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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; October 26, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001697

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; October 26, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun, All TVs
Rapid Spread of New Flu; U.S. Declares Swine Flu Emergency, and ROK
Reports 3,000 Infections a Day

JoongAng Ilbo
At Least 136 Dead in Worst Bomb Attack in Baghdad
in More Than Two Years

Dong-a Ilbo
N. Korean Defectors Fail to Assimilate Into ROK Society

Hankook Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
President Lee: "N. Korea's Intentions Remain Unclear. The North has
Shown Few Signs of Making a Decision
to Give up Nuclear Ambitions"


Segye Ilbo
War of Nerves between U.S. and N. Korea; U.S.,
North Hold Talks in New York, and U.S. Treasury Blacklists
N. Korean Bank for Arms Deals


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


President Lee Myung-bak, in an Oct. 25 luncheon at the ASEAN+3
Summit in Thailand, said that North Korea's intentions remain
unclear and that the North has shown few signs of making a decision
to give up its nuclear ambitions. (All)

Lee Dong-kwan, Senior Presidential Secretary for Public Relations,
said on Oct. 24 that, "There will be neither behind-the-scenes
negotiations nor s-e-c-r-e-t agreement with the North" about an
inter-Korean summit." (All)

According to Stars and Stripes, Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during his recent visit to Seoul
that the U.S. is considering deploying part of USFK to the Middle
East in coming years. (Dong-a)


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

Ri Gun, Deputy North Korean Negotiator to the Six-Party Talks, met
in New York on Oct. 24 with Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the
Six-Party Talks. (All)

On Oct. 23, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted a North Korean
bank as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction for its
involvement in exporting ballistic missiles to Iran. (Dong-a, Segye,
Seoul)


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


-N. Korea
---------
The Oct. 24 meeting in New York between Ri Gun, Deputy North Korean
Negotiator to the Six-Party Talks, and Sung Kim, U.S. Special Envoy
for the Six-Party Talks, received wide press coverage today.

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo described this meeting as a prelude to
full-fledged bilateral talks between the two countries. JoongAng
observed: "One of the scenarios being discussed for bilateral

SEOUL 00001697 002 OF 006


U.S.-North Korea talks is that Special Representative for North
Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth ... would meet in Pyongyang or a third
country with North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju.
Should Bosworth go to Pyongyang, he may meet with North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il to deliver a personal letter from President
Obama."

In an editorial, JoongAng argued: "It appears that North Korea's
(recent actions) are aimed at easing international sanctions which
have intensified and disrupting cooperation between the ROK, the
U.S. and Japan. Following the North's second nuclear test, the
three countries implemented a two-track approach of 'pressure and
dialogue' to resolve the nuclear issue. This approach should be
maintained until the North takes irreversible steps toward
denuclearization. ... The North's current flurry of peace overtures
should not in any way lead to a hasty lifting of sanctions against
the country."

President Lee Myung-bak was widely quoted as saying in an Oct. 25
luncheon at the ASEAN+3 Summit in Thailand: "North Korea's
intentions remain unclear. The North has shown few signs of making
a decision to give up its nuclear ambitions."


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

CONCERNS OVER U.S. BEEF
(Seoul Shinmun, October 26, 2009, page 30)

By Lee Jun-han, Political Science Professor of the University of
Incheon

During a national policy coordination meeting held at the Central
Government Complex, the new ROK prime minister threw out a question,
"Why isn't imported U.S. beef used in the cafeteria of the
government office? During the National Assembly's audit that
ensued, clues (why the U.S. beef is not used in the government
office) were revealed. Until now, imported U.S. beef including
intestines has been inspected only with the naked eye without
undergoing tissue inspection. This U.S. beef has been served to
auxiliary police who have no choice or power (to refuse the U.S.
beef.) More surprisingly, a considerable amount of U.S. beef has
been consumed in the Taereung National Village where Korean national
players exercise with the goal of enhancing Korea's standing in
international sports.

