Recent exodus of North Korean officials won’t lead to regime collapse: experts

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) — North Korea may continue to see its officials desert the communist country to settle abroad down the road, but the exodus is not likely to lead to the collapse of the regime, experts said Monday.

North Korea is believed to be coping with an increased number of defections by government officials as of late with frequent fears of purging and punishment haunting North Korean officials under leader Kim Jong-un.

About 10 North Korean military and party officials have reportedly fled the communist country recently in their pursuit of asylum in South Korea or in a third country.

Those defectors reportedly included a mid-ranking North Korean party official who sought asylum in the South with his family early this year while he was managing slush funds in Hong Kong for leader Kim.

Another high-ranking military official also reportedly has been staying in a country outside of South and North Korea since fleeing the communist country.

The recent outflow may continue in the future as more officials terrified of Kim’s “reign of terror” are likely to renounce their allegiance to the communist country, experts noted.

“For the time being, North Korean officials are likely to continue to flee the communist country or seek asylum, which would weaken the regime of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un,” said Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, also noted, “Desertion by these people may take place intermittently in the process of solidifying the Kim Jong-un regime and securing the regime’s stability.”

Since taking power in late 2011 after his father Kim Jong-il’s sudden death, the junior Kim has resorted to unusually brutal means to solidify his power base.

In late 2013, Jang Song-thaek, the husband of Kim’s aunt and once the country’s second most powerful official, was executed on charges of treason, along with many other officials with close ties with Jang.

Former defense chief Hyon Yong-chol was also purged in late April apparently due to his disloyalty to Kim.

Still, experts stressed that the terror-driven exodus may not immediately lead to a collapse of the Kim regime although it is likely to resort to military provocations outside the country in order to quell potential political instability inside.

“If Kim’s reign of terror prolongs, his governing style could bring about an instability in the communist country,” said Jung Sang-don, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA). “Then, there is a possibility that North Korea could make provocations in a bid to tide over its internal problems.”

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, also dismissed the view that a series of defections by officials meant instability in Kim’s regime, saying that there have been no signs of abnormal activities among the North Korean military power or other citizens.

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Yonhap News

 

Lee Hee-ho to visit Korea DPR on Aug. 5-8

Kim Sung-jae, director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center and former culture minister, speaks in a meeting with reporters at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Monday. (Yonhap)

Lee Hee-ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, will take a direct flight over the West Sea to Pyongyang on Aug. 5 for a four-day visit, her aides said Monday after their talks with the North Korean side, raising expectations for her role to thaw frosty inter-Korean relations.

The 93-year-old widow of the former leader, noted for his efforts for cross-border reconciliation and cooperation, is to stay in the Baekhwawon Guesthouse in Pyongyang and visit a child care center, a children’s hospital, the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital and Mount Myohyang, they said.

Lee last visited the North in December 2011 to attend the funeral for former North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il.

“Kim Jong-un, the first chairman of the (North’s) National Defense Commission, has made a proposal for Lee to travel to the North by air in consideration of her health. Lee also agreed to that,” Kim Sung-jae, the director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center and former culture minister, told reporters as he returned to the South after his talks with North Korean officials in Gaeseong.

“Whether the North would send an airplane to the South or we will use a South Korean plane … this has yet to be determined, and we will have to further discuss it.”

Kim added that the two sides have not reached any decision over whether Lee will meet the North Korean leader during her stay in the communist state. She is thought to have met with Kim during her visit to the North in 2011.

Five officials, including Kim, and the five-member North Korean delegation, led by Maeng Kyong-il, vice chair of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, reached the agreement at a meeting in the North Korean border city.

The meeting followed the previous one held last Tuesday, during which Lee’s side reportedly delivered her wish to visit the North within the month for a four-day trip. Lee has expressed her hopes to deliver relief supplies along with knitted caps and scarves to young children.

Her planned visit has been drawing keen attention as it could help create much-needed momentum to improve the strained relations that have continued to deteriorate due to Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear arms and its provocative rhetoric and actions.

Lee’s visit has been sought since North Korean leader Kim offered a handwritten invitation to her last year. The invitation was delivered after she sent a wreath to Kim last December to mark the third anniversary of the death of his father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Lee’s side initially proposed holding talks with Pyongyang in April to arrange her visit to the North. But the North rejected the talks amid cross-border tensions that escalated due in large part to Pyongyang’s angry response to the South Korea-U.S. military drills and other issues.

Inter-Korean tensions have shown no signs of abating.

On Monday, through the Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, the North threatened to strike South Korea should it set off what it calls “provocations.” It portrayed inter-Korean relations as “coming to a devastating end.”

