NORTH KOREA: 'HOW HUNGRY IS IT FOR PEACE?'
Foreign Media Reaction Daily Digest - 23 April 1997
U.S. Information Agency Office of Public Liaison
Foreign media analysts pondered what the future might hold
for the Korean peninsula, now that talks in New York--
involving the U.S., South and North Korea--have failed to
produce a commitment from Pyongyang that it will
participate in four-party talks (including China) aimed at
bringing a formal end to the Korean War. Amid widespread
reports of famine in North Korea and recent statements by
North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop expressing his
perception that the North may use "its formidable armed
forces" against South Korea, few editors were sanguine
about the prospects for peace and many debated on how best
to "engage" or "deal with" the North Korean regime. The
press in South Korea offered varied assessments of the
North's actions and whether or not the reports of food
shortages in the North have been "exaggerated." Some
observers advocated "civilian food aid" to the North Korean
people, while others voiced suspicion that food coming into
the North from abroad "will fatten high officials only" or,
worse yet, the military. Seoul's moderate Hankook Ilbo
applauded the U.S. State Department for urging North Korea
to reduce the size of its military, stating: "From now on,
all efforts connected with food aid and the opening of
dialogue channels should be geared toward having the North
reduce its military." The question of providing food aid
to North Korea was also hotly debated in the Japanese
media, with a number of editors focusing on North Korea's
alleged kidnapping of a Japanese school girl in Niigata 20
years ago. Tokyo's conservative Sankei judged giving food
aid to a "kidnapper" state "unnecessary," and noted, "Even
though Pyongyang says it is on the verge of starvation, its
negotiating stance is far from desperate.... There is no
need to be hasty."
Analysts from Australia to Germany pointed to the
"tinderbox" atmosphere on the Korean peninsula. Munich's
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, for example, warned, "The failure
of the talks in New York again demonstrated how
unpredictable and dangerous the regime in Pyongyang still
is.... The danger remains that the North could risk a new
war--be it because Kim Jong-Il or his military leaders feel
they are being backed up against the wall, or because they
overestimate their own forces." The top-circulation,
moderately conservative Bangkok Post likewise cautioned:
"As long as the Pyongyang regime refuses to join peace
talks, its decision is effectively to continue to refuse
any search for peace. This can only be taken as a
distressing sign that North Korea intends to continue its
secretive activities...aimed at destabilizing the Korean
peninsula and all of East Asia."
Recent releases from Pyongyang's official Korean Central
News Agency, meanwhile, revealed that food supplies in the
North were not so limited as to keep Kim Jong-Il from
throwing a banquet for overseas Koreans in honor of his
father, the late Kim Il-Sung. The latter was "a legendary
man" who shared the "weal and woe" of his people under the
motto, "'One is sure to win if he believes in and depends
upon the people,'" the release declared.
This survey is based 56 reports from 13 countries, March 13
- April 23.
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
NORTH KOREA: "'Juche' Seminars Held Abroad"
A release from government-owned Korean Central News Agency
said (4/21): "National seminars were held in (Tanzania and
Nigeria)...on the occasion of the birth anniversary of
President Kim Il-Sung.... Yemi Oyeneye, Chairman of the
Nigerian National Committee for the study of the Juche
idea, spoke at a national seminar of the Juche idea study
organisations in Nigeria. He said that Secretary Kim Jong-
Il, with a clairvoyant scientific intelligence, leads the
revolution without any slightest deviation and plans and
pushes ahead with all work in a revolutionary, bold and big
"A Banquet For Overseas Koreans In Pyongyang"
Government-owned Korean Central News Agency (4/16) said,
"Comrade Kim Jong-Il took care that a banquet was given for
overseas Koreans on April 15, the birth anniversary of the
Great Leader President Kim Il-Sung. Kim Yong-Sun, chairman
of the Reunification Policy Committee of the Supreme
People's Assembly... said in his toast that the respected
General Kim Jong-Il arranged a grand banquet for the
overseas Koreans who have come to the homeland with deep
reverence for the president. The president's was a great
life of a legendary man, a peerlessly great leader who led
the revolution and construction to brilliant victory,
sharing weal and woe with the people through trials under
the motto, 'One is sure to win if he believes in and
depends upon the people,' Kim Yong-Sun noted."
