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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for South Korea
Results Page: South Korea Headlines
Thursday, February 12th, 2004
: RCN Administrator
11 AM RALLY FOR NORTH KOREA FREEDOM, U.S. CAPITOL -- WEST FRONT, WASHINGTON, D.C.
The North Korea Freedom Coalition, a bipartisan coalition of organizations and individuals supporting freedom and human rights for the North Korean people, is organizing North Korea Freedom Day which will include a major rally on Capitol Hill in conjunction with Members of the U.S. Congress in support of the North Korea Freedom Act.
The Coalition is working with many other NGOs to plan a whole host of events for people who come to Washington, D.C. to be a part of the rally including a special lunch at 12:30 pm, opportunity to lobby Congress for the North Korea Freedom Act 2-4 pm, Reception with North Korean defectors musical group 4-6 pm, a special prayer vigil for North Korea at a local church at 6:30 pm. Most events will be on Capitol Hill to make it easier for participants and many organizations are planning special activities to occur that same day to focus attention on the suffering of the North Korean people.
North Korean defectors are coming from Seoul and other cities to be a part of this day and to participate in several special events to focus attention on the enslavement of their homeland.
More details will follow as additional events and locations are confirmed. Registration for the rally and all events will open in late February.
In the meantime, please start making plans to come to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, April 28, 2004, to help bring freedom and human rights to our suffering brothers and sisters in North Korea.
North Korea Freedom Day Committee
Tuesday, November 18th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
It is interesting that the U.S. is once again being pressured to limit its
options against a dictatorial, violent and lawless regime. In this case we are
speaking not about the Saddam Hussein regime, but about a regime potentially
even more dangerous, the Pyongyang leadership in North Korea. Still, the
parallels are inescapable. The U.S. remains a democratic, pluralistic government
that fosters freedom both within and outside its borders. Like Iraq, North Korea
is led by a brutal dictatorship that has starved and terrorized its populace,
Like Iraq which invaded its neighbors and then threatened both Israel and the
gulf states as a way of protecting itself against the U.S., North Korea has in
the past invaded South Korea, and more recently has threatened both South Korea
and Japan to deter American action against it. Like Iraq, North Korea has for
years beefed itself militarily at the expense of its economy/populace, and has
been particularly interested in acquiring both Chemica
l and Nuclear Weapons. Unfortunately, North Korea has been considerably more
successful than Iraq at actually acquiring these weapons, and so its
anti-American, malignant bluster (which again bears striking similarity to
Iraq’s before the first gulf war) must be taken considerably more seriously than
However, taking North Korea seriously, should not by any means be mixed up with
capitulating to their threats, or yielding to their blackmail tactics. There is
an element of Military/Political pragmatism which necessitates listening to
well-armed dictators (especially those who are believed to have Nuclear
weapons), but that same pragmatism should certainly not result in a country like
the U.S. emasculating itself by prematurely limiting the options it has in
dealing with a rogue regime. Signing a nonaggression pact with a regime that has
consistently engaged in deception, disingenuity and outright dissimulation would
simply cripple the U.S. ability to respond innovatively to potentially critical
situations in the future. How so? Well the fact of the matter is that a powerful
element of International/Military politics is deterrence or fear. A country like
North Korea is deterred from a lot of potential aggression by the fear of the
unknown, the fear of what the U.S. might do if
it oversteps its boundaries militarily. If North Korea knew that the U.S. had
stripped itself of the ability to act proactively, militarily, then that would
give it a free hand to terrorize its citizens and neighbors even further. The
argument that Both North Korea and the U.S. would have signed a nonaggression
pact and would respect it, is belied by the fact that North Korea (like Iraq)
has never been known for living up to its agreements. Most recently, the 1994
accord signed by the Clinton Administration with North Korea, collapsed in 2002
when North Korea admitted that it had been violating that very agreement by
running a secret weapons program. So in essence, if the U.S. signs a
nonaggression pact with North Korea, it would cripple U.S. ability to act
decisively if the need arises, while North Korea, would presumably use the
period of the pact to realign itself militarily and constitute even more of a
threat, than it was at the time the pact was signed. There is a parall
el here. In the Middle East, there are those who believe that the countless
ceasefires that have been signed between Israel and one terrorist group or the
other, have been used by those groups to retool themselves militarily and come
back even stronger against the Israelis, at the point when they choose to
unilaterally revoke the pact on some excuse. So the question arises: if the U.S.
