04/04/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

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

1. KNDA chancellor casts critical eye on Korea-US alliance in new book

2. NK’s denuclearization receives fresh attention at top security meetings

3. Pyongyang hunkers down to explore next move

4. US, China push South Korea into tricky balancing act

5. US, Japan, ROK hold meeting on Korean Peninsula situation

6. U.S. 7th Fleet Commander visits South Korea

7. South Korean commission cancels probe into Cheonan warship sinking

8. The Biggest Threats North Korea Made To The US

9. To Spark Talks With North Korea, Biden Should Make the First Move

10. To Spark Talks With North Korea, Biden Should Make the First Move

11. Keep diplomatic balance (ROK): New strategy needed to avoid US-China rivalry

12. Korea needs to consider joining Quad to make ‘Penta’

13. China’s Dangerous Double Game In North Korea

14. S.Korea minister expects China to play role in N.Korea peacemaking

15. US, Asian allies urge North Korea to limit nuclear program

16. Anti-Asian hate: in South Korea, reports of attacks on Asian-Americans focus on suspects’ race – a lot

17. US Olympic star Chloe Kim reveals anti-Asian abuse

18. Dire situation in North Korea drives ‘collective exit’ of diplomats

19. Kimchi wars continue as shirtless cabbage wrangler shocks consumers

 

1. KNDA chancellor casts critical eye on Korea-US alliance in new book

koreaherald.com · by Lim Jang-won · April 1, 2021

It saddens me to read this. Although I have always wondered about Chancellor Kim’s views of the alliance because during the many conferences I have participated in with him over the years his comments always seemed slightly out of tune, I had no idea of the depths of his anti-alliance sentiment. 

However, I do agree with the theme as notes here:

“The main theme repeated throughout the book is that the South Korea-US alliance should be a means to seek the national interest. In other words, the national interest needs to come first, before the South Korea-US alliance.

There should be no doubt that ROK interests must come first for Korea just as American interests must come first for the US ahead of the alliance. However, I think many of the characterizations of the alliance he describes are not completely accurate. And I think our interest have long been sufficiently aligned to support our respective national interests. Yes there have been many mistakes in the alliance and many friction points but I believe we share values, we share interests and we share common threats and challenges. The friction builds as we have different perspective on how to address those threats and challenges.

That said we must take his views seriously and I hope his book is published in English. I believe his interpretation of the history in the book will be enlightening. The reason we need to take his views seriously is because of this conclusion. I fear his views reflect those of a large segment of the ruling party and the progressives in South Korea:

Conclusion: “While Kim chronicles the past 150 years with expertise, the claim that a book by the head of the country’s major diplomatic institution that is critical of the state of the Korea-US alliance and urges a change reflects solely the personal opinion of an academic is not one that can easily be accepted at face value.”

 

2. NK’s denuclearization receives fresh attention at top security meetings

koreaherald.com · by Ahn Sung-mi · April 4, 2021

I think we need to shift from using denuclearization to emphasizing implementation of UN National Security Council Resolutions (such as was in the joint statement from the three national security advisors). The UNSCRs provide the basis for every line of effort for a new policy and strategy – end the full spectrum of WMD programs (nuclear, biological and chemical), end the ballistic program, end proliferation around the world, end global illicit activities, end cyber attacks, end overseas slave labor, and end human rights abuses and crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north.

Who is opposed to full implementation of the UNSCRs against the north (other than north Korea, China, and Russia)?

 

3. Pyongyang hunkers down to explore next move

The Korea Times · by Nam Hyun-woo  · April 4, 2021

Interesting comment from Harry. I assume he assesses the new US policy will consists of continued pressure and no sanctions relief. The big questions for me are: Will the regime stick to its seven decades old playbook? Or will it abandon that playbook because it has determined that the playbook no longer works? What actions can we take to show Kim his play book, his long con, and his political warfare (and his military ) strategy has not worked and will not work and that he must finally abandoned those failed strategies and enter the community of nations and negotiate responsibly.?

Excerpts: “North Korea watchers said Pyongyang’s reclusive actions are not just the outcome of the efforts to contain the coronavirus, but a tactic to handle its diplomatic situation down the road.

“For now, North Korea is hunkering down and limiting any and all information it can,” Harry Kazianis, senior director at the U.S.-based think tank Center for the National Interest, told The Korea Times.

“North Korea knows, at least for now, that it will not be able to fully vaccinate its population from COVID-19 nor gain any sort of sanctions relief from the U.S. or its allies anytime soon. What the regime is doing is whatever it can to keep any information outflows to as limited as possible while it plots its next moves forward,” Kazianis said. “The Kim family knows the next year will be very hard as likely international pressure will mount as the Joe Biden administration will surely increase pressure and sanctions on the regime.”

