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 holdfor the Korean peninsula, now that talks in New York--involving the U.S., South and North Korea--have failed toproduce a commitment from Pyongyang that it willparticipate in four-party talks (including China) aimed atbringing a formal end to the Korean War. Amid widespreadreports of famine in North Korea and recent statements byNorth Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop expressing hisperception that the North may use "its formidable armedforces" against South Korea, few editors were sanguineabout the prospects for peace and many debated on how bestto "engage" or "deal with" the North Korean regime. Thepress in South Korea offered varied assessments of theNorth's actions and whether or not the reports of foodshortages in the North have been "exaggerated." Someobservers advocated "civilian food aid" to the North Koreanpeople, while others voiced suspicion that food coming intothe North from abroad "will fatten high officials only" or,worse yet, the military. Seoul's moderate Hankook Ilboapplauded the U.S. State Department for urging North Koreato reduce the size of its military, stating: "From now on,all efforts connected with food aid and the opening ofdialogue channels should be geared toward having the Northreduce its military." The question of providing food aidto North Korea was also hotly debated in the Japanesemedia, with a number of editors focusing on North Korea'salleged kidnapping of a Japanese school girl in Niigata 20years ago. Tokyo's conservative Sankei judged giving foodaid to a "kidnapper" state "unnecessary," and noted, "Eventhough Pyongyang says it is on the verge of starvation, itsnegotiating stance is far from desperate.... There is noneed to be hasty." Analysts from Australia to Germany pointed to the"tinderbox" atmosphere on the Korean peninsula. Munich'sSueddeutsche Zeitung, for example, warned, "The failureof the talks in New York again demonstrated how unpredictable and dangerous the regime in Pyongyang stillis.... The danger remains that the North could risk a newwar--be it because Kim Jong-Il or his military leaders feelthey are being backed up against the wall, or because theyoverestimate their own forces." The top-circulation,moderately conservative Bangkok Post likewise cautioned: "As long as the Pyongyang regime refuses to join peacetalks, its decision is effectively to continue to refuseany search for peace. This can only be taken as adistressing sign that North Korea intends to continue itssecretive activities...aimed at destabilizing the Koreanpeninsula and all of East Asia."Recent releases from Pyongyang's official Korean CentralNews Agency, meanwhile, revealed that food supplies in theNorth were not so limited as to keep Kim Jong-Il fromthrowing a banquet for overseas Koreans in honor of hisfather, the late Kim Il-Sung. The latter was "a legendaryman" who shared the "weal and woe" of his people under themotto, "'One is sure to win if he believes in and dependsupon 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 Agencysaid (4/21): "National seminars were held in (Tanzania andNigeria)...on the occasion of the birth anniversary ofPresident Kim Il-Sung.... Yemi Oyeneye, Chairman of theNigerian National Committee for the study of the Jucheidea, spoke at a national seminar of the Juche idea studyorganisations in Nigeria. He said that Secretary Kim Jong-Il, with a clairvoyant scientific intelligence, leads therevolution without any slightest deviation and plans andpushes ahead with all work in a revolutionary, bold and bigway.""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 foroverseas Koreans on April 15, the birth anniversary of theGreat Leader President Kim Il-Sung. Kim Yong-Sun, chairmanof the Reunification Policy Committee of the SupremePeople's Assembly... said in his toast that the respectedGeneral Kim Jong-Il arranged a grand banquet for theoverseas Koreans who have come to the homeland with deepreverence for the president. The president's was a greatlife of a legendary man, a peerlessly great leader who ledthe revolution and construction to brilliant victory,sharing weal and woe with the people through trials underthe motto, 'One is sure to win if he believes in anddepends 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 ideologicaland cultural infiltration to bring under control the Asiancountries that are building an independent new society freefrom imperialist domination and subjugation.... Thebroadcasting of the radio in Korean indicates that theUnited States has not renounced its policy of antagonizingand stifling (North Korea) and is pursuing it in a moreundisguised way.... No one can deny that South Koreansociety has turned into a den of criminals under the swayof corruption and social vices...because of the influenceof the 50-odd years of U.S. military occupation andAmerican 'values' and decadent culture. No matter whatfalse propaganda the United States may spread over 'RadioFree Asia,' the Korean people will feel stronger wrath andhatred for the United States and harden their confidence intheir ideology, culture and cause." SOUTH KOREA: "Pyongyang's Double Standard"Independent Dong-A Ilbo asserted (4/23): "North Korea madeunreasonable demands that food aid be provided first andthat the United States ease economic sanctions against it. These demands were not resolved and the New York meetingwas postponed. This is a disappointing development. Although the four-party talks are not entirely off, theycertainly look uncertain at this point. The North ispracticing its brinkmanship strategy again, and we must beespecially careful with its double-standard tactics.... The four-party talks should not be used as a conduit forthe 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 resultwe expected. Nevertheless, recognition by the North ofthe need for four-party talks and its agreement inprinciple to the proposal was an achievement. Anotherpositive development was that both Koreas are now trying to increase contacts with each other.... "(But) the North's secretive negotiating style aggravatedthe situation, making a solution more difficult. For itspart, South Korea failed to show flexibility and was onlyinterested in submission by the North. These limits onboth sides have long derailed efforts to find a peacemechanism, distorting them into long, hard fights. Theresult is that the South and the North are stuck infruitless competition. The four-party talks won't do muchfor us if there is no improvement in the relationshipbetween 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 Northhave to do with the four-party talks? The South Koreangovernment has prohibited public contributions to ourNorthern brethren, even though the government recentlyagreed to allow civilian food aid. What is thegovernment's message?... Food aid with all kinds ofpreconditions tagged on will only hurt the recipient'spride.... Only food aid will demonstrate that we aremorally better positioned than the North. It may well bethe only opportunity we have to control the issue. Thegovernment has not presented any reasonable justificationfor why we should miss this opportunity." "On Helping North Korea" In the opinion of conservative Chosun Ilbo (4/21): "Thecampaign to help North Korea is spreading. The problem isthat some are not bothering to investigate what the bestway is to help. They say 'Let's just give food,' and evenpoint their fingers at the government for 'blocking' theaid 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 havebeen reported, or that it is perverse enough to ignore itsstarving people. Unless the North dispels our suspicionsthat food coming in from abroad will fatten its highofficials only, the campaign to help with Its foodshortages won't get the support from our public." "Hwang Jang-yop In Seoul"Conservative Chosun Ilbo (4/21): "Our main interest inHwang is the information he has on North Korea. The UnitedStates and Japan have made direct and indirect demands thatthey be allowed to participate in debriefing Hwang.... Ifthe United States wants information on the North, we canalways relay it to them for the sake of our solidarity. The South Korean government would be wise to not takeadvantage of Hwang's defection politically. That, however,does not mean that things must remain secret, because thepublic has a right to know the results of questioning ofHwang." "Hwang Jang-yop: Long Journey To Freedom"Government-owned Seoul Shinmun (4/21): "The United Statesand Japan have both expressed a desire to question Hwang. Although it is natural for them to show interest in him, wedisapprove of U.S. participation in the interrogationprocess.... If the United States cannot trust us, and if that is why it wants to question Hwang, what we face hereis a need for the United States, Japan and South Korea tobuild a formation exchanging mechanism that is acceptableto all sides." "U.S. Will Conduct Equidistant Diplomacy" Independent Dong-A Ilbo (4/19) wondered: "How is theUnited States looking at the Korea issue? At this point itdoes not look as if U.S. policy will change much. Withimproved prospects for talks increasingly stabilizing thispeninsula, the United States will continue to pursue its'soft-landing' policy...(and) will try to maintain itscurrent level of influence over both Koreas.... "If the four-party talks show quick progress, the UnitedStates will be in an advantageous position to conduct an'equidistant diplomacy' toward both Koreas and will be ableto manage both sides effectively. This new developmentwill be a significant advantage to the United States interms of its regional diplomacy. Chinese influence, whichwill inevitably grow in this region in the new century, would be checked by a stabilized Korean peninsula. With astabilized Korea and China's influence blocked, the UnitedStates 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 Koreadid not quite say that it would agree to the four-partytalks, nor did the April 16 New York meeting look like muchmore than a 'food session' in which both sides merelyrepeated their former stands. After the meeting, the chiefof the North Korean delegation stated that there wasprogress, which was a positive signal. Both the UnitedStates and South Korea stuck to their position that theNorth