signs a nonaggression pact with North Korea, what is to stop the North Koreans
from using this period to consolidate itself militarily, considering that it has
in the past shown a marked willingness to secretly violate agreements? And at a
time of their choosing, what would stop the North Koreans from unilaterally
revoking the nonaggression pact? Certainly not a fear of losing economic aid,
because Kim Jong-il has been known to live like a King, with all the trappings
of riches, including rare food, rare limousines and beautiful women, while
thousands of North Koreans starve to death. Who would c
hallenge his decision(s)? North Korea is not like the U.S. where there is
constant scrutiny of the Executive by the Press, the Judiciary, the Legislature,
and groups like the ACLU and others. North Korea is a dictatorship run by Kim
Jong-il who is basically the alpha and omega of that country, and there is no
evidence, past or present that leads an objective mind to believe in his
commitment to International etiquette or agreements. Again, a man who has
allowed over a million North Koreans over the past 8 years to die from
starvation while he has stocked up the country’s military coffers and his luxury
coffers, is not a man who is going to be deterred by agreements.
Quite apart from the above, there is something that is distasteful about
capitulating to Nuclear bluster by signing a nonaggression pact and providing a
dictator with food and the necessaries of life. Kim Jong-il has spent billions
on his military where those billions could have helped his people significantly,
and like Saddam Hussein, there is no guarantee that monies, energy or economic
aid sent to him would not be converted into military/offensive agendas. The
signing of a nonaggression pact implies that both countries have been on the
brink of aggression against each other, but aside from President Bush’s ‘Axis of
evil’ speech early in 2002, there has been no clearly discernible aggression
towards the North Koreans from the U.S. The bulk of the bluster has clearly come
from the North Koreans, and rewarding their bluster and aggressive,
irresponsible conduct with a nonaggression treaty that provides them with
considerable economic assistance, would appear to be a situation o
f rewarding evil with good. That is a Christian principle, but it does not fare
well in the International sphere. The word for that principle in the
International sphere is ‘pacifying’, and Europe found out in the 1930’s, that it
does not work. Rather than correct the offending party, it emboldens that party
into thinking that further aggression will yield more benefit, and having
capitulated that first time, it will be more difficult for the non-aggressor in
the future to maintain a principled stand. There are ways to subtly reward the
North Koreans for increased responsible behavior but a nonaggression pact seems
a bit disproportionate in the circumstances.
Finally, from a coldly analytical point of view, the U.S. has little to gain
from a nonaggression pact. Apart from the presence of U.S. troops at the
Demilitarized zone in Korea, there is precious little that North Korea can do to
the U.S. that would necessitate the U.S. signing a nonaggression pact. The
people in direct danger from North Korea are South Korea and Japan, and it falls
to them to continue cooperating with the Chinese to ensure a palatable end to
the crisis, rather than expecting the U.S. to further emasculate itself in the
war of Military and political options.
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003
: RCN Administrator
by Hong Seok-joon (firstname.lastname@example.org) -- The National Assembly today passed the bill to dispatch troops to Iraq, with 179 legislators voting in favor, 68 against and 9 abstentions. In an earlier vote, the amended dispatch bill, to send only a medical support group, was rejected with 44 in favor, 198 against and 14 abstentions. The bill clears the way for the Ministry of National Defense to send 600 military engineers and about 100 medics to Iraq in May. The ministry is planning to recruit dispatch troops by the end of this week and to conduct one month of training.
"Helping the United States and ensuring close Korea-United States ties is a much better than seeing the relationship deteriorate and trying to justifying it by a failure to deal with North Korea's nuclear issue," President Roh said in a speech earlier today to the National Assembly.
Ahead of the vote, Millennium Democratic Party members Kim Keun-Tae, Jong Bum-goo and Kim Seong-Ho, Grand National Party (GNP) members Suh Sang Suhp, and People's Party for Reform's Kim Won Wung opposed the dispatch, saying the war on Iraq in an invasion without any justification.
The GNP's Park Se-Hwan spoke in favor of the bill, saying, "dispatching the troops is the cost of maintaining Korea-United States relations."
Monday, February 24th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
South Korea's next president, Roh Moo Hyun, will take office Feb. 25 during a public inauguration ceremony. Roh brings with him an ambitious 12-point policy plan covering economic, political, social and security reforms designed to abandon the regionalism, corruption and nepotism that has dominated South Korean politics and business. The plan also is designed to raise the country to a new level as a high-tech economic hub in northeast Asia.
