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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 248 (February 7, 2013)

N. Korean Footballer Jong Tae-se Allowed to Compete as S. Korean in Asia

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean football player Jong Tae-se, who recently signed with a South Korean club, will be allowed to compete as a South Korean player in Asian club matches, an official said on Feb. 1.

   According to the official of the Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the K League Classic, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the continental governing body of football, has confirmed that it will recognize Jong's dual citizenship in competition.

   Jong, 28, was born in Japan to a South Korean father and a pro-Pyongyang North Korean mother. He attended pro-North Korean schools in Japan and has said that he considers himself North Korean.

   After signing a deal with the Bluewings last month, Jong entered South Korea with a single-entry South Korean passport. He tried to downplay the significance of his possession of the passport, saying he will be South Korean while playing in the South and he believes Korea is one country.

   "Through the Korea Football Association, we asked the AFC to clarify the situation on Jong Tae-se," the Suwon official said. "The AFC has replied that it will recognize Jong's dual citizenship."

   According to the official, this means Jong will represent North Korea in international matches, as he has done in the past, but when Suwon plays in the AFC Champions League, a regional club competition, he will be a South Korean player.

   Jong is the fourth North Korean to play in South Korea's first division competition. All three players before him were recognized as South Koreans in the league play.


N. Korea Dissolves State-run Firm in Charge of Attracting Foreign Investment

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea dissolved a well-known state-run company in charge of attracting foreign investment due to its unsatisfactory performance, South Korea's Unification Ministry said on Feb. 1.

   "Daepung International Investment Group seems to have been disbanded, probably due to poor performance," a ministry official said in a briefing on governmental and personnel changes taken under the Kim Jong-un regime over the past year.

   The country also broke up another extra-governmental organization in charge of trade promotion and foreign investment with its work believed to have been reassigned to the government's Commission for Joint Venture and Investment, according to the official.

   Daepung Group was established at the instruction of the North's highest political body, the National Defense Commission, in January 2010 as a means to attract foreign investment.

   The group oversaw the now-suspended joint tourist program in Mount Kumgang on the eastern coast of North Korea.

   The cross-border program had served as a cash cow for the North before Seoul halted it in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at the resort.

   The ministry official also underlined the dramatic ascent of Jang Song-thaek, the powerful uncle and guardian of the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un took power after his father Kim Jong-il's sudden death in December 2011.

   The North established a high-profile government body, the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, in November last year and named Jang as its head.

   The official also confirmed the removal of U Tong-chuk, a powerful figure under the late leader, who escorted the funeral coach of Kim Jong-il with a few other officials.

   U is confirmed to have been dismissed from his positions as a member of the Central Military Commission as well as a member of the National Defense Commission, she said.

   "U has not been seen in (the North's reported) public events since last April ... there has been much intelligence through various channels that U has health problems including a cerebral hemorrhage," the official said.

   The country officially designated July 17, 2012 as the day Kim Jong-un was awarded the marshal title, which gave him the right to command the country's 1.2-million-strong army, the official also noted, adding that the country may celebrate the day every year down the road.


U.N. Secretary-general Urges Stern Measures against N. Korean Nuclear Test

NEW YORK (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Feb. 1 called for swift, stern measures against North Korea if the socialist nation conducts its third nuclear test in further violation of U.N. sanctions.

   The call came at a meeting with Ambassador Kim Sook, chief of the South Korean mission to the United Nations who assumed the month-long chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council on Friday.

   "The role of the Security Council has become ever important," Ban told the South Korean diplomat. "The chairman of the Security Council must work closely with other council members to make sure North Korea does not violate the Security Council's resolutions by conducting a nuclear test."

   "I, too, will do my utmost as the secretary-general of the United Nations and work closely with the chairman of the Security Council," he said.

   North Korea was placed under additional U.N. sanctions last month for its launch of a long-range rocket.

   Pyongyang claims the rocket was carrying a satellite, but the Security Council unanimously decided it was still in violation of previous U.N. sanctions that followed the North's two previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, condemning any missile tests by the communist nation.

   The North, in strong opposition to the new U.N. sanctions, has threatened to conduct what it called a nuclear test of a higher level.

   South Korean and U.S. intelligence sources have said a nuclear test may be imminent, citing increased movements at the North's suspected nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in the northeastern part of the country.

   Kim said each member of the 15-nation Security Council expressed deep concerns over signs of further provocation by the North.

   "Every member country urged North Korea to abide by the Security Council's resolution and said the Security Council must take swift and stern measures if the North goes ahead with a nuclear test," he said.


More Signs of Imminent Nuclear Test Detected in North Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Increased activity has been spotted at a tunnel of North Korea's main underground nuclear site, a South Korean government source said on Feb. 2, the latest indication the socialist state is preparing to conduct a third test.

