ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Current status of the inter-Korean relations
For the first time after the inauguration, Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong gave a briefing to local and foreign reporters on December 28, 2006. Minister Lee said the current status of the inter-Korean relations can be an opportunity to solve the problems and announced the course of the Ministry's policy in 2007.
Despite the North's nuclear test, inter-Korean relations have been maintained continuously.
On the inter-Korean relations, Minister Lee said, ???Although the relations have been in a difficult situation since the North's missile launch and nuclear test, South Korea has maintained the relations continuously through the inter-Korean exchanges in several fields such as economy, social-culture, and private sector. As of the end of November, the number of those who visited South Korea or North Korea recorded 93,000, increased by 15 percent from that of last year, and the trade volume amounted to US$1.26billion rose by 29 percent.??? In addition, he said the stance of the international community has turned from a strong sanction to dialogue and alternative plan through resumption of the six-party talks and working-level talks for dealing with the BDA issue.
Promotion still a ’family matter’ within firms
Fast-track nepotistic appointments within Korean Air, Hyundai raise concerns
» Chaebol's third-generation offspring, promoted resently in their family run companies. From left, Park Se-chang, Chung Ji-yi and Cho Won-tae.
Owners of South Korea’s family-run industrial conglomerates, or chaebol, have stepped up their efforts to transfer managerial control to their third-generation offspring by promoting them to executive-level posts. Some critics accuse the conglomerates of promoting their family members in a relatively shorter period than that of ordinary employees.
On December 28, Korean Air, South Korea’s largest carrier, announced it had promoted the company chairman Cho Yang-ho’s only son, 30-year-old Cho Won-tae, and his eldest daughter, 32-year-old Cho Hyun-ah, to the level of executive vice president.
Navy’s Two Landing Vessels Retire
By Jung Sung-ki
Two of the Navy’s 4,000-ton landing vessels have been decommissioned after about a half century in service, Navy officials said Thursday.
The Unbong and Uibong LST amphibious warfare ships, transferred in 1955 and 1959, respectively, from the U.S. Navy, were used to carry South Korean troops to Vietnam. Korean soldiers helped the U.S. fight North Vietnamese communists in the 1960s and 1970s, officials said.
The Unbong participated in a total of 101 operations and conducted more than 110 war-fighting support missions. The Uibong took part in about 90 operations and was used as a training vessel for naval cadets.
The Navy now operates four advanced landing vessels. It has decommissioned eight amphibious ships introduced since the 1950s, officials said.
[Military balance] [Imperialism]
Retirees Ride Emigration Bandwagon
By Kang Shin-who
A growing number of elderly Koreans in their 50s and 60s are leaving Korea to spend their retirement in Southeast Asia.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the number of such Koreans marked a nearly 50 percent rise in the Philippines and in Vietnam. The figure has jumped two fold as of December this year compared to last year.
The trend is different from that of people who emigrated to the United States or Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, most of them left their home to make money and offer better education to their children.
However, the trend of today is to improve their retirement and spend carefully what they have saved for all their lives.
``I chose Malaysia for retirement because I could live in comfort avoiding the high prices in Korea,'' said 65-old-year Ha Young-hoon who has lived with his wife in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for five years. ``I can hire a driver and maids here, and enjoy golf and horse riding which I could never dream of in Korea.''
For instance, people 60 years old or older who deposit about 45 million won ($48,000) in a Malaysian bank are given the right of permanent residence in Malaysia
[Aging society] [Migration]
Korea Univ. head slammed with plagiarism charges
3 papers contain verbatim passages from students' work
Professor Lee Phil-sang, Korea University's new president, has come under fire for alleged plagiarism. The charges have dealt a blow to his reputation, just after he assumed the helm of one of the nation's most prestigious schools on December 21.
North funding pared in 2007 national budget
Total outlays to rise 7% as Assembly compromises to end 25-day impasse
December 28, 2006 ? Next year's government budget was passed by the National Assembly in yesterday's predawn hours after a tug-of-war between the governing and opposition parties.
The agreed budget was set at 235.4 trillion won ($253.1 billion), smaller than the government's proposal of 238.5 trillion won. President Roh Moo-hyun's Uri Party and the Grand National Party agreed to cut the budgets for inter-Korean cooperation projects and for the creation of social service jobs, although not without a fight from the administration's supporters. Still, the 2007 budget is 7 percent larger than that of 2006.
