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F-15K Test-Fires Successfully Sophisticated Cruise Missile
By Jung Sung-ki
The F-15K multi-role aircraft, South Korea's next-generation fighter jet, has become the first F-15 to release a SLAM-ER cruise missile, Boeing Korea said Wednesday.
SLAM-ER refers to Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, a long-range, precision guided missile system.
``The F-15K and the SLAM-ER performed well,'' said John Heilmann, F-15K program manager for Boeing. ``The aircraft and the weapon complement each other, and together will help the ROK Air Force deter threats in the region.''
[Military balance] [Double standard] [Rocketry]
North trade firm officer defects to the South
March 29, 2006 ? A North Korean employee of a state-run company defected to the South with three family members recently, sources in the Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday, correcting some media reports that the man was a diplomat. He worked at a trading company run by the government, the ministry sources said. They gave few other details of the matter, citing its sensitivity.
The man and his family evidently walked into a South Korean diplomatic office in Hungary last week and asked for asylum. Officials are now questioning the man to determine his motives for the request.
Although asylum requests by ordinary North Koreans are not uncommon, the last notable defection of a person connected with the North Korean regime was in October 2000, when Hong Sun-kyong, a diplomat posted to Bangkok, defected with his family.
Films by defectors express nostalgia for North
March 29, 2006 ? Despite risking their lives to escape famine and political oppression in North Korea, many defectors still feel attached to their homeland. No matter how horrible it was to live there, the North remains their birthplace and was the backdrop for a good part of their lives.
Their nostalgia for home is well expressed in "Young-ok's Call Not Answered," a short film produced by teenage defectors attending a special school in South Korea. Produced by Shin Young-ok, 17, and several friends, it was recently released on the Internet portal Daum (tvpot.media.daum.net), and via SK Telecom and KTF mobile phone networks.
It begins in the winter with Young-ok calling her boyfriend, who is still in the North. The answering machine picks up, and she leaves a message that lasts the duration of the film.
Exhibition to Feature Cultural Treasures From North Korea
By Bae Keun-min
The National Museum of Korea will hold a special exhibition to present some 90 antiquities preserved in North Korea in June. Items will include, from left, the 143.5-centimeter-high bronze statue of Taejo Wang Kon (the first king of the Koryo Kingdom) excavated in 1993 at his mausoleum in Kaesong, Hwanghae Province; the 120-cm-high stone image of Kwanumsa Temple in Kaesong; "Ongchon Padodo (Paint of Waves in Ongchon)" by Chong Son (1676~1759) from the Choson Kingdom.
A special exhibition will present some 90 significant cultural treasures preserved in North Korea at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul in June.
Yi Kun-moo, director of the museum, said Tuesday in a press conference that the exhibition has been arranged in accordance with an agreement signed last week to promote exchanges with the (North) Korean Central History Museum in Pyongyang.
The museum said it will be the first time that an exhibition displays the assets from the North from different eras and kingdoms although there were expositions featuring cultural properties from a certain era or kingdom such as Koguryo.
KAIST Kicks Out Laughlin
By Kim Tae-gyu
The Board of Trustees at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Tuesday decided not to allow its beleaguered president Robert B. Laughlin to lead the university two more years.
Search Begins for Missing Soldiers
By Christopher Carpenter
A search began Tuesday for the remains of four soldiers from the ``Silmido'' commando unit, which was created with the goal of assassinating then North Korean President Kim Il-sung.
The soldiers were executed by firing squad in 1972 after their unit revolted against the South Korean government. Their remains were never recovered.
The unit's remaining 27 members blew themselves up during a street fight with South Korean troops.
4 N. Korean Defectors Arrive From Hungary
By Park Song-wu
A North Korean working for Pyongyang's state firm was confirmed Tuesday to have been safely brought from Hungary to South Korea with three other North Koreans who are believed to be his family members, sources in Seoul said.
N. Korean diplomat defects
TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2006
SEOUL A North Korean diplomat serving in Eastern Europe has fled to the South Korean Embassy in Budapest and asked for political asylum, a news report said Tuesday.
The Yonhap news agency of South Korea quoted unidentified diplomatic sources as saying that the diplomat and three other people, including his family members, have been under the close protection of South Korean Embassy officials since March 22.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, declined to give further details about where the family was staying or how they entered Hungary, Yonhap said.
Negotiations are under way to bring the North Koreans to Seoul, they said.
Officials for the South Korean Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
"We do not confirm or deny any reports of that kind," a South Korean official handling East European affairs said.
North Korea asked the Hungarian government to ban the diplomat from leaving the country after it learned of his defection, Yonhap said.
Work to Recover Remains of Commandos Begins
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea Tuesday started efforts to recover the remains of four executed commandos that had been trained to assassinate North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-sung.
The four, all members of a secret South Korean military unit nearly four decades ago, were executed by firing squad in 1972 after a revolt, and their bodies were not recovered.
A recovery team consisting of university researchers and an Army search unit started digging to recover the remains believed to be buried in several hills in Seoul's Kuro ward, the Defense Ministry said.
Pianist Defects to South to Play Jazz
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ Each year, more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea for economic and political reasons, but Kim Chul-woong had a different reason: He wanted to play jazz, a music forbidden in his Stalinist homeland.
