ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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N.K. blocks Gaeseong visit of 200 South Korean journalists
North Korea yesterday refused to admit some 200 South Korean journalists who had planned to visit the industrial complex in Gaeseong.
This is believed to be the largest group of visitors that has been denied entry to the joint inter-Korean business park in the North Korean city that lies just across the border.
The last-minute cancellation came several days after the North abruptly called off the test run of cross-border trains, just a day before the scheduled event was to take place last week.
Observers said Pyongyang may have decided not to allow entry to the journalists in protest over criticism in the South Korean press against the North's unilateral cancellation of the railway tests.
North Korea's Rodong Shinmun had said South Korean ministers, politicians, experts and the press were "putting the cart before the horse" by blaming the North for the cancellation of the test runs on two refurbished rail links.
About 150 members of the Gwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists, and around 30 reporters covering the Foreign Ministry have been preparing to visit Gaeseong for the past two months.
The North, which had previously been keen on the idea, told the South on May 27 that the journalists will not be allowed to visit the city and would be restricted to touring the industrial complex. [Kaesong] [NLL]
Rodong Sinmun on Failure to Conduct Inter-Korean Trial Train Operation
Pyongyang, May 29 (KCNA) -- The south Korean authorities are now provocatively shifting on to the north side the blame for the failure to conduct the north-south trial train operation as scheduled on May 25. In this regard Rodong Sinmun Monday in a signed commentary denounces it as an incomprehensible and reckless act. Recalling that at the inter-Korean general-level military talks held before the trial train operation, the south side turned its face from the issue of fixing a sea boundary in the waters of the West Sea, the most urgent and essential issue for ensuring security in the field of military affairs between the north and the south, the commentary says
Kim Dae-jung to Travel North Overland
South and North Korea have agreed to allow former president Kim Dae-jung to go to Pyongyang overland when he visits from June 27 to 30. The South Korean chief delegate to preparation talks Jeong Se-hyun said Monday the two sides reached the agreement in a meeting in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, but they still needed to fine tune the details, including the means of travel. They will hold a third round of talks between June 7 and 9.
"Since the schedule may be subject to change depending on what transport is used, we need to hold another round of talks to discuss the matter," Jeong said. He said the North had not so far responded to the South Korean suggestion that Kim's entourage should consist of some 90 people.
A Unification Ministry official claimed there was still a chance that the former president may take a train, adding the two sides "need to talk about it." The North Korean military on Sunday condemned the ministry's insistence that Kim should take the train as a "politically motivated ploy."
N.Korea's Military Spits on Seoul's Efforts
A spokesman for the North Korean delegation to inter-Korean general-grade military talks said Sunday, "We have long known that a visit to Pyongyang by train by a certain person is a politically motivated ploy disguised under the cloak of cooperation." One presumes he was referring to former president Kim Dae-jung's hopes to go to North Korea by train next month. The spokesman also offered his tuppence worth on the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex. "Although the South makes lots of noise, the project remains at the level of a pilot project now the ground has been leveled... We are keenly watching if it will be short-lived as the light-water reactor in Sinpo." That international reactor project was canceled when North Korea resumed development of nuclear weapons.
Two Koreas discuss former president's visit
Economic cooperation promotion meeting to be held on Jeju Island June 3-6
By Lee Joo-hee
Officials of the two Koreas met in Gaeseong yesterday to work out the plans for former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's trip to Pyongyang next month.
South Korea also accepted the North's suggestion to hold the next economic cooperation promotion meeting from this Saturday for four days. The venue for the committee meeting will be Jeju Island.
Kim Dae-jung likely to visit N.K. June 27-30
Economic cooperation meeting to be held on Jeju Island from this Saturday
The two Koreas yesterday narrowed down the date for former President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang, but failed to agree on the type of transportation.
"The two sides tentatively agreed on June 27-30 for the visit but the date is flexible depending on the type of transportation," said the head of Seoul's working-level delegation and former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun after meeting with his North Korean counterparts in Gaeseong.
Health cited as Kim tries again to board a train
May 29, 2006 ? Former President Kim Dae-jung, who plans to visit North Korea in late June, had appealed to the North Korean authorities to allow him to travel by train to Pyongyang because of his poor health, his aides said yesterday. The pleas, however, fell on deaf ears.
"When the delegates of the two Koreas met at Mount Kumgang in the middle of this month to prepare for Mr. Kim's trip, Dr. Chang Suk-il, the former president's physician, accompanied the South Korean delegation," one of Mr. Him's aides said. Dr. Chang reportedly told the North Koreans that in his medical opinion, air travel would not be safe.
"Mr. Kim is 80 years old, has high blood pressure and needs dialysis, so it is difficult for him to fly to the North," Dr. Chang reportedly said.
Choi Gyeong-hwan, Mr. Kim's secretary, elaborated on the need for dialysis during his four-day stay in the North, and said a doctor, nurse and medical technician would accompany the former president.
At the Mount Kumgang meeting, which ended on May 17, the North Korean delegation asked Mr. Kim to fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang over the Yellow Sea, rejecting Mr. Kim's wish to use the recently reconnected inter-Korean railroads. North Korea has blocked all efforts by Seoul to test those reconnected rail links, most recently last week when it abruptly cancelled a test a day before it was scheduled.
Delegations from the two Koreas are scheduled to meet again today in Kaesong to discuss further preparatory measures for Mr. Kim's trip, including dates and, again, the means of transportation.
The North has cited a lack of military safeguards for the latest cancellation of proposed test runs of trains across the Demilitarized Zone.
A senior Uri Party official suggested yesterday that hiding military installations from view was the major issue for the North's military; that would track with the experience over the past 10 years of several foreign users of North Korean trains, who are usually required to travel at night.
KPA Side Refutes South Side's Smear Campaign over Abortive Trial Train Operation
Pyongyang, May 28 (KCNA) -- The authorities and officials concerned of the ruling and opposition parties of south Korea are vying with each other to vociferously assert that the north side is to blame for the failure of the north and the south to conduct the trial train operation on May 25 as scheduled. In this connection a spokesman for the north side delegation to the Inter-Korean Military Talks on Saturday issued a statement clarifying the stand of the Korean People's Army. The statement said:
The north-south trial train operation proved abortive because the establishment of a "peace mechanism" on the Korean Peninsula and revitalization of inter-Korean cooperation and exchange, much touted by the south side on official and unofficial occasions, turned out to be nothing but an empty talk full of lies and deception and it was foolish enough to use the trial train operation for its political purpose in violation of the principle it agreed with the north side as regards the project of reconnecting the north-south railways.
The above-said trial operation could not be conducted also because the south side failed to exert sincere efforts to ensure that the north and the south properly conduct economic cooperation and exchange in line with the agreement already reached between them so that the KPA may take steps for military guarantee keeping pace with them.
At the north-south general-level military talks held so far we explained enough to convince the south side that if the inter-Korean rail and road links are to be properly reconnected and cooperation and exchange make successful progress on the principle of ensuring the common prosperity of the nation and meeting its common interests, it is most urgent to defuse the military tension and ensure lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
We clarified our stand that if the south side is truly interested in opening to traffic the railways and roads aimed at relinking the severed blood ties of the nation and ready to take measures for military guarantee for it, it should take up among other things such basic issue of defusing the military tension as the issue of preventing clashes in the waters of the West Sea at the inter-Korean military talks arranged by use of precious time and otherwise, it is impossible to properly settle any issue arising between the north and the south.
It was quite obvious that the KPA could not allow the peaceful trial train operation under the present situation that such rowdyism as burning flags of the DPRK, a dignified symbol of our state, was perpetrated in Seoul and Phyongthaek in broad daylight at the tacit connivance of the police authorities quite contrary to the trend of the June 15 era.
The south side should not busy itself falsifying reality and creating impression that all the responsibilities for the case rest with the north side but make due efforts to fulfill its responsibility.
It should clearly understand that all issues arising in the inter-Korean relations can be properly solved only when it makes a responsible option to buckle down to defusing the military tension that may stop overall cooperation and exchange in a moment and settling such core military issue as clashes in the waters of the West Sea.
The KPA will closely watch the future attitude of the south side.