Living in the U.S. as a researcher, I go to grocery stores on
weekends, where I often look at nicely packaged beef only with a
watering mouth without buying it. When I was studying in the U.S.
before, I couldn't afford to buy beef. But now I don't feel like
(buying it), knowing that U.S. beef may cause health problems. The
U.S. beef imported to the ROK comes from cows more than 30 months
old. In contrast, beef distributed in the U.S. is mostly meat from
cattle under 20 months of age and is considered safe. I say to
myself hypnotically that U.S. beef is safe, but I can't dispel my
concerns easily.

My anxiety further intensified after I read a terrifying article
about U.S. beef. According to the New York Times, a 22- year old
young American woman suffered from diarrhea and spasms after eating
a hamburger. She fell into a coma for 9 weeks. Her mother had
purchased ground beef and made a hamburger. But it turned out that
the beef was contaminated with E coli. The woman became paraplegic
due to nerve damage. I suddenly felt my legs numb upon recalling
that I had had a hamburger at a (McDonalds) fast-food chain a few
days ago.

I cannot but suspect that good-quality beef isn't always used for
hamburgers. Allegedly, ground beef sometimes includes intestines or
other parts, or even bones. Also, other kinds of meat in addition
to beef, and beef from other countries may be mixed into the ground
beef.


SEOUL 00001697 003 OF 006


This October alone, at least three recalls of beef products were
announced in the U.S. Not only ground beef but also other kinds of
products were subject to the recalls. The recalls were issued
because beef products may have been contaminated with E. coli or
Specified Risk Materials (SRM) were not removed. The problem is
that one of the U.S. firms that issued a recall in October exports
beef to the ROK. One way or another, U.S. beef is fueling consumer
anxiety both inside and outside the U.S.

In the ROK, U.S. imports increased until October in 2008, but after
that, they began decreasing as the global economic crisis hurt the
ROK economy and drove up the exchange rate. Weak consumer
confidence in U.S. beef was also at play. A U.S. beef importer, who
sued MBC's "PD Diary," an investigative television newsmagazine, and
an actress (for allegedly misleading the public into a boycott of
U.S. beef products and damaging sales), argues that he incurred a
loss of more than 400 billion won due to candlelight protests. In
this situation, it is evident that the U.S. livestock industry has
failed to achieve its target profits and market expansion in the
ROK.

On October 10, Japan banned all U.S. beef imports from a U.S.
meatpacker, saying that bovine spinal columns, which are banned
under a bilateral agreement, were found in beef shipments from the
plant. The Hatoyama Administration strongly said that it did not
plan to renegotiate to ease the import terms as the U.S. demanded.
In Taiwan, there is no report, either, that the nation's import
terms for U.S. beef have been eased as much as those of the ROK. In
the middle of the candlelight protests, ROKG officials said that
they would take action after watching the results of U.S. beef trade
negotiations of Japan or Taiwan. But what are they doing now?
Isn't this the time for the Prime Minister to find a solution at a
fundamental level, rather than at the level of a cafeteria? Doesn't
he have to find a solution in which Korean consumers enjoy "cheap
and quality" U.S. beef with confidence, thereby reducing the loss of
ROK and U.S. industries and patching up divisions in public
opinion?


A CHANCE TO BRING TRANSPARENCY TO INTER-KOREAN DEALINGS
(Chosun Ilbo, October 26, 2009, page 35)

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Lee Dong-kwan on Saturday said, "As we have
already stated, we will not pursue a summit with any hidden
political agenda." Briefing reporters on rumors of a possible
inter-Korean summit, Lee said any such meeting must be in line with
the genuine interests of the public and help in the resolution of
the nuclear impasse. "I stress again it is our government's
unchanging stance that we will not hold an inter-Korean summit that
will simply end in a meeting of the leaders," Lee said. He added
Seoul has no fantasies about such a meeting and pledged the
government would be clear and open about any arrangements when the
time comes.

Many have grown skeptical about the value of a summit after the
first two were held without even touching on the main issue of the
North Korean nuclear program. As a result, President Lee Myung-bak
pledged during his election campaign to be transparent about the
agenda and arrangement process.