The budget is divided into spending of 156.6 trillion won in general accounts, 6.8 trillion won in special accounts and 72 trillion won in government-run funds.
The North-South cooperation fund, one of the latter budget items, was perhaps the hottest of the hot issues. The Assembly agreed to allocate 500 billion won for that fund, down 150 billion won from the government's proposal.
Fit and going home
December 28, 2006 ?
One of two North Korean soldiers, center, plucked adrift on the sea on Dec. 9 was repatriated at Panmunjeom yesterday after being treated at a South Korean military hospital. A second North Korean soldier, more severely injured by the ordeal, crossed the inter-Korean border on a stretcher. [YONHAP]
North Korean soldiers return home
December 28, 2006 ? Two teenage North Korean soldiers who floated into South Korean water on a 3-ton wooden boat with no motor on Dec. 9 were returned to their communist homeland yesterday ? one of them on a stretcher ? after being treated at the military hospital in Bundang, Gyeonggi province.
Korean Wave Waning in Asian Nations
By Seo Dong-shin
Asians are not as satisfied with Korean pop culture as they used to be, according to a report released Tuesday.
Citizens of four Asian countries are becoming more discontented with South Korean films, pop music and dramas, the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE) said, citing results of a survey it commissioned. A total of 2,109 citizens in Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei, aged 15 to 59, responded to the survey conducted from early September to October.
Elderly Population Jumps 30% in 5 Years
By Na Jeong-ju
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said Tuesday that early next month it will begin operating an early warning system that will be used for financial services firms in detecting and coping with symptoms of financial disruptions.
Anachronistic Confrontation Doctrine Blasted
Pyongyang, December 21 (KCNA) -- The south Korean military authorities some time ago rattled on the reexamination of the "defense policy" involving the question of "principal enemy", singing duet with the United States taking issue with the self-defensive war deterrent of the DPRK. Commenting on this, a Rodong Sinmun analyst Thursday says:
The "principal enemy" doctrine touted by the anti-reunification forces of south Korea is a doctrine of the era of confrontation, which regards the north, the same nation, as the chief "enemy" and an "object of removal". It never falls in line with the June 15 era of reunification today.
The Koreans are a homogeneous nation which has inherited one and the same culture and tradition down through history. There is no contradiction and reason that should cause hostile feelings between the north and the south.
The concept of "principal enemy" is the left-over of the era of inter-Korean confrontation.
Roh Lashes Out at Former Defense Chiefs
A President at a Dead End
President Roh Moo-hyun on Thursday fired a broadside at former defense ministers and chiefs of staff who oppose Seoul's early takeover of full operational control of its troops. "They took pride in being defense minister or chief of staff leading the nation's military when they couldn’t even control its operations in wartime,” he told the 50th standing committee meeting of the Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification. "When they issued a declaration against Korea taking over wartime operational control of its own troops, they completely neglected their duty. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
He said the Korean military “is perfectly capable of taking wartime operational control of its troops.” “We make good mobile phones, cars and ships; why not wartime operational control?" he demanded. Roh said the government seeks the handover to prepare for any emergency in North Korea. "Would we have anything to say to China and North Korea when we can't even control our own troops in wartime and can’t decide whether to bomb a civilian facility in the North and which facility to target?" he asked. "This is diplomatically very important."
Military Service Period Likely to Be Shortened
By Jung Sung-ki
The government plans to come up with a policy to shorten the country's mandatory military service period early next year as part of efforts to maximize the size of the country's productive workforce, Chong Wa Dae officials said Friday.
The announcement came a day after President Roh Moo-hyun said that his government is seeking policies for young men to ``wed and have babies earlier than now instead of exhausting their time in the military.''
Future Leader for Reunification
The Ceremony Commemorating the 1st Completion of the Course of the Future Leader for Reunification( December 14) Name : subwebDate : 2006-12-18
The Ceremony Commemorating the 1st Completion of the Course of the Future Leader for Reunification
Participants in the ceremony
Minister Lee Jae-jeong attended the ceremony commemorating the 1st completion of the future leader for reunification course, held at the hall of the Institute for Unification Education on December 14. The course, progressed for ten months (2.15~12.4), was planned to foster policy decision-maker equipped with professional knowledge and capacity about the inter-Korean relations. At the ceremony, Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong awarded prizes to those who finished the course with excellent results.
