NORTH KOREA NEWS LETTER NO. 42 (February 19, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Says Western Sea Border 'Can No Longer Work'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Feb. 13 the western sea border with South Korea "can no longer work" and warned of military clashes should Seoul intrude "even one inch" into its maritime territory.
The renewed warning issued by the North's party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, was more specific than previous threats.
The South Korean military kept a tense vigil along the border in the Yellow Sea, along which two bloody naval skirmishes occurred over the past decade, leaving scores of soldiers dead or wounded on both sides.
The placement of the western sea border is "thoroughly unfair and sheer robbery" of North Korean territory, Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.
The western sea border, known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL), has been a powder keg in the Yellow Sea. It was unilaterally drawn by the U.N. Command after the 1950-1953 Korean War and has been consistently disavowed by North Korea.
The Workers' Party newspaper called the NLL a "ghost border" and accused Seoul's Lee Myung-bak government of trying to incite a war by insisting on it.
"The fact that the Lee Myung-bak group continues to hold onto this ghost border clearly testifies to its wicked plot to initiate military clashes," it said, "but the bare-faced robbery of the Lee Myung-bak group can be no more accepted."
"If the Lee Myung-bak group intrudes even one inch into our divine territorial waters, priding itself on the groundless, unreasonable Northern Limit Line, our patience will explode with the anger of justice, and we will thoroughly crush the warmongers into the raw waters of the Yellow Sea," Rodong Sinmun said.
N. Korea Blasts S. Korea for Rejecting News Exchange Amid Frozen Ties
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused South Korea on Feb. 14 of pretending to seek dialogue while blocking reconciliation, slamming President Lee Myung-bak for his government's recent decision to turn down a news exchange agreement.
South Korea said early this month it will not approve an October 2008 deal between journalist organizations from the two divided states to share articles, photos and videos through their Web sites.
The Unification Ministry, which governs inter-Korean affairs, expressed concern that the North may use the deal as a vehicle to spread its communist propaganda to the South.
North Korea strictly controls its press and uses it to tout its regime and perpetuate a cult of personality for leader Kim Jong-il. It also claims to be a nuclear-armed state.
The disapproval "confronts the nation against each other (sic), running against the wishes of reconciliation and unification," the North's official Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.
Seoul's "calling for talks and cooperation" to resolve frozen ties is only a deception, the North Korean report said, quoting a statement by the Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party.
The report also warned the decision would carry grave consequences, with tension running high along the border after North Korea declared void all military agreements with the South last month.
N.K. to Carefully Watch Clinton's Asia Trip: Pro-Pyongyang Daily
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will monitor carefully U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's first Asian trip as a barometer for estimating Washington's stance toward the North, the newspaper of a pro-Pyongyang Korean group in Japan said on Feb. 14.
Clinton is scheduled to arrive in South Korea from Indonesia on Feb. 19, according to Seoul officials. She began her first overseas trip in her post by visiting Japan three days earlier and will depart for China on Feb. 20.
She told a forum in New York last week "If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula's long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people."
Calling the trip the "first Asia diplomacy by the Obama administration," Choson Sinbo, considered a mouthpiece for Pyongyang said "North Korea will carefully watch the success or failure of the first Asia diplomacy as a barometer for judging between dialogue and confrontation."
"Antipathy and confrontation is going beyond danger level and leaving this crisis unsettled may trigger irreversible consequences," the newspaper said.
"Washington needs to read the intention of North Korea warning a highly tense tough-and-go situation and explain it to other parties to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks in the process of fine-tuning policies," the daily said, signaling that the North would pay close attention to any message that Clinton delivers during her tour to South Korea, Japan and China.
The three countries constitute the six-party talks on scrapping North Korea's nuclear arms program along with the United States, North Korea and Russia.
Negotiations have been deadlocked since August over North Korea's refusal to agree to a verification regime for its nuclear facilities.
U.S. and South Korean officials say North Korea may be assembling equipment at a launch site on its east coast to prepare a missile believed to be capable of reaching U.S. territory.
Clinton warned in Japan a missile test "would be very unhelpful" in moving ties between the U.S. and North Korea.
