ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Pres. Park’s government has no big plan for inter-Korean relations
Posted on : Apr.29,2013 15:23 KST
Handling of ongoing Kaesong crisis shows a lack of coordination in the new administration
By Park Byong-su and Seok Jin-hwan, staff reporters
The continuing crisis on the Korean peninsula has finally engulfed the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The South Korean government went to considerable lengths to keep the complex in operation, making unexpected proposals for talks with North Korea on two separate occasions.
Nevertheless, critics are arguing that the way the government chose to respond revealed a number of problem areas that plagued the entire process. These include a lack of internal communication, mixed signals, an absence of strategic judgment, and hastiness.
On Apr. 11, South Korean President Park Geun-hye made a sudden proposal for talks with the North. This was the first time the government had actively sought an alternative to the military measures that had been employed since the North launched a long-range missile at the end of 2012.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
NDC Policy Department Threatens to Take Final, Decisive Step
Pyongyang, April 26 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK released the following statement Friday:
The DPRK already made public the principled stand of its army and people as to the south Korean puppet authorities' "proposal for dialogue" under the grave war-like situation created on the Korean Peninsula.
All the Koreans in the north and the south and abroad and the world peace-loving people are unanimous in their demand that the south Korean authorities prove in practice its sincerity regarding the "proposal for dialogue".
The puppet authorities, however, instigated die-hard conservative gangsters to scatter copies of literature malignantly slandering the DPRK on the occasion of its Day of the Army.
Seoul Delivers Ultimatum on Kaesong Industrial Park
After contending with Pyongyang's threats and rhetoric for several weeks, Seoul resolved to give Pyongyang an ultimatum on the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
In a statement Thursday, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-seok proposed “formal, working-level talks" between the authorities of both sides to "discuss humanitarian issues affecting South Korean staff" still staying at the industrial park and to "normalize its operations."
He then demanded Pyongyang respond to the offer by Friday morning and said Seoul would take "grave measures" if the offer was rejected.
NK snubs S. Korea's ultimatum on Gaeseong
North Korea rejected South Korea’s proposal to hold official talks to resolve the suspension of a joint industrial complex.
"Pyongyang will be the first to take tough action if the South insists on worsening the situation at the border town," the North's National Defense Commission said in a statement monitored in Seoul.
"The kind of ultimatum made by the South the day before will only lead to no good results."
Ahn Cheol-soo Wins National Assembly Seat
Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo sailed through Wednesday's by-election to win a National Assembly seat representing the predominantly middle-class Nowon district in northern Seoul.
Ahn, who abandoned his presidential bid last year in favor of rival Moon Jae-in, is now widely expected to form his own party. Ahn won 60.4 percent of the votes in Wednesday's by-election, soundly defeating rival Huh Joon-young of the ruling Saenuri Party, who garnered 32.7 percent.
South Korea warns of ‘grave measures’ if North Korea rejects talks on shuttered factory
By Associated Press,
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Thursday warned of unspecified “grave measures” if North Korea rejects talks on a jointly run factory park shuttered for nearly a month — setting up the possible end of the last remaining major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
The demand for talks, which is likely to draw an angry response from North Korea, follows a lull in what had been a period of rising hostility between the Koreas. Pyongyang has recently eased its threats of nuclear war and expressed some tentative signs of interest in dialogue, and Washington and Seoul have also pushed for an easing of animosity.
Taking Stock of North Korean Rhetoric
By Byong Chul Lee
23 April 2013
It’s now almost impossible to imagine North Korea without a barrage of bellicose rhetoric mainly consisting of die-hard nuclear threats. Over the past few weeks, we have been inundated with shrill terms such as zooktang (sledge-hammer blows), beolcho (killing people like cutting the weeds at the ancestor’s graves), “venomous swish of skirt,” and “thermo-nuclear war.” The communist regime’s harsh words still dominate South Korean media and political debates, leading people to worry that they could lead to a confrontation on the Korean peninsula that has been simmering for some time.
[US NK policy] [SK NK policy] [Functionary]
N.Korea Vanishes from Global Front Pages
The North Korean regime has finally fallen victim to the 24-hour news cycle after commanding prominent positions in the global media for several weeks. The Boston Marathon bombings and the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province have pushed Pyongyang's belligerent antics off the front pages.