Kim, a former pianist who played in a state-run symphony orchestra in Pyongyang, risked his life to come to South Korea in 2002 for the sole purpose of playing jazz, which is ostracized in the North as ``U.S. imperialistic reactionary music.''
PM-Nominee Faces Tough Hearing
By Jung Sung-ki
Prime Minister-designate Han Myeong-sook is expected to face a tough confirmation hearing next month as the main opposition party is vowing to take issue with her membership with the governing party and progressive views.
The largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP) urged Han, a two-term lawmaker of the Uri Party, to give up her party membership for the sake of ``political neutrality,'' particularly ahead of the May 31local elections.
To become prime minister, largely a ceremonial job in South Korea, a nominee has to garner a majority of ballots in the Assembly, while at least half of the Assembly members participate in the vote. The ruling party controls 143 seats in the 299-seat unicameral legislature, while the GNP has 126 seats.
Political analysts predict Han's appointment will be ratified without much difficulty, as minor opposition parties are in support of electing the country's first female premier.
No Further Hitches at Family Reunion in Mt. Kumgang
By Park Song-wu
No further troubles occurred during the second round of the 13th family reunion program that underwent at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea in absence of South Korean journalists, the Unification Ministry said on Friday.
But the ramifications of 21 South Korean reporters' pullout from the scenic tourism area on Thursday were still discernable.
Spring Frost Grips S-N Ties, But Not for Long
By Seo Dong-shin
Inter-Korean ties seemed to be chilled ahead of the blossoming spring season as Pyongyang lashes out at South Korea for its joint military drill with the United States. But experts predict the chill is unlikely to go on for long.
North Korea warned over the weekend it would react to the joint military exercises in the South with an unspecified ``strong measure of self-defense,'' condemning the drill as saber rattling for a preemptive nuclear attack on the North.
``If the United States dares to set fire to a nuclear war on this soil,'' Minju Choson, the North's official paper, thundered in a commentary Saturday, ``Our military and people will explode our self-defense power and hostility against the United States like a volcano, and turn the invaders into complete ashes.''
``Fears in the North about the joint military exercises are beyond your imagination, though most South Koreans would not even be aware of the fact that such a drill is under way on their soil,'' said a North Korean defector, who settled in Seoul two years ago.
[Joint US military]
KAIST Deans Threaten to Resign Against Laughlin
By Kim Tae-gyu
A total of 20 deans at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) threatened to step down from their current posts, unless KAIST's head Robert B. Laughlin resigns this summer.
More Defectors Rely on Crimes for Living
By Kim Rahn
A growing number of defectors from North Korea have been involved in criminal activity, with many of them suffering acute financial difficulty after failing to adapt in South Korea.
Crimes by defectors are also getting more pervasive and grave. Critics now call on the government to work out proper support measures for defectors in order to prevent them from being involved in crimes.
A 32-year-old defector, identified by his surname Choi, was charged without detention last Thursday for trafficking fake gasoline and assaulting firefighters who cracked down on the illegal sales.
Choi had only 1 liter of the quasi gasoline, worth about 18,000 won, but he will be punished for assaulting the firefighters.
``I beat them as I was angry at their crackdown on me, because that was the only way of making a living for me,'' Choi was quoted as saying.
Homegrown Naval Artillery Goes into Service
Anti-submarine lightweight torpedo Blue Shark.
The Navy is being equipped with domestically produced ship-to-ship missiles and torpedoes produced with homegrown technology. New-model weaponry that recently went into service includes the Haesung (Sea Star) anti-ship missile, the portable anti-aircraft missile Singung and the Cheongsangeo (Blue Shark) torpedo. The Agency for Defense Development held a ceremony celebrating the deployment of the new weaponry at the Gumi factory of defense contractor NEX 1 Future, with Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, the National Assembly's Defense Committee chairman Yoo Jay-kun and Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Nam Hae-il in attendance.
W100 billion (US$100 million) has been poured into development of the Haesung cruise missile between 1996 and 2003. Its effective radius is around 150 km. Launched off a warship, submarine or aircraft, the weapon can strike any vessel and even land targets within its 400-500 km range. The missile, which has a longer range than the Styx anti-ship missile and is more accurate, flies just above the surface and is thus difficult to intercept.
Appeasement of N.Korea Goes On Unabated
The entire 21-member South Korean press pool covering the family reunions at Mt. Kumgang walked out of the North Korean resort on Thursday in protest against the North's interference with their job. They decided they had enough of Pyongyang's attempts to meddle with their dispatches over terminology like "abduction" or "kidnapping" to describe what the North had done to some of those who were reunited with their families at the event. In the process, the North also delayed the departure of families after the reunions for 10 hours.
No Further Hitches at Family Reunion in Mt. Kumgang
By Park Song-wu
No further troubles occurred during the second round of the 13th family reunion program that underwent at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea in absence of South Korean journalists, the Unification Ministry said Friday.
But the ramifications of 21 South Korean reporters' pullout from the scenic tourism area on Thursday was still discernable.
