In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

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In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

Seoul, May 18, 2012 (AFP) – China has allowed six North Korean refugees to leave for South Korea after they spent months holed up in Seoul’s consular offices in China, news reports said Friday.

Following their departure last week there are no more North Koreans left at South Korean diplomatic missions in China, the Korea JoongAng Daily and the Seoul Shinmun Daily said.

A South Korean foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Beijing allowed the six defectors, who had been holed up at the South Korean missions in Shenyang and Shanghai for many months, to travel to the South through a third country, the dailies said, quoting sources.

China’s decision to let the defectors leave was apparently made as a goodwill gesture before a meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Korea JoongAng Daily said.

Lee met Hu on Monday in Beijing following an annual trilateral summit with China and Japan.

The six included two relatives of a South Korean prisoner of war, captured by the North during the 1950-53 Korean War. Of the remaining four, two were identified as men and two as women, the reports said.

China last month reportedly allowed another five North Korean defectors to leave for South Korea after they were confined to Seoul’s Beijing embassy to avoid arrest. Some spent months there but others spent years.

China arrests and repatriates fugitives from North Korea, considering them to be economic migrants rather than potential refugees.

South Korea and international rights groups have urged it to change the policy, saying returnees can face harsh punishment.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled poverty or repression in their homeland, almost all of them across the border to China.

Some hide out among — or marry into — the ethnic Korean community in China’s northeast. Others try to travel on to Southeast Asian nations before flying to Seoul.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Protests for N.Korean Defectors Sent Powerful Signal

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In the News – Protests for N.Korean Defectors Sent Powerful Signal

Protests across the street from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul that began in February against Beijing’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors came to an end on Monday. It had been 77 days since the protests began with a press conference by conservative Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young on Feb. 13 calling on Beijing to stop the repatriation of 24 North Korean defectors who were caught hiding in China.

Residents of the neighborhood complained about inconvenience as the demonstrations dragged on, and police and the Jongno District Office also requested that they end.

At first, the protests did not gain much attention. Then on Feb. 21 Park began a hunger strike and actor Cha In-pyo showed up with around 50 teenage North Korean defectors, drawing widespread attention to the demonstrations. Lee Ae-ran, the first North Korean defector to earn a PhD in South Korea, took the baton from Park and carried on the hunger strike, followed by other prominent officials. Continue reading

U.S. Presidential Candidates on North Korea

The Korean peninsula is expected to enter a new phase as a result of leadership changes in 2012. South Korea will have a new president by the end of the year, and this is the first fiscal year for Kim Jong-un who assumed the supreme commandership of North Korea after his father’s sudden death in December 2011. In addition, the United States presidential election of 2012 will be held in November. Xi Jinping of China will succeed Hu Jintao as General Secretary and President. As six-party talks play a crucial role in determining the dynamics between South and North Koreas, all of these leadership changes should be taken into account when predicting the future of the peninsula. With the U.S. election being eight months ahead, now is the time to take a look at each candidate’s view on North Korea and how it can affect the South-North relationship in the future.

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In the News – N. Korean leader gets new political titles in key conference

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In the News – N. Korean leader gets new political titles in key conference

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has gained new political titles, Pyongyang’s state news agency reported Thursday, ahead of an imminent rocket launch that could tighten sanctions on the already isolated country.

Kim was named first secretary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and also elected as a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the party’s Central Committee, according to the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

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In the News – (Nuclear summit) N. Korea loses more than gains from rocket gambit

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In the News – (Nuclear summit) N. Korea loses more than gains from rocket gambit

By Chang Jae-soon
SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) — When North Korea caught the world off guard with a surprise rocket launch announcement just 10 days before world leaders gathered in Seoul for an anti-nuclear terrorism conference, the communist nation might have thought it succeeded in snatching the international spotlight from the rival South.

But the timing was not a good idea after all.

