The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Friday, February 14, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea III. Japan

I. United States

1a. Hwang Defection: Hwang's Statements [Ed. Note: please see the Special Reports issued earlier to day for excerpts from various Hwang letters.]

Reuters ("N.KOREA DEFECTOR THREATENS TO DIE IN BEIJING," Rome, 2/14/97) reported a statement from the ROK embassy in Rome (but datelined Seoul) that Hwang Jang-yop, the DPRK official seeking asylum in the ROK, has said he will die in Beijing if his request is not granted. The statement quoted him as saying, "I want to make it clear that South Korea is the place where I want to go, and I will not go to any third country." The embassy report also said Seoul's foreign ministry had issued a statement Thursday hand-written by Hwang. It quoted Hwang's note as saying, "My remaining life will not be long. I am a failed man in politics." It also quotes the note as saying, "I don't have a slightest intention to take a share in any one side. I only wish to give help to south-north relations and unification until the last minute of my life."

1b. Hwang Defection: Embassy Events

The New York Times (Patrick E. Tyler, "DEFECTOR FROM KOREA IS HOT POTATO FOR BEIJING," Beijing, 2/14/97) reported that Hwang's case is extraordinary not only because of his rank, but also as a result of the defection drama playing itself out in front of the ROK embassy in Beijing.

The Los Angeles Times (Rone Tempest, "CHINA GRAPPLES WITH DEFECTION DILEMMA," Beijing, 2/14/97) quoted ROK embassy spokesman Chang Moon Ik as saying, "Last night, North Korean people who we believe were from the embassy tried to enter our consular section,". "We have asked the Chinese government to protect our embassy compound ... against North Koreans or anything unexpected."

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, "NORTH KOREANS TAUNT DEFECTOR," Beijing, 2/14/97) reported the DPRK agents are camped out in cars and on the sidewalk watching the ROK Consulate. On recent nights, groups of North Koreans have stood eye to eye with unarmed Chinese officers, threatening to push past police lines. A car with DPRK diplomatic plates roared toward the police cordon on Friday, stopped a few feet short, then drove away. The Chinese also parked an armor-plated sedan in front of the consulate -- presumably to transfer Hwang to the airport.

1c. Hwang Defection: PRC Response

Reuters ("CHINA UNDECIDED ON NORTH KOREA DEFECTOR," Singapore, 2/14/97) reported that Hwang's move is forcing China to face "the choice of offending its old socialist comrade or a new capitalist partner that is investing heavily in China's booming economy." Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen held a 50-minute meeting with South Korean counterpart Yoo Chong-ha in Singapore on Friday. Following the meeting Qian said Beijing needs more time to decide on the fate of Hwang Jang-yop, and urged both Koreas "to treat this matter with a cool and calm manner, to keep peace and stability." The report also quotes Qian as reporting Chinese ignorance, "We did not know what happened to Mr Hwang in Beijing. We were totally in the dark beforehand," said. "We were not aware of his stopover in Beijing. He did not stay at any Chinese hotels or guesthouses."

Reuters ("CHINA TORN AS KOREAS FIGHT OVER DEFECTOR, " Beijing, 2/14/97) reported that Chinese officials avoided meeting an envoy sent by the foreign minister in Seoul in an apparent sign of impatience with the South's public diplomacy.

The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan and Steven Mufson, "CHINA WEIGHS CASE OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTING TO SOUTH," Washington Post Foreign Service, 2/14/97) reported that China appealed for calm yesterday as it engaged in talks over the fate of Hwang Jang Yop. "It is hoped that the parties concerned will ... treat the matter calmly and handle it properly, in order to benefit the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Also citing close economic ties, the article states that during the first 11 months of last year, China exported $6.6 billion worth of goods to South Korea, nearly 15 times as much as to North Korea. And China imported $10.8 billion worth of goods from South Korea, 183 times as much as from North Korea. At the same time, China has scaled back subsidized fuel exports to North Korea by about a third over the last four years. The article quotes John Seel, a Hong Kong-based economist with the international investment firm Bear Stearns & Co., as saying "It's a very good fit between China and South Korea. China has the labor that Korea no longer has, and Korea has a certain amount of capital and a reasonable amount of technology."