N.K. Denies Missile Plan, Defends Activity As 'Space Development'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea denied on Feb. 16 it was preparing to test-launch a long-range missile, claiming its recent moves are related to "space development."
A statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) was reminiscent of the North's comments in 1998, when it claimed a rocket it launched was really a satellite.
The denial comes following intelligence reports from Seoul that North Korea is assembling a long-range missile at the country's eastern launch site.
"Recently the U.S. and some other countries claimed that the DPRK (North Korea) is making 'preparations for launching long-distance missile,'" the KCNA said.
"This is a vicious trick to put a brake on the wheel of not only the DPRK's building of military capability for self-defense but also scientific researches for peaceful purpose under the pretext of missile," it said.
The report also made clear North Korea will launch whatever it is that it has been preparing.
"One will come to know later what will be launched in the DPRK," it said, "Space development is the independent right of the DPRK and the requirement of the developing reality."
North Korea also denied that it was trying to grab U.S. President Barack Obama's attention with its alleged missile activity, as analysts here have speculated.
"Dishonest forces are asserting that the DPRK is doing provocative deed in order to draw attention from anyone. But, such assertion itself is an insult to the DPRK. The DPRK has no need to draw anyone's attention and wants nobody to interfere or meddle in the issue of the Korean Peninsula where only the Koreans live," it said.
N.K., China to Celebrate 'Friendship Year' with Ceremonies
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea and China will hold separate opening and closing ceremonies in their capitals this year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties, a Chinese diplomat said on Feb. 16.
Liu Xioming, the Chinese ambassador to Pyongyang, told a Chinese newspaper that both sides would take the opportunity to promote traditional ties.
"The opening and closing ceremonies will be held respectively at the year's start and end in Beijing and Pyongyang with party and state leaders from both sides attending," Liu said in an interview with a correspondent from the International Herald Leader. The newspaper is affiliated with China's official Xinhua News Agency.
The envoy did not mention who will be included in the list of state and communist party leaders. But there is a possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the Chinese President Hu Jintao would exchange visits to mark the anniversary.
Liu also did not give details of the main ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary which is expected to be held on Oct. 6 separately in the two capital cities.
He, however, said a series of events to celebrate the anniversary and the "Year of China-DPRK (North Korea) Friendship" will be held all the year round.
They will include exchange visits by delegations representing all social fields and art troupes; having movie weeks, book and craftart exhibitions, commodities fairs and friendly sports matches; and issuing commemorative stamps, according to the diplomat.
The two countries will revise a variety of existing economic agreements as part of celebration events so to promote trade and economic cooperation, he added.
N. Korean Military Again Threatens All-out Confrontation
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The North Korean military on Feb. 18 threatened South Korea with all-out confrontation amid reports that Pyongyang is set to test-fire short and long-range missiles, heightening tensions with Seoul and Washington.
"The Lee Myung-bak group of traitors should never forget that the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) is fully ready for an all-out confrontation," said a spokesman for the General Staff of the KPA, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The warning is the second of its kind in about a month. A uniformed military spokesman appeared on North Korean television on Jan. 17 to warn that the military will "take an all-out confrontational posture" against South Korea. It was the first message from the North Korean army's General Staff in 10 years.
The repeated threats from North Korea in recent weeks are said to be upping the ante as Barack Obama's U.S. administration formulates its policy on North Korea, including possible resumption of six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The North's military spokesman also said in answer to a question by the KCNA that the Lee Myung-bak government "is desperately trying to find a way out of its serious crisis in escalating the confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea)."
Describing Lee as a "traitor," the spokesman said the conservative Lee administration, which has taken a tougher stance on the North than its two liberal predecessors, is "more frantically inciting hostility toward the DPRK and kicking up anti-DPRK war hysteria under that pretext."
"But they will only meet the merciless and stern punishment by the army and people of the DPRK," he said.
North Korea has recently also threatened to cut off all ties with South Korea, nullify the western sea border, where bloody skirmishes in 1999 and 2002 killed scores on both sides, and launch a long-range missile believed to be capable of reaching the continental U.S.