S Korea to Blame for Abortive Trial Train Operation
Pyongyang, May 28 (KCNA) -- The south Korean authorities should take their military and the ultra-right conservatives of the "Grand National Party" to task for the abortive trial train operation, force them to pay for their crimes and apologize for defaming the flag of the DPRK and sternly punish those responsible for it, urges Minju Joson Sunday in a signed commentary. The south Korean authorities are obliged to keenly realize their responsibility for the abortive north-south trial train operation and take practical measures to meet the expectation of the nation. But they have gone so rash as to find fault with the north, the commentary notes, and goes on:
5 Reasons for Kim DJ to Visit NK
By Jang Sung-min
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the historic June 15 inter-Korean summit. The leaders of South and North Korea are already showing a strong willingness to break through their challenging situation by using former President Kim Dae-jung as an intermediary. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun hopes break away from the hard-line policy toward North Korea, established by the U.S. and Japan, and to take the initiative on the North Korean controversy by holding an inter-Korean summit.
North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il, on the other hand, wants an opportunity to free his nation from U.S. financial sanctions. Strictly speaking, the planned visit to Pyongyang by former President Kim is born out of a desperate need of both North and South Korean leaders.
Why is former President Kim trying to travel to the North despite being in poor health? It is because of the following five reasons:
Gadfly Academic Convicted Over N.Korea Remarks
A court has convicted the controversial academic Prof. Kang Jeong-koo of Dongguk University of violating the National Security Law with a series of articles that notably described the Korean War as North Korea's "war of unification." Seoul Central District Court on Friday sentenced Kang to two years in prison suspended for three. If the conviction is upheld on appeal, he is likely to be stripped of his post.
Kang was convicted on several counts, one of them writing a message in the guest book at former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's birthplace Mangyongdae in 2001 saying, "Let's achieve unification by succeeding to the spirit of Mangyongdae."
[Human rights] [Double standards] [National Security Law]
Two N.Korean Soldiers Stray Into Southern Territory
Two North Korean soldiers crossed a stream some 20-30 m into the South in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province at around 12:47 p.m. on Friday but returned to the North when South Korean troops fired warning shots. This is the first time in five years the South Korean military has had to fire over the heads of North Korean soldiers crossing the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). The last time was in September 2001.
"Our troops closely watched the two North Korean soldiers cross the MDL and after four warning calls fired 12 warning shots with K-3 rifles," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The South Korean guard post from where the shots were fired was some 1.5 km away.
Five North Korean soldiers has been near the stream since 11 a.m, one armed and the rest unarmed, an official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Hints on aid trigger ire of North Korea
May 27, 2006 ? After a senior government official here suggested that a promised aid package for North Korea would not be forthcoming, Pyongyang said angrily yesterday that Seoul was entirely responsible for the delays in the cross-border rail re-linking project.
Stung by what many South Korean critics called another example of Pyongyang's duplicity, the administration reacted angrily to the cancellation of the tests. It especially objected to the North's stated reason for pulling out, what it called "internal instability" in South Korea. The North also said military "safeguard" measures to control cross-border movements had not been put in place.
The South had attempted to negotiate such measures at a meeting of military generals last week, but the North refused to respond until Seoul agreed to re-draw the maritime border of the two countries in the Yellow Sea.
On Thursday evening, a senior government official went further than earlier oblique hints that the promised aid package might be delayed; he told the JoongAng Ilbo that the administration no longer wanted to provide the aid unless the North honored its promise to test the rail links.
He pointed out that the date for the reconnected rail line tests had been agreed after Seoul made them a condition for supplying the promised material for the North's clothing, shoe and soap industries.
The official also said South Korea's promised shipment of railroad construction materials would be withheld until after the train tests. "That decision was made after Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok consulted with other ministries," he added.
[NLL] [Aid weapon]
Sociologist guilty of pro-North advocacy
May 27, 2006 ? Kang Jeong-koo, a sociologist at Dongguk University, has received a suspended sentence of two years and was also stripped of the right to vote or to run for public office for two years. The Seoul Central District Court announced yesterday its verdict on charges that Mr. Kang violated the National Security Law.
The court said that although freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution, Mr. Kang's writings did not raise a reasonable social issue, but contained "harmful arguments that might damage the country's existence and security." The verdict continued, "The suspect clearly argued that without U.S. intervention, North Korea could have succeeded in unifying the peninsula and South Korea would not have existed."
The 61-year-old academic stirred up a storm in a column for an Internet site last July. Prosecutors indicted him in December, saying his championing of North Korean positions was a violation of the law.
The justice minister, Chun Jung-bae, then ordered prosecutors not to detain Mr. Kang, sparking the resignation of the prosecutor-general and widening the left-right controversy.
The court's ruling yesterday included a verdict on a similar case filed in 2001, when debate on whether the National Security Law should be repealed was intensifying. He was released on bail, and the courts and prosecutors referred the case to a panel of scholars for a review that was never completed.
Mr. Kang said he would appeal.
[Human rights] [Double standards] [National Security Law]
Korea's DNA tests confirm identity of abductees
May 27, 2006 ? South Korea's government confirmed yesterday what Japan already knew: DNA test results show the husband of a Japanese woman kidnapped by North Korea is a South Korean who was also apparently abducted, a government official said yesterday.
In April, Tokyo notified Seoul of its conclusion, which it based on DNA testing of the couple's daughter, Kim Hye-gyong, and her paternal relatives in South Korea. Tokyo officials obtained the DNA samples from Ms. Kim in Pyongyang in 2002.
The government official said the test results were identical to Japan's, with a 97-percent possibility of a kinship. The government is expected to notify the South Korean family of the husband, Kim Yong-nam, who disappeared in 1978, as well as the Japanese government.
Seoul, which has been reluctant to raise the issue with the North because it feared agitating the country, discussed the matter officially for the first time at inter-Korean ministerial level talks last month. Pyongyang said concerned organizations there were looking into the matter.
North Korea has claimed the Japanese woman, Megumi Yokota, committed suicide in April 1994 and that she was married to a North Korean named Kim Chol-jun.
Yokota's family members believe she is alive.
Japan started to meet in February with South Korean family members of abductees and collected DNA data.
The family members included four other South Koreans abducted to North Korea in the late 1970s, about the same time Mr. Kim was seized.
The head of the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers at the end of last month that all five are still alive in the North.
by Brian Lee
Telephone Message to Head of S. Side Delegation to Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks
Pyongyang, May 26 (KCNA) -- Kwon Ho Ung, head of the north side's delegation to the inter-Korean ministerial talks, Friday sent the following telephone message to Ri Jong Sok, chief delegate of the south side's delegation: We sent notice to your side on May 24, informing it of our stand in connection with the circumstances that made it impossible to conduct the north-south trial train operation as scheduled amidst the attention and expectation of people at home and abroad.
Your side, however, set in motion authorities, those concerned of ruling and opposition parties, "experts on north Korean affairs" and media to create impression that the north side was to blame for the failure to conduct the trial train operation. Your side went the lengths of even sending a "notice" to our side in a bid to shirk off the responsibility for it.
I am compelled to clarify once again our side's stand on the failure to conduct the trial operation.
The blame for the failure to have that trial operation entirely rests with your side.
It was mainly because your military totally sidestepped the solution of pending issues, priorities in ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Your side will not deny the fact that it is a vital matter directly linked with the destiny of the nation to take a military step for guaranteeing peace under the present situation that the U.S. moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK have reached the extremes and huge armed forces of both sides are standing in acute confrontation with each other.
As our side has stressed several times on various occasions including the general-level military talks, the primary task for guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula at present is to correctly fix a sea boundary urgent for preventing military clashes in the waters of the West Sea.
CPRF Spokesman on Failure to Conduct Trial Train Operation
Pyongyang, May 26 (KCNA) -- The south side was wholly to blame for the failure to conduct the trial train operation as the south Korean military totally sidestepped the solution of pending issues, priorities in ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula. The spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said this in a statement issued Friday slamming the south Korean authorities for unhesitatingly conducting a smear campaign against the north over the failure to have the trial train operation Thursday.
The statement said:
What is most urgent for guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula at present is to correctly fix a sea boundary for the purpose of preventing military clashes in the waters of the West Sea.
Pyongyang Hits Back at South Korea
By Seo Dong-shin
Pyongyang Friday sent a telegram to Seoul blaming South Korea for the cancelled test-runs on the two reconnected inter-Korean railway lines, which had been scheduled for Thursday.
The telegram came apparently in response to Seoul's telegram sent to the North Thursday. In its telegram, South Korea placed the blame on Pyongyang for the failure to perform test-runs of the trains across the inter-Korean border.