The Los Angeles Times (Rone Tempest, "CHINA GRAPPLES WITH DEFECTION DILEMMA," Beijing, 2/14/97) reported on the PRC's neutrality, quoting Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang as saying, "We had not been informed in advance of Hwang Jang Yop's transit through Beijing. What has been reported is still being subjected to investigation and verification." Tang refused to answer additional questions from reporters. Tempest reported that Western diplomats predict that Hwang would be killed if he is returned to DPRK, and if "allowed to go to the ROK, he would be debriefed, feted and showcased as the South's biggest prize in the ongoing Cold War between the two ethnic Korean states."

CNN Interactive (Rebecca MacKinnon, "CHINA SEEKS DIPLOMATIC RESOLUTION TO N. KOREAN'S DEFECTION," Beijing, 2/14/97) reported that the DPRK demanded that China take "appropriate action," refusing to accept news of the defection, contending Hwang and his aide were kidnapped. The article also reported that under a 1978 treaty, China is required to return any North Koreans found in China without visas or other valid travel documents. That presumably would not apply to Hwang and his aide who defected with him.

1d. Hwang Defection: US Response

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry ("NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR," White House Report, 2/14/97) stated that the international standards with respect to asylum requests "could conceivably involve government-to-government contacts such as those that have occurred between the People's Republic and the Republic of Korea. And it's appropriate for diplomats from both sides to exchange views on the matter that -- the nature of that is what is occurring, to the best of our knowledge, and that is appropriate." He also said the US is not taking a position on "a case that we are not in a position to be thoroughly familiar with."

Reuters ( "US SAYS DEFECTION SHOWS STRAINS IN N. KOREA," Washington, 2/14/97) reported that Defense Department spokesman, Ken Bacon, said the defection of Hwang Jang-yop, a top North Korean official was another sign of strains in the Stalinist country that were also reflected in food shortages and reduced military training. He added that there was no indication of heightened military alert along the border between the two Koreas over the incident. State Department Spokesman, Nicholas Burns expressed his hope that the defection would not torpedo plans for the twice-postponed joint briefing of North Korean diplomats by U.S. and South Korean officials on a proposed four-party conference on the Korean peninsula. Burns called the defection a "quite extraordinary event" but said the State Department was "quite content to let the South Koreans and the Chinese resolve this incident." He added that, "If, at some point, (Hwang) does reach South Korea or another country and wishes to talk, well, that's another matter."

United Press International ("N. KOREA DENIES DEFECTOR SEEKS ASYLUM," Tokyo, 2/13/97) reported the Pentagon's top spokesman as saying that the defection joins North Korea's drastic food shortage and recently reduced military training as signs of trouble for Pyongyang statement.

1e. Hwang Defection: DPRK

Reuters ("CHINA UNDECIDED ON NORTH KOREA DEFECTOR," Singapore, 2/14/97) reported that some commentators have suggested that the DPRK, in deep economic trouble and dealing with widespread hunger after disastrous floods, might react violently to the defection of a man ranked 24 in its hierarchy.

United Press International ("N. KOREA DENIES DEFECTOR SEEKS ASYLUM," Tokyo, 2/13/97) carried a Korean Central News Agency statement that according to the DPRK Foreign Ministry, Hwang has not sought political asylum in Beijing. The ministry said Thursday if Hwang is indeed in the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, it is "an obvious case of an abduction on the part of an enemy."

