PN's Voice 34

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PN's Voice 34, 17-03-2015
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PN's Voice No. 34, 17.03.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 


U.S. State Department Revises Korea Map to Include Dokdo

The U.S. State Department revised a map of Korea on its website yesterday to include a reference to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo. The islets, which Japan has also long claimed, had not been marked in the Korea map on the Passports and International Travel section of the U.S. State Department’s website, but the islets were marked on a map of Japan, thus giving the impression that the U.S. backed Japanese claims to Dokdo.

After learning of the omission, South Korea's foreign ministry asked the U.S. to fix the map and consequently the revised map showed Dokdo marked as the Liancourt Rocks, a neutral name that the U.S. has used to refer to the islets in an effort not to take any side amid the conflicting Korean and Japanese territorial claims to the East Sea islets. The name came from a French whaling vessel that sighted the islets in the 19th century. Seoul has also long since demanded that the State Department refer to the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan as the East Sea, instead of the Sea of Japan.

Japan has long laid claim to the islets, but Seoul has rejected Japan's claim as nonsense as it regained its independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, including Dokdo.

This news comes just three weeks after comments by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy R. Sherman caused a flurry of criticism in South Korea. Sherman appeared to accuse the Chinese and South Korean governments of limiting “future possibilities for cooperation” in Northeast Asia by “vilifying a former enemy” [Japan] for “cheap applause.” Korea and China have quarreled with Tokyo over the unresolved issue of so-called comfort women from World War II.”
Source : The Diplomat, Yonhap News


Beijing Ups the Pressure on Seoul

Yesterday, China raised the pressure on South Korea to oppose the U.S.’ possible deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) missile defense asset to Korea, putting Seoul in a tricky diplomatic position.

Visiting Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao urged Seoul to respect Beijing’s “attention to and concerns over” Washington’s possible dispatch of the THAAD system here, which Beijing argues could threaten its security. “Beijing would be grateful (to Seoul) should it think of China’s attention and concerns importantly,” Liu told reporters in Seoul after holding consultations with Seoul’s Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-Soo over a series of bilateral and regional issues. “We hope that the U.S. and South Korea will make an appropriate decision over the potential deployment of THAAD,” he added, noting the two sides held “very candid and free” talks over the issue.

Seoul has maintained “strategic ambiguity” on the THAAD issue; amid rumors that Seoul and Washington have already struck a deal over THAAD’s deployment in secret, the South has said THAAD could be helpful for the defense of the South. However, it has also made it clear that there has been a sequence of “three nos” on the issue: “no request” from the U.S., “no consultations” with the ally and “no decision” reached.
Chinese officials including Chang Wanquan have repeatedly expressed their opposition to THAAD, apparently suspecting that the U.S. may consider using the system not only against North Korea, but also against other potential adversaries such as China and Russia.

The Korean public has been divided over the THAAD issue: Some argue that strictly from the standpoint of security interests, Seoul should allow the U.S. Forces Korea to install an additional missile defense system here. But others argue it is inappropriate to make a decision to undermine China’s security interests, while seeking greater economic relations through trade and exchanges with China.

During an interview with a local daily, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said that Seoul would make a “balanced judgment” in consideration of its interests, and that it would not bow to any outside pressure. Experts say that Seoul should try to persuade Washington and Beijing of its hopes to prevent the issues from harming bilateral ties, and take careful diplomatic steps based on its prudent calibration of national interests.
“It is a matter of how we can persuade China and the U.S. to understand our position. Rather than dithering over the issues or making blunt decisions that would provoke them, we should explore ways to persuade them in a low-profile and tenacious manner” said Suh Jin-young, professor emeritus at Korea University. “We should strive to gain their understanding by continuing to persuade them of our position. This calls for Seoul’s cautious, prudent and sophisticated diplomacy.”

The THAAD issue is one of the most hotly debated issues here in South Korea and is dominating the news. Just this morning KBS News broadcast an update on the situation, referencing an article published by the Israeli-based Defense Update, which quoted a South Korean military source who said that the U.S. has already pushed ahead with plans to deploy THAAD to South Korea and that, in cases of emergency, the US has THAAD systems on standby (in Fort Bliss, Texas) and ready to deploy to the Korean peninsula in a matter of hours.
Source : KBS News, The Korea Herald


Obama Encouraged to Make Peace with North Korea

A group of Korean-Americans took out an ad in the New York Times urging US President Barack Obama to take steps to normalize relations with North Korea, as he did with Cuba, and sign a peace treaty with Pyongyang. The group, who identified themselves as Korean-Americans ran a full-page advertisement titled “An open letter to President Obama” in the March 15th edition of the newspaper.

“One of their [Korean Americans’] major motivations supporting your candidacy during the time was your repeatedly publicized clear commitment to dialogue and negotiation with countries that are at odds with U.S., namely Cuba and North Korea.,” the group said in the letter.

Noting that, when Obama announced the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba at the end of last year, he had mentioned that he was primarily motivated by the fact that the methods of isolation and sanctions had not worked and that the Cuba regime had survived, the letter asked why he doesn’t “look at North Korea the same way.” In regard to the policy of “strategic patience” that Obama has adopted toward North Korea, the letter argued that “this will only give North Korea an excuse to sacrifice the welfare of its people and adhere to its hard-lined stance on national defense.”

The letter continued on to say “as the commander in chief, you have control over military matters, particularly the joint military maneuvers between U.S. and South Korea, held so often and so close to their border. These military exercises need to be minimized or eliminated.”

The conclusion of the group’s letter hinted at the potential legacy Obama could leave behind if he were to change tact towards North Korea; “Dear President Obama, as a Nobel Peace Laureate, it behooves you to take steps to make peace, to normalize the relations between the U.S. and North Korea, which the North Korean leadership has repeatedly indicated it desires so ardently. This could end the 70 years of enmity between the two countries. In so doing, you can help to bring about peace, denuclearization, an economic upswing, and eventual re-unification of the two Koreas.”
Source : The Hankyoreh


Our readers may also be interested in the following articles:

38 North’s discussion of North Korea’s attempts to develop an ICBM:38 North

The Hankyoreh’s look at the debate over THAAD:The Hankyoreh


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