Search

 

Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; August 14, 2009

VZCZCXRO2333
OO RUEHGH
DE RUEHUL #1308/01 2260703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140703Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5356
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 9016
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DB-Z//
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0161
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6467
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6547
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1137
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 4889
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 3857
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7057
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1391
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2709
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1788
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2396

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001308

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; August 14, 2009

TOP HEADLINES
-------------


Chosun Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun,
Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun, All TVs
Hyundai Asan Worker Freed after 136 Days of Captivity
in N. Korea

JoongAng Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo
Freed Hyundai Asan Worker: "I'm Happy to be Back...
Thank You"


DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
-----------------------

A Hyundai Asan worker, who had been held incommunicado in North
Korea since March 30, was freed yesterday evening. North Korea
officially deported him on the 136th day of his detention for
criticizing the North's political system. (All)

The Unification Ministry denied a ransom was paid for his release,
but gave no details of behind-the-scenes talks between the two
countries. (All)

Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun extended her stay in North
Korea for one more day yesterday, possibly because of a delayed
meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. She originally planned
to return to Seoul on August 12. (All)

A U.S. delegation led by Ambassador Philip Goldberg, coordinator for
the U.S.'s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874,
will visit Seoul late next week, around August 22. (JoongAng,
Dong-a, Segye)


MEDIA ANALYSIS
--------------

-N. Korea
---------

- Release of ROK Worker
Yesterday's release of a Hyundai Asan worker, who had been held
incommunicado in North Korea since March 30, received above-the-fold
front-page treatment. According to media reports, North Korea
allowed the worker to leave by expelling him for criticizing the
North's political system, and the ROK Unification Ministry stated
that it neither paid a ransom nor offered an apology for his
release, while giving no details of behind-the-scenes talks between
the two Koreas.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo's front-page report quoted an ROKG official
as commenting: "Given several other pending issues, including the
fate of four crewmembers of a fishing boat towed to the North after
crossing the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea on July 30, the
ROKG will not abruptly change its North Korea policy. However, it
is clear that a breakthrough has been made in inter-Korean ties
following the worker's release."

Chosun Ilbo also carried an inside-page analysis that said that
Pyongyang may be returning to dialogue, because its "hostage
politics," using the detained ROK worker and U.S. journalists as
leverage in relations with the U.S. and the ROK, failed to deliver;
that approach instead became increasingly burdensome for Pyongyang
over time. The Chosun analysis quoted local experts as observing:
"Nothing comes without a price tag in relations with North Korea.
Pyongyang probably expects some sort of financial compensation from
Seoul for the worker's release."

The ROK media also gave wide attention to Hyundai Group Chairwoman
Hyun Jung-eun's decision to extend her stay in North Korea for one

SEOUL 00001308 002 OF 006


more day, possibly because of a delayed meeting with North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il.

In a related development, conservative Chosun quoted an ROKG
official as saying that the Hyundai chairwoman "must have met" Kim
Jong-il because she was scheduled to return on Wednesday but
extended her stay twice, and because the North's invitation only
mentioned the start of her visit, "from Monday," but did not say
when it would end.

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "North Korea must have
released the ROK worker out of consideration that strained
inter-Korean relations will not be to its advantage. ... The ROKG
needs to send a forward-looking signal to North Korea. ... It can
positively consider making a bold proposal, including resumption of
humanitarian aid, through its upcoming speech to mark the August 15
Liberation Day. The fundamental resolution of the inter-Korean
issue ultimately depends on the resolution of North Korea's nuclear
issue. In the process, however, we should make efforts to improve
inter-Korean relations."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo argued in an editorial: "Seoul should not
interpret the ROK worker's release as signaling a major change in
inter-Korean relations. Resolution of humanitarian issues is one
thing, but the North's nuclear dismantlement is quite another.
Unless Pyongyang fundamentally changes its behavior toward nuclear
weapons, no breakthrough in inter-Korean relations is possible."

- Sanctions on N. Korea
Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo and conservative Dong-a Ilbo and Segye
Ilbo reported that a U.S. delegation led by Ambassador Philip
Goldberg, coordinator for the U.S.'s implementation of UN Security
Council Resolution 1874, will visit Seoul late next week, around
August 22. According to reports, Ambassador Goldberg will stress
during the visit that sanctions against North Korea have nothing to
do with former President Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea and
that they should continue.