Yet Roh will be immediately faced with three intertwined challenges -- the North Korean nuclear standoff, strained ties with the United States and domestic economic uncertainty. His initial moves in dealing with these will have an impact far beyond his five-year term.
Roh's victory in the December 2002 elections came from his ability to position himself as the unconventional candidate -- someone young, idealistic and truly willing to listen to the common man. The wave of anti-Americanism that spread over South Korea in late 2002 gave Roh the added push he needed to inch past his competition, long-time presidential hopeful Lee Hoi Chang.
Roh's electioneering promises often were vague, idealistic and occasionally controversial. But fulfilling his intent to be a people's president, Roh established a transition committee that was open to public suggestions as it further clarified the incoming government's policy priorities. The two-month process was completed earlier this week, laying out 12 key goals for the nation, ranging from gender and regional equality to anti-corruption and chaebol reforms to a focus on ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula.
But Roh's options will be instantly constrained by three pressing issues currently facing South Korea. North Korea is actively building toward a security crisis with the United States that is intended to rival the 1994 nuclear crisis. At the same time, Washington has finally agreed -- or admitted -- that it needs to readdress the structure of U.S. forces in South Korea, and negotiations are set for April. In addition, the tension with North Korea, coupled with a global economic lull, is raising concerns of another dip in South Korea's economy.
Roh already has hinted at his plans for dealing with North Korea, even if these are likely to be at odds with Washington's intentions. His three-step program for ensuring inter-Korean peace includes regular bilateral talks aimed at reducing the current nuclear tensions, greater economic and cultural cooperation and a replacement of the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a formal peace treaty between Seoul and Pyongyang. While little of this matches the United States' carefully constructed silent treatment, the final stage is likely to raise more than a few eyes in Washington.
Roh hopes to sign a formal peace accord between North Korea and South Korea before the end of his five-year term, yet South Korea was not a signatory to the original 1953 Armistice Agreement. If Roh takes a more independent approach to North Korean relations than predecessor Kim Dae Jung, U.S.-South Korean ties are likely to be further strained, as Washington tries to maintain the upper hand in setting the agenda.
This leads into Roh's second major challenge: managing relations with the United States. On one hand, the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea have kept North Korea from repeating its 1950 attempt to reunify the peninsula by force. But those same forces also have been a source of social and economic friction, and the presence of the Yongsan base in the middle of Seoul gives many younger Koreans the impression that their country is still occupied. These tensions erupted last year, sparking anti-U.S. demonstrations that, on occasion, turned violent.
In April, Roh will have an opportunity to make a permanent impression on the U.S.-South Korean security relationship, as Seoul and Washington open new talks of the restructuring of the USFK. All signs point to a mutually acceptable solution -- a redefining of the USFK mission to be more mobile and ready to deploy throughout Asia, rather than remaining effectively trapped on the Peninsula. For Washington, this answers a global need to free some of the 37,000 troops in South Korea for operations elsewhere in Asia. And for Seoul, it marks a new step toward a long-desired independence.
Yet Roh will have to focus on building up South Korea's military capabilities to compensate for any changes in USFK structure. This will be costly, and might stir concerns from South Korea's neighbors -- not only North Korea but also Japan, which still views the idea of a reunified Korea with trepidation.
Equally pressing for Roh will be to stem the current slide of South Korea's economy. Analysts already are pointing out early warning signs that might presage a repeat of the 1997 economic crisis. Roh, like Kim, sees the key to economic recovery and future growth in a concerted effort to rein in and restructure South Korea's chaebols, the family run business conglomerates that have dominated the country's economy for half a century. But unlike Kim, Roh has positioned himself as much more pro-labor, and therefore much less likely to compromise with big businesses -- at least in the initial stages of his presidency.
Roh sees South Korea's future as a high-tech economic hub in northeast Asia, and his domestic development plans include port and transportation infrastructure projects, rail and road links through North Korea and more spending on science and technology in the south. All of this will require cooperation from the chaebols, who have been instrumental in South Korean economic drives in the past and have played a key role in inter-Korean reconciliation. Thus Roh will find himself forced to choose between his initial strong stance on chaebol reform and his need for support from these very same business leaders.
