Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; September 11, 2009
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SEOUL 001453
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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; September 11, 2009
Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's No. 2 Official;
"There Is No Talk of Succession at This Time"
Prosecutors to Introduce Post-investigation Evaluation; Prosecutors'
Low Conviction Rate to Affect
Their Performance Evaluation
ROKG to Sell As Many As Government-owned Properties to Increase Its
ROK Dreams of Being "Secondary Battery Power"
beyond "Semiconductor Korea"
ROKG Takes Only Wait-and-see Approach
to Sejong City Project
Dam Discharge Raises International Legal Issues
Still Difficult to Start New Businesses in ROK
The ROK's Foreign Ministry is investigating whether North Korea
breached international laws when it released water from its dam,
which caused the lethal flood on the Imjin River last Sunday.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Moon Tae-young said yesterday that the
ministry is closely examining the incident with other relevant
government agencies. (All, All TVs)
In a nationally televised speech Wednesday night before a joint
session of Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Congress to
set aside partisan bickering and work with him to overhaul the U.S.
health care system. (All, All TVs)
During a September 10 interview with Japan's Kyodo news agency, Kim
Yong-nam, North Korea's number two official and President of the
Supreme People's Assembly said that there is no talk of succession
at this time. (Chosun, Hankook, Hankyoreh, Segye)
In a September 9 daily news briefing, State Department Spokesman Ian
Kelly said, "Whatever we do has to be in very close consultation
with our parties because we believe that's the best way to solve
this conflict, in a Six-Party context." (Hankyoreh)
At a September 9 press conference, U.S. Defense Department Spokesman
Geoff Morrell said that the U.S. is strongly requesting that Japan
continue to permit its naval fuel tankers to refuel American
warships near Afghanistan, reiterating that the U.S. wants to
implement all agreements with Japan, including the relocation of a
marine airfield on Okinawa base. (Chosun, Hankook)
Korean Peninsula - developments
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All ROK media gave wide attention to the ROK's Unification
Ministry's September 10 remarks that the ministry is investigating
whether North Korea breached international laws when it released
water from its dam, which caused the lethal flood on the Imjin River
last Sunday. According to media reports, Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Moon Tae-young said yesterday that the ministry is closely examining
the incident with other relevant government agencies. Moderate
Hankook Ilbo reported in its inside-page story that customary
international law dictates that a state may not harm another state
in exercising its rights. However, the newspaper noted that there
is no international court that can rule definitively and
authoritatively on a customary law that is not written. Hankook
Ilbo reported that therefore observers believe that it will be hard
to put the customary international law into actual practice and the
ROKG may end up only urging North Korea to apologize for its action
and obtaining a guarantee against recurrence from Pyongyang.
Major newspapers took special note of Japan's Kyodo news agency's
September 10 interview with Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's number two
official and president of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly.
Conservative Chosun Ilbo quoted Kim as saying, "The matter of
inheriting revolutionary traditions is important. But there has
been no talk of succession at this time." According to the
newspaper, he denied reports that Kim Jong-il has appointed his
third son Jong-un as his heir apparent, which he described as an
"attempt by some foreign media outlets to stifle our rise and
Anniversary of 9/11 attacks
Moderate Seoul Shinmun carried a report on the eighth anniversary of
the September 11th terrorist attacks. In its inside-page report,
the newspaper said that the lingering effect of the September 11th
attacks has hampered President Obama' reform agenda. According to
the daily, U.S. conservatives are criticizing President Obama's
immigration reform plan, saying that easing the pathway to
immigration will allow for an easy inflow of terrorists, thus
threatening U.S. security. Hankook Ilbo also noted that there is a
growing skepticism (in the U.S.) about the Afghanistan war that
resulted from the September 11th attacks and that Obama's plan to
deploy additional troops to Afghanistan has hit a snag.
Conservative Segye Ilbo reported that Iran on September 9 presented
a new package of proposals on its nuclear program to the P5+1
countries, namely the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and
Germany. The package reportedly does not contain a breakthrough
solution such as the halt of its uranium enrichment, according to
the newspaper. The daily also quoted State Department Spokesman Ian
Kelly as saying that the U.S. will review the proposal seriously.
Chosun Ilbo and Hankook Ilbo gave an inside-page play to a September
9 press conference by U.S. Defense Department Spokesman Geoff
Morrell, who said that the U.S. strongly requests Japan to continue
permitting its naval fuel tankers to refuel American warships near
Afghanistan, reiterating that the U.S. wants to put all agreements
with Japan into practice, including the relocation of a marine
airfield on Okinawa base.