JoongAng Ilbo's Senior Journalist Kim Young-hie opined: "(Current)
International sanctions against North Korea are much more powerful
and effective than any other sanctions in the past. ... North
Korea's invitations of former President Clinton and Hyundai Group
Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun are related to this grave situation. ...
What matters is moderating the intensity of sanctions. It is time
to calculate accurately to what extent we should put pressure on
North Korea in order to maximize the effects of sanctions and to
bring the North back to the Six-Party Talks, while making the
country deliver on its agreements. Otherwise, North Korea will
become desperate - like a mouse chased by a cat - and resort to
self-destructive acts, including nuclear and missile tests. Now
that U.S. -North Korea relations have entered a new phase, the
release of the Hyundai Asan employee may serve as a significant
breakthrough in inter-Korean relations."


OPINIONS/EDITORIALS
-------------------

'REPRESENTATIVE FOR AFGHANISTAN' HOLBROOKE AND 'REPRESENTATIVE FOR
NORTH KOREA' BOSWORTH
(Chosun Ilbo, August 14, 2009, page 4)

By Washington correspondent Lee Ha-won

On August 12, a forum organized by the pro-Obama Center for American
Progress (CAP) was held at the St. Regis hotel in Washington, DC.
At the event, John Podesta, the President of CAP, and Richard
Hoolbrooke, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan stood
behind a podium. They were flanked by five people. There were
sixteen TV cameras lined up on the opposite side. 150 seats were
arranged, and about 40 people, who were not able to seat themselves,
pricked up their ears.

Representative Holbrooke introduced his 10 aides and said that he

SEOUL 00001308 003 OF 006


had never worked with a team as strong as this one in 40 years. The
aides, who came from the Department of State, Department of
Treasury, Department of Defense, and so on, explained their own
roles and answered questions from the audience. Jane Marriott, who
was introduced as "a special figure borrowed from the British
government," spoke in a British accent and stressed international
cooperation.

By showing the harmony among him and his ten staff members on this
day, Holbrooke instilled trust in U.S. Afghanistan policy. This
scene reminded me of Stephen W. Bosworth, who was appointed as U.S.
Special Representative for North Korea at the same time as
Holbrooke. Since attending a Foreign Press Center briefing in April
and a Senate hearing in June, Special Representative Bosworth has
been conducting virtually no activities.

Despite some criticism that he is a "part-time" envoy, he still
doubles as the Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at
Tufts University. He, of course, spends more time in Medford,
Massachusetts, where the university is located. Compared to
Holbrooke, who shows up at the Department of State every day and
deals with Afghan issues, Bosworth reportedly makes a "business
trip" to Washington D.C. when necessary. This is also in contrast
to a flurry of activities by Ambassador Philip Goldberg, coordinator
for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. This
is why some people call Bosworth an "invisible man." We just hope
that somewhere out of sight, he is focusing his efforts to devise
strategies for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue "once and
for all."


MODERATING PRESSURE ON NORTH KOREA IS THE KEY
(JoongAng Ilbo, August 14, 2009, Page 43)

By Senior Journalist Kim Young-hie

A source well-versed in ROK-U.S. cooperation on North Korea said
that the USG seemed to have notified the ROKG on roughly 80 percent
of the outcome of former President Clinton's visit to the North.
Since the remaining 20 percent is Clinton's subjective impression
during his meeting and dinner with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,
it is the part to be shared only with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Based on those conversations, the ROKG surmises that since Clinton
was restricted by the USG not to act as a negotiator in Pyongyang,
except for the release of the journalists, he unilaterally explained
what he believed the Obama Administration's stance is on the
resolution of North Korean issues - including the nuclear standoff -
and otherwise kept quiet. This made Kim feel dispirited, and thus,
while explaining North Korea's position at length, Kim gave Clinton
the message that he hoped would be delivered to President Obama.
Kim emphasized the need for the U.S. to discontinue its 'hostile
policy toward the North' as a condition for improvement in
U.S.-North Korea relations.

A starting point for calculating the effects of the Clinton visit is
to examine what Kim gained from it. Kim scored many points at home
and abroad. He was able to trumpet the fact that the former U.S.
President and husband of the current U.S. Secretary of State paid a
visit to Dear Leader Kim, while apologizing for the U.S.
journalists' illegal entry into the North, and appealing for
leniency. Kim may also be pleased that he showed to the outside
world considerable generosity by freeing the U.S. journalists who
had been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. One flaw in this
picture is the issue of the Hyundai Asan employee. The impression
that Kim is generous to Americans but mean to people of the same
ethnicity does not match the "considerable generosity" that Kim
wants to show off. In this context, the issue of the ROK employee
does not go beyond the influence of the Clinton visit.

Some experts on North Korea think that since Clinton fully explained
Washington's position to Kim, the ball is now in North Korea's
court. As explained by Clinton, the USG's position also reminds the
North of the harsh reality that, without denuclearization, Pyongyang
should not anticipate an improvement in its relations with the U.S.