 

4. US, China push South Korea into tricky balancing act

The Korea Times · by Nam Hyun-woo · April 4, 2021

The proverbial shrimp among whales.

Key point: “China is also ramping up efforts to strengthen its relations with South Korea to counter the U.S.’ anti-Beijing campaign.”

 

5. US, Japan, ROK hold meeting on Korean Peninsula situation

chinadaily.com.cn · by 代艳

Reporting from China. Note the concluding paragraph provides north Korea’s view of the meetings: “Ri Pyong-chol, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, responded that “such remarks from the US president are an undisguised encroachment on our state’s right to self-defense and provocation to it.”

 

6. U.S. 7th Fleet Commander visits South Korea

navy.mil · April 1, 2021

Excerpt:  “As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50-70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

 

7. South Korean commission cancels probe into Cheonan warship sinking

upi.com · by Elizabeth Shim · April 2, 2021

Good. This was an insult to the families and memories of those 46 sailors who were murdered by north Korea.

 

8. The Biggest Threats North Korea Made To The US

grunge.com · by Thomas A Brown · April 2, 2021

 

9. To Spark Talks With North Korea, Biden Should Make the First Move

38north.org · by Leon V. Sigal · April 2, 2021

I think not only is this a fantasy recommendation, it is dangerous. If Biden sends such a letter to Kim and pledges lifting of even some sanctions, Kim will interpret that as success of his long conn, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy. We need to strive for negotiations after and only after Kim Jong-un comes to the realization that his long con, political warfare strategy (and military strategy) and blackmail diplomacy are no longer viable. It is only after he accepts the failure of his seven decades old playbook that he might be willing to come to the table and negotiate a substantive agreement.

Excerpt: “Another possible step might be to pledge to ease some economic sanctions by allowing exemptions from United Nations Security Council sanctions to permit the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Zone or the import of some oil by the North and/or the export of coal or textiles for two years, or as long as negotiations are moving ahead. Communicated in a letter from Biden to Kim, such an initiative would constitute a clear move away from enmity and fitting reciprocity for the North Korean test moratorium, as well as significant inducements to serious and sustained negotiations.”

 

10. To Spark Talks With North Korea, Biden Should Make the First Move

38north.org · by Leon V. Sigal · April 2, 2021

I think not only is this a fantasy recommendation, it is dangerous. If Biden sends such a letter to Kim and pledges lifting of even some sanctions, Kim will interpret that as success of his long conn, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy. He will then double down and we will see no progress or even a possible path toward desired objectives. We need to strive for negotiations after and only after Kim Jong-un comes to the realization that his long con, political warfare strategy (and military strategy) and blackmail diplomacy are no longer viable. It is only after he accepts the failure of his seven decades old playbook that he might be willing to come to the table and negotiate a substantive agreement.

Excerpt: “Another possible step might be to pledge to ease some economic sanctions by allowing exemptions from United Nations Security Council sanctions to permit the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Zone or the import of some oil by the North and/or the export of coal or textiles for two years, or as long as negotiations are moving ahead. Communicated in a letter from Biden to Kim, such an initiative would constitute a clear move away from enmity and fitting reciprocity for the North Korean test moratorium, as well as significant inducements to serious and sustained negotiations.”

 

11. Keep diplomatic balance (ROK): New strategy needed to avoid US-China rivalry

The Korea Times · April 4, 2021

Yes, this is the ROK challenge. How is it going to balance between the PRC and US?

Excerpt: “It appears that the U.S. and China are wooing South Korea to their respective sides amid the great power rivalry. Chung said last Wednesday that South Korea is not in a position to choose between the U.S. and China. Yet, we need a new strategy to prepare for when the rival powers force us to do that.”

 

12. Korea needs to consider joining Quad to make ‘Penta’

The Korea Times · by Park Jin · April 4, 2021

Quad – Penta – we need to rebrand the collective organizational concepts for Asia. Key point on the trade equivalency of the Quad and China for South Korea. The key point must be the willingness of the Quad to come to the aid of the South when China (AGAIN) conducts economic warfare against the South.

Excerpts: “South Korea’s trade dependence on the Quad is around 25 percent, equivalent to that of China. The four Quad nations are, much like Korea, highly reliant on trade with China. Thus, the argument that Korea’s high dependence on trade with China makes joining the Quad an impediment to its partnership with China is invalid.

South Korea and the U.S. have increased their mutual trade and investments through the successful ROK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Korea has also signed FTAs with Australia and India, and expects to enter indirect free trade relations with Japan through the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). By facilitating regional trade, investments and services, the Quad will greatly contribute to economic growth and prosperity in the region. Seoul should widen and deepen its cooperation with the Quad nations to develop core technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, clean energy, bio-health and cybersecurity. Collaboration for coronavirus vaccine production and equitable access and collective efforts to combat climate change are also important.

