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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; September 9, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SEOUL 001442

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; September 9, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo, All TVs
Ssangyong Workers Vote to Quit the Korean
Confederation of Trade Union

JoongAng Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo, All TVs
ROKG Demands Apology from North Korea over Release of Water;
Investigates Whether It Was Intentional

Dong-a Ilbo
Actress Choi Gang-hee: "'Painful Tears of Glacier' Made me Decide
Not to Use Disposable Cups"

Hankyoreh Shinmun
The Ruling Party Sets Out to Roll Back Sejong City Plan

Segye Ilbo
ROKG Suggests Possibility that North Korean Military May Be Involved
in Dam Discharge

Seoul Shinmun
ROK and U.S. Intelligence Authorities: "There Is No Sign of Crack in
North Korea's Hwang River and Upstream Dams"


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

The ROK's Unification Ministry said yesterday that it found
unacceptable the North's explanation that it had released water from
one of its dams on Sunday on the Imjin River because water levels on
its side of the border have surged. Unification Ministry Spokesman
Chun Hae-sung said in a statement, "The ROKG demands an apology and
sufficient explanation from North Korea for causing South Korean
deaths." (All, All TVs)

ROK health authorities confirmed yesterday that the A (H1N1) virus
was the direct cause of the brain death of a woman who was infected
with the new flue. (All, All TVs)


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

At a September 7 press conference, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad affirmed Iran's right to pursue a nuclear program,
saying that the country will not negotiate its "nuclear right."
(Chosun, Hankook)


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

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

All ROK media gave prominent attention to the ROK's Unification
Ministry's September 8 statement saying that the ROKG found
unacceptable the North's explanation that it had released water from
one of its dams on Sunday on the Imjin River because water levels on
its side of the border have surged. The ROK media quoted
Unification Ministry Spokesman Chun Hae-sung as saying, "The ROKG
demands an apology and sufficient explanation from North Korea for
causing South Korean deaths." Moderate Seoul Shinmun reported in
its front-page story that ROK and U.S. intelligence authorities
found no sign of a crack in North Korea's Hwang River and upstream
dams and that therefore some observers are raising a possibility
that North Korea deliberately unleashed water from its dam.

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "Expectations have run
high that inter-Korean relations will improve due to the North's

SEOUL 00001442 002 OF 003


recent conciliatory moves. However, this incident (of North Korea's
dam discharge) put a damper on this positive atmosphere... If North
Korea genuinely wants to warm relations with the ROK, it should
realize the need to calm down the ROK's anger first over the release
of water from its dam."

- Afghanistan - reports of election fraud,
-----------------------------------------
airstrike incident fallout
--------------------------

Moderate Hankook Ilbo reported that according to the Associated
Press, incumbent President Hamid Karzai has passed the crucial 50%
threshold in Afghanistan's presidential election with almost all the
votes counted, but a partial recount has been ordered after
observers found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" at a number
of polling stations.

In addition, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun and Hankook Ilbo
observed in its inside-page story that the German government is in a
quandary over NATO's September 4 attack on Taliban militants in
Kunduz province, Afghanistan, in which it is believed that civilians
lost their lives. Germany is at odds with the U.S. over who is
responsible for the fatal attack. Hankook Ilbo cited the British
Financial Times as reporting on September 8 that this incident may
put German Chancellor Angela Merkel's reelection at risk.


- Convictions of UK airline bomb plotters
-----------------------------------------

Conservative Chosun Ilbo and Seoul Shinmun carried reports on the
conviction of three British men for plotting to blow up
transatlantic airliners in 2006. The media noted that the plot, if
realized, would have threatened to surpass the September 11 attacks
in 2001 in terms of the number of potential victims.

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

WE SHOULD CONTINUE TO PUT PRESSURE ON PYONGYANG TO MAKE PROGRESS ON
NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR ISSUE
(JoongAng Ilbo, September 9, 2009, Page 45; Excerpts)

Recently, a prevalent view among some experts is that as long as
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is in charge, it is difficult to
resolve the nuclear issue. This pessimistic view is based on the
"naove" expectation that since Kim is not in good health, the North
Korean regime will soon change, and then, after that, the nuclear
issue will be resolved. This thought is highly likely to result in
a policy of "neglecting" the North Korean nuclear issue. This
policy suggests that since we cannot anticipate the resolution of
the nuclear issue at the moment, we might as well wait until the Kim
Jong-il regime collapses.

There are three ways of dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue.
The first one is a "benign neglect" strategy. However, if we
declare that the Six-Party Talks are over and discontinue diplomatic
efforts, North Korea will likely take advantage of the current
situation. If Pyongyang resumes its nuclear programs and enlarges
its nuclear arsenal, it will be very difficult to control the
situation. The second one is a "malign neglect" strategy. This
involves a regime change in the North through economic or financial
sanctions but, to this end, we should tackle uncertainties in the
North and persuade China to accept U.S.- and ROK-led unification of
the Korean Peninsula. The third one is a pressure tactic. This
tactic is to put pressure on the North, but only in order to bring
the North back to the Six-Party Talks for progress on the nuclear
issue.

In the end, the only realistic option we can choose is the third
one. By imposing sanctions against Pyongyang under UN Security
Council Resolution 1874, we pose a threat to North Korea's "regime
security" and urge the communist state to return to the Six-Party

SEOUL 00001442 003 OF 003


Talks. After recently feeling the effects of UNSC 1874, North Korea
seems to have launched a charm offensive on the U.S. and the ROK.
This change of attitude (on the part of North Korea) is largely
attributed to China, which joined in the pressure on the North.

The reason why the North insists on bilateral talks with the U.S. is
to break up a "pressure front" formed by China, the U.S., Japan,
Russia, and the ROK by improving relations with the U.S. China, the
biggest beneficiary of the Six-Party Talks, agrees (to this
assessment). U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Stephen Bosworth, who recently visited Seoul, also said, "I don't
think there's been any fundamental change (in the North.) We're
prepared to engage bilaterally as well with the North Koreans, but
only in the context of the Six-Party process and in order to
facilitate the Six-Party exercise." The determination of Japan and
Russia toward the denuclearization of North Korea is also strong.
The ultimate resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is to draw
North Korea into a "new world" by continuing pressure on the North
based on close cooperation among the five nations and the
international community.


TOKOLA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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