NAPSNet Daily Report 16 August, 1999

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 16 August, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, August 16, 1999,


I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. DPRK-UNC Talks

Reuters (“N.KOREA, UN COMMAND TO DISCUSS DISPUTED SEA BORDER,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that the United Nations Command (UNC) said in a statement on Monday that generals from the DPRK and the UNC will meet in Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss the disputed sea border between the DPRK and the ROK. This will mark the fifth round of talks since the ROK-DPRK naval clash in the Yellow Sea in June.

2. DPRK MiG Fighter Purchase

Reuters Mike Collett-White (“SKOREA PROTESTS OVER KAZAKH MIG SALE TO NORTH,” Almaty, 08/13/99) reported that Kazakhstan said on Friday that its embassy in Seoul had received a complaint from the ROK over the alleged sale of MiG fighter jets to the DPRK. A Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman stated, “I can confirm that South Korea sent a note of protest to Kazakhstan over the delivery of MiG jet fighters to Pyongyang.” Officials in Kazakhstan declined to confirm the sale, but Kazakhstan Ambassador to Japan Tleukhan Kabdrakhmanov told Japanese officials that his country was seeking the return of the MiGs. An unnamed Japanese Foreign Ministry official quoted Kabdrakhmanov as saying that a special team had been set up to investigate the incident.

3. DPRK Missile Test

The Associated Press (“N. KOREAN DIPLOMAT: NO MISSILE TEST,” Moscow, 08/14/99) reported that Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency said that an unnamed diplomat at the DPRK Embassy in Moscow on Saturday denied reports that his country was planning to test a ballistic missile. The anonymous diplomat stated, “North Korea does not plan to carry out missile tests.” The diplomat criticized Japanese plans to ask Russia to try to prevent such a test when Japanese Defense chief Hosei Norota visits Russia starting Sunday. He called Norota’s visit another provocation” and urged Russia to resist any such appeal. He also criticized the US for accusing the DPRK of planning the test.

4. DPRK-Japan Relations

The New York Times (Calvin Sims, “WITH MISSILE, NORTH KOREA CASTS FEAR UPON JAPAN,” Tokyo, 08/15/99) reported that many Japanese have expressed concern over the DPRK’s expected launch of a long-range missile. In a recent opinion survey by Yomiuri Shimbun, about 70 percent of 3,000 people questioned said they feared that war in the region could jeopardize their country’s security. About 60 percent said they feared a direct attack on Japan. Akio Watanabe, a military expert at Aoyama Gakuin University, said that Japan feels susceptible to the DPRK’s missiles because it has no means to protect itself, and many Japanese have little faith that a missile defense system will work. Watanabe stated, “The main reason people are afraid is because the first Taepodong missile flew over our heads. Why didn’t North Korea point it in some other direction? Apparently that was some message for us.” Sadaaki Numata, a spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, said that there was “a high degree of concern on the part of the Japanese people,” but he added that the government was continuing its diplomatic efforts with the US and the ROK and remained hopeful that a resolution could be reached.

5. US-Japan Theater Missile Defense

The Associated Press (“JAPAN, US TO SHARE MISSILE RESEARCH,” Tokyo, 08/16/99) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and US Ambassador Thomas Foley signed a plan on Monday to conduct joint research on a missile defense system. The Japanese Defense Agency said that it is also scheduled to exchange a separate memorandum of understanding with the US Defense Department up the research work between the two countries.

Reuters (“JAPAN, U.S. TO PAY $36M. FOR MISSILE RESEARCH:-PAPER,” Tokyo, 08/15/99) reported that the Asahi Shimbun on Sunday cited Japanese government sources as saying that Japan and the US are ready to contribute US$36 million each for joint esearch on a ballistic missile defense system. The report said that the money would cover about two years’ research, but that could be extended to five years.

6. Japanese Naval Deployment

Reuters (“JAPAN AEGIS MISSILE WARSHIPS ON STANDBY – REPORT,” Tokyo, 08/13/99) reported that Japan’s Kyodo news agency on Friday quoted unnamed defense sources as saying that all four of Japan’s Aegis missile warships are on stand-by. It added that one of Japan’s four 7,250 tonne Kongou-class destroyers, the Chokai, had taken up a patrol position in the Sea of Japan, despite being scheduled to return to base earlier this month. The other three vessels were ready to leave within four hours if an order was given. An official at Japan’s Defense Agency stated, “We do not publish the movements of ships.”