   "At a tunnel in the southern part of the test site in Punggye-ri, we've found that work presumed to be part of preparations for a nuclear test has entered its final stage," said a government source in Seoul on condition of anonymity.

   It is the latest in a recent series of signs that the North may be preparing for another nuclear test. The socialist country has threatened to detonate a nuclear device in retaliation for the U.N. Security Council's resolution condemning its Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch. On Feb. 1, sources in Seoul said the North has put a screen over the entrance to the test site's western tunnel in what was seen as an attempt to thwart outside monitoring of the detonation.

   When it detonated its first nuclear device in 2006, North Korea used a similar screen to conceal its last-minute preparations. No such cover was used in the North's second nuclear test in 2009.

   "The North may conduct the test at both the western or southern tunnels. But the recent activities spotted near the southern one could be aimed at distracting us from the more likely place of the western tunnel, so we are monitoring closely," the source said.

   Pyongyang had hinted that the next nuclear detonation will be of a "higher level" which may indicate it could test more than one device or experiment with a more powerful weapon, compared to those used in 2006 and 2009.

   The Punggye-ri site in the North's northeastern tip has three known tunnel entrances and multiple support buildings. The site is where the test is considered most likely, according to government officials and experts. The North conducted the previous two tests at the site.

   Related to Pyongyang's move to conduct an underground atomic test, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who visited the socialist country with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt early last month, said there is a pressing need to resolve differences with dialogue.

   Richardson later said in an article written for a U.S. newspaper, that Pyongyang must not provoke the world by conducting nuclear tests and launching long-range rockets, yet made clear that dialogue along with slapping sanctions is a legitimate diplomatic tool and the two are not mutually exclusive.

   He, in particular, called on Washington to hold bilateral discussions with North Korea and suggested that the United States not be overly dependent on China to resolve North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

   Richardson said that while China is the North's closest ally, the leadership in Pyongyang does not always listen to Beijing.


N. Korea Installs Two Surveillance Towers near Tense Border with S. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military has erected two surveillance towers along the Joint Security Area (JSA) near the border village of Panmunjom to better monitor South Korean military in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a military official said on Feb. 3.

   The 60-meter-high steel towers equipped with security cameras were set up in December last year inside the North's portion of the JSA, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

   The towers were erected following the defection of two North Korean soldiers who crossed the border into South Korea after killing their senior officer last October, the official said.

   The official said the North's move appears to strengthen its monitoring of the border area.

   "The objective is believed to be aimed at strengthening surveillance of its own areas and better monitoring movements of our personnel going in and out of the Panmunjom," the official said.

   North Korea had installed 20-meter-high steel towers for such monitoring.

   South Korea's military is considering erecting more surveillance towers in response to the North's new towers, according to the official.

   The JSA is considered one of the last Cold War frontiers where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement was signed.


S. Korea Calls on China to Convince N. Korea to Scrap Planned Nuke Test

BEIJING (Yonhap) -- South Korea's chief nuclear envoy met with his Chinese counterpart on Feb. 4 and urged Beijing to exert its influence on Pyongyang to abandon its planned test of a nuclear device, a Seoul official said.

   Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief envoy to the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program, held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula over the North's threats of a nuclear test.

   During the meeting, Lim and Wu expressed concerns over the North's planned nuclear test and shared common views that a nuclear test by Pyongyang will pose a grave threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, said the official with the knowledge of the talks.

   North Korea has vowed to conduct its third nuclear test in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution tightening sanctions against it as punishment for its December rocket launch. The country had previously detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.

   Officials in Seoul have said North Korea has completed all preparations and can detonate a nuclear device at any time.

   On Sunday, North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un convened a meeting of high-level military officials and issued "important" guidelines to them, in the latest indication that Pyongyang might soon carry out a nuclear test.

   China, which endorsed the latest U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea, has apparently warned the North against conducting a nuclear test.

   China's state-run newspaper run by the ruling Community Party, The Global Times, recently ran an editorial that indicated Beijing would cut aid to Pyongyang if it goes ahead with a nuclear test.


U.N. to Take Resolute Action against N. Korea for Any Nuke Test

NEW YORK/ WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Security Council, led this month by South Korea, will take "very firm and resolute" action against North Korea should it press ahead with a nuclear test, a top Seoul envoy said on Feb. 4.

   Kim Sook, South Korea's ambassador to the U.N., said another nuclear test appears imminent, echoing various media reports that the secretive socialist nation is technically ready for it, although it remains unclear whether or when will the leadership will make the decision.

   He cited "very busy activities" at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site in a remote northeastern region, where it carried out two previous experiments in 2006 and 2009.

   "The Security Council will take firm and strong measures if North Korea carries out the nuclear test," Kim said told reporters. "We cannot sit idle and do nothing."

   South Korea holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member council in February.

   In January, the council adopted a resolution to expand and toughen sanctions on North Korea for firing a long-range rocket in violation of existing U.N. resolutions.

   It warned of unspecified "significant action" in the event of another launch or nuclear test by North Korea.

   In Washington, the U.S. government said it is continuing efforts for unity with China and Russia as well as South Korea and Japan.

   "We work very closely to have a unified position among those six parties with regard to the DPRK (North Korea)," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing.

   She reiterated that Secretary of State John Kerry had phone calls on Sunday with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, in which they agreed to fully implement new U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang and take additional steps on the regime if it stays on the path of provocation.


S. Korea, U.S. Discussing New Sanctions against N. Korea: Sources

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have been exchanging opinions on new possible U.N. sanctions against North Korea in case it conducts a third nuclear test, government sources here said on Feb. 5
Pyongyang has vowed to detonate nuclear devices in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution last month tightening sanctions against it as punishment for its Dec. 12 rocket launch, with a series of signs indicating that the North has completed preparations to conduct the test at any time. It had previously carried out the tests in 2006 and 2009.

   "We are in consultation with the allies concerned (on punishable measures against North Korea)," said a senior foreign ministry official with direct knowledge about the matter.
"The discussion is in its initial stage ... The (South Korean) government strives to put new elements into the possible sanctions," the official added.

   Under the principal of adopting a new U.N. resolution of sanctioning the North in case of its third test "at a possible earliest date," South Korea, as the U.N. Security Council president, "has been discussing its key contents with the U.S.," said another government source in Seoul requesting anonymity.

   South Korea started a two-year term on the Security Council last month and took over the rotational office of the U.N. Security Council presidency for February.

   Along with the adoption of Resolution 2087, Seoul is mulling "whole new countermeasures in terms of the North's financial sector and maritime activities, among others, and exchanging elements with the U.S.," he added.

   Some experts and observers say additional sanctions against Pyongyang would include actions to suspend the North's uranium enrichment program. The international community could also apply the so-called "catch-all" clause in the resolution that encompasses a wider range of prohibited exports as a basis to prevent the North from carrying required equipment into its homeland.

   "I expect strengthened financial sanctions and the inspection of vessels heading to the North suspected of carrying suspicious freight in accordance with the U.N. resolution," said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Monday while attending the parliamentary meeting.

   Currently, any products that could be put to military use can be prohibited from being traded with the North, though it is not on the existing list of banned items under resolutions 1718 and 1874. Any country that sells such products to Pyongyang will face sanctions.

   In an aim to address the North's illicit financial activities, further sanctions could be introduced by "spotlighting the problem of North Korea's smuggling of bulk cash," another foreign ministry official said.

   "Even if the North conducts its third nuclear test, including relevant U.N. clauses in the new resolution that pave the way for military action would be far from easy due to possible opposition from China and Russia," he added.


Global Donations Came to Stop after N. Korea's December Rocket Launch

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Global donations to North Korea have effectively been halted amid a rise in international tension following the launch of a long-range rocket in December, a report said on Feb. 6.

   Charity donations intended for the impoverished country have completely stopped as of now since the North's rocket launch on Dec. 12, the Washington, D.C.-based Radio Free Asia quoted World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson Nanna Skau as saying. The international organization may continue to face the suspension unless the ongoing tension dissolves, she said.

   The report said the organization received US$3 million in donations from Russia as promised before the North's December launch, and that was the only donation collected from any nation since sending the Unha-3 rocket into space.

   The aid organization helped feed 740,000 North Koreans in January, which is only half the number of starving North Koreans the food program supported in January of 2012, according to the spokeswoman.

   Due to the aid suspension, the WFP implemented only 30 percent of the total aids it had planned to give to the North in January, she was also quoted as saying.

   The WFP's food processing plant in North Korea is facing difficulties in operations due to a shortage in supplies of flour and cooking oil, she said, adding they may have to wait until the end of March to be able to receive $7 million in aid the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs approved in late January, according to the report.

   Before that, the organization may continue to suffer from a lack of donations, she said.

   The WFP needs a total of $153 million in donations for its aid project intended for North Korean children and pregnant women, but they have secured only 43 percent of them so far, she said.

   The report came amid snowballing tension facing North Korea. The outside world suspects the North's rocket launch was a cover to test its ballistic missile technology despite the country's claim that it was aimed to send a satellite into orbit.

   The U.N. adopted a resolution last month and expanded sanctions on the country, triggering the North to threaten to conduct a nuclear test.