Analysts say Pyongyang lost more than it gained from choosing to make the rocket announcement shortly prior to the Nuclear Security Summit, handing South Korea an easy chance to make its case and drum up global criticism of the provocative regime with little effort. Continue reading

In the News – Welcome Signs That China’s Attitude to N.Korea Is Changing

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In the News – Welcome Signs That China’s Attitude to N.Korea Is Changing

Chinese President Hu Jintao told his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak on Monday that his government attempted several in-depth talks with Pyongyang to express its “deep concern” over the North’s planned rocket launch. Hu added Beijing is urging Pyongyang to give up the rocket launch plan and focus on improving the livelihood of its people. Regarding the controversial issue of Beijing’s repatriation of North Korean defectors arrested in China, Hu said his country is “taking a lot of interest and giving consideration” to the issue. It “respects the position” of South Korea and will “strive to ensure that the issue is resolved smoothly.”  Continue reading

In the News – Obama Calls for North Korea to Have Courage to Pursue Peace

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In the News – Obama Calls for North Korea to Have Courage to Pursue Peace
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (L) poses with U.S. President Barack Obama as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul, March 26, 2012.

Photo: Reuters
South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak (L) poses with U.S. President Barack Obama as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul, March 26, 2012.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s discussions Monday with the leaders of Russia and China appear to have yielded no breakthroughs regarding concerns about North Korea and Iran. The meetings came hours after the president delivered a speech in the South Korean capital calling on the North Koreans to “have the courage to pursue peace” and “take irreversible steps” to meet their international obligations.

Nuclear tensions with North Korea and Iran were the focus for Obama and many of the other leaders now in Seoul for the Nuclear Security Summit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao met Monday with both South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and, then, President Obama to discuss an upcoming North Korean missile launch. Continue reading

In the News – China promises to try to dissuade N. Korea from rocket launch: official

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In the News – China promises to try to dissuade N. Korea from rocket launch: official 

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — China promised Monday to keep trying to dissuade North Korea from its planned long-range rocket launch, expressing “deep concern” that the move could have negative effects on peace on the Korean Peninsula and efforts to resume six-party nuclear talks, an official said.

Chinese officials made the remarks during summit talks between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu was in Seoul to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, a global anti-nuclear terrorism conference set to open later Monday.
“Expressing deep concern, the Chinese leadership said it is urging North Korea to give up the satellite launch and focus on development of the lives of ordinary people,” Kim Tae-hyo, a senior presidential security official, told reporters during a briefing on the summit.

The Chinese side has tried to contact North Korea many times on the issue and already conveyed concern to Pyongyang, Kim said.

It is rare for China to take such a clear-cut position on a North Korean provocation. Continue reading

In the News – Opposition lawmaker taken to hospital during hunger strike

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In the News – Opposition lawmaker taken to hospital during hunger strike

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) — A high-profile South Korean opposition lawmaker fainted and was taken to hospital for treatment Friday as she entered her 11th day of a hunger strike demanding China not repatriate North Korean defectors.

Rep. Park Sun-young of the conservative minor Liberty Forward Party was sitting in a chair in front of a church and listening to a North Korean defector’s speech when she suddenly fainted, an Yonhap News Agency photographer said.

The North Korea Card: How will Hu & Obama deal?

GRACE KIM

Early Thoughts…

My Google Alerts has been emailing notifications to my blackberry nonstop with news on Kim Jong Un’s lavish birthday celebrations and more importantly, President Hu Jintao visiting President Barack Obama in Washington next Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Hu’s visit bears much significance on the U.S. – China relationship. Foreign policy experts have their fingers crossed hoping that this visit will appease the hostility between the two after conflicting interests in a number of issues including: exchange-rate policy, Internet censorship-Google, human rights, environment concerns, and North Korea’s deadly attacks on Yeonpyeong, South Korea. With grave economic issues and Chinese militaristic growth hovering over the discussion table will enough time be allotted to resolve stances regarding how to deal with the unruly North Korea?

Nuclear stability concerns will most definitely be raised as China prioritizes softening U.S. & South Korean response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But what about the thousands of defectors who lead perilous lives fearing repatriotization? Will the rampant poverty rates and unimaginable human rights violations in North Korea even be mentioned during this rendezvous?

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