Cablegate: Press Bulletin - July 7, 2008
O 070611Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0753
USDOC WASHDC 7187
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC//DB-Z//
UNCLAS SEOUL 001345
DEPT FOR EAP/K, EAP/PD, INR/EAP/K AND INR/IL/P
TREASURY FOR OASIA/WINGLE
USDOC FOR 4430/IEP/OPB/EAP/WGOLICKE
STATE PASS USDA ELECTRONICALLY FOR FAS/ITP
STATE PASS DOL/ILAB SUDHA HALEY
STATE PASS USTR FOR IVES/WEISEL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL MARR ECON KS US
SUBJECT: PRESS BULLETIN - July 7, 2008
1. We Have More Important Things to Worry About
(Chosun Ilbo, July 7, 2008, Page 31)
2. U.S. "Condoned Summary Executions during Korean War" (Daily
Chosun, July 7, 2008) 3
3. Foreign Students in the U.S. Can Work as Interns
(Dong-a Ilbo, July 7, 2008, Page 13) 3
4. Majority of Koreans Think Candlelight Protests Should Stop
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, July 7, 2008, Front Page and Page 5)
Foreign Investors Pulled 6 Trillion Won
Out of Korean Stock Market over 20 Days
Key Blue House Official: "Before Vacating Blue House, Former
President Roh's Aides Moved Entire Main Computer Server System of
Blue House to Bongha Village, Roh's Hometown where the Former
President Retired after Leaving Office"
Dong-a Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun, All TVs
Cars Owned by Government Agencies will be Driven
Every Other Day Starting July 15
Chung Sye-kyun Elected Chairman of Main Opposition United Democratic
Party; He Proposes a "Round-Table Meeting" between Lee Myung-bak
Administration, Ruling Grand National Party and His Party to Resolve
the Nation's Crises, Including Economic Hardship, Inter-Korean
Public Sector Reform and Education Policy
Blue House Turns Blind Eye to "Candlelight Public Sentiment"... It
Again Takes "Hard line" on Protesters
1. President Lee Myung-bak will leave for Japan tomorrow to attend
the G8 summit of major industrialized countries. The leaders of the
G8 will begin their three-day summit today, with global warming and
soaring oil and food prices atop the agenda. (All)
2. According to a high-ranking diplomatic source in Washington, U.S.
beef that passes the U.S. Quality Systems Assessment (QSA) program
will arrive in the ROK in a month at the earliest. QSA is a
voluntary program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
designed to verify that the beef exported to the ROK comes from
cattle under 30 months of age. (Chosun, Dong-a, Segye)
3. According to a Blue House official, all the Blue House's
cafeterias will serve food made with U.S. beef for lunch on July 8,
a move aimed at allaying public concern over the safety of U.S.
4. "Is 'Candlelight' Calming Down?:" The weekend's massive
candlelight protests ended without major conflict between protesters
and police. Police estimated the number taking part in the protest
on Saturday at about 50,000, while rally organizers put the number
at more than 500,000. Religious groups, meanwhile, said yesterday
that they will stop organizing mass gatherings for the time being.
An official from the Catholic Priests' Association for Justice was
quoted as saying in a statement: "Following a meaningful declaration
of the people's victory on Saturday, the priests stopped fasting and
returned to religious duty." (All`)
5. According to a July 5 opinion survey by Research Plus, a local
pollster, of 1,000 adults across the ROK, 68 percent of respondents
said that they are still uneasy about U.S. beef. 44 percent of those
polled said that they are sympathetic to candlelight vigils against
U.S. beef imports but that it is time for them to stop. (Hankyoreh)
6. According to AP, in the early days of the Korean War, the U.S.
military implicitly connived with the ROK army and police to carry
out mass executions of left-wingers and their sympathizers to
prevent them from joining enemy forces. (Hankyoreh, MBC)
1. President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, in their
July 6 summit in Japan, agreed to cooperate closely on the North
Korean nuclear and Japanese abduction issues. (JoongAng)
2. Dennis Wilder, the U.S. National Security Council's Director for
Asian Affairs, said on July 5 that a fresh round of the Six-Party
Talks on North Korea's nuclear program will likely be held later
this week (around July 11 or 12). (JoongAng, Dong-a, Hankyoreh,
Segye, Seoul, VoiceofPeople)
3. Dong-a Ilbo featured a story saying that U.S. hardliners on North
Korea, angered by moderates going it alone in dealing with the North
Korean nuclear issue, are preparing for a massive counterattack at
the stage of verifying the North's nuclear declaration. (Dong-a)
Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo today quoted President Bush and
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as agreeing in their July 6
summit in Japan to cooperate closely on the North Korean nuclear and
Japanese abduction issues.
