ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Urgent Call for the Release of MTU Leaders! Stop Crackdown on Migrant Workers
On the morning of November 27, MTU President Kajiman, Vice President Raju and General Secretary Masum were arrested, in what was clearly a targeted crackdown against the leadership of MTU. We, the KCTU and the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants’ Trade Union call on the international labor and human rights community to do whatever in their power to secure the release of the MTU leadership and end this labor repression against MTU.
Korean Defense Ministers Clash Over Sea Border
The defense ministers of the two Koreas started three days of talks with a clash over the Northern Limit Line, the de-facto border in the West Sea. The North reiterated its long-standing demand for the NLL to be redrawn and a planned joint fishing area that was supposed to ease tensions over the issue to be located south of the maritime border. The South wants the joint fishing area on both sides of the current NLL and is wary of redrawing it.
.Korea Ranks 26th in UN Quality-of-Life Index
South Korea ranks 26th in the Human Development Index released on Tuesday by the UN Development Program, the same rank as last year's. The index, a part of the Human Development Report 2007, looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being, the world body claims. But the report points out that South Korea is the ninth largest carbon emitter in the world with annual emissions of 465 million tons of carbon dioxide, and an increase rate of emissions more than three times the world average.
Agreement expected on inter-Korean waterways
Defense ministers will also discuss joint fishing zone and cooperative use of Han River estuary
Military leaders from South and North Korea began a new round of defense ministerial talks, their first in years, during which they will reportedly reach an agreement on detailed plans for allowing private ships to use direct maritime routes crossing the two divided countries, sources said.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Il-chol launched three days of talks in Pyongyang yesterday to discuss follow-up measures on agreements reached at the inter-Korean summit in October.
Second North-South Defence Minister-Level Talks Open
Pyongyang, November 27 (KCNA) -- The Second North-South Defence Minister-Level Talks were opened here Tuesday.
Present at the talks were the delegation of the north side headed by Kim Il Chol, minister of the People's Armed Forces, and the delegation of the south side with Minister of National Defence Kim Jang Su as chief delegate.
The talks discussed the military measures to implement the "Declaration for Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity".
The head of the north side's delegation said that it is important to have a correct understanding of the issue of the country's peace, first of all, in order to thoroughly implement the historic October 4 declaration. He went on:
A Korean wine master has the nose
November 26, 2007
HONG KONG ?Jeannie Cho Lee had little chance growing up in Korea to develop a taste for fine wine, but she has spent six years making up for lost time in pursuing her goal of becoming Asia's first Master of Wine.
Hong Kong-based Lee this month passed the first two sections of the notoriously tough Master of Wine exams, setting her on the road to a title that just 265 people worldwide are entitled to use.
Rare North-South defense talks set for Tuesday
November 24, 2007
For only the second time ever, a South Korean military delegation is scheduled to hold talks with their North Korean counterparts on Tuesday in Pyongyang.
Colonel Moon Sung-mook said the venue of the three day talks would be the Songjeonggak military guesthouse, located on the shores of the Daedong River.
The guesthouse has never been opened to South Koreans before, which Moon called a positive symbolic sign.
Defense Minister to Visit Pyongyang by Air Next Week
South Korea has decided to send a 30-member delegation led by the country's defense minister to Pyongyang next week for the second-ever talks between the military chiefs of the two Koreas, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
The South's delegation will travel to Pyongyang by air over the West Sea to attend the talks to be held from Nov. 27-29 at the Songjeonggak military guesthouse in the North Korean capital, it added.
Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and his northern counterpart Kim Il-chol plan to discuss ways of implementing the reconciliation agreement agreed in the October summit between the two Koreas' leaders.
Outgoing Gov't Projects Grand N.Korea Program
The outgoing Roh Moo-hyun administration has formulated a basic program on the principles and goals of the inter-Korean relationship from 2008 to 2012, a period that exactly matches the next administration's term. The government reported it Thursday to the National Assembly’s Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee. All Grand National Party lawmakers on the committee boycotted the session in protest at what they say is a government attempt to fix things well beyond its sell-by date.