Why South Korea downplays the North Korean threat
April 18th, 2013
Author: Keeseok Kim, KNU and ANU
‘A bluffing game’ may be an apt expression for the brinkmanship and tit-for-tat threats that have overrun the Korean Peninsula since the launch of a long-range missile in December 2012.
CPRK Secretariat Threatens to Deal Deadly Blows at S. Korean Group of Traitors
Pyongyang, April 19 (KCNA) -- The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) released information bulletin No. 1031 Friday in connection with the fact that the south Korean puppet forces have become all the more undisguised in their moves of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK.
DPRK's Principled Stand on Inter-Korean Dialogue Remains Unchanged: CPRK Spokesman
Pyongyang, April 18 (KCNA) -- There will be neither dialogue nor improved relations between the north and the south as long as south Korea persists in such hostile acts as enforcing sanctions against the DPRK, taking part in the acts to stifle it, deliberately accusing it of its space development and bolstering of its nuclear force and staging war exercises after massively introducing sophisticated war hardware into south Korea, declared a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) in a statement issued on Thursday.
Recently the south Korean authorities expressed "regret and disappointment" at the DPRK's rejection of their proposal for dialogue, the statement said, and went on:
They went the lengths of making impudent remarks that "the north should make a right choice", jabbering that "it chilled the atmosphere and overturned the table".
Had they have a true will to have dialogue, they should have halted all acts of hurting the dignity of the DPRK, stopped the north-targeted war exercises and smear campaign and given assurances to the nation that they would not resort to such hostile acts in the days ahead.
[SK NK Negotiations]
N.Korea Blocks Emergency Rations for Kaesong Staff
North Korea rejected a request by South Korean businesspeople to visit the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex just north of the border to deliver food and daily necessities to remaining South Korean staff.
The Unification Ministry said a dozen South Korean businessmen had sought to deliver the supplies and tour the industrial park, where operations have been halted since North Korea closed the border on April 9.
Korea to Buy 36 Apache Helicopters
The government has picked Boeing's AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopter for a strategic project aimed at neutralizing North Korea's multiple rocket launchers and hovercraft that threaten the northwesternmost islands.
A committee chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on Wednesday gave the final nod to the selection of the AH-64E over Bell Helicopter's AH-1Z Viper and the T-129 of Turkish Aerospace Industries.
Seoul will buy 36 Apache helicopters worth W1.8 trillion (US$1=W1,119) between 2016 and 2018.
New N. Korean threats over protests in Seoul
Posted on : Apr.17,2013 16:15 KST
General and head of North Korea’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance Kim Yong-chul gives an address explaining the nullification of the Korean War armistice agreement, Mar. 5. (image captured from a Korean Central Television broadcast)
S. Korean government says it had no involvement in protest where effigy of Kim Jong-un was burned
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer
“If you want dialogue and negotiations, stop hostile actions against the North,” said the Supreme Command of the (North Korean) People’s Army on Apr. 16. The next step is to wait and see whether the move will lead to acceptance or rejection of dialogue.
The Supreme Command published what it called an “ultimatum” intended for the government of South Korea, the North Korean government-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. “If the South Korean authorities sincerely want talks and negotiations, they must apologize for all of the hostile actions they have dared to take against the North until now and show the entire Korean people that they are committed to actually stop taking such actions,” the notice said.
S. Korean defense minister still making fiery comments about N. Korea
Posted on : Apr.17,2013 16:11 KST
Defense Minister-designate Kim Kwan-jin answers questions from lawmakers during his confirmation hearing the National Assembly, Dec. 3. (Photo by Tak Ki-hyoung)
At a time when tensions are cooling and dialogue is possible, Kim Kwan-jin still talking “all out war”
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
Kim Kwan-jin, South Korean Minister of National Defense, continues to make unnecessary hard-line statements against North Korea.
Kim attended a meeting of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee on Apr. 15, where he said, “No signs have been detected of North Korea trying to start an all-out war.”