"VOA Broadcasts--Useless Propaganda"
Official Korean Central News Agency put forth this view
(3/13): "The United States has recently begun broadcasting
'Radio Free Asia' in Korean. This is part of an ideological
and cultural infiltration to bring under control the Asian
countries that are building an independent new society free
from imperialist domination and subjugation.... The
broadcasting of the radio in Korean indicates that the
United States has not renounced its policy of antagonizing
and stifling (North Korea) and is pursuing it in a more
undisguised way.... No one can deny that South Korean
society has turned into a den of criminals under the sway
of corruption and social vices...because of the influence
of the 50-odd years of U.S. military occupation and
American 'values' and decadent culture. No matter what
false propaganda the United States may spread over 'Radio
Free Asia,' the Korean people will feel stronger wrath and
hatred for the United States and harden their confidence in
their ideology, culture and cause."
SOUTH KOREA: "Pyongyang's Double Standard"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo asserted (4/23): "North Korea made
unreasonable demands that food aid be provided first and
that the United States ease economic sanctions against it.
These demands were not resolved and the New York meeting
was postponed. This is a disappointing development.
Although the four-party talks are not entirely off, they
certainly look uncertain at this point. The North is
practicing its brinkmanship strategy again, and we must be
especially careful with its double-standard tactics....
The four-party talks should not be used as a conduit for
the North's food negotiations."
"Three-Party Meetings Pretty Much Bungled"
According to anti-establishment Hankyoreh Shinmun (4/23):
"The New York meetings ended without producing the result
we expected. Nevertheless, recognition by the North of
the need for four-party talks and its agreement in
principle to the proposal was an achievement. Another
positive development was that both Koreas are now trying to
increase contacts with each other....
"(But) the North's secretive negotiating style aggravated
the situation, making a solution more difficult. For its
part, South Korea failed to show flexibility and was only
interested in submission by the North. These limits on
both sides have long derailed efforts to find a peace
mechanism, distorting them into long, hard fights. The
result is that the South and the North are stuck in
fruitless competition. The four-party talks won't do much
for us if there is no improvement in the relationship
between the two Koreas."
"It Is Getting Too Late To Help"
An op-ed piece in anti-establishment Hankyoreh Shinmun
(4/22) queried: "What do the starving people of the North
have to do with the four-party talks? The South Korean
government has prohibited public contributions to our
Northern brethren, even though the government recently
agreed to allow civilian food aid. What is the
government's message?... Food aid with all kinds of
preconditions tagged on will only hurt the recipient's
pride.... Only food aid will demonstrate that we are
morally better positioned than the North. It may well be
the only opportunity we have to control the issue. The
government has not presented any reasonable justification
for why we should miss this opportunity."
"On Helping North Korea"
In the opinion of conservative Chosun Ilbo (4/21): "The
campaign to help North Korea is spreading. The problem is
that some are not bothering to investigate what the best
way is to help. They say 'Let's just give food,' and even
point their fingers at the government for 'blocking' the
aid effort. This kind of attitude has often caused the
North to misjudge and continue tactics that ridicule us....
We suspect that its food shortages are not as bad as have
been reported, or that it is perverse enough to ignore its
starving people. Unless the North dispels our suspicions
that food coming in from abroad will fatten its high
officials only, the campaign to help with Its food
shortages won't get the support from our public."
"Hwang Jang-yop In Seoul"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo (4/21): "Our main interest in
Hwang is the information he has on North Korea. The United
States and Japan have made direct and indirect demands that
they be allowed to participate in debriefing Hwang.... If
the United States wants information on the North, we can
always relay it to them for the sake of our solidarity.
The South Korean government would be wise to not take
advantage of Hwang's defection politically. That, however,
does not mean that things must remain secret, because the
public has a right to know the results of questioning of
"Hwang Jang-yop: Long Journey To Freedom"
Government-owned Seoul Shinmun (4/21): "The United States
and Japan have both expressed a desire to question Hwang.
