ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Avoiding another meaningless battle between the two Koreas
Kim Hyo-sun, Senior reporter
As recently as two decades ago, there was always tension and firm determination in the air wherever North and South Korea each had diplomatic missions in the same foreign city. It was a Korean War with no bullets as their embassies or consulates would fight it out trying to be seen as representing the legitimate Korea. When one side or the other was the first to have a diplomatic mission in town, it would try everything to prevent the other Korea from having one, and then when it became inevitable that the host country would be maintaining diplomatic relations with both of them, they would both go to extremes to make each other look bad. For a while the score was apparent at the United Nations. You would know who won that year by how many votes the resolutions submitted by either side
through their respective allied nation
Non-Existent North Korean Policy
July 18, 2008 / Issue No. 45
Mun-soo Yang (University of North Korean Studies)
Last February I had occasions to visit U.S. and talk with scholars of the country. My visit coincided with announcement of Feb. 3rd Agreement, which naturally led our topic to focus on Bush administration’s policy towards North Korea. The discussion ranged from what Bush calls “axis of evil” to mounting pressure on North Korea, benign neglect and “anything but Clinton (ABC)” approach. What most stands out is that, as some scholars pointed out, Bush administration’s North Korean policy seen so far may be declared actually non-existent. Particularly, they lamented that the Bush administration failed to present any persuasive North Korean policy during its first term.
About five months have passed since President Lee came into office. It might be too premature to sum up President Lee’s policy towards North Korea. But no one would deny that his administration’s approach to North Korean issues is coming to resemble that of the Bush administration during its first term.
Diplomats ‘to Be Held to Account’ Over Dokdo Debacle
The government on Monday decided to call Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Lee Tae-shik to account if it is found that the embassy did not react promptly to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names listing Dokdo under "undesignated sovereignty." The change, from a clear indication of Korea’s sovereignty, appears to play into the hands of Japanese attempts to portray the islets as disputed territory.
Defense White Paper Not to Call N. Korea ‘Main Enemy’
JULY 28, 2008 03:31
South Korea will not refer to North Korea as its “main enemy” in a defense white paper to be published in December, a Defense Ministry source in Seoul said yesterday.
Reference to the North will be the same as in the 2006 version, the source said. The white paper is a biennial government document that was first published in 2000.
The ministry dropped the label “main enemy” in the 2004 white paper, and instead described North Korea’s “conventional weapons, nuclear testing, weapons of mass destruction, and forward deployment of its military power” as “serious threats to national security.”
[Role of ROK military] [SK NK policy]
Army to Deploy Srapnel Bullet-Firing Rifle
The next-generation multi-purpose rifle
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korean Army soldiers will be able to use a new type of rifle that fires special bullets that explode over targets and scatter shrapnel beginning next year, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) said Monday.
The ADD-built ``next-generation multi-purpose'' rifle, tentatively named the XK-11, has successfully undergone 15 months of test trials that ended last February, said Kim In-woo, an ADD researcher in charge of development.
``The new rifle exceeds existing rifles in every aspect. It is expected to help improve our forces' combat capabilities at very low cost,'' Kim told reporters.
Once the rifle is fielded next year as scheduled, South Korea will become the first nation in the world to operate a weapon system that uses precision-guided high-explosive ammunition, he said.
The rifle is likely to be useful during street battles, in particular, as the bullets are capable of penetrating walls of buildings, according to ADD officials.
Street Protests Descend Into Lawlessness
Downtown Seoul descended into a state of lawlessness this weekend, four days after Police Commissioner Han Jin-hee was sacked for being unable to control illegal street protests. Between Saturday night and early morning on Sunday, police estimate some 1,500 protesters gathered in the Cheonggye Plaza and held the 80th candlelight vigil against the import of U.S. beef. During the rally, some demonstrators beat police and reporters, and caused traffic congestion as they occupied the roads. A drunk motorist drove into the crowd, injuring six
[FTA] [Human rights]
Politicians Bemoan ASEAN Debacle Over Shooting
The omission of reference to the shooting of a South Korean tourist in North Korea from the final version of the chairman's statement concluding the ASEAN Regional Forum has incensed politicians on both sides here. The ruling Grand National Party denounced North Korea and expressed regret at a decision by Singapore to omit reference to the shooting at North Korea’s urging while satisfying a South Korean demand to leave out mention of last year’s inter-Korean summit declaration. Opposition parties accused the government of diplomatic incompetence at the forum.
After ARF, spotlight is on weaknesses in foreign affairs and security policy
Lee administration’s performance at ASEAN reflects need for focused policy, more professional diplomatic approach
The government has come under fire for bungling the chairman’s statement at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Regional Forum in Singapore. In particular, many critics say the government desperately needs to reconsider its policy on foreign affairs and foreign ministry officials because the blunder came after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade took a series of body blows in its mishandling of beef negotiations with the United States and the territorial dispute with Japan over the Dokdo islets.