Kim Dae-jung Warns of Conservative Victory
Former president Kim Dae-jung has triggered controversy with an explicit intervention in politics by expressing concerns that conservatives could win the presidential election. In a meeting with progressive cultural figures like novelist Hwang Suk-young and Baek Nak-cheong, professor emeritus of Seoul National University, Kim even issued a warning of war if the Right comes to power. He said conservatives were calling the last 10 years "a lost decade." "And whether the voters can elect an administration that would turn the clock back to the previous 50 years [since the Korean War] will determine Korean people's future and destiny ...If this went wrong it could invite war. "The Right in campaigning has been referring to the years of the Kim and Roh Noo-hyun administrations as a "lost decade", but Kim insisted they were a "proud 10 years."
Seoul seeks to set up office of standing representatives in Pyongyang
South Korean government submits package outlining plans for inter-Korean economic cooperation to Parliament
Following recent developments in inter-Korean relations, the South Korean government will seek to establish offices of economic cooperation in Seoul and Pyongyang and later upgrade them to offices of permanent representatives, once a legal and institutional framework for greater cooperation between the two Koreas has been more firmly established.
The government submitted the First Basic Framework for Inter-Korean Relations, which contains plans for the establishment of the two offices, to the National Assembly on November 22. The plan outlines the vision, purpose and direction of inter-Korean relations for the next five years beginning in 2008 and follows a law on the development of inter-Korean relations.
Koreas to Swap Liaison Offices in Seoul, Pyongyang
By Yoon Won-sup
The government said Thursday that it will seek to establish offices for economic cooperation both in Seoul and Pyongyang next year, before upgrading them to permanent representatives later, to ease inter-Korean consultations.
It will also move to allow South Koreans to leave their estates to their relatives in North Korea even before unification of the two Koreas.
The plans were contained in the ``First Basic Framework of Inter-Korean Relations'' prepared by President Roh Moo-hyun's administration.
However, it is unclear whether an incoming administration next year will implement the plan. President Roh's five-year tenure ends next February as the incumbent is banned from seeking reelection.
Korea to Send Its Largest Ship to Malaysia for Defense Fair
South Korea's largest naval ship will set sail for Malaysia this weekend to participate in a defense exhibition there, the Navy said Friday.
It will mark the international debut of the 14,000-ton Dokdo Ham, an amphibious landing and transport vessel that was commissioned in July, it added.
"The Dokdo Ham will leave for Malaysia on Saturday to take part in the Lankawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition," the Navy said in a press release. "It is the first foreign trip made by the ship since it was commissioned."
The Dokdo Ham, named after South Korea's easternmost islets in the East Sea, can carry up to 700 troops, seven choppers, six tanks, seven armored vehicles and two small landing boats.
[Arms sales] [Military balance]
Candidates Split Over Approach to North Korea
North Korean female workers make shoes in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in this file photo taken on Oct. 19, 2007, when a supervisory committee visited the complex to mark the third anniversary of its establishment. / Joint Press Corps
By Jung Sung-ki
Candidates from the conservative and liberal camps have called for sharply different approaches toward communist North Korea.
The three leading candidates _ Lee Myung-bak of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), Chung Dong-young of the liberal United New Democratic Party and independent Lee Hoi-chang _ share the importance for achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula through the abolishment of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
But they are split over how to achieve that goal.
Catholic Church Raps 'Weeping Virgin' Worship
A screen capture from MBC TV's ‘PD Diary’ about the bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary in Naju on Nov. 13.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Gwangju on Wednesday issued an official announcement on a statue of the Virgin Mary in Naju, South Jeolla Province that is believed to shed bloody tears. In the announcement, the archdiocese called the enthusiasm of some Catholics over the phenomenon a "departure from the orthodox faith based on a false belief system." This was the fourth time since 1998 that the archdiocese has made official announcements on St. Mary's Garden in Naju.
