Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; December 21, 2009
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SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; December 21, 2009
Senior Presidential Secretary for Education Lee Joo-ho Vows to Ban
Private Cram Schools from Offering Late-Night Classes
JoongAng Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun, All TVs
"Worst National Assembly Ever;" Budget Bill Passage
Still Up in the Air
Dong-a Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo
Education Ministry Seeks to Hinder Foreign Language High School
Applicants Who Voluntarily Admit to Studying at Private Education
Institutes; Critics Say Voluntary Reporting Makes
It Too Easy to Sidestep Latest Rules
Main Opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun Found to Be
Present when Former Prime Minister Han Met Local Businessman Who
Allegedly Bribed Han
for Business Favors
According to multiple ROKG sources, the two Koreas held two rounds
of s-e-c-r-e-t meetings last month to discuss a possible summit, but
failed to reach agreement due to differences over food aid, the
North's nuclear issue, and the problem of ROK citizens believed to
be held in the North. (Chosun, Dong-a, Hankyoreh, Segye)
Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, in a Dec. 18
contribution to The Washington Post, said that the North Korean arms
shipment seized in Thailand last week was destined for the Middle
East. Mr. Blair's reference marked the first public comment by the
U.S. administration on the destination of the arms. (Chosun, Dong-a,
North Korea, in a Dec. 19 commentary in the Rodong Shinmun, the
North's major newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said that
the ROK is not entitled to participate in negotiations on its
nuclear program because the ROK has systematically augmented nuclear
threats from the U.S. (JoongAng)
Most ROK media today carried inside-page reports quoting Dennis
Blair, Director of National Intelligence, as writing in The
Washington Post on Dec. 18 that the North Korean arms shipment
seized in Thailand last week was destined for the Middle East. He
was further quoted: "Teamwork among different agencies in the U.S.
and partners abroad just last week led to the interdiction of a
Middle East-bound cargo of North Korean weapons." The media noted
that Blair's reference marked the first public comment by the U.S.
administration on the destination of the arms and the first official
confirmation on the U.S. role in the case.
Conservative Chosun Ilbo observed: "Blair did not specify which
country the North Korean weapons were bound for. His comment has
sparked speculation that the North Korean weapons were headed to
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Copenhagen Climate Change Conference
Yesterday's conclusion of the 15th U.N. Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen captured the attention of the ROK media. Most media
reported that the historic conference ended with only a nonbinding
"Copenhagen Accord," which simply calls for greenhouse gases and
other emissions by all nations to be reduced enough to prevent
average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees
Celsius, without setting specific emissions guidelines for achieving
Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "The leaders of the
planet were not brave. ... They just dithered, preventing Copenhagen
turning into 'Hopenhagen.' ... The 'Copenhagen Accord' is short on
substance and is merely a face-saving measure for political leaders.
... Now the homework has been carried over to next year's climate
conference in Mexico City. ... Only when all of us take concerted
action under the 'Me First' spirit can we save this planet and
Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "The U.S. and China
are largely to blame for this disappointing result, given that they
account for more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
worldwide. China, which has overtaken the U.S. as the world's
biggest CO2 emitter, strongly rejected being included in the list of
countries subject to mandatory emissions-reduction targets while
stressing the responsibility of advanced nations. ... The U.S., for
its part, could not show leadership to persuade developing countries
by taking such a lackadaisical attitude as proposing an
emissions-reduction target much lower than those of the EU and
"PREEMPTIVE MEASURES NEEDED IN ANTICIPATION OF TOUGHER CARBON
(Chosun Ilbo, December 21, Page 39)
"It is highly likely that a global warming pact will be reached
before the next climate summit, which will take place in Mexico City
next year. The current Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2012, and
as long as the world does not give up battling global warming, the
international community has little choice but to come up with a
legally-binding treaty. ... If there is no choice but to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, then it is best to get started as soon as
possible. Doing so will allow Korean businesses to get a head start
in developing the technologies and building the experience needed to
become globally competitive. In order to make this happen, the ROKG
must establish a system that will allow businesses to become 'early
movers' and take voluntary steps to cut their emissions."