ARF blunder reveals Lee administration’s N. Korea policy intentions
Blue House appears responsible for deletion of reference to Oct. 4 Declaration from ARF chairman’s statement
The ASEAN Regional Forum chairman’s statement released on July 24 is attracting attention from the international community. The statement contains expressions of the strong support for continued development of the inter-Korean dialogue based on the October 4 Summit Declaration as well as concern about the July 11 shooting at Mount Geumgang (Kumgang) and anticipation for its early resolution.
After the chairman’s statement was released on July 24, a key official with the Korean delegation described South Korea as being "embarrassed," but did not say that the representatives would demand any additional corrections from Singapore, which hosted the talks.
Asian human rights organizations criticize S. Korea for violations
Groups call for law revisions and plan to ask UN rights commission for investigation
Wrapping up their joint investigation into human rights violations by police during the candlelight demonstrations in South Korea, following a similar probe by Amnesty International, two Asian human right groups advised the South Korean government to "punish officials who were responsible for violating human rights and revise laws that undermine freedom of expression."
Inter-Korean relations need October 4 Declaration
The chairman’s statement from the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore made mention of the October 4 Inter-Korean Summit Declaration and the shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mount Geumgang. At first glance, it seems like a simple record of the claims of both North and South Korea, but if you look at the actual document that is not the case. It says the foreign ministers “strongly support the continued development of inter-Korean dialogue based on” the October 4 Declaration, while in referring to the incident at Mount Geumgang, it says only that they hope for an “early resolution.” The October 4 Declaration has been given more weight.
[SK NK relations] [KR_summit07]
Kumgang inquiry reveals few details
July 26, 2008
Hwang Boo-gi, the South’s fact-finding mission chief, explains the results of the investigation into the death of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumgang in a press briefing yesterday at the Foreign Ministry’s briefing room. [YONHAP]
The government found little new information in its investigation of the shooting death of a South Korean housewife who was on a visit to the North.
Park Wang-ja was shot by a North Korean soldier after she entered a restricted military zone on a beach near Mount Kumgang on July 11.
The investigation was based on statements from witnesses, photos of the shooting site taken by South Korean tourists and Hyundai Asan and CCTV footage from the hotel where Park was staying.
According to an announcement yesterday, Park is believed to have been shot about 200 meters into the military zone when she was shot. The North claims she was 300 meters into the zone.
The investigation confirmed Hyundai Asan’s claim that Park left her hotel room at 4:18 a.m. She was shot before 5:16 a.m. Investigators said witness accounts vary on how many shots were fired and when.
'Difficult to Judge Killing Was Intentional'
Hwang Boo-gi, who leads a government fact-finding team, briefs reporters at an annex of the Government Complex in Seoul, Friday, on the outcome of his team’s investigation into the shooting of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier at the Mt. Geumgang resort. / Korea Times
By Kim Sue-young
Seoul is still uncertain as to whether the shooting of a South Korean tourist at a North Korean resort was intentional or not, according to a fact-finding team, Friday.
Hwang Boo-gi, who leads the eight-member group, told reporters investigations conducted so far found that the victim was shot dead before 5:16 a.m. on July 11, 200 meters away from a military fence.
S. Korean Puppet Defence Minister's Reckless Remarks Assailed
Pyongyang, July 24 (KCNA) -- Shortly ago, the puppet minister of Defence of south Korea at a session of the "National Assembly" openly let loose malignant and reckless remarks labeling the DPRK "biggest principal enemy."
In this regard, the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland released information bulletin No. 940 on Wednesday.
It said: The above-said outbursts let loose by the puppet defence minister in the wake of the call made by the puppet chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of south Korea for "a preemptive attack" on the nuclear base of the DPRK at a confirmation hearing at the "National Assembly" in March are an unpardonable provocation to it.
Russia Dragging Feet Over Korean Rocket Launch
By Kim Tong-hyung
South Korean ambitions to launch the country’s first space rocket by Christmas might have to be put on hold for a few months.
The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) had planned to send its Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), a carrier rocket designed for transporting satellites, into orbit on Dec. 21.
North unlikely to meet top envoy
July 23, 2008
SINGAPORE Though the foreign ministers of the two Koreas are in Singapore this week for the Asean Regional Forum, there’s little chance they will meet face-to-face.
Pyongyang turned down Seoul’s request to take advantage of the forum to have high-level discussions on purely bilateral issues.
