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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; January 29, 2010

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SEOUL 000135

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; JANUARY 29, 2010

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

Chosun Ilbo
President Lee Calls for "Global Financial Safety Net"
against Risky Capital Flows

JoongAng Ilbo
Universities Complain of ROKG's Push
for Admissions Officer System

Dong-a Ilbo
Japanese Reporter Allowed to Enter ROK after 36 Years;
He was Acquitted by Seoul Court of Involvement
in a 1974 Spy Case in a Re-trial 36 Years after Conviction

Hankook Ilbo
ROK Military Cancels Scheduled Artillery Drills near Northern Limit
Line, with N. Korea Firing More Shells
into Yellow Sea for Second Day

Hankyoreh Shinmun
16 of 29 Lawmakers on National Assembly's Land and Maritime Affairs
Committee "Oppose Sejong City Revision Bill"

Seoul Shinmun, Segye Ilbo, All TVs
President Obama: "N. Korea Now Faces Increased Isolation
and Stronger Sanctions"


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

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt
Campbell, in a Jan. 27 meeting with ROK correspondents in
Washington, said that he trusts President Lee's leadership. (Chosun,
JoongAng, Dong-a) This remark may be intended to dispel the
controversy he created last year by saying that he was not aware of
the president's "grand bargain" proposal to resolve the North Korean
nuclear issue. (Chosun)

Assistant Secretary Campbell also said that Washington has no plans
at the moment to hold a second U.S.-North Korea dialogue.
(JoongAng)

According to ROKG sources, a key U.S. Defense official recently met
with Blue House and ROKG officials and lawmakers to collect their
opinions on the 2012 transfer of wartime operational control from
the U.S. to the ROK. This may suggest that Washington may review the
timing of the OPCON transfer. (Dong-a)


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

President Barack Obama, during his first State of the Union address
on Jan.27, called on North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear
ambitions, warning of stronger sanctions if they continue to pursue
nuclear weapons in violation of international accords. (All)

President Obama also indirectly stressed the need to ratify the
KORUS FTA, saying: "If America sits on the sidelines while other
nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on
our shores. ... That's ...why we will strengthen our trade relations
in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and
Colombia." (All)

According to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency
yesterday, North Korea detained an American on Jan. 25 for illegally
crossing its border with China. If confirmed, it will be the second
such incident in a month. (Chosun, Dong-a, Hankyoreh, Segye)

According to the United Nations Command (UNC), on Jan. 27, North

SEOUL 00000135 002 OF 005


Korea proposed talks with the UNC to discuss the resumption of
operations to excavate the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the
Korean War. (All)

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

-President Obama's State of the Union Speech
-------------------------------------------
All ROK media covered President Obama's State of the Union address
on Jan. 27.

Coverage highlighted the President's statements: "These diplomatic
efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those
nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit
of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased
isolation, and stronger sanctions - sanctions that are being
vigorously enforced; " and "If America sits on the sidelines while
other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create
jobs on our shores. ... That's ...why we will strengthen our trade
relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama
and Colombia."

Most media interpreted these remarks as a warning to North Korea of
stronger sanctions if it continues to pursue nuclear weapons, and
his roundabout way of stressing the need to ratify the KORUS FTA.

Moderate Hankook Ilbo wrote in the headline: "U.S. Reconfirms
Intention to Reject N. Korea's Call for Peace Treaty before the
North's Return to Six-Party Talks."

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "President Obama's
speech ran 71 minutes but only nine minutes were devoted to
international affairs. It is said that a State of the Union
Address, in recent years, has never treated international affairs as
lightly as this one. ... There are many international issues that
cannot be resolved without active U.S. efforts; It is still
important for America to play an appropriate role in the
international community. ... Since the launch of the Obama
Administration, North Korea has advocated a resolution of its
nuclear issue through dialogue, increasing the possibility of a
breakthrough on the nuclear issue, depending on the U.S.'s attitude.
It is high time for a more forward-looking role from the U.S."

-N. Korea
---------
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency's report yesterday
- that an American is being held in North Korea for illegally
crossing its border with China on Jan. 25 - captured the attention
of the ROK media. According to media reports, the North did not
identify him or give any details about why he entered the North. If
confirmed, it will be the second such incident in a month, according
to media reports.

Most media carried reports that North Korea proposed talks with the
United Nations Command (UNC) on Jan. 27 to discuss resuming the
joint recovery of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean
War. The proposal coincided with the North's artillery shootings
into waters near the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea, the de
facto maritime border between the two Koreas.

Chosun Ilbo editorialized: "North Korea has been employing a
two-track strategy toward the ROK and the U.S. since late last year
by aggressively seeking economic cooperation and humanitarian aid on
one hand while heightening military tension on the other. ... The
reason why North Korea continues to make provocations, such as the
latest artillery fire near the NLL, is that it is caught in an
obsolete mindset that threats and appeasement are the most effective
way to elicit aid from the ROK and the U.S. ... Only if North Korea
stops its nuclear development and provocations and returns to the
Six-Party Talks and inter-Korean dialogue will the door open for
economic aid for the North."

Moderate Hankook Ilbo wrote in the headline: "'Double-faced' N.

SEOUL 00000135 003 OF 005


Korea; North Suggests Joint Recovery of Remains of Fallen U.S.
Soldiers while Firing Artillery... an Attempt to Raise Negotiating
Power."


