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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; August 18, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 SEOUL 001318

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; August 18, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo, All TVs
N. Korea Agrees to Resume Tourism Projects
with Hyundai Asan

JoongAng Ilbo
N. Korea, Hyundai Reach Five-Point Agreement
ROKG Seeks Government-Level Talks to Realize Agreements

Dong-a Ilbo
Housing Vouchers to be offered to Low-Income Families

Hankook Ilbo
ROKG Calls Five-Point Agreement between Hyundai, N. Korea
"Positive," But Says Government-Level Consensus
will be Necessary

Hankyoreh Shinmun, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
N. Korea Agrees to Restart Family Reunions and Tourism
by ROK Citizens


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

Former ROK President Kim Dae-jung died at Severance Hospital in
Seoul Tuesday after a long battle with pneumonia and related
complications, hospital officials said. He was 85. (All)

Hyundai Group and North Korea's Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee,
which handles inter-Korean business ties, unveiled a five-point
press release yesterday in which North Korea agreed to resume
tourism projects with Hyundai Asan, lift travel restrictions to the
joint Kaesong Industrial Complex, and provide for the reunion of
separated Korean families. (All)

This agreement followed an August 16 meeting in Pyongyang between
Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun and North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il. (All)

Unification Ministry Spokesman Chun Hae-sung said during yesterday's
regular briefing: "The government assesses the agreement positively,
but it was reached on a civilian level. So, concrete discussions are
necessary to implement the accord. We will try to achieve that as
soon as possible." (All)


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

-N. Korea
---------
All ROK media gave top play to yesterday's five-point agreement
between Hyundai Group and North Korea's Korea Asia-Pacific Peace
Committee, which handles inter-Korean business ties. According to
media reports, North Korea agreed to resume tourism projects with
Hyundai Asan, lift travel restrictions to the joint Kaesong
Industrial Complex, and provide for the reunion of separated Korean
families.

Unification Ministry Spokesman Chun Hae-sung was widely quoted as
saying during yesterday's regular briefing: "The government assesses
the agreement positively, but it was reached on a civilian level.
So, concrete discussions are necessary to implement the accord. We
will try to achieve that as soon as possible."

A senior ROKG official was also quoted: "We plan to propose
(government-level) talks to North Korea first and ascertain North
Korea's sincerity in such talks."

Conservative Chosun Ilbo, in an inside-page report from Washington,

SEOUL 00001318 002 OF 008


wondered how the U.S. - which has been leading efforts to squeeze
North Korea's money flow - will respond to this agreement to revive
inter-Korean tourism projects that had been a steady income source
for the North. The report quoted a diplomatic source in Washington
as saying: "There is a high possibility that North Korea will try to
drive a wedge between the ROK and the U.S, while conducting a
'dialogue tactic' (toward the ROK.) Close "coordination" between
Seoul and Washington is more important than ever before."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "This agreement can be
interpreted as a North Korean style proposal for dialogue, because
the North presented its own solutions to major inter-Korean issues
and expressed its willingness to take forward-looking measures. ...
North Korea may have intended to ease the pressure that has
strengthened against it since its second nuclear test and turn the
situation around. Nevertheless, there is no need to downplay this
agreement. Whatever North Korea's intentions, this agreement can
provide a good opportunity to improve strained inter-Korean
relations."

Moderate Hankook Ilbo, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun, and moderate
Seoul Shinmun carried similar editorials carrying the identical
headlines, "Hyundai-N. Korea Agreement Should Serve as Opportunity
to Turn Around Inter-Korean Relations"

Newspapers carried the following front- and inside-page headlines:
"Again (Inter-Korean Ties) at Kim Jong-il's Beck and Call"
(right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo); Will ROKG Hold N. Korea's
Outstretched Hand?" (conservative Dong-a Ilbo); and "Limitations of
Agreement on Civilian Level... A Lot of Variables and Difficulties
Lie Ahead" (moderate Hankook Ilbo)


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

FORM MATTERS AS MUCH AS SUBSTANCE
(Dong-a Ilbo, August 18, 2009, page 31)

Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun returned from North Korea
with a joint news statement that she reached a deal with North
Korea's Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. Hyundai and North Korea
reached the agreement in five different areas, including family
reunions at Mt. Kumgang, and the resumption of tours to Mount
Kumgang and Kaesong. But an unconventional thing happened: a meager
business executive made promises and discussed national projects
with the North. The Unification Ministry in Seoul said the
agreement was made on a private level, and that if the deal is to
become effective, details should be made through inter-Korean talks.
But this is no good. The conglomerate is desperate to resume Mt.
Kumgang tours, and the ROKG is at fault for allowing Hyundai to make
a decision on such an important matter.

