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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Greater Tumen Area Economic Project on the Move

It seems China and North Korea has moved forward on one of their economic venture. Japan's Kyodo World Service reported today China has completed the repair of the bridge in Hunchun at the Sino-North Korean border over the Tuman River, giving China a safer access to North Korea to reach Rajin Port. The report also says the Chinese government has approved a plan to transport coal and other items produced in Jilin, China, to Shanghai via Rajin, North Korea, in April this year.

Despite the Cheonan incident and continued North Korean temper tantrums, it appears the Sino-North Korean Tumen area project continues to roll.

Here's the entire Kyodo World Service report:

Yanji, China - China has repaired a bridge in Hunchun at the Chinese and North Korean border, giving it a safer access to North Korea for use of Rajin port to ship coal to Shanghai, according to Jilin Province officials.

China paid 3.6 million yuan ($528,526) to repair the bridge over the TUmen River, a project jointly pursued with North Korea, the officials said Tuesday.

Work was completed June 14.

The bridge serves as a gateway to Pier No. 1 at Rajin port, which a Chinese company has obtained the right to use for 10 years.

In April, the Chinese government approved a plan to transport coal and other items produced in Jilin to Shanghai via Rajin in northeastern North Korea.

China and North Korea have been in talks about financing of a plan to build a 50-kilometer road leading to the port, the officials said.

Rodong Sinmun's Comments about Secretary Hillary Clinton

Rodong Sinmun, in a signed commentary published on 22 June, said, “Not many words worth paying attention to come out of the mouths of meddlesome and garrulous women. Women of this type often insist that black is white. US Secretary of State Hillary [Clinton] can be said to be precisely this type of woman.” It also said Secretary Clinton’s remarks made during her recent junket through the Central and South American countries, where she stated North Korea is a threat to global peace, are “brigandish sophism” reminiscent of a thief crying “Stop the thief!”

While it is common practice for the Rodong Sinmun to mention foreign leaders and their administrations by name and criticize them for their policy practices or positions, it is uncommon for it to directly insult a foreign/international official.

Following are examples of common Rodong Sinmun criticisms:

  • On 02 June 2009, Rodong Sinmun criticized the US President Obama for practicing “double standard” in his nuclear policy. In its criticism, Rodong Sinmun cited an article entitled “Speaking of the Matter of Israel’s Nuclear Weapons” to reinforce its position that President Obama and the US government practices “double standard” when it comes to global nuclear weapons reduction.

  • On 28 July 2006, Rodong Sinmun charged that the US President George W. Bush and his administration is the true “culprits” responsible for bringing about the “danger of nuclear war” and heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Personal insults on foreign/international officials, while more uncommon, is not unprecedented:

  • On 14 June 2010, Rodong Sinmun denounced IAEA Director General Amano Yukiya for his remarks at the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors held on 07 June where he stressed North Korea should fulfill all of its obligations related to the nuclear non-proliferation and comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Rodong Sinmun remarked Amano Yukiya is an ignorant man who is a Japanese with strong pro-US tendency who initially failed to be elected as the director general of the agency due to the opposition of the developing countries, but later barely managed to have himself elected through money diplomacy.

  • On 19 June 2009, Rodong Sinmun decried the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is “a wicked sycophant and traitor and confrontation-minded maniac, to realize his ambition to invade the north in league with foreign forces” in response to President Lee’s statement made during his visit to a South Korean Air Force base where he said “cooperation” with the United States would help “deter” a war.

  • On 13 May 2009, Rodong Sinmun remarked the South Korean Foreign Minister Ryu Myong Hwan is a “a sycophant and traitor bereft of even an iota of the consciousness of being a member of the Korean nation and its soul” in response to Foreign Minister Ryu’s support for the UNSC’s decision to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

While the 22 June commentary was the first Rodong Sinmun’s personal insult on Secretary Clinton, this was not the first time North Korea has mocked her.

  • On 23 July 2009, the spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs blasted the “anti-North Korean vituperation” made by the US Secretary Clinton and said that Secretary Clinton has made a spate of “vulgar” remarks unbecoming of her position everywhere she went since she was sworn in.