“South Korea talks of a two-track policy mixing pressure and dialogue, and crazily calls for us to give up our nuclear program,” the daily said. “The gist of the South’s provocative move is a rivalry between the two systems, and its objective is to wage a war to invade the North.”

The establishment on June 23 of a U.N. field office in Seoul to monitor North Korea’s human rights abuses has been drawing the ire of Pyongyang, which has argued that the office is designed to overthrow its regime by politicizing the issue and meddling in domestic affairs.

Inter-Korean ties were further strained after Seoul imposed financial sanctions on June 26 on six Taiwanese individuals and entities and a Syrian institution over suspicions that they traded arms and gave support to the North.

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

The Korea Herald

No punishment expected for Korea DPR over Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

 

The U.N. Security Council is unlikely to impose new sanctions or issue any formal statement with regard to North Korea’s test-launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine, a diplomatic source said Tuesday.
The secretive North announced in early May that it has successfully fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
South Korea sent a letter to the North Korea Sanctions Committee under the U.N. council requesting a probe and punitive action.
“North Korea’s firing of an SLBM is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. But China and Russia maintain a tepid stance,” the source told Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity. “The U.N. Security Council is a forum where political decisions are made.”
Some member states apparently believe that the North’s SLBM technology is not at a level of serious concern yet, given its complicated nature, added the source.
China, like the U.S., seems to have an assessment that North Korea still has a long way to go to master the SLBM technology and deploy a submarine equipped with the weapon, according to the source.
South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-kook had talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, in Beijing at the end of last month. Hwang earlier had a trilateral meeting in Seoul with the top nuclear envoys from the U.S., Sung Kim, and Japan, Junichi Ihara.
They shared notes on the analysis of Pyongyang’s recent provocations and discussed ways to coax it back to denuclearization talks.
In March, the North test-launched two Scud-type short-range ballistic missiles with impunity.
“The U.N. Security Council is instead accumulating records of North Korea’s violations of its resolutions for possible future actions,” the source said. (Yonhap)

 

The Korea Herald

(LEAD) Korea Republic , United States and Japan to discuss Korea DPR next week

Centered taegeuk on a white rectangle inclusive of four black trigramsCentered red circle on a white rectangle.

SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) — Chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan will convene here next week on ways to dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

In the two-day session starting Tuesday in Seoul, the regional powers will “share assessments of recent situations in North Korea and its threats,” the ministry said in a statement.

“(The three nations) will also have in-depth consultations on various ways for substantive progress in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue in terms of deterrence, pressure and dialogue,” the statement said.

South Korea will be represented by Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs. His U.S. and Japanese counterparts will be Sung Kim, special representative for North Korea policy, and Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, respectively.

They serve as top delegates to the now-suspended six-way talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The negotiations, also involving China and Russia, were last held in December 2008.

It would be their first gathering since they met in Tokyo in January.

The envoys are scheduled to have a working dinner on Tuesday, followed by a formal discussion session the next day.

The North has refused to return to the talks, as it continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities.

It recently announced a successful test-launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and also claimed to have mastered the technology to put nuclear warheads onto missiles.

The reclusive nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reportedly purged the defense minister, Hyon Yong-chol, further raising doubts about his leadership.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are seeking U.N.-level measures against Pyongyang’s SLBM test, saying it is in violation of U.N. resolutions banning it from carrying out any launch using ballistic missile technology.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on his trip here earlier this week, called for more international pressure on the North.

South Korean officials agreed to the need for getting tougher on the North.

“In general, there is a need to change the situation by strengthening pressure and dialogue efforts,” a ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

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Yonhap News

Korea DPR accuses Korea Republic of trying to force change in venues for joint celebrations

 Centered taegeuk on a white rectangle inclusive of four black trigrams

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — North Korea angrily accused South Korea of trying to force a change in the already-agreed venue for joint civilian events marking the anniversaries of the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000.

The attempt to change the venue, only a month before the events, shows South Korea is bent on scuttling the plans to hold joint celebrations of the historic inter-Korean summit, the North said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late Friday.

The North claimed that civilian representatives from the two sides agreed in talks held in March to hold the summit anniversary events in Seoul in June and to hold celebrations for Korea’s 1945 independence from Japan’s colonial rule in Pyongyang in August.

But the North claimed that representatives from the South demanded in talks held earlier this month that the two venues be switched or both celebrations should take place in Seoul. The North claimed the South’s representatives acted at the behest of the government in Seoul.

South Korean officials were not immediately available for comment.

The anniversary marks the June 2000 summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that produced a landmark agreement, known as the June 15 Joint Declaration.

The declaration outlines reconciliation and economic cooperation between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The joint summit commemorations have been suspended since they were last held in 2008 at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on North Korea’s east coast, as relations between the two sides strained badly.

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The Korea Herald