06/08/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

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

1. Biden will appoint special envoy for N. Korean human rights as required: Blinken

2. Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible?

3. North Korea is “scrambling” to secure large amounts of COVID-19 vaccine for its military

4. Pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan denies changes in unification policy

5. U.N. nuclear watchdog sees indications of plutonium work in North Korea

6. S. Korea not considering boycott of Tokyo Olympics amid Dokdo spat: ministry

7. North Korea faces serious humanitarian crisis: report

8. State media: Kim has plans to stabilize N. Korean economy

9. Ask a North Korean: Can Joe Biden reach a breakthrough with North Korea?

10. Kim Jong Un is waging a culture war, and North Korea is cracking down on foreign movies, slang, and even clothes and hairstyles

11. Is Joe Biden Serious about Negotiating with North Korea?

12. Korean-Americans eager for reunions with kin in North

13. China’s Confucius Institutes facing calls to leave Korea

14. North Korea Taps Workers in Russia to Fund Pyongyang Construction

 

1. Biden will appoint special envoy for N. Korean human rights as required: Blinken

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · June 8, 2021

My recommendation is my good friend Greg Scarlatoiu who is the executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (hrnk.org).  A fluent Korean speaker, a great American with decades of Korea experience and someone who survived another despotic regime with parallels and close ties to north Korea until the revolution in Romania.   There are few who understand the north Korean human rights situation to the depth that Greg does.

 

2. Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible?

dailynk.com · by Bennett Ramberg · June 7, 2021

Do this and we can expect Kim to double down on his political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy.

Excerpt: North Korea’s economy – by Kim’s own admission – in desperate need of repair. For America, which currently lacks effective ballistic-missile defenses, the prospect of being in North Korea’s nuclear crosshairs is unacceptable. Could this point to a possible trade-off, namely the lifting of sanctions in exchange for the elimination of rockets?

My bottom line: The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats as well as the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government based on individual liberty, rule of law, and human rights as determined by the Korean people.  In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).

 

3. North Korea is “scrambling” to secure large amounts of COVID-19 vaccine for its military

dailynk.com · by Seulkee Jang · June 8, 2021

This could be a significant indicator.  Is the military in trouble because of COVID? We know how important the military is to the survival of the Kim family regime.

The regime will collapse when the regime/party can no longer govern across the north from Pyongyang combined with the breakdown of the military (and its three chains of control – military, political, and security) so that the military can no longer support the regime.  This leads to uncertainty and complexity about what can happen next.
 
Let me reprise this article in which Bob Collins and I discuss north Korean contingencies to include regime collapse (and Bob lays out the 7 phases of regime collapse). 
 
“When North Korea Falls.” Robert Kaplan 
The furor over Kim Jong Il’s missile tests and nuclear brinksmanship obscures the real threat: the prospect of North Korea’s catastrophic collapse. How the regime ends could determine the balance of power in Asia for decades. The likely winner? China” 
 
Here is a link to
my 1996 Monograph following the Arduous March of the great famine of 1994-1996 
 “The Catastrophic Collapse of North Korea: Implications for the U.S. Military” 

Beyond the Nuclear Crisis:   A Strategy for the Korean Peninsula
National Defense University
 

4. Pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan denies changes in unification policy

UPI · by Elizabeth Shim

Just in case anyone missed this.  We should have no doubt the regime is conducting political warfare.

 Political Warfare: Political warfare is the use of political means to compel an opponent to do one’s will, based on hostile intent. The term political describes the calculated interaction between a government and a target audience to include another state’s government, military, and/or general population. Governments use a variety of techniques to coerce certain actions, thereby gaining relative advantage over an opponent. The techniques include propaganda and psychological operations (PSYOP), which service national and military objectives respectively. Propaganda has many aspects and a hostile and coercive political purpose. Psychological operations are for strategic and tactical military objectives and may be intended for hostile military and civilian populations.  Smith, Paul A., On Political War (Washington: National Defense University Press, 1989), p. 3. 

 

5. U.N. nuclear watchdog sees indications of plutonium work in North Korea

Reuters · by Francois Murphy

Excerpts: “The steam plant that serves the Radiochemical Laboratory has continued to operate since my last Statement to the Board in March,” he said in the text of a speech.

“The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign at the Radiochemical Laboratory. It is not, however, possible to confirm that reprocessing is taking place,” he added.

There was no indication in the past three months of operations at North Korea’s main, 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon that is widely believed to have produced plutonium for weapons. The IAEA has previously said it has probably been shut down since December 2018.