  • In the same statement, the spokesman also stated, “We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community. Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping. Anyone making misstatements has to pay for them. It is our view that she can make even a little contribution to the implementation of the U.S. administration's foreign policy as secretary of State only when she has understanding of the world, to begin with.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kim Jong-il makes Robust Outings amid Tension with South Korea

In one of his most energetic public outings this year, Kim Jong-il inspected a training base for military officers and a string of industrial facilities, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday, June 20 (KCNA report title: "Kim Jong Il Provides Field Guidance to Work in Various Fields of North Phyongan Province").

Kim "inspected the training center for commanding officers of KPA Unit 593" while visiting a mine, an electronics factory, a co-operative farm and a machine complex in northwestern North Korea, KCNA said in reports datelined Saturday, 19 June.

The trips come as South Korea is implementing a raft of measures to punish North Korea both economically and politically after it blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan in March.

Denying its role, North Korea has threatened war if it is punished for the sinking that killed 46 sailors.

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted a sweeping reshuffle in a rare extra parliamentary session, a step that analysts said appears to have set the stage for a hereditary power succession.

Since apparently suffering a stroke 2008, 68-year-old Kim has stepped up his public activities. The number of his outings in 2009 came in at 200, which tied his highest number of public appearances in a year that was set in 2001.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

South Korean Residents getting Spooked by North's Threats

The South Korean military apparently reported two small scares on June 17, demonstrating that the South Korean residents and miitary are getting a bit jumpy at the recent threats of war made by North Korea.

The South Korean military reportedly received information from a resident living in Ansan (a city located Southwest of Seoul), South Chungcheong Province, that 40 to 50 unidentified objects resembling parachutes descended on a mountain during the night of June 16. The resident apparently tol the military authorities that he also sensed human movements in the area where the objects fell. The South Korean military and police mobilized a special task force in the early morning of June 17 in response to this report.

The military did not find anything suspicious, but a report was apparently sent up the chain of command, all the way to the Defense Minister, just in case North Korea was really trying to infiltrate into the South, who ordered a military task force be formed to investigate the reporting.

The investigation revealed the "flying objects" were balloons from a nearby kindergarten.

Click here for more from the JoongAng Ilbo on this topic.

North Korea's rhetoric and threats are ordinarily intended to bring about anxiety and restlessness to the South Korean residents and authorities. Although it does not seem to be a trend, yet, it certainly seems the Norks are having some success in meeting its IO (information operations) goals against the South.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A South Korean Computer Security Firm expects Another Round of DDoS Attacks Today

(From Financial News in Korean; By Hong Suk-Hui; Translation by 'Straight and Stalwart')
Possible China-Originated DDoS Attack on June 16 Detected(Click here for the original Korean reporting)

Following the two recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that originated from China, it has been detected that there will be another round of DDoS attack on the 16th.

ESTsoft, a computer security firm, stated on the 14th that it has detected some movements for a third DDoS attack to commence on the 16th. The upcoming DDoS attack is being planned by the same group of Chinese netizens that twice earlier attempted DDoS attacks on the South Korean government portal sites, some governmental agencies sites, and sites related to a boy band Super Junior, ESTsoft added.

ESTsoft does not expect the upcoming DDoS attack to have a large-scale damage; however, because the number of IP that was used in the recent DDoS attack is on the rise, it warrants caution.

What sets the upcoming DDoS, which is being called "the Holy War" among the Chinese netizens, apart from other typical DDoS is that this DDoS is being conducted manually - the organizers of the attack are actively recruiting for participants and distributing specific software designed to attack a designated website.

ESTsoft said, "The first and second attacks, which occurred on the 9th and the 11th, respectively, were not very effective, and the third attack will most likely be similar in form to previous attacks." "The number of IP used in the second attack was over double of that used during the first attack; therefore, it needs to be watched closely," it added.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

North Korea sends a Letter to the UNSC and wants a New Investigation into the Cheonan Incident

(From Yonhap News Agency in English, published June 9; By Sam Kim)
SEOUL - North Korea said Wednesday [9 June] it has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to urge a new probe into the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, warning of "serious" consequences if punishment against Pyongyang is discussed.

The North is accused of sinking the 1,200-ton South Korean corvette and killing 46 seamen on March 26 near the Yellow Sea border with South Korea. Seoul has formally requested the 15-member UNSC to discuss ways to hold Pyongyang to account, citing a multinational investigation that concluded the ship was torpedoed.

"In case the unilaterally forged 'investigation result' is put on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council ... it will be more than clear that the sovereignty and security of (North Korea) is infringed upon," a letter by Sin Son-ho, permanent North Korea representative at the U.N., was quoted as saying by the communist state's official Korean Central News Agency.

