NAPSNet Daily Report 12 July, 2010
Contents in this Issue:
- I. Napsnet
- ROK Naval Ship Sinking
- UNSC on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
- DPRK on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
- Russia on ROK Ship Sinking
- DPRK on Six-Party Talks
- PRC on Six-Party Talks
- ROK on Six-Party Talks
- US on DPRK Threat
- DPRK Defectors
- DPRK Leadership
- US-ROK Military Exercises
- PRC on US-ROK Naval Exercises
- US-ROK Military Alliance
- ROK Politics
- Korean War Atrocities
- Japanese Politics
- PRC Territorial Disputes
- Cross Strait Relations
- PRC Separatism
1. I. Napsnet
2. ROK Naval Ship Sinking
Chosun Ilbo (“U.S. PROFESSORS RAISE DOUBTS ABOUT REPORT ON S.KOREAN SHIP SINKING”, 2010/07/10) reported that researchers J.J. Suh and Seung-Hun Lee say the ROK Joint Investigation Group made a weak case when it concluded that the DPRK was responsible for sinking the Cheonan. Speaking in Tokyo Friday, the two said the investigation was riddled with inconsistencies and cast “profound doubt” on the integrity of the investigation. “The only conclusion one can draw on the basis of the evidence is that there was no outside explosion,” Suh said. “The JIG completely failed to produce evidence that backs up its claims that there was an outside explosion.” “Almost all parts and fragments should’ve been recovered within about three to six meters within where the torpedo part was discovered,” Lee says, “The fact that only the propeller and the propulsion part was discovered doesn’t make any sense to me.”
3. UNSC on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
Washington Post (Chico Harlan and Colum Lynch, “U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS SINKING OF SOUTH KOREAN WARSHIP”, Tokyo, 2010/07/10) reported that the U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously condemned the sinking of the ROK’s Cheonan warship. The statement said the 15-nation council “condemns that attack,” and “expresses its deep concern” over the findings of the investigation. The ROK’s U.N. ambassador, Park In-kook, told reporters that the statement “made it clear it is North Korea to blame” for the sinking. “I’m sure that today’s strong unanimous statement will serve to make North Korea refrain from further attack or provocation,” he said. The DPRK’s U.N. envoy, Sin Son Ho, characterized Friday’s statement as “our great diplomatic victory” and said his government would “do our utmost to dig out the truth behind this incident.” U.N. envoy, Sin Son Ho, characterized Friday’s statement as “our great diplomatic victory” and said his government would “do our utmost to dig out the truth behind this incident.”
4. DPRK on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
Korea Herald (“N.K. PROPOSES MILITARY TALKS WITH U.S. OVER CHEONAN”, Seoul, 2010/07/09) reported that the DPRK, via its Korean Central News Agency, said it sent a proposal to the U.S. military Friday requesting that colonel-level officers from the two sides meet July 13 to discuss setting up general-grade talks on the sinking of the Cheonan. The DPRK said it decided to hold talks with the U.S. military over the issue because the ROK had turned down its dialogue offer. The DPRK said it “still regards the opening of the North-South military talks as the best way for settling the issue,”according to the news agency.
Yonhap (Kim Deok-hyun, “UN COMMAND, N. KOREA TO HOLD MILITARY TALKS OVER SHIP SINKING”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that the U.N. Command (UNC) said Monday it will hold working military talks with the DPRK on Tuesday to discuss the sinking of the Cheonan. The DPRK Army “accepted a UNC proposal, made initially on June 26, to hold colonel-level meetings in advance of General Officer Talks to discuss the sinking”, the command’s statement said.
6. Russia on ROK Ship Sinking
Hankyoreh (Lee Yeong-in, “GOVERNMENT PROTESTS RUSSIA’S CONFLICTING CHEONAN FINDINGS”, Seoul, 2010/07/10) reported that according to military and foreign affairs sources connected to Russia, the Russian government provided notification of its independent investigation resultson the Cheonan sinking only to the PRC and U.S. governments last week, and the ROK only found out about the content indirectly through those two countries. Following this, 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Shin Kak-soo summoned Russian Ambassador to the ROK Konstantin Vnukov to the Foreign Ministry on July 4 to express “astonishment” at Russia’s investigation findings. Foreign affairs sources reported that Shin used forceful and diplomatically irregular language to denounce Russia’s behavior, calling it “unfriendly conduct that violates trust,” “bewildering,” and “disappointing.” It was also reported to Shin proposed additional discussions with Russia during the meeting, and that the ROK government subsequently provided additional information to the Russian government.
