On Thursday (14 July) a United States army helicopter was shot down after straying into North Korean airspace.
On Thursday (14 July) a United States army helicopter was shot down after straying into North Korean airspace. Attempts are being made to arrange a meeting between the North Korean authorities and the U.S. - led United Nations Command in efforts to secure the return of the crew. This incident was the first major trouble along the Korean demilitarised zone since North Korean guards killed two American officers last August and comes at a time when talks are in progress between the United States and South Korea on the withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Korea. Recently a Japanese television crew visited North Korean President Kim Il Sung and talked to him at length about the future of Korea as a whole -- with particular reference to the possible reunification of the country.
SYNOPSIS: President Kim greeted Japanese reporter Akira Ogata on the steps of the presidential residence in Pyongyang. Aged 65, Kim Il Sung has been Head of State of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since 1972 and he was Prime Minister for 24 years before that. In his own country he is revered as an almost legendary hero -- but in South Korea he is hated and his effigy has been burned by demonstrating crowds.
Despite his unpopularity south of the demilitarised zone President Kim is confident that eventually the two Koreas will be reunited. Speaking through an interpreter, he told Akira Ogata that once a full withdrawal of United States troops from the south has been completed the problems of reunification could be solved. At present the United States has said that it plans a pullback of the 33.000 ground troops stationed in South Korea over the next four to five years. The North Korean President said that the United States air force should withdraw as well -- but that he also wishes to see continuous efforts made towards good relations with the U.S.
He emphasised this point by adding that North Korea was prepared to meet with the Untied States "any time, any place". He did, however voice criticism of U.S. President Jimmy Carter's human rights campaign, by pointing out that Mr. Carter had pledged not to give aid to countries where human rights are not respected, yet the United States continues to give aid to South Korea.
On the subject of United States withdrawal form South Korea, President Kim also pointed out that Mr. Carter's proposals were vague, because he may well not be President in five years time. However, assuming that a complete withdrawal did take place he said that the re-unification of Korea should take place by means of self determination. As the interview progressed the President moved on to cover a number ??? topics from high-level international politics, including North Korea's recent declaration of a 200-mile fighting zone. He also described various experiences of his early life and his sense of direction as he moved into his political career.
Political observers say that the long Korean war left President Kim with an abiding dislike for the United States. However, recently he has taken steps towards reconciliation with his former enemies, including Japan.