PN's Voice 126

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 126, 08.02.2018
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PN's Voice No. 126,  08. 02. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

North Korea To Hold Military Parade on Eve of Olympics 

North Korea is set to hold a massive military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of its armed forces' foundation on Thursday on the eve of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics' opening ceremony. According to the South Korean military, about 50-thousand North Koreans including some 13-thousand troops, are practicing for the parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. However, US based research centre 38 North, said that satellite imagery suggest missile launcher hadn’t yet been used the parade practices. 

North Korea invited reporters from the U.S. and Japan to the parade last month, but recently decided to revoke the invitations. The North reportedly did not even invite Chinese officials to the parade. North Korea has recently designated February eighth as its armed forces' day, raising concerns that the event may dampen a reconciliatory mood created by its participation in the Olympics in the South. 

Source: BBC, CNN News 

Kim Jong-un's Sister to Attend Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea on Friday, becoming the first member of Kim’s immediate family to cross the border. Seoul’s unification ministry said it had been notified by Pyongyang of Kim Yo-jong’s landmark trip. The ministry said the inclusion of Kim Yo-jong in the delegation was “meaningful” because she is a senior official in the ruling Workers’ party. 

Kim Yo-jong’s trip could provide a source of contention between Seoul and Washington, as she was blacklisted last year by the US treasury department over human rights abuses and censorship. Having previously appeared only occasionally and in the background at public events, Kim Yo-jong has taken a more prominent role recently, assisting her brother at numerous state ceremonies. 

Prof Koh Yu-Hwan, of Dongguk University, said Pence’s planned presence in Pyeongchang may have been a factor in Kim’s decision to send his sister. “Her trip will create a media frenzy, stealing the show from Vice-president Pence who wants to highlight the North’s human rights abuses and sanctions-defying nuclear drive.” Shin Beom-chul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, added: “One of the positives of her visit is that she is someone able to deliver a direct message on behalf of Kim Jong-un.” 

Source: The Guardian, Joongang Daily 

Tillerson Open to Talks with N. Korea during Olympics

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has indicated that the U.S. is open to possible talks with North Korea during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Tillerson speaking on Tuesday about Vice President Mike Pence will leading the U.S. presidential delegation to the opening ceremony said that "whatever happens while the vice president is there, we'll just have to see." Speculation is rife about whether he will meet with members of North Korea's official delegation backstage at the games. Neither Tillerson nor Pence ruled out possible contact with North Korean representatives saying "we'll see what happens." 

Tillerson said that what North Korea is receiving from the South Koreans is no more than what all the participants who are attending the Olympics are receiving, adding North Korea will be participating in the Olympics as an equal player. He was also keen to point out that North Koreans will not be gaining more from its participation in the PyeongChang Games than any other nation and there is no cash or anything being paid to the North Koreans for their participation in the Olympics. KBS News 


N.K. says no Willingness to Meet with U.S. at Olympics

Contrary to Rex Tillerson’s aforementioned openness to meeting with North Korea, the North Korean state media has quashed any hopes of a high-level delegation meeting during the PyeongChang Olympics. "We have never begged for dialogue with the U.S. and will be the same in the future," a director of North Korea's foreign minister was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “We clearly state that we don't have a willingness to meet with the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea." 

The two Koreas have engaged in sports diplomacy since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare olive branch to Seoul in his New Year's Day message, after years of tensions sparked by the North's nuclear and missile provocations. But some experts said that the North is taking a "deceptive" peace offensive to weaken international sanctions and drive a wedge in the decades long alliance between Seoul and Washington by sending a delegation to the games. Yonhap News 


Moon to Meet US Vice President, Hold Summit with World Leaders

President Moon Jae-in will meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and hold summit talks with world leaders on Thursday on the eve of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics' opening. The president will have dinner with Pence at the presidential office, who is set to arrive in the country with his wife on Thursday, leading the U.S. presidential delegation to the Olympics. During the meeting, Moon is expected to express gratitude for the U.S.’ support for the successful hosting of the Olympics and reaffirm close cooperation between the two allies in efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. The president is also likely to tap into the possibility of talks between Washington and Pyongyang to seek a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis. 

