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North Korea to repatriate U.S. citizen detained since October: KCNA, By Colin Zwirko

North Korea to repatriate U.S. citizen detained since October: KCNA

Bruce Byron Lowrance reported to have claimed to be under “manipulation of the CIA”

North Korea will deport a U.S. citizen detained after illegally entering the country last month, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday. The KCNA said the man, named in the report as Bruce Byron Lowrance, was detained after crossing into North Korea illegally from China on October 16.

Friday’s KCNA report said Lowrance had told investigators in North Korea he had “illegally entered the DPRK under the manipulation of the CIA.”

Following an investigation, North Korean authorities “decided to deport American citizen Lowrance from the DPRK,” the report added. A man with the same name was deported from South Korea almost exactly a year ago after reportedly being caught wandering near the inter-Korean border.

Chief Director of Operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Suh Wook at the time told lawmakers that Lowrance had “made an incoherent testimony” and that the U.S. citizen had believed he “could contribute in some way in North Korea.” Lowrance reportedly developed a plan to defect to the North through research online, and told South Korean investigators at the time he was not aware crossing into the DPRK was illegal.

An official from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul told NK News Friday evening that due to privacy policy, they were not able to release details of the case or whether the man to be repatriated was indeed the same Bruce Byron Lowrance.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on Friday thanking North Korea and Sweden for Lowrance’s return. “The United States appreciates the cooperation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the embassy of Sweden in facilitating the release of an American citizen,” Pompeo said.

“The United States is grateful for the sustained support of Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for its advocacy on behalf of American citizens.”

Neither side has revealed when the man is expected to be deported. The man is the fourth U.S. citizen to be released from captivity in the North this year, though news of his detention was not make public until today.

Pyongyang in May repatriated Kim Sang-duk (also known as Tony Kim), Kim Hak-song, and Kim Dong-chul as a goodwill gesture ahead of a planned DPRK-U.S. summit.

Both Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song were linked to the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the country’s only private university, and had been accused of carrying out “hostile acts” against the country.

Kim Dong-chul, in turn, was in April 2016 sentenced to ten years’ hard labor for having committed “unpardonable espionage” on behalf of the U.S. and South Korea.

Senior North Korean official hails “dramatic changes” in ROK-DPRK relations, By Dagyum Ji

Senior North Korean official hails “dramatic changes” in ROK-DPRK relations

Ri Jong Hyok tells conference in Gyoenggi, ROK that “nothing can block” inter-Korean reconciliation

Senior DPRK official Ri Jong Hyok on Friday hailed the two Koreas’ recent progress towards peace and prosperity on the peninsula in a speech at an international history forum held in the South.

“Dramatic changes have continuously taken place,” Ri, currently visiting South Korea as part of a five-person delegation, said in a speech at the Asia Pacific Peace and Prosperity conference.

Citing three meetings between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and ROK President Moon Jae-in and July’s DPRK-U.S. summit, the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) vice-chairman said the two Koreas could “not stop or hesitate our steps here.”

“We are making our sacred great march toward national reconciliation, peace, independent reunification, and prosperity which nothing can block… and strong hopes and conviction were fully filled with heart of every North and South Korean nation,” Ri said.

Seoul and Pyongyang had shown the world that the “blood of the same people is thicker… and peace is more precious and mighty than war,” through their joint participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, he continued.

Friday’s conference, co-hosted by South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province and the association for Asia-Pacific peace and exchange, saw scholars call for further steps to investigate and raise awareness of the forced mobilization of Korean laborers by the Japanese during Word War II. Cooperative measures for Asia-Pacific peace and prosperity in the 21st century were also discussed.

Around 300 people were in attendance, including former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and former South Korean unification minister Jeong Se-hyun.

In his speech, the DPRK KAPPC vice-chairman attacked Japan for its “crimes against humanity” including abduction, forced mobilization, and use of so-called “comfort women.” “Korean people were the greatest victims of these crimes,” Ri said.

The DPRK delegation is scheduled to return to Pyongyang on Saturday after what will be a four-day trip to the South.   Ri’s speech came just hours after news broke in North Korean state media that the country had carried out a test of a new “ultramodern tactical weapon.”

Asked for comment on the development by NK News on arriving at the venue for Friday’s event, he did not respond.

