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A nuclear power document involving North Korea ignited South Korean politics, and the undercurrent surged on the eve of the election.

A nuclear power document involving North Korea ignited South Korean politics, and the undercurrent surged on the eve of the election.

On January 18, 2021 local time, South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a New Year's press conference in Seoul, South Korea. People's Vision Information Map

A dusty document about North Korea for three years has been suddenly turned over recently, causing a great uproar in South Korean politics. The country’s largest opposition party questioned Moon Jae-in’s government’s “communication with the enemy”, while Qingwatai countered the other party’s “McCarthyism”.

The game between the opposition party and the ruling party is heating up again.

On February 1, under the pressure of public opinion, South Korea’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources released a document entitled “Promoting the Plan for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in North Korea”.

According to Yonhap, the document was prepared after the talks between the leaders of South Korea and North Korea in April 2018, and stated that “this is internal information to study feasible plans for the future construction of nuclear power plants in North Korea, not the official position of the government”.

South Korea Nuclear Power

South Korea Nuclear Power

However, the National Power Party of South Korea is waiting for the opposition party to think the matter is full of doubts and is reluctant to follow.

According to the Korean National Daily, in December 2019, the South Korean Supervision Institute (South Korea’s highest supervisory organ, independent of the government and accountable to the president) was about to review the early closure of Group 1 of the country’s Yuecheng Nuclear Power Plant.

Senior staff of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources sneaked into the office late at night and deleted hundreds of internal research.

Research documents, many of which are related to the promotion of North Korea’s nuclear power plant.

A senior official who participated in the 2018 inter-Korean summit revealed to the Central Daily that after the summit talks, the Ministry of Unification of South Korea asked various departments to put forward ideas for future inter-Korean cooperation.

“The idea put forward by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources at that time may be to assist in the construction of nuclear power plants in North Korea.”

South Korean media constantly exposes relevant information about North Korea’s nuclear power documents, trying to piece together the complete facts, but it is difficult to distinguish the true from the false.

The opposition party took the opportunity to launch a fierce offensive against Qingwatai, bitterly criticizing the government’s attempt to secretly build a nuclear power plant for North Korea.

Although South Korea’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, Trade and Resources and the Ministry of Unification have refuted the opposition party’s claims one after another, politicians have argued about it.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in secretly criticized the opposition party’s so-called aid to North Korea to build a nuclear power plant on February 1.

“In the face of people’s livelihood difficulties, I hope that the political circles will not repeat the same tricks and promote confrontation, so as to set back the political situation.”

“This matter suddenly became popular in South Korean politics, mainly political struggle.” Zheng Jiyong, director of the Korea Research Center for Korea and South Korea of Fudan University, told The Paper (www.thepaper.cn) that there is no problem with the document “assistance in the construction of North Korea’s nuclear power plant”, because South Korean research institutions often do this type of scientific research, which is only one of the North-South relations on the peninsula.

A possible plan or suggestion. It is worth noting that the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan are about to be held in April this year. Progressives and conservatives are fiercely contested, which is an important opportunity for conservatives to turn the tables. They hope to use this topic to launch an offensive against the ruling party, with the ultimate goal of the 2022 presidential election.

A USB flash drive and a Finnish word

The documents published on February 1st about North Korea date back to the spring of 2018. North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met twice in April and May to shake hands, hug, walk and talk, and have dinner together…

There are new expectations for Peninsular relations, just as Kim Jong-un was in Panmunjom South Korea at that time. The inscription of “House of Peace” on one side says: “New history begins now”.

After the first meeting of the leaders of South Korea and North Korea in April 2018, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources of South Korea prepared the Plan for Promoting the Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in North Korea.

According to South Korea’s Daily, the department has studied three nuclear power support programs for North Korea, including the construction of nuclear power plants in the North Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). A month later, when the leaders of the two sides met again, Moon Jae-in handed Kim Jong-un a USB flash drive.

The South Korean National Power Party suspected that the USB flash drive contained nuclear power content and identified Moon Jae-in’s government as seeking to build a nuclear power plant for North Korea.

According to a report by Korea Radio International (KBS) on the 1st, Qingwadai confirmed that Moon Jae-in personally handed over the USB flash drive to Kim Jong-un during a meeting in May 2018, which was about the “new economic concept of the peninsula” promised during the election period, without mentioning nuclear power.

Yoon Jianyong, MP for the ruling UDP, said: “During Moon Jae-in’s tenure, there has never been a push forward in North Korea’s nuclear power plant construction projects in the inter-Korean summit talks and exchange cooperation.”

However, at the end of 2019, coincided with the sensitive period of the early closure of the Yuecheng nuclear power plant, the “confusing operation” of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Resources of South Korea’s emergency deletion of documents was regarded as another major doubt by opposition parties and critics.