This was four days after South Korean President Park Geun-hye came forward to propose talks to North Korea on Apr. 11. It was one day after North Korea made a response saying, “whether or not we will have talks depends on South Korea’s attitude.”
[SK NK policy] [Role of ROK military]
KPA Supreme Command Sends Ultimatum to S. Korean Puppet Forces
Pyongyang, April 16 (KCNA) -- The supreme command of the Korean People's Army issued the following ultimatum to the south Korean puppet forces on Tuesday:
The world is in a festive mood on the auspicious Day of the Sun.
Even though an acute situation is prevailing in the DPRK, all the people are celebrating the Day of the Sun as the greatest national holiday.
It is only the south Korean puppet forces who hurled a group of anti-communist gangsters into a rally against the DPRK in the heart of Seoul in broad daylight at which they set fire to the portraits, the symbols of its supreme dignity, the thrice-cursed crime.
North Korean exiles dismiss talk of war, but hint at nostalgia amid pain of living in South
By Associated Press,
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 7:56 PM
SEOUL, South Korea — Asked if there might be war, the 40ish woman with the spangly purple shirt laughed out loud. She waved her hands back and forth, as if whisking away a pesky insect.
She fled North Korea late last summer, pushing her way at night through the chest-deep waters of the Amnok River, following a guide into China and, eventually, to South Korea. The journey cost her $5,000, a fortune back home.
S. Korean government reiterates will for dialogue
Posted on : Apr.16,2013 15:48 KST
Other contentious topics involve a range of actors, but South and North could begin talks about restarting stalled industrial complex
By Cho Hye-jeong, staff reporter
Late at night on Apr. 14, the Blue House expressed strong regret over North Korea’s rejection of a proposal for inter-Korean dialogue, but the following day, it made no mention of the issue. Senior officials at the Blue House only reiterated that South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s desire to participate in talks with the North has not changed.
It had been expected that the North would launch a missile on Apr. 15, North Korean founder Kim Il-sung’s 101st birthday. As the day passed without any movements being detected, it appears that the Blue House believes that there is still a chance that North Korea will come to the negotiating table.
“We expressed regret for North Korea’s behavior, and we addressed what we needed to address,” said a senior Blue House official. “Yesterday’s message from the Blue House was first of all a proposal to engage in talks.”
[SK NK policy]
Messages about NK inconsistent
By Jun Ji-hye
Cheong Wa Dae and the unification ministry have been issuing mixed messages regarding the government’s stance on inter-Korean issues, according to a local research analyst.
When Seoul offered North Korea dialogue to resolve inter-Korean problems Thursday and then responded to Pyongyang’s denunciation of this Sunday, the presidential office altered the ministry’s original stance in just a matter of hours.
Following comments from the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which described South Korea's offer of dialogue as a "cunning ploy," ministry officials said, “It is premature to conclude that the North has rejected Seoul’s offer.”
The ministry then stated that the communist country left room for dialogue when it said “Whether to hold talks completely depends on Seoul’s attitude.”
Hours after this, however, Ju Chul-ki, senior secretary to the president for foreign affairs and national security, held a press briefing at Cheong Wa Dae and said, “It is very regrettable that the North rejected Seoul’s offer for dialogue.”
[SK NK policy]
Park Says Door to Dialogue with N.Korea Still Open
President Park Geun-hye on Thursday told lawmakers that the door of communication with North Korea "always remains open" and pledged to continue humanitarian assistance to the renegade country.
Park was meeting with members of the National Assembly’s Unification and Defense committees over dinner.
She added the position had been made clear by Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae earlier in the day. "The Koreas should discuss ways of normalizing the [Kaesong Industrial Complex] through dialogue," Ryoo said in a press conference.
A key Cheong Wa Dae official said the remark constitute an offer to hold talks.
Park told the lawmakers she is puzzled by North Korea's behavior -- attempting to launch missile and conduct a nuclear test and blocking the inter-Korean industrial park. But she also warned that any North Korean provocation would be met with a swift and firm response and stressed it is time to end the "vicious cycle" of North Korean provocations leading to sanctions and then rewards when the North promises to behave.
Meanwhile, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland warned on Thursday that war is just "a matter of time" and said its enemies will be engulfed in a "sea of fire" at the "push of a button."
