PN's Voice 32

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PN's Voice 32, 03-03-2015
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PN's Voice No. 32, 03.03.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 


President Park’s March 1st Speech

President Park Geun-Hye sent a message to North Korea and Japan through her speech on the 96th anniversary of the March 1st Movement. The president explained, "The reunification we are trying to promote, by no means, seeks to isolate North Korea." However, there were no details or steps mentioned that would likely work in dispelling the North's suspicions.

"Park also expressed her wish to “engage in discussions for a reunion of separated families as soon as possible." Park has mentioned this in the past, but it has, thus far, failed to get off the ground or entice North Korea into negotiations. Providing aid for North Korea has often been seen as a necessity to persuading North Korea to hold a reunion of separated families, but president Park insisted on "a reunion with no aid."

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun released a statement on the same day with a very different tone to President Park. The article called for action from the South stating, "The South Korean authorities need to put into practice measures to improve inter-Korean relations." The article went on to state that the US is responsible for the lack of progress in inter-Korean relations.

President Park also put pressure on Japan to apologize for historical wrongdoings to finally resolve the long running issue of the so called comfort women. Park said "I hope that Japan will courageously and honestly acknowledge historical facts and join us in writing a new history together.” However, it doesn't look likely that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be motivated by this statement. The U.S. Congress is planning to have Prime Minister Abe address Congress, but only on the condition that he clearly apologizes for the past history. Thus some experts believe that South Korea-Japan relations may improve not because of anything from South Korea or Japan, but because of the U.S.
Source : The Kyunghyang Shinmoon, KBS News


N. Korea Launches Two Missiles as Joint US-ROK Exercises Begin

North Korea fired two short-range projectiles, presumed to be Scud-type ballistic missiles, on Monday morning South Korean time, Seoul’s military leadership announced. “North Korea fired two short-range missiles with a range of some 490 kilometers into the East Sea from its western port city of Nampo between 6:32 a.m. and 6:41 a.m. (KST) today,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press release.

North Korea’s firing of the missiles comes as joint U.S.-ROK military exercises, namely Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, started on Monday. North Korea typically conducts missile launches like this during joint U.S.-ROK exercises drills as well as to demonstrate their own capabilities.

North Korean military spokespersons issued a warning earlier on in the day in protest at the routine South Korea and U.S. military drills. “Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are an undisguised encroachment upon the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK and an unpardonable war hysteria of dishonest hostile forces,” a statement issued by the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said. “Our revolutionary armed forces will never remain a passive onlooker to this grave situation.”

South Korea issued a stern message in response to the “foolhardy and provocative” act, stressing that the launches violated the U.N. Security Council resolutions against the North’s use of ballistic missile technology, and that Seoul and Washington were ready to counter additional provocations. “We believe the launches are a show of force against the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills. Our military is keeping close tabs on the North Korean military’s movements and maintaining a robust readiness posture,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters.

South Korea issued a stern message in response to the “foolhardy and provocative” act, stressing that the launches violated the U.N. Security Council resolutions against the North’s use of ballistic missile technology, and that Seoul and Washington were ready to counter additional provocations. “We believe the launches are a show of force against the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills. Our military is keeping close tabs on the North Korean military’s movements and maintaining a robust readiness posture,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters.

Key Resolve, the computer simulation exercise involves some 8,600 U.S. troops and 10,000 South Korean troops, will continue until March 13. Whereas the Foal Eagle field exercise, which involves 3,700 U.S troops and 200,000 South Korean troops, will continue through to April 24.
Source : The Guardian, Daily NK, The Wall Street Journal


China Urges Restraint in Aftermath of N. Korean Missile Launches

China reacted to the North’s recent missile launch by calling for calm and restraint. China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the following about the North’s missile launch:

"Safeguarding peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region serves the interests of all sides…We believe that, in view of current circumstances, all sides should do more to relieve tension and safeguard regional peace and stability." Hua added "therefore, we hope that all sides can exercise restraint and play a positive and constructive role."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the country's military to be ready for war, the North's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported Saturday.
Source : Yonhap News


Korean-Canadian Pastor Missing After Visiting N. Korea

News reports yesterday announced that contact with a Korean-Canadian pastor who recently visited North Korea has been lost, amid fears he could be detained. Rev. Lim Hyeon-soo, 60, entered the North via China on January 31st and has since lost contact with friends and family, the Toronto Star reported. The paper said that the pastor of Light Korean Presbyterian Church near Toronto went to the North on a humanitarian mission.

Lim had been expected to leave the North on February 4th, however fears that Lim may have followed in the footsteps of former detained North American missionary Kenneth Bae may yet be premature as North Korea current has a policy to quarantine foreigners for three weeks as a measure to contain Ebola.

Lim has reportedly visited the North more than 100 times on humanitarian missions so far.
Source : The Korean Herald, Yonhap News


N. Korea Threaten Balloon Launches with ‘Cannons or Missiles’

North Korean state media on Monday carried a threat to shoot down balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets with “cannons or missiles.” The threat, part of a report from the DPRK’s foreign news service Urimizokkiri, also contained a reference to a previous October incident when North Korean soldiers fired small arms at balloons launched from South Korea.

“(North Korea) will aim at and attack any balloons or unmanned drones carrying leaflets … don’t hide the fact that the response could be not just a few shots of gunfire but could be cannons or missiles…leaflet scattering is a clear war aggression in international law,” the Uriminzokkiri article reads.

The balloon launches often rile North Korea and are a contentious issue on both sides of the 38th Parallel. In early January the Uijeongbu District Court district court, located north of Seoul, ruled that the South Korean government could intervene should the campaigners’ actions endanger the lives of people living in the surrounding area. Despite the ruling and the recent threats, South Korean authorities did not alter their position on the launches as they argue to do so would be against free speech; a key pillar of a democratic society. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) often mentions the launches. According to the NK News KCNA watch data tool, mentions of the words “balloons” and “leaflets” hit an all-time high last October.

While maritime exchanges of fire are relatively common, land military altercations between North and South Korea are much rarer.
Source : KBS News, NK News


Our readers may also be interested in the following articles:

James Clapper, the US intelligence chief reveals details of his secret mission to North Korea: The Guardian

38 North’s two articles on the future of North Korean’s nuclear weapons program: 
38 North, 38 North

The Diplomat has a review of various experts’ opinions on the question of if and when North Korean will conduct its next nuclear test: The Diplomat



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