The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan and Steven Mufson, "CHINA WEIGHS CASE OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTING TO SOUTH," Washington Post Foreign Service, 2/14/97) reported that the DRPK stuck to its allegations that Hwang, a leading aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was kidnapped ROK officials and was being held against his will and warned of consequences. The article also reported that DPRK supporters in Japan asserted that the man in the embassy is actually a South Korean-coached impostor posing as Hwang. They said the real Hwang is still on a train to North Korea and will surface soon in Pyongyang. Donald P. Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and China said, "I think this is going to be extremely difficult for them to handle psychologically, coming on top of everything else." DPRK is battling severe food shortages that could bring famine in the next few months. Its isolationism has left it without foreign capital and technology. The DPRK even agreed recently to accept nuclear waste from Taiwan.

Dow Jones Business News ("N. KOREA CLAIMS SURGE IN INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - REPORT," AP-Dow Jones News Service, Tokyo, 2/14/97) reported that the KCNA claimed Friday that the country had seen a surge in industrial production in early February, and credited de facto leader Kim Jong Il's 'wise guidance.' The broadcast, monitored by the Radiopress agency in Tokyo, said industrial production in the first part of February was 1 1/2 times production in the same period of January. The report didn't mention the Hwang incident. However, it said the higher production was the 'noble fruit of the patriotic dedication and limitless faith of the party members and workers.'

1f. Hwang Defection: ROK

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, "NORTH KOREANS TAUNT DEFECTOR," Beijing, 2/14/97) reported that following DPRK threats of retaliation, ROK put its 650,000-member military on higher alert and tightened security at airports and ports Friday to prevent terrorist attacks.

Reuters ("CHINA TORN AS KOREAS FIGHT OVER DEFECTOR, " Beijing, 2/14/97) reported that Seoul intelligence authorities released a family portrait showing the official at home with his well-dressed wife, son and grandchildren, adding further evidence to suspicions that the ROK may have had advance notice of Hwang's flight. In the foreground of the photo, a round dining table is laden with tropical fruits, an unimaginable luxury for most North Koreans who have been driven by food shortages into foraging for edible grass and roots.

The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan and Steven Mufson, "CHINA WEIGHS CASE OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTING TO SOUTH," Washington Post Foreign Service, 2/14/97) reported South Korea sent Kim Ha Jung, a special adviser to Foreign Minister Yoo Chong Ha, to Beijing to negotiate the Hwang's transfer to Seoul.

1g. Hwang Defection: Japan

Reuters reported ("CHINA TORN AS KOREAS FIGHT OVER DEFECTOR, " Beijing, 2/14/97) that Japan expressed concern the dispute over Hwang could derail Korean peace efforts that appeared to be back on track after the DPRK expression of regret over the submarine incident last year.

1h. Hwang Defection: LA Times Analysis

The Los Angeles Times published an commentary piece ("NORTH KOREA LOSES A TOP MAN: HWANG'S DEFECTION A DILEMMA FOR BEIJING, A BOON FOR SEOUL," 2/14/97) stating that there is no way to know, how the DPRK will react to "the deep political humiliation it has suffered." If the DPRK fails to convince China to send Hwang back to the DPRK, "some violent, vengeful response can't be ruled out." The authors call Hwang "a man who knows more about how the regime works than any previous defector. What Hwang knows could yield unparalleled insights into how Pyongyang's leaders think and what is happening in the country." Due to China's difficult position, it may decide to do nothing for now, compelling Hwang to remain in the South Korean consulate in Beijing, which would still provide the ROK with important intelligence information. The central question for US and ROK is, of course, whether the DPRK is on the verge of collapse. "Hwang can't give a definitive answer, but the answer he does give seems sure to be better informed than what anyone else has been able to offer."