Triple Trouble for South Korean Foreign Policy
South Korean foreign policy faces a triple challenge -- Japan's renewed claim to Dokdo, the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mt. Kumgang and the North Korean nuclear issue. These three matters demand extraordinary measures. For example, cooperation with Japan in the six-party nuclear talks could be linked to settling the problems caused by the Japanese government's decision to publish teacher guidelines that stress Japan’s territorial claim to Dokdo. Another way to settle the situation would be to seek cooperation with North Korea.
S.Korean Tourist 'Shot by Teenage Girl Soldier'
Rumor has it that a 17-year-old female North Korean soldier was among those who shot at a South Korean tourist at Mt. Kumgang resort two weeks ago. The rumor surfaced in a consultative meeting of the ruling Grand National Party and the government on Sunday.
A participant in the meeting was quoted by another as saying Park Wang-ja (53) walked past two North Korean guard posts. Upon seeing Park, the 17-year-old female soldier standing guard at the second guard post fired a warning shot. And other soldiers at the first guard post also fired shots at Park, who was running away.
No Plan to Halt Kaesong Tours, Business
Despite tense relations with North Korea over the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mt.Kumgang, the South Korean government is not minded to suspend tours to the North Korean border city of Kaesong and business operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said Monday. Taking questions in the National Assembly on Monday, Han said, "Because tours to Kaesong are significant for inter-Korean relations, the question whether to suspend them or not has to be considered carefully."
Gov’t indecision on Geumgang blocks bigger foreign policy issues
Blue House seems unable to coordinate opinions of its high-ranking officials, creating confusion
The South Korean government’s flip-flopping between hawkish and dovish reactions to the shooting death of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier at Mount Geumgang (Kumgang), a resort on North Korea’s eastern coast, has failed to resolve the case as critics point out that the government’s inconsistent countermeasures have been a major stumbling block to finding a solution.
Over the past 10 days, the government’s stance on whether to continue a tourism project involving another North Korean site, the city of Gaeseong (Kaesong), was changed three times.
U.S. beef protest leader is indicted
Prosecutors cite rally law violation
July 22, 2008
Prosecutors yesterday indicted Hwang Sun-weon for organizing dozens of illegal night demonstrations against renewed imports of U.S. beef.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced yesterday that the 31-year-old leader of a progressive civic group, Jinbo Corea, has been indicted for leading 31 candlelight protests and street rallies in downtown Seoul from May 3 through June 24.
[Human rights] [FTA]
How N.Korea Can Be Persuaded to Cooperate
North Korea is still refusing to take part in any efforts to find out the truth behind the killing of a South Korean tourist in the Mt. Kumgang resort, even though it has been 10 days since the housewife was shot in the back by a North Korean soldier. The day after the killing, a spokesman for North Korea’s Guidance Bureau for Comprehensive Development of Scenic Spots, which manages the tourism resort on Mt. Kumgang, announced the results of what it called an internal probe into the killing and demanded an apology from the South instead. This is all that we have seen so far in terms of North Korea’s cooperation. We cannot let this incident be forgotten.
Hold the Wine, We're Drinking Sake
Sake is enjoying a huge surge in popularity in Korea with the growing preference among young Koreans over the past three or four years for low-alcohol drinks. Some have even gone as far as saying that Korea's recent wine drinking trend may switch over to the Japanese spirit. At around 13 to 14 percent, the alcohol content of sake is similar to that of red wine.
The Korea Customs Service said Sunday that 752 tons of sake were imported in the first half of this year, worth some US$2.6 million. That's up 46 percent from 515 tons in last year's first half.
The import growth far outpaces that of wine, which has become a huge hit in Korean in the past few years. Some 2,754 tons of French wine came into Korea in the first half, 14 percent less than the 3,202 tons imported over the same period last year. Wine still leads in quantity but it's lagging behind sake in import growth.
Sake imports totaled a mere 526 tons in 2005 but they have been growing steadily to 851 tons in 2006 and 1,275 tons last year. This year the figure is forecast to reach 1,500 tons. With the growing popularity, high-end Japanese restaurants and pubs have begun showcasing their "sake sommeliers."
Sake sales exploding as young Koreans pony up
July 21, 2008
Korea’s imports of Japanese rice wine jumped nearly 46 percent in the first half of this year amid the high popularity of Japanese-style restaurants among young Koreans, government data showed yesterday.
Korea imported 752 tons of Japanese rice wine, known as sake, in the January-June period, up 46.1 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Korea Customs Service.
The value of the imports came to $2.59 million, up 73.8 percent from a year earlier. Imports of Japanese rice wine amounted to 1,275 tons last year, up from 851 tons in 2006.
KBS president should be in line with the govt’s views, Blue House aide says
Many media experts feel, however, that as a public broadcaster, KBS should be independent from gov’t control
» Bahk Jae-wan, the senior presidential aide for national policy planning.
