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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; September 2, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SEOUL 001408

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; September 2, 2009

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


Three Cities in Gyeonggi Province Seek
to Merge to Gain More Influence

JoongAng Ilbo
ROKG Seeks to Construct "Great Train Express" (GTX) that will Enable
Users to Travel from Dongtan to Gangnam
in 20 Minutes

Dong-a Ilbo
Bill on Public Teacher Evaluation Likely to be Passed during Current
Parliamentary Session

Hankook Ilbo
ROKG Urged to Address Confusion Caused by Delayed Construction of
"Sejong Multifunctional Administrative City"

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Trial over Deaths of Tenants during January Clash with Riot Police
in Yongsan Crippled, with Prosecutors Refusing to Disclose
Investigation Report

Segye Ilbo
ROKG Measures to Protect Temporary Workers Ineffective

Seoul Shinmun
Busan to Host Meeting of World Churches


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

According to a senior official from the ruling camp, President Lee
Myung-bak told the North Korean delegation that came to pay respects
upon the death of former President Kim Dae-jung that his North Korea
policy differs from that of his predecessors and that he is prepared
to aid North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons. (Chosun,
JoongAng, Dong-a)

Gyeonggi Province decided yesterday to provide North Korea with
2,500 tons of corn worth 1 billion won. (Dong-a)


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

-N. Korea
---------
Citing a senior official from the ruling camp, conservative Chosun
Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo and right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo reported that
President Lee Myung-bak told the North Korean delegation that came
to pay respects upon the death of former President Kim Dae-jung that
his North Korea policy differs from that of his predecessors and
that he is prepared to aid North Korea if it gives up its nuclear
weapons.

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo ran a front-page report on Gyeonggi
Province's decision to provide North Korea with 2,500 tons of corn
worth 1 billion won. The report noted that there is speculation
that the aid may be related to North Korea's recent release of an
ROK worker and four fishermen held in the country, because the aid
decision came shortly after their release.

-Japan Elections
----------------
Commentary continues to flow about the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ)'s election victory. Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized:
"The DPJ's emphasis on Asia should be seen as related to China's
sudden rise (as a global economic and political power.) ... If China
and Japan once again engaged in fighting for hegemony in Asia, it

SEOUL 00001408 002 OF 004


would have direct repercussions for the Korean Peninsula. ...
Japan's move to end its dependence on the U.S. and to carry out an
independent Asia strategy may lead to the country's rearmament and a
revival of Japanese militarism."


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

NEW JAPANESE GOVERNMENT HERALDS CHANGES FOR KOREA
(Chosun Ilbo, September 2, 2009, Page 35)

"The era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and... we are
moving away from a unipolar world towards an era of multipolarity,"
Japan's next Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama wrote in an article for
the New York Times last Thursday. The comments immediately fueled
accusations in the United States that Hatoyama was anti-American.
He vehemently denies that, but it is unprecedented for a Japanese
leader after World War II even to incur the charge.

Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan already made it clear in the
election campaign that it would speak its mind and say no to the
U.S. if necessary. The party is trying to revise a U.S.-Japan
agreement to reduce the number of American troops in Okinawa even
further. It is also seeking to stop refueling of U.S.-led
multinational forces in the Indian Ocean in January of next year.
The U.S. State Department said it has "no intention whatsoever" of
changing the existing U.S.-Japan agreement. The DPJ will undergo a
reality check once it comes to power, but it is undeniable that
scenes hitherto unimaginable in U.S.-Japan relations are unfolding
before our eyes.

The DPJ is pushing ahead with its "Asia-focused" policy goals
instead. The concept of an "East Asian community" sought by
Hatoyama is centered on close ties with Japan's regional neighbors
including South Korea and China. But the DPJ's emphasis on Asia
should be seen as related to China's sudden rise (as a global
economic and political power.) In a few years, China will overtake
Japan in terms of economic size. It is not difficult to guess the
response from the Japanese public and its leadership when the
country loses its prized status as the world's second-largest
economy. If China and Japan once again engaged in fighting for
hegemony in Asia, it would have direct repercussions for the Korean
Peninsula.

While opposing a nuclear-armed North Korea, the DPJ has hinted at
the possibility of negotiating directly with the North. Depending
on circumstances, Japan could offer North Korea massive amounts of
money. If changes happen in U.S.-Japan, China-Japan, China-North
Korea and Japan-North Korea relations, South Korea too will see
fundamental shifts in its national objectives.

