Archive for the ‘ASEAN’ Category

(UPDATED) DPRK signs ASEAN non-agression treaty

Friday, July 11th, 2008

UPDATE: From Voice of America:

North Korea’s foreign minister signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation – often called the TAC – at the conclusion of the Association of Southeast Asian nations regional security forum, Thursday in Singapore.

The deal was drafted in 1976, and has been signed by all of ASEAN’s ten members, plus 14 other nations including South Korea, with whom North Korea has never formally concluded its 1950s war.

Alan Chong, a political science expert at the National University of Singapore, says the TAC is very general, but sets a framework for peace.

“It has been morally binding in a positive way rather than legally binding. It is a diplomatic device that commits signatories to this notion of a minimal peaceful coexistence, you know, ‘Don’t resort to the use of arms and other physical hostile measures the moment you have international disputes,'” said Chong.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Bloomberg:

North Korea agreed to sign the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ non-aggression treaty, Kyodo News reported yesterday, citing a letter by the communist state’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun.

North Korea has requested the treaty not be imposed on its relations with countries outside the 10 ASEAN members, the news service said, citing the letter from Pak to Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo, ASEAN current chairman.

ASEAN member nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Read the full stories here:
North Korea Signs On to Southeast Asia ‘Amity’ Pact
Voice of America
Kurt Achin

North Korea to Sign ASEAN’s Non-Aggression Treaty, Kyodo Says
Takahiko Hyuga


North Korea will attend ASEAN meeting

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

From the Bangkok Post

North Korea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations, will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Singapore next month, Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo said.

Mr Yeo made the announcement last week during his meeting with Thai journalists on an exchange programme.

Asean foreign ministers agreed to invite North Korea to sign Asean’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) during an informal conference in Singapore in February.

Pyongyang joined the Asean Regional Forum in 2000 and has diplomatic relations with Asean nations. If North Korea signs the TAC, it would be considered a great advancement for peace-building in the Asia-Pacific region.

TAC is a regional code of conduct which encourages the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue.

TAC has been adopted by 24 countries, including the 10 Asean nations.

Read the full article here:
North Korea will attend ASEAN meeting
Bangkok Post
Anchalee Kongrut


Weekly Report on North Korea (July 30, 2007 – August 5, 2007)

Monday, August 13th, 2007

South Korean Ministry of Unification
Serial No.851 (July 30 to August 05, 2007)

Internal Affairs

  • According to the report by the Central Broadcasting Station on July 30, North Korea held the Election of Deputies to the Provincial (Municipality Directly under Central Authority), City (District) and County People’s Assemblies of the DPRK on July 29 and announced the result through the report by the Central Election Guidance Committee.
  • According to the reports by the Central Broadcasting Station from August 1 to 4, Chairman Kim Jongil inspected a sub-unit of KPA Unit 4318, the Unit 136, and the Unit 273.
  • The Central Broadcasting Station reported on August 2 that cooperative farms in Dahungdan-gun, Yanggang-do, are focusing on potato farming.

Inter-Korean Affairs

  • According to the reports by the Central Broadcasting Station and Pyongyang Broadcasting Services on August 3, the spokesperson of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland announced a statement on August 2 to criticize the U.S.-ROK joint military exercise Ulchi Focus Lens from August 20 to 31.
  • The Rodong Daily reported on August 4 that on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s work “Let Us Carry out the Great Leader Comrade Kim IL Sung’s Instructions for National Reunification,” North Korea held a Pyongyang city report session on August 3 and published a commemorative editorial on August 4 on the Rodong Daily.

Foreign Affairs

  • The standing committee chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Young-nam made a formal visit to Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia from July 24 to 31.
  • North Korean delegates led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Ui-chun visited the Philippines to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum from July 28 to August 2.
  • With the U.S. House’s adoption of the resolution on comfort women, North Korea is continuously criticizing Japan, maintaining Japan’s raising the abduction issue is causing trouble in the six party talks.
  • North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Ui-chun met South Korean counterpart Song Min-soon during the ASEAN Regional Forum and reaffirmed that the abolition of the U.S. hostile policy against North Korea should be the precondition of the implementation of the second step of February 13 Agreement. 

N.K. to send delegation to ASEAN regional forum

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Korea Herald

North Korea will send two diplomats to a Southeast Asian regional forum opening later this week in Manila, where a senior U.S. official will also be present, according to press reports Monday.

A Filipino official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying that North Korea is expected to send Jong Song-il and Ri Tong-il from the foreign ministry to the senior officials’ meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum opening in Manila on Friday.

The session is a prelude to the ARF conference in August. Christopher Hill, top U.S. envoy to six-nation denuclearization talks, is also scheduled to participate in the meetings, raising the possibility of contact between Pyongyang and Washington amid a stalemate in the talks.

Jong was a member of North Korea-U.S. bilateral nuclear negotiations in 1993 and 1994 but has not been a part of the six-party talks, which involve South and North Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. He participated in ARF in 2004 and 2006, according to Yonhap News Agency.


