NAPSNet Daily Report
august 17, 2000

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

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I. United States

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1. No Gun Ri Investigation

Associated Press (Sang-Hun Choe, "KOREA: U.S. TROOPS KILLED CIVILIANS," Seoul, 8/17/00) reported that ROK investigators, for the first time, determined that US troops killed a large number of refugees at the hamlet of No Gun Ri during the early days of the Korean War. A one-page government report on the No Gun Ri probe, submitted by ROK's Defense Ministry to the National Assembly on June 22, said a list of at least 175 victims has been compiled based on information provided by relatives. The report said investigators "have confirmed the existence of the incident and the general outline of events that led to the incident." The summary said investigators would now try to determine the exact motives of GIs in opening fire on the refugees, what chain of command gave open-fire orders and "where the responsibility lies." The document, part of a larger report on domestic issues, was distributed only to lawmakers in June and later made public. ROK investigators reviewed and analyzed 690 crucial documents, traced the US military maneuvers at the time, and completed interviewing 140 survivors, relatives and villagers. The report said the US Defense Department, which is expected to issue a report this fall, was interviewing 120 veterans. The Associated Press also obtained an internal document that Rok investigators prepared for Defense Minister Cho Sung-tae in March. The document said in a section entitled "tentative assessments" that, "It is difficult to justify the indiscriminate shootings at the noncombatants under the twin railroad underpasses." The nine-page document acknowledged that GIs needed to control refugee throngs to clear the roads for retreating US troops and prevent possible infiltration by enemy soldiers disguised as refugees. But it accused the GIs of using "excessive control" of refugees, regarding them as guerrillas. Captain Shin Han-woo, a spokesman of ROK's Defense Ministry said, "Many months have passed since and new materials have become available. The content of the document should never be considered the ministry's official positions. We have no intention to draw or publish tentative conclusions before we reach our final decisions on what happened there 50 years ago."

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2. Inter-Korean Railroad

The International Herald Tribune (Don Kirk, "MINES MAY BLOCK KOREA RAIL LINK," Panmunjom, 8/17/00) reported that next month, the ROK will begin rebuilding eight kilometers of railroad tracks on their side of the demarcation line while the DPRK rebuilds the remaining four kilometers to the industrial city of Kaesong. ROK soldiers have surveyed the route up to the military demarcation line in the middle of the 247-kilometer-long demilitarized zone and are supposed to have mapped the location of all the mines, but there is always the danger of old ones dating from the Korean War going off, especially within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Specialist Julio Fortis, a US Army infantryman in the ROK said, "It's a dangerous job. In the winter time, deer run across them. We hear the explosions." Moreover, no one is certain if the ROK soldiers really know where to find all the mines they have planted since the Korean War. Pressure to de-mine wide areas below the DMZ is expected to increase, however, as the DPRK and the ROK go beyond their first tentative steps toward normal inter-Korean traffic. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense's Early Bird news service for August 17, 2000.]

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3. US Troops in ROK

Korea Times ("PRES. KIM REAFFIRMS KIM JONG-IL'S APPROVAL OF US TROOPS HERE," 8/17/00) reported that ROK President Kim Dae-jung on August 16 reaffirmed that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il approved of the presence of the US troops in ROK during the June 13-15 summit in Pyongyang. Kim said, "I have concluded the (U.S. troops) issue with him. After I explained to him about the need for the United States Forces in Korea as a crucial means of keeping the regional power balance, Kim Jong-il concurred with me completely." Kim Dae-jung said DPRK's Kim said, "I'm well acquainted with your opinions (about the USFK issue) via newspapers. I totally agree with you." In their meeting, Kim Dae-jung told Kim Jong-il, "Even when the two Koreas are unified, the U.S. troops are needed here to maintain stability in Northeast Asia. If there is a power vacuum, Russia, China and Japan would exercise their influence upon the peninsula." Kim Dae-jung described Kim Jong-il as a man of common sense, with an intellectual mind. He said, "As far as I know, Kim Jong-il was a reasonable person, with whom it was easy to communicate with. Probably, he is the most reform-minded and best acquainted with the outside world among the North Korean leaders." [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense's Early Bird news service for August 17, 2000.]

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4. US Views on DPRK

Los Angeles Times published an editorial ("PYONGYANG'S SUCKER LIST," 8/17/00) which said the DPRK continues to perplex US officials as they reassess policies toward the state. A month ago, DPRK leader Kim Jong Il told Russian President Vladimir V. Putin that he might halt development of long-range rockets if other countries agreed to launch DPRK's satellites. However, visiting ROK media executives' account of Kim's dismissal of his missile remarks as a joke deepened the uncertainties over how committed he is to pursuing detente. The editor said that "the easing in relations between the two Koreas, inaugurated by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's visit to Pyongyang in June, is welcome. But it remains unclear whether North Korea, in desperate need of aid and investment, has decided on a more accommodating course or merely seeks to squeeze as much as possible out of its adversaries while giving as little as it can in return." In his meeting with the ROK executives, Kim Jong Il boasted that he didn't need to woo major countries; "powerful nations come to me." And, the editor wrote, "So they have, led by the United States. But a one-sided courtship doesn't make for an effective policy. Unless something more than opaque talk and lame jokes come from Pyongyang, Washington is apt to finally conclude that it's being played for a sucker." [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense's Early Bird news service for August 17, 2000.]

