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DATE=7/10/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-235300 TITLE=SOUTH KOREA DEFENSE (L-ONLY) BYLINE=DAVID DYAR DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: SOUTH KOREA'S DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS NORTH KOREA'S MILITARY IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY POWERFUL IN CONTROLLING EVENTS IN THE ISOLATED ASIAN NATION. V-O-A'S CORRESPONDENT DAVID DYAR REPORTS THE SOUTH KOREAN OFFICIAL'S ASSESSMENT WAS CONTAINED IN A MAJOR POLICY SPEECH FRIDAY IN WASHINGTON. TEXT: DEFENSE MINISTER CHUN YONG TAEK SAYS IN THE FOUR YEARS SINCE NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG IL CAME TO POWER, HE IS RULING THE COUNTRY INCREASINGLY THROUGH THE MILITARY. MR. CHUN SAYS THE NORTH KOREAN COMMUNIST PARTY, KNOWN AS THE WORKER'S PARTY, HAS LOST VIRTUALLY ALL OF ITS DECISION MAKING POWERS. HE ADDS THAT KIM JONG IL IS DEVOTING 75 PER CENT OF HIS TIME TO MILITARY MATTERS AND THE CURRENT RIFT BETWEEN THE MILITARY AND OTHER POWER BASES, SUCH AS THE PARTY, WILL LIKELY INCREASE. THE SOUTH KOREAN OFFICIAL TOLD A WASHINGTON RESEARCH GROUP CALLED THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, NORTH KOREA'S MILITARY IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY POLITICIZED. ///CHUN CUT IN ENGLISH FADED UNDER/// MR. CHUN SAYS THE MILITARY HAS RECENTLY ASSUMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTERNAL SECURITY FOR SUCH THINGS AS MONITORING UNIVERSITIES, FACTORIES AND AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES. IT IS ALSO INVOLVED IN OPERATING THE RAILROAD SYSTEM AND PATROLLING THE BORDER AND COASTAL AREAS. AND HE SAYS NORTH KOREAN MILITARY COURTS ARE EXERCISING JURISDICTION OVER CIVILIAN CRIMES. THE SOUTH KOREAN OFFICIAL SAYS HE BELIEVES NORTH KOREA WILL NOT BE ABLE TO AVOID AN IMPLOSION OR AN EXPLOSION IN THE MIDDLE TO LONG TERM. HE SAYS DESPITE THE DANGERS IN NORTH KOREA, THE NEW GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT KIM DAE JUNG FEELS A POLICY OF ENGAGEMENT IS THE RIGHT COURSE. HE SAYS ENGAGEMENT WILL INCREASE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE INTERNAL SITUATION IN THE NORTH AND WEAKEN THE POSITION OF NORTH KOREAN HARDLINERS. ///REST OPT/// THE SOUTH KOREAN DEFENSE MINISTER CALLED FOR CONTINUED COORDINATION BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND SEOUL TO DEAL WITH THE NORTH. HE SAYS THE TOP PRIORITY IS TO CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN A SOLID, COMBINED DEFENSE POSTURE. DURING HIS VISIT TO WASHINGTON, MR. CHUN HELD MEETINGS WITH TOP U-S OFFICIALS, INCLUDING DEFENSE SECRETARY WILLIAM COHEN. (SIGNED) NEB/DWD/PT 10-Jul-98 8:42 PM EDT (0042 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .