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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1637


Mrs DARLING —I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to reports of the detention of Korean nationals in Burma following the atrocious murder of Ministers of the South Korean Government and others a few days ago. Can he inform the House of any more recent developments associated with this matter?


Mr HAYDEN —The honourable member for Lilley has raised a matter of the gravest concern to all Australians. I reiterate the deep sense of compassion and sympathy expressed from all sides of this Parliament yesterday to the people of Korea, particularly the bereaved who lost members of their families in this outrageous incident. There have been two reports of quite recent date about the possible identity of the people responsible for this outrage. One as recently as yesterday suggested that five people of European and Middle Eastern background and of terrorist bent had been moving through the area. I must say that there is some uncertainty about the substance of this report at this point, and until something more substantial is obtained I think it best that further consideration of those reports be put to one side.

Of more recent moment have been reports that three people identified as Korean nationals were detected in Burma. In an exchange of gunfire one escaped, one was killed and a third was arrested. The arrested person is now critically ill and receiving medical treatment, and it has not been possible for any interrogation to take place. That person was critically injured in an effort to dispose of a hand grenade against pursuers, which grenade exploded in that person's hand. To this stage we have had no report as to whether the people are identified as either North Korean or South Korean. In respect of those very narrowly focused matters I can report no more.

However, it is proving of much more than passing interest that a North Korean vessel, the Tong Oae Gv Kho, berthed in Colombo harbour on 29 September with a general cargo en route for Alexandria. It was there for seven days. It was asked by the Sri Lankan authorities to leave. It did so, but it moved to Sri Lankan waters, anchoring there until the 10th instant when, suddenly and without being observed, it departed without going through the usual procedures of notification and clearances. I think all of these circumstances have to be seen in the context of quite evident and heightened behaviour which one might describe as neurotic on the part of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in response to what has been clearly a series of notable international successes on the part of the Republic of Korea; for instance, the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference venue is Seoul and the Asian Games and the Olympic Games are to be held in the Republic of Korea.

Furthermore, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea-the inclusion of ' Democratic' is an indication of how the English language can be corrupted at times-has shown quite evident agitation at the possibility of there being a Soviet delegation to the IPU Conference and at evidence of marginally improved, quite low level, unofficial contact between the People's Republic of China and the ROK. I am not sure how well known it is, but it seems fairly clear that about two years ago, when President Chun was visiting Canada, an attempt to assassinate him was made and the evidence seems to be that the DPRK was implicated. One of the most distasteful aspects of all this has been the release of what might be rather inaccurately described, I suppose, as a condolence message from the DPRK in the last two days. I now read some extracts from it to show the lack of taste and the crudeness, indeed the viciousness, of thinking that dominates the DPRK so much in its expressions towards the ROK. It said:

Traitor Chon Tuahwan was greeted with a strong bomb-explosion in Rangoon, Burma , in the first leg of his trip to South East Asian and Oceanian countries . . . 16 persons including puppet Deputy Premier and Economic Planning Minister So Sok -Chun . . . were killed on the spot . . .

About 100 South Korean puppet security guards were in the building when the explosion occurred.

Traitor Chon Tuahwan escaped unhurt as he arrived at the scene of the explosion several minutes behind the original schedule.

Extremely terror stricken by this shocking incident, traitor Chon Tuahwan decided to return to South Korea by cancelling his tour of Southeast Asian and Oceanian countries.

'Chon', of course, is President Chun of the ROK. This is clear evidence of the very unstable and tense situation that exists in the peninsula of Korea. It is also evidence of the pressing need for the DPRK to adopt a saner and more responsible and responsive attitude to the existence, which cannot be denied, of the Republic of Korea. Since I became Minister for Foreign Affairs there have been several approaches to me, albeit oblique-and I stress 'oblique'-rather than direct and formal, from the DPRK about re-establishing diplomatic representation in this country. Very properly and for several reasons, those approaches were deflected. I must say that if there is any further such approach it will be regarded with a fierce, basilisk eye.