The North is responsible for the suspension of inter-Korean family
reunions, and tours to Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong. When an ROK tourist
at Mt. Kumgang was shot to death by a North Korean soldier on July
11 of last year, Seoul immediately halted the tour to protect its
people. The North stopped inter-Korean family reunions in July
2006. Reaching an agreement through inter-Korean talks is essential
to resume the tours and reunions. The tours also cannot be allowed
to resume unless Pyongyang explains last year's tourist killing,
promise that a recurrence will never happen, and guarantee tourist
safety. There have been rumors that Hyun and Seoul held a prior
consultation because she reached an agreement with the North as if
she were an envoy.

Inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation require form as much as
substance. It is problematic that Seoul will take over the promises
made to Pyongyang by a business executive. Some say the North wants
to reap economic benefits, including revenues from the tours that
will amount in the tens of millions of dollars. Others say the
North contacted the ROK's private sector while rejecting
government-level inter-Korean talks. If Seoul glosses over this
problem without knowing Pyongyang's intent, it will suffer later.

SEOUL 00001318 003 OF 008


The North is sticking to its strategy of provoking the ROK through
nuclear tests and long-range missile launches.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held talks with Hyun on the seventh
day of her trip at Mt. Myohyang. He treated her like a North Korean
resident and acted impolite in treating a guest that way. The
North's media, however, said, "Kim listened to all of Hyun's
wishes," and, "At Kim's special order, all conveniences and safety
will be guaranteed." To the outside world, Kim remains an
old-fashioned dictator who is clueless about the ABCs of diplomacy
and negotiations.

The ROKG should not lose face when it contacts the North. Pyongyang
should make specific agreements with Seoul at inter-Korean talks
before the resumption of the Mt. Kumgang tour.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)


HYUNDAI- N. KOREA AGREEMENT SHOULD SERVE TO THAW ICY INTER-KOREAN
RELATIONS
(Chosun Ilbo, August 18, 2009, page 35)

Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun returned to the ROK after
meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and signing a five-point
accord. On the outside, the accord seems to be unofficial and
agreed upon in the private sector between Hyundai and North Korea's
Asia Pacific Peace Committee, which is responsible for inter-Korean
business projects. But considering its content, including the
resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong, the launch of tour
programs to Mt. Baekdu, the normalization of the joint Kaesong
Industrial Complex, and the resumption of reunions of separated
families during Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving - which falls on Oct.
3 - it could lead to a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations, which
have been deadlocked since July of last year when a North Korean
soldier shot and killed an ROK tourist at Mt. Kumgang. To realize
the Hyundai-North Korea accord, as the Unification Ministry said, an
agreement must be reached between the ROK and the North, and this
calls for immediate talks between the two sides.

Since there is only a month and a half left before Chuseok, the two
governments and Red Cross officials need to begin discussing the
reunion of separated families right way. When it comes to the
resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang, the government has been
demanding a joint investigation into the shooting of tourist Park
Wang-ja, as well as an apology from Pyongyang and a pledge that such
an incident will not happen again. Thus, Hyundai's accord with the
North alone is not enough to resume tours to the North Korean
mountain resort. Even if the ROK agrees to accept a roundabout way
to meet its demands, both sides should meet to discuss how to do it.
North Korea's decision to lift restrictions on border-crossings has
removed hurdles to the normalization of the operation of the Kaesong
Industrial Complex and to resume tours to Kaesong, but the safety of
tourists and South Koreans remaining at the complex still need to be
guaranteed. As for tour programs to Mt. Baekdu, the ROKG not only
needs to give a green light to Hyundai, but the two governments also
have to conclude an aviation agreement.

Without making any concrete promises, North Korea simply said that
all accommodations and safety issues will be strictly guaranteed
according to the special order issued by its leader Kim Jong-il.
This may work in North Korea, but it is not sufficient as a
guarantee to the outside world. When Park was shot to death and
Hyundai Asan worker Yu Seong-jin was detained for months by North
Korean authorities, the ROK public realized there was nothing their
government could do and concluded that inter-Korean business
projects could not continue under such conditions.

