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Cablegate: Press Bulletin - December 8, 2008

O 080742Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2543
USDOC WASHDC 7866
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 002341


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 - December 8, 2008

Opinions/Editorials

1. U.S. Automakers' Blaming of the ROK Preposterous
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 8, 2008, Page 27)
2. North Korea's Nuclear Verification Needs Patience
(Hankook Ilbo, December 8, 2008, Page 39)


Features

3. U.S. State Department Asks Ambassadors Overseas to Submit
Resignations
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 6, 2008, Page 8)


Top Headlines

Chosun Ilbo
Obama Plans "New" New Deal to Create 2.5 Million New Jobs
JoongAng Ilbo
Owners of a Single Home in Provincial Areas to be Exempt
from Comprehensive Real Estate Tax
Dong-a Ilbo
Sweeping Reshuffle of Blue House Secretariat Planned
at Year's End
Hankook Ilbo
Mid-term Evaluation of Public Firms' Presidents Planned
Before Year's End
Hankyoreh Shinmun
Modern History DVD Produced by Education Ministry Downgrades "April
19 Revolution" of 1960
to "April 19 Demonstration"
Segye Ilbo
North Korea Demands Additional Corresponding Measures
in Return for Putting Nuclear Sampling in Writing
Seoul Shinmun
18th National Assembly's First Regular Session Ends Tomorrow,
With 2,325 Bills Still Pending


Domestic Developments

1. Former U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Alexander Vershbow, in a Dec. 5
speech organized by the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), called for
Seoul to show flexibility in promptly dealing with the KORUS FTA.
(Chosun, Segye)

International News

1. The Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear programs will resume
in Beijing today. (All) Given the North's insistence that the issue
of nuclear sampling should be dealt with at the next phase of
negotiations, this round of the Six-Party Talks is expected to be
very difficult. Chief ROK Delegate to the Six-Party Talks Kim Sook
was quoted as telling reporters yesterday: "I'm not very optimistic
about the talks." (Chosun, JoongAng, Dong-a, Hankook, all TVs)
2. According to a diplomatic source in Beijing, North Korea recently
delivered to the U.S. its position that additional corresponding
measures are necessary in order to include nuclear sampling in a
verification protocol. (Segye)
3. Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, meanwhile, are considering a
compromise proposal to include the word, "nuclear sampling," in a
s-e-c-r-e-t memorandum. (JoongAng)
4. North Korea, in a Dec. 6 statement by a Foreign Ministry
spokesman, said that it will not talk with Japan in the upcoming
Six-Party Talks because Tokyo refuses to provide promised energy aid
for Pyongyang. (JoongAng, Hankyoreh)
5. The chief ROK and North Korean delegates to the Six-Party Talks
will meet today in Beijing for a bilateral meeting. An ROKG official
was quoted as saying: "The two sides will discuss the North Korean
nuclear issue, but if time permits, they will also discuss
inter-Korean relations." (All)

Media Analysis

Six-Party Talks/North Korea
All the ROK media today gave wide play to today's resumption in
Beijing of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear programs.
Most newspapers predicted that the issue of including sampling of
North Korea's nuclear facilities into a verification protocol would
be the biggest bone of contention during this round of talks and
that the talks would be difficult, given the North's insistence that
the nuclear sampling issue should be dealt with at the next phase of
negotiations. The ROK media also noted that the Dec. 4-5
preparatory meetings in Singapore between the chief U.S. and North
Korean nuclear negotiators failed to produce results on the sampling
issue. Chief ROK Delegate to the Six-Party Talks Kim Sook was
widely quoted as telling reporters yesterday: "I'm not very
optimistic about the talks." Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo reported
today that the ROK, the U.S. and Japan are considering a compromise
proposal to include the word, "nuclear sampling," in a s-e-c-r-e-t
memorandum. Conservative Segye Ilbo's front-page report,
meanwhile, cited a diplomatic source in Beijing as saying that North
Korea recently delivered to the U.S. its position that additional
corresponding measures are necessary to codify nuclear sampling into
a verification protocol. Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized:
"North Korea seems to be aiming to use the sampling issue as a
bargaining chip at the U.S.-North Korea normalization talks, rather
than delay the completion of the second phase of North Korea's
denuclearization process for no reason. There are also some
expectations that North Korea may take a compromising attitude at
this negotiation. Observers speculate that North Korea will take a
hard line in inter-Korean relations while indirectly showing its
commitment to negotiations with the U.S. ahead of the launch of the
new U.S. administration. In this regard, it is desirable that we
should read North Korea's intention well and induce the communist
state to take even a small step forward from its initial stance."

Most of the ROK media also gave attention today to a Dec. 6
statement by a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman that North
Korea will not talk with Japan in the upcoming Six-Party Talks
because Tokyo refuses to provide promised energy aid for Pyongyang.

Conservative Chosun and Segye Ilbo and right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo
carried inside-page reports on Saturday citing ruling Grand National
Party (GNP) Rep. Chung Mong-joon as telling Korean correspondents in
Washington on Dec. 4: "I was told during a meeting with former
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger that North Korea last month
asked the former Secretary of State to visit Pyongyang, and former
Secretary Kissinger responded to the North's offer by saying that he
would visit Pyongyang if two conditions were met: a U.S. president
officially asks him to do so as an envoy, and the North pledges to
dismantle its nuclear programs."

Opinions/Editorials
U.S. Automakers' Blaming of the ROK Preposterous
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 8, 2008, Page 27)

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ron Gettelfinger vehemently
criticized the ROK's car market and automakers when asking for
financial assistance at a hearing. He stated, "While the ROK
exports 669,000 cars to the U.S, the U.S. exports 5,000 cars (to the
ROK). How can we compete with such a nation?" and this remark was
broadcast live nationwide in the U.S. He also argued in late
September, "It is unfair that the ROK's import tariff is higher than
that of the U.S."