How Roh manages to balance these three priorities in his first few months in office will have a lasting affect on South Korea well beyond Roh's tenure. And the security crisis with North Korea and the unsteady relations with the United States are only the most immediate problems for Seoul. With the rising economic and political might of China on one side of the Koreas and the economically waning and remilitarizing Japan on the other, South Korea faces a major challenge for the future.
Monday, January 13th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
South Korea: Roh’s Independence Push Speaks to Military Necessities
South Korean President-elect Roh Moo Hyun has told the country’s military to be prepared in case U.S. forces withdraw from the Korean peninsula. Although Roh has assured Washington that he values the relationship between the two countries, his comments are part of an overall plan to project a more independent South Korean foreign policy. As he prepares to reform the military, some clues about Roh’s priorities may emerge.
South Korean President-elect Roh Moo Hyun has told military leaders to prepare contingency plans in case of a reduction or withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula. Roh, who takes office Feb. 25, said he has no new intelligence concerning a U.S. withdrawal, but found it imperative that an independent defense for South Korea be prepared.
Although Roh has reassured Washington that he values the close relationship between South Korea and the United States, he also has made it clear that he intends to press for a stronger, more independent South Korean foreign policy during his tenure. He therefore has made military reform one of his top 10 priority
issues. The direction these reforms take may be foreshadowed by Roh’s calls to prepare for the eventual reduction of U.S. forces in Korea.
Roh defeated his conservative opponent, long-time presidential hopeful Lee Hoi Chang, in last December’s presidential elections by riding a wave of popular anti-U.S. sentiment. Seen as a fresh young face in South Korean national politics, Roh is a former activist who petitioned for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Though
he has moderated his stance, the future president still harbors a strong drive to build up South Korea’s position in the international community and redefine its relationship with Washington as one of equal partners.
Roh is not the first to discuss a potential decrease in U.S. troop strength in Korea; the issue has been raised several times in the half-century since the end of the Korean War. In early 2000, South Korea’s Defense Ministry issued a report calling for a gradual buildup of troops and materiel in preparation for a withdrawal of Washington’s 37,000 troops.
And as recently as September 2002, a report by the Unification Ministry went so far as to publicly put a price of $30 billion on replacing the U.S. forces. Of that total, $14 billion -- the equivalent of the yearly South Korean defense budget -- would cover the replacement of U.S. equipment and logistics.
The reality of replacing the U.S. forces entails much more than simply building a bigger army or buying more tanks. Although South Korea’s 690,000-strong military could provide a credible defense against North Korea’s million-man army, Seoul lacks three key elements of defense that Washington currently provides: satellite and other intelligence imagery, long-range strike
capabilities and a strategic deterrent. If Roh truly intends to transition the South Korean military toward a more independent role, he will have little choice but to address these three matters.
Seoul’s fledgling space program may answer most of these issues. The current administration of President Kim Dae Jung accelerated this program, and the country has become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), granting it easier access to advanced rocket and aerospace technology from other MTCR members. In November, South Korea successfully launched its first indigenous liquid-fueled rocket, the KSR-III, and has set an ambitious timetable for its domestic satellite launch program, with initial apabilities coming online in 2005 and the first military satellite launch slated for 2006.
Like its neighbor Japan, South Korea also is likely to pour money and research into the development of reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), freeing the country from its near total reliance on U.S. satellite and reconnaissance information. This would give Seoul not only more information on events in North
Korea, but allow the government to monitor other areas of interest in the region and gain intelligence that Washington is less likely to share.
As for long-range strike capabilities, South Korea’s space program and its ongoing ballistic-missile development program once again will lay the basis for future development. Even before Seoul’s accession to the MTCR, the government was testing missiles with longer ranges. However, none yet match up to North
Korea’s medium-range No Dongs or the more experimental long-range Taepo Dongs.
In the medium term, South Korea has put forward several temporary solutions, including buying AGM-142 Popeye air-to-surface missiles for Seoul’s F-16 fleet and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Block 1A, which are designed to take out enemy air fields, missile installations and other high-value targets. Yet Seoul probably won’t give up its goal of building indigenous
missiles with the same or greater range as North Korea’s No Dongs, and money and research efforts probably will continue to flow into this area.
