RFID Set to Ease Kaesong Restrictions

File:Flag of the Republic of North Korea (Proposal).png

Proposed flag of a possible capitalist North Korea

The process of introducing radio-frequency identification (RFID) data transfer to the Kaesong Industrial Complex will be complete by the middle of this week, and the system will be put into operation before the end of this month, the Ministry of Unification has revealed.

The system should allow for more freedom in terms of entry and exit from the inter-Korean manufacturing zone, although it won’t mean the end of prior notification of visits.

Ministry spokesperson Kim Eui Do told a press briefing today, “We anticipate that the Kaesong Complex DFID construction, which began on December 11th last year, will be complete this week. We will perform security checks on the system over the course of a week or two, and then problem areas will be improved through testing.” He added that the first official movements employing the system should be possible by the end of January.

Currently, entry into the complex is only possible at an agreed time following advance notification, whereas the RFID system should mean that personnel will be able to come and go freely on the agreed day. It will still be necessary to inform the Ministry of Unification of travel plans four days in advance.

On other bilateral matters, Kim said that Seoul has no plan to return to the issue of separated family reunions following North Korea’s rejection of last week’s overtures. “Hereafter we will observe North Korea’s response and decide how to respond in turn,” he explained.

Defector Numbers Remained Low in 2013

File:Flag of North Korea.svg
File:Flag of the Republic of North Korea (Proposal).png
A total of 1516 North Koreans sought refuge in South Korea last year, bringing the total number of defectors living in the South to 26,124, 69% of whom are female.
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Unification, annual defector numbers topped the 2000 mark in 2006.  This trend continued until 2012 when the intake dropped sharply to 1502.
A high-ranking defector explained to Daily NK, “Controls strengthened at the onset of the Kim Jong Eun era, and it became more difficult to cross the (Sino-North Korean) border. Punishment (for such crimes) grew stricter, too.  It also seems that the North’s practice of presenting people with distorted facts by holding lectures and press conferences with ‘re-defectors’ have played a part.”
“It’s known that more people are now entering the South after spending several years living in China, rather than coming directly (from North Korea).  The number of those risking their lives to get out in order to make a living seems to be diminishing.  This appears to be the result of more stringent border control and comparative, albeit minor, improvements in the economic situation,” the defector concluded.

Move on Human Rights Inspires Modest Hope


The leader of South Korea’s embattled Democratic Party (DP), Kim Han Gil yesterday made official reference to addressing the North Korean human rights problem, something the Democratic Party had largely sought to avoid discussing in the past. The move is set to reignite domestic debate regarding the stalled “North Korean Human Rights Act” and focus attention on the possibility of agreement on North Korean human rights during February’s National Assembly session.

Kim told a New Year press conference, “The Democratic Party, which holds democracy and human rights as its supreme values, is confronting the North Korean human rights issue. Preparations for a ‘North Korean Human Rights and Livelihoods Act’ to improve the human rights and livelihoods of North Koreans will take place at the Party level.”

This isn’t the first time that elements within the DP have worked on the issue of North Korean human rights, though interest has hitherto stemmed from lower in the ranks. In November 2012, DP lawmaker Shim Jae Kwon introduced a bill to “enhance the human rights of the North Korean people,” and in July last year fellow party member Yoon Hu Duk put a similar proposal before the National Assembly. The party leadership appears set to engage with these two previous offerings prior to dialogue with the Saenuri Party.

Since the original Saenuri Party-led “North Korean Human Rights Act” first appeared in 2005, the DP has objected to the passage of any law on the issue, fearing that passing it might anger the North and set back bilateral efforts to resolve the division of the Korean Peninsula at the governmental level. As a result, the act fell by the wayside during both the 18th and 19th National Assembly cycles.

There are multiple interpretations as to why the DP could have decided to engage with the subject of North Korean human rights at this time.

There are some who wonder whether the execution of Jang Song Taek forced the party’s hand, and thereafter it decided to approach the issue head on. However, a more likely trigger is the desire of the party to avoid being labeled “pro-North” in the run up to this year’s regional elections. The party was criticized in recent years for aiding the entry of pro-North figures into the legislative arena due to its “progressive alliance” approach to both regional elections in 2010 and the general election in 2012.

Additionally, this year the core DP vote is under serious threat from computer virus software mogul-turned independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol Soo, who is to offer a stern challenge to all those on the left of Korean politics. Currently polling considerably below Ahn’s formative faction, the DP appears keen to redefine itself and regain its voter base, and sees the North Korean human rights issue as one possible venue for swift gains.

