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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; December 11, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SEOUL 001941

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; December 11, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, All TVs
Foreign Language High Schools Get Handed New Rules;
Must Trim Class Sizes, Adopt Admissions Officer System and Reflect
Only English Scores in Screening Process

Hankook Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun
Bosworth Says U.S., N. Korea Reach Common Understanding
to Resume Six-Party Talks and Implement
September 19 Joint Statement

Segye Ilbo
ROK's Economic Growth Expected to Hit 5 Percent Next Year

Seoul Shinmun
ROKG to Create 200,000 More Jobs Next Year

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

North Korea yesterday accepted the ROKG's offer of antiviral drugs
aimed at helping the North deal with H1N1 flu. The ROKG plans to
provide antiviral drugs for about 500,000 people to the North.
(All)


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

Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea
Policy, told reporters after returning to Seoul yesterday from his
three-day trip to Pyongyang that the U.S. and North Korea reached a
common understanding on the need to resume the Six-Party Talks.
(All)

Ambassador Bosworth, however, said that it remains to be seen when
or how the North will return to the Six-Party Talks, adding, "This
is something that will require further consultations among all six
of us." (All)


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

-N. Korea: Ambassador Bosworth's Visit
--------------------------------------
Coverage of yesterday's press remarks in Seoul by U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth was
extensive, with most newspapers offering front-page articles about
his three-day visit to North Korea.

Coverage highlighted Ambassador Bosworth's statements: "We
identified some common understandings on the need for, and the role
of, the Six-Party Talks and the importance of implementation of the
2005 Joint Statement;" "It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK
(North Korea) will return to the Six-Party Talks;" "We did not ask
for, nor did we meet with, Chairman Kim Jong-il;" "These (meetings)
were exploratory talks, not negotiations;" and "As for a message to
the North Koreans from President Obama, in effect, I am the
message."

Most media expected further U.S.-North Korea talks to come after
consultations among the five members of the Six-Party Talks
excluding North Korea.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo viewed this visit to Pyongyang by
Ambassador Bosworth as successful in maintaining the momentum of
dialogue, and observed in an editorial: "(Ambassador Bosworth's

SEOUL 00001941 002 OF 005


remarks) mean that there will be difficult diplomatic negotiations
between the North and the other parties of the Six-Party Talks
before the multilateral talks actually resume."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo editorialized: "We cannot give good marks
to North Korea, which did not clearly promise to return to the
Six-Party Talks. If we must talk about the achievement of this
dialogue, it seems to be that the U.S. and North Korea exchanged
their true intentions for the first time. ... If North Korea
acknowledged the need for the Six-Party Talks, it has no reason to
drag its feet. The later the North rejoins the Six-Party Talks, the
harsher the suffering caused by the UN sanctions."

An editorial in moderate Hankook Ilbo stated: "We don't think that
Ambassador Bosworth's visit to North Korea was meaningless. The
fact that the two sides have shared the importance of implementing
the September 19 Joint Statement, which provides the raison d'tre
of the Six-Party Talks, represents a great step forward toward
restarting the Six-Party Talks. As Ambassador Bosworth put it, if
the two sides had candid and sincere talks, their mutual trust could
also be deepened further. We hope that this (momentum) will lead
the U.S. and North Korea to reach an agreement to resume the
Six-Party Talks as early as possible through ... further dialogue."

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "Since the U.S. has
demonstrated its determination for negotiations, it is North Korea's
turn to make a decision. More than anything else, there is no
reason for the North to delay its return to the Six-Party Talks.
Any issues of concern - whether it is a peace treaty, normalization
of ties or economic aid - can be discussed only when the Six-Party
Talks resume."


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

WHAT NEXT IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH N. KOREA?
(Chosun Ilbo, December 11, 2009, Page 35)

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth
returned empty-handed from a three-day visit to North Korea. But he
said he had "extensive and useful talks" with North Korea's Vice
Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju, identifying "some common ground" on
the need for and the role of the Six-Party Talks and the importance
of the implementation of the 2005 statement of principles.

However, Bosworth said it remains to be seen when and how North
Korea will return to the Six-Party Talks, and that further
negotiations would be necessary with the ROK, China, Japan and
Russia. In other words, tough negotiations remain.

