Small Wars Journal

06/12/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

Sat, 06/12/2021 - 2:19pm

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

1. N.K. leader presides over Central Military Commission meeting, calls for 'high alert posture'

2. In tense phone call, Chinese Foreign Minister warns Seoul not to take U.S. side

3. South Korea Can Now Build Missiles Able to Reach Beijing, With U.S. Blessing

4. N.Korea's Kim calls for boosting military power

5. DPRK leader chairs military meeting to enhance army's fighting efficiency

6. Kim Jong Un's weight loss sparks debate among North Korea watchers about leader's grip on power

7. South Korean conservatives overtake ruling party amid major political shifts

8. Across the North Korean Border in China, an Economic Winter That Never Ends

9. Hamhung man arrested for corruption while working at a state-run department store

10. Seoul should stay unaffected by Beijing to gain ‘D10 membership’

11. Blinken stresses need to work together on N. Korea in call with Chinese counterpart

12. U.S. to redirect nearly US$70 mln to USFK from border wall project

13. Moon meets AstraZeneca's CEO to discuss vaccine cooperation

14. North Korea Preaches Self-Reliance to Struggling Citizens

 

1.  N.K. leader presides over Central Military Commission meeting, calls for 'high alert posture'

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 12, 2021

Is this just rhetoric or for internal message purposes? Does it also indicate what Bob Collins would call an externalization of its internal problems meaning it is preparing for some kind of external action to raise tensions or conduct a provocation that will remind the Korean people in the north that the regime faces external existential threats and therefore the people will have to continue to sacrifice for the defense of the regime and the protection of Kim Jong-un. Kim is setting the conditions for some kind of potential action in the near future.

Think about this graphic from Bob from the 1990s (with a light update from "il" to "un.") It remains relevant. 

2. In tense phone call, Chinese Foreign Minister warns Seoul not to take U.S. side

onekoreanetwork.com · June 11, 2021

Hopefully Chinese wolf diplomacy will have blowback for the Chinese leadership. South Korea should not accept being threatened.

 

3. South Korea Can Now Build Missiles Able to Reach Beijing, With U.S. Blessing

WSJ · by Andrew Jeong

Of course this upsets Beijing. And we should remember geographically Beijing is closer to Seoul than Seoul is to Tokyo.

 

4. N.Korea's Kim calls for boosting military power

Reuters 

Is Kim telegraphing an increase in tension and possible provocation? Is he preparing the population for something? Without a doubt it is to ensure that external factors can be blamed for his incompetence in policy making and leadership.

 

5. DPRK leader chairs military meeting to enhance army's fighting efficiency

xinhuanet.com

A Chinese view of Kim's "military meeting."

 

6. Kim Jong Un's weight loss sparks debate among North Korea watchers about leader's grip on power

ABC.net.au · June 11, 2021

I think there will be a bit of speculation in the coming weeks and months about Kim's health and future.

 

7. South Korean conservatives overtake ruling party amid major political shifts

onekoreanetwork.com · June 11, 2021

It seems like presidential election politics is getting an early start. Probably the unfortunate influence of US politics. 

 

8. Across the North Korean Border in China, an Economic Winter That Never Ends

Foreign Policy · by Tang Yuan · June 11, 2021

This is a result of Kim Jong-un's deliberate policy decisions.

Excerpts:For over 20 years, the plant has spewed clouds of thick, white dust over the surrounding countryside, residents of the nearby Xiajiefang village say. The emissions from the riverside plant—which they nickname “Goryeo Dust” after the name of an old Korean kingdom—will often travel across the Yalu and cover their clothes and crops. “It chokes you,” said Xia Yunfang, 59. “Almost like it is snowing,” added Xia’s husband, Xu Chuanzhong. The couple grows grapes, a local specialty, but complain that when they’re plastered in cement dust they cannot be sold at a good price.

A cross-border trader from Jian, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his business dealings, thought he had a solution. In 2016, he signed a contract with Manpho to upgrade the cement factory so it would be both more efficient and less polluting. In return, the trader would be paid back in timber, minerals, and cement. But when the U.N. sanctions came into effect in 2018 and disrupted shipments of equipment, the project was only halfway done. The project was suspended ahead of completion, with the trader only compensated for about 3 million yuan ($470,000) of his initial 9 million yuan ($1.4 million) outlay, money he said might be wasted.

In mid-May, the chimneys across the river were still discharging heavy fumes—although they can’t compare with the smoke captured in videos from earlier years that villagers had uploaded to social media. Locals say that, though the project is unfinished, it seems to have helped lower pollution levels. But there’s no way to know for sure. Perhaps the wind just hasn’t been blowing in their direction, they say. The trader, meanwhile, thinks prospects for completing the refurbishments are dim, as the North Korean officials he had established relations with have since changed posts.

Despite increasing signs of a border reopening, the trader is wary of putting too much stock in them, pointing to recent COVID-19 cases in Liaoning province. “They open the door a bit wider if the outside is safe, and if it is not, they will immediately close the door again,” he said. “We’ll wait.”

 

9. Hamhung man arrested for corruption while working at a state-run department store

dailynk.com · Lee Sang Yang · June 11, 2021

Corruption permeates every aspect of north Korean society.

 

10. Seoul should stay unaffected by Beijing to gain ‘D10 membership’

donga.com · June 12, 2021

The territory on the "Go" (or paduk) board is being arranged.

Conclusion: "It is highly likely that U.S. President Joe Biden will make a sophisticated effort to build a front against China during the meeting where he makes an official multilateral diplomatic debut. China may come under condemnation for suppressing human rights, abusing diplomatic influence and engaging in unfair trade. The gist of the U.S.-led Summit for Democracy in the second half of this year and the Britain-proposed D10 Initiative is to solidify international coalition to safeguard democracy and human rights. If South Korea keeps standing on the sidelines without adding a voice to their chants and steps back being intimidated by China's warning it not to be swept by a biased force, it may not be able to secure any seat in the international community."

 

11. Blinken stresses need to work together on N. Korea in call with Chinese counterpart

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · June 12, 2021

Yes, we must try to have some kind of cooperation with China on north Korea. But we should be under no illusion that China will ever sincerely help us solve our security problems and both China and the DPRK can be expected to exploit the situation as spoilers at the time it makes sense to them to do so.

 

12.  U.S. to redirect nearly US$70 mln to USFK from border wall project

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · June 12, 2021

 

13.  Moon meets AstraZeneca's CEO to discuss vaccine cooperation

en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · June 12, 2021

 

14. North Korea Preaches Self-Reliance to Struggling Citizens

rfa.org  by Jeong Yon Park

You cannot eat ideology or self reliance. There is no nutritional value in Juche.

The paradox of north Korea is that the most self-reliant among the population are those who operate and use the markets but the regime policies are hindering market activity in an effort to oppress the people to maintain control over them to ensure regime survival.

 

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“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.” 

– Marcus Aurelius

 

“That’s why the philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should.” 

– Epictetus

 

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” 

– Viktor Frankl

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