He accused the South Korean military authorities of having avoided a discussion on pending issues necessary for ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, such as the re-mapping of the West Sea border.
Professor Receives Suspended Jail Term
By Chung Ah-young
A local court Friday sentenced a sociology professor to a suspended two-year jail term for making pro-North Korean remarks about the Korean War.
Prof. Kang Jeong-koo of Dongguk University stirred up controversy after he posted an article on the Internet last year, in which he described the 1950-53 Korean War as North Korea's ``campaign for reunification.''
[Human rights] [Double standards] [National Security Law]
'South Korea Needs Mid-Sized Aircraft Carriers'
TONGHAE, Kangwon Province (Yonhap) _ A group of South Korean scholars agreed Thursday on the need to bolster the country's naval force in the face of the growing military power of China and Japan.
"South Korea should buy one or two mid-sized aircraft carriers to prepare for a possible clash over Dokdo with Japan as well as to deter North Korea," said Kim Tae-hyo, professor of internat i o n a l r e l a t i o n s a t Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul. He stressed that the Navy should also deploy more warships equipped with air-to-ship and anti-submarine missiles.
[Military balance] [China confrontation]
Seoul Calls for S-N Defense Ministers' Talks
By Jung Sung-ki
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung Wednesday called for the opening of inter-Korean defense ministers' talks at an early date to discuss issues of mutual concern such as the disputed maritime border.
Comment on the Postponement of Test-run of Inter-Korean Trains (May 24,2006)
Through a telephone message sent in the name of its chief delegate to the negotiation on the reconnection of inter-Korean railroad and highway links, North Korea notified the South that test run of trains scheduled for May 25 would not take place as planned due to the absence of military security guarantees between the two sides and unstable political situations in the South.
The South Korean government finds it very regrettable that the North has unilaterally postponed just a day before the scheduled date for the trial runs, which were agreed and negotiated several times thereafter between the two Korean authorities.
In particular, it is preposterous of the North to cite the unstable political situations in the South as a reason for postponing the event.
Kim aide acquitted of one bribery allegation
May 26, 2006 ? Lingering echoes of the "cash for summit" scandal, revelations of huge cash payments to North Korea to pave the way for Kim Dae-jung's meeting with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in June 2000, were heard in an appellate courtroom yesterday.
Park Jie-won, one of Mr. Kim's key aides, was taken into custody again and sentenced to an additional three years in prison for arranging the illegal payment to North Korea of $450 million before the 2000 Korean summit. The Supreme Court had sent part of the verdict in Mr. Park's case back for reconsideration by the Seoul High Court.
Mr. Park's conviction for misfeasance in pressing the government-run Korea Development Bank to lead 400 billion won ($400 million) to Hyundai Group was also upheld. Hyundai has business operations in North Korea. The court also upheld convictions for receiving 100 million won in bribes from SK Group and Kumho Asiana Group. But as directed by the Supreme Court, Mr. Park's conviction on charges of receiving 15 billion won in bribes from the Hyundai Group was thrown out. Mr. Park, 65, had been released from prison on bail because of health reasons. He now faces an additional two years in prison and must pay a fine of 100 million won.
Rare Pictures of Early 1900s Korea Go Online
A set of rare photos showing the way ordinary Koreans lived at the beginning of the 20th century has been made public. The University of Southern California's library website features some 150 pictures taken by the Rev. Corwin Taylor and his wife Nellie Blood-Taylor, who worked as missionaries in Korea from 1908 through 1922. The pictures have been put through a precision digital restoration process by the Korean Studies library, and some have been color-tinted.
Why Did N.Korea Cancel the Train Test Run?
There was growing speculation on Wednesday about North Korea's abrupt cancellation of a cross-border train test run. Pyongyang reportedly cited the two Koreas' failure to agree on the prevention of clashes in the West Sea as a justification, but many say that there were ulterior motives. The two Koreas had after all agreed on detailed minute-by-minute plans for the test run on May 12 -- thus Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok was to take the Gyeongui Line and Construction and Transportation Minister Choo Byung-jik the Donghae Line -- so it seemed unlikely it would be called off. The North's own preparations for the test run were reported to be progressing steadily. It cleaned up the surroundings of the Gyeongui Line and put rolling stock on the Donghae Line, Unification Ministry officials said.
Yet the North abruptly cancelled the plan. It is highly likely that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had a direct hand both in approving the test run and canceling it. Kim is said to insist on the final say in all major inter-Korean issues. "By calling off the plan, the North intends to show that its military is determined to protect the system," says Prof. Ko Yu-hwan of Dongguk University ? a suggestion that the North Korean military urged Kim to change his mind. Others feel the cancellation is part of Pyongyang's strategy to get more from Seoul with just a week or so to go before local elections. Some believe the North delayed the historic inter-Korean summit in June 2000 for one day because the money the Kim Dae-jung administration promised had not gone into its bank account.
That is why there are fears that the cancellation, which is likely to strain inter-Korean relations, could affect the planned visit to Pyongyang by the former president in June. Vice Unification Minister Shin Un-sang said Seoul will now review its plan to offer equipment to Pyongyang "from a variety of perspectives to determine whether to take steps," but the government has decided to wait out a working-level meeting scheduled for May 29 that is to prepare for Kim Dae-jung's visit. The cancellation of the test run, in any case, now puts Kim's plan to go North by train almost definitely beyond the pale.
The Outcome of the 4th Meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee
(May 19, 2006)
The South and the North held the fourth meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee at the Office of Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation in Gaeseong from May 18-19, 2006.
The two parties discussed the matters including trial runs of trains on the Gyeongui and Donghae Lines, the issue of cooperation in light industries and underground resources development as had been agreed on the tenth meeting of the Committee, and the date and venue of the 12th meeting of the Committee.
The South and the North agreed to hold a joint ceremony of the trial runs of trains at Munsan Station and at Mt.Geumgang Station on May 25. Honorable guests of the event will be Ministers or minister-level figures and the number of people at the celebrative event will be limited to a total of 500.
ROK on human rights
Remarks by H.E. PARK Kyung-seo Ambassador for Human Rights of the Republic of Korea At the 7th International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees . (May 11, 2006)
I would like to begin by offering my thanks to the Rafto Human Rights House and the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights for the kind invitation to attend this important conference. I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the position of the Government of the Republic of Korea on the human rights situation in North Korea. I believe that this event, through its various sessions and panels, offers a variety of perspectives on ways to improve the North Korean human rights situation. As its title, "New Approaches" indicates, the conference, I believe, encourages open-minded dialogue among professionals and organizations from a wide array of fields.
Little progress is evident in the human rights situation in North Korea, and concern is mounting in the international community. The Government of the Republic of Korea fully shares with the international community the concern over the continued dire state of the human rights situation in North Korea. Indeed, of all the countries in the world, it is the Republic of Korea which has the keenest interest in and the greatest sense of urgency about the issue. It has been steadfast, perhaps more than any other country, in trying to find practical and effective ways to contribute to the betterment of the North Korean human rights situation.
Secondly, the primary concern of the ROK with respect to the human rights situation in North Korea is to help North Koreans in securing their right to food
The present ROK Government is making steady progress in its efforts to advance the human rights situation in North Korea. While we appreciate the various endeavors of the international community to improve human rights in North Korea, the practical and measured approach of the ROK government should also be valued.
Rail tests off, North informs Seoul abruptly
May 25, 2006 ? Jilted again.
On the eve of the scheduled trial train runs to test the recently restored cross-border railways, North Korea pulled out yesterday, blaming the move on "internal instability" in the South. The South Korean government reacted with embarrassment, criticizing the North for giving an unsatisfactory reason for its actions. The cancellation was the third broken promise by North Korea to test the restored railroads across the Demilitarized Zone, and the plans had progressed much further this time than in the previous two.
North Side Notifies South Side of Its Stand on Trial Train Operation
Pyongyang, May 24 (KCNA) -- Pak Jong Song, head of the north side's group for the working contact for the reconnection of rail and road links between the north and the south of Korea, sent the following notice to Hong Kwang Phyo, chief delegate of the south side's group, informing it of the north side's stand on the north-south trial train operation on Wednesday: It is our view that it is impossible to conduct the trial operation of a north-south train on May 25 as scheduled, given that the military authorities of both sides have failed to take any measure for a military guarantee, the south side is creating a very unstable situation unfavorable for holding such a national event as the trial train operation as evidenced by the pro-U.S. ultra-right conservative forces' frantic acts of burning the flag of the dignified DPRK, recklessly attacking the June 15 forces almost every day and pushing the situation in Korea to an extreme phase of confrontation and war as your side is aware of these developments.
