ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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How N.Koreans Communicate with the Outside World
The outside world is learning about the latest news from North Korea with unprecedented speed these days. Information that used to be impossible to obtain, about such things as living conditions or protests, is becoming available through photos and video clips, while South Korean pop music and TV dramas are spreading quickly throughout North Korea.
Kim Heung-kwang The most common conduit is North Korean traders who frequently travel to China. They store the pictures and videos on USB memory sticks and bring them out with them. "In February last year we developed 'stealth' USBs and distributed hundreds of them in the North," said Kim Heung-kwang of defector group North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity.
Kim said when customs officials check the USBs on their computers, they look empty with "0 byte" appearing on the monitors. But after a certain period of time the content is automatically restored. "The stealth USBs appear to contain nothing when they are sent to North Korea and can easily pass through screening," Kim said. "But South Korean dramas, news or other content are restored later."
NIS director’s inexperience under fierce scrutiny
NIS Director Won is a close associate of President Lee and has no prior experience in the intelligence field
By Shin Seung-keun, Staff Writer
“I am not expecting [spy drama] ‘Iris’-level espionage. But if you cannot do a better job than Kim Ha-neul in the comedy ‘My Girlfriend Is an Agent’ .... In a word, it is pathetic.”
“If you get caught breaking and entering, you should cover it up and keep the whole thing quiet. They are really a bunch of fools.”
Bipartisan criticism of the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) “detective agency-level” intelligence gathering abilities have been erupting from lawmakers in the wake of a botched infiltration operation in the hotel room of an Indonesian delegation of presidential envoys. The lawmakers have lambasted the NIS for allowing the situation to reach its current state rather than getting matters under control after an incident resulting from poorly conducted intelligence activities.
“We were able to examine the NIS’s low-level intelligence abilities last year with Rev. Han Sang-ryeol’s visit to North Korea,” said a GNP lawmaker on the Intelligence Committee. The lawmaker recalled asking for confirmation after receiving a report that the NIS was unaware beforehand of Han’s secret entry into the country. In response, the NIS delivered a report saying, “Rev. Han entered China by way of India and left for North Korea from Beijing Airport. The NIS is fully apprised of the situation.”
But after Han’s return, an investigation by intelligence authorities showed that Han had never stopped in India and that he had left for North Korea from Shenyang, the lawmaker said.
Military to train 30,000 snipers in reserve force
South Korea's military plans to train some 30,000 snipers in its reserve force from this year as it reinforces training programs for reservists amid high tensions with North Korea, officials said Thursday.
The South's military has about 3 million reservists, made up of people who completed about two years of mandatory military service in the recent eight years. In case of war, the reservists will be deployed to the war zone to provide support and regional stability.
"The military decided to start nurturing snipers at reserve units to cope with potential street battles and a rise in the number of North Korean special forces," said an official at the defense ministry.
[Military balance] [Pacification] [Takeover]
Contested Waters - Contested Texts: Storm over Korea’s West Sea
The Asia Pacific Journal’s Phantom Text
This is the story of a text, which was briefly posted at The Asia Pacific Journal on 6 February, and almost immediately (within hours) withdrawn. The author was Kim Man-bok, who from November 2006 to January 2008 was Director of the South Korean National Intelligence Service (Korean CIA) under the Government of President Roh Moo-hyun. His text was entitled “Let Us Turn Korea’s West Sea (the Sea of Dispute) into a Sea of Peace and Prosperity.” The Asia-Pacific Journal is not noted for publishing articles by present or former national intelligence chiefs, and so both the posting and then the withdrawal of this text were almost equally unusual.
N.Korean Protesters Demand Food and Electricity
Small pockets of unrest are appearing in North Korea as the repressive regime staggers under international sanctions and the fallout from a botched currency reform, sources say. On Feb. 14, two days before leader Kim Jong-il's birthday, scores of people in Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon in North Pyongan Province caused a commotion, shouting, "Give us fire [electricity] and rice! "
A North Korean source said people fashioned makeshift megaphones out of newspapers and shouted, "We can't live! Give us fire! Give us rice!" "At first, there were only one or two people, but as time went by more and more came out of their houses and joined in the shouting," the source added.
The State Security Department investigated this incident but failed to identify the people who started the commotion when they met with a wall of silence.
"When such an incident took place in the past, people used to report their neighbors to the security forces, but now they're covering for each other," the source said.
The commotion started because the North Korean regime had diverted sparse electricity from the Jongju and Yongchon area to Pyongyang to light up the night there to mark Kim's birthday on Feb. 16.
"Discontent erupted because the regime cut off electricity that had been supplied to them only a few hours a day, and they had hard time putting food on the table due to soaring rice prices."
A North Korean defector said the Jongju and Yongchon area "has long been a headache to the regime due to the spirit of defiance of the people there."
