In the News – Lee calls for greater attention to N. Korea’s human rights record

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In the News – Lee calls for greater attention to N. Korea’s human rights record

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Wednesday North Korea’s human rights record is an issue as important as its nuclear or missile programs, and should be dealt with more urgently than other matters.

Lee made the remark during a meeting with a group of U.S. lawmakers, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, presidential spokeswoman Lee Mi-yon said.

“The issue of North Korea’s nuclear test or a missile launch is of the same weight of significance as the issue of North Korea’s human rights,” Lee was quoted as saying. “The issue of human rights for the North Korean people should rather be dealt with more urgently.”

The lawmakers promised to pay more attention to the human rights issue, the spokeswoman said.

Ros-Lehtinen and five other Congressmen arrived in Seoul Tuesday for a four-day visit that includes talks with Lee, meetings with the unification minister handling relations with Pyongyang and the first vice foreign minister, as well as a visit to the border with the North. Continue reading

In the News – South Korea to Continue Aid to North Despite Rocket Launch

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In the News – South Korea to Continue Aid to North Despite Rocket Launch

Despite the provocative rocket launch by North Korea last Friday, South Korea is to continue providing humanitarian aid to its impoverished neighbor, with whom it remains technically at war.

Private aid agencies

South Korea’s key official dealing with Pyongyang says his government is not cutting off humanitarian assistance to the North.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik says while other punitive steps will be taken against Pyongyang for the missile launch, Seoul is allowing private relief agencies to continue providing aid for vulnerable people in North Korea. Continue reading

In the News – Worth it? Failed launch costs North Korea food aid

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In the News – Worth it? Failed launch costs North Korea food aid

The U.S. will not go forward with planned food aid for North Korea after the nation’s unsuccessful attempt to launch a long-range missile rocket, the White House said.

“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” the White House said in a statement condemning the launch.

President Obama has been prepared to engage with North Korea in a constructive manner, the statement said, but he also insists that the country live up to its earlier commitments and international obligations.

North Korea’s much-anticipated rocket launch ended quickly in failure early Friday, splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after takeoff. Continue reading

In the News – S.Korea, China, Japan Want Firm Response to N.Korean Rocket Launch

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In the News – S.Korea, China, Japan Want Firm Response to N.Korean Rocket Launch

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Sunday called for a “firm response” from the international community if North Korea goes ahead with the launch of what it claims is a space rocket.

“North Korea’s missile launch will be a clear violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We made it clear to China and Japan that the international community needs to respond firmly to North Korea’s breach of its responsibility as a member of the international community.”

Kim’s remark came during a joint press conference after a three-way foreign ministerial meeting in Ningbo, China on Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading

In the News – China to patronize N. Korea in post-launch tensions: expert

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In the News – China to patronize N. Korea in post-launch tensions: expert

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 6 (Yonhap) — Should North Korea go ahead with a long-range rocket launch as early as next week, China will likely repeat its typically tepid and equivocal approach — requesting the international community to act in a calm manner, an expert said Friday.

Pyongyang will apparently try to ride on its renewed “blood alliance” with Beijing in defending itself from pressure from other regional powers, according to Masako Ikegami, professor of political science at Stockholm University.

“Beijing will turn a blind eye towards North Korea’s latest provocation, while simultaneously calling for restraint by all parties,” she said in a report released by the Hawaii-based East-West Center. Continue reading

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 – 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 – UN Chief Urges North Korea to Reconsider Rocket Launch Plan

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In the News – UN Chief Urges North Korea to Reconsider Rocket Launch Plan

Photo: AP

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in South Korea, March 24, 2012.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged North Korea to reconsider its announced plan to launch a so-called “application satellite” next month.

Mr. Ban discussed the issue in a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Saturday.  He arrived in Seoul earlier in the day to attend the Nuclear Security Summit which begins Monday.

The statement issued by his office says Mr. Ban urged Pyongyang to fully comply with the relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, particularly the resolution which bans “any launch using ballistic missile technology.”  He also urged North Korea to reconsider its decision in line with its recent agreement to refrain from long-range missile launches. Continue reading

S. Korea vows to deal sternly with N. Korea’s planned rocket launch

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S. Korea vows to deal sternly with N. Korea’s planned rocket launch

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea will deal sternly with North Korea’s planned rocket launch but will keep its door open to talks with the communist country, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang said Wednesday.

The North announced last week it would launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, in what it said was part of its peaceful space program. The launch is timed to mark the centennial of the birth of the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea “will deal sternly with” North Korea’s planned rocket launch through close coordination with the international community, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum, according to his office. Continue reading