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N. Korea Stops Sending out GPS Jamming Signals against S. Korea: Source

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have stopped jamming satellite signals in an apparent attempt to disrupt air and maritime traffic navigation systems in parts of South Korea, a high-ranking government source in Seoul said on May 15.

   The North has been blamed for global positioning system (GPS) disruptions that affected hundreds of commercial flights and ships in and out of South Korea since April 28, although no damage was caused as all had backup navigational systems.

   "GPS jamming signals from North Korea have not been detected since May 14," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding the South's military is keeping "close watch" on the North's activities.

   The source did not rule out the possibility North Korea could send such signals again.

   The South's military is analyzing why North Korea sent the GPS jamming signals from its western border city of Kaesong, officials said.

   The signal-scrambling may have been intended to "test electronic warfare devices by the North Korean military or block mobile phone signals inside the North," said an official at the South's military, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   "We are closely watching activities in military units in Kaesong where the signals were detected as originating," the military official said.

   On May 14, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao held talks in Beijing and pledged to cooperate closely to deal "more effectively" with North Korea, Lee's office said, as concern grows Pyongyang could stage additional provocations after last month's rocket launch.

   The North's GPS attacks began after Pyongyang voiced anger at what it called insulting remarks made by South Korean leaders in connection with its failed rocket launch and costly birthday anniversary celebrations for late founding leader Kim Il-sung.

   Lee estimated the costs of the rocket launch at US$850 million and said the North could have been better spent the money to feed its hungry people.

   North Korea vowed retaliations, threatening last month to launch "special military actions" to reduce the Lee government to ashes in minutes. Seoul officials said the GPS attacks appear to be part of the North's latest threats.

   Pyongyang has been blamed for jamming GPS signals in South Korea since 2010.

   GPS is a satellite-based navigation system widely used by aircraft, ships and the military as well as private vehicle owners.

   South Korean military fighters, cargo planes and precise guided bombs are not affected by the disruption of GPS signals as they are equipped with military-only satellite navigation systems, officials said.


Inter-Korean Trade Climbs 18 Percent in January-April

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Despite lingering cross-border tension, trade between South and North Korea in the first four months of this year climbed 17.9 percent from a year earlier, to US$602.8 million, government data showed on May 16.

   The volume of the two Koreas' trade, mostly through an inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong, stood at $511.4 million for the same period of 2011, the data by the Korea Customs Service in Seoul said, indicating that cross-border trade has not been affected by rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

   In the January-April period, South Korean products worth $268.8 million were shipped to North Korea, while shipments of $333.9 million came here from the North.

   South Korea slapped sanctions on the North in May 2010 in retaliation for the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship earlier that year, though it kept intact the trade through the Kaesong complex.

   The complex, a key outcome of an inter-Korean summit in 2000, marries South Korean capital and technology with cheap labor from the North. It is now home to more than 120 South Korean small and medium-sized companies.

   Tensions have flared anew in recent weeks after the North threatened to launch special military actions to reduce Seoul to ashes in minutes over an alleged insult by South Korea to the North's dignity.