had to come to the four-party talks before food aidcould 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 ishighly significant that the U.S. government raised theissue of North Korea's need to reduce its military justbefore 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 forcesconsisting of over two million men poses the greatestobstacle to the important goal of easing tension andachieving 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 toaccomplish it. The four-party talks should deal with thisissue. Meanwhile, the North should first use the food ithas stockpiled for military use to feed its starvingpeople." "'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 themain topics at the four-party talks. Indeed, it isespecially important in terms of restoring trust towardeach other.... In addition to easing tensions on thispeninsula, the North's agreeing to take actions to helprestore trust would greatly enhance the environment forfood aid as well as economic cooperation." "North Korea Should Solve its Food Problem With MilitaryReductions" Moderate Hankook Ilbo opined (4/17): "When the State Department urged North Korea to cut down the size of itsmilitary, the United States finally saw the North Koreaissue in a realistic way.... The United States' dialoguewith North Korea increases our leverage over the North. >From now on, all efforts connected with food aid and theopening of dialogue channels should be geared towardhaving the North reduce its military." "Crisis Management Plan Needed For North Korea" Pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo cautioned (4/14): "Withseveral high-ranking U.S. officials, including VicePresident Al Gore, agreeing about the possibility of theNorth's early collapse, it seems that the U.S. intelligenceand security communities share similar views. Plans--ranging from how to deal with North Korean refugees to anentire crisis management blueprint dealing with a collapsesituation--should already be in place. We must bear inmind that the possibility of military provocation remainshigh.... Ways to prevent our Northern brethren fromstarving 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 havenever been proven and we do not have means to confirm howbad the situation really is. This confusion has beenfurther aggravated by a new theory that the North maypursue war even if food is coming in from abroad.... As aresult of food shortages, the North indeed could either besimply too hungry to wage war or be forced to provoke acrisis. Without having the means at this point to confirmany of the allegations, how the situation is read dependsentirely on how one looks at it."JAPAN: "Dealing With North Korea Requires Patience"Conservative Sankei had this to say (4/23): "Diplomaticmoves over North Korea have become hurried and pointless. Although international relief including food aid forPyongyang is flowing because of the reports that NorthKorea is on the brink of starvation, preliminary talks inNew York between North Korea, the United States and SouthKorea on four-party peace negotiations have fallen throughagain. "North Korea is hinting it will not attend the four-partytalks if it does not receive additional food from theUnited States and South Korea. Although Pyongyang says itis on the verge of starvation, its negotiating stance isfar from desperate.... From the beginning, North Korea hasalways been more eager to establish direct links with theUnited States and less than enthusiastic about four-partytalks for a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. Even ifthe United States and South Korea 'force' an 'unwilling'North Korea to participate in the four-party talks, nothingpositive can be expected from such talks. Only when theNorth decides it needs to secure international food aid bywhatever means possible will Pyongyang be ready tocompromise and accept the peace talks. There is no need tobe hasty.""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 SouthKorean capital after two months of diplomatic bargainingshowed the complexities of the international politicsbetween South and North Korea.... Hwang warned of thedanger of the North launching a war on the Koreanpeninsula. Pyongyang may react strongly to Hwang'sstatement.... We believe that the Hwang defection caseshould no longer be used as an excuse to intensify theconfrontation between the two Koreas.... The realobjective should be direct dialogue through which peace canbe restored and the Korean peninsula reunified. Nothingcan be resolved until the two countries sit down togetherand start talking. The United States is beginning tobecome irritated with North Korea's slow and indecisiveresponse 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 ofJapanese citizens. North Korea should put its own house inorder quickly, and engage in dialogue with these countriesin order to settle pending issues in a positive manner." "Japan Should Clarify Its Position Over Food Aid For NorthKorea" Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri (4/16) held, "North Koreaneeds foreign food aid. This is obvious from film clipsand other reports of the food crisis that country