The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Tuesday, September 2, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. Chang Defection -- US Government Statements

US State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin ("SPECIAL STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING, AUGUST 26," USIA Transcript, 8/26/97) held a special briefing on Tuesday, August 26, confirming that Chang Sung-kil, the DPRK Ambassador to Egypt, had defected and arrived in the US along with his wife and his brother, Chang Sung-ho, a diplomat with the DPRK trade mission in Paris, France. Rubin also confirmed that the US will provide asylum to all three individuals. Rubin refused to comment on whether the US had had contact with either Chang prior to their defections, and declined to give details about the circumstances of the defections or the exact locations of the defectors. Rubin asserted that the defections were unlikely to affect either the ongoing missile proliferation talks or the four-party peace talks. Rubin also said that the defections do not indicate that the DPRK power structure is crumbling. "We do not believe that this action is a manifestation of any crisis in the leadership of any kind," Rubin said. He acknowledged, however, that "We obviously believe that the country is in deep trouble" due to severe food shortages, and noted "the risks of instability in the peninsula with regard to the North Korean troop deployment." [Ed. note: The full transcript of this briefing is being distributed as a subsequent Special Report.]

US State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin ("STATE DEPT. NOON BRIEFING, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27," USIA Transcript, 8/27/97) stated that the US is unlikely to meet DPRK demands to return Chang Sung-kil and Chang Sung-ho, the two high-ranking DPRK diplomats who defected to the US earlier in the week, noting that the US and the DPRK have no extradition agreement. Rubin corrected his earlier announcement that the two, along with Chang Sung-kil's wife, had been granted asylum, explaining that the three are in the US under a "parole" or "protected status," the first step under US law for granting formal asylum. Rubin confirmed that DPRK officials had backed out of the missile proliferation talks that had been set to begin August 27 in New York City, adding that, while the officials gave no reason for calling off the talks, their decision is "obviously connected" to the defection of Chang Sung-kil, who is said to be knowledgeable about DPRK missile sales to the Middle East. Rubin called the DPRK decision not to attend the missile talks "disappointing," adding, "We believe that these talks are in the national interests of both sides." Rubin reiterated that the defections at this time are not expected to interfere with the four-party peace talks preliminary meeting set for the week of September 15. [Ed. note: The relevant transcript excerpt from this briefing is being distributed as a subsequent Special Report.]

US White House Deputy Press Secretary Barry Toiv ("WHITE HOUSE DAILY BRIEFING, AUGUST 27," USIA Transcript, 8/27/97) stated that US President Bill Clinton had been kept fully informed on the DPRK defections, and that the US was disappointed but not surprised that the DPRK had withdrawn from the scheduled talks on missile proliferation. Toiv added that the US sees no linkage between the missile talks and the four-party peace talks. "We remain committed to the four-party process. We believe it's in the interest of all of the parties, and we believe that North Korea continues to see the value of the talks as well," he said.

US Defense Department Deputy Spokesman Mike Doubleday ("PENTAGON SPOKESMAN'S REGULAR TUESDAY BRIEFING," USIA Transcript, 8/27/97) stated that he could provide no information on the DPRK defectors beyond that given by the State Department, and on these grounds did not answer questions concerning whether the US military gave assistance to the defection or whether the Defense Department has plans to interview them.

US State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin ("STATE DEPT. NOON BRIEFING, FRIDAY, AUGUST 29," USIA Transcript, 8/29/97) stated that the US still expects the DPRK to attend the second round of the four-party talks preliminary meetings. "To date the DPRK has said nothing further to us related to the question of whether they will arrive the week of September the 15th. So far, so good. ... I can't get into the practice of detailing publicly every time we talk to the North Koreans. I can say that we do have regular working-level contact with them, and we are hoping that, during the course of the coming weeks, that they will make clear they are prepared to set a date for the missile talks that were postponed," Rubin said. Rubin did not respond directly to a question concerning media commentary that the defections had strengthened the position of hardliners in the DPRK government.