Bahk Jae-wan, the senior presidential aide for national policy planning, said, "Although the neutrality of broadcasting needs to be taken into account, as the head of a government-affiliated organization, (the KBS president) should have the will to actively realize the new administration’s policy agenda," which could be interpreted to mean that "the editorial tone of public broadcasters should be in line with the government." The remark comes in the midst of increased attempts by the administration of Lee Myung-bak to take control of the broadcast media and is expected to stir up a controversy about the neutrality of broadcasters.
Amnesty report confirms human rights abuses
Investigator urges S. Korea to investigate police violence at candlelight demonstrations
» Norma Kang Muico, Amnesty International’s Korea researcher, announces the results of her investigation into human rights abuses during the candlelight demonstrations at the Korea Press Center, Seoul, on July 18. Her report confirms instances of police violence during the protests and encourages the government to carry out its own investigation.
Wrapping up her two-week investigation into allegations of human rights abuse during the candlelight rallies, Norma Kang Muico, Amnesty International’s Korea researcher, advised the South Korean government to launch "immediate and fair probes into human rights abuses, including excessive use of force by police, at the candlelight demonstrations." Muico released a report about her investigation in a press conference in Seoul on July 18.
Getting N. Korea and Japan policy back on track
A meeting of the National Security Council was held for the first time since President Lee Myung-bak’s inauguration on Friday, eight and five days, respectively, since the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at Mount Geumgang and the outbreak of the latest Dokdo affair. The Blue House was criticized for taking too long to report the shooting to the president and so it was even late in holding an NSC meeting. It’s not just a single screw that is loose, it’s a complete system breakdown. It is time to completely rebuild the decision-making system for crisis management and security policy, and to revive the NSC secretariat.
Even more important will be setting policy on the North and Japan right again. The administration has been disappointing in this regard as of late, because it appears to be turning to an unstudied hard-line reaction instead of looking at the policies on Pyongyang and Tokyo that were the backstory to these two fronts and formulating a new approach based on that. It is inappropriate, to begin with, to be carelessly talking about halting inter-Korean projects that have no direct relevance to the shooting. Stopping tours to Gaeseong (Kaesong) would only make resolving the shooting incident more difficult and could end up being something that could turn inter-Korean relations back to the point of being irreparable.
The poor state of relations with the North since President Lee came to office is a big part of why what was largely an accident is not being easily resolved.
UN Mandates NK to Allow S. Korean Investigation
By Park Si-soo
North Korea, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to allow South Korean investigators to visit a resort town at Mount Geumgang in North Korea where a South Korean tourist was killed Friday by a North Korean soldier, international law experts said.
The North's decision to ban the entry of a South Korean fact-finding team is an act against the U.N. Charter and the-Inter Korean Basic Agreement signed in 1991, they said.
Koreas See Worst Tension in a Decade
Mount Geumgang tourism stopped: A parking lot at the Donghae Inter-Korean Transit Office in GangwonProvince is almost empty, Tuesday. The parking lot, part of a tourist checkpoint on the South Korean side, was usually filled with vehicles.
By Andrei Lankov
Korea Times Columnist
Last week a new crisis hit the inter-Korean relations. In the Geumgang tourist zone, a South Korean female tourist was killed by a North Korean soldier. The circumstances of the incident are still murky: it seems that Park Wang-ja, a 53-year old housewife, inadvertently crossed into a badly marked (or, perhaps, unmarked) prohibited area and was shot by a sentry who perhaps did not even bother to fire a warning shot.
While the South demanded an apology, the North, whose leaders know how efficient bold shamelessness might be, reacted with its own demand of apology. Tours are halted, and the largest project of intra-Korean cooperation is now under threat of collapse
Mad Cows, Mad People
Gavan McCormack | July 10, 2008
Just months after taking office, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's popularity plunged below 20%. People poured into the streets in unprecedented numbers - in the largest demonstrations in Korean history - to protest against him and his government. His cabinet offered to resign en masse, and he had to sack all seven members of the Blue House senior secretariat. He was forced to abandon key policies such as his plan to build a canal across the full length of the country. And he felt compelled to apologize, twice, for his policy blunders and "lack of communication skills."
Having staked much on his visit to Washington in April, and having pledged to reinvigorate and upgrade the alliance with the United States, Lee exposed it instead to greater risk than his predecessor and was reduced to pleading with Washington to help him find a way out of his domestic problems. Instead of advancing his goal of a Free Trade Agreement, he stirred the opposition, including labor and religious groups, to anger, thus making his goal less, rather than more likely. By June, the lion of December had become, according to word on the street in Seoul, an "early duck" (an early bird turned lame duck).
