Entries in South Korea (86)


Soccer Diplomacy: North Korea Beats South Korea in Women's East Asian Cup

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- Despite tensions on the Korean peninsula, the game of soccer brought North Korean and South Korean players together for Women's East Asian Cup on Sunday.

North Korean women's soccer team won 2 to 1 against the South.

The game was held in hot humid weather in Seoul and was in favor of a strong North Korean team with defense Ho Un-byol scored two goals in the latter half.

"It was not easy for our players because of weather conditions and they were very tired. But we won with strong belief that our people (in the North) are waiting for good news," said North's coach Kim Kwang-min at a press conference. "Our dear leader Kim Jong-Un gives great attention and love to our players. So our players try to fulfill that expectation with love (to him) and do our best to compensate back."

North Korea is barred by FIFA from the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada after five of their players tested positive for steroids in the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.

Coach Kim had said the doping was unintended and was due to a traditional medicine that contained musk deer glands to treat the five players because they had been struck by lightning while training before the match. They had lost 2-0 to the United States.

Analysts see the North's participation to the four-nation Women's East Asian Cup as Pyongyang's shot at sports diplomacy in line with recent efforts to ease tensions after bombarding South Korea and the U.S. with threats of nuclear strikes and missile tests in April.

"They are completely isolated from the world and they know that this is serious," said Yang Moo-jin, professor of politics at University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. The two Koreas are in rare talks to reopen a joint industrial park in Kaesong that closed after North Korea ordered closure as relations tumbled.

The game though did not shine any positive light in terms of easing tensions on the public level. Contrary to the strong emotional support showered by the public at times when North Korean sports teams made rare visits to the South, the 67,000 seat stadium was largely empty except for a few blocks of soccer fans and a few hundred scattered audience.

A large group of pro-North Japanese supporters were expected but only about 20 people were seen seated in a secluded area behind the goal.

"This is the harsh reality of where North-South relations stand at the moment," said Yang. "We used to greet them with open arms because Koreans are one nation even if relations were bad. But this time, both the public and the South Korean government are all in the 'let's isolate them more, they deserve it' mood."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Korea, South Korea Engage in Marathon Talks

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Delegates from North and South Korea held marathon preparatory talks at Panmunjom on Sunday, after months of tension between the nations.

The talks, which occurred along the heavily-armed border of the two countries, were initiated with the hopes of setting ground rules for higher-level discussions. According to BBC News, the talks went smoothly, with no arguments.

South Korea had invited the North to engage in high-level discussion at Seoul, but the two sides decided to lower-level conversation first. The meeting between officials from the two sides was the first in over two years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Korea Launches Three Short-Range Guided Missiles

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The South Korean Defense Ministry says that North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into waters off its east coast on Saturday, raising concerns about the potential for more military provocation in the region.

Two KN-02 missiles were fired in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon, spokesman Min-seok Kim said.

Unlike the mid-range Musudan missiles which are believed to be capable of traveling more than 1,800 miles, within reach of Japan and South Korea, the missiles launched Saturday only have a range of 75 miles.

Kyodo News, citing an unnamed Japanese official, said the missiles never reached Japanese waters.

North Korea routinely tests short-range missiles, but the launches Saturday came amid signs that diplomacy may finally be cooling tempers on the Korean Peninsula after weeks of warlike threats from Pyongyang.

This past week, Glyn Davies, the State Department's senior envoy on North Korea, traveled to Beijing, South Korea, and Japan, to discuss all aspects of the North Korea issue. That trip was preceded by a surprise visit to Pyongyang by one of Japan's most experienced diplomats on North Korea, Isao Iijima.

During his four day trip, Iijima, an adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with senior officials, including North Korea's No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam.

Abe has largely remained mum about the secret visit, aimed at restarting talks to bring home Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s, a key hurdle in normalizing bilateral ties.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated to its worst in decades earlier this year, after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February.

Angered by UN sanctions, and joint US-South Korean military drills, Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington, and unilaterally pulled out of the 60-year-old war armistice that ended the Korean War.

In April, North Korea suspended operations at the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex, pulling out 53,000 workers.

US officials said North Korea withdrew two of their Musudan missiles earlier this month, but Pyongyang renewed threats of a nuclear war last week, following the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The ship was brought in to the southern port city of Busan for joint US-South Korea naval drills.

North Korea's state TV called the move an "extremely reckless" provocation, saying "The risk of a nuclear war in the peninsula has risen further due to the madcap nuclear war practice by the US and the South's enemy force."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


American and South Korean Generals Postpone Trips to Washington

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The ongoing tense situation on the North Korean peninsula has led the top American general in South Korea and South Korea’s top general to cancel long-planned trips to Washington this week.

On Sunday, Col. Amy Hannah, a U.S. Forces Korea spokesperson, said that Gen. James Thurman, the commander of U.S. and U.N. forces in South Korea, would not be traveling to Washington this week for previously scheduled congressional budget hearings.

“Given the current situation General Thurman will remain in Seoul next week as a prudent measure.  He has asked the Senate Armed Services Committee,” said the statement.

The statement says that Thurman had asked three congressional committees to ” to excuse his absence until he can testify at a later date.  He looks forward to appearing before the committee at the earliest possible date.”

Earlier on Sunday it was announced that South Korea’s top military officer was rescheduling a planned visit to Washington because he could not be away while North Korea was making bellicose threats.

