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N.Korea Practices Artillery Strike on Cheong Wa Dae
North Korea practiced a massive artillery strike on key government facilities in Seoul last Thursday, mobilizing some 100 long-range artillery pieces.
The North's official Rodong Sinmun daily covered the live-fire drill in Wonsan, Gangwon Province on four of its six pages on Friday, illustrated with no fewer than 41 photos.
A picture on the front page shows leader Kim Jong-un inspecting an artillery unit and pages 2 through 4 were covered with photos of long-range guns, placed in two rows along the coast, firing shots.
The paper said the drill "aimed at annihilating and devastating Cheong Wa Dae and reactionary governing agencies in Seoul."
North Korea vanishes from South Korean academia
By Park Si-soo
What an irony: North Korea is losing ground in South Korean academic circles in times of growing military tension between the two countries.
Universities here have closed or downsized departments that have explored the communist country in recent years, citing relatively high unemployment rates of graduates and difficulty in attracting freshmen.
Students and North Korea experts say the situation is a"short-sighted" policy that should be scrapped to ensure ongoing studies and research into the reclusive state and to nurture "human resources" to prepare for reunification.
They warn that this trend will create another ironic situation in which South Korea falls behind countries such as the U.S. when it comes to North Korean studies.
Pyongyang urges Seoul to apologize
Xinhua, March 27, 2016
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday threatened to fire long-range artillery at Seoul unless South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologizes and punishes those who planned striking the DPRK leadership.
Pyongyang issued the warning in an ultimatum sent to the Park administration by the artillery force of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to the official KCNA news agency.
The ultimatum urged Park to offer "an official apology" to all Korean people for "dare attempts to slander and do harm to the sun of Songun," which refers to the DPRK's top leader, Kim Jong Un.
It also asked Park and her administration to punish those who designed the operation for striking the DPRK leadership and "finish them without mercy."
[Editorial] Both South and North Korea need to put hostilities aside
Posted on : Mar.27,2016 09:47 KST
Leader Kim Jong-un observes the North Korean holding amphibious exercises practicing for an attack on South Korea, in photos reported on Mar. 20 in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. The date the photos were taken was not specified. (Yonhap News)
The exchange of threats and invective between South and North Korea is crossing the line. A hostile coexistence reminiscent of the Cold War seems to be hardening into place. It’s a moment that calls from restraint from both sides.
The decision by North Korean state media to publish dozens of photographs on Mar. 25 showing exercises to rehearse for strikes against the Blue House and government facilities in downtown Seoul is just the latest episode. A few days before, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally commanded an amphibious exercise to prepare for a South Korean attack. During the past month, the North has carried out launches with a new multiple rocket launcher and short- and medium-range missiles and ratcheted up its nuclear threat. Joint South Korea-US exercises have also been more aggressive than ever, including practice for precision strikes against major North Korean facilities and an occupation of Pyongyang. From the looks of things, it wouldn’t be going too far to say both sides as having started preparing for war.
[Joint US military] [Decapitation] [False balance]
North Korea issues harshly worded threat of military action
Posted on : Mar.24,2016 17:50 KST
Threat comes in response to South Korean military training exercise targeting the North
North Korea has threatened to take military action, declaring that it is prepared to “wipe out” South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the Blue House.
The threat was in response to an exercise carried out by the South Korean air force on Mar. 21 that involved simulated precision strikes on key North Korean facilities.
On Mar. 23, the South Korean government urged Pyongyang to immediately cease its “nasty and vulgar behavior.”
“Large-caliber rocket launchers are primed to wipe out in an instant the Blue House, where Park Geun-hye is lurking,” North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CRPF) said in a “grave report” released on the morning of Mar. 23.
“With the push of a button, the Blue House will become a sea of fire; our attack will reduce it to ashes,” the CPRF said. “From this moment, the army of the revolution will be aimed at a just war of retaliation in order to extirpate the clique of the traitor Park Geun-hye.”
This is the first time that the North’s CPRF has issued an “important announcement.”
N.Korea Vows to 'Eliminate' Park
North Korea on Wednesday threatened to send commandos across the border to "eliminate" President Park Geun-hye.
The ironically named Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which handles cross-border affairs, said in a statement it will launch a "retaliatory battle of justice in order to resolutely eliminate the Park Geun-hye group of traitors on this land and under this sky."
The South Korean government is the target of "ultra-precision strike means," it added.
There are some dozen special forces units under the North's 11th Corps whose mission is to infiltrate South Korea and launch surprise attacks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a special forces unit in this 2013 video grab from [North] Korean Central TV. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a special forces unit in this 2013 video grab from [North] Korean Central TV.
North Korea in a statement on Feb. 23 said its primary military target is Cheong Wa Dae.
The government condemned the threat. "We will never condone the North's threats against the president and our people," Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters. "North Korea must immediately stop this vulgar and despicable behavior.”
He added that the South Korean military will firmly respond to any additional provocations.
