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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; October 5, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001582

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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; October 5, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
Can Chinese Premier's Visit to Pyongyang Become
Turning Point for N. Korea to Return to Six-Party Talks?

JoongAng Ilbo, All TVs
"China will Make Great Contributions to Peace and Stability on
Korean Peninsula;" China's Premier Arrives in Pyongyang
for Meeting with Kim Jong-il Today

Dong-a Ilbo
National Intelligence Service, Korea Coast Guard Seize Four N.
Korean Containers

Hankook Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun, Segye Ilbo
Chinese Premier Greeted by N. Korean Leader Kim Jong-il
upon Arrival at Pyongyang's Airport

Seoul Shinmun
67 Percent of Local Government Chiefs Favor Merger of Cities,
Counties and Districts


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

According to ROKG sources, the National Intelligence Service and the
Korea Coast Guard seized four North Korean containers from a
Panama-flagged cargo vessel docked at a new port in Busan last
month. This is the first time since the UN Security Council adopted
resolutions sanctioning North Korea that the ROK has inspected North
Korean cargo and blocked its distribution. (Dong-a)

The 11 North Koreans who arrived at the ROK's east coast on Oct. 1
made it clear that they wished to defect to the ROK. According to
the Unification Ministry, however, Pyongyang urged Seoul twice to
send them back. (All)


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

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Pyongyang yesterday for a
three-day visit. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally greeted
Wen at the airport, a rare gesture that raises expectations for a
breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear issue. (All)

North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il was quoted as saying during a
meeting with the Chinese premier that North Korea is willing to
denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through bilateral and multilateral
talks. (All)


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

-N. Korea
---------
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's arrival in Pyongyang yesterday for a
three-day state visit received prominent press coverage today.
According to media reports, Wen's visit is the first by a Chinese
premier in 18 years, and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-il
personally greeted Wen at the airport, a rare gesture that raises
expectations for a breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Chinese Premier Wen was widely quoted as stating immediately after
landing in Pyongyang: "China will make great contributions to the
peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula."

Most media also noted that North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il met with
the Chinese premier and quoted him as saying during the meeting:

SEOUL 00001582 002 OF 006


"North Korea is willing to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through
bilateral and multilateral talks."

Conservative Chosun Ilbo cited experts as speculating that the two
countries will have discussions on various joint projects as well as
oil and food aid worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars.
Chosun went on to comment: "China, in return, wants North Korea to
return to the Six-Party Talks. The talks are Beijing's best hope of
maintaining the initiative in denuclearization efforts."

Newspapers carried the following front-and inside-page headlines:
"Can Chinese Premier's Visit Become Turning Point for N. Korea to
Return to Six-Party Talks?; Chinese Premier Wen Visits N. Korea
Carrying Economic Gift" (conservative Chosun Ilbo); "Kim Jong-il's
Special Treatment to Chinese Premier Designed for Free Economic Aid
from China" (right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo); "Will N. Korea Give
China Gift Regarding Six-Party Talks?" (moderate Hankook Ilbo); and
"Political Situation on Korean Peninsula Enters Negotiation Phase to
Dismantle N. Korea's Nuclear Program" (left-leaning Hankyoreh
Shinmun)

Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized today: "While stating its
opposition to a nuclear-armed North Korea, China has given North
Korea breathing room at every crucial moment by providing it with
massive economic aid. ... Unless Premier Wen Jiabao makes it clear
to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that there is no alternative to
dismantling the North's nuclear program, the international community
will doubt China's real intentions toward North Korea."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo's editorial observed: "Kim extended an
extraordinary welcome by greeting Wen at the airport in person, so
there is a chance the North Korean leader will make meaningful
comments on his country's nuclear program in consideration of
Beijing's dignity. ... Kim must keep in mind that Beijing has
constantly supported the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Beijing would rather hear Pyongyang's declaration of a return to the
Six-Party Talks rather than the warm welcome that mobilized hundreds
of thousands of North Koreans."

