06/01/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

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

1. U.S. aware of N. Korean criticism, remains committed to diplomacy: State Dept.

2. South Korea Under Moon Jae In Rejects Value-oriented Diplomacy

3. Unification minister reiterates ‘unwavering commitment’ to Mount Kumgang tourism project

4. Moon Is Emptying Korea’s Coffers Like There’s No Tomorrow

5. Tizzard Translates Thae: The Arrival of the “Pleasure Squad” (기쁨조)

6. N. Korea creates ‘first secretary’ post in revised party rules

7. N. Korea slams countries for piling up excessive supply of vaccines amid shortage

8. S. Korea’s intelligence chief to return home after weeklong trip to U.S.: sources

9. Tracking changes at North Korea’s Camp 14 through satellite imagery

10. Seventh General Bureau official publicly executed for engaging in “corrupt construction practices”

11. Korean firms ramp up spending on lobbying in US

12. Using and buying consumer electronics in North Korea

13. South Korea says vaccine shipment to North Korea from Covax delayed again

14. Biden’s North Korea Policy: Has ‘Strategic Patience’ Returned? – Analysis

15. Kim Jong Un’s Plan to Make North Korea Great Again

16. South Korea’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Joining the Asian Naval Race

17. Air Force weather squadron supporting Army in South Korea adds ‘combat’ to its name

 

1. U.S. aware of N. Korean criticism, remains committed to diplomacy: State Dept.

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · June 1, 2021

Normal behavior for the Kim family regime so our State department is not surprised.  And the essence of our practical and principled diplomacy is to provide Kim Jong-un the opportunity to act as a responsible member of the international community. 

Excerpt: “Our policy toward the DPRK calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces,” the State Department spokesman said.

 

2. South Korea Under Moon Jae In Rejects Value-oriented Diplomacy

japan-forward.com · by Tsutomu Nishioka · May 30, 2021

A view from Japan.

While the author’s thesis is plausible I do not think it can be backed up by the Biden-Moon summit and the joint statement.  Maybe the joint statement was not sufficiently well translated into Japanese.

The summit, joint statement, and fact sheet all seem to focus on democratic values.   This statement from the fact sheet seems to indicate a values based diplomacy approach.

“The unbreakable U.S.-ROK alliance is grounded in our shared democratic values, is comprehensive in nature, and poised to tackle the most urgent issues of the 21st Century.  We pledge to continue to work together to create a free, safe, prosperous, and dynamic Indo-Pacific region and reinforce the ASEAN-led regional architecture through cooperation between the ROK’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ priorities in the region.  The United States and the ROK commit to expanding our partnership in cybersecurity, development assistance, human rights and democracy promotion, health, and climate change.  People-to-people ties between our two countries are a central pillar of the enduring friendship of our people, which has spanned generations and will continue for generations to come. 

And regarding “missing” human rights (which were mentioned four times in the joint statement and four times in the fact sheet) the author must not have read the fact sheet to accompany the joint statement which has this:

“Announce the U.S.-ROK Democracy and Governance Consultations (DGC), which will serve as a mechanism for coordination on human rights and democracy promotion efforts at home and abroad.  The DGC will be an opportunity for both sides to share best practices and cooperate to promote and strengthen democratic resilience, good governance, and democratic institutions.”

 

3. Unification minister reiterates ‘unwavering commitment’ to Mount Kumgang tourism project

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 1, 2021

Another way the headline can be read – Unification Minister’s unwavering commitment to transferring funds to KJU’s royal court economy.  Tourism and these proposed projects solely benefit the Kim family regime.

 

4. Moon Is Emptying Korea’s Coffers Like There’s No Tomorrow

english.chosun.com

The populist movement.

Conclusion: According to the Board of Audit and Inspection, 27 out of 61 public funds have suffered annual deficits over the last five years, and five more are apparently at risk of bleeding money by 2024. The national health insurance fund, which used to post a surplus each year, ended up in a deficit since 2018 as a result of Moon’s expanded coverage of medical expenses. State-run companies suffered a record W545-trillion deficit in 2020, while the wages of their staff grew by W8 trillion. The public is reeling under the wanton spending practices of a populist president.

 

5. Tizzard Translates Thae: The Arrival of the “Pleasure Squad” (기쁨조)

tizzardtranslatesthae.wordpress.com · by David Tizzard · May 31, 2021

Although the headline may be considered clickbait, this translated excerpt from Thae Yong-ho’s book provides more insight than just the “pleasure squad.”  This short excerpt actually covers a lot of ground about the post-Cold War situation, relations with western countries, the nuclear issue in the early 1990s and how the north Korean economy and industry works or is controlled (particularly gold production).