N.Korea May Have CCTV Footage of Shooting
A CCTV is visible in the off-limits area in North Korea where a South Korean woman was shot on Friday, in this enlarged picture of the site released by Hyundai Asan. /Yonhap
North Korea operates a CCTV camera overlooking off-limits areas near the Mt. Kumgang resort where a South Korean tourist was shot dead by North Korean soldiers, it emerged on Monday. Footage of the killing could answer many of the questions that hang over the incident, including the course of her early-morning stroll and the exact time of death.
Hyundai Asan, the operator of tours to the mountain resort, said a fixed CCTV camera is installed at a height of 10 m beyond the safety fence at the end of the beach esplanade. Since it is angled 45 degrees toward the beach, Asan said it is probably there for surveillance of tourists.
Geumgang incident highlights problems with inter-Korean communication
S. Korean gov’t turns to tour operator and the press to relay statements to the North
» Unification Ministry officials review information related to the shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mount Geumgang in a situation room within the ministry on July 13. Communication between the two Koreas, difficult at best before the incident, has been all but cut off.
Four days after a tourist from South Korea to Mount Geumgang was shot to death, the government seems to have become reliant on Hyundai Asan to resolve the situation. After the North refused to accept a telephone message from the South demanding an investigation into the accident, the South Korean government disclosed the message in a briefing to the press on July 12. To communicate with the North, the government seems to have no choice but to issue statements via Hyundai Asan, the company that organized the tour, or the press.
A high-ranking government official admitted that a "cooling period" is necessary before the South can again attempt direct contact with the North, as pressure from the South could make the situation worse.
All unofficial channels of communication between South and North Korea have been cut off since the launch of President Lee Myung-bak’s administration.
'Visitors Often Encountered N. Korean Soldiers'
By Michael Ha
The incident last Friday at the Mount Geumgang resort marked the first time that a tourist has been shot and killed by a North Korean soldier. But there have been other cases in the past where visitors straying into the off-limits area encountered North Korean soldiers.
Some tourists who have visited the resort are now recounting their own stories in news reports. Some recalled how they had wandered into restricted military areas outside the government-sanctioned resort and were detained by North Korean soldiers.
The pastor also noted that when he told others at the resort hotel about the encounter, he got a surprising response from one of the listeners. He recalled that one person, who identified himself as a South Korean intelligence official, replied: ``that happens frequently here.''
Seoul Doubts N.Korea's Announcement on Shooting
The South Korean government on Sunday officially raised doubts on the North Korean announcement on the death of Park Wang-ja, a female South Korean tourist who has been shot dead by North Korean army guards near Mt. Kumgang resort in North Korea.
In an official briefing, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said, "If the North Korean allegation were to be true, Ms. Park should have walked a total distance of 3 to 3.3 km (at a speed of 9 to 10 km per hour) -- 706m from her hotel to the beach entrance, 428m to the military fence, 1,200m beyond the fence, and 1,000m back toward the fence."
An Irrational Response From the North
North Korea’s Guidance Bureau for Comprehensive Development of Scenic Spots, which manages the tourism resort on Mt. Kumgang jointly with South Korea’s Hyundai Asan, said Saturday the shooting death of a tourist from the South was wholly due to the mistakes of South Korea. In a statement, North Korea demanded an apology from South Korea and measures to prevent such an incident from happening again. Except for one line that said it “regretted” the incident, the North Korean statement was full of criticism of South Korea for halting the tours to Mt. Kumgang, saying the move was a “challenge” and “unbearable insult” to the communist country.
Photos Cast New Light on N.Korea Shooting
This picture of a fence blocking entry to the restricted area where South Korean tourist Park Wang-ja was shot dead on Friday shows only a low sand dune small enough for an adult to accidentally walk over without a clearly visible warning. The picture was released by Hyundai Asan on Sunday.
Three of them were taken at around 5 a.m. on Sunday, the reported time of Friday's shooting, and clearly show that it is bright enough to identify a person. In the pictures, a yellow-green fence 3.5 m in height and 70 m long is seen leading from a promenade towards the sea. But the fence does not block the entire way, and between the point where it ends to the water, there is only a sand dune standing 1-2 m in height and 2-3 m in width. A “Do Not Enter” sign is posted 65 meters to the left from the sand dune, where a stroller might well miss it.
The photographic evidence conflicts with Hyundai Asan’s earlier account, which said Park must have climbed over the fence or entered the restricted area during ebb tide by going around the fence. The sand dune is small enough for an adult traveler to walk over. The photographs have fueled criticism of North Korea’s apparent overreaction.
Gov’t urges North to accept S. Korean investigation
S. Korea will continue to pursue resumption of inter-Korean dialogue
» On the morning of July 13, employees from Hyundai Asan inspect the location where Park Wang-ja, a 53-year-old South Korea woman, was shot to death during a tour to North Korea’s Mount Geumgang. Hyundai Asan began tours to the site in 1998.
