News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Duncan Moore.

1. Jitters mount over USFK reduction

2. N. Korea begins probe into 2nd and 4th corps following returnee incident

3. Interview: they said my face looked pretty but also old, so $1,100 was all I was worth

4. Military embarrassed by surveillance camera footage mapping defector’s exit route

5. N. Korea intensifies antivirus efforts in Pyongyang after border town’s lockdown

6.  Kim Jong Un ‘doesn’t look well’

7. TWE remembers: the Taft-Katsura memorandum

8. I fled North Korea as my family starved before I was sold into human trafficking

9. N. Korean authorities sound the alarm following avian flu outbreak

10. N. Korea’s border closure likely to increase chronic disease mortality: expert

11. That job offer in your inbox might be part of a North Korean cyberattack

12. UN official urges Seoul to listen to defector groups

13. North Korean hackers phish for victims with ‘too good to be true’ job offers

14. Unification minister vows to seek ways to resume Mt. Kumgang tour

15. Rare insights on business in North Korea from being in the hermit country

16.  Charles Armstrong, Korean War officer during early years of Army integration, dies at 93

 

1. Jitters mount over USFK reduction

Chosun Ilbo · by Yu Yong-weon & Kim Jin-myung · July 31, 2020

Yes, but…

Here is the conundrum: this is not about the SMA and burden-sharing. This is about being able to sustain a trained and ready force. If I was the commander and I could not sustain training and readiness, I would recommend they be deployed/stationed to a location where they can conduct effective and sustained training.

There are two issues here for South Korea. The first is that Korean citizens are protesting US training (which is, of course, their right and we all must fully support their right to do so). But it is the responsibility of the Korean government to provide a suitable training location (if they want US forces to remain). The second is the Comprehensive Military Agreement and its impact on training and readiness (as well as ISR with its no fly zones along the DMZ). The desired confidence building measures by South Korea impact US training and readiness (I do not think Pilsung Range can be used for air operations now – I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure that it is inside the no fly boundary). These actions hinder the ability of US forces to train and maintain readiness. So SMA/burdens-haring and funding aside, if I were advising the commander I would recommend withdrawing forces to ensure they can sustain readiness.  If that cannot be done on the Korean peninsula, then the alliance has a problem.

 

2. N. Korea begins probe into 2nd and 4th corps following returnee incident

Daily NK · by Ha Yoon Ah · July 31, 2020

I think the South Korean Marine general and his chain of command will end up in a better situation than the North Korean chain of command.

But on a serious note, this does provide an indication of North Korean readiness. Of course, South Korea has not put any emphasis on DMZ infiltration in recent decades, so I am sure there was a high level of complacency in the NKPA and security services. Also, unlike the South, much of their focus is on preventing escapees and not detecting infiltrators.

Of course they have to “punish” the chain of command if this was actually a planned recall of the defector. Otherwise we would suspect it was planned.

Perhaps the South Korean intelligence services should re-evaluate DMZ infiltrations after a time when the complacency sets in again among the NKPA (note sarcasm).

 

3. Interview: they said my face looked pretty but also old, so $1,100 was all I was worth

Radio Free Asia · by RFA/Rebel Pepper · July 29, 2020

This is important reporting from Radio Free Asia. Remember that this report is being broadcast in Korea to the Korean people in the North. Even as the North tries to jam the broadcasts, our transmitters can overpower them. And the regime wastes a lot of energy resources on the electricity that it takes to try to jam this news. This is news and information that helps educate the Korean people about the human rights they deserve. Note also that commercial media uses these reports to craft their own news. They would not be able to report about North Korean human rights abuses without the work of RFA (and VOA).

This is so sad. This also illustrates the evil nature of the Kim family regime and the Chinese Communist Party for being complicit in human rights abuses. But we also must appreciate the incredible resilience among the Korean people living in the North. They deserve our respect and our help.

 

4. Military embarrassed by surveillance camera footage mapping defector’s exit route

Korea Herald · by Choi Si-young · July 31, 2020

As it must be.

 

5. N. Korea intensifies antivirus efforts in Pyongyang after border town’s lockdown

Yonhap News Agency · by Koh Byung-joon · July 31, 2020

At some point information is going to start spilling out about an outbreak.

 

6. Kim Jong Un ‘doesn’t look well’

Sky News · August 01, 2020

The only thing I agree with Mr. Sircusa on is that it is likely that there is an outbreak of the virus in the North that is far worse than we can see.

But a number of his other points in the video are somewhat suspect – especially the comment about the military will put a bullet in his head if he gives up too much to President Trump.

 

7. TWE remembers: the Taft-Katsura memorandum

CFR · by James M. Lindsay · July 31, 2020

An interesting historical perspective in light of relations in Asia today, specifically Chinese-US relations as the author notes how the US should respond to the rise of China. But what I think most Americans are unaware of is how this memorandum of agreement paved the way for Japanese occupation and colonization of Korea. The US not only divided the Korean peninsula in 1945 (to save half of it from Soviet occupation). It was also complicit in the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910.

 

8. I fled North Korea as my family starved before I was sold into human trafficking

The Sun · by Dan Hall · July 31, 2020

Again, we should have much respect for the Korean people in the North and the tragic hardships they endure.

 

9. N. Korean authorities sound the alarm following avian flu outbreak

Daily NK · by Jong So Yong · July 31, 2020

Is this “cover” for the coronavirus outbreak?

 

10. N. Korea’s border closure likely to increase chronic disease mortality: expert

Yonhap News Agency · by julesyi@yna.co.kr · July 31, 2020

This is very likely and may seem like a blinding flash of the obvious.

 

11. That job offer in your inbox might be part of a North Korean cyberattack

Tech Republic · by Brandon Vigliarolo · July 31, 2020

Beware.

 

12. UN official urges Seoul to listen to defector groups

Chosun Ilbo · by Kmi Myong-song · July 31, 2020

Escapees (defectors) are a national asset and should be treated as such.

 

13. North Korean hackers phish for victims with ‘too good to be true’ job offers

The Next Web · by Mix · July 31, 2020

As we all know when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. I think we probably do not appreciate the sophistication of these North Korean operations. These are not emails from Nigerian princes.

 

14. Unification minister vows to seek ways to resume Mt. Kumgang tour

Yonhap News Agency · July 31, 2020

But for North Korea is all about trying to extort cash from South Korea.

 

15. Rare insights on business in North Korea from being in the hermit country

Forbes · by Donald Kirk · July 31, 2020

 

16. Charles Armstrong, Korean War officer during early years of Army integration, dies at 93

Washington Post · by Louie Estrada · July 31, 2020

Some important personal history that we should reflect upon this weekend. There is a lot to consider in this short article as we confront the demons of our past, but we can take solace in knowing there were and are great Americans like Charles Armstrong.

 

“The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book.”

– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”

– Douglas MacArthur

“Being in the special forces has really broken a lot of the limitations I thought I had. Thoughts like ‘We’ve done this much, so we should take a break now’ were ones that I had to ignore and overcome in my training. They taught me how to keep going, no matter how difficult a situation can get.”

– Lee Seung-gi

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