Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tales of the Taepoedong, waylaid Chinese trains, Koreans in Japan disagree, Japan and South Korea disagree over islands

Officials with Japan's Defense Agency say that North Korea's launch of a Taepodong long range missle failed. North Korea claimed the launch successful. Japanese defense experts dismissed the possibility that the North Koreans destroyed the missle to keep out of the range of US territory. An official said he doubted the North Koreans have the ability to abort the flight of the Taepodong.

In the meantime, Strategy Page reports of bizarre behavior on the part of North Korea not directly related to the missle launch. Over the last few weeks, North Korea has kept Chinese trains sent to the country carrying aid. The Koreans keep the trains and send their crews back to the Chinese borders. The North has refused Chinese requests to return the trains.

Two leading Korean groups in China, one aligned with the South, the other with the North, adopted different stances over the missile launch. On the heels of the launch, Mindan, the group aligned with the South, renounced an agreement it reached in May with the North Korea-aligned Chongryun. The leader of Mindan claimed Chongryun had no intention of bucking Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, officials with Chongryun voiced concern that Koreans, especially students at Korean schools, may face harassment over the launch. The group even instructed principals of the schools to abolish ethnic uniforms.

Finally, Japan demanded that South Korea halt a survey into a group of islands that both countries claim.

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