On July 13, the administration of Lee Myung-bak urged North Korea to accept a South Korean investigation into the shooting death of South Korean Park Wang-ja at Mount Geumgang.
Neither of the two Koreas want situation to get out of control, but resolution is difficult for both
» A military area near the Mount Geumgang tourist resort in North Korea. North Korean authorities say that a woman who was shot by a North Korean solider on July 11 did not heed a warning posted on the green fence pictured above after she crossed over the sand dune in front of it.
North Korea expressed its first official position regarding the shooting of a South Korean tourist in a statement issued July 12. Through the statement, the North expressed its regret about the shooting and provided its explanation about what happened. It also asked that the South take responsibility for the incident and establish countermeasures to prevent similar accidents. North Korea also rejected a request from South Korea to investigate the site.
Geumgang incident complicates Lee’s N. Korea policy
Lee faces tough decisions about political situation in Northeast Asia and North Korean nuclear issue
» Two hundred South Korean tourists return from North Korea’s Mount Geumgang through the Customs Immigration Quarantine office in Kosung, Gangwon Province, on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone, on July 13, following a shooting incident in which a South Korean citizen was killed by a North Korean soldier.
President Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea policies are once again being put to the test with the July 11 shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mount Geumgang.
The president’s speech to the National Assembly at its opening last week was reflective of the conundrum the government has found itself in as a result of a confluence of recent events that now represent a choice for the Lee administration in how he will deal with the political situation in Northeast Asia and the North Korean nuclear issue.
North should recevie joint investigation team
It is becoming increasingly likely the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at Mount Geumgang is going to increase inter-Korean discord and negatively influence the whole of inter-Korean relations. It is the North that has a lot of responsibility for this. The North Korean agency responsible for overseeing tourism by South Koreans expressed regret about the incident on July 12, but it then blamed the South and demanded that Seoul apologize and develop ways to make sure nothing like this would ever happen again. It also rejected demands from Seoul that there be a joint inquiry. The North has things more than a little backwards.
South Side Chiefly to Blame for Incident at Mt. Kumgang Resort
Pyongyang, July 12 (KCNA) -- A south Korean who came to tour Mt. Kumgang was shot to death by a serviceman of the Korean People's Army at around 4:50 a.m. on July 11. A spokesman for the Guidance Bureau for Comprehensive Development of Scenic Spots issued a statement on Saturday in this regard.
The DPRK feels regretful at this, the statement notes, and goes on:
As for the cause of the incident, it occurred because the south Korean tourist trespassed on the area under the military control of the north side, going beyond the tourist zone.
A particular mention should be made of the fact that the south Korean tourist intruded deep into the area under the military control of the north side all alone at dawn, going beyond the clearly marked boundary fence, even his shoes got wet.
When a KPA serviceman spotted him and ordered him to stop, he did not obey the order but began to run away. He kept running although the KPA serviceman repeatedly shouted at him to stop, even firing blank bullets. The KPA serviceman could not but open fire at him.
The responsibility for the incident entirely rests with the south side.
The south side should be held responsible for the incident, make clear apology to the north side and take measures against the recurrence of the similar incident.
Nevertheless, the south side authorities unilaterally announced that they would suspend the tour of Mt. Kumgang for the time being, a challenge to the north side.
As it is an intolerable insult to the north side, it will take a measure not to accept south Korean tourists until the south side makes proper apology for the recent incident and takes measures against the recurrence of such incident.
As the cause of the incident is very clear and the north side has already confirmed the scene of the incident together with personnel of the Hyundai side right after its occurrence, it cannot accept the south side's proposal for inspecting the area of the north side for investigation.
Inter-Korean Hotline No Longer Functioning
By Michael Ha
A South-North direct communication channel, set up during the Kim Dae-jung administration in 2000, is no longer working, the death of a South Korean tourist at the Mount Geumgang tourism complex and its aftermath suggests.
The inter-Korean direct hotline reportedly included a telephone and fax link between the top leaders of South and North Korea, according to former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won.
S.Korean Tourist Shot Dead in North
A South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in the North’s Mt.Kumgang on Friday morning. South Koreans have died in accidents and from illness since tours to the scenic resort began in 1998, but this was the first death by North Korean gunfire.
The incident could prove disastrous for inter-Korean ties.
Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said Park Wang-ja (53) from Seoul's Nowon district died around 5 a.m. while taking a stroll on the beach near the hotel where she was staying. She had left the hotel at 4:33 a.m.
Quoting what North Korean authorities told tour operator Hyundai Asan, Kim said Park strayed into an off-limits military area and, instead of stopping when a North Korean soldier asked her to, fled, and the soldier fired. According to the North, Park wandered 1 km northward into the restricted area. Soldiers repeatedly asked her to stop and fired a warning shot, but she ran away.
