TSUEN WAN COMMUNIQUE

28 10 2009

HK Conference_Suh Bo-hyukTsuen Wan, Hong Kong, 23 October 2009.

International Consultation on Peace, Reconciliation and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Towards an Ecumenical Vision beyond the Tozanso Process

1.    One hundred and thirty-seven church leaders from across the world have today recommitted the ecumenical community to the goal of Peace, Reconciliation and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

2.     Marking the 25th anniversary of the Consultation convened by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches  and by the Christian Conference of Asia held in Tozanso, Japan in 1984 – the first ecumenical gathering to take steps towards the peaceful reunification of the divided Korean peninsula – the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia brought together church leaders and participants from the two Koreas and from across the world in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, 21-23 October 2009. The Tsuen Wan Consultation included presentations from the churches of North and South Korea, a keynote address from WCC general secretary Rev Dr Sam Kobia, an overview of developments over the past 25 years, input from political analysts, a joint celebration of the Eucharist led by North and South Korean church leaders, and engaged in worship, Bible study and prayers for God’s guidance and inspiration towards the goal of peaceful reunification.

3.     The healing and reconciling spirit of the Tozanso process was affirmed by participants throughout the Tsuen Wan Consultation. They recalled the 1989 WCC policy statement on “Peace and the Reunification of Korea”. This statement commenced by referring to the WCC 1983 “Statement on Peace and Justice” and then went on:

“The yearning for peace, justice and unity converges most poignantly and in a unique manner in the case of Korea. The Korean people have been divided by foreign forces, and remain divided by force and have been submitted to coercive systems of control which perpetuate this division and are justified by it. Opposing conceptions of justice have been created and systematized in Korea, where “security” imposes a continual state of confrontation. A so-called “peace” is maintained at the cost of the largest concentration of military force in the world.” (1989 WCC Statement)

4.     The Consultation recognised the many positive developments since Tozanso, including:
•    opportunities for visits by Christian leaders to North Korea and for North Korean Christian leaders to visit other countries, especially the opportunity for North and South Korean church leaders to meet and to gain in understanding and trusting each other;
•    the governments of North and South Korea committing to a process towards reunification in the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration (2000), and in the October 4 Declaration (2007) which further spelt out the steps towards reunification;
•    increasing contact between the people and the governments of North and South Korea through people to people exchanges, family reunions, tourist visits, the sharing of resources and economic cooperation;
•    growing understanding and trust between North and South Korea.

5.     However, in recent years difficulties have emerged which have challenged the process towards reunification. These difficulties include:
•    hostility towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the part of other countries, especially from the USA and also from Japan, leading to even greater reliance on military power and military threats;
•    the change of government in South Korea in February 2008 which brought a sharp change in outlook and policies towards North Korea;
•    the cessation of tourism into the North and the downturn in economic co-operation…

See the full text of TSUEN WAN COMMUNIQUE here…

See the video clip of Rev. Kang Yong-seop (Head of NK Delegation) speaking here…

 





Voyage hors du temps en Corée du Nord

20 10 2009

Ryugyong_memorialPar Arnaud de la Grange, envoyé spécial à Pyongyang, (Le Figaro 20/10/2009)

Parcourir la campagne nord-coréenne, c’est un peu se promener dans un tableau de Poussin, où la paysannerie du XVIIe siècle s’affaire paisiblement à récolter le blé ou le raisin. Sur le vert tendre des rizières ou le brun grillé des champs de maïs passent des silhouettes de femmes portant sur le dos des sortes de hottes formées d’un cadre de bois triangulaire, que, même à Pyongyang, l’on vous montre dans les musées. En 2009, dans ce bout d’Asie de l’Est communiste, on repique le riz à la main, la bête de travail est un luxe, le tracteur un rêve. Dans les provinces traversées lors de deux incursions vers l’Ouest et le Sud, toutefois, les champs sont bien entretenus et les villages en apparence guère plus misérables que dans bien des pays de la région.