2. Chang Defection -- Media Reports

The New York Times (Steven Lee Myers, "DEFECTING ENVOY FROM NORTH KOREA TO GET U.S. ASYLUM," Washington, 8/27/97, A1) reported that the United States announced on Tuesday that it would grant political asylum to Chang Sung-kil, the DPRK ambassador to Egypt, to his brother, Chang Sung-ho, and to their families. Senior officials said Chang Sung-kil was familiar with his government's dealings in the Middle East, especially its sale of missiles and other arms to Egypt, Syria, and Iran, and described the defections as an intelligence bonanza for the US. "Egypt and North Korea have an arms-sales relationship that makes this defection important to the United States," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He will have had access to important information on arms sales throughout the Middle East." The fact that Chang defected to the US rather than to the ROK means that the US Central Intelligence Agency will be the first to interview him, without having to work through the filter of the ROK's intelligence services. Chang, 48, ambassador in Cairo for three years and reportedly due to return to the DPRK in a month, apparently coordinated his defection with his brother, who left Paris with his wife and two children earlier. The senior official said that Chang might have feared punishment when he returned to Pyongyang, perhaps because he had failed to persuade Egypt to provide more emergency food aid. US officials expect Chang's insights on the DPRK to be more useful than those of Hwang Jang-yop, a former member of the DPRK's ruling elite who US officials now say had not been in a position of power and knowledge in recent years.

The Washington Post (R. Jeffrey Smith, "NORTH KOREAN MAY BRING ARMS DATA," Washington, 8/27/97, A01) reported that US officials said Chang Sung-kil, as DPRK Ambassador to Egypt before defecting to the US, is not as well-connected to the DPRK leadership as was Hwang Jang-yop, but could potentially provide a wealth of information about the DPRK's missile sales and other dealings in the Middle East. One official said Chang might provide data about the DPRK's controversial, continuing sales of Scud-B missile production equipment to Egypt as well as its past sales of missiles and other armaments to Iran and Syria. "There will be people in the intelligence community who will be salivating to see this guy," a former senior US intelligence official said of Chang. "It's the first time we don't have to wait until the South Koreans wring a guy's brain" and, in some cases, coach them about what to say publicly and in subsequent US debriefings, the former official added. Several officials in Washington said the CIA brought Chang and his wife out of Egypt after he requested political asylum at the US Embassy in Cairo. US and Egyptian officials said the CIA gave Chang a false name and fake US travel documents, and did not inform the Egyptian government of the actions.

The New York Times (Steven Lee Myers, "NORTH KOREANS QUIT ARMS TALKS OVER DEFECTIONS," Washington, 8/28/97, A1) reported that in response to Chang Sung-kil's defections, the DPRK withdrew abruptly from talks with the US over missile proliferation. Li Gun, the DPRK's deputy representative to the UN, called the US decision to grant asylum to Chang "a grave insult" that showed US "hostility" toward the DPRK, adding that the US actions would have "a serious effect" on the planned four-party peace talks as well. US officials said that they hoped the DPRK would return to the missile talks and did not expect serious disruption of the peace talks, but added that they considered the risk of disrupting such negotiations worth granting asylum to Chang. "The alternative of turning down a bona fide plea for asylum from a state like North Korea is pretty unthinkable," one US official said. While Chang was expected to provide information on DPRK missile sales in the Middle East, one US official said it was not yet clear "to what extent he was privy" to all decisions, and a US Defense Department official added, "We may be hopeful and expect that he knows more than he does."

The Washington Post (R. Jeffrey Smith, " NORTH KOREANS CANCEL U.S. TALKS," Washington, 8/28/97, A30) reported that US officials said that, at the missile talks canceled by the DPRK in the wake of the defections of two diplomats, the US had planned to complain formally about that country's recent ballistic missile exports and deployments but also to offer to lift some long-standing economic sanctions if the DPRK halted the provocative missile activities. The DPRK activities include potential deployment of a new ballistic missile that can reach all of Japan, recent, secret shipments of missile-related gear to Iran and Pakistan, and continuing assistance to Egypt's nascent missile production industry. Two previous negotiating sessions on missile issues, in April 1996 and last June, achieved little progress. US officials said that at the first session, the DPRK demanded that the US compensate it as much as its missile exports can earn, a demand the US viewed as ludicrous. "It's part of the barterization of North Korea's foreign policy," one US official said. Another official said that, since the last session, the DPRK has "stepped up its marketing" efforts for various missiles and demonstrated its willingness to sell "indiscriminately" to any nation with sufficient cash. On August 6, the US disclosed that particular US trade sanctions had been imposed against two DPRK government-owned firms for missile-related proliferation that one official said involved Iran and Pakistan.

