News

February 18, 1997

HWANG DEFECTION: 'DANGEROUS' CRISIS FOR KOREAN PENINSULA

Analysts in East and South Asia and Europe continued to monitor North-South Korean relations closely in the aftermath of last week's defection of senior North Korean Communist Party ideologue Hwang Jang-yop. The view from all geographic areas was that the defection was certain to escalate tensions on the peninsula, with only one Indian paper maintaining that the government of South Korea was "blowing (the incident) out of proportion" to deflect domestic attention from "scandals concerning the failed (Hanbo) steel company." According to the media in South Korea, Mr. Hwang's defection brought relations with the North to a new nadir, exacerbated by the shooting of another North Korean defector, Lee Han-young, in Seoul over the weekend. Seoul's independent Dong-A Ilbo declared, for example: "The situation has been pretty crazy with Mr. Hwang's defection alone.... North Korea seems to have lost all its reasoning ability and is heading downhill fast." This view was echoed by pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo, which saw Hwang's request for asylum as a sign of "how brittle the North Korean regime has become..... The North may try (military) adventurism out of desperation," the paper concluded. Editorial voices in Europe, China and Japan called for a "calm" and "reasoned approach" to defuse the current "dangerous" crisis and avoid a "total meltdown" of the "enigmatic" leadership in North Korea. Most observers pointed to the provision of food aid to Pyongyang to assure North Korea's continued ability to achieve a "soft landing," although one German commentator dissented from this view, insisting that "even though it may be heartless...without concessions (from North Korea), 'no food'...must be the slogan."

A number of observers sympathized with the "dilemma" the Hwang defection created for China. London's conservative Times noted that Beijing was in the "world's spotlight" as it decided "which of the Koreas to offend, its destitute old communist ally or the valued investor and trading partner to the south." Sydney's national, conservative Australian, saw a key role for China in fostering the gradual opening up and liberalization of North Korea: "Now is...the time for Beijing to demonstrate greater regional leadership and convince Pyongyang to address its crisis by entering peace negotiations and liberalizing its economy." Tokyo's Nihon Keizei likewise hoped that "neighboring countries," such as China, would "keep channels of communication open" with North Korea, so that the four-party talks including China, the United States and North and South Korea could proceed.

In the midst of commentary from around the world pointing to North Korea as a "maddening, never-ending charade," an "enigma," and "almost the only region in the world...(where) old Cold War actors...are still doing active duty," an official Pyongyang radio broadcast urged all "cowards" to leave "the fatherland," insisting that its populace would "move forward by holding the Juche ("Self-Reliance") banner even higher.... This is the breath of our fatherland, where the red flag of revolution is flying vigorously."

This survey is based on 40 reports from 15 countries, January 28 - February 18.

EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

NORTH KOREA: "Red Flag, Signpost Of Our Victory"

Official Pyongyang Radio carried (2/18) these remarks by Kim Jong Il: "'Comrade Kim Jong Il pointed out: 'As the revolutionary song goes, 'Cowards, leave if you want to!' we will defend the red flag to the bitter end. We will move forward by holding the Juche banner even higher.' The spirit of the red flag forever flows on this land like the current of a big river. The spirit is Korea's faith and will.... This is the breath of our fatherland, where the red flag of revolution is flying vigorously.'"

"Hwang Has Been Kidnapped By The Enemy"

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) broadcast this statement by the spokeman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry (2/13): "'The South Korean authorities are spreading the rumor that Hwang Jang-yop, secretary of the central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, asked for 'asylum' at their 'embassy' in Beijing today on his way back from Tokyo. This is inconceivable and impossible. If it is true that Hwang Jang-yop is in the South Korean 'embassy' in Beijing, it is obvious that he has been kidnapped by the enemy. We are seeking information from the Chinese side through relevant channels. If it is brought to light that the South Korean authorities kidnapped him and describe him as seeking 'asylum,' we will regard it as a serious incident without precedent and take due countermeasures. We expect that the Chinese side will take appropriate measures in this regard."

"South Korea: Land Barren Of Democracy, Civil Rights"

Pyongyang's Korean Central Broadcasting Network seized (2/1) on the State Department's human rights report's criticism of South Korea in this commentary by Yun Pyong-Son: "According to...the U.S. State Department...the basic rights of citizens, including the freedom of expression, have been violated in South Korea with the enforcement of the National Security Planning (NSP) law.... As we head for the end of the 20th century, the existence of such unprecedentedly evil fascist laws as the national security law...bespeaks that South Korea is a land barren of democracy and civil rights, and that it is the only fascist society in the world. This also reveals the shameless deception of the puppets' gibberish on democratization or the extension of human rights."

