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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; October 22, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SEOUL 001676

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; October 22, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
Although ROKG Denies Negotiating Inter-Korean Summit with N. Korea,
Something Seems to be Afoot between Two Koreas

JoongAng Ilbo
94 Percent of Principals Surveyed Willing to Receive Evaluations
from Teachers and Parents

Dong-a Ilbo
Two Family Members of an ROK Prisoner of War,
who had been under Protection of ROK Consul General in Shenyang,
China, after Fleeing
N. Korea, Forcibly Repatriated to the North

Hankook Ilbo
86 Percent of Lawmakers
on National Assembly's Education and Science Committee Favor
Abolishing Foreign Language High Schools

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Land Ministry Seeks to Shift Part of Costs of Four-River Restoration
Project onto Local Governments

Segye Ilbo
List of Hospitals Performing Illegal Abortions to be Released

Seoul Shinmun
ROKG "Reluctant" to Disclose Details of
Next Year's Budget Plan


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

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Seoul yesterday for
the annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) today with his ROK
counterpart. (All) The two countries are expected to put in writing
measures to defend the ROK under the concept of "extended
deterrence." (Chosun, Dong-a, Hankook, Segye, Seoul)

The Defense Secretary said during a meeting with U.S. and ROK
service members: "Korea's international military contributions
should be seen as what they are - something that is done to benefit
your own security and vital interests." (All)

There are signs that something is going on between the two Koreas,
although ROKG officials say that there is no need to rush an
inter-Korean summit. First of all, the ROKG has formed a task force
to deal with inter-Korean relations and to prepare for an
inter-Korean summit. Second, when Kim Yang-gon, Director of the
United Front Department at the North's Workers' Party, recently
visited China, Won Dong-yon, an expert on the ROK, accompanied him.
Third, Seoul plans to provide North Korea with optical cables and
other equipment worth 900 million won to modernize an inter-Korean
military communication line. (Chosun)


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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an Oct. 21speech at the U.S.
Institute of Peace, said that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on
North Korea nor normalize ties unless the North takes irreversible
steps toward denuclearization. (Dong-a, all TVs)


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


SEOUL 00001676 002 OF 004


-N. Korea
---------
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo and all TV networks gave attention to
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Oct. 21 speech at the U.S.
Institute of Peace, in which she said that the U.S. will not lift
sanctions on North Korea nor normalize ties unless the North takes
irreversible steps toward denuclearization.

U.S. Defense Secretary Gates' Visit to Seoul
All ROK media covered Defense Secretary Robert Gates' arrival in
Seoul yesterday for the annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM)
today with his ROK counterpart. According to media reports, the two
countries are expected to put in writing measures to defend the ROK
under the concept of "extended deterrence, " which uses the full
range of American military might - from the nuclear umbrella to
conventional strike and missile defense capabilities.

Most coverage highlighted the Defense Secretary's remarks during a
meeting with U.S. and ROK service members, in which he said:
"Korea's international military contributions should be seen as what
they are - something that is done to benefit your own security and
vital interests." Most media viewed this remark as intended for the
ROK's deployment of troops to Afghanistan. Right-of-center JoongAng
Ilbo wrote in the headline: "Gates Did Not Raise Afghan Issue, but
Tone of His Speech was Indirect but Strong; Isn't It a Roundabout
Way of Requesting Troop Dispatch?"


FEATURES
--------

GATES DID NOT RAISE AFGHAN ISSUE, BUT TONE OF HIS SPEECH WAS
INDIRECT BUT STRONG; ISN'T IT A ROUNDABOUT WAY OF REQUESTING TROOP
DISPATCH?"
(JoongAng Ilbo, October 22, 2009, Page 3)

By Military Affairs Reporter Kim Min-seok

A close look at U.S. Defense Secretary Gates' speech at Yongsan
Military Base

Indirect but strong tone... He emphasized the role of ROK troops,
rather than boosting the morale of U.S. servicemen.

It was unprecedented. The speech that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates gave to U.S. servicemen at Yongsan military base on October 21
was starkly different from his previous ones. His speech was not
designed to cheer up U.S. soldiers, who are serving in a country far
away from their hometowns. It was mainly about a call for the
expansion of the role of the ROK military.