SEOUL 00001308 004 OF 006


North Korea is certainly being weighed down under UN-led sanctions
and additional steps taken by the U.S. However, the North Koreans
are a weird group, well accustomed to such situations; therefore,
Washington is not in a position to continue to endlessly tighten the
screws on the North. Sanctions are a means, not an end. The U.S.
is putting pressure on North Korea as a strong means to lure North
Korea back to the Six-Party Talks while making the North pursue
irreversible and verifiable denuclearization.

U.S.-North Korea relations before and after Clinton's visit to
Pyongyang will be quite different. David Sanger, the diplomatic
affairs reporter for The New York Times, said in an August 10 report
that the Obama Administration is gradually refocusing its policy on
classic "containment" of the North's ability to export its nuclear
technology. This report reflects a change that has been palpable in
Washington since Clinton's North Korea visit. Sanger said, "Few of
Mr. Obama's aides believe that the North will ever give up
everything in its nuclear panoply." He added, "The more immediate,
and practical, goal, then, is to neutralize Mr. Kim's ability to
reap cash and power from exporting its know-how for building a crude
nuclear device." These remarks send an important signal that even
though this is not the official position of the Obama
Administration, the U.S.' North Korea policy could be enacted on the
notion that Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear ambitions.
President Lee Myung-bak also sensed this change in U.S. position
during the June ROK-U.S. summit.

(Current) international sanctions against North Korea have been much
more powerful and effective than any other sanctions in the past.
Moreover, the U.S. is choking off North Korea's financial supplies
independently. If this continues for another six months, North
Korea will be very likely to lose almost all channels for
international financial transactions except its small accounts in
many Chinese banks. North Korea's invitations of former President
Clinton and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun are related to
this grave situation. This is also why North Korea no longer uses
provocative words, including suggesting an additional nuclear test
or a missile launch. Encouraged by the effects of sanctions, the
U.S. seems to intend to push harder since it is reaping good
results.

What matters is moderating the intensity of sanctions. It is time
to calculate accurately to what extent we should put pressure on
North Korea in order to maximize the effects of sanctions and to
bring the North back to the Six-Party Talks, while making the North
deliver on its agreements. Otherwise, North Korea will become
desperate - like a mouse chased by a cat - and resort to
self-destructive acts, including nuclear and missile tests. Now
that U.S. -North Korea relations have entered a new phase, the
release of the Hyundai Asan employee may serve as a significant
breakthrough in inter-Korean relations. The ROK should respond to
the release of the ROK worker considering a change in U.S.-North
Korea relations.


N. KOREA MUST FREE FISHERMEN
(Dong-a Ilbo, August 14, 2009, page 27)

Hyundai Asan Corp. worker Yu Seong-jin was freed yesterday after
spending 137 days in detention in North Korea. His release is
apparently the North's overture to the ROK after Pyongyang sent a
conciliatory gesture to the U.S. by releasing two American
reporters. The North had repeatedly urged "unity among all
Koreans," so it would have been difficult to keep Yu detained even
after freeing the two journalists in the wake of former U.S.
President Bill Clinton's visit to Pyongyang.

Despite Yu's release, a slew of humanitarian issues remain between
the ROK and North Korea. Four ROK fishermen from the vessel 800
Yeonan remain prisoners in the North. The boat strayed into North
Korean waters due to a mechanical failure on July 30. Ironically,
the ROK repatriated a North Korean fishing boat that accidentally
crossed the inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea the same day the
800 Yeonan entered the North. Pyongyang must immediately release

SEOUL 00001308 005 OF 006


the four fishermen and stop taking hostages.

Thirteen months have passed since the North's killing of ROK tourist
Park Wang-ja, who was shot to death July 11 last year by a North
Korean soldier at Mount Kumkang. Pyongyang, however, has yet to
apologize for her shooting, let alone promise to prevent a
recurrence. Tours to the scenic mountain should not resume before
the killing is resolved. The North is mistaken if it believes her
death will also be forgotten the way Yu's detention was resolved.

Seoul should not interpret the ROK worker's release as signaling a
major change in inter-Korean relations. Resolution of humanitarian
issues is one thing, but the North's nuclear dismantlement is quite
another. Unless Pyongyang fundamentally changes its behavior toward
nuclear weapons, no breakthrough in inter-Korean relations is
possible.