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

OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS FAILS TO SHOW (U.S.'S) GLOBAL
LEADERSHIP
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, January 29, Page 31)

U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address yesterday
(Korean time) focused on domestic issues such as economic (measures)
and job creation. Facing public anger over the U.S.'s lingering
economic woes, President Obama put his priority on creating jobs.
In order to relieve the burden on struggling middle-class families,
he promised to provide tax cuts and extend other benefits. He said,
"We will work within the budget to invest in what we need and
sacrifice what we don't," pledging to increase investments in
education and environment. He noted, "I take my share of the blame
for not explaining it (health care reform) more clearly to the
American people," adding that he will not "walk away from reform."
The controversy over the health care reform has been dividing the
U.S. society.

President Obama's speech apparently shows that he has readjusted his
policy priorities by reflecting public opinions (which have become
worse over the past year.) Obama's popularity rating, which stood
at 70 percent when he took office, dropped to 50 percent. A
Republican candidate won a U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, (which
is a traditional Democratic stronghold.)

We are somewhat worried about this policy readjustment, particularly
in international issues. President Obama's speech ran 71 minutes
but only nine minutes were devoted to international affairs. It is
said that a State of the Union Address, in recent years, has never
treated international affairs as lightly as this one. This may be
understandable if the U.S.'s overseas policy is changing from
unilateralism to multilateralism (so that international issues
involve not only the U.S.'s effort but also other countries'.)
There are many international issues that cannot be resolved without
active U.S. efforts; It is still important for America to play an
appropriate role in the international community.

President Obama said, "These diplomatic efforts have also
strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on
violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons.
That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger
sanctions - sanctions that are being vigorously enforced." However,
he has neither laid out any substantial proposals to resolve the
current stalemate in the North Korean nuclear issue nor demonstrated
his determination to do so.

This attitude will be a stumbling block to improving relations
between the U.S. and North Korea, which have remained hostile for
more than 50 years, and to bringing stability to the Korean
Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Since the launch of the Obama
Administration, North Korea has advocated a resolution of its
nuclear issue through dialogue, increasing the possibility of a
breakthrough on the nuclear issue, depending on the U.S.'s attitude.
It is high time for a more forward-looking role from the U.S.


N. KOREA'S ARTILLERY SHOOTINGS WILL ONLY INCREASE ISOLATION
(Chosun Ilbo, January 29, 2010, Page 31)

After firing around 100 shells toward the Northern Limit Line (NLL),
the de-facto maritime border close to the Baeknyong and Daecheong
islands on the West Sea, on Wednesday, North Korea fired around 10
more rounds on Thursday at its side of the NLL near Yeongpyeong
Island. The North had declared a no-navigation zone around the NLL
this week, which included the South Korean side of the maritime
border. Its intent was to keep South Korea from raising a fuss,

SEOUL 00000135 004 OF 005


since it had been warned in advance.

The North was testing its ability to fire a barrage of rounds at a
single target using 130 mm coastal artillery, 240 mm multiple rocket
launch systems and 170 mm self-propelled howitzers. The 100 or so
rounds fired by those armaments all landed on the North Korean side
of the NLL. There is a strong possibility that North Korea
deliberately avoided having the shells land on the South Korean side
of the NLL, even though the North vehemently protests the legitimacy
of the maritime border. North Korea's MLRS have a range of 60 km,
while its self-propelled howitzers have a range of 54 km. The
purpose of North Korea's latest provocation was to warn South Korea
that it could attack its naval vessels and civilian ships at any
time.

Even while this was going on, North Korean officials met with UN
Command representatives at the border truce village of Panmunjom on
Wednesday and proposed the resumption of excavation work uncovering
the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. In his
New Year's address, President Lee Myung-bak vowed to start efforts
to recover the remains of South Korean soldiers in the North but
North Korea responded to the U.S. instead.

North Korea has been employing a two-track strategy toward the ROK
and the U.S. since late last year by aggressively seeking economic
cooperation and humanitarian aid on one hand while heightening
military tension on the other. The North is gearing up to attract
foreign capital and request economic assistance from the South
Korean government and businesses. But the reason why North Korea
continues to make provocations, such as the latest artillery fire
near the Northern Limit Line, is that it is caught in an obsolete
mindset that threats and appeasement are the most effective way to
elicit aid from the ROK and the U.S. President Barack Obama, in his
state of the Union address, said that "North Korea now faces
increased isolation and stronger sanctions (due to its nuclear
ambitions)." Only if North Korea stops its nuclear development and
provocations and returns to the Six-Party Talks and inter-Korean
dialogue will the door open for economic aid for the North." But it
is refusing to see the road ahead and remains focused on the past.

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


FEATURES
---------

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL "TRUSTS PRESIDENT LEE'S LEADERSHIP"
(Chosun Ilbo, January 29, 2010, Page 4)

By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won

The remark may be intended to dispel the controversy over President
Lee's "grand bargain" proposal.

"I have watched many summits, but no summit was as productive as the
summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and ROK President Lee
Myung-bak. From President Lee, I felt a positive and trustworthy
leadership, which I did not feel from other foreign leaders," said
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Kurt Campbell.

Ahead of his trip to the ROK on February 2, Assistant Secretary
Campbell publicly praised President Lee's leadership on January 27.
On that day, he asked for a meeting with Korean correspondents at
the Foreign Press Center in Washington D.C. and paid tribute to
President Lee in his opening remarks. He noted, "President Lee is
pushing for an initiative of "Global Korea" very logically. The
idea of "Global Korea" is to expand the ROK's influence and interest
on the Northeast Asian stage."

These remarks seem intended to dispel the controversy that Assistant
Secretary Campbell created last September by saying that he was not
familiar with President Lee's "grand bargain" proposal on the North

SEOUL 00000135 005 OF 005


Korean nuclear issue. At that time, after Assistant Secretary
Campbell made such a remark, President Lee stated, "So what if Mr.
So-and-so says he is not aware of (the grand bargain.)"


STEPHENS

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