MEDIATING THE INTERESTS OF DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING NATIONS FOR
CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, December 21, Page 31)
The worst was avoided, but the results are still not enough to give
the international community hope. The 2009 United Nations (UN)
Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen had set out to search for
ways to stop global warming and concluded on Dec. 19 with the
Copenhagen Accord. The climate change conference failed to bring
about an agreement that binds developed countries to greenhouse gas
emission targets. This is why, despite what the U.S., China and UN
General Secretary Ban Ki-moon are working hard to call a "half
victory," voices of disappointment and criticism are being heard
throughout the world.
The results from the Copenhagen talks are significant as the Kyoto
Protocol, which made greenhouse gas reductions mandatory for
developed nations, comes to an end in 2012. If steps towards a new
agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol are not made, the
international community's commitment to reduce greenhouse gases will
virtually collapse by 2013. As a result, the attention of the
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world has been focused on Copenhagen and the leaders of 119 nations
The U.S. and China are largely to blame for this disappointing
result, given that they account for more than 40 percent of
greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. China, which has overtaken the
U.S. as the world's biggest CO2 emitter, strongly rejected being
included in the list of countries subject to mandatory
emissions-reduction targets while stressing the responsibility of
advanced nations. It makes sense that between developed and
developing nations, it is developed nations that must bear greater
responsibility for global warming, but it is true that preventing
global warming is impossible without a change in China's posture.
The U.S., for its part, could not show leadership to persuade
developing countries by taking such a lackadaisical attitude as
proposing an emissions-reduction target much lower than those of the
EU and Japan.
There are what could be considered some positive results in the
Copenhagen Accord, including the proposal to keep the rise in global
temperatures to within two degrees since the Industrial Revolution
and the creation of a 100 billion dollar fund to assist poor
countries dealing with serious crises due to climate change.
However, major nations, including the U.S. and China, must not stop
here and should continue to work until the Mexico conference set for
next November to reach an agreement with binding force and concrete
reduction targets. The ROK, too, which serves as the host for the
next G-20 summit next year, must actively contribute to creating a
new climate change agreement by mediating the interests of developed
and developing nations.
(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)
U.S. PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAM IN AFGHANISTAN PARTICIPATES IN
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER EXERCISE
(Chosun Ilbo, December 21, Page 6)
By Correspondent Park Jong-se
A car sits riddled by bullets, its windshield shattered. Afghan
merchants repair a bicycle and sell carpets nearby in an indifferent
manner. On a bazaar street, the wash is hung out to dry between
shops with signboards written in the local dari language.
Dozens of U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) personnel,
escorted by U.S. soldiers, enter the bazaar along with village
leaders. A deafening explosion cuts through the air. The bomb: an
improvised explosive device (IED) made by the Taliban, the Islamic
fundamentalists in Afghanistan.
The U.S. soldiers immediately drop to the ground, ready to shoot.
PRT personnel also fall to the ground. A few more IEDs explode.
The smell of gunpowder fills the air and thick smoke blankets the
"To the left! To the left!" U.S. soldiers had PRT members and
village leaders take cover behind a (nearby) shop.
An AK-47 rifle shot from the Taliban slices through the air. It is
too dangerous to advance along the bazaar street. "Push back!"
This is the description of a training exercise that reenacts the
Taliban's sudden attacks that plague Afghanistan every day. On
December 16, fifty-one PRT personnel from U.S. Departments of
Agriculture and State, who will be dispatched to Afghanistan in a
month, participated in this intensive training exercise at
Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana.
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Afghan-Americans wearing wool hats and traditional Islamic clothes
played the role of Afghans. However, participants didn't have the
slightest idea of what would happen and when.
On the roof of a nearby two-story building, instructors filmed and
closely observed every move of the PRT personnel. They checked to
make sure the participants accurately followed the directions of
U.S. soldiers, did not panic amid the explosions, and were putting
their hands on the shoulders of those in front of them when moving.
John Rothenberg from the U.S. Agency for International Development
said that just the sound of a bomb blast set his nerves on edge.