In December 2019, South Korea decided to permanently close Unit 1 of the Yuecheng Nuclear Power Plant. Its operating life should have expired in 2022, but South Korea Hydro Atomic Energy Company decided to close the unit early on the grounds that it was not economically efficient.

Subsequently, Congress asked the Ombudsman to conduct audit supervision on suspected material fraud that may exist in the early closure decision.

According to the Central Daily, civil servants of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources urgently deleted hundreds of documents before being monitored by the Supervisory Office. The catalogue of documents contains content related to North Korea’s nuclear power plant.

On January 30, the Korean Daily reported that some of the deleted documents had been restored, and South Korean prosecutors found that the folder name contained “pohjois”, which means “north” in Finnish.

Moreover, these folders also contain subfolders named “North Nuclear Push”, which is suspected to be an acronym for “North Korea’s local nuclear power construction promotion plan”.

Judicial circles believe that trade, industry and energy-related documents are rare to be named in Finnish, which triggers suspicion.

The Paper checked the catalogue of deleted documents of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Resources published by South Korea’s SBS TV station and found that the path of 17 recovered documents came from folders containing the words “pohjois”, including documents entitled “180515 Korea Nuclear Power Plant Construction Promotion Plan”.

Restore screenshots of the file directory. File from SBS

Kim Jong-in, chairman of the National Forces Party of Korea’s Emergency Response Committee, held a “Emergency Response Conference on Challenges to North Korea’s Nuclear Power Plant” in the National Assembly on January 31, at which he said: “The attempt of Moon Jae-in’s government to secretly build a nuclear power plant for North Korea is a shocking act of collaboration.” Zhu Haoying, the party’s whip, advocated “special inspection and national government investigation” (editor: it is the supervision method of the government by the South Korean National Assembly).

As one of the hot candidates for the next president, former mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, also held a press conference to characterize the matter as “to pay tribute to North Korea with nuclear power plants”.

South Korea’s UDP MP Yoon Joon-Bong posted on Facebook on January 31 to refute that more than 220 of the 550 documents deleted were ideas under former President Park Geun-hye’s administration, including internal information about the proposed construction of a nuclear power plant in North Korea.

“Park Geun-hye did not propose to “Unification Dafa Theory” (Dafa means awesome and praised in Korean)?” He also explained that only more than 30 deleted documents were created by Moon Jae-in’s government, mostly the economic assessment reports of Unit 1 of the Moon City Nuclear Power Plant.

The political game behind the North Korean-related documents

Recently, South Korea’s opposition party has repeatedly called for further investigation into North Korea’s nuclear power documents and urged Moon Jae-in to respond. This move triggered a collective voice from senior government officials.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Minister for Unity (i.e. Minister) Lee In-young, United Democratic Party leader Lee Lowon, and Foreign Minister-designate Zheng Yirong have successively made a voice, denying the plan to assist in North Korea to build nuclear power plants.

According to a Yonhap report on the 1st, Qingwatai pointed out that under the circumstances of North Korea being sanctioned, it is not realistic to build nuclear power units for North Korea without the United States and other international communities.

The opposition party’s statement is a political trick and McCarthyism without a bottom line. Several members of the ruling party condemned the opposition party’s attack as a “north wind conspiracy”, because whenever the election was approaching, the opposition party would strengthen the offensive against the government and the ruling camp with terms such as “north wind”, “left wing” and “left”.

Zheng Jiyong, director of the Korean Research Center for Korea of Fudan University, pointed out that the opposition party’s “play by using the topic” is to go for elections. The economy was originally an area of expertise of conservatives such as the National Power Party, but it is difficult to do economically under the COVID-19 epidemic, and it can only use this matter to unite the hearts of the people and gather political foundations.

In South Korea’s general election, South Korea-US relations, South Korea-North Korea relations, and domestic economy are the three major factors affecting the vote. The “aid to build North Korea’s nuclear power plant” incident can easily become the handle of the ruling party being attacked.

In April this year, South Korea’s Busan and Seoul will hold mayoral by-elections. Previously, Busan Mayor Wu Judun announced his resignation in April last year after exposing himself to a “sexual harassment scandal”; Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon committed suicide in July last year, after which the South Korean National Human Rights Commission determined that part of his behavior was sexual harassment.

This has caused a heavy blow to the reputation of the ruling party, and unexpectedly provided the opposition party with a chance to turn the tables.

South Korea’s East Asia Daily commented that the by-election elections for mayors in Seoul and Busan has significance in judging the achievements and demerits of Moon Jae-in’s government, and it is also a sentry outpost for the presidential election next March.

