NAPSNet Daily Report 25 February, 2008

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 25 February, 2008", NAPSNet Daily Report, February 25, 2008,

NAPSNet Daily Report 25 February, 2008

NAPSNet Daily Report 25 February, 2008

Contents in this Issue:

Preceding NAPSNet Report

I. Napsnet

1. DPRK Nuclear Program

Associated Press (“NKOREA OPENS REACTOR TO FOREIGN MEDIA”, Yongbyon, 2008/02/22) reported that the DPRK opened its main nuclear reactor to foreign media for the first time Friday in a bid to show that it is complying with a disarmament accord to disable the facility. Broadcaster APTN was permitted to visit the reactor facility in Yongbyon. Its footage showed DPRK workers in white head-to-toe protective suits removing spent nuclear fuel from the facility’s 5 megawatt reactor. Yu Sun-chol, Yongbyon’s chief engineer, told APTN that the dismantlement “has been slowed down. Especially the discharge of fuel rods from the core has been slowed down. We think the main reason for that is that the United States and other six-party countries, they have not fulfilled their commitments for the agreement of the six-party talks.”

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2. US on Six Party Talks

Agence France-Presse (Lachlan Carmichael, “RICE ARRIVES IN SKOREA AT START OF EAST ASIA TOUR”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice arrived Sunday in the ROK to start an East Asian tour aimed largely at ending an impasse over the DPRK’s nuclear disarmament. Rice will also visit the PRC and Japan. Rice said Friday that the DPRK should not only disclose its nuclear weapons programmes. “We need a complete declaration from the North Koreans about both their proliferation activities, their current plutonium programme — which they are in the process of disabling, but also the HEU (highly enriched uranium) programme, that they need to make clear what has happened there,” she said.

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3. US and ROK on DPRK Nuclear Program

Yonhap (Lee Chi-dong, “RICE GUARANTEES INCENTIVES FOR N.KOREA IF DENUCLEARIZED”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her incoming ROK counterpart Yu Myung-hwan shared concerns Monday about what they believe is the DPRK’s foot dragging on a declaration of its nuclear programs, a Foreign Ministry official said. Rice also reiterated Washington’s commitment to implementing reciprocal steps as Pyongyang moves towards denuclearization, the official added. The secretary also stressed the need for joint efforts by Seoul and Washington to convince Pyongyang to realize that denuclearization is the best way for it, according to the ministry official, who asked not to be named.

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4. DPRK on US-ROK Exercises

Agence France-Presse (“NKOREA DENOUNCES DRILL AS ‘CRIME’ AGAINST SIX-NATION TALKS”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that the DPRK on Sunday denounced an upcoming US-ROK joint military drill as “an intolerable crime” running counter to six-party talks. The March 2-7 joint exercise will be the first to test the ROK’s ability to wage war under a scenario in which the ROK has regained wartime control of its troops from the United States. Rodong Sinmun stated, “The war exercise in South Korea is an intolerable crime against peace and reunification casting a chill over the Korean nation’s desire for reunification and putting a brake on inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.” “Their aim is to ignite a war against the North when a chance presents itself, while wasting time under the pretext of the six-party talks,” it added.

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5. US-DPRK Cultural Exchanges

Associated Press (Burt Herman, “NKOREA READYING FOR NY PHILHARMONIC”, Beijing, 2008/02/24) reported that the DPRK was tearing down anti-American posters that line the streets of Pyongyang in preparation for the New York Philharmonic’s visit, orchestra president and executive director Zarin Mehta said Sunday. Mehta said the DPRK had met the group’s requests that the largest possible audience hear the concert. “There’s going to be major interaction with their musical community, and that’s what we wanted to do,” Mehta said. “We didn’t want to go in and do a closed little concert and drive out.” However, some orchestra members expressed reservations. “I’ve had a lot of moral reservations based on wondering what a concert for the elite is going to do to help the people starving in the street,” said Irene Breslau, a violist.

Los Angeles Times (Barbara Demick, “NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC TO PLAY IN NORTH KOREA”, Beijing, 2008/02/24) reported that US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Thursday that the visit to Pyongyang of the New York Philharmonic can only help US-DPRK relations. “They are alleging that we have a hostile policy and that’s why they need nuclear weapons. The presence of the New York Philharmonic argues against that,” Hill said. Chuck Downs, a former Pentagon official and board member of the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said the orchestra’s visit is a propaganda coup that gives Kim Jong-il the appearance of legitimacy. “It is really not helpful to have the New York Philharmonic as an institution making light of the North Korean regime’s abuses of human rights,” Downs said. Kim Chul-woong, a DPRK classical pianist who defected and now lives in Seoul, said, “I am sure the North Korean government is telling everyone this concert is a victory for Kim Jong Il and a sign that the United States is lowering itself and bowing to him. But I think what’s more important is that North Korean people will see with their own eyes that Americans are different from what they were taught.”

