The Social Media Nuke: Northeast Asia Reacts

 
 

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North Korea Remains Defiant After New Sanctions Imposed
(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.

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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.
 
 

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North Korea Declares Itself a Nuclear Power
(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.

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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.
 
 

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Three Party Talks Promise Action if DPRK Tests Nukes
(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.

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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.
 
 

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US Pressures India to Cease Iran Oil Imports
(LinkAsia: May 11, 2012)
Sydnie Kohara:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is continuing her Asian tour with a stop in India, but she's not getting much cooperation there. The United States is asking India not to buy oil from Iran. The oil embargo is to force Iran to halt its nuclear program, but Iran is the biggest supplier of oil to India. And as NHK reports, they're not likely to stop doing business together any time soon.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: May 8, 2012

Reporter:
Hillary Clinton's visit to India comes less than two months before additional sanctions against Iran go into force. The United States has outlined new sanctions against Iran in response to Iran's nuclear program. But so far, India, which imports about 10 percent of its oil from Iran, has shown no intention of following Washington's lead. One factor at play is the importance of energy security seen by the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a crucial element of India's economic growth. Clinton emphasized that the US is ready to provide expert advice on how India can diversify its sources of oil. In line with its sanctions against Iran, Washington is hoping that India will agree to reduce imports from Iran.

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State:
We commend India for the steps its refineries are taking to reduce imports from Iran. There is no doubt that India and the United States are after the same goal.

Reporter:
While India is not prepared to join western sanctions, curbing oil imports from Iran would motivate the country to diversify its sources of oil leading to greater energy security.

S.M. Krishna, Indian Foreign Minister:
Given our growing demand, it is natural for us to try and diversify our sources of imports of oil and gas to meet the objective of energy security.

Reporter:
India is keen to avoid further economic slowdown caused by the European debt crisis. On the other hand, the United States wants to make sanctions against Iran as effective as possible. Clinton and Krishna are said to meet again in Washington in June. The search for a compromise over Iranian oil imports is likely to continue until just before the sanctions begin.

Sydnie Kohara:
Hillary Clinton held up Japan as the example for India to follow. Japan has successfully reduced its oil imports from Iran by about 20 percent.
 
 

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South Korea Issues Strong Warning Against DPRK 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.

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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.
 
 

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A Korean Cross-Border Provocation, in Balloon Form
(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.

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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.
 
 

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Link TV Presents Comprehensive Coverage of Iran-US Relations

 
 

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Food for Nukes Deal Reached with North Korea

The US and North Korea have agreed to a deal that would send over 240,000 tons food aid to North Korea in exchange for a moratorium on their nuclear program and missile testing. Yul Kwon speaks with Stanford University's David Straub about the agreement.


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Yul Kwon:
To help us understand what this agreement means, we're joined on Skype today by David Straub. Mr. Straub is associate director of the Korean Studies Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. Among other diplomatic jobs, he was head of the political section at the US embassy in Seoul and ran the State Department's Korea Desk in Washington, DC. Thanks for joining us today, David. Now first of all, the Al Jazeera report says that this deal was in the works even before Kim Jong-Il died and his son was thrust into power. What can you tell us about that?

Food Deal Reach with North KoreaDavid Straub, Stanford University:
Well, that's basically correct. The US and North Korea were negotiating last year, and I think they were close to finalizing this agreement during the month of November, just before Kim Jong-il died. So I think the fact that they've now finalized the agreement suggests that there's a great deal of continuity in North Korea under the new leadership. That's the good news. It would have been bad if they had not been able to finalize this agreement. It would have suggested that there are serious problems with the new leadership.

Yul Kwon:
So Kim Jong-un isn't exactly making a U-turn in terms of policy. But have circumstances in North Korea changed or worsened in the past year such that the regime is more anxious to make a deal now rather than later?

David Straub:
I don't think the situation has seriously deteriorated in North Korea, but it's probable that the new leadership there would like to show other people and the elite, as well as the people as a whole, that they're able to manage external threats and challenges. And also, North Korea is chronically short of food, and so under this deal, they're going to receive 240,000 tons of US food aid over the next year, and that will help alleviate the food shortage.

Yul Kwon:
Secretary of State Clinton sounded very cautious when she announced the deal, characterizing it as a "modest first step," and saying that the US will "watch closely and judge" North Korea by its actions. From your experience in dealing with North Korea, do you feel that this level of caution is warranted?

David Straub:
Yes, indeed. The North Koreans have, in their own mind, good reasons to keep nuclear weapons. And over the years, they've negotiated with US and others about eventually giving up those weapons, but so far, all they've been willing to do is negotiating suspension of various programs, various kinds of talks on the margins that have never led to them completely giving up their nuclear weapons. And in the meantime, they get various concessions and aid. So yes, we need to be realistic and cautious when dealing with the North Koreans.

Yul Kwon:
In contrast to the US, which gave a more tepid and cautious tone, North Korea by contrast, seemed a lot more positive when it released its statement about the moratorium. Was there anything about the statement that surprised you?