The North's Korean Central News Agency reported that Seoul is wholly responsible for the withdrawal of South Korean press, saying that the journalists should not think of entering North Korea in the future.
In a statement, the official mouthpiece of Pyongyang argued that North Korea was ``extremely'' bothered that terms like ``abductee'' and ``seizure'' were used by South Korean journalists to mislead the public.
Two South Korean broadcasters described a 76-year-old fisherman, who was meeting his South Korean wife at the family reunion venue, as one of 485 South Koreans detained in North Korea against their will.
North Korean officials barred the journalists from transmitting stories to Seoul and demanded one of the two leave North Korea, warning it would take punitive measures for his ``defamatory'' reporting.
Pyongyang has argued that all the South Koreans residing in the North, including fishermen and what Seoul calls ``prisoners of war,'' voluntarily defected to North Korea during and after the 1950-53 Korean War.
Military Deploys Guided Missile Systems
By Jung Sung-ki
Navy officers look at "Hae Song (Sea Star)," a domestically-built long-range cruise missile, during a ceremony in Kumi, North Kyongsang Province, Friday. /Yonhap
The defense ministry has deployed three, domestically-built advanced guided missiles for the Army and Navy, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Friday.
The sophisticated precision-guided weapons are ``Shin Kung (New Bow),'' a portable short-range surface-to-air missile; ``Hae Song (Sea Star),'' a long-range cruise missile, and ``Chong Sango (Blue Shark)," a lightweight torpedo.''
A ceremony for the weapons' deployment was held in Kumi, North Kyongsang Province. Among those present were Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, Adm. Nam Hae-il, chief of Naval Operations, and Lee Yong-chul, vice chief of the DAPA.
The New Bow, developed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) under a $71 million project since 1995, is a shoulder-launched missile targeting helicopters, or low-flying fighter and transport aircraft, DAPA officials said.
From jailed activist to nearly prime minister
March 25, 2006 ? The prime minister-designate Han Myeong-sook's path to her new post has been long and winding. Her devotion to democratization landed her in prison for two years in the 1970s, although after her release she continued to be active and promoted women's issues.
Entering politics mentored by former President Kim Dae-jung, Ms. Han was appointed the country's first minister of gender equality, a post she retained under President Roh Moo-hyun before being named environment minister.
Ms. Han resigned to run for an Assembly seat for the Uri Party, to which she was elected.
The major opposition Grand National Party's only quibble with Ms. Han's selection appears to be her membership in the governing party.
Political observers say that Ms. Han was chosen by the Mr. Roh, after long deliberation, because of her magnanimous character and her reputation for being an "iron hand in a velvet glove," despite her career as a hardline activist.
Ms. Han, who turned 62 on the day she was nominated for the post, was born in Pyongyang, North Korea, and came to the South during the Korean War. As a teenager she did not picture herself as a democracy fighter ? she entered Ewha Womans University as French Literature major with dreams of being an author. However, she met Park Seong-jun, her husband-to-be at a club of Christian students in an encounter that changed the course of her life.
S. Korean Press Corps' False Report Refuted
Mt. Kumgang Resort, March 23 (KCNA) -- South Korean reporters, when covering the first batch of those involved in the 13th reunion of separated families and relatives from the north and the south on Mar. 20, released a provocative false report painting a man from the north side as one "abducted" or "captured" by the north in a bid to mislead the public opinion. In this regard the north side immediately lodged a strong protest with them against this false propaganda.
Nevertheless, the south side's press corps kicked up a fuss about its "withdrawal", refusing to cover the reunion of the second batch, far from apologizing for their provocative act.
As regards the south side's ceaseless provocations, the head of the north side's group participating in the 13th reunion of separated families and relatives clarified some points to the head of the south side on March 23.
Roh Names First Woman Premier
By Lee Jin-woo
President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday nominated Rep. Han Myeong-sook of the governing Uri Party as the new prime minister, the presidential office announced.
Han, 62, if confirmed by the National Assembly, will be the first female prime minister in the nation's history, replacing Lee Hae-chan.
S. Korean Reporters Leave NK to Protest Censorship
By Seo Dong-shin
Members of the South Korean joint press corps Thursday stopped reporting the ongoing family reunions at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea, to protest what they called the communist country's hindering of press freedom.
Paper Flags Hang After NK's Act of Desecration
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ If you go on a tour of a dialogue building straddling the inter-Korean border at the truce village of Panmunjom, you will see a rectangular frame showcasing 16 paper flags hanging on the wall.
Why framed paper flags? The answer is: To prevent North Korean soldiers from shining their shoes with real flags ever again.
When then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was holding a summit with his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush in Washington D.C. in 2001, a couple of North Korean soldiers entered the neutral place and shined their shoes with South Korean and U.S. flags in a gesture of insult.
Reporters leave N.K. after threat
South Korean reporters, who were in the North to cover the inter-Korean family reunions at Mount Geumgang this week, have left the country after Pyongyang threatened legal action against one of the journalists.
"A reporter returned to the South after North Korea restricted the news coverage activities of the South Korean joint press corps, and the principle of freedom of news coverage was broken," the joint press corps said. "There is no point for us to stay at Mount Geumgang."