"Indictment Of Fascist Rule"

The official KCNA news agency continued the above theme (2/3) under the headline above: "The U.S. State Department report on human rights noted...(South Korea's) retrogressively revised law on the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP) and the law on labor affairs are fascist, anti-social laws that gravely encroach upon freedom, democracy and the vital rights of working people in South Korea.... The Kim Young-sam group, who, through their fascist rule, are committing unethical crimes against the elementary freedom and rights of the people, must be overthrown without delay.

SOUTH KOREA: "'A Decisive Moment' In North-South Korean Relations"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo (2/18) commented, "Whether Hwang's defection and the shooting of Lee Han-young are related or not, these events will gravely affect North-South Korean relations. Some analysts warn that a 'decisive moment' in the North-South Korean relationship has come. Others observe that this points to a Northern Korean society on the verge of an implosion or already in the process of 'collapsing from the top.' Government officials have expressed regret about the timing of the Hwang defection, stating that the North-South Korean relationship has 'hit a rock' at a time when an easing of tensions was about to take place.

"The government had planned to announce provision of additional food aid to the North, but has decided to delay that announcement."

"Pyongyang Radio Carries Kim Jong-Il Remark On 'Renegade' Hwang Jang-Yop"

Seoul Yonhap, semiofficial news agency of South Korea, held (2/18), "Kim Jong Il of North Korea, in connection with the defection of North Korean Workers Party Secretary Hwang Jang-Yop, has said today, 'Renegade, go wherever you want ,' thus, confirming that North Korea has decided to allow secretary Hwang to defect to South Korea. According to relevant authorities, Kim Jong-Il disclosed this through a political essay (on 'letting cowards leave') which was broadcast by Pyongyang radio."

"A Crisis In North-South Korean Relations"

Independent Dong-A Ilbo (2/18) remarked, "With the announcement of Hwang's defection and the news of the shooting of Lee Han-young, the North-South Korean relationship has hit its lowest point. The North continually threatens retaliation at the DMZ, and Hwang further escalated tensions by revealing that an additional five to seven high ranking North Korean officials want to defect. The situation has been pretty crazy with Hwang's defection alone. If those five to seven officials Hwang talked about did defect, imagine what confusion they would create in terms of security on this peninsula. Whatever happens, we should be prepared for the worst, which could certainly be as bad as a regional conflict. Although North Korea is having dire economic difficulties, they still are militarily powerful, making a strike at us possible at any time. As we cannot guarantee the safety of our technicians, all projects, particularly the construction of nuclear reactors and food aid, should be put on hold. North Korea seems to have lost all its reasoning ability and is heading downhill fast."

"A New Breakthrough In Negotiations For Hwang's Defection"

In the opinion of pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo (2/18): "Just a week after the defection news first broke, North Korea has made an announcement acknowledging Hwang's defection. That announcement came quite unexpectedly. The reason behind this quick response may be the North's calculation that the longer the case drags on, the less it would be of benefit. Another reason may be that the North wants to concentrate on making a good start for the new Kim Jong Il regime and not become distracted by the Hwang case. With North Korea's objection to Hwang's defection withdrawn, no major obstacle is blocking Hwang's coming to Seoul."

"U.S. Worries North Korea Will Again Become Displeased"

Independent Dong-a Ilbo (2/14) commented: "Hwang Jang-yop's request for asylum is expected to have a big effect not only on north-south relations, but also U.S.-North Korean relations and U.S.-China relations. Considering his political status and the recent situation on the Korean peninsula, Mr. Hwang's defection may not be easily resolved. Experts agree that the United States is in a very awkward position. If Mr. Hwang goes to Seoul, it is easy to predict the strength of the North Korean reaction, and this will be difficult for the United States to handle. The United States may worry that its primary concern, North Korea's soft landing, will be harmed by this recent incident or that North Korea may threaten to break the Geneva framework. In this case, the United States must accomplish the same difficult and delicate job of placating both South Korea and North Korea, as was the case with the submarine incident."