[Retaliation] [Decapitation] [Media] [MRL]
DPRK Will Show in Practice Its Warning Is Not Empty Talk: CPRK
Submitted by KCNA on Wed, 03/23/2016 - 10:20
Pyongyang, March 23 (KCNA) -- The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) Wednesday released a crucial report in connection with the fact that the reckless military provocations of the U.S. and the Park Geun Hye group of traitors of south Korea against the DPRK have gone beyond the tolerance limit.
At the instigation of the U.S. imperialists the south Korean warmongers dared stage an outrageous "precision strike drill" aimed to destroy the office of the supreme headquarters of the DPRK on March 21 with 16 fighter bombers carrying air-to-surface guided missiles involved, the report said, and went on:
This is a thrice-cursed provocation to the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and intolerable hideous confrontation action.
Under authorization, the CPRK clarifies the following actions to cope with the prevailing grave situation:
From this moment all the actions of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK including the regular units of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the Workers-Peasant Red Guards, the Young Red Guards and all people will be oriented to launch a retaliatory battle of justice in order to resolutely eliminate the Park Geun Hye group of traitors on this land and under this sky.
The powerful large-caliber multiple rocket launching systems of the invincible KPA artillery units are highly alerted to scorch the Chongwadae bossed by Park Geun Hye in a jiffy.
Once it is determined, the DPRK will launch a preemptive attack operation of Korean style to wipe out not only the Park Geun Hye group of traitors but all big or small strongholds of aggression the way the world has never known.
It will be clearly proved by the miserable end the U.S. and the Park group will meet while going reckless. -0-
[Decapitation] [Retaliation] [MRL]
N.Korean Propaganda Shows Cheong Wa Dae Going Up in Flames
North Korea's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri on Tuesday published a crude clip in which aimed shots blow up President Park Geun-hye and Cheong Wa Dae.
The three-minute clip first shows photos of Park and Cheong Wa Dae placed in crosshairs. Then a subtitle pops up, "The traitorous Park Geun-hye clique, which is calling for its own self-destruction, is in here."
Shortly afterwards, an image shows of Park and Cheong Wa Dae being shattered into pieces.
The clip also shows an image of the White House being blown up.
North Korean propaganda traditionally mixes the terrifying and the ludicrous.
Prof. Nam Sung-wook of Korea University speculated that the clip is a response to Park mentioning of the possibility of regime collapse amid joint South Korea-U.S. military drills practicing "decapitation raids" on the North.
N.Korea Urges S.Korean Opposition Parties to Unite
North Korea's Rodong Sinmun daily on Tuesday urged South Korea's opposition parties to unite ahead of the general election next month.
The daily said the rift in the opposition camp would reward the ruling Saenuri Party with a victory by "skillfully playing the opponents."
The propaganda outlet said the Saenuri Party was able to ratify a "fascist" anti-terrorism law recently, which showed how important it is for the opposition parties to come together.
Politician or royalty? Prime Minister gets driven onto train platform
Posted on : Mar.22,2016 16:10 KST
Questions raised after Hwang Kyo-ahn disrupts passenger flow to board KTX from his official car
On the evening of Mar. 20, an office worker surnamed Kim who was on a KTX high-speed train from Seoul to Busan, saw something unexpected outside of the window. Two big cars were driving across the platform, where passengers were getting on and off the train.
The two automobiles stopped in front of train cars No. 1 and No. 2 and let out men in suits, who blocked passengers hurrying to board the train in time. Then, a man got out of the rear seat of a black Hyundai Equus and leisurely walked onto train car No. 2 and into first class.
The man was Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s Prime Minister.
[Column] The President is the source of the current crisis
Posted on : Mar.22,2016 16:11 KST
President Park’s reckless decisions at home and abroad have the country on edge, awaiting an explosion
Trouble on all fronts. Crisis. And at the heart of it, the very personal feelings of President Park Geun-hye. The crisis has only deepened as the spite of a president driven by self-centered thinking and anger management issues is projected deep into the way the country is being run. The basic principle of statecraft is to keep things calm within when there’s trouble outside, and keep things quiet outside when it’s tumultuous within. What we’re seeing now is chaos both inside and out. Outside, the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang is stirring things up with nuclear and missile provocations; at home, the South Korean public is in an uproar over the ruling Saenuri Party‘s ruthless purge of who aren’t loyal to Park ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections.
The big problem is that a lot of the crisis is being stirred and blown up by the president’s untamed sense of spite. Kim Jong-in, leader of the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, criticized Park‘s spotty understanding of economics and policy failures in a recent Kwanhun Club debate, warning that the country was on the brink of economic catastrophe. My concern is that the country is facing ruin because of the undisciplined leadership of a president driven by spite.
N. Korea warns of retaliation against Park
North Korea threatened Wednesday to wage a retaliatory war against President Park Geun-hye in the latest show of defiance against tougher sanctions and joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
"From this moment, the North's army and revolutionary forces will push for a retaliatory war to eliminate the United States and Park's followers in the name of justice," the North's committee handling inter-Korean affairs said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
It warned that its patience is wearing thin over Washington and Seoul's "reckless" military provocations.