Although it is natural for them to show interest in him, we
disapprove of U.S. participation in the interrogation
process.... If the United States cannot trust us, and if
that is why it wants to question Hwang, what we face here
is a need for the United States, Japan and South Korea to
build a formation exchanging mechanism that is acceptable
to all sides."
"U.S. Will Conduct Equidistant Diplomacy"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo (4/19) wondered: "How is the
United States looking at the Korea issue? At this point it
does not look as if U.S. policy will change much. With
improved prospects for talks increasingly stabilizing this
peninsula, the United States will continue to pursue its
'soft-landing' policy...(and) will try to maintain its
current level of influence over both Koreas....
"If the four-party talks show quick progress, the United
States will be in an advantageous position to conduct an
'equidistant diplomacy' toward both Koreas and will be able
to manage both sides effectively. This new development
will be a significant advantage to the United States in
terms of its regional diplomacy. Chinese influence, which
will inevitably grow in this region in the new century,
would be checked by a stabilized Korean peninsula. With a
stabilized Korea and China's influence blocked, the United
States will also be able to keep Japan inside the U.S.-
Japan security system."
"Rice First, Or Dialogue: A Tedious Battle"
According to moderate Hankook Ilbo (4/18): "North Korea
did not quite say that it would agree to the four-party
talks, nor did the April 16 New York meeting look like much
more than a 'food session' in which both sides merely
repeated their former stands. After the meeting, the chief
of the North Korean delegation stated that there was
progress, which was a positive signal. Both the United
States and South Korea stuck to their position that the
North had to come to the four-party talks before food aid
could be provided. When the meeting resumes on Friday,
the North is expected to agree to the four-party dialogue."
"North Korean Famine And Military Reduction"
In the view of independent Dong-A Ilbo (4/17): "It is
highly significant that the U.S. government raised the
issue of North Korea's need to reduce its military just
before the opening of the four-party talks. In so doing,
the United States has pointed to the core of the issue....
The presence of separate North and South military forces
consisting of over two million men poses the greatest
obstacle to the important goal of easing tension and
achieving peace on this peninsula. A reduced military
would greatly enhance the chances of reaching that goal,
and decreased military costs would be the best method to
accomplish it. The four-party talks should deal with this
issue. Meanwhile, the North should first use the food it
has stockpiled for military use to feed its starving
"'Trust' Emerges As The Main Issue Of The Four-Party Talks"
Anti-establishment Hankyoreh Shinmun commented (4/17):
"Reducing military costs is likely to become one of the
main topics at the four-party talks. Indeed, it is
especially important in terms of restoring trust toward
each other.... In addition to easing tensions on this
peninsula, the North's agreeing to take actions to help
restore trust would greatly enhance the environment for
food aid as well as economic cooperation."
"North Korea Should Solve its Food Problem With Military
Moderate Hankook Ilbo opined (4/17): "When the State
Department urged North Korea to cut down the size of its
military, the United States finally saw the North Korea
issue in a realistic way.... The United States' dialogue
with North Korea increases our leverage over the North.
>From now on, all efforts connected with food aid and the
opening of dialogue channels should be geared toward
having the North reduce its military."
"Crisis Management Plan Needed For North Korea"
Pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo cautioned (4/14): "With
several high-ranking U.S. officials, including Vice
President Al Gore, agreeing about the possibility of the
North's early collapse, it seems that the U.S. intelligence
and security communities share similar views. Plans--
ranging from how to deal with North Korean refugees to an
entire crisis management blueprint dealing with a collapse
situation--should already be in place. We must bear in
mind that the possibility of military provocation remains
high.... Ways to prevent our Northern brethren from
starving must be prepared."
"How Can We Verify The North's Food Shortages?"
Government-owned Seoul Shinmun declared (4/14)
editorialized that "Our problem is that the shortages have
never been proven and we do not have means to confirm how
bad the situation really is. This confusion has been
further aggravated by a new theory that the North may
pursue war even if food is coming in from abroad.... As a
result of food shortages, the North indeed could either be
simply too hungry to wage war or be forced to provoke a
crisis. Without having the means at this point to confirm
any of the allegations, how the situation is read depends
entirely on how one looks at it."
JAPAN: "Dealing With North Korea Requires Patience"
Conservative Sankei had this to say (4/23): "Diplomatic
moves over North Korea have become hurried and pointless.
