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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; November 12, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SEOUL 001801

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; November 12, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
Industrial Wastes Illegally Buried in Yongsan Development District;
Account For 80% of Total Area

JoongAng Ilbo
Court Rulings Contradict Each Other Depending
on Judges' Ideological Orientation

Dong-a Ilbo
Damaged North Korean Ship Is Towed Shortly
After Crossing Northern Limit Line

Hankook Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Officials to Accelerate Sejong Revision; Alternative Plan
to Be Unveiled in December

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Middle Class-friendly Policies Fail to Protect Middle Class; "Safety
Net" Should Be Established

Segye Ilbo
North Korea Targets Only One ROK Vessel


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

Following Tuesday's naval skirmish with North Korea, the ROK
yesterday beefed up forces in the Yellow Sea and deployed a
destroyer to waters near the maritime border. (JoongAng, Seoul)

In a related development, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said on
November 10, "I would say to the North Koreans that we hope that
there will be no further actions in the Yellow Sea that can be seen
as an escalation." (Chosun, Dong-a)

According to the ROK's Foreign Ministry officials, an ROK company
operating in Afghanistan has recently been attacked three times by
the militants. (Dong-a, Hankyoreh, Hankook, Seoul, Segye)


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

The U.S. has informed North Korea of its decision to send Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth to discuss
the regime's possible return to the Six-Party Talks. (All)


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

-North-South Korea naval clash
------------------------------
Most ROK media carried reports speculating about the motives behind
North Korea's attack on an ROK vessel. Right-of-center JoongAng
Ilbo ran an inside-page report on the North's provocations. The
newspaper noted that the North Korean patrol boat attacked the ROK's
high speed patrol boat even though the North knew that it had little
chance of winning a fight with the vessel. The daily also reported
that it seems that North Korea deliberately ignored the warnings
from the ROK and opened fire first as a calculated maneuver.
JoongAng Ilbo questioned the mild nature of the North's response,
given that it suffered casualties. The newspaper also speculated,
citing an ROK military expert, that the North Korean military itself
may have decided to stage this limited clash to increase tensions on
the Korean Peninsula by trying to highlight that the ROKG's North
Korea policy prompted inter-Korean conflicts. According to the
newspaper, the expert also views that the North's provocations may
be a bargaining ploy to increase leverage in negotiations with the

SEOUL 00001801 002 OF 005


U.S.

In a related development, Conservative Chosun Ilbo quoted White
House Spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying on November 10, "I would say
to the North Koreans that we hope that there will be no further
actions in the Yellow Sea that can be seen as an escalation."

-Bosworth's visit to North Korea
-------------------------------
Most ROK media carried reports on the U.S. State Department's
announcement that Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Stephen Bosworth will travel to Pyongyang by the year's end.
Conservative Chosun Ilbo ran an inside-page report saying that
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley
announced this decision only with three sentences, while repeatedly
stressing that Ambassador Bosworth's discussions in Pyongyang will
take place in the context of the Six-Party Talks. The newspaper
noted that the State Department intentionally played down the
decision in order to prevent the North from maneuvering to
strengthen its bargaining position.

Hankyoreh Shimun editorialized: During Bosworth's visit to North
Korea, the U.S. should not be overly cautious but instead try to
create a good atmosphere for negotiations. ... Even though, as the
USG said, the visit is not for direct talks between the U.S. and
North Korea but for discussions in the context of the Six-Party
Talks, the Six-Party Talks will face difficulties if the two sides
do not trust each other as negotiating partners. The U.S. should
lay out its vision on how to get North Korea to give up its nuclear
ambitions while making efforts to engage in in-depth discussions
with the North.


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

CONFIRMATION OF BOSWORTH'S NORTH KOREA VISIT PRESENTS CRUCIAL
OPPORTUNITIES
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, November 12, 2009, Page 27)

On Tuesday, it was officially announced that Stephen Bosworth, the
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, plans to visit
North Korea. This announcement marks three months since former U.S.
President Bill Clinton visited North Korea and opened a path for
North Korea-U.S. dialogue. The two nations discussed the resumption
of dialogue through the New York channel and during North Korean
Foreign Ministry U.S. Affairs Bureau Director Ri Gun's visit to the
U.S. The announcement of Bosworth's trip indicates that an
agreement has been made on the agenda and format of the dialogue
that is to take place between North Korea and the U.S.

The U.S., prior to President Barack Obama's tour of Asia, announced
Bosworth's trip despite the first inter-Korean naval clash in the
West Sea in seven years. This shows that the U.S. has moved a step
closer, since Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to North
Korea early last month, towards a firm position to resolve the
nuclear issue through dialogue. As a result, it appears that
full-scale negotiations will begin during (Bosworth's visit to the
North.)

During Bosworth's visit to North Korea, the U.S. should not be
overly cautious but instead try to create a good atmosphere for
negotiations. It is hard to deny that fundamentally, the two most
important actors in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue are the
U.S. and North Korea. Even though, as the USG said, the visit is
not for direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea but for
discussions in the context of the Six-Party Talks, the Six-Party
Talks will face difficulties if the two sides do not trust each
other as negotiating partners. The U.S. should lay out its vision
on how to get North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions while
making efforts to engage in in-depth discussions with the North.


North Korea, for its part, must not engage only in dialogue with the

SEOUL 00001801 003 OF 005


U.S. and ignore the Six-Party Talks, which has provided the
framework for discussing the nuclear issue for the last six years.
The Six-Party Talks is the most appropriate framework for furthering
discussion on the economic aid, security guarantees, and the Korean
peace regime that North Korea hopes for. If North Korea continues
to appear rigid, the Obama Administration, which began talks after
much difficulty, could suffer a backlash.

The South Korean government must stop going against the greater
trend of resolving the nuclear issue through dialogue and consider
more intensely what it can do to play a leading role. It is a good
thing that the Lee Administration has decided to handle the West Sea
naval clash in a way that does not aggravate inter-Korean relations,
but it must not maintain this passive attitude. The objective is to
improve inter-Korean ties because the level of inter-Korean
relations and South Korea's voice on matters pertaining to the
Korean Peninsula go hand-in-hand.

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


FEATURES
--------

BOSWORTH VISITS PYONGYANG, BUT WHEN?
(Dong-a Ilbo, November 12, 2009, Page 5)

By Washington Correspondent Ha Tae-won

Five questions about Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang

The U.S. has notified North Korea of a decision to send U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley said
on November 10, "President Barack Obama and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton prepared for (Bosworth's) visit to Pyongyang after
careful consideration and extensive consultation among our allies
and partners." He added, "Ambassador Bosworth... will travel with a
small interagency team to Pyongyang." Regarding the timing of the
visit, he said it has not been determined yet, but added that
U.S.-North Korea dialogue is expected to take place "sometime
between now and the end of the year." He explained, "The purpose
(of Ambassador Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang) will be to facilitate
an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and to secure North
Korea's reaffirmation of the September 2005 joint statement of the
Six-Party Talks."

Ambassador Bosworth's official North Korean counterpart is First
Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju. Kang will make his first
appearance at an official meeting in seven years after he
acknowledged the uranium enrichment program in an October 2002
meeting with then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian
and Pacific Affairs James Kelly, which sparked the second North
Korean nuclear crisis. Ambassador Bosworth's visit will become the
first trip to Pyongyang by a U.S. official in charge (of the nuclear
issue) since Christopher Hill, then U.S. Chief Negotiator to the
Six-Party Talks, visited the communist state in August, 2008. There
are five points at issue regarding Bosworth's trip to Pyongyang.

Why Did Washington Not Determine the Timing of the Visit Yet?
The reason seems to be that during Director General of the American
Affairs Bureau of the North Korean Foreign Ministry Ri Gun's visit
to the U.S., North Korea did not send a clear signal to Washington
that it will return to the Six-Party Talks. When asked if he is
sure about North Korea's return to the Six-Party Talks, Assistant
Secretary Crowley answered no, simply saying, "We believe that North
Korea understands what the purpose of the meeting is." Park Sun-won
Park, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who previously
served as a member of the ROK delegation at the Six-Party Talks,
said, "The decision to send Bosworth to Pyongyang cannot be seen as
Washington's active judgment to improve its relations with North
Korea but as a passive response to North Korea's conciliatory
moves," adding, "It indicates that there is still a difference of

SEOUL 00001801 004 OF 005


opinion over the goal of dialogue."

Will Bosworth Bring Some "Carrots" with Him?
The overall atmosphere in Washington is that since the main purpose
of Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang is not to have negotiations with
the North but to coax the North back to the table, he will not
likely provide incentives to the North in return for its returning
to dialogue. Assistant Secretary Crowley said, "We are not going to
reward North Korea simply for returning to the Six-Party Talks. We
will be looking to see if they are prepared to take the kinds of
affirmative steps that they had previously agreed to." Stephen
Costello, the president of ProGlobal Inc. who previously directed
the Program on Korea at the Atlantic Council, noted, "I do not think
that President Obama will delegate all negotiating authority to
Ambassador Bosworth and grant him the status of a special envoy."

