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OSCE Chief Hopes Diplomacy Can Resolve N. Korea Nuclear Standoff

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The head of the European security body Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) voiced hope on May 31 that diplomacy can still resolve a long-running standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

   The latest hopes of diplomacy with North Korea were dashed by the North's April 13 rocket launch and concerns are growing that Pyongyang may soon conduct a third nuclear test to make amends for the failed launch, which dealt a blow to the socialist regime's prestige.

   Despite the grim scenario, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier told Yonhap News Agency in a written interview that, "I think we all hope that diplomacy and dialogue can prevail, and the issue can be resolved peacefully."

   "The OSCE is of course ready to support that process by sharing its experiences and lessons learned," Zannier said.

   The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's rocket launch as a test of long-range ballistic missile technology in breach of U.N. resolutions and tightened sanctions against the North.

   The 56-nation OSCE, the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization, "shares the concern of the international community, and fully support the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA in their efforts to address the situation," Zannier said.

   Zannier arrived in Seoul on May 30 for a five-day visit to attend a security forum on the southern island of Jeju.

   On May 31, Zannier met with Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and exchanged views on the enhancement of cooperation between South Korea and the OSCE, the regional situation, and global issues, ministry officials said. South Korea has taken part in the OSCE's activities as its "Asian Partner for Cooperation" since 1994.

   Later in the day, he is also scheduled to meet with Lim Sung-nam, South Korea's chief nuclear envoy on North Korea.

   Zannier said the OSCE's experiences as a successful model of a regional security organization can help resolve the security issues facing Northeast Asia.

   "'Cooperative security' means that everything we do is done in coordination with others, to ensure that our efforts are effective, and because the OSCE has always made it clear that security is not a zero-sum game, and that the security of any one country or region is always dependent on another," Zannier said.

   "True, lasting security can only be achieved in partnership," he said.


Survey Shows DVDs, CDs Are Key Sources of Information for N. Koreans

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Koreans mostly receive outside information through smuggled DVDs, CDs and foreign television broadcasts, a survey showed on June 3.

   The latest development underscored the steady influx of foreign information into the socialist country despite Pyongyang's crackdowns.

   North Korea is a tightly controlled society and its people are officially forbidden from listening to news from the outside. The North views foreign influences as part of psychological warfare designed to topple the socialist regime.

   The survey on 71 North Korean defectors by the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) found that 21.8 percent acquired outside information through DVDs and CDs, followed by television (18.3 percent), contact with Chinese people (17.6 percent), radios (15.5 percent), cell phones (6.3 percent) and leaflets (5.6 percent).

   Some ethnic Koreans in China, who can speak Korean and visit North Korea relatively easily, are believed to be acting as middlepersons for North Koreans, delivering outside news and money from North Koreans' relatives in South Korea.

   The North Korean defectors, who settled in the South between 2008 and 2009, rarely mentioned South Korea's private anti-Pyongyang radio broadcasts, U.S. radio broadcasts and a radio run by South Korea's military in the survey.

   Twenty-two percent of the polled defectors cited news on South Korea as their favorite content while they lived in their former homeland, followed by dramas (19 percent), information on how to defect (10 percent), music (7 percent) and information on Kim Jong-il (6 percent).

   About 80 percent of those who were surveyed said they received outside information either out of curiosity or unspecified economic reasons.

   "The demand for information on the economy appeared to have risen, as such information could help North Koreans" who had to support themselves, the KIDA said in a quarterly magazine.

   According to the survey, only 31 percent said they verbally spread outside information to other people, apparently out of fear they could face harsh punishment if caught.

   The survey did not paint the whole picture of North Korea as it only polled 71 out of more than 23,500 North Korean defectors who have settled in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.


Chinese Paper Urges Beijing to Oppose N. Korea's Nuclear Power Claim

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A leading Chinese newspaper has urged Beijing to oppose North Korea's nuclear power status proclaimed in its revised constitution.

