At around 6 p.m., Park went to dine with some close associates at a small house connected with the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, inside the Blue House compound.
The host was KCIA Director Kim Jae Kyu, 53. He is a former general and, as one diplomat who knew both men well put it, "a close, long-term chum and adviser in whom Park had a lot of confidence." The other guests were Park's chief security officer, Cha Chi Chul, an even closer adviser, and Park's staff secretary-general, Kim Kae Won.
Park's bodyguards ushered the President to the dining room, then prepared to cool their heels outside. The dining room was small, only 12 by 10½ ft. The four companions arranged themselves around the large, round central table; Park sat at the head, across from Kim Kae Won. The host was on Park's left, with his back to the door, directly across the table from Cha. Scotch whisky flowed freely.
According to the official account, a fierce argument erupted between the intelligence chief and Cha. Kim, a relative moderate, made a last-minute plea to Park to ease his harsh treatment of unruly dissidents. Cha chided Kim for his softness. At about 6:50 p.m., said a high government investigator, Kim left the dining room to meet two co-conspirators and told them, "I will finish them off tonight, so when you hear the gunshots inside, finish off the presidential bodyguard outside.''
Next Kim climbed the stairs to his own office, stuck a pistol in his waistband and returned to the dining room. He listened silently while Cha lambasted him.
He left the room again and spoke with his aides yet another time. Five minutes later, he returned to the table, pulled the .38 revolver and, according to the government investigator, ''cursed, fired the first shot at Cha and then fired at Park.''
Park was hit three times; one bullet struck him in the chest, penetrating to the spine, at least one other in the head. Cha was mortally wounded. Hearing the first shot, five KCIA agents armed with pistols and an M-16 automatic rifle rushed in and gunned down three of Park's bodyguards waiting in the kitchen and two others in another room. They killed four and wounded the fifth.
I was doing some research for a class I am teaching (we are talking about 'Asian values' and 'universal human rights' right now) and came across something I would like to share:
In a major foreign policy speech delivered at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, ROK foreign minister Han Sung-joo said:
I am happy to report to you that human rights have finally come of age in Korea. I stand before you representing a nation and a people who can proudly say that truth, freedom, and democracy have at last triumphed in their country.... During our struggle, we found out that the fight for human rights is inherent to human nature. Human rights are something mankind is eventually bound to cherish and aspire to regardless of political or economic circumstances. Human rights are universal, indivisible, and interrelated. They cannot be altered according to circumstances. It is neither justifiable nor appropriate to deny some human rights in order to guarantee others.
Of late, the South has stopped raising the North's abuses in international bodies. In 2003, South Korea withdrew from a UN Geneva process when it required a vote on North Korea's human rights record. In 2004, Seoul abstained from voting.
Reunification will happen one day (hint: in will not be gradual) and when it does there are going to be a lot of folks in the current government who are going to be deeply ashamed.
(NOTE: See the update at the end of the post about the flag situation.)
I went to Saipan a couple of weeks ago on business. Finding myself with a spare half hour between meetings, I decided to check out the American Memorial Park.
Saipan was the site of a bloody and important battle during the Pacific Campaign of World War Two. It was the first battle on Japanese territory and the Americans first encounter with large numbers of Japanese civilians, many of whom unfortunately jumped to their deaths rather than allow themselves to be captured.
The nearby island of Tinian was launching point for the planes which dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I was happy to see that a new visitor's center had been built since my last visit two years ago . The inside was tastefully done but I am not sure what to make of the 'battle sound' tape they had running which fill the hall with the sounds of rifles firing and men shouting (including the shouts of a banzai charge. I have no idea what effect hearing that had on the Japanese couple that was in the hall at the time (most tourist to Saipan are Japanese and the signs were in Japanese as well as English and Chomoro).
One thing that disappointed me was the state of the flags in the Court of Honor. The American flag was torn, not just in one place, but at almost every seem between stripes. A couple of the service flags were also in bad shape. Since they had the funds to build a new visitor's center, I'm sure they have a little money on hand to get some new flags.
I should have gone back to talk with the lady at the visitor's center about it but I found myself in a hurry to get to my next meeting and forgot about it until I saw the pictures after my return to Korea. I certainly hope someone in charge there can get some new flags.
The Court of Honor
Old Glory is in pretty bad shape. Where is Betsy Ross when you need her? (Click for a larger view.)
