PN's Voice 62

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 62, 26-11-2015
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PN's Voice No. 62  26. 11. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

Japan Considering Deploying THAAD

Japan is planning to deploy the US THAAD ballistic missile defense system to block North Korean missiles. The decision follows the US and China squaring off over deploying of the anti-missile system in South Korea. However, it’s likely that the Japan’s adoption of the technology will also trouble China. China has criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to strengthen the role of Japan’s military, and disturbing a nascent recovery in ties between Asia’s two largest economies, Japan's Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said.

The THAAD issue has left South Korean President Park Geun Hye caught between the US, which maintains more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend against North Korea, and China, its biggest trading partner and ally in efforts to resolve historical and territorial disputes with Japan.

North Korea on November 15 declared a no-sail zone off its eastern coast, suggesting the country may be preparing to test-launch a missile in the sea that lies between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The test could involve a new type of proprietary ballistic missile that separates into several “sub-missiles” at high altitude.
Source : Defense World

S. Korean Think Tank: 'Doubt of Leadership Spreading Among N. Korean Officials'

A South Korean think tank says that doubts surrounding the leadership of Kim Jong-un are spreading among North Korean officials due to his extreme reign of terror. Chief researcher Lee Soo-seok from the Institute for National Security Strategy on Wednesday presented the assessment in a statement released ahead of a forum set for Thursday. The researcher said that top officials are hesitant to give advice to Kim and obeying him like sheep for fear of execution. The researcher said that North Korean officials stationed abroad are defecting from the country due to growing doubts over Kim’s leadership.

The think tank’s report added that Kim Jong-un has executed more than 100 party and military officials since he took office in late 2011.
Source : Yonhap News, KBS News

Koreas Set for Preliminary Dialogue

South and North Korea are poised to hold a working-level meeting tomorrow to prepare for high-level government talks as they seek to mend their long-strained ties, government officials said. The preparatory meeting is to take place on the North's side of the truce village of Panmunjom. Breaking the months-long silence for Seoul's repeated dialogue offer last week, the North offered to hold the preparatory talks. The two sides are likely to discuss details of the high-level talks, including the timing, the venue and the agenda.
Inter-Korean relations have showed signs of improvement as both sides eked out the deal following heightened tension over a land mine blast blamed on the North in early August. The incident maimed two South Korean soldiers near the border.

The main contentious issues to be discussed include North Korea's possible demand for South Korea to resume a long-suspended inter-Korean tour program at Mount , the resumption of divided family reunions, the lifting of the May 24th sanctions and an action plan to improve working relations between the two Koreas.
Source : Yonhap News, Yonhap News

N. Korea Urges S. Korea to Show Will to Improve Relations through Actions

North Korea has urged South Korea to show its commitment to improving inter-Korean relations through actions rather than words. The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party said on Wednesday that Pyongyang has displayed its will to improve relations with Seoul through its words and actions.
The paper criticized the South for pretending to be interested in dialogue with the North while being obsessed with promoting confrontation and conducting a joint artillery drill with the United States. The North also claimed that Seoul is ruining the mood for inter-Korean dialogue by provoking the North on its nuclear and human rights issues. This is no doubt an attempt by the North to pressurize the South into producing tangible results in the presumed upcoming inter-Korean talks (see above).

In a separate report in The Korea Times, it is being suggested that North Korea will demand the resumption of tours to Mount Geumgang when the talks between the two sides take place. "Pyongyang is likely to insist on including the tour program to Mount Geumgang on their agenda items for the high-level talks," said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University. "Seoul instead will be mainly interested in holding reunions of the separated family members regularly and reaching a deal over their respective key concerns will be crucial." Paik Hak-soon, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, agreed. He cited the fact that the tour program to North Korea's scenic mountain resort was a cash cow for the cash-strapped, repressive state until it was suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead.

Additionally, analysts speculate that Pyongyang will also ask Seoul to lift the so-called May 24 measures, a set of economic sanctions imposed on May 24, 2010 after the North's sinking of South Korean naval frigate Cheonan..
Source : KBS News, The Korea Times

S. Korea Working to Halt Refugees’ Return to North

The office of President Park Geun-hye said on Wednesday that her government was trying to secure the freedom of nine North Koreans, including a baby, who a rights group said were in danger of being sent back from China to face harsh punishment for leaving the North. “Our government is mobilizing all its diplomatic efforts to ensure that the North Koreans won’t be forcibly repatriated to the North against their will and that they can travel safely and swiftly to the country of their choice,” said Chun Hye-ran, a spokeswoman for Ms. Park. The statement came after an appeal from the group, Human Rights Watch, earlier Wednesday for Ms. Park to put pressure on China to free the North Koreans, who are believed to be held in a Chinese military garrison near the North Korean border. The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The North Koreans were detained by the Vietnamese police on Oct. 22 in Mong Cai, near the Chinese border, after the bus they were on was stopped for a random check, according to Human Rights Watch, which cited accounts from the North Koreans’ relatives in South Korea. Two days later, they were handed over to the police in Dongxing, in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, the rights group said. One of the nine North Koreans is an 11-month-old baby, Human Rights Watch said. to the North.

More than 28,000 North Koreans have resettled in South Korea since the North was ravaged by famine in the 1990s. Most have fled first to China, then crossed into Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, from which finding a way to South Korea is easier. Last weekend, Human Rights Watch urged China to ensure that the nine were allowed to travel to their countries of choice, including South Korea, rather than return them to the North.
Source : The New York Times

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