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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 230 (October 4, 2012)

S. Korea to Send Third Notice Urging N. Korea to Repay Food Loan

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea will send a third notice to North Korea, urging the country again to repay overdue loans extended to the North after a summit between the two countries in 2000, Seoul said on Sept. 27.

   In loans of rice and corn, promised in the landmark 2000 summit between the two Koreas, South Korea provided the North with food worth a total of US$720 million until 2007.

   Including interest accrued on the food loans, the North is required to repay some $875 million by 2037, with the first installment payment of $5.83 million having come due on June 7.

   The North has remained silent about the overdue debt, causing Seoul to issue the third reminder of the missed debt repayment to Pyongyang.

   Seoul has not used its rights to declare Pyongyang to be in default to the international community although it became entitled to do so after the North was silent for more than 30 days after the first reminder was sent on June 8.

   "As the North kept mum about notices sent both on June 8 and July 16, we are planning to sent another notice through the Export-Import Bank of Korea, urging it to pay back the food loan," said an official at the Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean issues.


S. Korea Calls for N. Korea's Cooperation in Uniting Separated Families

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Seoul's vice foreign minister called for North Korea's cooperation on Oct. 1 in efforts to allow reunions of families separated by the countries' division following the 1950-53 Korean War.

   "The North government also should assume the duties and responsibilities for solving this issue," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Chun-sig said in a speech delivered in an separated families' event held in Imjingak pavilion in the border village of Paju.

   The call came as Pyongyang remains silent on Seoul's proposals, given in February and August, that they hold a reunion event for families separated between the South and the North.

   Referring to the North's inaction, the vice minister said "This issue could be solved only if the North Korean authorities made a decision."

   The Seoul government shares the pain and the anxiousness felt by separated family members, Kim said, adding the ministry "is willing to proactively solve the issue any time and without conditions, if there is a way to do so."

   About 81,800 South Koreans are registered with the government as separated families as of this year.

   The divided Koreas have held more than a dozen rounds of reunions since a landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000, bringing together more than 21,700 family members who had not seen each other since the war.

   But the annual reunion event, usually held around traditional holidays, was put on hold as the North raised criticism over the sitting Lee Myung-bak administration's hard-line policy toward the communist country.


North Korea Refuses to Take Back Remains of Its Soldiers

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea has yet to return more than 600 sets of remains of North Korean soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War amid Pyongyang refusing to accept them, a lawmaker said on Oct. 1.

   South Korea has 614 sets of remains of North Korean soldiers retrieved since 2000, according to figures provided by the Defense Ministry to Rep. Chung Hee-soo of the ruling Saenuri Party.

   The ministry has excavated 7,652 sets of remains since 2000. The total breaks down to 6,667 South Korean soldiers, 614 North Koreans, 360 Chinese soldiers and 11 members of the U.N. forces.

   The United States and 15 other U.N. members took part in the Korean War against invading North Korean soldiers aided by communist ally China.

   All of the remains of South Korean soldiers have been buried at national cemeteries and those of U.N. soldiers sent back to relevant countries.

   "The South Korean government has asked the North Korean government to accept the remains of North Korean soldiers, but the North has refused to do that," Chung said. "The remains of Chinese soldiers have yet to get back to their homeland due to North Korea refusing to take them."

   In the first such incident, South Korea got back in May the remains of 12 South Korean soldiers killed in the Korean War with the help of the U.S.

   The 12 sets of remains of South Korean soldiers are part of 226 sets recovered in North Korea by a U.S. excavation team between 2000 and 2004.

   Washington halted the digging operation in North Korea in 2005 amid concerns over the safety and security of its workers.

   About 30,000 to 40,000 remains of South Korean soldiers are believed to be buried in North Korea.

   South Korean government data shows that about 140,000 South Korean troops were killed in action during the Korean War, with some 215,000 North Korean soldiers being estimated to have been killed and 2.5 million civilians killed in the war.


North Korean Propaganda Leaflets Found in South Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A large number of North Korean propaganda leaflets have been found in South Korea, which denounce the South's anti-Pyongyang education program for service members as advocating dictatorship, an official said on Oct. 2.

   A balloon was spotted flying from the North on Sept. 29 evening, and a search in the border areas of Gimpo and Paju, near where the balloon fell, has turned up about 16,000-17,000 propaganda leaflets, a military official said.

   The leaflets featured photos of prominent late South Korean dissidents on one side, with a phrase on the other side that the defense ministry's anti-jongbuk education amounts to advocating dictatorship.

   "Jongbuk" means blindly following what North Korea says, and the leaflet appears to claim that the South is trying to use such anti-Pyongyang education for political purposes, apparently suggesting that past authoritarian leaders in the South used anti-communist ideology to suppress dissents.

   The dissidents featured in the leaflets included Chang Joon-ha, one of South Korea's best-known dissidents who defiantly stood up against the authoritarian government of then President Park Chung-hee.

   Park's daughter, Rep. Park Geun-hye, is vying for presidency in December's election.

   It was the second time this year that North Korean propaganda leaflets have been found in South Korea. In July, 16,000 leaflets of 10 different kinds were found in Paju and other areas near the border.