S. Korea Plans Affordable Missile Defense Shield
An early warning radar system, Patriot Missiles and a command system will make up a planned Korea Air and Missile Defense or KAMD to protect the country from North Korea’s ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. A military source said Wednesday the military is seeking to build its own missile defense against ballistic and cruise missiles under a plan specified in a directive by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued after Pyongyang's nuclear test. The classified document lays out the JCS chairman’s ideas and is used as a guideline for the plans.
Seoul to soon restore ties with Pyongyang: unification minister
The South Korean government may resume its humanitarian assistance to North Korea in the near future as part of efforts to mend soured ties with the communist nation, the country's point man on North Korea said Thursday.
"The government has a principle to resume the North-South dialogue at the earliest date possible," Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung told reporters.
Lee was the highest, if not the first, South Korean official to express hope for resuming the country's dialogue with the communist North, which has been stalled since a high-profile meeting in July.
Minister Hints at Resuming Talks With N. Korea
By Lee Jin-woo
Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung is stressing the need for inter-Korean dialogue to restore the soured ties between the two Koreas and resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
Ever since the 19th inter-Korean Cabinet-level talks came to an abrupt end last July, relations between the two Koreas have been strained. The South-North ministerial talks ended a day ahead of schedule in Pusan. After the North’s underground nuclear test on Oct. 9, tensions increased further.
430 Teachers Face Mass Punishment
By Kang Shin-who
Teachers involved in collective actions against government policy will face unprecedented mass punishment. However, the education authorities will not push criminal charges against the teachers as previously announced.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development instructed 16 city and provincial offices of education to set up punishment committees by the end of this month and discipline teachers who participated in national rallies of teachers more than four times, an official of the ministry said Thursday.
Members of the Korea Teachers and Educational Worker’s Union (KTU), a progressive teachers’ union, used their holidays or legitimate time-off on Nov. 22 to stage a rally in central Seoul to protest the government’s moves toward teacher assessment and a merit-based pay system.
Low-Altitude Missile Defense System Planned
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea plans to build a missile defense system to shoot down short- and medium-range missiles that could be launched by North Korea if a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday.
The scheme is part of the JCS' military power development strategies to counter growing missile and nuclear threats posed by the North, a JCS spokesman said.
Korean TV dramas take a nosedive in Asia
Popularity wanes as ’anti-Korean wave’ sentiment sets in
Exports of South Korean TV dramas have decreased for the first time this year.
According to data announced by the Korean Broadcasting Institute on December 18, exports of TV dramas garnered about US$85.9 million this year, a 15.5-percent decrease from last year’s $102 million. This is the first decline since the institute began to gather related data in 1998.
The average unit sale price of a drama dropped 11 percent to $4,378, compared to last year’s $4,921, also a first-time decrease since the numbers were tallied. The annual export of TV dramas had previously recorded an average increase of 89.7 percent since 2001, riding the ’hallyu,’ or ’Korean wave’ of popular culture sweeping Asia.
As for reasons behind the sudden drop, the broadcasting institute mentioned insufficient efforts to improve the quality of TV dramas, as well as anti-Korean wave sentiment in Asian nations.
Korean Universities Seek to Team Up With Foreign Peers
By Kang Shin-who
Korean universities are seeking to cooperate with more overseas schools as a growing number of students go abroad to study.
In an effort to encourage the movement, some 15 universities recently joined or will participate in an international university networks program of the Study Abroad Foundation (SAF).
Nearly 50 universities, not counting Korean schools, are host-schools for the SAF programs, including Columbia University, University of Utah, University of Colorado, University of Bristol and University of Auckland.
S.Korean Student Broadcasts to Entertain N.Koreans
Radio broadcasts produced by college students here will be aired in North Korea. Open Radio for North Korea announced that it will start broadcasting stories of South Korean college students from Monday to celebrate the radio station’s first anniversary. They include love stories, ballads, useful economic information and short historic dramas.
They were planned and produced by students from Dongguk University, Sungshin Women's University, Soongsil University, Chung-Ang University, Chongshin University, and Hanyang University, who did their best to reflect the characteristics of their institution.
The first broadcast on Monday is titled “Getting Really Rich” and offers useful tips on the economy for college students
Global War on Fast Food Spreads to Korea
The global anti-trans fat movement is spreading to Korea. The artificial partly hydrogenated oils, which have been linked to an array of cardiovascular diseases, are now banned in New York’s fast food restaurants, while India is seeking to insert the warning “not for children” in fast food packaging.