"By then, no one would dare imagine how serious its consequences would be with regard to the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula," the letter, addressed to UNSC President Claude Heller and sent on Tuesday [8 June], was quoted as saying.

North Korea has threatened war if it is punished or sanctioned for the sinking, demanding Seoul accept an inspecting group from Pyongyang and verify the results of its probe in front of it.

Earlier Wednesday, the South Korean foreign ministry said a multinational team of investigators will brief the UNSC members on the outcome of their probe that found North Korea responsible.

South Korea referred the sinking to the council last week for a rebuke of Pyongyang. South Korean investigators are scheduled to depart for New York late Wednesday, a ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

China and Russia, two of the veto-wielding UNSC members, have yet to acknowledge the results. Britain, France and the United States are also permanent members.

U.S. Cautious About U.N. Condemnation of North Korea

(From Yonhap News Agency in English, published in June 9 [Korea Time], June 8 [EDT]; By Hwang Doo-hyong)
WASHINGTON - The United States Tuesday [8 June] was cautious about how to punish North Korea for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship amid China's lukewarm position on further sanctions on its communist ally.

"Just to clarify, to be sure that you didn't mishear me, the South Korean government has sent a letter to the president of the Security Council," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "We do expect the matter to come up within the council in the next couple of weeks. We would expect to have, per the South Korean request, an appropriate response from the U.N. Security Council. But what that specific response is will be a part of the upcoming debate."

Crowley was clarifying the remarks he made the previous day that the U.S. expected "a strong statement" on North Korea from the Security Council, which in some circles was interpreted as a scolding from the council presidential statement, viewed as weaker than a resolution.

* Link to the US Department of State Daily Press Briefing for June 7 (EDT) where Mr. Crowley made his "a strong statement" comment.

* Link to the US Department of State Daily Press Briefing for June 8 (EDT) that this Yonhap reporting is based on.

North Korea is already under U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear and missile tests.

Departing for Beijing earlier in the day to seek Chinese support for condemnation of North Korea, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo said in Seoul that a resolution seeking additional sanctions "will not have practical benefits" as bilateral and multilateral sanctions have already been imposed on North Korea.

Chun, however, called for the Security Council to take "appropriate action" as the world body responsible for maintaining peace and stability in the world.

Chun's remarks appear to embrace the reality that China, a veto-wielding council member, has not yet officially blamed the North for the sinking of the warship Cheonan. China has only emphasized the need to "avoid conflict" and "maintain peace and stability" on the Korean Peninsula.

Many analysts believe it will take a considerable time before the council acts, whether it be non-binding presidential statement or a resolution with or without sanctions. It took about two weeks for the council to adopt resolutions against North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests.

An international team of investigators concluded last month that a North Korean mini-submarine torpedoed the Cheonan, but North Korea vehemently denies involvement and has threatened all-out war if sanctioned. The March 26 incident claimed 46 lives.

South Korea severed all ties with North Korea, except for the joint industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong, and is preparing for resuming propaganda broadcasting along the border after a six-year hiatus.

South Korea and the U.S. will also conduct a joint military exercise in waters near the scene of the sinking late this month in a show of force against North Korea with the participation of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

Russian Defense Minister says the Conclusion of the Cheonan Incident Premature; Russia will Announce its Conclusions in a Month

(From Itar-Tass in English, published on June 9)
MOSCOW-Russian specialists need another month to ascertain the cause of the destruction of a South Korean corvette in the Yellow Sea, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told "the Government Hour" session in a closed regime at the Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday.

"Our specialists have returned from South Korea with fragments of the sunken ship and the explosive device. We need about a month to examine them and draw conclusions," chairman of the FC committee for defense and security Viktor Ozerov quoted Serdyukov as saying.

"It is premature to draw conclusions until we have processed all the information," Serdyukov added.

The South Korean warship Cheonan split asunder and sank in the Yellow Sea near the demarcation line with North Korea on March 26. Forty-six sailors perished.

A South Korean commission probing the accident, in which western experts participated, announced in May that the ship had been destroyed by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine.

* Note: Remainder of the Itar-Tass reporting omitted because the article shifted focus onto another topic.

