News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Ahyoung Shin

 

1.U.S. names new envoy for defense cost-sharing talks

2. Most S. Koreans support alliance with U.S. despite tensions: poll

3. Troop withdrawal likely to undermine South Korean public support for alliance with United States

4. N. Korea releases border dam water without prior notice: sources

5.  Bolton worries about Trump pulling troops from Korea

6. North Korea has ‘probably’ developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles, says U.N. report

7. North Korea has ‘probably’ developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles – UN

8. Despite maximum pressure sanctions, North Korea’s economy grew in 2019

9. How Kim Jong Un won the war over North Korea’s nukes

10. Nippon Steel to appeal South Korea asset seizure ruling as case threatens bilateral ties

11. China, S. Korea step up economic ties

12. Samsung to close its last computer plant in China as shipments drop  

13. South Korea and Japan flap could hit Trump’s plans on China

14. Military closely monitoring N. Korea amid U.N. report on miniaturized nuclear devices

15. N.Koreans gripped by fears of famine

16. Aid groups forced to borrow money from North Korea

17. Explosions in Hyesan kill nine, injure at least 30

18. Hundreds of Koreans flee as floods trigger landslides, sweep away cars (South Korea)

19. Why a nuclear-free North Korea is a dream that needs to die 

20. The survivor: last Korean war criminal in Japan wants recognition

 

1.U.S. names new envoy for defense cost-sharing talks

en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · August 4, 2020

I can hear some private conversations in the background.  Since the new envoy is a fluent Japanese speaker the US is shifting focus to burden sharing negotiations with Japan.

2. Most S. Koreans support alliance with U.S. despite tensions: poll

en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · August 4, 2020

Yes, the alliance remains fairly resilient. But there can be no complacency. Yes, the Korean people are worried about a US troops withdrawal.

I also wonder how the anti-Alliance factions in South Korea use this information to try to target certain audiences to weaken support for the alliance.

3. Troop withdrawal likely to undermine South Korean public support for alliance with United States

thechicagocouncil.org · August 3, 2020

The 7 page report with graphs and data can be downloaded here.

4. N. Korea releases border dam water without prior notice: sources

en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · August 3, 2020

I can only imagine what the Imjin River looks like now (there are some places we could walk across at low tide (it has tidal effects on the western of part of the river from the Han RIver Estuary)). I recall one year when we conducted a river crossing of the Imjin and it flooded over and we were caught between the river and the DMZ. We were able to maneuver along the south edge of the DMZ to get back to our camp  Greaves – which was north of the Imjin as well) but it was quite tricky as we had to pass through ROK defensive sectors and we did not have prior permission. Fortunately good liaison helped us to overcome the inevitable friction.

5.  Bolton worries about Trump pulling troops from Korea

koreajoongangdaily.joins.com

I kind of wish Ambassador Bolton would not make these comments. Some will be opposed to anything he says and will want to do the opposite.

But regarding withdrawal the question is can the SECDEF certify that such a withdrawal will not harm US or alliance security interests? This is required by Congress which has language in the last 3 NDAAs that not funds will be appropriated and authorized to reduce the number of troops below the 28,500 threshold without SECDEF certification that there is no harm to US and allied national security (and consultation with our allies, Korea and Japan).

6. North Korea has ‘probably’ developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles, says U.N. report

Reuters · by Michelle Nichols · August 3, 2020

This still seems to be alluding to a new report and not the one from March. It says it was submitted on Monday. But it is a significant development if the regime has miniaturized nuclear devices that can be mounted on a missile.

7. North Korea has ‘probably’ developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles – UN

The Guardian · August 4, 2020

This is obviously one of the most important capabilities the North must develop. If this is confirmed, we are probably at the most dangerous point in history on the Korean peninsula – though “several countries believing” is hardly intelligence confirmation. But I would not underestimate the North and its scientists.

I do expect the regime and its Propaganda and Agitation Department are trying to figure out how to exploit this in its blackmail diplomacy. That of course could backfire if it starts claiming it has this capability. And of course we are faced with the proverbial question, “What do you do not Lieutenant?” My initial counsel: do not overreact, play our long game to beat his long con, execute a superior form of political warfare built on a foundation of deterrence, and seek the (correct) answer to the “Korea question.”

8. Despite maximum pressure sanctions, North Korea’s economy grew in 2019

The National Interest · by Daniel R. DePetris · August 3, 2020

Another argument to give up and accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. I am tired of these pieces but they have traction among some political factions so we must read them.