3. Chang Defection -- Later Developments

Reuters ("SEOUL: N.KOREA MAY POSTPONE FOUR-NATION TALKS," Seoul, 8/30/97) reported that a ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday that the DPRK may postpone the four-party peace talks, scheduled for mid-September in New York, by a week to ten days. The spokesman quoted a senior ministry official as saying, "There has been no concrete indication from North Korea, but there is a growing possibility that North Korea may delay the four-nation peace talks as an expression of displeasure over North Korean ambassador Chang Sung-kil's asylum to the United States." Several ROK newspapers Saturday also reported that there was a growing possibility North Korea could delay the start of the talks because of Chang's defection.

The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("N. KOREA CALLS DEFECTIONS STUMBLING BLOCK TO PEACE TALKS," Seoul, 9/2/97) reported that the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted the DPRK's Foreign Ministry as saying Tuesday that US acceptance of defectors Chang Sung-kil and Chang Sung-ho has created an obstruction to the four-party Korean peace talks. "The unreasonable act of the United States is laying big stumbling blocks in the way of four-way talks and other pending issues in the DPRK-US relations for peace," the KCNA quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying. The DPRK, the ROK, the US and the PRC are scheduled to hold preliminary talks in New York during the week of September 15, aimed at setting the agenda and other terms for full-fledged negotiations on a formal peace treaty to replace the armistice that suspended the 1950-53 Korean War. "The criminals must be extradited to the DPRK and brought to justice," KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.

US Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley ("STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 2," USIA Transcript, 9/2/97) stated that he had nothing new to say regarding the defection of Chang Sung-kil, or DPRK participation in either the four-party peace talks or the missile proliferation talks. Asked about a DPRK radio statement condemning the defections as a conspiracy by the CIA, Foley replied, "No comment."

4. Assessment of Korean Situation

The Washington Post issued an editorial ("NORTH KOREAN BLACKMAIL," 8/29/97, A22) warning that the US may be acting too benevolently toward a DPRK regime from which "few outsiders know what to expect." The editorial stated, "It is this very unpredictability and potential danger that explains the attention U.S. officials lavish on this failing state. A kind of blackmail is at work." The editorial then stated, "This capitulation to blackmail is justified on the grounds of a search for a 'soft landing.' ... There must, however, be limits to Western accommodation." The editorial credited the Clinton administration for drawing "one such line this week when it admitted the defecting diplomats despite North Korea's harangues and walkout." The editorial concluded, "The West is right to encourage North Korea out of its isolation, but it also should remember which side is holding the weaker hand. ... [The US and the ROK] can afford to wait patiently for North Korea to return to the table."

5. DPRK Tidal Wave

Reuters ("TIDAL WAVE DESTROYS N. KOREAN DIKES, FARMS," Beijing, 9/2/97) reported that Erik Petersen of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Tuesday that a typhoon-fueled tidal wave flooded fields along the DPRK's western coast last month, dealing a heavy blow to hungry farmers struggling to avert famine. Peterson said early August 21 the wave smashed sea dikes designed to protect coastal regions, destroying an estimated 700,000 metric tons of corn and leaving 28,000 people homeless. "In a country that is already very badly hit, it is a disaster, an absolute disaster," Petersen said in a telephone interview from Pyongyang. "There was apparently one wave. ... At places, we have reports that the wave was more than eight meters [26 feet] high," he said. Peterson added that debris had been carried far inland. "At one place about 10 kilometers [six miles] inshore from the coastline, I saw seaweed and glass deposited by the wave on a steel frame about three meters [nine feet] above the ground," he said. Peterson said a combination of high tides and the effects of Typhoon Winnie, which lashed eastern China the same night, appeared to have caused the tidal wave. [Ed. note: This report was carried by The New York Times and The Washington Post in their Sept. 2 editions.]