In April 2004, a massive explosion occurred at Yongchon Station right after a train carrying Kim Jong-il passed.
Can the 'Jasmine Revolution' Spread to N.Korea?
Will the "Jasmine Revolutions" of the Middle East sweep through China and North Korea? Hopes are rising as accounts emerge from the North about pockets of resistance in the cities of Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon in North Pyongan Province on Feb. 14, two days before North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's birthday.
No concerted anti-government protests have broken out in North Korea, but there have been continuous small protests by people demanding food
Why Is Indonesia Downplaying the Botched Break-In?
The government of both Korea and Indonesia are desperately trying to contain the repercussions of a botched break-in by National Intelligence Service agents into the hotel room of a visiting high-level Indonesian delegation. A senior Foreign Ministry official approached reporters on Tuesday and asked them to refrain from covering the debacle, saying, "Please ask yourselves what extensive coverage of this incident can benefit the national interest."
Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Hatta Rajasa, who was part of the delegation, told the Jakarta Post the incident had nothing to do with the Korean government. He said the three "presumably Asian intruders" were actually hotel guests who walked into the wrong room. "Instead of entering room 1961, the guests unintentionally entered room 2061, where an Industry Ministry official was staying," Hatta was quoted as saying.
Botched NIS Break-In Jeopardizes Long-Cherished Hopes
Export of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet has been a long-cherished dream of the Korean government. Developed by Korea Aerospace Industries in collaboration with Lockheed Martin over a 10 year period starting in 1997 at a cost of W2.8 trillion (US$1=W1,119), the T-50 is the country's first supersonic trainer jet and is equipped with top-notch electronics equipment.
These features had stoked hopes of exports reaching around 1,000. The Air Force bought 90, but that was not enough to recoup the investment, making export crucial. The problem is the high price tag of US$25 million per jet. Although the T-50 boasts superior performance to Italy's Aermacchi M-346 Master trainer jet, the Korean plane has lost to its Italian rival on several bids due to the high price
[Arms sales] [Tribute] [Espionage]
Diplomats Briefed on Seoul's View of N.Korea
Ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appears to be getting neither better nor worse, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek told the chiefs of overseas missions in a closed-door briefing held at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Monday.
Hyun added Kim appears to be using his left arm a little better than a year ago, according to sources at the meeting
Support wanes as Lee marks 3rd year in office
Polls indicate that citizens want President Lee to improve economic performance
By Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer
As the Lee Myung-bak administration marks its third year, its faces falling support.
According to a recent poll by the Kookmin Ilbo and the Korea Society Opinion Institute (reported Tuesday), more respondents felt Lee was mishandling state affairs than doing well, 51.4 percent to 42.0 percent. In particular, Lee was elected after campaigning as the “Economy President,” but only 8.4 percent of respondents said their household situation has improved over the last three years. The overwhelming majority said it had deteriorated (38.4 percent) or remained about the same (52.9 percent). A similar number of respondents said they would support the ruling party (43.5 percent) and opposition party (43.4 percent) during next April’s general election. Also similar was the number of people who would support the GNP candidate (38.6 percent) and opposition candidate (40.6 percent) during the next presidential election.
Seoul Must Be Ready for Fresh N.Korean Provocations
The latest developments in North Korea since the breakdown of cross-border military talks are anything but comforting. The North Korea has apparently dug a tunnel in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province which was the site of two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 to a depth of 800 m. Another 200 m is all that is needed to conduct a third nuclear test. North Korea has also completed a new missile launch pad in Tongchang-ri in North Pyongyan Province. And in Koampo, South Hwanghae Province, just 50 km to 60 km away from South Korea's five West Sea islands, the North is building a naval base to house around 70 hovercraft.
NIS Behind Break-In at Indonesian Delegation
Three intruders who broke into the room of Indonesian presidential envoys at Seoul's Lotte Hotel on the morning of Feb. 16 were agents from the National Intelligence Service, it has emerged. A high-ranking government official said the NIS "tried to find out the negotiation strategy of the Indonesian delegation in pursuit of the national interest. It was an unintended consequence that they were caught."
Soon after some 50 Indonesian officials including Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa left for Cheong Wa Dae to meet President Lee Myung-bak, two men and a women broke into the room on the 19th floor of the Lotte Hotel, but they were surprised by one of the Indonesian officials while they were looking into laptops there and fled. It is uncertain whether the agents copied data from the laptop.
The NIS agents were apparently desperate to obtain Indonesia's negotiation strategy for the purchase of Korea's T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet, K2 Black Panther main battle tank, and portable surface-to-air missile. Korea is in fierce competition with Russia's Yak-130 trainer jet.