The opposition party has lost successive congressional, local and presidential elections for nearly four years, and this mayoral by-election has pushed it to an important crossroads. However, the election has turned into an expletive political struggle, with various parties constantly launching offensive and defensive wars and building momentum for next year’s general election.

According to a poll released by polls polls in January, the top three most powerful candidates for the next president of South Korea are Lee Jae-ming, Governor of Gyeonggi Province of the United Democratic Party, Yoon Seok-yue of South Korea Attorney General, and Lee Lo-won, a representative of the United Democratic Party.

Thirty-nine percent of the respondents believe that they still support the presidential candidate of the ruling party, and 47% believe that a regime change should be carried out, and the opposition party candidate will be elected president.

For Moon Jae-in, the countdown to his reign is one year and he cannot be re-elected. In the chaotic election, it is not only necessary to stabilize the political situation, but also to strengthen the political foundation of the Common Democratic Party.

At the New Year’s press conference in January this year, Moon Jae-in set a series of new goals, including stabilizing the real estate market, breaking down the problems between South Korea and Japan one by one, doing his best to promote the improvement of South Korean-Korean relations, and expressing his willingness to meet with Kim Jong-un at any time and anywhere.

The World Political Review (WPR), a nonprofit international current affairs forum, pointed out that Moon Jae-in set a high standard for the rest of his term, but none of the promises were easy to reach, especially that contacts with North Korea would become more difficult, as the Biden administration revealed a cautious attitude towards North Korea, which on the North side Recent signals also indicate that nuclear power construction will continue to be promoted.

“The end of the South Korean government’s term is often in a state of ‘floating with the wind’, and it is difficult to restart some affairs in the short term, as is the development of peninsula relations.” According to Jung Ji-young, Moon Jae-in can’t judge what the development of inter-Korean relations means for his ruling career.

He may prefer to maintain his current state in the last period, and the uproar caused by nuclear power plant documents will make him more cautious in dealing with North Korea-related issues.

The twists and turns of North Korea’s nuclear power construction

The nuclear power document incident involving North Korea continues to ferment.

Although the ruling party in South Korea has seen through the purpose of the opposition party’s offensive, it is difficult to get rid of the entanglement of its opponents and is tired of explaining.

According to a report by South Korea’s KBS TV station on the 1st, Shin Yong-dae, spokesman of the United Democratic Party, commented that in 2010, Lee Myung-bak’s government first put forward the concept of nuclear power plant in North Korea, and Park Geun-hye’s government period also had similar ideas.

Now the opposition party’s old tune is repeated to seek political interests.

In fact, as early as 1994, the nuclear power program to aid North Korea was launched. At that time, North Korea and the United States reached a framework agreement on the North Korea-United States nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, North Korea frozen its nuclear facilities.

The United States led the establishment of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), whose members include South Korea, Japan, the European Union, etc., and were jointly responsible for building two light water reactors for North Korea, replacing graphite reactors and North Korea. Provide energy.

According to People’s Daily Online, the construction of North Korea’s light water reactor in the 1990s is expected to cost 4.6 billion US dollars, of which South Korea shares 70%, Japan shares 20%, the rest is borne by the European Union, and the United States is responsible for providing 500,000 tons of heavy oil to North Korea every year.

However, the United States, Japan and South Korea have questioned the reactor project under construction in North Korea, which makes it difficult to carry out the construction smoothly. At the same time, the United States is also worried that the light water reactor will help North Korea accelerate its acquisition of nuclear weapons.

After the outbreak of the second North Korean nuclear crisis in 2002, the light water reactor project was completely suspended.

It was not until the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue in July 2005, when a joint statement reached at the meeting pointed out that North Korea has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and agreed to discuss the provision of light water reactors to North Korea in due course.

However, the discussion of light water reactors has not been put into practice.

Although previous governments of South Korea have mentioned the construction of nuclear power plants to promote cooperation between South Korea and North Korea, the two governments have never held any formal discussions on it.

The Korean National Daily commented on the 1st that “assistance to North Korea to build a nuclear power plant” itself is an unfounded statement.

If the sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations on North Korea are not relaxed, supporting the construction of nuclear power plants in North Korea is only a dream.

North Korea finally decided to do it by itself despite the delay in fulfilling its promise to build a light water reactor.

On March 29, 2010, the Korean Central News Agency published a long editorial saying that North Korea will build a light water reactor nuclear power plant independently, and said that the power plant would use North Korea’s own refined nuclear fuel.

In recent years, North Korea’s power supply has been greatly improved.

According to Xinhua News Agency in December 2020, North Korea Central News Agency quoted a report that Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, actively used solar energy, wind energy, etc., to improve the power supply, and many power stations in various places have been completed and put into operation one after another.

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