News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Andrew Narloch
1. U.S. Moves to Seize Cryptocurrency Accounts Linked to North Korean Heists
2. North Korea Facing Perfect Storm of Economic Stressors
3. N.K. leader visits typhoon-hit area, calls for all-out recovery efforts
4. N. Korea's state TV runs breaking news on typhoon, airs flooding scenes live
5. S. Korea, U.S. set to wrap up summertime combined exercise
6. The biggest COVID-19 crisis (South Korea)
7. North Korea Orders Troops and Police to Shoot Citizens Who Approach the Chinese Border
8. Why Isn't Seoul Amplifying the Voices of North Korean Escapees?
9. For Trump or Biden, N. Korea is the Problem that Won't Go Away
10. Korea-Japan GSOMIA Survives Amid Disputes over Historical, Trade Issues
11. Army chief Gen. Suh Wook tapped as defense minister: Cheong Wa Dae
12. How to Constructively and Safely Reduce and Realign U.S. Forces on the Korean Peninsula
13. Seoul Sees More Infections in August Than in Last 7 Months
14. Refined oil shipments to N. Korea from China, Russia halved: UN report
15. Pyongyangites given rice reserved for the military amid food shortages
16. Samjiyon and Hyesan locked down after woman crosses border
17. Don't expect quick change with NK
18. A role for ASEAN on the Korean Peninsula?
1. U.S. Moves to Seize Cryptocurrency Accounts Linked to North Korean Heists. WSJ · by Ian Talley and Dustin Volz This is much needed. Will this have the effect similar to the Banco Delta Asia action? Too soon to tell. It contributes to maximum pressure by trying to cut a flow of funding to the regime. And it is a step in the right direction to countering some of the regime's nefarious actions in the cyber domain. But more can and must be done.
This is the issue: "U.S. and U.N. officials say North Korea relies on a range of sophisticated cyber capabilities to evade global sanctions and expand its regime's geopolitical relevance, as the country is otherwise shut out from the international financial system." We must employ the full range of our law enforcement and cyber capabilities against the broad spectrum of north Korea's illicit cyber activities. And at some point we are going to need to go on the cyber offensive.
2. North Korea Facing Perfect Storm of Economic Stressors heritage.org · by Bruce Klingner I concur with much of Bruce's analysis. Here are my thoughts: we should offer humanitarian assistance as we have in the past. However, there are two things to consider. First, the north must accept it and allow transparency to ensure it makes it to the Korean people in need and is not diverted to the military or regime elite. Second, we should be under no illusion that providing such humanitarian aid will result in any change in the denuclearization efforts. Such aid will not cause Kim to rethink denuclearization. If he even accepts it (which is really a long shot at the moment) he will attempt to use the aid for his own political purposes even if he does not divert it. The only possible benefit for providing humanitarian aid will be to the people who receive it but we have to make sure that can happen. And we should only provide aid because it is the right thing to do. We should also understand that sanctions do not prevent the provision of humanitarian aid despite the reports from some NGOs and international organizations. They do suffer difficulties when they are trying to conduct financial transactions through sanctioned banks; however, the sanctions themselves do not prevent humanitarian assistance. The problem is the regime tries to extort money from these organizations to allow them to provide humanitarian assistance. Lastly, we should consider that the US, South Korea, and the international community shows more concern for the Korean people living in the north than does Kim Jong-un and his regime. He could solve many problems with changes to his priorities and policy decisions but he chooses to prioritize himself, the regime elite, the military, and his nuclear and missile programs over the welfare of the people. That should be a consistent talking point and part of an information and influence campaign.
3. N.K. leader visits typhoon-hit area, calls for all-out recovery efforts en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · August 28, 2020 I am sure the leadership experts and "Kimologists" are assessing the photo. I saw some reports that the typhoon damage was not as bad as anticipated.
4. N. Korea's state TV runs breaking news on typhoon, airs flooding scenes live en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · August 27, 2020 Yes this is unusual. It is a challenge for the Propaganda and Agitation Department to manage and control l break news.
5. S. Korea, U.S. set to wrap up summertime combined exercise en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · August 28, 2020 To my Korean friends, let me comment on the OPCON Transition FOC:
Not conducting the FOC certification during this Combined Command Post Training (CCPT) actually the Moon administration from itself. Because of the cancelled training last February/March and the need to focus on the priority mission of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command, deterrence and defense, and the need to ensure readiness of the combined force, FOC certification could not be effectively conducted. The command was not ready for the certification. If the certification had been conducted there were only two outcomes, both bad. The first would be a thorough evaluation assessing the command's ability to successfully execute all the mission essential tasks to be able to defend the ROK against the existential threat from the north. The most thorough and objective assessment could have led to a failing grade because the command has not had the opportunity to sufficiently train on the missile essential tasks. How would it look to fail the fully operational capability certification. The second outcome would have been a rubber stamp passing grade, finger drilling the evaluation of the mission essential tasks simply to comply with the political wishes of the Moon administrations.
A rubber stamp approval would have led to two outcomes. First and most deadly is that the future ROK/US CFC would not actually be able to execute its mission essential tasks to defend the ROK. This could be catastrophic.
Second, a rubber stamp approval would be exposed. It would very likely be leaked to the press. It would not only lead to severe criticism of the command and the OPCON transition process and of the Moon administration for putting politics before national security. And most important this rubber stamp approval would undermine the legitimacy of and the trust and confidence in the future ROK/US Combined Forces Command.