(From Interfax-AVN in English, published on June 9)
MOSCOW- Russian military experts' report on an inquiry into the sinking of the South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, will be drawn up within a month, Viktor Ozerov, the Federation Council's defense and security committee chief, said, quoting Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

"The issue of North Korea was raised and the minister said that Russian experts have returned from South Korea, bringing in parts of the wreckage of the sunken ship and of an explosive device. The minister also said that we need about four weeks to carry the analysis through and to draw conclusions," Ozerov told journalists.

"Making conclusions would be premature before the experts process all information brought from South Korea," Ozerov said.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sino-US Military Tensions on Full Display

(From South China Morning Post; by Greg Torode, Chief Asia correspondent in Singapore)

Sino-US military tensions broke out into the open at a security conference in Singapore yesterday, as a senior PLA strategist directly challenged US Defence Secretary Dr Robert Gates over the freeze in ties.

The rare exchange saw Major General Zhu Chenghu warn that "you, the Americans, are taking China as the enemy" in response to a strong speech from Gates defending arms sales to Taiwan and blaming Beijing for the breakdown in military relations. Gates insisted he wanted co-operation with China and did not view it as an enemy.

The exchange was part of a series of statements to the informal Shangri-La Dialogue that crystallised many of the issues clouding ties. While both sides spoke of a yearning for a deep and comprehensive military relationship, differences were also sharply described.

The lead PLA delegate, General Ma Xiaotian, for example, said arms sales and US surveillance operations in the South and East China Seas were obstacles to the resumption of exchanges. Gates' address made clear that Washington was not about to budge on such issues, and expressed deepening US concerns over the South China Sea.

The exchange across a conference room crowded with regional government and military officials and academics ended in a brief handshake between Gates and Ma. It represented the only conversation between the two countries this weekend when hopes for a formal meeting were scuppered by China's decision to scrap a visit by Gates to Beijing after the conference.

Beijing halted military exchanges following a fresh package of US$6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan in February - the first under the administration of President Barack Obama - and a White House visit by the Dalai Lama soon after.

Gates said such sales were based on "well-established precedent and ... longstanding [US] belief that a peaceful and non-coerced resolution to the Taiwan issue is an abiding national interest - and vital for the overall security of Asia". "Taiwan arms sales over the decades have not impeded closer political and economic ties. Only in the military-to-military arena has progress on critical mutual security issues been held hostage over something that is, quite frankly, old news."

Describing Beijing's break-off of ties as "making little sense", he said the US remained committed to agreements between Obama and President Hu Jintao to advance sustained and reliable military relations. "The key words here are `sustained and reliable' - not a relationship repeatedly interrupted by ... the vagaries of political weather."

Zhu, director general of the department of strategic studies at the National Defence University, said it was not fair to blame the PLA or Beijing for the breakdown.

"I believe that this sort of arms sale sends to the Chinese the wrong signal ... that is Chinese are taking the Americans as partners and as friends and you the Americans are taking the Chinese as the enemy."
Most Chinese people believed the "sole purpose" of the arms sales was to prevent the reunification of China, he said.

Ma, deputy chief of the PLA General Staff, warned that military relations were "trapped in a cycle of ... suspension and development". "Both sides hope through joint efforts we can break this cycle. Unfortunately efforts have not worked so far ... It takes two to tango."

He also reiterated concerns about cold war-era alliances and called for more equal, trusting relationships across the region - another crack at Washington's traditional approach.
The sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan by a North Korean torpedo also sparked debate.

Gates said the region shared the task of tackling "dangerous provocations", warning that inaction would represent a failure to protect peace and stability. Beijing has to yet detail its response. Zhu questioned the differences between the US response to the sinking and its caution over the fatal boarding by Israel of a Gaza-bound aid ship last week.

In 2005, Zhu said China would use nuclear weapons against the US if Washington intervened militarily in a conflict between Beijing and Taipei.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The average South Korean university student is simply not interested in North Korea

(From the Global Post; By Teke Wiggin. Comments by the author of this blog in green text. )

Many South Koreans indifferent about North
Polls show S. Koreans haven't completely accepted findings that N. Korea blew up their warship.

Usually Shin In-young and her friends don't think about North Korea and its pudgy, reclusive strongman who dons retro sunglasses, abhors airplanes and may have ordered a surprise attack on a South Korean warship. But when pressed for their views on their pariah-state neighbor, Shin’s age group has some things to say that might come as a surprise to the average Westerner.

A 23-year-old Yonsei University journalism major, Shin says North Korea doesn’t bother her much.