Saenuri Party lawmaker Ha Tae Kyung told Daily NK today, “The North Korean human rights issue is expanding, and [the DP] would have been backed into a corner if they’d rejected the issue any more. We’ll have to see how discussions proceed from here, but you can’t say there’s no chance of it passing.”

Although Ha and others on the conservative right are cautiously optimistic about the DP’s amended stance, there are still major differences in the positions of the two on the issue of North Korean human rights. In particular, the DP wishes to see any act offer specific support for humanitarian and development assistance to North Korea, whereas the Saenuri Party focus is on the human rights of the North Korean people and support for groups that aim to realize on-the-ground human rights improvements.


Auckland motorway blocked by rolled truck

12:21 PM Wednesday Jan 15, 2014

File photo / NZ Herald

The northbound lanes of Auckland’s northwestern motorway are closed between the Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd off ramps after a truck carrying glue rolled.

The truck rolled 1km after the Te Atatu exit.

Emergency services are on the scene.

No other vehicles were involved.

Police said the truck driver is “okay”.

One lane is due to reopen shortly.

The New Zealand Herald

Measles alert issued after Singapore Airlines flight

11:59 AM Wednesday Jan 15, 2014

Flew on Singapore Airlines to Auckland on Sunday and feeling unwell? You might want to get yourself to the doctor. Photo / Richard Robinson

Flew on Singapore Airlines to Auckland on Sunday and feeling unwell? You might want to get yourself to the doctor. Photo / Richard Robinson

A new measles alert has been issued after a passenger became infected on a flight from Singapore to Auckland.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the passenger was on Singapore Airlines flight SQ281 that arrived at 11.45pm on Sunday.

“The passenger with measles would have been infectious at the time of their travel on this flight,” medical officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins said.

Other passengers may soon experience symptoms of the illness if they have been infected, the health service warned.

Thirteen other cases of the illness have been confirmed in the North Island following an outbreak linked to an individual who attended a Sydney dance festival last year.

Anyone who feels unwell should phone their family doctor or call Healthline, on 0800 611 116, for advice.

Calling the doctor or hospital before going in was important due to the highly infectious nature of the virus.

People with the disease could infect others in the waiting room, Dr Hoskins said.

There was no treatment for measles, with vaccination the best protection against the disease.

“My plea would be for parents and families to check that their children’s immunisations are up to date.

“Measles is now rare in New Zealand, thanks to immunisation,” he said.


The New Zealand Herald

United States military reinforcements target North Korea, China

Greater military presence on peninsula comes as Washington pushes to pivot toward Asia

Graphic by Han Chang-duk

The U.S. is reinforcing its military strength on the Korean Peninsula in an apparent move to better cope with potential security threats from an unpredictable North Korea and a more militarily assertive China.

The move comes as Washington is pushing for a strategic shift toward the Asia-Pacific, where an ascendant China is feared to be challenging the regional order through its growing military and economic clout.

The U.S. plans to deploy a dozen F-16 warplanes and some 300 troops to Korea on a rotational basis later this month. Next month, it will rotationally deploy a mechanized infantry battalion to the first brigade of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division north of Seoul.

The new deployments will be the latest addition to the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea.

The U.S. returned the 23rd Chemical Battalion to Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu last April, some nine years after its withdrawal. The 4th Squadron of the 6th Cavalry Regiment was also brought back to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek last October, five years after their pullout.

The U.S. military says that these deployments are part of its efforts to maintain a “prudent deterrent” against threats to regional security and stability.

The primary purposes of the U.S. military moves are to better deter North Korea and prevent any inter-Korean conflict from escalating into a full-blown war, given that uncertainties have increased in the North due to the unpredictable leadership in Pyongyang, and its adherence to its nuclear programs.

But observers argued that Washington might have taken into account potential threats from China as a crucial factor in its troop realignment in the geostrategically vital region.

“The U.S. is making these moves to primarily prepare for possible cases of instability in North Korea, particularly after the execution of Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,” said Park Won-gon, a security expert at Handong Global University.

“But there is also a ‘China factor’ Washington might have taken into consideration to keep an increasingly assertive China in check, as it is pivoting toward the Asia-Pacific.”

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has begun pursuing a “rebalancing policy” focused on Asia. The policy comes amid growing concerns over China’s assertiveness in the East and South China Seas and over other global issues.

China’s behavior appears to have become more aggressive since 2008, when the West faltered due to a global financial crisis while China continued its economic growth and, in turn, took more pride in its socialist governance mechanism.

After Washington announced its plans to shift its diplomatic, military focus to Asia in 2012, it sent more troops, advanced weapons systems and other military assets to the Asia-Pacific, a move China argues is aimed at countering its “peaceful” rise.