We will wait for an appropriate time to come for the trial train operation between the north and the south after a military guarantee is provided by the military authorities of both sides and the situation in the south returns to normal.
In Deep South, North Koreans Find a Hot Market
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: May 25, 2006
TAEJON, South Korea - At the Pyongyang Moran Bar on a recent Friday evening, a large video screen showed uplifting images of rocky mountains and an open blue sky. A slogan appeared at the bottom: "Kim Jong Il, a man who comes along only once in a thousand years."
At Pyongyang Moran Bar in Taejon, service is bad and a sign praises Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, as "a man who comes along only once in a thousand years." South Koreans call it retro, and can't get enough.
The North Korean waitresses wore traditional dresses in the bright colors that were fashionable in the South some years back. The singer's interpretation of "Whistle," a North Korean standard of the 1980's, was shaky and off-key. Service was bad and included at least one mild threat. Drinks were spilled, beer bottles left unopened and unpoured.
But the South Korean customers could not get enough of the Pyongyang Moran Bar. [Joint Korean] [SK attitude NK]
NK Cancels S-N Train Test Runs
Military's Resistance Believed to Be Cause for Abrupt About-Face
By Seo Dong-shin
A South Korean worker removes a congratulatory lotus-shaped balloon at Munsan Station, north of Seoul, Wednesday afternoon, following North Korea's announcement that it was calling off the test runs on inter-Korean railroads scheduled for Thursday.
North Korea Wednesday unilaterally canceled the test runs on two railway lines crossing the inter-Korean border, which were scheduled to take place on Thursday, dealing a blow to inter-Korean relations.
``The North sent a telegram this morning informing us that the test runs of the trains cannot be conducted on the grounds of a failure to sign a military agreement guaranteeing safe passage, and the unstable political situation in the South,'' Vice-Unification Minister Shin Un-sang said.
English-Speaking N. Korean in Limelight
By Seo Dong-shin
Kim Hyo-jeong, right, a North Korean guide and interpreter at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, talks with Lee Jong-won, professor of law and political science at Japan's Rikkyo University, in Kaesong, Tuesday. /Korea Times
KAESONG, North Korea ? Visitors to the inter-Korean industrial complex in this North Korean border town are likely to have seen her at least once.
The main duty for Kim Hyo-jeong, 24, a North Korean working with the South's Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee, is to give presentations on the past, present, and envisioned future of the complex to visitors from across the border.
On Tuesday, Kim briefed the guests from South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States, China and Mongolia, on the complex's up-to-date information in English.
The guests, who were mostly university presidents or professors participating in an international symposium on the Northeast Asian community organized by the South's Kyungnam University, were impressed and broke into heavy applause.
To the South Korean elderly gentlemen, who gently teased her by asking how she would like a South Korean husband, she playfully answered, ``I hope reunification comes as soon as possible, so I can get married.''
Her outgoing and positive attitude seems to have also won the hearts of South Koreans who supervise her work in Kaesong.
Seoul Calls for S-N Defense Ministers' Talks
By Jung Sung-ki
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung Wednesday called for the opening of inter-Korean defense ministers' talks at an early date to discuss issues of mutual concern such as the disputed maritime border.
In a meeting with foreign correspondents in Seoul, Yoon stressed that military cooperation and exchanges between the two sides are a key to developing inter-Korean relations
Last-Minute Train Cancellation Baffles Seoul
By Seo Dong-shin
South Korean officials Wednesday appeared saddened and embarrassed as the North's decision to delay test runs on two inter-Korean railways is seen as pouring cold water on growing inter-Korean economic exchanges.
It also left little possibility for former President Kim Dae-jung's upcoming visit to Pyongyang to take place by train, as he has hoped.
While pointing a finger at the North's hard-line military authorities for the suddenly overturned agreement, South Korean officials were unable to clarify the motives behind the move.
N Korea cancels border rail trial
North Korea has cancelled a trial run of trains across the border with the South, an official in Seoul has said.
The first test of the rail link had been scheduled for Thursday - when the trains would have been the first to cross the border in more than 50 years.
He gave no reason for Pyongyang's request, but South Korean television said the North's powerful military had objected to the trips.
Railroad cancellation puts brake on N.K. ties
North Korea's abrupt cancellation of the cross-border railways test run yesterday is expected to put the brakes on a flurry of inter-Korean exchanges and dialogues on a peninsula already suffering from a standoff over nuclear programs.
The South Korean government explained the North's sudden "postponement" seems to have been derived from internal disagreement on how to alternatively secure military guarantees for the railways operation.
Other observations suggested North Korea may be showing discontent toward other ongoing discussions with South Korea, such as those involving drawing new maritime sea borders.
Inter-Korean Railway Trial Run Cancelled
An unprecedented trial run of a cross-border railway between the two Koreas has been unilaterally called off by North Korea. A South Korean government official said the North delivered the message by phone that it is cancelling plans for trial runs along the Gyeongui and Donghae lines which were scheduled for Thursday.
Playing the North Korea Card by Kim Dae-joong
The sudden flurry of remarks about North Korea from leaders of the administration starting with President Roh Moo-hyun has been suspicious. As the United States' financial sanctions over the North's dollar counterfeiting and pressure over its human rights abuses started to bite and prospects for six-nation talks on the North's nuclear program became increasingly dim, the administration's approach to the North suddenly changed. Korea and the U.S. are poised to start free trade negotiations into the bargain, so there has been speculation that Roh is refocusing his mind on a legacy of late-term achievements. But the administration, whose North Korea policies seemed to have entered a temporary lull, started making overtures to Pyongyang quite suddenly.
ROK large-deck landing ship
``Dokdo Ham,'' the Navy's 14,000 ton-class large-deck landing ship, on a trial cruise near a Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction shipyard off Pusan, Monday. The Navy plans to deploy the landing ship, named after South Korea's easternmost islets, next July.
[Military balance] [Role of ROK military]
Failed Entrepreneur Indicted for Aiding N. Korean Spy
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Monday indicted a man identified by his surname Lee for letting a North Korean spy overseas use his personal data to subscribe to Korean defense and economy websites.
The 32-year old is suspected of providing his identification number, mobile phone number, Korean address, e-mail address, as well as IDs and passwords of websites he joined to the North Korean spy, whom he met through a Korean acquaintance in Mexico. Lee did business there importing construction materials from April 2003 until February 2006.
Prosecutors say the spy used the information to access the websites of important Korean organizations such as the National Strategy Institute and The Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Lee is also suspected of handing the spy documents on U.S. strategies for East Asia he found on the website of the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis.
[Espionage] [Bizarre] [Human rights] [NSL]
Inter-Korean relations will take leap within a year, Chung says
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said he is confident that inter-Korean relations will take a leap forward within a year. He made the optimistic assertion in a letter to Unification Ministry officials Friday.
He did not elaborate on what would pave the way for the advancement, but some observers say he expressed optimism for an inter-Korean summit recently proposed by President Roh Moo-hyun.
In a letter to mark his 100th day in office, he wrote, "We should make this year a turning point for both peace on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean relations to advance one step further. Along these lines, the Unification Ministry will be able to seize an opportunity to make a leap forward as well. I am sure that the chance will come within a year."
He also said inter-Korean exchanges will be more active than ever between June and August.
Main Opposition Leader Attacked by 2 Men
South Korea's main opposition leader Park Geun-hye was attacked by two men in western Seoul Saturday evening and underwent hours-long surgery at a nearby hospital.
The attack left a long but not life-threatening wound on her face, doctors said.
Physician, scientist from North awaiting asylum here
May 20, 2006 ? Two prominent North Koreans, a physician and a scientist, have fled their communist homeland and are seeking asylum in South Korea, a South Korean rights activist said yesterday. The two unidentified refugees initially fled to China, according to the Citizens' Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees. The Seoul human rights group helped them move to a Southeast Asian country this month, where they applied for asylum in the South.
Seoul opens unification studies think-tank
May 20, 2006 ? Seoul National University opened a new think-tank yesterday called the Unification Research Institute. University president Chung Un-chan said the institute will deal with Korean Peninsula affairs, inter-Korean relations and other issues associated with the United States, China, Russia and Japan ? the four major powers in the region.