Although international relief including food aid for
Pyongyang is flowing because of the reports that North
Korea is on the brink of starvation, preliminary talks in
New York between North Korea, the United States and South
Korea on four-party peace negotiations have fallen through
"North Korea is hinting it will not attend the four-party
talks if it does not receive additional food from the
United States and South Korea. Although Pyongyang says it
is on the verge of starvation, its negotiating stance is
far from desperate.... From the beginning, North Korea has
always been more eager to establish direct links with the
United States and less than enthusiastic about four-party
talks for a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. Even if
the United States and South Korea 'force' an 'unwilling'
North Korea to participate in the four-party talks, nothing
positive can be expected from such talks. Only when the
North decides it needs to secure international food aid by
whatever means possible will Pyongyang be ready to
compromise and accept the peace talks. There is no need to
"North Korea Should Promote Dialogue In A Positive Manner"
Liberal Mainichi opined (4/21): "North Korean Workers'
Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop's arrival in the South
Korean capital after two months of diplomatic bargaining
showed the complexities of the international politics
between South and North Korea.... Hwang warned of the
danger of the North launching a war on the Korean
peninsula. Pyongyang may react strongly to Hwang's
statement.... We believe that the Hwang defection case
should no longer be used as an excuse to intensify the
confrontation between the two Koreas.... The real
objective should be direct dialogue through which peace can
be restored and the Korean peninsula reunified. Nothing
can be resolved until the two countries sit down together
and start talking. The United States is beginning to
become irritated with North Korea's slow and indecisive
response to U.S. and South Korean calls to attend four-
party talks on peace on the Korean peninsula. In Japan,
concern is growing over alleged North Korean abduction of
Japanese citizens. North Korea should put its own house in
order quickly, and engage in dialogue with these countries
in order to settle pending issues in a positive manner."
"Japan Should Clarify Its Position Over Food Aid For North
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri (4/16) held, "North Korea
needs foreign food aid. This is obvious from film clips
and other reports of the food crisis that country faces.
Nevertheless, most Japanese find it difficult to respond so
easily to appeals from the North for food aid. Suspicions
surfaced earlier this year that North Korea had a hand in
the abduction of a Japanese junior high schoolgirl, who
disappeared in Niigata 20 years ago. Six similar cases
remain unaccounted for.... Another matter of concern is
the report, confirmed by the Foreign Ministry, that Rodong-
1 missiles have been re-deployed. The missiles could pose
a serious threat to peace and stability in East Asia.
Doubts remain whether international food aid reaches North
"Pyongyang must respond in good faith to allay suspicions
about its past deeds.... Working closely with the United
States and South Korea, the Japanese government should
reiterate its basic policy toward North Korea and carefully
consider steps to be taken in this matter."
"Japan Should Give Food To Neighbor In Need"
Liberal Mainichi said (4/9), "Sooner or later, Japan will
be asked to give food aid, too. Japan should then express
its willingness to give food aid to a neighbor in need. At
the same time, Japan should urge Pyongyang not to develop
missiles capable of attacking Japan and request that North
Korea explain the circumstances of the alleged abduction of
a Japanese schoolgirl (about 20 years ago)."
"Food Aid For 'Kidnapper' State Unnecessary"
Conservative Sankei published this analysis (3/14):
"Suspicion has grown that North Korea ordered the abduction
of a Japanese junior high school girl from Niigata 20 years
ago.... Japan should not follow the lead of the United
States and South Korea, which have contributed 10 million
dollars and 6 million dollars respectively to the World
Food Program (for North Korea). Neither should it
participate in talks to determine Japan's share of
financial aid for KEDO.... Needless to say, it is
strategically important to maintain stability on the Korean
peninsula. But there is no need to give humanitarian aid
to North Korea, an inhumane state which continues to refuse
the release of those kidnapped by North Korean agents."
AUSTRALIA: "Potential War In Korea Rattles The U.S"
An op-ed piece in the liberal Canberra Times (4/15): "The
U.S. forces in the Far East are not a safeguard against
aggression, but an instrument of blackmail in the hands of
the North Koreans, who are demanding ever larger amounts of
food aid from the United States and Japan because they
know that in the last resort neither dare refuse.... The
strategic dilemma in which the United States finds itself
is acute. The lack of a secure defense against missile
attack renders its forces, notwithstanding their otherwise
high level of technological sophistication, impotent in the
face of the possibility of a regional war in north-east
PHILIPPINES: "Koreas: Potential Tinderbox"
The independent Manila Standard (4/22) said, "It is hoped
that the two Koreas would finally close the books on the
1950-53 Korean War by replacing the shaky armistice with a
more enduring peace treaty. The world should hope that the
North Korean leaders would see the wisdom of joining the
four-party talks. Negotiations could stave off the
impending famine, ease tensions and make possible the idea
of a united Korea. An escalation of mass hunger and
desperation could prompt a proud and defiant Pyongyang to
engages the South rashly in a show of force. The starving
masses, unrestrained by government troops, could pour into
South Korea in huge numbers.... The Korean peninsula is a
tinderbox that has the potential to cause grave destruction
The independent Manila Times judged (4/17): "A big part of
North Korea's economic and financial crisis should be laid
at the doorstep of the one million-strong armed forces....
This bloc, admittedly, gets the best accommodations, food
and clothing, even while the rest of the country is
famished.... But peace talks should be treated separately
from what is clearly a humanitarian issue. The World Food
Program has a proven record of ensuring that food donations
reach their intended recipients."
"The Philippines And The Two Koreas"
The independent Manila Standard said this in an editorial
(4/4): "Part of the reason President Ramos agreed to have
(North Korean defector) Hwang Jang-yop...stay longer in the
Philippines is to help reduce tensions on the Korean
peninsula and help bring about a reconciliation of the
Korean people in the two countries.... A reunification of
the two nations would be costly to South Korea in the short
run, but would, looking down the road, help promote
development and stability on the peninsula and the region."
Antonio Abaya had this to say in the conservative, second
largest circulation Philippine Star (3/22): "Hwang Jang-
yop...is a major catch for South Korea because he was a
leading figure in the reclusive regime of the late...Kim Il
Sung. He was...the chief architect of the hermit kingdom's
national ideology of 'Juche,' or 'Self Reliance,' which is
now being stood on its head as North Korea faces widespread
starvation following two years of devastating floods....
The main Filipino admirers of Hwang's Juche...should be
given the opportunity to interact with Hwang and hear from
no less than the architect of Juche why it failed."
"Philippines Plays 'Third Man' In Two Koreas' Squabble"
Former ambassador Oscar S. Villadolid had this to say in
the independent Manila Standard (3/19): "There is a
dangerous catch to the...dangerous diplomatic game the
Philippines has decided to play. Allowing Hwang a 'transit
point' (in the Philippines) as requested by Beijing and
South Korea would ensure his departure from China, and this
may earn for the Philippines a lifetime of enmity, if not
hatred, from the unpredictable communist overlords in
Pyongyang. With its huge armed forces...and modern
weaponry to boot, its displeasure toward us may eventually
translate into numerous clandestine arms shipments to the
remaining insurgents in our country."
THAILAND: "North Korea Risks Its Own Survival"
The lead editorial of top-circulation, moderately
conservative Bangkok Post commented (4/21): "North Korea's
decision to renege on its own promise (by refusing to show
up for three-way talks with the United States and South
Korea in New York) once again can only be viewed with
worry and even some alarm. As long as the Pyongyang
regime refuses to join peace talks, its decision is
effectively to continue to refuse any search for peace.
This can only be taken as a distressing sign that North
Korea intends to continue its secretive activities. These
are, in essence, aimed at destabilizing both the Korean
peninsula and all of East Asia.... North Korea has two
honorable courses, and if it expects respect from the
world it must choose one of them, quickly. The first is to
accept the U.S.-South Korea offer of peace talks, including
China.... The second acceptable choice is for North Korea
to reject the U.S.-South Korean offer and make one of its
own. Such an offer must address security issues, including
the fears among many of North Korea's neighbors that it
intends to renew war. It must also include hard decisions
about Pyongyang's secretive but known attempts to build
nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.... A North
Korean decision to negotiate will be well received, and
Pyongyang knows this. Similarly, North Korea must know it
will receive no reward for continuing to be recalcitrant.