The July 4 edition of conservative Chosun Ilbo replayed a July 2 AFP
report quoting President Bush as saying at a roundtable interview
with Japanese news outlets prior to his departure for G8 summit:
"North Korea's declaration of its nuclear programs may have stemmed
from leader Kim Jong-il becoming tired of his country's isolation
from the international community." President Bush was further
quoted as saying: "Diplomacy has got to be the first choice of
solving any of these problems, but military options remain on the
Most newspapers also carried a quote from Dennis Wilder, the U.S.
National Security Council's Director for Asian Affairs, who told
reporters on July 5 on Air Force One carrying President Bush to the
G8 summit that a fresh round of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's
nuclear program will likely be held later this week (around July 11
Moderate Hankook Ilbo and Seoul Shinmun on Saturday, meanwhile,
quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying in a July
4 statement that North Korea could not discuss the next stage of
denuclearization until its negotiating partners fulfill their
duties. The spokesman was further quoted as claiming: "We have
carried out more than 80 percent of the disablement of our key
nuclear facilities but the five other parties fulfilled only 40
percent of their obligations under the October third Six-Party
Agreement." Hankook saw this statement as a North Korean attempt to
gain the upper hand in the soon-to-be held Six-Party Talks, and
speculated that this development might set back the resumption of
the Six-Party Talks, which are slated for July 10.
Most newspapers over the weekend and today gave inside-page play to
Abdul Qadeer Khan's interview with AP, in which the architect of
Pakistan's nuclear program alleged that Pakistan's army supervised a
shipment in 2000 of used P-1 centrifuges to North Korea and that it
must have been sent with the approval of Pervez Musharraf, the
then-army chief who took power in a 1999 coup.
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo ran an inside-page story today saying that
U.S. hardliners on North Korea, angered by moderates going it alone
in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue, are preparing for a
massive counterattack at the stage of verifying the North's nuclear
U.S. Beef Controversy
Carrying the identical headlines, "Is Candlelight Calming Down?,"
newspapers reported today that the weekend's massive candlelight
protests ended without major conflict between protesters and police.
Newspapers cited the police as estimating the number taking part in
the protest on Saturday at about 50,000, while rally organizers put
the number at more than 500,000. Newspapers also gave attention to
yesterday's statement by religious groups saying that they will stop
organizing mass gatherings for the time being. An official from the
Catholic Priests' Association for Justice was quoted as saying:
"Following a meaningful declaration of the people's victory on
Saturday, the priests stopped fasting and returned to religious
Citing a Blue House official, newspapers also reported that all the
presidential Blue House's cafeterias will serve food made with U.S.
beef for lunch on July 8, a move seen by newspapers as aimed at
allaying public concern over the safety of U.S. beef.
Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun today front-paged a July 5 opinion
survey by Research Plus, a local pollster, of 1,000 adults across
the ROK, in which 68 percent of respondents said that they are still
uneasy about U.S. beef, with 44 percent of those polled saying that
they are sympathetic to candlelight vigils against U.S. beef imports
but that it is time to stop them.
G8 Summit in Japan
Newspapers over the weekend and today gave inside-page coverage to
the G8 summit in Japan, which will begin its three-day session
today, with global warming and soaring oil and food prices atop the
agenda. President Lee Myung-bak, newspapers said, will leave for
Japan tomorrow to participate in the G8 summit at Toyako and to hold
a series of bilateral summit talks with President Bush, Russian
President Dmitry Medvedev and leaders of India, Brazil, Mexico,
Indonesia and Australia.
Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun's inside-page report on Friday noted
that the G8 industrialized countries have a big difference of
opinion on issues such as regulating biofuels and speculative funds
and speculated that it would be difficult for them to set a target
goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hankyoreh's headline read:
"Leaders of G8 Summit Only Bent on Serving Their Own National
We Have More Important Things to Worry About
(Chosun Ilbo, July 7, 2008, Page 31)
A massive protest organized by the People's Association for Measures
Against Mad Cow Disease (PAMAMCD) was held in Seoul on Saturday.
Religious groups including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and Won
Buddhists, as well as the opposition United Democratic Party,
Democratic Labor Party, New Progressive Party and Renewal of Korea
Party took part. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and
university students also showed up. Protests have been going on for
two months now, with participants claiming that eating U.S. beef
leads to death by variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD), or the
human form of mad cow disease. Over the last two months, anybody
who is anybody has joined in the protests, and just about every
imaginable act of violence has been committed.
It's about time the protests came to an end. People in around a
hundred countries eat U.S. beef every day, including Americans and
Europeans. Most people around the world consume U.S. beef from
cattle aged 30 months or older, but nowhere do you see mad cow
hysteria or protests. If you ask people in other countries right
now whether they believe eating American beef will cause them to
come down with vCJD, they will say you must be out of your mind.