For first time, more divided family members dead than alive
Posted on : Mar.21,2016 17:34 KST
Average age of family members is rising, with poor inter-Korean relations preventing more reunion events
Among South Korean members of families divided by the Korean War who have applied for a chance to meet their relatives in the North, the number of the dead has exceeded the number of the living for the first time. This reflects the rapidly increasing age of these family members.
When the Hankyoreh checked a database of divided families managed by the Unification Ministry and the South Korean Red Cross on Mar. 20, it found that, of the 130,838 South Koreans who had applied for reunions with family members in North Korea between 1988 and the present (Feb. 29), 65,922 (50.4%) were deceased, while 64,916 (49.6%) were still alive.
As recently as the end of January, more of the applicants had been alive (65,687, 50.2%) than dead (65,134, 49.8%).
Think tanks' shrinkage leaves Korea in uncharted terrain
By Choi Sung-jin
Korea is facing multiple challenges these days. Its economy cannot escape from a protracted slump, its industry is at a loss what to do with the fourth industrial revolution, its politics are as disorderly as ever, and its relationship with the communist regime in the North is shakier than ever.
Most needed at these times of change are various research institutions, which can analyze situations correctly and provide right directions for the nation.
In reality, however, thinks tanks in this country keep shrinking as years go by, government officials say.
Last year, 94 researchers left government-financed research institutions, according to a report by the National Research Council for Economic, Humanities and Social Sciences. The number accounted for 4 percent of the total. Since 2012, 414 research fellows, or 17.4 percent of the total 2,383, have departed 26 state think tanks.
The situation is even more serious with private think tanks. A large-scale macroeconomic research institution, one of a handful of such think tanks, has had about 10 key researchers leave since last year, as the financial conditions of its parent group worsened. The number of research papers from the institution plunged 33.5 percent, from 236 in 2014 to 157 last year.
Why South Korea should reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex
15 March 2016
Author: Jean Lee, New York University School of Law
On 11 February the South Korean government abruptly shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a joint inter-Korean industrial zone located just 10 kilometres north of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), as a punishment for North Korea’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch. The closure left more than 52,000 North Korean workers unemployed and more than 120 small- and medium-sized South Korean companies with nowhere to do business.
Korean People's Army Lt. Col. Nam Dong Ho is silhouetted against the truce village of Panmunjom at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, North Korea. (Photo: AAP).
On 8 March, the South Korean government announced unilateral sanctions against North Korea, including banning the entry of ships from third party countries to South Korea via the North and prohibiting dealings with 40 individuals and 30 entities related to the North’s weapons program.
[Kaesong] [Sanctions] [SK NK policy]
[Reporter’s notebook] Two years later, the NIS’s fabricated spy case and two upended lives
Posted on : Mar.19,2016 20:59 KST
NIS agents and prosecutors forged evidence but weren’t punished while their victims suffer deportation and unemployment
About this time two years ago, there was an incident that turned South Korean society on its head. As you may remember, this was an espionage case against a Seoul civil servant in which investigators fabricated evidence against the accused.
Yoo Woo-sung, a civil servant for the city of Seoul, was charged with espionage related to his multiple trips to the North, but it turned out that the documents that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) submitted to the prosecutors as evidence had been forged.
While Yoo’s lawyer played a major role in bringing the fabrication to light, ironically enough Kim Won-ha – the person who actually fabricated the evidence – played an important role at the very end. It was Kim’s revelation that the evidence had been fabricated and his attempted suicide in a motel that brought the case to wider public attention.
After that, Kim was put in prison to serve a two-year sentence for forging personal documents.
The reason that I am rehashing this incident for you is to inform you that, after Kim was released from prison on Mar. 11 upon completing his sentence, he was deported to China.
Immediately before leaving the country, Kim sent me a message, explaining that he had something to tell me. I interviewed him at the foreigner detention center in Cheongju on Mar. 15.
“Mr. Heo, if I explain everything that happened in this case one more time, do you think it could lead to a parliamentary probe or to an investigation by a special prosecutor? If that were so, I want to bring the truth to light instead of going to China, even if that means I have to spend more time here in the foreigner detention center,” Kim said. His question seemed serious.
I told him the hard truth, that there did not seem to be any chance of that happening. Parliamentary investigations and special prosecutors only happen when there is consensus in the National Assembly between the ruling and opposition parties, and it was unlikely that they would reach a consensus on this.
S.Korea Simulates Shooting Down N.Korean Scud Missile
South Korea has conducted a successful simulation of shooting down a North Korean Scud missile in mid-flight.
The military has developed a mid-range surface-to-air missile that can intercept an incoming North Korean missile 40 km above the ground, and the first test in January by the Agency for Defense Development was a success, a military source said Thursday.
The homegrown interceptor missile "accurately intercepted the incoming missile, which was heading to its target at supersonic speed," the source added.
