.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said it will actively support sports, culture, academic and other civilian exchange programs with North Korea to improve relations as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's division after World War II.
South Korea plans to increase government spending and inspire more diversified exchanges and permit South Korean journalists to go to North Korea to cover them.
It's unclear if North Korea will respond positively.
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