NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 25 (October 16, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
N. Korean Navy Warns of Clash in Yellow Sea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The North Korean navy warned on Oct. 9 that repeated violations of its waters by South Korean warships is raising the possibility of a clash in the Yellow Sea.
The warnings came in an announcement by the Navy Command carried by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Saying it will deal firmly with any violations of its sovereignty, the Navy Command stressed that there "is a limit to forbearance and the South needs to carefully contemplate the consequence of its actions."
The report said the North is carefully monitoring the movement of South Korean naval vessels and ready to destroy any encroaching ships.
The announcement came two days after the socialist country reportedly fired two short range anti-ship missiles from an aircraft off its west coast.
Pyongyang has in recent years demanded that the Northern Limit Line (NLL), drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, be scrapped in exchange for a revised demarcation line that gives greater control over contested waters.
Seoul has rejected such demands and maintains that the NLL will remain the de facto sea border. The South Korean navy is much stronger than its northern counterpart and has enforced the status quo, ejecting North Korean patrol boats that stray south of the line.
The two Koreas have clashed twice in the Yellow Sea. In 1999, one North Korean gun boat was sunk and another seriously damaged after a skirmish with South Korean forces. In the second incident, which took place during the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by Seoul and Tokyo, a South Korean patrol boat was sunk, killing six sailors.
The South's defense ministry said in a parliamentary audit session that North Korean vessels crossed the NLL 21 times this year.
North Korea Marks 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties with Russia
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia on Oct. 12, saying it is the common desire of the two nations to further boost their ties.
Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in an article dedicated to the anniversary that North Korea and Russia are neighbors and that their friendship has a long-standing history and tradition.
The newspaper alluded to a series of meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and former Russian President Vladimir Putin and the adoption of the DPRK-Russia Joint Declaration in July 2000 and the DPRK-Russia Moscow Declaration in August 2001.
DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
It also noted the recent ground-breaking ceremony for the reconstruction of the Rajin-Khasan railway and the Rajin Port linking the two countries.
Minju Joson, the organ of the North's Cabinet, reported that North Korea's people are pleased with the successes made by Russia in its efforts to build a powerful state and ensure national security.
Pyongyang's foreign minister, Pak Ui-chun, sent greetings to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov in observance of the Oct. 12 anniversary before leaving for Russia on Oct. 14.
North Korea Criticizes 'Space Militarization' by US, Japan
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Oct. 13 criticized the alleged "space militarization" of the United States and Japan, saying that the North is pursuing peaceful space development.
Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary that space development is no more a monopoly of the developed countries, with developing countries such as China joining space exploration. It added that space development should serve peaceful purposes.
"But the undesirable forces are getting ever more undisguised in their moves to use space for a military purpose in order to achieve their criminal aims," the organ said in a report, which was carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul.
"The U.S. is conducting what it called exercises of shooting down satellites, putting spurs to the building of missile shields in a bid to establish a military monopoly in space," the newspaper said, "Japan is hell-bent on criminal moves to use space for its military purpose as evidenced by its launch of spy satellites and the enaction of the 'basic law on space,' pursuant to the U.S. policy for space militarization."
The DPRK (North Korea) has consistently maintained its stance on peaceful space research and development, regardless of what others have claimed, the organ said, alluding to its long-range missile launch of Taepodong-1 in 1998, which it says was its own satellite named Kwangmyongsong.
"The DPRK will go ahead in the direction chosen by itself," it said, stressing its will to develop space "peacefully."
N.K. Foreign Minister Leaves for Moscow: KCNA
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foreign minister left for Russia on Oct. 14, Pyongyang's official news agency reported, as the North was set to resume disablement of its nuclear arms complex.
Pak Ui-chun was seen off at the Pyongyang airport by his deputy Kung Sok-ung and Valery Sukhinin, Russian ambassador to North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
It did not disclose details of his trip.
Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, quoting a Russian Foreign Ministry source, said Pak was on a four-day trip to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and other officials.
An agenda for the upcoming consultations has not been disclosed yet, but the two sides may coordinate their approaches to the six-party nuclear disarmament process, according to the report.
Discussions may also focus on ways to expand political, economic and cultural cooperation, it said, quoting diplomatic sources.
The United States on Oct. 11 removed North Korea from a list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism after a deal was reached to allow inspections of the North's declared nuclear arsenal.
North Korea, in return, told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Oct. 13 that it would resume disabling its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, the U.N. nuclear watchdog body said.
Pyongyang has also allowed international inspectors back to the Yongbyon nuclear plant, the IAEA said.
Pak's trip was timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, which fell on Oct. 12.
It also marks Pak's first visit to Russia in his capacity as foreign minister. He previously served as the North's ambassador to Moscow.
S. Korean Delegation Arrives in Pyongyang for Yun I-sang Concert
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A South Korean delegation of the I-sang Yun Peace Foundation arrived in Pyongyang on Oct. 14 to attend a concert there in memory of the renowned composer, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The KCNA said the South Korean group, headed by director Shin Kye-ryun, arrived at the Pyongyang airport to attend the 27th Yun I-sang Concert, but did not give further details.
South Korean cellist Koh Bong-in is to perform Yun's "Concerto for Violin Cello and Orchestra" with a North Korean orchestra in a series of concerts slated for Oct. 15-17, the report said.
It will be the first time for musicians from both Koreas to jointly perform Yun's music in concert.
Yun (1917-1995), a native of South Korea's Tongyeong, is one of Korea's most renowned contemporary composers although he failed to receive recognition in his land of birth, which labeled him a communist.
Yun was at the peak of his celebrity as a composer in Europe when he was abducted in 1967 by the South Korean secret service and taken from Berlin to Seoul. He was tortured and charged with high treason for meeting with North Koreans in Berlin and for visiting the North. He was sentenced to life in prison, but released in 1969 after some 200 international artists made worldwide appeals.
It was only in 2005 that his honor was restored as a result of a government-led investigation into human rights abuses, which said the incident had been exaggerated and recommended that the government apologize to the victims.