The final item South Korea lacks is a viable strategic deterrent. North Korea’s forward-deployed military and its ballistic missile arsenal -- with possible chemical, biological and even nuclear warheads -- keeps South Korea on the defensive and gives Pyongyang an upper hand in all negotiations. The U.S. nuclear umbrella and the presence of U.S. forces on the peninsula provide
a strong deterrent to this threat.
South Korea has invested in anti-missile systems, including ship-based AEGIS radar, but this still fails to adequately counter North Korea’s potential threat. A key factor for an independent military may be the possession of nuclear weapons, something North Korea already has and South Korea lacks. Seoul had a nuclear development program under way in the 1970s, but stopped all work due to intense pressure from Washington. Should Seoul wish to feel both strong and independent, a missile-defense system could be seen as incomplete without the ability to launch a returning nuclear strike.
Roh and his aides already have hinted at some aspects of his military reform program -- a focus on high technology and streamlined manpower. And with his ongoing effort to raise South Korea’s international position, particularly in regard to the United States, Roh must be able to slowly erode his government’s reliance on Washington or remain constrained by the military
realities on the Korean peninsula. Should Roh, or any subsequent Korean president, address South Korea’s independence and strength, he will have little choice but to tackle its lack of satellite reconnaissance, deep-strike capabilities and strategic deterrence.
Monday, January 13th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Dipo Ola was born in Nigeria, but grew up preoccupied with American culture and politics. His family emigrated to Canada in 1993 and is now a Canadian Citizen and a law student. He devotes most of his spare time to studying the politics of the United States and writes political commentaries for publication on various websites, including RCNetwork and Ninamay.com
“It’s difficult to deal with North Korea.’ Poignant words from a man who has a vantage point that few can boast of. Bill Richardson, after all is one of the few people in the world, who the North Koreans want to talk to. Not only that, but they in fact sought him out, perhaps seeking a way out of the Political impasse they have boxed themselves into. I say perhaps, because it’s almost impossible to fully understand what they want in the long run. For now, though, they want Gov. Bill Richardson. And Mr. Richardson is playing his role well, acting as a conduit and not an advocate, for the North Korean position. Not only a conduit, though, Mr. Richardson has become something of a code-breaker, for the enigmatic ways of the isolationist regime, throwing light on some of the more curious aspects of the regime’s behavior.
According to Mr. Richardson, the North Korean bluster about war and weapons, and talk of a holy war, masks a desire to start a dialogue with the administration on a stronger footing than they think they initially were. Bluster, threats and rhetoric mask a regime that feels under siege, and is fearful for it’s survival, partly because of the new policy towards them, adopted by the Bush administration. To be fair, though, they are in no way meek, fearful lambs who are being wronged by the unfriendly bully from the west. Even while ostensibly developing a friendly relationship with the Clinton administration, they were apparently developing Plutonium at Yongbyon, under a secret Nuclear weapons program, in complete violation of an accord reached with the United States in 1994.
That said, the North Koreans are not being completely illogical to fear the Bush Administrations motives towards them. The ‘Axis of Evil’ speech early last year, threw them into a frenzy that further stoked their suspicions that the Bush administration planned to go the exact opposite of the Clinton administration, whatever that entailed. Considering that the Clinton administration appeared to be cuddly, and almost deferential towards them, they assumed the worst. The fact that they were mentioned in the same breath as Iran and Iraq, with the latter in the crosshairs of the present administration, threw them into a semi-panic mode, where they reasoned that the most belligerent behavior on their part would be required to keep the giant enemy at bay. To the North Koreans, scuttling the 1994 accord and the Nuclear non proliferation treaty (which banned them from developing Nuclear weapons), was not a belligerent act. It was a defensive act. The U.S. was trying to emasculate them by gradually stripping them of the one thing that they felt could level the playing field-Nuclear weapons. The Nuclear inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency were merely tools of the U.S., in the latter’s plan to neutralize it in preparation for invasion. The North Koreans feel that only by acting the way they have done, can they keep a U.S. invasion at bay, and also improve their bargaining position. To illustrate this, North Korea has said that it would be more flexible in responding to Washington, if the latter would sign a non-aggression treaty, pledge not to interfere in the Korean economy and guarantee the sovereignty of the North Korean state.
