Labor Rally Calls on Government to Adopt ILO Conventions

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) staged a 10,000-strong protest in front of the National Assembly on March 27. The rally called on the government to adopt key conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), relating to freedom of association, protection of the right to organize, the abolition of forced labor, and the right to collective bargaining.

The demonstration came on the heels of strong opposition to the ILO conventions by the Korea Employers Association.

“The government and the National Assembly colluded and announced changes for the worse, such as flexible work hours and minimum wage system,” charged the KCTU. “Now they are attempting to worsen the country’s labor laws without ratifying key ILO conventions.”


Former President Lee Myung-bak on Retrial for Corruption

In a session of his retrial at the High Court on charges of bribery and embezzlement, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak repeatedly cursed a prosecution witness who was giving testimony. The judge, unable to hear Lee’s comments, was alerted to the fact by the Prosecution team.

The prosecution expressed concern that Lee’s hostile comments could have the effect of intimidating the witness, Lee Hak-soo. The witness was testifying that Samsung footed the legal bill for DAS, a manufacturer connected with Lee Myung-bak. The witness reaffirmed that he was approached by an attorney while Lee Myung-bak was a presidential candidate in 2007, and told that DAS’s legal case in the United States “had incurred some costs, and we’d like Samsung to pay them.” The witness added, “This was a request from a presidential candidate, so I had no choice but to relay it to [Samsung] Chairman Lee Kun-hee.”

Lee Hak-soon also claimed that Samsung paid nearly 6 million dollars in legal costs to DAS, in response to Lee Myung-bak’s requests during his time in office.




Further Details Emerge on Failed Hanoi Summit

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui announced at a recent briefing that at the Hanoi Summit, President Trump was open to the idea of temporary sanctions relief. According to Choe, Trump suggested adding a sentence to the summit declaration indicating that sanctions would be reinstated if North Korea resumed nuclear activities. Trump said that sanctions “might be lifted” if the freeze on nuclear and ballistic missile testing remained in effect. “However, State Secretary Pompeo and Chief Advisor John Bolton created an obstacle so that [the] summit could not conclude any meaningful result.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Trump offered North Korea a five-point proposal at the Hanoi Summit, in which the U.S. demanded denuclearization and verification, along with the resumption of searches for the remains of missing U.S. servicemen from the Korean War. In exchange, Washington offered a statement declaring the end of the Korean War, and the opening of a U.S.-North Korean liaison office. Both measures would be implemented after the complete dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. As a third compensation, the proposal indicated that once North Korea would dismantle its entire nuclear program, the U.S. would provide unspecified economic aid. What is notable in the plan is that it omitted the two most essential needs from North Korea’s perspective: a security guarantee and relief from economic sanctions.

The article reports that when Trump presented the proposal, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un objected that he could accept unilateral demands for denuclearization.

The specific measures demanded of North Korea included “fully dismantling North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure, chemical and biological warfare program and related dual-use capabilities; and ballistic missiles, launchers, and associated facilities.” Furthermore, North Korea was called upon to transfer all of its nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel. Pyongyang would also have to supply a complete declaration of its nuclear program and allow full access by US and international inspectors, as well as other measures.


Spanish Investigation of Attack on North Korean Embassy

In summarizing his investigation, Spanish judge José de la Mata revealed that the attack on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid on February 22 was led by Mexican citizen Adrian Hong Chang, and also involved U.S. citizen Sam Ruy as well as eight others. The judge issued international arrest warrants for both suspects. The attackers used knives, machetes, metal bars, and fake pellet guns, inflicting “several injuries” on the embassy employees they held hostage for five hours.

The New York Times reports that after arriving in the United States, Chang contacted the FBI and offered to share material he had stolen from the embassy, including two computers and hard drives.

The group styles itself the Cheollima Civil Defense. According to its website, the stolen information was shared at the FBI’s request, “not our own.”

Neither the United States nor Mexico has taken any action in response to the international arrest warrants on Chang and Ruy.




Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Meets South Korean Defense Minister

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met in Washington with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, to discuss the US-ROK alliance, North Korean denuclearization, and ways to increase the maximum pressure campaign targeting Pyongyang.

The two sides agreed with the standard foreign policy establishment position that “it is important to maintain pressure on the North Korean regime through the faithful fulfillment of the current sanctions, and the maintenance of a strong military stance.”

“In particular,” the two sides declared that “we have recently voiced strong opposition to US-Korean defense authorities’ decision to terminate large-scale joint military exercises.”

Like many on Capitol Hill, Gardner remains a staunch advocate of the Libya model, in which North Korea is expected to unilaterally disarm while receiving only punishment during the process.


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