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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; November 27, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SEOUL 001869

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; November 27, 2009

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


Chosun Ilbo
Top U.S. Intelligence Official S-e-c-r-e-t-l-y Visits ROK

JoongAng Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Law Barring Sex under Pretense of Marriage
Ruled Unconstitutional

Hankook Ilbo
Proposal Reduces Foreign Language High School Status;
Choice is between Abolition or Cut in Size

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Shortly before Launch of Lee Myung-bak Administration, Ruling GNP
Rep. Chung Doo-un Allegedly Demanded Tax Probe Files on President
Lee from Then Head of National Tax Service


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

According to an ROKG source, U.S. National Intelligence Director
Dennis Blair made a s-e-c-r-e-t visit to the ROK from Nov. 22-24 to
discuss Seoul's deployment of troops to Afghanistan. The top U.S.
intelligence official is also said to have met President Lee
Myung-bak. (Chosun)

An ROKG official, meanwhile, said that Seoul is considering sending
about 300 police and military personnel to protect civilian workers
in Afghanistan but that the number could increase, depending on
security conditions in the war-torn country. (Chosun, Hankyoreh)

A senior ROKG official yesterday indicated the possibility of
Seoul's cash payments for tours to Mt. Kumgang violating UN
Resolution 1874 against North Korea. This is the first time that an
ROKG official has taken issue with Seoul's cash payments for
cross-border tours. (All)

Unification Ministry Spokesman Chun Hae-sung, in a related
development, said that the ROKG could consider changing the payment
method if necessary when the two Koreas begin talks about resuming
the tours. (Chosun, Dong-a)

According to the Unification Ministry, the two Koreas will take a
joint tour through industrial complexes in China and Vietnam next
month to seek ways to improve the Kaesong Industrial Complex north
of the border. (All)


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

-Aid for Afghanistan
---------------------
Conservative Chosun Ilbo gave above-the-fold, front-page play to a
report claiming that U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis
Blair made a s-e-c-r-e-t visit to the ROK to discuss Seoul's
deployment of troops to Afghanistan. The report quoted an ROKG
source, saying: "Blair visited Seoul from Nov. 22-24 and met all key
foreign affairs and security officials. ... He briefed them on a
U.S. plan to send reinforcements to Afghanistan and the situation
there, and discussed how many Korean troops should be sent there and
when."

Another (ROKG) source was also quoted: "Blair also shared
information about the North Korean nuclear issue, but the main
purpose of his visit was to talk about Afghanistan."

-Chinese Currency
-----------------

SEOUL 00001869 002 OF 003


An editorial in right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo hailed China's Vice
Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun's recent press remark, "China will
increase the flexibility of the RMB exchange rate at a controllable
level in the future," as a step in the right direction. It went on
to say: "China's long-standing 'weak yuan' policy, along with the
overconsumption in the U.S., has been criticized for disrupting the
world economy. In order to resolve the global financial crisis and
to remove the imbalance in the world economy, the appreciation of
the Chinese currency is becoming inevitable."

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

BOSWORTH'S VISIT TO N. KOREA AND INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS
(Kyunghyang Shinmun, November 27, Page 31)

By Yan Moo-jin, Professor at the University of North Korean Studies

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth
visits Pyongyang on December 8. His visit to North Korea seems to
have a two-fold meaning. First, it is the first official meeting
between the two countries since the launch of the Obama
Administration, i.e. a special U.S. envoy goes to Pyongyang for
high-level talks at the North's official invitation. Second, this
heralds the start of U.S.-North Korea talks. This visit is being
made after sufficient prior coordination between the participants of
the Six-Party Talks excluding North Korea; accordingly, it can be
said that official talks have begun to resolve the North Korean
nuclear issue.

Current Administration's Approach to North Korea Is Too Passive

The core issues of concern are who Ambassador Bosworth will meet and
what he will talk about during his stay in Pyongyang. Ambassador
Bosworth is expected to meet with Kang Sok-ju, the North's First
Vice Foreign Minister; Kim Yang-gon, Director of the United Front
Department of the North's Workers' Party; Kim Yong-nam, President of
the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly; and North Korean
military leaders. Whether he will meet North Korean leader Kim
Jongil is also an issue of great attention. The fact that Pyongyang
invited Ambassador Bosworth for a visit increases the possibility of
his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Under the current
situation, their meeting is needed for both the U.S. and North
Korea. The U.S. needs to ascertain the North Korean leader's will
to return to the Six-Party Talks and to denuclearize. North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il, for his part, needs to demonstrate to the U.S.
that he is in direct control of the North Korean nuclear issue and
U.S.-North Korea relations. Especially, he needs to show that he is
in good health and runs the country without difficulty.