A former presidential candidate of the opposition left for the
United States a few days ago, where he plans to stay for more than a
year. The leading candidates who vied for the top UDP spot in the
party's election convention on Sunday lived in the U.S. until
recently. If what the protesters are saying is correct, then one of
the UDP's candidates must have had a death wish and the other
candidate should be dropping dead from vCJD soon. It's all
A few days ago, one civic group that was believed to have more
common sense announced it would take part in the mad cow protests.
At least its members did not carry signs saying "mad cow disease."
Most of the protesters must know that the notion is ridiculous, but
the PAMAMCD has succeeded by leading the protests this far based on
But in the shadow of that success, the traders and residents of
downtown Seoul are crying out for help. Mad cow disease is not even
a topic of concern for Korea's business leaders: far more serious
problems face the country. One businessman said just 1,000 unsold
homes translates into hundreds of billions of won in losses for
construction companies, and right now builders in Korea are left
with many thousands of unsold homes. He said Korea will feel the
full blast of the real bomb that is ticking away behind their backs
as they are fixated on the candlelight protests. The monthly
interest on mortgages has soared past 9 percent and consumer prices
are increasing faster than growth, leading to a sharp gain in
household debt. Middle-class families are being driven to the edge
and the entire economy may end up being shaken to its foundations.
Prices of crude oil, grain, iron ore and other raw materials are
rising to ever-new highs. And now, the fluctuation of the Korean
won against the U.S. dollar is mimicking patterns seen before the
Asian financial crisis.
Amid these dangerous developments, we see thousands of people,
including innocent children, making a great song and dance downtown
about how U.S. beef will cause vCJD. A major force in the protests
is the KCTU, which is saying laborers can't work if they catch vCJD
and has vowed to hold strikes that damage production.
How much longer are these forces going to enjoy the mad cow festival
while their country is being driven closer to the brink? It is time
for everyone to worry about reality.
* This is a translation provided by the newspaper and it is
identical to the Korean version.
U.S. "Condoned Summary Executions during Korean War"
(English Chosun, July 7, 2008)
In the early days of the Korean War, the U.S. military implicitly
connived with the South Korean army and police to carry out mass
executions of left-wingers and their sympathizers to prevent them
from joining enemy forces, AP reported Saturday.
The wire agency reported based on its own archival research in
declassified documents from the U.S. National Archives and Records
Administration that American officers observed, photographed and
c-o-n-f-i-d-e-n-t-i-a-l-l-y reported the wholesale executions by
their South Korean ally,
AP said the "s-e-c-r-e-t-i-v-e slaughter" was believed to have
killed 100,000 or more leftists and supposed sympathizers, usually
without charge or trial, in a few weeks in mid-1950s. Its research
found no indication that Far East Commander General Douglas
MacArthur took action to stem the killing.
The declassified record shows an equivocal U.S. attitude continuing
into the fall of 1950, it said, when Seoul was retaken and South
Korean forces began shooting residents who had collaborated with the
northern occupiers. When Washington's British allies protested,
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk told them U.S.
commanders were doing "everything they can to curb such atrocities,"
according to a memo of Oct. 28, 1950. British troops at one stage
seized "Execution Hill" outside Seoul to block further mass killings
(Editor's Note: This same AP story is also carried in the July 7
edition of Hankyoreh Shinmun without additional comment.)
Foreign Students in the U.S. Can Work as Interns
(Dong-a Ilbo, July 7, 2008, Page 13)
By Reporter Hwang Kyu-in
Starting from September, the Department of State will add the
student internship subcategory to the J1 visa program.
Student interns may participate in a student internship program for
up to 12 months at each degree level.
Only when they are accepted into a U.S. internship program can they
apply for a J1 visa.
From the second semester of this year, the door will be open for
undergraduate or graduate students to make money in the U.S. for a
year while studying there.
According to the latest issue of the Federal Register, the U.S.
Department of State created a new subcategory of "Student Interns"
in the J1 Visa or cultural exchange visitor program. Under this
subcategory, student interns can participate in an internship
program at a U.S. accredited academic institution for up to 12
The addition of the new student intern subcategory has consequently
brought the number of the types of the J1 visa programs to 18.
Among them, the subcategories of exchange students, interns and
student interns are similar. However, exchange students can only
maintain a J-1 status when they take classes at accredited academic
institutions for more than 18 hours per week, and although they may
participate in an internship, they can only earn credits. On the
other hand, interns can make money at a private company but cannot
enroll in an accredited academic institution.
The new student internship program is a combination of these two
types. Student interns are allowed to work as paid interns at a
designated university or private sector entity for at least 32 hours
a week while taking classes at an accredited academic institution.
This revision, which expands internship program sponsors from
government agencies or private sector entities to universities, is
effective July 21, 2008.