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6. DPRK Refugees

Los Angeles Times (Barbara Demick, “CHINA FEELS PRESSURE OVER NORTH KOREANS”, Seoul, 2008/02/22) reported that human rights advocates are pushing the PRC for at least a truce on its crackdown on DPRK refugees in honor of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in August. “These Olympics are just about the most important international event in Chinese history. If they want to brag to the world about what a safe and stable place China is, they have to do something for the refugees,” said Do Hee-youn, who runs a fund for DPRK defectors in Seoul. In December, PRC authorities unexpectedly released Yu Sang-jun, a defector who had become an activist. In Seoul, activists say that 40 DPRK refugees who have sought asylum in embassies in Beijing might soon be given safe passage by the PRC government to leave for the ROK.

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7. DPRK Resource Development

Washington Post (Blaine Harden and Ariana Eunjung Cha, “N. KOREA CASHES IN ON MINERAL RICHES”, Seoul, 2008/02/24) reported that as mineral prices soar on world markets, foreign access to mines in the DPRK is accelerating at a rate unseen since the division of the Korean Peninsula, according to ROK government officials, PRC mining experts and scholars who study the DPRK. They say that Kim Jong-il’s government is increasingly willing to lease mines to outside companies and to negotiate joint ventures with foreign governments. At the same time, mining operations have been delayed and derailed by erratic, maddening and corrupt behavior on the part of DPRK officials, according to businessmen in the ROK and the PRC. “North Korea — they are a country of scoundrels,” said Sun Demao, a manager at Zhaoyuan Gold, a PRC company that has canceled all its contracts with mines in the DPRK because of chronic delivery troubles. Still, exports of DPRK coal and zinc to the PRC have jumped sharply in the past three years, as have zinc exports to the ROK and gold exports to Thailand.

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8. ROK Foreign Policy

Korea Times (“LEE APPEALS FOR CHANGE FOR ‘GREAT KOREA'”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak took office Monday appealing to people to move to an age of pragmatism and away from the era of ideology. “Based on the deep mutual trust that exists between the two peoples, we will also strengthen our strategic alliance with the United States,” he said. Stressing that the new administration will attach importance to foreign policy “toward Asia,” he said the government will seek peace and mutual prosperity with close neighbors, including Japan, the PRC. and Russia. Lee called for pragmatic inter-Korean relations, saying that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a prerequisite to aid the DPRK. He said the government will provide assistance to the DPRK to help it attain a per capita income of $3,000 within 10 years. The leaders of the two Koreas must contemplate what they can do to make the lives of 70 million Koreans happy and how each side can respect each other and open the door to unification, he said.

Korea Herald (“LEE TOUTS ‘PRAGMATIC FOREIGN POLICY’ WITH CONSERVATIVE TEAM”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that observers and government officials predict that the basic line of the ROK’s foreign policy under Lee Myung-bak will not drastically change from that of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. “Even with the change of administration, the main trend of foreign policy will not have to change drastically. The foreign affairs team will be focusing on fortifying the alliance with the United States, strengthening resources diplomacy, and upgrading this nation’s contributions abroad. All of these goals have been mentioned by the new president,” a government source said, on condition of anonymity. But the differences between the Roh administration and the Lee government are likely to involve the balance of power between the ministries of foreign affairs and unification, observers say. While Roh dedicated much of his government’s energy to fostering inter-Korean exchanges, thereby elevating the voice and role of the Unification Ministry, Lee is likely to shift the power to the Foreign Ministry, in his efforts to bolster the ROK’s diplomatic leverage, sources say.

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9. US-ROK Policy Coordination

Associated Press (Foster Klug, “BUSH, NEW SKOREAN LEADER ALLIED ON NORTH”, Washington, 2008/02/23) reported that conservatives in the United States are pleased with the pragmatic approach toward the DPRK outlined by incoming ROK President Lee Myung-bak. Representative Ed Royce, Republican-California, said in an interview that Lee “has spoken of a pragmatic demand for reciprocity in engaging Pyongyang, and I think insisting on reciprocity and transparency was supposed to be what the six-party talks were all about.” “They need action; they need progress,” Jack Pritchard, the State Department’s chief DPRK negotiator until 2003, said about the U.S. administration. The danger is that the United States, if it sees little progress as 2008 comes to a close, could become “so frustrated that, regardless of what the relationship is with Lee Myung-bak,” it will act in the negotiations in ways that might not be compatible with Lee’s aims, Pritchard said at the American Enterprise Institute.