"Trashing The Juche Ideology"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo maintained (2/13): "The report says that Hwang Jang-yop, the architect of North Korea's Juche ideology, is seeking asylum in South Korea. That indicates that the ideology itself is collapsing. Because of his special contributions to the ideological base of Juche, his defection will have enormous implications across the board.

"In a country sustained by the government's ability to enforce its will and by the strength of its ideology, Hwang's defection indicates that half of what supports North Korea has collapsed. It further tells us that even the elite of North Korea have finally decided that the country has no hope whether it chooses to open up or to continue to stay closed. They see that the country will eventually collapse, thus implying that a 'soft landing' is no longer relevant. We must be cautious concerning Hwang's warning about a 'decisive moment.'"

"Hwang's Request For Asylum And Its Implications"

Moderate Hankook Ilbo warned (2/13): "Hwang's request for asylum implies that North Korea's fervent ideological base of Juche has seriously eroded, which in turn points to a serious disintegration of the northern system. We should take proper diplomatic measures to make sure that Hwang safely arrives in Seoul. To prevent possible unrest among its people, North Korea may again try provocative acts such as kidnapping our diplomats, business people and students studying abroad. Proper caution is needed."

"Hwang's Defection"

In the view of pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo (2/13): "Hwang's request for asylum to the South is an indication of how fragile the North Korean regime has become. It also demonstrates that the Juche ideology, the very foundation of North Korea, is now being uprooted. We thought the northern regime would be able to hang on to power because of the strength of its core elite group. The Hwang case now tells us otherwise: the leadership is in fact being seriously challenged, and the country may collapse much earlier than expected. The North may try adventurism out of desperation. We must do all we can to help the North to 'soft-land.'"

"Secretary Hwang's Defection"

Anti-establishment Hankyoreh Shinmun predicted (2/13): "Hwang's defection...will inevitably infuriate the North, which in turn will escalate tension in the South-North relationship.... It is a difficult time for the North, which has openly requested food aid. South Korea should provide all the assistance it can."

"North Should Turn To South Korea For Food Aid"

Pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo asserted (2/10): "The United States and Japan say they are ready to provide food aid to North Korea anytime the United Nations requests it. The South Korean government, too, will participate in providing food, something we welcome because we really shouldn't be perceived as blocking food aid to the North. It is important, and we are glad, that (South) Korea and the two other countries are united in this. Food aid trickling in, however, won't satisfy what the North says it needs. We have already made it clear that we--the two Koreas--could settle this issue once the North comes to talk to us. The North should turn to us, not foreign countries, for help."

"Four-Party Talks, Food Aid, Nuclear Waste"

Moderate Hankook Ilbo insisted (1/29): "The most probable reason for North Korea's postponement of the briefing session is that it wants more time to organize its explanations on the Taiwan nuclear waste issue. No matter what reason is given, the truth remains that its 'tricky diplomacy' won't answer its economic problems and food shortages. It should understand that South Korea is the only country that can provide it with realistic assistance. When the rescheduled meeting takes place, the North should show its sincerity. South Korea should (also) insist that nuclear waste not be shipped to the North."

CHINA: "China Calls For Calm In Korea Issue"

According to the official, English-language China Daily (2/14): "China called for calm in dealing with Democratic People's Republic of Korea official Hwang Jang-Yop's presence in the embassy of the Republic of Korea in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang made this remark yesterday.... 'We had not been informed in advance of Hwang Jang-Yop's transit through Beijing,' Tang said. 'What was reported is being subjected to investigation and verification.' 'It is hoped that the parties concerned will proceed from the overall interests and treat the matter calmly and handle it properly so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.'"

JAPAN: "What Message Does This Defection Send?"

Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (2/14): "Analysts have different theories about the defection of Hwang Jang Yop to South Korea. Some say Hwang failed in his mission in Japan to secure food aid and donations, and feared criticism upon returning to Pyongyang.... Others say Hwang, a moderate who supports reform and open-door policies, lost out in power struggles with conservative hardliners, mainly from the military. Yet another analyst says Hwang has given up on the Kim Jong Il regime. The defection of such a prominent figure may be a reflection of power struggles and growing discontent within the North Korean leadership. This incident is unlikely to trigger the collapse of the current regime. Meanwhile, the United States, Japan and South Korea continue to take a measured approach so as not to destabilize the North and cause an exodus of refugees. If Hwang's defection reflects the deterioration of conditions in the North, it is another warning that Japan's crisis management system must be improved.... A major concern is that the North may harden its stance, creating further tension between the North and South and delaying plans by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization."

