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09SEOUL99 2009-01-21 05:38:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Seoul
Cable title:  

PRESS BULLETIN - January 21, 2009

Tags:   KPAO PGOV PREL MARR ECON KS US 
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TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL MARR ECON KS US
SUBJECT: PRESS BULLETIN - January 21, 2009

Opinions/Editorials




1. Good luck, President Obama
(JoongAng Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 30)


2. ROK-U.S. Alliance Needs Constant Care
(Chosun Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 30)


3. High Expectations for Obama's Era
(Hankook Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 39)


4. A New Beginning for America
(Chosun Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 31)


5. A New America, A New World
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, January 21, 2009, Page 27)


Top Headlines

Chosun Ilbo
America Has Been Reborn; Obama Inaugurated
as 44th U.S. President

JoongAng Ilbo, All TVs
Five Protesters and a Police Officer Dead in Fire
during Police-Tenant Standoff

Dong-a Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo, Hankyoreh Shinmun,
Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Reckless, Massive Police Crackdown on Protesters
Blamed for the Tragedy


Domestic Developments



1. The ROK's Deputy Nuclear Envoy Hwang Joon-kook returned to Seoul
yesterday, ending his trip to North Korea where he hoped to discuss
the ROK's possible purchase of unused fuel rods stored at North
Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facilities. At a press briefing, Hwang
stated: "North Korea was very cooperative during the visit. We
inspected three nuclear facilities that are under disablement,
including the nuclear fuel rod producing factory where unused fuel
rods are stored." (All)



2. The ROK envoy, however, did not meet any of the North's senior
nuclear negotiators, including North Korea's Chief Nuclear Envoy,
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan. (All)



3. The ROK's Cabinet yesterday approved a government plan to send a
naval ship and forces to waters off the coast of Somalia to protect
international commercial vessels from piracy. (All)


International News



1. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the U.S. on
Jan. 20 (Washington time). In his inaugural address, the new U.S.
president called on Americans to unite as one nation in order to
overcome the challenges facing the country, including the economic
crisis, and to begin the work of remaking America. He stressed a
"new era of responsibility," optimism and his promise for a new
America. (All)



2. According to the Blue House, President Lee Myung-bak sent a
congratulatory letter to Barack Obama yesterday. (Segye, Seoul)


Media Analysis

Obama Inauguration
Barack Obama's Jan. 20 (local time) inauguration as the 44th U.S.
President received prominent coverage. Carrying the headline,
"America has been reborn," conservative Chosun Ilbo's front-page
report quoted the new U.S. president, in his inaugural address, as
calling on Americans to unite as one nation and to begin the work of
remaking America. Chosun Ilbo's Washington Bureau Chief Yang
Sang-hoon described the inauguration as a "change of history," not a
"change of government." Other newspapers, including right-of-center
JoongAng Ilbo and conservative Dong-a Ilbo, also quoted Obama as
stressing "new era of responsibility," optimism and his promise for
a new America.

Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized: "President Obama's top
priority, economic recovery, can gain momentum when it is pursued
within the framework of international cooperation. Recently,
important figures in the Obama Administration, including Secretary
of State-designate Hillary Clinton, raised the need to renegotiate
the KORUS FTA on the pretext of protecting the U.S. auto industry,
sparking concerns that the new U.S. administration might be headed
for 'protectionism.' As seen in the Great Depression in 1934,
competitive protectionism among countries only aggravates an
economic crisis. The U.S. should show leadership in establishing a
global trade structure that is more open than now. The same goes
for the North Korean nuclear issue. In the run-up to the launch of
the Obama Administration, Pyongyang has been launching various
campaigns to assert itself. The ROK and U.S. governments should
start a dialogue regarding the nuclear issue and a new vision of the
ROK-U.S. alliance as early as possible."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo's editorial called Obama's
inauguration a "historic event" indicating that the U.S. has taken a
first step toward a new era of "change and hope," leaving behind the
past marked by discord between races and ideologies and political
enemies, and argued: "For Koreans, the North Korea nuclear issue and
the pending KORUS FTA are of the utmost interest. The U.S. should
try to balance resolving the North's nuclear issue through close
cooperation with the ROK while at the same time adopting a tough
diplomatic stance. The Obama Administration needs to decide whether
delaying ratification of the bilateral trade deal and pursuing
protectionism will serve U.S. national interests and the spirit of
the ROK-U.S. alliance."

Moderate Hankook Ilbo commented in an editorial: "The reason why
countries around the world welcome Obama's inauguration is that they
sincerely hope that he will overcome the economic crisis and lead
the world toward peace and stability by realizing his slogan of
'bold hope' and 'change.'"

