Category Archives: South Korea

Seoul resists Trump’s demands for $1.2 billion a year to keep US troops on the peninsula

Seoul, South Korea  skyline.

The United States is demanding that South Korea pay an annual $1.2 billion (£918 million) to continue stationing troops on the peninsula, an increase of more than 40 percent on the amount that Seoul presently pays towards the 28,500 US troops deployed in the South.

Washington’s demand, put to officials in Seoul during their latest round of negotiations on the issue in December, was refused by the South Korean government – although the US ambassador to Seoul has since reportedly hinted that Washington may choose to interpret the two nations’ security treaty differently if it is not accepted.

That position, leaked to the domestic media, has triggered anger in South Korea, where the government has indicated it is able to pay a maximum of $886 million to keep the US forces in place.


Moon’s Censorial Party Hopes to Gain a Propaganda Boon With Potential Papal Visit

It would be hilarious if Pope Francis surprises them with a Pope John Paul II surprise:

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Friday expressed hope that Pope Francis’ potential visit to North Korea will help speed up denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The pope effectively accepted an invitation to visit North Korea on Thursday when President Moon Jae-in relayed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s verbal invitation. Pope Francis said if the North sends an official invitation, he will “certainly” respond to it.

“The pope’s possible visit to North Korea indicates the international community’s support for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Hong Young-pyo, the DP’s floor leader, said at a meeting with senior party members.

“If realized, his trip will be momentum to induce the North toward the path to denuclearization,” he said. “We need a flexible approach to elicit (Pyongyang’s) denuclearization.”

The North’s leader expressed his willingness to invite the pope to his country during his third and latest summit with Moon in Pyongyang last month, according to Moon’s office.

No pope has ever visited North Korea.



Will North Korea Take Over South Korea?

Kim Jong Un assembled a reported 100,000 people, many waving his North Korean flag or the blue-and-white unification standard, to greet Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, as he arrived in Pyongyang on September 18.

President Moon did not seem to mind that no one was holding the symbol of his country, the Republic of Korea. “What was glaringly missing was the South Korean flag,” Taro O of the Pacific Forum told Gatestone in e-mailed comments. “Maybe South Korean people take comfort in seeing that Samsung’s Lee Jae-yong wore the South Korean flag badge on the lapel of his jacket while in North Korea. No one in the Moon administration did.”


Yemeni refugee influx sparks protests in South Korea

Yemeni refugees wait for a meeting with immigration officials at a refugee center on Jeju, South Korea.

SEOUL: Hundreds of South Koreans have gathered near Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul to protest at the influx of Yemeni asylum-seekers in the southern resort island of Jeju. Jeju is a self-governed province with visa-free entry.
“We’re not opposed to all refugees,” one protester said. “What we’re opposed to is fake refugees, seeking shelter here only to have jobs. That’s a trick.”
A woman who joined the protests on Saturday said most of the Yemeni asylum-seekers are men in their 20s and 30s.
“There are very few women and children. I am afraid they’re just job-seeking immigrants,” she said.

The Koreans won’t put up with this because, while they are slightly crazy, they are not suicidal masochists the way westerners for some reason are now.


South Korea and the US to Still Work Closely After Kim Walks From the Summit

Back to square one:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump held discussions on Sunday to ensure that the North Korea-U.S. summit remains on track after North Korea threatened to pull out of the high-level talks.

Moon and Trump spoke over the phone for about 20 minutes, and exchanged their views on North Korea’s recent reactions, South Korea’s presidential office said without elaborating.

“The two leaders will work closely and unwaveringly for the successful hosting of the North Korea- U.S. summit set on June 12, including the upcoming South Korea-U.S. summit,” the presidential official said.

Moon and Trump are set to meet on Tuesday in Washington before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Trump on June 12 in Singapore.


North Korea Demands the Return of Defectors

The background of this story is here.

North Korea on Saturday reiterated its demands for South Korea to send back 12 North Korean restaurant workers who came to the South in 2016, saying such a move would demonstrate Seoul’s willingness to improve relations.

The statement by North Korea’s Red Cross came a week after Seoul said it would look more closely into the circumstances surrounding the women’s arrival following a media report that suggested some of them might have been brought to the South against their will.

A claim that is highly dubious to say the very least.



North Korea: the Slippery Eel

Still in mid-reel from the news that North Korea may walk away from talks with the United States, prominent North Korean defector, Thae Yong-Ho reminds everyone what denuclearisation means to Kim Jong-Un:

North Korea’s highest-profile defector in two decades said that Kim Jong Un doesn’t share the same concept of denuclearization as the U.S., issuing a warning ahead of a planned summit meeting between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

Thae Yong Ho, Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador in London before his defection to South Korea two years ago, told reporters in Seoul on Monday that North Korea is unlikely to agree to Washington’s demand of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” or CVID, because it would challenge the fundamental structure of North Korea’s political system.

CVID “will strike at the core of North Korea’s power structure. North Korea will not accept CVID that does not ensure the security of the regime,” Mr. Thae said.


This regime:

A colonel in the Department of the General Staff accused of defacing North Korea’s April 25 House of Culture with graffiti critical of the Kim Jong Un regime was recently publicly executed, according to sources in North Korea.

“A high-ranking member (colonel) of the General Staff Operations Department and another individual (who was implicated in the graffiti incident) were executed by automatic rifles at the Kanggun Military Academy’s firing range,” said a Pyongyang-based source in a phone call with Daily NK. “He was accused of masterminding the defacing of the April 25 House of Culture with graffiti criticizing the regime and was summarily executed.”

The source further added that “the execution was conducted quietly in front of high-ranking cadres from the Ministry of State Security and the military. The colonel’s family was taken away somewhere, likely a political prison camp.”