In another editorial on Saturday, Dong-a argued: "Without China's
cooperation, international efforts to denuclearize North Korea will
likely fail. Beijing's aid to Pyongyang should be carried out in a
way that maintains international cooperation and prompts North Korea
to make substantial progress in nuclear dismantlement."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo today front-paged a report citing ROKG
sources as saying yesterday that the National Intelligence Service
and the Korea Coast Guard seized four North Korean containers from a
Panama-flagged cargo vessel docked at a new port in Busan last
month. The report noted that this is the first time since the UN
Security Council adopted resolutions sanctioning North Korea that
the ROK has inspected North Korean cargo and blocked its
distribution.


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

IS N. KOREA READY TO RETURN TO 6-PARTY TALKS?
(Chosun Ilbo, October 5, 2009, page 27)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao began a three-day visit to North Korea on
Sunday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally greeted him at
Pyongyang Airport. The official purpose of Wen's visit is to
commemorate 60 years of relations between the two countries, but the
meeting between Wen and Kim is widely expected to lead to a turning
point in multilateral efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear
standoff, with hopes that the North will take the opportunity to
announce its return to Six-Party nuclear talks.

During last month's visit to North Korea by Chinese State Councilor
Dai Bingguo, an envoy for Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kim said his
regime wished to resolve the nuclear standoff through "bilateral and
multilateral talks." There is now hope that that the world will get

SEOUL 00001582 003 OF 006


a clearer picture during Wen's visit of what Kim meant by
"multilateral talks."

There is speculation that the North is trying to change the
framework of the Six-Party negotiations. Some are wondering whether
it will propose three-way talks with the United States and China or
bilateral talks with the U.S. while the other four countries in the
Six-Party framework act as observers.

Regardless of which scenario proves to be correct, it is
unacceptable for the ROK, the host of the G20 summit, to be left out
of nuclear negotiations whose outcome will determine its fate.
China has consistently supported the Six-Party talks. There is a
broad consensus within the international community that they are the
best way to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff.
Hopefully Wen's visit will lead to North Korea returning to them.

(Wen's visit) marks a turning point. But there have been so many
turning points in the talks, and none of them have led to the
dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. All they have
done is buy the North more time. Even if North Korea returns to the
Six-Party Talks, chances are slim that it will abandon its nuclear
arms program. North Korea has rejected a package deal offered by
the ROK and the United States. It appears that another round of
prolonged talks may be in store, which may well mean that there is
no hope of getting North Korea to scrap its nuclear program.

The standoff is also a problem for China. If Beijing had taken a
firm stance by putting top priority on getting Kim Jong-il to scrap
the program, it could have avoided the nightmare of a nuclear-armed
North Korea. While stating its opposition to a nuclear-armed North
Korea, China has given North Korea breathing room at every crucial
moment by providing it with massive economic aid. Now Wen has
traveled to North Korea carrying with him promises of massive
financial support again. If the North returns to the Six-Party
talks in exchange for such aid, it probably has no intention of
getting rid of its nuclear weapons and is merely interested in
getting out from under international sanctions.

Unless Premier Wen Jiabao makes it clear to North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il that there is no alternative to dismantling the North's
nuclear program, the international community will doubt China's real
intentions toward North Korea. And the response of the ROK, which
stands to suffer the most from a nuclear-armed North Korea, and
other neighboring countries will change dramatically.

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


BOAT PEOPLE SHOW N. KOREANS' GRIM REALITY
(Dong-a Ilbo, October 5, 2009, page 31)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has started a three-day visit to North
Korea, the first by a Chinese premier in 18 years, as both countries
mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties. The ROK's attention,
however, is focused on how the visit will affect the North Korean
nuclear standoff. How North Korean leader Kim Jong-il responds to
Beijing's request to return to the six-party nuclear talks will
determine Pyongyang's fate. Following Wen's Pyongyang visit, the
leaders of the ROK, China and Japan will hold a summit in Beijing
Saturday. If North Korea changes, the three leaders will revise
their strategies toward Pyongyang. If North Korea intends to give
up its nuclear program and return to dialogue, it has an opportunity
it cannot afford to miss.