Thanks to David Tizzard for translating and sharing this excerpt.  I hope Thae’s entire book will soon be translated into English.

 

6. N. Korea creates ‘first secretary’ post in revised party rules

 en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · June 1, 2021

The most dangerous title to be given in north Korea is to be named “number 2.”

We should also be very careful about interpreting (“positively”) the removal of Songun (which is actually military first “politics” and we should be under no illusion about the continued influence and power of the military) and about the fight to “speed up the unification of the fatherland.”  We should understand these possible changes in terms of the regime’s political warfare strategy and supporting influence operations.  Note these have only been removed from the preamble.  We need to assess the remainder of the document.  Also I have seen no reports that these concepts have been removed from the Constitution or other party documents.  But perhaps the regime is responding to our constant harping on understanding the regime’s nature, objectives, and strategy,  Maybe this is an attempt to play down its soingun nature, its unification objectives, and its political warfare strategy.  Again I would see this as simply a continuation of the political warfare strategy and a supporting attempted influence operation.  We should not be duped.

Excerpts: “Previously, only five standing members of the party’s politburo, including Kim, were entitled to preside over party meetings. Given that the title carries the word “first,” the position appears to carry the No. 2 status in the North.

Jo Yong-won, a close aide to Kim and current standing member of the politburo, appears to have been elected to the post, sources said.

Meanwhile, North Korea dropped the word “songun,” or military-first policy, in the preamble of the revised party rules, the sources said. Songun was the main policy that was pursued by Kim Jong-il, the late father of current leader Kim.

The North also deleted the expression that the party members “must actively fight to speed up the unification of the fatherland” as it elaborated on their duties.

Some see the change as suggesting that North Korea has given up its long-held push for the unification of the two Koreas and is now pursuing co-existence of two different states on the Korean Peninsula.

 

7. N. Korea slams countries for piling up excessive supply of vaccines amid shortage

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 1, 2021

But north Korea has done so well in preventing any COVID outbreak in the north according to their reporting.

Excerpts: “North Korea also criticized countries for engaging in “national egoism with the vaccine and making bottleneck for the mass production of it by seeking only for the profit.”

It then called on WHO to make an effort “for a thorough consideration in the moral and ethical phase of the health work to save the human life and for a removal of the global inequality.”

North Korea was initially expected to receive around 1.7 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 by May through the COVAX Facility program.

COVAX Facility, however, earlier announced a delay in providing the North with 1.704 million vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca.

 

8. S. Korea’s intelligence chief to return home after weeklong trip to U.S.: sources

en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · June 1, 2021

I hope it was a productive visit.  Hopefully the sharing of intelligence has resulted in a common understanding of the Kim Family regime’s nature, objectives, and strategy.  Intelligence is crucial to inform policy and strategy.  It is also crucial to making sound strategy assumptions.  Will this trip help the ROK and US to gain sufficient alignment in the strategic assumptions about the north.  To me the contradictory views (strategic assumptions) about north Korea by the ROK and US are the single most critical point of disagreement and friction within the alliance.

 

9. Tracking changes at North Korea’s Camp 14 through satellite imagery

dailynk.com · June 1, 2021

Imagery at the link.

 

10. Seventh General Bureau official publicly executed for engaging in “corrupt construction practices”

dailynk.com · by Ha Yoon Ah · June 1, 2021

Excerpts:According to the source, the Discipline Inspection Department said the “satisfaction of self-interest” by a construction official “at the lead of the Supreme Leader’s politics of love” through abuse of his power “with no sense of duty or self-consciousness” represented a problem in his ideology. Accordingly, the department publicly tried and executed Ryu to make an example of him.

 

11. Korean firms ramp up spending on lobbying in US

The Korea Times  · by Baek Byung-yeul · June 1, 2021

Excerpts: “An industry official here gave a comment on Korean firms spending more to further their influence and expanding their presence the U.S.

“To do business in the U.S., there will be lobbying to the extent permitted by law. As the size of the business grows, it will naturally increase. When considering the size of the U.S. market, it is a natural thing that Korean firms are increasing spending on lobbying,” the official said. “Companies can also help develop local communities through lobbying activities.”

 

12. Using and buying consumer electronics in North Korea

The Korea Times · by Jon Dunbar · June 1, 2021

Good tradecraft by the author regarding his personal electronics (and even pocket litter!)

Some interesting insights on north Korean electronics.

