1. DPRK Nuclear Program
Korea Times (“US-LED DISABLEMENT TEAM TO LEAVE FOR NK”, 2007-10-05) reported that a US-led expert group will go to the DPRK to prepare for the DPRK’s nuclear disablement, the first activity in implementing the new six-nation agreement. Sung Kim, head of the Korean affairs office at the State Department, will go as the chief delegate, according to a source who spoke to Yonhap. He led a delegation to Pyongyang last month to survey the DPRK’s nuclear facilities.
2. Korean War Peace Treaty
The Associated Press (“S. KOREA SENDS ENVOYS TO US, NEIGHBORS”, 2007-10-05) reported that the ROK sent special envoys to the US and other countries to brief them on a new deal with the DPRK calling for multinational talks to formally end the Korean War. ROK President Roh Moo-hyun and DPRK leader Kim Jong Il agreed Thursday to seek a meeting of parties to the cease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, with the aim of signing a permanent peace treaty. That would require the participation of the US and PRC, who also fought in the conflict.
Agence France-Presse (“US: KOREAN PEACE HINGES ON SIX-PARTY PROCESS”, 2007-10-05) reported that the White House said that a peace treaty formally ending the Korean war and the normalization of US-DPRK ties would depend on the DPRK abiding by an agreement that calls for dismantling its nuclear weapons program. “There is a process for this,” said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe, pointing to the six-country talks. Taking the DPRK off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, a peace treaty, normalizing US-DPRK ties is “all conditioned on action-for-action” progress on the denuclearization deal, he said.
3. Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation
Yonhap (“TWO KOREAS DISCUSS OIL EXPLORATION AT SUMMIT”, 2007-10-05) reported that leaders of the two Koreas discussed issues relating to oil field development and exploration at the latest summit in Pyongyang, the ROK’s top economic policymaker said. “The oil development issue was discussed at the summit, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed keen interest in the South’s oil field and gas exploration projects,” Finance Minister Kwon O-kyu said in a press briefing.
Korea Herald (“ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF S-N PROJECTS PUT AT $150B”, 2007-10-05) reported that amid widely varying estimates of the economic impact of the second-ever summit between the two Koreas, a private think tank said yesterday that the inter-Korean business deals will generate up to $150 billion in long-term economic benefits. “The new joint economic projects will deliver North Korea a significant boost to its economy, while reducing the capital cost of unification for the South,” said the Hyundai Research Institute.
4. Inter-Korean Summit
Chosun Ilbo (“KIM JONG-IL DOES NOT ATTEND PERFORMANCE, DINNER”, 2007-10-05) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il did not attend the Arirang performance or the dinner party which were given for ROK President Roh Moo-hyun during the inter-Korean summit on October 3. Kim’s absence from was unexpected, although there was no prior appointment. Analysts believes that Kim was displeased because Roh withdrew his suggestion to stay on. Translated from Korean.
Hankyoreh (“ROK AND DPRK KOREANS TO TRAVEL BY TRAIN TO BEIJING OLYMPICS”, 2007-10-05) reported that the ROK and DPRK are about to create their first “official” joint cheering squad for an international sports event. Even better, the cheering squad is going to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics via the Seoul-Sinuiju railway connecting the DPRK and ROK. Making it happen, however, will require that a few issues are resolved. First there is the issue of the train itself. The second problem is about convenience. Even if such problems are solved, complicated problems still remain in connection with the details such as the size of a joint cheering squad, the way to form it, and the time to launch it. Related authorities in both Koreas should meet to discuss these problems.
5. DPRK-Japan Relations
Kyodo (“S. KOREA’S ROH URGES N. KOREAN LEADER KIM TO ADVANCE TIES WITH JAPAN”, 2007-10-05) reported that ROK President Roh Moo Hyun urged DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in a meeting earlier this week to advance Pyongyang’s relations with Tokyo, with the abduction issue in mind, Japanese officials said. Roh unveiled the request in a brief phone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday evening, following Wednesday’s inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, according to the officials.
Kyodo (“KIN ASK GOV’T TO SEEK EARLY RESOLUTION OF N. KOREA ABDUCTION ISSUE”, 2007-10-05) reported that the families of Japanese nationals abducted to the DPRK decades ago urged the Japanese government to seek an early resolution to the abduction issue as many of them are getting old and are eager to welcome back their missing kin while still alive. They made the request in a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, after receiving a briefing by a senior Foreign Ministry official about last week’s six-party talks on the DPRK’s denuclearization.
6. Japan SDF Indian Ocean Mission
The Japan Times (“NO U.S. ORDERS BAN JAPAN FUEL IN IRAQ: GENERAL”, 2007-10-05) reported that there are no instructions forbidding US warships from taking part in Iraq missions after taking on fuel from Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels supporting antiterrorism campaigns in and around Afghanistan, a senior US military officer said. But he added that he didn’t know whether any U.S. warships had actually participated in Iraq missions after being refueled by MSDF vessels.
Kyodo (“OPPOSITION REJECTS CALL FOR POLICY COORDINATION ON REFUELING LAW”, 2007-10-05) reported that the ruling parties presented an outline of an envisaged new law to continue Japan’s contentious refueling mission in the Indian Ocean to the opposition bloc, but the opposition spurned a call for a policy coordination talk, saying the issue should be deliberated at the Diet. The move came after the dominant Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, and the New Komeito party, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, endorsed the outline earlier in the day as part of the process of drawing up a bill.
7. Japan Textbook Issue
Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN TEXTBOOK PUBLISHERS TO RESTORE REFERENCES TO FORCED SUICIDES”, 2007-10-05) reported that Japanese publishers plan to put controversial references to the military’s role in forced suicides of civilians during World War II back into school textbooks, a report said. Four out of five textbook publishers plan to submit requests to the government to restore the references, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing a survey of the companies.
8. Japan Space Program
Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN LUNAR PROBE REACHES ORBIT”, 2007-10-05) reported that Japan put its first satellite into orbit around the moon Friday, placing the country a step ahead of the PRC and India in an increasingly heated space race in Asia. The PRC is expected to launch its own moon probe by the end of the year, and India is to follow with an unmanned lunar mission in 2008.
9. PRC Unrest
The Associated Press (“CHINESE FARMERS PROTEST COTTON PRICES “, 2007-10-05) reported that cotton farmers in the PRC’s far west clashed with police and paramilitary guards over alleged price-fixing by local authorities, leaving 40 people injured, witnesses and a Hong Kong media report said. The riot broke out Sept. 22 in Ili, an area in the northwest corner of the remote Xinjiang region, after police raided farmhouses looking for caches of hidden cotton, local farmer Zhang Xiaolan said. Farmers were hiding the cotton to sell on the open market because they believed the local authority’s fixed price for the crop was too low, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper said.