University sociology professor Park Myoung-kyu is its first head. "I want to redefine the definition of unification studies," Mr. Park said.
A symposium was held to mark its opening, featuring presentations on a welfare system for workers after unification, the psychology of defectors in South Korea, agricultural production in a unified Korea and environmental policies of the two Koreas. The program made a clear distinction from other unification research seminars, where politics are usually the theme.
Inter-Korean General-level Military Talks Close
Pyongyang, May 19 (KCNA) -- The 4th North-South General-level Military Talks which opened in the portion of the south side in Panmunjom closed Thursday. For the successful talks the north side made an analysis and review of the differences manifested in both sides' stands at the 3rd talks and in the subsequent period and on this basis advanced more specific proposals related to the agenda item.
The proposal for removing the very cause of military clashes in the waters of the West Sea of Korea and realizing joint fishing there and all other proposals put forward by the north side's delegation are fair and aboveboard offers which fully meet the requirements of the June 15 era of reunification and they indicate practical ways of defusing the tension as an urgent issue, the north side noted.
[NLL] [Role of ROK military]
A Prince Nestled Once More in Korea's Embrace
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: May 20, 2006
Chonju, South Korea
FOR a man who once ran a liquor store in Southern California and lived in a used car during a bout of homelessness three years ago, Yi Seok had a remarkably full day of official duties before him.
Lunch with the mayor. Afternoon art exhibition with politicians. Evening banquet. Opening ceremony of this city's annual film festival. Sleep. Breakfast meeting with the minister of culture.
A fitting schedule, surely, for Mr. Yi, 65, a descendant of the Chosun Dynasty, which ruled the Korean peninsula from 1392 to 1910, when the Japanese established colonial rule. Due recognition indeed for the last prince still living on Korean soil, the last pretender to an abolished throne
NK Scientist, Doctor Seek Asylum in S. Korea
A ranking member of North Korea's state-run scientists' association has defected from the communist state and is seeking asylum in South Korea, a human rights group in Seoul said on Friday.
The scientist, only identified by the alias Park, escaped to China in March, said Do Hui-yoon, secretary-general of the Citizen's Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.
He has been moved to a Southeast Asian country with the help of a U.N. organization, Do said.
Students Become Shorter, Weaker
By Kim Rahn
The average height of South Korea's elementary, middle and high school girls decreased last year for the first time since 1975, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development reported on Friday.
Students' stamina has also decreased while their builds have grown because of improper eating habits and changes in lifestyle, the report said.
NK Border Train Crossing Possible
By Seo Dong-shin
Former President Kim Dae-jung is likely to cross the inter-Korean border by train but will have to travel between the North Korean border town of Kaesong and the capital city of Pyongyang by car, sources at the Unification Ministry said Thursday.
Speculation has been running rampant in recent days over the possible means of travel for Kim's trip to North Korea scheduled late next month.
The former president has expressed hope that he will be able to travel the entire trip by train, but North Korea proposed he should use a non-stop direct flight at a two-day working-level meeting that ended Wednesday. Currently, the two Koreas operate a direct route for planes over the West Sea, usually for high-level talks
Generals fail in efforts to ease tension across DMZ
May 19, 2006 ? Three days of inter-Korean military talks made no progress in measures to reduce military tensions.
North Korea held all other issues hostage to its insistence on drawing a new sea boundary to replace the Yellow Sea Northern Limit Line, a demand that Seoul's delegation proposed be discussed in separate talks by the two nations' defense ministers.
South wants to unify standards
May 19, 2006 ? South Korea will push to unify industrial standards with North Korea in a preparatory effort to help reduce the so-called unification cost in the future, a senior government official said yesterday.
To that end, a civilian-government task force will be set up within this year to collect related data and coordinate inter-ministerial efforts, Vice Industry Minister Kim Jong-kap said.
"The lack of unified inter-Korean industrial standards may sharply increase the unification cost in the future," Mr. Kim said.
According to a recent estimate, overcoming the differences could cost Seoul up to 362 trillion won ($383 billion) over 12 years after the unification of the divided peninsula.
Inter-Korean General-Level Military Talks Open
Pyongyang, May 17 (KCNA) - The fourth north-south general-level military talks opened in the portion of the south side at Panmunjom Tuesday. Attending the talks was the delegation of the north side headed by Lieut. General of the Korean People's Army Kim Yong Chol.
At the talks both sides continued the discussion on the agenda item of the previous talks "On military measures for preventing clashes in the waters of the West Sea of Korea and realizing joint fishing there."
Issue of Kim Dae Jung's Visit to Pyongyang Discussed
Pyongyang, May 17 (KCNA) -- A working-level contact between delegates of the north and the south took place at Mt. Kumgang resort on May 16 and 17 to discuss the issue of former south Korean President Kim Dae Jung's visit to Pyongyang. Present at the contact from the north side were its delegates led by Ri Jong Hyok, vice-chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, and from the south side its delegates with Jong Se Hyon, former Minister of Unification, as its chief delegate.
Kim Yong Nam Meets President of South Korean Red Cross
Pyongyang, May 18 (KCNA) -- Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, met and conversed with Han Wan Sang, president of the south Korean Red Cross, and his party in a compatriotic atmosphere at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Thursday. On hand were Jang Jae On, chairman of the C.C., the DPRK Red Cross Society, and officials concerned.
Inter-Korean Military Talks Break Down
Joint Press Corps & Jung Sung-ki
PANMUNJOM ? South and North Korea on Thursday failed to agree on guaranteeing safe passage of cross-border railway operations as the inter-Korean military talks broke off over a sea border dispute.
As a result, the chances for former President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang, scheduled for late next month, using a reconnected inter-Korean railway became slim. The scheduled May 25 test run of two railways crossing the border also hit a snag as any railway passage across the border needs military agreement.
Roh Calls for Tolerance in Kwangju
By Ryu Jin
President Roh Moo-hyun and his wife, Kwon Yang-suk, observe a moment of silence Thursday in front of a tombstone at the May 18 Democratic Movement Cemetery in Kwangju. Roh used the 26th anniversary of the democratic movement to call for more tolerance in Korean society. / Yonhap
President Roh Moo-hyun said Thursday that South Koreans needs to be more tolerant so that the country, which has achieved high economic growth and democratization in the past decades, could develop into one characterized by dialogue and compromise.
In a special address during a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of the democratic movement in Kwangju, he said Kwangju citizens sacrificed themselves for the democracy that all South Koreans are blessed with today.
Air Force to Buy 20 More F-15K Jets
By Jung Sung-ki
The Air Force will purchase 20 more F-15K multi-role aircraft beginning in 2009, following the scheduled introduction of 40 F-15s by 2008, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
The plan worth $2 billion was approved during a meeting on Wednesday as part of the ministry's mid-term arms acquisition project between 2007 and 2011, ministry officials said.
Navy to Build Advanced Frigates
By Jung Sung-ki
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) plans to build advanced frigates using the country's own technology by 2015, DAPA officials said Thursday.
The plan was made public as the agency released a 10-year arms procurement project under which DAPA will start building 2,300 ton-class advanced frigates, called ``FEX,'' in July.
The plan did not indicate make how many ships will be built, but Navy sources put the number at about six. The agency plans to spend around 1.7 trillion won ($1.7 billion) to develop the state-of-the-art ships, officials said.
Minister Raps N. Korea's Terminologies
By Seo Dong-shin
South Korea's point man on North Korean affairs Thursday criticized terms typically used by the North to stress the importance of cooperation between both Koreas excluding foreign powers, calling it ``unreal and illusory.''
North Korea has been frequently using terms it coined to emphasize inter-Korean cooperation among the ``pure Korean blood people,'' such as ``Minjok Kongjo'' or ``Uriminjokkiri,'' in meetings with South Koreans or in its state-run news reports aimed at reaching the South. The North also uses the terms to criticize the South Korea-U.S. alliance, which it considers threatens its security.
But Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said he has ``considered such concepts as nonsense for a long time ago.''
In a meeting with reporters to mark his first 100 days in office, Lee said the terms make no sense in a situation in which some 1.8 million soldiers confront each other on the inter-Korean border. ``We cannot even speak freely (of the other side). What kind of cooperation is that?'' he said.
The minister compared the concept of cooperation between the South and North Korean people, as touted by the North, to the reality of South Korea-U.S. cooperation.