II. Republic of Korea

1. Chang Defection

The DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Wednesday condemned defectors Chang Sung-kil and Chang Sung-ho as criminals and demanded that the US Government return them to the DPRK. The spokesman for the ministry said in an interview with its official central news agency, "The former ambassador to Egypt Chang Sung-kil and his brother Chang Sung-ho, the former counselor of the trade mission in Paris, ran away after being sacked from their positions at the end of July under the suspicion of embezzling huge amounts of government funds, corruption and leaking national secrets, and were ordered to return home for investigation procedures." The spokesman added, "The criminals must be delivered to the Republic (DPRK) and put to justice." (Chosun Ilbo, "DPRK DEMANDS DEFECTING BROTHERS' RETURN," 08/27/97)

Washington has, in principle, assured Seoul of the ROK's participation in the questioning of DPRK Ambassador to Egypt Chang Sung-kil, a senior ROK official said yesterday. The high-ranking diplomat has been granted asylum in the US with his wife and elder brother. The official said a team of ROK intelligence officials will leave for the US soon and participate in the debriefing of Chang in mid-September. The official, speaking anonymously, said the ROK will have to wait for a certain period of time until US intelligence authorities complete their initial questioning of Chang. As envoy to Cairo, a key diplomatic outpost, Chang is believed to be able to provide valuable information on Pyongyang's missile exports to Middle Eastern countries. Announcing the granting of asylum for Chang Tuesday, US State Department spokesman James Rubin refused to say whether ROK officials would be permitted to question him. Yu Myung-hwan, director-general of the ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, who is currently on a visit to Canada and the US, discussed issues regarding Chang with US Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth in Washington Wednesday. (Korea Herald, Kim Kyung-ho, "SEOUL LIKELY TO PARTICIPATE IN DEBRIEFING OF DPRK DEFECTOR," 08/28/97)

2. US-DPRK Missile Talks

The DPRK pulled out of the third round of missile talks with the US last Wednesday, saying that Washington's acceptance of two DPRK defectors -- Chang Sung-kil, DPRK ambassador to Egypt, and his brother Chang Sung-ho, counselor of the DPRK Trade Mission in Paris -- was a grave insult. Ambassador Lee Gun, Pyongyang's deputy UN representative, said in a statement that the US offer of asylum to the criminals seriously damaged the atmosphere, preventing it's government from resuming the missile talks. DPRK officials also announced Wednesday they were pulling out of a UN accord on human rights because of a critical resolution accusing the DPRK of violations. Han Chang-on, the deputy ambassador of the DPRK Mission in Geneva, told reporters that steps had already been taken to withdraw from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (Chosun Ilbo, "DPRK CANCELS MISSILE TALKS BLAMING DEFECTION," 08/27/97)

The US and the DPRK had a working-level contact Wednesday on the resumption of bilateral missile control talks after the defection of DPRK diplomat Chang Sung-kil, a US State Department official said Thursday. The contact, following the sudden cancellation of the third round of missile talks over Chang's defection, involved Ri Kun, deputy chief of the DPRK's mission to the UN, and David Straub, deputy director of the US State Department's Korea desk (filling in for Mark Minton). The US side strongly urged the DPRK to return to the missile talks but the DPRK again insisted that Chang and his family be handed over, making the resumption of the arms talks difficult for sometime to come, the source added. The DPRK attendance at the working-level contact with the US reflects Pyongyang's interest in maintaining its relationship with Washington despite the defection. (Korea Times, "US, NK HOLD WORKING-LEVEL CONTACT IN NY ON MISSILE TALKS," 08/31/97)

3. Four-Party Peace Talks

The next preliminary meeting for the four-party Korean peace talks, scheduled to take place on September 15th, is likely to be postponed by one or two weeks due to the defection to the US of the DPRK ambassador to Egypt, Chang Sung-kil. An official from the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that working level talks to be held this week were canceled by the DPRK. (Chosun Ilbo, "PRELIMINARY FOUR-PARTY TALKS MAY BE POSTPONED," 08/30/97)