North Korea is racing to develop a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on a Scud missile. The source said seven more tests are needed to achieve an 80-percent interception rate, "but it's clear is that we’ve made progress in developing a mid-range interceptor missile which so far only China, Israel, Russia and the U.S. possess."
Seoul hopes to deploy the finished article in 2020.
[Missiles] [Military balance]
Yonhap News Agency dragged down by pro-government bias
Posted on : Mar.15,2016 17:42 KST
Journalists at publicly-funded agency complain that management controls appointments and tone of reporting
The mood at South Korea’s mainstay news agency is becoming increasingly demoralized over unfair, pro-administration reporting and punitive reassignments.
After Park No-hwang took over as CEO of Yonhap News in Mar. 2015, he immediately stirred up controversy with his visit to Seoul National Cemetery and flag-hoisting ceremony. A string of punitive reassignments ensued, with many reporters being dispatched outside the Seoul area for criticizing the agency or playing a leading role in a 103-day strike three years earlier to oppose “parachute appointments” - the practice of administrations placing friendly associates at the head of major agencies. A labor union president who took part in an emergency statement opposing state issuance of history textbooks suffered docked wages.
The Korean Peninsula: Another Pig War?
The phrase “a Pig War” used in the title of this article has been mentioned in a number of previously published articles. Today, in view of another episode of escalation of inter-Korean relations, this phenomenon will be explained in detail. First, let us look at the causes of the new wave of antagonism. If we focus on the role of mutual demonization and agitation, we will notice that a few factors heavily contribute to the transformation of a misunderstanding into a hostility.
First, demonization drastically reduces the chances for the resumption of the inter-Korean dialogue. And there is a certain logic behind that, “How can we engage in negotiations, or maintain “hot lines,” or the system of mutual awareness with them, a true embodiment of evil?” Consequently, the tools that are normally employed in the settlement of misunderstandings preventing them from descending into conflicts prove to be ineffective in a situation of mutual distrust.
Victims ordered to pay back massacre compensation, with interest
Posted on : Mar.13,2016 11:39 KST
63rd ceremony for the Mungyeong massacre on Dec. 1949
Court has peeled away compensation awarded to victims of 1949 massacre, where innocents were slaughtered
Last January, a court complaint was delivered to the home of Chae Hong-rak, 73, in Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang Province. It ordered Chae and other surviving family members of victims in the 1949 Mungyeong massacre to return their “unjust enrichment.” Specifically, they were asked to pay punitive interest on the difference after a large reduction in their original compensation by Supreme Court ruling. Chae was stunned.
“They kill my family members for no reason and wait 63 years to pay compensation, and now they’re telling me to cough it up again,” he said. “Not only that, but they also want penalty interest on the compensation. It’s unbelievable.”
Chae is one of the survivors of the massacre on Dec. 1949, when soldiers with the South Korean Army indiscriminately slaughtered residents of Seokdal, a small community in Mungyeong’s Seokbong village. He lost nine family members in total, including both parents. The state attempted to cover up the incident, claiming it was perpetrated by armed communist guerillas. Chae went to work uncovering the truth. At one point, he served two months in prison under the Park Chung-hee administration for “anti-state activities.” It was in 2007 that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined the massacre to have been an illegal act by the state.
[Massacre] [Syngman Rhee]
[Analysis] North Korea’s “complete liquidation” of all S. Korean assets
Posted on : Mar.11,2016 18:02 KST
The North has decided to liquidate material related only to inter-Korean economic agreements
On Mar. 10, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which is in charge of South Korean affairs, released a statement announcing that Pyongyang would be "completing liquidating” all of the assets of South Korean companies and related organizations in North Korea, since the “South Korean puppet regime” had suspended all tourism to Mount Keumkang and all operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
“All of the agreements related to economic cooperation and exchange programs that North and South Korea have adopted and announced are hereby nullified,” the statement went on to say. “The planned special measures will continue to be taken with deadly political, military and economic consequences.”
The statement, which was titled “The silly sanctions spree of the Park Geun-hye clique will only hasten its own demise,” came in response to the sanctions against North Korea that the South Korean government announced on Mar. 8.
[Sanctions] [Kaesong] [Response] [Unification]
Jim Rogers calls Gaeseong park shutdown a mistake
Legendary investor calls on S. Korea to help N. Korea open economy
By Kim Jae-kyoung
SINGAPORE ? Legendary investor Jim Rogers called for South Korea to put a greater focus on taking measures to help North Korea open and reform its economy rather than holding war games every year.
Rogers said that unification will become a breakthrough for Korea to overcome various economic challenges.
"All you have to do is to take down the demilitarized zone. Stop spending money on defense. You had those war games every year for 50 years," said Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times in his residence in Singapore.
He said Seoul needs to take steps to expedite the opening of North Korea, instead of further isolating the country.
Rogers expressed skepticism about the effect of President Park Geun-hye's decision to shut down the Gaesong Industrial Complex.