18th Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks
Discuss Practical Steps, "Recognize and Respect Each Other's Ideology and System"
Photo shows a general session on April 22, the 18th inter-Korean Ministerial talks in Pyongyang.
The 18th North-South ministerial talks were held in Pyongyang from April 21 to 24.
Joint Press Release on
18th Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks Published
The 18th North-South ministerial talks were held here from April 21 to 24. At the talks both sides issued a joint press release after discussing practical issues arising in settling fundamental issues related to the political, military and economic relations between the north and the south and agreeing on them. At the talks both sides agreed on the following points after appreciating the successes made since the publication of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and deciding to make positive efforts to put the inter-Korean ties on a higher stage in line with the idea of "By our nation itself":
North Korea Holds Meeting of "North Side's Committee for Implementation of June 15 Joint Declaration"
A general meeting of "the North Side's Committee for the Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration" took place in Pyongyang on March 30.
Present there were Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Ki Nam, vice-chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) who is secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, Vice-Premier of the Cabinet Ro Tu Chol and Kim Yong Dae, chairman of the Central Committee of the Korean Social Democratic Party, and Ryu Mi Yong, chairperson of the Central Committee of the Korean Chondoist Chongu Party, and An Kyong Ho, chairman of the North Side?fs Committee.
Koreans Religionists Meet for Nation's Unity
Religionists of North and South Korea held a meeting at Mt. Kumgang resort on April 1 for the Korean nation's unity and to implement the June 15 Joint Declaration.
Attending it were members of the North Korean delegation led by Chairman of the Korean Council of Religionists Jang Jae On, and members of the South Korean delegation led by Chairman of the South Korean Council of National Religions Han Yang Won.
Two Koreas' Top Brass Resort to Racist Mudslinging
The second day of talks between North and South Korean generals on Wednesday got off on the wrong foot when delegates stooped to mudslinging over the racial purity of Korea. The debate erupted in small talk between the two delegation leaders ahead of discussions that failed to agree on the re-alignment of the maritime border.
The North's delegation leader Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-chul started off an unfortunate thread by quipping, "Since the climate in the South is warmer, the farmers must be hard at work." His South Korean counterpart Maj. Gen. Han Min-gu of the South replied, "The population of the farming communities is actually falling, and many bachelors from such areas marry women from Mongolia, Vietnam and the Philippines."
Kim reportedly grimaced and snapped, "Our nation has always considered its pure lineage to be of great importance -- I am concerned that our singularity will disappear." Instead of contradicting him, the South Korean delegation said such dilution of the bloodline was "but a drop of ink in the Han River," adding this would cause no problems "if we all live together." But this failed to mollify the North Korean. "Since time immemorial, our nation has been a land of abundant beauty. Not even one drop of ink must be allowed to fall into the Han River," Kim thundered.
Southern eyes get a glimpse of Northern masterpieces
Both Southern and Northern historians were able to venture into the ancient tombs of the Goguryeo pe
May 18, 2006 ? A mythical creature resembling turtles and snakes tangled around each other appeared in the dim light of the tomb in Honam-ri, near Pyongyang. The painting is around 1,500 years old, having been created as part of a royal resting place of the Goguryeo Kingdom (B.C. 37 to A.D. 668). The early 6th-century tomb, known as Sasin, (Four Deities), is a Unesco World Heritage Site, but until recently, no South Korean had ever seen it.
The South Korean historians were part of a 20-person team assembled by North Korea to report on the status of such sites and to help preserve them. The team inspected eight tombs in Pyongyang and South Phyongan province from April 19 to May 2. In all, the team will assess the 63 ancient tombs that were added to the list of World Heritage Sites in July 2004, and issue a full report by 2008. The team also includes specialists from the National Cultural Properties Research Institute in Seoul.
In 427, King Jangsu moved Goguryeo's capital to what is now Pyongyang, and the area around the city has a great deal of artworks from the period. [Koguryo]
NK Agrees on Kim Dae-jung's Visit in June
By Seo Dong-shin
South and North Korea Wednesday agreed that former President Kim Dae-jung will visit Pyongyang at the end of next month for four days but the two sides have yet to agree on the exact dates and the means of transportation.
They will meet late this month in Kaesong, North Korea, to finalize the details of Kim's schedule and the means of transportation, a Unification Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
Koreas Wavering on Sea Border Line
By Joint Press Corps & Park Song-wu
PANMUNJOM _ North Korea on Wednesday refused to accept South Korea's proposal to hold a defense ministers' meeting on tension-easing measures, including the ways of addressing the disputed West Sea border.
The military generals' talks on the second-day at the truce village of Panmunjom lasted only two and a half hours as the North insisted on talking first about setting a boundary line for non-aggression in the West Sea.
``The North wants to start redrawing the boundary line right away, saying the issue is a matter of urgency and it is not absolutely necessary for defense ministers to deal with,'' Col. Moon Sung-mook, chief of North Korean affairs at the South's Defense Ministry, told reporters.
The fourth round of the talks is scheduled to end on Thursday, possibly with no tangible results unless the two sides reach a last-minute compromise.
Answering a question on whether the North's attitude could be interpreted as a rejection to the resumption of the defense chiefs' meeting, Moon said, ``They seemingly have a stance that they can't agree with the idea as of now.''
The West Sea border was not clearly marked when the 1950-53 Korean War ended. The Northern Limit Line, which the U.S.-led U.N. Command drew in the area after the war, has served as a de facto maritime border. But the North has never acknowledged it.
Inter-Korean Military Talks Open But Go Nowhere
Joint Press Corps & Seo Dong-shin
PANMUNJOM _ South and North Korea displayed a gaping difference of opinion regarding the agenda for the military generals' talks that opened at the truce village of Panmunjom Tuesday.
The first session of the three-day military talks ended after the two sides put forward different main agendas on the table.
South Korea proposed the signing of a military agreement for guaranteeing safe passage of the cross-border railway operations. A test run on two railway tracks linking the two Koreas are scheduled for May 25, following an agreement made between the two Koreas in a working-level meeting last Saturday.
But the North's delegation said it is not appropriate to discuss the issue at the general-level talks, Col. Moon Sung-mook, chief of North Korean affairs at the South's Defense Ministry, told reporters.
Moon said that the North Korean delegates insisted that the issue could be discussed at other working-level talks than at the high-level military talks. ``They did not deny the necessity of signing the military agreement for safe passage on the cross-border roads and railroads,'' Moon said.
The South also proposed that the two sides discuss ways to prevent naval clashes and establish a joint fishing area around the disputed West Sea border. A series of naval clashes have caused scores of casualties on both sides around the West Sea border in recent years.
But the North reiterated its stance that it is necessary to redraw the controversial Northern Limit Line (NLL) to bring peace in the West Sea ultimately.
Ultra-Light Plane to Fly Across DMZ
By Park Song-wu
A South Korean plans to fly from Pyongyang to Kwangju via Seoul next month, marking the sixth anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit in June 2000, organizers in Seoul said on Tuesday.
Oh Se-hoon, 58, will use an ultra-light motor glider to become the first South Korean to fly down through the Military Demarcation Line since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok mentioned the flight schedule during a lecture for high school students in Seoul on Monday.
``A South Korean civilian plans to cross the border using a light airplane,'' Lee said, indicating that inter-Korean relations have developed significantly. ``Some people may wonder in which era we are now living.''
A North Korean will fly as a passenger with Oh, also the first occurrence of its kind since the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945.
Oh plans to fly his two-passenger aircraft from Sunan Airport in Pyongyang to Seoul on June 12. He is scheduled to stay in the South Korean capital for three days then depart for Kwangju, the venue for celebrations of the sixth anniversary.
Talks on DJ's NK Trip Start
By Seo Dong-shin
South and North Korea start working-level talks at Mt. Kumgang Tuesday to prepare for the former President Kim Dae-jung's visit to the North.
The talks coincide with the opening of the fourth round of military generals' talks between the two Koreas at the truce village of Panmunjom.
Before leaving Seoul Monday, former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun, who leads a four-member South Korean delegation to the talks, indicated the former president's visit to Pyongyang would likely take place late next month.
As Kim is scheduled to attend an event in Kwangju on June 15, it would be too hectic for him to travel to the North around that time, Jeong told reporters.
Two Koreas resume military talks
South and North Korea opened a new round of general-level military talks yesterday to discuss ways of preventing accidental naval clashes in the West Sea, and of opening up cross border rail and road links.
