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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; September 14, 2009

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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; September 14, 2009

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


Chosun Ilbo
A Year after "Lehman's Collapse," ROK's Semiconductor,
LCD and Automobile Industries Have Grown Stronger, but Steelmakers
and Shipbuilders Have Been Outpaced
by Chinese Rivals

JoongAng Ilbo
U.S. Ready for Talks with N. Korea

Dong-a Ilbo
Death Toll from New Flu Reaches Seven over Weekend

Hankook Ilbo
September, October Critical Moment for N. Korea Issues
U.S. to Decide How and Where to Hold Talks with N. Korea within
Couple of Weeks; China's Premier Wen Jiabao May
Visit N. Korea Next Month to Meet Kim Jong-il

Hankyoreh Shinmun
From Confrontation to Dialogue: U.S., N. Korea
to Hold Talks Soon

Segye Ilbo
U.S. Seeks Meeting between Bosworth and N. Korea's First
Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju

Seoul Shinmun
ROK's Economy Grows 2.6 Percent in Second Quarter of This Year,
Highest among OECD Nations


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

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley,
in a Sept. 11 regular briefing, said that the U.S. is prepared to
enter into a bilateral discussion with North Korea. He added: "It's
designed to convince North Korea to come back to the Six-Party
process and to take affirmative steps toward denuclearization."
(All)

In a related development, a key (ROK) Blue House official was quoted
as welcoming the U.S. move, saying: "There is no reason to oppose
bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang if the talks are
aimed at denuclearizing North Korea." (Dong-a, Hankook)

According to Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, China's Premier Wen Jiabao is
planning to visit North Korea early next month to attend the closing
ceremony of the China-North Korea Friendship Year, which marks the
60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
(All)

According to AP and Fox TV citing Open Radio for North Korea, a
Seoul-based rights group, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has warned
of a third nuclear test if the U.S. and the international community
intensify sanctions against North Korea. (Chosun)

According to a report by Chinese authorities, China in 2003
retrieved the corpses of 56 North Koreans floating in a border river
after they were apparently shot dead by North Korean soldiers while
trying to defect. (All)


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

-North Korea
------------
All ROK media today front-paged Sept. 11 press remarks by Assistant

SEOUL 00001463 002 OF 007


Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley, in which he
said that the U.S. is prepared to enter into a bilateral discussion
with North Korea. He was further quoted: "It's designed to convince
North Korea to come back to the Six-Party process and to take
affirmative steps toward denuclearization. When it'll happen, where
it'll happen, we'll have to wait and see. We'll be taking some
decisions in the next couple of weeks in light of our recent
consultation."

In a related development, conservative Dong-a Ilbo and moderate
Hankook Ilbo quoted a key Blue House official as welcoming the U.S.
move, saying: "There is no reason to oppose bilateral talks between
Washington and Pyongyang if the talks are aimed at denuclearizing
North Korea." Dong-a Ilbo also noted that there is concern among
Seoul officials that the U.S.-North Korea talks may send a wrong
message to Pyongyang that it can achieve what it wants through such
talks while keeping its nuclear ambitions, and that the ROK may
become alienated in the bilateral process between the U.S. and North
Korea.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo, meanwhile, quoted an ROKG official as
saying: "The envisioned U.S.-North Korea talks will be different
from those in the past. In the past, the start of (U.S.-North
Korea) dialogue meant the end of sanctions (against North Korea,)
but the U.S. is making it clear that it will continue sanctions
(against North Korea) unless a meaningful denuclearization (of the
North) is guaranteed."

Newspapers carried the following front-and inside-page headlines: "A
Shift in U.S. Strategy on N. Korea: 'We Are Willing (To Have)
Dialogue to Facilitate Six-Party Talks'" (conservative Chosun Ilbo);
"Bosworth Highly Likely to Visit N. Korea Next Month... U.S. Media
Call Washington's Move a Major Policy Shift" (right-of-center
JoongAng Ilbo); "Is Obama Getting Impatient with Lack of Foreign
Policy Achievements, Faced with Declining Approval Ratings?"
(conservative Dong-a ilbo); and "From Confrontation to Dialogue:
U.S., N. Korea to Hold Talks Soon" (left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun)

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "It is believed that
U.S.-North Korea dialogue is inevitable in order to resolve the
North Korean nuclear standoff. The issue is the format and timing
of the dialogue. ... Above all, we hope that the Obama
Administration will not follow in the footsteps of the previous Bush
Administration, which took an inconsistent approach toward North
Korea by adopting an ultra hard-line stance in its early days and
turning excessively conciliatory in its final days."

An editorial in conservative Dong-a Ilbo argued: "Washington should
exercise caution to ensure that the U.S.-North Korea bilateral talks
don't replace the Six-Party Talks or that the U.S. will not be used
by North Korea to exclude the ROK from discussion of issues
surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, the bilateral talks
should not result in derailing the Six-Party Framework."

Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized: "What matters is that
U.S.-North Korea talks should provide momentum for North Korea to
return to the Six-Party Talks and engage in denuclearization
negotiations. ... However, the prospect of holding the Six Party
talks seems uncertain because North Korea is highly likely to insist
on being recognized as a nuclear state."

Conservative Chosun Ilbo carried Sept. 12 AP and Fox TV reports
citing "Open Radio for North Korea," a Seoul-based rights group, as
claiming that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has warned of a fresh
nuclear test if the U.S. and the international community intensify
sanctions, by saying (to his party and military leaders): ""You
should be ready to conduct a third and more powerful nuclear test if
the U.S. intensifies sanctions without dialogue with the North."


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

OBAMA'S "SAVING KIM JONG-IL"

SEOUL 00001463 003 OF 007


(Chosun Ilbo, September 14, 2009, Page 34)

By Senior Editorial Writer Kim Dae-joong

The United States seems to have agreed to hold the bilateral
dialogue that North Korea wanted so badly. The visit by former U.S.
President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang in early August may have been a
turning point which contributed to (the possibility of dialogue.)
Voice of America on Saturday said that Clinton proposed to Kim
Jong-il that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen
Bosworth should visit North Korea. The report suggests that Clinton
did not go empty-handed when he sought the freedom of the two U.S.
journalists detained in the North. The U.S. position was that the
journalists' release was entirely separate from any direct
Washington-Pyongyang contact and that President Barack Obama's North
Korea policy was unchanged.

Seeing no change in the U.S. insistence on maintaining the framework
of the Six-Party nuclear talks since the inauguration of the Obama
Administration, the North's no. 2 man, Kim Yong-nam, on July 15 said
that the North will not return to the Six-Party Talks, which are
"over for good." China dispatched its Vice Foreign Minister and
Chief Nuclear Negotiator Wu Dawei to Pyongyang on Aug. 17-21, for
the purpose of attempting to persuade the North Korean leadership to
hold bilateral talks within the framework of the Six-Party Talks.
That only made the North insist more strongly on having bilateral
Washington-Pyongyang talks. China probably knew this in advance.
Now the U.S. State Department says that consensus has been formed
within the (other Six Party Talks) countries that direct
Washington-Pyongyang talks can take place after all.

So North Korea appears to have prevailed. The North Korean
delegation to the funeral of former President Kim Dae-jung, led by
two senior officials, conveyed their leader Kim Jong-il's message to
President Lee Myung-bak on Aug. 23. Upon leaving, the delegation
made remarks suggesting they were satisfied with the results of the
meeting. They must have told the South to agree to bilateral talks
between the North and the U.S. in return for another inter-Korean
summit. On Sept. 1, a North Korean delegation, headed by Vice
Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il, visited Beijing. Earlier, Pyongyang
took a series of conciliatory steps like the release of a South
Korean worker detained in the border city of Kaesong and the release
of the crew of the fishing boat 800 Yeonan which had been abducted
to the North, and the resumption of family reunions and package
tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort.

Yet, on Sept. 3, when Bosworth left for a tour of South Korea, China
and Japan to sound out their views on the Six-Party Talks, North
Korea, in a letter to the UN Security Council chairman, announced
that its experimental uranium enrichment entered the "final stage,"
that the reprocessing of spent fuel rods is being completed, and
that already extracted plutonium is being turned into weapons. This
sounds like saber-rattling incompatible with the North's attempts to
approach America, but in fact is a kind of a stimulant to
Washington-Pyongyang dialogue, suggesting that it is urgent for the
U.S. to stop the developments and that the North has no alternative
but to take that route if the U.S. procrastinates, according to Joel
Wit, a former U.S. State Department official who was a consultant to
Obama.