The 33rd Minister of Unification Lee Jae-jeong Took Office on December 11
The inaugural ceremony for the 33rd Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong was held at the conference room of the Ministry at 3pm on December 11, attended by officials and reporters.
Inaugural Speech by the 33rd Minister of Unification Lee Jae-jeong on December 11, 2006
Name : Lee Jae-jeongDate : 2006-12-11
Fellow members of the Unification Ministry,
Appointed to the 33rd Minister of Unification by the President, I feel a strong sense of duty as well as responsibility standing in front of you today.
First, I would like to extend my appreciation to your warm welcome. I am also very delighted and honored to open a new way for the national desire - peaceful reunification - with you.
We are standing at the historical turning point where crisis and opportunity cross each other. Although tension caused by the North Korea’s nuclear test exists in the international community including the Korean Peninsula, the resumption of the six-party talks is near at hand thanks to the efforts by the international community and the South Korean government. Even though the international sanction toward North Korea has become intensified, support for peaceful diplomatic efforts and dialogue has also become strong.
Seoul to Boost Defense Against N. Korean Nukes, Missiles
Seoul is to deploy so-called bunker busters -- bombs designed to destroy underground nuclear facilities or missile bases -- ahead of schedule and set up a ballistic-missile early warning system to respond to the nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
The Defense Ministry said Thursday the National Assembly's Defense Committee decided to increase the emergency budget to respond to Pyongyang’s arsenal by W39.2 billion (US$1=W921). The money is to buy bunker busters worth W2.3 billion and laser-guided bombs worth W7.5 billion, improved high altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) protection for ground facilities worth W700 million, ballistic-missile early warning radar worth W100 million, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth W100 million and radioactivity detection sets worth W500 million.
Navy's new destroyer proves deadly accurate
December 16, 2006 ? Eleven radar guided shells left the gun of the Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin destroyer, the Navy's newest type of destroyer of the KDX-II class, one after another and hit a target seven kilometers (4.3 miles) away from the vessel.
Captain Ha Tae-min, the commander of the 5,000-ton vessel, said in a matter-of-fact tone, "If it was a North Korean patrol boat or a larger vessel it would have already been sunk."
Cyber Diplomats Fight for Accuracy About Korea
By Bae Ji-sook
When popular Websites Yahoo and Google changed on their maps the name of the sea between Korea and Japan from Sea of Japan to the East Sea, everyone suspected VANK.
VANK, voluntary agency network of Korea, with 1,500 members, has corrected hundreds of erroneous statements that foreign governments or organizations made about Korea. Changing Ullung Islets from Japanese territory to Korean territory on the Reuter Foundation's Web site, and separating Korea from Southeast Asia at the British Museum are just a couple of changes the group has made over the past three years.
Tequila Rebellion Hatched in Whiskey Nation
Korea is a whiskey country with over 2.5 million cases sold each year. Each case contains 12 750 cubic centimeter (cc) bottles.
The market for tequila is tiny in comparison, only about 22,000 cases year.
Now, an experienced liquor importer wants to change this. His goal is not just to increase the size of the tequila market but also push it to the size of the whiskey market.
Korean-American Charged With Espionage
Suspect reportedly traveled to North Korea while a member of the American military
Robert Neff (neff) Email Article Print Article
Published 2006-12-10 12:28 (KST)
North Korea is "my home" and South Korea is the "enemy's rearguard," American businessman Michael Chang allegedly proclaimed in a report he sent to North Korea. Michael Chang, 44, also known as Chang Min-ho, has been charged along with four South Koreans of espionage for North Korea.
According to South Korean prosecutors, Chang was the head of the pro-communist group Ilsim-hoe (with one mind) that not only spied upon the South Korean government for the North but also attempted to "establish a fifth column by infiltrating political parties and converting activists to North Korean ideologies."
In late October, he were arrested along with the other members and held in five different locations in Seoul. Allegedly, NIS threatened to send him to Guantanamo Bay if he did not cooperate. Chang denies most charges, including the charge that he was a member of the North Korean Labor Party.