UPDATE (October 27): I have just received the following email from Chuck Sayon at American Memorial Park:
Thanks for your visit to American Memorial Park and your concern regarding the condition of the flags at Flag Circle and the Court of Honor.
The flags are replaced 4 times a year. Usually those dates are around Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) which obviously is done in time for the ceremonies that we have at the Court of Honor for Veterans Day, around Presidents Day (mid-February), Memorial Day (end of May) & Labor Day (beginning of September). The American Flag is a specialty flag of 48 stars, which represents the time of the Battles. Annually, along with other flags in the park, these flags cost American Memorial Park approximately $6,000 to replace. This year we have been having unseasonably above average number of typhoons forming in this region and passing Saipan. Thus the flags were taking more of a beating than is usually the case. Rest assured though, we will change them as soon as our special 48-star American flag is received.
That means the flag that I saw was getting near the end of its rotation and that its replacement will be up in another week or so. I am glad to know that the park is being well taken care of.
BTW, I had not noticed that it was a 48-star flag until Sayon mentioned it. Nice.
The National Security Law has once again taken center stage in Korean politics, with the two major parties clashing over South Korea's identity vis-a-vis the DPRK. The Marmot has already covered the issue over at the Hole, so I will post what I think in my own little bit of cyber space.
The crisis was sparked when Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae made an unprecedented intervention in ordering the prosecutor's office not to detain leftist professor Kang Jeong-koo while investigating his possible violation of Article Seven of the National Security Law (praising an anti-state organization). While Oranckay says that secret interventions were common in the past, this is the first time that a justice minister has exercised that authority in an official order. Korea's chief prosecutor, while obeying the order, resigned in protest.
Park Geun-hye, the head of South Korea's main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), called for an all-out struggle to defend the country's democracy, accusing President Roh Moo-hyun of trying to damage, if not overthrow, the system.
Shortly after Park's remarks, ruling Uri Party Chairman Moon Hee-sang held a news conference and criticized the GNP for stoking public insecurity while putting ideological issues ahead of parliamentary by-elections in late October.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae denounced the GNP for exaggerating the threat to the country, which it said did not actually exist, just to make political use of it for the by-elections.
This is one of the rare times when you will see me siding with Roh on anything. While there is a chance that Kang would go into hiding, it seems to be that he relishes the attention being showered upon him and he will not be going anywhere soon. That kind of breathless talk from Park makes her and the GNP look overbearing to say the least.
"I am confused about her anarchistic remarks in denouncing the government's identity," Chung said during a forum in Seoul.
Leave it to Chung to make the GNP's latest bout of mass insanity look just a little bit less crazy.
But Chung's dumbness doesn't let the GNP off the hook. The most frustrating think about this to me is that, time and time again, the GNP overplays its hand and alienates just enough of the electorate to keep themselves out of power.
Park did make one correct move in calling for Roh to specifically repudiate Kang. If she would have left it at that, Roh and the OOP would have been caught between alienating their base on the left by criticizing Kang or making themselves look out of touch by refusing to criticize him (much like the Rovian plot with Ward Churchill last year).
The Kang controversy could have even been a launching point for a whole series of flanking moves against Roh on his overly accommodating policies towards the North. They could have called for routing food aid through the World Food Program and insisting on full monitoring of aid distribution; making human rights in North Korea a top issue (especially closing the labor camps for political prisoners); and insisting on greater reciprocity from the North in all their dealings. It is a debate that is long overdue.
Instead, Park and the GNP make themselves look like the extremists counterparts to the nut-job professors backing Pyongyang.
Please Lord, let a real conservative party rise up before the 2008 elections.
Liberation in North Korea has moved its meetings to Saturdays, starting this weekend:
Hello, As discussed at our last meeting, the new times for regular meetings will take effect this week. Therefore, there will be a LiNK Seoul meeting this Saturday, 22 October at 10:00AM. We will meet at the UNESCO building in Myongdong (UNESCO House, 50-14, Myongdong 2-ga, Chung-gu, Seoul 100-022, Korea).
Michelle Wie has found out that the pros can be strict:
[A]fter Wie finished her round at 74, she was escorted by two rules officials to the par-5 seventh hole at Bighorn Golf Club to show them her drop from a desert bush the day before.
