Small Wars Journal

07/09/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 7:42am

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

1. New USFK chief pays tribute to late Korean general in first public event

2. Desperate N.Korea Cracks down on S.Korean Influence

3. Pro-North Korea Paper Acknowledges “Food Crisis”

4. DPRK Complex crisis

5. North Korea bolsters its crackdown on remittance brokers

6. North Korea issues rare order to shorten sentences of "model" inmates at reeducation prison camps

7. Moon touts S. Korea-U.S. alliance as 'linchpin' of world peace

8. USFK to toughen COVID-19 quarantine rules amid 4th wave of pandemic

9. North Korea rejects AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine: think tank

10. Comrade, do you have a dissenting opinion?

11. North Korea's wacky exterior masks a calculating regime — and defectors like Park Yeonmi share a common story

12. Moon to Attend Tokyo Olympics' Opening Ceremony

13. Brother of late fisheries official asks N.K. diplomatic missions to deliver letter to leader Kim

14. Kim Jong Un Lost as Much as 44 Pounds, South Korean Spies Say

15. As Koreans drop their guards, Covid cases soar

16. The Pope going to Pyongyang: for what?


1. New USFK chief pays tribute to late Korean general in first public event · by 최수향 · July 9, 2021

Excellent. There was no Korean who was more supportive of our alliance than General Paik. Perhaps General LaCamera has initiated a new tradition. All new US Commanders will pay respects to general Paik as their first event after taking command (ideally on the anniversary of his passing). Those who maintain continuity on the US side of the ROK/US CFC should flag this for the future.

I only wish the press had used his proper title, the Commander of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command. This is the command that "co-owned" by the Koreans and responsible for deterring war and defending the ROK. The ROK media should always be referring to the alliance commander and only use USFK when it is specifically a US issue. I strongly recommend ROK and US public affairs officers try to influence the press to refer to the correct command and the correct title of the commander. Korea must publicly take ownership of the ROK/US CFC.

Minister Suh is walking the tightrope here - ensuring he shows deference to the Moon administration's peace agenda but reinforcing the importance of the alliance and the combined defense posture as the necessary foundation to support achieving peace (or the solution to the Korea questions).

Excerpt: “Calling Paik the "spiritual roots and symbol" of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, Defense Minister Suh Wook vowed to continue efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula based on a firm combined defense posture.”


2. Desperate N.Korea Cracks down on S.Korean Influence

As we wrote in our Plan B recommendation for a strategy for north Korea:

“Any effective approach toward North Korea should be based on two new assumptions. The first recognizes that Kim will give up his nuclear program only when he concludes that the cost to him and his regime is too great – that is, when he believes possession of nuclear weapons threatens his survival. But external pressure alone, although important, will almost certainly fail to create the right cost-benefit ratio. It is the threat from the North Korean people that is most likely to cause Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.26 As former CIA analyst Jung Pak of the Brookings Institution has argued, “Kim fears his people more than he fears the United States. The people are his most proximate threat to the regime.”27 The ROK-U.S. alliance has yet to adopt a strategy with this in mind. 


3. Pro-North Korea Paper Acknowledges “Food Crisis”

38 North · by Rachel Minyoung Lee · July 8, 2021

I am pretty sure the Chosun Sinbo is under the direction of the Propaganda and Agitation Department. Will the regime and its mouthpieces ever acknowledge the COVID outbreak?

Excerpt: Although Choson Sinbo technically is not a North Korean media source, it apparently has editorial ties to Pyongyang, and almost certainly got from it a green light to publish the name of the agenda–probably because, while North Korea’s official news reports on the plenum did not mention the “food crisis” agenda, North Korean state-run television’s documentary on the plenary meeting did. The article was penned by Choson Sinbo’s senior writer Kim Ji Young, who regularly explains North Korea’s key policies and issues that Pyongyang itself is reluctant to discuss.


4. DPRK Complex crisis · July 07, 2021

Current food and COVID 19 situation in north Korea:  "ACAPS is an independent information provider that is free from the bias or vested interests of any specific enterprise, sector, or region. As independent specialists in humanitarian needs analysis and assessment, we are not affiliated with the UN or any other organisation. This helps guarantee that our analysis is objective and evidence-based."


5. North Korea bolsters its crackdown on remittance brokers · by Seulkee Jang · July 9, 2021

Excerpt: Remittance brokers take a 10% to 40% cut of the money sent by defectors, which has made it a popular way to earn money.

This is a way for escapees to get money to their families. It could also be a way to get money to any kind of nascent resistance. While the regime is cracking down in an attempt to control outside influence because it is a money maker it will likely continue. But if anyone was interested in supporting a resistance this would be one way to get funds into the north.


6. North Korea issues rare order to shorten sentences of "model" inmates at reeducation prison camps · by Lee Sang Yong · July 9, 2021

I do not think we should jump to the conclusion that Kim is somehow turning into a benevolent dictator. Note this is only for re-education camps and not for political prison camps. The logic might be that if you are a model prisoner then you are fully accepting of the ideological training. The regime's priority is ideological training to solve problems so this would seem to be one line of effort in support of that. 

Excerpts:  “In accordance with the order, reeducation prison camps are preparing official documents to shorten sentences of selected inmates, the source said.

