Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; November 17, 2009
DE RUEHUL #1818/01 3210651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 170651Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6248
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 9411
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DB-Z//
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0515
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6933
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6993
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1499
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5308
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 4251
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7463
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1740
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3046
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2125
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2731
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001818
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; November 17, 2009
N. Korea Kidnaps 200 Korean Chinese Helping N. Korean Defectors over
Past 10 Years
Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, LG Mull New Plant and Research Center
in Sejong City
Survey: Only 42 Percent of Opposition Democratic Party Lawmakers
Polled Demand "Immediate Halt" to ROKG's Four-River Restoration
ROKG in Talks with 100 Domestic and Foreign Firms
for Investments in Sejong City
National Intelligence Service Allegedly Has 31 Pieces of Equipment
for"Packet Eavesdropping," which Involves
Detailed Monitoring of Internet Activity
Discontent Grows among Companies over ROKG's Unilateral Push for
Sejong City and "Green Project"
Seoul Shinmun, All TVs
Panel Starts Sejong City Review
A key Blue House official said yesterday that (Seoul) expects to
move the KORUS FTA forward during the Nov. 19 ROK-U.S. summit in
Seoul, adding that concrete measures are still under discussion with
the U.S. (Chosun, Hankyoreh)
According to a Ministry of Knowledge Economy official, the ROKG
recently asked the U.S. Embassy in Seoul about additional U.S.
demands for the further opening of the ROK automobile market, but
the U.S. reply did not differ greatly from the existing KORUS FTA.
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told the National Assembly yesterday
that it is a shame that the previous Roh Moo-hyun Administration
withdrew ROK troops from Afghanistan. (JoongAng)
The main opposition Democratic Party, meanwhile, decided yesterday
to oppose the ROKG's decision to redeploy troops to Afghanistan.
(JoongAng, Hankook, Hankyoreh)
-President Obama's Asia Trip
Most ROK media covered President Barack Obama's Nov. 16 meeting in
Shanghai with Chinese college students, reporting that both
President Obama and the students sidestepped sensitive issues,
including human rights, Tibet and cross-strait ties between China
and Taiwan. President Obama was quoted as saying: "The two nations
have faced lots of challenges and frustrations. They also had some
conflicts of opinion. But that does not mean that they are
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo, in particular, noted President Obama's
remarks, "I believe unrestricted Internet access is a very
SEOUL 00001818 002 OF 006
significant issue. I think that the more freely information flows,
the stronger the society becomes. ... Unrestricted Internet access
is a source of strength," and interpreted them as indirect criticism
of the Chinese government for frequently censoring the Internet.
Regarding President Obama's upcoming visit to Seoul, conservative
Chosun Ilbo and left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun quoted a key Blue
House official as saying yesterday that (Seoul) expects to move the
KORUS FTA forward during the Nov. 19 ROK-U.S. summit in Seoul.
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo carried an op-ed that said: "Since North
Korea tends to 'back-load' important denuclearization steps and to
return to the starting point in defiance of an agreement, (Seoul)
needs to emphasize the importance of getting the North to
'frond-load' significant denuclearization steps during President
Obama's visit to Seoul. ... In a situation where China is emerging
as the hub of regional cooperation in East Asia and discussions are
making progress on an East Asia community, the KORUS FTA, which is
the first free trade deal between the U.S. and an Asia-Pacific
country, will boost America's strategic position in Asia. ...
There is a possibility that the delayed U.S. ratification of the
KORUS FTA may weaken America's influence in the region, leading to
the U.S. losing an opportunity to secure an important bridgehead in
TASKS DURING PRESIDENT OBAMA'S VISIT TO SEOUL
(Dong-a Ilbo, November 17, 2009, Page 38; Excerpts)
By Han Seung-joo, Korea University Professor and Former Foreign
Joint Response Needed Against North Korea's Strategy to Delay
During President Obama's summit with the ROK, his last stop on a
whirlwind tour of Northeast Asia, he is expected to seek
understanding and support of U.S.-North Korea bilateral dialogue.
