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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; August 20, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SEOUL 001336

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; August 20, 2009

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


Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, All TVs
ROK's First Space Rocket Launch Halted Due to Technical Problems
Just Seven Minutes and 56 Seconds before Blast-off

Dong-a Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo
"Six-Day State Funeral" Set
for Late Former President Kim Dae-jung

Hankyoreh Shinmun, Seoul Shinmun
N. Korea Offers to Send Delegation to Honor Kim Dae-jung ...
Opportunity Arises for "High-level Dialogue"
between ROK, N. Korean Authorities


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

According to the ROKG, a state funeral will be held on August 23 for
the late former President Kim Dae-jung. The funeral service will
take place at 2 p.m. at the plaza in front of the National Assembly
after a six-day mourning period. (All)

According to main opposition Democratic Party Rep. Park Ji-won, who
served as chief of staff for the late president, North Korea offered
yesterday to send a delegation of five senior officials from the
Workers' Party to extend condolences for the late president. (All)

North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported
yesterday that its leader Kim Jong-il sent a message to express
"deep condolences" to the former president's bereaved family. (All)


INTERNATIONAL NEWS
------------------

According to AFP, on August 19 (local time), New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson will meet with Kim Myong-gil, a minister at the North
Korean mission to the UN. This is the first meeting between U.S. and
North Korean officials since former President Bill Clinton's recent
visit to Pyongyang. (JoongAng, Hankook, Hankyoreh, Seoul, OhmyNews)


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

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

- Former President Kim Dae-jung's Death
All ROK media gave prominent attention to North Korea's offer
yesterday to send a delegation of five senior officials from the
Workers' Party to extend condolences for the late former President
Kim Dae-jung.

Both conservative Chosun Ilbo and left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun
observed that the visiting North Korean delegation will be the first
visit to the ROK by senior (North Korean) officials during the Lee
Myung-bak Administration. Chosun quoted an ROKG source as saying:
"North Korea's delegation is likely to stay for two days. Our
government is preparing for a possible meeting with the North Korean
delegation."

The ROK media also gave wide coverage to yesterday's report by North
Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency that its leader Kim
Jong-il sent a message to express "deep condolences" to the former
president's bereaved family. The ROK media commented that this
immediate, sympathetic North Korean response to Kim's death
illustrated the North's special treatment of and respect for the
late president.

SEOUL 00001336 002 OF 004

-Relations with N. Korea
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
as saying during August 18 joint press availability at the State
Department with the visiting Foreign Minister from Colombia: "The
trip to North Korea by my husband and the former President, Bill
Clinton, is extremely helpful as it gives the Administration a
window into what's going on in North Korea, but our policy (toward
North Korea) remains the same. Our policy is consistent."

Most ROK media gave attention to an August 19 AFP report citing New
Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's spokeswoman as saying that the
governor will meet with two North Korean diplomats on August 19
(local time). The meeting is at the request of Kim Myong-gil, a
minister at the North Korean mission to the UN who is one of the two
diplomats attending. The ROK media noted that this is the first
meeting between U.S. and North Korean officials since former
President Bill Clinton's visit to Pyongyang.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo, in an editorial entitled "ROK, U.S. Need
More In-depth Discussions on N. Korea Policy," observed: "Questions
are being raised about whether international sanctions against North
Korea will continue in an effective manner, after former U.S.
President Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea, the announcement of a
five-point agreement between Hyundai Group and North Korea, and the
North's decision to send a condolence delegation for the late
President Kim Dae-jung. ... Some quarters in the ROK are already
calling for the Lee Myung-bak Administration to improve relations
with North Korea. Even though there is some truth to such a demand
in order to break the deadlock in inter-Korean ties, we cannot help
but worry about how this need will be reconciled with international
efforts to speed up sanctions against North Korea."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "We hope that North
Korea's dispatch of a condolence delegation will serve to take
inter-Korean relations to the next level. ... We once again stress
that overall improvement in inter-Korean relations, including the
expansion of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex project, is
premised on North Korea's determination to give up its nuclear
ambitions. Since North Korea expressed its intention to resolve
pending bilateral issues, we urge North Korea to reopen talks
between ROK and North Korean authorities. If the North deals only
with ROK civilians while keeping ROK authorities on the sidelines,
it will only invite suspicion that it is trying to divide ROK
society rather than improve inter-Korean relations."