Kim Sang-rok, 24, who stayed in the U.S. as an exchange student last
year, said, "Among the part-time jobs that an exchange student can
do is simply serving food at a school restaurant at the minimum
wage," adding, "If the student internship program is introduced, it
will help build experience in fields of study and help (students)
understand the corporate culture of the U.S."
Potential applicants for the J-1 Student Intern visa should be
students currently enrolled in university or graduate school located
outside the U.S. To apply for the visa, they also need an admission
notice for the student intern programs issued by the universities,
research institutes or government organizations for which they want
Those who receive this visa granting them the status of student
intern will be able to stay for a maximum of 12 months in the U.S.
for each bachelor's course. Undergraduate students who worked as
student intern can stay for another 12 months when they enter the
master's course and for another 12 months again for their doctor's
Professor Moon Hae-won, in charge of international educational
exchanges programs at Yonsei University, said, "Since school
performance and the English ability required by each U.S. private or
government organizations differ, potential applicants for the
student intern programs need to check for detailed information
through their colleges."
The number of J-1 visa issuance by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul last
year was 17,452, up by 750 from 2006. When the student intern
program is added to the J-1 visa category, the figure is likely to
An official from the ROK Foreign Ministry said, "The U.S. created a
system which is modeled on Japan's working holiday visa that allows
foreigners to learn Japanese, travel and work in Japan." The
official added, "More American private firms are likely to join the
student intern program since they do not have to pay employment
taxes for hiring interns."
According to the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Information
System (SEVIS), Koreans were the largest foreign student group in
the U.S. as of the end of last year. The number of Korean students
in America marked 103,394, accounting for 14 percent of foreign
students in the U.S.
Majority of Koreans Think Candlelight Protests Should Stop
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, July 7, 2008, Front Page and Page 5)
By Reporters Lim Seok-gyu, Lee Hwa-ju and Shin Seong-gun
But citizens still want U.S. beef agreement renegotiated and put the
president's approval ratings at 20.9 pct.
In spite of the South Korean government's additional round of
negotiations with the United States over quarantine terms for the
resumption of U.S. beef imports, public fears about the American
meat have not been eased and a majority of people still think the
government should renegotiate the deal to revise the quarantine
terms. As for the candlelight demonstrations, people said they
((agree with the reasons people are protesting)), but the majority
of respondents to a recent survey said that the rallies should
According to an opinion poll conducted by The Hankyoreh and Research
Plus on May 5, 29 percent of respondents said that "concerns (about
American meat) have been eased," while 67.5 percent responded that
"concerns (about American meat) have not been eased." In addition,
59.9 percent said that renegotiation of the beef agreement is
"necessary," while 34.5 percent said renegotiation is "not
necessary." These results are in contrast to the government's
assertion that public fears over U.S. beef have eased after the
additional round of negotiations in June.
The survey also confirmed the existence of lingering concerns about
the government's plan to increase the number of restaurants that are
required to show country-of-origin information for beef. The poll
showed that 73.9 percent of respondents do not trust the
government's plan, which will require most restaurants and retailers
to provide the information. These results seem to support the
public sentiment that a renegotiation with the U.S. would be the
best way to guarantee the safety of beef and likewise call into
question the effectiveness of other government measures, such as an
expansion of the country-of-origin labeling policy.
As for the candlelight rallies, 28.5 percent of survey respondents
said they "agree with the reasons behind the rallies" and that "the
rallies should go on," while 43.7 percent said they "agree with the
reasons behind the rallies," but that "the rallies should be
halted." Another 22 percent said they "do not agree with the
reasons behind the rallies" and that "the rallies should be halted."
While 72.2 percent of respondents said they agree with the
candlelight protests, more than fifty percent think that the
protests should be brought to an end.
Lim Sang-ryeol, the president of Research Plus, said, "While people
are still critical of the government's handling of U.S. beef imports
and agree with the candlelight rallies, they are likely feeling a
sense of fatigue and expect a resolution as both the government and
protesters have been in confrontation for a long time without any
sign of compromise."
When asked about whether the government should replace
economy-related ministers, including Finance Minister Kang Man-soo,
49.1 percent responded that they should be replaced, while 30.5
percent said they should remain in office.
As for President Lee Myung-bak's appointment of people who served as
his media advisers during his election campaign as presidents of
broadcasting companies, 67.7 percent said the move is "problematic
because it could undermine the neutrality of the broadcasters,"
while 21.7 percent said there is "no problem because the
appointments are based on (an individual's) competence and
specialization." The poll showed that President Lee's approval
rating stood at 20.9 percent, compared with the 22.2 percent
recorded in a May 31 survey.
The telephone survey was conducted nationwide among 1,000 people
aged 19 or older. The survey had a response rate of 16 percent and
a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points with a
confidence level of 95 percent.
* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.