NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 27 (October 30, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
N. Korea Nervous about Seoul-Washington Military Consultation Meeting
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned South Korea and the U.S. of the recent military consultation meeting between two countries, and was notably sensitive about a possible scenario between the two countries should a sudden change occur in the North's Kim Jong-il regime.
The warning came in response to the annual military consultation meeting between South Korea and the U.S. on Oct. 17 in Washington, where the two allies discussed countermeasures in case of a change in the North's regime and how to strengthen their joint defense position.
A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which deals with the South under the North's ruling Workers' Party, on Oct. 24 condemned "the U.S. and the South Korean puppets' open war confab" for allegedly stifling the DPRK (North Korea) by armed force.
"The Lee Myung-bak government's alleged military confrontation against the North on the back of the U.S. will bring nothing but a nuclear war," the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.
The North's mouthpieces, such as Rodong Sinmun and Minju Joson, also have consecutively pointed out that the Lee government is making anti-DPRK moves, such as denying the previous inter-Korean summit declarations while distorting history to confront the North.
They also said the South's military is introducing state-of-the-art war equipment from the U.S. in preparation for a preemptive attack against the North, adding they will harden their war-deterrent power.
The North's spokesman for inter-Korean military talks also on Oct. 27 said the North's military will not sit idly by while the South makes "provocations," such as air-dropping leaflets carrying speculation about Kim Jong-il's failed health.
N. Korea to Offer Aid to Hurricane Victims in Cuba: Report
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which has suffered from chronic economic difficulties, will send an unspecified amount of aid to help hurricane victims in Cuba, the North's official news service said on Oct. 25.
North Korea has "decided to send aid materials to the Cuban government in order to help the Cuban people eradicate the aftermath of the damage and bring their lives back to normal as soon as possible," the North's Korean Central News Agency said in a brief report.
Hurricanes Ike and Gustav battered the island nation in late August and early September, causing an estimated US$5 billion in damage, according to news reports.
Earlier on Sept. 12, North Korea's No. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam sent a message of condolence to Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz over damage from Hurricane Ike.
In his message, Kim said that he sends profound sympathy and condolences to the Cuban leader and its government, as well as the people and residents of the damaged areas, according to the North's news outlets.
N. Korea Slams S. Korean Air Force Chief
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced a comment from the head of the South Korean air force on Oct. 26 stressing high-tech military coordination to maintain effective strike capability as "a declaration of war."
North Korea routinely uses its official media to criticize South Korea and its ranking officials. But the statement by the North's Korean Central Television Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul, comes as relations between the two countries have degraded to their lowest point in recent history.
South Korean Air Force Commander Lee Kae-hoon said at a parliamentary hearing earlier this month that his military is seeking to obtain "an effective ability to strike core targets by networking" related units and armed forces.
Citing a recent combined exercise between South Korea and U.S. forces and a high-tech central monitoring system used by the South Korean command, the North's broadcaster said Lee "revealed an attitude prone to a preemptive strike."
"It amounts to little more than a declaration of war," it said.
Inter-Korean relations eroded considerably this year after the inauguration of hardline South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has drawn a string of bitter criticisms from Pyongyang.
The North regularly condemns President Lee, calling him a traitor, and recently threatened to sever all ties with the South through its official media.
Myanmar's Foreign Minister Visits North Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Myanmar's foreign minister arrived in Pyongyang on Oct. 27 and met the top diplomatic official there, more than a year after the two countries resumed diplomatic ties, the North's official news agency reported.
Foreign Minister Nyan Win met his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-Chun, in Pyongyang earlier in the day, a report by the North's Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul, said. The report, however, did not provide details.
The following day the KCNA reported that the two foreign ministers held a meeting to discuss mutual concerns and ways to enhance friendly cooperation between their countries.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed in 1983 following a bombing in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, by North Korean secret agents targeting South Korea's then President Chun Doo-hwan. Chun was uninjured in the blast, though 21 people were killed, including four South Korean Cabinet ministers.
The two countries have worked to normalize relations over the past few years, and agreed to resume diplomatic ties last year.
The KCNA also reported that on Oct 23 a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in sports between the Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission of the DPRK and the Ministry of Sports of Myanmar was signed at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang.
N.K. Threatens 'Preemptive Strike' More Powerful Than Nuclear Weapon
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Oct. 28 threatened South Korea with a strike "more powerful than nuclear weapons" should Seoul show any sign of launching a preemptive strike against the communist nation.
The threat came one day after Pyongyang, in a brief military dialogue with the South, accused the Seoul government of ignoring, if not actively promoting, the spread of what it called anti-communist propaganda leaflets by South Korean civic organizations.
"We clarify our stand that should the South Korean puppet authorities continue scattering leaflets and conducting a smear campaign with sheer fabrications, our army will take a resolute practical action as we have already warned," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted an unidentified spokesman for the country's delegation to inter-Korean military talks as saying.
The spokesman went on to claim that South Korean officials, including Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee, have officially chosen a preemptive strike as their primary strategy in case conflict erupts with the North and warned such an attempt will be countered with North Korea's own, more powerful and advanced preemptive strike.
"Our advanced preemptive strike... will be beyond imagination and will rely on means more powerful than a nuclear weapon," he was quoted as saying.
North Korea set off a nuclear device in 2006 in its first-ever nuclear weapons test. It is believed to have some 40 kilograms of plutonium, enough to produce six to eight nuclear bombs, according to South Korean officials.
The spokesman nonetheless urged the South Korean government to resume talks with his nation, saying "practical actions are more important than lip-service."
Pyongyang cut off most of its official dialogue channels with Seoul after South Korea's Lee Myung-bak was inaugurated in February with a pledge to take a tougher stance than his two liberal predecessors, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, against the communist North. Both Kim and Roh held historic summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the North Korean capital Pyongyang during their administrations.