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun's editorial also expressed hope that
North Korea's dispatch of a condolence delegation will lay the
groundwork for progress in inter-Korean ties, while urging the ROKG
to utilize this "condolence diplomacy" to establish a new framework
for dialogue.


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

ROK, U.S. NEED MORE IN-DEPTH DISCUSSIONS ON N. KOREA POLICY
(Chosun Ilbo, August 20, 2009, page 31)

"Our policy remains the same. Our policy is consistent," said U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as President Barack Obama met
with Bill Clinton to discuss the former president's mission to North
Korea that secured the release of two imprisoned American
journalists.

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley said
the U.S. welcomes the agreement that was struck between North Korea
and Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun on Sunday as a "small
gesture" that could open the doors to a new inter-Korean dialogue.
The two sides agreed to resume package tours to the north and
continue reunions of families separated by the Korean War. But
Crowley added that such "peripheral measures" are "fundamentally
insufficient" to prompt easing of sanctions against North Korea.
The U.S., he said, wants to see North Korea "take decisive and

SEOUL 00001336 003 OF 004


irreversible steps" to dismantle its nuclear program.

Ambassador Philip Goldberg, who coordinates UN Security Council
resolutions against North Korea, will visit the ROK on Sunday and
Monday to discuss the sanctions. The U.S. government's stance is to
continue sanctions for now so that North Korea will realize that it
has no choice but to scrap its nuclear program.

But questions are being raised about whether international sanctions
against North Korea will continue in an effective manner, after
former U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea, the
announcement of a five-point agreement between Hyundai Group and
North Korea, and the North's decision to send a condolence
delegation for the late President Kim Dae-jung. Some quarters in
the ROK are already calling for the Lee Myung-bak Administration to
improve relations with North Korea. Even though there is some truth
to such a demand in order to break the deadlock in inter-Korean
ties, we cannot help but worry about how this need will be
reconciled with international efforts to speed up sanctions against
North Korea.

The agreement between North Korea and Hyundai Group means that a
considerable amount of cash will be paid to the North in the form of
entrance fees for tourists and other costs once tours to Mt. Kumgang
and Kaesong resume. But UN Resolution 1874 strictly forbids any
form of aid the North could divert for the development of nuclear
weapons, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.

Seoul has said the agreements between Hyundai and North Korea does
not conflict with the UN resolution. But cash can be diverted for
other purposes. The ROK is the prime target and the country most
affected by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles. And the ROK
played a major role in the making of the resolution. Inter-Korean
relations need to improve, but the ROK must consider its
international credibility. North Korea has been extending a series
of olive branches in recent weeks, probably to weaken the level of
cooperation between the ROK and the U.S. in terms of the sanctions.
Seoul and Washington need to talk, comprehensively and in depth,
more than ever to prevent confusion and conflict in their North
Korea policies.

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

N. KOREA'S CONDOLENCE DELEGATION SHOULD SERVE TO IMPROVE
INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS
(JoongAng Ilbo, August 20, 2009, Page 38)

North Korea is reacting swiftly to the death of former ROK President
Kim Dae-jung. A day after Kim's death, North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il sent a message of condolences early in the morning, and
yesterday the North notified the ROK that it would send a high-level
delegation, including a Secretary and a Department Director of the
ruling Workers' Party, to the funeral of the former President.
Pyongyang's intent seems to be to pay respects to former President
Kim for holding the first-ever inter-Korean summit and trying to
promote peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas. Although
some procedures remain to be resolved, this is desirable. It is all
the more so because the visit comes amid growing signs that reunions
of families separated since the Korean War and suspended
inter-Korean exchange and cooperation programs, such as tourism to
Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong, may resume as a result of Hyundai Group
Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun's recent trip to Pyongyang.