Critics say there are serious flaws in the government’s readiness to protect its people, given that it was informed of the incident by Hyundai Asan at around 11:30 a.m., some six hours and 30 minutes after it occurred, and made an official announcement about the incident at 4:00 p.m., some 11 hours after the fact. Even after he was notified of the incident at 11:40 a.m., President Lee Myung-bak attended the opening of the newly-elected National Assembly at 2:00 p.m. and there delivered an address about new policies toward North Korea without mentioning the incident , giving rise to criticism that the government’s judgment of political affairs is seriously skewed.
Southern Tourist Shot Dead at Mt. Geumgang
By Kim Sue-young
A 53-year-old South Korean tourist to Mount Geumgang in North Korea was shot dead by a North Korean soldier, the Unification Ministry said Friday.
Hyundai Asan, the South's operator of the tourism program to the Stalinist state, will suspend the program from Saturday until investigations into the incident are completed, ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun told reporters.
President Lee Myung-bak called for a thorough investigation of the killing, his spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.
The President also urged North Korea to fully cooperate in the probe.
Park Wang-ja, residing in Nowon-gu, Seoul, was shot twice in her chest and leg when running away from a military restricted zone, according to reports.
The tourist was strolling at a beach near the resort when the accident took place, the ministry spokesman said.
``According to Hyundai Asan, a North Korean soldier fired a gun because Park fled despite a warning shot to stop her in a restricted military zone,'' Kim said. ``We regret the incident and we will shelve the tour program from Saturday until a government probe is completed.''
She seemed to have entered the area restricted to civilians by mistake while taking a walk alone from Geumgang beach near her hotel at about 4:30 a.m., the spokesman said.
President Offers Olive Branch to NK
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Conservative President Lee Myung-bak Friday proposed resumption of inter-Korean talks on ways to implement summit accords made by his predecessors, and offered to help reduce the Communist country's acute food shortage.
His proposal for dialogue on the summit pacts is a major U-turn from his initial hawkish North Korea policy, which triggered angry response from Pyongyang. North Korea openly described him as a ``traitor'' and U.S. ``sycophant.''
The President made the proposal hours after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a 53-year-old Korean tourist when she was strolling at a beach near the restricted military area near Mt. Geumgang.
Shooting Mars South Korea’s Offer to North
By CHOE SANG-HUN
Published: July 12, 2008
SEOUL, South Korea — President Lee Myung-bak reversed his tough approach on North Korea Friday and offered to resume dialogue and provide humanitarian aid, but the move was immediately clouded by the fatal shooting of South Korean woman by a North Korean soldier in the North’s tourism enclave.
A tourism company reported that the woman was shot shortly before dawn on Friday after wandering into a fenced-off military area near Diamond Mountain, a tourist zone that was opened to South Koreans in 1998.
When South Korea recently offered to ship 50,000 tons of corn, the impoverished North said it did not need the South’s help, leading some critics in South Korea to charge that Mr. Lee’s policy had backfired
“He thought North Korea would buckle under a hard-line policy, but it didn’t happen,” said Cho Seong-ryoul, an analyst at the Institute for National Security and Strategy in Seoul.
“Change in his policy became inevitable.”
Mr. Cho said Mr. Lee disappointed many conservative supporters, including aging South Koreans who seek to be reunited with their relatives in the North, and businessmen who had hoped to relocate their labor-intensive factories to Kaesong.
N. Korean Soldier Fatally Shoots S. Korean Tourist
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, July 11, 2008; 10:56 AM
TOKYO, July 11 -- A North Korean soldier shot and killed a middle-aged South Korean housewife Friday after she walked into a restricted area near a mountain resort inside the Communist North.
The killing of a 53-year-old tourist -- who reportedly was shot twice from behind, in the chest and the left hip -- seems certain to complicate, at least in the short term, what Lee said Friday would be a new effort on his part to consult with the North, help relieve food shortages there and "alleviate the pain of the North Korean people."
The shooting occurred very early Friday morning (sic) after the woman, who was identified as Park Wang-ja, left her room at the resort and crossed into a zone where visitors are not allowed, Kim Ho-nyoun, spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry, told reporters in Seoul.
Park pushed her way through a wire barrier separating the tourist area from the restricted zone, Hyundai Asan, a South Korean company that runs the resort, told the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
It could not be determined if she knew where she was going.
She was ordered to halt by soldiers and ran away before North Korean soldiers started shooting, Kim said. He said he received his information from the resort operator.
Korean-German Academic to Be Retried in Absentia
The trial of Song Du-yul, a sociology professor at the University of Munster in Germany who was indicted for violating the National Security Law, is likely to proceed in absentia. The Seoul High Court on Tuesday decided to continue without the defendant. The trial, which was supposed to take place last month, has already been postponed once because Song failed to show up. The Criminal Procedure Law stipulates that if a defendant does not show up twice or more in an appeal, the court can proceed without the accused.
