Daily Update – September 5

South Korea

Politics – President Park Geun-hae attended a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Throughout the summit, the two leaders were again confronted with a difference of opinion on the issue of THAAD deployment.  Park attempted to reassure Xi that THAAD deployment would only be aimed at curtailing the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, while posing no harm to other nations.  She also strongly reiterated the need for strategic communication.  However, Xi Jinping continued to highlight his opposition to THAAD.  “Mishandling the issue is not conducive to the strategic stability in the region and could intensify disputes,” Xi said at the summit.  This was the first time the two leaders met since the announcement of THAAD deployment in Korea.  (For a good analysis of the summit, see this Korea Herald Article.)

South Korea’s Special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Hong-kyun and his American counterpart, Sung Kim, will hold talks in Seoul next week.  The two recently discussed “detailed countermeasures” to North Korea’s evolving threat.  The talks will be held on September 15.

On Sunday, South Korea’s first law addressing the abysmal human rights in North Korea went into effect.  The law allows South Korea to establish an archive aimed at compiling North Korea’s human rights violations.  North Korea has not responded to the law well, harshly condemning it.  Pro-North Korean propaganda site Uriminkkori released a statement against the law, saying it is a brazen attempt to hide South Korea’s own human rights violations.

Economy – South Korea’s economy went flat on Tuesday.  The KOSPI – Korean Composite Stock Price Index – rose 0.29 points, around 0.01%.  Samsung rose 0.75 points.  Other companies, such as SK hynix and Naver, also barely rose, advancing 0.53% and 0.35% respectively.  Hyundai, however, shed 0.36%.  The South Korean won also stalled, currently trading at 1,105.75 won per dollar, down .65 won.  The reason for the stagnation of the market is reported to be the Labor Day holiday in America.

Culture – A quadrennial conference bringing together archiving experts from across the world kicked off in Seoul on Tuesday.  The International Council on Archives Congress 2016 kicked off at COEX in Seoul, inviting over 1000 experts from 100 countries.  The congress will feature keynote speakers, and South Korea will exhibit all document related treasures listed under UNSECO’s Memory of the World program.  The congress will conclude on Friday.

North Korea

Instead of the typical daily update format for North Korea, today’s post will examine the aftermath of the missile test yesterday.

Yesterday, around 12-noon local time, North Korea fired off three missiles from Hwangju County in North Hwanghae Province.  The missiles traveled over 100okm, landing within the Japanese Air Defense Zone.  The launch came as world leaders, including President Obama, met in China for the G20 Summit.

Many nations have strongly condemned the missile launch.  The United States called the launch “reckless.”  In a press release, the Japanese Ministry of Defense called the launch a “grave threat to Japanese security.”  At the sideline of the G20, following the launch, South Korean president Park Geun-hae and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met and highlighted the need for cooperation in monitoring the situation.

North Korea, as per usual, prided the launch.  Kim Jung-un announced the need for the for North Korea to continue its nuclear pursuit.  An article released in KCNA chronicled Kim’s personal involvement in the test.

Symbolism has always been a prominent fixture in North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.  This launch is no different.  The launch comes as China hosts the meeting of the leaders of the 20 largest economies in the world, and as Chinese President Xi Jingping hosted a sideline summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hae.  South Korea also enacted its first-ever bill countering North Korea’s human rights violations.  The missile launch is suspected to be an armed to protest to these advancements, though the true intent may be hard to decipher.  However, one thing is painfully clear: North Korea’s most recent launches – the SLBM a couple weeks ago and yesterday’s Nodong missiles – show a clear advancement in many sectors of North Korea’s missile programs.

Articles on the Launch: Yonhap, Korea Herald, Korea Times, Joogang Daily, CNN and Reuters 

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