We hope that North Korea's dispatch of a condolence delegation will
serve to take inter-Korean relations to the next level. To this
end, North Korea should make further efforts to understand the ROK's
stance in a forward-looking way. By sending a condolence delegation
to the funeral, wouldn't the North intend to honor and respect the
spirit of former President Kim by improving inter-Korean relations?
What former President Kim has pursued is probably the spirit of the
two Koreas understanding and helping each other. For example, the
ROK's prevailing opinion is in order to resume the Mt. Kumgang tour
project, North Korea should apologize in any form for the shooting

SEOUL 00001336 004 OF 004


of the ROK tourist by a North Korean soldier. Former President Kim
once noted that North Korea was evidently wrong when it shot a
running woman in her back.

Against this backdrop, Kim Jong-il should not gloss over (the
shooting) by only guaranteeing a visiting ROK civilian entrepreneur
Hyun Jung-eun "convenience and safety" (for future tours). We
should hold inter-Korean talks to produce more convincing results.
In addition, we once again stress that overall improvement in
inter-Korean relations, including the expansion of the joint Kaesong
Industrial Complex project, is premised on North Korea's
determination to give up its nuclear ambitions. Since North Korea
expressed its intention to resolve pending bilateral issues, we urge
North Korea to reopen talks between ROK and North Korean
authorities. If the North deals only with ROK civilians while
keeping ROK authorities on the sidelines, it will only invite
suspicion that it is trying to divide ROK society rather than
improve inter-Korean relations.


N. KOREA'S CONDOLENCE DELEGATION SHOULD LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR
PROGRESS IN INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, August 19, 2009, page 27)

North Korea offered to send a delegation of special envoys to extend
condolences for the late former President Kim Dae-jung. Earlier,
Pyongyang sent a message to express deep condolences to the former
president's bereaved family. The North Korean overture is
significant in that this will be the first visit by senior North
Korean officials to the ROK since the inauguration of the Lee
Myung-bak Administration.

North Korea has much respect for Kim and it is apparently because of
this that the North is sending a delegation. The North sent a
condolence delegation when Hyundai Group Honorary Chairman Chung
Ju-young died in March 2001. However, the late President, who
ushered in the era of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation,
seems to be more special to the North. The summit between former
President Kim and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il paved the way for
Pyongyang to dispatch the condolence delegation in 2001. The
five-point agreement between Hyundai group and the Korea
Asia-Pacific Peace Committee is an extension of inter-Korean
economic cooperation that has been developed since then.

It is noteworthy that the North is sending a condolence delegation
while the situation on the Korean Peninsula is changing. Now the
U.S. and China are moving swiftly to resume the Six-Party Talks.
North Korea is also working hard to have direct negotiations with
the U.S. An opportunity for the two Koreas to turn their
relationship around is emerging, albeit slowly. Some ROKG officials
point out that North Korea bypassed the ROKG to deliver its
intention to send a condolence delegation to the funeral, but if the
ROKG utilizes this "condolence diplomacy," it could establish a new
framework for dialogue.

What is important is the willingness of both sides. The ROKG should
first stop denying the achievements of the previous administrations.
If it only makes clear its commitment to faithfully implement the
June 15 and October 4 declarations, there is no reason why Seoul
cannot take the lead in inter-Korean relations. Seoul will also be
able to raise its voice in future nuclear talks. North Korea, for
its part, must not hold cross-border ties hostage to gain what it
wants, nor must it sideline the ROKG. When both parties work
together, they can build trust.

Even right until his death, former President Kim reportedly desired
to see progress in inter-Korean relations. In order to advance
inter-Korean relations, we should exercise wisdom and grab even the
smallest opportunity. We hope that the North Korean delegation's
upcoming visit will become such an opportunity.

TOKOLA

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