Moments of unification at Gaeseong hospital
Facility operated by two Koreas survives on mutual cooperation and aid, but needs additional funds to expand
One September afternoon, the Southern clinic of a cooperative hospital opened by Green Doctors, a humanitarian aid organization composed of South Korean medical doctors in Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex, received an urgent message about a traffic accident which had just occurred. When an ambulance arrived at the scene, a car was seriously damaged after it collided with another car and both drivers were bleeding. As soon as the ambulance arrived at the hospital, director Kim Jeong-yong moved them to an operating room, however, he was unable to handle the situation alone, so he asked for help from the Northern clinic. Assisted by two North Korean surgeons, both of the operations were successful. The doctors from the two Koreas had achieved a moment of unification.
No Visit From N.Korea's No.2 Leader This Year
Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung on Monday indicated that a visit to Seoul by North Korea’s no. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam, which some had expected, is unlikely to happen this year. In an interview with PBC, the minister denied the two sides discussed a return visit to South Korea by the president of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly, who was officially President Roh Moo-hyun’s host during the inter-Korean summit in October. "This matter was not put on the table as an agenda item for the talks in the first place."
Keeping up with the pace of change in inter-Korean relations
Kim Seong-bae, Researcher, Institute for National Security Strategy
The first inter-Korean prime ministers’ meeting produced an agreement that is rich in content, with 8 articles and 49 clauses. If things go as agreed, inter-Korean relations will enter a phase that is literally "irreversible." Why, then, is it hard to be completely happy about it? Because of a touch of doubt about whether it will be properly followed. Not because I doubt the North, either. Given its unprecedentedly proactive attitude, it would seem it is firmly determined to carry out the 2007 North-South Joint Summit Declaration. At the defense ministers’ talks set to be held at the end of this month, it is unlikely that the North’s defense minister will go against a declaration signed by "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il. The problem, however, is with the external factors in the inter-Korean relationship.
Seoul ponders UN resolution on North Korea
Blue House is wary of upsetting Pyongyang on human rights vote
November 20, 2007
A vote is expected on a UN General Assembly resolution on North Korean human rights violations Tuesday in New York. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Cho Hee-yong said yesterday that Seoul had yet to decide how it would vote on the sensitive resolution.
Korea Develops Shrapnel Bullet-Firing Rifle
South Korea has developed a new rifle that fires special bullets that explode over targets and scatter shrapnel, Yonhan News said Tuesday.
"The specially-designed bullets blow up over enemy soldiers and disperse deadly fragments," Yonhap quoted a defense source as saying. "The government has pushed for secret development of the weapon." [military balance]
Pyongyang On Opening Track
Inter-Korean Premiers' Talks Yield Substantial Outcome
It is encouraging that the prime ministers of South and North Korea came up with comprehensive agreements during their meeting in Seoul that ended last Friday. Both sides had no particular difficulties reaching a consensus as the 1st inter-Korean Prime Ministers' Meeting was designed to implement the agreement struck between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in early October.
As More Take a Chance On Fleeing North Korea, Routes for All Budgets
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 18, 2007; Page A01
SEOUL -- Brokers here are busily selling what they call "planned escapes" from North Korea.
Given enough money, the brokers say, they can now get just about anyone out of the dictatorial Stalinist state that human rights activists call the world's largest prison.
A low-budget escape through China via Thailand to Seoul, which requires treacherous river crossings, arduous travel on foot and several miserable weeks in a Thai immigration jail, can cost less than $2,000, according to four brokers here.
A first-class defection, complete with a forged Chinese passport and an airplane ticket from Beijing to Seoul, goes for more than $10,000. From start to finish, it can take as little as three weeks.