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized: "Officials from the
Obama camp agree to resolve pending North Korean issues
comprehensively, which range from the dismantlement of North Korea's
nuclear programs, normalization of U.S. - North Korea relations,
economic and energy aid to the North, and establishment of a peace
regime on the Korean Peninsula. Given this, the incoming
administration should enter into negotiations with North Korea after
confirming the North's willingness to resolve the problem by
exchanging special envoys with the communist regime. If there is
prompt progress on the nuclear issue, it would be easy for the Obama
Administration to focus on other international issues, including the
Middle East conflict."

Meanwhile, conservative Chosun Ilbo noted in an inside-page report
that Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State-designate for East
Asian and Pacific affairs, Wallace Gregson, the nominee for
Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asian and Pacific affairs,
and Jeffrey Bader, a Senior National Security Council
Adviser-designate for Asian Affairs will handle issues concerning
the Korean Peninsula under the Obama Administration, and commented:
"Although they maintain close relations with their Korean
acquaintances and are well aware of the importance of the ROK-U.S.
alliance, greater importance will likely be given to China and
Japan, because Campbell and Gregson are known as Japan experts and
Bader as a China specialist." The report went on to speculate:
"During the Bush Administration, China and Japan were apparently
unhappy because Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and
Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill had been Ambassador to Seoul, but
during the Obama Administration, it could be the ROK that feels left
out." In a related development, Chosun Ilbo's Washington
Correspondent Lee Ha-won wrote: "USG officials have said that there
is not much difference between an alliance and a partnership. Some
experts also argue that it is unreasonable to compare the ROK-U.S.
alliance with Japan, which deepened its relationship with America
through the 1996 U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security. However,
it would be undesirable if the ROK was habitually being described
not as a sworn ally but a mere partner. The ROK and the U.S. agreed
to upgrade their relationship to a '21st century strategic
partnership' at their Camp David summit in April last year.
However, that was mere rhetoric. The fact that we dispatched
3,000-plus troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to assist the U.S. in its
E
'war on terror' is already being forgotten in America. The ROK
ranked second only to Britain in troop deployment, but the U.S
treatment of Japan and Australia, both of which dispatched less than
1,000 troops each and ranked fifth and eighth, is rather different."


North Korea
The ROK media gave wide attention to ROK Deputy Nuclear Envoy Hwang
Joon-kook's return to Seoul yesterday from his trip to North Korea
during which he discussed with North Korean officials Seoul's
possible purchase of unused fuel rods stored at the North's main
nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. The ROK envoy, however, was not
able to secure meetings with any of the North's senior nuclear
negotiators, including the Chief North Korean Nuclear Envoy, Vice
Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan. Deputy Nuclear Envoy Hwang was
quoted as saying at a press briefing: "North Korea was very
cooperative during the visit. We inspected three nuclear facilities
that are under disablement, including the nuclear fuel rod producing
factory where unused fuel rods are stored."


Opinions/Editorials

Good luck, President Obama
(JoongAng Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 30)

Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th president of the United
States. The dream of America's founding fathers, that everyone is
born equal, has finally come true.

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party, the broad spectrum of
people of various origins that make up the nation, men and women,
youths and their elders, support Obama because they see in him a
chance that America can change.

Since winning the U.S. presidential election last November, Obama
has pursued integrative leadership and embraced his political
enemies. He has proven that his slogan for bipartisan politics was
more than a collection of words. He has selected suitable people
for his cabinet and adjusted his election pledges in response to an
ever-changing world.

Needless to say, Obama will have to take on the grave responsibility
of executing concrete and coherent policies to unify his country.
But as he has emphasized before, this responsibility should be borne
on the shoulders of all Americans, not just his own.

Overcoming the economic crisis is the most urgent issue he has to
face. In addition, the festering Israeli-Palestinian crisis in Gaza
must be resolved and at the same time, sustainable solutions must be
prepared. Withdrawing troops from Iraq and intensifying the
military campaign in Afghanistan must not be delayed. Resolving the
North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues must be resolved as soon as
possible. Another urgent matter is climate change, which the U.S.
has neglected so far. As these issues compete for Obama's
attention, the world will watch how he exerts "smart power," a
concept Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton promoted during
her recent confirmation hearing.

For Koreans, the North Korea nuclear issue and the pending
Korea-U.S. free trade agreement are of the utmost interest. The
U.S. should try to balance resolving the North's nuclear issue
through close cooperation with South Korea while at the same time
adopting a tough diplomatic stance.

