03/31/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

2. 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Republic of Korea

3. HRNK Quoted 27 Times in the U.S. Department of State’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2020 Human Rights Report

4. Why South Korea is balking at the Quad

5. “The withdrawal of US troops builds peace on the Korean peninsula”

6. Reprocessing Activity at Yongbyon’s Radiochemistry Laboratory?

7. Steam detected at N. Korea’s plutonium reprocessing plant: U.S. think tank

8. Kim Jong-un’s Sister Launches Fresh Verbal Attacks

9. N. Korea’s trade volume drops to practically zero amid coronavirus pandemic: official

10. N.K. people’s access to information should be expanded without hurting rights of other people: ministry

11. FM Chung expresses hope for early talks with Japanese counterpart

12. South Korean foreign minister going to China for first time in three years

13. Security Council meets on North Korea tests without action

14. N. Korea’s ballistic missile development aimed at ‘regaining upper hand’ over S. Korea: expert

15. Eleven Sunam Market market vendors face punishment after selling smuggled goods

 

1. 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The full report can be downloaded here.

My thoughts on reading this report:

  • North Korean human rights is not only a moral imperative but a national security issue because Kim Jong-un must deny the human rights of the Korean people living in the north in order to ensure he stays in power and the regime survives.
  • Kim Jong-un fears the Korean people more than the US – this report illustrates the lengths to which he must go to protect himself from the people.
  • This is a very thorough report which clearly and comprehensively outlines the abuses and suffering experience by the Korean people at the hands of the most despotic regime in the modern era.
  • The information in this report is important for an information and influence activities campaign in the north.  While focusing on the north Korean nuclear program reinforces regime legitimacy, the exposure of north Korean human rights abuses undermines the legitimacy of Kim Jong-un. It poses an existential threat to the regime.
  • This report illustrates the value of non-governmental organizations (such as HRNK) that provide support to DOS to identify the critical issues and provide data and evidence of the human rights abuses in the north.
  • This report also confirms there has been no significant improvement of human rights in north Korea since the 2014 UN Commission of inquiry which found the regime was committing crimes against humanity on a scale not seen since WWII.

 

2. 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Republic of Korea

The full report can be downloaded here.

I think this is a very objective report. It is hard to write a report like this on an ally but I think the objective analysis strengthens the credibility of all the reports (especially the one on north Korea).. This also provides insights into some of the domestic political challenges in South Korea that do not make the mainstream media outside of Korea.

 

3. HRNK Quoted 27 Times in the U.S. Department of State’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2020 Human Rights Report

HRNK

I am proud of the great work by the Committee for Human RIghts in North Korea).  It is an organization that truly punches well about its weight with a director and staff of four, some great young interns, and a network of expert researchers/scholars/authors.

 

4. Why South Korea is balking at the Quad

eastasiaforum.org · by Kuyoun Chung · March 31, 2021

Excerpts: :”But US allies and partners in the region have been reluctant to join this effort. The uncertain end-state of US–China competition — as well as concern over potential Chinese economic coercion — are impacting their decision. While US–China competition continues to serve as an organising principle for US foreign policy under the Biden administration, the prospect of complete decoupling and disengagement between these two great powers seems remote.

Washington may need to take a more nuanced approach and carefully distinguish like-situated countries, which mostly worry about the risk of great power competition, from like-minded countries, which are more willing to resist the decline of liberal order. Though these two groups are not necessarily exclusive, they prioritise different foreign policy goals according to their primary concern, different threat perception, economic interest and the level of resilience to resist Chinese coercion.

In speaking to some friends from Asia I have heard a few comments: The concept and intent of the “Quad, et al, is uncertain and the US needs to provide a better understanding of the purpose and the way ahead.  It needs a new “branding” effort.  They also tell me there appear to be different descriptions of the Quad among the State, DOD,and the INDOPACOM commander) both the current and incoming as they seem to focus on containment of China and weigh the collective security aspect of the Quad while State and DoD emphasize the economic and political aspect. 

 

5. “The withdrawal of US troops builds peace on the Korean peninsula”

Chosun · by Eui-joon Cho · March 31, 2021

This is a google translation of a Chosun Ilbo article (e.g “Department of Political Surgery”).  It is a very troubling (and dangerous) read.  I am saddened that Kim Joon-hyung, who is the head of the Korean National Diplomatic Academy, would write a book and express such negative views of our alliance.

 

6. Reprocessing Activity at Yongbyon’s Radiochemistry Laboratory?

beyondparallel.csis.org · by Joseph Bermudez · March 30, 2021

Images at the link.  

 

7. Steam detected at N. Korea’s plutonium reprocessing plant: U.S. think tank

en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · March 31, 2021

 

8. Kim Jong-un’s Sister Launches Fresh Verbal Attacks

english.chosun.com

The bad cop is on a roll.

 

9. N. Korea’s trade volume drops to practically zero amid coronavirus pandemic: official

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · March 31, 2021

This is why we are seeing reports of a possible opening of the Chinese border next month and a new DPRK ambassador to China with trade expertise.  north Korea must get cross border trade restarted.

 

10.N.K. people’s access to information should be expanded without hurting rights of other people: ministry

en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · March 31, 2021

This new law is one issue identified in State’s report on human rights in South Korea.  The excuse for the law that the Korean people living in Paju must be protected from north Korean threats and retaliation is a red herring and poor justification for the law.  How many Koreans i the South have been harmed by north Korean retaliation for information going into north Korea?

 

11. FM Chung expresses hope for early talks with Japanese counterpart

m-en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · March 31, 2021

The buried lede (and a very important statement from the FM):

“Touching on the diplomatic difficulty Seoul faces in the midst of an acrimonious Sino-U.S. rivalry, Chung noted that Washington and Beijing are not a “subject of choice” as both are crucial partners for cooperation.

“The U.S. is our only ally, and the alliance is the foundation of our diplomatic and security policy, while China is our close neighbor, largest trading partner and our strategic partner,” he said.

“Our position is clear and not ambiguous at all. The firm position is that based on the robust South Korea-U.S. alliance, we will strive to harmoniously develop relations with China,” he added.

 

12. South Korean foreign minister going to China for first time in three years

Reuters · by Josh Smith and Yew Lun Tian · March 31, 2021

Another key statement from the FM: “Our basic stance is clear and not at all ambiguous: Based on the solid South Korea-U.S. alliance, the government’s firm position is to harmoniously improve South Korea-China relations,” Chung told a briefing on Wednesday.

The ROK can and should engage China from a position of strength and part of the strength comes from the strong ROK/US alliance.

 

13. Security Council meets on North Korea tests without action

24matins.uk · March 30, 2021

Hardly a surprise given China and Russian positions.

 

14. N. Korea’s ballistic missile development aimed at ‘regaining upper hand’ over S. Korea: expert

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · March 31, 2021

“Regaining” the upper hand? When has it not had the upper hand over the past 3-4 years?

 

15. Eleven Sunam Market market vendors face punishment after selling smuggled goods

dailynk.com · by  Jong So Yong · March 31, 2021

The draconian population and resources control measures continue as the regime tries to make sure it exercises total control over the people and markets.

 

————-

 

“Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” 

– Prussian King Frederick the Great

 

“The essential thing is action. Action has three stages: the decision born of thought, the order or preparation for execution, and the execution itself. All three stages are governed by the will. The will is rooted in character, and for the man of action character is of more critical importance than intellect. Intellect without will is worthless, will without intellect is dangerous.”

– Hans von Seeckt.

 

“In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement.”

– Abraham Lincoln

DanielRiggs
Wed, 03/31/2021 – 9:18am

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