SoKor braces for African swine fever outbreak after NoKor case

Robie de Guzman   •   May 31, 2019   •   2649

Courtesy: Image grabbed from Reuters video

South Korea readied on Friday (May 31) to prevent an outbreak of African swine fever in its pig herd after the disease was found in North Korea, the latest Asian country to be hit by the virus’ rapid spread.

The outbreak was confirmed at a farm in Jagang province in North Korea near the country’s border with China on May 25, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Oh Soon-Min said in a news conference.

More than 20 hogs were culled and more than 70 pigs died from the virus, the ministry said.

“There was one case of African swine fever confirmed in North Korea. The farm is Northern Joint farm located in Usi County, Jagang province. The case was reported on 23 May and confirmed on 25 May,” said Oh.

“Our agricultural ministry thinks there is a possible spread to the South even if the North’s African swine fever case was reported in Jagang province which is near the border with China, but we’re taking this case seriously and planning to take extra disinfection measures here,” he added.

The highly contagious disease, which is fatal to pigs but does not affect humans, has spread rapidly across China since it was first detected in the country last August and has also been reported in Vietnam. There is no vaccine against it.

The South Korean government held a meeting on Friday to discuss ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Measures will include stepping up disinfection near the border areas between the two Koreas, the ministry added. (REUTERS)

South Korea to scrap intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid history feud

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

South Korea’s deputy director of the National Security Council (NSC), Kim You-Geun | Courtesy: Reuters

South Korea said on Thursday (August 22) it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a decision that could further escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.

The decision was announced after an hours-long debate within the presidential National Security Council (NSC).

Japan created a “grave change” in the environment for bilateral security cooperation by removing South Korea’s fast-track export status, citing security concerns without providing clear evidence, said Kim You-geun, a deputy director of the National Security Council.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to be automatically renewed on Saturday (August 24), unless either side decided to cancel it. (Reuters)

(Production: Dogyun Kim, Minwoo Park)

Japan, South Korea, China vow to address diplomatic issues at trilateral summit

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

(L-R) Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono speaking at trilateral summit, commenting on diplomatic issues between three countries| Courtesy: Reuters

China, Japan and South Korea foreign ministers on Wednesday (August 21) vowed to address diplomatic issues at a trilateral summit.

Ties between Japan and South Korea were arguably at their lowest ebb since their relationship was normalized in 1965, hit by a heated feud over the issue of South Korean forced labour during World War Two, which spilled over into a bitter tit-for-tat trade row.

During a joint statement given by all three foreign ministers, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha said that the three countries should “remember to face history” and remove “retaliatory trade measures,” a clear jab at recent measures taken by Japan to remove it from its “white list” of trade partners.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono shied away from commenting directly on the strain with South Korea, instead saying that all three countries should “work closely” in light of diplomatic “difficulties”.

China’s Wang Yi, following Kono’s words, said that China “hopes” Japan and South Korea will take the opportunity to manage their differences constructively during the summit.

This is the ninth such trilateral foreign ministers meeting, the last being three years ago.

From 2008, the three countries had agreed to hold a summit every year to foster regional cooperation. But bilateral tension, including that between China and Japan, has often intervened. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Joseph Campbell, Hyunyoung Yi, Kwiyeon Ha)

PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy welcomed the arrival of its newly-acquired warship, the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS39), with an official ceremony at the Manila South Harbor on Tuesday.

The warship, commissioned from South Korea, was named after a Filipino soldier who served in the Korean war as part of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea. Yap, a Philippine Army captain, was considered as the most decorated Filipino soldier during the Korean war.

The 32-year old BRP Conrado Yap is regarded as the Philippine Navy’s “most powerful ship” to date because of its torpedo launchers and sonars that are capable of detecting submarine and other potential underwater threats.

“Dati surface lang iyong limitations natin with the underwater capability of BRP Conrado Yap PS39. We’ll be able to see, to detect submarines and other potential threats that we cannot see,” said Captain Marco Buena, who commanded the ship’s maiden crew.

The Philippine Navy believes the addition of the heavily armed vessel will provide significant boost to its capability in patrolling and safeguarding the country’s territorial limits.

It will also serve as transition platform in empowering and upgrading Filipino sailors’ knowledge and skills in handling such high-level and advanced equipment/vessel especially with the impending delivery of modern frigates in the next two years, the Philippine Navy added.

The ship will partner with the new AgustaWestland 159 helicopters which are also capable of anti-submarine detection.

The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).

It was turned over to the Philippine Navy during a commissioning ceremony held at Jinhae Naval Base in South Korea on August 5.

READ: PH Navy receives, commissions ex-South Korean warship

It set sail towards the Philippines on August 12, escorted by the BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

While on the way to Manila, the two vessels conducted naval maneuvers and other trainings.

The ships were also shadowed by a Chinese naval vessel, which according to Captain Richard Gonzaga, Commander of Naval Task Group 80.5, was a non-hostile encounter and just a part of a protocol when passing China’s waters.

“‘Yung shadow is dahil nabigyan naman tayo ng abiso dadaan doon. Ang pag-shadow lang ng Chinese vessels, nagtanong lang sila kung kailangan ng assistance or anything which is common naman sa lahat ng navy. Pag sila naman ang dumadaan dito, sinasabi rin natin kung ano iyon…kasi sa atin is always safety iyon,” Gonzaga said.

The Philippines’ acquisition of the corvette was amid tension in the West Philippine Sea and reported incursions of Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in the previous months. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

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