North Korea, UN Did Not Raise Press Freedom, Hires Staff from Gov't
Lists, UN's "Comparative Advantage"?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 16 -- How badly does the UN under Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon want to be relevant in North Korea? His senior advisor
Kim Won-soo and his Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe traveled to
Pyongyang and did not even raise the issue of press freedom.
response to questions from Inner City Press upon their return, Mr.
Kim said that "things are moving forward," while Mr. Pascoe
claimed that the UN Development Program "hires its own employees
now rather then take them through the government." Video here,
from Minute 12:52.
Mr. Kim later
clarified that UNDP staff will still be chosen from lists forwarded
by the Kim Jong-Il government, only there will be "multiple"
candidates. He acknowledged that the UN still has problems with
"access and visas" but said there are at the "local
level." In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, it all
comes from the top: Kim Jong-Il, with whom the two did not even meet.
Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists has named North Korea
as the most censored country on earth, and had called on Ban Ki-moon
to speak out more forcefully on press freedom. Inner City Press asked
Pascoe and Kim Won-soo about this. Pascoe said they hadn't raised
press freedom "per se." Kim Won-soo, who was asked twice
about press freedom, did not answer the question.
questions were about whether North Korea will rejoin the Six Party
talks about its nuclear programs. That is up to the Six Parties, Pascoe
and Kim Won-soo repeatedly said. The UN is a go between. For example,
Pascoe said that his staffer Aleksandr Ilitchev is "going to Moscow
tomorrow," after along with Ban staff Lee Sang-Hwa being on the trip,
presumably to brief on the Six Party talks.
UNDP, Mr. Kim
told Inner City Press, "You are right, UNDP's program has been
suspended for two and a half years. The Resident Coordinator [moved
back] three months ago." According to Mr. Kim, he's had to focus
on renovating the UN office and residence. "The building was
empty, so we couldn't see any safe there," he said, referring to
the safe in which counterfeit dollars were found, which UNDP never
reported until a whistleblower raised it.
was something of an elephant in the briefing room on Tuesday, with
Mr. Kim Won-soo assuring that all UN programs in North Korea will now
be scrutinized. Ironically he mentioned a "geo-spacial"
mapping project which was one of those that got the UNDP program into
trouble two and a half years ago.
Ban's tenure atop the UN, in May 2007, he
was angered by the leak to
Inner City Press of a internal memo
("Korea Peninsula UN
Policy and Strategy Submission to the Policy Committee")
proposing that the UN use its "comparative advantage" to
make itself relevant on the North Korea issue.
competitive advantage is being used.
Back in 2007,
had been forced to order an audit of the UN Development Program's
North Korea practices, including funding project which it could
neither visit nor oversee. UNDP's program had been suspended.
UN memo stated
that "Unless [the suspension] is reversed, the UNDP program
risks being terminated. Rather than being able to support the
six-party talks process and international engagement with North Korea
at this critical juncture, the UN will lose its unique comparative
advantage in that area altogether."
the continuing nuclear standoff and renewed firing across the border,
as well as lack of movement on human rights, UNDP re-started its
North Korea program. And now the Ban administration's "comparative
advantage" is back.
UN's Ban, Mr. Kim and Lynn Pascoe, press freedom not
shown or raised
the February 16 briefing,
Mr. Kim Won-soo stayed and answered further questions. He said there
are 39 international staff from six UN agencies currently in North
Korea. He said the programs there spend approximately $45 million a
year; he pointed out that's $2 a person. UNDP will come up with a
five year plan by "sometime in March," then seek approval
from the UNDP board. Things are, he said, moving in the right
direction. And on those who seek to leave the country? And on press
freedom? Watch this site.
Footnote: this was
Kim Won-soo's first on the record briefing at the UN, following
requests made based on the JoongAng Ilbo's on the record quote about
the trip attributed to Mr. Kim. Later, also on the record, Ban's
Associate Spokesperson Choi Soung-ah told Inner City Press that Mr. Kim
"did not give an exclusive to JoongAng Ilbo." But the UN never sought a
retraction. Mr. Kim appeared on Tuesday, and Inner City Press asked him
to return for another briefing about the Ban administration's wider
work. We'll see.
* * *
UN's Ban Rolls Dice on N. Korea Trip, Kim Won-soo Is
Asked to Brief Press
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 3 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, returning
from a brief trip during which protesters in South Sudan told him to
"repent before judgment" while he was snubbed in Cyprus by
four political parties, is said by close observers to be "rolling
the dice" on a trip to
be remembered as the S-G when the Koreas reunited," the close
insider said. "If it happens, all the other failures will be
the upcoming trip to Ban's closest inner circle is reflected by on
the record quotes that his main advisor Kim Won soo -- Ban's Karl
Rove, as some put it -- gave
to the JoongAng Daily. Inner City Press
asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, with his own Korean
connections, about the quote at Wednesday noon briefing, UN
City Press... You said the other three members; who are the other
three members of Mr. Pascoe’s team?
Nesirky: Kim Won-soo, the Deputy Chef de Cabinet is one of them, and
two other members of staff.
City Press: Of DPA or of the Executive Office of the Secretary
One of each.
City Press: Okay. I had asked earlier about when it was first
announced that Kim Won-soo was quoted in Joong Ang Daily, describing
the trip, saying it may have a nuclear component, as well as
humanitarian. So, I was wondering, I mean, those are his quotes,
right? That he spoke on the record Joong Ang?
Well, you have to ask Kim Won-soo.
City Press: That’s why I asked. When it first came up, I actually
asked whether he could be a part of the briefing with Lynn Pascoe,
since I don’t think he’s ever briefed the media on the record,
but he seems to have a pretty important role within the Executive
Office of the Secretariat, and obviously he is willing to speak on
the record to at least some media. Is that possible to convey that
UN's Kim, at left, with UN's Ban and Munoz, on glaciers
I will certainly convey it.
Ban and his entourage, including Vijay Nambiar and Lynn Pascoe,
passed the Press at the Security Council stakeout, Kim Won-soo waved
over. Correspondents recounted anecdotes from Ban's trip last month
to Haiti. There was general agreement: Mister Kim must brief the
press, and on the record. We'll see. Watch this site.