Reporting spat delays return of reunion kin
After a standoff over a reporters' stories, North relents, allows buses to go south
March 23, 2006 ? In the wake of a quarrel with South Korean journalists covering the inter-Korean family reunion at Mount Kumgang in North Korea, Pyongyang yesterday barred a group of 99 aged South Koreans from leaving the country. They relented at about 8 p.m., after the group had spent several hours waiting on buses and then in their hotel rooms.
North Korea was protesting the use by some journalists of the term "a South Korean kidnapped to North Korea" in some reports describing some of the North Korean participants in the reunion.
A day earlier, officials seized videotape that broadcast journalists were attempting to transmit to Seoul by satellite because of the use of the offending term.
The event opened at Mount Kumgang on Monday. A group of 99 South Koreans arrived to be reunited with 269 North Korean kin, among whom was Cheon Mun-seok, a South Korean fisherman who was detained by a North Korean patrol boat in June 1969 and taken to the North. He was reunited with his wife, Seo Sun-ae, after 37 years of separation.
Drug Smuggling Increases in S. Korea
Pyongyang, March 13 (KCNA) -- Drug smuggling is now rapidly increasing in south Korea, according to south Korean MBC. 10 cases of drug smuggling were detected at Inchon airport this year, which increased by 40 percent as compared with those in the same period of last year. Philopon seized accounts for over 1,290 million won in domestic currency, or more than 15 times that of last year.
Ex-Presidents Stripped of Medals
By Kim Tong-hyung
The government Tuesday stripped former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo of their military honors and other state decorations awarded to them during the 1960s-80s.
Tensions Arise Over NK's Press Censorship
Joint Press Corps & Seo Dong-shin
MT. KUMGANG, North Korea _ Tensions have mounted between the North Korean authorities and South Korean joint press corps covering the family reunion events here Tuesday over what the Southern journalists consider as the communist country's censorship of the press.
The friction first began Monday, when some of the North Korean officials who were present at the reunion sessions protested South Korean broadcast journalists' description of a North Korean as an ``abductee.'' [Media]
South Korea After Roh Moo Hyun: Blood ties thicker than an alliance?
By Wakamiya Yoshibumi
A presidential election will be held in South Korea at the end of next year to choose a successor to Roh Moo Hyun, leader of the Uri Party, who is due to step down in February 2008.
While it is rather early to talk about his replacement, I recently led a Japan National Press Club mission to South Korea to observe the situation and to meet with the leading contenders for the presidency.
Military to Expand Communication Range
SEOUL (Yonhap) ? South Korea plans to expand the radius of its communication system for military use up to 6,000 kilometers by 2007, the country's main military technology think tank said Saturday.
The Agency for Defense Development said it has teamed up with a French firm to develop the new system, code-named, "ANASIS." South Korea's military communication system currently covers only several hundred kilometers.
[Military balance] [US military dominance]
Ex-President Kim Dae-jung to Receive Honorary Doctorate
By Jung Sung-ki
Former President Kim Dae-jung will receive an honorary doctorate from Yeungnam University in North Kyongsang Province next week for his contribution to democratization in South Korea and his efforts for inter-Korean reconciliation.
``It's a great honor for us to grant this honorary degree to the former president, the country's first Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has dedicated his life to peace and democracy on the Korean Peninsula,'' Woo Tong-ki, the university's president, said.
After the awards ceremony at the university next Tuesday, Kim, 82, is scheduled to give a lecture on cooperation and reconciliation between the two Koreas for Yeungnam students, Woo said.
The special lecture will be broadcast live via the university's official Web site (www.yu.ac.kr), he added.
North, South to Hold Special Reunion of Separated Families
7th Inter-Korean Red Cross Talks
Inter-Korean Red Cross Talks took place at the Mt. Kumgang resort from February 21 to 23.
Present at the talks were the members of a delegation of North Korea headed by Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society Choe Song Ik. The delegation of South Korea was led by Secretary General of the South Korean Red Cross Jang Sok Jun as its chief delegate.
Both sides adopted an agreement after having an exhaustive discussion on the issues of positively promoting the inter-Korean reconciliation, cooperation and humanitarian work of the Red Cross societies.
Korean Youth Call for Playing Leading Role in Reunification Movement
S. Korean Youth Delegation Visits Pyongyang
Five North Koreans defect by boat
More than 1,000 North Koreans defect every year
Five North Koreans have fled to South Korea in a small fishing boat, avoiding detection along one of the world's most heavily fortified borders.
Their vessel was found adrift in South Korean waters on Saturday.
The five, who are believed to include four members of the same family, have applied for asylum, the South Korean news agency, Yonhap, said.
They told officials that they decided to defect after hearing on the radio that life in the South was better.
[EDITORIAL]Tale of N. K. gulag
Some recent blockbuster motion pictures like "Joint Security Area," "Taegukgi," "Silmido" and "Welcome to Dongmak-gol" portrayed the bitterness of ideological division and military confrontation between North and South Korea. Those films were so successful that the decades-long national division has become a popular subject in the local film industry.
The successive megahits, however, stand in contrast to the dearth of arts and entertainment works depicting today's North Korea and its people, especially the plight of common folk groaning under political oppression and poverty. There may be some reasons, like low chances of commercial success and shortage of public interest.