Each time Pyongyang backs down on one of its promises, it
increases the tension and threat of violence. North Korea
can become respectable if it negotiates. By continuing to
delay, it is only risking its own survival."
"North Korea: How Hungry Is It For Peace?'
The independent, English-language Nation editorialized
(4/18), "The history of Korean negotiations suggests that
any diplomatic gains will not come easy.
"Despite their reservations, the U.S.-led allies must
persist in using the opportunity presented by the crisis
in North Korea to search for a solution. Much is at stake
and not only from the threat of famine to North Korea's 22
million people. Successful talks including China, South
Korea, the United States and North Korea could finally end
the technical war that has divided the peninsula for four
decades and replace the long-standing armistice with a
peace treaty. It is in nobody's interest to let North
Korea implode, unleashing instability, massive refugee
flows and unpredictable reactions from Pyongyang....
There is no doubt about the self-serving nature of
Pyongyang's regime and the huge gap in trust that needs to
be bridged before real progress can be made. The West, led
by the United States, is slowly making those steps with
increased offers of aid. It could move further by
proposing a comprehensive deal in which it would promise
guaranteed food aid and an easing of U.S. trade sanctions.
But in return, Pyongyang must commit itself to redeploying
the massive assortment of troops and arms along the
border, and begin doing it quickly."
"U.S. And Asia"
Tosapon Kraipan commented in elite Siam Post (4/12): "The
United States is now utilizing all means at its disposal
to persuade North Korea to enter into peace negotiations
with South Korea... If North Korea complies, leading to
the signing of a peace treaty, unification of the two
Koreas may be possible. Pyongyang will not be able to
resist the strain the famine (and mismanagement) have
brought on the regime for too long. It will eventually be
forced to abandon socialism and to embrace democracy....
When that day comes, North Korea will not be different from
today's Russia, which is forced by circumstances to
unconditionally follow the U.S.s' every lead... Then, the
United States could divert its attention to seriously
negotiating with China on the issues of Taiwan, human
rights and freedom of Hong Kong residents. If this
scenario works out accordingly, it would not be difficult
for the United States to take total and undisputable
control of Asia."
"Warning Shots From North Korea"
Elite Siam Post's Tosapon Kraipan commented (4/11), "North
Korean troops' exchanging of warning shots with their South
Korean rivals at the demilitarized zone shortly before U.S.
Defense Secretary William Cohen flew to the area...was
intended to be seen as a challenge to both the United
States and South Korea.... (But) North Korea is not
currently in the position to challenge anyone.... It may
be oblivious to the fact that, by acting this way, it has
played into the hands of its adversaries. First, U.S.-
South Korean ties, military and otherwise, will be
strengthened. Second, the United States will have an
excuse not to withdraw its troops from the Korean peninsula
and North Korea will continue to be branded as a confirmed
pariah and ostracized."
BRITAIN: "Keep Talking To North Korea"
The independent weekly Economist told its readers in an
editorial (4/18): "Some countries are hard to help. North
Korea is about the hardest of all. Its usually secretive
regime has admitted that some children have died from
malnutrition. Yet even as North Korea extends its begging
bowl, it continues to bite the hands trying to feed its
hungry people.... So what to make of North Korea's
expected 'yes' to a joint American-South Korean proposal
for four-way peace talks...that could ease tensions at one
of the world's most dangerous frontiers? Hope for the
best, but prepare for the worst. Indeed, the biggest worry
is that it may already be too late to prop up North Korea.
By all means, hope for a 'soft landing' for its crumpling
economy. But be prepared for a crash."