Asian Wall Street Journal published an article ("MR. KIM'S JOKES," 8/17/00) which said that when DPRK leader Kim Jong-il and ROK President Kim Dae-jung met two months ago at the historical inter-Korean summit, pundits and columnists across the globe were reacted very positively. The feeling of good will was compounded when Russian President Vladimir Putin returned from a visit with Kim Jong-il with a pledge by Kim that the DPRK would discontinue its missile program an in exchange for help in launching a few research satellites. And when the US stubbornly insisted on a missile defense system and was reluctant to extend full diplomatic relations to the DPRK, the US was criticized as an obstacle to peace. However, the editor wrote, "the Russian president is just the latest in a long line of world leaders who have been double-crossed by the North's Dear Leader." The writer noted that the statements released by a group of ROK media executives that met with Kim Jong-il last week proved Kim to be as unreliable as he was thought of in the past. The editor added, "it's time for those who believed the Korea summit would lead to a real rapprochement to reconsider. While they're at it, they could stop insisting that the Clinton administration was wrong not to take advantage of the North's peace initiative. The truth is exactly the opposite--the present administration's dealings with the North have been marked more by appeasement than strength." The writer also said that given the DPRK's consistently bellicose propaganda, "it was always hard to believe that the country's leaders were changing their stance toward the outside world. Mr. Kim's performance at the June summit may have been enough to fool a few people who were temperamentally inclined to believe that the U.S. is to blame for the impasse on the Korean peninsula. But his latest remarks reveal the game for what it is, an attempt to extort money and to discomfit U.S. strategic planners. The U.S. should stiffen its resolve not to give in to the missile blackmail." [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense's Early Bird news service for August 17, 2000.]

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5. Japanese Minister Visit to PRC

Agence France Presse ("ROW OVER WAR SHRINE VISIT AS JAPANESE MINISTER'S CHINA VISIT CANCELLED," Tokyo, 8/17/00) reported that the PRC has called off a planned visit by Japan's transport minister Hajime Morita from September 6 to 9. Widespread reports in the Japanese media said that the PRC, furious at Morita's visit on August 15 to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, had cancelled his visit. However, Morita rejected the reports Thursday, saying, "Last Friday, the Chinese government asked me to cancel the plan, reasoning there was no particular reason to hold talks now ahead of Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Japan (in October)." Meanwhile, the DPRK Thursday expressed its anger against Morita and the other ministers for their visit to the emotive shrine. The DRPK's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said it was "an unbearable mockery and insult to the peoples of Korea and other countries of Asia. [It was] little short of a declaration of the revival of Japanese militarism. The Korean people and peoples of other Asian countries will never pardon the Japanese right-wing forces who are still seeking to realize their old dream of (a) 'Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere', while visiting the place where the departed soul of militarists is enshrined, instead of redressing their past crimes."

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Reunion of Separated Families

The Korea Herald ("KOREAS TO DISCUSS MORE FAMILY MEETINGS," Seoul, 08/17/00) reported that ROK officials said on August 16 that the ROK and the DPRK will discuss ways to expand reunion programs for separated families at Red Cross talks scheduled for next month. The anonymous official indicated that the Koreas would increase the number of reunion visitors, which is now limited to 100 from each side.

The Korea Herald (Joint Press Corps PYONGYANG, "S. KOREAN VISITORS MEET RELATIVES IN PRIVATE REUNIONS: MOST COULD NOT SLEEP WELL DUE TO EXCITEMENT OF INITIAL MEETING," Seoul, 08/17/00) and The Korea Times ("NK GIVES SOUTHERN VISITORS FREEDOM, PRIVACY," Seoul, 08/17/00) reported that after spending August 15 in tearful group reunions, the ROK delegation members held private meetings with their long-lost relatives on August 16, in a much calmer, but still emotional, atmosphere. The individual meetings took place for one and half an hours in the 45-story Koryo Hotel, where the 100 ROK visitors are staying. Most of the family members, who could not sleep well with the lingering excitement of meeting their relatives for the first time in more than 50 years, continued to exchange personal stories and gifts they had prepared in a subdued mood. The private sessions were closed to journalists, to make it possible for the visitors and their relatives to have more time amid maximum privacy, except for the first 10 minutes.

The Korea Herald ("S-N DELEGATION CHIEFS VISIT EACH OTHER'S RED CROSS OFFICES," Seoul, 08/17/00) reported that the leaders of ROK and DPRK delegations for the reunions of divided families paid visits to each other's Red Cross headquarters in Seoul and Pyongyang on August 16. Ryu Mi-yong, DPRK's delegation leader, met with Pong Du-wan, vice president of ROK's Korea National Red Cross (KNRC), at its headquarters in downtown Seoul. Around the same time, Chang Choong-sik, KNRC president and leader of the ROK delegation to the DPRK, visited the DPRK Red Cross headquarters in Pyongyang and had talks with its officials.

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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:
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Monash Asia Institute,
Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Gee Gee Wong:
Berkeley, California, United States

Robert Brown:
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Hee-sun:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Yunxia Cao:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

John McKay:
Clayton, Australia

Leanne Payton:
Clayton, Australia

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