[Park Geun-hye] [Engagement]
Park pushes for dialogue
By Kim Tae-gyu
President Park Geun-hye said Friday that she will push ahead with the “Korea Peninsula Trust Process” despite North Korea’s threats.
“International society has to consistently answer North Korea’s activities with one voice,” Park said during a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “However, I do hope that the Korea Peninsula Trust Process can be executed.”
The remarks followed a proposal Thursday that the two Koreas should meet to address the escalating tension.
This is a change from her previous no-dialogue stance.
[Park Geun-hye] [Engagement]
N. Korea denounces S. Korea's dialogue offer as 'cunning ploy'
North Korea on Sunday denounced an offer of dialogue by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a "cunning ploy," implicitly rejecting any dialogue with Seoul for the time being.
The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea made the remarks days after Park offered to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang, saying she was willing to "activate the trust-building process" on the peninsula.
Park offered talks as operations at an inter-Korean industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong grounded to a halt last week. Pyongyang banned South Korean managers from entering the park on April 3 amid sky-high tensions over weeks of warlike threats from North Korea.
The offer of dialogue is "a cunning ploy to hide the South's policy of confrontation and mislead its responsibility for putting the Kaesong Industrial Complex into a crisis," said a spokesman for the North's committee in an article carried by the North's state news agency.
The North's committee also described the South's offer of dialogue as an "empty shell," but stressed that it will be up to South Korea whether or not inter-Korean dialogue could happen in the future.
[NK SK relations]
N.Korea's War of Words Is for Domestic Consumption
North Korea's war of words against the rest of the world is intensifying with each passing day. Photos of podgy young North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supposedly discussing battle strategies with a group of generals with rows of medals on their chests make it quite clear that he is intentionally trying to ratchet up tensions.
The bellicose rhetoric that accompanies these pictures suggests that North Korea has lost its military edge and is instead resorting to scare tactics to induce psychological fatigue and divide public sentiment in South Korea. Kim probably has no intention of putting the lives of his wife and newborn child at risk, and he is not a lunatic willing to sacrifice his power and glory by pushing his country into war.
The reason he is threatening to attack the South is because the only card he has left to hold on to power is to instill a fear of war.
How might North Korea respond to overtures for dialogue?
Posted on : Apr.13,2013 00:18 KSTModified on : Apr.13,2013 05:22 KST
South Korea and US leaders have alluded to willingness to talk, so the ball in now in Pyongyang’s court
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer and Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter
As US Secretary of State John Kerry began his visit to South Korea, China, and Japan on Apr. 12, there were signs that North Korea was adopting a more cautious stance about launching a missile. American TV news network CNN reported that North Korea had taken down the Musudan missile that had been positioned for launch on the east coast.
North Korea’s decision not to launch a missile on Apr. 12 suggests that things may change on the Korean peninsula.
Since on Apr. 11 when South Korean President Park Geun-hye was the first to make a point of indicating her willingness to engage in dialogue with North Korea, North Korea is in a position where it cannot easily ignore the offer.
[US NK Negotiations] [Engagement]
The Korean peninsula in a peaceless state
Posted on : Apr.10,2013 15:32 KSTModified on : Apr.10,2013 15:44 KST
Recent rash of troubles shows loss of the trust that was built over years of cooperation
By Gil Yun-hyung, Jung Hwan-bong and Hong Dae-sun staff reporters
The Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was the last prop shoring up unsteady inter-Korean relations, ceased operating on Apr. 9. Online, numerous netizens expressed their concerns about the possibility of a localized conflict. Volatility in the South Korean stock market increased, and sales of essential goods went up at supermarkets. The edifice of peace on the Korean peninsula that the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun governments erected with difficulty over the course of ten years has disappeared without a trace in only five years.