"North Korea Starves"
In the judgment of the liberal Guardian (4/16): "There are
strategic arguments for keeping food and the peace talks
linked, but it would be unwise only to dole out the bare
minimum. This is a humanitarian issue and there is no
reason why the people of North Korea should be punished for
living under a fantasy cult regime. Nor is the strategy a
sound one: None of North Korea's neighbors--least of all
South Korea--wants the country to implode. A collapse of
the regime would produce a huge refugee problem, and
possibly internal strife as well--perhaps even a last-
breath military provocation. Much better to feed the
generals and the people, and give the solution time to
"Chinese See Piles Of Dead Children In North Korea"
Under the above headline, the conservative Times ran this
report from its China correspondent in Dandong, on the
North Korean border (3/18): "Chinese truck drivers
ferrying grain supplies to North Korea say they have seen
corpses of children lying abandoned, and describe scenes of
hunger and deprivation in the world's last Stalinist
state.... Analysts predict that North Korea could collapse
in two years, with chaos similar to that in Albania,
another state in the Stalinist mode."
GERMANY: "Helpless, Unpredictable Pyongyang Plays A
Gebhard Hielbscher maintained in an editorial in centrist
Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/23): "The failure of the
talks in New York again demonstrated how unpredictable and
dangerous the regime in Pyongyang still is. As long as
North Korea refuses an open dialogue, we must assume that
it does not accept South Korea as a partner of detente.
Obviously, Pyongyang continues to see Seoul as an opponent
that needs to be outmaneuvered and possibly eliminated.
Thus the danger remains that the North could risk a new
war--be it because Kim Jong-Il or his military leaders feel
they are being backed up against the wall, or because they
overestimate their own forces. South Korea and its allies
must always be prepared for such danger. U.S. satellite
pictures showing that North Korea has deployed medium-range
missiles underscore this threat. It would be irresponsible
behavior to dismiss such moves as a red herring.
"We can only speculate about the reasons for the
cancellation of the talks.... But because of North Korean
defector Hwang Jang-yop, Seoul and Washington now have a
better picture of the situation in North Korea.... It is
much more important to learn how seriously Kim Jong-il and
his generals take the current food crisis. The breakdown
of the New York talks gives reason to assume that Pyongyang
believes to have more latitude than pictures of downtrodden
people offer. If it is clear that considerable parts of
foreign food aid lands in army depots or with leadership
cadres, the donor countries should insist on supervising
the distribution of food, since the suffering of the
people would than only be prolonged."
RUSSIA: "China May Follow Japan's Path"
Reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti's (# 16, 4/22) ran
this comment by Lev Prichinin: "Only very naive people
might think that the United States, Japan and South Korea
have been forging stronger strategic ties among themselves
with the sole purpose of fending off Communist North Korea.
Rather, they are preparing for a cold war in the Pacific,
with China--still (a Communist) 'people's,' republic, but
with its economy growing fast--ready to attack new markets.
There is no guarantee that the Chinese will not follow the
path of Japanese economic expansion, in a way that might
pale anything the Americans and the Japanese have seen....
Russia and China may not be allies, but, having similar
geopolitical concerns, they can hardly be enemies either."
"Wars Come And Go, U.S. Interests Remain"
Ivan Shomov contended in reformist Segodnya (4/8): "The
United States' strong objections to the proposed sales of
Russian rocket complexes to South Korea are strictly
political, and serve the interests of U.S. arms
manufacturers, which have dominated that region for
decades. The same is true of Defense Secretary Cohen's
statement that Washington intends to keep its forward-base
forces in East Asia even after a full peaceful settlement
is reached on the Korean peninsula.... Hearing that, you
can't agree more with a prominent politician who once said
that wars, cold or hot, come and go, but U.S. interests
BELGIUM: "Weighing Food Aid To North Korea"
Independent Le Soir's Pierre Lefevre observed (4/9):
"Food assistance to North Korea has, more than elsewhere, a
political dimension.... Donor countries--the United
States, Japan and South Korea among others--are carefully
weighing the tons of rice they are allow for delivery to
Pyongyang, as much according to the country's overtures and
political evolution as to its shortage of food. Beyond
humanitarian considerations, they are seeking to prevent
the implosion of North Korea....
"Paradoxically, South Korea is the more reserved.... It is
not very popular in South Korea to be generous toward an
ungrateful regime which ignores, despises and refuses to
recognize the sister country.... (South Korea's) fingers
have been burned by Pyongyang's attempts to acquire nuclear
weapons. Fearing (North Korea's) capacity in the field of
arms proliferation and caring about regional stability, the
United States shows more flexibility. On one hand, it is
providing assistance and talks to Kim Jong-Il's regime. On
the other, it is trying to lead Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing
into a policy of regional stabilization and integration of
North Korea. With some success."