The government has been working hard to win an export deal after negotiations with the United Arab Emirates and Singapore faltered. One T-50 is priced at US$25 million, and the government aims to export 1,000 by 2030.
A government official said, "It seems that NIS took way too much risk due to this obsession with the export of the T-50." An intelligence official claimed it is "an open secret" that intelligence agencies of every country are engaged in a highly sophisticated battle for intelligence. "After the intrusion was reported in the media, the NIS exerted a great deal of effort through many channels to smooth over the situation," he added.
Police said earlier that due to the low resolution of the CCTV at the Lotte Hotel, they were unable to identify the intruders.
[Espionage] [Bizarre] [Unintended consequences]
President hopes changes will occur in N. Korea this year
President Lee Myung-bak, left, shakes hands with a citizen during a hike with reporters on Mt. Bugak in Seoul, Sunday. Lee expressed hope that there will be some positive changes in North Korea this year. / Korea Times
By Na Jeong-ju
President Lee Myung-bak expressed hope Sunday that there will be some positive changes in North Korea this year, saying the South is always ready for dialogue.
He also reaffirmed that Seoul will respond sternly to any further provocations by Pyongyang, indicating that he would stick to the two-track policy of pursing inter-Korean talks to promote peace while countering belligerent acts by the North Korean military.
How N.Korea's Fate Hangs on Kim Jong-il's Health
Kim Jong-il The fate of North Korea seems to depend to a great extent on the health of its ailing leader Kim Jong-il, who turned 70 this week. "The situation in North Korea could shift drastically depending whether Kim dies suddenly, falls into a coma or sees his health get steadily worse," a South Korean intelligence official said.
Sudden drastic change could happen at any moment, and experts are urging the South Korean government, military and public to be prepared.
Lee urges united effort to counter N. Korea's attacks
President Lee Myung-bak, third from right, pledges allegiance in an annual security meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Friday. He is flanked by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, left, and Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik. / Yonhap
By Lee Tae-hoon
President Lee Myung-bak has called on the nation to unite and prepare for North Korea’s further armed provocations in an annual defense meeting of top military commanders, ministers and presidential aides Friday.
“The military, police, government and civil sectors must work together to help make our citizens excel at the field they have focused on,” President Lee was quoted as saying by a Cheong Wa Dae official.
President Lee added that non-military units should also find their roles in order to contribute to countering Pyongyang’s possible provocations.
'Opening up N. Korea most essential'
By Kim Se-jeong
CHEORWON, Gangwon Province — Lee Min-bok, 53, is not a writer, but he puts pen to paper extensively.
He’s not a photographer, but constantly takes pictures and searches for photos.
Lee is an activist working to open up North Korean society by delivering information via balloons.
N.Korean Regime Worried About Arab Uprisings
The North Korean authorities are apparently on full alert as news trickles in about pro-democracy protests in the Middle East despite an official blackout. According to a source, security agents have banned all gatherings, especially of university students, as news spreads about the public revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world.
The source added that partitions have been removed in restaurants across the country, and security agents break up even small gatherings in open-air markets.
Egyptian telecom firm Orascom provides mobile phone services in North Korea.
N.Korea 'Lost Several Fighter Jets Last Year'
Several North Korean fighter jets crashed in intensive drills late last year staged in response to joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises, a senior South Korean government official said Thursday.
"We suffered a fighter jet crash too, but it seems that the North suffered a lot more," the official told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity during a visit to Japan.
"They apparently suffered several crashes during a series of drills to counter our exercises even though they lacked fuel and practice." He did not say how many of the North's old jets crashed. One crash was already reported in December.
[Joint US military] [Provocation] [Intelligence]
U.N. rapporteur reports freedom of expression severely curtailed under Lee administration
The report supports continued criticism that human rights have been greatly curtailed by the Lee administration
» The report by U.N. Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue entitled “Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, and Culture Rights, Including the Right to Development” to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
By Son Jun-hyun, Senior Staff Writer
A report that is to be submitted to the United Nations this year states that freedom of expression has receded substantially in South Korea under the Lee Myung-bak administration and recommends that the South Korean government initiate improvements. The report, written by U.N. Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue following a May 2010 visit and investigation, serves as an important measure of the human rights situation in the country and is expected to draw charges from the international community that South Korea is an underdeveloped human rights nation.
The English-language report titled “Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, and Culture Rights, Including the Right to Development,” a copy of which was acquired Wednesday by the Hankyoreh, states that the scope of freedom of expression has diminished in South Korea since the candlelight vigil demonstrations against the full-scale resumption of U.S. beef imports in 2008.
N.Korea's Collapse Will Provide an Unprecedented Challenge
North Korea celebrated what is officially the 70th birthday of its leader Kim Jong-il on Wednesday. There is no guarantee that Kim, suffering from the aftereffects of a massive stroke compounded by chronic kidney problems and cardiovascular disease, will live to see his birthday next year.
