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09SEOUL47 2009-01-09 05:57:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Seoul
Cable title:  

PRESS BULLETIN - January 9, 2009

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1. U.S. Could Step up Import Regulations on Korea
(Chosun Ilbo, January 9, 2009, Page B1)

Top Headlines

Chosun Ilbo
A Civic Group Seeks Measures to Root Out "Lawmaker Violence,"
Including a System to Impeach Lawmakers
who Resort to Violence

JoongAng Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo
Online Commentator Known as "Minerva" Arrested for Spreading False
Rumors; Minerva Has Been Making Online Postings Critical of
Government Economic Policies

Dong-a Ilbo
Faced with Banks' Reluctance to Lend Money to Cash-Strapped Firms
and Households, ROKG Decides Not to Penalize Banks
If their BIS Capital Adequacy Ratios are 10 Percent or More; ROKG
Originally Asked Banks
to Raise BIS Ratios to 12 Percent

Hankyoreh Shinmun, Seoul Shinmun
ROKG Suspected of Inflating Economic Worth of Gyeongin
(Seoul-Incheon) Canal Construction Project
to Push Ahead with the Project

Segye Ilbo
ROKG to Inject 50 Trillion Won into Small and Mid-Sized Firms

Domestic Developments

1. The National Assembly yesterday adopted a resolution calling for
a ceasefire to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
(Dong-a, Hankyoreh, Segye, Seoul)

International News

1. According to the Jan. 8 issue of The New York Times, Secretary of
State-designate Hillary Clinton is likely to keep William Burns as
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Ms. Clinton is also
expected to name Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Clinton Administration,
as Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Wendy
Sherman, former U.S. North Korea Policy Coordinator, is also likely
to be named as Special Envoy on North Korea. (Dong-a)

2. Israel's conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip threatened to
broaden yesterday as rockets were fired into northern Israel from
Lebanon. No group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. (All)

3. Israeli envoys, meanwhile, arrived in Cairo yesterday for
Egyptian-brokered talks with representatives of the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas on a ceasefire proposal. (All)

Media Analysis

The ROK media gave prominent coverage to yesterday's rocket fire on
northern Israel from Lebanon. The ROK media reported that at least
three rockets were fired into northern Israel and that this could
presage the opening of a second front for Israel, which continued to
attack the Gaza Strip yesterday. The ROK media noted that
Hezbollah, however, denied involvement in the rocket fire. Press
reports gave attention to the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks
held in Cairo yesterday between Israeli representatives, the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad
Abu al-Gheit was quoted as saying: "We are aiming for a cease-fire
within 72 hours."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo headlined its story: "Rockets Fired
from Lebanon Throw Cold Water on Cease-fire Talks; Possibility of
Expanded War between Israel and the Arab World Raised."
Conservative Dong-a Ilbo's headline read: "Lebanon's Rocket Fire
Casts Dark Clouds over Middle East Truce Talks." Moderate Hankook
Ilbo speculated that, if it is confirmed that Hezbollah was involved
in the rocket fire, the current conflict between Israel and Hamas
might trigger a "fifth Middle East war."

Most of the ROK media also reported that the ROK National Assembly
adopted a resolution yesterday calling for a ceasefire to the
ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.


U.S. Could Step up Import Regulations on Korea
(Chosun Ilbo, January 9, 2009, Page B1)

By Reporter Bae Sung-kyu

The U.S. could impose various import regulations on the ROK this
year, a report speculates.

The report prepared by the Washington office of the Korea
International Trade Association analyses U.S. trends. Titled
"Prospects for U.S. Neo-Trade Protectionism in 2009," it warns ROK
businesses and government to make thorough preparations for the
incoming Obama Administration, imposing a variety of import
regulations on the ROK.

"In a recession, any country may attempt to make imported goods the
scapegoat," it says. In 2009, an increasing number of (U.S.)
companies will ask for import regulations, because it will be easy
to prove the damage they do. The ROK in particular could be a major
target of such regulations along with China.

The report adds, "The ROK already ranks second in the world in terms
of anti-dumping complaints (with the WTO). Under these
circumstances, the country can be an easy target for such
complaints," it added. It also expresses fears that U.S. companies
will complain about the ROK to exaggerate the damage when they file
complaints against China.

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.