Small Wars Journal

11/14/2020 News & Commentary - Korea

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:11pm

News and Commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and Published by Riley Murray.


1. Why North Korean Provocations Toward a Biden Administration Will Fail

2.  Joe Biden seeks a reset in US-South Korea relations amid North Korea challenges

3.  North Korea waging propaganda-heavy, 80-day labor campaign

4. Two interesting new Twitter accounts (from north Korea)

5. Biden and North Korea

6. South Koreans Rarely Think About North Korea - and Why It Matters

7. Seoul seeks breakthrough in ties with Tokyo

8. Fourth Korean-American wins U.S. House election

9. President-Elect Biden and South Korean President Moon Reaffirm U.S.-ROK Alliance in Return to Normalcy

10. What's Kim planning? North Korea silent for WEEKS - fears grow of explosive plot for Biden

11. China is Already Preparing for the Next Korean War

12. Trump will leave office foiled by the North Korea nuclear problem. Will Biden fare better?

13. Moon pledges $10 million to support developing nations with COVID-19 vaccine

14. Air taxis set to soar over Seoul's skies


1. Why North Korean Provocations Toward a Biden Administration Will Fail

The National Interest · by Scott A. Snyder · November 13, 2020

As long as we do not give into the regime's blackmail diplomacy, provocations will fail.  And we should note that the Kim family regime playbook is actually quite limited.  While we might see some variations in tactics and tactical actions we should never be surprised by the regime's strategy and intent.

I concur with this statement: "Specialists argue that North Korea's propensity to revert to provocations is so deeply embedded that it is part of the country's DNA."

However, this does not mean Kim might conduct a provocation immediately - either before or after the inauguration (though eventually he will revert to them because it is in the regime's nature). He may be receiving wise counsel from China.  He may begin its own "strategic patience" to see what a new administration may offer.  And of course, he could be consumed with domestic issues (COVID, humanitarian disasters, a crushed economy, potential unrest, etc).  Sanctions relief would likely be helpful.  However, given the complex conditions and Kim's long history of failed policy decisions and priorities, sanctions relief will not be enough to dig the regime out of the domestic hole it has dug for itself.


2. Joe Biden seeks a reset in US-South Korea relations amid North Korea challenges

DW · by Deutsche Welle

Calling it a reset but what is important is there will be no successful outcome on the Korean peninsula without the foundation of a strong ROK/US alliance.


3. North Korea waging propaganda-heavy, 80-day labor campaign

AP · by HYUNG-JIN KIM · November 13, 2020

Propaganda is the regime's single most important "tool" for managing domestic stability.  There is a propaganda response for every regime failure and for every problem the north Korea faces. The irony. is if the regime put all this effort into solving problems and making the right poi;icy decisions the people would be better off.  But it is obvious the regime is only concerned with controlling the population and not ensuring their welfare.

Our friend Kim Kwang-jin explains it: "I'd say North Korea is doing more 'battles' under Kim Jong Un," said analyst Kim Kwang-jin at the South Korean state-run Institute for National Security Strategy. "Kim Jong Un inherited an economy that was like an empty can and as a young man he struggled to solidify his power. So he needs these 'battles.'"

And then there is this from Mer. Heo, also an escapee: "He sometimes felt frustrated at repeated mobilizations but avoided publicly complaining in fear of the consequences. "In North Korea, complaining about the government could get your family sent to a political prison camp," he said."


4. Two interesting new Twitter accounts (from north Korea) · by Martyn Williams · November 13, 2020

Their tweets are in English, Korea, and Japanese.  I think they are obviously being run by the Propaganda and Agitation Department.   I am following all three accounts (including Uriminzokkiri) but so far they are unremarkable.

Here are some examples.  The last one is interesting.  I wonder who the target audiences are for these tweets.

Nov 12
The 80-day campaign register book is being filled with brilliant feats of labour with every tick of the clock. Everyone all across the country is registering every page with their patriotic souls.

Nov 11
280-odd times done in over 150 sites... This figure is the number of performances staged by the central art troupes and other art propaganda squads of the DPRK on the vibrant fields of co-operative farms from the first day of 80-day campaign till now.

Nov 12
Kimchi preparing season has arrived. Korean nation's favourite dish - kimchi has been acknowledged as one of world's most welcomed health food. Healthy and tasty kimchi... the name alone makes my mouth water.

Nov 12
Recently Anti-Smoking Law has been adopted. Smoking is both harmful to health and environment. I am not much of a chain smoker but I pretty enjoy smoking. No matter how tough it might be I am determined to quit smoking for the benefit of myself and cleaner environment.


5. Biden and North Korea

The Korea Times · November 12, 2020

I had not heard any rumors of Ambassador Hill having a role in the Biden administration.


6. South Koreans Rarely Think About North Korea - and Why It Matters

HTTPS://WWW.38NORTH.ORG/2020/11/TRICHMEINHORN111320/ - by Thomas Rich and Madelynn Einhorn – 13 November 2020

I do not have any knowledge of polling procedures.  But I question the questions.  Why is the parameter in the past week added to the questions: "How many times have you thought about North Korea in the past week?"