9. How Kim Jong Un won the war over North Korea’s nukes

thedailybeast · by David Axe · August 4, 2020

Here is the problem I have with co-existence (that is all I will focus on in this article/book review). Those who advocate for it assume the regime would be happy with co-existence. I do not believe it would ever be satisfied with co-existence. For the regime it is a zero sum game – the North’s existence and the South’s non-existence. That said I believe we can cope, contain, and manage the situation while seeking the long term acceptable, durable political arrangement that solves the Korea question thus bringing an end to the nuclear threats against the South and the world and the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people in the North.

10. Nippon Steel to appeal South Korea asset seizure ruling as case threatens bilateral ties

Reuters · by Yuka Obayashi, Hyonhee Shin · August 4, 2020

For the South Korean legal experts:  Could an appeals ruling overturn the original court decision? And for the Korea-Japan experts, if the decision was overturned would that reduce the friction between Japan and Korea? Would a ruling that simply prevents asset seizure be “good enough” to reduce tension?  E.g., the original decision stands but it cannot be enforced?

12. Samsung to close its last computer plant in China as shipments drop

Forbes · by Donald Kirk · August 3, 2020

In a nutshell: “improve the efficiency of its supply chain amid rising geopolitical tensions.”

13. South Korea and Japan Flap Could Hit Trump’s Plans on China

Bloomberg · by Jeong-Ho Lee · August 3, 2020

But I do not see the “flap” being sufficiently solved any time soon.

14. Military closely monitoring N. Korea amid U.N. report on miniaturized nuclear devices

en.yna.co.kr · by 최수향 · August 4, 2020

This headline makes it seem like the military was not closely monitoring the north until this new UN report came out. I think it would be a mistake to assume the military and intelligence services (of the South and US) were not monitoring for this key development. As noted even the South Korean 2018 white paper described the possible developments.

15. N.Koreans gripped by fears of famine

english.chosun.com · August 4, 2020

Kim Jong-un’s policy choices. Every time we read an article like this we need to be asking how Kim Jong-un could solve this problem for the Koran people in the North? The hardships the Korean people suffer are a direct result of Kim Jong-un’s policy decisions. And UN and US sanctions are a result of those same policy decisions. It is not the sanctions that cause the suffering. It is Kim Jong-un’s decision making. Yes, natural disasters have a huge effect as does the coronavirus. The international community has long stood ready to provide humanitarian assistance but again it is decision making by Kim Jong-un that hinders such assistance.

16. Aid groups forced to borrow money from North Korea

Financial Times · by Edward White · August 3, 2020

Again it is Kim Jong-un’s policy decision that causes this unusual phenomenon. When banks talk about reputational issues that is another indication that they are acting this way and making such an assessment because of Kim Jong-un’s policy decisions.  I apologize for continuing to beat the dead horse but I cannot be an apologist for Kim Jong-un’s actions)

17. Explosions in Hyesan kill nine, injure at least 30

dailynk.com · by Lee Sang Yong · August 4, 2020

No fire trucks to assist. Investigation quickly concluded resulting in no compensation for losses because the incident was due to “carelessness.” And most important of all, authorities are concerned with the safe evacuation of Kim Il-sung’s and Kim Jong-il’s portraits from people’s homes – another opportunity to demonstrate personal loyalty to the regime.

We should note that Hyesan is on the border with China where a lot of smuggling takes place. We have also seen nascent signs of resistance there in the past such as reports of graffiti on regime statues among other low level of resistance.

18. Hundreds of Koreans flee as floods trigger landslides, sweep away cars (South Korea)

Reuters · August 4, 2020

If it is bad in the South it will be worse in the North if they get the same kind of monsoon rains.

19. Why a nuclear-free North Korea is a dream that needs to die

The National Interest · by Doug Bandow · August 3, 2020

Is sound policy sacrificing the national security of the US and South Korea?

20. The survivor: last Korean war criminal in Japan wants recognition

Reuters · by Ju-min Park · August 4, 2020

A tragic story on a number of levels but also some fascinating history we do not really think about or study (though we all know the Bridge on the River Kwai).

 

———–

“The very massiveness of our intervention actually reduced our leverage. So long as we were willing to use U.S. resources and manpower as a substitute for Vietnamese, their incentive for doing more was compromised.”

 – Robert Komer, Bureaucracy At War.

“Nearly all soldiers-and this applies even to professional soldiers in peacetime-have a sane attitude towards war. They realise that it is disgusting, and that it may often be necessary.”

-George Orwell, August 1944

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

– George Bernard Shaw

 

 

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