Obama seems to have been pressured by the criticism in the country
that there is no progress in his campaign pledge to talk to
America's enemies, and North Korea's uranium claim almost gives the
impression that it was pre-arranged so Obama could revive his pledge
and talk (with North Korea.) Bosworth's remarks on completing his
three-country tour -- that nothing has changed in North Korea's
attitude and that there will be no bilateral talk outside the
framework of the Six-Party Talks -- may have been a smoke screen.

Why does North Korea so desperately want to talk to the U.S.? Many
experts believe that the North faces a crisis. Damage from cold
weather, heavy rains and blight has hurt the harvest to the point
where another famine looms. At this point, South Korea has
suspended aid until the North denuclearizes, American aid has

SEOUL 00001463 004 OF 007


already been suspended, and even China is not as forthcoming as it
used to be. Coupled with rumors of Kim Jong-il's ill health and
problems involving the succession, the North is seeking an exit
strategy, and is looking to the U.S.

Is our government's attitude as stable and trustworthy as President
Lee's confidence suggests? In a meeting with security advisers on
Friday, Lee spoke of a "turning point" in the North Korean nuclear
issue and stressed the need to maintain leadership in the atmosphere
of inter-Korean dialogue. But it seems that the North does not
think of Korea as an equal partner in discussing issues related to
the Korean Peninsula, and the recent unannounced opening of the
floodgates of the Hwang River Dam is clear evidence of what it
really thinks.

There is no guarantee that the U.S. will not recognize the North as
a nuclear state, under cover of letting it use nuclear energy for
peaceful purposes, and that the South will not be dragged around in
a replay of the past pattern where Seoul provided all the money and
technology for the construction of light-water reactors in the
North. If Obama's pragmatism kicks in, and Lee's pragmatism compels
him to follow, Kim Jong-il will utter cries of delight once again.
South Korea and the U.S. are in danger of missing, as they did in
1998, the best opportunity to get the North to abandon its nuclear
programs and opt for reform and opening.

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


U.S.-N. KOREA DIALOGUE SHOULD LEAD TO DENUCLEARIZATION NEGOTIATIONS

(Hankyoreh Shinmun, September 14, 2009, Page 31)

Changes are proceeding apace in the political situation surrounding
the Korean Peninsula. After numerous multi-layered conciliatory
measures from North Korea, following a visit by former U.S.
President Bill Clinton, the U.S. and North Korea have finally
declared plans to engage in bilateral dialogue. Philip J. Crowley,
Assistant Secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Public
Affairs, made it clear in a regular briefing last weekend that both
countries have consented to talks and that a decision on a time and
place will be determined within the next two weeks.

Although the U.S. is limiting the character of these talks to an
attempt to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks, the
significance of these talks should not be taken lightly in that they
will represent the first real dialogue between the two countries
during U.S. President Barack Obama's administration. Hopes had been
high for rapid advancements in North Korea-U.S. relations with the
arrival of this administration, which has been advocating dialogue
as a way to resolve international conflict, but it has taken nine
months to get the two countries to this point following North
Korea's policy of hard-line confrontation such as its rocket launch
in April. It is a shame that so much time and energy has been lost
in finding out each other's true intentions but, on the positive
side, there is a greater understanding of the need for a solution.

Peace on the Korean Peninsula, the only region in the world still
caught up in a 20th century-style Cold War, is impossible without a
simultaneous resolution regarding North Korea's nuclear program and
its concerns about the stability of its system. In that sense, both
North Korea and the U.S. need to approach these talks as an
opportunity to lay the groundwork for peace on the peninsula and to
bring back the Six-Party Talks, which made considerable headway
towards resolving these issues. The issue of North Korea's nuclear
program has been under discussion for the past 20 years. The
parties involved cannot keep spinning their wheels.

For bilateral talks between North Korea and the U.S. to produce any
results, the governments of interested nations, in particular those
of Japan and South Korea, urgently need to adopt a future-oriented
approach. Their hard-line positions on North Korea have thus far
been an obstacle to solving the North Korean nuclear issue. Some

SEOUL 00001463 005 OF 007


signs of change are in the air, however. For example, the
Democratic Party of Japan that will be taking over the government on
Wednesday has opened up the possibility for dialogue with North
Korea. In contrast, President Lee Myung-bak insists on adhering to
his present policy tone even while acknowledging that the current
changes represent "both a momentous turning point and a period of
upheaval for inter-Korean relations." This cannot be seen as
anything but a shame. The Korean Peninsula is entering a period of
upheaval in which the peace process that began after the 2000
inter-Korean summit, but was halted when the George W. Bush
Administration took office in the U.S., is once again gaining steam.
South Korea's government should be playing the role of a core
participant at this time, but if the Lee Administration gets trapped
in outdated ways of thinking and is unable to keep up with the
changes, it will foolishly make us bystanders of our own issues.
The government's North Korea policy should be reexamined at once.