Dual pursuit of N.Korean human rights and peace on the Korean Peninsula
A N.Korean human rights expert suggests a dual approach to the divisive issue
By Choi Won-hyung
Some individuals call for an ominous confrontationalism with North Korea, saying you must not back down from war with North Korea, citing the North Korean human rights issue. Others refrain entirely from mentioning the human rights issue, which is likely to provoke North Korea, saying that peace on the Korean Peninsula comes first. Still others criticize both positions, and say both positions do little to help bring substantive improvements in the grim North Korean human rights situation
N.Korea Warns South Over Collapse of Dialogue
North Korea's nominal No.2 leader on Tuesday warned if South Korea decides to rupture dialogue and choose confrontation, it will be solely responsible for the destructive consequences. Kim Yong-nam, who is president of the rubber-stamp Supreme People's Assembly, issued the warning at a meeting to celebrate North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's birthday at the Pyongyang Sports Center.
False statements becoming regular practice for Defense Ministry
The Defense Ministry’s false statements, largely along party lines, have become increasingly habitual and without consequence for the ministry
Kwon Hyuk-chul, Staff Writer
The military’s excessive secrecy has become the topic of discussion after it came to light Monday that the Ministry of National Defense refused to provide a National Assembly member with public materials on grounds of confidentiality, even though the same materials had been posted openly on a web site.
She reported that her goal was to examine how tax money would be used for the USFK base relocation effort. The Defense Ministry responded with telephoned and written refusals to submit the document, arguing that doing so could have a negative impact on negotiations with the United States regarding the relocation effort and that the names of the areas targeted for asset revaluation must not become known.
More Propaganda Leaflets to Be Sent to N.Korea
The floating of propaganda leaflets to North Korea can probably resume soon now that northerly winds which halted the activity for a month are abating, Grand National Party lawmaker Shin Ji-ho said Sunday.
North Korea Reacts Angrily to Breakdown of Talks
By MARK McDONALD
Published: February 9, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reacted angrily Thursday to the breakdown of preliminary military talks with South Korea, saying the "scoundrels” and "traitors” in the South were not interested in a genuine dialogue and were trying to derail the resumption of six-party talks involving the North’s nuclear programs.
.A statement carried on North Korea’s official news agency said the nation would no longer participate in military talks with South Korea.
What Next for Inter-Korean Relations?
North Korea on Thursday blamed South Korea for the collapse of preliminary military talks. In a statement the delegates to the talks that ended Wednesday said they "no longer felt the need to associate with" South Korea.
Seoul made no direct response. Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said, "Anyway, we're keeping the door open."
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the North blew the chance to show it is sincere. "It is an important opportunity for North Korea to demonstrate its sincerity and willingness to engage in dialogue, and understand that the one delegation walked out today. It's hard at this point to really assess what the meaning of that is," he said. "And clearly, having North Korea walking out puts them in the category of a missed opportunity."
[SK NK policy] [Capture]
N.Korea 'Could Launch More Provocations'
The United States' top intelligence officer says North Korea may launch additional provocations in the event of a shaky leadership transition to Kim Jong-il's third son Kim Jong-un.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified on Thursday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and said it is possible North Korea will launch similar attacks to last November's Yeonpyeong Island shelling to secure loyalty from the regime's elites.
As for nuclear weapons, Clapper added that the North would not use them unless driven to absolute desperation and that it wants to return to nuclear talks to regain economic aid and improve relations.
[NK US policy] [Bizarre]
N.Korea Slams Doors on Cross-Border Military Talks
The North Korean delegation walks toward the venue of the inter-Korean military talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday. /Courtesy of the Defense Ministry Colonels from North Korea stormed out of preparatory talks with South Korea on Wednesday in a furious denial of two deadly attacks on the South last year. A mere 10 minutes after the afternoon session started, the North Koreans reportedly shouted, "The Cheonan incident has nothing to do with us" and claimed the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette that killed 46 sailors "was a plot by the U.S. to justify the inter-Korean standoff."
The North Korean also claimed the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island "was provoked." Yet on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, the North Koreans had calmly discussed the agenda of putative high-level military talks, saying the North would "take all measures to resolve any concerns South Korea has" about Pyongyang's role in the two attacks. Seoul has said the North must apologize for the attacks and pledge to prevent a recurrence before anything else can be discussed.
KF-16 Fighter Jets Fitted with Precision-Guided Missiles
South Korea's KF-16 fighter jets will be equipped with state-of-the-art GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition precision-guided missiles. The JDAMs are fitted with GPS-aided inertial navigation system (INS) and wing kits to boost their accuracy and are capable of precision attacks at night and during harsh weather conditions.