[Refugee encouragement] [Double standards]
Koreas to Set Up Body for Peace Zone
By Yoon Won-sup
The prime ministers of North and South Korea have agreed to form an organization for establishing a special cooperative peace zone in coastal areas of the West Sea, and to open a Munsan-Bongdong railway for freight trains this year, according to sources, Thursday.
First Round of Inter-Korean Premier Talks Opens
Seoul, November 14 (KCNA Correspondent) -- The first round of the inter-Korean premier talks was opened here on Wednesday.
Present there from the north side were Premier of the Cabinet Kim Yong Il and his party and from the south side Prime Minister Han Tok Su and those concerned.
At the talks Kim Yong Il said that what is important is for the north and the south to uphold and implement the June 15 joint declaration, to begin with, and hold fast to the principle of giving importance to the dignity and interests of the nation and making everything serve it.
Koreas Discuss Peace Zone in West Sea
North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-il, right, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Han Duck-soo, prior to their talks at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. / Korea Times
By Yoon Won-sup
The prime ministers of the two Koreas began three-day talks Wednesday in Seoul to discuss follow-up measures to agreements reached at the second inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang on Oct. 2-4.
It is the first premier-level meeting between the South and North since 1992.
Prime ministers of South, North Korea meet for first time in 15 years
By Byun Duk-kun and Kim Hyun
SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- Prime ministers of South and North Korea met here Wednesday for the first time in 15 years for three days of talks talks on the implementation of agreements from a recent summit between their leaders that would significantly enhance inter-Korean ties and economic cooperation.
North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-il vowed to make the utmost efforts to produce "positive results" in talks with his South Korean counterpart Han Duck-soo, calling the agreements from the inter-Korean summit a "milestone" that would open up a new era of peace and reconciliation for the divided Koreas.
Inter-Korean Prime Ministers' Talks to Focus on Business
N.Korean Delegation in Hanoi to Study Reform
Is N.Korea Really Ready for Economic Cooperation?
N.Korean Vietnam Tour Focuses on Industry
Can Roh Be Stopped?, by Kim Dae-joong
The prime ministers of the two Koreas meet Wednesday through Friday in Seoul, making good a promise given during the inter-Korean summit in October. This round will be the first in 15 years.
North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-il is to head a 43-strong delegation that also includes Senior Cabinet Counselor Kwon Ho-ung, Vice Minister for the Cabinet Paik Ryong-cheon, Vice Minister for Transportation Cha Seon-mo, Vice Minister for National Land and Environment Protection Park Ho-young, Railroad Agency Director Park Jeong-seong and Health Agency Director Park Jeong-min. They are expected at Gimpo Airport at 11 a.m.
North Korean officials (from left): Senior Cabinet Counselor Kwon Ho-ung, Railroad Agency Director Park Jeong-seong and Prime Minister Kim Yong-il.
? Experienced negotiators
The North Korean delegation will consist of figures with plenty of experience in inter-Korean talks or officials involved in economic cooperation but no military officers, indicating that the focus is less on security and more on business. An official with the South Korean Unification Ministry said, "The matter of the biggest concern for the South is the peace zone in the West Sea, but the North is paying the most attention to the planned shipbuilding complexes." Other key issues include infrastructure, the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, development of natural resources, and cooperation in public health.
[Inter Korean business]
North, South Korean Premiers kicks off talks in optimistic mood
Immediate action likely to be taken to develop Gaesong Industrial Complex, launch railway and continue family reunions
"We will work first to work out detailed action plans in areas where we can start right away and prepare a blueprint for other mid- and long-term projects."
This is what the prime ministers of South and North Korea had in mind prior to the talks which kicked off yesterday in Seoul. The two Koreas made preparations for the meeting earlier this month and exchanged opinions on five major agenda items. They include: creation of a peace zone in the West Sea, construction of a shipyard, maintenance of roads and railways in the North, and expansion of an industrial complex in the North's border town of Gaesong.