Experts suggest dialogue as a way forward with North Korea
Posted on : Apr.10,2013 15:44 KST
Koh Yu-hwan, Kim Yeon-chul, Park Sun-seong, Yang Mu-jin, Yoo Ho-yeol, Yun Duk-min, Chang Yong-seok (from the left)
Before initiating formal talks, South Korean analysts discuss refinement and behind the scenes measures to facilitate dialogue
By Park Byong-su, Song Chae Kyung-hwa and Kim Nam-il, staff reporters
On April 10, the day North Korea had given for foreigners to submit plans for evacuation from Pyongyang and for South Koreans workers to leave the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Hankyoreh gathered seven experts on inter-Korean issues from a range of positions on the ideological spectrum for a discussion on three points: an exit strategy from the current crisis, the crisis’s cause and a long-term plan for improving inter-Korean relations.
What about an exit strategy?
Experts on inter-Korean relations suggest that the way to escape from the crisis on the Korean peninsula is through inter-Korean talks. However, there are also some who argue that, insofar as it is premature to propose dialogue, the South Korean government first needs to work on its strategic plan for finding a solution to strained relations with the North
[Engagement] [SK NK policy]
North Korea could be timing its next provocation
Posted on : Apr.9,2013 15:56 KST
On the morning of Apr. 8, the entrance to the Kaesong Industrial Complex is empty of traffic. North Korea announced an entry ban for South Koreans on Apr. 3 and yesterday announced that it would withdraw all North Korean workers. (by Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
The next provocation could be North Korea’s fourth nuclear test or a military move in the West Sea
By Park Byong-su, staff reporter and Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer
North Korea sent an ultimatum on Apr. 8 to South Korean businesses in the Kaesong Industrial Complex telling them they have until Apr. 10 to withdraw, leaving only a minimum number of workers behind.
A statement was also issued in the name of Workers’ Party of (North) Korea Central Committee Secretary in charge of South Korean affairs Kim Yang-gon saying that North Korea was pulling all of its workers out of the complex and considering closing it down for good.
S.Koreans Unruffled by N.Korean Threats
Most South Koreans are calmly going about their everyday lives despite increasing threats from North Korea.
On Sunday, over 30,000 people visited the Han River Park in Yeouido for a picnic. "Despite a considerable drop in temperature after Saturday's rain, picnickers kept coming in until late in the evening," a park administrator there said
There Is No Point Sending a Special Envoy to N.Korea
Rep. Moon Hee-sang of main opposition Democratic United Party on Friday proposed on dispatching a special envoy to North Korea to attempt to defuse mounting tensions. Moon recommended former U.S. president Bill Clinton and DUP lawmakers Park Jie-won or Moon Sung-keun as possible candidates. Even a small minority in the ruling Saenuri Party backed the proposal.
But one thing that is clear is that North Korea is solely responsible for the "crisis" that has gripped the Korean Peninsula. It has mounted one provocation after another, starting with the launch of a long-range rocket, followed by a nuclear test and daily threats of a nuclear attack.
Calls growing for Seoul and Washington to send envoys to North Korea
Posted on : Apr.6,2013 13:03 KST
F-22s on the airstrip of Osan air base
With risky situation on the Korean peninsula, South Korean lawmakers urging for dialogue with the North
By Park Hyun, Washington correspondent and Seong Ho-jin, staff reporter
With the situation on the Korean peninsula deteriorating to the point where it is anyone’s guess what will happen next, more people are calling upon the US and South Korea to engage in immediate talks with North Korea.
In an editorial printed on Apr. 4 (EST), the New York Times wrote that North Korea’s rhetoric is gradually becoming more aggressive, and that the US is responding by increasing its military presence in Northeast Asia. “It’s clearly time to find ways to calm the crisis,” the newspaper urged.
The Military Must Pull Itself Together
A North Korean defector stole a fishing boat on Yeonpyeong Island on Wednesday night and returned to the North across the West Sea. Astonishingly, he was able to cross the heavily armed sea border undetected at a time when North Korea threatens nuclear attacks on a daily basis.
The military says radars detected the boat around 1 km south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto sea border, but it was too late to do anything. The NLL is 5 km from Yeonpyeong Island, meaning the boat traveled 4 km without being detected. How can South Koreans possibly feel secure with such a glaring lapse in border defense?
The military claims the boat was traveling in a blind spot on the radar. That is hard to believe, but if it was purely the fault of the radar system, that would mean most of the 10 km sea buffer separating Yeonpyeong Island and North Korea is in the same blind spot.
So how has the military dealt with this problem so far?
