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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; December 7, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001925

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; December 7, 2009

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


Chosun Ilbo
ROKG, Representatives of Labor and Management Agree to Allow Company
to Pay One or Two Full-Time Unionists
at Small and Mid-Sized Companies
after Company-Paid Wage Ban Takes Effect Next July

JoongAng Ilbo
Climate Talks Begin in Copenhagen Today

Dong-a Ilbo
ROKG Spares No Pains to Make Upcoming Visit by China's Vice
President Xi Jinping Successful

Hankook Ilbo
"Slow" Is Keyword for New Year's ROK Economy; Major Economic
Research Institutes Predict Slow Economic Recovery in ROK Next Year

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Hankyoreh Shinmun, Segye Ilbo
Clash Expected between Ruling Party and Main Opposition Democratic
Party (DP) over New Labor Agreement,
as DP Opposes It

Seoul Shinmun
Price Caps on New Real Estate in Free Economic Zones
to be Eliminated Next Year


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

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth
arrived in Seoul yesterday for talks with ROK officials on agenda
items ahead of his Dec. 8-10 visit to North Korea. (All)

According to sources with the National Assembly, the Defense
Ministry will review the ROKG's plan to extend the tour of troops to
be dispatched to Afghanistan from the original one year to two and a
half years, because ruling and opposition lawmakers called for a
review of the period, claiming: "It's not appropriate for Korean
troops to stay in Afghanistan when President Barack Obama has
announced plans to start withdrawing U.S. troops beginning in July
2011." (JoongAng)


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

-Afghanistan Strategy
----------------------
State-run Yonhap News Agency carried a report from Washington on
Saturday (Dec. 5) quoting U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones
as saying in a Dec. 4 press briefing: "The U.S. has no intention of
leaving Afghanistan in the near future, certainly not in 2011." The
report viewed this remark as aimed at precluding concerns in the
region - following President Obama's statement on withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 - that the U.S. may
completely pull out troops from the war-torn country by 2011.

-N. Korea
---------
All ROK media today covered U.S. Special Representative for North
Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth's arrival in Seoul yesterday for talks
with ROK officials on agenda items ahead of his Dec. 8-10 visit to
the North.

Most media noted that Ambassador Bosworth dodged reporters waiting
at the arrivals terminal by getting into a car on the tarmac and
went to his quarters in downtown Seoul. An ROKG source was quoted

SEOUL 00001925 002 OF 006


as saying: "It seems that he made a strategic decision to refrain
from any public statement before he attends the first bilateral
talks with North Korea."

Conservative Chosun Ilbo observed: "There are fears that the
(upcoming U.S.-North Korea) talks will not produce tangible
results, because North Korea wants a peace treaty to replace the
armistice before it even thinks about returning to the Six-Party
Talks."

Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized: "If North Korea demands a peace
treaty on the Korean Peninsula and improved relations with the U.S.
as preconditions for returning to the Six-Party Talks and
implementing the September 19 Joint Statement, the U.S. may respond
in a flexible manner. The U.S. may judge that a rigid attitude -
offering rewards only when the North dismantles its nuclear weapons
completely - will not bring any changes to North Korea, and seek the
North's nuclear dismantlement through the normalization of bilateral
ties. ... The ROKG should proactively prepare for any changes (on
the Peninsula) which may occur due to improvements in U.S.-North
Korea relations, rather than simply being wary of possible
discussions on a peace treaty between the U.S. and North Korea."

-Climate Change
---------------
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized today: "It is still unclear
whether the 192-nation Copenhagen climate change conference will
produce an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. However, even
though the conference fails to work out a legally binding agreement,
the prevailing opinion is that a new agreement will be coming in six
months or a year because the international community must prepare
for a situation after (the Kyoto Protocol expires in) 2012 by
developing an agreement on climate change."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo, in a joint editorial with 56
newspapers around the world, argued: "Few believe that Copenhagen
can produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could
only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House
and the reversal of years of U.S. obstructionism. Even now the
world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for
the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the
U.S. Congress has done so. But the politicians in Copenhagen can
and must agree on the essential elements of a fair and effective
deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty.
Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline."


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

(WE) SHOULD BE WELL PREPARED FOR SITUATION FOLLOWING BOSWORTH'S
VISIT TO N. KOREA
(Hankook Ilbo, December 7, Page 39)

A five-member U.S. delegation led by U.S. Special Representative for
North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth will visit North Korea tomorrow
to hold bilateral talks with the North. Bosworth's delegation,
which arrived in the ROK yesterday, will fly to Pyongyang from Osan
Air Base and stay until December 10. He will have a meeting with
Kang Sok-ju, the North's First Vice Foreign Minister and is expected
to call on North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.

