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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; December 22, 2009

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OO RUEHGH
DE RUEHUL #1987/01 3560533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 220533Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6542
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 9541
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DB-Z//
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0637
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7074
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 7133
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1628
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5450
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 4380
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7591
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1864
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3168
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2244
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2850

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SEOUL 001987

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; December 22, 2009

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

Chosun Ilbo
ROKG to Stop Assisting "Zombie" Companies Kept Alive
by Government and Bank Handouts

JoongAng Ilbo, All TVs
N. Korea Declares Yellow Sea Border "Firing Zone"

Dong-a Ilbo
Korea Invited to NATO Meeting on Afghanistan Next Year

Hankook Ilbo
Number of "Working Homeless" Reaches 100,000

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Six in 10 Cancer Patients Survive
for More Than Five Years after Diagnosis

Segye Ilbo
President Lee Hopes to Advance ROK's Target to Secure Its Own
Nuclear Power Technologies by a Few Years

Seoul Shinmun
Rival Parties Agree to Convene
National Assembly Session Dec. 29


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

The North Korean naval command said yesterday that it would
designate the waters near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) - the de
facto inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea drawn by the
U.S.-led United Nations Command at the end of the Korean War in 1953
- as a "peacetime naval firing zone" for coastal and island
artillery units, in response to the ROK's "reckless military
provocations." (All)

An ROKG official responded by saying: "The announcement is only the
latest attempt by the North to raise tensions in the Yellow Sea and
to nullify the NLL." (JoongAng)


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

According to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, there is a possibility that
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may visit China in January or early
February to discuss the North's nuclear and succession issues.
(Dong-a, Segye)


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

-N. Korea
---------
All ROK media covered North Korea's designation yesterday of a
"peacetime firing zone" along the disputed inter-Korean sea border
in the Yellow Sea. The North Korean naval command was quoted: "To
counter the reckless and provocative military maneuvers by the
warmongers in the South Korean military, our Navy declares the
waters near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in the Yellow Sea 'a
peacetime naval firing zone' for coastal and island artillery units.
All fishing boats and warships in that zone should take security
measures to protect themselves."

Conservative Chosun Ilbo quoted an ROK security official as saying:
"The North Korean military is apparently seeking ways to get revenge
for its crushing defeat in a skirmish in the Yellow Sea last month.

SEOUL 00001987 002 OF 002


This appears to be a psychological pressure tactic. (The North),
however, will find that a physical provocation will be more
difficult (to carry out)." Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo cited an
ROKG official as saying: "The announcement is only the latest
attempt by the North to raise tensions in the Yellow Sea and to
nullify the NLL." Moderate Hankook Ilbo headlined its article:
"North's Designation Appears to be Strategic Rhetoric, Rather Than
Preparation for Provocation."


STEPHENS

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