[Espionage] [National Security Law] [Human rights] [Bizarre]
We Won’t Be Fooled by Another Inter-Korean Summit
The new Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said in his inaugural press conference on Monday that an inter-Korean summit meeting is "a task for the two heads of state” and a “long-pending issue." Ruling Uri Party chairman Kim Geun-tae said late last month that he will ask the president to dispatch a special envoy to North Korea for the purpose of promoting an “unconditional” inter-Korean summit, and the former Uri Party chairman Chung Dong-young said March or April next year would be the right time for the summit, when the presidential election is some six months away.
This government is now obsessed with an inter-Korean summit. Until the middle of its tenure, officials asked what the point would be unless the North Korean nuclear crisis has been resolved. But their rhetoric has recently changed: now the two heads of state must meet unconditionally. President Roh Moo-hyun keeps saying the North's nuclear weapons are nothing to worry about: he is begging Kim Jong-il for a meeting.
Why Worry About the North Korean Regime’s Collapse?
President Roh Moo-hyun on Saturday told South Korean expatriates in New Zealand that preventing North Korea's possible collapse is a "very important strategy" for our government because the North "will never wage war unless attacked or collapsing." Seoul is therefore "concerned” about the suspension of humanitarian aid to the North under UN Security Council Resolution 1718, he added.
And then he talks as if the regime’s collapse would be a dire calamity. From whose point of view? From Kim Jong-il’s, certainly. From the perspective of the North Korean people, well…
And from the South Korean people’s point of view? The president makes out that regime collapse in the North would mean war, and thus calamity for our people as well. But a majority of experts feel the regime would collapse if it made the mistake of starting a war, so it is illogical to think it will start one for fear of collapse.
Job Fair for North Korean Defectors Held
A job fair for North Korean defectors was held at the Textiles Center in Kangnam-gu, southern Seoul, Tuesday under the auspices of the Ministry of Labor Affairs and the Ministry of Unification.
Forty companies operating in Seoul and Kyonggi Province plan to hire some 200 workers through individual interviews.
Besides interviews, organizers also provided consultations about getting a job, acquiring certificates of qualification and drawing up a personal resume.
The total number of North Korean defectors entering South Korea is expected to pass the 10,000 mark by the first half of next year with the arrivals increasing every year. The figure was 4,410 in 2003, 6,304 in 2004, 7,687 in 2005 and 9,265 as of October this year.[Refugee reception]
Possible Inter-Korean Summit Worries GNP
By Lee Jin-woo
The main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) Tuesday expressed concern over rumors that the Roh Moo-hyun administration is working on an inter-Korean summit next spring due to its possible massive impact on the party's present leading position ahead of next year's presidential race.
The presidential office, however, denied the allegation. ``The government remains open-minded to an inter-Korean summit, but at present, there is no plan for one,” Baek Jong-chun, chief presidential secretary for unification, foreign and security policy, said.
Inter-Korean relations have developed dramatically since the historic inter-Korean summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in June 2000.
Korea to Slash Armed Forces to 500,000 by 2020
By Park Song-wu
The number of armed forces personnel will be slashed to 500,000 from the current 680,000 by 2020 in line with a military reform bill under consideration at the National Assembly.
The defense reform law is designed to boost South Korea's war capability by introducing advanced weapons while reducing its dependence on U.S. troops.
The military is expected to exercise independent command in three to five years through the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. military.
[Military balance] [Sovereignty]
Amnesty Int'l asks S.K. to free U.S. base move protestor
Man rallied against U.S. base land takeover, faces two years in prison
Kim Ji-tae, a 47-year-old village chief jailed for staging demonstrations to protest the relocation and expansion of a U.S. base in the village of Daechuri, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, was designated as a 'prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International, an international human rights organization.
North-South Media Seminar Held
Mt. Kumgang Resort, November 29 (KCNA) -- A seminar on the subject of "Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration and Role of Mediapersons in the North and the South" was held at Mt. Kumgang Resort on Wednesday. The seminar was attended by the members of the north side delegation led by Jo Chung Han, vice-chairman of the media panel committee of the north side's committee for the implementation of the June 15 joint declaration and the members of the south side delegation led by Jong Il Yong, permanent representative of the media headquarters of the south side's committee for the implementation of the June 15 joint declaration.
Song Min-soon Appointed as Foreign Minister
President Roh Moo-hyun Friday appointed his chief security secretary Song Min-soon as the minister of foreign affairs and trade, Chong Wa Dae announced
The conservative GNP accused him of displaying bias against the United States and an excessively favorable stance toward North Korea.
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