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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 262 (May 16, 2013)
*** NEWS IN BRIEF

N. Korea Spurns Seoul's Demand on Kaesong Industrial Park

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 9 rejected a South Korean demand for a promise not to take any actions that may again disrupt the operations at a joint industrial complex in its territory, calling it "ridiculous."

   The joint industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong remains shut down since early April when North Korea, citing joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises under way, withdrew all of its 53,000 workers. South Korea responded by pulling out its own manpower.

   In testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 6, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said that in order to reopen the industrial complex, South Korea needs "a promise (from North Korea) that similar things will not be repeated in the future."

   Through its propaganda Web site Uriminzokkiri on May 9, North Korea claimed that Seoul is to blame for the suspension of the joint industrial park.

   The Web site also reiterated Pyongyang's stance that South Korea "should first take measures to end provocative actions and military threats against us."

   During a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on May 7, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said her government is keeping open the door for dialogue with North Korea.

  
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N. Korea Slams President Park's U.S. Trip as Prelude to War

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 10 denounced South Korean President Park Geun-hye's first visit to the United States and summit with U.S. President Barack Obama as a prelude to war aimed at escalating conflict with her countrymen.

   Park was headed home Friday after wrapping up her five-day trip to the United States. The visit to Washington and her meeting with Obama marked her first overseas tour since taking office in February.

   The spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), responding to a question raised by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), described the working visit by South Korea's chief executive as a "junket" tour that strained tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding region.

   "It is a curtain-raiser to a dangerous war to invade the DPRK (North Korea)," the North's official news wire service said, citing the official.

   The media outlet monitored in Seoul also said that the CPRK official made clear Park's calls for inter-Korean confidence building is nothing more than a new version of the "nukes, opening and 3,000 dollar" policy pursued by former President Lee Myung-bak. Lee said Seoul will help increase the North's per capita income to US$3,000 only if the country gives up its nuclear weapons program.

   "Her 'confidence process' means south Korea cannot tolerate the north's access to nukes and there can be no reward for its provocation and threat and it will be forced to pay a price for its provocation," the CPRK official asserted. He said this translates into "self-recognition" of the fact that her stance on key issues is nothing more than a "policy of confrontation."

   Pyongyang has said on numerous occasions that it will never give up its nuclear weapons or its long-range missile capability, and that as long as the United States maintains its nuclear arsenal, it will do the same.

   In addition, the news report said Park slandered the DPRK's line that calls for simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of its nuclear force by terming it an "impossible goal" and calling on its leadership to make the right choices.

   The official for the committee that handles inter-Korean relations said Pyongyang is patiently watching Seoul and its policymakers. "The south's policymakers are the ones that need to make the right choices," he countered adding calls by Seoul that Pyongyang should change are unacceptably arrogant.

   The latest media report marks the first time Pyongyang specifically blasted the South Korea-U.S. summit that took place a little over two days ago.

  
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N. Korea Slams Obama for Blaming It for Inter-Korean Tensions

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 10 accused the U.S. president of trying to blame the socialist country for heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and called for an end to hostile actions from the U.S.

   Responding to a question raised by the KCNA, the spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said that Barack Obama falsified truths by talking about "provocations" and "threats" coming from the DPRK (North Korea) ahead of his summit meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

   The KCNA, citing the official in an English language statement, said these remarks are untrue and can only be viewed as a move by the United States to evade responsibility for the most serious deterioration of security conditions in the region in recent years.

   "The recent escalation in confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. was sparked by the high-handed hostile act (by the U.S.) against the satellite launch for peaceful purposes," the media report monitored in Seoul said.

   Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket in December 2012 that was widely viewed as a cover to test the country's long-range missile technology. The U.N. Security Council took action to penalize the launch but the North followed this with its third nuclear test on March 12.

   The spokesman then said that all actions taken by the North represented minimum countermeasures for self-defense to protect its sovereignty and security.

   The spokesman cited the use of B-52 and B-2 strategic bombers and deployment of F-22 stealth fighters as an indication the U.S. is interested in starting a nuclear war.

   The official added that after escalating tensions, the U.S. has started to talk a lot about updating its security alliance with Seoul, reconfirming its defense commitments and setting up a joint missile defense system. He said such measures are part of a "sinister intentions" to push ahead with its pivot-to-Asia Pacific strategy.

   The foreign ministry spokesman then said the root cause of tension will likely not be removed, but that tension and danger of conflict are bound to resurface down the line unless the U.S. stops its hostile acts against Pyongyang.