"Neighboring Countries Should React Calmly To Hwang's Defection"

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai (2/14) said, "The news of Hwang Jang-yop's (request for) political asylum at the South Korean embassy in Beijing sent shock waves through the international community. Neighboring countries should react to this event with calm. They should act prudently. The impact of Hwang's defection on the North Koreans will be widespread but the incident is not likely to trigger the collapse of the Pyongyang leadership. If neighboring nations act in a rash manner, it will only foment confusion in the North. The result will be to the disadvantage of the neighboring countries. We hope these countries will keep channels of communications open with the North, maintain the present policy framework of four-way talks on the Korean peninsula and the planned KEDO offer of light-water nuclear reactors to Pyongyang."

"Impact Of Hwang's Defection And What Happens Next"

Liberal Asahi (2/14) commented, "The impact and effect on the international community of Hwang's defection to South Korea was immeasurable.... Relations between the two Koreas seemed to be improving after the North's expressed regret over the submarine incursion. But the defection is likely to heighten the tension between them. The incident may also be a great 'miscalculation' for the U.S. which had been establishing a liaison office and trying strenuously to improve relations with Pyongyang.... Maybe now is the time for all countries concerned to coordinate their policies toward North Korea, pay close attention to Pyongyang's moves, and help stabilize the Korean peninsula. To do this, it is important for the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea and possibly Russia to deepen their mutual trust. Nobody benefits from increased instability on the Korean peninsula."

"Impact Of Hwang Defection On KEDO"

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported (2/13): "North Korean Workers' Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop...has applied for political asylum in the Republic of Korea. In this regard, the Japanese government is carefully watching the situation, considering that, in the words of a senior Foreign Ministry official, it 'may possibly have adverse effects on...KEDO's plan to provide North Korea with light water reactors, as well as the chances of the early convening of the four-way talks proposed by the United States and the ROK."

AUSTRALIA: "Defection Korea's Latest Test"

An editorial in the national conservative Australian (2/14) stated, "The defection of a secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers Party, Mr. Hwang Jang-Yop, is perhaps the most important sign yet that the North Korean regime is heading for collapse.... Mr. Hwang was regarded as a relative moderate (albeit in the very stylized sense in which that term can be used regarding North Korea) and his defection may indicate greater influence by the army or other militant factions.... The best hope for a soft landing on the Korean peninsula is the gradual opening up and liberalization of North Korea, followed by normalization of relations with South Korea and eventual reunification.... The situation on the Korean peninsula, with the possibility of triggering nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional conflict on a frightening scale, is perhaps the most dangerous and fraught in the world today. It deserves maximum attention from the international community.... One of the few countries with influence in Pyongyang is China.... Now is perhaps the time for Beijing to demonstrate greater regional leadership and convince Pyongyang to address its crisis by entering peace negotiations and liberalizing its economy."

"Aid To North Korea Better Than War"

An editorial in the national, conservative Australian said (2/5): "Non-government aid groups, have warned food shortages (in North Korea) are now dire and, without intervention, will deteriorate into outright famine by the beginning of the northern summer.... Unfortunately for the miserable North Koreans, their government is not just a catastrophic economic manager, but a persistent menace to South Korean security and, thus, a serious regional problem. That the regime itself is judged by many intelligence experts to be approaching collapse is no cause for relaxation.... Australia has a direct stake in the safety and economic stability of South Korea, our second-largest export market.... The United States and its allies should make enough basic food available to induce the North to begin at least preliminary talks toward a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. It will not be easy."

PHILIPPINES: "These Asian Trouble Spots Bear Watching"

The independent Manila Chronicle pointed out (2/12): "The top two trouble spots in the world...are India and Pakistan...and North Korea.... It is a tragedy that Asia, which is setting the pace for unprecedented economic growth, should be the likely setting for two deadly flashpoints.... It is incumbent on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to contribute toward dousing any conflagrations...(between India and Pakistan).... ASEAN also needs to determine...how to prevent a violent change in North Korea. Those who lead the North have their backs to the wall. In all likelihood they will be responsive to external offers of assistance that will avert their country's downfall. As a humanitarian gesture, ASEAN should continue providing material aid to the people of a country that is painfully caught in the twin hammerlock of political instability and natural calamities."

