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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; January 19, 2010

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RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1684
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SEOUL 000069

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; JANUARY 19, 2010

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


Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo
Former and Incumbent Ruling GNP Leaders Collide
over Sejong City

Dong-a Ilbo
36.9 Percent of ROK Cancer Patients Die
within a Year of Diagnosis

Hankook Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun, All TVs
Feud Deepens in Ruling Party over Sejong City

Segye Ilbo
N. Korea: "Sanctions Must be Lifted or No Six-Party Talks"

Seoul Shinmun
ROK Pledges $10 Million to Quake-Hit Haiti


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

Inter-Korean talks over the operation of the joint Kaesong
Industrial Complex will take place today as scheduled, despite the
North's Jan. 15 threat to stage a "retaliatory war" against the ROK
over its alleged administrative contingency plan to deal with
emergencies in the North. (All)


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

North Korea, in a Jan. 18 statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesman,
said that it will not return to the Six-Party Talks unless sanctions
on the North are lifted. (Chosun, Dong-a, Hankook, Hankyoreh, Segye,
Seoul, KBS, Pressian)

This North Korean move is a rejection of the U.S.'s position that a
peace treaty demanded by the North can be discussed only after the
North's return to the Six-Party Talks, and a retreat from the
communist state's position since last September that it could
participate in multilateral talks. (Hankook, Hankyoreh, Segye,
Seoul)


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

-Haiti Earthquake Aftermath
----------------------------
Most ROK media today and over the weekend gave wide coverage to the
situation in Haiti.

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo, in an article today entitled "Haiti
Becomes Arena of Competition for Relief Diplomacy," commented: "The
most aggressive country is the U.S., which offered $100 million in
assistance and sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, along with
massive military forces, shortly after a powerful quake struck
Haiti. The U.S.'s aim is to expand its influence in the Caribbean
Sea. ... Left-wing Latin American countries are denouncing the U.S.
move as an attempt to occupy Haiti by taking advantage of the
country's earthquake and are calling for the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Haiti."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo wrote in the headline on Saturday (Jan.
16): "Why is U.S. Rushing to Aid Haiti?; Obama Sees Haiti's Quake as
an Opportunity to Display His 'Leadership during a Crisis' and to
Expand U.S. Influence in Latin America."

-N. Korea

SEOUL 00000069 002 OF 003


---------
Most ROK media today noted the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Jan.
18 statement that North Korea will not return to the Six-Party Talks
unless sanctions on the North are lifted.

Most media saw this North Korean move as a rejection of Washington's
position - that lifting of sanctions and a peace treaty demanded by
the North can be discussed only after the North's return to the
Six-Party Talks - and a retreat from the communist state's position
since last September that it could participate in multilateral
talks.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo, in particular, argued in an editorial:
"North Korea said that a peace treaty can be discussed during the
Six-Party Talks. Accordingly, it is right that the North should
first return to the Six-Party Talks. The North's argument that
sanctions must be lifted before the resumption of the Six-Party
Talks amounts to putting the cart before the horse. ... The quickest
way for the North to get rid of sanctions is to return to the
Six-Party Talks and to implement its denuclearization commitments."

Referring to the North's Jan. 15 threat to stage a "retaliatory war"
against the ROK over its alleged administrative contingency plan to
deal with emergencies in the North, right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo
editorialized on Saturday: "Given the North's recent behavior, it
seems as though it would be impossible for even God to understand
North Korea's policies and actions toward the ROK. ... Until the
morning of last Friday, the North had maintained a soft attitude
toward the ROK, but that evening it threatened to attack the ROK and
exclude Seoul from all future talks on the peace of the Korean
Peninsula. Unless something serious has happened with the North's
system of authority, it's difficult to understand its actions. ...
In particular, considering that this is not the first time the ROK
has created a contingency plan, the North's behavior is especially
disturbing."


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

N. KOREA'S ERRATIC BEHAVIOR
(Chosun Ilbo, January 19, 2010, Page 39)

North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Monday saying
that if the North goes back to the Six-Party nuclear talks while UN
sanctions remain in place, the talks "would not be equal." North
Korea pledged it will "never allow this to happen." Last Monday,
the ministry formally proposed talks to replace the armistice that
ended the Korean War with a peace treaty this year, which marks the
60th anniversary of the war.

But on Friday, a spokesman for North Korea's powerful National
Defense Commission threatened to cut off all dialogue with South
Korea over a South Korean contingency plan for the fall of the
communist government and vowed to wage a "sacred retaliatory battle"
against those who conceived it. On Sunday, North Korea's state
media reported that leader Kim Jong-il recently watched a massive
military exercise and showcased a photo of a 240 mm howitzer whose
devastating ordinance could reach Seoul. And then on Monday, the
official Rodong Shinmun daily, in an editorial calling for the
improvement of inter-Korean relations, said that such changes are
"urgently" needed. On the same day it threatened a sacred battle,
the North graciously accepted aid shipments of 10,000 tons of corn
from the South.

Why the mixed signals? It is possible that North Korea's military,
foreign ministry and the agency in charge of dealing with South
Korean issues are all pulling on different strings. But North Korea
should know by now that South Korea will not step forward with
assistance packages while being bombarded with threats. It has
become obvious to the South that its previous strategy of appeasing
North Korea does not work and only leads to negative effects.

The same goes for the stalled Six-Party Talks. North Korea said

SEOUL 00000069 003 OF 003


that a peace treaty can be discussed during the Six-Party Talks.
Accordingly, it is right that the North should first return to the
Six-Party Talks. The North's argument that sanctions must be lifted
before the resumption of the Six-Party Talks amounts to putting the
cart before the horse. Over the last 18 years, North Korea has made
countless promises to scrap its nuclear weapons program, but
conducted two nuclear tests - one in 2006 and another in 2009. The
UN sanctions that followed them are punitive measures meted out not
only by South Korea and the U.S., but by the international community
including China. The quickest way for the North to get rid of
sanctions is to return to the Six-Party Talks and to implement its
denuclearization commitments.

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


STEPHENS

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