N.Korea Uses Industrial Park as Political Football
North Korea on Wednesday turned South Koreans trying to get to their jobs in the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex back at the border, but allowed South Korean workers to return to the South from there. The move follows a threat from Pyongyang last week to close down the industrial park unless the South Korean media stop insulting its "dignity" by reporting that it needs the money too badly to contemplate the closure.
The Unification Ministry said assembly lines in the industrial park operated normally on Wednesday. Around 400 South Korean workers were scheduled to cross the border to take up their shifts, but the workers who were already there took over. Abut 800 South Korean staff remain at the complex.
N.Korean Defector Steals Boat to Go Home
A North Korean defector stole a fishing boat on Yeonpyeong Island on Wednesday night and returned to the North across the West Sea.
The incident occurred even as the South Korean military was supposedly on heightened alert due to increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the North and in the wake of similar other incidents highlighting lax border security.
North Korea was apparently unaware for more than an hour that the fishing boat had crossed over the de facto maritime border.
According to the Defense Ministry, the defector stole a nine-ton fishing boat on Yeonpyeong Island at around 10:49 p.m. and headed for the Northern Limit Line -- a distance about 5.5 km.
CPRK Spokesman Slams S. Korean Group for Vociferating about Kaesong Industrial Zone
Pyongyang, April 4 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) gave an answer to a question put by KCNA Thursday in connection with the fact that the puppet group of south Korea is resorting to a provocative racket over the issue of the Kaesong Industrial Zone. He said:
The south Korean puppet group is now openly talking about "regrettable thing" and "promotion of normalization" over the measure taken by the DPRK's army of banning the entry into and exist out of the Kaesong Industrial Zone by the south Korean personnel. It is even making such invectives as the "emergence of massive confinement" and "measure for rescuing hostages", aggravating the situation.
SUVs are more likely to be mobilized in war
Four SUVs ( Sports Utility Vehicle ) line up in the photo. In an emergency, such as North Korean attack, SUVs are more likely to be mobilized than other car models, according to one military official, though he declined to confirm anything.
As North Korean threats worsen, car-owners are increasingly getting worried that they might see their cars used as government property.
In emergencies, the government and the military can mobilize the cars in the country and use as they see fit, according to the Emergency Resource Management Law.
When ordered, car owners will receive a mobilization warrant, and must turn over their cars to designated places.
Gaeseong reports turn out to be self-fulfilling prophecy
By Chung Min-uck
Some reports about North Korea have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, fueling inter-Korean confrontation, according to media watchers.
Media outlets speculated Pyongyang was taking a “dual stance” of threatening the South with war while refraining from shutting the Gaeseong industrial complex, an inter-Korean joint venture in the northern border town.
The media claimed the hard currency the North earned from over 50,000 northern workers was too sweet for it to give up.
Coincidentally or not, the North closed the industrial park Wednesday, preventing South Koreans from entering the area.
As N. Korean threats intensify, first signs of jitters in the South
By Chico Harlan,
Updated: Friday, April 5, 10:48 AM
SEOUL — This bustling South Korean capital has been defined for decades as a place of traffic jams and luxury shopping malls, long days of work and longer nights of drinking rice liquor. Residents rarely behaved as though their routines could be upended in minutes by the Kim regime to the north and its 10,000 artillery pieces.
But after years of largely ignoring threats from North Korea, some residents say they are becoming a bit jittery, with the ascension of an unpredictable young leader in Pyongyang and levels of hostile rhetoric not seen since the early 1990s.
N.Korea Shuts Border to Kaesong Industrial Complex
North Korea on Wednesday closed the border to South Korean workers and vehicles at the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex. The move came just four days after Pyongyang threatened to close down the industrial park, accusing the South Korean media of "seriously insulting" it with reports that it needs the money too badly to contemplate the move.
But South Korean staff at the industrial complex were able to return to the South.
The entry ban caused production bottlenecks for the 123 South Korean manufacturers in the Kaesong complex, that is the last remaining showcase of inter-Korean cooperation.
