ROK and Inter-Korean relations
Return to Asian Geopolitics indexpage
Return to ROK and Inter-Korean relations page
New President Needs to Cooperate with Both China and U.S.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday agreed on separate sanctions against North Korea. Obama told reporters the two agreed to pursue "strong measures" to respond to North Korea’s nuclear test. Abe said he had run out of patience with Pyongyang.
But when the foreign ministers of China and Russia met on Friday, they said that although North Korea deserves to be punished by the UN Security Council for its nuclear test, the present situation on the Korean Peninsula must not be used as an excuse for an arms race or to justify foreign military intervention in the region.
Beijing and Moscow have begun to talk about the revival of long-suspended six-party nuclear talks rather than discussing stronger measures and tougher sanctions against the North.
The contrasting results of the two meetings clearly show the difference in views between the major powers. Japan is trying to use North Korea’s nuclear test as an excuse to amend its pacifist constitution and to rally the public around rearmament, while the U.S. aims to keep China in check and bolster its alliance with Japan. And China and Russia are becoming ever more sensitive to the prospect of a shift in the balance of power in East Asia.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat] [Realignment]
In inaugural address, new president Park discusses building trust with North Korea
Posted on : Feb.26,2013 15:49 KST
Park Geun-hye expresses vague desire to engage the North, but puts forth no specific plans to heal relationship with Pyongyang
By Park Byong-su, staff reporter
In her inaugural address on Feb. 25, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said that she would move forward with the trust process for the Korean peninsula on the basis of clear deterrence against North Korea.
Park called North Korea’s recent nuclear test “a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people”. At the same time, she showed her determination, by saying, “We will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the safety of the Republic of Korea.”
Park also said, “I will move forward one step at a time to build trust between the North and the South on the basis of clear deterrence.” This is being viewed as a confirmation of the “safety first” principle that Park has long espoused.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
President-elect Park could enter office with worst president’s approval rating in history
Posted on : Feb.23,2013 14:34 KST Modified on : Feb.23,2013 14:53 KST
Survey respondents point to questionable cabinet appointments as reason for their disapproval
By Ahn Chang-hyun, staff reporter
Park Geun-hye's approval rating has tumbled to 44%, according to a recent survey.
The slide is being attributed to negative public opinion about the President-elect's recent selections for the Cabinet and Blue House staff. With the rating falling below 50%, the administration is in for a rough start when it takes office next week.
The results were released on Feb. 22 from a Gallup Korea survey for the third week of February, conducted between Feb. 18 and 21. [Park Geun-hye]
CPRK Secretariat Slams S. Korea for Sowing Dissension between DPRK, China
Pyongyang, February 22 (KCNA) -- The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) released the following information bulletin No. 1020 Friday:
The south Korean group of traitors is now resorting to smear campaign of sowing dissension between the DPRK and China over the DPRK's third underground nuclear test.
The south Korean TV broadcasting Morning News on Feb. 18 aired the fake footage of "massive protest" of Chinese against the nuclear test in the DPRK.
Explanation said that protests against the DPRK's nuclear test are now a daily occurrence in Shenyang and Guangzhou of China. But street trees were green and protesters and the police were in their summer clothes, an indication that the place is not Shenyang in the northeastern part of China which is now in mid-winter.
[Propaganda] [Disinformation] [China NK] [Media]
N.Korean Nuclear Threat Poses Tough Dilemma for Seoul
North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a UN Conference on disarmament on Tuesday. The comments from North Korean diplomat Jon Yong-ryong drew sharp criticism from member states, with the U.K. representative at the conference saying such language was "completely inappropriate."
The threat proves that its claim so far that its nuclear weapons are merely designed as a deterrent against what it perceives as "hostile" U.S. policy is a lie. International experts knew of North Korea's true intentions a long time ago. It cannot threaten the U.S. with a few nuclear bombs, and if it ever tried to use one against the U.S., the renegade country would simply disappear from the face of the earth.
North Korea's nuclear weapons would become a threat to U.S. national security only when Pyongyang sells its nuclear armaments or technology to other rogue states or terrorist groups.
South Korea faces quandary over potential human rights probe of North
By Chico Harlan, Thursday, February 21, 12:51 AM
SEOUL — The United Nations’ human rights chief declared recently that the time had come for a “long overdue” investigation into what she called unparalleled rights abuses in North Korea. The probe, unprecedented in scope, could help establish whether the North’s leaders are committing crimes against humanity.
