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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 236 (Nov. 15, 2012)

S. Korea Opens Second Resettlement Center for N. Korean Defectors

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea will open a second resettlement education center next month for North Koreans who have defected from the famine-stricken country to settle down in South Korea, the ministry handling North Korean issues said Thursday.

   The four-story building will open for operations on Dec. 5 in Gangwon Province's Hwacheon, 118 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

   The latest resettlement center has the capacity to accommodate 500 defectors and will cater to male refugees while they undertake their compulsory three-month education program, the Unification Ministry said.

   South Korea opened the first resettlement center in 1999 in Anseong, 77 kilometers south of Seoul, which now provides resettlement programs for youth and female defectors, with a capacity of 600 people. In the past Seoul had run a make-shift center for male defectors.

   The number of North Korean defectors who had settled down in the South reached 24,309 as of the end of October.


Construction Begins for South-North Korean Youth Exchange Center

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea broke ground on Nov. 9 to construct a center for exchanges between South and North Korean youth in a South Korean border village.

   The center with a capacity of 500 people will be completed in August 2014, in the border village of Yeoncheon, just south of the Military Demarcation Line, according to the regional office of the county.

   The country invested 52.1 billion won (US$47.95 million) for the construction of the complex to be used to host exchange events with the North.

   It is equipped with a camping ground, accommodations and sports facilities.

   Seoul plans to utilize the complex to hold reunion events for families separated between the South and the North as well as other talks with the North, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles North Korean issues.

   "We should plan to help South and North Korean youth jointly design the future of the Korean Peninsula," Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said during the ground-breaking ceremony held on Nov. 9.


S. Korean FM Sees 'New Consultation' for Resumption of N. Korea Nuke Talks

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said on Nov. 14 he expects regional powers to hold a "new consultation" for reopening the six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons once a political transition in Northeast Asia is over.

   Kim also voiced hope that the second term of U.S. President Barack Obama and North Korea could resume their bilateral dialogue if the North takes steps to restore trust in Pyongyang, which reneged on a food-for-nuclear freeze deal with Washington early this year.

   "Currently, leadership changes are taking place in most countries engaged in the six-party talks. If so, I expect that they could hold a new consultation (for the resumption of the six-party talks," Kim said in an interview with news Y, the all-news cable TV channel run by Yonhap News Agency.

   South Koreans go to the polls on Dec. 19 to pick their new leader with China also undergoing a once-in-a-decade leadership change this month. A snap general election is also likely to take place in Japan.

   The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008. Early this year, North Korea had agreed with the U.S. to freeze its nuclear and missile activities in return for food aid, but the "Leap Day" deal was scrapped with Pyongyang's failed launch of a long-range rocket in April.

   Kim said the failed rocket launch "broke trust" between the U.S. and North Korea, but the two sides "could open the door for dialogue if North Korea takes measures to restore trust."

   South Korea has been a staunch ally of the U.S., but a rising China is increasingly putting Seoul in a strategic and diplomatic dilemma between Washington and Beijing.

   With Obama preparing for his second term and leader in-waiting Xi Jinping expected to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kim said he was confident about a cooperative U.S.-China relationship.

   In the new era of cooperation between the U.S. and China, dubbed "G2," Kim said that South Korea should take the lead in inter-Korean issues.

   "As for inter-Korean relations, the South and the North should meet each other and resolve issues," Kim said.

   On Nov. 12, Kim warned that North Korea may soon launch provocative acts as the North has a track record of testing each new government in Seoul after a presidential election.

   This week, a U.S. academic Web site suggested that North Korea is pressing ahead with the development of long-range missiles.

   Citing satellite images, the Web site 38 North, run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said North Korea has conducted at least two tests of large rocket motors since the failed rocket launch in April, raising a possibility of another rocket launch.

   "In the aftermath of the U.S. and South Korean presidential elections, Pyongyang may embark on a new round of activities in the first half of 2013, including rocket and nuclear tests that will contribute to the further development of its nuclear deterrent," it said.