PN's Voice 05

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 05, 15-07-2014

PN's Voice
Small steps, Road to peace

North Korea Conducts Further Missile Tests

North Korea continued its recent flurry of missile tests when it fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea in the early hours of Monday morning. Unlike previous missile launches that have this latest launch took place from an unidentified site near Kaeseong which sits just 20 kilometers from the inter-Korean border. As with previous missile launches that the North has executed, it did so without issuing any prior warning to vessels sailing in nearby waters.

Following launches on June 29 and July 9, this is the third time in recent weeks that North Korea has launched Scud missiles toward the East Sea, and this takes the count of North Korean missiles fired this year to around 90. This is the latest incident in a bizarre series of military provocations combined with conciliatory gestures ahead of the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea. This recent contradictory approach from the North has left South Korean officials scratching their heads to try and decipher the North’s intentions. Some analysts believe the timing of the most recent missile launch reveals the North’s dissatisfaction with the arrival of the USS George Washington, a U.S. nuclear-powered supercarrier, in Busan. The USS George Washington has arrived in South Korea to participate in the U.S.-R.O.K. joint military exercises later this month amid protestations from North Korea who denounced the supercarrier’s arrival as part of South Korea’s “reckless military moves”.
Source : Joongang Daily, , The Hankyoreh

Strained South Korean-Japanese Tensions Evident As Hotel Cancels Japanese Embassy Event

An event scheduled for last Friday (July 11th) commemorating the 60th anniversary of the formation of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces organized by the Japanese Embassy was cancelled at the last minute by the venue it was due to be held in. The Lotte Hotel, a luxury hotel near Myeong-dong in Seoul cancelled on Thursday citing concerns over safety amid fears that the event may lead to protests in the area. Additionally, a spokesperson for the hotel said, “Reflecting the sentiments of the people, the Japanese Embassy’s special event that was scheduled to be held today was canceled. We have caused anxiety for the people for proceeding [with the event] without properly checking [with the Japanese Embassy] the exact details [of the event].” A smaller event was held at the Japanese ambassador’s residence instead.

The Japanese response to the cancellations was described by Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in a press conference in which he expressed his regret; “whatever the reason, it is extremely regrettable…firstly, it was a problem with the hotel so we have lodged a protest, but we also plan to convey our concerns to the Korean government as well.” This isn’t the first time strained Japanese-South Korean relations have manifested themselves on ground-level in Korea as last week the War Memorial of Korea decided to “cancel an exhibit of popular Japanese cartoon “One Piece,” written by manga artist Eiichiro Oda.” The exhibit, due to open last Saturday, was cancelled over concerns about “its Rising Sun flag imagery, which evokes memories of the Imperial Japanese Army and a painful colonial history.”

Adding to continued tensions over unresolved historical issues, relations between South Korea and Japan have become even frostier since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided on July 1 to enable Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense through an “unconventional reinterpretation of its pacifist Constitution”. This new policy allows Japan to “wage war or counterattack countries when they strike allied nations.” Korea’s National Assembly recently adopted a resolution that denounced this recent move from Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. Source : Joongang Daily,

Acquitted North Korean Crew Members in Panama are Released

Three crew members of the North Korean ship ‘Chong Cho Gang’ who were recently acquitted of attempting to smuggle weapons through the Panama Canal have been released. In July 2013 the North Korean ship was stopped in Panama while carrying concealed “Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other arms-related material.”

Initially, Panamanian prosecutors had demanded that the three crew members serve 8 year prison sentences each, but eventually released them after North Korea paid $690,000 in fines. The other 32 members were released shortly after initial questioning and were not indicated further in the trial. Yonhap News Agency reported that the attorney for the 3 crew members, Julio Berrios, said that “the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took great interest in the case and was kept up to date on the crew members’ trials and itinerary.”
Source : The Korean Herald, Yonhap

Two Koreas Aim to Speak the Same Language

In an attempt to bridge the ever increasing gap between the languages of the two Koreas, scholars from both sides are collaborating on a South Korean government funded project. The aim of the project is to create a unified Korean language dictionary, known as Gyeoremal-kunsajeon (the Korean People's Comprehensive Dictionary). The director of the project Han Yong-Un said in a recent interview that “time has passed and the language has evolved…those changes will continue, but when reunification happens, we need to be ready." The linguistic challenge is often cited as a nasty surprise by defectors from the North when they arrive in the South as they assume there won’t be any issues as they speak the same language. However, more than 60 years living as separate nations as well as the influx of foreign words into the Korean of the South have meant the languages of the two Koreas have drifted apart quite radically.

Whilst the project, which begun in 1989 and was initially penned to be completed by 2012, progress has occasionally stalled amidst political turmoil. Despite this the project is seen as a unifying issue in light of historical repressions of Korean language and culture. Under Japanese colonization Korean language wasn’t permitted in schools or government and Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names. One of South Korea’s most renowned poets Ko Un, who is the board president of the joint project, emphasized the symbolic importance of the project; “there was a brief period of shame when we were forced to abandon our speech. How precious did our language become when we finally had taken it back!" Source : The Guardian Opinion Piece Finally this week I’d like to steer readers of this newsletter’s attention towards an interesting opinion piece published on British newspaper The Guardian’s website. The author Mark Barry a lecturer at Barrytown College in New York, argues that the U.S. and South Korea missed a big opportunity to open relations with North Korea 20 years ago when Kim Il-Sung died and the repercussions of that failure still live on to this day. You can access the article from the link below:
Source : The Guardian

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