Small Wars Journal

06/27/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 11:10am

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

1. North Korea Admits Kim Jong Un Lost Weight

2. N.K. resident voice concerns over Kim's weight loss

3. Emerging Biden doctrine and future of China dream

4. N.K. paper urges 'maximum vigilance' against COVID-19 amid global spread of Delta variant

5. Minister vows to act 'more quickly' for resumption of dialogue with N. Korea

6. North Korea policy failures causing food shortage: experts

7. Kim Jong-un: Prisoner in his own castle?

8. Will North Korea Remain Stable For the Foreseeable Future?

9. Korea’s holiday isle emerges as high-tech testbed


1. North Korea Admits Kim Jong Un Lost Weight · by William Gallo · June 27, 2021

Perhaps north Korea could generate income as an international weight loss center.  Kim Jong-un can be the poster child for their advertisements. (note my attempt at sarcasm).

But the weight loss issue must have been a difficult one for the Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD) to handle.  If you mention it then are you calling Kim fat before his weight loss?

But it is interesting to see how the PAD has handled this and for what probable intended purposes.

Excerpts: “Minimally, someone decided that Kim’s visible weight loss would be the elephant in the room — the now palpably much slimmer elephant in the room — if they DIDN'T mention it, as everyone is talking about it. You can't not notice it,” Aidan Foster-Carter, a veteran, Britain-based Korea specialist, told VOA in an online message.


The KCTV comments about Kim's health could be part of a domestic propaganda campaign designed to show that Kim is “tightening his belt” during hardship, says Peter Ward, a Seoul-based Korea specialist and PhD candidate at the University of Vienna.

“But I doubt he lost weight because of that,” Ward added.

“The fact that the media is talking about it means the authorities understand it’s a major story inside the country,” he says. “And they want the people to speak in specific ways about it. Call it the North Korean version of message discipline, if you will.”


2. N.K. resident voice concerns over Kim's weight loss · by 이원주 · June 27, 2021

This is how the regime's PAD is handling the weight loss issue.  The people want him fat.

Excerpt: "The people were most heartbroken to see the respected General Secretary looking thinner," a North Korean resident said during an interview with Korean Central Television on Friday.

"Everyone is saying that they are moved to tears," the resident said.


3. Emerging Biden doctrine and future of China dream

The Korea Times · by Yun Byung-se · June 27, 2021

A Korean view of the Biden Administration's foreign policy.

Excerpt:It is the paradox of history that the world is on the threshold of a new Cold War and is becoming the victim of its own success. Which dream or scenario will ultimately come true? Pax Americana or the China Dream? Thucydides's Trap (a likely war) or "Kindleberger Trap" (of incapability to provide global public goods)? It will depend on how strategic competition will unfold in the coming years and decades. Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia, offers a good recipe for avoiding the war through managed strategic competition.

One big moment of truth will come sooner than later, when President Biden and President Xi are set to meet with each other probably at the G20 summit in October. But a wise counsel is in order, from John Lennon, "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."


4. N.K. paper urges 'maximum vigilance' against COVID-19 amid global spread of Delta variant · by 이원주 · June 27, 2021

The continued world wide pandemic gives the regime plenty of "ammunition" to justify the continued crackdown against the Korean people living in the north and make them continue to sacrifice for the protection of the regime.


5.  Minister vows to act 'more quickly' for resumption of dialogue with N. Korea · by 고병준 · June 27, 2021

You have to give Minister Lee credit: he is consistent, tenacious, and relentless in his pursuit of engagement and peace "at any cost."


6. North Korea policy failures causing food shortage: experts

The Korea Times · by Kang Seung-woo · June 27, 2021

It is important to emphasize that the north's problems are a result of Kim Jong-un's deliberate policy decisions (I will continue to beat the horse more dead on this).  There is important economic analysis in this from William Brown who is arguably one the nation's experts on the north Korean economy.  The regime would actually do well to listen to him as he probably has better economic insights than the regime's "economists" do.


7. Kim Jong-un: Prisoner in his own castle?

The Korea Times · by David Tizzard · June 27, 2021

I could not pass up highlighting this comment: "It's an easy yet informative read for those of us looking for some respite from the minutiae of missile technology or the Leninist communist sympathizer "tankies" on Twitter."

I will read this book.  I just ordered it.

Excerpts:Ultimately, Schafer reaches a somewhat contradictory but appealing conclusion: Kim Jong-un and many around him in North Korea are both perpetrators of great misery and tragedy, but at the same time also victims. They are prisoners inside a system that brings out the worst in humanity and offers little respite or hope of escape. None of the people inside North Korea, including those in the most visible positions, asked to be there. They may, Schafer argues, even dream of having been born elsewhere ― somewhere with greater freedom. But, trapped as they are, they have little choice but to seek their own survival in an environment that is as deadly as it is suffocating.

Schafer's book is dedicated to the people of North Korea and the hope that they might have a better life. His passion for the people and frustrations with the regime can be felt throughout. It's not often that you get to read the thoughts of someone who has spent eight years of their life living and working in Pyongyang, so for that reason, regardless of whether you agree with him or not, Ambassador Schafer's book makes for an important read for anyone seeking to get a fuller understanding of North Korea.


8. Will North Korea Remain Stable For the Foreseeable Future?

The National Interest · by Naoko Aoki · June 26, 2021

A lot of people are writing about the potential for north Korean instability (and some even about regime collapse). Are we looking at and preparing for the range of possible contingencies?  Could there be a "perfect storm" in the north?

The “Big 5” for the Korean Peninsula

    1. War - must deter, and if attacked defend, fight, and defeat the nKPA.

    2. Regime Collapse - must prepare for the real possibility and understand it could lead to war and both war and regime collapse could result in resistance within the north.

    3. Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity - (gulags, external forced labor, etc) must focus on as it is a threat to the Kim Family Regime and undermines domestic legitimacy - it is a moral imperative and a national security issue. KJU denies human rights to remain in power.

    4. Asymmetric threats (provocations, proliferation, nuclear program, missile, cyber, and SOF) subversion of ROK, and global illicit activities.

    5. Unification - the biggest challenge and the solution.

We should never forget that north Korea is master of denial and deception in all that it does from military operations to strategy to diplomatic negotiations.


Key Questions for the Summit(s) and  Beyond

  1. Has the regime abandoned its strategy of the use of subversion, coercion, extortion, and force to unify Korea under northern domination to ensure regime survival?
  2. Has the regime abandoned its objective to split the ROK/US Alliance to support its strategy?
  3. Who does Kim fear more: US or Korean people?
  4. What do we want to achieve in Korea? 
  5. What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect US and Alliance interests?

Will North Korea Remain Stable For the Foreseeable Future?

A worsening of the food situation and North Korea’s overall economic health pose risks for Kim, on top of the situation with the coronavirus pandemic.


9. Korea’s holiday isle emerges as high-tech testbed · by Andrew Salmon · June 26, 2021




 "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." 

- Rosa Parks


"Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war. Protesting the war is too late."

-Thich Nhat Hanh. 


"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

- Lao Tzu

Categories: News