Kim Jong-un inspects joint training by military units

File:Flag-map of North Korea.svg

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected joint drills conducted by the military’s two units, ordering the Korean People’s Army to intensify combat drills, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.

Kim observed “actual maneuvers” between the KPA’s large combined units 526 and 671, expressing satisfaction over their flawlessness in defensive and offensive capacities, according to the Korean Central News Agency. It did not specify the date of Kim’s visit.

“Practical drills should be conducted so often to cope with the hardest and severest war,” Kim was quoted by the KCNA as saying.

The North’s leader called for the military to beef up their combat readiness in a bid to greet the upcoming congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea with achievements, it said.

North Korea plans to hold the first party congress in more than three decades in May next year, where the leader may unveil a new line of policies and conduct a major reshuffle.

Kim was accompanied by Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political department of the KPA and Pak Yong-sik, minister of the North’s armed forces. (Yonhap)


Source : The Korea Herald

North Korea denounces Barack Obama for military tensions

North Korea fiercely accused the Obama administration Thursday of deliberately raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, while refraining from criticizing South Korea.

Recounting security-related events in Korea this year, the Korean Central News Agency claimed a military crisis has returned to Korea due to Washington’s “hostile policy” on Pyongyang.

“The current U.S. administration’s policy on the DPRK and its implementation is the most hostile and ferocious in the history (of the U.S. government),” it said. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the communist nation’s official name.

The state-controlled mouthpiece warned that if the U.S. sticks to its existing stance, it will face the North’s “response beyond imagination.” It did not elaborate.

The KCNA argued that the U.S. was behind the August landmine incident along the inter-Korean border that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

The two Koreas were in sharp military stand-offs amid concerns about the possibility of an armed clash, though they averted the crisis through marathon talks between the top officials of the two sides.

The KCNA said the South’s military initially admitted that the blast was an accident involving landmines washed away by rain, but it later blamed the North at the instruction of the U.S. authorities. (Yonhap)


Source : The Korea Herald

DPR Korea and Korea Republic reach deal on land use fee at Gaeseong complex

South and North Korea have reached an agreement on the land use fee amount for South Korean firms operating a joint industrial park across the border, the Unification Ministry announced Thursday.

The deal calls for South Korean firms at Gaeseong Industrial Complex to pay $0.64 per square meter every year, it said.

The complex in the North’s border city of Gaeseong opened in 2004 as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation. A total of 124 South Korean firms are running factories with about 54,000 North Koreans working in them.

Kaesong has served as a major revenue source for the cash-strapped North, while South Korea has benefited from cheap but skilled North Korean labor.

The South’s firms were exempted from land use fees for a decade under a 2004 deal. The two sides launched talks over the issue again in late 2014.

“The government hopes that the agreement will help South Korean firms focus on their businesses in a stable manner,” said a ministry official, asking not to be named.

The North initially claimed that the South should pay $1 per square meter for all areas that were supposed to be developed under the 2004 agreement, according to an industry source.

But Seoul insisted that it will pay only around half of the North’s offered price for the land that the South’s firms are actually using. They are currently using about 25 percent of the 1 million square meter land.

“The government hopes that the two Koreas could resolve other pending issues related to the operation of the factory zone through dialogue,” the official added.

The operation of the complex has been affected by the ups and downs of inter-Korean ties. In April 2013, the North abruptly suspended the operation of the complex for about five months, citing inter-Korean tensions.

Ending a months-long wage dispute, the two sides agreed in August to raise the minimum wage for the North’s workers by 5 percent to $73.87 per month. (Yonhap)

Source : The Korea Herald

Koreas’ women call for efforts to improve inter-Korean ties

South and North Korean women have called for efforts to bring reconciliation and peace to the Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.

About 60 South Korean women from 35 female activists’ organizations visited the North’s border city of Kaesong Wednesday for a set of cultural events with their North Korean counterparts.

Participants raised the need to cherish an inter-Korean agreement in August to defuse military tension and implement it thoroughly to open a “fresh turning phase” in improving inter-Korean relations, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The two Koreas ended their rare high-level talks earlier this month without any agreements, leaving the outlook for inter-Korean ties murky.

The KCNA said they stressed the need to intensify solidarity and unity among women from South and North Korea to help put an end to confrontation on the peninsula.

They “called for defusing the danger of war and putting an end to confrontation” between the two Koreas and “firmly defending security and peace,” it reported.

It said that participants voiced hope for more brisk contacts and activities among women’s organizations in the two Koreas next year in a bid to help improve inter-Korean relations. (Yonhap)


Source : The Korea Herald

Park Geun-hye checks military readiness against North Korea

President Park Geun-hye checked military readiness against possible North Korean provocations as she made a rare visit to a military base near the border with North Korea, an official said Thursday.

Park, wearing a military jacket, commended the soldiers at the military division in Yeoncheon near the central section of the border, for their “resolute” response to North Korea’s shelling attacks on Aug. 20, presidential spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk said.

Combined with a land-mine attack earlier in the month, the August shelling escalated military tensions between the two Koreas before they agreed to mend ties in a landmark Aug. 25 agreement.

“I want the military to have confidence and maintain watertight combat readiness against North Korea’s provocations,” Park was quoted as saying.

“I will always rely on the military’s judgment on and response to North Korean provocations or any other emergency situations.”

South Korea always keeps the door open for talks with North Korea, she said, adding that “however, progress in the inter-Korean ties could come only when we have a firm position in readiness and a principled stance.

This visit marked the second time that Park has visited a military base near the border since she took office in 2013.

The latest visit came amid lingering concerns over North Korea’s possible provocations against South Korea.

On Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Lee Sun-jin instructed frontline commanders to maintain tight combat readiness, citing the possibility of North Korea’s unexpected military provocations.

North Korea’s state news agency reported earlier in the day that leader Kim Jong-un ordered his troops to intensify combat drills as he inspected joint military drills.

“Practical drills should be conducted so often to cope with the hardest and severest war,” Kim was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency. It did not specify the date of Kim’s visit. (Yonhap)


Source : The Korea Herald

South Korea warns Japan against revisionist history review

South Korea warned Thursday Japan will face an angry backlash from neighbors and the international communist if the country rewrites its modern history with a revisionist view.

A controversial history review office of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party held its first meeting on Tuesday as it reportedly seeks to review an array of modern historical events.

The move is raising concerns that Japan may rewrite its modern history of World War II aggression and atrocities as the meeting will reportedly review the International Military Tribunal for the Far East where leaders of the imperialist Japan were convicted of waging war.

The Nanking Massacre and Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during WWII are also reportedly among the items to be reviewed.

“There shouldn’t be any revisionist trend in verification organizations like this when the South Korea-Japan relations are moving forward in a certain direction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-Hyuck said in a regular briefing.

“If it moves in the (revisionist) direction, there will be resistance from neighbors including us and the international community,” Cho noted.

South Korea is “closely watching” related developments in Japan’s political community, he also said.

Asked how the current South Korea-Japan negotiations over the sex slavery issue are going, Cho said “our stance is that it should be settled as soon as possible.” (Yonhap)

Source : The Korea Herald