He will also listen to the purpose and details of President Lee
Myung-bak's "grand bargain" proposal and express his support for the
comprehensive plan. Based on this, the two leaders are expected to
devise a road map for future bilateral and multilateral negotiations
with the North and cooperation plans between the ROK and the U.S.
and between the ROK, the U.S., and Japan in addressing the North
The ROK agrees with the U.S. judgment that U.S.-North Korea
bilateral dialogue is a way to confirm North Korea's commitment to
denuclearize and bring the North back to the Six-Party Talks.
However, since North Korea tends to 'back-load' important
denuclearization steps and to return to the starting point in
defiance of an agreement, (Seoul) needs to emphasize the importance
of getting the North to 'frond-load' significant denuclearization
steps during President Obama's visit to Seoul.
Second, President Obama's visit to Seoul will serve as an
opportunity to reaffirm the ROK-U.S. alliance and spotlight strong
mutual trust in their future visions. Under the previous
administration, the ROK-U.S. alliance suffered more troubles than
the U.S.-Japan alliance did. However, after the launch of the
Hatoyama Administration, the U.S. and Japan are undergoing some
discord, consequently giving more weight to the ROK-U.S. alliance.
Regarding the transfer of the wartime operational control, the ROK
and the U.S. already set the deadline of 2012, but they should
stress a need to go beyond the agreement to check regularly if the
OPCON transfer would be appropriate in 2012 and examine the
conditions that could affect the OPCON transfer, such as the
situation in the North and North Korea's policy toward the U.S. We
should note that in the late 1970s, then-President Jimmy Carter's
SEOUL 00001818 003 OF 006
decision to pull U.S. troops out of the Korean Peninsula was put on
hold after being partially implemented, and in early 1990,
Washington halted the troop withdrawal process, which was carried
out in accordance with the East Asia Strategic Initiative (EASI),
due to the eruption of the North Korean nuclear issue. If the North
succeeds in developing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
in its additional provocations, the two nations can reconsider the
timing for the OPCON transfer and the dissolution of the ROK-U.S.
Combined Forces Command until a peace regime is established on the
Third, leaders from the U.S. and the ROK need to stress strategic
implications of the KORUS FTA. In a situation where China is
emerging as the hub of regional cooperation in East Asia and
discussions are making progress on an East Asia community, the KORUS
FTA, which is the first free trade deal between the U.S. and an
Asia-Pacific country, will boost America's strategic position in
Asia. Even though lawmakers are the ones that ratify the free trade
pact, the (Obama) Administration should actively intervene to play a
decisive role (in the ratification.) The Obama Administration
should realize what advantages the KORUS FTA will bring to the U.S.
economically and strategically and what disadvantages a failed
ratification will produce. There is a possibility that the delayed
U.S. ratification of the KORUS FTA may weaken America's influence in
the region, leading to the U.S. losing an opportunity to secure an
important bridgehead in the region.
THINGS OBAMA SHOULD DO IN SEOUL
(Chosun Ilbo, November 17, 2009, Page 38)
By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won
The Seoul itinerary of U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrives
Wednesday evening, is simple. A summit with President Lee Myung-bak
and a visit to the U.S. Forces Korea base are pretty much all there
is. The last leg of his eight-day Asia tour, his stay in Seoul will
barely last 24 hours.
There will be no event like the Ewha Womans University lecture
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave earlier this year, and
nothing like the town hall meetings Obama held in Tokyo on Saturday
and in Shanghai on Monday.
But that need not be seen as a sign of neglect. Obama feels that a
relationship of trust has already been established in meetings with
Lee during the G20 conference in London in April and Lee's visit to
Washington in June. The "vision" for the Korea-U.S. alliance based
on shared beliefs and trust in free democracy and the market
economy, announced at the June summit, already strengthened the
But it is a pity that Obama, who is so aware of the changing world
order, will not have a chance to see more of Korea. He has
expressed interest in the country on many occasions, but most of it
was from indirect experience.