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


N.K.-U.S. BILATERAL TALKS
(Dong-a Ilbo, September 14, 2009, Page 35)

Amid continued international sanctions on North Korea after its May
2 nuclear test, the possibility of bilateral talks between Pyongyang
and Washington is increasing. P.J. Crowley, Spokesman of the U.S.
State Department, said Friday that the U.S. is ready for dialogue
with North Korea, adding that Washington will decide on the time and
venue for the talks within two weeks. The U.S. made it clear,
however, that the talks are intended to get North Korea to return to
the Six-Party Talks. Yet Washington should exercise caution to
ensure that the U.S.-North Korea bilateral talks don't replace the
Six-Party Talks or that the U.S. will not be used by North Korea to
exclude the ROK from discussion of issues surrounding the Korean
Peninsula. Furthermore, the bilateral talks should not result in
derailing the Six-Party Framework.

Washington may have found it difficult to keep demanding that
Pyongyang return to the Six-Party Talks as a precondition for
bilateral talks amid the North's latest peace offensive. Through
the visits by U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Stephen Bosworth to South Korea, China and Japan, the U.S. has
coordinated with the other parties to the Six-Party Talks regarding
(the possible) bilateral dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.
As South Korea has expressed support for the bilateral dialogue as
long as it helps resolve North Korea's nuclear program, there is no
need to view the Washington-Pyongyang talks from a negative
perspective.

Yet the purpose of the talks should not just be to get North Korea
to return to the Six-Party dialogue. The international community
knows that the North can walk away from the negotiating table at any
time. Therefore, full-fledged bilateral talks should ensure that
the Six-Party framework is maintained and its results (implemented.)
No more time should be wasted because of Pyongyang's delay tactics.


Caution is also needed to temper optimism that the North's return to
the negotiating table will end its nuclear threat. Seoul should
also be fully prepared to counter any argument that easing or
lifting sanctions on Pyongyang should be done to reactivate the
Six-Party Talks.

The international community should remember that mere dialogue
without sanctions for North Korea's behavior is not enough to get
the communist state moving. Sanctions must remain until it has been
confirmed that the communist state has abandoned its nuclear
program.

The dominant view is that Pyongyang is in a desperate situation and
needs to buy time to avoid international sanctions and to solidify
its power succession process. Thorough international coordination
is essential to prevent the North from taking advantage of its

SEOUL 00001463 006 OF 007


bilateral dialogue with the U.S. to get out of its dire
predicament.

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


U.S-NORTH KOREA DIALOGUE SHOULD LEAD TO DENUCLEARIZATION
NEGOTIATIONS
(Hankook Ilbo, September 14, 2009, page 39)

The U.S. is moving to hold bilateral talks with North Korea. The
U.S. State Department said on Friday that the U.S. is prepared to
enter into a bilateral discussion with North Korea, adding that
Washington will decide on the time and venue for the talks within
the next two weeks. Considering current circumstances, U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth is expected
to visit Pyongyang late this month or early next month. It may be
too early to jump to this conclusion given complicated relations
between the U.S. and North Korea. However, it is clear that the
long-stalled discussion over the North Korean nuclear issue has
entered a new phase.

The U.S. has put pressure on North Korea through UN sanctions while
demanding as the precondition for bilateral talks that Pyongyang
return to the Six-Party Talks or at least express its intention to
do so. This U.S. shift to a "dialogue-first" approach marks a
significant change. It seems that the U.S. has realized the need to
react flexibly to the North Korean position that if the U.S. puts
sanctions first, it will respond by bolstering its nuclear
deterrence such as weaponizing its already-extracted plutonium and
enriching uranium. It appears that the U.S. also judged that it
should not repeat the same mistake of encouraging North Korea to
boost its nuclear capability by sticking to pressure and sanctions
as the past Bush Administration did.

