ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Kim Jong-il still calling the shots, S. Korean gov’t officials say
North may be using speculation about Kim’s health to gain leverage in nuclear negotiations
North Korea continues to make decisions about the nuclear issue that could only come from National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il, despite suspicions he is in poor health.
Pyongyang Proposes Working-Level Military Talks to Seoul
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Pyongyang proposed to Seoul holding working-level military talks next Tuesday, a source from the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.
'Habitual Demonstrators' to Be Blacklisted
By Kang Shin-who
The Ministry of Justice and prosecutors are considering drawing up a blacklist of ``habitual demonstrators’’ to punish them more harshly.
``Among the candidates to make the list are those candlelight rally protestors who were already punished for leading violent rallies,’’ a prosecutor said. ``There are even some professional demonstrators who wielded violence at the rallies. The list is to counter these violent demonstrators.’’
However, it is unclear whether they will carry through with the move as it could be seen as an infringement upon the freedom of privacy.
Prosecutors are checking the punishment records of some 1,600 people who are now under investigation in relation to recent rallies against U.S. beef imports.
Sunshine Policy Driven by Ignorance: N.Korean Defector
Hwang Jang-yup, a former secretary of the North Korean Worker’s Party who defected to the South, said Thursday the Sunshine Policy was "a very wrong policy made by those who had no knowledge about the North at all."
In a discussion hosted by the Liberty Forward Party on Thursday, Hwang slammed the Sunshine Policy of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. "South Korea’s policy towards the North so far has been wrong because the South has no idea of how the North Korean regime brainwashes its people," he said. "Proponents of the Sunshine Policy say increasing contact with North Koreans in places like the Kaesong Industrial Complex will lead to reform and opening of the country and ultimately dismantle the North Korean regime, but that would probably take 200 years. Equally, saying that the deterioration of Kim Jong-il’s health might bring a coup d’etat betrays ignorance on North Korea."
Unification institute official’s destructive comments
Suh Jae-jean, head of the state-funded Korea Institute for National Unification went to a seminar at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies on September 23 and said ever so strangely that the government of North Korea is an "extremely abnormal and mistaken regime" and that "talking to it is no use." This is someone who was deeply involved in developing presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak’s policy on the North called "Vision 3000," and as a member of Lee’s presidential transition committee was an adviser on security and foreign affairs. The Lee administration has much responsibility to bear for putting someone of such questionable basic qualifications in the position Suh holds, no matter what he did in getting the administration off the ground.
Korea’s Two North-South Summits and the Future of Northeast Asia: Back to the Future
This is a revised version of a paper that was prepared for the Conference in Commemoration of the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration, Kim Dae Jung Peace Center Seoul, June 12, 2008.
A major purpose of this conference is to take stock of the June 2000 summit with the benefit of eight years of hindsight, also to examine the achievements of the October 2007 summit, and to assess where we are today in relations with North Korea. My perspective is obviously an American one, and I am deeply interested in where Korean affairs might go after the inauguration of a new American president only eight months from now. But I am afraid I sometimes overestimate American influence on Korean affairs. I think recent years have demonstrated that when Korean leaders want something badly enough, and stick to their policies and principles, they can directly or indirectly influence American leaders toward adopting similar policies. And so I want to make one major point that I will come back to in the end: Presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun persisted with their engagement policy toward Pyongyang through five years of intense American pressure, criticism, and provocation, and ultimately were vindicated when the Bush administration turned 180 degrees and also adopted an engagement policy. Why this happened is still something of a mystery, but it certainly did happen.
[US NK policy] [US ROK] [HEU]
Korea at 60
The Republic of Korea has turned 60. Birthdays are a time for looking back over the past as well as for planning the future. The sad truth, however, is that the Republic that was born in 1948 was only the first of six, and that its record contains little to celebrate and much to lament. It is unlikely that many Koreans today remember it with pride or pleasure.
In the first place, this Republic was uniquely a United Nations (which at that time meant essentially a US) creation.
[Korean War events]
Gov't in War of Leftwing Slant in Textbooks
A senior official with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Sunday said his ministry will make sure that modern history textbooks are revised so that students can study with new books beginning the spring semester next year. He was responding to requests from the ministries of defense and unification to expunge what they see as leftwing content from the texts.