For more than 10 years, the pattern of North Korean aggression, U.N.
sanctions against the North, the dispatch of a special envoy, and
compensation followed by dialogue has repeated itself. U.S.
President Barack Obama, however, has made it clear that Washington
will break the pattern of compensating the North for its
provocations. The U.S. says the release of the two journalists is a
separate matter from the nuclear issue. It also added Kwangson
Banking Corp. to the list of North Korean entities subject to
financial sanctions on Tuesday. The North is apparently making
conciliatory gestures toward the ROK and the U.S. to avoid
international isolation resulting from UN economic sanctions after
its second nuclear explosion and missile tests. Pyongyang must face
the reality that no breakthrough in ties with Seoul or Washington
will occur unless it gives up nuclear weapons.

Seoul must maintain a cool-minded and principle-based stance toward
Pyongyang to prevent the North from misjudging that the ROK and the
U.S. will return to the pattern of the past. It is thus premature
to say that if Pyongyang releases detainees and talks of returning
to the Six-Party Talks, the ROK can resume sending aid to the
North.


S. KOREAN'S RELEASE IS NOT THE END OF THE MATTER
(Chosun Ilbo, August 14, 2009, page 31)

North Korea released an ROK staffer at the Kaesong Industrial
Complex on Thursday, 136 days after he was suddenly arrested on
March 30. The release of Yu Seong-jin, which came during a visit to
North Korea by Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun, is welcome
news not only for his family but for all ROK people.

We will soon find out what Hyun discussed during her trip to North
Korea when she returns to the ROK. Hyundai Asan has been the main
ROK business partner of North Korea after agreeing nine years ago to
operate the Kaesong Industrial Complex with the North's Asia-Pacific
Peace Committee. Asan is also the operator of package tours to Mt.
Kumgang, which have been halted for more than a year. The results
of Hyun's trip to the North will determine the future of both those
tours and the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

But Yu's release does not mean that all problems have been solved.
The ROK and North Korea have many issues that need to be addressed
so that incidents like the one involving Yu do not happen again.
The fundamental problem is that the ROK will remain helpless if
North Korea chooses not to abide by an agreement signed by the two
sides in 2004 regarding entry and sojourn within the Kaesong
Industrial Complex. The ROK strives to abide by these rules under
the principles of good will and sincerity, but North Korea has
demonstrated its willingness to ignore them at whim.

Article 10, Clause 3 of the agreement contains the guarantee of
personal safety, stating clearly that the basic human rights of a
South Korean under investigation must be guaranteed. But during the
136 days Yu was detained, North Korean authorities did not allow an
ROK official or attorney to meet him. Article 12, Clause 1 of the
agreement concerning cooperation and exchange of information

SEOUL 00001308 006 OF 006


stipulates that the ROK and North Korea must notify each other of
information necessary for the fulfillment of the terms of the
agreement and respond to requests for information by the other side.
But North Korean authorities refused to state the specific reason
that led to Yu's arrest and did not tell the ROK where he was being
detained.

Article 10, Clause 4 of the agreement states that if a South Korean
in the Kaesong Industrial Complex violates North Korean law, the
North will investigate the matter and inform the ROK of the details
of the violation and deal with the offense with a warning, fine or
deportation. But the North Korea "investigated" Yu for 136 days
without giving a detailed explanation or account.

The two sides must immediately look for ways to resolve problems in
the implementation of the agreement and come up with any
supplementary measures necessary. Discussions must take place on
the scope of Article 10, Clause 2, which concerns "grave
violations." The guarantee of an individual's safety is the most
fundamental factor among many that determine the success or failure
of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The project cannot succeed
unless North Korea resolves fears of sudden arrest and indefinite
detention among ROK workers there.

Yu may have been released, but the four crewmembers of the fishing
boat 800 Yeonan, which strayed into North Korean territorial waters
in the East Sea on July 30 due to instrument failure, are still
being detained by North Korean authorities. The North must send
them back as soon as possible, abiding by a 20-year custom of
returning fishermen who have accidentally crossed over into the
other side's territorial waters.


STEPHENS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Decades Of Health Gains At Risk In Brazil Due To COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases are declining in Brazil, the pandemic is putting decades of public health gains there at risk, the head of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) said on Friday. With global attention and support focused this week ... More>>

UN Report: Myanmar Approaching Point Of Economic Collapse

The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday. That ... More>>

World Vision: India’s Second Wave Shows The Global Fight Against COVID-19 Is Far From Won

As India’s COVID-19 daily infection rates reach devastating levels, international aid agency World Vision has warned that the world is nowhere near defeating this virus and some nations are yet to face their worst days. Andrew Morley, World Vision ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us: “Healthcare Can No Longer Exist Without Technology”

A grandmother in a village in the Gambia should have the same quality of life and access to healthcare they deserve as in New York or London. Photo: InnovaRx Global Health Start-up Works To Bridge Healthcare Gap In The Gambia By: Pavithra Rao As ... More>>