For the U.S., the geopolitical value of South Korea is of great importance as the Sino-U.S. rivalry intensifies, analysts say.

South Korea serves as a bridgehead into the Eurasian continent, a center of global power and wealth, and offers the U.S. military crucial access to the West Sea between Korea and China for the ostensible purpose of joint military exercises. The six-decade-old alliance with Korea, along with the U.S.-Japan alliance, also serves as a vital tool for maintaining the U.S.-led regional order.

Some analysts downplayed the recent U.S. military reinforcements here as a return to normalcy after the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or simply as part of the military’s reorganization process following large troops withdrawals from the Middle East.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

Knee surgery sidelines Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan

January 15, 2014

Mark Milligan underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday morning.

Mark Milligan underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday morning. Photo: Getty Images

Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan will miss up to six weeks of A-League action due to minor knee surgery.

Milligan underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday morning.

”Following a recent recurrence of the injury, the club’s medical team decided it was best the surgery be undertaken as soon as possible to ensure Mark will be back on the pitch ahead of a busy end of season schedule,” the club said.

”Milligan is expected to miss between four and six weeks of football.”


The injury left Victory light on for players for Tuesday night’s clash with Western Sydney. It was already without a number of players due to injury, suspension and Australia’s under-22 Asia Championship campaign.

■ Arsene Wenger is sweating on the fitness of two of his Arsenal stars, with his side climbing back to the top of the English Premier League with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Monday.

Goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud within 60 seconds in the first half at Villa Park gave the Gunners a fourth successive league win to go one point clear of second-placed Manchester City, but it came at a cost. Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky suffered a suspected broken nose in a clash with Gabriel Agbonlahor, while Nacho Monreal will have a scan on an injured foot.

While the injuries took some gloss off Arsenal’s return to the top, Wenger was still pleased with his team’s performance.


The Sydney Morning Herald

Unhappy Western Sydney Wanderers as Melbourne Victory sizzle in the heat

January 15, 2014 – 12:44AM

Michael Lynch


A depleted squad notwithstanding, Melbourne Victory sends last season’s top side packing.

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat declared he had complete confidence in the depth of his depleted squad ahead of this game against the high flying Western Sydney Wanderers.

As the temperatures soared and the pressure mounted, his collection of fringe, youth team players and senior men playing out of position did him proud.

Veteran Archie Thompson makes his presence felt, opening the scoring against the Wanderers in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Veteran Archie Thompson makes his presence felt, opening the scoring against the Wanderers in Melbourne on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

They saw off last season’s top side 3-1, with all the goals coming in the second half in front of an AAMI Park crowd of 14,774 on Tuesday night.


A fit-again Archie Thompson and Kiwi international Kosta Barbarouses put the hosts two-up and, although Tomi Juric’s late strike with just two minutes of stoppage time left gave Tony Popovic’s team the faint hope that it could snatch a draw, Gui Finkler immediately went down the other end and restored the two-goal difference.

The win lifts Victory into a clear third place on the league table and to within three points of the second-placed Wanderers. Brisbane remains clear at the top, three points ahead of Western Sydney.

Both coaches fielded much changed line-ups through circumstance – international call-ups, suspensions and injuries – and in recognition that this midweek fixture meant that by the close of the round on Sunday both teams would have played thrice in eight days. Popovic left three key men – Shinji Ono, Tomi Juric and Youssouf Hersi – on the bench.

Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe certainly earned his match fee in the minutes before half-time as the Wanderers began to exert themselves in a match Victory had begun with more purpose.

First the goalkeeper reacted well to get down and finger tip a Mark Bridge volley to safety. From the resultant corner Coe managed to beat away Nikolai Topor Stanley’s goal-bound header, and moments later the goalkeeper had to be alert at his near post to keep out a Brendan Santalab shot.

Archie Thompson, starting for the first time since late November, was anxious to make an impression and he buzzed early.

But it was Andrew Nabbout and Barbarouses who had the most early impact. The former was denied only by a combination of Dean Heffernan and Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic as he ran on to a James Troisi through ball.

Shortly afterwards Barbarouses had a good opportunity when he made space well but dragged a shot wide.

Muscat was forced into a reshuffle after just 13 minutes when Nabbout was caught in the head and knocked out by Heffernan’s boot.

The young striker lay prone for several minutes and had to be carried off on a stretcher with his neck in a brace before play resumed, with Finkler getting an earlier than expected introduction. Nabbout was subsequently taken to hospital.

When the crucial opening goal came six minutes after the interval, it was Victory who got it – with Thompson crowning an excellent move to apply the finishing touch, for a trademark Victory strike.