Because of the fact that the agreement between Hyundai and the North
is simply a civilian accord, it could be viewed as being part of
North Korea's propaganda attempts. But since it could lead both
governments to resume stalled talks, flexibility should be shown.
Pyongyang should also promptly release the four detained fishermen

SEOUL 00001318 004 OF 008


of the vessel 800 Yeonan, which strayed into the communist country's
waters, so that remaining obstacles to the resumption of
inter-Korean projects can be removed.

North Korea must realize that the ROK is the only country willing to
offer substantial support during difficult times, and make a
strategic decision about what to do by taking into account the "new
peace regime" proposed by President Lee Myung-bak, which calls for
Pyongyang's abandonment of nuclear weapons in return for economic
support.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)


HYUNDAI- N. KOREA AGREEMENT SHOULD SERVE AS OPPORTUNITY TO TURN
AROUND INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS
(JoongAng Ilbo, August 18, 2009, page 42: EXCERPTS)

The agreement between North Korea and Hyundai Group, which came
following the release of the U.S. female journalists and the Hyundai
Asan employee, signals that North Korea is sending a gesture of
peace. North Korea may have intended to ease the pressure that has
strengthened against it since its second nuclear test and turn the
situation around. Nevertheless, there is no need to downplay this
agreement. Whatever North Korea's intentions, this agreement can
provide a good opportunity to improve strained inter-Korean
relations. In particular, China is launching full-scale efforts to
persuade North Korea to return to the negotiating table. Therefore,
U.S.-North Korea talks are likely to resume soon.

Progress on the North Korean nuclear issue is inseparable from
development of inter-Korean relations. However, it is not desirable
to take a rigid approach by focusing on only one of the two. The
ROK needs to take a principled, timely and flexible approach. In
this context, the ROK needs to make an official proposal to North
Korea to hold talks. Inter-Korean Red-Cross talks aimed at
realizing the reunion of separated Korean families could serve as a
good starting point. To this end, the ROKG should also consider
resuming restricted civilian aid to North Korea. We expect that
North Korea will accept the ROKG's proposal of talks without any
conditions attached.


FEATURES
--------

SEOUL AND WASHINGTON NEED COORDINATION ON TOURISM PROJECTS THAT WILL
RESUME AMID INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS
(Chosun Ilbo, August 18, 2009, page 3)

By Washington correspondent Lee Ha-won

Now we focus our attention on how the U.S. responds to the agreement
between North Korea and Hyundai Group after leading efforts to
squeeze the North's money flow.

The Obama Administration sees this agreement as a "dialogue tactic"
that North Korea has employed since early this month. The U.S.
believes that North Korea is extending a conciliatory gesture to
avoid UN Security Council sanctions, while bolstering its military
power through missile launches and the nuclear test it conducted
early this year and preparing to groom Kim Jong-un as the heir to
Kim Jong-il.

The Obama Administration is, in principle, not opposed to the
revival of the Kaesong Industrial Complex project and the reunion of
separated Korean families. However, the U.S. does not want
inter-Korean exchanges to negatively impact the enforcement of UNSC
Resolution 1874. The U.S. sees that enhanced cooperation between
the ROK and North Korea should be pursued along with getting North
Korea to resume the Six-Party Talks while pushing for
denuclearization.


SEOUL 00001318 005 OF 008


The U.S. expects that, in whatever format, there will be bilateral
talks with North Korea in the wake of former President Bill
Clinton's visit, and it is working on the process. But it seems
that the Obama Administration does not intend to halt UNSC sanctions
due to the resumption of bilateral talks with the North, as it did
following Pyongyang's first nuclear test in October 2006. Instead,
the U.S. is holding the position that UNSC sanctions need to be
strictly implemented to persuade North Korea (to meet international
obligations.)

During an August 15 interview with the Wall Street Journal,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed this position while
criticizing the George W. Bush Administration for not being
consistent on the North Korean nuclear issue. She said, hitting her
open palm against the arm of the couch, "Don't withdraw (when
dealing with North Korea), don't leave the field. Look at the
results of that. They began processing plutonium. That was not in
anyone's interest."

In addition, some observers in the Obama Administration believe that
North Korea may emphasize inter-Korean cooperation in order to
undermine the U.S.-ROK alliance, based on the judgment that it is
not easy to deal with the Obama Administration. A diplomatic source
in Washington, D.C. said that there is a high probability that North
Korea may try to drive a wedge between the ROK and the U.S. by
conducting a dialogue tactic (toward the ROK). The source added
that, therefore, this is the time for the ROK and the U.S. to enter
into consultations.