First Asian to Reach Pinnacle of Wine Expertise Speaks Out
Wine expert Jeannie Cho Lee
The title of "Master of Wine" is like a Ph.D. for those working in the wine industry. The title has been awarded since 1953 by the Institute of Masters of Wine, and only 277 people worldwide have received the honorable title so far.
Now, a 40-year-old Korean woman, Jeannie Cho Lee, has become the first Asian to obtain the MW title. A wine expert working in Hong Kong, she supervises the curriculum in a private wine school, the Fine Wine School, and regularly writes contributions to wine magazines such as the Wine Spectator of the U.S. and the Revue du Vin of France.
Unification Ministry wants ‘sunshine policy’ written out of textbooks
Critics attribute the move to Lee administration’s refusal to follow N. Korea policy of previous administrations
Controversy was sparked when it was revealed on September 21 that the Ministry of Unification demanded that the term "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North be described as a "policy of reconciliation and cooperation," in public school history textbooks, one of a number of revisions suggested by the ministry.
Civic Group Members to Visit NK
By Kim Sue-young
Members of the Korea Sharing Movement, a local civic group, will begin a trip to North Korea Saturday, a spokesman of the group said Friday.
The visit will be the first by civic organization members since a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by North Korean soldiers at the Mount Geumgang resort in July.
Government response to Kim Jong-il rumors points to internal problems
Experts cite absence of N. Korea policy, weak policy coordination system and lack of intelligence-sharing as catalysts
» Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong. The minister called on the media not to mention anything about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s health or the possibility of North Korea’s collapse so as not to upset inter-Korean relations at a meeting of the National Assembly Diplomacy, Trade and Unification Committee on September 18.
Appearing before a National Assembly Diplomacy, Trade and Unification Committee meeting yesterday, Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong said it was not appropriate to mention anything about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s health before the North does, even if there is credible information. He said that from the North’s perspective, continued mention of Kim’s illness despite official denials by Pyongyang could be seen as slander of its leader or a hostile act. He stressed that discussions or reports of the possibility of North Korea’s collapse, including contingency plans, could worsen inter-Korean relations and harm the national interest. Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, too, fended off persistent questioning about Kim’s health, saying public mention of the issue was inappropriate.
Gov’t Under Fire for Handling of N.Korea Intelligence
The government is taking flak for questionable handling of intelligence on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's health problems.
The first question is credibility. Since Kim did not show up at an event marking North Korea’s 60th founding anniversary on Sept. 9, some South Korean government officials have made it sound as if they were watching Kim at close range. They have said Kim is recovering fast, or has no speech problem despite partial paralysis, or can brush his teeth on his own.
In 1994, South Korean intelligence authorities were in the dark over Kim Il-sung's death for about 30 hours. And when a South Korean tourist was shot to death at the Mt. Kumgang resort in North Korea two months ago, intelligence authorities failed to find information in time.
The prevailing view is that due to the previous governments' focus on reconciliation and cooperation with the North over the past decade, the clandestine intelligence network for North Korea has collapsed. Therefore, experts say, the suddenly excellent intelligence reports look dubious.
Back on track with N. Korea
There is a clear difference in the way our government and that of the United States are dealing with North Korea as of late. First would be their responses to reports North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il is ill. While reported in the American press, the U.S. government has to this date failed to make any official comment. The Blue House, however, confirmed early on that Kim was "bedridden," a comment followed by competing disclosures by government officials of what has at some times been unconfirmed information and at others sensitive intelligence.
Another area where the approaches are different would be the area of relations with Pyongyang. The United States continues to utilize the "New York channel" to talk to North Korea about the question of verification, even after the North halted its nuclear disablement process, and it is proceeding with its existing plans for providing food aid. While there have been slight changes lately, for the most part our government has been preventing non-governmental exchange and has for all practical purposes decided to ignore requests for emergency food aid for North Korea by the World Food Programme.
Schools to Disclose Number of Unionized Teachers
Beginning December, some 10,000 nationwide schools will reveal how many of their teachers are members of the radical Korean Teachers and Educational Workers' Union. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Monday promulgated a special law on the disclosure of information about educational institutions, spurred by the need to satisfy parents’ right to know by making information transparent.
