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09SEOUL745 2009-05-11 07:32:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Seoul
Cable title:  

SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; May 11, 2009

Tags:   PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US 
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 SEOUL 000745

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; May 11, 2009

TOP HEADLINES


--------------------------



Chosun Ilbo
Chang Young-hee, Renowned English Professor and Columnist,
Dies of Cancer

JoongAng Ilbo
Volkswagen Overtakes GM and Renault in Global Car Sales, Becoming
the World's Second-Largest Carmaker, as Consumers Favor Small and
Inexpensive Cars amid Economic Slump

Dong-a Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo
Prosecution Expanding Investigation of
President Lee's Close Friend
for His Influence-Peddling

Hankyoreh Shinmun
ROKG's Aid for Private Organizations "Turns Right;"
ROKG Replaces 75 Percent of Its Aid Recipients with
Conservative Organizations

Segye Ilbo
ROKG to Provide Jobs to 250,000 Low-income People

Seoul Shinmun
Allegations that Chung Sang-moon, Former Secretary of President Roh,
Asked President Roh to Help Taekwang Industrial CEO Win Business
Contract in Vietnam


DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS


--------------------------



North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the
Fatherland, in a May 9 statement, claimed, "There simply is no need
to even consider holding talks between the two Koreas while the Lee
Myung-bak group is publicly trying to smear the name of our republic
and bluntly denying it." (All)

This statement, coming amid reports that the second inter-Korean
government-level talks might be held as early as this week, is
casting doubt on whether the second meeting will actually take place
and, particularly, on the prospects of discussing the (situation of
the) ROK worker who has been detained in the Kaesong Industrial
Complex in the North. (Chosun, Hankook, Hankyoreh, Segye, Seoul, all
TVs)


MEDIA ANALYSIS


--------------------------



-North Korea - Special Envoy Bosworth's Visit


--------------------------


On Saturday (May 9), the ROK media gave wide play to U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth's May 8
arrival in Seoul as part of a visit to the region to discuss the
North Korean nuclear issue with regional partners.

Ambassador Bosworth was widely quoted as telling a press conference
in Seoul: "If the North Koreans decide to carry out a second nuclear
test, we will deal with the consequences of that. And there will be
consequences." The Ambassador was further quoted: "The door to
dialogue (with North Korea) is always open. We're also prepared to
deal with North Korea on a bilateral basis, but in a way that
reinforces the multilateral (Six-Party) process."

In a related development, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun today cited
experts as commenting that (Ambassador Bosworth's visit) was
significant in that it was part of a process to exchange views among
concerned parties on the need and the timing for U.S.-North Korea
talks but that the visit fell far short of making a breakthrough in
easing heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

SEOUL 00000745 002 OF 007



Hankyoreh also quoted a senior ROKG official as saying on May 10
that Washington and Seoul are considering the timing of U.S.-North
Korea talks, which should be scheduled at an appropriate time to
avoid any appearance of giving in to the North's recent harsh
rhetoric.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry's May 8 statement - accusing the
Obama Administration of harboring a hostile policy toward Pyongyang
- also received wide press coverage today. An unnamed North Korean
Foreign Ministry Spokesman was quoted as telling the official
(North) Korean Central News Agency: "There is nothing to be gained
by sitting down together with a party that continues to view us with
hostility. The DPRK will bolster its nuclear deterrent as it has
already clarified." Most ROK media viewed this North Korean
statement as timed to coincide with Ambassador Bosworth's visit to
Seoul.

The ROK media also gave attention to a May 9 statement by North
Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland
which claimed, "There simply is no need to even consider holding
talks between the two Koreas while the Lee Myung-bak group is
publicly trying to smear the name of our republic and bluntly
denying it."

This statement, coming amid reports that the second inter-Korean
government-level talks might be held as early as this week, is
casting doubt on whether the second meeting will actually take place
and, particularly, on the prospects of discussing the (situation of
the) ROK worker who has been detained in the Kaesong Industrial
Complex in the North, according to media reports. Right-of-center
JoongAng Ilbo speculated that the North Korean statement might have
been intended to gain the upper hand in the upcoming inter-Korean
talks.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized today: "It is high time to
think seriously whether it is appropriate to prolong this deadlocked
situation (on North Korea). No one knows for sure what such an
unpredictable country as North Korea will do in isolation, and the
North will not change its behavior even if we wait (for it to
change). There is also very little likelihood of North Korea
buckling under international sanctions. For this very reason, the
U.S. and the ROK should discuss how to manage this deadlocked
situation and share a strategy for dealing with a situation after
this impasse."

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "If North Korea
continues to make provocations, thereby narrowing the room for
negotiations, international calls for sanctions on it will continue
to grow. In order to turn this situation around, the U.S. should
promptly conclude its review of North Korea policy and engage in
high-level talks with North Korea. If the U.S. and North Korea
simply speak at cross purposes like they are doing these days, we
cannot avoid aggravating the situation."