Considering the recent trend, the musical "Yoduk Story" (www.yodukstory.com, telephone: 02-569-4483)) that describes the extreme suffering of people locked up in North Korean concentration camps and political prisons deserves encouragement and support.
S Korea opens DMZ checkpoints
By Charles Scanlon
BBC News, Seoul
South Korea has opened immigration checkpoints at the demilitarised zone which has sealed it off from North Korea for more than half a century.
The facilities will ease the journey of hundreds of South Koreans who commute each day to a new industrial zone on the northern side of the line.
South Korea said the two sides were in the process of becoming a unified community.
Commission to Disclose View on North Korean Human Rights
By Kim Cheong-won
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is expected to deliver its official opinion on North Korea's human rights issues to the government next month.
According to a report by the Dong-A Ilbo Thursday, a decision-making committee of the state human rights panel agreed last December to express its official opinion about North Korea's human rights.
[EDITORIAL]Maritime border problem
While the situation along the Northern Limit Line, the maritime border with North Korea in the West Sea, is relatively calm these days, Pyongyang is intensifying a political campaign to "nullify" it, half a century after the line was drawn by the U.N. Command. The North's renewed verbal offensive to alter the sea border ruptured a recent inter-Korean military conference.
Running between the North Korean coastline and five South Korean-controlled islands, from the Han River estuary to the 38th parallel, the NLL has effectively blocked the North's maritime activities in the sensitive sea area northwest of the Demilitarized Zone. Both military and civilian vessels operating in the coastal areas of Hwanghae Namdo in North Korea are barred from sailing directly to the open sea because of the NLL.
The North has refused to recognize the NLL, claiming that it was unilaterally and arbitrarily drawn by the U.S.-led UNC shortly after the cease-fire that ended the Korean War. But the demarcation line itself reflected the military balance at the time of the signing of the Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953. The U.N. forces which had occupied almost all islands in the West Sea withdrew from islands north of the 38th parallel while keeping Baengnyeongdo, Daecheongdo, Socheongdo, Yeonpyeongdo and Udo all located south of 38 degrees N.
In the inter-Korean Basic Agreement of 1991, the North effectively accepted the NLL as the document stipulated that both sides will "respect the present non-aggression zones until a new non-aggression demarcation line is fixed in the future." In 1999, North Korea unilaterally announced a "new navigation order" on the West Sea to replace the NLL but the South has completely ignored it. Now Pyongyang seems to believe that time has come for a change.
The North Korean delegate in the latest military talks at Panmunjom offered that both sides "boldly give up their respective claims which could cause a conflict" on the sea. He refused to discuss Seoul's proposal on ways to prevent military clashes and arrange joint fishing operations in the sensitive zone, arguing that without resolving the fundamental NLL issue, all other measures would be meaningless.
It is now anticipated that the maritime border question will continue to be raised as a priority subject in future inter-Korean dialogue and Seoul will have to respond. The best way to counter the North's NLL offensive, we believe, is to put the issue into the broad category of tension reduction measures on the peninsula. They should include turning the DMZ into a true buffer zone with the removal of all hidden arms on both sides, securing free access corridors to the Mt. Geumgang tourism zone in the east and to the Gaeseong industrial estate in the west, for example.
And what will matter most in any discussion for possible change to the sea border will be domestic public opinion, especially those of the anti-North conservative force which will oppose redrawing the line even an inch south, let alone opening any part of it. Coping with the internal repercussions promises to be even harder than dealing with the North on its maneuverings to replace the NLL.
New Offices Open for Travelers to N. Korea
By Seo Dong-shin
PAJU, Kyonggi Province ? Two new immigration and quarantine offices opened Wednesday on the southern side of the inter-Korean border, paving the way for up to 4.3 million people to visit North Korea annually.
Minister of Unification Lee Jong-seok attended a ceremony to mark the opening of an office in Paju, north of Seoul, dubbed ``Gyeonggui Highway Transit Office.''
``The completion of the immigration facilities is the first step toward securing safe and smooth traffic between the South and North,'' Lee said in a speech at the ceremony. ``I think opening of inter-Korean railways and roads should follow as soon as possible.''
Navy Launches 5th Stealth Destroyer
By Jung Sung-ki
The Navy's fifth 4,000 ton-class destroyer equipped with radar-evading stealth technology will be set afloat Thursday, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
29 Dissidents Lauded as Pro-Democracy Activists
By Kim Rahn
The late poet Kim Nam-joo and 28 other dissidents have been honored as pro-democracy activists for their struggle against the dictatorial rule of former President Park Chung-hee in the 1970s.
Families Release List of Ex-S. Korean Spies
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ An association of families of former South Korean spies sent to North Korea released the names of people still believed to be held in the communist state on Saturday and called on the Seoul government to demand their release.
The list, according to the association, contains the names of 41 former spies believed to have been captured while carrying out missions in the North until the early 1970s.
Officials at the private association claimed to have obtained the names from written records of inter-Korean armistice committee meetings between 1969 and July 1972, in which the North claimed to have arrested the named persons on charges of spying for the South.