Paek the Opaque: Another Old North Korean Bites the Dust

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Aidan Foster-Carter
Nautilus Institute

Everyone is famous for 15 minutes, at least according to the late American pop artist and cultural icon Andy Warhol.

For Paek Nam Sun, that was literally true. North Korea’s foreign minister since 1998, who has just died, hit the headlines just once in all his 77 years – and then only on the inside pages, mainly of the regional press in Asia.

Coffee with evil in Brunei

That was in August 2002, when for a quarter of an hour Paek sipped coffee with his rather better known US opposite number at the time, Colin Powell. The place was Brunei; the occasion, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

Senior American and North Korean leaders rarely meet at the best of times, which this was not. Earlier that year, President George W Bush had famously labeled Kim Jong Il’s regime, along with Iran and Iraq, as part of an “axis of evil”. So for his Secretary of State to dally thus with the enemy, even briefly, raised eyebrows in some quarters.

We know now, as suspected at the time, that Powell was keen to engage North Korea. But vice-president Dick Cheney was dead against, and Cheney had Bush’s ear.

Any hopes of renewed dialogue were dashed later in 2002. Accused by Washington of a second, covert nuclear programme, North Korea restarted its first one precipitating a crisis that continues, climaxing (so far) in its testing a nuclear device on October 9.

Paek low in the pecking order

With the nuclear crisis ongoing, we might have expected to see more of Paek Nam Sun. But they do things differently in North Korea.

A senior diplomat (and sometime ambassador to Poland) who had also been active in early contacts with South Korea since the 1970s, as foreign minister the genial Paek was a largely ceremonial figure: trundled out for occasions like the ARF. As such he was in Kuala Lumpur last July, where he reportedly also had medical treatment.

Serious negotiations, on the other hand, were and are the province of Paek’s nominal deputies: two above all. The better known is deputy foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan, who heads Pyongyang’s delegation to the on-off six party nuclear talks. A skilled and confident negotiator, Kim even gave an unscripted if brief press conference after the latest round of talks, held in Beijing last month, ended inconclusively.

But the real heavy hitter is first vice foreign minister Kang Sok Ju. He it was who negotiated the October 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework (AF); defusing an earlier North Korean nuclear crisis (plus ca change), back in the Bill Clinton era, which in mid-1994 had come perilously close to unleashing a second Korean War. If the six-party process ever gets anywhere, which is doubtful, Kang will be wheeled on again. For now, the more junior Kim Kye Gwan does the honours.

Puzzling pseudonymy

So Paek Nam Sun’s passing will hardly send a tremor through North Korea’s foreign policy. But it does shed light on the curious way they order matters in Pyongyang.

For one thing, what was his real name? The man who first showed up in the 1970s for Red Cross talks with South Korea was known as Paek Nam Jun. But after he became foreign minister, the J mysteriously morphed into an S.

Peculiar, but not unique. Ri Jong Hyok, Pyongyang’s current point man for ties with Seoul, was Ri Dong Hyok in the 1980s when he headed North Korea’s quasi-embassy in Paris. There are several other such cases. It’s hardly a disguise, so what gives?

(En passant, the French connection is intriguing. Nominally the last EU state to resist full recognition of the DPRK, in practice France has hosted a North Korean legation since the 1970s. And both Kang Sok Ju and Kim Kye Gwan majored in French: the traditional language of international diplomacy.)

Dying off

Another oddity: North Korean elites hardly ever retire. Like Paek, they mostly die in post, often at an advanced age. Communist regimes tend to gerontocracy: think China, at least until recently. But North Korea has taken this, like most things, to extremes.

Since Kim Jong Il succeeded his father Kim Il Sung as leader in 1994, the nominally ruling communist party, the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), seems to be frozen – at least at the top. No new appointments to the Politburo have been announced in over a decade. Instead its ranks have been thinned by the remorseless march of mortality.

Latest to go was Kye Ung Tae, who as KWP secretary for national security wielded far more power than Paek Nam Sun. Kye died of lung cancer on November 23, aged 81. That leaves just six full Politburo members. One anti-Japanese guerilla veteran and honorary vice president Pak Song Chol passed 93 last September. Three others are over 80. Titular head of state Kim Yong Nam turns 79 on February 4, just before the “dear leader” Kim Jong Il a mere lad by comparison reaches his 65th birthday.

That would be retiring age in most normal countries. But Kim Jong Il has yet to name a successor, among several competing sons and other contenders. His health is said to be not of the best although such rumors have proved premature in the past.

A nuclear North Korea is indeed a worry, but it is not the only one. The world, and even Pyongyang, will take the death of Paek Nam Sun (who?) in its stride. But Kim Jong Il could go just as suddenly. In that case all bets for North Korea would be off.


Kaesong products covered under ASEAN agreement

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

From the Joong Ang:

Asean agrees to accept Kaesong goods in FTA

Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations agreed to accept South Korea’s request to recognize some products from a North Korean industrial park as South Korean as part of plans for a free trade pact, officials here said yesterday.

Under the agreement, reached yesterday at a meeting of finance officials in Kuala Lumpur, nine out of the 10 Asean member nations will give preferential tariffs on 100 items made in the inter-Korean business complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. In May, South Korea and Asean agreed on the liberalization of trade between the two sides by 2010.

“We feel this is an important step in integrating North Korea into the international community and I would like to express my gratitude to Asean,” AFP quoted South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong as saying at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The agreement allows Asean countries to choose 100 Kaesong-made goods each for preferential tariff treatment, the Korean ministry said. Thailand, the Asean member country that stayed out of the agreement in May due to differences over the rice market opening, didn’t sign the agreement, the ministry said.

Still, to finalize the proposed free trade accord, South Korea and Asean have to have open talks on other deals regarding trade and investment.

South Korea is also engaging in talks for a proposed free trade accord with the United States, and the issue of Kaesong has been a key stumbling block.

Seoul demands Washington recognize the Kaesong-made goods as originating from South Korea, as part of its efforts to boost inter-Korean trade and bring a market economy to the communist neighbor.

Washington’s trade officials have been cool about the idea, saying the agreement should only cover goods from South Korea and the United States. 


ASEAN and 5 regional naitons to pressure DPRK on talks

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

From the BBC:

N Korea talks ‘unlikely’ at Asean

Hopes are fading that an Asean summit in Malaysia can kick-start negotiations on the North Korean nuclear stand-off.

Ministers from all six nations involved in talks on the North’s nuclear aims will be at the meeting later this week, but officials say progress is unlikely.

But the Malaysian hosts say North Korea has already signalled its unwillingness to restart the stalled talks this week, and a senior Chinese official told reporters that Beijing sees no reason for the other five countries involved to meet if North Korea refuses to participate.

From Yonhap: (7/26/2006)

U.S. formally asks N. Korea to attend six-way meeting in Malaysia: sources
By Lee Chi-dong

The United States has formally asked North Korea to join it in a six-way gathering with South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan on the sidelines of this week’s Asian regional security forum, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

The request was delivered through Pyongyang’s mission to the United Nations in New York earlier this week, they added.

But it is unclear whether North Korea will accept the offer, with the U.S. ruling out any bilateral talks with the communist state outside of a six-way format.

The North’s intention is expected to be made public when its foreign minister Paek Nam-sun arrives here on Thursday afternoon to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum.

From the BBC: (7/25/2006)

Asean concerned at N Korea test

South East Asian nations have expressed concern over North Korea’s missile tests and urged a return to talks on its nuclear programme. The tests could affect regional peace and stability, the statement said.  The appeal came in a joint statement issued after a meeting of Asean foreign ministers in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Foreign ministers from the 10 countries which make up Asean (the Association of South East Asian Nations) are holding talks in Malaysia until the weekend.  They will be joined later in the week by participants from other Asian nations for the Asean Regional Forum.  US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to attend the conference on Thursday. Officials say North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun will also take part.  Representatives from the other four nations participating in talks with North Korea – China, Russia, South Korea and Japan – will also be present, raising the possibility of informal talks on the nuclear issue.

But it is not clear whether North Korea will agree. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said he had proposed a meeting with his North counterpart, but received no confirmation of it.

In the joint statement, Asean urged the six dialogue partners to “utilise their presence during the ARF to promote the resumption of the talks”.


Some Kaesong goods considered “South Korean”

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

From the Donga:

On May 16, Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached an agreement on the modality for freeing their goods, a core part of a free trade agreement (FTA). Under the agreement, the goods produced in North Korea’s Gaesong industrial complex will be recognized as Korean if the products meet certain terms.

The Office of the Minister for Trade announced that Trade Minister Kim Hyun-jong and trade ministers from nine ASEAN members signed an agreement on FTA goods trade on this day in Manila, the Philippines, leaving out Thailand for the time being.

The Korean government plans to ask the National Assembly to ratify the agreement in the regular session in September so that it can take effect within this year.

Only 100 items out of the products made in Gaesong industrial complex will be recognized as “Made in Korea,” as long as more than 60 percent of the materials from which they are made are of South Korean origin or if the added value of South Korean materials put in the product is more than 40 percent.

Kim Han-soo, FTA bureau chief, said, “If needed, Korea can make a request for a change in the items recognized as Korean made.”

According to the agreement, Korea and ASEAN are bound to remove tariffs on 90 percent of the number of import items and of the import amount respectively by 2010.

Tariffs on “sensitive items” including squid, mushroom, and pumpkin will be lowered to 0 ~ 5 percent by 2016. “Highly sensitive items” will be excluded from the market opening and be protected by means of a limited level of tariff cut by 2016 or a tariff rate quota.

Forty-five items such as rice, chicken meat, live or frozen fish, and most fruits are protected from the opening.

The Office of Minister for Trade said, “This is the first FTA which Korea signed with the fifth largest export market.” And it also predicted, “In the mid to long term, the FTA with ASEAN is expected to increase Korean exports to the ASEAN region by $10 billion and trade surplus by about $6 billion annually.”