Navi Pillay’s January proposal has already drawn support from the United States. But the decision has proved sensitive in South Korea, where leaders remain divided over whether to confront the North or try to somehow reduce tensions with it, even after Pyongyang last week detonated an underground nuclear device.
South Korea’s support for the human rights investigation is critical, because farther-removed countries view Seoul as the leader on North Korea policy issues.
But the decision on the Commission of Inquiry, or COI, comes at a particularly delicate time for South Korea, where a conservative new president, Park Geun-hye, takes office this month, having vowed to both re-engage with the North and “improve living conditions” for its 24 million citizens. The looming decision on the investigation highlights a fundamental South Korean quandary: Engaging North Korea and pushing it on human rights, though both reasonable goals, are often at odds.
Other countries “should understand the sensitivities faced by South Korea” when speaking out about human rights, said Song Min-soon, who was South Korea’s foreign minister from 2006 until 2008 under liberal president Roh Moo-hyun. “Those countries, they don’t have a real need to sit down with North Korea. We do. The new South Korean government has a plan to talk with the North Koreans about denuclearization, economic issues. But if we lead efforts on the COI, that won’t happen.”[Manipulation] [SK NK policy]
N.Korea Ruffles Feathers at UN Meeting
North Korea caused a minor éclat at a UN Conference on disarmament on Tuesday by threatening South Korea with "final destruction," Reuters reported.
North Korean diplomat Jon Yong-ryong told the meeting, "As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction."
While the rhetoric is nothing new, the choice of platform at a conference dedicated to maintaining peace was unusual and drew consternation from member states.
Jon claimed the North's recent nuclear test "is the primary countermeasure taken by [North Korea] in which it exercised its maximum self-restraint" and threatened to take a tough response against "foreign invaders."
He also reiterated a threat to take "second and third stronger steps in succession" should the U.S. continue what the North claims are "hostile" steps to "complicate the situation." He did not say what those steps might be.
British Ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was "completely inappropriate" at the UN, while U.S. Ambassador Laura Kennedy said she found the threat profoundly disturbing and "offensive."
North Korea threatens to follow up nuclear test and 'destroy South Korea'
Pyongyang diplomat criticised for 'highly inappropriate language' at a UN diplomatic forum
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 February 2013 18.07 GMT
North Korea nuclear test celebration
North Korean soldiers and civilians in Pyongyang celebrate the success of the country's third nuclear test. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media
North Korea has threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a debate at the UN Conference on Disarmament , saying it could take "second and third steps" after a nuclear test last week.
"As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.
Without specifically referring to the nuclear test, Jon said North Korea had recently taken a "resolute step for self-defence", which he described as "strong counter-actions to a foreign aggressor".
He added that if the US takes a hostile approach towards North Korea, Pyongyang "would be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession".
History may be kinder to President Lee
This is the first in a series highlighting the legacy of President Lee Myung-bak, who leaves office on Feb. 25. — ED.
By Kim Tae-gyu
A portrait of departing President Lee Myung-bak is hung on the wall of a Cheong Wa Dae office where former presidents’ portraits are displayed on Tuesday. It was painted by renowned artist Chung Hyung-mo, who also painted portraits of Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Chun Doo-hwan. / Yonhap
President Lee Myung-bak doesn’t appear to be receiving many thanks for his five-year governance that ends Monday.
Currently, he is thought to be responsible for almost all things that have gone bad.
In all likelihood, Lee will regain some of his popularity after retirement and get a better judgment. People were kinder to Lee’s predecessors Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun after they retired.
It can’t be disputed that he led Korea’s fast recovery from the global financial tsunami and orchestrated the exports of nuclear power plants and fighters. During his rule, Korea has also joined the $1 trillion trade club.
Lee also ratcheted up the national profile and image by successfully hosting the G20 Summit and winning the bid to host the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Of course, there is the flip side. His flagship pump-priming project of refurbishing the nation’s four major rivers with tens of trillions of taxpayers’ money was later found to be plagued with many irregularities.
His reciprocity-based North Korea policies fell apart raising tension on the Korean Peninsula and his diplomatic inconsistency with Japan also gets a poor score.
Late N.K. leader first proposed summit with Lee: official
ate North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had first proposed an inter-Korean summit in 2009, though the proposal later fell apart as Pyongyang demanded economic aid in return, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was quoted Monday as saying.
The proposal was conveyed via Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Lee said in an interview with the Donga Ilbo newspaper last week, according to senior presidential press secretary Choe Guem-nak. Kim attached no conditions to the offer at the time, such as demanding food aid, Lee said.