SINGAPORE: "Koreas Slug It Out In Beijing"

According to the pro-government Straits Times (2/14): "Just how brittle the Korean peninsula situation is has again been brought home dramatically, this time by a high North Korean official's apparent defection to the south. The circumstances surrounding the incident alone are sure to generate a fearsome diplomatic row between the two Koreas.... The hope is that either scenario can be dealt with without the two sides testing the other to the limits or, knock on wood, coming to blows. What happens after--the effect on moves by the United States, Japan and China to craft a permanent Korean peace--has not even been contemplated yet.... A defection from the upper reaches of the establishment at this time (Seoul reckons Mr. Hwang ranks 24th in the hierarchy) is a possible sign of dissension among the ruling clique.....

"Pyongyang holds the trump card here. It has twice asked for postponement of preliminary briefings to discuss what to discuss. At this juncture, the day when the two Koreas, China and the United States sit down for substantive talks seems to be a mirage. With the Hwang factor to complicate the picture, it may have slipped over the horizon. Korea is a maddening kind of never-ending charade. But one must persist."

THAILAND: "Hwang's Defection Sends Serious Signals"

According to the independent, English-language Nation (2/16): "(Hwang Jang-Yop's) defection, coming days before Kim Jong-Il's birthday celebrations, sends a very powerful message of dissent... North Korea now is in deep trouble. Hwang's defection offers the rare opportunity for South Korean and the U.S. intelligence officials to learn about the true situation inside the sealed and isolated nation. Hwang Jang-Yop knows the deep inside story of the Pyongyang leadership and the outside world will now be able to know the truth for the first time."

"North Must Face Fact Of Defection"

The lead editorial in largest-circulation, English-language Bangkok Post commented (2/17), "(Hwang Jang-Yop's) defection could hardly have been more humiliating to the north... (Kim Jong-Il's birthday celebration) this year was auspicious: officials were bragging Mr. Kim would soon be taking over the official titles of his father, Kim Il-Sung... The real responsibility in this incident lies with Pyongyang. The communist regime has isolated itself from a rapidly changing world virtually since Kim Il-Sung began his rule 51 years ago. Pyongyang is entitled to assurances Mr. Hwang has defected of his own free will. It would be helpful if a third party--such as China--offered to talk to Mr. Hwang to ensure he truly wants to defect. But after that, North Korea must accept the fact of the defection.... The younger Kim must reflect upon Mr. Hwang's words: 'Can we call people sane when they talk of having built a utopia for the workers and farmers, when the workers and farmers are starving?'"

EUROPE

BRITAIN: "A Korean Glimpse"

The conservative Times (2/14) held: "To China's evident embarrassment and annoyance, events have conspired to turn Hwang Jang-yop, the most senior North Korean official ever to defect, into the hero of a Cold War thriller.... As a result, China has the world's spotlight on it as it decides which of the Koreas to offend, its destitute old communist ally or the valued investor and trading partner to the south."

"North Korea's Fanatical Leaders Well On The Way To Total Meltdown"

The independent Scotsman, under the above headline, said (2/4): "For those who make a profession out of looking for global trouble--diplomats, strategists and soldiers--North Korea is as close as it gets to a dead cert.

"A Stalinist state with furtive nuclear ambitions, a taste for bellicose words and mad actions--the consensus is that North Korea's collapsing economy spells extreme dangers for its neighbors in South Korea and Japan. The CIA has predicted implosion and war within three years.... An attack (on South Korea) would be doomed to failure within days, but the carnage would be considerable. One of the major challenges of President Clinton's second term will be to keep the pressure to negotiate on Pyongyang, without provoking the attack that the last die-hard Stalinists have long been threatening to unleash on the 'imperialist puppets' in the South."

GERMANY: "International Customs Of Diplomacy"

Right-of-center Berliner Morgenpost (2/17) observed, "The Beijing government said that Hwang would be on South Korean territory in the South Korean Embassy in Beijing. Now that Hongkong's return to the mother country is about to take place, China is interested in demonstrating that it wants to stick to the rules of international usual customs of diplomacy. North Korea is not that strict regarding these customs."

"Food Pressure"

A commentator on regional radio station Norddeutscher Rundfunk of Hamburg (2/17) said: "North Korea is, as far as the economy is concerned, bankrupt. Many people are starving.... This is why the Pyongyang regime asked for international assistance. For the moment, this is the only lever the international community can use to exert pressure on North Korea. Even though it may be heartless, because it hits innocent people, this aid must be used as a means of pressure. Without concessions, 'no food'...must be the slogan. Pressure, diplomatic stubbornness, and patience are the only ways to make Pyongyang see reason."