7. US-ROK Military Exercise

The Associated Press (“US, SKOREA MILITARY EXERCISE BEGINS,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that the US and the ROK on Monday began the joint Ulchi Focus Lens military exercise involving warships, computer simulations and thousands of soldiers. The DPRK warned that the 12-day joint exercise will hurt relations between the two Koreas, and adversely affect talks between the DPRK and the US. Lee Ferguson, spokeswoman for the US Forces-Korea, said that the drill is “no more than a routine, defensive training exercise.” The Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, was to take part in the exercise. A joint US-ROK statement said, “The Combined Forces Command’s preparedness is an effective deterrent to external aggression, and serves as the foundation for diplomatic efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula through dialogue.” A statement on Sunday from the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland warned, “The joint war drill, a war gamble, shows that no one can predict when they will unleash a total war on the Korean peninsula.”

8. DPRK Famine

The Washington Post (Doug Struck, “FAMINE IN NORTH KOREA IS EASING, OFFICIAL SAYS,” Seoul, 08/16/99, A10 ) reported that Catherine Bertini, head of the World Food Program (WFP), said that the DPRK’s food situation has improved in two years. Bertini said that sharply increased international contributions now cover the shortfall in the DPRK’s food supply, so the country should have enough to sustain its people. She added, however, that problems in distribution or interruptions in supply still leave pockets of hunger, and large areas of the country are still off-limits to foreign aid workers. Bertini said that many adults still regularly eat a government-issued “alternative food,” which consists mainly of leaves and grasses. Bertini visited several WFP offices in the DPRK this month, during her third trip to the DPRK. She said that the situation looked better than when she last visited in 1997. Bertini stated, “There is an absolute difference in the children. Before, we saw children who were almost skeletal. You could see the bones in their head. Now, the kids are heavier…. And they’re active.” Bertini said that the DPRK will remain dependent on outside help because it lacks the machinery, fertilizer, and infrastructure to improve its agricultural output and has little to sell to earn money to buy food. Bertini said, however, that she saw some evidence to support the DPRK’s claim that its economy is starting to recover. She concluded, “If everything continues as it is, it will mean the country will be reasonably stabilized from a nutrition basis. They won’t be strong. They won’t be healthy. There will be patches of hunger. But the large-scale starvation won’t be going on.”

Reuters (“S.KOREA SHOULD GIVE NORTH MORE FOOD – UN OFFICIAL,” Seoul, 08/16/99) and the Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok,”U.N. APPEALS FOR AID TO N. KOREA,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that Catherine Bertini, executive director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Monday that the ROK should be the largest food aid donor to the DPRK. Bertini stated, “If South Korea doesn’t provide food to the North, that’s punishing the innocent children of North Korea.” She added that the WFP would not stop humanitarian aid to the DPRK whatever world concerns might be. She stated, “Every time the world community does not like what certain governments do, if we the world community then decide we won’t send food aid, millions of people in the world … will not be able to survive.” Bertini said she met with senior government officials during her recent trip to Pyongyang, including Kim Yong-nam, head of the People’s Assembly.

9. DPRK Trade

Reuters (George Nishiyama, “N.KOREA FOOD IMPORTS FALL DESPITE SHORTAGES–JETRO,” Tokyo, 08/16/99) reported that the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) said on Monday that the DPRK’s international trade fell more than 20 percent last year. An unnamed JETRO official stated, “Imports of foodstuffs and crude oil have fallen even in the face of a food shortage. It shows that North Korea’s foreign currency reserves are low. Looking at these data, one can say that North Korea’s economy is in dire condition.” JETRO said that imports of agricultural products in 1998 dropped 46.4 percent while imports of other foodstuffs fell 43.1 percent year-on-year. Overall, the DPRK’s overseas trade fell 22.6 percent to US$1.81 billion in 1998, falling below US$2.0 billion for the first time in 17 years. Exports fell 32.0 percent to US$644.22 million, while imports were down 16.2 percent at US$1.17 billion. The DPRK ran a trade deficit of US$525.52 million, up 17.1 percent from 1997. Major exports such as textiles, metals and electronic goods declined due to a slowdown in the economies of the DPRK’s trading partners. Trade with the PRC fell 36.5 percent from the previous year to US$443.38 million in 1998, while that with Japan fell 17.1 percent to US$390.77 million, and trade with the ROK dropped 25.1 percent to US$22.65 million. The figures are based on customs-cleared trade data from 53 countries and regions. The JETRO official said that it was unclear whether exports of missiles and missile technology were included, as many countries such as Pakistan exclude military trade from their reported data.

10. ROK Unification Rally

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok, “S.KOREA POLICE BLOCK MARCH TO NORTH,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that in a government-sanctioned pro-unification event, 60,000 ROK citizens formed a “human unification belt” of people holding hands along a highway from Seoul to the DMZ. The ROK also marked the Independence Day holiday by freeing 56 political prisoners, including seven DPRK spies. The 56 were among 1,742 people affected by a presidential amnesty.

