NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 58 (June 11, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
N. Korea Blames S. Korean President for Former President's Death
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's party newspaper on June 5 blamed South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for the recent death of his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun, and rejected his criticism of Pyongyang's nuclear test as a "grave provocation."
The commentary by Rodong Sinmun, published by the Workers' Party, is the first political opinion from North Korea on Roh's death. Two days after he took his own life on May 23 amid an intensifying bribery probe, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed "profound condolences" through state media, and the country had since remained silent on the issue.
The North's main paper claimed Lee was using North Korea's May 25 nuclear test to avert public criticism at home, citing his bi-weekly radio speech on June 1 that criticized Pyongyang for conducting the test while South Koreans were mourning.
"As for the 'period of mourning' he mentioned, it was caused by his group itself," the paper said.
Roh and his relatives faced accusations of receiving more than US$6 million from a businessman while he was in office. Prosecutors summoned him, his wife and children separately in April and were considering whether to detain the former president for further investigations. His sudden death sparked a public outcry over the way prosecutors and the Lee government handled the case.
Instead of criticizing the North's nuclear test, Lee should have confessed his "crimes" and apologized to the South Korean people, the paper said.
"The South Korean public unanimously contends that the unexpected and tragic death of the former 'president' is murder by Lee Myung-bak's political retaliation," it said.
During his term from 2003 to 2008, Roh propelled inter-Korean relations to reconciliation through unconditional economic aid and social exchanges. His policy invited criticism that South Korean aid ended up financing the North's nuclear drive. Lee adopted a tougher stance, ending the free flow of aid.
The North's main paper showed strong discontent over Lee, saying inter-Korean relations will only become "gloomier" should Lee continue his "confrontational" policy.
N.K. Pledges to Retaliate against South Korea for Joining PSI
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea pledged anew on June 6 to retaliate against South Korea for joining a U.S.-led anti-proliferation drive, saying it would trigger a war on the Korean Peninsula.
In response to North Korea's latest nuclear test, South Korea on May 26 announced its full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a global campaign aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. One of its main targets is North Korea.
"South Korea's full participation in the PSI is a wanton violation of the DPRK's (North Korea's) sovereignty and an open declaration of war against it," the North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in a commentary.
"South Korea will be wholly accountable for the disastrous consequences as it has followed foreign forces in utter disregard of the DPRK's sovereignty and dignity," said the commentary, carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
The PSI, launched in 2003, allows its member countries, currently numbering over 90, to interdict airplanes or ships suspected of carrying missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
Tension has risen sharply in the region in recent weeks, with North Korea test-firing a series of missiles. U.S. spy satellites reportedly found signs that North Korea is gearing up for an inter-continental missile test-launch.
Seoul Accused of Seeking Written U.S. Defense Guarantee
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea claimed on June 8 any U.S. guarantee of South Korea's defense against nuclear armed North Korea in writing would heighten tension and increase the danger of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.
"A written pledge by the United States to include South Korea under its nuclear umbrella will no doubt lead to a tenser situation on the Korean peninsula, and the danger of nuclear war will increase," said the Rodong Sinmun, publication of the Workers' Party.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said on June 5 that Washington has agreed to guarantee in writing the provision of its nuclear umbrella for South Korea against any North Korean attack when President Lee Myung-bak meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on June 16.
The North called it a "very dangerous move" that Seoul tries to "depend on" U.S. nuclear weapons if a war breaks out on the peninsula.
The newspaper again claimed its increase of "nuclear deterrence" was a just measure to defend peace and security on the peninsula against "the growing threat of nuclear war from the U.S. imperialists."
North Korea conducted a second underground nuclear test on May 25 in an apparent protest at the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of the North's April 5 rocket launch that regional powers believed to be used to test a long-range missile.
N. Korea Defines Nuke Deterrent as Means of Aggression
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 9 described its nuclear weapons capability as means of both self-protection and "merciless aggression" towards those violating its sovereignty, the first acknowledgment by the country that it may use its nuclear weapons other than for defensive measures.
"Our nuclear deterrence capability is a powerful defensive measure to secure the peace and stability of the Joseon (Korean) peninsula and nearby regions. It will become a vehicle for merciless attacks on those who even slightly infringe upon our sovereignty," said Minju Joson, North Korea's Cabinet newspaper, through a commentary.
North Korea has previously described its nuclear weapons program as means of either maintaining peace in the region or strengthening its self-protective power. The statement marked the first time that the North has termed the program a vehicle for possible future attacks.
The paper also said that the political tension between North Korea and regional powers only goes to retroactively justify the legitimacy of its nuclear deterrent development.
Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun, a paper published by the country's Workers' Party, also suggested to its "enemies" that North Korea considers a good offense as its ultimate defensive scheme.
"Our self-protective measure is to relentlessly crush invaders by striking them preemptively," the paper said.
North Korea Vows to Fight U.S. with 'Willpower'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea urged its people on June 9 to be armed with willpower against the United States and warned not to depend on allied nations, as the country faces new international sanctions for its recent nuclear test.
The full-page editorial by Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers Party of Korea, apparently pointed to China, which has rebuked the May 25 nuclear explosion and is now working on a punitive resolution with the U.N. Security Council.
"We will win when we fight the (U.S.) imperialists to the end, and there will be only shame and disgrace if we surrender," the paper said. "The confrontation with the imperialists is a war of willpower."
The U.N. council is expected to produce the resolution within days, with China now reviewing a final draft. The envisioned resolution, first drafted by the U.S. and Japan and with South Korea's support, calls for financial sanctions on Pyongyang, an arms trade embargo and the inspection of North Korea's air and sea shipments of suspicious cargo, sharper in intensity than an earlier resolution adopted after the North's first nuclear test in 2006.
South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Wi Sung-lac, flew to Beijing to discuss the sanctions with his Chinese counterpart, Yu Dawei.
Rodong Sinmun revealed North Korea's growing disillusionment with U.S. President Barack Obama, who warned of strong sanctions for Pyongyang's nuclear test and said he is "not intending to continue a policy of rewarding provocation."
"The current U.S. administration is making sweet sounds in people's ears, clamoring for change and multilateral cooperative diplomacy, but its real intention is no different from its predecessor," the paper said.
Such words of engagement are only "hypocrisy" to create an illusion and disarm the North Koreans, it said.
In an apparent note on the decades of diplomatic isolation and financial and trade sanctions North Korea has faced, the paper blamed the U.S. policy toward it as "a fear strategy" and a "strangle-and-kill strategy."
N. Korea Sends Condolences on Death of S. Korean Activist
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 10 expressed condolences over the recent suicide of a South Korean reunification activist and blamed the conservative Seoul government for his death.
Kang Hui-nam, a Christian pastor and honorary chairman of the South's headquarters of the non-governmental National Alliance for the Country's Reunification (Pomminryon), took his own life at his home on June 6. He was 89.
Kang was jailed several times for his activities related to North Korea, including his failed attempt to cross the inter-Korean border to attend the funeral of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung in the summer of 1994. He left a suicide note that denounced the Lee Myung-bak government's North Korea policy and called for resistance.
"(We) express deep condolences to Pastor Kang Hui-nam and firmly denounce Lee Myung-bak ... who drove him to death," the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, an inter-Korean affairs organ under the Workers' Party, said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
A day earlier, the committee issued a statement over former late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, who jumped off a cliff behind his home on May 23 amid an intensifying bribery probe into his relatives and aides.