A South Korean KF-16 fighter jet test-fires a GBU-31 JDAM precision-guided missile. /Courtesy of the Air Force At present, only 40 F-15K fighter jets are fitted with the missiles, but now all about 130 KF-16s will have them, making them more capable of countering North Korea's 170 mm howitzers and 240 mm multiple launch rocket systems that have been deployed on the border.
The Air Force said it developed software that connects the KF-16s with JDAM missiles and successfully carried out three tests. Pilot training was completed at the end of January. The GBU-31 JDAM missiles cost less than laser-guided missiles or other precision-guided munitions and can hit a target 9.6 m in diameter 27 km away in about 50 percent of cases.
[Military balance] [missiles]
Inter-Korean working-level discussions collapse
N.Korea walked out of talks as S.Korea insisted on discussing only the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island shelling
Kwon Hyuk-chul and Son Won-je, Staff Writers
Working-level discussions in preparation of high-level inter-Korean military talks abruptly ended Wednesday in Panmunjeom without any results, sharply contrasting the initial expectations that a breakthrough was likely. The conclusion resulted from a failure to narrow their differences over the agenda of the talks.
North Korea walked out of talks Wednesday afternoon and returned North Korea, saying South Korea’s insistence on discussing only the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island shelling appeared to be a rejection of high-level military talks themselves.
NKorea refusing more military talks with SKorea
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 11:32 PM
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea refused Thursday to hold any more military talks with South Korea, saying Seoul lacks serious intent to improve relations marked by months of high tensions.
Koreas Quibble Over High-Level Military Talks
Colonels from the two Koreas met at the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss the agenda for formal high-level military talks but reached no conclusion. "The two sides discussed the agenda, the level of chief delegates, timing, and venue for high-level military talks but failed to reach agreement due to differences in views," a Defense Ministry official said.
N.Korea Demands Return of Fishing Crew
A fishing boat that carried 31 North Koreans across the Northern Limit Line is docked at a naval base on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday. The ministry said the 20 women and 11 men are being questioned and will be sent back if they wish.
Seoul believes it is likely that they simply drifted into southern waters rather than crossing the border with intent to defect as they were unaccompanied by children and are not families but in the same work team. All of them reportedly expressed their wish to return to North Korea.
Marines to have greater role in defense
By Lee Tae-hoon
The military is seeking to boost its number of marines by as many as 2,000, as part of ongoing defense reform and efforts to strengthen its defense capability on five islands near the inter-Korean maritime border in the West Sea, a government official said Tuesday.
[Military balance] [Buildup] [Clash] [Civilians] [Media]
S.Koreans root for NK over US in sports game
By Han Sang-hee
In an imaginary sports game Koreans would choose to cheer for North Korea over the United States, according to a research by Seoul National University (SNU) Tuesday.
The percentage of Koreans who would opt for North Korea beating the U.S. in a football match reached 70 percent last year, up from 21 percent in the mid-1980s. The percentage was 76.1 percent in 2008 and 68 percent in 2009.
The research was led by Professor Eun Ki-soo from the graduate school of international studies and supported by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at the university to analyze the changes in perception regarding unification and North Korea during the past 25 years.
“The perception of North Korea has shown a drastic shift from the 1980s, as we can easily see from the football match question. The results show that Koreans have rediscovered North Korea after experiencing the Cold War,” professor Eun wrote in the research.
The research also provided a peek into the opinions South Koreans have toward North Korea. In 1993, 51 percent of South Koreans considered the North as a country that needed aid, but in 2009, only 14.3 percent answered that the South needed to help the reclusive nation.
On the necessity of the unification, only 12.3 percent answered yes in 2008, a drastic fall from 58 percent in 1995.
Also in 2008, 45.3 percent of the respondents were either negative about unification or preferred maintaining the status quo, a steep rise from 17.5 percent in 1987. It indicated that South Koreans have become more reluctant about reunification compared to in the past.
The possible reasons for unification varied. About 43 percent said it was necessary because the two countries are of one ethnic race, while others chose more practical reasons, such as preventing war (24.1 percent) and becoming an advanced country (20.7 percent).
“Individual interest in unification can diminish for various reasons, including the long period of the divided state and the high cost of unification. Nevertheless, unification is still considered as an important issue in Korean society,” Professor Eun said.
[Unification] [Public opinion]
KF-16 fighter jets carry 'smart' bombs to neutralize N. Korea's artillery
The Air Force said Wednesday that it is deploying satellite-guided joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) on its KF-16 fighter jets, enhancing the capability to neutralize long-range North Korean artillery.
The South Korean Air Force has been working with the U.S. military since 2008 to modify the KF-16's computer systems to carry the all-weather "smart" bombs guided by an internal navigation system.