South Korea is a dynamic economic powerhouse located in the geopolitical pivot of Northeast Asia. The strategic choice that Korea makes between the U.S. and China will significantly affect the political, economic and security environment of the Indo-Pacific region. Korea joining the Quad is only common sense and an inevitable course of history.

It is only natural for a state that has shared values of liberal democracy and rule of law to join the Quad and make a “Penta,” a group of five. Korea should not retract into being an outlier but take a leading role in the formulation of a new democratic order in the region.

 

13. China’s Dangerous Double Game In North Korea

Foreign Affairs · by Oriana Skylar Mastro · April 2, 2021

Important analysis from Dr. Sklyer Mastro.

However, I think arms control negotiations will be deemed by Kim Jong-un as a successful outcome of his strategy and we can expect to double down on his long con, political warfare, and blackmail diplomacy.

One of the many strategic paradoxes on the Korean peninsula:

“If Beijing were to do nothing to assist in denuclearization, the United States could lose confidence in diplomacy and decide instead to increase its military presence on the peninsula or even to take military action. But if Beijing does too much to help the United States, North Korea could collapse, and the whole peninsula could fall within the U.S. orbit.”

I also do not hold out any hope for complete cooperation from China.

Conclusion: “Some Biden advisers, including Kurt Campbell, have called for a bolder approach. One possibility is for Washington to shift its focus from denuclearization to arms control. Under this scenario, the United States would accept North Korea as a de facto nuclear state and take measures to enhance deterrence against it, such as stepping up the U.S. military presence and tightening military cooperation with allies in the region. China would have a harder time than before delegitimizing the U.S. military presence in the region and just might be compelled to do what is necessary to induce North Korea’s denuclearization, even at the cost of destabilizing the regime.

Biden’s new approach to North Korea must force China to tip its carefully constructed balance toward either complete cooperation or obvious obstruction. Depending on which way China goes, the United States can then decide whether to include Beijing or cut it out of its North Korea policy efforts. But one thing is clear: conducting business as usual with Beijing hurts U.S. objectives in both denuclearization and competition with China.

 

14.  S.Korea minister expects China to play role in N.Korea peacemaking

Reuters · by Cynthia Kim and Andrew Galbraith · April 3, 2021

I am not so optimistic.  

 

15.  US, Asian allies urge North Korea to limit nuclear program

DW · by Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com)

A view from Germany.

 

16. Anti-Asian hate: in South Korea, reports of attacks on Asian-Americans focus on suspects’ race – a lot

SCMP  · by John Power · April 4, 2021

This is a very complex issue in Korea.

Anti-Asian hate: in South Korea, reports of attacks on Asian-Americans focus on suspects’ race – a lot

  • Unlike in the US, South Korean media put heavy emphasis on the race 
  • of attackers, many of whom were African-American
  • The stark contrast in framing highlights differing sensitivities around 
  • race that permeate the two cultures, analysts say

 

17. US Olympic star Chloe Kim reveals anti-Asian abuse

The Korea Times · April 4, 2021

So frustrating and tragic. We have to be better than this.

 

18. Dire situation in North Korea drives ‘collective exit’ of diplomats

The Guardian · by Andrew Roth · April 1, 2021

Indicators of the situation inside north Korea and Pyongyang.

 

19. Kimchi wars continue as shirtless cabbage wrangler shocks consumers

koreajoongangdaily.joins.com · by Chea Sarah

The soft power terrain is being contested between China and South Korea.

Kimchi wars continue as shirtless cabbage wrangler shocks consumers

 

——————

“Discipline, however, needs first and foremost leadership, and not regulations. The former can only be provided by example.”

– Jorg Muth

 

“Thus it has come about that our theoretical and critical literature, instead of giving plain, straightforward arguments in which the author at least always knows what he is saying and the reader what he is reading, is crammed with jargon, ending at obscure crossroads where the author loses its readers. Sometimes these books are even worse: they are just hollow shells. The author himself no longer knows just what he is thinking and soothes himself with obscure ideas which would not satisfy him if expressed in plain speech.”

– Major General Carl von Clausewitz

 

President Kennedy 1962 USMA gradation:

 “This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origins – war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of combat; by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It requires – in those situations where we must encounter it – a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore, a new and wholly different kind of military training.”

 

President Obama 2009 USNA graduation:

“History teaches us that nations that grow comfortable with the old ways and complacent in the face of new threats, those nations do not long endure. And in the 21st century, we do not have the luxury of deciding which challenges to prepare for and which to ignore. We must overcome the full spectrum of threats – the conventional and unconventional; the nation-state and the terrorists network; the spread of deadly technologies and the spread of hateful ideologies; 18th century-style piracy and 21st century cyber threats.”

DanielRiggs
Sun, 04/04/2021 – 1:58pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *