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Because of terrorist acts it committed in the 1980s.

Why is North Korea on a U.S. blacklist?

Sept 18,2007
Kim Hyon-hui, one of two North Korean agents responsible for the Korean Air bombing in 1987, was caught shortly after the attack and taken to South Korea. [YONHAP]
After negotiators for the United States and North Korea announced the outcome of their meeting in Geneva on Sept. 2, signs of a thaw between Washington and Pyongyang finally emerged. Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator for the six-party nuclear talks, said the North has promised to declare and disable all nuclear development programs before the end of this year.
Shortly after the Geneva meeting, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the United States had made a promise to remove Pyongyang from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” ― a blacklist ― in return for detailing and disabling its nuclear programs. The North has long complained about the Bush administration’s hostility and has persistently demanded it be taken off the list and have political and economic sanctions lifted.
The claim, however, became a subject of debate, because the United States had said delisting depended on further steps toward denuclearization.
Japan also reacted sensitively to the news about possible delisting, because it has been insisting on first resolving North Korea’s past abduction of Japanese citizens before resuming normalization talks with Pyongyang.

“State sponsors of terrorism”
The term “state sponsor of terrorism” is a designation applied by the U.S. State Department to countries that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” Since Dec. 29, 1979, the U.S. State Department has maintained a list of such countries. The first list began with Libya, Iraq, South Yemen and Syria.
The nations that are put on the list face strict sanctions. Four major categories of sanctions are imposed: restrictions on U.S. foreign aid; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual-use items and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
The list has changed over the decades. Currently, five countries remain on the list: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

North Korea on the list
North Korea was added to the list in 1988. The United States condemned the North for selling weapons to terrorist groups and for providing refuge to the guerrilla group, the Japanese Red Army, who was responsible for hijacking a commercial airliner.
The North was also responsible for the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma in a failed attempt to assassinate then South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan, who was on a state visit. While Chun narrowly escaped the attack by arriving late to the site, 17 high ranking South Korean officials, including four cabinet members, were killed, among them the South’s foreign minister.
North Korea is also responsible for the bombing of Korean Air flight No. 858 in 1987. The South Korean passenger flight exploded over the Andaman Sea, and all 115 on board were killed. Two suspects, a man and a woman using fake Japanese passports, were quickly identified and arrested. The pair immediately attempted to commit suicide, and the man succeeded. The woman, Kim Hyon-hui, survived. After investigation by South Korean authorities, Kim said at a press conference that the order for the bombing had been “personally penned” by Kim Jong-il, the son of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.
Labeling the bombing a “terrorist act,” the U.S. State Department included the North on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The North has since remained on the U.S. blacklist.

Recent developments
The latest report on the list was released on April, 28, 2006.
In the report, the U.S. State Department detailed some developments on the fate of Japanese citizens who had been kidnapped to the North decades ago. “Pyongyang in 2003 allowed five surviving abductees to return to Japan, and eight family members, mostly children, in 2004,” the report said. “Questions about the fate of other abductees remain the subject of ongoing negotiations between Japan and the DPRK.”
DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“In November, the DPRK returned to Japan what it identified as the remains of two Japanese abductees, whom the North had reported as having died in North Korea. The issue remained contentious at year’s end.”
The report also discussed the North’s kidnapping of citizens of other countries. “There are also credible reports that other nationals were abducted from locations abroad. The ROK government estimates that approximately 485 civilians were abducted or detained since the 1950-53 Korean War.”
ROK stands for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.
“Four Japanese Red Army members remain in the DPRK following their involvement in a jet hijacking in 1970; five of their family members returned to Japan in 2004,” the report said. There was an indication that the North might have a chance to be removed from the blacklist. The report specifically said North Korea “is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Air flight in 1987.”
The last country to have been delisted was Libya. Its removal from the list in 2006 followed the decision by its leader, Muammar Qaddafi, to renounce the country’s non-conventional weapons program in 2003.
Iraq has been on and off the list. It was removed from the list in 1982 to make it eligible to receive U.S. military technology in its war against Iran, then it was put back on the list in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait.
With the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country was delisted in 2004.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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