[SK NK policy] [Kaesong] [Opening]
Empress Park Geun-hye
By Oh Young-jin
President Park Geun-hye, the first female head of state, has been doing what the combination of her three male predecessors failed to do. With a little hyperbole, Park may end up being part of the credible myth in which Korean women excel men. Sportswomen's lofty achievements in the global arena often being cited as an example. In Park's case, it is still a tossup whether she is doing the right job.
Regarding North Korea, she has turned the clock back to the height of the Cold War.
Admittedly, it is not her bidding that the inter-Korean standoff has come to the worst point in recent memory. The North brought in the New Year with the test of what it claims was an H-bomb test but experts believe to be a boosted-fission bomb, and followed it up with a long-range missile test in February.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy] [Agency]
Irrational Factor and Possible Deterioration of Inter-Korean Relations
Kim Jong-un’s statement that the country will soon be revamping its military doctrine to adjust to the new external conditions, and that it may use nuclear weapons to counter any threat “whenever necessary,” has made a stir and has been covered in a separate article (reference to the previous article Have We Witnessed a Dramatic Change in the Military Doctrine of the DPRK?). But despite the public’s reaction, this news was just another link in the chain of acts of mutual demonization and agitation. It would be, therefore, worthy to take a closer look at the entire chain
N.Korea to Liquidate S.Korean Assets
North Korea on Thursday lambasted South Korea's decision to pursue its own sanctions against the North and vowed to liquidate South Korean assets in the Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mt. Kumgang.
"From this moment, we declare all the inter-Korean agreements on economic cooperation and exchange null and void," the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement.
North Korea also said its troops are waiting for the final order to attack and warned that the Park Geun-hye government is "within the range of a primary attack" and warned South Korea will "pay an expensive price."
[Kaesong] [Sanctions] [Response]
[Reportage part I] S. Koreans apologize on 50th anniversary of Vietnam War massacres
Posted on : Mar.12,2016 09:54 KST
Neither the South Korean government or military has formally apologized for the thousands of civilians killed
During the Vietnam War, South Korean troops reportedly committed around 80 civilian massacres in which approximately 9,000 Vietnamese were killed. One of the worst of these was the Binh An Massacre.
Nguyen Tan Lan, a survivor of this massacre, delivered a speech at a memorial service held on the massacre’s 50th anniversary in Go Dai, a village in the rural commune of Tay Vinh (formerly Binh An) in Binh Dinh Province, in central Vietnam.
“I would like the South Korean government to take responsibility for what happened,” Nguyen said.
It was here in Tay Vinh, fifty years ago this February, that South Korean troops massacred 1,004 Vietnamese civilians over the course of three weeks. During that series of events, known as the Binh An massacre, Nguyen lost his mother and his younger sister. He was 15 years old at the time.
When Nguyen visited South Korea on the invitation of the Peace Museum in April of last year, he had an encounter with South Korean army veterans. The veterans accused Nguyen of being a liar, and he vowed on that day to never return.
[Vietnam] [War crimes] [Alliance]
Government denies request to substantiate claims about Kaesong wages
Posted on : Mar.11,2016 18:14 KST
After North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and long-range missile launch, Minister of Unification Hong Yong-pyo announces the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, at the Central Government Complex in Seoul, Feb. 10. At the same podium, Hong has spoken about unification being the ‘jackpot.’ (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
After claim that wages were going to WMDs, ministry says they can’t provide even non-specific evidence
The South Korean government responded to an information disclosure request by saying it was “unable to specifically and accurately confirm” the basis for claims that funds given to North Korea for the recently closed Kaesong Industrial Complex were diverted to development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Song Gi-ho, an attorney with the group MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, said on Mar. 10 that the Ministry of Unification made the decision not to disclose information in response to the Feb. 23 request for a list of documents confirming the diversion of wages from the complex’s workers to the North’s WMD development.
[Kaesong] [Canard] [Diversion]
[Analysis] S. Korea and US butting heads with China and Russia over tensions
Posted on : Mar.10,2016 16:08 KST
South Korean and US vessels in the East Sea during the Double Dragon exercises, Mar. 8. The exercises are held annually and this year around 30 vessels are participating including the South Korean Dokdo-class Amphibious Assault ship and the USS Richard Bonhomme, as well as around 70 aircraft. The exercises involve moving marines during amphibious operations and run until Mar. 18. (provided by the Navy)
Source of contention is Seoul’s choice to tackle nuclear issue through sanctions alone, without dialogue
The governments of South Korea and US on one side and China and Russia on the other have been moving in different directions since the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2270 imposing what have been called the strongest sanctions in history against North Korea. With Seoul and Washington focusing on pressuring Pyongyang with joint military exercises and their own independent sanction plans, Beijing and Moscow are sounding the alarm over tensions on the Korean Peninsula. A particular focus is the potential impact on the peninsula from the head-on clash between Seoul’s consistently hard-line approach since the resolution’s adoption and Beijing’s calls for balancing sanctions with efforts to preserve stability and pursue dialogue and negotiation. The opposing approaches from major Northeast Asian countries could get in the way of coordination and cooperation in enforcing the resolutions‘ terms.