Regarding North Korea's demand for Washington to sign a peace treaty
to replace the armistice that halted the Korean War, Bosworth said
all of the participants are ready to discuss a peace regime once the
Six-Party Talks resume. The September 19 statement of principles
adopted during the Six-Party Talks back in 2005 stipulates that
negotiations will take place over a permanent peace framework on the
Korean Peninsula. The offer by the U.S. does therefore not go
beyond the parameters of the terms agreed so far.

North Korea will try to use the peace treaty as a reason for
returning to the Six-Party Talks, and once the negotiations resume,
the North could even demand a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the
ROK. A peace treaty should be discussed between the ROK and North
Korea, with the U.S. and China playing supporting roles. Seoul must
come up with compelling logic to convince the U.S., China, Japan and
Russia (to take supporting roles, instead of lead roles, with
respect to a peace treaty) and map out precautionary measures.

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


LEE ADMINISTRATION MUST TAKE FIRST STEP TOWARDS DIALOGUE WITH N.

SEOUL 00001941 003 OF 005


KOREA
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, December 11, 2009, Page 35)

Steven Bosworth, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy,
made the statement, "Talks in North Korea have been worthwhile" on
Thursday after completing his three-day visit to North Korea. This
statement can be interpreted to mean that although Bosworth did not
obtain North Korea's pledge to return to the Six-Party Talks, he
believes that both the U.S. and North Korea felt that they were able
to communicate their intended messages to each other. It also seems
from what was the first official meeting of high-ranking officials
between the U.S. and North Korea since Barack Obama's inauguration
that both sides are committed to increasing their efforts to resolve
the North Korea nuclear issue.

The U.S. has clearly shown its commitment to resolving the core
problems that North Korea has discussed at the negotiation tables.
Representative examples are the matter of the peace agreement and
building a peace system. Bosworth explained the U.S. intention to
directly present the peace agreement that U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton has made reference to several times. Accordingly,
there is a high possibility that if the Six-Party Talks restart, the
framework for a peace agreement more concrete than the September 19,
2005 Joint Statement could be made. The six parties could
immediately begin to work on peace agreement negotiations.

The reason why North Korea has been emphasizing the peace agreement
is that it wants to receive a security guarantee from the U.S. that
would carry over in the event of a transition in administrations.
The Obama Administration seems to recognize that request in light of
the fact that the nuclear negotiations have been so full of twists
and turns.

Since the U.S. has demonstrated its determination for negotiations,
it is North Korea's turn to make a decision. More than anything
else, there is no reason for the North to delay its return to the
Six-Party Talks. Any issues of concern - whether it is a peace
treaty, normalization of ties or economic aid - can be discussed
only when the Six-Party Talks resume.

The Lee Administration should reset its North Korea policy in order
to increase its role in negotiations on denuclearization of the
peninsula. Up until now, the Lee Administration has put weight on a
policy of pressure that has slowed down any progress towards
dialogue. Moreover, inter-Korean relations have been in a stalemate
as a result of insisting on denuclearization as a prerequisite for
dialogue. This kind of attitude from the Lee Administration makes
the nuclear issue much more difficult to resolve in that it also has
narrowed North Korea's options.

From this point forward, the Lee Administration should enact a
policy that supports nuclear negotiations and a positive circle of
communication surrounding inter-Korean relations and the North Korea
nuclear issue. Above all, the ROKG should resolve the issues
concerning the resumption of the Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong tourism
projects as soon as possible and secure a channel of communication
between high-ranking officials of both countries.

Presently, other participants in the Six-Party Talks are moving
towards earnest nuclear negotiations in a calm but clear manner. It
is essential for the Lee Administration to make a sincere
contribution now in order to bear the fruits that could come from
the current situation.

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


EVEN THOUGH OUTCOME OF BOSWORTH'S N. KOREA VISIT IS DISAPPOINTING
(Hankook Ilbo, December 11, Page 39)

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth
returned to Seoul yesterday after his three-day visit to Pyongyang.
But the outcome of his visit seems disappointing. At a press

SEOUL 00001941 004 OF 005


conference, Ambassador Bosworth said, "We identified some common
understandings on the need for, and the role of, the Six-Party Talks
and the importance of implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement."
He added, however, "It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK
(North Korea) will return to the Six-Party Talks." This shows that
he didn't receive assurances from North Korea that it will return to
the Six-Party Talks. That is why his remarks that this visit was
very useful sound quite hollow.