Sources say that both sides have greatly narrowed their differences in those areas during the preparatory talks held three times over the past three weeks. They say that projects that can be put into action immediately include: expansion of the Gaesong complex, launch of railway operations between Munsan and Bondong and reunification of separated families.
The four-party declaration and paving the road for peace
President Roh Moo-hyun has unveiled a road map that involves a four-party summit, and a declaration to end the Korean War and establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. It seems that Roh has properly expressed his intention concerning the justifiability of a four-nation summit of the two Koreas, the United States and China. Roh has not specified a timetable for the summit, but the sooner, the better.
October 4th Joint Statement : Harmony of Peace and Economy on the Korean Peninsula
Issue No. 23 / 08.Oct . 2007 Cho Min (Senior researcher of Korean Institute for National Unification)
"If necessary, buy peace!" This phrase was first coined by Desiderius Erasmus, the first modern theorist in the 16th century who advocated peace in times of war. His belief differs starkly from that of Niccolo Machiavelli who regarded a war as one of monarchs' governing skills and defined peace as something available only through force. The proposition of buying peace has developed into the pursuit of peace through economic interests on which today's "Peace Economics" is based.
The 2007 Inter-Korean summit may be characterized by its practicality.
S.Korea a 'Ball-Bearing' in N.E. Asia: Song
Foreign Minister Song Min-soon last Friday compared South Korea's role in Northeast Asia to a "ball-bearing" in a structure called the "security and cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia." He made the remark in a lecture titled "The ROK-U.S. Alliance in the 21st Century: The Challenges and Opportunities" at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Song said the U.S. has a "strong interest" in fixing South Korea in place so the entire mechanism can function smoothly.
Korea’s First Belly Dancer Indicted Over Forged Academic Degree
Prosecutors said Monday they have indicted a well-known belly dancer, charging her with forging an undergraduate degree to get a teaching job at a provincial university.
Ahn Yoo-jin, also known as Xena Ahn, was put to trial without physical detention for allegedly forging a graduation certificate of a university in Sydney, Australia, to get a job as a part-time lecturer at Kwangju Women's University in 2006, prosecutors said.
Ahn, who also works as the head of the Korea Belly Dance Association, established the Belly Korea Academy in 1995 and has since then trained dancers.
She became a celebrity by hosting several televised belly dance lectures.[Corruption]
KPA Will Never Remain Onlooker to Military Provocations of S. Korean Warships
Pyongyang, October 21 (KCNA) -- A report of the Navy Command of the Korean People's Army was issued on Sunday in connection with the infiltration of warships into the territorial waters of the north side in the West Sea of Korea by the warmongers of the south Korean forces.
According to the report, they keep perpetrating such very dangerous and grave military provocations as infiltrating warships into the territorial waters of the north side in the West Sea of Korea.
Two Koreas to Fine-Tune Defense Talks Agenda
South Korea will hold working-level talks with North Korea in preparation for bilateral defense minister talks starting Monday in the truce village of Panmunjeom. The Defense Ministry on Thursday said the North proposed a meeting between chief delegates from both sides to fix the date and fine-tune the agenda for the defense ministerial talks. [Military balance]
Korea to Lift Ceiling on Overseas Remittance
Starting next year, the limit for overseas remittance will be increased to US$50,000 a year for individuals. The ceiling on investment in overseas properties, which is $3 million currently, will be scrapped. The Ministry of Finance and Economy said Thursday the measures aim to reduce inconvenience in dealing with overseas remittance and investment and will go into effect next year.
Under the new regulations, Koreans can send up to $50,000 abroad per year without documents from next January. Businesses with an annual trade volume of more than $50 million will be able to send any amount overseas without documents. Before the revision, parents with Korean nationality were not permitted to send money directly to children with foreign permanent residency or citizenship studying in foreign countries, but that will now also be possible from next month.
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