Members of civic organization Women Corea and student body presidents of women’s universities in the Seoul region carry roses during a protest to call for an end to South Korea-U.S. joint exercises in front of the Ministry of Defense in Seoul, Nov. 13. (Photo by Park Jong-shik)
* Text thankfully forwarded by Steve Zeltzer then Lotus Fong from Dec 1 to Dec. 2, 2010
Civic organizations call for dialogue with N.Korea as military continues drills :Organizations say that a peaceful resolution is the only way to recover regional stability and peace
By Kim Min-kyung
About 20 labor, civic and social organizations, including opposition parties, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements (KAPM), issued an emergency joint statement Tuesday that called a peaceful resolution through dialogue the only way to recover stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Holding a press conference at the Korea Press Foundation in Seoul’s Jung-gu neighborhood Tuesday morning, the groups called for the immediate suspension of all words and acts that could cause another armed clash, the immediate restart of six-party talks involving North Korea and South Korea and surrounding nations, the execution of a special zone of peace and cooperation in the West Sea and other measures to reduce tensions.
Women Corea also held a press conference in front of the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday afternoon in which they called on North Korea and South Korea to hold talks so that the situation does not deteriorate any further.
Meanwhile, a conservative group Zeitgeist and Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (Nknet) plan to hold Wednesday an emergency discussion of civic and social elders regarding North Korea’s military attack. The discussion will involve Zeitgeist Director General An Byeong-jik, former Prime Minister Roh Jae-bong and former Defense Minister Lee Sang-hoon.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries held a maritime interdiction drill as part of their joint naval drills Tuesday. A military official said it was general tactical training for searching a hostile ship, but he acknowledged that the content and purpose of the drill was little different from the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) drills. This is the first time South Korea has held a maritime drill similar in character to the PSI in the West Sea.
As for why the Marine unit on Yeonpyeong Island suddenly canceled a scheduled artillery drill after it had announced it Sunday, the military said, “Wires were crossed due to mistaken judgment by the Marine unit on the ground.”
There are many, however, who say it is unreasonable to believe that the command of a frontline unit would decide on a drill at a time when the restart of such drills could lead to additional North Korean provocations.
“Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Han Min-koo’s will to restart artillery drills was quite strong,” a military official said. “There will be a chance to discuss later the background to canceling the drill.”
Within and outside the military, they are pointing to the United States as the one that forced the Joint Chiefs to take a seat.
For the United States, which some say is trying not to become caught up in an unnecessary conflict, moves by the South Korean military that seem aimed at recovering its wounded pride while using the allied force in the West Sea as a shield would be burdensome, they say. Others observe that it would take some more time before South Korea had the strength to give North Korea a sure “punishment” when it makes a provocation.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s Defense Committee voted Tuesday to boost next year’s defense budget, currently at 31.2 trillion Won ($27 billion), by 714.6 billion Won or 2.3 percent. Emergency measures to boost the defense of the northwestern islands have cost 300.5 billion Won, including 83.4 billion for the Defense Ministry and 217.1 billion for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.