Russian oil shipments to North Korea increased again in September: UN, By Leo Byrne

Russian oil shipments to North Korea increased again in September: UN

Shipments still only a fraction of previous years, however

Russia increased exports of oil products to North Korea in September, a recent report by Moscow to the UN shows, sending more than triple the volume it shipped two months earlier. UN resolutions require member states to report their monthly fuel shipments to the DPRK, which are then published on the 1718 Committee’s website.

North Korea proposes connecting air routes on east, west coast of peninsula, By Dagyum Ji

North Korea proposes connecting air routes on east, west coast of peninsula

Announcement follows first-ever inter-Korean aviation talks at KIC

DPRK delegates at inter-Korean aviation talks on Friday proposed connecting international air routes over the east and west coast of the peninsula, the ROK Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) announced.“The North Korean side proposed connecting international air routes over the east and west coast between the two Koreas,” the MOLIT said in a statement following the first-ever working-level talks on aviation cooperation between the two sides.

The talks took place at the joint liaison office located at the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

“In return, our side made a suggestion to continue discussions through talks between aviation authorities,” the ministry added, without providing further details.

The North in February requested the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which dictates territorial airspace, establish a new Air Traffic Service (ATS) route between Pyongyang and the Incheon Flight Information Region (FIR).

The ICAO told NK News at the time that it planned to hold a discussion over pending issues including the new route, air navigation, and safety matters with a DPRK representative in May.

The request was conveyed to the ROK Korea Office of Civil Aviation (KOCA) and was said to be under consideration.

The ROK MOLIT on Friday said the round of talks had “significance” as they saw North and South Korean aviation authorities meet for the first time.

Seoul and Pyongyang respectively dispatched a five-member delegation to Friday’s talks.

Son Myoung-soo, South Korean Deputy Minister for Civil Aviation at the MOLIT, participated in the meeting in the capacity of chief ROK delegate.

Deputy Director General of the General Administration of Civil Aviation (GACA) Ri Yong Son, in turn, led the DPRK delegation.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Wednesday said North Korea had proposed the working-level aviation talks last week, though refused to confirm potential topics.

“It is not appropriate to make mention of North Korea’s intentions… based on our prejudgment,” ministry spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun told a press briefing.

Aviation cooperation was not an official agenda item during the third and fifth inter-Korean summits this year, though the two Koreas previously committed to establishing a direct air route between Seoul and Mount Paektu in the 2007 October 4 Declaration.

The plans never materialized.

Hasil gambar untuk South Korean airplanes were previously able to fly over North Korean airspace

South Korean airplanes were previously able to fly over North Korean airspace following the DPRK’s opening of the Pyongyang FIR to international traffic in 1998, though the flights were stopped when Seoul imposed unilateral sanctions in May 2010.

The May 24 Measures, announced in the wake of the sinking of the Cheonan naval corvette by the North, ban South Korean airplanes from flying over Pyongyang FIR.

South Korean national flag carrier Korean Air and the country’s Asiana Airlines respectively spent an average of around KRW2 billion (USD$1.7 million) and KRW700 (USD$619,414) annually avoiding the airspace, according to statistics provided by lawmaker Shim Jae-kwon in October last year


Kim Jong Un orders large-scale construction in Chinese border city of Sinuiju, By Colin Zwirko

Kim Jong Un orders large-scale construction in Chinese border city of Sinuiju

Major redevelopment reportedly underway in DPRK’s “gateway city of the country”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently visited Sinuiju along the country’s border with China, state media reported Friday morning, ordering the building of high-rises, shops, and parks as well as a complete review of the city’s overall plan.

Kim described Sinuiju a “gateway city of the country” in Friday’s report, with this circular tower appearing to be its main gate, overlooking the Yalu River Broken Bridge in Dandong – one of the Chinese city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Within Sinuiju, Kim reportedly also called for the building of a “theater, cinema, sports village, ice rink and sci-tech library and service facilities including hotel and department store.”

But he also ordered that the current master plan be reviewed, saying local officials should consult with “powerful design organs of the country” to come up with something better.

Officials “must submit a realistic, remapped plan within the span of a few months,” KCNA reported Kim as having ordered, which the “Party Central Committee would discuss and decide on the plan after going through relevant procedures.”

“The construction of the border city will be conducted year by year and phase by phase with the state backing after setting the goals of 5-year plan,” Kim reportedly added.