II. Republic of Korea

1a. Hwang Defection: Ongoing Diplomacy

At the PRC Foreign Ministry yesterday, the ROK and the PRC began negotiations over the request for political asylum in the ROK made by Hwang Jang-yop, secretary of DPRK Workers' Party. However, a decision is not likely to be reached soon, as the PRC government did not reveal a clear position on the matter. Reportedly, DPRK officials, from their Embassy in Beijing yesterday, visited the PRC Foreign Ministry and requested that PRC authorities hand over Hwang, claiming that he was abducted by the ROK. The DPRK will also reportedly dispatch high-ranking representatives to the PRC in the near future to begin diplomatic negotiations over the repatriation of Hwang. Meanwhile, Kim Ha-joong, special envoy and advisor to the ROK's Foreign Minister, who was dispatched to Beijing yesterday, met with the head of Asian affairs at the PRC Foreign Ministry and requested the PRC's cooperation in bringing Hwang and his aide to Seoul in accordance with international asylum standards and practices. (Joong-ang Ilbo, "HWANG'S ARRIVAL IN SEOUL COULD BE DELAYED," Seoul, 02/14/97)

1b. Hwang Defection: DPRK Response

The DPRK yesterday threatened to take retaliatory measures, claiming that the ROK had abducted Hwang Jang-yop, secretary of the DPRK Workers' Party. The DPRK stated, "If it is indeed true that secretary Hwang is at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, then there can be no other possibility than his having been abducted by the enemies." The DPRK also emphasized that it will take appropriate measures to retaliate in one of the most important single incidents ever to take place between the two Koreas. (Joong-ang Ilbo, "THE DPRK THREATENS TO RETALIATE, CLAIMING THE SOUTH ABDUCTED HWANG JANG-YOP," Seoul, 02/14/97)

1c. Hwang Defection: Claim of Spies in ROK Government

Hwang Jang-yop's disclosure yesterday that there are spies among the high-ranking ROK government officials has shocked public security authorities. Hwang was reported to have met a ROK businessman in Beijing on July 3, 1996 where he expressed his intentions to defect and requested that the meeting be kept secret as there were moles in the deepest centers of the ROK government. The Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP), prosecutors and the police said that this should not be taken lightly because the disclosure came from the very center of the DPRK government. A high-ranking police official reminded us that the DPRK spy Jung Soo-il (alias Kansu) has testified that "there were scores and hundreds of spies in South Korea." The chief of the Public Security Department of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, Chu Sun-hoe said that the investigation is underway on Jung's testimony and if Hwang's disclosure had any credibility, the prosecutors will undertake another investigation as well. (Chosun Ilbo, "HWANG'S LETTER SHOCKS SECURITY AUTHORITIES," Seoul, 02/14/97)

1d. Hwang Defection: Pro-DPRK Students' Reaction

The defection of Hwang Jang-yop, shocked pro-DPRK students on Thursday. The students of the NL (national liberation) faction of the mainstream Hanchongryeon which is an association of Korean university student councils, said the government, cornered by the Hanbo scandal, might have kidnapped Hwang in Beijing. They continued to say that if Hwang truly defected, it was not because of his disillusionment with "juche" ideology, but personal reasons such as losing in the power struggle with Kim Jong-il. Some students said that the letter carried in the Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday was a fabrication. But the 21st Century Progressive Students' Solidarity which is critical of the pro-DPRK group commented that the incident is an example of the reality that the DPRK regime faces. A student who has been the Chairman of Chundaehyup (the predecessor to Hanchongryeon) said that "juche-ism" is already a bygone ideology and Hanchongryeon may continue the struggle over issues like the labor law and the Hanbo scandal, but it will finally lose its persuasiveness over freshmen and will suffer serious damage in the long run. (Chosun Ilbo, "HWANG'S DEFECTION EMBARRASSES PRO-NORTH STUDENTS," Seoul, 02/14/97)

III. Japan

1. Hwang Defection: Editorials

An Asahi Shimbun editorial ("IMPACT OF HWANG JANG YOP'S DEFECTION," 5, 2/14/97) speculated that the impact of Hwang's defection may be particularly strong because it indicates that the DPRK regime's crisis is much worse than imagined and that the US decision to set up a liaison office in the DPRK to improve US-DPRK relations may be threatened if the defection worsens ROK-DPRK relations. The chronic food shortage, economic problems, and endless defections also point to the future crisis the DPRK may face. With this in mind, the editorial continued, Japan should help prevent the DPRK from falling into disorder and should also prevent North-South tensions from mounting by calling for a careful response to the defection on the part of the ROK. The editorial also called for cooperation among the PRC, the US, the ROK, Russia and Japan to stabilize the Korean Peninsula.

A Sankei Shimbun editorial ("JAPAN SHOULD RECONSIDER ITS POLICY TOWARD THE DPRK," 2, 2/14/97) said that Hwang's defection shows that the dominant view in Japan--that Kim Jong-il controls the regime--was wrong. The editorial also pointed out that the defection of Hwang, who is said to have formulated the concept of Juche (the ideological backbone of the DPRK), means the defection of the idea itself. The editorial argued that "juche" (or subject) only refers to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, not human beings as originally intended. It also cited Hwang's letter to a ROK businessman in Beijing as saying that the DPRK is far from socialism because its people are starving and that the DPRK cannot survive with Kim Jong-il in power. The editorial commented that the Japanese government keep Hwang's statement in mind when it reviews its policy toward the DPRK.

A Yomiuri Shimbun editorial ("WHAT DOES HWANG'S DEFECTION MEAN?," 3, 2/14/97) pointed out three major views by experts explaining why Hwang defected to the ROK. The first view is that Hwang was afraid of being blamed for his failure to secure food and financial aid from Japan during his visit to Japan. Another scenario is that dovish-reformist Hwang lost to the hawkish-conservative military in a domestic power struggle. The third possibility is that Hwang simply gave up on Kim Jong-il, as his letter to a ROK businessman indicates. With regard to the second view, the editorial said that if it was true, the DPRK may become even more hard-line. This might raise North-South tensions and hinder the four-nation talks and KEDO's LWR. The editorial suggested that the DPRK should restrain itself and that the neighboring countries should concentrate on stabilizing the Korean Peninsula.

A Nikkei Shimbun editorial ("NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES SHOULD REACT CAREFULLY TO HWANG'S DEFECTION," 2, 2/14/97) speculated that although the reason for Hwang's defection is still unclear, his failed efforts to secure food aid from Japan during his visit there may have been a trigger. The editorial also pointed out that he may have been at odds with conservatives in the DPRK regime. Given the fact that the DPRK's food crisis is escalating, the editorial proposed that neighboring countries should continue with the four-nation talks and the LWR project and that the media, particularly in the ROK, should not overreact to the defection.

2. Editorial on DPRK Economic Prospects

A Nikkei Shimbun editorial ("NO MORE TIME FOR DPRK," 2, 2/11/97) warned that that all economic indications, including food status, energy status and heavy industrial output, show that the DPRK is on the brink of economic collapse. The editorial pointed out that it is expected that donor countries hesitate to provide food aid to the DPRK because it is still unclear where food aid really goes. It added that the Japanese government should be sensitive to the ROK when engaging in bilateral food aid discussions with the DPRK. To improve it situation, the editorial said, the DPRK should secure projects like KEDO's light-water reactor construction (LWR) by resuming the North-South talks and actively participating in the four-nation talks. Furthermore, the DPRK should have an early formal succession of power from the late Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il to stabilize the regime, and enact early economic planning to stabilize the economy. With regard to Japan-DPRK relations, it will be difficult for Japan to resume its aid to the DPRK, given the fact that the talks on normalization of Japan-DPRK relations are still in deadlock and that the DPRK's suspected abduction of a Japanese junior high school girl still remains unclear.

3. Commentary on DPRK-Taiwan Nuclear Waste Deal

A Yomiuri Shimbun commentary ("DPRK-TAIWAN NUCLEAR WASTE DEAL RAISES INTERNATIONAL CONCERN," Seoul, 19, 2/8/97) assessed the recent DPRK-Taiwan nuclear waste deal, pointing out that there are PRC-Taiwan and ROK-DPRK power games behind the deal which may raise international concern in the far-eastern region. The ROK is concerned that the DPRK lacks nuclear waste management technology, that storage of nuclear wastes near the military border may harm the ROK's environment and that the disclosure of information by the DPRK is so unreliable that it is possible that import of high-level nuclear wastes is unverifiable. The ROK is also upset that Taiwan did not announce the deal in advance. However, the commentary said that the ROK is more concerned that Taiwan has been getting closer to the DPRK since the diplomatic break-up in 1992 when the PRC and the ROK normalized their diplomatic relations. The PRC is also pressuring Taiwan by expressing its concern over the deal, but Taiwan asserts that the deal is only business and pledges to continue promoting it.