What matters is that the U.S.-North Korea talks should provide
momentum for North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks and engage
in denuclearization negotiations. The U.S. also made it clear that
bilateral talks with North Korea will be held for this purpose.
Ambassador Bosworth revealed this position during his recent visits
to the ROK, China and Japan to win consent from those countries (to
the bilateral U.S. - North Korea dialogue.) However, the prospect
of holding the Six Party Talks seems uncertain because North Korea
is highly likely to insist on being recognized as a nuclear state.
This is why (the other Six Party) countries should continue to
cooperate closely.

Later this month and early next month, other diplomatic events, such
as the UN General Assembly, the G20 financial summit in Pittsburgh
and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to North Korea, are scheduled
to take place in addition to U.S.-North Korea talks. These events
are expected to have a considerable impact on the Korean Peninsula.
The ROKG should be prepared to proactively respond to the changing
situation (in dealing with North Korea.) Some people have expressed
concern that if the ROKG does not accept the fact that the U.S. and
North Korea are moving towards having a dialogue, the ROKG will be
sidelined. The ROKG should take a flexible but bold approach to
inter-Korean relations which have recently shown noticeable signs of
change.


RESUMPTION OF U.S.-NORTH KOREA DIALOGUE
(JoongAng Ilbo, September 14, 2009, Page 46)

The U.S. has decided to resume dialogue with North Korea soon.
There is reportedly a high possibility that U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth may visit
Pyongyang in early October. In response to the declaration by North
Korea that "the Six-Party Talks are completely over," the U.S.
applied pressure, saying, "There will not be dialogue unless the
North returns to the Six-Party Talks;" but the U.S. has now changed
its stance. High-level contact between the U.S. and North Korea may
be held during the UN General Assembly meeting late this month or

SEOUL 00001463 007 OF 007


during the October 1 celebration of the 60th anniversary of the
foundation of China. The situation on the Korean Peninsula and
Northeast Asia is entering a new phase.

The USG explains that any dialogue will be aimed at bringing North
Korea back to the negotiating table. It is believed that U.S.-North
Korea dialogue is inevitable in order to resolve the North Korean
nuclear standoff. The issue is the format and pace of the dialogue.
In short, the U.S.'s 20-year-old process of failed nuclear
negotiations should not be repeated this time again. Above all, we
hope that the Obama Administration will not follow in the footsteps
of the previous Bush Administration, which took an inconsistent
approach toward North Korea by adopting an ultra hard-line stance in
its early days and turning excessively conciliatory in its final
days. Early in his presidency, former President Bush labeled the
North as part of the "axis of evil" and rejected any dialogue with
it. But when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in
October, 2007, a year before Bush's presidency expired, Washington
lifted its financial restrictions against the North and came forward
for talks with the communist state. As a result, the Six-Party
Talks proceeded for some time but, faced with criticism by some U.S.
lawmakers of the Administration's "too soft" stance on Pyongyang,
the Bush Administration again insisted on setting out a procedure
for verifying nuclear dismantlement in the North and did not produce
any results until its term ended.

There may be several reasons why the Obama Administration decided to
restart dialogue with the North. First of all, the administration
may have taken into consideration the pessimistic view that
sanctions are not sufficient to make North Korea give up its nuclear
ambitions in the short term. In addition, mindful of his declining
job approval ratings over domestic issues, such as health insurance
reforms, President Obama may have needed to find a "new
breakthrough" in U.S. foreign relations. However, there is an
(important) point that the USG should not forget under any
circumstance: it is the principle that North Korea must get rid of
its nuclear weapons. The U.S. should not forget this point even for
a moment.

As the North is strongly committed to possessing nuclear materials,
it will be difficult to proceed with the North Korean nuclear talks.
Therefore, the negotiations will inevitably be prolonged. In order
to achieve the goal of nuclear dismantlement in North Korea through
a difficult and long process, it is essential to have a strong
determination not to undermine the principle. In this sense, the
USG is right to stick to the Six-Party framework. In particular,
sanctions imposed on North Korea - a nation which broke all
agreements and has made progress on nuclear development - should
also be maintained at least until the North demonstrates its
commitment toward nuclear abandonment through action.

So far, the strategy of using both "carrots and sticks" in
negotiations with North Korea has not worked properly. North Korea
has just used "weak sticks and excessive carrots" to its advantage.
However, the U.S. should bear in mind that even weak stick measures,
if maintained for a long time, will produce a strong effect on the
North and the U.S. should take a consistent approach toward the
North.


TOKOLA

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