'Cruise missiles may be deployed to West Sea'
By Kim Young-jin
The military is considering deploying ship-to-surface cruise missiles on a 4,500-ton destroyer patrolling the tense West Sea border, a military source said Tuesday.
"We are reviewing a plan to deploy the Hyunmu-3A missiles on a KDX-II class destroyer by the end of this year," Yonhap News Agency quoted the source as saying.
The remark came as Seoul moved to bolster its defense of the five border islands along the maritime border, the site of two deadly North Korean attacks last year.
[Military balance] [Buildup] [Missile]
New Ship-Launched Cruise Missiles Ready for Deployment
A Korean-made ship-to-ground cruise missile dubbed Cheonryong with a range of more than 500 km is about to be deployed on warships including a 4,500-ton KDX destroyer in the West Sea, sources say.
This is going to be the first deployment of a homegrown ship-launched cruise missile.
Ship-to-ground missiles have a wider and more flexible potential range than ground-launched ones. The Cheonryong is capable of hitting North Korean surface-to-ship missile bases on the west coast from the East Sea as well as the West Sea. It can eventually be launched even from a 3,000 ton submarine which is under development.
"We completed development of the ship-to-ground cruise missile earlier than expected based on the successful development of the homegrown ground-to-ground cruise missile," a government source said on Monday, "We're planning to deploy the missile on Aegis ships such as the 7,600-ton-class King Sejong the Great, starting this year with the destroyer deployed at the Second Navy Fleet on the west coast in preparation for further provocations by the North."
The missiles could hit North Korean coastal artillery batteries or ground-to-ship missile bases if the North launches fresh attacks like the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year, obviating the need to scramble Air Force fighter jets.
In the past, South Korean warships had to move out of range of the North's Silkworm ground-to-ship missiles on the west coast, which have a range of 95 km, whenever any movement of missiles is detected. But from now on, they can hit the North's missile bases from out of range of the North's missiles.
[Military balance] [Missiles]
S. Korea raided North with captured agents in 1967
By Lee Tae-hoon
An Army general-turned-lawmaker has revealed a dark chapter in Korean history, saying he volunteered for tit-for-tat retaliation raids in 1967 that killed 33 North Korean soldiers and sabotaged some 50 “enemy” facilities.
In a series of interviews with The Korea Times over several months, Rep. Lee Jin-sam of the minor opposition Liberty Forward Party spelled out for the first time the details of his deadly revenge missions.
“Our troops’ morale was seriously undermined as the communist North deployed a host of armed infiltrators at that time who took the lives of many South Koreans and destroyed major facilities,” the 73-year-old lawmaker recalled. “Something had to be done to stop it.”
North Korean commandos allegedly infiltrated into the South 57 times in 1966 and 118 times in 1967, fueling fears of widening North Korean attacks.
Lee said the North’s actions reached a peak in 1967, when in a general assembly of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party in March that year then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung instructed the military to beef up infiltration activities.
In response, Lee, who served as the head of an Army intelligence unit, requested his commander, Maj. Gen. Yoon Pil-yong, to authorize a series of perilous missions.
South Korea Questions Boat Passengers From North
By MARK McDONALD
Published: February 7, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean military investigators on Monday were questioning 31 North Koreans whose fishing boat was seized in disputed waters in the Yellow Sea.
The defense official said the North Koreans were not defectors and that they had told investigators they were “not willing to remain” in South Korea. The official said there was no immediate plan to send the people back.
A military official told the Yonhap news agency in Seoul that the North Koreans were part of a “work group,” not family members.
2 Koreas talk at DMZ to ease tensions since attack
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 8, 2011; 12:12 AM
SEOUL, South Korea -- Military officers from North and South Korea held talks inside the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone on Tuesday in the rivals' first official dialogue since the North's deadly artillery barrage of a South Korean island in November.
Defectors Send $10 Million a Year to N.Korea
North Korean defectors settled in South Korea are sending secretly some US$10 million a year to their families in the North.
A senior government official on Sunday said, "We estimate that the amount of money North Korean defectors are sending to their families back home has reached $10 million a year. It has increased with their number, and ways of sending money have diversified."
Some 3,000 to 5,000 of 20,000 defectors settled in South Korea are sending W1-5 million (US$1=W1,117) each to their families back home through middlemen every year, the government and defectors' organizations believe. The North could import about 18,500 tons of Thai rice ($540 per ton) or some 43,000 tons of corn ($230 per ton) for $10 million.
The money is believed to be a mainstay of the North Korean underground economy. Since South Korea suspended trade with the North last May, the only cash that is officially funneled from the South into the North is about $50 million South Korean firms at the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex pay in wages.
A security official said the defectors' money has created a lively economy in the North Korea-China border area.