Lieutenant Jessica Halladay said that this exercise is aimed at
making sure that PRT personnel learn how to act along with soldiers
by not panicking in case of an emergency. Captain Trey Wheeler, who
returned from Afghanistan a month ago, said with surprise that the
exercise is conducted under conditions (similar) to those in
Immediately after PRT members headed to a venue for negotiation,
which was their final destination, the bomb went off. And even
though they (did eventually) manage to arrive at the negotiating
venue, PRT personnel still had to argue with stubborn tribal
representatives about their proposal to provide irrigation
facilities (within the area). Negotiations stalled when tribal
representatives fell into dispute among themselves, with each tribal
leader saying that the other leaders would benefit more than they
would from the deal. Around eleven o'clock, local representatives
put an abrupt end to the negotiations and began to cite the Koran
and pray. These all described real circumstances they might
encounter in Afghanistan.
When the role-playing situation ended, experts, who closely observed
the exercise, gave advice: "You should make your sentences short so
that they are clearly interpreted." "It is common for Afghan
farmers to be late to the negotiating venue by one or two hours."
"You should coordinate ideas through a preliminary meeting and then
hold a comprehensive meeting."
An expert on Afghanistan suddenly (interrupted the debriefing) to
quiz a PRT member, "What is the name of the (tribal) leader you just
dealt with?" "Sajai... Mahmed..." The PRT member mumbled, (unable
to recall the name).
When they exited the building after completing the tortuous
negotiations, another IED detonated.
This training program started this past July around the time U.S.
President Barack Obama changed the nature of the war in Afghanistan
from a "hard-power" war reliant on U.S. Marine Corps to a
"soft-power" war based on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Accordingly, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Admiral Michael Mullen, and Commander of the U.S. Central Command
David Petraeus agreed to establish a special program designed to
train civilian experts. This was because, with the number of
civilian staff increasing, there was a desperate need for
coordination between them and U.S. troops. Currently U.S. civilian
staff (in Afghanistan only number) about 320 people, but the number
(is expected to) increase to an estimated 1,000 in January.
Training programs at the MUTC are based on six different scenarios,
including those reenacting general negotiations, terror bombings and
(other common situations in Afghanistan), ranging from the very
basic to the very complex. Ronal Melvin, 63, with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, who once worked as a PRT member in Iraq,
said, "This kind of training is helpful since it teaches you how
soldiers communicate and what really happens on the ground."
"I SPOKE WITH ROK DEFENSE MINISTRY OFFICIALS OVER THE PHONE THIS
MORNING ... THE ROK TEAM BEING DISPATCHED TO AFGHANISTAN WILL
RECEIVE TRAINING IN JANUARY"
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(Chosun Ilbo, December 21, 2009, Page 6)
By Correspondent Park Jong-se from MUTC
James McKellar, President of McKellar, a private company planning a
civilian-military-government joint training program, said, "Training
centers are aimed at ensuring that participants are knowledgeable
about the organization that they belong to and its roles, and that
they work effectively with local residents, local governments, and
multinational forces." Below are excerpts from an interview with
Q. Have the trainings (your company has performed up until now) been
A. "Of course, they have. A number of the participants currently
being trained have received previous training here (in Muscatatuck)
They commented that the training was very helpful for them."
Q. What kind of things do civilian staff have to deal with on the
A. "In short, they must (be able to) deal with many things
simultaneously in a very complicated situation."
Q. Can this program be applied to every nation that sends a PRT to
A. "Yes. A civilian-military joint training program is certainly
necessary., and we have had discussions with the ROK about this.
Next year, the ROK will send a roughly 500-member-strong joint PRT
(to Afghanistan) that will include civilians and others from the
government and the military and police forces. I talked with ROK
Defense Ministry officials over the phone this morning (December
16), and (confirmed that) some of the PRT members being deployed to
Afghanistan in January at the earliest will train here (in
Q. What business does McKellar usually engage in?
A. "We only have ten employees. So far, we have engaged in training
civil servants and military staff. In the past, the military did
not understand the civilian staff, and the civilian staff did not
understand the military."