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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 228 (Sept. 20, 2012)
*** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS

N. Korea Refuses to Take over Dead Soldier's Body Swept to S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has refused to accept the dead body of a North Korean soldier that was swept to the South near the front-line region due to heavy rains in late August, military officials said on Sept. 14.

   The South Korean military said it retrieved the soldier's body from the Hantan River in Gangwon Province on Aug. 23, and handed it over to the U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission, an agency in charge of supervising the implementation of the truce terms. The two Koreas are technically at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

   After being notified, Pyongyang had agreed to accept the body on Sept. 14 morning, but it has not yet responded to the U.N.'s call, a U.N. official said.

   "It is seen that (the North) refused to take over the body," the official said, asking for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The North's refusal sparked speculation over its intention, as the impoverished socialist nation on Sept. 12 rejected Seoul's offer to send aid for flood victims. The North's state media called the South's proposal to provide 10,000 tons of flour, 3 million packages of ramen noodles and medical supplies an "insult."

   Torrential rains were reported north of the border in late August, prompting the North to discharge dam water into rivers flowing to the South. Besides the dead body, South Korea's military has discovered several wooden-boxed land mines near the border area, apparently swept here from the North by heavy rains.

   In September 2010, South Korea discovered the dead body of a North Korean soldier swept across the eastern border and delivered it to the U.N. authority, which was later handed over to the North.

  
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S. Korea Concludes N. Korean Boats Accidentally Violated Sea Border

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea has concluded that last week's violations of the tense western sea border by North Korean fishing boats happened accidentally as the small vessels with no global positioning equipment focused on crab fishing, a military official said on Sept. 16.

   Seven fishing boats from the North briefly violated the western Northern Limit Line, the de-facto maritime border between the two Koreas, twice on Sept. 14. They crossed back into the North after South Korean naval vessels broadcast warning messages.

   The violations prompted speculation the provocative nation might have attempted to raise tensions or test the South's readiness against incursions, especially following revelations that some artillery guns along the North's coast were uncovered in a possible preparation to fire at the time.

   The South's military has determined the violations were accidental, however.

   "On the day when the North Korean fishing boats violated the NLL, about 100 small fishing boats were spotted operating in waters northwest of the (South's) island of Yeonpyeong," a military official said. "These boats do not have equipment to show their locations and coordinates."

   Officials also said it is unclear whether the North's uncovering of its artillery guns was linked to the violations. Such guns are often uncovered during routine military exercises, and some remain so, they said.

   Still, some of the North's artillery was bared at the same time a few North Korean patrol boats were maneuvering, which may indicate the maneuvers were linked, in an effort to keep South Korean naval boats in check.

   "If the North repeats this kind of act after the crab catching season ends, we have to see that as intentional," another military official said. "We are analyzing the North Korean military's guard system in the West Sea that links its ground and maritime forces."

  
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South Aid Groups to Send Flour Aid to North Korea This Week

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Two South Korean private aid groups plan to send flour to flood-stricken North Korea this week, following the North's refusal last week to accept government flood aid from the South.

   The Unification Ministry said on Sept. 18 it has accepted an application from Christian charity group World Vision to send its personnel to the North on Sept. 21 to deliver 500 tons of flour.

   Having already approved the shipment of the flour, the ministry plans to permit the aid workers to make the trip to North Korea, officials said.

   Separately, the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, an association of more than 50 private groups, also plans to send 500 tons of flour to the North and is scheduled to send its personnel to the North later this week as soon as the North sends an invitation, the officials said.

   In the same briefing, the ministry said the government will resume its provision of encephalitis vaccine to North Korean children this year after the humanitarian program was suspended for the past two years due to high tension between the two Koreas.

   The humanitarian aid worth 2.4 billion won (US$2.1 million) will be sent to North Korean children via the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute, it added.

  (END)
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