NORTH Korea has warned the South not to expect any major reforms under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un, calling such an idea “silly and foolish”

July 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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Speculation of impending change was fuelled earlier this month when the communist regime sacked prominent military chief Ri Yong-ho and replaced him with a little known general and promoted Mr Kim to the top military post of Marshal.

The secretive nation also made a rare announcement last week that the young ruler is married, in a major departure from the past when the private lives of his predecessors were kept under wraps.

Seoul commentators claimed the changes may have been implemented to set the stage for possible efforts by Swiss-educated Mr Kim to open up the country to political or economic reforms.

But a spokesman for the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is in charge of cross-border affairs, blasted such hopes as “ridiculous” and “ignorant” in an interview with state-run KCNA yesterday.

“The puppet group [the South]… tried to give [the] impression that the present leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance,” he said.

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N. Korean school wants professors from South

July 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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An elite university in North Korea funded by outside groups hopes South Korean professors will be allowed to join its staff despite thorny cross-border ties, its chancellor said recently.

Park Chan-mo, the Korean-American chancellor of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), said the North would welcome the professors, as they would help the school overcome a staffing shortage.

“North Korea is eager to have well-trained professors even though they may be of South Korean nationality,” Park told The Korea Times last week during a visit to Seoul. “Once (restrictions) are relaxed we will have no staffing problems because I know many South Korean professors want to teach at PUST.”

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S.Korean Activist ‘Suffered Electrical Torture in China’

July 27, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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A prominent South Korean activist who was detained by Chinese authorities for 114 days reportedly suffered electrical torture during his three months in detention. Kim Young-hwan (49) was arrested in China in March and returned home last week.

“I heard that while Kim was exercising his right to remain silent during his captivity, he suffered various forms of torture by Chinese authorities, including torture with a cattle prod,” said one close confidant of the activist. Chinese officers allegedly played loud music to drown out Kim’s screams of pain.

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South Korea Confront Rapes After Girl’s Death

July 27, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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“This week the country is once again grieving over a death, a 9-year-old girl allegedly murdered by her neighbor Jeom-Deok Kim.

‘ . . . no one knew that he was a repeat sex offender with 12 prior convictions.’

Kim’s last conviction was in 2005 when he tried to rape a 62-year-old woman after beating her up with a rock. Such crimes normally get seven years to life sentence in jail, but Kim served only four years given consideration that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.”

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North Korea reveals leader Kim Jong Un is married

July 25, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux talks with Victor Cha about the mystery woman that is accompying Kim Jong Un.

Ri Sol-ju singing a song with the North’s Unhasu Orchestra

North Korea tries to lure defectors back

July 24, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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According to a South Korean report, dozens of North Korean refugees have chosen to go back home this year. But officials have played down the figures

Since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, over 20,000 North Koreans have fled hunger and repression in their communist homeland and arrived in the South, mainly via China. Most have come in the past few years.

Although defection is usually punishable by death, Pyongyang has reportedly launched a campaign to lure back refugees. A newspaper report claims that dozens might have been tempted.

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South Korean Broadcasting Official to Visit Pyongyang

July 23, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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SEOUL — The first private South Korean citizen authorized to go to North Korea since the funeral of Kim Jong Il is to arrive there Tuesday. The trip is meant to clear the way for North Korea to broadcast events from the upcoming Summer Olympics.

The president of the Asia Broadcasting Union, Kim In-kyu, is to meet in Pyongyang with North Korea’s radio and television broadcasting committee.

Kim, who also is chairman of the state-run Korea Broadcasting System in Seoul, was invited by the North.

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South Korea to Ease Mortgage Lending Rule to Spur Consumption

July 22, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized –  Lowering standards for new loans is the equivalent of adding more gas to a house on fire. This is exactly what SK should NOT be doing. SK should let the real estate market deflate slowly, then allow lower prices to spur it back to health.

South Korea will ease a rule on mortgage lending to stimulate the real-estate market and boost consumption as faltering global demand hurts the export-reliant economy, an adviser to President Lee Myung Bak said.

“We have seen that there are many irrational aspects to the debt-to-income ratio limit” banks apply to residential mortgage borrowers, Kim Dae Ki told reporters yesterday in Seoul. “While we will maintain the basic framework of the regulation, we concluded that certain irrational parts of the rule should be eased,” he said, without elaborating.

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Kim plans economic changes in North Korea after purge

July 22, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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PYONGYANG – Impoverished North Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after young leader Kim Jong Un and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said.

The source added that the cabinet had created a special bureau to take control of the decaying economy from the military – one of the world’s largest – which under Mr Kim’s father was given pride of place in running the country.

The downfall of Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho and his allies gives the untested new leader and his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who married into the Kim family dynasty and is widely seen as the real power behind the throne, the mandate to try to save the battered economy and prevent the secretive regime’s collapse.

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What Ahn Says About North Korea

July 20, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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Here are extended excerpts of his comments on North Korea-related matters:

“I said earlier that we need to head to a direction of a welfare state, a just state, and peaceful unification. If national security is unstable and peace is not established, neither a welfare state nor justice is possible. It’s essential for our future to stabilize peace in the short term and move to unification in the long term. The eventual solution for peace is unification.