4. Japan-US Defense Cooperation

The Yomiuri Shimbun ("JAPANESE AND US GOVERNMENTS START REVIEWING GUIDELINE FOR JAPAN-US DEFENSE COOPERATION," 2, 2/9/97) reported that on February 8 the Japanese government began talks with the US government on the second intermediate report on the review of the Guideline for Japan-US Defense Cooperation, to be concluded by May. The first report on the review of the guidelines was issued last September, discussing Japan-US cooperation in peace time, emergencies in Japan, and emergencies in the regions around Japan. It focused particularly on emergencies in the regions around Japan and raised subjects for discussion, such as the rescue of Japanese overseas, supply of additional facilities to the US military, logistic support for the US-military, and cooperation between the US military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces. The pivotal questions however, are how specific the second report will be on these subjects as well as the issue of collective defense, which the Japanese constitution forbids. The guideline will be a key issue in the Hashimoto-Clinton talks slated for late April in the US.

The Nikkei Shimbun ("JAPAN-US THEATER MISSILE DEFENSE (TMD WORKING GROUP MEETING," 2, 2/11/97) reported that the Japan-US working-level group on the theater missile defense initiative (TMD) met February 10 in Tokyo to exchange information on a ballistic missile defense system (BMD). According to the Nikkei Shimbun, the US side reported on the present situation of the development of TMD, while the Japanese side reported that it began computer simulation's last month on its effectiveness and on a cost-benefit analyses of the introduction of TMD to Japan.

5. Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

The Sankei Shimbun ("ASEAN INTENDS TO STRENGTHEN ITS INFLUENCE IN INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY," 5, 2/8/97) assessed the two-year old ASEM, saying that the issues to be discussed in the first ASEM foreign ministerial meeting slated for February 15 in Singapore will be global ones, including strengthening the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), supporting the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), tackling drug and terrorism problems, planning the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, and reforming the United Nations (UN). ASEAN and European countries have disagreed over human rights issues, which is manifested in their different approaches to Myanmar and East Timor, according to the report. Also, an ASEM initiative, first raised by Singapore, seeks to reduce US influence in the Asian region by strengthening Asian ties with Europe. The report suggested that ASEAN is ready to strengthen its influence in the international community by taking up global issues as well as economic issues. ASEM consists of Japan, the PRC, the ROK, all seven ASEAN countries, all fifteen EU countries and the European Commission (EC).)

The Yomiuri Shimbun ("ASEM TO ESTABLISH ASIA-EUROPE FOUNDATION," 3, 2/9/97) reported that the Asia-Europe Foundation, originally designed by Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Choktong for the purpose of intellectual exchanges between Asia and Europe, will officially start at the upcoming ASEM (February 14-15). Japan will contribute 2 million dollars to the establishment of the foundation.

A Kyodo News Agency article carried in the Daily Yomiuri ("ASEAN, EU START 2-DAY SINGAPORE TALKS," 1, 2/14/97) quoted diplomatic sources as saying that two days of preparatory talks on February 11 and 12 did not include discussion of East Timor. The article also said that Indonesia has threatened to walk out of the meeting if Portugal raises the issue of East Timor, and that the EU has already agreed to a joint declaration, promising they will not refer to the issue.

6. Correction

In the Japan section of the February 10 Daily Report, "DPRK Workers' Party Secretary General Fang Chang Fa" should have read "DPRK Workers' Party secretary Hwang Jang Yop." The writer and editor regret the error.

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Shin Dong-bom:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Peter Razvin:
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Chunsi Wu:
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