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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; February 8, 2010

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SEOUL 000182

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; FEBRUARY 8, 2010

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

Chosun Ilbo
ROKG to Ask for Return
of Joseon Dynasty Royal Documents from Japan

JoongAng Ilbo
Courts Go Light on Violent Protestors; Few Ssangyong Workers Who
Occupied Factory are Given Stiff Jail Sentences

Dong-a Ilbo
The Korean War Remembered;
A U.S. Korean War Veteran: "Koreans were Warm and Friendly... I
Wanted to Give Them Freedom"

Hankook Ilbo
Alarm Spreads over Europe's Massive Deficits

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Various ROKG Regulations Putting Domestic Software Firms at a
Disadvantage in Competition with Foreign Counterparts

Segye Ilbo
Number of Administrative Lawsuits against Large State Projects has
Increased Fourfold under Current Administration

Seoul Shinmun
Senior Chinese Envoy Wang Jiarui Likely to Meet N. Korean Leader Kim
Jong-il Today


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

The two Koreas will hold talks today in the North Korean border city
of Kaesong to discuss resuming cross-border tours to the North's Mt.
Kumgang. This is the first official meeting of its kind in 21
months. Tours to the scenic mountain were halted after an ROK
tourist was shot dead in August 2008. (All)

According to a key ROKG source, President Lee Myung-bak
"communicates" with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il via an
intermediary, and if a message is sent in the morning, it reaches
the other side in the afternoon the same day. (Chosun)


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

Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's International
Department, met in Pyongyang yesterday with his North Korean
counterpart Kim Yong-il and is expected to meet with North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il today to deliver a message from Chinese President
Hu Jintao. (All)

UN Special Envoy to North Korea Lynn Pascoe will visit Pyongyang
from Feb. 9-12 to discuss "all issues of mutual interest and concern
in a comprehensive manner." (All)

Robert Park, an American missionary who crossed into North Korea on
Christmas Day while calling for improvements in the North's human
rights situation, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from
China on Feb. 7 and was greeted by his family; he had been held 43
days in North Korea. (All)


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

-N. Korea
--------
All ROK media covered the ongoing visit to North Korea by Wang

SEOUL 00000182 002 OF 005


Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's International
Department, reporting that he met with his North Korean counterpart
Kim Yong-il yesterday and is expected to meet with North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il today to deliver a message from Chinese President
Hu Jintao.

Most newspapers noted a flurry of diplomatic activities this week
surrounding North Korea including the Feb. 9-12 visit to Pyongyang
by a special envoy of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and today's
inter-Korean talks on the resumption of cross-border tours to Mt.
Kumgang. They also noted the Feb. 6 release of Korean-American
human rights activist Robert Park, interpreting Park's release as a
message of reconciliation to the U.S.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo observed that North Korea may be conducting
a "diplomatic charm offensive" and that this may be a testimony to
the country's dire economic situation. As support for this
speculation, Chosun quoted an ROKG source as saying: "North Korea's
spring food shortage has something to do with its diplomatic
offensive. It's hard to tell when North Korea will return to the
Six-Party Talks, but it seems more and more likely that it will
return."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo wrote in the headline on Saturday
(Feb. 6): "N. Korea May Intend to Use Robert Park's Release as a
Lever to Improve Relations with U.S." Moderate Hankook Ilbo's
headline, meanwhile, read: "Speculation Growing that N. Korea's
Decision to Return to Six-Party Talks May be Imminent"

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "The willingness of
countries involved in the Six-Party Talks to resolve the North
Korean nuclear issue through negotiations is stronger than ever.
This is a good opportunity for North Korea to ease its security
concerns and reestablish its relations with the international
community. The North is undergoing an unprecedented economic crisis
following international sanctions and its botched currency reform.
In this situation, if tensions about its nuclear program continue to
escalate, not only North Korean citizens but also the Pyongyang
regime itself will face greater difficulties. The quicker the North
returns to the Six-Party Talks, the better."


