(LinkAsia: January 25, 2012) Thuy Vu: North Korea has reacted bitterly to a UN resolution that condemned the North's rocket launch last month and imposes new sanctions. Pyongyang said the launch was to send up a communications satellite. The US and most other countries said it was designed to test a long-range missile and was part of North Korea's goal of acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: January 23, 2013
Reporter: Security Council members passed their resolution unanimously. It expands existing sanctions, adding four individuals and six organizations, including the space agency. Assets will be frozen, and individuals will also face a travel ban.
Officials in Pyongyang are showing defiance. Foreign Ministry representatives issued a statement, condemning the resolution as an attempt to deprive North Korea of its right to launch a satellite for peaceful purposes. The document says it is now clear the US has a policy of hostility toward North Korea. As a result, it says that the North will no longer recognize the joint statement from the Six Party Talks in 2005. That includes plans for the country to abandon all nuclear weapons and programs.
The statement goes on to say North Korean authorities will take practical steps to strengthen their defensive military power to counter pressure from US sanctions. It says that includes nuclear deterrence. The wording suggests North Korean officials could conduct a third nuclear test. They carried out one in 2006, and one in 2009.
(LinkAsia: December 14, 2012) Yul Kwon: So, perhaps the North Korean missile is more of a long-term threat than an imminent one. But, will it have a political effect? South Koreans go to the polls on December 19th to elect a new president. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK has this report on how the rocket might affect voters.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: December 12, 2012
Reporter: I'm standing at the unification observatory only two kilometers from the North Korean border. From here we have not detected any unusual activity on the other side that might be related to the missile launch. However, on this side, the presidential race is entering its final phase. The launch has definitely raised concerns about security. People in Seoul are expressing dismay and anger.
Seoul Resident: A missile launch is totally unacceptable. We belong to the same race, but I never understand what they are trying to achieve through such an act.
Seoul Resident: I was shocked they did this just before South Korea's presidential election. We need to beef up our national security.
Reporter: South Korea's foreign minister Kim Song-hun condemned the North's decision to push forward with what it called a provocative act. He said the launch is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. President Lee Myung-bak has maintained a hard-line policy against the North. During his five year term, Pyongyang has carried out three long-range missile launches and one nuclear experiment. There have been other military provocations. The North shelled Yongpyang Island and is said to have sunk a South Korean naval patrol ship in the Yellow Sea. And the presidential election next week, the two main contenders stressing the need to improve North-South relations, but people are taking a realistic view. Recent polls show many citizens feel that they don't support hard-line policies against the North. Nor do they believe in appeasement. The North missile launch is expected to influence voters' decisions.
(LinkAsia: December 7, 2012) Yul Kwon: Moving now to North Korea. Back in April, the country defied sanctions and attempted to launch a rocket. It failed, but the country seems to be upholding the old saying "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." But will this launch prove to be successful? Here's NHK.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: December 4, 2012
Reporter: The ballistic missile launch will be the second since Kim Jong-un took power a year ago. It will use the same launch pad at Tongchang-ri, a site in the northwestern part of the country. Before the first test in April, officials in Pyongyang said the 30-meter, three-stage rocket was meant to carry a satellite, but Japan the United States and South Korea said the launch was in fact a ballistic missile test. The test ended in failure with a rocket exploding in mid-air two minutes after liftoff. It broke into more than 10 pieces and fell into the ocean. Analysts say North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un wants to correct this failure before the first anniversary of his father's death on December 17th. Kim may also be trying to consolidate his power base by showing his dedication to a military first policy. Kim has also vowed to develop North Korea's economy.
Kim Jong Un: We must start on a path of industrial revolution for the new century to make North Korea a great economic power.
Reporter: But there are no tangible signs of improvement. The UN World Food Program says that 60 million North Koreans, or nearly 70 percent of the population, suffer from malnutrition. North Korea's relations with the outside world are at a standstill. Last February, the United States agreed to provide food aid in exchange for a freeze on ballistic missile tests. But the deal was broken after the North tested a missile in April. North Korea's leadership has been trying to hold direct talks with the United States, but officials in Washington say they are not ready to accept. China is also applying pressure on its neighbor arguing that the missile launch would violate the UN resolutions.
(LinkAsia: June 1, 2012) Yul Kwon: North Korea is joining one of the world's most exclusive clubs. Except that the club doesn't want North Korea. The Communist country recently revised its constitution to declare itself a nuclear power, something that wasn't exactly welcomed by its neighbors. Here's Japanese broadcaster NHK with the details.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: May 30, 2012
Reporter: Authorities posted the full revised texts of the constitution Wednesday on a North Korean website. The document praises Kim Jong-il for transforming the country into what it calls an undefeated political and ideological power, a nuclear power, and an invincible military power.