The best-selling vehicles in the U.S. are Japanese. Last year,
Japanese carmakers' market share in the U.S. hit a record high of
28.6 percent. Gettelfinger's remarks are tantamount to "taking his
anger out on the wrong person." He is attacking the ROK with the
aim of hiding UAW's wrongdoings and receiving a financial bailout.
His comment on the ROK's import tariff is also incorrect. While the
ROK and the U.S. impose 8 and 2.5 percent tariffs, respectively, on
passenger cars, import tariffs on trucks are 10 percent in the ROK
and 25 percent in the U.S. In addition, when the ROK-U.S. Free
Trade Agreement takes effect, the ROK will lift tariffs on all kinds
of vehicles, but the U.S. will remove tariffs only on vehicles with
engines smaller than 3,000cc.

Through his statements, Gettelfinger clearly intends to turn around
the U.S.'s negative public opinion about Big Three automakers and
their labor unions. Even U.S. lawmakers do not hesitate to say,
"Financial bailout is meaningless now. We should let a couple of
companies go bankrupt." Forbes.com criticized the UAW by saying,
"The Big Three sold their souls to the devil unions."

Relying on the strength of its 460,000 members, the UAW pressured
the companies to pay health insurance premiums for retirees and
their families and helped them to live in the lap of luxury, even

providing Viagra. Now that their companies are on the verge of
collapse, the UAW is pleading, "Please save us," but the reaction of
Americans is cool.

North Korea's Nuclear Verification Needs Patience
(Hankook Ilbo, December 8, 2008, Page 39)

The Six-Party Talks will open the meeting of chief negotiators in
Beijing today to discuss adopting the nuclear verification protocol.
Their goal is to put nuclear verification principles in a written
agreement. However, since North Korea is refusing to accept nuclear
sampling, a key means of nuclear verification, at the Yongbyon
nuclear facilities, the negotiations are expected to face rough
going. In order to overcome the biggest hurdle in the second phase
of denuclearization, the members of the Six-Party Talks should put
their heads together and try to persuade the North to change its
stance.

When U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill visited
Pyongyang in October, the North reportedly made it clear that it
will accept sample-taking in principle. However, it is still
arguing that sample-taking should be allowed not in the second phase
of denuclearization but in the third nuclear dismantlement phase.
No compromise was reached, either, at the talks between Assistant
Secretary Hill and his North Korean counterpart Vice Foreign
Minister Kim Kye-gwan in Singapore on December 4-5.

North Korea seems to be aiming to use the sampling issue as a
bargaining chip at the U.S.-North Korea normalization talks, rather
than delay the completion of the second phase of North Korea's
denuclearization process for no reason. This is why, observers say,
Pyongyang is avoiding including sample-taking in the protocol. As a
result, (Six-Party nations) are discussing compromises, such as
finding another way of taking samples or dividing verification
measures into several steps, but it is not certain whether North
Korea will accept it.

However, there are also some expectations that North Korea may take
a compromising attitude at this negotiation. Observers speculate
that North Korea will take a hard line in inter-Korean relations
while indirectly showing its commitment to negotiations with the
U.S. in advance of the launch of the new U.S. administration. In
this regard, it is desirable that we should read North Korea's
intention well and induce the communist state to take even a small
step forward from its initial stance.

The second phase of North Korea's denuclearization process (nuclear
disablement) and the provision of heavy fuel oil to North Korea was
supposed to be completed by October. However, it has been delayed
to date due to the North's stubborn attitude. Furthermore, Japan's
refusal to provide heavy fuel oil to North Korea in protest over the
abduction issue is also leading (relevant countries) to look for
other countries to replace Japan. Simply criticizing North Korea
will not make things better. The denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula is a goal that can be achieved only after a long and
difficult process. This is why we have to have patience pursuing
this goal.

Features
U.S. State Department Asks Ambassadors Overseas to Submit
Resignations
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 6, 2008, Page 8)

By Washington Correspondent Ha Tae-won

It is routine during the transition toward a new administration...
sources say, "Ambassador Stephens is highly likely to stay in her
post, but it is not guaranteed."

AFP reported on December 4 that, in advance of the inauguration of
President-elect Barack Obama on January 20, the U.S. Department of
State has asked some 170 ambassadors serving abroad to tender their
resignations.

This is aimed at ensuring the U.S. President's prerogative to
appoint ambassadors to U.S. missions overseas. It is customary for
career ambassadors to submit their resignations right after the U.S.
presidential election every four years.

This also applies to U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Kathleen Stephens,
who has been serving in the ROK for less than three months since
assuming her post in September.

If history is any guide, career diplomats, not political appointees,
usually stay in place unless they make a serious mistake or complete
their two- to three-year term. For example, U.S. Ambassadors to the
ROK William Gleysteen and Richard Walker stayed on in 1981 and 1985,
respectively.

When an incumbent Ambassador resigns with a change of government,
the Charge d'Affaires takes up the duties of the Ambassador. For
instance, Ambassador Donald Gregg resigned in 1993 when the Bill
Clinton administration was launched, and Stephen Bosworth resigned
in 2001 when George W. Bush took office.

Sources in Washington said, "As of now, (Ambassador Stephens) is
highly likely to stay in her post, but no one can guarantee what
decision the next U.S. President will make," adding, "Although the
new administration could consult with its ally, the ROKG, it is not
a necessary procedure."


Stephens

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