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

A STRONGER ALLIANCE
(JoongAng Ilbo, February 6, Page 30)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made some provocative remarks
at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last
Wednesday. He said that as the U.S. military is deeply involved in
Iraq and Afghanistan, it will not be able to come to the ROK in a
timely manner, and that the Navy and Air Force will fill the vacuum
left by a delay in committing ground forces in Korea in case of an
emergency.

Under "Operations Plan 5027," a scenario for a war of aggression
against North Korea, Washington is committed to dispatching some
690,000 ground troops to the peninsula within two months after a war
breaks out. However, the Secretary of Defense publicly announced
that ground troops will not be deployed as scheduled. He insisted
that, for the time being, the U.S. will be unable to properly handle
any emergency situation in the early stages, even if a war breaks
out on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, some of his comments may be
considered provocative, given the fact that they may be misleading
to North Korea.

The reason why Gates's remarks received special attention is mainly
due to the chaotic situation in the North. Amid an atmosphere in
which people (in North Korea) have become even more dissatisfied and
agitated with the currency reform there, signs of conflict between
the army and the Communist Party have also appeared. Some experts
say that there may be difficulties with the command and control
systems in the seat of power due to Kim Jong-il's poor health and

SEOUL 00000182 003 OF 005


the succession issue.

Against this backdrop, it seems that the U.S. Army has told the
North that they should take advantage of this golden opportunity to
invade the ROK while the U.S. is tied up in the Middle East.

However, the ROKG insists that this is not a serious problem. The
spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense is busy trying to
convince people of this, saying that Secretary Gates insisted that
the U.S. Army has the capacity to respond to emergency situations
with support from the U.S. Navy and Air Force, although the
commitment of ground forces to Korea would be delayed.

But should we really be so relaxed?

North Korea has 70 percent of its entire force stationed near the
border with the ROK, and has 8,000 long-range artillery systems
along the military demarcation line, presumably for a surprise
attack against the ROK. If the U.S. Army is delayed in its response
to such a situation, can our army respond effectively to any assault
by North Korea?

The ROK is slated to assume wartime operational control of its
military forces in April 2012. However, there is not as yet a
detailed operational plan for the Korean-led force. The process of
developing "Concept Plan 5029" into an operational plan to prepare
for any kind of emergency in North Korea is currently underway. In
that case, U.S. armed forces could be withdrawn from the Korean
Peninsula at any time. In addition, reform of the ROK military
continues at a snail's pace due to budgetary constraints, and a
vacuum is growing within our nation's defense capabilities.

We should prepare ourselves for the worst-case scenario, keeping in
mind that our greatest enemy is "hopeful expectation."

The government should help the nation prepare for all emergency
situations. Needless to say, it is of great importance to propel
the Korea-U.S. alliance to a new level. If we had no problems with
the alliance with the U.S., these words would not have come out of
the lips of Defense Secretary Gates.

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


N. KOREA SHOULD NOT HESITATE TO REJOIN SIX-PARTY TALKS
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, February 8, Page 31)

Recently, we have been seeing more and more news about North Korea.
There have been two main currents in the news. One has had to do
with the difficulties within North Korea, and the other with efforts
to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks in order to reach a
resolution on the nuclear issue. Aspects of both of these issues
could change depending on the attitude shown by the North Korean
government. This is a time when (North Korea) especially needs the
resolve to return to Six-Party Talks.

It appears that things are headed in the direction of resuming the
Six-Party Talks. To begin with, Wang Jiarui, director of the
International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of China, is currently visiting North Korea. Following upon
the heels of another visit two months ago by U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth, this is part
of an effort to clear the way for resuming the talks. The
first-ever visit by a special envoy for the United Nations,
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday. In
addition, North Korea made the decision a few days ago to free
Robert Park, a Korean-American human rights activist who was caught
entering the country illegally across the Tumen River on Dec. 25.
Inter-Korean working-level talks are also set to begin in Kaesong
today to discuss the resumption of tourism projects at Mt. Kumgang
and Kaesong. Additionally, recently noted efforts aimed at an
inter-Korean summit are raising the likelihood of changes in
inter-Korean relations.