The communist state has sent, and is still believed to be sending, a number of spies to the South. An infiltration into Seoul early 1968 by 31 North Korean agents is known to have targeted then South Korean President Park Chung-hee.
The South Korean government rarely acknowledges sending anyone north on spy missions.
But a recent reopening of a case following the North Korean infiltration showed that the government had trained dozens of special agents, whose sole mission was to reciprocate the North's failed attempt and assassinate North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung.
PM Hints at Resigning Over Golf Scandal
By Lee Jin-woo
Prime Minster Lee Hae-chan on Sunday apologized for last week's controversial golf incident, hinting at his possible resignation over the scandal, an aide to Lee said.
``I feel regret for causing trouble for the public due to my inconsiderate behavior,'' Lee was quoted as saying by his press secretary Lee Kang-jin. ``I'll decide whether I must resign or not, after President Roh Moo-hyun finishes his state visits to African nations.''
Roh will decide whether to accept the premier's offer to resign or not after his Africa trip, Chong Wa Dae officials said.
Premier Lee called Roh Saturday night, expressing his willingness to make a public apology, the secretary said.
Lee reportedly played golf, which is still considered an extravagant sport here, last Wednesday instead of attending a ceremony to mark the 87th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule.
Fewer Koreans Emigrate to Foreign Nations
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ The number of South Korean emigrants is on a steady decline due mainly to the country's economic development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Sunday.
A total of 8,277 citizens emigrated last year, down from 9,759 in 2004, 11,584 in 2001 and 15,917 in 1995, according to the ministry's data.
"The reduction seems attributable to South Korea's economic growth and continued tightening of foreign countries' immigration-related regulations," a ministry official said.
Generals end 2-day talks: No progress
Sea boundary change called biggest barrier to agreement
March 04, 2006 ? General officers from the two Koreas failed in efforts to map out measures to reduce military tensions on the peninsula and in the Yellow Sea yesterday.
The breakdown in the talks, military sources here said yesterday evening, resulted from North Korean demands to redraw the sea boundary that divides the two nations' territorial waters to the west.
Seoul wanted to discuss measures to reduce the risk of confrontation over the occasional intrusions of fishing boats and military craft across the boundary. Some of those incidents have been bloody.
Pyongyang said doggedly that a "fundamental measure" was needed: a redrawing of the boundary, which it has never accepted but has observed in practice.
The boundary was imposed by the United Nations after the Korean War armistice.
2 Koreas Fail to Sign Accord at Military Talks
Joint Press Corps & Seo Dong-shin
PANMUNJOM ? Military officers of South and North Korea on Friday failed to draw up an agreement on ways to prevent naval clashes in disputed waters of the West Sea despite the approaching crab-catching season which has caused such heavy casualties on both sides in the past.
At the general-level talks held at the neutral border village of Panmunjom, the South wanted to discuss easing tensions along the Western sea border by establishing a joint fishing area, but the North insisted on its long-standing argument that the sea border itself be remapped first, Maj. Gen. Han Min-gu, the South's chief delegate, told reporters in a briefing after the two-day talks.
During April-June crab-catching season, fishing boats from China as well as the two Koreas often jostle for better positions along the maritime border between the two Koreas on the West Sea, which can lead to their accidental crossing of the poorly drawn border. Naval ships of South and North Korea, guarding fishing boats of each own nationality, have fought deadly gun battles around the border in 1999 and 2002, both times in June.
The North has argued the South's Northern Limit Line (NLL) should be moved farther south, on the grounds that it was unilaterally delineated by the U.S.-led U.N. Command after the Korean War (1950-1953).
Wrapping up the highest-level military talks that resumed 21 months after the last round, the Northern delegates expressed serious discontent, trying to hold unilateral press meetings with the South's reporters, which the Southern delegates blocked.
General officers and staff from the two Koreas' militaries at the truce village of Panmunjeom yesterday as their third round of talks began. North Korea agreed to consider proposals from Seoul on security measures for cross-border railroads, but complained about U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises
Degree awarded to Kim Dae-jung
March 03, 2006 ? Former President Kim Dae-jung will visit Daegu on March 20 and 21 to receive an honorary doctorate degree at Yeungnam University for promoting cooperation between North and South Korea.
The university was established during former President Park Chung Hee's reign, and Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the opposition Grand National Party, served as the head of the board of directors of the university for six months in 1980.
Koreas Discuss Establishment of Joint Fishing Area
Joint Press Corps & Seo Dong-shin
Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-chol, third from left, chief North Korean delegate to the inter-Korean military talks, speaks during the first session of a two-day meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom, Thursday. /Joint Press Corps
PANMUNJOM _ General-level officers of South and North Korea sat down together on Thursday to discuss measures for easing tensions on waters around the disputed West Sea border and offered the possibility of setting up a joint fishing area there.
On the first day of the two-day military talks, the South Korean delegation led by Maj. Gen. Han Min-gu, chief policymaker of the Defense Ministry, put forward the agenda that also included signing an agreement regarding security-guaranteeing steps on the inter-Korean border.
New Immigration Offices for NK Visitors to Open
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ New offices for South Korea's immigration and quarantine officials to check North and South Korean visitors moving between the two rival Koreas are to officially open later this month, the Unification Ministry said Thursday.
