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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; October 28, 2009

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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
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RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0449
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6840
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6906
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1428
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5223
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 4171
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7381
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1670
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2979
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2058
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2665

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SEOUL 001711

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; October 28, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
New Flu Death Rate Is Lower Than That of Seasonal Flu... But People
Should Stay Alert

JoongAng Ilbo
Next One Month Is Crucial for New Flu

Dong-a Ilbo, All TVs
ROK Man Defects to N. Korea

Hankook Ilbo
Private Cram Schools "Blind Spot" in New Flu Prevention; They Take
No Precautions against the Disease

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Young Woman in her 20s with No Underlying Illness Dies of New Flu

Segye Ilbo
Another Four Deaths from New Flu...Anxiety Runs High over Growing
Flu Epidemic

Seoul Shinmun
Antiviral Drugs Available at Drug Stores Beginning Oct. 30


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

According to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, an
ROK man defected to the North on Oct. 26 through the heavily armed
inter-Korean border. The ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday
that it found "barbed wire cut open" at the border. The ROK military
is under criticism for having been "in the dark" for more than a day
after his defection. (All)

The Seoul High Court ruled yesterday that information on U.S. beef
imports should be disclosed if the imports fail to pass quarantine
inspection. (Chosun, Hankook, Hankyoreh)


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

Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor, said during an Oct. 26 press conference in
Washington that North Korea's human rights should also be on the
agenda for the Six-Party Talks. (Chosun)

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

- Religious Freedom Report/N. Korea
-----------------------------------
Conservative Chosun Ilbo gave front-page play to Oct. 26 press
remarks by Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in which he said that North
Korea's human rights should also be on the agenda for the Six-Party
Talks. Chosun observed that this remark by Assistant Secretary
Posner reflects increasing calls in the Obama Administration that
the North Korean human rights issue should be dealt with in dialogue
with North Korea.

- Aid for Afghanistan
---------------------
Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "The nature of the
Afghan war has changed so much that it should now be called a civil
war, rather than the war against terrorism. ... It is natural for

SEOUL 00001711 002 OF 004


us to make contributions to the reconstruction of the war-torn
country in line with our global status and economic power. However,
we should in no way send troops to the country, because such a move
would make the Afghan people hostile toward us and our people will
be targets of terrorism."

OPINIONS/EDITORIALS
--------------------
Government Must not Redeploy Troops to Afghanistan
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, October 28, 2009, Page 31)

The Lee Myung-bak Administration is showing signs that it will
resend troops to Afghanistan. At a National Assembly Committee on
Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade meeting two days ago, Foreign
Minister Yu Myung-hwan said the government plans to send about 130
civilian specialists to help rebuild Afghanistan, and is considering
whether to send police or troops to ensure their safety. This is
the first time a government official has officially suggested that
the government would send troops. A Blue House official yesterday
established the government's intention to dispatch troops, saying
they would send 300 volunteers from the regular army, not the
Special Forces. He also hinted a decision is imminent, saying the
outline for the complete plan has been decided upon.

Nearly two years after completely withdrawing, the government must
present a special reason to resend combat troops to Afghanistan.
There does not appear to be any clear rationale, aside from an
indirect request from the U.S. Yu said participating in the fight
against terrorism is a duty for the nation to become a "global
Korea," and stabilizing the political situation in Afghanistan is
directly connected to the issue of creating stable stationing
conditions for the United States Forces Korea (USFK), although this
is not a new rationale. The ROK had been contributing to the war on
terror long before the "global Korea" mantra, and it still continues
to do so. The nature of the Afghan war has changed so much that it
should now be called a civil war, rather than the war against
terrorism. The issue of the overseas deployment of U.S. troops
stationed in the ROK was the result of an agreement on USFK
strategic flexibility during ROK-U.S. strategic talks in Jan. 2006.

The strange thing is that as soon as Admiral Michael Mullen,
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, mentioned the U.S. could
redeploy troops from the ROK to Iraq and Afghanistan, Yu
simultaneously brought up conditions for a stable USFK deployment.
Those comments give the appearance that the U.S. applied pressure to
the ROK, as both stated that the USFK could be taken away if the ROK
does not send troops to Afghanistan.

It is natural for us to make contributions to the reconstruction of
this war-torn country in line with our global status and economic
power. However, we should in no way send troops to the country,
because such a move would make the Afghan people hostile toward us
and our people will be targets of terrorism. We must reexamine the
lesson learned when we completely withdrew our medical and
engineering units following the mass kidnapping of a missionary
group in the summer of 2007. Moreover, Afghanistan is now so
dangerous that the entire country could be considered a war zone.
Even if the government plans to send civilians, it is best to wait
until the situation stabilizes.