“I have never taken their provocations as threats because none of them have ever changed my life,” she said.
This is a typical response I get from the people in their 20's and even those in their early 30's in Korea on just about all topics, not just North Korea. If it does not affect their daily lives/life style, they just don't seem to care about anything but what affects them immediately (of course, perhaps they are not really any different than any other young people around the globe...however, the South Koreans seem to be far, far, far more self-centered when it comes to this kinds of things).

Shin and her friends represent a demographic inside South Korea that is mostly indifferent to the bellicose rhetoric and saber-rattling that characterizes the North’s foreign policy approach.

“The average South Korean university student is simply not interested in North Korea,” said Brian Myers, who is director of the international studies department at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea, and wrote a New York Times Op-Ed on the matter.

Just take his current North Korean affairs seminar as an example, he says: Only four students chose to enroll in the class.

“If it was a course on American politics, there would probably be 30 kids,” he said.

College students’ apathy toward the impoverished communist state is so acute that many of Myers’ students lack even basic geographical knowledge of the North.

“If you show a map of North Korea, he’s going to have a hard time telling you the cities or even the main rivers, which is amazing when you consider how tiny the peninsula is,” he said.

In this hyper-capitalistic society where parents spend exorbitant amounts of money to send their children to specialty schools and “K-pop” music seems to blare out of every nook and cranny, Shin says her friends are more interested in trying to work for Korean business conglomerates like Samsung and LG.

But the North does manage to turn heads every once in a while, Myers said. And when that happens as it has with the sinking of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, intriguing attitudes toward the North come to light.

Shin says that because of the crisis she and her friends now worry a little but still think of “North and South Korea in brotherhood all the time.”

Sung Han-na, a student at Han Se University, says hostile views toward the North are rare among South Koreans: “I’ve never met anyone who treats North Korea as an enemy.”

Kim So-yeon, a 23-year-old liberal and Joongang Law University student, also values a common bloodline and heritage. “I’m one of the supporters of unification, so I try to speak about North Korea in a friendly way,” she said.

Kim wants the North to keep its nuclear weapons. She thinks it’s a justified deterrent against U.S. aggression. And she does not believe the North sank the Cheonan.
These views about North Korea is also a common thing here. Majority of the South Koreans think that the North Koreans are their "long lost brothers" and that the North and South Koreas are actually one country divided only due to political differences in the ruling elites (and to some extent Kim Jong-il). Interesting thing is that the North Koreans for sure do not think that the North and the South Koreans are "long lost brothers." North Koreans see their country as a separate and independent country that has nothing to do with the South. In fact, if you ask a North Korean refugee (or a defector) about what they think about the unification of the two Koreas, the first thing they will ask you is, "Then what happens to my country?"

On March 26, the South Korean navy corvette was severed in two by a mysterious underwater explosion, killing 46 sailors. After an exhaustive investigation, on May 20 a commission of South Korean and international experts announced that North Korea had launched a torpedo strike on the warship.

South Korean Investigators Looking Into Possible Leakage of OPLAN 5027

(From the Korea Herald)

Military intelligence officials and prosecutors are investigating whether an Army major general, recently booked on espionage charges, had leaked the Korea-U.S. combined war scenario "Operational Plan 5027."

The Defense Security Command (DSC) has been questioning the two-star general, identified only by the surname Kim, over whether he handed over the core content of the OPLAN 5027 to a spy for North Korea.

The spy, surnamed Park, was a former South Korean military intelligence official recruited by North Korea. Kim is purported to have given classified information regarding military management and operations to Park between 2005 and 2007.

Prosecutors arrested Park and an executive of a local defense firm last Thursday on charges of offering military secrets to the communist state.

"We are not yet at a stage to conclude that OPLAN 5027 has been handed over to the North. We are conducting our investigation over the possible leak of the military secrets in a variety of directions," said a DSC official on condition of anonymity.

The DSC plans to seek an arrest warrant once it finds Kim handed over the content of the war plan over to the communist country. The military is expanding its probe on the case to verify if more military officials are implicated in the alleged espionage activities.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries maintain the joint war plan in case of North Korean aggression. The plan was first drawn up in 1974 and has been revised and complemented several times.

Under the plan, if hostilities break out, the United States would deploy up to 690,000 troops, 160 vessels and 2,000 aircraft to the peninsula, in addition to the current troops stationed here, which total 28,500, to help South Korean forces remove the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and defeat his 1.19-million-strong military.