Small Wars Journal

02/26/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 10:34am

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

1. 12-year-old U.S. resident identified as suspect of terror threat against Incheon airport

2.  Teenage boy caught watching pornography exiled to countryside with family

3. US Court Orders N. Korea to Pay $2.3 Billion to Crew Members of USS Pueblo

4. Reports: North Korean enterprise filed first known lawsuit in the South

5. North Korea: Russian diplomats leave by hand-pushed trolley

6. Opinion | The clock is ticking on North Korea. Biden should make the first move.

7. South Korea wavers on North Korea human rights abuses

8. North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion

9. Games of war and peace

10.  Republic of Korea Quo Vadis?


1. 12-year-old U.S. resident identified as suspect of terror threat against Incheon airport · by 김나영 · February 26, 2021

False alarm on the terrorist attack.


2. Teenage boy caught watching pornography exiled to countryside with family· by Jang Seul Gi · February 25, 2021

This is the nature of the Kim family regime and the rule by law.


“The teenager was watching a pornographic video late at night when his parents were not at home. He was caught during a surprise inspection by a task force created to monitor “deviant” behavior.

According to the explanatory material for the “anti-reactionary thought law” obtained exclusively by Daily NK, Article 29 of the law calls for sentences of five to 15 years of correctional labor for consumption or possession of pornographic videos or books, photos or drawings that “preach superstition.” Individuals who produce, import or distribute such materials may get life sentences of correctional labor or even the death penalty, depending on the quantity of the material.

However, it appears that because the “anti-reactionary thought law” does not prescribe punishment regulations for adolescents, the punishment was set to deportation instead of correctional labor.

Articles 34-38 of the law stipulate fines of KPW 100,000 to 200,000 if a reactionary thought crime occurs due to the irresponsible education of children and orders the entire family to move to the countryside as punishment for the parents.”


3. US Court Orders N. Korea to Pay $2.3 Billion to Crew Members of USS Pueblo · by VOA News

This is an interesting development. Obviously the plaintiffs will never collect from the regime. But perhaps this is another avenue to try to attack the resources of the regime.


4. Reports: North Korean enterprise filed first known lawsuit in the South· by Elizabeth Shim · February 25, 2021

Another interesting, and in this case, historic action. Perhaps the regime is going to practice its own form of Chinese "lawfare" with juche characteristics. 


5. North Korea: Russian diplomats leave by hand-pushed trolley


Tough times in Pyongyang even for diplomats. This is quite the "NEO" (noncombatant evacuation order).  I wonder if we could incorporate "hand trolleys" into the NEO plans for South Korea.

See the photos at the link.


6. Opinion | The clock is ticking on North Korea. Biden should make the first move.

The Washington Post · February 25, 2021

Patience. Oh that is such a bad word to use in connection with north Korea.

We can make the first move but what happens when north Korea does not pick up the phone or answer the email?

I do not think Kim is ready to engage. I do not think he can engage at this time due to the significant internal pressure he is under.

The only way he might come to the table sooner than later is if we offered sanctions relief. We would have to make a huge commitment to lift sanctions (which would require UNSC and Congressional approval) and only then would he might to the table. But then what will happen at that table?

Kim Jong-un will then work to capitalize on such appeasement which will be perceived as the success of his political warfare strategy . He will then double down on his blackmail diplomacy line of effort.

But most importantly I believe the Biden administration is right to focus on getting our alliances in the region right before we work on north Korea. We cannot be successful with north Korea without the foundation built on our linchpin and cornerstone alliances.

The bottom line is a new strategy must be built on deterrence, defense, denuclearization, and resolution of the "Korea question" (para 60 of the Armistice Agreement) by employing a superior form of political warfare.  It should consist of 5 lines of effort: comprehensive diplomacy, resolute alliance military strength, pressure through enforced sanctions, cyber defense and offensive operations, and information and influence activities to target the regime elite, the second-tier leadership, and the population to undermine the legitimacy of the regime and separate the Kim family regime from the elite and the 2d tier leadership as well as to prepare the population for unification. Just saying.