OPINIONS/EDITORIALS


--------------------------


PRECONDITIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS ON TROOP DEPLOYMENT TO AFGHANISTAN
(JoongAng Ilbo, May 11, 2009, Page 42)

By Deputy Political Affairs Editor Kang Chan-ho

Troop deployment to Afghanistan will be the biggest item on the
agenda in the U.S-ROK summit scheduled for June 16. However,
President Lee Myung-bak should not reach a compromise deal linking
troop deployment (to Afghanistan) to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
issue or to North Korea policy, but should (focus on) building
trust. The key mission should be to solidify the 6-decade alliance
between two countries. A solution to the Afghanistan issue should
be sought after working-level officials from both countries
understand each other's position.

What President Lee Myung-bak should pay the most attention to is the

SEOUL 00000745 003 OF 007


communication with the political circles, particularly, the
opposition party. President Lee should leave all possibilities
including troop deployment open and persuade the public. The
opposition party should remember that when it held the reins of
power, it sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan for national interest
against opposition from its political base. The opposition party
should cooperate open-mindedly.

Lawmakers should meet with U.S. officials and politicians
individually and show their interest in the Afghanistan issue. This
'parliamentary diplomacy' will be very meaningful. However, the
reality is regrettable. Among more than 100 lawmakers who left for
Europe, Asia and Africa, few have shown interest in the Afghanistan
issue. They dub their trip abroad 'parliamentary diplomacy.' What
they call 'parliamentary diplomacy' will end up as merely a
'parliamentary trip' if they turn a blind eye to important pending
issues.


SEOUL, WASHINGTON NEED NEW N. KOREA STRATEGY
(Chosun Ilbo, May 11, page 35, 2009)

The North Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement on Friday said its
study of the policies of the Obama Administration for the past 100
days "made it clear that the U.S. hostile policy toward North Korea
remains unchanged."

It said there was "nothing to be gained by sitting down together
with a party that continues to view us with hostility." Instead,
North Korea issued the usual threat to "bolster its nuclear
deterrent." After all this time trying to force direct talks with
the U.S., the North is now denouncing dialogue as pointless.

Washington is also stubborn. Stephen Bosworth, Special
Representative for North Korea Policy, said Friday there is not much
the U.S. can do to prevent Pyongyang from conducting a second
nuclear test, but added, "If the North Koreans decide to carry out a
second nuclear test, we will deal with the consequences of that.
And there will be consequences." The remarks were made with stronger
UN Security Council sanctions against the North in mind.

Asked if she intends to visit Pyongyang in a bid to resolve the
stalemate with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
flatly replied Thursday, "No." U.S. President Barack Obama's
coordinator for weapons of mass destruction policy, Gary Saymore,
said a while ago, "It's very clear that the North Koreans want to
pick a fight," and that his government will "just wait" until North
Korea returns to the dialogue.

This series of remarks by senior U.S. government officials indicates
that Washington will adopt a "pressure and (ignore)" tactic for the
time being. The Obama Administration intends to concentrate on the
economic crisis; on international issues it is focused on
Afghanistan. North Korea's antics, it believes, can hardly threaten
the U.S. right away.

All in all, it's become difficult for the North to pursue past
tactics of forcing Washington to the negotiation table. Views in
the U.S. are that the Six-Party talks on North Korea's nuclear
disarmament or bilateral Washington-Pyongyang talks may not be held
this year. If the North conducts a second nuclear test, China and
Russia will find it difficult to shield Pyongyang at the UN Security
Council as they did when the North fired a long-range missile in
April. Chances are that an additional nuclear test will result in
greater isolation and harsher sanctions for North Korea. Diplomatic
circles say the North, accustomed to its past practices, has made a
misjudgment. It would be wiser to accept, even now, the Obama
Administration's offer of bilateral dialogue rather than treading
this uncertain path that demands sacrifices from the entire North
Korean population.

It is North Korea's fault that the U.S. is ready to endure the
current stalemate. Despite the Obama Administration's offer of
direct dialogue, North Korea has made a series of provocations

SEOUL 00000745 004 OF 007


including the long-range missile launch. Washington feels that the
North should be made to pay a price before dialogue is resumed. The
North's strategy of dealing directly with the U.S. and freezing out
the ROK has brought about its own isolation instead. However, it is
high time to think seriously whether it is appropriate to prolong
this deadlocked situation (on North Korea.) No one knows for sure
what such an unpredictable country as North Korea will do in
isolation, and the North will not change its behavior even if we
wait (for it to change). There is also very little likelihood of
North Korea buckling under international sanctions.