As many know Koreans have been lulled into a sense of security for the past 67 years because the resumption of hostilities has been successfully deterred.  I would be surprised to hear that large numbers of Koreans thought about north Korea except during times of heighten ed tensions or when something like the brutal murder of a Korean civil servant occurs.

I think on questions of unification, poll results (in general, not necessarily this one) may lead to unfortunate policy decisions.  I hear from people all the time debunking the idea of Korean unification saying the people do not want it.  That may seem to be the results of polling over the years and I have no doubt many people feel that way.  However, the conditions on the peninsula may dictate that there is no other alternative if the people want security and prosperity.  Yes, the people are afraid of the costs and uncertainty.  But that is all the more reason to properly plan and prepare for it.

So I would take these polls with a grain of salt.  That said the ramifications outlined below are very important and must be thoroughly assessed and understood.


7. Seoul seeks breakthrough in ties with Tokyo · by Ahn Sung-mi – 13 November 2020

Calming tensions and threats would be a good step. I think a breakthrough would be a long way off.  But such a breakthrough can only occur if Moon and Suga pledge to make national security and national prosperity the priorities while managing the historical issues.  They both need to commit to standing up to the political factions in their country who seek to undermine relations due to historical issues. 


8. Fourth Korean-American wins U.S. House election · by 황장진 · November 14, 2020

As I have noted, Koreans are proud of the Korean-Americans who have been elected. Now there are two Republicans and two Democrats.


9. President-Elect Biden and South Korean President Moon Reaffirm U.S.-ROK Alliance in Return to Normalcy – 13 November 2020

"Normalcy?"  What is the normal alliance relationship? The hallmark of our ROK/US alliance is that there has always been friction and differences and that we have always worked through them.  While some issues are likely to be resolved with the new administration there will continue to be issues and points of friction. We might solve the SMA stalemate relatively quickly but the OPCON transition process friction will continue.  But the most challenging point of friction will be the alignment of assumptions about north Korea.  It is imperative that Biden and Moon have their national security professionals re-evaluate the assumptions and come to a sufficient alignment of assumptions.  This is key to developing a combined alliance policy and strategy toward north Korea.  We must understand Kim's strategy is based on subversion, coercion/extortion (blackmail diplomacy) and use of force to dominate the peninsula and unify it under the rule of the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State to ensure the survival of the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime. 

The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats as well as the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government based on individual liberty, rule of law, and human rights as determined by the Korean people.  In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).

We will achieve "normalcy" when we embrace this: Deterrence, defense, denuclearization, the Korea questions (unification), using a superior form of political warfare based on a rock-solid ROK/US alliance and realistic assumptions of the nature of the Kim family regime and its strategy and objectives.


10. What's Kim planning? North Korea silent for WEEKS - fears grow of explosive plot for Biden

Express · by Rachel Russell · November 13, 2020

Kim likes to keep things interesting and keep us guessing both about his health and his future plans.  Perhaps he is sequestered with his national security team conducting a policy and strategy review toward the US.


11. China is Already Preparing for the Next Korean War

The National Interest · by Lyle J. Goldstein · November 13, 2020

This is why it is US national interest to deter war on the Korean peninsula.  Not only because of the terrible tragedy that will occur with so much civilian and military blood spilled but what happens on the Korean peninsula will have global effects.  Deterrence and defense must be the first priority of the alliance.

And yes, wise words here (some of us must think about this): "As the wise Hugh White has written, one must sometimes fully envision a tragedy in order to avoid it, so that it turns out to be vitally important to "think the unthinkable." 


12. Trump will leave office foiled by the North Korea nuclear problem. Will Biden fare better?

Los Angeles Times · by Victoria Kim · November 14, 2020

We can say every president has "failed" and it is likely Biden will as well if denuclearization of the north is the description of success.   But the reasons for failure are not the policies and strategies of our presidents.  It is the very existence of the Kim family regime and that the regime will under no circumstances actually allow denuclearization of the north. The regime conducts its form of political warfare with juche characteristics and its long con that is based on getting sanctions relief while keeping his nuclear weapons.  The problem is not our presidents, past, present, or future. The problem is Kim Jong-un.

But there are two areas where President Trump has made important contributions.  He broke the taboo of a US leader meeting with the leader of a rogue nation.  This may give future presidents flexibility and it will have inculcated future presidents to criticism. But the most important thing President Trump has done is that he has not lifted sanctions and ensured the ROK and the US kept sanctions in place.  Yes, we can criticize our insufficient effort in some areas of enforcement and the fact that China and Russia have been helping the north evade sanctions.  However, it is the fact that sanctions remain in place that undermine Kim's legitimacy since he raised expectations among his elite and military leaders that he would be able to play Trump and Moon and get sanctions relief while keeping his nuclear weapons.  This has put Kim under intense internal pressure.  According to some escapees this is the biggest failure by any of the Three Kim's (the three from the north not the famous three Kim's from the South).

Success can only come when the "Korea question" is resolved.


13. Moon pledges $10 million to support developing nations with COVID-19 vaccine – 14 November 2020

Apologies for my continued footstomp.  South Korea is the only nation to go from a major aid recipient to a major donor nation.


14. Air taxis set to soar over Seoul's skies · by Andrew Salmon · November 13, 2020

More Korean innovation. Fascinating.  Airspace control may be a challenge.


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Categories: News