Still, though, the new Washington has not quite caved in to their bluster, and so they are now reaching reaching out to a man they know, and a symbol of the past Administration that they understood a bit better. Mr. Richardson deserves a lot of credit for the way he has handled himself, toeing the official line, and stressing that he is an unofficial negotiator, and agrees with the Bush government’s policy towards North Korea. He has stayed in regular contact with Secretary Powell, and tried to stay in line with the Administration’s policy of keeping doors of communication open, but not rewarding the North Koreans for their bluster and belligerence. The Bush Administration also deserves credit for recognizing the value that Mr. Richardson brings to the table. With the abundance of critics who blame President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ speech for triggering this crisis it takes a certain amount of maturity to work with a man who is a direct link from the past Administration credited with having handled North Korea more effectively. The Bush Administration probably feels that the Clinton Administration postponed and worsened the North Korean problem, rather than solving it, and that makes it all the more commendable that they would recognize the importance of providing the North Koreans with someone they feel comfortable with. In 1994 Mr. Richardson as the Ambassador to the United Nations, went to North Korea to negotiate the release an American fighter pilot whose plane had been shot down over North Korea. So although North Korea has no diplomatic relations with the U.S., they have a sort of de-facto relationship with Mr. Richardson who is a symbol, to them, of the past Administration, which they were somewhat more comfortable with.
From the administration perspective again, though, it is possible that the Administration is simply going along with Richardson, because he is a kind of useful mercenary to them. How? Well, if he succeeds, it will benefit them, but if he fails, they can point out that that they always made it clear that he was not acting officially. This might possibly explain why the Administration has for weeks rebuffed attempts by the North Koreans meeting with Bill Richardson, to meet directly with them. It would also lend credence to the view that the Bush Administration is deeply divided on the North Korea issue, with a faction led by Vice President Cheney, advocating tougher, more sanction-oriented policies towards North Korea, while people like Colin Powell, support a more interactive attitude with them.
One of the more curious things about the North Korean tactics is the combination of belligerence and brotherhood that it applies to the south. It now has thousands of weapons and artillery aimed at South Korea, while at the same time, it urges that country to join it in its attempt to expel the 37,000 U.S. troops protecting South Korea from North Korea itself! It is a curious interplay of motives, but although the South Korean government appears to understand the venal game the North is playing, the intense anti-U.S. feelings in particular among South Korean youths is fertile ground for such messages, and puts the South Korean government in a rather invidious position.
One encouraging development in all this is the fact that Japan, Russia and China, have apparently began to play a proactive role in the whole crisis, trying to defuse things. Hopefully Mr. Richardson will not remain the lone
comforter for long.
Sunday, December 29th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
At a time of escalating tensions with North Korea, perhaps it is now time for China to re-assert itself as a responsible, POTENTIAL ally of the U.S. Now is the time for the Chinese government to show some backbone and some reliability, at a time when the U.S. and actually, the world, needs some help. North Korea has grown into an extremely belligerent, and potentially lethal problem that MUST be addressed before it spirals out of control, and it behooves all responsible parties to address the problem, as opposed to playing politics with it. The ‘Axis of Evil’ speech by President Bush may or may not have limited American influence on North Korea, but it certainly has not limited Chinese influence. Although Chinese-North Korean relations have chilled somewhat over the years, China is still in the best position to exert influence over Kim Jong-Il’s regime. China saved it from certain defeat from the U.S., in 1950 (during the Korean war), by placing it under the United Nations Umbr ella, and playing a huge role in helping them ease out of their self-induced war. China has also been the closest country to North Korea over the years following that war. Russia, although it’s influence has thinned somewhat, is still in a position to exert influence over North Korea, and bring them back from the brink. After all, in July 2000, President Putin visited North Korea, and in 2001, a massive deal between North Korea and Russia was concluded, in which the former undertook to provide North Korea with a wide range of modern weaponry.
The critical issue with Kim Jong-Il is that he should not be isolated and left to his own devices, because he only grows more belligerent, defiant, and potentially irrational. A country that spends over 30% (3.7 - 4.9 billion dollars) of its Gross Domestic Product on a military that possesses chemical weapons and serious nuclear potential, simply CANNOT be ignored. Even more important than NOT ignoring or pacifying Kim Jong-Il, he must not be threatened, or that will only increase the feeling he appears to have, that the U.S. NOT capitulating to his Nuclear Blackmail means that the U.S. is planning to attack him. The U.S. can be firm without being threatening, Resolute without being belligerent. Make it 100% clear that his Nuclear strip-tease will yield him NOTHING but further isolation, increased international opprobrium, and a decreased ability to feed his people (if he cares about that). He must be made to understand that he has a lot more to gain from ending his aggressive behavior, and everything to lose from continuing it. Over a fifth of the North Korean population of 24 million, is confronted by starvation. Since 1995, over a million people have died from starvation, and the chances are that the International aid that has kept things from being even worse than that, will dry up, if the country is further isolated. It is the duty of countries like Russia and China (who have normal relationships with North Korea) to make these basic points forcefully to him.