faces.Nevertheless, most Japanese find it difficult to respond soeasily to appeals from the North for food aid. Suspicionssurfaced earlier this year that North Korea had a hand inthe abduction of a Japanese junior high schoolgirl, whodisappeared in Niigata 20 years ago. Six similar casesremain unaccounted for.... Another matter of concern isthe report, confirmed by the Foreign Ministry, that Rodong-1 missiles have been re-deployed. The missiles could posea serious threat to peace and stability in East Asia. Doubts remain whether international food aid reaches NorthKoreans civilians.... "Pyongyang must respond in good faith to allay suspicionsabout its past deeds.... Working closely with the UnitedStates and South Korea, the Japanese government shouldreiterate its basic policy toward North Korea and carefullyconsider steps to be taken in this matter.""Japan Should Give Food To Neighbor In Need" Liberal Mainichi said (4/9), "Sooner or later, Japan willbe asked to give food aid, too. Japan should then expressits willingness to give food aid to a neighbor in need. Atthe same time, Japan should urge Pyongyang not to developmissiles capable of attacking Japan and request that NorthKorea explain the circumstances of the alleged abduction ofa 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 abductionof a Japanese junior high school girl from Niigata 20 yearsago.... Japan should not follow the lead of the UnitedStates and South Korea, which have contributed 10 milliondollars and 6 million dollars respectively to the WorldFood Program (for North Korea). Neither should itparticipate in talks to determine Japan's share offinancial aid for KEDO.... Needless to say, it isstrategically important to maintain stability on the Koreanpeninsula. But there is no need to give humanitarian aidto North Korea, an inhumane state which continues to refusethe 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 againstaggression, but an instrument of blackmail in the hands ofthe North Koreans, who are demanding ever larger amounts offood aid from the United States and Japan because theyknow that in the last resort neither dare refuse.... The strategic dilemma in which the United States finds itselfis acute. The lack of a secure defense against missileattack renders its forces, notwithstanding their otherwisehigh level of technological sophistication, impotent in theface of the possibility of a regional war in north-east Asia."PHILIPPINES: "Koreas: Potential Tinderbox" The independent Manila Standard (4/22) said, "It is hopedthat the two Koreas would finally close the books on the1950-53 Korean War by replacing the shaky armistice with amore enduring peace treaty. The world should hope that theNorth Korean leaders would see the wisdom of joining thefour-party talks. Negotiations could stave off theimpending famine, ease tensions and make possible the ideaof a united Korea. An escalation of mass hunger anddesperation could prompt a proud and defiant Pyongyang toengages the South rashly in a show of force. The starvingmasses, unrestrained by government troops, could pour intoSouth Korea in huge numbers.... The Korean peninsula is atinderbox that has the potential to cause grave destructionand suffering.""Facing Famine"The independent Manila Times judged (4/17): "A big part ofNorth Korea's economic and financial crisis should be laidat the doorstep of the one million-strong armed forces.... This bloc, admittedly, gets the best accommodations, foodand clothing, even while the rest of the country isfamished.... But peace talks should be treated separatelyfrom what is clearly a humanitarian issue. The World FoodProgram has a proven record of ensuring that food donationsreach 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 thePhilippines is to help reduce tensions on the Koreanpeninsula and help bring about a reconciliation of theKorean people in the two countries.... A reunification ofthe two nations would be costly to South Korea in the shortrun, but would, looking down the road, help promotedevelopment and stability on the peninsula and the region.""Juche Fails"Antonio Abaya had this to say in the conservative, secondlargest circulation Philippine Star (3/22): "Hwang Jang-yop...is a major catch for South Korea because he was aleading figure in the reclusive regime of the late...Kim IlSung. He was...the chief architect of the hermit kingdom'snational ideology of 'Juche,' or 'Self Reliance,' which isnow being stood on its head as North Korea faces widespreadstarvation following two years of devastating floods.... The main Filipino admirers of Hwang's Juche...should begiven the opportunity to interact with Hwang and hear fromno 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 inthe independent Manila Standard (3/19): "There is adangerous catch to the...dangerous diplomatic game thePhilippines has decided to play. Allowing Hwang a 'transitpoint' (in the Philippines) as requested by Beijing andSouth Korea would ensure his departure from China, and thismay earn for the Philippines a lifetime of enmity, if nothatred, from the unpredictable communist overlords inPyongyang. With its huge armed