La règle de ce voyage dans le pays le plus fermé de la planète – se fondre dans le paysage comme l’un des rares touristes le visitant – impose bien sûr une vision singulièrement tronquée d’une Corée du Nord où la propagande est érigée au rang de discipline artistique. On ne voit que ce que l’on vous montre, et ce que l’on peut glaner dans les interstices. Pyongyang, cette fois, donne plutôt l’impression d’un voyage à Sofia ou à Minsk dans les années 1950. Les bâtiments, le tramway, les boutiques en sous-sol des immeubles, tout sent les grandes heures de l’économie planifiée. Pour autant, ce n’est pas cette image caricaturale d’une ville où des hordes de citadins efflanqués et déprimés hantent de grises rues. Au contraire, il se dégage de la «ville des saules» une étonnante impression de calme, avec un air dont les rares voitures ne suffisent à altérer la pureté, de vastes avenues arborées et des rues où les seules agressions publicitaires sont les fresques à la gloire du régime. On y croise des cadres en costume, des femmes à la rassurante et universelle coquetterie, des couples qui flirtent dans les parcs ou le long des rives du fleuve Taedong. Bien sûr, Pyongyang est une vitrine, et les carreaux sont plus sales dans les bourgades de province, voire dans les rues excentrées de la capitale. Et il y a aussi ces longues files de citadins fatigués attendant des bus asthéniques, ces vieilles dames courbées sous le poids d’un sac de toile contenant tous leurs trésors…

…La Chine, avec qui se font plus des trois quarts du commerce, reste bien le poumon du pays. C’est pour cela qu’il y a dix jours, le «Cher Leader» est venu lui-même à l’aéroport accueillir le premier ministre chinois, Wen Jiabao, avant de tenir en sa présence des propos plus conciliants sur le nucléaire. Les Chinois avaient été passablement irrités des dernières frasques atomiques d’un protégé, qui risquaient de leur faire perdre la face. Sous peine de voir la perfusion chinoise s’étrangler, Kim Jong-il devait donner des gages. D’autant que l’hiver approche, avec de cruels besoins en pétrole ou nourriture. Régi depuis quinze ans par des cycles de tensions suivis de laborieuses tractations, le grand jeu diplomatique autour de la Corée du Nord est aussi une affaire de saisons.

See the full text of this article here…

See more photos by Arnaud De La Grange here…





SKorea, Vietnam presidents to meet after war controversy

19 10 2009

Lee Myung-Bak_Nguyen Minh Trietby Ian Timberlake (AFP, 18 Oct. 2009)

(HANOI) – The leaders of South Korea and Vietnam will meet this week to boost ties and sign a raft of economic deals after a recent hiccup in relations over the Vietnam War, officials said.  President Lee Myung-Bak and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet plan to sign a package of deals and upgrade to a “strategic cooperative” relationship, Vietnam’s ambassador to Seoul told Yonhap news agency.

But while noting that relations have warmed quickly since normalisation of ties in 1992, Pham Tien Van asked Seoul not to repeat a recent “mistake” related to the Vietnam War. “If South Korea beautifies its participation in the Vietnam War, it would be an act harming the feelings of Vietnamese people and rubbing salt into their wounds,” he said, according to Yonhap.  South Korea sent 300,000 troops to fight alongside the United States during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975 with the country’s reunification.

South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said last month it would push for legislation to give economic compensation and other benefits to Vietnam War veterans, saying they “worked for world peace,” Yonhap reported. According to diplomatic sources cited by Yonhap, Vietnam’s uneasiness over the proposed legislation led Seoul’s foreign minister, Yu Myung-Hwan, to make a rushed trip to Hanoi. But the issue has now been resolved, the Vietnamese ambassador told Yonhap.

Leonid Petrov, a lecturer in Korean studies at the University of Sydney, said although the wording of such legislation may sound offensive to Vietnam he did not think it would lead to lasting damage.  “I believe that this issue can be resolved easily through diplomatic cooperation and economic partnership,” he said. […] The two nations signed a joint declaration two years ago to widen bilateral ties, Petrov said, and South Korea is communist Vietnam’s third-largest foreign investor this year, according to official figures from Hanoi.

Preparations for Lee’s visit came as a group of North Korean asylum seekers remained under a tent in the grounds of the Danish embassy in Hanoi. A Vietnamese diplomatic source said last week that the North Koreans could leave the compound within days, meaning their departure could come while Lee is in Hanoi, but Seoul declined to comment when asked about such a scenario. The nine asylum seekers entered the embassy compound on September 24 hoping to reach South Korea, Kim Sang-Hun, an activist who said his group helped the escapers reach the embassy, told AFP earlier.

Petrov said he was sure the case would be resolved without damaging Vietnam’s bilateral relations with either North or South Korea.  While Vietnam has major business links with the South, it sees poverty-stricken communist North Korea as an ideological ally. Petrov said Vietnam could potentially play a major role in bringing the two Koreas closer, by demonstrating its own example of national unification and reconciliation and by showing the North a good role model for economic reform and “democratisation.”

Vietnam has a booming market economy. It remains a one-party state but its parliament has in recent years become more vocal over the country’s major problems such as corruption. “By building strong political and economic links with South Korea, Vietnam… proves that peace and cooperation between the societies based on seemingly different socio-economic models is possible and beneficial,” Petrov said.

See the full text of this article here…





Next move on North Korea up to US

14 10 2009

SK news on NK milssileSunny Lee, (The National 13 Oct. 2009)

BEIJING // Even though the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, returned from Pyongyang last week and called on his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to seize the opportunity to engage North Korea on its nuclear programme, analysts believe the next significant move must be made by the United States.

The Obama administration, however, has become pessimistic about the prospect of renewed talks and its “fatigue” from dealing with the intractable nation for years with few results is holding Washington from moving more decisively, even after it officially announced a policy shift in which it would sit down one-on-one with the North Koreans to resolve the nuclear stalemate. North Korea has repeatedly taken the initiative in the protracted negotiations, pulling out from the non-proliferation treaty and boycotting the six-party talks that were aimed at dampening its nuclear ambitions.

During Mr Wen’s visit to Pyongyang last week, North Korea appeared to have passed the ball back to the United States. Kim Jong Il, the leader, said the North “is willing to attend multilateral talks, including the six-party talks, depending on the progress in its talks with the United States”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported… “North Korea does not only hope to improve relations with the United States, it also hopes to do so with South Korea and Japan,” Mr Wen told a news conference on Saturday. “We have to grab this opportunity to move forward, otherwise we may have to make even more efforts further down the road.” The United States, however, has yet to act on the announcement of a bilateral meeting with North Korea that the state department made in September…

…Leonid Petrov, an expert on North Korea who visited the country this month, agreed: “Given that President [Barack] Obama is less interested in north-east Asian affairs than his predecessor, I do not think that in the foreseeable future, Washington will talk to Pyongyang about anything else but unconditional surrender of its nuclear programme,” he said.

“That is to say, North Korea, while being genuinely interested in exchanging its indigenous nuclear programme for international diplomatic recognition and lifting of economic sanctions, will be given very little incentive to disarm,” said Mr Petrov, who now teaches at the University of Sydney.

The fatigue and pessimism are shared by some analysts, including Mr Shen, a North Korean expert and the executive dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, who believes North Korea’s main strategy is to buy time for improving its nuclear arsenal by entering negotiation, which it will walk away from again. “Simply, nothing can make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons,” he said.

But the United States cannot procrastinate on holding bilateral talks with North Korea forever, analysts said. Mr Obama is pushing for an ambitious plan of nuclear non-proliferation, urging all countries who are not yet signatories to join the treaty. He has announced a concrete plan of enforcing it by May when an NPT review conference is to be held. The success of his plan will depend mainly on the progress he makes with North Korea and Iran.

Read the full text of this article here…





Fast food becomes popular in Pyongyang

13 10 2009

Cocoa crabonated drink

Pyongyang, August 28 (KCNA) — The Samthaesong Soft Drink Restaurant located in Moranbong District, Pyongyang is crowded with Korean and foreign customers. It serves more than 20 kinds of dishes including burgers, waffles, French fries and crispy fried chicken along with soft drinks.

It was opened at the beginning of June. Most of the tables are arranged by the semicircle windowed wall so that the customers can take food, looking out the street through windows. It instantly cooks and serves dishes to the customers as they demand. Manager Ko Jong Ok told KCNA that the restaurant will make world-famous foods with local raw materials to the taste of the Korean people.

By Bernice Han (AFP, 12 Oct. 2009)

…Once condemned as evil “US imperialist” fare, western-style fast food is now available in North Korea thanks to a Singaporean entrepreneur who is already drawing up expansion plans just months after opening his first outlet.

“There is a potential to develop this business over there,” said Patrick Soh, who is bullish on the prospects of fast food in the isolated Stalinist state better known for famines than deep-fried delights. Soh, 56, holds the franchise in several Asian countries for Waffletown USA, a relatively obscure brand in the region compared to the likes of McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King, but he has big ambitions.

