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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; January 6, 2010

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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
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RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 7176
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1656
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5487
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2877

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SEOUL 000015

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; JANUARY 6, 2010

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

Chosun Ilbo
Speculation that Samsung Electronics May Move to Sejong City

JoongAng Ilbo
Fears of "Nomad Terrorism"
Al-Qaida Terrorists Commit Terror Acts while Moving like Nomads

Dong-a Ilbo
Samsung Poised to Move Cutting-Edge Biotechnology Operations to
Sejong City

Hankook Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun, Segye Ilbo, All TVs
Land Costs to be Discounted at Sejong City

Seoul Shinmun
Araon, ROK's First Icebreaker, Set for North Pole Expedition


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

Photo and caption: Former U.S. Figure Skating Champion Michelle Kwan
skates with young Korean skaters at an ice link in Seoul on Jan. 5.
She is visiting the ROK as a public diplomacy envoy of the U.S.
Department of State. (Dong-a, Hankook, Hankyoreh, Seoul, KBS, MBC)


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

According to a group of North Korean defectors, North Korean
authorities recently designated the birthday (Jan. 8) of leader Kim
Jong-il's third son and heir apparent, Kim Jung-eun, as a national
holiday, a development suggesting that the North's power succession
process may accelerate. (All)


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

-N. Korea
---------
Moderate Seoul Shinmun noted Jan. 4 press remarks by State
Department Spokesman Ian Kelly, in which he said: "We hope that
North Korea will agree to resuming the Six-Party Talks. We are
hopeful that we'll get some actions toward that end and not just
words, and ... we are hopeful we can all sit down and reach our
desired goal, which is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
in a verifiable manner."

According to the Seoul Shinmun report, Spokesman Kelly's remarks
were made in response to the North's New Year's message last week in
which the North vowed to establish a peace regime and achieve
denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and
negotiations.

- Al-Qaida in Yemen
-------------------
Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo carried an analysis entitled "Fears of
'Nomad Terrorism.'" It said that with Yemen emerging as a new
al-Qaida stronghold, 'nomad terrorism' is putting the world on edge.
It went on to say: "Al-Qaida terrorists are building their strength
while traveling across a 'terror route' ranging from Afghanistan to
Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Yemen to Somalia. Even though Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton singled out Yemen as a 'base for terrorist
attacks,' the U.S. actually has no option but to increase its aid to
counter-terrorism operations conducted by the Yemeni government; the
resilience and adaptability of al-Qaida are remarkable."

OPINIONS/EDITORIALS

SEOUL 00000015 002 OF 003


--------------------

TIME TO FACE UP TO SITUATION ON KORUS FTA
(Chosun Ilbo, January 6, 2010, Page 34)

By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won

I was doubly surprised while looking at the responses of a group of
American experts on Korea to a questionnaire from Chosun Ilbo. Nine
of the 10 experts surveyed felt it is unlikely that the Korea-U.S.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be ratified by the U.S. Congress
this year. I was again surprised to learn that not a few of them
saw little chance next year either.

The U.S. Administration and Congress often exchange views with think
tanks and expert groups as they formulate policy. Most of the
experts who took part in the straw poll are well versed in the
trends of the Administration and Congress; their projections should
not be taken lightly. Since the Korea-U.S. FTA was signed by the
two governments on June 30, 2007, the ROK Embassy in Washington has
made consistent efforts to have the accord ratified by Congress.
Ambassadors Lee Tae-shik and Han Duck-soo toured the entire country
to meet state-level elected representatives. They tried to create
favorable public opinion in cooperation with the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce. But the outcome of the straw poll shows the political
environment has not changed despite two years and six months of
effort.

For the Korea-U.S. FTA to take effect, three important steps have to
be taken - additional negotiations between the two governments,
President Barack Obama's submission of the FTA to Congress, and
ratification. Little chance is now seen that the three steps will
go smoothly, and the Administration's priorities have shifted. When
Obama returned to Washington from a vacation in Hawaii on Monday,
the "war on terror" was on the agenda again after a failed bombing
attack on a U.S.-bound airplane. And a public health reform bill,
which Obama has pushed for in the past year with all his political
resources, is still pending in Congress.

The administration's will to take on the FTA also is doubtful. This
is in spite of all that the U.S. Trade Representative has done in
the past year is to listen to the pro-FTA views of industry overall.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in a recent press interview said
bluntly that no specific timetable has been set to send the bill to
Congress.

The attention of U.S. politicians is already focused on the national
mid-term elections in November, which will elect 33 senators and 435
representatives. American politicians are just as obsessed with
elections as their Korean counterparts. The Democratic Party knows
that those who oppose the FTA have more votes and campaign money,
one expert says.

The important question is whether the Korean government realizes all
this. "The Korean government tends to think in a Korean way that
the FTA will be ratified if it is pushed ahead forcefully with
diplomatic strength, without taking into account the negative
feelings among the Democrats," said a diplomatic source here.
Americans in Washington D.C. who heard a rumor that a senior Korean
government official was outraged when told that the prospects for
the FTA are unfavorable during a parliamentary audit in Seoul of the
ROK Embassy in Washington D.C. found it noteworthy.

It is time to search for a new way out, looking squarely at the
actual situation. A two-stage approach may be feasible - resolving
differences over auto industry issues during the first half of this
year and then getting the FTA ratified after the U.S. mid-term
elections. Trying to be forceful, as the Korean government is used
to at home, could land the FTA on the scrap heap of history.

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

SEOUL 00000015 003 OF 003


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