06/07/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

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

1.  Pro-N. Korea paper says Pyongyang continues to pursue unification of Korean Peninsula

2. Is South Korea ready to throw in its lot with Washington?

3. NorthKorea’s Capabilities for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

4. ‘Farmland of peace’ project will promote inter-Korean cooperation: unification ministry

5. Seoul court rejects slave labor claim against Japanese firms

6. Why Kim Jong-un is waging war on slang, jeans and foreign films

7. Vice FM Choi to visit U.S. this week for talks with counterpart Sherman

8. Moon orders complete overhaul of military culture

9. US Marine Corps F-35Bs to visit South Korea

10. G7 to test Korea’s balancing act between US, China

11. Seoul pushes for reviving inter-Korean tour programs

12. Moon’s visit to spy headquarters brings with it pro-North symbol

13. Nuclear energy stocks surge again after Korea-US summit

14. Vaccines for Korean Soldiers Arrive from U.S.

15. S Korea under mega cyber attacks in pandemic-driven online era


1. Pro-N. Korea paper says Pyongyang continues to pursue unification of Korean Peninsula

en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · June 7, 2021

Thank you to the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Choson Sinbo for confirming the answers to my questions:

“Do we believe that Kim Jong-un has abandoned the seven decades old strategy of subversion, coercion-extortion (blackmail diplomacy), and use of force to achieve unification dominated by the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State in order to ensure the survival of the mafia like crime family cult known as Kim family regime?

In support of that strategy do we believe that Kim Jong-un has abandoned the objective to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the peninsula? Has KJU given up his divide to conquer strategy – divide the alliance to conquer the ROK?

Then again, perhaps the Choson Sinbo did not get the memo and is speaking out of school.


2. Is South Korea ready to throw in its lot with Washington?

asia.nikkei.com · by Soo Kim · June 6, 2021

Excerpts: “The U.S.-South Korea summit reaffirmed the countries’ shared history and common security interests and primed atmospherics to facilitate future-oriented expanded cooperation beyond matters concerning the immediate edge of the Korean Peninsula. This, if implemented thoroughly and across overlapping issues and initiatives — the Quad, for instance — may not only enhance Washington’s position in the region but strengthen Seoul’s own fortitude when it comes to standing up to China’s aggression and occasional pressures, as well.


South Korea’s ambivalence and hesitation when it comes to articulating a clear position either way remains a significant sticking point in the allies’ ability to stick together and move forward on current and emerging challenges of common concern.


Such equivocation may breed tensions in the alliance and encourage Beijing to pressure Seoul even more. In the interests of shared democratic values and protecting the international rules-based order, Seoul may wish to consider whether to make an unequivocal strategic decision regarding its bilateral relations with both Washington and Beijing.


3. NorthKorea’s Capabilities for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

EMP Task Force  · by Peter Vincent Pry · June 6, 2021

The 14 page report can be downloaded at this link.

Yes this is a potential real threat. However, I am much more concerned about the north’s cyber capabilities. I think there may be ways to inflict tremendous damage on our infrastructure through cyber than going through all the effort to deliver EMP effects to the US. And if the four revisionist and rogue powers ever synchronized their efforts we could be in real trouble.


4. ‘Farmland of peace’ project will promote inter-Korean cooperation: unification ministry

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 7, 2021

A project I could get behind would be for farmers in the South to directly engage with farmers in the north to provide best practices along with fertilizer, seeds, and modern equipment. It would be ideal if this could be done on a people to people basis but I know it is a naive pipe dream as the regime would never allow it.


5. Seoul court rejects slave labor claim against Japanese firms

AP · by Kim Tong-Hyung

An interesting development. I do not know enough about South Korea law to assess whether the court is objectively judging the case or if there is political influence. However, I doubt this will be enough to change the relationship because I worry about the blowback in the South.


6. Why Kim Jong-un is waging war on slang, jeans and foreign films

BBC · by Laura Bicker

Yes we have seen this information reported quite a bit in recent weeks. Laura Bicker of the BBC provides some useful context and analysis.

Weed to execute a comprehensive and sophisticated information and influence activities campaign. Kim Jong-un is denying the human rights of the Korean people living in the north for one simple reason: to ensure he remains in power.


7. Vice FM Choi to visit U.S. this week for talks with counterpart Sherman

en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · June 7, 2021

Execution of the joint statement and information in the fact sheet from the summit is going to be very important.  I am optimistic about the sustained high level engagement while at the same time I am critical of the comments from the Moon administration regarding combined military training and sanctions relief/concessions.


8. Moon orders complete overhaul of military culture

koreaherald.com · by Lee Ji-yoon · June 7, 2021

Changing culture? Could be as hard as denuclearizing north Korea or changing the nature of war.. And I do not mean to be sarcastic or flippant. Changing military culture is not something that can be changed with the establishment of a task force.

That said the kind of misconduct described can and must be targeted and the military must do everything it can to protect military members and deal with misconduct correctly.


9. US Marine Corps F-35Bs to visit South Korea

The Korea Times ·by Kang Seung-woo · June 6, 2021

Message to Kim? The regime fears the F-35s and the US Marines so this is a double threat to the regime!