7.  South Korea wavers on North Korea human rights abuses· by Elizabeth Shim · February 25, 2021

This is an alliance issue. We need a united front focused on north Korean human rights. The Biden administration must address this with the Moon administration.


8.  North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion· by Benjamin R. Young· February 24, 2021

The 20 page report can be downloaded here.

We must take a global view of the north Korean threat.

Much of this is covered in greater detail in Dr. Bruce Bechtol's book:  North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa: Enabling Violence and Instability (which is cited in the author's report).


9. Games of war and peace

The Korea Times· by Donald Kirk · February 25, 2021

An interesting take on Korea from the always pithy and irreverent Don Kirk.

But I have to take issue with this except. We need multi-echelon training and at certain echelons we need aggressive field training while at other echelons computer simulation training is far more effective and important than field exercises. The ROK/US CFC HQ and the component HQ benefit more from computer simulation training than "field training" exercises. The computer simulation versus field training is an apples to oranges argument because the multiple echelons are apples, oranges, and cabbages (kimchi!).


“It's not enough to conduct computer-driven exercises fine-tuning the ability of Americans and Koreans to communicate and respond on keyboards and screens. Soldiers, they say, should also share the difficulties and hazards of working together for real, in maneuvers once conducted regularly in vast stretches below the Demilitarized Zone. Since Donald Trump, in one of the more idiotic moves of his presidency, called off joint exercises after his summit in Singapore with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in June 2018, U.S. and Korean troops have hardly gotten to know each other.

It takes simulated combat conditions, not just computer games, say officers with experience in conflicts in the Middle East, for allies to gain the rapport needed to face a common enemy. That element has been missing since the last on-the-ground extensive war games involving U.S. and South Korean forces were conducted four years ago.

As an aside, given the challenges of the ROK military on the DMZ I would recommend a return to patrolling of the DMZ with US forces. However, rather than the old days of the American sector around the JSA I would integrate US forces with ROK forces in each of the frontline corps areas of responsibility. This would contribute to the defense along the DMZ, improve interoperability, and keep US tactical infantry forces primed for combat operations at the small unit level. There is no better small unit training for infantry units than the preparation for conducting actual reconnaissance and live ambush patrols on the DMZ. I have been recommending this for some years but there is no stomach for this.”


10. Republic of Korea Quo Vadis?

The Korea Times · by Park Moo-jong  · February 25, 2021

An interesting take on South Korean domestic politics:

“Before the April by-elections, the government, under Moon's initiative, is expected to release about 20 trillion won (about $18 billion) as "disaster relief funding" to help people battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quite naturally, the Moon administration's spending spree, backed by the magnificent force of Moon's Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) on the floor, is flatly adding to the sharp increase in the national debt, which the next governments ― whichever they are ― will have to pay back.

While the ruling camp is wielding its mighty power on the floor, the opposition People Power Party (PPP)is literally incompetent, showing no clear signs yet of making an effort to put up a "unified candidate" from all the opposition forces in the by-election for Seoul mayor, which is certainly to play an important role in their skirmishing.

The PPP is helpless to check the ruling party and its government, only engaging in verbal wars through social media, in particular, as a weak minority party. Actually, many people worry over the "interim" leadership of Kim Chong-in, who was the top election campaigner and a lawmaker of the then opposition DPK in 2016.”




"Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice."

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn


"I think the SOF community (SOCCOM?) needs to present a convincing briefing to Congress and JCS for that matter, that someone is in control of the SOF community (all aspects and all services), because rightly or wrongly, the impression to the public, and I suspect within the military, is that too many SOF elements are cowboys without adult supervision…." - a National Security Expert


“We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.” 

- Jeane Kirkpatrick



Categories: News