Experts have various viewpoints on U.S.-North Korea talks (which
will be held during Bosworth's visit to the North.) It seems that
the U.S. wants the bilateral talks to be contact limited to bringing
the North back to the Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, North Korea is
attaching weight to the one-on-one bilateral talks themselves.
However, the bilateral talks are likely to be a forum of
communication where both sides talk frankly by putting all agenda
items on the table. We may expect good results from U.S.-North
Korea talks. Given the past record, when North Korea invited a
special envoy (to talks), the two sides achieved tangible results.
The North is expected to agree to return to the Six-Party Talks and
to observe the September 19 Joint Statement and the February 13
Agreement. The U.S. is expected to allow North Korea's State
Symphony Orchestra to perform in New York again and consider easing
sanctions against the North in a forward-looking way.

What matters are relations between the two Koreas. The ROKG's
proposal to send 10,000 tons of corn to North Korea has met with
derision from North Korea. Controversies over the corn aid result
from: 1) mistrust between the two Koreas; 2) North Korea' pride; and
3) the ROKG's lack of strategy. Since North Korea requested the ROK
to provide even humanitarian support, it seems that (a mere) 10,000

SEOUL 00001869 003 OF 003


tons of corn aid hurt the North's pride. If the ROKG had demanded
that the North monitor where the corn aid will go, it would have
been more humiliating. Moreover, the exchange of gunfire near
Daechong Island and the ROKG's lack of strategy cast a gloomy shadow
over the ROKG's corn aid proposal.

Many experts believe that the ROKG takes too passive an approach to
North Korea. If the U.S. moves to improve its relations with the
North, some ROK people will call for caution. When a civilian
(Hyundai Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun) reached an agreement with North
Korea (on resumption of Mt. Kumgang tour project), some people
disregarded the agreement, questioning the nature of a deal signed
by a civilian. This negative attitude does not contribute to
coexistence and prosperity of the two Koreas and greater peace on
the Korean Peninsula. The ROKG should realize that a civilian may
be able to undertake a job it cannot (fulfill) and (that) better
inter-Korean relations will lead to improvements in negotiations
over the North Korean (nuclear) issue. Without any change in its
attitude, even if Bosworth's visit brings about good results, the
Lee Myung-bak Administration will remain sidelined (when it comes to
the) Korean Peninsula issue.


FEATURES
--------

U.S. INTELLIGENCE CHIEF PAYS S-E-C-R-E-T VISIT TO SEOUL
(Chosun Ilbo, November 27, Front page)

By Reporter Lim Min-hyuk

(Dennis Blair,) the U.S. national intelligence director, paid a
s-e-c-r-e-t visit to Seoul early this week to discuss Korea's
dispatch of troops to Afghanistan, it emerged on Thursday. Blair
oversees 16 intelligence agencies including the CIA.

"Blair visited Seoul from Nov. 22 to 24 and met key foreign affairs
and security officials, including Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan,
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, National Intelligence Service
Director Won Sei-hoon, and Cheong Wa Dae staff," a government source
said. "He briefed them on a U.S. plan to send reinforcements to
Afghanistan and the situation there, and he also discussed how many
Korean troops should be sent there and when."

Another source said Blair also shared information about the North
Korean nuclear issue, but the main purpose of his visit was to talk
about Afghanistan. Blair reportedly paid a visit to President Lee
Myung-bak but a Cheong Wa Dae official refused to confirm this.

Director Blair regularly participates in the strategic meetings on
Afghanistan that are presided over by President Obama.

Foreign affairs and security-related Cabinet members met to discuss
matters raised in the meetings with Blair as well as (issues) from a
recent report compiled by a government fact-finding mission to
Afghanistan. The meeting's participants also talked about
dispatching troops to Afghanistan and establishing a Provincial
Reconstruction Team there.

Another government official said the meeting covered sending some
300 troops as security guards, though the number "could increase a
little depending on the security situation there."

(This is a translation prepared by the newspaper. We have compared
the English version on the website with the Korean version and added
some sentences to make them identical.)


STEPHENS

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