KIM JONG-IL 'HAS NOT APPOINTED A SUCCESSOR'
(Chosun Ilbo, September 11, 2009, Front Page)
By Tokyo Correspondent Shin Jung-rok
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is well and has not appointed a
successor, the North's no. 2 official claimed Thursday. Kim
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Yong-nam, President of the Presidium of North Korea's Supreme
People's Assembly, told Japan's Kyodo news agency Monday, "The
matter of inheriting revolutionary traditions is important. But
this has nothing to do with the successor issue." "There is no talk
of succession at this time," he added.
Kim Yong-nam was interviewed in Pyongyang. He denied reports that
Kim Jong-il has appointed his third son Jong-un as his heir
apparent, which he described as an "attempt by some foreign media
outlets to stifle our rise and prosperity." He added, "Our people
are now strongly united under Chairman Kim Jong-il to safeguard the
republic and socialism." He added Kim Jong-il is "currently running
the entire party, state, and military energetically and wisely."
Kim Yong-nam also called for better relations with Tokyo. "We
respect the Pyongyang Declaration" signed between the two sides on
normalization of diplomatic relations, which includes a Japanese
promise to supply the North with economic assistance, including
humanitarian aid and soft loans. "We must seriously overcome the
unfortunate past based on this declaration."
He added, "We oppose the Japanese government's wrongful hostile
policies, but the Japanese people are not our enemy. The prospect
of (North) Korea-Japan relations will solely depend on the attitude
of the Japanese government."
That is being read as an offer of dialogue to improve ties after the
election of a new government in Japan. In August last year, during
the Yasuo Fukuda's premiership, Pyongyang and Japan agreed to reopen
investigations of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the
1970s and 80s. But contacts stopped with the inauguration of the
Taro Aso government in September last year.
(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)
KIM JONG-IL ASSERTS CONTROL
(Chosun Ilbo, September 11, 2009, Page 5)
By Reporter Ahn Yong-hyun
Why did North Korea's no. 2 Kim Yong-nam publicly announce that
finding a successor to leader Kim Jong-il was "not being discussed
at this point"? Given Kim Jong-il's absolute rule, the comments must
be viewed as coming straight from the "dear leader" himself. In
other words, there is a strong chance that Kim Jong-il personally
took steps to quell rumors about the succession.
"Kim Yong-nam's comments are probably related to the fact that there
has recently been no more talk of Kim's third son Jong-un being
chosen as a successor, following a steady flow of intelligence
information showing the leader's health had recovered," one South
Korean intelligence official speculated.
Rumors that Jong-un had been appointed as a successor began
circulating at the beginning of this year. South Korea's National
Intelligence Service told lawmakers in June that the North sent out
diplomatic notices to a number of counries following its second
nuclear test informing them that Jong-un had been chosen as heir
But early this month, newsletters with the latest information on
North Korean reported rumors that that the regime ordered all
officials to refrain from talking about the issue of a successor.
They said Kim Jong-il is in the pink of health and capable of
leading the country for the next 10 years and more.
One North Korea expert said, "Early this year, when Kim Jong-il's
recovery seemed uncertain, there was plenty of reason for North
Koreans to talk about a successor. But if the health issue has been
resolved, discussions over a successor could be seen as a threat."
Experts believe Kim Jong-il knows from experience that the
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appointment of a successor could weaken his absolute power. After
being chosen to succeed his father Kim Il-sung in 1980, Kim is
believed to have quickly taken over the reins of power.
There have been numerous accounts of Kim having recovered his
health. "I've been told that Deputy U.S. Secretary of State James
Steinberg, who visited South Korea in June, told our intelligence
official that Kim Jong-il would live for at least another five
years," one government source said. Steinberg's comment is based on
the observations and analyses of medical experts who were shown four
hours of footage of Kim moving around.
In mid-August, Kim had dinner with Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun
Jeong-eun for around four hours. One South Korean government
official said, "I heard Kim Jong-il drank pink champagne and smoked
Marlboro cigarettes. People who have had a stroke must avoid
alcohol and cigarettes, but Kim seems to have recovered
significantly judging from his drinking and smoking, even in small
Ryu Dong-ryeol, a researcher at the Police Science Institute said,
"Kim Jong-il is sending out a message to the world that he is alive
and well and that they should negotiate with him. Under these
circumstances, any talk of a successor would not be welcome, and
this was voiced through Kim Yong-nam's comments."
(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)