For this very reason, the U.S. and the ROK should discuss how to
manage this deadlock and share a strategy for dealing with a
situation after this impasse. They should use diplomatic means to
enable the other members of the Six-Party Talks -- China, Japan and
Russia -to participate in the process. Only then will we be able to
prevent Pyongyang from committing irrevocable provocations and (be
able to) resolve the problems by effectively persuading and
pressuring North Korea in the future.

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


LOCATING AN EXIT TO NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR ISSUE STALEMATE
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, May 11, page 23, 2009)

It has been close to four months since U.S. President Barack Obama
took office and efforts to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue,
including the restart of the Six-Party Talks, have not escaped
stalemate. Moreover, it does not appear that inter-Korean issues
are improving. In short, we find ourselves in a rather frustrating
situation, with regards to North Korea-related issues, in which
there is no way out.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth,
who is on his second tour of Six-Party Talks nations since his
appointment, is leaving the ROK without having made any clear gains.
He said he would continue to work to get North Korea back to the
Six-Party Talks, but he reportedly did not put forward a plan to
make that happen. Like his last tour, he did not visit North Korea
or meet with high-ranking North Korean officials. Indeed, North
Korea declared on Friday, the day Ambassador Bosworth arrived in the
ROK, that there was no change that they could discern in the U.S.'s
hostile policy towards them, even under President Obama, and that
Pyongyang would continue to work on strengthening its nuclear
deterrent. The statement issued during Ambassador Bosworth's second
tour basically reconfirmed a statement made by a North Korean
Foreign Ministry spokesperson on April 29, in which North Korea
declared it would conduct a second nuclear test, test fire an
intercontinental ballistic missile or develop uranium enrichment
technology.

In response to the ROKG raising the issue of North Korea's human
rights record, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful
Reunification of the Fatherland took a hardline approach and said
Friday that there was no need to engage in inter-Korean dialogue.
The committee even coarsely condemned the ROK's response to North
Korea's detainment of a South Korean Hyundai Asan employee.
Accordingly, there are growing predictions that, despite the
impending second round of inter-Korean governmental talks concerning
the Kaesong (Gaeseong) Industrial Complex, this issue will not be
resolved easily.

It is unclear whether this is part of North Korea's strategy to go
on its own path until it is recognized as a nuclear state, or
brinkmanship intended to maximize Pyongyang's bargaining power with
Washington. Regardless of which it is, what is clear is that it is
putting up obstacles to resolving the nuclear issue. If North Korea
continues to make provocations, thereby narrowing the room for
negotiations, international calls for sanctions on it will continue
to grow.

In order to turn this situation around, the U.S. should promptly

SEOUL 00000745 005 OF 007


conclude its review of North Korea policy and engage in high-level
talks with North Korea. If the U.S. and North Korea simply speak at
cross purposes like they are doing these days, we cannot avoid
aggravating the situation. The ROKG meanwhile must both
substantively support North Korea-U.S. dialogue and take a concrete
approach to North Korea that can change the basic framework of
inter-Korean relations.

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


FEATURES


--------------------------



BOSWORTH SAYS THERE IS NOT MUCH TO DO
(Chosun Ilbo, May 9, 2009, Page 6)

Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. Special Representative for
North Korea Policy said that many things have happened since his
visit last March but little has changed.

Ambassador Bosworth made this remark during his meeting with Foreign
Minister Yu Myung-hwan. This remark apparently indicates his
anxiety (over the current situation). The issue of North Korean
denuclearization has been deadlocked for months. Also, the prospect
of resuming the Six-Party Talks remains uncertain. North Korea
rejected Ambassador Bosworth's offer in March to visit the North.
Moreover, in time for Ambassador Bosworth's visit to the ROK, North
Korea issued a harsh statement saying there is no need for
negotiations with the U.S.,

There is not much (for the U.S.) to do.

Special Representative Bosworth arrived in the ROK after his visit
to China. He met with Minister Yu, Senior Presidential Secretary
for Foreign Affairs and National Security Kim Sung-hwan, and ROK's
Chief Delegate to the Six-Party Talks Wi Sung-lac and discussed ways
to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table. However, he
failed to come up with specific solutions.

During a press conference, when asked what specific plans (the U.S.)
has to improve the Six-Party Talks, Ambassador Bosworth said that
for now (the U.S.) has no specific plans. He added that should
North Korea go ahead with a second nuclear test, there will be
consequences. Meanwhile, he noted that there is not much the U.S.
can do to prevent the North from carrying out a nuclear test.

Ambassador Bosworth's statements are very different from those of
Christopher Hill, the former Assistant Secretary for East Asian and
Pacific Affairs and former chief negotiator for the Six-Party Talks.
Ambassador Hill liked to use the media by employing extravagant
diplomatic language. However, Ambassador Bosworth expressed
directly that the current situation is difficult.

An (ROK) diplomatic official said that Ambassador Bosworth's visit
is focused on assessing the current situation and sharing
understanding with regional partners in how to respond in the future
rather than devising an immediate solution.

