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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; December 9, 2009

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; December 9, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
Blue House to Overhaul Military's Weapons
Procurement System to Ensure Transparency

JoongAng Ilbo
Ruling Grand National Party (GNP) Backtracks
on Banning Wage Payment to Full-Time Unionists

Dong-a Ilbo
Cabinet Approves Bill to Allow Seoul National University to Become
Independent Corporate Entity in March 2011

Hankook Ilbo
President Lee Offers to Provide Flu Vaccines to N. Korea amid
Reports of Rapid Spread of New Flu Virus in the North

Hankyoreh Shinmun, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Ruling GNP Railroads Budget for Four-River Restoration Project


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

The ROKG yesterday finalized a plan to send up to 350 soldiers to
Afghanistan to protect civilian workers in Parwan Province from July
1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012. The plan, pending approval at the National
Assembly, will be submitted for review this week. (All)


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

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth
arrived in Pyongyang yesterday, beginning his three-day trip for
bilateral talks with North Korea to persuade the North to return to
the Six-Party Talks. (All)

A senior U.S. administration official, in a Dec. 7 press briefing,
said that if North Korea does not return to the Six-Party Talks, it
will reinforce the intention of the international community to
continue a very strong enforcement of Resolution 1874 and other
Security Council resolutions against North Korea. (Chosun, JoongAng,
Seoul)


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

-Ambassador Bosworth's Visit to N. Korea
----------------------------------------
All ROK media covered U.S. Special Representative for North Korea
Policy Stephen Bosworth's arrival in Pyongyang yesterday, portraying
him as the first U.S. envoy to sit down for senior-level bilateral
talks with North Korea under the Obama Administration. According to
media reports, while in Pyongyang for three days, Ambassador
Bosworth is expected to meet with First Vice Foreign Minister Kang
Sok-ju to persuade the North to return to the Six-Party Talks and to
reaffirm its commitment to the September 19 Joint Statement.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo quoted an ROKG official as saying: "Chances
seem slim for Ambassador Bosworth to meet North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il."

Most media noted Dec. 7 press remarks by a senior U.S.
administration official, in which he said: "The purpose of these
talks is to determine whether they're willing to reaffirm the 2005
joint statement and return to the (Six-Party) Talks. This is ...
simply to have an opportunity to determine what the North's
intentions are with respect to those two issues." He was further

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quoted: "(Ambassador Bosworth) is definitely not carrying any
additional inducements. ... We don't intend to reward North Korea
simply for going back to doing something that it had previously
committed to do. "

Chosun Ilbo interpreted these remarks as implying that there will be
no discussion of a peace treaty replacing the armistice on the
Korean Peninsula, which the North has demanded as a precondition to
returning to the Six-Party Talks. Conservative Dong-a Ilbo saw the
remarks as reaffirming Washington's firm stance toward North Korea.

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

SAFETY OF TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN MUST BE TOP PRIORITY
(Chosun Ilbo, December 9, 2009, Page 39)

The government finalized its Afghan troop deployment plan on
Tuesday, deciding to dispatch around 100 civilian reconstruction
workers, 40 police officers and around 350 soldiers to Parwan
Province north of Kabul. The personnel will be in charge of
administrative and medical support, agricultural and rural
development and vocational and police training.

The troops will be deployed in Afghanistan from July 1, 2010 until
Dec. 31, 2012 and their main mission will be protecting the Korean
civilian aid workers and trainers. Parwan Province is not a Taliban
stronghold and is considered relatively safe among the 34 provinces,
while its proximity to a U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram makes it easy
to fly in supplies should emergencies arise. Parwan Province is 10
times the size of Seoul, and 70 percent of its terrain is covered by
rugged mountains. Recently, there have been attacks by rockets,
mortars and improvised explosive devices.

Most of the soldiers being deployed there will be picked from the
special forces units, and armored personnel carriers and UH-60 Black
Hawk transport helicopters mounted with machine guns will also be
sent to protect the Korean personnel because support from American
and other multinational forces would not be readily available.

The greatest concern is the safety of the personnel. The government
must take preemptive diplomatic steps to explain to its Arab allies
that the mission of the contingent is to assist in reconstruction
efforts, and that the troops are being sent to protect the Korean
civilian aid workers.

As it reviews the deployment plan, the National Assembly must make
sure that all measures have been taken by the military to ensure the
safety of personnel. The main opposition Democratic Party is
against the plan and is taking issue with the two-and-a-half-year
deployment schedule, which differs from the previous
administration's approach of renewing the mission every year.
Germany, which has set its troop deployment schedule at one year
renewable, is experiencing a massive headache every time its
parliament has to ratify an extension, while troops face increased
pressure and attacks in Afghanistan when that time comes.