Seoul Returns Monument to N. Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) ? South Korea returned an 18th-century war monument looted by Japan a century ago to North Korea on Wednesday, the 87th anniversary of the nation's independence movement from colonial Japan.
South Korea kept the memorial, "Pukgwandaechopbi," since October, when the Japanese government handed it over to its rightful owners.
Erected in 1707, the 187-centimeter tall monument honors a Korean general who defeated Japanese invaders in the 16th century.
It was seized by Japanese troops in 1905 and had been kept at a Tokyo shrine that honors the country's war dead.
The handover ceremony was held earlier in the day in North Korea's border city of Kaesong, with around 150 South Korean officials and their North Korean counterparts on hand. [Japanese colonialism]
Foreign Prisoners Cherish Freedom
This is the first of the two-part series highlighting the life of foreign prisoners in Korea. ?ED.
By Steve Kuack
Coming to Korea with baskets of aspiring dreams has turned into barrels of dreaded nightmares for some. For many foreigners, Korea is a place to experience a different culture and also a destination to earn a decent living. Mostly this is true, but for others these innocent expectations have been met with difficult despair. Guilty of illegal behavior or victims of injustice, there are foreigners who have been sent to Taejon Prison.
A total of about 4,000 inmates are serving time, including roughly 300 foreign prisoners from 45 different countries. The alleged crime in question is usually divided along national lines: Malaysians, credit card fraud; Vietnamese, theft; Mongolians, manslaughter; and Westerners, drugs. Compared to Koreans, foreigners typically receive harsher sentences for identical crimes, but of the foreigners Westerners usually get lighter sentences than those from elsewhere.
According to extensive correspondence and interesting interviews with a vast array of foreign prisoners, their experience is a sobering reminder for everyone to cherish freedom. Assigned to cells aligned like the cramped quarters of the slave ships of the 17th century, two inmates share a cell with living quarters measuring no more than 4' by 7'.
Calls Rise for Review of Rangoon Bombing
Inspectors at a bomb site at Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon, now Yangon, the capital of Burma (Myanmar) on Oct. 9, 1983. Seventeen South Korean high-ranking government officials who accompanied then President Chun Doo-hwan during his visit to the Southeast Asian country were killed in the bombing incident.
/Korea Times File
SEOUL (Yonhap) ? Twenty-three years after 17 high-ranking Seoul government officials were killed in a North Korean bombing in Burma (now Myanmar), the full truth may be revealed as one of the Northern communist agents involved wants to live in South Korea, according to a South Korean lawmaker.
On Oct. 9, 1983, a powerful bomb demolished the Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon (now Yangon), just before visiting South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan was to pay homage there.
The mausoleum is a major national sanctuary in Myanmar where the body of the country's founding leader, Thankin Aung San, is buried. The late patriot is the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, a prominent opposition leader in Myanmar.
Ex-Presidents to Be Stripped of Orders
State decorations awarded to 154 high-profile politicians and businessmen, including former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, will be cancelled.
The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has decided to annul the state orders given to 61 people who were found guilty of organizing a coup d'etat in 1979 and who participated in the suppression of the democratic movement in Kwangju in 1980, including the two former presidents.
Chun and Roh thus will be stripped of a dozen medals each.
Campaigning for Human Rights, and Fishing for Souls
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: February 24, 2006
SEOUL, South Korea - After spending 18 months illegally in China in the mid-1980's and converting to Christianity, Kim Tae Jin was locked up for four years in North Korea's infamous prison camp No. 15 at Yodok.
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Seokyong Lee for The New York Times
Kim Tae Jin, right, is a co-chairman of NK Gulag, a human rights organization in Seoul.
He fled North Korea a few years after his release and in 2001 found his way to South Korea, where he is a co-chairman of NK Gulag, a private group focusing on human rights in North Korea. For Mr. Kim, while securing those rights is an important goal, it comes second to a far more consequential one: evangelizing in North Korea.
Until the start of its "sunshine policy" of engagement in the late 1990's, the South Korean government highlighted the North's human rights violations. The Korean Central Intelligence Agency debriefed North Korean defectors and urged some to transform their statements into books.
One such account became "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag," a memoir by Kang Chol Hwan, a defector who was invited to meet President Bush in the White House last year. Mr. Kang, who has said that intermediaries connected with the intelligence agency helped him publish his memoir after he arrived here in 1992, is a co-chairman of NK Gulag, which is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
Against this political backdrop, it is an open secret that some North Korean defectors, and their backers, exaggerate their experiences in North Korea.
"They exaggerate their stories for money and fame," said the Rev. Joseph Park, the Christian Council of Korea's mission director. "They say that they were political prisoners when they were ordinary prisoners, or that they saw something they only heard about."
[Camouflage] [Religion][Propaganda] [Defector reports]
Cardinal Demands NK Admit Priests
By Kim Ki-tae
The Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the nation's second cardinal, gestures in a meeting with lawmakers from the governing Uri Party at Myongdong Catholic Cathedral in central Seoul, Monday. /Yonhap
Korea's second cardinal, Cheong Jin-suk, Monday suggested that Pope Benedict XVI would not visit North Korea as long as North Korea disallow dispatch of Catholic priests to the Communist nation.