After becoming the head of the DPJ in May last year, Hatoyama's
first overseas visit was to Korea. He also pledged not to visit the
militarist Yasukuni Shrine. Although his position does not differ
much from the Liberal Democratic Party when it comes to sovereignty
over Korea's Dokdo islets, differences between South Korea and Japan
may abate. But the DPJ is full of lawmakers whose views on Japan's
wartime history do not differ from the views of LDP members.

Japan may soon be overshadowed by China, but its economy is twice
the size of the U.K.'s and France's. It also has 75 percent of the
world's cutting-edge core technologies. And now, Japan has embarked
on its first-ever transfer of power in more than 50 years. The new
leadership is trying to shift its diplomatic focus from the
traditional reliance on the U.S. to its Asian neighbors. Japan's
move to end its dependence on the U.S. and to carry out an
independent Asia strategy may lead to the country's rearmament and a
revival of Japanese militarism. Korea is dependent on China for
exports and on Japan for technology. The launch of the new Japanese
administration is a signal that Korea must waste no time in defining
its mid- and long-term national strategies.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is

SEOUL 00001408 003 OF 004


identical to the Korean version.)


FEATURES
--------

"NK FIRST OFFERED RELEASE OF FISHING BOAT AND CREW"
(Dong-a Ilbo, September 2, 2009, Front Page)

By Reporter Koh Ki-jung

A North Korean delegation that visited Seoul to honor the late
former President Kim Dae-jung late last month first proposed the
release of four South Korean crew members aboard a detained fishing
boat, a source said yesterday.

A senior official of the ruling camp said the delegation's leader
Kim Ki-nam, Secretary of the North's ruling Workers` Party, offered
the release of the crew and ship "with a very polite attitude" at a
meeting with President Lee Myung-bak.

After the meeting, the South Korean presidential office of Cheong Wa
Dae said no discussion took place on specific issues, including the
release of the boat.

President Lee reportedly responded by telling the North's delegates
that Pyongyang should make a fair decision under international law
rather than try to do the South a favor. This comment seems to have
prevented the delegation from making demands in return for the
release.

The president stressed that the delegates should clearly convey his
message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that the Lee
Administration differs from its predecessors. President Lee said
his government will adhere to principles but stay flexible on
inter-Korean matters, unlike previous governments, which drew flack
for being either too tough or too soft on the North.

President Lee is said to have emphasized several times in a soft
tone that Pyongyang must decide whether to abandon its nuclear
program to normalize relations with the South. He also reportedly
asked Kim Ki-nam through his staff to inform him of Kim Jong-il's
response to the meeting`s results.

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


LEE "TOLD N. KOREANS OF NEW WIND BLOWING IN CHEONG WA DAE"
(Chosun Ilbo, September 2, 2009, Front Page)

By Reporter Hwang Dae-jin

President Lee Myung-bak sent a clear message to North Korea that he
is different from previous administrations. Lee reportedly told a
North Korean delegation who visited Cheong Wa Dae on August 23 he
was different than the governments that led South Korea "in the past
10 years and even the past 20 years before that. Make this point
very clear" to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The delegation, led by Kim Ki-nam, a secretary of the Workers' Party
Central Committee, was in Seoul to attend the funeral of former
President Kim Dae-jung.

A senior source in the ruling Grand National Party on Tuesday
claimed Lee also told the delegation, "Take a look at how fast the
world is changing. North Korea must change. If North Korea
demonstrates a willingness to change, we will offer support." Lee
made those comments after receiving a message from the North Korean
leader stressing the need for talks.

He was referring to the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun
Administrations, which pursued unconditional engagement with North
Korea, while the "past 20 years before that" appears to be a

SEOUL 00001408 004 OF 004


The source claimed Lee told the North Koreans that the South was
ready to hold talks at any level, including a summit, but stressed
the North must understand that denuclearization is a prerequisite to
major support from the South and the normalization of ties.

The delegation told Lee that North Korea would free the South Korean
fishermen who had been towed to the North at a date the South
preferred. But Lee reportedly told them to handle the matter
favorably and according to international regulations. A
ruling-party source said the government "clearly showed its resolve
not to be swayed by North Korea's attempts to use hostages to
influence our policies."

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


TOKOLA

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