“Since we are living in a divided country, we have the disadvantages of geographical danger and the ‘Korea discount,’ in which stocks are undervalued. In addition, aren’t we paying a high cost in terms of national defense expenditures, the pressure that causes on welfare capabilities and the existence of ideological conflict within South Korea? Once the country is stabilized with peace, we don’t need to lose anymore.

“North Korea is a problem for us to solve, but at the same time it could also be a present for our future. When peaceful economic cooperation with the North is activated, our domestic market will expand. North Korea could possibly be a source of growth momentum since the [South] Korean economy is currently stagnant. We can take advantage of North Korea’s underground resources, tourist attractions and human resources, and a new way could open up for building a North-East Asia economic zone or for a land route from Busan to Paris. In fact, currently South Korea is much like an island blocked by North Korea. The transportation of export goods or law materials will become easier when we get connected to the continent. This could be an environment where our economy can jump to a higher level. If South and North gradually narrow the gap through economic cooperation, like how Germany lowered unification costs by cooperation, Korea can also reduce unification costs.”

Asked by Ms. Je to evaluate the North Korea policies of South Korea’s recent presidents, Mr. Ahn said:

“The Sunshine Policy made achievements in reducing tension. But there were controversies over giving them [North Korea] too much and there were ideological conflicts in the South. Also, there was a lack of transparency in how the policy was handled.

“Under Lee Myung-bak’s policy, the South and North conflict worsened because the Lee administration only used a whip. The Lee hardline policy and mechanical insistence on reciprocity seemed to be based on a scenario in which the North will collapse soon. But I don’t think that scenario is persuasive.

“Therefore, based on this 15 years of experience [since the Sunshine Policy started with Kim Dae-jung], we need to make a flexible North Korean policy while maintaining a long-term perspective.”

Ms. Je asked Mr. Ahn why he considers North Korea’s collapse to be unlikely. He replied:

“It’s hard to think that North Korea will undergo a people’s uprising like the Arab Spring. That’s because North Korea doesn’t have basic communication foundations like the Internet or social network services and has such a strong control system over the people. Even if the international community imposes economic sanctions, I don’t think North Korea will be isolated since it has China’s support. Isolation can instead accelerate subordination of the North’s economy to China.”

Ms. Je then asked what kind of North Korea policy should be implemented. He said:

“There seem to exist conflicting perspectives that see unification as either an incident or a gradual process. The Lee administration’s perspective is the one that sees it as an incident. Since he brought up the issue of unification costs, it seems that he thinks unification will suddenly come one day. I agree with the view that sees it as a process. As economic exchanges progress, North and South will become more dependent on each other. The Kaesong complex is a good example. I think we can reach unification and peace through such cooperation.

“For the future North and South relationship, North Korean policy, national security policy and diplomatic policy should not be separated. They should be integrated under a consistent strategy.

“In the short term, we need to restart South-North talks and economic cooperation. We need to restart the Kumgang Mountain and Kaesong city tours, expand the Kaesong Industrial Complex and gradually take that Kaesong model to other regions of North Korea. Also I think it’s important to plan an elaborate strategy for Korean peninsula after getting a solid understanding of international relations surrounding the South and North and also of the North’s internal problems.”

Then, Ms. Je asked the question that is most important to countries beyond South Korea – how to persuade North Korea to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Mr. Ahn said:

“Denuclearization on the Korean peninsula is a goal we can’t give up. We need to approach this goal with patience. For this issue, we should continue seeking an international solution through the six-party talks while widening our contact [with the North] through economic cooperation. We need to go step by step in conversations, respecting the internationally agreed roadmap.

Ms. Je then asked what Mr. Ahn says to the criticism that money South Korea provided to the North in the past may have been used for its nuclear weapons development. He said:

“There are many analyses saying the even if South Korea didn’t give North Korea money they would have still developed nuclear weapon. A former Washington Post reporter, Don Oberdorfer, wrote in a book that the ‘Team Spirit’ military exercise, which we consider routine, is viewed as a great threat by the North. It’s the North’s argument that their nuclear development is a way to sustain their system against a threat from the U.S.

“Anyway, North Korea developed nuclear capabilities during a truce. And they are using nuclear capabilities for the purpose of negotiation or threatening South Korea. Because of this, the North’s nuclear development has continued regardless of South Korea’s economic cooperation and the North may have been taking every possible other measure, including selling mineral resources to China, to raise funds. We can eliminate the North’s justification to stay nuclear if we achieve a stabilization of peace and ensure room for the North and South’s conversation.”

Ms. Je also put the North Korean issue into the context of South Korea’s relations with the U.S. and China. Her words: “We need both the U.S. and China’s cooperation to deal with North Korean issues, but some point out that so far Korea’s diplomatic notion was toward the U.S. and the relationship with China has weakened. What strategies are needed in balancing the US and China diplomatic relationship” Mr. Ahn answered:

“The basic principle of diplomacy is putting the country’s benefit first while keeping balance with humanitarian values. Also, balanced and multilateral diplomacy is important. Especially, diplomacy with the U.S. and China needs balance. Since the South Korea and U.S. alliance is important, we need to build a relationship so both can continue to exist for each other. But one thing to keep in mind is not to lean toward one side too much and keep a balance between the U.S. and China. Considering actual economic benefits, it’s hard to explain the South Korean economy without China. And to solve North Korean problems, we need the help of China, which has influence over the North.”

Translation by the WSJ.

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