   "The U.S. president would be well advised not to talk about 'change' in the DPRK but reflect on his own wrong views and make bold decision to correct this," he said.

   The remark can be seen as a rebuff to demands raise by both Seoul and Washington that it is the North that needs to change in order to join the international community as a responsible member.

   Related to the summit and North Korea's harsh response, local experts said with Seoul and Washington having moved to strengthen their 60-year-old military alliance at the summit meeting, and overlooked mention of an "exit strategy" that could ease tension, the North may take a wait-and-see approach.

   "The North will likely release more threatening statements and carefully watch the upcoming South Korea-China summit meeting set for next month," said Kim Joon-hyung, an international studies professor at Handong Global University in Pohang.

   The foreign ministry official's remarks, meanwhile, come a few hours after North Korea blasted President Park's first visit to the United States as a prelude to war aimed at escalating conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

  
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North Korea Denounces Sex Scandal Rocking South Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced a sexual molestation scandal involving a now-fired spokesman for South Korean President Park Geun-hye for a second day on May 12, claiming the incident shows Park's visit to the U.S. ended in failure.

   The North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary that a senior member of Park's entourage committed a shameful act of indecency while the "owner of Cheong Wa Dae" was on an overseas trip.

   Park's now-fired spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, was accused of grabbing the buttocks of his temporary secretary in her early 20s after drinking with her in a Washington bar on Tuesday night, hours after Park held summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.

   Yoon has denied the allegations, claiming he only patted her on the waist.

   The North's paper said the case proves Park's trip to the U.S. ended in failure.

   On Saturday, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency carried a similar report denouncing the alleged molestation.

  
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North Korea Confirms Arrival of Japanese Official

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 14 confirmed the arrival in Pyongyang of an adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who helped arrange two rounds of summit talks between Japan and North Korea.

   The North's official Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported a delegation led by Isao Iijima arrived in Pyongyang earlier May 14 but did not specify the purpose of Iijima's trip.

   The report came hours after Japan's Kyodo News Agency said the Japanese official arrived in the socialist country.

   Iijima is said to have helped arrange former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's trips to Pyongyang for talks with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2002 and 2004.

   Relations between Japan and North Korea have since soured over Pyongyang's alleged abduction of Japanese citizens decades ago.

   Diplomatic sources here said Iijima's trip to Pyongyang may still be aimed at resolving the issue of abducted Japanese citizens.

  
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N. Korea Refutes Views of Eased Inter-Korean Tensions

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 14 refuted assessments that tensions have eased on the Korean Peninsula, saying the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military exercise is fueling uncertainties.

   Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK), said in an article monitored in Seoul that conditions remain precarious because of the naval exercise taking place in the East Sea.

   "The state of tension on the Korean Peninsula have not lessened in the slightest," the newspaper claimed.

   The rebuttal comes as Pyongyang seems to have toned down its fiery rhetoric in recent weeks, after it threatened to attack South Korea and the United States with nuclear weapons earlier in the year.

   "The naval maneuvers involving the Nimitz carrier battle group are contributing to tensions in the region, particularly since it comes right after Seoul and Washington conducted the Foal Eagle military drills," it said.

   The two-day naval exercise taking place off the coast of Pohang, 374 kilometers southeast of Seoul, will end later in the day, while Foal Eagle ran for two full months and concluded on April 30.

   The daily, which effectively represents the views of the WPK and the state policy as a whole, argued that the only reason full-scale war has not erupted in the face of military drills is because Pyongyang has confronted the U.S. nuclear threat head on.

   "The DPRK (North Korea) has been able to safeguard its sovereignty and peace because it built up its nuclear deterrence in the face of efforts by the U.S. to stifle the country," it said. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

   The country detonated its third nuclear device on Feb. 12 and claimed that it has achieved miniaturizing technology, which may imply that nuclear warheads can be placed on top of missiles.

   It then said the clear lesson learned in the face of provocations is that unless the DPRK maintains its nuclear force it will become the victim to the unfair international regime, once again emphasizing that it will not give up its nuclear arsenal. The exact size of the North's nuclear capability is not known, but judging by the fissile material the country could have accumulated over the years, it may have up to 10 devices.

   Rodong Sinmum's article, meanwhile, is seen as Pyongyang once again making clear it will follow the policy line of simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of its nuclear force that was announced at the Plenary session of the Central Committee of the WPK in March.

  
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North Korea Slams Park's 'Seoul Process' as Absurd

SEOUL 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 15 slammed the "Seoul process" advocated by South Korean President Park Geun-hye as absurd since it fails to comprehend the crisis situation confronting Korean Peninsula.