Secretary Gates did not directly mention the ROK's troop dispatch to
Afghanistan. He used indirect but strong words. While talking
about (Seoul's) troop deployments to Iraq and Vietnam, he said that
the ROK's international military contributions are beneficial to the
country's security and vital interests. In other words, Seoul's
military contributions are not for the sake of the U.S. or the
ROK-U.S. alliance but for the ROK's global stature. He seemed to
stress that in order to achieve the Lee Myung-bak Administration's
"Global Korea" plan, the ROK should make a voluntary contribution to
the international community.

Judging from his language, Secretary Gates appeared to be mindful of
a previous discord over the ROK's troop dispatch to Iraq. In 2003,
the U.S. requested the ROK to send troops to Iraq, but it was not
until two years later that the ROK was able to deploy the Zaytun
Unit to the region. At that time, the argument that the ROK's troop
dispatch would contribute to the ROK-U.S. alliance backfired in the
ROK. It stirred up a lot of controversy.

It is also notable that he mentioned the role of ROK troops at a
regional and global level. He said, "The recent announcement of a
new, specialized peacekeeping unit in the ROK military is especially
welcome." Secretary Gates went on to say that future ROK forces

SEOUL 00001676 003 OF 004


"will be not just more capable of defending the Korean Peninsula,
but be a contributor to regional and global security as well." In
an unusual remark, he also stressed that ROK political leaders
should make an investment in defense.

Secretary Gates pledged to provide extended deterrence against North
Korea's nuclear threat. Gates said that North Korea is pursuing
nuclear weapons while engaging in proliferation of nuclear
technology and ballistic missiles. He added that the peril posed by
North Korea has become destabilizing not only to the Korean
Peninsula but also to the Pacific Rim and the world. The defense
secretary noted that the U.S. is committed to deter the North's
threat through the nuclear umbrella, and conventional strike and
missile defense capabilities.

Secretary Gates hinted that the transfer of the wartime operational
control of ROK troops from Washington to Seoul will take place as
planned in 2012. He said that the plan is "the culmination of a
series of shifts toward greater responsibility," adding that "these
shifts have reflected the evolution of the U.S. role - from
protector of (the ROK) to the role of a full partner." Gates noted
that the U.S. and the ROK should cooperate in the future on security
issues such as non-proliferation, ballistic missile defense and
(Northeast Asia) regional security cooperation including Japan.


2 KOREAS 'PREPARING FOR SUMMIT'
(Chosun Ilbo, October 22, 2009, pages 1, 2: Excerpts)

By Reporters Ahn Yong-hyun and Lim Min-hyuk

A senior government source on Wednesday admitted that North Korea
"now wants an inter-Korean summit." But when asked about details,
he added, "No comment."

When an assistant U.S. defense secretary last week told reporters
that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il invited President Lee Myung-bak
to a summit, both Cheong Wa Dae and the White House denied it. But
something seems to be afoot.

There is speculation about behind-the-scenes meetings between the
two Koreas. Kim Yang-gon, the director of the North Korean Workers
Party's United Front Department, took Won Dong-yon, a ranking member
of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, along on a visit to China on
Oct. 15-20, which was uncommon.

Won was among working-level officials who drafted the declaration
after the second inter-Korean summit in 2007. He also drafted an
agreement signed by the prime ministers of the two Koreas that year
and has worked behind the scenes of major inter-Korean talks over
the past 20 years.

Prof. Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University said, "The fact that Kim
Yang-gon, the North Korean official in charge of ROK affairs, was
accompanied by Won suggests that Won was given some duties connected
with inter-Korean relations."

A government official familiar with inter-Korean affairs said a
taskforce has been launched to deal with entire inter-Korean
relations and prepare for an inter-Korean summit, apparently
consisting of civilians as well as government officials. Another
source said the National Intelligence Service, the Unification
Ministry and the Foreign Ministry are giving support to the
taskforce.

Yet government agencies including Cheong Wa Dae have unanimously
denied rumors about behind-the-scenes inter-Korean meetings, or have
said that no government officials have attended such meetings.

Meanwhile, the government Wednesday said it will give materials and
equipment worth W850 million (US$1=W1,179) to North Korea for the
modernization of inter-Korean military communication cables, calling
it "essential" for overland passage between the two Koreas.


SEOUL 00001676 004 OF 004


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


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