Hopefully, even his busy itinerary will allow him to see two things
in Korea. First, since he thinks the Korean automobile market is
closed, let him watch the foreign cars that throng the streets of
Seoul, the car parks of hotels, and the European car dealerships
scattered around Seoul. Perhaps he will, have a chance to meet some
Koreans in person and listen to their views about the foreign cars
they want to buy.
American political leaders including Obama still feel that an
"invisible hand" is at work in the auto trade imbalance between the
two countries. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in a Chamber of
Commerce address on Nov. 5, used the phrase "legacy of Korea's
long-closed market," in referring to the issue in the Korea-U.S.
Free Trade Agreement. If Obama observes the Korean car market,
which is quite open to efficient and affordable foreign cars, he may
be able to find a breakthrough in getting the FTA ratified.
SEOUL 00001818 004 OF 006
And if he takes a helicopter at the USFK base in Yongsan, he could
be at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone
within half an hour. Could he not deliver a historic speech, much
as former president Ronald Reagan did in front of the Berlin Wall in
Or instead, a meeting with North Korean refugees who have settled
down in the South would also be significant. If he met them, he
would be able to recall former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz's
suggestion that the "Indochinese model" that accommodated a host of
refugees in the 1970s be applied to North Korean refugees.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who visited Korea last week, was so
charmed by the country that he stayed one more day. Though the
American president, who is busier than anyone else, won't be able to
do so, perhaps he could let his private airplane stand by for a few
more hours to invest as much time as he can afford in Korea-U.S.
OBAMA'S WARNING AND PROPOSAL OVER N. KOREA
(Hankook Ilbo, November 17, page 38: Excerpts)
By Chief Editorial Writer Kang Byung-tae
In a speech during his visit to Japan, U.S. President Obama said,
"We will not be cowed by threats." He added, "North Korea has
chosen a path of confrontation and provocation. We have tightened
sanctions on Pyongyang. We have passed the most sweeping UN
Security Council resolution. North Korea's refusal to meet its
international obligations will lead only to less security - not
President Obama delivered a speech outlining the U.S.'s Asia policy
at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. His specific remarks on North Korea may
indicate whether U.S. relations with North Korea will veer away from
confrontation and move toward dialogue.
President Obama also said, "There is another path that can be taken.
The U.S. is prepared to offer North Korea a different future.
Instead of an isolation that has compounded the horrific repression
of its own people, North Korea could have a future of international
integration. Instead of gripping poverty, it could have a future of
economic opportunity - where trade, investment and tourism can offer
the North Korean people the chance at abetter life. And instead of
increasing insecurity, it could have a future of greater security
and respect." It seems that President Obama tried to take a
balanced approach to the North Korean issue by using an appropriate
measure of warnings and proposals.
We should examine the Obama Administration's North Korea policy
Last month, the East Asian Institute at Columbia University and the
U.S.-Korea Institute released a report, "The U.S.'s North Korea
Policy." The report was authored by Joel Wit who served as Senior
Advisor to Ambassador Robert L. Galluci during the Clinton
Administration. It is uncertain to what extent the Obama
Administration's North Korea policy reflects the report. But the
report may shed light on why the Obama Administration has sometimes
made confusing moves.
The report assumes that an effective North Korea policy requires a
two-track strategy of strict measures and serious dialogue. North
Korea harbors a deep distrust of the U.S. while pursuing nuclear
development due to concerns about the security of its regime.
Therefore, negotiations with North Korea will not lead to the
country giving up its nuclear ambitions soon. In addition, the
report recommends that the U.S. should make sure that it will not
recognize North Korea as a nuclear state and should gradually build
trust with North Korea. The report notes that the Obama
Administration should learn the lessons from the Bush
Administration, which, in his second term, rushed to talk with the
North on denuclearization but failed.