Last month, the Supreme People's Assembly also appointed new leader Kim Jong-un as First Chairman of the National Defense Commission. North Korean officials carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The country's state-run media have repeatedly claimed the North is now a nuclear power.
(LinkAsia: May 25, 2012) Yul Kwon: Senior diplomats from South Korea, the United States, and Japan met in Seoul to discuss North Korea. They agreed to take concerted action against the Communist regime if it tests another nuclear weapon. Here’s NHK with the report.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: May 21, 2012
Reporter: The diplomats are chief delegates to the six-party talks on the North’s nuclear program. It’s the first time the group’s met since North Korean authorities failed last month to launch what they called a rocket.
Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japanese Foreign Ministry: If DPRK goes for further escalation, we ought to take unified and coordinated actions and responses.
Glyn Davies, US Special Representative for North Korea Policy: We’re united in our resolve to respond. Not just the three allies, but Russia and China as well.
Reporter: US delegate Glyn Davies again pushed China to play a greater role in preventing North Korean officials from carrying out provocative acts. The UN Security Council adopted a statement condemning last month’s launch. That sparked concerns the North’s leaders could respond with a new nuclear test.
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012) Yul Kwon: South Korean authorities have a warning for their neighbor to the north, "Don't do it." They suspect that North Korea is planning to test a nuclear device. Seoul says that Pyongyang will pay a heavy economic price if it moves ahead with the test. Here's the story from NHK.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: April 25, 2012
South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesperson: The north has made significant preparations to conduct the test. All that remains now is its political decision.
Reporter: South Korean intelligence authorities confirmed this month that workers in the north have been digging a new tunnel in the region of Punggye-ri. They believe that will be a test site. A senior government official says North Korean leaders will further isolate their country if they carry out another nuclear test. The official points out it will also make it harder for them to develop their failed economy. The North Korean government made a rare public admission recently. State media reported an attempt to launch a satellite into space failed. Many nations consider it a long-range missile test. Still, South Korean officials say this admission could signal a change in political style under new leader Kim Jong-un.
Yul Kwon: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that North Korea should be feeding its people, not testing weapons. Those words, along with South Korea's own cruise missile test a few days ago, got North Korea's Central News Agency breathing fire. Now the KCNA often uses violent language, but the specific nature of the threats this time caught the attention of observers. In a dispatch, the agency said that North Korea's special forces were readying to strike: "Their targets are the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors, the arch criminals, and the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion." The last line of the KCNA piece read: "Our revolutionary armed forces do not make empty talk." So who exactly are these "rat-like" media named by the North Koreans? Well, the news agency called out the following: the popular newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo; South Korea's national broadcaster, KBS; and LinkAsia's broadcast partner, MBC; as well as six other media organizations.
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012) Yul Kwon: Meanwhile, South Korean activists are making provocations of their own. They're continuing to release weather balloons carrying food and pamphlets denouncing Kim Jong-un. Here's NHK with more.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: April 25, 2012
Reporter: Here is Gangwha Island, near the North Korean border. The NGO members are now preparing for launching balloons with leaflets and chocolate to North Korea.
The NGO is composed of citizens who fled North Korea. They released 10 huge balloons carrying 2,000 packages. The leaflets explain the budget for the missile launch equals the cost of feeding 19 million people for two years.
Kim Seong-min, NGO Leader: We're sending these chocolate cakes with our prayers for the happiness of the North Korean people.
Reporter: North Korean authorities have responded with harsh criticism, saying that the balloons are an insult against their leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea's armed forces have deployed vehicles to track the balloons by satellite to observe any retaliation by North Korea. The group says this action is meant to support the Northern civilian population in the wake of the recent leadership transition.
Another group is preparing to launch more balloons next weekend. This time, they will be loaded with pamphlets and radios capable of receiving broadcasts from South Korea.
Yul Kwon: Activists in South Korea have sent all kinds of stuff in these balloons, including socks. Apparently you can trade one pair of socks for 10 kilograms of corn in North Korea, enough to feed a person for an entire month.
(LinkAsia: March 23, 2012) Yul Kwon: In Japan, the defense minister says he would consider destroying the rocket to protect the country's territory. Japanese broadcaster NHK tells us more.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: March 23, 2012
Naoki Tanaka, Japanese Defense Minister: As we face the North Korean issue, now is an important time to demonstrate the Japan-US alliance.
John Roos, US Ambassador to Japan: Totally agree with that.
Reporter: Tanaka said the international community should unite in pressing North Korea to abandon its launch plan. Ambassador Roos said the North's action is a threat to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Tanaka said he will order the Self-Defense Forces to prepare to intercept any falling debris from the rocket. He added that the defense ministry is considering deploying destroyers equipped with the Aegis Air Defense System off southern islands, such as Ishigaki. He said Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles could also be deployed.