S.Korea to Buy Bunker-Buster Missiles from Europe
Taurus air-to-surface missiles are being launched from a German bomber jet. /Courtesy of Taurus Systems GmbH Taurus air-to-surface missiles are being launched from a German bomber jet. /Courtesy of Taurus Systems GmbH
South Korea will likely buy European long-range air-to-surface cruise missiles by 2014. Launched from the air above Daejeon, the Taurus KEPD 350s could hit an underground bunker in Pyongyang with precision.
A military officer said Wednesday price negotiations with Taurus Systems, a German-Swedish joint venture, will start soon since the missile has found favor with the brass here.
The Taurus would be the first strategic weapon Seoul has imported from Europe rather than the U.S.
The only long-range missiles in the Air Force's inventory are 40-odd SLAM-ER missiles with a range of 278 km, which were made by Boeing. An Air Force officer said, "We urgently need more long-range air-to-surface missiles due to the mounting nuclear threat and the increasing possibility of provocations from North Korea."
The Taurus has a range of 500 km. Launched from South Korean airspace that is not under threat from North Korean surface-to-air missiles, they could hit strategic targets like nuclear and missile bases in the rear with precision.
[Military balance] [Buildup]
Korea Hits Snag Over Import of Israeli Missiles
Experts have called on the government to review plans to import Israeli-made missiles with a budget of W58 billion to launch precision strikes on North Korea's coastal artillery batteries because they fall short of expectations (US$1=W1,111).
Seoul decided to purchase the Spike NLOS (Non Line Of Sight) missiles right after the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, with a view to firing a precision-guided missile from Baeknyeong or Yeonpyeong Island in immediate response to another North Korean artillery attack.
The current K-9 self-propelled guns deployed on the islands are unsuitable for the task. The Air Force's F-15K or KF-16 fighter jets could destroy the North's coastal artillery batteries with missiles, but they cannot respond immediately because they take off from an air base in the central part of the country. In addition, they can only be scrambled if the weather is good.
The Spike missile has a range of 25 km and is allegedly capable of hitting a window-size target.
[Military balance] [NLL]
North Korea maintains block on South Koreans at Kaesong complex
Posted on : Apr.4,2013 14:38 KSTModified on : Apr.4,2013 14:44 KST
Economic cooperation zone remains closed to South Koreans on second day after abrupt closure
By Kang Tae-ho, senior staff writer
On Apr. 3, the North Korean General Bureau for the Special Zone Development (GBSZD) informed the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee that South Korean workers would not be allowed to enter the Kaesong complex, though South Koreans already there would be allowed to return home.
On Mar. 30, Pyongyang had issued a warning about a possible closing of Kaesong in a statement released by a spokesperson for the GBSZD. “If the South Korean puppet regime spreads lies about the Kaesong Complex, whose fate is in doubt, and attempts to injure our dignity in the slightest way, we will shut down the Complex without hesitation,” the statement read.
S. Korean government says NK’s nuke plans are “extremely regrettable”
Posted on : Apr.3,2013 15:32 KST
A meeting of a working group of the six party talks for ending North Korea‘s nuclear programs at Korean Ambassy to Beijing on March 15, 2007.
Plans to restart reactor taken as meaning that existing nuclear agreements are invalid
By Gil Yun-hyung and Kim Kyu-won, staff reporters
The South Korean government is expressing considerable concern about Pyongyang’s announcement that it will refurbish the Yongbyon nuclear facility and bring it back online. “We will be monitoring the situation closely,” a government spokesperson said.
“We regard the latest move by North Korea as extremely regrettable,” said Cho Tae-young, spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Apr. 2. “North Korea must abide by the agreements reached through the six-party talks and maintain denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.”
N. Korea slaps entry ban on S. Korea's Gaeseong workers
North Korea said Wednesday it will ban South Korean workers from entering the inter-Korean industrial park in Gaeseong, only allowing South Koreans currently staying at the border town to return home.
The abrupt entry ban came after Pyongyang threatened to shut down the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and launch a pre-emptive nuclear war on Seoul and Washington over South Korea-U.S. joint military drills and U.N. sanctions for its latest nuclear test.
Seoul's Ministry of Unification said that it received an official notification from the North earlier in the day stating the restrictions.
"South Korea's government deeply regrets the entry ban and urges it to be lifted immediately," ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said in a press conference.