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10. US-ROK Relations

Korea Times (Yoon Won-sup, “RICE CONFIRMS STRONG KOREA-US TIES”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, attending the inauguration ceremony of President Lee Myung-bak Monday, said that the ROK and the United States have enjoyed a wonderful relationship and alliance.” It is a relationship that has only deepened over the years because we share something very important. As much as we share strategic efforts, we certainly share common values,” Rice told reporters.

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11. ROK Diplomacy

Korea Times (Kim Yon-se, “LEE TO VISIT US, JAPAN IN APRIL”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak will visit Tokyo from April 21-22 to discuss details on pending bilateral issues.  Lee is also expected to visit the United States in April. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed that George W. Bush is waiting for Lee’s early visit to the U.S. Lee also held a series of meetings with PRC State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, Russian Prime Minister Victor Zubkov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahatir.

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12. ROK-Japan Relations

Kyodo (“FUKUDA, LEE AGREE TO RESUME TOP RECIPROCAL VISITS, SEEK FTA”, Seoul, 2008/02/25) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and new ROK President Lee Myung Bak agreed in their first meeting Monday to resume stalled top reciprocal visits this year and accelerate preparations for restarting free trade negotiations. ‘I called for building a new era in Japan-South Korea relations, and the president said he shares exactly the same idea,” Fukuda told reporters after the meeting, held soon after Lee’s inauguration ceremony. The two leaders also agreed to step up cooperation on the DPRK nuclear problem, and Lee expressed his willingness to cooperate with Japan in resolving the DPRK’s past abductions of Japanese nationals, Fukuda said. On historical issues, Fukuda stressed the importance during the meeting to ”acknowledge past facts as facts and to face history humbly by always thinking how the others think,” but he did not elaborate, according to Japanese officials.

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13. Sino-Japanese Territorial Dispute

Reuters (“CHINA, JAPAN FAIL AGAIN TO RESOLVE GAS DISPUTE”, Shanghai, 2008/02/23) reported that the PRC and Japan failed again to reach an agreement on the development of natural resources under the sea between the two countries at the latest round of dialogue ended in Beijing on Saturday. “The two sides … agreed that they should continue to make efforts in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, to strive for an early proper settlement of the issue,” Xinhua said after two days of talks in Beijing. Beijing has said it hoped to settle the dispute ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Tokyo in the spring. “President Hu Jintao’s visit to Japan this year will be a historic visit that will carry on the past and open a way for the future,” Xinhua quoted the Foreign Ministry statement as saying.

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14. PRC Human Rights

Associated Press (William Foreman, “ARRESTS IN ATTACK ON CHINESE ACTIVIST”, Guangzhou, 2008/02/25) reported that PRC police have arrested a factory landlord and assailants accused in a brutal knife attack on a labor activist in Shenzhen, a labor group said Monday. The activist, Huang Qingnan, was targeted because the landlord — the alleged mastermind of the attack — thought Huang’s activities were partly to blame for the bankruptcy of one of the factories he rented out, Huang’s group cited police as saying. “Since the police say they have broken the case, they should provide the details of the causes and the sequence of events,” the group said in a statement.

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II. CanKor

15. Report #302

CanKor (“FOCUS: REGIME CHANGE IN THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA”, 2008/02/24) South Korea inaugurates Lee Myung-bak as its new President on 25 February. This issue of the CanKor Report focuses on “regime change in the Republic of Korea.” Veteran journalist Donald Kirk analyzes the likelihood of a dramatic swing in governance and outlook under the new leader, with reference to Lee’s background and reputation. Sunny Lee examines Lee Myung-bak’s fundamentalist Christian activism and explains why some fear a religiously tinged reign dominated by conservative Christian appointees.

CanKor (“FICTION: CONVERSATION WITH THE PATRIOT”, 2008/02/24) CanKor editor Erich Weingartner continues his fictional conversation with the DPR Korean “patriot”, based on real conversations and events during almost three years residency in the DPRK as Head of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU) of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). In this issue: episode 4.