SEOUL 00001818 005 OF 006
The report observes that North Korea is less likely to respond to
economic incentives than before due to increased aid from China.
Therefore, it may be better for the U.S. to take action to respect
the sovereignty of North Korea, which the country covets dearly, by
elevating the level of diplomatic contact gradually. The report
says that the U.S. should establish trust through dialogue with the
North while engaging in extensive discussions on important issues
including economic aid. In short, according to the report, the U.S.
should push for both pressure and dialogue without making haste.
The U.S.'s official moves are likely to be different from its
behind-the-scenes moves. The U.S. and the ROK do not have the same
interests in the North Korean issue. We should not just criticize
the ROKG without discussing effective ways to deal with the North
Korean nuclear issue.
SEOUL HAS HOPES FOR FTA FROM KOREA-U.S. SUMMIT
(Chosun Ilbo, November 17, 2009, Page 6)
By Reporter Joo Young-joong
A key Cheong Wa Dae official on Sunday said he expects more concrete
progress on the Korea-U.S. FTA from the meeting between President
Lee Myung-bak and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in Seoul on
Thursday. The official said at a November 16 briefing about the
upcoming ROK-U.S. summit, "Since President Obama said in Tokyo on
November 14that 'He will try to move forward the FTA,' we think that
the U.S. is committed (to the FTA), and therefore, we have such
expectations." Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and U.S. Trade
Representative Ron Kirk met last weekend at the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation Summit in Singapore and discussed how to take
the epically delayed FTA forward.
"We delivered our expectations about the FTA to the U.S. side," the
official said. "The details can't be revealed at this point because
we're still in negotiation with the U.S., but since two years have
passed from the time both governments signed the FTA, our position
is that it should come into effect soon," adding, "We should watch
what President Obama is going to say during his press conference."
Another official said Seoul hopes for a "sincere" response from
Obama to calls for quick implementation of the FTA. The five major
issues on the agenda for this summit, the official said, are the
FTA, North Korea's nuclear program, cooperation on the G20 Summit,
ways to tackle climate change, and developing the alliance.
(This is a translation provided by the newspaper. We have compared
the English version on the website with the Korean version and added
some sentences in English to make them identical.)
ROKG OFFICIAL: "ADDITIONAL U.S. DEMANDS FOR AUTO MARKET OPENING DO
NOT DIFFER GREATLY FROM EXISTING KORUS FTA"
(Dong-a Ilbo, November 17, 2009, Page 6)
By Reporters Han Sang-joon and Chang Kang-myung
It has been learned that the ROKG recently inquired about additional
U.S. demands for the further opening of the ROK auto market through
the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.
A Ministry of Knowledge Economy official said on November 16,
"Although the ROK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has already been
signed, there is a growing voice in U.S. political circles for the
further opening of the ROK auto market, and therefore, we asked the
U.S. Embassy in Seoul about the U.S.'s specific demands," adding,
"We read additional U.S. demands in a letter from the Embassy, but
they were not greatly different from the ROK-U.S. FTA."
SEOUL 00001818 006 OF 006
The official said that the letter did not contain new demands in
addition to the FTA provisions that (the ROK's) auto tariffs should
be eliminated right after the FTA goes into effect and that the
(ROK's) current five-tier tax based on engine displacement should be
simplified into a three-tier system.
Previous to the Ministry's inquiry, U.S. Trade Representative Ron
Kirk and members of the House and Senate recently issued a series of
statements on the opening of the ROK's auto market, such as "The ROK
should further open up its auto market" and "The ROK-U.S. FTA should
be revised." In this regard, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy
said, "Since there is a growing voice in the U.S. for the further
opening up of the ROK market, we made an inquiry in order to find
the facts and prepare countermeasures," adding, "Since the Embassy's
reply did not contain any clear demands, however, we think that the
atmosphere in Washington is affected by a political situation within