Announcing its withdrawal from the missile talks, DPRK's UN Mission also warned that US acceptance of DPRK defector Chang Sung-kil "will cause serious damage to the process of the four-way talks as well." However, officials in Washington and Seoul have downplayed such DPRK threats, believing that Pyongyang probably will delay the preliminary talks only for a short period to express its displeasure over the defection incident. A ROK official said that, unlike missile talks from which it has little to gain, the DPRK cannot afford to cancel preparatory peace talks thereby risking its chances of gaining more international food aid. However, Seoul and Washington, prompted by US media reports suggesting that Chang might have worked for the US Central Intelligence Agency before his escape from Cairo, now worry that the DPRK may go further than expected. A ROK Foreign Ministry official said the ROK and the US are planning to hold working-level phone contacts with the DPRK's UN Mission this weekend on the resumption of the preliminary peace talks. (Korea Herald, "SENIOR US OFFICIALS TO VISIT SEOUL TO CONSULT ON DPRK," 09/02/97)

4. ROK-US Consultations on DPRK

Stanley Roth, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, will visit Seoul September 12-13 for talks with top ROK officials, a ROK Foreign Ministry official said yesterday. During his stay in Seoul, the first leg of a four-nation Asian tour, Roth will meet with ROK Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Young-shik and Ban Ki-moon, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security. Roth and the ROK officials are expected to discuss DPRK issues, including the four-party peace talks process, food aid and other regional matters, the ministry official said. Before Roth arrives, the ROK and the US are expected to hold concrete working-level discussions on the DPRK during a week-long visit here by Charles Kartman, deputy US assistant secretary of state, who arrives in Seoul tomorrow. On the sidelines of an annual tripartite policy consultative meeting with the ROK and Japan, Kartman will hold talks with Yu Myung-hwan, the ministry's director-general for North American affairs, on the prospects for preparatory peace talks scheduled to be resumed in New York in the week of September 15. (Korea Herald, "SENIOR US OFFICIALS TO VISIT SEOUL TO CONSULT ON DPRK," 09/02/97)

5. Other DPRK Defectors

Three North Koreans have defected to the ROK via the port city of Inchon, the Agency for National Security Planning (NSP) said last Wednesday. The three defectors were identified as Suh Chang-un, 68, her son Kim Ho-rim, 33, and daughter Kim Young-sook, 30, the NSP said. The NSP said the three fled the DPRK in February and stayed in an unnamed third country before escaping to Inchon. An NSP spokesman said Suh and her daughter arrived in Inchon August 18 and her son August 22, adding they are being investigated to learn more about the details of their defection. (Korea Herald, "NORTH KOREAN FAMILY OF THREE DEFECTS TO SOUTH," 08/28/97)

A DPRK defector who escaped in the former Soviet Union in 1990 while studying in the Ukraine has succeeded in helping three of his family members to escape from the DPRK, a ROK government official said Monday. Chong Hyon, 32, is believed to have met his mother and two siblings, who fled from the DPRK to the PRC, and to be staying with them there in the custody of the ROK intelligence agency. They are expected to arrive in Seoul soon, after the necessary procedures have been completed. Chong's family had been forced out of Pyongyang to resettle in an outlying area near the Tumen River after his defection. While three of them succeeded in escaping from the DPRK, another family member was left behind, and was believed to have been arrested by DPRK authorities. The defection of the Chong family brings the number of DPRK defectors this year to 58. Seoul government officials predict that the figure will rise to about 100 by the end of the year. Some three hundred defection-applicants are awaiting approval by the ROK government, having applied for political asylum through the ROK Embassy in Beijing. (Korea Herald, "DPRK DEFECTOR REUNITED WITH FAMILY IN PRC," 09/02/97)

6. ROK Aid to DPRK

ROK National Red Cross (KNRC) President Chung Won-shik notified the DPRK Red Cross in a telephone message that the KNRC will ship 9,000 tons of corn to the DPRK starting September 5. The 9,000 tons is the fourth batch of corn to be delivered to the DPRK, as part of the 50 thousand ton aid package promised by the KNRC to the DPRK Red Cross. The aid is made up of donations from ROK religious groups, channeled through the KNRC due to the Seoul government's ban on sending private aid directly to the DPRK. The bags of maize, after being purchased in the PRC, will be delivered by truck to the DPRK cities of Sinuiju and Namyang. To date, KNRC has sent 87 thousand tons of maize in two rounds of aid to the DPRK this year. The remaining 13 thousand tons will be sent in millet due to the rising price of the PRC maize, KNRC officials said. The PRC maize sellers, who used to charge around US$140 per ton, are asking for US$180 per ton because of a poor harvest. (Korea Herald, "KNRC TO SEND NEXT BATCH OF AID TO DPRK," 08/30/97)