Nearly two hours later, she was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, a decision that cost her $53,126 in prize money.
Because she dropped the ball closer to the hole -- by 3 inches according to her, by about a foot according to the rules officials -- she should have added two strokes to her third-round 71.
`I learned a great lesson,' Wie said. `From now on, I'll call a rules official no matter where it is, whether its 3 inches or 100 yards. I respect that.'
Wie hit a 5-wood into a Gold Lantana bush Saturday and was barely able to find it. She told her playing partner, Grace Park, she was taking an unplayable lie, dropped away from the bush, then chipped to 15 feet and made the par. It was a critical par save, and Wie steadied herself to get within five shots of the lead going into the last round.
Michael Bamberger, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, told tour officials Sunday afternoon that he was concerned about the drop. Rules officials Jim Haley and Robert O. Smith reviewed tape from NBC Sports before taking Wie and caddie Greg Johnston to the seventh green after the tournament ended Sunday.
`If I had to make the ruling based on the videotape, to me it was inconclusive,' Smith said.
He had Johnston and Wie show him where the ball was in the bushes, then where they dropped. They paced it off, then used string to measure the distance and determined it to be slightly closer.
On a side note, after seeing Wie in that dress last year, it is somehow comforting to see her looking like a nerdy school girl at the press conference:
Mike Choi in Assemblyman Hwang Woo-yea's office sent this in an email regarding my comments in yesterday's post.
Thanks for posting the press release. Although it is not simply one Assemblyman protesting to China, but a large group of Assemblymen and women as well as legislators from all over the world.
One thing I forgot to mention is that the refugees at the Ewha Korean International School were safely handed over to the Korean Consulate where they are expected to arrive in South Korea via a third country.
Mike Choi, who works for National Assemblyman Hwang Woo-yea (Yes, that is how he Romanizes "여'), forwarded a media release to me and several other bloggers. Except for contact information (which I took out) and a link (which I added), I'm passing it on as-is. It is mostly an advertisement of the two organizations making the release but I am more than happy to post such an ad for them.
I posted a few days ago about a planned protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul about their repatriating North Korean defectors. Here is a bit of a follow up on that.
Here it is:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Protest Letter from the National Assembly Human Rights Forum and the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights Sent to the Chinese Embassy
October 11, 2005 – Seoul – The National Assembly Human Rights Forum of the Republic of Korea, as a whole, and the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR), as a whole, sent a letter of protest to the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, insisting that the Chinese Government not forcefully repatriate the eight North Korean refugees who entered the Ewha Korean International School in Qingdao, China in search of safe passage to South Korea. The letter criticized China for forcefully repatriating on September 29th seven refugees to North Korea that sought refuge at the Korean International School in Yantai of Shandong Province, China in the hope of fleeing to South Korea.
The National Assembly Human Rights Forum of the Republic of Korea is a non-partisan discussion venue on human rights issues. Currently chaired by National Assemblyman Woo-Yea Hwang, this forum meets on a regular basis throughout the year to conduct seminars with Members of the National Assembly, government officials, scholars, experts, and activists. These seminars are open to the public.
The International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR) gathers members of parliament from various nations to address the current humanitarian crisis of North Korea refugees that are spread throughout the globe. Most recently, IPCNKR held its 2nd General Meeting on August 1st, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan where over 40 lawmakers from South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and the US as well as over 70 representatives from 13 NGOs participated. Established in 2003, IPCNKR is jointly chaired by National Assemblyman Woo-Yea Hwang (ROK), Representative Masaharu Nakagawa (Japan), and Congressman Ed Royce (US).
The Honorable Woo-Yea Hwang, LL.D. is serving his third term as a Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. He represents Yeonsu District in Incheon City. He is the current Chairman of the National Assembly Education Committee, the current Chairman of the National Assembly Human Rights Forum, and Standing Cochairman of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR)
I am still on my business trip to Guam and Saipan (report over the weekend).
I just found out that there will be at protest at the Chinese Embassy today at 1:00 to urge them not to repatriate refugees back to North Korea. They are expecting about 100 people but. The embassy is in a newer location near Gyeongbok Palace (not the old one in Myeongdong).
To get there take subway line 3 to Gyeongbok Gung Station and then go out Exit 2.
I would really like to hear a report from anyone who makes it there, so please leave a comment or send me an email.