The visit by Ambassador Bosworth as President Obama's special envoy
to North Korea will serve as an important turning point in the North
Korean nuclear issue. His visit draws extraordinary attention since
it marks the first official U.S.-North Korea talks during the Obama
Administration. The U.S. said that it will not engage in
negotiations (with the North) but focus on urging the North to
rejoin the Six-Party Talks and to implement the September 19 Joint
Statement. However, we take this with a grain of salt. It is
highly likely that both sides will extensively discuss how to make
progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, improve bilateral
relations and establish a security regime on the Korean Peninsula.


SEOUL 00001925 003 OF 006

There are both optimistic and pessimistic outlooks for the bilateral
talks. Some worry that the North may attempt to back away from the
September 19 Joint Statement that calls on the North to abandon its
nuclear programs in return for receiving a security guarantee and
economic assistance, while demanding a peace treaty in order to be
recognized as a nuclear state. This will dampen the rare atmosphere
of dialogue and lead to an escalation of conflict and confrontation
between the two countries again. . North Korea should not try to
test the will of the other Six-Party countries and the international
community. The North will never be allowed to develop its nuclear
programs.

However, If North Korea demands a peace treaty on the Korean
Peninsula and improved relations with the U.S. as preconditions for
returning to the Six-Party Talks and implementing the September 19
Joint Statement, the U.S. may respond in a flexible manner. The
U.S. may judge that a rigid attitude - offering rewards only when
the North dismantles its nuclear weapons completely - will not bring
any changes to North Korea, and seek the North's nuclear
dismantlement through the normalization of bilateral ties. A peace
regime on the Korean Peninsula, which is stipulated in the September
19 Joint Statement and the February 13 Agreement, should be
discussed within the framework of the Six-Party Talks. The ROKG
should proactively prepare for any changes (on the Peninsula) which
may occur due to improvements in U.S.-North Korea relations, rather
than simply being wary of possible discussions on a peace treaty
between the U.S. and North Korea.


FEATURES
--------
U.S. ENVOY IN SEOUL BEFORE N. KOREA TRIP
(Chosun Ilbo, December 7, 2009, Page 4)

By Reporter Lim Min-hyuk

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth,
who visits Pyongyang on Dec. 8-10, arrived in Seoul on Sunday for
talks before he heads for the North.

Bosworth arrived at Incheon International Airport but dodged
reporters waiting at the arrivals terminal by getting into a car on
the tarmac, which was arranged by the U.S. Embassy, and went to his
quarters in downtown Seoul.

An ROKG source said that the USG requested cooperation from the ROKG
to minimize ROK media contact with Ambassador Bosworth.

On the flight, Ambassador Bosworth happened to meet and talk with
Grand National Party lawmaker Chung Mong-joon who was returning from
his trip to South Africa. However, Bosworth refrained from talking
about his visit to North Korea, saying no one knows how the North
will respond.

Ambassador Bosworth will meet the chief ROK envoy to Six-Party
denuclearization talks Wi Sung-lac on Monday to discuss the agenda
of the Washington-Pyongyang talks, and will also meet Foreign
Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Kim Sung-hwan, the Senior Presidential
Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security.

He flies to Pyongyang from the U.S. Air Base in Osan on Tuesday
afternoon and there he will meet with First Vice Foreign Minister
Kang Sok-ju and other officials.

There are fears that the upcoming U.S.-North Korea talks will not
produce tangible results, because North Korea wants a peace treaty
to replace the armistice before it even thinks about returning to
the Six-Party talks.

(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.)


SEOUL 00001925 004 OF 006

CLOSE COVERAGE COMPLETELY BANNED FOR BOSWORTH'S ARRIVAL
(Yonhap News, December 6, 2009)

By Reporter Yu Hyun-min

Ambassador Bosworth dodged reporters by moving straight out of the
tarmac.

On the afternoon of December 6, U.S. Special Representative for
North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth arrived at Incheon International
Airport to have consultations with the ROK before his December 8
visit to the North. However, he did not allow "close media
coverage."

After arriving at Incheon International Airport around 4 p.m. on a
Korean Air flight from London, Ambassador Bosworth landed on the
tarmac by going down the emergency stairs, which are installed at
the boarding bridge linking an aircraft with an airport terminal,
and left the airport in a black Ford passenger car arranged by the
U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

In order to avoid reporters, he did not enter the terminal but
headed straight for a hotel in downtown Seoul.

Therefore, 38 domestic and foreign reporters, who were staking out
(the airport) were only able to see him going down the stairs and
boarding the car through the (airport) window.

This "ban on close coverage" was reportedly requested by the U.S.
Department of State.

An ROK Foreign Ministry official said, "At the request of the U.S.
Embassy in Seoul, Ambassador Bosworth will not enter the airport
terminal but move right from the tarmac to a hotel by car," adding,
"It seems that he made a strategic decision to refrain from any
public statement before he attends the bilateral talks with North
Korea."