The two Koreas failed to reach agreement on these issues during the third round of military talks in March.
In the first session of the three-day talks, South Korea forwarded a proposal to share independent common radio frequencies between their two navies to improve on the safeguards provided by an existing radio-based "hotline," said Col. Moon Sung-mook, a spokesman for the five-member South Korean delegation.
The existing hotline uses an international commercial frequency and has sometimes failed to meet the needs of the two navies either because it was busy or was being interrupted by other users. "Introducing independent inter-Korean hotline frequencies is expected to lower the possibility of miscommunication between the two sides," Moon said.
After the first two rounds of talks, the two Koreas established the hotline to prevent accidental armed clashes in the waters of the disputed West Sea. In 1999 and 2002, the two navies were engaged in bloody skirmishes, leaving dozens dead and injured on both sides.
Besides the frequency issue, establishing a joint fishing ground in the Yellow Sea will also be put on the agenda. During the crab-fishing season from March to June, tension usually mounts as North Korean fishing boats often violate the Northern Limit Line, which the North refuses to recognize. North Korea has stuck to its long-held position that the dispute will not be resolved unless a new border is drawn further south of the existing NLL.
Minister Airs Hope for Inter-Korean Summit This Year
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok on Sunday expressed hope for a second inter-Korea summit within the year. "It is true that President Roh Moo-hyun's determination about the inter-Korean summit has become stronger," Lee admitted on a KBS TV talk show on Sunday. "It would be desirable to hold a summit within Roh's tenure, preferably within this year."
Lee's remark come on the heels of Roh's offer to Pyongyang last week of an "unconditional" summit. The first inter-Korean summit took place in 2000 between former president Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.
Definite End to Joint Military Exercises with Foreign Forces Demanded
Pyongyang, May 10 (KCNA) -- The south Korean authorities' continued participation in joint military exercises with foreign forces cannot be construed otherwise than a criminal act of standing in the way of achieving peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula and hamstringing the efforts to improve the inter-Korean relations, zealously pursuant to the U.S. imperialists' hostile policy towards the DPRK. Rodong Sinmun Wednesday observes this in a signed article.
[Joint US military]
Inter-Korean Summit 'Could Resolve Nuclear Impasse'
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok on Friday said President Roh Moo-hyun's offer to Pyongyang this week of an "unconditional" summit could provide a fresh solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea.
"The government has not taken the position that a second inter-Korean summit would be possible only once the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved," Lee told an interviewer. "The government already took the view that an inter-Korean summit might have positive effects on addressing the North Korean nuclear problem." The minister made the remarks on an MBC radio show.
Seoul Looks Bent on Separate N.Korea Policy
The government appears intent on making attempts independent of Washington to bring North Korea back to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear program. Some critics fear that any move from Seoul that would go against a U.S. strategy to box in the North from all sides could strain relations between the two allies.
President Roh Moo-hyun was quoted as saying Seoul will exercise greater leadership in breaking the deadlock in the six-party talks. Roh was said to have made the remarks in a meeting with senior officials in security departments before embarking on his current overseas trip. "The idea is that since the six-party talks play a very important role in determining the fate of the Korean Peninsula, we can't just leave such critical decisions in the hands of the U.S.," a high-ranking government official said Thursday.
A Pointless Proposal
President Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday told Korean residents in Mongolia he will meet Kim Jong-il "anytime and anywhere" and talk about anything he wants. "We'll make many concessions" if that happens, he said, and offer unconditional institutional and material support. "North Korea seems to be concerned about Korea-U.S. combined forces exercises." He added. "In a sense, it may just be trying to be provocative, but there may be many reasons" why the North should be concerned.
The presidential remarks on the inter-Korean summit break with his earlier principle that any summit can happen only after the nuclear arms issue is resolved. Why has that principle now been abandoned?
'Treasures' from North on view here
May 09, 2006 ? The National Museum of Korea in central Seoul's Yongsan district gave journalists a peek at 12 artifacts designated as cultural treasures of North Korea. The museum will exhibit a total of 90 Korean artifacts owned by the North from June 12 to Aug. 16. The exhibition will then move to Daegu from Aug. 29 through Oct. 26.
"We received the cultural treasures from the North's Central History Museum on Tuesday and Wednesday," said Yi Kun-moo, director of the National Museum of Korea. He said the artifacts range in age from far antiquity through the late Joseon Dynasty, and were transferred at Mount Kumgang.
The most highly prized item is a bronze statute of Wang Gun, the founder of the Goryeo Kingdom. It was excavated in 1992 from the king's tomb in Kaesong.
A bone flute dating from 2000 B.C., believed to be the oldest musical instrument found in Korea, is also among the items to be put on display.
Visit by North Korean leader may be discussed
May 09, 2006 ? A senior Blue House official said yesterday that Kim Jong-il's promised visit to South Korea could be discussed when former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung travels to the North again next month.
During the historic inter-Korean summit of 2000, the North Korean leader agreed to visit Seoul in return for then South Korean President Kim's trip to Pyongyang. That promise, however, has not been fulfilled.
Suh Choo-suk, presidential senior secretary for unification, foreign affairs and security policy, said in an interview with KBS radio that the matter had been agreed on during the summit between the two Kims on June 15, 2000. "To confirm this, I believe that the matter would be discussed naturally," Mr. Suh said.
He, however, dismissed speculation that another summit between the leaders of the two Koreas will be scheduled during Mr. Kim's visit.
Mr. Suh also said Seoul will do its best to support Mr. Kim's plan to visit the North via a recently restored cross-border railway. The North has not accepted the proposal. "Since he is a former president, we have a consistent policy to support the trip," Mr. Suh said.
Peace Message to North Korea via 'Uniting Painting'
SEOUL (Yonhap) _ Ranan R. Lurie, a U.S. political cartoonist, disclosed a plan Saturday to spread his global artwork "Uniting Painting" to North Korea.
"I want to tell them there is a normal, healthy, prosperous and loving world outside the borders of North Korea," said Lurie, who arrived in South Korea on Friday to survey sites at which he plans to build artworks to convey a message of peace to North Korea.
Negotiator for Talks on DJ's NK Trip Named
South Korea will send Jeong Se-hyun, former minister of unification, as its chief delegate when former President Kim Dae-jung visits Pyongyang later this month, the Ministry of Unification said Tuesday.
'DJ Will Discuss NK Leader's Reciprocal Visit'
By Seo Dong-shin
A senior presidential aide said Monday former President Kim Dae-jung will likely discuss a possible visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to South Korea when they meet next month in Pyongyang.
North Side Sends Telephone Message to South Side
Pyongyang, May 5 (KCNA) -- The head of the north side to the inter-Korean ministerial talks Friday sent a telephone message to the chief delegate of the south side proposing a working contact between officials concerned of the two sides to discuss the issue of Pyongyang visit by Kim Dae Jung, former president of south Korea. The message said that the north side suggested having the above-said contact at Mt. Kumgang resort on May 16 and it would send to the contact four officials headed by Ri Jong Hyok, vice-chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.
Flood hits Imjin River, North Korea blamed
May 08, 2006 ? YEONCHEON, Gyeonggi ? Residents of northern Gyeonggi province, along the Imjin River, are calling it an "attack" by North Korea.
A sudden surge of floodwater hit the area Saturday; residents and officials said the only explanation was that North Korea had opened the floodgates of its April 5th Dam on the river without prior notification.
Radical Improvement of Inter-Korean Relations Called for
Pyongyang, May 4 (KCNA) -- There is a growing danger of a nuclear war against the north by foreign forces in Korea. This makes it incumbent upon the north and the south of Korea to boldly dispel the outdated idea of confrontation and earnestly promote the improvement of the relations through practical measures in order to defend the destiny of the nation and achieve common prosperity. Rodong Sinmun Thursday says this in its signed article.
It goes on:
It is the realistic way for the radical improvement and development of the inter-Korean relations for the north and the south to recognize and respect each other's ideology and system in the spirit of the June 15 joint declaration and take practical measures to this end.
There have been different ideologies and systems in the north and the south for decades.
