Source: voice of america
Type=world opinion roundup
Title=early reaction to north korean defections
Byline=andrew n. guthrie

Intro: there has already been a good deal of comment, including some speculation, about the defection to the United States of the North Korean ambassador to Egypt and his brother, a trade official stationed in Paris.

Some newspapers are also noting how the defections quickly caused the north Koreans to cancel previously planned talks with the United States about Pyongyang's missile sales abroad. The talks were set to resume in New York Wednesday.

For the first-appearing foreign comments on these latest developments, we call on ________________for this week's world opinion roundup.

Text: the North Korean government reacted quickly and angrily to the defection of one of its key diplomats in the middle east, Jang Sung-gil, Pyongyang's ambassador to Egypt. North Korea canceled previously scheduled talks with the United States in New York, regarding its sale of missile technology abroad.

It is believed the ambassador may have information regarding North Korea's sale of scud missile technology to Egypt and other middle eastern nations.

Mr. Jang's brother, Jang Sung-ho, a trade official at the North Korean embassy in Paris, also defected, along with the families of both men. They were secretly flown to the united states last weekend. The two diplomats are now in US custody, awaiting the possibility of political asylum, and presumably being questioned by US intelligence officials.

For its part, North Korea says both men are criminals and were engaged in illegal activities under cover of their diplomatic jobs and it has demanded their return.

The rapid cancellation of the missile sale talks came only hours after a state department spokesman in Washington had said the United States did not think the defections would affect the talks. There is now speculation that separate negotiations regarding a peace treaty to formally end the Korean war may also be put on hold.

For an idea of world reaction to all this, we go first to Seoul, where the papers were full of comment. Here's part of what "Dong-a Ilbo" had to say.

Voice: "It is fortunate that ambassador Jang and his family are safely in the United States and have filed for asylum there. What should now be done is to investigate as quickly as possible and let the defectors settle where they want. All this should be dealt with very carefully so relations with North Korea do not get tense. While US State Department spokesman James Rubin says it is too early for (south) Korea to contact the defectors, we view it differently: it is extremely important for us to verify what the defectors want ..... all information on North Korea's missile exports coming from Ambassador Jang's investigation must be shared with the Seoul government. The United States should allow (South Korea) to join the investigation."

Text: Turning now to another one of South Korea's major dailies, "Chosun Ilbo," there was this reaction:

Voice:"By canceling the New York missile talks, North Korea expressed its displeasure over Ambassador Jang's defection. The second session of the preliminary four-party talks [about a Korean war peace treaty] may be similarly affected. Nevertheless, it is too early to conclude that US-(North Korean) relations will also suffer."


Text: And in one other reaction, the business-oriented "Joong-ang Ilbo" concluded:

Voice: "The United States moved swiftly to grant Ambassador Jang asylum (sic) [editors note: this is wrong , they have been given the temporary status of "protected" or "parole," while they're awaiting asylum....] because it figured it would benefit more by doing so. The information on North Korea's missile capacity will be of the greatest benefit, while anything about the North's missile exports to the middle east will also be invaluable. Tips on the relationship between the North's foreign service and the military will also be of interest."

[end opt]

Text: Turning to the region's biggest economic power, Japan, we tune in to Tokyo's "Mainichi," which applauds how Washington handled this with North Korea.

Voice: "As soon as the United States decided to grant the North Korean diplomat and his wife political asylum, it told North Korea that (the diplomats) defected to the united states of their own free will. .... the United States made a move to 'respect' North Korean honor and so that Pyongyang would not misjudge the situation.' ..... if North Korea aggravates relations with the United States and other countries, thus heightening the tension on the Korean peninsula, (North Korea) will lose much more than it gains."

Text: we begin sounding out European reaction in Germany, where Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" comments:

Voice: "The defection of two top North Korean diplomats and their families is as delicate as the fact that they defected to the United States - - of all nations - - since North Korea has considered the United States its arch-enemy since ..... 1949 ..... The loss of face of the regime in Pyongyang becomes even greater because of the fact that the older brother of North Korea's Ambassador to Cairo has defected together with Jang. But the biggest domestic policy damage for Pyongyang is the defection of Choi Hae Ok, since the spouse of the ambassador is one of the most popular actors [should this be: "actresses" ed] in North Korea .... but north Korea, too, has now greatly disappointed the Americans. It used the defection to suspend missile talks with the United States."

Text: For an idea of how this is being received in Britain, we check in with "The Times" of London, which writes:

Voice: "Pyongyang gets away with conduct that would not be tolerated in others for one reason - - the threat this unpredictable regime poses to security in Asia. US policy is dominated by two fears - - of a nuclear-armed North Korea and of an Armageddon staged by rulers who, sensing their grip on power weakened by domestic disaster, could plunge the peninsula into war. North Korea understands this perfectly and tweaks u-s and south korean nerves. ..... Washington must hope that Mr. Jang can help it check the ballistic missiles program as well; for it is these weapons above all that make North Korea the most dangerous country on earth."


Text: One Russian daily, "Nezavisimaya Gaseta" in Noscow ran this commentary on the front page, and came up with a unique angle to the whole affair.

Voice: "The man's being privy to details concerning the supplies of North Korean rocket installations to Iran, Syria and other arab countries is what must have interested the Americans in the first place. It is remarkable how the question of high-technology transfer to arab states has often been hyped of late. ....Tel Aviv, apparently, will remind Washington of the millions of arabs eager for a new war with Israel, hoping to beat the Americans out of more money for its [Israel's] military programs."

[end opt]

Text: In Italy, the business oriented daily "Il Sole-24 Ore" in Milan sees a threat to the cooperation on nuclear power between the united states and North Korea.

Voice: "If the detente process which is currently underway between Pyongyang and Washington fails, that may mean the suspension of the construction of two nuclear light-water reactors in North Korea which was begun last week by a group of western companies in exchange for North Korea's promise to close the reactors currently in use, whose waste could be used to build nuclear weapons."

Text: For a sense of how the defections and the meeting cancellation was greeted here in North America, we quote from Canadian foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis in today's "Ottawa Sun."

Voice: "The .... defection of NNrth Korea's ambassador to Egypt is another tantalizing sign that the mysterious Stalinist regime in Pyongyang may be beginning to unravel .... while almost everything about North Korea is strange, nothing is odder than the Clinton administration's policy toward this 'rogue regime...' President Bill Clinton has responded to North Korea's game of nuclear-chemical-biological chicken by appeasement worthy of Munich ..... incredibly, the Clinton administration is giving North Korea two nuclear reactors .... equally daft, the United States and South Korea are shipping food to 'starving' North Koreans, while Kim Jong-il's well-fed armed forces, secret police, communist party officials and two million bureaucrats have ample food .... why reward North Korea for threatening neighbors and developing weapons of mass destruction, while razing Iraq to the ground for doing the same thing?"

Text: On that oppositional note, we conclude this brief sampling of early comment on the defection of two ranking North Korean diplomats to the United States, and the subsequent cancellation of two-party talks on North Korean missile sales abroad.


28-aug-97 4:42 pm edt (2042 utc)


Source: voice of america