forces...and modernweaponry to boot, its displeasure toward us may eventuallytranslate into numerous clandestine arms shipments to theremaining insurgents in our country." THAILAND: "North Korea Risks Its Own Survival"The lead editorial of top-circulation, moderatelyconservative Bangkok Post commented (4/21): "North Korea'sdecision to renege on its own promise (by refusing to showup for three-way talks with the United States and SouthKorea in New York) once again can only be viewed withworry and even some alarm. As long as the Pyongyangregime refuses to join peace talks, its decision iseffectively to continue to refuse any search for peace. This can only be taken as a distressing sign that NorthKorea intends to continue its secretive activities. Theseare, in essence, aimed at destabilizing both the Koreanpeninsula and all of East Asia.... North Korea has twohonorable courses, and if it expects respect from theworld it must choose one of them, quickly. The first is to accept the U.S.-South Korea offer of peace talks, includingChina.... The second acceptable choice is for North Koreato reject the U.S.-South Korean offer and make one of itsown. Such an offer must address security issues, includingthe fears among many of North Korea's neighbors that it intends to renew war. It must also include hard decisionsabout Pyongyang's secretive but known attempts to buildnuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.... A NorthKorean decision to negotiate will be well received, andPyongyang knows this. Similarly, North Korea must know itwill receive no reward for continuing to be recalcitrant. Each time Pyongyang backs down on one of its promises, itincreases the tension and threat of violence. North Koreacan become respectable if it negotiates. By continuing todelay, 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 thatany diplomatic gains will not come easy. "Despite their reservations, the U.S.-led allies mustpersist in using the opportunity presented by the crisisin North Korea to search for a solution. Much is at stakeand not only from the threat of famine to North Korea's 22million people. Successful talks including China, SouthKorea, the United States and North Korea could finally endthe technical war that has divided the peninsula for fourdecades and replace the long-standing armistice with apeace treaty. It is in nobody's interest to let NorthKorea implode, unleashing instability, massive refugeeflows and unpredictable reactions from Pyongyang.... There is no doubt about the self-serving nature ofPyongyang's regime and the huge gap in trust that needs tobe bridged before real progress can be made. The West, led by the United States, is slowly making those steps withincreased offers of aid. It could move further byproposing a comprehensive deal in which it would promiseguaranteed food aid and an easing of U.S. trade sanctions. But in return, Pyongyang must commit itself to redeployingthe massive assortment of troops and arms along theborder, and begin doing it quickly.""U.S. And Asia" Tosapon Kraipan commented in elite Siam Post (4/12): "TheUnited States is now utilizing all means at its disposalto persuade North Korea to enter into peace negotiationswith South Korea... If North Korea complies, leading tothe signing of a peace treaty, unification of the twoKoreas may be possible. Pyongyang will not be able toresist the strain the famine (and mismanagement) havebrought on the regime for too long. It will eventually beforced to abandon socialism and to embrace democracy.... When that day comes, North Korea will not be different fromtoday's Russia, which is forced by circumstances tounconditionally follow the U.S.s' every lead... Then, theUnited States could divert its attention to seriouslynegotiating with China on the issues of Taiwan, humanrights and freedom of Hong Kong residents. If thisscenario works out accordingly, it would not be difficultfor the United States to take total and undisputablecontrol of Asia." "Warning Shots From North Korea"Elite Siam Post's Tosapon Kraipan commented (4/11), "NorthKorean troops' exchanging of warning shots with their SouthKorean rivals at the demilitarized zone shortly before U.S.Defense Secretary William Cohen flew to the area...wasintended to be seen as a challenge to both the UnitedStates and South Korea.... (But) North Korea is notcurrently in the position to challenge anyone.... It maybe oblivious to the fact that, by acting this way, it hasplayed into the hands of its adversaries. First, U.S.