In the News – Lee donates to ‘unification fund’

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In the News – Lee donates to ‘unification fund’

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak donated Monday to a government campaign to raise funds to finance what are expected to be massive costs South Korea will shoulder in the event of unification with North Korea.

Lee put an envelope containing an unspecified amount of money into the “unification jar,” a white earthen pot the government had made in a symbolic gesture to raise money to help finance the costs of potential unification with the impoverished North.

“What matters is not how much will be collected. I hope as many people as possible will take part in this and chip in,” Lee said during the donation ceremony at the presidential office.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told Lee former Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara had made an impromptu donation after learning of the jar’s purpose in a meeting with Yu. Maehara, a ranking lawmaker of Japan’s ruling Democratic Party, has been on a three-day visit to Seoul since Sunday.

The state-run Korea Institute for National Unification has estimated the initial costs for the integration of the two Koreas could range from 55 trillion won (US$47 billion) to 249 trillion won ($216 billion).

The estimate, which is projected to cover the first year of integration, was based on the assumption the two neighbors could be unified two decades from now, according to the institute.

Lee has said unification could come at any time and South Korea should be prepared for it.

In the News – Rising Instability Fuels North Korean Rhetoric

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In the News – Rising Instability Fuels North Korean Rhetoric

SEOUL—North Korea’s increasingly inflammatory criticism against South Korea is a sign of instability in its authoritarian regime and doesn’t appear likely to end soon, the South’s top official in charge of dealing with the North said.

Since the death of Kim Jong Il in December, the North’s government has been trying to build support for his son Kim Jong Eun and resorted to greater extremes of rhetoric in the process, Yu Woo-ik, South Korea’s Minister of Unification, said in a recent interview.

“The reason why North Koreans criticize South Korea ever more strongly, we believe, is an expression of anxiety,” Mr. Yu said.

He noted that the younger Mr. Kim has begun reshaping the North’s government and, in an environment where jobs are on the line, people and organizations are jockeying for power by showing loyalty to him—and one way to do that is to criticize the South.

The period has also opened an opportunity for China, North Korea’s political ally and economic benefactor, to wield more influence on the regime, said Mr. Yu, who was South Korea’s ambassador to China until taking his current post last September.

0524yuwooik

Reuters

“If China thinks more progressively, it will be more effective in bringing change to North Korea,” he said. “We believe this is the right time to go in that direction.” 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

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

In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

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In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s point man on North Korea urged Pyongyang Friday to come forward for talks in an apparent move to ease tensions as the two sides exchanged militaristic rhetoric.

Last month, South Korea proposed holding two separate meetings with North Korea to discuss reunions of separated family members and joint pest control near ancient tombs in the isolated country. The North has yet to reply to the offers.

“I urge North Korea again to come forward for dialogue as soon as its internal situation stabilizes,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum attended by hundreds of former lawmakers. Continue reading

Unification minister pledges to start filling fund for Koreas’ reunification

NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) — Seoul’s top policymaker on North Korea pledged Friday to start filling a fund aimed at preparing for reunification with the North, calling on the South Korean people to also take part. Continue reading