[Overture] [Lee Myung-bak]
Controversy raging over Defense Minister nominee ties to foreign weapons companies
Posted on : Feb.16,2013 13:57 KST Modified on : Feb.16,2013 14:19 KST
In his role at a German company, Kim Byung-kwan apparently pushed for expensive imports instead of developing domestic industry
By Ha Eo-young and Park Tae-woo, staff reporters
Questions are swirling over Minister of National Defense nominee Kim Byung-kwan's record of working as a part-time adviser for UBM Tech, a South Korean brokerage for the German arms company MTU.
Observers are now asking how someone who worked for a foreign arms company that was investigated by South Korean prosecutors could direct the country's military.
Between July 2010 and late 2011, Kim, now 65, served as a part-time adviser at UBM Tech, an importer of tank and warship engines and generators produced by MTU. As a part-time adviser, he earned 70 million won (US$64,900) after taxes.
Doing a Reagan on North Korea
By Oh Young-jin
Have we waged the wrong war against North Korea?
Then, can our new President Park Geun-hye redirect our strategy and finish that feral beast once and for all?
These are complicated questions but the ghost of one “complicated simple” man may beg to answer from his grave: Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States who is credited with giving the Soviet Union a final push toward the brink of collapse during his 1981-1989 reign.
We have done virtually everything possible to deal with North Korea, which has brought itself closer to becoming a nuclear state with its recent third underground test.
For 10 years under Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, we employed the “sunshine policy” of engaging the North in the hope of leading it to an “in-stage,” assisted death. It didn’t.
President Lee Myung-bak has applied a rule of reciprocity in dealing with the North. But this has obviously not worked.
[SK NK policy] [Collapse]
Int'l Community Must Push for Regime Change in N.Korea
Kang Chol-hwan Kang Chol-hwan
The reason North Korea pushed ahead with a nuclear test despite strong opposition from China is because the ghost of late leader Kim Jong-il still haunts the country, and his son Jong-un is merely a puppet who lacks any sense of direction. The nuclear test was guaranteed, since Kim Jong-il's militarist obsessions remain strongly etched into the psyche of the North Korean regime.
Still, there is no denying that the decision must have been tough for the North. North Korea signed the 1994 Geneva Framework Agreement, whereby it agreed to freeze its nuclear facilities if it was given a light-water reactor, demonstrating that international pressure can be effective. When millions of North Koreans starved during the famine of the 1990s, the North was unable to carry on developing nuclear weapons. If South Korea had then had a strong conservative government, instead of a leftwing government bent on engagement and aid, Pyongyang could have either delayed or completely scrapped its nuclear weapons program.
[SK NK policy] [Hardliner]
President-elect Park puts inter-Korean ‘trust building’ plans on ice
Posted on : Feb.14,2013 15:05 KST
President-elect Park Geun-hye outside the offices of her presidential transition committee offices in Seoul’s Samcheong neighborhood after a discussion on foreign affairs, national defense and unification matters on Feb. 13. On the left is Blue House national security office nominee chief Kim Jang-soo.
Reengagement is impossible as long as Pyongyang keeps breaking the rules, says Park Geun-hye
By Seok Jin-hwan, staff reporter
On Feb. 13, Park Geun-hye continued her denunciations of North Korea’s nuclear test for the second consecutive day.
The President-elect said that even if North Korea does improve its nuclear capabilities, it would “bring on its own collapse” by becoming a “pariah” in the international community and leaving its own citizens destitute.
Speaking at a discussion on foreign affairs, national defense, and unification matters at the offices of her presidential transition committee in Seoul’s Samcheong neighborhood, Park went on to say that Pyongyang “needs to understand that the Soviet Union didn’t collapse because it didn’t have nuclear weapons.”
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
Why so calm about nukes?
An official from the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) checks the level of radiation contamination at the KINS monitoring station in Haengdang-dong, Seoul, Wednesday, following North Korea’s third nuclear test. The figure shows the level is staying within the normal range of 5 to 10 micro Roentgen per hour. / Korea Times photo by Kim Joo-young
By Kim Jae-won
Most South Koreans appeared to show a surprisingly calm reaction to North Korea’s nuclear test.
The financial market and most citizens didn’t seem too worried about the reclusive state’s test, although it would be disastrous if the Stalinist regime dropped a nuclear weapon on the South.
According to the defense ministry, the blast generated an explosive yield of between six and seven kilotons, about half the power of the atomic bomb which the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, that killed between 90,000 and 166,000 people in the city.