Considering the nature of inter-Korean relations, it could be
difficult to reveal the entire process of arranging a summit.
During its historic contact with Beijing, the White House kept the
process s-e-c-r-e-t even from its own diplomats. The transparency
the public wants to see is not about revealing every little detail
of the process but means that they want the leaders of the two
countries to be honest about matters like the nuclear issue. North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il has said denuclearization on the Korean
Peninsula was his father's "last wish." But there is no point
trying to make such rhetoric look like some sort of major progress
in the nuclear dismantlement process.

The North Korean nuclear problem is at the root of inter-Korean
relations. The ROK is the only country that is directly threatened

SEOUL 00001697 004 OF 006


by North Korea's nuclear weapons. The reason the North insists on
keeping its nuclear weapons is that it is afraid of being defeated
and absorbed by the ROK.

Some people here fear that North Korea and the U.S. may leave the
ROK out of any nuclear negotiations and are desperately hoping for
an inter-Korean summit. These fears are probably at the bottom of
the rumors about a possible summit. They are based on the erroneous
belief that nuclear discussions should be conducted between North
Korea and the U.S., while the ROK should work to create an amicable
atmosphere for such discussions by promising economic aid to and
holding a summit with North Korea.

But even if the U.S. and North Korea do hold nuclear talks, key
issues including turning the armistice into a peace treaty must
involve the ROK. As long as Seoul and Washington maintain a close
alliance, the North would not even be able to consider leaving the
ROK out. North Korea knows this, and that is why it is hoping for
an inter-Korean summit.

This is an opportunity to bring greater transparency to inter-Korean
negotiations, which have been flawed for the last 20 years, and to
set a framework for regular talks between the two Koreas and the
U.S. The next inter-Korean summit must be a decisive step in that
direction.

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


FIRST U.S. - N. KOREA CONTACT SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE OBAMA
ADMINISTRATION SHOULD LEAD TO THE NORTH'S RETURN TO SIX-PARTY TALKS

(JoongAng Ilbo, October 23, 2009, page 46)

Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks and Ri Gun, Deputy
North Korean Negotiator to the Six-Party Talks had a meeting in New
York on October 24. This is the first U.S.-North Korea contact
since the Obama Administration took office. The meeting was held
while the two countries are still engaging in confrontation
following North Korea's second nuclear test and missile launches and
the UN Security Council's resolution condemning these acts. The
unofficial working-level contact came even though the U.S. has been
demanding as preconditions for U.S.-North Korea talks that North
Korea demonstrate its willingness to achieve denuclearization and
promise to rejoin the Six-Party Talks. It is likely that the two
officials discussed several issues including North Korea's return to
the Six-Party Talks, its willingness to pursue denuclearization,
U.S.-North Korea bilateral talks and a U.S.-envisioned comprehensive
approach for resolving the nuclear issue. Ri Gun will also
participate in talks on the North Korean nuclear issue, which will
be held in New York on October 30. Attention is turning to whether
the first one-on-one U.S.-North Korea contact will lead to the
North's return to the Six-Party Talks.

Recently, North Korea has mounted charm offensives at the U.S., the
ROK and Japan. In a series of conciliatory moves, the North invited
Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth to
visit Pyongyang, hinted at the possibility that it may rejoin the
Six-Party Talks during a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and
proposed inter-Korean talks. However, it remains unclear whether
Pyongyang is really willing to give up its nuclear weapons program.
ROK President Lee Myung-bak said on October 25 that the North has
shown few signs of making a decision to give up its nuclear
ambitions while Pyongyang insists that it intends to pursue
denuclearization through nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S.
Therefore, we can only question as to North Korea's true intentions
behind the peace gestures. It appears that North Korea's (recent
actions) are aimed at easing international sanctions which have
intensified and disrupting cooperation between the ROK, the U.S. and
Japan.