A member of a defectors organization said middlemen take commissions of about 30 percent. This means that if W1 million is sent, only about W700,000 reaches a defector's family in the North. That is equivalent to 1.86 million North Korean won.
A defector from Chongjin said, "You can buy a house in a small or medium-sized city or enough rice for a family of four for a year for 1.86 million won."
Concern as Remittances to N.Korea Grow
North Korean defectors settled in South Korea are sending some US$10 million a year to their families back home, it was reported on Sunday. The amount is expected to grow as there are more than 20,000 North Korean defectors in the South and the number is increasing, a government intelligence official said. Now the government is investigating what the effects of these growing remittances may be.
Mobsters Held in Smuggling of N.Korean Drugs
Police have arrested a Chinese-South Korean gang on charges of trafficking 5.95 kg of North Korean-made methamphetamines into the South. The Seoul District Prosecutor's Office said Sunday among the 13 people arrested is a 56-year-old man in Busan identified only as Kim who is linked to organized crime in the southern port city, and a 35-year-old Korean Chinese identified as Chung from Shenyang, Liaoning Province, also a suspected mafioso.
Kim allegedly received the drugs from Chung and smuggled them into Busan port on ships disguised as fishing trawlers, prosecutors said. Another member of the gang in Busan, who committed suicide last year, sold the drugs on to about a dozen different gangs throughout South Korea.
The arrested Chinese gangsters said they believed the methamphetamines were made in North Korea, prosecutors said. The 5.95 kg that were seized have a street value of W19.8 billion (US$1=W1,117).
It is widely known in the international community that North Korea is the source of various narcotics that are trafficked around the world.
1 of 4 bullets from injured captain shot by Korean Navy
One of the four bullets removed from the injured South Korean captain of a chemical freighter hijacked by Somalis last month was shot by South Korean Navy commandos during their raid on the ship in the Arabian Sea, the South Korean Coast Guard said Monday, wrapping up a probe on five captured Somali pirates.
Seok Hae-kyun, the skipper of the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry, has drawn keen national attention since South Korean naval special forces stormed the ship on Jan. 21 to free it from Somali pirates.
31 N. Koreans do not want to defect to South
Thirty-one North Korean people crossed the tense Yellow Sea border by boat and arrived in South Korea two days ago, but they have not expressed any wishes to defect to the South, a military official said Monday.
The North Koreans, consisting of 11 men and 20 women, arrived on Yeonpyeong Island by a wooden fishing boat in thick fog at around 11 a.m. Saturday and were towed away to the western port city of Incheon, said the official at the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
"So far, the North Koreans have not expressed a wish to defect," the official said, asking not to be named because an investigation is still under way.
The official confirmed that the North Koreans are a "work group," not family members.
The JCS official said intelligence authorities will announce details after their interrogation is finished.
Another military official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators are looking into the possibility that the North Koreans arrived on Yeonpyeong Island after drifting at sea.
There are no children among the North Koreans, and they were believed to have left North Korea's western port city of Nampo, about 60 kilometers southwest of Pyongyang, according to the military official.
"Given the circumstances so far, they might have been drifting after setting the wrong coordinates or losing power on their boat," the military official said.
The arrival of North Koreans also came at a sensitive time as military officials from Seoul and Pyongyang are set to hold their first dialogue on Tuesday since the North's deadly attack of Yeonpyeong last November.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have remained high since the North shelled Yeonpyeong, killing two civilians and two marines.
More than 20,000 North Koreans have arrived in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. (Yonhap)
DPRK Proposes Inter-Korean Parliamentary Contact
Pyongyang, February 3 (KCNA) -- The Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK Wednesday sent the south Korean parliament a letter proposing parliamentarian contact and negotiations. The proposed contact and negotiations were clarified in the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea's appeal to all Koreans.
The letter noted that the DPRK proposed contact and negotiations of lawmakers between the SPA and the south Korean parliament out of the steadfast will to defuse the acute situation of the Korean Peninsula, improve the north-south relations and open up a new phase for peace and reunification. Any member of the Korean nation should never turn aside from the present grave situation, it noted.
The parliament representing the people's mindset should lend an ear to the voices of all the fellow countrymen desirous of the improved north-south relations and their dialogue, the letter said, adding: It is quite natural for the parliaments of the north and the south to sit face to face to discharge their responsibility and duty now that military talks are to be opened between the two sides.
The letter expressed hope that the south Korean parliament would positively respond to this sincere proposal and appeal.
Meanwhile, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, the National Reconciliation Council, the North Side Committee for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration and other public organizations and religious organizations of the DPRK sent letters calling for response to the proposed north-south dialogue to the ruling and opposition parties and organizations of south Korea.