Such indifference to the test was obviously a big contrast to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which hit the northeastern part of Japan. Many Koreans were apprehensive about the possibility of nuclear radiation coming from the East Sea.
Experts explain it with “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story because Koreans have got used to the repeated threats from its trouble-making neighbor.
[SK attitude NK] [test]
Pundits Call for Fresh N.Korea Strategy
Pundits were aflutter Tuesday when North Korea pushed ahead with its third nuclear test on Tuesday despite strong warnings from the international community. The North is now rapidly on its way to becoming a nuclear-armed country, they noted, oblivious to even to strictures from China, on which it relies for energy and food.
Some pundits believe the latest test has changed the entire game plan for South Korea and its allies. "North Korea conducted a nuclear test just two months after it launched a long-range rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, demonstrating its capacity of firing an intercontinental ballistic missile," said Choi Kang at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. "We need to acknowledge that we can no longer control North Korean aggression with existing strategies and must come up with more realistic measures."
[SK NK policy] [Test]
Korean peninsula in another deadly game of ‘chicken’
Posted on : Feb.13,2013 11:53 KSTModified on : Feb.13,2013 14:57 KST
With harsh international response coming to NK’s third nuclear test, a tenser situation can be expected
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer
With Pyongyang following through on its warnings of a third nuclear test, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is now poised to impose even tougher sanctions. For the time being, observers are predicting a situation where hostility and fear reign, and the only question is who will blink first.
In addition to UN financial sanctions and naval blockade, Seoul and Washington are set to push for a heavy military response, including their annual Key Resolve joint training exercises, which kick off later this month. Pyongyang, which has consistently maintained that sanctions would be considered a declaration of war, is likely to take steps to follow through on a Jan. 23 foreign ministry statement announcing “physical response measures to qualitatively expand and strengthen defensive military capabilities, including a nuclear deterrent.” Now that it has conducted the nuclear test, it may pursue other military means to give a show of force.
North Korea’s foreign ministry said in an evening statement, “We will consider the search of our ships and other sanctions by the international community as an act of war. And it will bring on our relentless retaliatory strikes.” Having already positioned mobile launchers at various locations, it could undertake a test launch of its new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile. Another possibility is a fourth nuclear test. It is exceptional that North Korea announced its official position on forthcoming UNSC sanctions on the day of the nuclear test. In 2006 and 2009, the North’s official position was announced two days after the test was carried out. The response to these sanctions shows a more aggressive posture from the North.
Park Geun-hye’s response to North Korea’ s provocations will be crucial
Posted on : Feb.12,2013 16:52 KSTModified on : Feb.12,2013 16:53 KST
Advisor on US-North Korea relationship says Seoul and Pyongyang need to resume dialogue through official channels
By Park Hyun, Washington correspondent
Tony Namkung, an expert in issues on the Korean peninsula, put the chances of another North Korean nuclear test at about “fifty-fifty,” although he said it was difficult to predict. Speaking in an interview with the Hankyoreh on Feb. 10, the 68-year-old Korean-American scholar said the outcome depended on the response from Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo, but added that the most important factor would be the North Korea policy of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, who is set to take office on Feb. 25. According to Namkung, Pyongyang is watching closely right now to see what Park will do - and could call its test off if she shows a willingness to work proactively on improving relations.
Namkung has been advising American delegations to North Korea for more than 20 years, having visited the North more than 50 times since his first visit in 1990. Most recently, he accompanied Google chief executive Eric Schmidt on his January visit. This interview was conducted before North Korea’s Feb. 12 nuclear test.
Newspaper: Dialogue between North and South will depend on Park Geun-hye
Posted on : Feb.12,2013 16:49 KST
The Chosun Sinbo, official publication of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) reported the news of rhe nuclear test of North Korea.
Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper says actions of new South Korean government will determine relations
By Jeong Nam-ku, Tokyo correspondent
Dialogue between North and South Korea could take place, though it will depend on what Park Geun-hye does, the Chosun Sinbo suggested on Feb. 6. The newspaper is the official publication of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).
This claim was made in an article titled, “The Final Showdown: Full-Scale Conflict Following the UN Resolution (Part 4); the Limitations of Sanctions: Peace Talks Are the Solution to the Problem.”
“After the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed the resolution, North Korea came to the conclusion that the US’s policy of hostility to the North had reached a new level, and it declared that the denuclearization talks were over. Still, it is still entirely possible that talks could be resumed, provided that South Korea puts the joint interests of the people first and makes an effort to resolve the problem,” the paper said, as reported by Yonhap News.