``We have demanded several times Pyongyang accept Catholic priests of any nationality. However, North Korea kept saying it is not time yet,'' Cheong said during a press conference held at Myongdong Catholic Cathedral in central Seoul. It was his official press conference since being named second South Korean cardinal. ``Therefore it is difficult for the pontiff to pay a visit to the North.''
on-screen reunion session of separated families
On-screen reunions: Yoo Hyang-shik, right, front row, watches the video screen along with her family members as her elder brother Yoo Chang-shik, a North Korean resident, shows a photo of his family members during an on-screen reunion session of separated families at the South's National Red Cross headquarters in central Seoul, Monday. The two-day reunion for separated families is the fourth of its kind. Forty families from each side ? a total of 575 people ? are to meet long-lost kin through special video link-ups.
'WiBro' Service to Build High-Tech Military
By Jung Sung-ki
The military is going high-tech by using the country's high-speed mobile Internet service, dubbed ``WiBro,'' beginning next month, the Defense Ministry said Monday.
The ministry will take part in a pilot program for the WiBro network, led by the Ministry of Information and Communication, starting on March 2, a spokesman for the ministry said in a briefing.
``We plan to form a pan-governmental task force to study the application of the advanced mobile technology for the military and its weapons development,'' said Col. Koh Won-gook at the ministry's information and technology department.
Two Koreas Exchange Lists of Delegates for Military Talks
By Jung Sung-ki
South and North Korea have exchanged their lists of delegates to the upcoming high-level military talks, the Defense Ministry said Monday.
The five-member South Korean delegation will be led by Maj. Gen. Han Min-gu, chief policymaker at the ministry. Among the delegates are Navy Capt. Eom Hyeon-seong, Navy Capt. Kim Hyeong-su and Sim Yong-chang, a division chief at the Unification Ministry.
Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-chol will represent the North at the talks. The Northern delegates include Col. Ri Hyong-son, Col. Oh Myong-chol, Lt. Col. Pae Kyong-sam and Lt. Col Pak Ki-yong, it said.
DJ Asked to Deliver US Message to NK
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ Former South Korean President and Nobel laureate Kim Dae-jung has a U.S. "message" to be delivered to North Korea when he visits the communist state in June, a diplomatic source said Friday.
U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow discussed inter-Korean and Seoul-Washington relations when he had a luncheon meeting with Kim in Seoul in early February, the source said.
Kim's office confirmed the meeting took place and that there was a message the United States wanted to be delivered to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
NK Confirms Accord on 'Missing' S. Koreans
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ North Korea's state news agency on Friday confirmed Pyongyang's agreement in the just ended inter-Korean talks to resolve the issue of South Korean prisoners of war and abductees held in the country.
"According to the agreement, the North and South agreed to...work toward discussing and resolving the issue of separated families and relatives, including the issue of people missing from during and after the (Korean) war," the North's Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report from Pyongyang.
'Kim Dae-jung's NK Visit Likely to Be Individual'
By Lee Jin-woo
Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan said Wednesday former President Kim Dae-jung's planned visit to North Korea will be made as an individual trip rather than a special envoy of President Roh Moo-hyun.
On the first day of a five-day interpellation at the National Assembly, Lee said the government has not considered whether Kim would carry a special message from President Roh during his visit to the North.
Inter-Korean Military Talks
Six-Party Nuclear Dialogue Ought to Resume Quickly
At long last, inter-Korean general-level military talks will resume next Thursday at Tongilgak, North Korea's pavilion in the truce village of Panmunjom, nearly two years after their standstill. The major topic of the two-day talks will be how to prevent naval clashes at the sea border between the two sides, especially in the West Sea. The talks, held at the request of the North, will also tackle the issue of establishing an area of joint fishing in the West Sea.
In addition, the meeting is expected to deal with how to guarantee the safe passage of participants in inter-Korean negotiations who use cross-border railways and roads, as already proposed by the South in a letter to the North. The safe passage is drawing concerns because former President Kim Dae-jung hopes to use an inter-Korean railway to visit the North in June.
Koreas to Hold Military Talks on March 2-3
By Jung Sung-ki
Military generals from South and North Korea will meet next week for the first time in nearly two years to discuss ways to avoid accidental armed clashes along the maritime border, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The talks, the third of its kind, will be on March 2-3 at Tongil-gak, a pavilion on the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, the ministry said in a statement
Kim Dae-jung Delays NK Visit till June
By Seo Dong-shin
Former President Kim Dae-jung has decided to postpone his trip to North Korea, which was originally planned for late April, until June, an aide to Kim said on Monday.
The decision came apparently as a result of claims from the largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP) that the trip could influence the local elections on May 31. The conservative GNP has argued that Kim's much-touted visit to Pyongyang could be ``abused to serve the ruling camp's political campaigning'' ahead of the elections.
``We appreciate that a majority of people, as well as the ruling and opposition parties, have been highly supportive of Kim's planned visit to the North,'' Choi Kyong-hwan, a press secretary to Kim, said in a statement.
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