Of course, we did not expect that his visit would lead to an
immediate resolution of the North Korean (nuclear) issue. The North
demanded a peace treaty (with the U.S.), which the U.S. is unlikely
to accept, as a precondition (for returning to the Six-Party Talks.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. wanted to limit the bilateral talks to a
discussion of the North's return to the Six-Party Talks and the
implementation of the September 19 Joint Statement. Still, we
considered the possibility that both sides might reach an agreement
dramatically and achieve a breakthrough in resuming the Six-Party
Talks. However, this did not happen. In addition, the U.S. and
North Korea did not agree on the schedule of their future talks.

But we don't think that Ambassador Bosworth's visit to North Korea
was meaningless. The fact that the two sides shared the importance
of implementing the September 19 Joint Statement, which provides the
raison d'tre of the Six-Party Talks, represents a great step
forward toward restarting the Six-Party Talks. As Ambassador
Bosworth put it, if the two sides had candid and sincere talks,
their mutual trust could also be deepened further. We hope that
this (momentum) will lead the U.S. and North Korea to reach an
agreement to resume the Six-Party Talks as early as possible through
a New York channel or further dialogue.

A peace treaty, which North Korea strongly demands, should be
discussed within the framework of the Six-Party Talks because it is
stipulated in the September 19 Joint Statement. If North Korea
insists on signing a peace treaty (with the U.S.) without pledging
to return to the Six-Party Talks, we cannot but suspect that the
North has ulterior motives. Six-Party countries need to pay more
attention to establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula in
order to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks.


DELAYED RESUMPTION OF SIX-PARTY TALKS WILL INCREASE N. KOREA'S
SUFFERING
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 11, 2009, Page 35)

The U.S.-North Korea dialogue was held for the first time since the
launch of the Barack Obama Administration, but, in the end, the
North did not promise to return to the Six-Party Talks. During his
three-day two-night stay in Pyongyang, U.S. Special Representative
for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth only met with North Korea's
First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju and Chief Nuclear Envoy Kim
Kye-gwan. Ambassador Bosworth said at yesterday's press conference
in Seoul that he did not request a meeting with North Korean leader
Kim Jong-il, nor did he carry President Obama's personal letter for
Kim. In other words, it was a working-level dialogue where both
sides exchanged what they wanted to say.

Ambassador Bosworth said, "(The U.S. and North Korea) identified
some common understandings on the need for and the role of the
Six-Party Talks and the importance of the implementation of the 2005
Joint Statement." He indicated that the dialogue was meaningful.
Although it is encouraging that the North, which had declared the
Six-Party Talks dead, acknowledged the need for the multilateral
talks and mentioned the implementation of the September 19, 2005
Joint Statement, it is too early to say that North Korea will
change. The U.S. repeatedly emphasized that it would not reward
North Korea simply for returning to the Six-Party Talks. We cannot
give good marks to North Korea, which did not clearly promise to
return to the Six-Party Talks.

If we must talk about the achievement of this dialogue, it seems to
be that the U.S. and North Korea exchanged their true intentions for
the first time. While mentioning the possibility of dialogue, North

SEOUL 00001941 005 OF 005


Korea hinted that it would not continuously aggravate the situation
with its brinkmanship tactics. Ambassador Bosworth also stressed
that he had "very useful" talks in North Korea. The talks can be
said to be beneficial to the U.S., too, since it obtained direct
information on the North, based on which Washington can judge North
Korea's intention and future strategy. An ROKG official took a
neutral view of the dialogue, saying that it was neither a success
nor a failure.

Following his briefing to the ROKG, Ambassador Bosworth will visit
China, Japan, and Russia starting today to explain the results of
the meeting with the North and discuss future measures. Follow-up
consultations will continue to assess the outcome of the U.S.-North
Korea dialogue and determine how to respond (to the North Korean
issue).

North Korean leader Kim has said that he would decide whether to
participate in the Six-Party Talks, depending on the outcome of the
U.S.-North Korea contact. If North Korea acknowledged the need for
the Six-Party Talks, it has no reason to drag its feet. The later
the North rejoins the Six-Party Talks, the harsher the suffering
caused by the UN sanctions. As President Obama said to the North
through Ambassador Bosworth, if the North abandons its nuclear
ambitions, it will have a different future. A return to the
Six-Party Talks is the starting point of that road.


STEPHENS

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