Police to punish demonstration organizers
Evidence includes documents readily available on the Internet
» Buddhist monks hold an open prayer service at Seoul City Hall Plaza on July 4. During the service, Buddhist leaders encouraged the government to repent for mishandling certain issues after the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced that it will punish the leaders of the People’s Countermeasure Council against Mad Cow Disease and the Korea Solidarity of Progressive Movement, saying that from the early stages of the candlelight demonstrations, the two groups had planned to carry out “illegal acts.” However, the “evidence” offered by the police consists of documents that have already been revealed on the Internet and this has invited the criticism that police are conducting unreasonable investigations and inventing reasons to prosecute people who have been involved in organizing the candlelight rallies.
Amnesty Int’l researcher in Korea to investigate allegations of human rights abuses
Investigation prompted by requests to investigate police violence and will continue for two weeks
» Norma Kang Muico, Amnesty International’s Korea researcher.
“The candlelight demonstrations seem very peaceful. Citizens have the right to express their opinions freely and their government must guarantee it.”
Norma Kang Muico, 41, Amnesty International’s Korea researcher, arrived in South Korea on July 4 to investigate allegations of human rights abuse during the candlelight rallies. In a press conference at the Incheon International Airport, Muico said, “I have been closely watching the candlelight demonstrations related to beef issue in South Korea over the past several months. As the level of violence has recently grown, Amnesty International decided to send an investigator to South Korea.”
Restrict NIS's intervention
An agent from the National Intelligence Service has been caught intervening in a court case. President Lee Myung-bak has been suing The Hankyoreh Daily and asking for damages, and the NIS is getting involved. It is in more than a few ways inappropriate for an arm of the state to be put to use in a personal lawsuit on the part of the president.
The dangers of the president’s religious bias
[Editorial] Okay, so let’s assume for a second that when Lee Myung-bak was mayor of Seoul and while praying he said he dedicated the city to God he just misspoke, and that he was just doing a little payback when he put people in his personal network from Somang Church in important positions at the Blue House and in his Cabinet.
Still, it’s getting to be too much. The favoritism towards one particular religion is becoming so severe that you actually get the feeling the country is being run not by President Lee Myung-bak, but by Lee Myung-bak the Protestant elder.
Police Crack Down on Rally Organizers
The Seoul Metropolitan Police early Monday morning raided the offices of the People's Association for Measures Against Mad Cow Disease and its key component, People's Solidarity for Korean Progress. The two activist groups led candlelight demonstrations over the last month.
The People's Association claims leadership of about 1,700 activist groups, including leftwing stalwart People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. The PSKP, another member of the People's Association, is an activist group consisting of dissident organizations that have led anti-U.S. movements in the past and is said to have played the key role in the escalation of the latest illegal rallies in Seoul.
Catholic priests protest
Catholic priests march after a special service as part of protests
against the resumption of American beef imports in Seoul on Monday. Police on Monday raided the offices of civic groups that have led candlelight demonstrations over the last month./ AP
Catholics in Mass Rally Against Gov’t Crackdown
Catholics gathered in the Seoul Plaza in front of the Seoul City Hall on Monday evening in protest against a harsher government crackdown on illegal anti-U.S. beef protests. The Catholic Priests' Association for Justice stressed the dignity of all citizens and urged the government to reflect on what the group called “abuse of state power.” Police estimated that over 8,000 Catholics and non-Catholics, or 30,000 according to the organizers, took part in the mass.
Sex Is Vital for Middle-Aged Korean Women: Survey
Middle-aged Korean women have the world's highest awareness of sex but Korean men the lowest, surveys suggest. Both men and women in Korea consider their sex life a very important aspect of their life in general, but the difference was that Korean men cared little about the satisfaction of their partners.
Gov’t goes back in time to quell protests
Increased security measures recall tough law enforcement policies of 1980s
Nearly four months after President Lee Myung-bak was sworn into office, the country seems to be going back in time. Aside from government-led efforts to quell the public’s anger about the resumption of U.S. beef imports, the relationship between the public and the government is heading toward a state of extreme confrontation. With the backing of some conservative groups, the government is taking a harder line to overcome the situation, instead of communicating with the people. Law enforcement authorities, including the prosecution and police, are conducting their own campaign against the candlelight demonstrations by mobilizing their forces.
Seoul Willing to Discuss Oct. 4 Summit Accord With Pyongyang
By Michael Ha
President Lee Myung-bak is willing to discuss with North Korea the specifics of the October 4, 2007, declaration made between then-President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong said Tuesday.
He said it was still possible for the two Koreas to implement the provisions in the joint accord.
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