7. DPRK on Six-Party Talks
Reuters (“N. KOREA SHRUGS OFF SHIP, CALL FOR NUCLEAR TALKS”, Seoul, 2010/07/10) reported that the DPRK said on Saturday it was willing to return to nuclear disarmament talks. “The DPRK will make consistent efforts for the conclusion of a peace treaty and the denuclearization through the six-party talks conducted on equal footing,” a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency. “We take note of the … statement saying that ‘the Security Council encourages the settlement of outstanding issues on the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialogue and negotiation through appropriate channels’,” it added.
8. PRC on Six-Party Talks
Chosun Ilbo (“CHINA CALLS FOR NUCLEAR TALKS WITH N.KOREA”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that the PRC on Friday called for an early resumption of nuclear talks with the DPRK. “We hope the involved parties continue to maintain calm and restraint, and take this opportunity to flip over the page of the Cheonan incident as soon as possible. We call for an early resumption of the six-party talks,” PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. PRC UN ambassador Li Baodong urged all parties to “take the opportunity to turn the page on the Cheonan incident as soon as possible” and resume the six-party talks. “China has made many-sided efforts to resume the six-party talks through Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Pyongyang last year and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s visit to Beijing this year,” a diplomatic source in Beijing said. “It apparently wants to get out of the situation caused by the Cheonan sinking as soon as possible and see a resumption of the talks where it can exercise the initiative as an honest broker.”
9. ROK on Six-Party Talks
Chosun Ilbo (“UN SECURITY COUNCIL STATEMENT PUTS LEE IN A BIND”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that an ROK government official said there are two conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks: Pyongyang must be sincere about denuclearization and it must apologize for the torpedo attack on the Cheonan. “As the Cheonan incident was internationally wrapped up by the UN Security Council presidential statement, the priority in inter-Korean relations will be North Korea’s sincerity.”
10. US on DPRK Threat
Korea Herald (Song Sang-ho, “U.S. EXPECTS MORE N.K. PROVOCATIONS”, Seoul, 2010/07/09) reported that U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said on Friday that DPRK provocations will increase in the coming years. “Kim Jong-il has said that North Korea will be a great and powerful nation by 2012, and the only way he has to get to that point is through military provocations and threatening the neighbors,” Sharp said. “We are all working together to try to get North Korea on a different path, a path of denuclearization, a path of taking care of their people and a more open government to be able to get to a better state, but Kim Jong-il is not taking that opportunity.”
11. DPRK Defectors
Asahi Shimbun (Daisuke Nishimura , “MORE NORTH KOREAN SOLDIERS DEFECTING”, Shenyang, 2010/07/10) reported that more DPRK soldiers have defected to the PRC in recent months mainly to escape food shortages and even possible war, sources close to Beijing and Pyongyang said. An increasing number of soldiers have been found among defectors captured by PRC authorities since the revaluation of its currency in late November, the sources said. Many of the soldiers complained they were suffering from poor nutrition due to the lack of food in the DPRK. They said they had to subsist on corn-flour noodles with little meat or fish. They also said the higher echelons were hoarding state provisions, leaving rank-and-file troops with next to nothing. Some soldiers said they noticed an unusual atmosphere that indicated Pyongyang was preparing for military action, according to the sources.
12. DPRK Leadership
Chosun Ilbo (“SPECULATION MOUNTS OVER KIM JONG-IL’S FAILING HEALTH”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that Open Radio for North Korea on Friday, quoting what it said was a high-level DPRK source, said a comprehensive medical check-up last month by a special medical department under the Guard Command, a military unit assigned to protect Kim Jong-il, shows that he has “at most three years to live.” His ailments including laryngitis and kidney disorders became chronic after he recovered from a stroke, it said. Kim has apparently begun showing symptoms of depression due to his deteriorating health and often bursts into tears saying, “I’m not longer what I used to be,” the defector-run radio station claimed. An ROK security official said, “Intelligence reports say that Kim Jong-il is watching a lot of performances because his medical team suggested them as a cure for depression.”