The first branch of Samtaesong (“three big stars”), as Waffletown is known in North Korea, started operating in May after Soh’s company got the first license awarded to a foreign fast food outlet. Burgers, called “minced beef and bread” to mask their American association, are the biggest attraction at the eatery, which also sells fries, crispy Belgian waffles, fried chicken and — the latest addition — hotdogs.

“It is not only the locals who enjoy the food. Even the foreigners like the food,” Soh told AFP in an interview at a Singapore outlet of Waffletown. Soh will make his fourth trip to Pyongyang this month to explore the feasibility of opening a second outlet there. If all goes smoothly, it should be up and running in early 2010, said Soh, who is not deterred by problems like power outages and the unavailability of some items in Pyongyang.

NK Samtaesong restaurant-entranceHis North Korean adventure started when he was approached last year by a Singaporean investor, who broached the idea of setting up a Waffletown franchise in Pyongyang. Soh declined to name the investor or say how much it cost to open the Pyongyang eatery, saying his main role was to set up the operation and train local staff to run Samtaesong.

A North Korean delegation paid a visit to Singapore early this year to sample the fare at a Waffletown outlet. “They came and tried the food and liked the waffle, burgers and fried chicken,” Soh said over coffee at the outlet, located in an upmarket neighborhood near Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping belt. “They find that we have a bit more variety than other typical burger chains and that we don’t sell junk food,” he said.

Soh made his first trip to Pyongyang in November last year, taking four days to survey the site and see whether the fast food concept was workable in one of the world’s few remaining communist states. He was pleased to learn that the site was in a choice location in downtown Pyongyang, right next to a subway station and within walking distance of various universities (and Chinese Embassy – see location in Wikimapia). He went back to Pyongyang in December to begin preparatory work for the opening of the eatery, from arranging the layout of the restaurant to listing the kitchen equipment and ingredients that needed to brought in.

The seasoning for the chicken and the waffle mix are among items imported from Singapore but other ingredients like beef and the chicken itself are sourced locally, with suppliers using his recipes for the burger buns and patties, Soh said. The eatery buys soft drinks from shops that cater to the diplomatic community and resells the beverages in paper cups.

Local worker are very intelligent and eager to learn, Soh said. “I don’t need to spend much time to train them. I take about two, three days and they have a grasp of the work.” Since Samtaesong opened its doors in May, customers, including foreign students from China and Russia, have been streaming into the 246-square-metre (2,647 square foot) outlet, he said. “The locals come in and know the food that they want to order,” said Soh.

Prices are set in euros, but US dollars are accepted as payment. A “minced beef and bread” costs 1.20-1.70 euros (1.77 to 2.50 dollars) and about 300 are sold each day, said Soh. The most expensive item on the menu is the crispy fried chicken at slightly under three euros.

The communist state’s per capita income was estimated at just over 1,000 dollars in 2008, but this is not denting Soh’s drive to open more Samtaesong outlets in the country. He thinks North Koreans enjoy the novelty of the food and environment in his restaurant. “This is new for them. It’s just like when McDonald’s first opened in Singapore.”

More information and photos of this Singaporean JV restaurant are available on  NK Economy Watch.

- Finding a taste of the West in Pyongyang by Kristine Kwok (South China Morning Post, Oct 10, 2009)

- N.Korea’s 1st Fast-Food Restaurant Opens (The Chosun Ilbo, 27 July 2009)

- Int’l Press Gets Glimpse of N.Korea’s Daily Grind (The Chosun Ilbo, 12 October 2009)

Fast food in North Korea

Another fast food Italian Pizza and Spaghetti is on Kwangbok Street near the Ch’ilgol Flyover (location in Wikimapia) on the same side as the Youth Hotel. The cook reportedly has studied in Italy and most customers are content with the quality of dishes served there.

[Photos by courtesy of  KoreakonsultNK Economy Watch]

Also there is a fast food restaurant near the Koryo HTL named “Pyolmuri Restaurant”, which serves hamburgers and Italian food, Spaghetti, Pizza etc. It’s a short walk across the street from the Koryo. Go to the left and then right past the food shops and then about 100m on the left is the restaurant.