An ROKG official said that it is burdensome for the ROKG to hastily
revive tourist projects through which 538 million dollars have
flowed into North Korea in the past 10 years, while the U.S. is
pushing for financial sanctions against North Korea. Considering
the U.S. position, some in the ROKG raise the possibility that
goods, instead of cash, may be provided to North Korea for the
tourist projects.


OPINION POLL: WHO IS MOVING THE ROK IN 2009?
(Sisa Journal, Issue of August 25, 2009, Pages 12-39)

By Reporters Kham Myung-guk, Ahn Sung-mo, Lee Chul-hyun, Chung
Rak-in, and Kim Ji-young

At the request of the weekly Sisa Journal, Media Research conducted
a telephone opinion survey of 1,000 experts (838 men and 162 women)
- 100 each from 10 different fields, such as administrative
bureaucrats, professors, journalists, lawyers, politicians,
businessmen, financiers, aid group officials, cultural and artistic
figures, and religious figures - from July 29 to August 12, 2009.


Q. Who moves the ROK?

President Lee Myung-bak71.6%
(Ruling) Grand National Party lawmaker Park Geun-hye 24.2%
Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee16.7%
Former President Kim Dae-jung9.8%
Chairman of (opposition) Democratic Party Chung Se-kyun5.8%
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon4.6%
Chairman of Grand National Party Park Hee-tae3.2%
Late President Roh Moo-hyun3.0%
National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o2.5%
Figure skater Kim Yu-na2.2%
Executive Director of the Hope Institute Park Won Soon1.7%
Former President Park Chung-hee1.6%
Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk1.5%
Hyundai Kia Automotive Group Chairman
Chung Mong-Koo1.3%
Grand National Party Supreme Council member
Chung Mong-joon1.2%
KAIST Chair Professor Ahn Chul-soo1.2%
Former Minister of Health and Welfare Rhyu Si-min1.1%
Liberty Forward Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang1.0%

SEOUL 00001318 006 OF 008


Rev. Cho Yong-gi, Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church1.0%
Late Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan0.9%
Grand National Party Floor Leader Ahn Sang-soo0.9%


Q. What is the most influential group or force in the ROK?

Grand National Party 30.7%
Democratic Party14.7%
Press13.9%
National Assembly10.7%
Samsung Group8.9%
Civic groups8.8%
Prosecution8.5%
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions --
Federation of Korean Industries5.0%
Economic circles4.4%


Q. Who currently has the most influence over President Lee
Myung-bak?

Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk
(President's elder brother)25.6%
Grand National Party lawmaker Park Geun-hye18.4%
Former Grand National Party Supreme Council member
Lee Jae-oh 13.9%
Chairman of Korea Communications Commission
Choi See-joong 7.4%
Grand National Party Chairman Park Hee-tae5.6%
Presidential Chief of Staff Jung Jung-kil4.2%
Chairman of Democratic Party Chung Se-kyun2.5%
Grand National Party Floor Leader Ahn Sang-soo2.0%
First Lady Kim Yoon-ok2.0%
Grand National Party Supreme Council member
Chung Mong-joon 1.8%


Q. Who has the greatest potential to become the next President of
the ROK?

Grand National Party lawmaker Park Geun-hye45.8%
Former Minister of Health and Welfare Rhyu Si-min4.8%
Grand National Party Supreme Council member Chung Mong-joon 3.5%
Seoul City Mayor Oh Se-hoon3.1%
Liberty Forward Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang2.0%
Independent lawmaker Chung Dong-Young2.0%
Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-Soo1.9%
Former Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu1.7%
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon1.3%
Creative Korea Party Chairman Moon Kook-hyun1.1%


Q. Who is the most influential businessman?

Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee66.6%
Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoon Jeung-Hyun25.5%
Hyundai Kia Automotive Group Chairman Chung Mong-Koo19.7%
Bank of Korea Governor Lee Sung-tae9.0%
LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo7.2%
Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Suk-rae6.5%
SK Group Chairman Choi Tae-won3.8%
Grand National Party Supreme Council member
Chung Mong-joon 3.7%
Former Minister of Strategy and Finance Kang Man-soo2.6%
KAIST Chair Professor Ahn Chul-soo1.9%


Q. What is the most influential ROK enterprise?

Samsung Electronics70.1%
Hyundai Motor40.4%
LG Electronics27.9%
Samsung Group27.1%