While the KCNA article did not mention plans to connect North Korean roads to the Chinese-built modern New Yalu River Bridge just to the west of South Sinuiju, blueprints for road plans are visible on the wall in the room Kim visited during his inspection.

New elements visible in the 3D model – which is subject to change with the newly submitted plan – include high-rises lining the banks of the Yalu river along the entire stretch of Sinuiju, a new stadium in the city’s western quarter, and a green park running through the city’s center.

In addition to explicitly requesting the building of high-rise apartments, Kim stressed the importance of building parks as part of the city’s “cultural environment,” saying Sinuiju should become known as a “city within a park.”

“He called for creating green belts near the city’s main road and around the industrial area to make sure that there are 50 square meters of green land per capita, and for building city park, botanical garden and recreation ground in a cozy and peculiar manner to suit the specific conditions of the local city,” KCNA reported.

Kim is also seeking the “remodeling the railway station of the city and Uiju Airport in a modern way” in addition to “sprucing up the present industrial areas.”

North Korean national carrier Air Koryo currently runs flight JS6101/6102 between Pyongyang and Uiju Airport, which, lying around 10 kilometers to the east of Sinuiju, is now not much more than an airfield and a small reception building.

Kim Jong Un inspects test of new “tactical” weapon: KCNA, By Hamish Macdonald

Kim Jong Un inspects test of new “tactical” weapon: KCNA

State media reports new technology aims at “significantly improving” combat power of DPRK army

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently inspected the testing of a new “ultramodern tactical weapon,” a report released by North Korean state media said on Friday. While ambiguous about the nature of the device being tested, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the weapon has been under development for a long time and that the test took place at the “test ground of the Academy of Defence Science.”

“The state-of-the art weapon that has been long developed under the leadership of our party’s dynamic leadership has a meaning of completely safeguarding our territory and significantly improving the combat power of our people’s army,” the report by the KCNA said. “The testing of the ultramodern tactical weapon has been carried out successfully, meeting all superior and powerful designing indicators,” it continued.

“With our party at the center, the Dear Leader oversaw the success of the ultramodern tactical weapon test along with the workers of the national defense science sector such as the scientists, engineers, and munitions labor class, and highly commended their contributions.” The news represents the first visit by the North Korean leader to the Academy of Defence Science since August last year.

Hasil gambar untuk Kim Jong Un inspects test of new “tactical” weapon: KCNA

KCNA reported he was accompanied at the test by, among others, Deputy Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Military Industry Department Kim Jong Sik and First Vice Department Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee Ri Pyong Chol.

The two were identified by the U.S. last year as part of a group of “leaders of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs.”

He was also notably joined by Pak Jong Chon, head of the Korean People’s Army (KPA)’s Artillery Command and Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff. “With today’s success, the Dear Leader is rapidly developing our national defense capabilities under the justification of the Party’s Sci-Tech-centered National Defense Policy, which has made yet another accomplishment,” the report added – the first reference to that policy since January.

“With great satisfaction, [Kim Jong Un] said an epoch-making shift had been made in strengthening our battle capability.” Recent North Korean weapons testing has typically been much more public and has involved underground nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches.

No launches have yet been reported by South Korea’s military, typically the first to do so in such an event, or U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). No seismic activity, indicative of an underground nuclear test, has been reported either.

In its report, the KCNA said the weapon tested was one that had been “personally set in motion and with particular interest” by the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

“Now this weapons system is finally complete,” it said. “Like a child born after the death of their father, today, [Kim Jong Un], seeing this success, could not but think of our General and could not suppress his ardent love for him.” In response to the reported test, a U.S. State Department spokesperson reiterated that talks with North Korea on its nuclear program were ongoing and that the U.S. believes Kim Jong Un will honor commitments made in Singapore in June.

Hasil gambar untuk N.K. weapon test doesn't signal abandonment of nuke talks: official

“At the Singapore Summit, President Trump and Chairman Kim made a number of commitments regarding final, fully verified denuclearization and creating a brighter future for North Korea,” the spokesperson told NK News. “We are talking with the North Koreans about implementing all of those commitments.”

“The President has made clear that if Kim Jong Un denuclearizes, there is a bright future for North Korea,” they continued. “We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled.”

North Korea last tested an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) almost 12 months ago, on November 28. Following that successful test, Kim said the country had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power.”