[Sanctions] [NCW] [Dilemma]
A Plea for Peace in Korea
Posted on March 11, 2016 by Tim Shorrock
The wars drums are beating in Pyongyang and Washington, and the official media in both North Korea and the United States are eating it up. Time for a little sanity: a guest post by my colleague Simone Chun.
“Heart speaks to heart.”
By Simone Chun
The latest sanctions on North Korea are having immediate effects, including jingoistic reports from the foreign media on Korea and the halting of humanitarian aid to the North from international NGOs. Now is the time to bolster efforts to promote humanitarian and people-to-people exchange with North Korea: it’s the only channel left under the current political climate. Here’s the latest:
The bellicose and jingoistic U.S. media’s spin on recent events on the Korean peninsula: Mark Thompson in Time: “Is It Time to Attack North Korea?”
Taking out North Korea’s two major nuclear sites with air strikes would be dangerous but probably not too difficult, U.S. officials say. The possibility of North Korean retaliation against Seoul, South Korea’s capital of 10 million and only 35 miles from North Korea, would be a complicating factor, they concede.
[Joint US military] [False balance] [Dilemma] [SK NK policy]
Crisis on the Korean Peninsula: time for “Plan B”?
By Sukjoon Yoon
Mar 11, 2016
The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war, and military confrontations are a constant source of instability for the wider region. Recently, the security situation has further deteriorated after North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test and tested an ICBM, calling it a satellite launch. A new policy for the Korean Peninsula is needed, one that requires concessions by all stakeholders, not just the two Koreas. Security cooperation in the region needs to become both wider and deeper, with the two Koreas restrained from risky behavior by an understanding between the regional superpowers, China and the US, who share an interest in regional peace and good order. With North Korea on the verge of acquiring an operational nuclear weapons capability, allowing matters to drift will trigger a potentially catastrophic military build-up across the region. War is coming if nothing is done. There will be no winners – all parties involved will be losers. It is time for a “Plan B” to prevent this disaster.
[Engagement] [Dilemma] [Park Geun-hye]
Seoul to Announce Separate Sanctions Against N.Korea
Seoul will announce a list of separate sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday afternoon that include financial curbs on 70 North Korean individuals and agencies.
The targets of the sanctions are suspected of involvement in developing weapons of mass destruction and lining leader Kim Jong-un's coffers. Any ships that have docked in North Korean ports will be banned from South Korean ports for the following six months.
Kaesong Complex Closure Takes Its Toll
The North Korean border town of Kaesong is suffering economic hardship a month after South Korea closed the jointly operated industrial complex there.
Out of the city's 200,000 souls, many thousands had been employed in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Government and North Korean sources say the loss of their jobs has had a devastating impact on all aspects of life there.
The former light industry workers in the city have been mobilized to work in ginseng plantations and food processing factories, while laborers from other parts of the North have been sent home.
One North Korean source who exports products manufactured in Kaesong, said, "I recently visited Kaesong and the biggest change I noticed was that the bustling downtown traffic has disappeared."
FKI: the foundations of the S. Korean economy are collapsing
Posted on : Mar.7,2016 16:55 KST
Report points to across the board negative growth in key areas, and the need to foster new growth engines
Minus growth in ten important South Korean economic indicators
The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) found the foundation of the South Korean economy is collapsing, citing minus growth rate figures for ten major indicators including production, exports, consumption, and investment.
The group, which represents the interests of South Korea’s major chaebol, also said the crisis has been in full swing for at least five years. Its position is now expected to have an impact on the upcoming parliamentary elections in April, where fears of economic crisis are surfacing as a major issue.
In a document released on Mar. 6 under the title “Minus Economic Indicators Increase for South Korean Economy in Crisis,” FKI noted minus figures for the growth rate in industry labor productivity - indicating hourly production or value added per worker - for eleven straight quarters since 1Q13, when the Park Geun-hye administration took office. The average operation ratio for the manufacturing sector also slid for four straight years from 80.5% in 2011, the fourth year of Park’s predecessor Lee Myung-bak’s term, to 74.2% in 2015, its lowest level since recording 67.6% during the foreign exchange crisis in 1998.
This week, S. Korea to announce its own sanctions of North Korea
Posted on : Mar.7,2016 16:50 KST
New sanctions and stepped-up enforcement could be the end of Rajin-Hasan project with Russia
Early this week, the South Korean government is reportedly going to announce further sanctions of its own against North Korea. One result of the new sanctions is expected to be the wholesale suspension of the Rajin-Hasan Project, a trilateral logistics project involving South Korea, North Korea and Russia.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Unification and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries are involved in these independent sanctions,” a South Korean government official said on Mar. 6. “It was decided that they would be announced by the Office for Government Policy Coordination, under the Prime Minister’s Office, at the beginning of this week.”