11. ROK Unification Student Demonstrations

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok, “S.KOREA POLICE BLOCK MARCH TO NORTH,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that ROK riot police armed with tear gas launchers and water cannons blocked thousands of students from marching to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Sunday to promote national unification. After a rally at Seoul National University, several hundred students confronted 8,000 riot police at the school’s main gate at nightfall. The rally was one of the largest in recent years. Government officials expressed concern that the student movement may gather momentum.

The Associated Press (“MILITANT STUDENTS RALLY IN S. KOREA,” Seoul, 08/14/99) reported that ROK police cordoned off the campus of Seoul National University on Saturday, where 3,000 students were holding an outlawed rally to call for unification. The students called for an end to the ROK’s National Security Law and the withdrawal of US troops from the ROK.

12. DPRK Unification Rally

The Associated Press (“NKOREA KICKS OFF UNIFICATION RALLY,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that more than 100,000 people attended a unification rally at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on Friday. The DPRK’s official Korean Central New Agency said that the crowd danced, chanted slogans, and sang songs for national unification. Participants also watched a second soccer match between DPRK and ROK workers. The two sides mixed their players and played to a 4-4 draw. The ROK said that Friday’s rally was orchestrated by the DPRK government to spread propaganda against the ROK and the US.

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok, “S.KOREA POLICE BLOCK MARCH TO NORTH,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency said that several hundred DPRK citizens held a rally at Panmunjom calling for unifying the two Koreas under a procedure that would leave the two countries’ different systems intact.

13. ROK Workers’ Visit to DPRK

The Associated Press (“S. KOREANS FACE MATCH QUESTIONS,” Seoul, 08/14/99) reported that ROK officials said Saturday that prosecutors plan to question workers suspected of laying flowers before a statue of Kim Il-sung while visiting Pyongyang for a joint soccer match. The government said it suspects the workers broke their promise not to engage in political activities during their trip. Lee Gap-yong, head of the ROK workers’ delegation, said after returning to the ROK, “The North Koreans gave us such a big welcome…. But we did our best not to break our promise with the government. We are ready to face the questioning.” ROK prosecutors planned to ask the workers whether they laid the flowers on their own or were forced to do so by DPRK authorities. The DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency said that the investigation “is a mockery and challenge to the North-South reconciliation and unity.”

14. ROK-Japan Relations

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok,” JAPAN, S. KOREA TIES BLOOMING,” Seoul, 08/14/99) reported that ROK-Japan ties are smoother than ever before. Suh Dong- man, a researcher at the ROK’s state-run Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, stated, “It is undeniable that North Korea’s military threats have helped them strengthen ties.” Lee Seung-yop, a 17-year-old high-school student, stated, “I can’t think of one friend who doesn’t have something made in Japan.” ROK Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil is scheduled to visit Tokyo next month, where he is expected to ask Japanese Emperor Akihito to make his first state visit to Seoul. About 100 protesters showed up at the weekly “comfort women” rally outside the Japanese Embassy last Wednesday. They lobbed water balloons at posters of a Japanese soldier and shouted, “Japan, repent!”

15. Japan-Iran Talks

Reuters (“JAPAN AND IRAN TO DISCUSS MISSILES, N.KOREA TIES,” Tokyo, 08/14/99) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura was scheduled to arrive in Iran on Monday, where he is expected to express Japan’s concern over Iran’s suspected ties with the DPRK. Japanese government officials said that Komura will make a one-week visit to Iran, Turkey, and Austria from Monday and is scheduled to meet his counterparts for discussions on bilateral relations and regional issues. Komura was quoted by government officials as saying earlier this week, “I would like to convey (to Iran) Japan’s thoughts on matters that are of concern to international society.” The officials said that Komura had expressed similar concerns when Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi visited Japan last December, but Kharrazi refused to respond to Komura’s remarks.