The country has since refrained from nuclear and missile testing, with a high-level ruling party meeting in April seeing Kim announce that was no longer any need for them to take place.

North Korea, too, has embarked on a diplomatic campaign that has so far resulted in relative calm on the peninsula and multiple summits with foreign leaders, including with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore. Since that summit, however, little concrete progress has been made towards improving U.S.-DPRK ties or realizing the denuclearization of North Korea.

The two sides have increasingly been at odds over sequencing, with the U.S. insisting that sanctions will remain until the North denuclearizes while the DPRK insisting that sanctions are an impediment to trust and must be removed prior to any further moves on their part.

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Earlier this month, state media published an article suggesting that North Korea would resume overt nuclear development should the U.S. not change its position. Responding to Washington’s ongoing public aversion to North Korea sanctions relief, a director of the foreign ministry-linked Institute for American Studies warned that Pyongyang may reconsider Kim Jong Un’s April directive to focus solely on economic development.

“If the U.S. keeps behaving arrogant without showing any change in its stand…the word “pyongjin” (simultaneously conducting economic construction and building up nuclear forces) may appear again and the change of the line could be seriously reconsidered,” director Kwon Jong Gun said in the KCNA-distributed statement.

North Korea later called off a planned meeting in New York between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior DPRK official Kim Yong Chol.

Friday’s news also comes amid the ongoing U.S. Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) joint military drill, which began on November 5, and South Korea’s Taeguk and Hoguk exercises. North Korean media earlier in the week denounced the KMEP drills, warning their taking place “runs counter” to September’s inter-Korean military agreement and accusing the U.S. and South Korea of “threatening peace.” In October, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) announced its plan to conduct the KMEP 24 times next year.

UN Committee passes resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights record, By Leo Byrne

UN Committee passes resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights record

Resolution will very likely be passed next month at the UNGA

The UN Third Committee on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning North Korea’s ongoing human rights violations. The document was cosponsored by 61 countries and will almost certainly be adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) next month, for the 14th consecutive year.

The resolution expresses the deep concern “at the grave human rights situation, the pervasive culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” Yonhap reported Seoul had also signed off on the resolution and was hoping to work with the international community for a “substantial improvement” in the DPRK’s human rights situation.

South Korea also noted how this year’s version of the resolution mentioned the ongoing diplomatic detente and positive momentum on the Korean peninsula, a likely reference to the paragraph of the resolution which welcomes “the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and noting the importance of dialogue and engagements for the improvement of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country.”

But Sudan and Cuba distanced themselves from the UN measures, with the former attempting to delete a provision that calls for the DPRK to referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). During the session, the DPRK also rejected the resolution, saying it wanted dialogue and negotiation on the protection of human rights, not confrontation.

But also preempting the resolution, North Korea on Wednesday issued a statement accusing western countries and Japan of their own human rights abuses. “The U.S., Europe and Japan are not in a position to take issue with other countries’ human rights problems, as the world’s most serious violations of human rights occur in Western countries,” state-owned media outlet Rodong Sinmun said, in a translation from Yonhap.  “The (Western countries) are busily moving to internationalize and politicize our country’s human rights problem on the basis of forged and fake documents.”

The UN resolution draws from the 2014 Commission of Inquiry (COI) report which was tasked with investigating the “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the State, with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular, for violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.”

“The particular nature and the overall scale of human rights violations in the State can be more easily understood through an appreciation of the nature of its political system, which is based on a single party led by a single Supreme Leader, an elaborate guiding ideology and a centrally planned economy,” the 2014 report reads.


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N.K. weapon test doesn’t signal abandonment of nuke talks: official (Yonhap News)

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“It’s clearly something that we should watch carefully,” the senior government official…”But it’s still early to view this as a change of heart in terms of the North Koreans’ intention to have denuclearization talks or its intention to resolve the issue of regime security and improve ties with the U.S. through talks”.The test came as negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled.

North Korea has demanded sanctions relief in return for disarmament steps, while the U.S. has refused to offer major concessions before the complete denuclearization of the regime.

Last week a planned New York meeting involving U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-chol, was postponed at the last minute due to what the U.S. called scheduling issues.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he still expects to have a second meeting with Kim early next year.