The eclipse of Sunshine
Posted on : Mar.6,2016 17:29 KST
The Kaesong Industrial Complex was the last ray of light from the “sunshine policy” of South Korean president, Kim Dae Jung. All the other parts of the policy of engaging North Korea had already ended, from the Kumgang Mountain tourism project to the effort to present a united front at the Olympics. But the Kaesong zone, established in 2004 to bring together South Korean businesses and North Korean labor in a complex just north of the Demilitarized Zone, managed to survive more than a decade of ups and downs in North-South relations.
Then, last month, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye pulled the plug on Kaesong. North Korea expelled the South Korean employees and froze the assets. The North also cut the communications hotlines that had connected the two countries. In this way, the two sides cooperated one last time to extinguish the final fading rays of sunshine.
The nosedive in relations on the Korean peninsula is already having a regional impact. North Korea has announced, in response to a new round of sanctions from Tokyo, that it is suspending its investigations into the people it abducted from Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. Both China and Russia are concerned that South Korea will adopt a new missile defense system in the wake of North Korea’s actions. And the United States has sent four F-22 stealth fighters to fly over South Korea in addition to an aircraft carrier already on its way for upcoming exercises.
[SK NK policy] [Park Geun-hye]
A Roundtable Review of Hyun Ok Park’s The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea
By Sino-NK | March 07, 2016
As an indictment of the current world order, Hyun Ok Park’s The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea is an ambitious and far-reaching work. Engaging its readers in the latest postcolonial critiques and Marxist theories, Park deconstructs democratic politics of the post-Cold War era, laying bare triumphalist discourses on reparation, peace, and human rights. Placing the spotlight squarely on migrant laborers as “the protagonists of transnational Korea,” Park shows how identity politics and lofty notions of cosmopolitanism mask difficult social relations in the era of neo-liberal capitalism.
The book’s empirical foundation rests upon years of ethnographic observations, archival research, and notes from the field. It puts substance on the theoretical bone. The ambitious geographic and temporal scope of the book will doubtless frustrate some, and the alternative — some kind of post-capitalist order — might not impress. But, then again, this is not an effort to “fill a gap” in the literature so much as the birth of a new genre or category of analysis of Korea’s place in Northeast Asia. It is thus with great interest that Sino-NK’s roundtable reviewers engaged the work. — Steven Denney, Managing Editor
A Roundtable Review of Hyun Ok Park’s The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea
Park, Hyun Ok. The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea. Cambridge University Press, 2015. 400 pp. ISBN: 9780231171922
The Unconscious Explained: Review of Hyun Ok Park’s The Capitalist Unconscious
by Andre Schmid (University of Toronto)
The Capitalist Unconscious will leave readers raising their eyebrows in marvel, frowning in frustration, and scratching their head in wonderment. Hyun Ok Park has written a book that will change the way many think about Northeast Asia, both past and present.
At the core of the book lies the key challenge remaining from the Cold War for the region: the division of the Korean peninsula. For everyone invested emotionally or professionally in the politics of reunification, Park has a little surprise, which she reveals in the first clause of the book’s first sentence. “Korea,” she tells us, “is already unified.” (p. ix)
[Unification] [Capitalism] [Marxism]
S. Korea to announce own N. Korea sanctions this week
South Korea will announce its own North Korea sanctions this week after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted to impose stronger sanctions on the belligerent nation, a South Korean official said Sunday.
The sanctions will likely include banning the entry of ships to South Korean ports from third-party countries that have been to North Korea and blacklisting more organizations and personnel related to the North's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The measures will be made public by the Prime Minister's Office of the South early this week, the official added.
The UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 2270 on Thursday, tightening the screws on the communist nation that sparked global outrage with its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and its long-range missile launch on Feb. 7 in violation of U.N. rules.
South Korea has used practically all its cards that could pressure the North toward abandoning its nuclear program, the most notable of which is the shutdown of the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong last month.
Desperation setting in for fired Kaesong Complex workers
Posted on : Mar.3,2016 17:36 KST
Workers and representatives of Kaesong Industrial Complex tenant companies shout slogans calling for compensation from the government and the restarting of operations at the complex, during a ceremony at the grand ballroom of the Korea Federation of SMEs (Kbiz) building in Seoul, Mar. 2. (by Kim Myoung-jin, staff photographer)
With livelihoods caught up in closed complex, workers suffering with lack of government support
Shin Yoon-soon sighed as he explained the grim situation facing employees at the recently closed Kaesong Industrial Complex. The SD Corporation Kaesong branch chief was chosen co-chairperson of a new council for the complex’s workers at its starting ceremony on the afternoon on the afternoon of Mar. 2 in the grand ballroom of the Korea Federation of SMEs (Kbiz) building in Seoul. Most of the companies took their worker’s resignations between Feb. 12 - two days after the announcement of the complex’s closure - and Feb. 29, Shin explained.
