SEOUL, South Korea — Kenneth Bae was sentenced for supposedly carrying enemy propaganda into North Korea, heightening tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. Now he's going to "special prison" — but what's that?
The cruise ship Mangyongbong docked at the Rason port prior to a ceremony to mark the first-ever cruise to Mount Kumgang International tourist zone, from Rason in North Korea on Aug. 30, 2011. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)
In November, naturalized US citizen Kenneth Bae, 44, was arrested in North Korea on what are so far nebulous allegations that he tried to "overthrow" the government, according to state media. His trial is soon approaching.
Missiles are displayed during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on Apr. 15, 2012. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL — The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) — the Pentagon’s intelligence arm — reported “with moderate confidence” in an intelligence assessment that North Korea had mastered a startling technology: the ability to shrink a nuclear warhead and place it on a crude missile. But President Barack Obama came out in apparent loggerheads with the Defense Department. And he wasn’t the first to question the Pentagon’s calculation.
SEOUL — China has uncomfortably backed North Korea since the 1950s, at times treating South Korea as a direct enemy and, more recently, a wary and reserved trading partner. But this time around, are Beijing and Seoul on the verge of a honeymoon in the face of Pyongyang’s war threats? It’s possible. Behind the scenes, Seoul has been carving out the beginnings of a grander, longer-term strategy to deal with a militant North Korea, say analysts.
SEOUL — North Korea said it was open to dialog with the US but that it would not return to the "humiliating negotiating table" until it has boosted its nuclear arsenal enough to fend off an American attack, the state news agency reported. "Genuine dialog is possible only at the phase where the DPRK has acquired nuclear deterrent enough to defuse the US threat of nuclear war unless the US rolls back its hostile policy," the North's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency, KCNA.
A foreign businessman walks in the Myungdong shopping district on April 11, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. According to reports a North Korean missile launcher has been moved into firing position as the continuing threats of attack emit from Pyongyang. G8 leaders convened in London to discuss the situation. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, South Korea — We've heard a lot of talk in recent weeks about the military side of the North Korea threat. Today, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency is reporting that North Korea could have the capabilities to build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile — even though there's a lot of disagreement over that part.
But how does the threat of military action play for foreign investors in South Korea?
Today, President Park Geun-hye met with foreign investors from Google, Citibank and Siemens — to name a few corporations — in her administration's Blue House, reported the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper. She tried to assure them that her administration would create a stable investment environment despite North Korea's bluster.
NAALEHU, Hawaii — For a while, pouring a huge proportion of their resources into conventional military buildup gave the northerners an edge that only US forces’ backing of the South could offset. Meanwhile, though, the South Koreans, by focusing their resources on the economy, were becoming rich enough to build a competing military financed with what to them was relative pocket change. Experts these days don’t see North Korea winning an actual war.
Now that North Korea has recalled its workers from the Kaesong Industrial Zone it's farewell to hope for a peaceful unification, at least for now.
SEOUL, South Korea — Now that North Korea has recalled its workers from the Kaesong Industrial Zone — an area north of the DMZ where hundreds of South Korean managers oversee 51,000 North Korean laborers — it's farewell to hope for a peaceful unification, at least for now.
North Korea has withdrawn all its workers from Gaesong industrial complex. RIP Sunshine Policy (1998-2013)... fb.me/2rSsgGEue
(Leonid Petrov is a Korea expert at Australian National University in Canberra.)
In the late 1990s, the peninsula was on a path towards reconciliation, and possibly unification into a single Korea. Diplomats and reporters were optimistic, pointing out that North Korea had been through a famine that left 1 million dead, and that the communist government could not maintain the status quo.
Proponents called the movement the "Sunshine Policy." The Kaesong Industrial Zone, opened in 2004, was the offspring of that movement — a model for the cooperation that would come.
"Sunshine" reached its height when the South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung, who later won the Nobel peace prize, met his dictatorial counterpart, Kim Jong Il, for a historic summit in Pyongyang. People called him the Asian version of Nelson Mandela.
But critics said any hope for real progress was naive, and that North Korea was playing with Seoul to get aid and concessions that would enrich the regime. Were they right?