Chosun Ilbo (“PERSONALITY CULT OF N.KOREA HEIR ‘STARTED IN MAY 2009’ “, Seoul, 2010/07/09) reported that a propaganda campaign for DPRK leader Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent Kim Jong-un has been in full swing nationwide since May last year, a witness said Thursday. That month the party distributed schools materials hailing “Captain Kim,” as Jung-un apparently likes to be known, as leader of a “150-day struggle.” The testimony comes from a 25-year-old DPRK middle school teacher who defected to the ROK last December. She said that was when “Footsteps,” a song praising Kim junior, was first sung.
14. US-ROK Military Exercises
Chosun Ilbo (“U.S., S.KOREA WEIGH OPTIONS FOR NAVAL DRILL”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that Seoul and Washington are apparently negotiating the timing, scale and exact location of a joint military drill in the West Sea. The White House, Pentagon and State Department are weighing the pros and cons of allowing the aircraft carrier George Washington to participate in the drill. One option is for the carrier to stay off the coast of Busan or anchored in Busan harbor and assist in operations from there rather than taking part directly. “The George Washington will not enter Korean waters within a few days,” said one military source.
15. PRC on US-ROK Naval Exercises
Asahi Shimbun (“BEIJING ASKS SEOUL TO CALL OFF JOINT U.S. NAVAL DRILL”, Seoul, 2010/07/09) reported that the PRC has unofficially asked the ROK to call off planned joint naval exercises with the United States in the Yellow Sea. The request came during unofficial talks between foreign affairs and defense officials of the two countries, the sources said. The PRC side urged Seoul to “refrain from taking action that will heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” according to the sources. “We cannot allow a precedent in which China is allowed to manipulate the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” an ROK government source said.
Voice of America (“U.S. FORCES ON KOREAN PENINSULA REJECT CHINA’S CRITICISM OF MARITIME EXERCISES WITH S.KOREA”, 2010/07/12) reported that the commander of U.S. forces in the ROK, General Walter Sharp, says every nation, within its territorial limits, is obligated to train its forces against perceived threats. “South Korea has that right. And South Korea and the U.S. work very closely to be able to make sure that we have the defense capabilities from a military perspective in place to deter and defeat,” says General Sharp. “And that’s what these exercises are about.” He urged Beijing, as a leading member of the international community, to work closer with Seoul and Washington to deter the DPRK military threat.
Yonhap (“TENSIONS LIKELY TO EASE OVER EXPECTED JOINT S. KOREA-U.S. NAVAL DRILLS”, Hong Kong, 2010/07/11) reported that the United States and the PRC will seek to smooth tensions over the proposed ROK-U.S. joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, scholars said Sunday. Zhang Baohui, professor of political science at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said, “This U.N. statement, which reflects the China-U.S. cooperation, might deflect attention on the U.S.-South Korean naval exercise,” Zhang said. Zhang Quanyi, professor at Zhejiang Wanli University in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, said “China and the U.S. will try to avoid any eruption or elevation of crisis on the Korea Peninsula, as it will affect their bilateral relations. Therefore, the two will try to keep the powder keg down,” he said. Kim Mikyung, professor at Hiroshima City University, said “China is obviously nervous about the joint drill, and has made it clear that Beijing is not only determined but also capable of deterring any provocations. But let’s not over-read. The psychological tension is basically about the regional hierarchy competition between Washington and Beijing, and yet both sides know that they also have to work together.”
18. US-ROK Military Alliance
Korea Times (Kim Se-jeong, “‘NO MORE DELAY IN OPCON TRANSFER'”, Seoul, 2010/07/11) reported that ROK Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young said Sunday that the ROK’s retaking of wartime operational control (OPCON) over its troops from the United States slated for late 2015 will not be delayed any longer. Kim said, “Some argue that since it was delayed once, it could be delayed for a second time. However, it is unlikely because by 2015, the Korean military will have all the essential facilities and personnel secured to run the command.” Kim continued that any further delay would clash with the U.S. troops’ relocation plan, which will require a far bigger budget to resolve.
Yonhap (Lee Chi-dong, “LEE DISMISSES CRITICISM OF DELAY IN WASHINGTON-TO-SEOUL OPCON TRANSFER”, Seoul, 2010/07/12) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that his decision to delay regaining the wartime operational control (OPCON) of ROK troops from the U.S. was inevitable in light of regional and global security concerns. “Some criticize the adjustment of the timing of the OPCON transfer, citing the right to self-defense,” Lee said in his biweekly radio address. But it was a “substantial and sovereign choice” based on the ROK’s need, he said. He said the ROK will do its best to improve its own war deterrent in order to take over OPCON in 2015.