Besides this, it was reported that the U.S. did not notify Foreign
Ministry officials which hotel Ambassador Bosworth and his
delegation would stay during their visit to Seoul.

Another official noted, "The U.S. Embassy in Seoul did not inform us
where Ambassador Bosworth is going to stay in downtown Seoul. This
is unusual, considering the customs so far."

Ambassador Bosworth reportedly even plans to keep his schedule and
movements in Seoul s-e-c-r-e-t, except the opening (photo spray) at
a December 7 meeting with the ROK's chief nuclear envoy, Wi
Sung-lac.

In particular, according to sources, he will skip a "door step
(photo opportunity and press availability in public)" after the
meeting with Wi, and he has not yet determined when he will brief
the media on his visit to the North after returning from Pyongyang
(to Seoul).

In this regard, some observers point out that even though Ambassador
Bosworth's "media-averse" attitude can be seen as a strategic
judgment on U.S.-North Korea bilateral dialogue, this is too much.

In other words, while media contact before his dialogue with the
North could be burdensome, it is hardly understandable that he will
not "expose" his movements, which draw local and global attention,
without any clear explanation in advance.

A diplomatic source said, "Although it could be a matter of personal
style regarding the media, I cannot understand how he can think he
is able to avoid contact with the media on such a significant issue.
I wonder if he would take the same attitude in a similar situation
in the U.S."

SEOUL 00001925 005 OF 006


AFGHANISTAN STAYS COULD BE SHORTENED
(JoongAng Daily, December 7, 2009)

By Reporters Kang Joo-an and Seo Ji-eun

The Defense Ministry is considering reversing the government's plan
to extend the tour for troops dispatched to Afghanistan from the
original one year to two and a half years, said sources with
National Assembly.

Reporting to the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly
in a closed-door meeting last Friday, the ministry said, "We will
submit a plan to the National Assembly around Friday to dispatch 340
troops (to Afghanistan.)

The dispatch period will be from July next year until December 2012,
it said. On Oct. 30, the ROKG announced it would send troops to
protect civilian professionals working on reconstruction projects in
the war-torn Central Asian country.

However, opposition lawmakers and even some ruling Grand National
Party members asked the ministry to review the period, claiming it
is too long. To date, military deployment has been made on a yearly
basis and the period has been extended with approval from the
National Assembly.

"It's not appropriate for ROK troops to stay in Afghanistan when
U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to begin withdrawing the
U.S. army beginning in July 2011," according to multiple sources who
attended the meeting. Defense ministry officials answered that they
"will review" the lawmakers' proposal.

Separately, one source said some of the attendants said that UH-60
Black Hawks are feared to be vulnerable to surface-to-air missile
attacks. The ministry said troops "should move in the helicopters
due to the danger of improvised explosive devices."


JAMES JONES SAYS U.S. WON'T LEAVE AFGHANISTAN IN 2011
(Yonhap News, December 5, 2009)

By Correspondent Seong Ki-hong

U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones said on December 4 that
the U.S. will not pull out its troops from Afghanistan in the near
future and certainly not in 2011.

During a press conference with foreign reporters on the U.S.'s
strategy on the Afghan war, Jones said, "The U.S has no intention of
leaving Afghanistan in the near future, certainly not in 2011"

It seems that this remark is aimed at precluding concerns in the
region - following President Obama's statement on withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 - that the U.S. may
completely pull out troops from the war-torn country by 2011.

Johns said, "We are very confident that by the application of over
100,000 U.S. troops and a significant increase in the (North
Atlantic Treaty Organization) NATO and non-NATO contributing
countries, we will be able to achieve the conditions by which
Afghans will be able to take more responsibility for the conduct of
their internal affairs." He emphasized, "That will allow us to
start bringing some of our troops home. Of course that will have to
be conditioned obviously on the situation on the ground."

However, Jones noted, "But when you have a mission like this, it
simply cannot be that it's just going to go on forever. And the
President has decided to focus everyone's attention on a reasonable
time frame in which we can see real change."

Meanwhile, the U.S. expressed its gratitude to the international
community including NATO nations for deciding to deploy an
additional 7,000 troops in line with President Obama's plan to
infuse more troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. also added that it

SEOUL 00001925 006 OF 006


expects additional military contributions in the near future.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "I think 7,000 additional
NATO troops is a hefty contribution on their part," adding, "That is
obviously a very, very positive development."

In a regular briefing, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said,
"NATO and (the International Security Assistance Force) ISAF - and
their ISAF partners pledged to contribute about 7,000 more troops,
and we expect that there will be several thousand more likely in the
near future."


STEPHENS

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