The forward made a well-timed run to get in behind the Wanderers rearguard and get on the end of a Barbarouses cross after the All-White forward had been fed from midfield by Rashid Mahazi.

Ten minutes later Barbarouses doubled the advantage after being set up by a precise Leigh Broxham pass. The NZ international dummied one way and then the other as Topor Stanley jostled for position, before firing low across Covic and into the far corner.

Troisi almost added a third late with an excellent run only to be denied by a Covic save, as was Barbarouses with a similar opportunity.

This is an important win for Victory and Muscat. Socceroo regular Mark Milligan was an absentee from this game having gone for knee surgery on Tuesday morning, and he will not be available for up to six weeks.

A trappy trip to Wellington and a clash with former boss Ernie Merrick is next for Muscat’s men, but they will cross the Tasman in high spirits after this win.

*Brisbane Roar 14 10 0 4 28 13 15 30
Western Sydney Wanderers 15 7 5 3 17 14 3 26
Melbourne Victory 15 6 5 4 22 17 5 23
*Central Coast Mariners 14 5 6 3 13 15 -2 21
*Perth Glory 14 5 4 5 15 14 1 19
*Newcastle Jets 14 5 4 5 14 14 0 19
*Sydney FC 14 6 1 7 17 21 -4 19
*Adelaide United 14 4 5 5 21 20 1 17
*Wellington Phoenix 14 3 5 6 15 18 -3 14
*Melbourne Heart 14 0 5 9 9 25 -16 5

* – denotes teams yet to play.

Playing on Friday

Adelaide v Mariners (1930 AEST)

Playing on Saturday

Sydney v Perth (1730 AEST)

Playing on Sunday

Wellington v Melbourne Heart (1500 AEST)

Brisbane v Newcastle (1700 AEST)


The Sydney Morning Herald

Muscat has faith in undermanned Victory

Monday, 13 January 2014 11:48 AM

Muscat has faith in undermanned Victory

Kevin Muscat has backed his depleted Melbourne Victory team to produce a competitive performance against Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday, despite missing a host of important players.

Following their 1-1 draw away to the Newcastle Jets on Friday, Victory must play for the second time in five days, with the Round 19 match against the Wanderers, originally scheduled for February, re-arranged due to AAMI Park’s unavailability next month.

While Adrian Leijer will return from suspension, his fellow centre-back Pablo Contreras must sit the game out for disciplinary reasons. Key midfielders Mark Milligan and Mitch Nichols are in doubt, while Scott Galloway, Jason Geria, Connor Pain and Nick Ansell are all away on international duty with Australia’s Under-22 side.

And with all those absentees, the Victory coach is unable to make changes to freshen up the team following their short turnaround.

“If I had some more bodies I probably would,” he said.

“The players are fully aware of the numbers we’ve got, the bodies we’ve got available at the moment.

“Obviously Pablo’s suspended. Mitch Nichols come off with a knock to his knee. And we’re still not sure on Mark Milligan.

When pressed on the likelihood of Nichols being passed fit to play, Muscat said: “I’d suggest he’ll struggle, to be honest, he’ll struggle to play tomorrow.

“If I’m honest, I was pleased with the performance at the weekend. It was pretty disjointed, as expected, early on.

“(There were) a lot of … new combinations and players who didn’t play in positions previously. But I’ve got confidence, we’ve got a good squad here a lot of the young boys come in and did well.”

Wide defender Adama Traore was moved to centre-back against the Jets, with teenager Dylan Murnane replacing him at left-back, and Leigh Broxham filling in on the other flank.

Aside from Leijer replacing Contreras, Muscat confirmed the makeshift defence would remain the same for the visit of the Wanderers.

“Pretty handy that we’re getting these suspensions one at a time,” he said.

“Ado (Leijer) will come in. That’ll be another reshuffle to the defence. But, like I said, rather than worry about the players that aren’t here and aren’t available, I’ve got to concentrate on the ones that are, because they certainly done themselves proud and really had a go on Friday night.”

The last match between the Wanderers and Victory in Melbourne late last month was marred by a confrontation between supporters in the city before the game, followed by flares and smoke bombs being set off by away fans at AAMI Park. However, Muscat said he does not anticipate trouble from the home contingent this week.

“The fans of this football club have been the flag-bearers of the A-League since the start of the competition,” he said.

“For the fact there’s a small minority which misbehave, all in all, the majority have been superb for us and I have no reason to think it won’t be the same tomorrow.”

And as for a potential repeat of issues in the away corner of the stadium, Muscat added: “It’s something that’s certainly out of my control.

“I’ll just worry about picking the best team possible for a good game of football tomorrow night.”

Football Federation Australia