North Korean Defectors Are “Wary” of Inter-Korean Summit

An overlooked aspect of this debate:

North Korean defectors who have precariously settled in the South are watching warily as the two Koreas cozy up to each other.

Already last Thursday one TV channel raised suspicions that not all of the members of a group of North Korean women who defected from a restaurant in China in 2016 came to South Korea out of their own volition.

The following day, the Unification Ministry said, “There is a need to verify the facts.” That has raised fears that the government could send some of the defectors back to their oppressive homeland.

The official position remains that they came of their own volition, but now some news media have raised suspicions that the National Intelligence Service orchestrated their defection. …

(Sidebar: South Korea’s left-wing government does nothing to quell these outrageous rumours that North Korean defectors are not genuine.)

The shift in the ministry’s attitude has made other defectors nervous. One woman who came to South Korea in 2008 and is raising a son here said, “I haven’t slept more than an hour a night since the inter-Korean summit. People like me who have been living quietly could be dragged off to North Korea any moment.”

Some 31,500 North Korean defectors live in South Korea, and many are feeling unsure of their status amid the thaw. They have been seen as having the potential to build bridges between the two sides if the two Koreas reunify but could now find themselves treated as obstacles to the smooth running of the political machine.

They are complaining about the South Korean government’s indifference and ostracism by other South Koreans. To them, it would be a devastating signal if some of the restaurant staff are sent back to the North.

Defectors who returned voluntarily were not punished since they were considered to have been “abducted” by the South. One defector said, “The fate of the family members they left behind in North Korea is very important for defectors. If they become targets of reprisals, the defectors in the South would come under enormous pressure.”


Koreas Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms

SEOUL, South Korea — The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on Friday to work to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and, within the year, pursue talks with the United States to declare an official end to the Korean War, which ravaged the two nations from 1950 to 1953.

At a historic summit meeting, the first time a North Korean leader had ever set foot in the South, the leaders vowed to negotiate a peace treaty to replace a truce that has kept an uneasy peace on the divided Korean Peninsula for more than six decades, while ridding it of nuclear weapons.

“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” read a statement signed by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, after their meeting at the border village of Panmunjom.


Two Koreas Discuss Official End to 68-Year War, Report Says

South and North Korea are discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict between the two countries that are still technically at war, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified South Korean official.

At next week’s summit between South Korea President Moon Jae-in and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, the two neighbors may release a joint statement saying they will seek to ease military tension and to end confrontation, according to the report.


On the Korean Peninsula

Many are stoked believing that Trump may end North Korea’s nuclear program where the South Koreans have failed, decidedly or not (looking right at Moon Jae-In).

However, this is the same tactic as before:

U.S. President Donald Trump said, “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!” He is right to be skeptical. A high-ranking White House official said, “Talks will not continue if North Korea intends merely to buy more time to develop nuclear weapons. We all know we shouldn’t make a sequel to a bad movie.” And U.S. defense and intelligence officials all voiced skepticism during a recent Senate hearing.

North Korea has gone all out to develop nuclear weapons, an ambition that dates back to nation founder Kim Il-sung. It would be extremely naive to think that it will give them up. Kim Jong-un has embraced dialogue only because intensifying international sanctions now threaten to sink the impoverished country’s economy, and dialogue with the U.S. and an inter-Korean summit will delay any immediate American pre-emptive attack. And if dialogue can ease sanctions, Kim will gladly buy more time.

The only leverage Seoul has against Pyongyang right now is sanctions. They must remain firmly in place as Seoul engages the North in dialogue to prevent Kim from making the wrong decisions. If he believes he can achieve both nuclear armament and the scrapping of sanctions, the crisis on the Korean Peninsula will only worsen. Kim must be forced to choose. That is the only way to achieve peace. And Moon must live up to his word that sanctions will not be eased for the sake of an inter-Korean summit.


On the Korean Peninsula

More than 1,500 residents in the southeastern port city of Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, have been displaced by Wednesday’s 5.4 magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks following the initial tremor.


It gets worse:

The Pohang earthquake on Wednesday that has rekindled national anxiety over the safety of nuclear power plants — mostly located in the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula — is likely to add momentum to the Moon Jae-in government’s nuclear-free energy road map.

Anti-nuclear groups here anticipate the agenda may even rethink the recent decision to continue with the construction of new reactors.


In other news:

Presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday that South Korea has no authority to change the rules of engagement applied to the Joint Security Area amid controversy over its soldiers’ decision not to return fire at North Korean soldiers who were chasing a defecting soldier.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said the authority to change the rules falls under the United Nations Command. The UNC assumes operational control of the JSA, where the North Korean soldier had crossed toward the UNC-controlled area under about 40 rounds of heavy fire from his former comrades.

And that is part of the problem. Who runs South Korea – the UN, China or North Korea?



The North Korean soldier who dashed across the border to defect is a 20-something noncommissioned officer who had served at the Joint Security Area in the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, South Korea’s spy agency said Thursday.

Four of the soldier’s former comrades chased him toward the Demilitarized Zone, the de facto border between the two Koreas. They shot at him about 40 times. It is unclear whether they continued to shoot after the solider crossed the Military Demarcation Line and entered the territory controlled by the United Nations Command.

When he was found under a pile of leaves south of the MDL, he was unarmed and wearing a Korean People’s Army Uniform. He was also bloodied from gunshots to his shoulder, elbow and abdomen. He was rescued by South Korean soldiers and transported to a local hospital.

“His rank amounts to staff sergeant,” the National Intelligence Service was quoted as saying by Rep. Kim Byung-kee, who attended the closed-door meeting. “Regarding his personal belongings, we didn’t find anything special.”