With the U.S. standing firm and declining to cave into his nuclear blackmail, it is the place of U.S. surrogate-allies (in this situation) to take up the communication baton. Time for China to pay back the U.S. for the latter’s restraint and calm over the years, through Chinese shenanigans like the April 2001 collision with a U.S. aircraft, and Chinese actions afterwards. Time to pay for the almost yearly $100 billion dollars of U.S. imports from China. Time to pay for the continual U.S. renewal of the Most Favored Nation status for China. Time to pay for the U.S. tacit support for Chinese Entrance into the World Trade Organization. Time for Russia to pay for the Billions of Dollars of U.S. assistance, since Glasnost and Perestroika, and other U.S. economic assistance in restructuring its economy. Time to pay for the U.S. acquiescence to Russian actions in Chechnya, and the recent bloody hijack-rescue.
Only when these two countries step in firmly, take risks, and commit to reining in Kim Jong-Il, will there be a real hope of resolving this crisis. Only when debtors pay their debts, can the system survive.
Thursday, August 22nd, 2002
: RCN Administrator
WASHINGTON (August 23, 2002 9:45 a.m. EDT) - The crash site of a U.S. Army helicopter that disappeared during a night training flight Thursday was found Friday with no sign that either of its two pilots survived, a senior defense official said.
Details of the discovery were not immediately available.
U.S. and South Korean authorities had combed a mountainous area for the AH-64A Apache helicopter, which was declared missing after leaving Camp Page, a U.S. base at Chuncheon, 50 miles east of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Rain and heavy fog had hindered the search, South Korean police said.
Army officials had said they would not release the names of the two pilots until their fate had been determined.
The helicopter had been headed to Camp Humphreys at Pyongtaek, south of the capital, when it disappeared.
AH-64A Apaches are two-seat helicopters made by Boeing. They are the Army’s main attack helicopter. They were used in the 1989 invasion of Panama, the 1991 Gulf War and peacekeeping in Bosnia. They carry Hellfire missiles, 70mm rockets, Stinger air-to-air missiles and a 30mm machine gun.
Monday, August 19th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
South Korea invested $320 million in China in the first half of 2002, twice the $160 million it invested in the United States, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). This also marks a 10.3 percent year-on-year rise for Korean investments into China, and it places Korea on track to invest $700 million in China this year. Korean investments in China stood at $510 million in 2001, compared to $580 million in the United States.
Several factors are contributing to this rise in investment flows away from the United States and toward China. The U.S. economy has been slack, while China’s November 2001 membership in the World Trade Organization has sparked a massive surge in incoming foreign investments. China’s proximity, coupled with its cheap labor and massive market also have attracted South Korean companies, which steadily raised investments in China from 1992 until 1997, when the Asian economic crisis short-circuited most economic activities.
But while South Korean firms have been eager to expand their presence in China following Beijing’s WTO entry, Chinese products are growing more competitive with their Korean counterparts. In order to contend with China’s emerging economic might, South Korea is seeking to climb on the China bandwagon, but in doing so, it risks harming domestic industry in the long run.
After a brief dip following the Asian economic crisis, South Korean investment in China revived in 2000. China now represents the top destination for South Korean foreign investments. In 2001 Korea became the No. 1 investor in China in terms of the number of projects, though in dollar terms it stood at fifth behind Hong Kong, the United States, Japan and Taiwan. According to KOTRA, Korean firms have invested primarily in the manufacturing sectors in the Shandong region and Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces, where there are large concentrations of ethnic Koreans.
While Korean investments in China are expanding in terms of sectors and regions, so is South Korea’s dependence on China as a market. China emerged in 2001as the second-largest importer of Korean goods, taking in 12 percent of South Korea’s aggregate exports while the United States imported 20.8 percent and Japan 10.9 percent. The percentage of South Korea’s exports going to China grew again in the first half of 2002, with China taking in 13.5 percent of exports.