U.S. Defense Official Should Refrain from Making Reckless Remarks on
USFK
(Dong-a Ilbo, October 28, 2009, Page 39)

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen
officially explained to the Ministry of National Defense about his
recent statement that the U.S. is considering sending some USFK
troops to Iraq or Afghanistan. He said that the USFK troop level
would remain unchanged, adding that he made the remark on the USFK's
overseas redeployment while answering a question from USFK
servicemen, and it was not an official response. Consequently, this

SEOUL 00001711 003 OF 004


has calmed controversy, but its aftereffects are still lingering.

Adm. Mullen's remark on the pullout of USFK troops flies in the face
of not only the joint communiqu of the Security Consultative
Meeting (SCM) but also the USG's position. During his recent to
visit to the ROK, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pledged that, in
the event of a contingency, the U.S. would: 1) quickly bring
globally available U.S. forces and capabilities to add to the troops
and equipment it already stations in the ROK and 2) that the U.S.
will continue to provide extended deterrence to ensure the ROK's
security. On the same day, however, Adm. Mullen hinted at the
possibility of deploying some USFK troops off the Korean Peninsula.

This can be seen a simple difference of personal opinions between
the U.S. Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs
of Staff, but they may have played their respective roles to induce
the ROK to send combat troops to Afghanistan. (Washington) may have
internally decided to strengthen the USFK's "strategic flexibility."
Whatever the reason behind Adm. Mullen's statement, the U.S. troop
presence and the U.S. troop level in the ROK are directly linked
with our national security. This is why we contribute a massive
amount of money to the USFK's upkeep every year, pay every attention
to the relocation of the Yongsan Garrison to Pyeongtaek, and have
been considering seriously providing assistance in the region where
U.S. troops are stationed.

Regarding the USFK troop level, ROK President Lee Myung-bak and
former U.S. President George W. Bush agreed last April to freeze
troop reductions and maintain about 28,500 troops on the peninsula.
This was reaffirmed two months later, last June, during a meeting
between Secretary Gates and Minister of National Defense Lee
Sang-hee, and last December through the remarks by USFK Commander
Gen. Walter Sharp. At the ROK-U.S. Summit this past June, U.S.
President Barack Obama also made it clear that he will adhere to
this position.

Adm. Mullen's statement was careless. In the past, Pentagon
officials often fueled our security concerns by making statements
similar to the one by Adm. Mullen. They should not make reckless
remarks about USFK just in order to resolve other issues. If they
(Pentagon officials) need to make demands on the ROK, they should do
so in an open manner at an official meeting. That conforms to the
spirit of the alliance.


FEATURES
--------

Seoul High Court Rules That Information on U.S. Beef Imports Should
Be Disclosed If They Fail to Pass Quarantine Inspection
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, October 28, 2009, Page 12)

By Reporters Kim Gi-tae and Roh Hyun-ung

The Seoul High Court ruled that detailed information on U.S. beef
imports should be disclosed if those imports fail to pass quarantine
inspection.

Just as the lower court did in the original decision, the High Court
ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the Lawyers for a Democratic
Society (Minbyun). (Minbyun originally filed suit against the
Director of the National Veterinary Research & Quarantine Service
(NVRQS).) The High Court said that whether U.S. meat packers comply
with import standards should be disclosed to dispel (ROK people's
potential) anxiety over mad cow disease, adding that this disclosure
will pave the way for quarantine inspections to be implemented in a
more transparent manner. Previously, the original court also ruled
in favor of the plaintiff, saying that whether imported livestock
products meet quarantine standards is directly related to public
health and life.

When the ROKG issued a notice on sanitary standards for U.S. beef

SEOUL 00001711 004 OF 004


imports in June last year, Minbyun demanded that the Minister of
Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reveal information
regarding the names and addresses of ROK merchants who fail to label
the origin of beef; the number of violations by U.S. meat plants;
quantities of disqualified beef imports; and the reasons for
disqualification. The NVRQS which carries out quarantine inspection
has revealed the number of violations by U.S. meat packers and
quantities of disqualified beef imports, but has not disclosed the
reasons for disqualification, saying that a disclosure of such
information may mislead (ROK people) to believe that the U.S. meat
packers did something terribly wrong by posing a serious threat to
public health.

Lawyer Song Ki-ho from Minbyun said that according to the
government's notice, if U.S. meat plants violate quarantine
standards, the ROKG can take action, including suspending U.S. beef
exports. He attached significance to the ruling, saying if
information on U.S. beef imports are revealed when they fail to pass
quarantine inspection, ROK people can examine whether the government
undertakes quarantine inspections as spelled out in the government's
notice.

Lee Joo-ho, director of the NVRQS said that the decision whether to
disclose information on U.S. beef was made in consultation with the
Ministry of Justice and Ministry for Food and Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries. Lee also noted that the NVRQS will decide whether to
appeal to the Supreme Court or reveal the information after
discussions with related ministries.

STEPHENS

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