"Chief Leaves Ideology In The Lurch"

Centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich concluded (2/14): "North Korea is bankrupt. This is the only conclusion that can be derived from the defection of its chief ideologist, Hwang Jang Yop.... For North Korea, the defection must be a shock. The fairy tale that he was abducted by South Korea is obviously aimed at the North Korean population to which the Pyongyang leadership must explain the incomprehensible. For Seoul and its close ally, the United States, Hwang is a treasure. However else the new leader Kim Jong Il and his royal household may have failed, they have succeeded in securing the total isolation of their country and their power circle. If Hwang discloses information about North Korea's (inner circles), he could, for the first time, clear up mysteries which observers of North Korea have...(had to) guess about."

"Signal Or Accident?"

Right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin front-paged this analysis (2/14) by Lothar Ruehl under the above headline: "At first inspection, the defection of top North Korean functionary Hwang Jang Yop...seems to be a puzzle. Before his desertion, he was something like a deputy of the 'beloved great leader' Kim Jong Il. The reason given for his (defection)--he wants to 'contribute to peace between the two Koreas' and hopes to 'witness national unification'--indicates complex motivations.... Hwang changed sides during an international situation which would give his declared intention at least a chance if the problem were the start of negotiations about unification--at a time where he could save face by taking the bull by the horns and on conditions that could be well accepted....

"For the time being, it seems that he has no mandate to do so. For the communist regime and its leader Kim Jong Il, his desertion to the South is a grave blow and means a loss of authority. In addition, it will create a great domestic security risk, in particular in the relationship between the armed forces (and the political leadership)--but thus also for South Korea. Obviously Pyongyang is in a state of shock, and it reacted only with the allegation that Hwang is the victim of a 'provocation' and was 'kidnapped' in Beijing.

"Will Hwang soon be declared a renegade or traitor, or will he be ignored? Was his defection a signal or an accident?"

"North Korean Puzzle"

Lothar Ruehl noted in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/7): "The latest North Korean demand for further U.S. food supplies as a condition to fulfill political demands is a new challenge for Washington's patience with an enemy that is to become a security partner. It is likely that the dictatorship in Pyongyang is as interested in cooperation with the United States as it is in pushing South Korea out of the cooperation framework with the United States and Japan....

"It may be possible that a power struggle is going on within the regime or a least a controversy about the future direction of the foreign, national and economic policy of the country. If this were the case, then the formal inauguration of Kim Jong Il, which is expected for the middle of this year, could result in a solution of this North Korean puzzle. But until then, it is necessary to show patience and to demonstrate a steadfast attitude."

RUSSIA: "Pyongyang Sticks To Old Enemies"

Ivan Shomov remarked in reformist Segodnya (2/8): "Aid or no aid, the leaders of the 'bulwark of communism' continue pretending that no enemy is more frightening and perfidious than 'American imperialists and their South Korean puppets.'... U.S. assistance, however, is not entirely disinterested. To Americans, nothing is more important in Korean affairs today than having the North and the South sit down at the negotiating table, with themselves and the Chinese acting as guarantors of the talks. Sadly, there is no room in that settlement scheme for Russia. Moscow has no one but itself to blame for that after it once decided it was no longer interested in the 'land of great leaders.'"

BELGIUM: "Enigma In North Korea"

Under the above headline, foreign editor Axel Buyse wrote in independent, Catholic De Standaard (2/13): "The defection of a Communist Party secretary from North Korea to capitalist, hereditary enemy South Korea is a serious setback for Kim Jong Il's regime but it is not necessarily a death-blow. Certain analysts view it that way, but they are not certain either--North Korea being the most closed nation in the world and a remnant of the purest Stalinist tradition....

"North Korea watchers are wracking their brains over the question of why the ideologue of harsh North Korean communism and virulent nationalism has turned his back on a system in which he was a member of the privileged class.... Japanese media speculate that (the defector) Hwang, who left Tokyo on Tuesday after a two-week visit, did not dare return home because he had not obtained commitments for food aid.... On the international scene, the defection might spark a stiffening of North Korea's position. 'Consultation between the United States, China, North Korea and South Korea on drafting measures toward the relaxation of tensions on the Korean peninsula again seems farther away than ever,' said Japanese expert Masao Okonogi."