16. Possible PRC Military Action Against Taiwan

The Washington Post (Michael Laris and Steven Mufson, “CHINA MULLS USE OF FORCE OFF TAIWAN, EXPERTS SAY,” 08/13/99, A01) reported that PRC Embassy officials and visiting army officers and scholars have told US analysts and experts in Washington that the PRC is considering a show of military force in reaction to Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui’s recent assertion that Taiwan and the PRC should be treated as equals. US analysts and officials expressed the belief that the PRC is genuinely weighing military options, which could include an amphibious assault on one of the Taiwan-controlled islands near the PRC coast. James Mulvenon at Rand Corporation said that at recent meetings, PRC officials “walk in with the same message: ‘We’re going to do something. We can’t tell you what, but we’re going to do something.'” Mulvenon stated, “The goal for China would be to cause maximum impact in Taiwan, without bringing the U.S. in.” US officials and experts believe that it is unlikely that the PRC would launch military action before October because such a move would spoil a scheduled mid- September meeting between US President Bill Clinton and PRC President Jiang Zemin in New Zealand. An unnamed senior US official said, “I don’t think they’ll do it soon, but I can’t say they won’t do it at all. We have some time to play with, but we’re not out of the woods.” US policy experts have warned the PRC that military action would provoke support for Taiwan in the US Congress, damaging US-PRC trade ties and guaranteeing new US military aid for Taiwan. Many analysts have warned that the US would probably respond militarily as well.

Reuters (“CHINA FEELS NEED TO PUNISH TAIWAN-US SOURCES,” Washington, 08/14/99) reported that former US officials said Friday that PRC officials have warned the US that the PRC feels compelled to use force to punish Taiwan for recent statehood assertions. The Wen Wei Po, the Communist Party newspaper in Hong Kong, on Friday said that military conflict could erupt at any moment. The article said that the “military situation was a lot more serious than what the outside world was aware of.” It said that the PRC’s military had identified 200 key military targets on Taiwan. It quoted Yan Zhao, a senior researcher at the PRC’s Academy of Military Science, as saying that if the PRC were to take military action, it would not be just a warning shot. Douglas Paal, president of the Asia Pacific Policy Center, quoted PRC officials who met with him as saying that Lee’s statement was taken more seriously than his 1995 visit to Cornell University. Paal stated, “A decision was taken in 1996 that, even if there were costs to China, this issue was too important … to go unanswered in the future, and therefore (PRC leaders feel) that they’re compelled now to take action.” Paal cited officials from the US National Security Council, State Department, and Defense Department as saying that the PRC had been sending the same message to the US government. Paal stated, “They’re trying to find an optimal mix of punishment for Taiwan and reduced (diplomatic) retaliation.”

Reuters (“HONG KONG PAPER: CHINA’S LOCAL GARRISON ON ALERT,” Hong Kong, 08/15/99) reported that Hong Kong’s independent Sunday Morning Post newspaper said that the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong had been put on alert because of rising tensions between the PRC and Taiwan. The article stated, “The 1,000 soldiers, sailors and aircrew guarding the SAR (special administrative region of Hong Kong) were said to have been placed on the third level of alert, the lowest of three rankings.” It cited a well- informed source as saying that the third level alert meant that helicopter gunships and missile boats had been placed on 24-hour readiness and holiday leave for soldiers and officers had been canceled. The source also said there was evidence electronic warfare units and equipment had been moved from inland regions of the PRC into position near Xiamen in Fujian province, facing Taiwan. The source added that PLA troops in Hong Kong were not equipped to participate in a large-scale military offensive, noting that Hong Kong’s level of alert was in line with its status as part of the Guangzhou military region, which is on a similar level of alert. A Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman said in Taipei on Sunday, “We have not detected anything unusual so far. I think, once again, the Chinese Communists have used Hong Kong media to spread rumors.”

17. US Reaction to Possible PRC Military Action

Reuters (Steve Holland, “U.S. SAYS ANY CHINA MOVE ON TAIWAN WOULD BE GRAVE,” Washington, 08/13/99) reported that the US National Security Council spokesman David Leavy on Friday cautioned against PRC military action against Taiwan. Leavy stated, “Any effort to resolve the issues in the cross-straits by other than peaceful means would be of grave concern to the United States. That hasn’t changed.” He added, “We have not received any specific threats or ultimatums from the Chinese.” Leavy said, “We have important strategic interests in the cross-straits. We’re watching it closely. We’re certainly cognizant of the developments there. I think both sides recognize the dangers. We’ve made that clear to both sides. Our policy hasn’t changed.” An anonymous senior US official stated, “We’ve seen nothing extraordinary in terms of any military buildup” by the PRC.

II. Republic of Korea

1. DPRK MiG Fighter Purchase

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Dae-yul, “COMPLAINT LODGED WITH KAZAKSTAN OVER MIG SALE,” Seoul, 08/12/99), Joongang Ilbo (“KAZAKSTAN TO PROBE FIGHTER JETS DEAL WITH N.KOREA,” Seoul, 08/13/99), The Korea Times (Son Key-young, “KAZAKHSTAN SECRETLY SOLD MIGS TO N.KOREA,” Seoul, 08/12/99), and The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “SEOUL VOICES CONCERN ABOUT KAZAKH MIG SALE TO N. K.,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade expressed its dissatisfaction on Thursday to Kazakstan Ambassador Tulegen Zhukeyev over that country’s sale of MiG 21s to the DPRK. The ministry said that the ambassador apologized for the incident, noting that its government had fired its minister of defense and the chairman of its national security council over the deal. An official stated that the transaction appeared to have been an illegal deal, not sanctioned at a government level. US State Department Spokesman James Rubin was quoted as saying on Wednesday that the US had monitored the sale and was concerned about its implications. The ROK government has also watched Kazakstan since the end of March, when a Russian cargo plane, loaded with MiG parts destined for the Czech Republic, was stopped in Azerbaijan. An ROK official said that as the incident had ended with dismissals of those concerned the administration regards the issue as closed.