7. Potential Pardons for ROK Ex-Presidents

The ROK presidential office is currently studying issuing pardons for ex-presidents Chun Doo-whan and Roh Tae-woo before the Chusok holiday, which falls on September 16 this year. The office has given no official response to the matter, although spokesman Shin Woo-jae commented on Monday that issuing pardons is the prerogative of the head of state. Within government circles the prevailing attitude is in favor of a pardon as no political party has raised any objections. A high-ranking government official said that pardoning of the ex-presidents is expected to occur during president Kim's term as he was responsible for their convictions. Other officials have noted that releasing the two will not restore their civic rights or invalidate their convictions. (Chosun Ilbo, "EX-PRESIDENTS MAY BE PARDONED BY CHUSOK," 09/02/97)

The ROK public yesterday proved divided on the issue of whether to grant special amnesty for jailed ex-Presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo. The discrepancy was greatest between citizens of Kwangju, where many died in a bloody crackdown in 1980, and natives of the ex-Presidents' home districts. Kwangju citizens, especially those who lost family members in the May 1980 crackdown, reacted bitterly to reports that the ruling New Korea Party (NKP) is considering asking ROK President Kim Young-sam to pardon the two former Presidents. "Discussion of a pardon will be possible only after they truly repent their past crimes," said a spokesman for an association of families of the victims of the military suppression engineered by Chun and his associates. However, most residents of Taegu and surrounding North Kyongsang Province, the birthplace of the former Presidents, called for their early release for the sake of national harmony. "The two Presidents have paid enough of a price for misdeeds they committed previously," said Lee Song-wu, a 47-year-old resident in Taegu, adding that it is time to release them. Many observers say the proposal to release Chun and Roh, which was made in virtual unison by the ruling and opposition parties, is connected to the upcoming presidential election. "It's nothing more than a politically calculated gesture to woo votes from a certain province in the election," said Ha Sung-chang of the Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice. (Korea Herald, "ROKNS SPLIT OVER SPECIAL PARDON FOR EX-PRESIDENT CHUN, ROH," 09/02/97)

8. ROK Submarine

Daewoo Heavy Industries on Friday delivered the fifth locally built submarine at its Okpo shipyard in Koje, Kyongnam province. The 1,200 ton "Chongwoonham" can carry a crew of 30 and can go on tour for two months at a time. Daewoo said that the submarine, with an automatic combat system from ranging a target to attack mode, is highly mobile and has a minimal noise level. (Chosun Ilbo, "FIFTH DAEWOO BUILT SUBMARINE DELIVERED," 08/30/97)

9. DPRK Trade

DPRK's trade deficit shrank 8.4 percent to US$553 million in 1996 as imports from Japan and Russia declined and exports to Indonesia, Russia and the PRC expanded, the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) said Friday. The Japanese trade body, an affiliate of Japan's international trade and industry ministry, said the DPRK's exports declined 6.1 percent from a year earlier to US$791 million while imports fell at a steeper pace of seven percent to reach US$1.34 billion. Jetro said DPRK's three biggest trading partners were unchanged from the previous year: the PRC ranked first, accounting for 28.5 percent of all trade, followed by Japan with 24.2 percent and the ROK with 11.4 percent. Singapore jumped from ninth place to fifth with 3.6 percent of all trade while Russia dropped from fifth to seventh with only 3.1 percent. Jetro also noted that the trend towards Asian domination of DPRK's trade was gathering pace, with Asian trading partners accounting for 82.4 percent of all trade last year, up from 79.3 percent a year earlier. The organization blamed a sharp decline in trade with both Japan and the ROK for the overall 6.7 percent fall in DPRK's two-way trade to US$2.14 billion. (Korea Times, "DPRK'S TRADE DEFICIT SHRINKS 8.4 PCT TO US$553 MILLION," 08/31/97)

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