CANADA: "Warning Of A Storm In The Orient"

Montreal French-language Le Devoir asked (2/18): "Is there danger of an eruption of violence between the two Koreas?... It would seem that the gulf between the two enemy brothers is again wide open. And this in a disturbing social context--the insistent rumors of famine in North Korea.... All this comes together to engender instability: while in the North the grotesque dictatorship goes through a period of agony, the prosperous South Korea, for its part, is also running into social problems and an identity crisis that could affect its diplomatic behavior."

HUNGARY: "Rules Of The Game"

Peter Sereny said in largest-circulation, national Nepszabadsag (1/31): "The other day in Paris, the OECD--which we used to refer to as the 'developed countries' club' until we joined it--in an official statement read out by General Secretary Donald Johnson reprimanded South Korea for failing to fulfill the obligations concerning the right to assemble and negotiations on collective bargaining which South Korea undertook when being admitted to the OECD.... We have already known how important membership in the OECD is, for example, in the international evaluation of a country's financial/economic standing. Reprimanding the South Koreans, however, may bring another dimension of the organization into the limelight: the 'club of the developed' (let's stick to the old name) has a union (and, of course, an employers') consultative body, too. And it was this body which had called the OECD's attention to South Korea's failure to fulfill its obligations."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "Dangerous Turn"

According to the editorial in the centrist Hindu (2/18): "The Korean peninsula is almost the only region in the world still harboring Cold War animosities where the old actors are still doing active duty.... In the power play in the East Asian region, with the Americans more than wary after their experience during the disastrous Korean War, the key to peace is held by the Chinese, who backed the North Korean communists in spectacular fashion, and the Japanese who have vainly wooed the peninsula. For the new leadership emerging in China, the choice between the prosperous South Korea and the desperately poor North may be quite clear. As Beijing plays the mediator, one wonders whatever has happened to the United Nations and its trouble shooting role."

"Official's Defection Unsettles Pyongyang"

According to an analysis in the centrist Hindu (2/14): "The defection in Beijing of a senior North Korean official and his accomplice is a big blow to Pyongyang's esteem and a welcome diversion for South Korea from its financial scandals, but is also a test of Beijing's Korea policy.... Defections from the North are as commonplace as the new moon, but not of such senior officials who if they speak can inform--or disinform--a great deal about a regime and a nation about which little is known. Yet Seoul's Kim Young Sam government is blowing the defection all out of proportion, (and) with good reason. South Korea is in the throes of one of its big financial scandals concerning a failed steel company....

"The defection of Hwang Jang Yop, coupled with the fact that he sought asylum in South Korea, is being used by Kim to bolster the hardline view in Seoul that the Kim Jong II regime and the North Korean state are about to collapse.... South Korea's effort will be to push China to agree to Hwang's reported request for political asylum. North Korea... threatened Seoul (with)...appropriate counter measures.... A 1978 treaty requires China to return North Koreans found without a visa or other valid travel documents. It is doubtful if this would apply to the surcharged case of Hwang, but whatever step Beijing takes will surely affect its relations with the North or the South."

"South Korean Model"

According to an editorial in the centrist Hindu (1/28): "Among the first wave of successful Asian economies, South Korea had witnessed phenomenal growth in the past decade in an environment of peace. The present (labor) upheaval...casts doubts on the viability of the growth that the Asian tigers have been witnessing, reviving fears that the decade-long record may soon be blotched with attendant political and social fallouts.

"One cause for alarm in the neighborhood can be that the labor protests, over a legislative measure that was patently undemocratic and objectionable in a free and just society, could trigger social friction that authoritarian governments...may be unable to handle.... Some of the neighbors, including China, Indonesia and Malaysia, must be apprehensive that the fever that has gripped South Korea may prove infectious and expose the reality that they lack the wherewithal to keep it out of their own borders.... One common link among the Asian tigers has been their poor record in the grant of democratic rights.... The type of problems that South Korea is now up against can as well surface in Indonesia...and even China.... All these nations will sooner than later learn that democracy entrenches economic freedoms and in doing so underpins enduring growth."

LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN

BRAZIL: "Asian Insecurity:

Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (2/16): "The conflict between the two Koreas is a legacy of the Cold War. However, those who imagine that it is a limited focus of tension are mistaken."

For more information, please contact:

U.S. Information Agency

Office of Public Liaison

Telephone: (202) 619-4355

3/24/98

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