The Roh Moo-hyun Administration deployed the Dongui (medical) and
Dasan (engineering) units, as well as Air Force transport personnel,
to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2002, when the DP was the ruling
party. The Roh Administration faced considerable opposition to the
troop dispatch but decided it needed to send them in view of the
international fight against terrorism and the importance of the
Korea-U.S. alliance. Rather than flatly rejecting the new troop
deployment plan, the DP must tap into its experience as the former
ruling party and suggest constructive ways to ensure the safety of
the Korean civilian workers and soldiers and protect the national
interest.

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


SEOUL 00001933 003 OF 007

ROK CONTRIBUTION TO AFGHANISTAN SERVES NATIONAL INTEREST
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 9, Page 35)

The ROKG yesterday finalized a plan to send up to 350 soldiers to
Afghanistan. If the National Assembly approves the plan, the ROK
will join in international peace-building and reconstruction efforts
by sending 140 Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) personnel and
(350) troops to protect them to Afghanistan. This will add a new
chapter to the ROK's international peace-building efforts. The ROK
had deployed the Zaytun Unit in Iraq, the Dongmyeong Unit in Lebanon
and the Cheonghae Unit in Somalia. The ROK's contributions serve
national interest and enhance national status as well.

The Afghan war has entered into a new phase after President Obama
announced a plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
The international community is rallying to win an eight-year war
against the Taliban which has sheltered terrorist organizations.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also pledged to deploy
an additional 7,000 troops.

We should be voluntarily involved in the peace-building and
reconstruction process of the war-torn country. The ROK is the
world's 13th largest economic power. We are a member of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and
will host next year's G20 summit. If the ROK just touts itself as
one of the world's leading countries without making any
contributions to international peace, it will not be genuinely
treated as such.

After a field survey, the ROKG established a plan to provide aid and
send troops to Afghanistan. The ROK's Provincial Reconstruction
Team (PRT) will take charge of strengthening Afghanistan's
administrative ability, assisting its health care and agricultural
development, providing vocational training, and training the Afghan
police. This assistance is surely necessary to root out al-Qaida
and the Taliban and to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet.
Although Parwan Province, where the PRT will be stationed, is said
to be a relatively safe region, we need to prepare for the worst
possible situation by sending troops to protect civilians there.
In 2007, we saw ROK aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan. We cannot
rule out the possibility that with the ROK's troop contribution, the
Taliban may attempt a terrorist attack on ROK civilians.

The opposition parties, including the Democratic Party, which
expressed their opposition to the troop dispatch, should address the
troop dispatch bill from the perspective of our national interests
and international responsibility. The Uri Party, the predecessor of
the Democratic Party, supported the deployment of the Zaytun Unit to
Iraq five years ago. A total of 43 nations, more than the number of
nations contributing to the war in Iraq, have sent their combat
troops and reconstruction teams to Afghanistan. The ROK is not in a
position to sit idly by. In a situation where we have to brace for
the North Korean threat in cooperation with the U.S., if we are
passive in U.S.-led anti-terrorism efforts and peacekeeping
activities, we could lose something more precious.


FEATURES
--------
KIM JONG-IL 'HAS S-E-C-R-E-T UNDERGROUND ESCAPE ROUTE'
(Chosun Ilbo, December 9, 2009, Page 4)

By Reporter Ahn Yong-hyun

Kim Jong-il has a network of s-e-c-r-e-t tunnels as an escape route
in case of emergency, according to a prominent defector. Hwang
Jang-Yop (86), a former secretary of the North Korean Workers Party,
on Sunday told the Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio run by a group
of defectors, "About 300 m below ground in Pyongyang, there exists a
second underground world which is different from the subway level."

The tunnels stretch for some 40 to 50 km around Pyongyang linking to
Nampo and Sunchon, Hwang said.

SEOUL 00001933 004 OF 007

"The chief security guard for the subway construction site came and
invited me to the site, asking me to mediate in a scuffle between
soldiers and college students," Hwang said. "After I went down into
the subway, I found another tunnel further down below." He said
there are countless such s-e-c-r-e-t tunnels and underground
facilities in Pyongyang. Hwang is a former president of Kim Il Sung
University.

He said there are clean spring water and green grass in one tunnel
that leads to Mt. Jamo in Sunchon, about 40 km from Pyongyang.
Another tunnel extends to Yongwon near Mt. Myohyang, about 50 km
from Pyongyang.

Yet another links the Mt. Cholbong recreation center in Samsok
District in Pyongyang to the port of Nampo, which would allow
leaders to escape to China in an emergency, he said.

"North Korea started building the tunnels right after the armistice"
that halted the Korean War, Hwang said. "They were so elaborately
built that a visiting Soviet military delegation marveled at them."