Despite the overall rise in South Korean exports to China, Seoul is steadily losing market share there. As Chinese industry develops, domestic firms are producing more products that compete directly against South Korea’s key exports to China, in particular electronics and appliances. According to the Korea Herald, Chinese electronics production is valued at $71.3 billion, higher than South Korea’s $67.3 billion. And Chinese firms are moving into more value-added products, further threatening South Korean industry.
The boom in Chinese electronics poses a challenge beyond China’s borders as well, as Chinese goods are competing more effectively around Asia. Tokyo, for example, already is raising concerns that Chinese auto manufacturing will chip away steadily at Japan’s dominance over the next decade. Chinese electronics and appliance exports already are eroding South Korea’s market share in several key Southeast Asian markets, and Beijing continues to eat away at South Korea’s share of exports to Japan, according to KOTRA.
Yet as with most other Asian nations, South Korea is at a loss as to how best to deal with China’s apparently unstoppable evolution into a regional economic power. On the one hand, South Korea doesn’t want to miss out on the marketing opportunities inside China’s liberalizing economy. Seoul realizes that to remain competitive with China, it must lower costs, and one of the best ways to do that right now is to move manufacturing operations to China. But the more money and technology South Korea pumps into China, the more competitive China will become against South Korea’s own industries.
Unless South Korea can reshape its investments in China -- focusing on the service or other sectors -- and continue to evolve its own domestic economy, it risks long-term damage to domestic industries as they continue to pack up and move to China in order to remain regionally and globally competitive.
Sunday, August 11th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
"You may think optimistically," Kim Ryong Song, the chief North Korean negotiator, said with a smile after the first day’s meeting ended in 70 minutes at a Seoul hotel. "There are prospects that the fruit can grow bigger and bigger."
Kim, a Cabinet councilor, declined to elaborate, but even before the talks started, he gave an upbeat forecast, saying that "I am a man who usually brings many presents and leaves them behind when I leave."
The South Korean side said it emphasized during the talks the need to implement agreements made before the reconciliation process stalled rather than trying to make new promises. A flurry of agreements were reached when reconciliation was first launched after a historic North-South summit in 2000, but they ground to a halt amid U.S.-North Korean tension last year.
South Korean officials were also optimistic after the start of the talks, which continue this week.
"We had no problems at all," said Lee Bong-jo, a spokesman for the South Korean team, adding that his government "expects the talks will progress well."
South Korea, Lee said, proposed that work resume promptly to complete the construction of a cross-border rail line within the year and help stage a reunion for separated family members around Korean Full Moon Day, or Chusuk which falls on Sept. 21.
The Cabinet-level talks, the first in nine months, came as the North’s communist government also appeared to be moving toward a resumption of dialogue with the South’s chief ally, the United States.
Jeong Se-hyun, the chief South Korean delegate, said the four major powers with keen interest in the Korean peninsula -- the United States, Japan, China and Russia -- as well as the European Union will closely watch the talks to decide how to formulate their policy toward North Korea.
"In this sense, we should make specific promises at these talks, rather than attempting to make new promises," he said before the talks.
North Korea’s Kim concurred, saying: "Yes, I agree. Producing an agreement is important, but more important is implementing it."
The two officials expressed hope that the Seoul talks would build upon a historic inter-Korean summit accord reached on June 15, 2000. That agreement opened the way for a host of contacts and exchanges between two nations that have yet to overcome the bitter legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The talks this week marked the resumption of dialogue after a long period of heightened tension that reached a peak when North and South Korean naval boats clashed off their peninsula’s western coast on June 29.
North Korea last month expressed regret for the deadly clash, setting the stage for the talks this week.
Relations had also deteriorated in January after President Bush branded North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, as part of "an axis of evil" trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.
A 100-member North Korean civic group was scheduled to visit Seoul for joint celebrations of the peninsula’s independence from Japanese colonial rule on Aug. 15, 1945.
Sports officials of the two sides will also meet at the Diamond Mountain resort on North Korea’s east coast this weekend to discuss the North’s recent decision to take part in the 14th Asian Games in South Korea on Sept. 29-Oct. 14.
The sudden flurry of inter-Korean contacts comes as North Korea seeks to improve ties with the United States and Japan. During a recent Asian regional security forum, North Korea agreed to start talks with Japan and accept a visit by a special U.S. envoy.