It is the ignorance of the essence of the matter to argue that mutual exchange will lead to confidence building. One of the factors standing in the way of the development of the inter-Korean relations is the pattern of thinking originating from different ideologies and systems and legal and institutional problems resulting from them. Under this condition it is the best cure for the development of the inter-Korean relations to recognize the reality and respect each other's ideology and system. For a dramatic turn in the inter-Korean relations through the recognition and respect of each other's ideology and system, the ideas and practices of the old era of confrontation must be abandoned and all the anti-reunification institutional barriers such as the "National Security Law" repressing the desire for national reconciliation, unity and reunification through alliance with the north be pulled down in south Korea. Recognition and respect of each other's ideology and system and reconciliation based on it are, indeed, the bed-rock point of principle of practical significance in the development of the inter-Korean relations. The earliest possible solution to this matter is an urgent task that brooks no further delay for the implementation of the June 15 joint declaration and the accomplishment of the cause of independent reunification. Depending on it is whether the inter-Korean relations enter the stage of fundamental development, braving the challenges and obstructions of the foreign forces, or fall into the crisis of severance.
S. Korean Military Authorities' Spread of Sheer Misinformation about North Denounced
Pyongyang, May 4 (KCNA) -- The south Korean "government information sources" were recently reported to have provided media with sheer misinformation that the warships of the navy of the north side engaged in maneuvers have pledged themselves to "retaliate against the naval force of the south side" on its guard duty "when an appropriate opportunity presents itself." A spokesman for the Navy Command of the Korean People's Army, answering a question raised by KCNA on May 3 as regards the south Korean military authorities' smear campaign against the north, termed such invectives an intolerable insult and a blatant provocation against it.
Preparation Begins for Kim DJ's Visit to NK
By Seo Dong-shin
South and North Korea will hold a meeting on May 16 at the North's Mt. Kumgang to prepare for former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang in June,the Unification Ministry announced on Friday.
The two Koreas on Friday agreed on the meeting after Kwon Ho-ung, North's chief delegate to the inter-Korean Cabinet talks, sent a message to Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok.
Kim, 80, who received kidney dialysis Thursday, could not respond to the news immediately, but Choi Kyung-hwan, Kim's secretary, said former president Kim will consult with the government for the planned visit to Pyongyang.
N.K. proposes talks on DJ visit to Pyongyang
By Annie I. Bang
South and North Korea yesterday agreed to hold inter-Korean working-level talks on the 16th of this month to work out the details of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's second visit to Pyongyang, the Unification Ministry said.
Seoul has accepted Pyongyang's suggestion to convene the meeting at the resort area of Mount Geumgang in the North. Delegates from the two Koreas will discuss Kim's trip which is planned for June.
"Kwon Ho-ung, the North's chief delegate to the inter-Korean Cabinet-level talks, sent a fax to the Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok and suggested holding working-level talks on May 16," the ministry's spokesman Yang Chang-seok said.
He said details, such as the formalities, schedule and size of delegations, will be discussed during the working-level contacts. But Yang said he does not know how long the meeting will take since Pyongyang only suggested "from the 16th."
Buddha's birthday: Child monks join hands during a Buddhist memorial service at Chogyesa Temple in central Seoul, Friday, to mark the 2550th anniversary of Buddha's Birthday. Buddhist memorial services were held yesterday in temples nationwide.
[photo] [human rights]
'Border,' Personal Stories of NK Defectors
By Kim Tae-jong
Cha Seung-won stars as a North Korean defector in" Over the Border."
The situation in the war-torn Korean Peninsula has been an important motif in many local films.
In recent years, however, their main focus has shifted from the severe conflict between the two Koreas to individual tragedies and experiences.
War Victory Monument Returned to North Korea
Korea Celebrates Restoration of Monument of 16th-Century War Victory against Japan
Representatives of North and South Korean organizations sign certificates of the return of the monument "Pukkwan Taechoppi" on March 1.
A monument of 16th-century war against Japan was returned to North Korea by South Korea on March 1, the 87th anniversary of the Korean nation's independence movement from Japanese colonial rule.
A ceremony was held in Kaesong on March 1 to celebrate the return of Pukkwan Taechoppi (means "the monument to the victory in the battle in the northern area" in Korean language) to North Korea.
The monument was looted by Japan a century ago. [Japanese colonialism] [[Joint Korean]
4th Video Meeting of Separated Families Held
Asian Countries Hold Meeting on Railway Cooperation
A meeting of Asian countries under the Organization of Railways Cooperation was held in Pyongyang from March 6 to 10.
According to the KCNA on March 10, the meeting was participated in by railway delegations and delegates from the DPRK, Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam and Kazakhstan.
A representative of the organization made an opening address at the meeting, which was followed by a congratulatory speech of Jon Kil Su, executive vice-minister of Railways of the DPRK.
The meeting, divided into different panels, reviewed the implementation of the 2005 plan for foreign trade freight transport among Asian countries and agreed on the freight transport turnover for 2006. It also discussed the technical matters to this end. A relevant protocol was adopted at the meeting.
Extraordinary Meeting of Co-Chairmen of Pomminryun Held
The National Alliance for the Country's Reunification (Ponminryun) on February 28 held an extraordinary meeting of the co-chairmen of its North and South Korea and overseas sides.
The meeting was held by way of exchanging facsimile messages.
Families Meet After Longtime Separation
DPRK Foreign Ministry Assails U.S.-S. Korea Joint War Exercises
PYONGYANG, March 23 (KCNA)- A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry issued a statement on March 23 to denounce the U.S. bellicose group and the South Korean authorities for planning to stage large-scale RSOI and "Foal Eagle" joint military exercises across South Korea from March 25 to 31. The war maneuvers will involve the U.S. troops in its mainland, in South Korea and overseas, more than 20,000 in all, as well as huge South Korean forces. Dismissing the exercises as aggressive and adventurous saber-rattling for a preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK from A to Z, the statement said as follows
Civilians Vow to Spearhead Patriotic Movement for Reunification
A conference of women in North and South Korea was held at Mt. Kumgang resort on March 10 to implement the June 15 joint declaration.
Korea Proposes Putting off Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks
North Korea announced that it would postpone the 18th inter-Korean ministerial talks to be held in Pyongyang from March 24.
Kwon Ho Ung, head of North Korean delegation to the ministerial talks, on March 11 sent a telephone message to Ri Jong Sok, chief delegate of South Korean delegation, as that Pyongyang would put off the talks due to joint military exercises to be staged by South Korea and the U.S.
[Joint S military]
5 S. Korean Abductees Confirmed Alive in North: Intelligence Chief
SEOUL (Yonhap) ? At least five South Koreans abducted by North Korea decades ago have been confirmed alive in the communist state, the country's top intelligence official was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Kim Seung-kyu, head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), told the National Assembly Intelligence Committee that at least five South Korean high school students abducted between 1977 and 1978 have been confirmed to be still alive, three are still employed as instructors for North Korean spies, committee members said
Rich-Poor Gap Widening at Alarming Rate Since 1997
By Kim Tong-hyung
The gap between Korea's rich and poor continues to widen at an alarming rate, with a larger share of national wealth concentrated on the top of the income spectrum, according to a Korea Labor Institute (KLI) report on Monday.
According to the state-run KLI, based on average annual earning in 2003 _ the latest period for available data _ households in the top 10 percent of the income scale earned around 50 times more than those in the bottom tenth.
Evaluation of Early Warning Aircraft Begins
By Jung Sung-ki
The Air Force has started testing and evaluating two early warning aircraft systems vying for South Korea's $2-billion weapons project, a final step before choosing the successful bidder in June.
Isang Yun's Wife Wants Apology From Seoul
By Seo Dong-shin
MT. KUMGANG, North Korea _ Lee Soo-ja, 79, widow of renowned composer Isang Yun, appeared nervous when the conference room was packed with journalists from South Korea; a place she had stayed away from for more than three decades but now wants to revisit any time soon, when her husband's honor is restored.
``Everyday, I hope that the South Korean government would restore the honor of the artist who was so dedicated to the Korean people, so that his spirit could finally visit his hometown,'' she said during the press conference.
Lee was the center of attention during a ceremony here from Friday through Sunday to pay tribute to her late husband (1917-1995). North Korean officials carried her bags around, and South Korean cameras rallied around her.
With short, curly silver hair and resolutely tight lips, the South Korean-turned-German national, now residing in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, mingled with high-profile figures from the two Koreas. Among them were Ri Jong-hyuk, vice chairman of the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee; Lee Jong-seok, the South's unification minister; Hyun Jeong-eun, chairman of the South's Hyundai Group; and Park Jae-kyu, former unification minister and now president of the Seoul-based Isang Yun Peace Foundation. [human rights]
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