DENMARK: "Aid Will Be Worth Twice As Much"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende had this perspective
(4/21): "South Korea promised to lend more emergency aid
to North Korea over the weekend and in the United States, a
government spokesmen indicated that North Korea, South
Korea, China and the United States will shortly initiate
peace negotiations. These developments indicate that the
situation in North Korea is worsening. Massive floods
three summers in a row and the general economic collapse of
the Stalinist state have led to severe food shortages....
There is simply not enough to sustain life and the death
toll will explode during the course of the spring if
massive humanitarian aid is not provided.... This is why
both South Korea and the United States have promised to
increase their support without demanding any political
concessions as previously.... If aid is provided quickly,
it will be worth twice as much in the long run and it will
make it difficult for the North Koreans to maintain their
Cold War stance."
INDIA: "Forces In Asia: Pentagon Creates Confusion"
This analysis by Tokyo correspondent F. J. Khergamvala
appeared in the centrist Hindu (4/14): "Defense Secretary
William Cohen, and the soon-to-retire Chief of the Joint
Services, General John Shalikashvili, have just ended back-
to-back visits to Japan and South Korea....
Cohen...announced that even if the two Koreas were to
unite, U.S. forces would retain their present strength in
Japan and South Korea 'into the indefinite future.'...
This is the first time a top U.S. official has linked the
future presence of U.S. forces to a particular
eventuality.... Within two days, General Shalikashvili
said in Tokyo that, should there be a change on the Korean
peninsula, 'we would make the right adjustments' after
consultation with allies....
"The Pentagon seems to be trying to juggle several balls at
one time, including constituencies back home.... On the
other hand, Cohen also sought to reassure Southeast Asian
nations who feel that the United States--and only the
United States--with Japan in a subsidiary role, can play
the role of the regional gendarme."
"North Korean Defector"
This analysis appeared in the centrist Times of India
(3/20): "While Hwang is potentially a priceless
intelligence asset, South Korea will need to clear up one
other mystery first: is there any likelihood that Hwang is
in fact a double agent, told to defect in order to spread
disinformation about North Korea's true intentions?...
This question will be difficult to answer; North Korea's
angry reactions could have been rehearsed. The reactions
would have been the same whether Hwang was a real defector
or a planned deception. The South Koreans are certain to
ARGENTINA: "Parallel Tragedies"
Pro-government La Prensa told its readers (3/21): "The
food crisis in North Korea and the financial disaster
which led Albania to anarchy are different expressions of
the same evil.... The North Korean and Albanian crises are
the result, in different stages and according to local
characteristics, of the unique aspect shared by the
Communist regimes of Pyongyang and Tirana--isolation.
Schismatic in the communist world since the end of the 50s,
Albania--under the ruthless tyranny of Enver Hoxja--closed
its doors to the foreign world in a process that turned it
into the poorest country in Europe and moved it back to the
pre-history of the modern economy. Shortly before, North
Korea had also become a fortress-island of communist
puritanism and imposed a 'Self-Reliance' ('Juche') policy,
whose mentor--supreme ideologist Hwang Jang-yop, who drove
his country to famine as a consequence of his ideas--has
recently deserted to capitalist South Korea. At 74, he
appears to feel sorry for his unfortunate concepts which
have affected 24 million Koreans who, unlike him, do not
have the same privilege of abandoning their oppressive
"Albania is the 'sui generis' prologue of the future that
awaits North Korea. When the famous fences of the 38th
parallel collapse--as (such barriers) did in Eastern Europe
at one point--trampled down by a population tired of
spiritual and material deprivation, the thousands of
refugees who cross the Adriatic will be but shadows of the
migratory movements that will take place in the Korean
peninsula. And here lies the difference that makes North
Korea a victim with some kind of 'advantage.' It has, like
East Germany had in West Germany, a sister nation in South
Korea, to assist with funds and experience. There is no
West or South Albania that can assist it in the painful
transition from proto-communism to a market economy. This
is clearly evident."
For more information, please contact:
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Telephone: (202) 619-4355
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