   The Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's main Internet-based media and propaganda Web site, said the Seoul process, or the Northeast Asian process and cooperation initiative, completely overlooks the nuclear war danger facing South Korea.

   "Talking about greater Northeast Asian issues and environmental protection issues while the South is living under the fire of countless nuclear time bombs is utterly childish," the media outlet said. It also claimed the initiative is part of a plan by the United States to dominate the world.

   Park outlined the initiative in a speech delivered at a joint session of the U.S. Congress last week, during her first overseas visit after taking office as president earlier in the year. The process calls for the creation of a more peaceful and harmonious region that is unburdened by historic and territorial tensions and able to move forward.

   It also outlines an "open door" policy toward North Korea that can help build trust at the lower level and use this foundation to expand confidence that can help resolve key issues like lessening military tensions and tackling Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

  
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International Body Prepares for Probe into Bird Flu in N. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The international agency on animal health is preparing to conduct an on-spot inspection into a recent outbreak of bird flu in North Korea, a news report said on May 15.

   Bernard Vallat, the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), said his agency will send experts to the North if the communist country asks for support in containing its spread, according to Washington-based Voice of America (VOA).

   The move came after a duck farm near Pyongyang reported symptoms of avian influenza, known as the H5N1 virus, prompting the owner to cull some 164,000 ducks.

   Upon the news of the outbreak, the OIE has been in contact with the North Korean authorities, waiting for Pyongyang's official request for support, Vallat was quoted as saying by the VOA.

   Though his agency has yet to confirm whether the virus has spread to other farms, Vallat said the experts would advise the North on how to control the spread, including vaccinations or culling.

   The OIE earlier said the highly contagious virus was presumed to be spread by migrating birds from China, where its Tibet Autonomous Region saw 35 chickens die at a farm after showing symptoms of the avian flu.
Receiving such reports from the OIE, the South Korean government has also increased monitoring of major habitats for migratory birds in border regions and strengthened preventive efforts, according to Seoul's agriculture ministry.

   An outbreak of the avian flu led to a mass cull of 210,000 chickens in North Korea in February 2005.

   While officials here said the government is neither reviewing nor preparing aid for the bird flu-stricken North Korea, some experts say Seoul would consider offering humanitarian aid to Pyongyang, taking President Park Geun-hye's earlier pledge and similar precedents into consideration.

   Despite the tough stance against North Korea's nuclear programs, Park has pledged not to link humanitarian aid to security issues, a departure from her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who insisted on linking any assistance to progress in disarming the North.

   The South Korean government spent 17.8 billion won (US$15.9 million) to provide the North with anti-influenza A drugs in December 2009, and sent emergency medicine and equipment worth 720 million won to combat the bird flu virus in April 2005.

  
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North Korea Slams Japan for Denying Past Misdeeds

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea lashed out at Japan on May 15 for failing to acknowledge its past misdeeds and for not taking proper steps to settle its historic debt to people in the region.

   In an article carried by Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK), Pyongyang said the suffering inflicted by Japan's brutal colonial rule (1910-45) on the people of Korea was the worst in history.

   "The psychological, physical and material suffering inflicted is beyond words," the report monitored in Seoul said. The daily that effectively represents the views of the ruling party claimed Tokyo should have expressed deep remorse for the suffering it caused and make due compensations.

   The criticism comes as Isao Iijima, a special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, arrived in Pyongyang to discuss the repatriation of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

   The newspaper pointed out that it has been over half a century since Japan's defeat in World War 2, yet the country has not taken steps to do away with its distorted views of history.

   Japanese leaders in the past have repeatedly made comments and taken steps justifying the colonization of Asian countries and starting a war of conquest. These actions infuriated people living in the region and have been a source of strained relations.

   It said that settling of crimes against humanity is directly linked to ethical and political issues, as well as being related to international law.

   "How it goes about the settling its wrong actions will help determine if the country is willing to learn from the past and start afresh," the daily said, emphasizing the country needs to make the right choices.

   North Korean watchers in Seoul, meanwhile, said renewed criticism for Tokyo's actions in the first half of the 20th century, seems to be timed with the visit by the Japanese envoy.

   "By bringing up the past, the North may be sending a clear message that it wants monetary compensation from its neighbor," an international relations expert said.

   Tokyo has placed top diplomatic importance on getting the North to send back its nationals, while the communist country has countered that it can only take such a move if Japan provides full compensation for its colonial period.

  (END)
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