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Archive for South Korea

Newsline: U.S. embassy says two citizens killed in Seoul’s stampede

Two U.S. citizens were among those killed, the U.S. embassy told CNN in a statement Sunday. “Our staff in Seoul and colleagues in the United States are working tirelessly to provide consular assistance to the victims of last night’s incident and their families,” an embassy statement read. “The U.S. Embassy in Seoul is working closely with local authorities and other partner organizations to assist U.S. citizens affected. We offer our sincerest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and continue to assist the injured. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional details at this time.” (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/10/30/At-least-153-killed-133-injured-in-Halloween-stampede-in-Seoul/4081667140137/) The number of foreigners killed came to 20, according to the official tally from fire authorities. They are four each from China and Iran; three from Russia; and one each from the United States, France, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Norway, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Austria, officials said. At least 153 people have been killed and 133 others injured in a deadly stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district as huge crowds of partygoers, many in their 20s, converged in the entertainment district for late-night Halloween celebrations.

Newsline: U.S. Diplomat to Discuss North Korea’s Missile Launches With Japan, South Korean Counterparts

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will discuss North Korea’s recent missile launches, along with other issues of regional security including China and Taiwan, at meetings with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo next week, a senior State Department official said. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-10-20/u-s-diplomat-sherman-to-discuss-n-korea-missile-launches-with-japan-s-korean-counterparts-official) “We will discuss a range of issues, including the DPRK’s numerous ballistic missile launches this year, the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and Russia’s unprovoked and devastating war against Ukraine,” the official said while briefing reporters on the talks from Oct. 24-26, adding the officials will also discuss tensions over Taiwan.

Newsline: Diplomats from Japan, US, South Korea reaffirm joint stance on North Korea

Diplomats from Japan, the United States and South Korea reaffirmed their commitment on Wednesday to working together in response to any threat from North Korea, including a possible new nuclear test. The three senior diplomats in charge of North Korean affairs also underscored their efforts to strengthen their security partnership. Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said the focus of the trilateral cooperation is North Korea and its accelerating nuclear and missile development. Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, said the three countries are prepared for “all contingencies … in responding to (North Korea’s) provocations” and to protect allies in the region. Kim Gunn, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, called for further efforts to ensure full implementation of sanctions against North Korea under United Nations Security Council resolutions. Funakoshi said he and his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, Sung Kim and Kim Gunn, were to discuss their countries’ responses to North Korea as they work together to enhance regional deterrence amid “a looming possibility of further provocations including another nuclear test.” (https://wtop.com/asia/2022/09/japan-us-s-korea-reaffirm-joint-response-to-n-korea-threat/) North Korea last conducted a nuclear test, its sixth, in 2017, and experts have noted signs of preparations for another test.

Newsline: Top Chinese, South Korean diplomats eye closer ties

The top South Korean and Chinese diplomats pledged to forge closer relations and maintain stable industrial supply chains. Foreign Ministers Park Jin and Wang Yi, in separate statements from their meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, called for the development of relations based on three decades of successful commercial ties. Park’s ministry said the countries agreed to increase high-level communication over supply chain issues. It said the countries agreed to pursue “two-plus-two” talks by vice ministerial-level officials of foreign affairs and defense within this year. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/top-chinese-south-korean-diplomats-pledge-closer-ties-88145815) Park and Wang gave no indication they discussed tensions over last week’s visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-ruled Taiwan, which the mainland’s ruling Communist Party claims is Chinese territory. Beijing reacted to her visit by conducting military drills to intimidate the island and called off dialogue with Washington on climate change and other issues.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat seen seeking to reassure Beijing over U.S. ties

South Korea foreign minister Park Jin is set for his first visit to China on Monday as President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government seeks to reassure Beijing about their relationship despite stronger ties with the United States and tensions over Taiwan. Park is scheduled for a three-day stay in the eastern port city of Qingdao, during which he will hold talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Seoul’s foreign ministry said. Park is the first high-level official to travel to China since Yoon took office in May. His trip comes after Beijing expressed outrage over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week. China claims the self-governed island as its own. Yoon faced criticism from lawmakers – some from his ruling party – for not meeting with Pelosi. Yoon, who was on vacation, held a phone call with her instead. His office said that the decision was made in consideration of national interests, and that there was no pressure from Beijing. (https://news.yahoo.com/first-visit-china-south-korean-051732340.html) Stakes are high for Park’s visit, as Seoul walks a fine line between its alliance with the United States and with China, South Korea’s top trade partner, amid their intensifying rivalry.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat to visit U.S. amid election uncertainty

South Korea’s top diplomat plans to visit Washington next week, officials said on Thursday, as Seoul pledged a solid alliance with the United States regardless of the presidential election results. South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha will arrive in Washington on Sunday for a four day stay, the ministry said. The trip came at the invitation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who cancelled his planned visit to Seoul last month after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-southkorea/south-koreas-top-diplomat-to-visit-u-s-amid-election-uncertainty-idUSKBN27L0AF) The ministers will hold a meeting over bilateral and regional issues including stalled talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief. Despite uncertainty over the U.S. election, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it would maintain the “solid” alliance whoever wins the White House.