Some observers say that the issue is how sincere North Korea will
be. Assistant Secretary Crowley said, "If North Korea takes the
kind of steps that they've committed to in the past, other
possibilities open up."

Will a Second U.S.-North Korea Dialogue Take Place?
Experts agree that the situation following the upcoming meeting is
vital. Since the two nations are not likely to find a breakthrough
for denuclearization at their first meeting, it is important for
them to have a second Bosworth-Kang meeting in the U.S. or at a
third location at an early date. They should admit that it is
realistically difficult to achieve much progress in one meeting and
should meet for the second time as early as possible. This can
provide a yardstick for judging how seriously the two sides will
engage in the upcoming dialogue.

Will Bosworth Meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il?
Regarding the possibility of Bosworth meeting with North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il or whether Bosworth will deliver President
Obama's personal letter to North Korean leader Kim, a senior State
Department official simply said, "I don't know." In order to
increase Bosworth's negotiating power, experts advise that the
President throw his weight behind Bosworth by having an exclusive
meeting with him before his visit to Pyongyang. In other words,
"political weight" should be given to Bosworth for his dialogue with
North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju, (to counter
any appearance) that the "part-time" North Korea envoy has been
sidelined in the process of setting Washington's North Korea policy.


Relations between the Inter-Korean Naval Skirmish and Resumption of
U.S.-North Korean Dialogue
Secretary Clinton told a November 11 news conference on the
sidelines of an APEC meeting that the recent inter-Korean skirmish
in the West Sea will not have an impact on the decision to send
Ambassador Bosworth to Pyongyang. This statement suggests that
Ambassador Bosworth's visit to the North will proceed as planned.


THE U.S.'S THREE-SENTENCE BRIEFING ON BOSWORTH'S VISIT TO PYONGYANG
(Chosun Ilbo, November 12, 2009, Page 5)

By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won

The way that the U.S. Department of State announced a decision to
send U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen
Bosworth to North Korea was disappointing for Pyongyang. During a
November 10 regular briefing, Assistant Secretary of State for
Public Affairs Philip Crowley said, "I've got several announcements
before taking your questions" and mentioned Secretary Hillary
Clinton's itinerary. After that, he announced Bosworth's visit
while mentioning the "Six-Party Talks" three times in only three
sentences.

When Washington announces an "important" decision, it is customary
for a Secretary-level official to stand in front of a microphone
with other officials at his side. On November 10, however, that was
not the case. Neither Secretary Clinton nor Ambassador Bosworth nor

SEOUL 00001801 005 OF 005


Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Sung Kim showed up when the
announcement was made on the first significant dialogue with North
Korea since the launch of the Obama Administration in February. No
one was seen beside Assistant Secretary Crowley, and he repeatedly
stressed "bilateral dialogue in the context of the Six-Party Talks"
in response to questions from reporters.

This manner of announcing the decision contrasts sharply with the
(more formal) statement issued by then-President George W. Bush on
the resumption of dialogue with North Korea on June 6, 2001. At
that time, President Bush personally said, "I have directed my
national security team to undertake serious discussions with North
Korea on a broad agenda." After meeting with visiting ROK Foreign
Minister Han Seung-soo, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell took
reporters' questions (about dialogue with North Korea) in person at
the front gate of the Department of State.

Some observers in the State Department say that the Obama
Administration intentionally did not give weight to its announcement
that Ambassador Bosworth will visit North Korea. The U.S. played
down its talks with North Korea to prevent the North from
maneuvering to strengthen its bargaining position. The U.S. has
been saying for more than one month that it will decide soon on
sending Ambassador Bosworth to North Korea for one-on-one talks with
Pyongyang.

A diplomatic source in Washington said that Obama Administration
officials think that if the U.S. makes a fuss over holding talks
with North Korea, it would only give North Korea more room to
maneuver. The officials say that unless North Korea changes its
attitude, the Obama Administration will continue to respond to the
North in a calm manner.

Some observers also believe that the Obama Administration played
down its decision to send Ambassador Bosworth to Pyongyang because
it is not optimistic about the outcome of U.S.-North Korea bilateral
talks. The observers claim that since the prospect of the talks may
not be so bright, the USG did not need to attach importance to the
announcement.


STEPHENS

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