SEOUL 00000182 004 OF 005

It is too early for optimism, however. North Korea has continued to
state that it will only return to the Six-Party Talks if the
sanctions against it are lifted and headway is made in discussions
on a peace agreement. It also wants to receive a substantial amount
of international aid necessary to relieve its current economic
difficulties. These demands are a long way from the positions of
other participant nations, which feel that the talks must resume
prior to agreeing to these conditions.

Of course, the potential exists for both sides to find some common
ground. One way would be to officially agree to resume talks after
agreeing upon on a broad schedule for discussions on
denuclearization and a peace agreement. Even if the decision to end
sanctions against North Korea, which requires UN-level discussions,
is put off until after the talks resume, humanitarian aid could at
least be provided prior to resuming talks. The precondition for aid
would be securing North Korea's intent to denuclearize. The
international community will only undertake concrete action once it
can in some way confirm North Korea's intentions.

The willingness of countries involved in the Six-Party Talks to
resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through negotiations is
stronger than ever. This is a good opportunity for North Korea to
ease its security concerns and reestablish its relations with the
international community. The North is undergoing an unprecedented
economic crisis following international sanctions and its botched
currency reform. In this situation, if tensions about its nuclear
program continue to escalate, not only North Korean citizens but
also the Pyongyang regime itself will face greater difficulties.
The quicker the North returns to the Six-Party Talks, the better.

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


FEATURES
--------

MORE KOREANS CHOOSE INVESTMENT OPTION FOR U.S. GREEN CARDS
(Chosun Ilbo, February 8, Page 2)

By Reporters Kim Sang-min and Kwon Seung-jun

At an information session for U.S. immigration through investment
held at a hotel in Gangnam, Seoul on February 7, an employee from an
immigration consulting agency in the ROK said, "You can get a green
card within a year by investing just US$500,000 (590 million won).
About twenty attendants aged 30 to 50 listened carefully.

An information session for EB-5 investment which, two or three years
ago, took place once a month, is now being held each week. An
increasing number of Koreans are immigrating to the U.S. through an
investment program since the U.S. has loosened immigration
restrictions in order to boost its economy which was hit hard by the
global economic crisis.

In 1990 the U.S. government began granting permanent residency, or
green cards, to immigrants who invest over US$1 million in the
country, and in 1993 it introduced an immigrant investment program
dubbed "Regional Center EB-5 Program" which offers green cards to
those who invest at least US$500,000. The number of agencies which
file applications for the immigration program on behalf of clients
tripled to around 60 to 70 last year from 23 worldwide in 2008.
This increase in agencies led to an increase in the number of
information sessions for U.S. immigration through investment.

Ms. Seong, whose husband works for a big company, said, "I'm
thinking of immigrating to the U.S. through investment because my
son, a high-school student, has not adapted to school life."
Immigration through investment is a popular option especially among
parents seeking to have their children educated in the U.S., as the
parents and all children aged 21 or under are able to receive green
cards. Various benefits come with permanent residency, such as

SEOUL 00000182 005 OF 005


lower tuition fees for U.S. residents. Between 2006 and 2008, 1,454
Koreans obtained green cards via the program, the highest number
among 67 countries that participated.

China topped the list last year with 1,979, but the ROK was in
second place with 903, which was a 30 percent increase from 693 in
2008. Over US$1 billion was invested in the U.S. through the
program in 2008, with Koreans estimated to have contributed at least
$400 million or 40 percent of the total.

"I decided to apply for the immigration program with the children's
education in mind, although we still live in the ROK," said a mother
who obtained a green card last July. "I tell other people that
immigration through investment is the easiest and quickest way to
get a green card."

According to immigration agencies, two thirds of Koreans who have
applied for the program do not live in the U.S. but rather travel
between there and the ROK for business.

(This is a translation prepared by the newspaper. We have compared
the English version on the website with the Korean version and added
some sentences to make them identical.)


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