 

13. South Korea says vaccine shipment to North Korea from Covax delayed again

Strait Times

 

14. Biden’s North Korea Policy: Has ‘Strategic Patience’ Returned? – Analysis

eurasiareview.com · by IPCS · June 1, 2021

 

15.  Kim Jong Un’s Plan to Make North Korea Great Again

19fortyfive.com · by ByEli Fuhrman · May 31, 2021

Party and ideology: The answer to every problem in north Korea.

Excerpts: “Such a spirit is necessary, according to Kim, if the country is to overcome the many challenges facing it at present.

Recently, Kim Jong Un has referred to those challenges, which spring from the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as international sanctions, as necessitating the waging of another Arduous March, a reference to the deadly famine that ravaged the country during the 1990s.

In his letter, Kim also called on the GFTUK to increase the frequency of party-related activities and the intensity of ideological instruction and study sessions in order to avoid what he described as “politico-ideological degeneration” among its membership. Kim Jong Un has recently emphasized the need to eliminate “non-socialist” behaviors and activities, including in another letter written to attendees of the Tenth Congress of the country’s Youth League.

Kim has also placed a major emphasis on preventing the spread of foreign media into the country. Late last year, North Korea passed a law spelling out harsher penalties for those caught in possession of or distributing foreign content. The advent of new technologies, such as cell phone networks, have allowed for the development of new networks and means of sharing materials among North Koreans, even as the regime has attempted to coopt those networks for its own uses.

Kim Jong Un also appears intent on strengthening the role of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) and its control over the North Korea populace. Propaganda signs in various parts of the country have been altered to emphasize the party as opposed to Kim himself. During the WPK’s eighth party congress held earlier this year, the role of the party was strengthened further though a requirement that such congresses now be held every five years and a revision of party rules that, among other things, strengthened the role of the party’s Politburo in policy and personnel decisions.

 

16. South Korea’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Joining the Asian Naval Race

The National Interest · by Peter Suciu · June 1, 2021

I would rather see this funded than the pursuit of a nuclear powered submarine.

Excerpts:The light carrier could carry as many as twenty combat aircraft and eight maritime helicopters. South Korea has already expressed interest in the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the VSTOL variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which would be ideally suited to such a new warship.

At issue however remains the cost. In addition to the investments in building the warship, which could exceed $1.8 billion, it has been reported that maintenance and operation of the fleet could cost around $180 million annually. However, the force projection and the ability to counter threats from North Korea are certainly worth every penny.

 

17.  Air Force weather squadron supporting Army in South Korea adds ‘combat’ to its name

Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · June 1, 2021

I could see some themes, messages, and memes that could come of this: e.g., The US wants to employ the weather for combat operations. The US is harnessing weather and climate change for military operations.  The north Korean Propaganda and Agitation Department could exploit this. 🙂 (if they do it will be entertaining!)

And then the commander’s name is Bourne – is he a relative of Jason?

All attempts at humor aside, I have worked with a lot of weather detachments and their forecasting has always been critical in support of operations.  I have great respect for the combat weather teams (and the special operations weather teams).

 

 

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“And on this Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and their sacrifice. Duty, honor, country — they lived for it, they died for it. And we, as a nation, are eternally grateful. You know, America has been forged in the battle and the fires of war. Our freedom and the freedom of innumerable others has been secured by young men and women who answered the call of history and gave everything in the service of an idea: the idea of America. It’s the greatest idea in the long history of humankind. An idea that we’re all created equal in the image of Almighty God. That we’re all entitled to dignity, as my father would say, and respect, decency, and honor. Love of neighbor. They’re not empty words, but the vital, beating heart of our nation. And that democracy must be defended at all costs, for democracy makes all this possible. Democracy — that’s the soul of America, and I believe it’s a soul worth fighting for, and so do you; a soul worth dying for. Heroes who lie in eternal peace in this beautiful place, this sacred place, they believed that too. The soul of America is animated by the perennial battle between our worst instincts — which we’ve seen of late — and our better angels. Between “Me first” and “We the People.” Between greed and generosity, cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom.”

-President Joseph Biden, Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day 2021

 

“By and large, strategy comes into play where there is actual or potential conflict, when interests collide and forms of resolution are required. This is why a strategy is much more than a plan. A plan supposes a sequence of events that allows one to move with confidence from one state of affairs to another. Strategy is required when one might frustrate those plans.”

– Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History

 

“Without a word this uniform also whispers of freezing troops, injured bodies, and Americans left forever in foreign fields. It documents every serviceman’s courage, who by accepting this uniform, promises the one gift he truly has to give: his life. I wear my uniform for the heritage of sacrifice it represents and more. I wear my uniform with pride, for it represents the greatest nation of free people in the world.”

– Captain Karen Dorman Kimmel

DanielRiggs
Tue, 06/01/2021 – 9:13am

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