The official pointed out that the latest action by the communist country will impede normal operations at the site. He stressed Seoul will make every effort to ensure the safety of South Korean nationals at the industrial site.
President Park orders early, strong response to any N. Korea provocation
Posted on : Apr.2,2013 16:04 KST
President Park Geun-hye (left) and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin pledge allegiance to the South Korean flag at a work briefing at the Ministry of Defense in Seoul, Apr. 1. (Blue House photo pool)
Comments may be intended to quell criticism from conservatives who say Park has gone soft on the North
By Seok Jin-hwan and Kim Kyu-won, staff reporters
On Apr. 1, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said, “If a provocative action is taken against the Korean people and the Republic of Korea, [the ROK military] will make a firm response from the beginning without any other political considerations whatsoever.” The remark was made at a joint work briefing by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, held at the Ministry of National Defense building in the Yongsan district of Seoul. Park continued to say, “At present, I consider North Korea’s threats to be very serious.”
The remarks are the toughest that Park has yet made regarding North Korean threats and provocations. Until now, when Park had talked about a firm response to North Korean provocations, she had always stressed moving forward with the trust process on the Korean peninsula, predicated on a change in North Korea’s attitude.
[Park Geun-hye] [Buildup] [SK NK policy]
Korea Becomes 11th Nation to Build Homegrown Helicopter
Korea has developed a home-grown, light utility helicopter, becoming the 11th nation to build a chopper with its own technology.
The two-engine transport utility chopper named Surion took more than six years to build and cost about W1.3 trillion (US$1=W1,111)
Co-developed by Korea Aerospace Industries and other related institutions, the project was aimed at replacing older models.
[Military balance] [Aerospace]
Flickers of hope that Park’s N. Korea policies could calm tensions
Posted on : Apr.1,2013 14:58 KSTModified on : Apr.1,2013 15:03 KST
On Mar. 29, in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, North Koreans rally while holding signs threatening to kill the “South Korean puppets”. (AP/Newsis)
New administration said to be moving ahead with Park’s trusting building process
By Park Byong-su, staff reporter
Mar. 27 work report from the Ministry of Unification and Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a clearer picture of President Park Geun-hye’s policies on North Korea. Including as key elements a “two-track” approach of dialogue and pressure and a “trust-building process,” the new conception has attention focusing on what specific policies the new administration will adopt in the months ahead.
The two-track approach is not a first. Both the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations also split their tracks, in their cases by separating political issues from economic ones. The idea was to find solutions on political and military concerns such as the North Korean nuclear program, while also addressing economic matters and cooperation. The two administrations’ inter-Korean summits were the result of this approach, but they ended up being blasted by conservatives as “handouts” to North Korea. Under Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, the nuclear issue was linked to inter-Korean cooperation. But his “Vision 3000,” which made denuclearization a precondition for cooperation, ended up sending inter-Korean relations over a cliff.
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy]
A wish list to bring peace to the Korean peninsula
Posted on : Mar.28,2013 16:18 KST
Small, constructive steps can be taken to finally end 68 years of division
By Jung Dae-hwa, Busan University emeritus professor
I have a wish list of things concerning peace on the Korean Peninsula that I hope President Park Geun-hye will talk about when she meets US president Barack Obama this May.
First among them is the need to begin dialogue toward nuclear non-proliferation - premised on the suspension of all North Korean nuclear tests and missile launches that was mentioned by Obama - and to craft an “action for action” strategy that aims to achieve both denuclearization and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. To date, the US has adopted a hard-line approach that prioritizes its own interests, but its demands that North Korea give up its nuclear program ahead of dialogue have been both unrealistic and unsuccessful
[Park Geun-hye] [SK NK policy] [Peace effort]
Foreign ministry releases once-confidential diplomatic documents
The foreign ministry said Sunday that it has released a total of 1,490 volumes of diplomatic documents, or about 220,000 pages, after more than 30 years of being classified.
The diplomatic dossiers released this year include those on a 1982 proposal by former president Chun Doo-hwan for reunification with North Korea and South Korea's review of a proposal to take part in a multi-national force in Lebanon, the ministry said in a statement.
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