The ministry also ordered that, going forward, the prison camps must make “continuous efforts” to shorten the sentences of inmates who “set an example in production-related activities on the road to rehabilitation,” according to the source.

North Koreans familiar with the order have expressed surprise because it has been about a decade since the authorities have shortened the sentences of inmates – apart from special occasions such as national holidays. On the other hand, many people are skeptical whether the order will actually be carried out.

In fact, Daily NK’s source said many people are saying that the prison camps may use the order as an opportunity to take bribes in return for selecting candidates for shortened sentences.

The source added that the order only applies to inmates in correctional labor camps, not to inmates at political prison camps.


7. Moon touts S. Korea-U.S. alliance as 'linchpin' of world peace · by 장동우 · July 9, 2021

Excerpt: “Moon hosted a reception for the visiting members of the U.S. Congressional Study Group on Korea (CSGK), a bipartisan study group on South Korea, at the presidential office. The CSGK, consisting of about 54 U.S. lawmakers, was launched in 2018 as part of diplomatic efforts to deepen ties between the two allies.

In the meeting, Moon assessed that Seoul-Washington relations were "opening up a new chapter of cooperation as a more comprehensive and mutually beneficial alliance" following his summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in late May.


8. USFK to toughen COVID-19 quarantine rules amid 4th wave of pandemic

The Korea Times · July 9, 2021


9. North Korea rejects AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine: think tank

The Korea Times · July 9, 2021

north Korea will look a gift horse in the mouth and bite the hand that feeds it.

Excerpts:The North has been expected to receive around 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, but they have not been delivered to the country yet.

A government official in Seoul earlier said that the delay might be in part because North Korea is not "fully ready" to receive vaccines, such as deciding on its national vaccination plans and the number of people who will get the shots.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has taken relatively swift and tough measures against the pandemic, such as imposing strict border controls since early last year.


10. Comrade, do you have a dissenting opinion?

The Korea Times · by Casey Lartigue Jr · July 8, 2021

Yeonmi Park is getting a lot of attention now outside the Korea watcher community. She is being embraced by US political groups for her outspoken comments against "wokeness."  Casey Lartigue takes the opportunity to provide his views on wokeness and US universities.


11. North Korea's wacky exterior masks a calculating regime — and defectors like Park Yeonmi share a common story · July 8, 2021

Although it is counterintuitive, there is logic for north Korea to continue the state of war. It is the foundation for legitimacy of the regime and to demand the sacrifices necessary from the Korean people.

Excerpt: The Kim regime has seen off successive American presidents. Donald Trump — after belittling Kim as "little rocket man" — tried a one-on-one approach but despite much fanfare and theatrics it achieved little.

In recent weeks there has been renewed speculation that the North Korean regime is under strain, a new famine looming. Kim has warned people to prepare for the worst ever situation.

There is even speculation Kim may seek to reopen negations with the US.

President Joe Biden would well know the lessons of history. For the Kim regime, survival is everything even if that survival means an unending state of war.


12.  Moon to Attend Tokyo Olympics' Opening Ceremony


13. Brother of late fisheries official asks N.K. diplomatic missions to deliver letter to leader Kim

Bloomberg · by Jeong-Ho Lee · July 8, 2021

Not that it will have any effect on north Korea but this is an interesting move.


15. As Koreans drop their guards, Covid cases soar · by Andrew Salmon · July 7, 2021

What can we learn from the South Korean experience?


16. The Pope going to Pyongyang: for what? · by Bradley K. Martin · July 8, 2021

Excerpts: “President Donald J Trump and Republic of South Korea President Moon Jae-in bid farewell to Chairman of the Workers Party Kim Jong Un on June 30, 2019, at the demarcation line separating North and South Korea at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Photo: AFP / EyePress News

“We’re to infer that a key driver of Moon’s interest in inter-Korean relations is his desire to bring together separated families,” another North Korea watcher, BR Myers, wrote recently in another context.

“It isn’t,” he said. Seventy-six years after the division of the peninsula, family reunions offer little appeal. The number of people still alive who await a turn to participate “is shrinking fast.”

Putting aside the left-nationalist pie in the sky, you have on the one hand a North Korean regime that has been steadfastly communist for more than three-quarters of a century while requiring total obedience to the absolute ruler.

Down south, on the other hand, you have a different Korean society that has been capitalist for all that time – and, since 1987, has enjoyed free democratic elections of its leaders.

Perhaps Kim Jong Un – once he ends his current, apparently Covid-avoidance-motivated total shutdown of the borders – would welcome a visit by Francis, just as he welcomed having Donald Trump show up for summits. That sort of thing can be good for his prestige.

As for Francis, he’s been recovering from surgery but, last we heard, he was up for a Pyongyang journey.




Something to keep in mind in today's zero defect culture:


#OTD in 1908, Ensign Chester Nimitz ran the destroyer USS Decatur (DD-5) aground in the Philippines. He was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty and issued a letter of reprimand. It was a different era, so he was still able to make fleet admiral despite the incident.


Quotes of the Day:


"The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead." 

- Aristotle


"Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war."

-Ernest Miller Hemmingway


"The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins."

- Soren Kierkegaard





Categories: News



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