SEOUL 00001318 007 OF 008


Hyundai Group17.8%
LG Group11.6%
POSCO11.5%
SK Telecom11.3%
Hyundai Heavy Industries6.4%
SK Group5.7%


Q. Who is the most influential NGO leader?

Park Won Soon, Executive Director of the Hope Institute25.8%
Choi Yul, President of the Korea Green Foundation4.9%
Lim Jong-dae, Co-chairman of People's Solidarity for Participatory
Democracy1.6%
Kim Sung-hoon, President of Citizens' Movement for Environmental
Justice1.5%
Kang Chul-kyu, Chairman of Citizens' Coalition for Economic
Justice1.4%
Suh Kyung-suk, Co-chairman of Christian NGO1.2%
Han Bi-ya, international aid worker1.1%
Lim Sung-kyu, Chairman of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions1.1%
Jung Jung-sup, Chairman of Korea Food for the Hungry
International1.0%
Chang Ha-sung, Korea University Professor0.7%


Q. Who is the most influential person in the media business?

Sungshin Women's University Professor Sohn Suk-hee 19.7%
MBC President Um Ki-young10.6%
Chosun Ilbo President Bang Sang-hoon10.3%
Senior journalist of Chosun Ilbo Kim Dae-joong 6.6%
KBS President Lee Byung-soon5.2%
Chairman of Korea Communications Commission
Choi See-joong 3.3%
Former head of The Monthly Chosun Cho Kap-je3.1%
(Former) JoongAng Ilbo President Hong Suk-hyun1.9%
Dong-a Ilbo President Kim Hak-joon1.8%
JoongAng Ilbo President Song Pil-ho,
OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon-ho1.3%


Q. What is the most influential media outlet?

KBS 58.6%
Chosun Ilbo57.5%
MBC49.0%
JoongAng Ilbo19.9%
Naver16.7%
Dong-a Ilbo16.5%
SBS10.8%
Daum8.7%
Hankyoreh8.5%
YTN5.0%

Q. What is the most reliable media outlet?

MBC31.3%
Hankyoreh 30.3%
KBS25.5%
Kyunghyang Shinmun18.4%
Chosun Ilbo14.4%
JoongAng Ilbo10.4%
Naver8.1%
Dong-a Ilbo 7.9%
YTN7.1%
Daum5.4%


Q. Which media outlet has the most loyal readership or viewership?

Chosun Ilbo22.4%
MBC21.9%
KBS19.1%

SEOUL 00001318 008 OF 008


Hankyoreh18.9%
Naver 18.5%
JoongAng Ilbo15.0%
Daum13.8%
Kyunghyang Shinmun12.0%
Dong-a Ilbo9.0%
Maeil Business Newspaper7.6%


Q. Who is the most influential religious figure?

Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk38.8%
Venerable Jikwan, Executive Chief of the Jogye Order of Korean
Buddhism29.3%
Rev. Cho Yong-gi, Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church18.7%
Late Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan12.9%
Buddist Monk Beopjeong of the Kilsangsa temple 4.0%
Kwak Sun-hee, Senior Pastor of Somang Church2.8%
Kim Sam-hwan, President of the General Assembly of Presbyterian
Church 2.6%
Late Buddhist Monk Sungchul2.0%
Rev. Eom Shin-hyung, President of the Christian Council of
Korea1.6%
Kim Jin-hong, President of People's Livelihood Economy Research
Institute 1.6%


Q. Who is the most influential foreign figure?

U.S. President Barack Obama77.6%
Chinese President Hu Jintao30.3%
North Korea's National Defense Committee Chairman
Kim Jong-il17.0%
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton11.5%
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso11.0%
U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Kathleen Stephens4.1%
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao 2.1%
Russian President Vladimir Putin2.1%
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton2.1%
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates1.6%


Q. Which event affected ROK society the most after its liberation
from Japanese colonial rule?

The Korean War (1950)47.0%
The May 18 Gwangju Uprising (1980)39.6%
The May 16 Military Coup (1961)26.8%
The April 19 Student Revolution (1960)23.7%
The June Democratic Uprising (1987)21.3%
Death of former President Park Chung-hee (1979)14.3%
Death of former President Roh Moo-hyun (2009)11.2%
Foreign exchange crisis (1997)10.1%
The December 12 Military Coup (1979)8.5%
The 1988 Summer Olympics (1988)6.2%

(Editor's Note: The same story was also carried by Chosun Ilbo in
its August 18 edition.)

TOKOLA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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