20. ROK Politics
Korea Herald (Bae Hyun-jung, “P.M. OFFICE STAFF FACE ARREST FOR ABUSING POWER”, Seoul, 2010/07/11) reported that officials of the Prime Minister’s Office who were allegedly involved in the illicit surveillance of a civilian are expected to be summoned for questioning as early as Monday, prosecution sources said. Another official has also been implicated in the illegal surveillance, prosecutors said Sunday. Officials including Lee In-gyu, head of the prime ministerial ethics office, are likely to face arrest after being interrogated, prosecution sources said.
21. Korean War Atrocities
Associated Press (Charles J. Hanley and Hyung-jin Kim, “KOREA BLOODBATH PROBE ENDS; US ESCAPES MUCH BLAME”, Seoul, 2010/07/11) reported that the four-year-old Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea shut down its inquiry, leaving unexplored scores of suspected mass graves believed to hold remains of tens of thousands of ROK political detainees summarily executed by their own government early in the Korean war. “Even if we investigated more, there’s not much more to be revealed,” said Lee Young-jo, a political science professor who took charge last December. Late last year, expiring terms on the 15-member commission enabled the Lee Myung-bak to appoint more sympathetic commissioners, who opted not to extend the body’s life by two years and instead to shut it down on June 30. Lee, the new panel chief, withdrew from distribution a 2009 English-language report on commission findings. The commissioners also toughened the criteria for faulting U.S. wartime actions, demanding documentary proof U.S. forces in each case knew they were killing civilians, commission investigators said. In a rush of final decisions June 29-30, the commission found no serious U.S. wrongdoing in the remaining cases of civilian killings, attributing them to military necessity. In a small number of cases, a commission majority found “low levels of unlawfulness” by the U.S., Lee said, but the panel did not recommend seeking compensation.
22. Japanese Politics
Asahi Shimbun (“DPJ TAKES BEATING IN UPPER HOUSE ELECTION; KAN TO STAY PRIME MINISTER”, Tokyo, 2010/07/12) reported that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in Sunday’s Upper House election won only 44 seats, losing 10 of its 54 seats up for re-election. Combined with its 62 uncontested seats, the party’s strength in the 242-member upper chamber stands at 106. Including the three seats of the People’s New Party, the ruling coalition now holds 109 Upper House seats, well short of the 122 needed for a majority. The opposition Liberal Democratic Party won 51 seats to give the party 84 Upper House seats. Your Party, established in August last year, won 10 seats.
23. PRC Territorial Disputes
Asahi Shimbun (Yoichi Kato, “CHINA CLEARLY A KEY ISSUE, BUT ALMOST OFF POLITICAL RADAR”, Tokyo, 2010/07/10) reported that the PRC has long argued that it has “maritime sovereignty” over the South China Sea. Now, as an American expert said, “China has begun to refer to the South China Sea as their ‘core interests’ from two or three months ago.” “Core interests” is the term Beijing has been using in referring to Taiwan and Tibet with a connotation of the sovereign territory that allows no compromise whatsoever. In early June, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates attended the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where he noted “the South China Sea is an area of growing concern.” “In place of the historical issue that has been a traditional barrier with China, in the future ‘maritime issues’ will become the seed of friction,” observed one Japanese government official.
24. Cross Strait Relations
Associated Press (“TAIWAN PRESIDENT PROMOTES CLOSER CHINA TIES”, Taipei, 2010/07/11) reported that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou urged his PRC counterpart to work toward improving ties. Ma told reporters Sunday he had asked the honorary chairman of his ruling Nationalist Party, Wu Poh-hsiung, to tell PRC President Hu Jintao during a planned meeting in Beijing on Monday that the two should work together to “build mutual trust, set aside our differences and look for common grounds.” Doing so, he said, would lead to a “win-win situation.”
25. PRC Separatism
New York Times (Edward Wong, “CHINESE SEPARATISTS TIED TO NORWAY BOMB PLOT”, Beijing, 2010/07/09) reported that one of the three men arrested Thursday in Norway and Germany accused of orchestrating a terrorist bomb plot was a Chinese Uighur, Norwegian officials said , and all three supposedly belonged to a group that advocates separatism in Xinjiang. If the Norwegian officials are right, the bomb plot was a rare instance in which the group, the Turkestan Islamic Party, had tried to carry out an attack in the West that was unrelated to its goal of gaining independence for Xinjiang.