The Obama Administration needs to decide whether delaying approval
of the bilateral trade deal with Korea and pursuing protectionism
will serve U.S. national interests and the spirit of the Korea-U.S.
alliance.

It is natural that Obama prioritizes U.S. interests. Therefore we
may be disappointed sometimes. However, it is clear that the U.S.
cannot do everything by itself. Obama must seek ways for both
America and the world to prosper in peace.

We truly hope Obama's presidency will be blessed with success.

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


ROK-U.S. Alliance Needs Constant Care
(Chosun Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 30)

By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won

In U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's contribution in the
July-August 2008 edition of Foreign Affairs in early June last year,
I stumbled on her remarks about Asia. Titled, "Rethinking the
National Interest: American Realism for a New World," she describes
Japan and Australia as "alliances." Japan gets particularly high
marks, for sharing values and a democratic alliance with the U.S.

The ROK gets a subtly different shading. "South Korea, too, has
become a global partner whose history can boast an inspiring journey
from poverty and dictatorship to democracy and prosperity," she
writes.

At the time, I wrote about my concern that the terminology could
mark a turning point. I remember discussing the matter in depth
with some officials in the Bush Administration.

Regrettably, the differentiation is likely to persist in the Barack
Obama Administration.

Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State-designate, in her Jan. 13
confirmation hearing, showed that her perception is identical to
Rice's. The U.S.-Japan alliance, based on common values and mutual
interests, is a core element to maintain peace and prosperity in the
region, she stressed, but the ROK figures among the also-rans. "We
also have crucial economic and security partnerships with the ROK,
Australia, and other friends in ASEAN," she said.

U.S. officials have been trying to downplay this, saying there is
not much difference between an alliance and a partnership. Some
experts argue it is unreasonable to compare the Seoul-Washington
alliance with Japan, which deepened its relationship with America
through the 1996 U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security.

But it would be undesirable if the ROK was habitually being
described not as a sworn ally but a mere partner.

That Clinton differentiated the ROK from Japan as her predecessor
means Seoul has yet to recover credibility in U.S. eyes.

The ROK and the U.S. agreed to upgrade their relationship to a "21st
century strategic partnership" at their Camp David summit in April
last year. But that was mere rhetoric. Officials here claimed that
was taking the alliance to a whole new level from the strained
relations of the Roh Moo-hyun Administration. But nearly a year
later, nothing specific has happened.

The fact that we dispatched 3,000-plus troops to Iraq and
Afghanistan to assist the U.S. in its "war on terror" is already
being forgotten in America. The ROK ranked second only to Britain
in troop deployment, but the U.S treatment of Japan and Australia,
both of which dispatched less than 1,000 troops each and ranked
fifth and eighth, is rather different.

George Schultz, Reagan's Secretary of State, likened diplomacy
between friendly countries to gardening, requiring constant
attention and weeding out of insignificant issues. Now, the Obama
Administration is taking office. It is time for the ROKG to examine
if it has neglected to care for the ROK-U.S. alliance by assuming
that declaring the "strategic alliance" was all that needed to be
done for the garden.

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


High Expectations for Obama's Era
(Hankook Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 39)

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States
early this morning amid more hearty cheers and higher public
expectations than any of his predecessors have ever had. Although
the symbolic significance of President Obama as the first
African-American President in U.S. history made people all the more
emotional, the reason why countries around the world welcome him is
not that they blindly admire his success story. Rather, it is
because they sincerely hope to see President Obama overcoming the
economic crisis and leading the world toward security and peace by
realizing his slogans of "hope" and "change."

His "pragmatism and balance" are expected to be prominent in U.S.
foreign policy. Reflecting on the unilateralism of the Bush
Administration, President Obama emphasizes multilateralism and
international cooperation. In order to address global issues, such
as climate change, weapons of mass destruction, international
finance and trade order, he gives priority to a compromise with
enemies as well as allies. Furthermore, he has presented the
concept of "power of balance" as the basic principle for U.S.
foreign policy.

This concept is not clear, but it is noteworthy that (Secretary of
State-designate Clinton) recently said, "America cannot solve the
most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them
without America." This indicates that the Obama Administration will
focus on overcoming the crisis facing the U.S., while not neglecting
to keep its leading status and interest in the areas of security and
trade. This can be more challenging to us. We should be thoroughly
prepared for a change, pinning our hopes on the success of the
incoming President and a brand new start of the United States.