Newsline: Lawmaker says missing North Korean diplomat has settled in South Korea

A former senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared from his country’s embassy in Italy in 2018 has settled in South Korea, a lawmaker in Seoul said on Tuesday. Jo Song Gil, who was North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, disappeared with his wife after leaving the embassy without notice in early November 2018, and his whereabouts have been unclear since. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-diplomat/lawmaker-says-missing-north-korean-diplomat-has-settled-in-south-korea-idUSKBN26R2EY) In a post on Facebook, Ha Tae-keung, a South Korean opposition party lawmaker who sits on parliament’s intelligence committee, said that Jo had settled in South Korea last year under the protection of the government.

Newsline: South Korea, New Zealand spar over diplomat in sex harassment case

South Korea and New Zealand are at odds over the case of a South Korean diplomat who has been accused of groping a New Zealand staff member at Seoul’s Embassy in Wellington. The New Zealand government has called on South Korea to waive the man’s diplomatic immunity, but Seoul has agreed to cooperate on the grounds his immunity not be waived, South Korean news service News 1 reported. South Korea’s foreign ministry told reporters on Monday the two countries have been in communication over the case. Seoul will work with the New Zealand government if it requests investigation under the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and extradition. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/08/03/South-Korea-New-Zealand-spar-over-diplomat-in-sex-harassment-case/6671596458162/) New Zealand has urged Seoul to do more, however. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has “expressed her disappointment that the Korean Government was unable to waive immunity to allow aspects of the police investigation into this matter to proceed,” the prime minister’s office said, according to the New Zealand Herald on Sunday. Ardern recently conveyed her opinions in a phone call with President Moon Jae-in. The diplomat, a former deputy ambassador to New Zealand, has been charged with three counts of sexual misconduct that took place in 2017. The plaintiff in the case, a male employee at the embassy, is currently receiving support from MOSAIC, an advocacy group for male sex abuse survivors, according to the report.

Newsline: South Korea plans to handle diplomat’s sexual harassment in New Zealand

President Moon Jae-in told the leader of New Zealand that his government will handle a sexual harassment allegation involving a senior South Korean diplomat, once based in Wellington, after finding relevant facts, a Cheong Wa Dae official said. Moon had phone talks with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the previous day. She raised the issue at the end of the 30-minute conversation, the official told reporters. The 2017 case has drawn public attention again since a recent news report in New Zealand. While serving as a counselor at the South Korean Embassy in Wellington at that time, the diplomat was accused of behaving indecently against a local male staffer. The diplomat, whose name remains withheld formally, left the capital city in 2018 and is now serving as consul general in another foreign country. There has reportedly since been little progress in a probe by New Zealand’s police despite a court-issued arrest warrant. Responding to Ardern’s remarks, Moon said, “Related (South Korean) authorities will handle (the matter) after confirming facts,” the Cheong Wa Dae official said on the condition of anonymity. (http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20200729000928) According to sources familiar with the matter, the foreign ministry had probed the diplomat and had cut his salary for a month as a disciplinary measure before reassigning him to the current post.

Newsline: After Blowing Up De Facto Embassy With South Korea, Pyongyang Continues Provocations

A day after blowing up the de facto inter-Korean embassy, North Korea continued to ratchet up military pressure on the South, announcing the re-deployment of its forces near the border and angrily rejecting Seoul’s offer to send envoys to reduce tensions. As of Wednesday, North Korea’s military will reenter the area near the Mt. Kumgang resort area and the Kaesong industrial complex, according to a spokesperson for the Korean People’s Army in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). In addition, guard posts that had previously been abandoned “will be set up again to strengthen the guard over the front line,” and North Korea will also resume “all kinds of regular military exercises” in the area near the country’s sea border with South Korea, KCNA reported. (https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/after-blowing-de-facto-embassy-north-korea-continues-provocations) Combined with its moves over the past week, North Korea has now reversed many of the achievements made during a series of historic 2018 meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. On Tuesday, North Korea used controlled explosives to demolish the inter-Korean liaison center just north of the border. Last week, Pyongyang said it would cut off all official channels of dialogue with Seoul.