Moon will also meet with Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng, who will be visiting as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy. The president will likely express his appreciation of China's support toward Seoul's efforts to improve its relations with North Korea and ask for Beijing's support in urging the North to return to dialogue. KBS News 


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PN's Voice

Small steps, Road to peace


Two Koreas to March under United Korea Flag at Olympics

North and South Korea have agreed to march together under a single "unified Korea" flag at next month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next month. They also agreed to field a joint women's ice hockey team in rare talks at the truce village of Panmunjom. These announcements are the result of the first high-level talks between the countries in more than two years. It marks a thaw in relations that began in the new year when North Korea offered to send a team to the games.

If the plans are realized, a hundreds-strong North Korean delegation - including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes - could cross into the South via the land border to attend the Winter Olympics; this will be the first opening of the cross border road in almost two years. The proposed joint womens ice hockey team would represent the first time athletes from both Koreas have competed together in the same team at an Olympic Games.

The agreement will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, because North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify. South Korea will also need to find ways to host the North Korean delegation without violating any existing UN Security Council sanctions which ban cash transfers to Pyongyang and blacklisting certain senior North officials.

Source: BBC

US S. Korea Confirm Theyre Still on the Same Page

South Korea and the United States confirmed on Thursday that there will be no break in the rotational deployment of high-profile U.S. defence assets to and around the Korean Peninsula. The announcement came after the surprise olive branch offered by North Korea that led to the first inter-Korean talks for 2 years. Resultingly, the North now plans to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics next month.

Concerns had grown that the North's sudden peace offensive could lead to Seoul and Washington butting heads over selecting the correct course of action for dealing with Pyongyang. However, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense confirmed that "In today's meeting, the U.S. side reaffirmed its firm security commitment to the defense of South Korea using all categories of its military capabilities." The two countries have "agreed to continue the rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea and nearby areas as long as North Korea's nuclear and missile threats persist," it added. For South Korean officials and media, U.S. strategic assets usually mean aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, strategic bombers and stealth fighter jets.

This announcement has been seen by some observers as an attempt to quell fears that Pyongyang is attempting to utilize peace talks as a strategy to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Source: Yonhap News

South Korea Vows to Continue NK Talks with Clear Eyes

South Korea has said it plans to continue high-level talks with North Korea with "clear eyes" amid global warnings that Pyongyang might be playing for time to continue its nuclear-arms programme. "We have to make the most" of the opportunity said South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during an interview with the BBC.

The recent talks and announcements about a joint Korean team at the upcoming Olympics come as the US and its allies vowed to keep pressure on the North. On Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the recent North Korean suggestion for talks showed that sanctions were "really starting to hurt", expressing confidence that the pressure would eventually force the North to the negotiating table over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Tillersons thoughts were mirrored by his Japanese counterpart, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who said the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang's recent "charm offensive". "It is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea," Mr Kono said. "The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working."

However, Ms. Kang affirmed that South Korea knew what it was doing in relation to its neighbour; "I think we understand North Korea better than anybody, having dealt with North Korea for decades, having had series of discussions off and on. We haven't had any significant engagement in the recent past - but this is an opportunityYou can have all kinds of theories of why there are here (at the talks). There are, obviously, calculations going on the part of the North Korea decision-makers as to their actions. But in the end we have to make the most of it.


Source: BBC News


Essay Moons Chance to Shine

Please click the link below to access the recent essay by Peace Network researcher Olly Terry on the prospects of President Moon Jae-in taking the opportunity given to him by Pyongyangs rapprochement into significant long-term progress on inter-Korean relations:

Link: Moon's Chance to Shine





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