 

6. S. Korea not considering boycott of Tokyo Olympics amid Dokdo spat: ministry

en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · June 8, 2021

Some good news I suppose.

 

7. North Korea faces serious humanitarian crisis: report

The Korea Times · June 8, 2021

The responsibility for the suffering of the Korean people living in the north lies squarely on the shoulders of Kim Jong-un and his deliberate policy decisions to prioritize his nuclear program, the military, and support to the regime elite over the welfare of the Korean people.  He has also made the decision to use the excuse of COVID mitigation and defense to implement draconian population and resources control measures to further oppress the people to protect the survival of the regime.

 

8. State media: Kim has plans to stabilize N. Korean economy

AP · Kim Tong-Hyung

What are the plans?  Will they try another currency action like 2010?

 

9. Ask a North Korean: Can Joe Biden reach a breakthrough with North Korea?

nknews.org · by Hyun-Seung Lee · June 1, 2021

An important perspective from our good friend Hyun-seung Lee.

One excerpt:

“Do you think that sanctions are bad for human rights?”

“Some argue that it’s ordinary people who end up having to suffer the most. I do not think this is true. Sanctions hurt everybody, including the elites that are losing money. A positive outcome is that the government has less control over the people because the people are less reliant on it to provide for them. Therefore sanctions give more freedom to people, even if it does reduce the overall amount of money and goods flowing into North Korea.

 

10. Kim Jong Un is waging a culture war, and North Korea is cracking down on foreign movies, slang, and even clothes and hairstyles

Business Insider · by Ryan Pickrell

Follow-up reporting based on the recent Daily NK and BBC articles.

 

11. Is Joe Biden Serious about Negotiating with North Korea?

The National Interest · by Doug Bandow · June 7, 2021

Sigh…  Why does no one ask this question of Kim Jong-un?  Is Kim ever going to be serious about negotiating with the US?

But give me a break. Ambassador Kim is the most competent professional in our government to be the special representative.  In addition, he has a strong Korea team doing the day to day work.

He likely has spent the past four months as the acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Pacific leading the Korea policy review and crafting the new policy.  There is probably no one more knowledgeable of the policy than Ambassador Kim.

We are giving Kim Jong-un the opportunity to act as a responsible member of the international community and negotiate.  I am sure if Kim Jong-un decides to come to the table it will have Ambassador Kim’s full attention.

 

12. Korean-Americans eager for reunions with kin in North

koreanjoongangdaily.joins.com· by Sarah Kim

A good humanitarian initiative. But I doubt Kim Jong-un will allow this to happen.  But we have to have “the guts to try” as a great Air Force general once wrote though in different context.

Just as an aside, I am reminded of President Biden’s words from last fall:

“This appears to be in line with President Biden’s initial statement when he provided his first look at the new policy on October 30th when he published a special contribution to Yonhap News.  This was his only piece in a foreign paper prior to the election and is an indication of the priority he places on the Korean situation.  This paragraph provided early guidance for the review:

 

“Words matter — and a president’s words matter even more. As President, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops. I’ll engage in principled diplomacy and keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula, while working to reunite Korean Americans separated from loved ones in North Korea for decades.”

 

13. China’s Confucius Institutes facing calls to leave Korea

The Korea Times  · by Kang Hyun-kyung· June 8, 2021

The Korean people are becoming increasingly disenchanted with China.

 

14. North Korea Taps Workers in Russia to Fund Pyongyang Construction

rfa.org · by Jeong Yon Park

north Korean “slaves” in Russia are being “taxed.”  Yes that is some hyperbole but think about these workers and the hardships they suffer in hope they can make some money for their families back in north Korea.

Excerpts: “Last week, I ran into a North Korean who works in Vladivostok who told me that he was very upset because the North Korean authorities ordered him to pay additional loyalty funds,” a Russian citizen of Korean descent living in the Russian Far Eastern city told RFA’s Korean Service on June 1.

“The order came at the end of April, and it says each person must pay an additional U.S. $100 per month,” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “We know that the extra loyalty funds will go to housing construction in Pyongyang.”

The ambitious building project is the brainchild of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, who promised at the ruling Korean Workers’ Party congress in January to alleviate the capital’s housing shortage with 50,000 new homes by the end of 2025, including 10,000 in 2021.

 

—————–

 

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

– Thomas Jefferson

 

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

– Abraham Lincoln

 

“The greatest threat to our Constitution is our own ignorance of it.”

– Jacob F. Roecker

DanielRiggs
Tue, 06/08/2021 – 9:06am

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