Bilateral talks will be held within the Six-Party Talks.

Ambassador Bosworth said that the Six-Party Talks are at the heart
of U.S. efforts in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. He
made clear that, for now, the U.S. is not considering an alternative
to the Six-Party Talks. He repeatedly emphasized that the door to
dialogue is open. Also, he noted that the U.S. is prepared to deal
with North Korea bilaterally, but in a way that reinforces the
Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, he denied the possibility of the U.S.
and North Korea having bilateral talks outside of the Six-Party
Talks framework.

Ambassador Bosworth mainly discussed two options during a series of
meetings with the ROK and China. One was China's sending an envoy

SEOUL 00000745 006 OF 007


to North Korea to persuade North Korea (to return to the Six Party
Talks.) Another was that the ROK, China, Russia and Japan, with the
exception of North Korea, may hold a separate meeting to deliver a
united message calling for the North to return to the Six-Party
Talks, thereby pressuring North Korea.

Chief Delegate Wi Sung-lac did not deny the possibility that China
may send an envoy to North Korea, saying that consultations between
North Korea and China could benefit the Six-Party Talks. Also, an
ROK government official noted that China was vehemently opposed to
the Five-Party Talks (before) but apparently has changed its
position.

Ambassador Bosworth will pay a courtesy visit to former President
Kim Dae-jung on May 9th. He will stay in the ROK through the
weekend and then leave for Japan on May 11th.


ROK SENIOR OFFICIAL: U.S. TO NEITHER SEND HIGH-LEVEL ENVOY TO DPRK,
NOR TAKE STEPS TO REVIVE SIX-PARTY TALKS (Yonhap, May 10, 2009)

The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama does not intend to
send a high-level envoy to North Korea or take any other steps to
revive the Six-Party talks on the communist nation's nuclear
program, a senior ROKG official said Sunday.

The U.S. believes that it has done enough to convey its willingness
to engage in both bilateral and multilateral talks with the defiant
North and that it is time for Pyongyang to give an answer, according
to the official.

"There can be progress in dialogue only when a partner responds (to
proposals for talks) and shows interest," the official said in a
background briefing for reporters on the results of consultations
with Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Obama's special envoy on North
Korea. Ambassador Bosworth arrived in Seoul on Friday for a series
of meetings with top ROK officials, including Foreign Minister Yu
Myung-hwan (Yu Myo'ng-hwan), Unification Minister Hyun In-taek and
top nuclear negotiator Wi So'ng-rak (Wi Sung-lac).

As North Korea is aware of Washington's willingness for dialogue,
the official added, it would be "rational" to take a wait and see
approach.

"If North Korea is interested in dialogue, it will respond," he
said.

Ambassador Bosworth, on a tour of Northeast Asia to discuss ways to
resume the denuclearization process, openly acknowledged that
Washington is willing to talk with Pyongyang. State Department
spokesman Robert Wood also said in a press briefing on Friday that
the U.S. "is prepared to deal with North Korea bilaterally in a way
that reinforces the multilateral process."

The U.S. has also expressed its willingness to talk with North Korea
on several occasions through its diplomatic mission at the United
Nations, known as the "New York" channel. But the North remains
unresponsive.

The official said Ambassador Bosworth and ROK officials reviewed the
current situation but did not discuss any new specific initiative to
persuade the North to return to the bargaining table.

He said the current stalemate will continue unless Pyongyang changes
its attitude.

North Korea has threatened to conduct a second nuclear test and
pursue a uranium enrichment program in anger over the U.N. Security
Council's condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch.

"With regard to the nuclear test issue, we have no information on
any concrete move," the official said.

The ROK and the U.S. made clear that the North will face

SEOUL 00000745 007 OF 007


"consequences" if it presses ahead with additional provocative steps
including another nuclear test.




N. KOREA THREATENS TO `BOLSTER NUCLEAR DETERRENT`
(Dong-a Ilbo, May 9, page 4, 2009)

North Korea yesterday said it will bolster its nuclear deterrent
since the U.S. has not changed its hostile policy toward the North.


A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "We have closely
watched the policies of the Obama Administration for the past 100
days since its inauguration. Now, it is clear that the hostile U.S.
policy toward us has not changed at all. As previously stated, we
will bolster our nuclear deterrent."

Answering a question from a journalist on the North`s state-run
Korea Central News Agency, the spokesman said, "U.S. President
Barack Obama argued that we should be punished for our rocket
launch, while describing the peaceful satellite launch as acts of
defiance and provocation. Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
has labeled our regime a despotic or rogue government like her
predecessors."

"The essence of the U.S. government's hostile policy toward us is
its attempt to destroy the thoughts and system adopted by our
people. We cannot gain anything even if we sit face to face with a
nation that has continuously taken a hostile attitude toward us."

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


STANTON