Pyongyang also has a straightforward subway 100-150 m-deep that
opened in 1973. It is touted to foreign visitors as a tourist
attraction but could be converted into a huge underground bunker in
time of war.

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


CHEONG WA DAE AIMS TO END GRAFT IN DEFENSE PROCUREMENT
(Chosun Ilbo, December 9, 2009, Front page)

By Reporters Ju Yong-joong

Cheong Wa Dae is working out reforms to defense procurement to end
frequent irregularities, an official said Tuesday. Under the plan,
the roles of the Defense Ministry and the Defense Acquisition
Program Administration (DAPA) will be reorganized.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said the plan, to be announced early next
year, will focus on ending the long-standing monopoly of active-duty
and retired military officers in the defense procurement process,
which ranges from budget formulation to weapons procurement. It
will also focus on increasing transparency.

DAPA has resisted the ministry's efforts to regain the authority to
formulate the defense procurement budget, work out mid- and
long-term defense programs, and supervise the Agency for Defense
Development.

DAPA was launched as a spin-off agency of the ministry in January
2006 during the Roh Moo-hyun Administration as part of defense
reforms and to prevent corruption. But the official said
irregularities in defense procurement have continued even after the
inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak Administration.

In a Cabinet meeting, President Lee Myung-bak said, "There is a risk
of systematic corruption under the current system of weapons
procurement and conscription administration" and called for a
"drastic" reform plan. "I believe there is a way to save money and
improve results" at the same time, he added. He added that the
Defense Ministry should work together with related agencies to come
up with a comprehensive measure.

The official said a taskforce is working out "strong" ways of
revamping the defense procurement system. The official added that
the Defense Acquisition Program Administration will be revamped at
the same level as the National Tax Service restructuring which the
government carried out this year.

(This is a translation prepared by the newspaper. We have compared
the English version on the website with the Korean version and made

SEOUL 00001933 005 OF 007


some changes to make them identical.)


NORTH KOREA'S FREE TRADE BASE PLANS FOR RYUCHO ISLAND SIGNAL REFORM

(Hankyoreh Shinmun, December 9, 2009, Pages 1 and 6: Excerpts)

By Correspondents Park Min-hee and Kwon Tae-ho

Experts say North Korea is looking to strengthen international
economic ties and attract foreign investment

North Korea is reportedly planning the creation of a free trade base
on Ryucho Island near Sinuiju and its development as a new special
economic district. Analysts are interpreting this as a signal from
the country that it plans to renew efforts at building a special
economic district in Sinuiju, the largest gateway city on its border
with China.

In an interview with Hankyoreh on Tuesday, a source in Dandong, who
wished to remain unnamed and has long worked with North Korea and is
familiar with the North Korean situation, reported hearing recently
from senior officials in charge of North Korea's external trade that
preparations are underway for the development of Ryucho Island as
part of a special economic zone. The source said, "As a result of
Ryucho Island's small area (2.82 square kilometers), it looks as if
they are planning to build a free trade base rather than a
large-scale complex and to display wares coming out of North Korea
there so that people can buy them freely." The source added, "They
also plan to build a large dock, and there is the added advantage of
China's Langtou Harbor across the way."

It is also reported that core parties in the North Korean government
have decided on the plan and responsible parties within the North
Korean government who had been appointed have already begun
attracting foreign capital. Observers are predicting that if these
reforms are successful, there is a strong chance that economic
development will expand to the Sinuiju area.

Observers have also learned that the North Korean government will be
establishing even more measures in order to create a greater ripple
effect to further open up Raseon, a city in North Hamgyong Province,
for investment in conjunction with the Chinese government's
development of the Chang-Ji-Tu (Changchun, Jilin and Tuman River
basin) Pilot Zone.

These trends are a sign that North Korea has begun a drive for
economic development through openness and the attraction of foreign
investment. Observers are saying this determination towards
development appears to have been present in North Korea for some
time. Sources in Dandong say that Chinese factory equipment and
construction materials such as H-beams have been taken into North
Korea through Dandong at an unprecedented scale since early last
year, lending support to claims that North Korea has already set a
blueprint for its economic development. Analysts are also saying
this move from North Korea could have a favorable effect on the
North Korea-U.S. dialogue currently in progress.

Chinese officials familiar with the North Korea situation say that
North Korea's recent currency reform should be interpreted as a sign
of the active pursuit of a "North Korean-style market economy"
rather than a rollback of economic reforms in the country. Another
source acquainted with trends among senior North Korean officials
said that North Korea has been "very active recently about joining
forces with China to develop the border region, and the central
government is preparing specific plans."

