Mixed messages from North Korea


Electronic Media Monitoring Service 


03-01-2011 08:20 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


03-01-2011 08:20 AM



03-01-2011 08:56 AM

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2011-01-03 08:20:59

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Mixed messages from North Korea -

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Pyongyang has used its first news broadcast of 2011 to call for improved relations with the South,
and defused tensions. But North Korean media has warned that if a war breaks out it will bring
nothing but a nuclear holocaust.

TONY EASTLEY: After 2010 saw the two Koreas teeter on the brink of war, 2011 has brought fresh hope
with the usually belligerent regime in Pyongyang calling for a new era of dialogue and cooperation.

The plea was made in new year editorials printed and broadcast by official state media. While North
talks about defusing confrontation and opening up communication, South Korea is treading warily.

Here's North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy.

(North Korea news theme)

MARK WILLACY: It's the same old North Korean news theme as 2010.

(North Korea newsreader speaking Korean)

MARK WILLACY: And the newsreader's shrill delivery hasn't changed from last year either. But what
was radically different in this first news broadcast of 2011 from Pyongyang was the message.

(North Korean newsreader speaking Korean)

"Active efforts should be made to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between North
and South," says the newsreader. "Confrontation between North and South should be defused as early
as possible. This year we should launch a more determined campaign to improve inter-Korean
relations she says.

Just days ago the peninsula was teetering on the brink of war. It all started in late November when
Pyongyang shelled a South Korean border island killing four people. Seoul responded by launching
massive live-fire military drills which had the North warning of merciless retaliation and a holy

But then came a breakthrough with Kim Jong-il's regime apparently offering to allow nuclear
inspectors back in, albeit with a few strings attached. And now this new year's message of good
cheer from Pyongyang.

Analysts believe Kim Jong-il wants to calm things down in a bid to ensure a smooth succession to
his son, Kim Jong-un, a generational power shift which hinges on the peninsula not being turned
into a sea of fire.

While official media in Pyongyang spouted glad tidings of dialogue and cooperation, south of the
38th parallel another new year's message was being delivered. Wearing a traditional Korean robe,
president Lee Myung-bak addressed the South Korean people.

(President Lee Myung-bak speaking Korean)

"In the new year of 2011, I am confident we'll be able to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula,"
says the president.

So in 2011 it appears it's hope and optimism all round, especially after a violent 2010 in which 50
South Koreans died as a result of a torpedo attack and an artillery barrage launched by the North.

(North Korean newsreader speaking Korean)

MARK WILLACY: But just back to that message of optimism for the new year from Pyongyang; what
wasn't well reported was that it also contained one line of warning.

(North Korean newsreader speaking Korean)

"If a war breaks out on this land," says the newsreader, "it will bring nothing but a nuclear
holocaust," she says.

Happy new year from North Korea. This is Mark Willacy reporting for AM.