10. G7 to test Korea’s balancing act between US, China

The Korea Times · by Nam Hyun-woo · June 7, 2021

Excerpts: “The South has been exercising a balancing act between the U.S. and China amid the two super powers’ rivalry, although during the summit between President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, Seoul showed signs of titling toward Washington. Against this backdrop, the upcoming leaders’ meeting in Cornwall, the United Kingdom, will be another opportunity for Seoul to join the Washington-led initiative against Beijing, the experts said.


Recent overseas reports ― citing sources familiar with the matter ― said the G7 countries ― Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. ― plan to launch a green alternative to the BRI.


The initiative, thought to be called the “Clean Green Initiative,” was initially raised by the U.S., as an alternative to the BRI. In a March phone conversation between Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the former suggested democratic countries should create an infrastructure plan to rival the BRI, and the initiative will likely see a framework suggested during the G7 summit.


11. Seoul pushes for reviving inter-Korean tour programs

The Korea Times · by Kang Seung-woo · June 7, 2021

We must remember that tourism directly benefits Kim Jong-un and his royal court economy. The royal court economy funds the nuclear program and takes care of the regime and the elite.


12. Moon’s visit to spy headquarters brings with it pro-North symbol

onekoreanetwork.com · June 4, 2021

Excerpts: “The key purpose of the reform is to transform the NIS to become more like the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which takes care of overseas operations and intelligence matters, while creating a new Korean version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that oversees domestic matters.

The main opposition People Power Party has been against the reform, particularly the clause that will ban the NIS from investigating pro-North Korean activities in South Korea. “The National Assembly is trying to pass a law that would only be beneficial to North Korea, which constantly tries to make South Korea Communist,” said Rep. Lee Chul-gyu of the PPP during the filibuster session in December. “It is so South Korea will not be involved in activities that North Koreans feel burdened by and dislike, and is weakening our country’s capability [to deal with North Korea].”

The controversy:

During President Moon’s latest visit to the NIS, a ceremony was held that unveiled a stone with the agency’s new motto celebrating its 60th founding anniversary next week. It reads, “Serving Our Nation and People with Unwavering Loyalty and Devotion.” The problem with the stone is that it used a font called “Arms around each other’s shoulders” created by the late professor Shin Young-bok.

Shin is considered a liberal intellectual among South Koreans on the left, but conservatives emphasize that he was a criminal who was involved in the so-called Unification Revolutionary Party (Tonghyuk-dang) incident in 1968. The case refers to the biggest spy scandal in South Korean history.

Central to the scandal, South Korean revolutionary leftist Kim Jong-tae illegally visited North Korea four times and received funding from North Korea to form the People’s Revolutionary Party. The five main criminals involved in the plot, including Kim Jong-tae, were apprehended in South Korea and sentenced to death, and 158 others were arrested. Shin Young-bok was one of the key academic and cultural figures who were recruited by Kim Jong-tae, who planned an armed uprising and overthrow of the government.

Shin was sentenced to life in prison for violating the National Security Act. He was released in 1988 after 20 years in prison after writing a letter that declared he had undergone an ideological conversion. However, he later changed his words and said “I never changed my ideology or betrayed my comrades.”

Forest’ spirit that he emphasized is becoming a reality at next year’s anniversary event.”


13. Nuclear energy stocks surge again after Korea-US summit

The Korea Times · by Yi Whan-woo · June 6, 2021

Excerpts: “During their summit in Washington, D.C., President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Joe Biden said in their joint statement that the two allies are committed to “develop cooperation in overseas nuclear markets, including joint participation in nuclear power plant projects, while ensuring the highest standards of international nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation are maintained.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a KEPCO official said the Korea-U.S. nuclear cooperation will be beneficial for KEPCO E&C, which is responsible for designing, engineering, and constructing nuclear and fossil-fuel power plants.

The official added that KEPCO E&C has been participating in bids for nuclear power plant construction projects in the Czech Republic, Poland and Saudi Arabia, among others.

The firm is also developing a small modular reactor (SMR), which Gates’ company, TerraPower, and Buffett’s power company, PacifiCorp, seek to build in Wyoming.

The project, called “Natrium,” will be built on the site of an old coal plant, with a goal of producing 500 megawatts of power during peak demand.

SMRs are considered to be more eco-friendly than traditional nuclear reactors, because they are carbon-free power sources, which President Moon has sought to put in place policy to foster their development as next-generation growth engines.


14. Vaccines for Korean Soldiers Arrive from U.S.                                              

english.chosun.com · June 7, 2021

And we have seen erroneous tweets on twitter about this saying that it is sanctions that prevent vaccines going to the north and the US is “weaponizing vaccines” such as this one:


Nodutdol | 노둣돌


US troops were the 1st in South Korea to get vaccinated


US sanctions are keeping vaccines from North Korea.


Now the US sends 1 million Syringe—for South Korean troops. The US is weaponizing vaccines as part of the unfinished Korean War





“A man who has the knowledge but lacks the power clearly to express it is no better off than if he never had any ideas at all.”

 – Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War


“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

– Voltaire


” …there was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, ‘and this will always be the man in the street.’ Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology…Hatred and contempt must be directed at particular individuals.   

– H. Trevor-Roper (ed), The Goebbels Diaries

Mon, 06/07/2021 – 9:22am

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