The source added, "It is clear that economic reforms will move
forward after this currency reform."

It is also known that North Korea recently created a Foreign
Investment Board and has been making active attempts to attract
foreign investment. Scott Snyder, director of the Center for
U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, visited North Korea in

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late November as a member of a U.S. Council on Foreign Relations
Task Force on Korean Peninsula policy and announced what he heard
from North Korean authorities during his visit in a post Monday
(local time) on the web site GlobalSecurity.org.

The head of North Korea's Foreign Investment Board who met with
Snyder's group actively informed them about plans to attract foreign
investment,. These plans include a variety of strategies ranging
from (dealing with) the issue of repatriation of profits earned by
foreign investment companies in North Korea to various tax benefits.
North Korea also offered to set monthly wages at around 30 Euros
(44.60 dollars). Snyder noted that this is lower than the monthly
wage of 57.50 dollars currently paid to North Korean workers at the
Kaesong Industrial Complex.

North Korean authorities also have plans to attract foreign
investment to assist in building 100,000 housing units in Pyongyang,
one of the tasks set in the country's plan for a "strong and
powerful nation by 2012." Additionally, the country has proposed a
plan to offer "special perks" related to the mining of North Korean
natural resources to foreign companies interested in investing in
the project.

Foreign companies are currently forbidden from engaging in new
investment in North Korea as part of the sanctions set by United
Nations Resolution 1874 in response to North Korea's nuclear test on
May 25 of this year. Observers say North Korea's plan for
attracting foreign investment can also be interpreted as a
determination to reestablish relations with the international
community in the future.

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


U.S. APPROACH TO NORTH KOREA REFLECTS HARD SURFACE WITH FLEXIBLE
CORE
(Hankook Ilbo, December 9, 2009, Page 3)

By Washington Correspondent Hwang Yu-seok

The U.S. publicly says that there will be no meeting with Kim but
does not rule out the possibility of extending Ambassador Bosworth's
schedule in Pyongyang.

The U.S. administration's position on its dialogue with North Korea
appears resolute on the surface. The administration has emphasized
that the U.S.-North Korea dialogue is only aimed at urging the North
to rejoin the Six-Party Talks and implement denuclearization steps
under the September 19 Joint Statement.

Right before U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen
Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang, Washington reiterated this position
through its officials. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said,
"I don't think he's seeking a meeting with (North Korean leader) Kim
Jong-il." In other words, a meeting with Kim, which could raise
doubts that this dialogue may be a "negotiation," is not a necessary
condition (for Bosworth's visit), and the U.S. does not feel a need
to request a meeting with Kim, either. Victor Cha, a professor at
Georgetown University who served as Director for Asian Affairs at
the National Security Council under the George W. Bush
Administration, said that against North Korea's wishes, "President
Barack Obama seems to have approved only one round of dialogue with
the North."

The U.S. aims to get Pyongyang's clear response about
denuclearization and a return to the Six-Party Talks. (Ambassador
Bosworth's visit) is also intended to build justification for asking
China, which has enormous leverage over North Korea, to apply strong
sanctions against the North, in case (Washington) fails to persuade
the North (to rejoin the multilateral talks.) Ahead of (Ambassador
Bosworth's) bilateral talks with the North, a USG official made
remarks on sanctions, saying that if the U.S. fails to persuade the
North (to return to the Six-Party Talks,) it will consult (with the

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international community) on the need to impose additional sanctions
against North Korea in addition to existing UN Resolutions.
According to a December 8 report by Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, North
Korea told U.S. experts on the Korean Peninsula who visited
Pyongyang last month that it wants to sign a peace treaty (with the
U.S.) while not mentioning the possibility of returning to the
Six-Party Talks. This report may leave less room to maneuver for
the U.S.

However, it seems that the U.S. expects good results (from the
bilateral talks) despite its determined stance. This is evident
when U.S. authorities did not rule out the possibility that
Ambassador Bosworth's three-day stay may be extended, saying that
the U.S. does not want to put a time line on his visit. This
indicates that the U.S. could act in a flexible manner depending on
how the North will respond. This U.S. position results from a
symbolic meaning of Bosworth's visit as the first high-level
U.S.-North Korea talks since the inauguration of the Obama
Administration and a realistic judgment that sanctions alone cannot
change North Korea.

U.S. experts on North Korea say that by demanding a peace treaty and
the normalization of bilateral ties, North Korea is putting the cart
before the horse. The U.S. experts, however, believe that these
issues may be discussed from the perspective of a "comprehensive
approach." The U.S. also may raise the need to take an
"intermediary" step in order to restore mutual trust, much like it
established the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba even though the U.S.
remains hostile to (the government in) Cuba.


STEPHENS

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