-South Korean ties, military and otherwise, will bestrengthened. Second, the United States will have anexcuse not to withdraw its troops from the Korean peninsulaand North Korea will continue to be branded as a confirmedpariah and ostracized." EUROPE BRITAIN: "Keep Talking To North Korea" The independent weekly Economist told its readers in aneditorial (4/18): "Some countries are hard to help. NorthKorea is about the hardest of all. Its usually secretiveregime has admitted that some children have died frommalnutrition. Yet even as North Korea extends its beggingbowl, it continues to bite the hands trying to feed itshungry people.... So what to make of North Korea'sexpected 'yes' to a joint American-South Korean proposalfor four-way peace talks...that could ease tensions at oneof the world's most dangerous frontiers? Hope for thebest, but prepare for the worst. Indeed, the biggest worryis that it may already be too late to prop up North Korea. By all means, hope for a 'soft landing' for its crumplingeconomy. But be prepared for a crash." "North Korea Starves" In the judgment of the liberal Guardian (4/16): "There arestrategic arguments for keeping food and the peace talkslinked, but it would be unwise only to dole out the bareminimum. This is a humanitarian issue and there is noreason why the people of North Korea should be punished forliving under a fantasy cult regime. Nor is the strategy asound one: None of North Korea's neighbors--least of allSouth Korea--wants the country to implode. A collapse ofthe regime would produce a huge refugee problem, andpossibly internal strife as well--perhaps even a last-breath military provocation. Much better to feed thegenerals and the people, and give the solution time toemerge." "Chinese See Piles Of Dead Children In North Korea" Under the above headline, the conservative Times ran thisreport from its China correspondent in Dandong, on theNorth Korean border (3/18): "Chinese truck driversferrying grain supplies to North Korea say they have seencorpses of children lying abandoned, and describe scenes ofhunger and deprivation in the world's last Staliniststate.... Analysts predict that North Korea could collapsein two years, with chaos similar to that in Albania,another state in the Stalinist mode."GERMANY: "Helpless, Unpredictable Pyongyang Plays AHazardous Game" Gebhard Hielbscher maintained in an editorial in centristSueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/23): "The failure of thetalks in New York again demonstrated how unpredictable anddangerous the regime in Pyongyang still is. As long asNorth Korea refuses an open dialogue, we must assume thatit does not accept South Korea as a partner of detente. Obviously, Pyongyang continues to see Seoul as an opponentthat needs to be outmaneuvered and possibly eliminated. Thus the danger remains that the North could risk a newwar--be it because Kim Jong-Il or his military leaders feelthey are being backed up against the wall, or because theyoverestimate their own forces. South Korea and its alliesmust always be prepared for such danger. U.S. satellitepictures showing that North Korea has deployed medium-rangemissiles underscore this threat. It would be irresponsiblebehavior to dismiss such moves as a red herring. "We can only speculate about the reasons for thecancellation of the talks.... But because of North Koreandefector Hwang Jang-yop, Seoul and Washington now have abetter picture of the situation in North Korea.... It ismuch more important to learn how seriously Kim Jong-il andhis generals take the current food crisis. The breakdownof the New York talks gives reason to assume that Pyongyangbelieves to have more latitude than pictures of downtroddenpeople offer. If it is clear that considerable parts offoreign food aid lands in army depots or with leadershipcadres, the donor countries should insist on supervisingthe distribution of food, since the suffering of thepeople would than only be prolonged." RUSSIA: "China May Follow Japan's Path" Reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti's (# 16, 4/22) ranthis comment by Lev Prichinin: "Only very naive peoplemight think that the United States, Japan and South Koreahave been forging stronger strategic ties among themselveswith 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, butwith its economy growing fast--ready to attack new markets. There is no guarantee that the Chinese will not follow thepath of Japanese economic expansion, in a way that mightpale anything the Americans and the Japanese have seen.... Russia and China may not be allies, but, having similargeopolitical concerns, they can hardly be enemies either." "Wars Come And Go, U.S. Interests Remain" Ivan Shomov contended in reformist Segodnya (4/8): "TheUnited States' strong objections to the proposed sales ofRussian rocket complexes to South Korea are strictlypolitical, and serve the interests of U.S. armsmanufacturers, which have dominated that region fordecades. The same is true of Defense Secretary Cohen'sstatement that Washington intends to keep its forward-baseforces in East Asia even after a full peaceful settlementis reached on the Korean peninsula.... Hearing that, youcan't agree more with a prominent politician who once saidthat wars, cold or hot, come and go, but U.S. interestsremain." 