Their first summit in Singapore in June yielded a commitment by Kim to work toward “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

“Since Kim Jong-un took power, the North Koreans have been determined to develop their economy and raise their standing in the international community,” the official said. “So the correct view would be that the North Koreans still have the intention to hold denuclearization talks with the U.S., and although they should be watched closely, I don’t think that intention has changed.”

Inter-Korean Military Tension Reduction, North Korean Denuclearization, and the U.S.-ROK Security Alliance (Council on Foreign Relations)

The biggest risk the U.S. and South Korea face is the apparent progress in inter-Korean conventional tension reduction measures without diplomatic progress on denuclearization.

In this respect, the transformation of the DMZ into a “peace zone,” or normal border, is undoubtedly a positive step forward and should be welcomed, but it will not lead to a sustainable peace unless the establishment of political and military measures necessary to establish a permanent peace are synced up with a viable denuclearization process.

The United States rightly lent its support to the inter-Korean agreement by showing its understanding “that the military confidence building measures are important for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula,” while emphasizing the need to strengthen “combined readiness” and “close coordination and cooperation.” In recognition of this fact, the defense secretaries agreed to pursue a joint evaluation of a military exercise schedule for 2019 and to adjust the exercise schedule in a manner that seeks to maintain capabilities and readiness while reducing the scope, size, and public visibility of some exercises. The goal will be to maintain readiness in a fashion that supports diplomacy and is less provocative politically to North Korea.

The two top defense leaders also pledged to pursue “the expeditious conditions-based transfer of OPCON.” But the tension-reduction process envisioned in the inter-Korean military agreement potentially complicates the OPCON transfer timetable in two aspects. First, South Korean defense procurement priorities in the current budget are robust, with a double-digit budget increase in South Korea’s defense budget planned for FY19. But additional ROK military spending on high-tech items such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), use of which is curtailed for surveillance purposes under the inter-Korean military agreement, will come under greater public pressure to the extent that South Koreans perceive that the risks of war with North Korea have been reduced.

Second, U.S.-ROK large-scale exercises had been an effective means of testing coordination abilities and interactions under a revised OPCON system in past years, but the full-scale testing of coordination abilities under the new system will potentially be harder to achieve without conducting large scale exercises that fully test and reveal gaps in the new system.

Impact of the 2018 Congressional Elections on American Policy Toward Korea (The Peninsula)

Hasil gambar untuk Impact of the 2018 Congressional Elections on American Policy Toward Korea

Ambassador King examines the implications of the Electoral Change for U.S. policy in NE Asia, and says the next two years are likely to be more volatile as President Trump begins to gear up for his own reelection.The changes brought by the election may result in changes in U.S. foreign policy.  This post attempts to see what might change in policy toward Northeast Asia over the next two years.

Northeast Asia Issues will also engage House Democratic attention.  The most important of those will be the North Korean Security threat and denuclearization.  The House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence are likely to hold both public and classified hearings on North Korean nuclear capabilities and the Administration unsuccessful efforts deal with the problem.  The much-publicized Singapore Summit has led to no discernable progress in denuclearization, and recent reports that North Korea is moving ahead secretly with nuclear and missile facilities while publicly dismantling with great fanfare a few older and well-known bases.

Democrats have openly questioned the value and achievements of Trump’s summitry with Kim Jong-un.  Democrats viewed the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit as largely a press event with little, if any, substance on denuclearization or improving regional stability and security.  Trump is clearly anxious for a follow-up summit—despite Kim Jong-un’s hard ball tactics in cancelling the preliminary meeting to lay the groundwork that was previously scheduled to take place in early November.  The House Foreign Affairs Committee will likely hold well-publicized hearings focusing attention on these concerns with North Korea policy.  The House Armed Services Committee is also likely to hold public and classified hearings on North Korean nuclear capabilities and policies for coping with them.  The fact that up to now Democrats were in the minority in both houses of Congress, however, gave their concerns and cautions little attention.  Now with control of the House agenda, their views will be given considerably more media attention.

Economic issues are important for the relationship with South Korea, Japan, and China.  Democrats have been critical over Trump’s unilateral imposition of tariffs, abandoning previous trade and economic agreements because they did not have the Trump name on them.  The KORUS FTA changes by Trump were not particularly welcomed by Congress, which has always been jealous of its primacy under the U.S. Constitution on trade matters.

On the issue of North Korea Human Rights,  both political parties in both House and Senate have supported pressing for changes on North Korea’s deplorable human rights record.  Trump used human rights as a stick to encourage North Korea to engage with the United States (see his UN Speech in September 2017 and the lengthy discussion of North Korean human rights in his State of the Union Speech in January 2018).  Once the Singapore Summit was on the horizon, however, the Trump administration and the President in particular did not give further attention to human rights.

Congress, however, has a stronger commitment to the human rights issue.  The fact that the North Korea Human Rights Act was extended after the Singapore Summit indicates Congress’ strong interest in the human rights issue.  This legislation is one of the few bipartisan pieces of legislation to pass the Congress in the first two years of the Trump era.  That bipartisan interest will continue and will likely be given additional emphasis by Democratic House committees.

Moon asks Pence to speed up negotiations with North Korea (Asia Times)

US Vice-President Mike Pence (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-In chat in Singapore on Thursday. Photo: AFP

On the same day that South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested to United States Vice-President Mike Pence that the US accelerate its ties with North Korea, a delegation of ethnic Korean businesspeople headed into the reclusive and heavily sanctioned state on a four-day trip.

Moon, in Singapore for the ASEAN Summit, which also welcomes China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, told Pence on Thursday: “In order to realize lasting peace (on the Korean Peninsula), inter-Korean relations should move forward together with North-US relations.”

The comment indicates a plea for accelerated US maneuvers, given that North-South relations and North Korea-US relations are moving at very different tempos.While the two Koreas are racing ahead with exchanges of sporting and cultural delegations, holding talks on military, political and even environmental matters, and moving ahead with agreements on a DMZ no-fly zone and the joint use of a strategic estuary adjacent to Seoul, Washington-Pyongyang relations appear sluggish if not stalled.

No agreement reached

This situation has raised concerns among some Korea watchers that the much-feared “wedge” is being driven between the two allies.

Since the June Singapore summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, the two sides have been unable to reach any agreement on how the process of denuclearization should proceed.

The last scheduled meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol was postponed by North Korea earlier this month for unknown reasons.

Talks between the two capitals look unlikely to resume with any oomph until Kim and Trump meet for their second summit in the new year. That meeting is under discussion, but the time and place has yet to be agreed upon, Pence said in Singapore.

In separate meetings in Singapore, both Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a close US ally who has sought, but not been granted talks with North Korea, called for ASEAN to maintain firm sanctions pressure on North Korea.

Elsewhere on Thursday, 97 businesspeople and officials from the World Federation of Korean Association of Commerce traveled to Pyongyang for a four-day trip that will finish Sunday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The itinerary of the delegation is unknown, but the federation, which represents the Korean diaspora and is based in Seoul, has 246 members in 68 countries, largely representing small and medium-sized businesses.

Seoul backs UN resolution on N.Korea human rights (Korea Times)

Hasil gambar untuk Seoul backs UN resolution on N.Korea human rights

South Korea’s backing of a resolution adopted by a U.N. General Assembly committee on North Korea’s dire human rights records, Thursday, was in accordance with a policy to pursue “substantive improvement, according to the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.N. Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, passed the resolution calling for the Kim regime’s accountability for human rights violations.

The decision came as South Korea is trying to speed up reconciliation with the North while maintaining U.N. policies that are at odds with Kim Jong-un’s regime.

The regime has been denying U.N. accusations of crimes against humanity, while at the same time calling for sanctions against it to be eased.

Circulated by Japan and the European Union, the resolution was passed by consensus without a vote. It was co-sponsored by 61 member states, including South Korea.

Hasil gambar untuk Seoul backs UN resolution on N.Korea human rights

It is expected to pass the U.N. General Assembly in December for the 14th consecutive year.

“This year’s resolution, while largely maintaining the content of previous versions, welcomes ongoing diplomatic efforts by Pyongyang and takes note of the importance of dialogue and engagement to address the human rights and humanitarian situation there,” the foreign ministry said.

It pointed out that the documents mentioned the reunions of separated families and other humanitarian acts of cooperation between the two Koreas, as well as condemnation of “long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in and by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

The U.N. has adopted a resolution against North Korean human rights since 2005.

This year’s resolution refers to the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s 2014 findings on torture, rape, public executions, use of the death penalty for political and religious reasons and other types of human rights violations.

It calls on the U.N. Security Council consider sanctions to “target effectively those who appear to be most responsible for human rights violations.”


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