North Korea opened their first fast food restaurant in Pyongyang. On the menu are hamburgers, french fries and the popular side dish kimchee…

[Video footage: courtesy of CBS via FatManSeoul]

Also, related information in blogs:

Reporter Discovers Hidden Burger Joint in Pyongyang (posted by Adam Kuban, October 12, 2009)

“I Made Pizza For Kim Jong Il” (posted by Adam Kuban, October 1, 2004)

North Korea’s Kim Jong-il Finally Gets His Pizzeria (posted by Adam Kuban, March 16, 2009)





DPRK has quietly amended its Constitution

12 10 2009

Mansudae Assembly HallOn 23 September, Radio Free Asia reported that the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea had revised the country’s constitution in April by dropping the use of the term “communism” and replacing it with “Songun,” or Military-first policy, for the first time in its history.

The full Korean text of the revamped constitution is now posted on Naenara (내나라), a North Korea website providing information on North Korean politics, tourism, foreign trade, arts, and IT issues. Strangely, Naenara continues to provide the old English version of DPRK Constitution here.

A rough English translation as offered by Northeast Asia Matters in their report here but it mistranslates Article 8 of the Constitution, calling “근로인민의 리익” or “the interests of the workers” as “human rights”, which is not the same.

As for dropping the word 공산주의  or “communism”, indeed is happened in Articles 29 and 40 (Economy and Culture respectively). The mystery is in why Naenara keeps the old English version, where the sensational new Section 2 of Chapter VI “Chairman of the National Defence Commission” is missing?

The new version of DPRK Constitution is six articles longer than the previous version adopted in of 1998. Here are the new articles of Section 2 Chapter VI as translated by Northeast Asia Matters:

Section 2. Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission

Article 100. The chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC] is the supreme leader [ch’oego ryo’ngdoja] of the DPRK.

Article 101. The term of office of the chairman of the DPRK NDC shall be the same as that of the SPA.

Article 102. The chairman of the DPRK NDC is the supreme commander of the overall armed forces of the DPRK and commands and directs all the armed forces of the state.

Article 103. The chairman of the DPRK NDC shall have the duties and authority to:
1. Guide overall affairs of the state.
2. Directly guide the work of the NDC.
3. Appoint or dismiss important cadres of the national defense sector.
4. Ratify or abrogate significant treaties concluded with other countries.
5. Exercise the right to grant special pardons.
6. Declare a state of emergency and state of war in the country, and issue orders for mobilization.

Article 104. The chairman of the DPRK NDC shall issue orders [myo’ngnyo’ng].

Article 105. The chairman of the DPRK NDC shall be accountable for his work to the SPA.





Walter Klitz: “Signal of Denuclearization is Overdue”

11 10 2009
FNF Walter Klitz & Johannes Klausa

FNF's Walter Klitz (right) in Sunan airport

Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Seoul, 7 Oct. 2009)

For the 14th time within the last two and a half years, the local representative of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, Walter Klitz, travelled to North Korea. The purpose of this trip was to prepare an event on “Aspects of Sustainable Environmental City Development”, which will take place end of November this year.

Mr. Klitz used the opportunity for an extensive four-hour exchange of views with officials of the Worker’s Party, thanking them to be true to their word and releasing the two US-American journalists early August. During his previous visit, end of May, the local representative had firmly urged the North to set free Laura Ling and Euna Lee as a humanitarian act and a gesture of good will. During his political talks, that took place only a few days before the state visit of the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, the Chinese-North Korean relations, inner Korean affairs, the question of denuclearization, the Six-Party-Talks, the current food situation as well as the effect of the imposed sanctions against North Korea were discussed…

In the Western world as North Korean “charm-offensive” perceived friendly activities of the past months, that indeed contributed to creating a friendlier political climate, was talked up to be “positive change” within the relations towards the South and the United States. The FNF representative recommended caution in this regard. He said that the friendlier tone should no be misinterpreted as substantial progress. Creating a favourable atmosphere alone would not touch the substance of the actual problems. The world, Mr. Klitz said, expects a strong signal of denuclearization.

On his trip Mr. Klitz got the impression that foreign direct investments, especially from China and some Arab countries, were increasing clearly. At the time of the talks the harvest had not yet been cropped completely. Still a strong tendency loomed ahead that rice crop is going to be above average this year, while corn will be down 30-40%.

Cultural highlight of the two day visit to Pyongyang was a piece of Russian fine art and symbol of the North Korean-Russian bonds. Mr. Klitz got the chance to attend a performance of the “Pyatnitzky Folk Art Troup”, the Russian response to the concert of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra that played in Pyongyang in February 2008.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,634 other followers