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, apolitical dimension.... Donor countries--the UnitedStates, Japan and South Korea among others--are carefullyweighing the tons of rice they are allow for delivery toPyongyang, as much according to the country's overtures andpolitical evolution as to its shortage of food. Beyondhumanitarian considerations, they are seeking to preventthe implosion of North Korea.... "Paradoxically, South Korea is the more reserved.... It isnot very popular in South Korea to be generous toward anungrateful regime which ignores, despises and refuses torecognize the sister country.... (South Korea's) fingershave been burned by Pyongyang's attempts to acquire nuclearweapons. Fearing (North Korea's) capacity in the field ofarms proliferation and caring about regional stability, theUnited States shows more flexibility. On one hand, it isproviding assistance and talks to Kim Jong-Il's regime. Onthe other, it is trying to lead Seoul, Tokyo and Beijinginto a policy of regional stabilization and integration ofNorth 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 aidto North Korea over the weekend and in the United States, agovernment spokesmen indicated that North Korea, SouthKorea, China and the United States will shortly initiatepeace negotiations. These developments indicate that thesituation in North Korea is worsening. Massive floodsthree summers in a row and the general economic collapse ofthe Stalinist state have led to severe food shortages.... There is simply not enough to sustain life and the deathtoll will explode during the course of the spring ifmassive humanitarian aid is not provided.... This is whyboth South Korea and the United States have promised toincrease their support without demanding any politicalconcessions as previously.... If aid is provided quickly,it will be worth twice as much in the long run and it willmake it difficult for the North Koreans to maintain theirCold War stance." SOUTH ASIA INDIA: "Forces In Asia: Pentagon Creates Confusion"This analysis by Tokyo correspondent F. J. Khergamvalaappeared in the centrist Hindu (4/14): "Defense SecretaryWilliam Cohen, and the soon-to-retire Chief of the JointServices, General John Shalikashvili, have just ended back-to-back visits to Japan and South Korea.... Cohen...announced that even if the two Koreas were tounite, U.S. forces would retain their present strength inJapan and South Korea 'into the indefinite future.'... This is the first time a top U.S. official has linked thefuture presence of U.S. forces to a particulareventuality.... Within two days, General Shalikashvilisaid in Tokyo that, should there be a change on the Koreanpeninsula, 'we would make the right adjustments' afterconsultation with allies.... "The Pentagon seems to be trying to juggle several balls atone time, including constituencies back home.... On theother hand, Cohen also sought to reassure Southeast Asiannations who feel that the United States--and only theUnited States--with Japan in a subsidiary role, can playthe role of the regional gendarme." "North Korean Defector"This analysis appeared in the centrist Times of India(3/20): "While Hwang is potentially a pricelessintelligence asset, South Korea will need to clear up oneother mystery first: is there any likelihood that Hwang isin fact a double agent, told to defect in order to spreaddisinformation about North Korea's true intentions?... This question will be difficult to answer; North Korea'sangry reactions could have been rehearsed. The reactionswould have been the same whether Hwang was a real defectoror a planned deception. The South Koreans are certain tobe wary." LATIN AMERICA ARGENTINA: "Parallel Tragedies" Pro-government La Prensa told its readers (3/21): "Thefood crisis in North Korea and the financial disasterwhich led Albania to anarchy are different expressions ofthe same evil.... The North Korean and Albanian crises arethe result, in different stages and according to localcharacteristics, of the unique aspect shared by theCommunist 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--closedits doors to the foreign world in a process that turned itinto the poorest country in Europe and moved it back to thepre-history of the modern economy. Shortly before, NorthKorea had also become a fortress-island of communistpuritanism and imposed a 'Self-Reliance' ('Juche') policy,whose mentor--supreme ideologist Hwang Jang-yop, who drovehis country to famine as a consequence of his ideas--hasrecently deserted to capitalist South Korea. At 74, heappears to feel sorry for his unfortunate concepts whichhave affected 24 million Koreans who, unlike him, do nothave the same privilege of abandoning their oppressivecountry. "Albania is the 'sui generis' prologue of the future thatawaits North Korea. When the famous fences of the 38thparallel collapse--as (such barriers) did in Eastern Europeat one point--trampled down by a population tired ofspiritual and material deprivation, the thousands ofrefugees who cross the Adriatic will be but shadows of themigratory movements that will take place in the Koreanpeninsula. And here lies the difference that makes NorthKorea a victim with some kind of 'advantage.' It has, likeEast Germany had in West Germany, a sister nation in SouthKorea, to assist with funds and experience. There is noWest or South Albania that can assist it in the painfultransition from proto-communism to a market economy. Thisis clearly evident." ## For more information, please contact:U.S. Information AgencyOffice of Public LiaisonTelephone: (202) 619-4355 4/23/97 # # #.
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