South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Jung Seung-jo was to have visited the Pentagon on April 16 to meet with his American counterpart, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for regular consultative meetings.

The meeting in April had been scheduled during their previous meeting in October.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Korea Might Launch Missile on Date of Founder’s 101st Birthday

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The South Korean military is now speculating that if there is a missile launch from North Korea, it could happen on or before April 15, the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung’s birthday.

North Korea has a habit of connecting parades, marches and military action with important dates. April 15 would be Kim Il-sung’s 101st birthday. Last year North Korea honored his 100th birthday with a rocket test shortly before April 15. That rocket launched failed.

South Korea, Japan and the United States are all intently watching movement toward the coast in anticipation of the anniversary.

Despite the worry, life seems to be going more or less as normal in South Korea. South Koreans are no stranger to North Korean bluster and propaganda, and the streets of Seoul were full of people going about their daily lives.

"Our government should have a sword in one hand and hold out their other" an unfazed South Korean father told a reporter with ABC’s Good Morning America. “The Kim Jong-un regime will collapse.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


White House Responds to North Korean Threats

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned that the time had come to "settle accounts with the U.S.," the White House responded, calling Kim's comments "unconstructive."

"We've seen reports of a new and unconstructive statement from North Korea. We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies," said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

In the statement, Hayden did note that North Korea "has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats," a pattern followed by Friday's threat.

Kim's statements on Friday declared a "state of war" with South Korea. He additionally threatened to respond to any provocation by South Korea or the United States "without any prior notice."

The Pentagon continues to take every North Korean threat seriously. Recently, plans were announced to increase U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar.

"We're concerned that their reach in and beyond the region will be extended over time," said a senior defense official. "That's one reason why it's all the more important to show that the United States is committed to our alliances, interests, and personnel in the Asia-Pacific."

South Korean media reported on Friday that North Korea's missile sites have been the location of increased activity. However, the South Korean government has said that there is no evidence to suggest the threats are anything more than propaganda.

Thousands of North Koreans gathered in Kim Il Sung Square on Friday in support of their leader's strong words. The rally came just one day after U.S. B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula.

According to USA Today, North Korea's military, while poorly trained and equipped, is large enough to cause significant damage to its southern neighbor, before ultimately falling to a joint effort between South Korea and the U.S.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Live-Fire Artillery Drills Rock the Korean Peninsula

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- With hostilities running higher than at any time in recent memory, North Korea and South Korea are both holding live-five artillery drills to demonstrate their military might.

At this stage, the rockets being launched do not mean a potentially devastating war is imminent although each side is making it clear that they won't back down should the other strike first.

Pyongyang, after conducting an underground nuclear test, has further exacerbated tensions by supposedly voiding an armistice signed to end the Korean War 60 years ago.

Seoul still says it recognizes the non-aggression pact with its neighbor but has promised to fight fire with fire if it comes to that.

In addition to conducting joint exercises with the U.S., South Korean Prime Minister Jeong Hong-Won on Thursday visited an island that came under attack by North Korea three years ago to inspect its preparedness for another possible strike.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was reported to have attended a live-fire artillery drill in his country.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Korea Dresses Down New South Korean Leader

LEE JAE-WON/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- With North Korea threatening the U.S. and South Korea for trying to halt its nuclear ambitions, its Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces has personally attacked South Korea President Park Geun-hye by alleging her "swish of skirt" led to the latest conflict between the two neighbors.

Park, the first woman elected president in South Korea, officially took office just two weeks ago, walking into a virtual hornet's nest as the North exploded an underground nuclear device while declaring a 1953 armistice ending the Korea War null and void.

Pyongyang's sexist attitudes are not uncommon.  When Hillary Clinton was the U.S. secretary of state, North Korea referred to her as a "minister in a skirt."  North Korea has also used a variety of other terms to defile its enemies, namely, the U.S.

Not one to be put off by seemingly banal rhetoric, Park said she was still open to discussing ways of avoiding aggression with North Korea but stressed Pyongyang would be responsible for its own self-destruction if the government continued its rogue nuclear activities.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


South Korea Warns North Korea to Cancel Nuclear Test

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea is not going to take another nuclear test by North Korea lightly.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday warned of "very grave consequences" if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test as it did in 2006 and 2009.

The United Nations Security Council strictly prohibits such action, but North Korea seemingly marches to the beat of its own dictator, in this case, President Kim Jong-un, who has lately threatened the U.S. if Washington and its allies try to suppress his government's rogue nuclear ambitions.

South Korea's warning did not specify what kind of consequence would result if Pyongyang moves ahead with the test, which could come at any time.

Nonetheless, Lee instructed South Korea's defense minister to maintain strong military readiness as the situation in the region becomes more volatile.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


South Korea Launches Rocket Carrying Satellite into Orbit

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- It looks like the third time's a charm for South Korea.  The country said on Wednesday that it successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into orbit after two previous failed attempts.

The 140-ton rocket named Naro blasted off from the Naro Space Center at around 4 p.m. local time.

While weather conditions had looked less than perfect on Wednesday, there has been considerable pressure on South Korea to carry out a launch due to recent threats from North Korea.

Wednesday's launch was also South Korea’s last chance with Russian backing.  Russia has said it would back a maximum of three attempts and after that, South Korea must find another partner.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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