Kim went to Sunan Airport near Pyongyang to personally greet Wen.
North Korea's Korean Central Television said Wen "received an
enthusiastic welcome at the airport and by crowds of people from all
walks of life on the miles-long streets of Pyongyang."

Kim extended an extraordinary welcome by greeting Wen at the airport
in person, so there is a chance the North Korean leader will make
meaningful comments on his country's nuclear program in

SEOUL 00001582 004 OF 006


consideration of Beijing's dignity. Wen said upon arrival in
Pyongyang, "China will make important contributions to peace and
stability on the Korean Peninsula." Kim must keep in mind that
Beijing has constantly supported the denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula. Beijing would rather hear Pyongyang's declaration of a
return to the Six-Party Talks rather than the warm welcome that
mobilized hundreds of thousands of North Koreans.

North Korea cannot afford to remain nonchalant at this point.
Eleven North Korean defectors were found on a small fishing boat
Thursday. While South Koreans headed for their hometowns to
celebrate the Chuseok holidays, the 11 North Koreans risked their
lives. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the same day submitted a
report to the UN Security Council saying that more than a third of
North Koreans are suffering from hunger due to food shortages.
Earlier, the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture
Organization also warned that nine million North Koreans will suffer
from hunger this year. Even the head of the North Korean Red Cross,
Jang Jae On, implicitly asked the ROK for food aid during the
inter-Korean family reunions at Mount Kumgang Sept. 26, saying, "It
would be nice if the ROK does a corresponding favor to the North."

The North conducted its second nuclear test in May, but the only
thing it secured was a worsening food shortage. Over the 10-year
reign of liberal governments in the ROK, Pyongyang barely survived
the food shortages with the help of rice and fertilizer aid from
Seoul. If the North does not give up its nuclear program, North
Koreans will keep fleeing their country and go hungry. How much
longer can Pyongyang lie to its people through propaganda like "The
Dear Leader appreciated the August Full Moon, praying for the
happiness of the people?" The ROK must also devise comprehensive
and well-planned measures to handle mass defections of North Koreans
by sea.

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


N. KOREA SHOULD RESPOND TO INTERNATIONAL OFFERS
(Dong-a Ilbo, October 2, 2009, page 23)

North Korea yesterday rejected ROK President Lee Myung-bak's "grand
bargain" proposal on getting Pyongyang to get rid of its nuclear
program. The North's state-run Korea Central News Agency said that
Seoul is "seriously mistaken" if it calculated that Pyongyang will
accept the "ridiculous proposal" for the normalization of relations
and economic aid. In a speech Monday to the U.N. General Assembly,
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon said the North will
"act responsibly" in the management and use of its nuclear weapons
and on non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Yet Pyongyang's
latest comment suggests the North is behaving like a nuclear state.


Sunday will mark the fourth anniversary of the inter-Korean summit
declaration between the late ROK President Roh Moo-hyun and North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The inter-Korean declaration reached at
the event put a huge burden on Seoul through inter-Korean economic
cooperation projects. The cost of the Oct. 4 declaration is an
estimated 14.3 trillion won (12.2 billion U.S. dollars) for Seoul.
Considering the size of the North's economy, which is one-36th of
the ROK's, the agreement is nothing short of scattering money over
the North. Signed just four months before the end of the Roh
Administration, the declaration put an enormous burden on the
succeeding Lee Government. The incumbent administration cannot
afford to honor the declaration, which failed to mention the North's
nuclear program but put a unilateral financial burden on the ROK.