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III. ROK Report

16. ROK Foreign Policy

Yonhap News (“SPECIALIST DIAGNOSIS ON INAUGURATION OF LEE MYUNG-BAK ADMINISTRATION”, 2008/02/25) reported that ROK DPRK specialists diagnosed the policies toward DPRK Lee Myung-bak clarified in his inaugural address as his former position of making progress in the DPRK nuclear problem the condition for progress in the ROK-DPRK relationship. Furthermore, specialists interpreted the President stating that he will build ROK-DPRK relations through pragmatic instruments by lowering the costs while increasing the weight of “economic logic.” National Security specialists diagnosed that although there was no specific reference regarding national security in his inaugural address, by emphasizing economic social stability and development, the president has in fact proposed the advancement of national security. Specialists have also displayed great interest in Lee’s emphasis on reinforcement of the ROK-US alliance and expansion of cooperation in UN Peacekeeping Operation.

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17. ROK Policy Toward National Security

Shin Dong ah magazine (Cho Sung-ryul, “HINDERED BY SEEING DPRK NUCLEAR ISSUE WITH OPTIMISTIC VIEW, ADMINISTRATION FALLS IN TO “PRIORITY TRAP””, 2008/02/25) carried a commentary by the head of new security research at the Institute for National Security Strategy, who gave suggestions for national security policies of the new administration. First, Lee Myung-bak administration must not fall in to “Denuclearization First” trap. Being obsessed with denuclearization for five years might lead to a deadlock in the DPRK nuclear problem. Second, the Lee Myung-bak administration must not fall in to “Lean-toward-the-US” trap. It must keep in mind that the national benefits of the US and ROK do not always stay in agreement. Japan, which had reinforced the Japan-US alliance and sensitively reacted to the PRC, has entered a Japan-PRC honeymoon phase for its national benefit. Third, the Lee administration must not fall in to “pragmatist diplomacy” trap. Although the “MB Doctrine” insists on “pragmatic diplomacy,” people must remember that Roh Mu-hyun administration had also used the rhetoric, “balanced pragmatic diplomacy.”

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18. ROK Policy Toward DPRK

Donga Ilbo (Jae Sung Ho, professor of Joonang University law school, “[public opinion] POLICY TOWARD DPRK THAT WILL ADVANCE THE DAY OF UNIFICATION”, 2008/02/25) said that the Lee Myung-bak administration should restore or reinforce the “Unification Direction” disregarded in the Sunshine Policy as the direction of policy toward DPRK. The administration should concentrate more on “substantial peace” rather than an appearance of a peace agreement. The idea of giving everything only if DPRK is denuclearized has problems. The design of “denuclearization, $3000 per capita GDP” is vague. Manifest standards and principles on fulfillment conditions of this policy must be soon constructed. Also, detailed countermoves for scenario in which denuclearization and opening fail must be prepared. A practical unification-seeking policy toward the DPRK based on universal values of peace, human rights, and opening must be constructed and promoted.

Seoul Newpaper (Jung Tae-ik, “[contributed] SOLUTION TO DPRK NUCLEAR PROBLEM AND ROK-DPRK RELATIONS”, 2008/02/25) carried a commentary by a visiting professor of Kyungnam University Graduate School of North Korean Studies and former ambassador to Russia which said that the Lee Myung-bak regime needs to carefully mediate and manage the six party talks, ROK-DPRK relations, and ROK-US relation for the next year while elucidating its firm will on designs to raise the DPRK’s per capita GDP to $3000 dollars  in exchange for denuclearization and opening of the DPRK. Stable ROK-DPRK relations are indispensable for invigorating the domestic economy as well. Strategic determination of the DPRK for abandoning its nuclear program will be achieved when the DPRK automatically understands that surviving is unlikely as long as it possesses nuclear weapons, while the international society and ROK are ready to support the security and economic aid that the DPRK demands if it abandons them. It is a difficult game in which contrasting conditions of both sides are met. In order to win in this game, patience and wisdom at the national level and leadership are necessary.

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19. ROK-DPRK-Japan Relations

Seoul Newpaper (Kimiya Tadashi, “[contributed] DPRK WILL NOT BE OPEN WITH ECONOMIC COOPERATION”, 2008/02/25) carried a commentary by a professor of political science Tokyo University who said that Lee Myung-bak’s aims to link ROK-DPRK economic cooperation with DPRK nuclear abandonment  contrasts with the attitude of basically leaving the DPRK nuclear problems with the six-party talks so far. Whether ROK-DPRK economic cooperation will have enough negotiating value to change the attitude of the DPRK toward nuclear development is doubtful. In terms of mutual assistance between ROK and Japan, it is also doubtful whether the hard-line policy of the Japanese government will strategically assist that of ROK. The Fukuda administration is failing to suggest a firm direction regarding policies toward DPRK due to domestic insecurity.