David Straub:
In the North Korean statement, they do say that when six-party talks are resumed, that the priority will be put on lifting sanctions on North Korea and providing North Korea with light-water nuclear reactors to provide energy. Now that's not in the American statement. And in fact, if you look at the North Korean statement, it doesn't say that there was agreement with the United States about this point. This is the North Koreans putting their negotiating position on the record.

Kim Jong-unYul Kwon:
A moratorium on the nuclear program and missile testing implies that the stoppage is just temporary and that it could resume at some future point in time. What do you think the US could do to try to facilitate a more permanent solution?

David Straub:
Well the moratorium is indeed just a temporary measure. In fact, in the North Korean statement, it says that the moratorium on nuclear tests and missile launches will continue only as long as the talks are continuing. That means, obviously, continuing to North Korea's satisfaction. But what this does do is move us a step closer to being able to hold another round of six-party talks in Beijing on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. And when we get there, if and when we get there, then it will be up to the six parties to have some very tough negotiations to try to reach a comprehensive agreement that will finally end North Korea's weapons programs. 

Yul Kwon:
How do South Korea's upcoming elections play into this week's announcement?

David Straub:
South Korea this year has national assembly elections and a presidential election. And South Koreans have long been very divided by how to deal with North Korea. On the right, the position is typically similar to the United States. That is, North Korea must first move to give up its nuclear weapons, and as it does so, we'll be willing to remove sanctions and provide some assistance. The left in South Korea believes that North Korea will not respond positively to that and that the best way to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons is to provide it with assurances, aid, and eventually to make North Korea believe that it no longer needs nuclear weapons to be secure. There's a possibility that the left will win the elections in South Korea, and if they do, they're going to pursue that kind of a policy, which usually is called a Sunshine Policy, that's significantly different than the policy of the Obama administration or of previous US administrations for the most part. So by having these talks with the North Koreans and possibly resuming six-party talks, the United States will be in a better position to try to cooperate with its South Korean ally if the progressives do win the elections this year.

Yul Kwon:
Thanks, David. David Straub is a former diplomat and Korea expert. In 2009, he helped Bill Clinton gain the release of two American reporters who'd been captured on the border with China.

 
 

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Link TV Continues to Build a "Bridge to Iran"

Bridge to Iran with Host Parisa SoultaniIf you read and watch entertainment news, you know that an Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadiis, is racking up the Hollywood awards for A Separation even in a climate of US-imposed sanctions. And if you're paying attention to most media coverage, you're well aware of the nuclear issue. But other than that, do we have a lens into the lives and stories of Iranians? Does this kind of cultural lens matter as we settle into our perspectives about Iran? Yes. Without showing the lives, struggles and culture of everyday people living and working in Iran, we in the West have a potentially skewed image of Iranians.

 

In 2006, Link TV developed a documentary TV series, Bridge to Iran, to provide a window into the lives and struggles of everyday Iranians -- to respond to the cultural and political tensions that have developed between Iran and the US since the Iranian Revolution.  Over the years, Bridge to Iran has covered a wide range of social and political issues in modern Iran, including the experiences of young girls facing womanhood and uncertain futures, religious pilgrims who risk their lives to visit a holy site in war-torn Iraq, rural life and political awareness, an exploration of Tehran as an urban metropolis, and Iranian women's participation in the election process.

Bridge to Iran Host Parisa Soultani interviewing Siah Bazi director Maryam Khakhipour

 

The new season premieres on February 14. In each of the four episodes of Bridge to Iran, in-depth discussions between host Parisa Soultani and top Iranian filmmakers provide a unique lens into some of the challenges and realities facing Iranians during a time of increased instability -- including censorship, sanctions and safety concerns.

 

Here are the details about the films and when to catch the episodes, on Link TV or online:

 

  • Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution, directed by Nader Takmil Homayoun, explores the history and politics of Iran through its rich filmmaking tradition; premieres on February 14 at 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT and February 16 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online starting February 14.

 

  • The Queen and I, directed by Nahid Sarvestani, documents the filmmaker's complex relationship with the exiled former queen of Iran; premieres on February 21 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and February 23 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online now!

 

  • We Are Half of Iran's Population, directed by Rakhshan Bani Etemad, looks at women's participation in the controversial 2009 elections; premieres on February 28 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and March 1 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online now!

 

  • Siah Bazi (The Joy Makers), directed by Maryam Khakipour, traces the demise of a popular form of irreverent street theater; premieres on March 6 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and March 8 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online starting March 6.

 

Bridge to Iran offers a diverse perspective on a country on the receiving end of a torrent of media attention -- but with a lens that's inclusive of the people and the art found within Iranian borders. We hope you'll tune in and tell others.

 

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Caty Borum Chattoo is a producer and communication strategist with Link TV, assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, and media fellow with the AU Center for Social Media.

 
 

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