Going through the process of coordination with other parties to the
Six-Party nuclear talks, the declaration seeks the North's
denuclearization in return for "whatever it wants," including
large-scale economic aid, normalization of ties with the U.S. and a
guarantee of the communist system under Kim. In his visit to Seoul
this week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg spoke of a
"tremendous opportunity" for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating

SEOUL 00001582 005 OF 006


table. If North Korea rejects this offer, it will face harsh
international sanctions so Pyongyang should make a wise judgment.

During his three-day visit to Pyongyang (which started) Sunday,
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao reportedly plans to sign
agreements with the North in economy, trade and tourism. In October
2005, China provided two billion U.S. dollars in aid to the North
when President Hu Jintao visited Pyongyang. According to the Korea
Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Seoul, trade with China
accounted for 73 percent of the North's external trade last year
excluding trade with the ROK.

Without China's cooperation, international efforts for North Korea's
nuclear abandonment will likely fail. Beijing's aid to Pyongyang
should be carried out in a way that maintains international
cooperation and prompts North Korea to make substantial progress in
nuclear abandonment.

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


FEATURES
---------

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, KOREA COAST GUARD SEIZE FOUR N.
KOREAN CONTAINERS
(Dong-a Ilbo, October 5, 2009, Front Page)

By Reporters Koh Ki-jung, Yoon Hee-kak and Cha Joon-ho

It has been learned that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and
the Korea Coast Guard seized four North Korean containers (from a
container ship) in ROK waters. This measure marks the first time
that the ROK has inspected North Korean cargo and blocked its
distribution since the UN Security Council adopted a resolution
sanctioning North Korea after its second nuclear test on May 25.

ROKG officials said on October 4 that the Korea Coast Guard laid an
embargo on a Panama-flagged cargo vessel at Busan New Port and
seized four North Korean containers aboard the ship in the middle of
September and is currently analyzing their contents. At that time,
the Korea Coast Guard took the step at the request of the National
Intelligence Service. The vessel reportedly entered Busan New Port
via China. An ROKG official confirmed the report, saying, "Although
we cannot disclose the details yet, it is correct that we secured
North Korea-related containers last month."

Because of the sensitivity of this incident, the ROKG is keeping
tight-lipped about it. ROKG officials declined to comment on how
they obtained the North Korean cargo, what was in the containers and
where the ship was headed.

However, because the North Korean containers were seized at the
behest of the NIS, this issue appears linked to the UN sanctions on
the North. A foreign policy and security expert said, "Under UN
Security Council Resolution 1874, cargos of weapons, strategic
materials, and luxuries coming from and going to North Korea can be
inspected and seized." In July, the ROKG submitted its progress
report on strengthening the cargo inspection of North Korean vessels
to the UN Security Council.

The Kang Nam 1 left the North Korean port of Nampo in mid June and
was headed for Myanmar. However, the ship reversed its course off
the coast of Southeast Asia and returned to the North in early July
after being trailed by the U.S. under UN Security Council sanctions.
At that time, the U.S. intensified pressure on Pyongyang by
actively cooperating with China and Southeast countries. Therefore,
there is a high possibility that the ROK may have seized the North
Korean containers with the cooperation of other countries as part of
(international) efforts to enforce sanctions against the North.

There also is a likelihood that the seizure resulted from the
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). On May 26, a day after

SEOUL 00001582 006 OF 006


North Korea's second nuclear test, the ROKG announced that it will
participate fully in the PSI. The PSI was formed to increase
international cooperation in interdicting shipments of nuclear
weapons, biochemical weapons and missiles. The PSI allows states to
stop and search ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass
destruction within their territorial waters and to refuse the
transport of proliferation shipments through their territory.

Another ROKG official said that related authorities will explain the
seizure after some time passes. When the analysis of the containers
is completed, the ROK will make a determination (what to do about
the cargo) after consulting with neighboring countries, and
negotiating with North Korea and strategically considering the
Korean Peninsula situation.


STEPHENS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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