   The Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People's Daily, said in its June 2 editorial that any legalization of North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons can stimulate South Korea and Japan, and prod Taiwan to demand its right to nuclear arms, triggering a chain reaction of nuclear armament in Northeast Asia.

   In its revised constitution, North Korea proclaims itself as a nuclear armed state, according to its full text seen by Yonhap News Agency on May 30 on the North's "Naenara" Web site.

   Seoul and Washington have immediately dismissed the claim, saying they would not recognize North Korea as a nuclear power.

   The Global Times editorial is the first unofficial response from China, as the Beijing government has kept mum on the issue so far.

   "China should not join the two (Seoul and Washington) and help them exert pressure on North Korea. However, it is also necessary for China to criticize North Korea's latest move and oppose its intention to legalize its nuclear status," said the editorial posted on the paper's Web site.

   "China needs to make efforts to deter North Korea from possessing nuclear capabilities, or at least openly oppose North Korea's move to attain them," said the editorial, noting that the historical friendship between the two should facilitate their frank communication.

   The paper went on to clearly say that it is not in China's interests to be held hostage by North Korea's radical moves.

   "At the moment, the most urgent thing is to prevent North Korea from conducting a third nuclear test, the consequences of which would be unimaginable for Northeast Asia. Besides trying to persuade North Korea, China should publicly voice its opposition at once," it said.

   In a related development, Rep. Chung Mong-joon, a presidential aspirant of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, said Sunday that time has come for South Korea to arm itself with nuclear weapons capabilities in response to the North's declaration of nuclear state status.

   "North Korea's nuclear armament has become a reality. We should also equip ourselves with our own nuclear weapons capabilities beyond the strategy of depending on the U.S. for nuclear weapons," Chung, a seven-term lawmaker, said in a news conference.

   Chung, a former ruling party chairman now competing in Saenuri's presidential primary, had previously called for the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.

   "Paradoxically, peace cannot be guaranteed on the Korean Peninsula, without our possession of at least nuclear capabilities," he said.


North Korea Divides Citizens into 51 Groups for Discrimination: Report

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The North Korean regime places every citizen in the socialist nation into one of 51 categories, which serve as a tool for social and political discrimination from birth, a nonprofit organization here said on June 6 in a report.

   All North Koreans are classified as "loyal," "wavering," or "hostile" at birth, based on their perceived loyalty to the regime, according to the 131-page report released by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

   Titled "Marked For Life: Songbun (literally translated into components), North Korea's Social Classification System," the report says the Songbun system has been a main cause of human rights abuses.

   "The Songbun policy has placed every North Korean citizen into one of 51 categories and enabled the Kim regime to prioritize or de-prioritize all social welfare, occupations, housing and food programs according to the person's assigned category," it read.

   "The Songbun system leads to a society that is highly stratified as a means of social control, where every North Korean is truly 'marked for life' from birth."

   The report called for Pyongyang to recognize the Songbun system as a serious violation of the most fundamental human rights.

   It said North Korea should eliminate the system, which is reminiscent of the apartheid system of state-directed racial discrimination in South Africa.


North Korean Air Force Sharply Increases Sorties

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's air force has sharply increased sorties since mid-May, with some fighter jets flying close to South Korea's airspace, in what appears to be part of routine exercises, a military source said Wednesday.

   "Since mid-May, the number of sorties North Korean jet fighters make has risen sharply," the source said. "Up to 50 sorties have been made a day, and two to three of them approached close to the tactical action line (TAC)."

   The TAC is an imaginary line that the South established about 20-50 kilometers north of its airspace as a heads up for possible provocations. South Korean fighter jets are required to scramble if North Korean aircraft approach the line.

   On June 5, one North Korean fighter jet approached the TAC, prompting four South Korean jets to scramble, the source said.

   "The number of flights is believed to have increased as the North's air force has been under its summer combat inspections," the source said. "We are making thorough preparations for the possibility of airborne provocations."