Lee Offers Possibility of Summit with the North
President Lee Myung-bak suggests a summit could be held with North Korea depending on Pyongyang's attitude. In a televised discussion program Tuesday, Lee indicated that proposed military talks with North Korea could open the way for a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Lee says a summit could be held, if needed, but Pyongyang needs to seize the existing good opportunity to engage in dialogue with Seoul. And, he reiterates, South Korea has been insisting that North Korea take responsibility for last year's provocative acts.
Lee pushes Constitutional Amendment in televised dialogue
The amendment faces widespread criticism for both its content and feasibility
» President Lee Myung-bak, left, holds a New Year’s televised dialogue at the Cheong Wa Dae, Feb. 1. (Cheong Wa Dae photo pool)
In regards to the controversy over amendment of the Constitution to create a two-term presidential system, President Lee Myung-bak said during his televised discussion Tuesday, “I have continued to study many things regarding amendment of the Constitution since the 17th National Assembly,” and added, “It would not be difficult if the ruling and opposition parties just put their heads together.”
During a televised New Year’s broadcast in the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) audience room entitled “A Dialogue with the President, 2011 Republic of Korea!" the president said, “Regardless of who becomes the next president, we have to [amend the Constitution] because it is not suited to the times. The National Assembly needs to discuss the matter candidly. My argument is that we should do it for the sake of the nation’s future.”
Inter-Korean military talks scheduled for Feb. 8
North Korea and South Korea agreed to hold working-level military talks on Feb. 8 in Panmunjom, the Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday.
The ministry said in a press release that South Korea accepted in a reply message to the North's proposing the new date for the preliminary talks that would be their first dialogue since the North's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island last November.
Message to President of S. Korean Red Cross
Pyongyang, February 1 (KCNA) -- The chairman of the Central Committee of the Red Cross Society of the DPRK sent a message to the president of the south Korean Red Cross on Tuesday.
The message said that the DPRK proposed north-south dialogue including the authorities' talks in the joint statement of the government, political parties and organizations, a statement of the spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea and an appeal of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea. There is neither reason nor conditions for the Red Cross organizations of both sides to fail to sit at a negotiating table now that the north-south high-level military talks are to open thanks to the magnanimous and positive proposal made by the Korean People's Army, the message added.
Expressing regret at the south Korean Red Cross for having not yet responded to the DPRK's proposal for holding the Red Cross talks in Munsan on Feb. 1, the message called for discussing the date of talks again and opening them at the earliest possible date.
Korean Military Talks Set; Leaders Might Meet Later
By MARK McDONALD
Published: February 1, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea announced on Tuesday that it would hold military talks with North Korea next week, the first inter-Korean dialogue since a deadly artillery exchange in November, and President Lee Myung-bak said for the first time that a summit meeting with Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, was a possibility.
The military talks, to be held at the border village of Panmunjom, were described as “low-level and preliminary” by a Defense Ministry official in Seoul. The meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8, after this week’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
The principal aim of the talks, the defense official said, will be to prepare an agenda for more substantive discussions about what the South calls “provocations” by the North — the artillery barrage that killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong Island in November, the sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors last March and North Korea’s nuclear programs.
N.Korea 'Building Hovercraft Base Near West Sea Islands'
North Korea is apparently constructing a military base for combat hovercraft just 50-60 km from South Korea's Baeknyeong Island in the West Sea.
A government source on Monday said South Korean and U.S. intelligence late last year detected construction work being done for the base in the Koampo area in Hwanghae Province.
The base can apparently accommodate up to 70 of North Korea's hovercraft. Each of the vessels can carry a platoon and travel up to 90 km/h across water and mud flats. Once it is completed, North Korean troops would be able to land on South Korea's five West Sea islands, including Baeknyeong, in 30 to 40 minutes.
Seoul rejects NK call for earlier defense talks
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, center, listens to an aide at a vinyl producing company in Hamheung, north of Pyongyang. Visits to local companies are part of Kim’s routine schedule. The North’s Central News Agency released the photo Monday, but didn’t specify when it was taken.
By Kim Young-jin
South Korea on Monday rejected a proposal by North Korea to push forward the date for a preliminary meeting aimed at paving the way for high-level military talks.
The move came after the North on Saturday proposed the meeting take place today instead of Feb. 11, the date suggested by the South.
Time to Shift from Tension to Talks
Policy Forum, January 27, 2010
Tong Kim, visiting professor at the University of North Korean Studies and adjunct professor at SAIS Johns Hopkins University, writes, “The beginning of this year brings a new momentum for resuming talks with North Korea. Talks, if held, will be about avoiding provocations, keeping peace and stability, improving inter-Korean relations, and ultimately dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programs. We don’t know whether this rare momentum will be harnessed for a breakthrough, or if it will be left to wither away. However, this momentum did not come out of the blue.”
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