Careful Planning Matters More Than Kim Jong-il's Teeth
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il remained out of the public eye even during the Chuseok holidays. Each year during the days leading up to Korean Thanksgiving and during the holidays, the North Korean media reported Kim's movements, covering his inspections of military bases and attendance of cultural performances. Not so this time. Meanwhile all kinds of information and intelligence about his condition are surfacing. One government official said Kim is able to brush his teeth, while one ruling party lawmaker with access to intelligence information said the North Korean leader was able to stand with the help of others. These accounts make it appear as if our intelligence officials are standing right next to Kim, watching his every movement.
But such minor details are not what we should be focusing on. Instead, we should be inspecting and fine-tuning our national readiness for a sudden turn of events in North Korea, and we should be doing this with an urgent sense that such an event could happen at any moment.
Restore inter-Korean relations, not military operations
The air is full of calls for measures to be in place for the possibility of an unforeseen situation breaking out in North Korea because of National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il’s ill health. In some quarters, and mainly among some conservative media outlets, there are strong calls for elevating “Con Plan 5029” to “OPLAN 5029” (i.e., from a “concept plan” to an “operation plan”). The Lee Myung-bak administration is taking a reserved approach, saying it has “yet to decide whether 5029 will be elevated to the status of an operational plan.”
It would only be a matter of course that our government quietly, in advance, produce exacting plans for the various scenarios that could unfold if the North Korean leader is uanble to control the country or in the event of other sudden internal chaos there. However, approaching the possibilities militarily by talking about the revival of OPLAN 5029, discussion about which was halted during the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, is extremely dangerous.
OPLANs, or “operation plans,” are just that, plans for military operations. The OPLAN 5029 proposed by the United States was a military operation involving U.S.-ROK Combined Forces, under U.S. command, in the event of political upheaval in the North. It would, according to international law, be something of a preemptive attack since it would be a military operation on North Korean territory without the provocation of an invasion from the North.
[Sovereignty] [Friction] [Legality]
Seoul Begins Deploying Patriot Missile Interceptors
PAC-2 missile interceptor
By Jung Sung-ki
Advanced Patriot missile defense systems from Germany have been deployed on South Korean Air Force bases and unidentified locations nationwide, in an apparent move to counter the increasing threat of North Korean missiles, a military source said Tuesday.
The deployment of upgraded Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) systems is a core part of Seoul's plan to build an independent theater missile defense shield, dubbed the Korean air and missile defense (KAMD) network system.
We Must Keep a Close Eye on N.Korean Military
There are increasing concerns that North Korea's military will increase its influence as the health problems facing the communist country's leader Kim Jong-il become greater. If the views of North Korea's military are reflected heavily in the country's policies involving South Korea and the outside world, then the communist country will become more inflexible. [role of NK military]
Universities Shut Down Unpopular Departments
By Park Si-soo
Many Korean universities are poised to shut down or downsize what they call unpopular departments in a bid to concentrate on sought-after studies and reduce their budget spending.
The government's plan of giving more subsidies to departments with higher graduate employment rates and popularity among newcomers is likely to accelerate the phenomenon.
Konkuk University said Monday it might shut down its European Union Studies and Jewish and Middle East Studies departments from the spring semester after taking into account their poor employment rates and lukewarm response from students.
Is Seoul Ready for Contingencies in North Korea?
The government has apparently been forging a completely new policy to prepare for any contingencies in North Korea, an issue that is gaining fresh urgency amid reports of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s ill health.
Stepfather Held in North Korean Spy Case
A woman who allegedly posed as a North Korean defector to spy for Pyongyang was given W1 billion (US$1=W1,129) in support by her stepfather, who has also been arrested for spying after investigators found evidence at his home implicating him. Investigators say Kim Dong-sun (63) gave W1 billion worth of goods to the woman, Won Jeong-hwa (34), which allowed her to support her activities during her time in the South.
"Woman Spy Case" Touted by Lee Myung Bak Group Dismissed
Pyongyang, September 3 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued a statement Tuesday slamming the Lee Myung Bak group for frantically kicking up a confrontational racket against the DPRK after cooking up what it called "woman spy case" in recent days.
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