S.Koreans 'Indifferent' to N.Korean Nuclear Threat
South Koreans seem relatively untroubled by North Korea's impending nuclear test, even as they worry about the safety of ageing nuclear reactors here. "It seems that only the government, media and some politicians are taking the nuclear test seriously, while the ordinary public is not that interested," said a senior government official here Thursday.
N.Korea Threatens to Shut Kaesong Industrial Complex
North Korea on Wednesday threatened to close the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, peeved at South Korea's decision to sanction the North over last year's rocket launch. In a statement, the North's National Economic Cooperation Committee pledged to "a resolute response, including turning the industrial complex back into a military zone."
The former military district was turned into an industrial zone in 2002, and the joint industrial park opened in 2004. Some 124 South Korean companies make things like garments and shoes there with cheap North Korean labor.
Pyongyang is upset by Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik's remarks at the National Assembly on Monday that Seoul will put into effect a UN Security Council resolution of Jan. 23 and beef up checks of materials bound for Kaesong.
Lee Recalls Getting Tough with N.Korea
President Lee Myung-bak on Monday recalled that he warned North Korea via China following the North's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November of 2010 that Seoul will not tolerate any further provocations.
"I conveyed my decision to China after North Korea's provocation against Yeonpyeong Island that Seoul will retaliate not just targeting the source of the attack but supporting bases behind too, by mobilizing the Army, Navy and Air Force," Lee told the Chosun Ilbo.
(Sejong Institute, Korea)
1. Deepened distrust between the two Koreas to an unprecedented extent during the Lee Myung-bak government due basically to the incongruence between the Lee government’s official policy of “mutual benefits and common prosperity” with North Korea and its hidden agenda of seeking the collapse of the North
2. The absence of government-to-government dialogue, social and cultural exchanges, and humanitarian assistance to the North
[SK NK policy] [Lee Myung-bak] [Collapse] [NK US policy]
Student Develops Smartphone App About N.Korea
Kim Min-jong Kim Min-jong
Kim Min-jong, a 26-year-old student in the Department of North Korean Studies at Korea University, made the country's first Smartphone app providing expert information on North Korea. Over 1,000 people have downloaded it in the week since its launch, and the app is in the region of 20th on Podgate, which ranks the top 300 most popular apps.
Kim planned and produced the app, and spent W5 million (US$1=W1,126) to make the project a reality through an app developer. It can be downloaded for free on Android.
Young NK dictator resorts to old tricks
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. Kim made an “important” decision regarding the communist state’s security and sovereignty at the meeting, a news report said. The (North) Korean Central News Agency did not specify when or where the meeting was held. / Yonhap
Few options to block 3rd nuclear test
By Kim Tae-gyu
North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un is threatening the world with the old-style brinkmanship he was bequeathed from his dead father and grandfather.
By all appearances, Pyongyang is weeks, if not days, away from its third nuclear test, experts said after its media reported Sunday that Kim had made “an important decision” on the North’s sovereignty.
As with his late father Kim Jong-il’s brand of brinkmanship, the younger Kim’s action leaves South Korea and its ally the United States with few new options.
South Korean government preparing to respond to NK nuclear test
Posted on : Jan.31,2013 15:58 KST
A citizen passes a poster in Pyongyang on Jan. 30 that celebrates the success of the rocket launched from North Korea on Dec. 12 of last year. The poster’s hangul text reads, “With the spirit of space conquest, let’s open an era of building an economically strong and prosperous country”. The United Nations Security Council expanded sanctions against North Korea as a result of the launch. (AP/Newsis)
Military closely monitoring the situation in the North and preparing to respond quickly
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
As indications of an upcoming North Korean nuclear test continue to be detected, the South Korean government has been activating its full surveillance system and strengthening cooperation with the US in order to conduct detailed monitoring of movement in the North. Seoul has detected signs that Pyongyang is taking steps to prepare for a nuclear test.
“There is continuous movement of people and material around the nuclear testing site at Mantap Mountain near Punggye Village, Gilju, in North Hamgyeong Province (where the nuclear test site is located),” a South Korean government official said on Jan. 30. “It appears that final preparation is underway for a nuclear test.”
When asked about the timing of the test, the official said, “It would be hard to specify an exact time, but we think that, whenever Pyongyang gives the green light, the test could take place on the day the command is given.”
South Korea’s (ROK) Joint Chief of Staff has a similar view of the situation. “In our judgment, once the decision has been made, the North will be able to run the test within 24 hours.”
Return to ROK and Inter-Korean relations page