A New Beginning for America
(Chosun Ilbo, January 21, 2009, Page 31)

President Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the
United States on Monday. Close to two million people went to
Washington D.C. to witness his inauguration, demonstrating the level
of interest in America's first African American president and the
expectations of the U.S. public in his ability to guide the country
out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
According to a poll in 17 countries by the BBC, positive
expectations of the United States have risen 20 percentage points
compared to last year, to 67 percent. Dissatisfaction and
disappointment with the outgoing Bush Administration, which divided
the world according to America's standard of good and evil and
attempted to force America's will onto other countries, has led to
high hopes for Obama, who has criticized the "unilateral diplomacy"
of outgoing President George W. Bush.

After the euphoria of the inauguration has calmed down and Obama
enters the Oval Office of the White House on 1400 Pennsylvania
Avenue, a number of tasks, both big and small, await him at his
desk. The most pressing is to recover America's leadership. Even
though it is bogged down in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amid an
unprecedented global economic crisis, the U.S. is still the world's
most powerful nation and will maintain that status for a significant
length of time. Many people say the U.S. is in decline, but nobody
is able to project what the world will be like after the American
era.

Economic recovery, which is the top priority of Obama, can gain
momentum if it is achieved within the framework of global
cooperation. Recently, worries have surfaced over a possible
protectionist stance by the new U.S. administration, following
comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for a
renegotiation of the ROK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to protect the
American auto industry. As was demonstrated during the Great
Depression in 1934, protectionist policies by countries around the
world can only exacerbate the economic crisis. The U.S. must show
leadership in creating a more open global trade system.

And the world does not move according to the Obama timetable. That
is particularly true for the North Korean nuclear problem. North
Korea has already made various gestures to bring itself to the
world's attention in time for the inauguration of the new U.S.
president. Seoul and Washington must waste no time in beginning
talks over a new vision for the bilateral alliance and over the
North Korean nuclear standoff. There must be no repeat of the
mistakes made in March of 1993 by the newly inaugurated
administrations in Seoul and Washington after North Korea withdrew
from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.


A New America, A New World
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, January 21, 2009, Page 27)

There are high hopes in the United States for President Barack
Obama, who was sworn in well before sunrise in Korea. His domestic
approval rating is above 80 percent, the highest for any president
right before being inaugurated. An opinion survey in 17 countries
preformed by the BBC indicated that 67 percent of respondents think
the United States will move to improve its relations with the world,
up from the 47 percent who said the same six months ago. Excluding
Japan and Russia, more than 50 percent shared that view. The rise
in that perception was particularly sharp in the Islamic world.
This hope is for President Obama a great asset and also a form of
debt.

As someone who was elected on the promise of change, he now has a
responsibility to create a new America and a new world. The
historic mission he bears on his shoulders largely falls into three
categories. First, he must create an economic order that is a new
alternative to the bankrupt neoliberal system. He has to change the
economic system so that it supports the just and sustainable
coexistence and development of diverse economic actors. Secondly,
he needs to effectively resolve international concerns that include
the Middle East and the North Korean nuclear issue. Multi-party,
realpolitik diplomacy that does not insist on unilateral supremacy
will be what supports the establishment of future-oriented
international relationships. Finally, he must endeavor to spread
the ideal of a fair and equal society in the United States and
abroad. This will fit well with his identity as America's first
African-American President.

As noted by Obama's designee for Secretary of State, Hillary
Clinton, the North Korean nuclear issue is an "urgent" one. His
advisers are said to share a favorable view of a "package solution"
that includes Pyongyang disarming itself of its nuclear
capabilities, normalized ties between the United States and North
Korea, energy and economic aid for North Korea, and the
establishment of a peace regime for the Korean Peninsula. That
being the case, the shortcut to progress would be exchanging
mutually trustworthy special emissaries to confirm each side's
intentions and then immediately entering into negotiations with the
North Koreans. The earlier that sense can begin to be made on the
North Korean nuclear issue, the easier it will become for Obama to
concentrate on other international issues like the Middle East.

The start of the Obama Administration carries significant meaning as
the start of a new era of progressivism in modern world politics.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that only progressive
answers can resolve difficult problems like the financial crisis,
create jobs, and respond to global warming. But hardened customs
and resistance from the Washington elite could become big obstacles
to achieving the "audacity of hope" of which Obama so often speaks.
He needs to pursue reconciliation but also have the courage and
wisdom to change reality, and to do so with a clear vision. More
than anything else, we would hope that he uses his assets to change
America and win the world's confidence.

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


Stephens
1