Following the North's second nuclear test, the three countries
implemented a two-track approach of 'pressure and dialogue' to

SEOUL 00001697 005 OF 006


resolve the nuclear issue. This approach should be maintained until
the North takes irreversible steps toward denuclearization.
Depending on the situation, equilibrium may shift between pressure
and dialogue. The North's current flurry of peace overtures should
not in any way lead to a hasty lifting of sanctions against the
country. Former U.S. President George W. Bush lifted sanctions on
the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) bank due to North Korea's relentless
demands and made progress on the Six-Party Talks. However, this
only resulted in North Korea carrying out a second nuclear test.
Now, North Korea is openly claiming itself as a nuclear state and
scheming to make it an established fact. This should not be
allowed. Ultimately, we should persuade the North to abandon its
nuclear weapons. This is not an easy goal, given the North Korean
leadership's unwavering commitment to nuclear development. After
all, the North Korean nuclear issue can be resolved only when the
entire international community, including all Six Party Talks member
countries, makes consistent and enduring efforts (to stop the North
from nuclear development.)


FEATURES
--------

BOSWORTH VISITS PYONGYANG WITH OBAMA'S LETTER? KIM JONG-IL VISITS
CHINA?
(JoongAng Ilbo, October 26, 2009, Pages 4-5)

By Reporter Ye Young-joon

After North Korea's charm offensive, how will things pan out?

Contact made between Ri Gun and Sung Kim on October 24

Following a s-e-c-r-e-t inter-Korean meeting, the first contact
between North Korean and U.S. officials since the launch of the
Obama Administration was made in New York on October 24. Deputy
North Korean Negotiator to the Six-Party Talks Ri Gun, who is
visiting the U.S., and U.S. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks
Sung Kim had a meeting for about an hour at the U.S. mission to the
UN. Ri, who arrived in the U.S. to attend the Northeast Asia
Cooperation Dialogue set for October 26 in San Diego, is expected to
meet with Kim a few more times during his stay until the end of this
month.

The meeting between the two officials can be seen as a prelude to
full-fledged bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea. An
(ROKG) official well-versed in the North Korean nuclear issue
predicted, "Since the U.S. has already decided to have direct
dialogue with North Korea, the U.S., during the Ri-Kim meeting, is
expected to check Pyongyang's position and determine the venue and
timing for bilateral talks with the North. The date (for the talks)
is likely to be after mid-November." One of the scenarios being
discussed for bilateral U.S.-North Korea talks is that Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth, who has
already been invited by the North, would meet in Pyongyang or a
third country with North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kang
Sok-ju. Should Bosworth go to Pyongyang, he may meet with North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il to deliver a personal letter from
President Obama. Under another scenario, North Korea would return
to the Six-Party Talks, depending on the outcome of U.S.-North Korea
dialogue. The first contact between the U.S. and North Korea was
made possible because North Korea's charm offensive squared with the
U.S.'s "two-track" approach of dialogue and sanctions (toward the
North.) In early October when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited
Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had sent him a message
that "We hope to improve relations with the ROK and Japan." The
recent inter-Korean s-e-c-r-e-t contact in Singapore should also be
seen in this context. North Korea-Japan negotiations are also
expected to resume now that the new Japanese government has taken
office. The efforts to create a favorable atmosphere for talks
before the dialogue with the U.S. is consistent with North Korea's
negotiating style.

It is also possible that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il will visit

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China. A diplomatic source said, "We believe that during his visit
to the North, Premier Wen invited Kim." There is also speculation
that, when Kim Yang-gon, head of the Unification Front Department of
North Korea's Workers' Party, appeared in Beijing last week, one of
his missions was to discuss North Korean leader Kim's visit to
China. Kim Yang-gon, who is in charge of relations with China's
Communist Party, has coordinated summit diplomacy between North
Korea and China, which was restored in the 2000s. An (ROK)
government official noted, "It appears that North Korea's charm
offensive is also aimed at undermining cooperation among the five
parties and taking 'the teeth out of the sanctions.'" To this end,
North Korea should first win over China. Strengthening relations
with China would also be advantageous for North Korea at the
bargaining table. When it comes to inter-Korean dialogue, a
prevalent view is that since the s-e-c-r-e-t meeting has now been
made public, it may be difficult, for the time being, to restore the
momentum (for dialogue). Observers say, however, that the reason
why the ROKG has not disclosed its lines of contact with the North
is that it wants to keep the lines open and deal with future
developments in a flexible manner.


STEPHENS

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