“If you combine the 1,000 employees staying at the Kaesong Industrial Complex’s 123 tenant companies and the 1,000 or so more doing Kaesong-related work at head offices in the South, around 80-90% of those 2,000 or so people have lost their jobs. That increases to over 5,000 lost jobs if you add in employees at those companies‘ partner businesses,” Shin said.
Park vows pressure on N. Korea
President Park Geun-hye speaks about North Korea at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, Tuesday, during a ceremony marking the 97th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement. / Yonhap
President urges Japan to fulfill sex slavery agreement
By Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that South Korea and the international community will continue to put greater pressure on North Korea unless it abandons its nuclear weapons program.
"As long as the North does not show its commitment to denuclearization and refuses to change, we and the international community will continue to put pressure on the country," stated Park during a speech marking the 97th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement.
She said her administration will aim to make North Korea have no choice but to abandon its nuclear program.
"Now, the ball is in the North's court," she said.
SK Chairman's Daughter Defends Maritime Border
The daughter of disgraced SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won now serves with a naval unit defending the maritime border with North Korea in the West Sea, a military source said Tuesday.
Chey Min-jung was commissioned as a naval officer in November 2014 and has been posted to a frontline unit under the 2nd Fleet responsible for guarding the Northern Limit Line.
Chey relays orders from the commander to other vessels and oversees intelligence gathering. She apparently also takes part in missions along the NLL.
After graduating from Peking University, Chey joined the Navy in 2014 and last year served six months in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
BREAKING] Park warns of pressure on N. Korea
President Park Geun-hye vowed Tuesday to put pressure on North Korea unless Pyongyang abandons its nuclear program and ends its provocative behavior.
"We and the international community will continue to put pressure on North Korea unless the North shows its commitment to denuclearization... though our government will not shut the door for dialogue," Park said in a televised speech marking the 97th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement.
The Independence Movement on March 1, 1919 paved the way for Korea's independence from Japanese colonial rule, which lasted from 1910-45.
Park said South Korea and the international community should make North Korea recognize that its nuclear weapons cannot "maintain its regime" and are "meaningless."
Last month, Park warned that North Korea's nuclear program "will only hasten its collapse." It marked the first time that she Park has mentioned a regime collapse.
The Future of South Korea’s Domestic Politics: UN General Secretary to Become the President?
In the previous material we analyzed Ahn Cheo-soo, but at the threshold of the 2017 election, another figure may appear on the South Korea’s political horizon – the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. In the past, Ban Ki-moon worked in South Korea’s Foreign Service, having reached the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. There, he proved himself an able and talented specialist, though his vigorous tendency to shy away from responses to critical and awkward questions earned him the nickname “slippery eel.” Ban Ki-moon became the UN’s Secretary General during the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, and was considered a representative of the leftist trend, although as the leader of the international community he acted more like a person who typically vacillates according to the party line. It is possible that particularly this allowed him to remain for a second term since, as in this sense, his candidacy satisfied everyone. In South Korea, though, his appointment was viewed as the latest validation of South Korea’s growing prestige on the world’s stage. Ban’s authority as Secretary General will expire at the end of 2016, and he cannot be reelected, since he has already been serving a second term.
[Editorial] Seoul can’t ignore new international developments to deal with North Korea
Posted on : Feb.27,2016 16:12 KST
The final countdown has begun for the tough sanctions that the United Nations intends to place on North Korea for its recent nuclear and rocket provocations.
During a meeting of the UN Security Council held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Feb. 25, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power made public a draft resolution containing stern measures and asked the Security Council members for their cooperation. Since the draft was produced with the agreement of the US and China, it is certain to be adopted in basically its present form when the Security Council votes on it in a few days.
The sanctions can be described as a stern warning by the international community to North Korea for its violation of previous UN Security Council resolutions and its continuing provocations.
What sets this draft apart is that it both contains numerous measures that were not included in previous resolutions and also strengthens previous measures to make the sanctions much tougher.
For example, previous resolutions had instructed UN member states to only search North Korean vessels that were suspected of carrying illegal cargo, such as weapons of mass destruction, but this resolution makes such searches mandatory for all cargo ships carrying North Korean imports or exports.
In addition, the new sanctions would restrict or ban exports of coal, iron ore, gold, titanium and rare earths – some of North Korea’s major trading commodities – while banning the supply of jet fuel and rocket fuel. If these measures alone are implemented properly, Pyongyang will suffer a major blow.
Looking at the recent series of events, there is reason to believe that China yielded to the US on strengthening sanctions against North Korea in exchange for gaining the support of the US for its efforts to resolve the situation through a peace treaty. The fact that the US appears to have given some ground in the face of strong opposition from China to the potential deployment of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea hints that the two countries may have reached a deal behind the scenes.
The South Korean government must not ignore these international developments and must draw up a new plan for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, bearing in mind the negotiation phases that will follow sanctions. If Seoul continues its myopic blustering about how tough measures are the only answer, it may find itself left behind by changing circumstances.
[Sanctions] [THAAD] [Sidelined]
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