Fortunately, I know the ROK and US military professionals who conduct the evaluation and certification are of great integrity and they will not rubber stamp the certification.
The excerpt above also outlines the way ahead. FOC can be conducted in the winter training and FMC can be conducted in next summer's CCPT. My only recommendation would be to do this effectively aggressive training events need to be conducted between the major training events. The timeline will be compressed so more aggressive local training must be conducted to ensure preparation for the certifications. So it is possible to conduct the certifications necessary for OPCON transition before the end of the Moon administration. However, we must also keep in mind that this is a conditions based process and all the conditions have to be met in addition to the FMC certification.
So the bottom line is not conducting the FOC certification during this CCPT was a smart move and not one designed to hinder the process. The ROK and US combined military keeps as its number one priority readiness to accomplish its assigned tasks both now and for the future ROK/US CFC. I hope the ROK political leaders recognize that and the press and pundits will respect that and stop with the conspiracy theories that somehow the US wants to walk back and prevent the OPCON transition. In my opinion the OPCON transition provides more benefits than risk. This is the natural evolution of the alliance,demonstrating it is a true partnership. it will send the message of trust and confidence in and respect for our Koreean military leaders. Any operations into north Korea must be led by a Korean general. This also will reduce the perception that the US is an occupier of the north. And following either war or instability and regime collapse the military will need to support the political process of unification and that military support must be led by a Korean general. The US can and must provide support but the path to a United Republic of Korea must be a Korean one and led by Koreans. The future ROK/US CFC with a Korean general in command is the right way.
6. The biggest COVID-19 crisis (South Korea) Donga.com- August. 28, 2020
7. North Korea Orders Troops and Police to Shoot Citizens Who Approach the Chinese Border rfa.org-August 28, 2020 Is there any stronger example of the regime's draconian population and resources control measures?
8. Why Isn't Seoul Amplifying the Voices of North Korean Escapees?realclearworld.com-Mathew Ha From my colleague Mathew Ha. The Moon administration needs to protect, respect, value, and employ escapees from north Korea.
9. For Trump or Biden, N. Korea is the Problem that Won't Go Away voanews.com ·William Gallo August 26, 2020 As long as the Kim family regime exists there will always be a complex security threat in Northeast Asia.
The root of all problems in Korea is the existence of the mafia- like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime that has the objective of dominating the Korean Peninsula under the rule of the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State.
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).
10. Korea-Japan GSOMIA Survives Amid Disputes over Historical, Trade Issues blog.keia.org · August 25, 2020-Terrence Matsuo Small victory but the controversy is not over.
11. Army chief Gen. Suh Wook tapped as defense minister: Cheong Wa Dae en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · August 28, 2020
12. How to Constructively and Safely Reduce and Realign U.S. Forces on the Korean Peninsula realcleardefense.com · by Clint Work Yes we should not fear realignment, reduction, (or even a possible increase) in the numbers of troops though we should also wean ourselves off the focus on the topline number. To be even more direct, the size of the combined force should be determined by answering this question: How do we optimally organize the combined force to achieve the objectives set by both countries and to protect the interests of the ROK/US alliance and the ROK and the US individually. The number of troops is not the important point. It is the capabilities of the combined military force that is critical. But I know it is naive to think we could ever focus on capabilities instead of the top line number because it is that top line number that is simple to understand and discuss among the political leaders, the pundits, the press, and the population.
13. Seoul Sees More Infections in August Than in Last 7 Months english.chosun.com-August 28, 2020 Certainly worrisome for South Korea.
14. Refined oil shipments to N. Korea from China, Russia halved: UN report en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · August 28, 2020 Possible evidence that Kim Jong-un's response to the coronarius is having a greater effect on the north and its economy than UN sanctions.
15. Pyongyangites given rice reserved for the military amid food shortages dailynk.com · Mun Dong Hui- August 28, 2020 This is obviously significant. north Korea is like a body with hypothermia. It must keep the core temperature warm and Pyongyang is the core. The extremities that do not contribute to keeping the core temperature up are deprioritized and they will suffer frostbite and eventually gangrene and wither and die. And the military is also the "organ" that contributes to the safety of the regime and so to reallocate some of its reserve rice means there are very serious problems inside north Korea. weed to be observing for the indication and warnings for internal instability.
16. Samjiyon and Hyesan locked down after woman crosses border dailynk.com ·Ha Yoon Ah - August 28, 2020 Another example of the harsh population and resources control measures. But the people need the cross border trade to survive.
17. Don't expect quick change with NK The Korea Times · Troy Stangarone- August 27, 2020 I do not mean to be flippant but there will be no change with NK as long as Kim Jong-un and the Kim family regime exist.
18. A role for ASEAN on the Korean Peninsula? eastasiaforum.org · by Ang Guan Teo · August 28, 2020 Sounds nice in theory but I am doubtful the regime would be receptive.
Victor Hugo was a master of figurative language, including the use of oxymoronic and paradoxical phrasing, chiastic constructions, and, of course, vivid metaphorical images. Here are ten of his best:
"Toleration is the best religion."
"Thought is the labor of the intellect."
"The malicious have a dark happiness."
"Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad."
"To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful."
"A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil."
"Laughter is the sun which drives winter from the human face."
"One can resist the invasion of armies;
one cannot resist the invasion of ideas."
"It is the essence of truth that it is never excessive . . .
We must not resort to the flame where only light is required."
"There are thoughts which are prayers.
There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body,
the soul is on its knees."