2. DPRK Suspected Espionage in Russia

Chosun Ilbo (Hwang Song-joon, “NK DIPLOMATS EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA,” Moscow, 08/13/99) reported that it was confirmed that two employees of the DPRK Embassy in Moscow were deported from Russia as they tried to steal technical blueprints of technology related to the MiG 21 fighter aircraft. A senior official of a Russian information agency said on Friday that Kim Yong-bu and Hong Young-hwan, diplomats in the Second Economics Department (War Supplies Industrial Department) tried to bribe an engineer at a national security industry to get design information concerning MiG 21 combat planes. However, in a sting operation the two DPRK citizens were apprehended by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) and were deported last June 8, the agency revealed. An official of the FSB stated that Kim and Hong were arrested by FSB agents while trying to hand over a briefcase containing US$180,000 in exchange for blueprints of components of the MiG 21.

3. DPRK Missile Test

Joongang Ilbo (“NK WEIGHING PROS AND CONS OF MISSILE TEST,” Seoul, 08/12/99) reported that the ROK’s spy chief said on Wednesday that the new long-range ballistic missile the DPRK has been developing is finished, and the DPRK is now weighing the pros and cons of a test launch. Chun Yong-taek, head of ROK’s National Intelligence Service, said that it would take at least three or four weeks for the DPRK to transport the missile and assemble it for launching at a base on the northeast coast. “North Korea appears to be weighing possible economic and political losses and gains before deciding whether to go ahead with the missile launch,” Chun told a closed-door Parliamentary hearing. Chun added that the DPRK conducted rocket-engine propulsion tests on May 5 and May 21 in an apparent attempt to build a more powerful rocket to propel its new missile. The DPRK has enlarged its missile launch platform and renovated its fuel pipeline to the platform, he said.

The Korea Times (“N.KOREA SAYS WILL LAUNCH MISSILE WHEN “IT IS NECESSARY”,” Seoul, 08/12/99) and The Korea Times (“N.KOREA LASHES OUT AT JAPAN, DEMANDS APOLOGY, REPARATIONS,” Seoul, 08/12/99) reported that the DPRK on Thursday said that it would launch its expected long-range missile test when it is “necessary,” but was apparently holding out for Japan to respond favorably to a recent policy statement on the DPRK’s relationship with Japan. “The launch of the missile is a matter of the sovereignty and independence of a country, so as for when it is time to launch, I think when it is necessary, it will be launched,” said Ri Gi-pom, an official at the DPRK embassy in Beijing. Ri emphasized, however, that he was not a military expert and could not give a “clear and concrete explanation” of the expected test launch of the suspected Taepodong II missile. His remarks came at a briefing in Beijing on a policy statement issued on Tuesday by the DPRK government calling on Japan to back down from its “hostile” and “U.S.-toeing policy” on the DPRK and to base future relations on “the liquidation” of Japan’s past war crimes of aggression. Ri refused to link the possible missile launch with an expected favorable response from Japan. Japan said on Wednesday that it planned to make unofficial contacts with the DPRK to clarify its intention on the DPRK’s policy statement. The Japanese foreign ministry will seek clarification through diplomatic channels, possibly working to resume informal contacts with the DPRK, the official said.

4. ROK Funding for KEDO

Joongang Ilbo (“S.KOREA OKS $3.2 BILLION FOR N.KOREA’S NUKE PLANTS,” Seoul, 08/13/99) and The Korea Times (“HOUSE PASSES KEDO ASSISTANCE LAW,” Seoul, 08/12/99) reported that ROK’s parliament on August 12 approved US$3.2 billion for two nuclear power plants for the DPRK. The ROK government-proposed bill passed the single-chamber National Assembly without any objection from the opposition. In the weeks before the vote, government officials stressed the importance of keeping the US$4.6 billion reactor project alive despite the DPRK’s reported preparations to launch a long-range ballistic missile.

5. DPRK-ROK Talks

The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “VICE UNIFICATION MINISTER SEES INTER-KOREAN TALKS BEFORE SPRING,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that a top ROK official said on Sunday that the ROK and the DPRK will likely be able to resume their stalled governmental talks before next spring. “Despite multi-dimensional issues pending, including the North Korean missile threat, sluggish four-way meeting and Pyongyang’s proposal for high-level political talks, inter-Korean dialogue is not so far away,” said ROK Vice Unification Minister Yang Young-shik, appearing on a KBS-TV talk show. “It will become possible before next spring… We have a hunch that North Korea is examining the governmental talks, but it appears to need a ‘cooling-off’ period to recover from the naval conflict in West Sea, which inflicted human and material damages on Pyongyang,” Yang said.

6. DPRK Spy Ships in Japanese Waters

The Korea Times (“N.KOREAN SPY SHIPS ORDERED TO SCUTTLE THEMSELVES IF CAPTURED,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that Japan’s defense agency monitored radio transmission from the DPRK ordering the two spy ships chased out of Japanese waters in March to scuttle themselves if they were captured by Japanese coast guards, a national daily reported on Sunday. Japan called the two boats “mystery ships” during the pursuit by the coast guard and the self defense force, but the government knew all the time the boats were DPRK spy ships, the daily said. In Japan’s first potentially hostile action since World War II, warships and aircraft chased away the two ships from Japanese waters under a hail of warning aerial bombs and cannon fire. The boats, disguised as Japanese fishing boats and bristling with antennae, were later spotted entering the DPRK port of Chongjin. The DPRK has insisted the incident was a “fiction” invented by Japanese authorities to speed up legislation to boost Japan’s defense cooperation with the US in nearby crises.

7. US Congressman to Visit DPRK

Joongang Ilbo (Seo Jang-soo, “U.S. CONGRESSMAN TO VISIT NK ON AUGUST 26,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that US representative Tony P. Hall will visit the DPRK from August 26 to August 28. The US congressman, representing Ohio’s Third Congressional District, reportedly plans to visit hospitals in the DPRK and assess its food shortage during his three-day stay. A source from the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Friday that the representative would meet the DPRK’s high-ranking officials and personnel working for international relief groups in Pyongyang to discuss ways to resolve the DPRK’s food scarcity.

8. DPRK Famine

Chosun Ilbo (Kang Hyo-sang, “WORLD CONCERN SUSPENDS FOOD AID,” Washington DC, 08/15/99) and The Korea Times (“RELIEF AGENCY HALTS SHIPMENTS OF FOOD TO N.KOREA, Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that World Concern, a relief organization based in Seattle, Washington, announced on Sunday that it had stopped all food shipments to the DPRK for an indefinite period following the discovery that US$24,000 worth of food that was destined for a DPRK orphanage and hospital had vanished. Director Albert York, in charge of international activities of World Concern, announced that after visiting the DPRK last April to check on the distribution of food worth US$480,000, sent on 6 separate occasions, he discovered that 680 boxes of food had disappeared. York said that until the DPRK can give a plausible explanation for the missing food, the organization will not send any more food to the DPRK. York explained that each box contained rice, sugar, cooking oil, milk and powdered milk that would last a family one month. He added that although there was no proof the food went somewhere else, neither was there proof that it went where it was supposed to go. Therefore, the organization decided to suspend all aid to the DPRK until it receives a written agreement on the supervision of relief food distribution and an explanation concerning the missing food from the DPRK government.

9. Aid to DPRK

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Dae-yul, “IFRC FEEDS NORTH KOREANS,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that an ROK government official said on Sunday that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are giving 300 grams of food per person to 39,136 people afflicted by recent torrential rains in the DPRK. According to the same source, IFRC sent 82 tons of rice, 2,905 blankets, 581 cooking sets, and other relief supplies including canned provisions on August 6 to an International Red Cross Natural Disaster Shelter in Kaesong. On August 12, another 18 tons of rice was provided, making the total amount of rice support 100 tons. The shelter plans to provide an additional 145 tons of rice in the future. The IFRC announced that there were no further damages other than that reported August 5, that there were 39,136 flood victims with 94 injured and 42 dead. Taking into account that the population of Kaesong and the surrounding region is 349,679 people, about 10 percent of the total number of residents suffered from the recent flooding.

The Korea Herald (“CIVILIAN AID FOR N. KOREA SURGES SINCE FEBRUARY,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that ROK officials said on Thursday that aid to the DPRK sent by various ROK civic groups sharply increased since the ROK government first allowed it to be directly shipped in February. Nine civic organizations, including the Korea Reconciliation Committee Archdiocese of Seoul and the Korean Sharing Movement, have sent humanitarian aid totaling 3 billion won to Pyongyang ($2.5 million), the ROK Unification Ministry said. “Furthermore, the government’s granting of permission to civilians to directly send aid has resulted in frequent contacts between people from the two sides, helping to reduce the sense of estrangement,” said Cho Kun-shik, director general at the Humanitarian Affairs Bureau in the Unification Ministry.

10. ROK Unification Rally

Chosun Ilbo (Chung Byong-sun, “HUMAN CHAIN FOR UNIFICATION,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that a total of 57,000 people linked hands on Sunday to make two human chains promoting unification and rapprochement. The two chains were from the Independence Park, Seoul to Samsung Primary School (11.4km) and from the Unification Bridge to Yeowool Hill at Imjin-gak (6.7km). The chain linked up at 4:40pm as novelist Hwang Seok-young read an open letter to the DPRK and participants sang “Our Wish is Unification.” Hang Wang-ok, who organized the chain, said that next year he wants to get a single one stretching from Seoul to the DMZ.

11. ROK Unification Student Demonstrations

The Korea Herald (Kang Seok-jae, ” POLICE, RADICAL STUDENT ACTIVISTS CLASH OVER PANMUNJOM RALLY,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that thousands of student activists and dissidents clashed with riot police on Sunday as they attempted to march out of a Seoul university campus to the truce village of Panmunjom for a joint Liberation-Day rally with their DPRK counterparts. Violent street clashes were also reported in downtown Seoul in the afternoon. Some 2,500 riot police armed with tear gas and clubs cordoned off the Seoul National University campus where more than 5,000 students held what police called an outlawed rally. Students gathered there to launch their annual pro-unification rally timed to coincide with the nation’s Liberation Day. To block students from marching toward Panmunjom, about 8,000 riot police were posted around the university campus and nearby subway stations, police said. In a press conference held at the campus, the demonstrating students strongly urged the government to guarantee them the right to assemble for a mass rally at the DPRK-ROK border, while calling for the repeal of the National Security Law.

12. ROK Workers’ Visit to DPRK

Joongang Ilbo (Shim Shang-bok, “WORKERS WHO LAID FLOWERS BEFORE KIM IL-SUNG’S STATUE TO BE QUESTIONED,” Seoul, 08/15/99) reported that the ROK prosecution plans to investigate workers who reportedly laid flowers before a statue of late Kim Il-sung, while visiting Pyongyang. The 37 workers had promised not to engage in political activities during their trip prior to getting their travel permits from the ROK government. “As far as we know, those workers failed to keep their word,” an official said on Saturday when they returned home. Lee Gap-yong said that, “We did our best not to break our promise with the government. However, the North Koreans gave us such a big welcome and we could not refuse to lay flowers before Kim Il-sung’s statue. We are ready to face the music and undergo questioning.” Foreign tourists in the DPRK are usually taken to the statue of Kim Il Sung and expected to show their respect. But such a deed is punishable under ROK’s National Security Law, which is now due to be partially revised. ROK prosecutors plan to ask the workers whether they laid the flowers of their own accord or were forced to do so. With regard to the matter, the DPRK warned that the investigation could intensify confrontation between the two Koreas.

Chosun Ilbo (Cho Joong-shik, “PRIME MINISTER ORDERS PRO-NK CRACKDOWN,” Seoul, 08/13/99), The Korea Times (Son Key-young, “PM KIM ORDERS PUNISHMENT ON WORKERS SOCCER TEAM,” Seoul, 08/13/99) and The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “S. KOREAN WORKERS RETURN HOME TO PROBE AFTER SOCCER MATCH IN NORTH,” Seoul, 08/16/99) reported that ROK Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil ordered ministries on Friday to conduct strict investigations of people breaking the law in matters related to the DPRK. In an emergency cabinet meeting, Kim said that a representative of Bominryun, the National Confederation of the Korean People, secretly went to the DPRK and praised the DPRK. Furthermore, Kim added that he had heard reports of the head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) was saying things that were far from the worker’s original purpose of visit. The prime minister emphasized that although the government is in favor of dealing with the DPRK in a manner that leads towards reconciliation and unification, certain acts sympathetic to the DPRK’s contentions that break ROK law would only interfere in accomplishing this.

13. DRPK-ROK Soccer Match

Chosun Ilbo (Kim In-ku, “NORTH KOREA BEATS SOUTH 5-4 IN WORKERS’ MATCH,” Seoul, 08/12/99) reported that DPRK workers scored a 5-4 victory over their ROK counterparts in a soccer match on Thursday at Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo Football Stadium. DPRK’s Central TV and Broadcasting announced the 4:00 p.m. kickoff of the first such match-up since the partition of the Korean peninsula. The DPRK team dominated in the beginning, with their professional-level skills and team strategy giving them a 5-0 lead at half time. DPRK play slackened in the second half, however, allowing the ROK to save them from a humiliating defeat to come out respectably within one goal of a tie. The inter-Korea labor union match was carried live on DPRK television and radio, with the local spectators who filled the stadium to capacity showing enthusiastic support for both teams. Lee Gap- yong, the head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, said in an opening speech, “We did not come simply to kick a ball but as unification delegates,” adding, “At a time when outside forces are increasing in visibility, workers should lead the advance for peaceful unification.”

14. ROK Visitors to DPRK

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Dae-yul, “VISITS TO NK INCREASE,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that excluding the number of tourists who went on the Kumkang Mountains Tour, 356 ROK citizens visited the DPRK during the first half of the year, 3.7 times that of the same period last year. The ROK Ministry of National Defence (MND) announced on Friday that 220 of the 356 were people in charge of tourism, 65 visited for the light water reactor project, 39 for business purposes, 26 for DPRK relief programs, and 6 for social and cultural affairs. During the first half of 1998, 96 ROK citizens had visited the DPRK.

15. DPRK-ROK Family Reunion

The Korea Herald (“KNRC HEAD URGES N.K. TO BE SINCERE ON FAMILY REUNION,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that Korean National Red Cross (KNRC) President Chung Won- shik on Thursday urged the DPRK to faithfully implement the June 3 agreement on Korean families separated during the Korean War. In a statement proposing inter-Korean Red Cross meetings, issued on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the KNRC, Chung expressed deep regret over the suspension of the inter-Korean vice minister-level talks on divided families. Chung stressed that the separated family issue is a humanitarian matter that the two governments should tackle first among inter-Korean issues.

16. DPRK-ROK Trade

The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “SEOUL ADJUSTS IMPORT ITEMS FROM N. KOREA SUBJECT FOR APPROVAL,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that the ROK government on Thursday announced a newly adjusted list of commodities that require official approval if imported from the DPRK. The ministry readjusts the list regularly to prevent damage to domestic industries and protect local producers. In order to further facilitate inter-Korean processing deals, the ministry has decided to allow the export and import of related materials and finished goods without having to get approval from the unification minister even if such transactions are made through leasing or donations, officials said. “The measure is aimed at simplifying the export-import procedures of goods for processing deals and making things easier for the businessmen of both sides,” a ministry official said.

17. ROK-Russia Relations

The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “RUSSIA GREATEST SUPPORTER OF KOREA’S UNIFICATION AMONG FOUR MAJOR POWERS, LOCAL SCHOLAR SAYS,” Seoul, 08/13/99) reported that Koh Jae-nam, a professor at the ROK Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, said during an academic conference that among the “four superpowers surrounding the Korean Peninsula,” Russia is the most active supporter of Korean reunification. “Russia supports Korea’s reunification much more positively than China, Japan and the United States, judging that a unified Korea — as long as it remains friendly to Moscow — would help promote its national interests,” Koh said. “Moscow sees a reunified Korea as the only regional power large enough to form an alliance with Russia in opposition to the hegemony of China and Japan in Asia… Russia regards Korea as a mutually beneficial partner in this region rather than one threatening its security in the Far East.” Based on this analysis, Koh said that the ROK government should induce Russia to keep a high diplomatic priority on Korea; seek balance and harmony in its diplomacy with the four major powers surrounding the peninsula; support Russia’s economic transition through economic cooperation and investment; and work out a comprehensive plan to cement mutual relationships through establishing a network of Russian leaders who are familiar and sympathetic to the ROK.

18. CNN from Pyongyang

Chosun Ilbo (“CNN TO BROADCAST LIVE FROM PYONGYANG,” Seoul, 08/12/99) reported that, for the first time in history, CNN will hold a live broadcast from the DPRK capital, Pyongyang. On August 16 in its program, “Q&A Asia,” CNN will try to answer questions posed by viewers regarding the DPRK’s missile tests, the famine issue, and other problems of the DPRK. CNN was also set to broadcast live the football matches between DPRK and ROK workers to be held on August 12 and 13th.

The NAPSNet Daily Report aims to serve as a forum for dialogue and exchange among peace and security specialists. Conventions for readers and a list of acronyms and abbreviations are available to all recipients. For descriptions of the world wide web sites used to gather information for this report, or for more information on web sites with related information, see the collection of other NAPSNet resources.
We invite you to reply to today’s report, and we welcome commentary or papers for distribution to the network.

Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:
International Policy Studies Institute Seoul, Republic of Korea
The Center for Global Communications, Tokyo, Japan
Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Wade L. Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Lee Dong-young:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


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