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

1. S. Korea to launch annual defense drill to deter N. Korea

2. North Korea’s New Missile Appears Designed to Overwhelm US Defenses

3. U.S. Backtracks on Troop Control Transfer

4. Korea, U.S. Clash over Defense Cost-Sharing

5. Securing an ‘Asian NATO’ or destabilising Korea relations?

6. U.S. security adviser sees chance to resume talks with N. Korea around 2021 Olympics

7. After the parade, North Korea’s steady progress matters more than its big new missile

8. Xi tells Japan’s leader he shares concern over North Korea kidnappings

9.  Military Warns of New N.Korean Landmines

10. Army chief apologizes for military’s role in 1980 pro-democracy uprising

11. N. Korea pressures some border residents to hand in foreign cell phones

12. N. Korea still rejecting Chinese proposals to repatriate defectors

13. BTS’s Loyal Army of Fans Is the Secret Weapon Behind a $4 Billion I.P.O.

14. End-of-war declaration and denuclearization are linked, says Seo Hoon

15. Suh says Seoul, Washington on the same page regarding end-of-war proposal

16. South Korea voices ‘deep regrets’ over Suga’s offering to Yasukuni war shrine

17. Pence Cartoon: “Crocodile Tears” – Daily NK

 

1.  S. Korea to launch annual defense drill to deter N. Korea

en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · October 16, 2020

Good.  This is necessary and the ROK government and military deserve kudos for executing this training especially in the face of the Yin-Yang of the north’s charm offensive and display of modernized military capabilities.  The ROK cannot back down nor be duped by the regime’s phony apologies and rhetoric.  Now we have to do some combined training. I remember participating in the ROK Blue Dragon river crossing exercises on the Kanghwa peninsula and Han River back in the 1980s.  These were ROK planned and led exercises with a small number of US units participating and consisted of river crossing, amphibious landings and air assaults and extensive multi-echelon training. I hope we see extensive reporting on this training and I wish there were US units participating.

 

2. North Korea’s New Missile Appears Designed to Overwhelm US Defenses

voanews.com · by William Gallo · October 16, 2020

This certainly makes sense especially if it has developed a MIRV capability.  However, we have seen no indication it has developed such a capability.  But then again the north has surprised us many times.

 

3. U.S. Backtracks on Troop Control Transfer

english.chosun.com· October 16, 2020

This is really troubling.  I am not being hyperbolic when I say this. Not following through on OPCON transition could break the alliance.  The train has left the station. If we do not complete this transition (that must be condition based and not based on a timeline) it could catastrophically undermine the ROK trust in the alliance and in the US.  It will confirm all the conspiracy theories that have existed since this transition process began in 2003 that say the US never had any intention of following through on the transition.   This is one of many complex issues coming from the SCM that is creating a perfect storm to damage the alliance.

 

4. Korea, U.S. Clash over Defense Cost-Sharing

english.chosun.com · October 14, 2020

And this is the other obvious major issue contributing to the brewing of the perfect storm.

 

5. Securing an ‘Asian NATO’ or destabilising Korea relations?

eastasiaforum.org · by Anthony Rinna · October 14, 2020

Respect for Korea walking the tightrope between China and the US.

Excerpt: “Washington should therefore restrain itself from pushing Seoul too hard to join the Quad as a full member, leveraging instead its shared interests with Seoul to focus foremost on seeing through an equitable solution to the Korean security crisis. South Korea’s accession to the Quad will complicate Beijing’s ties with Seoul and entrench the Korean Peninsula as an even more explicit geopolitical battleground between China and the United States.”

 

6. U.S. security adviser sees chance to resume talks with N. Korea around 2021 Olympics

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · October 17, 2020

Somehow I do not think the conditions are similar to the Olympics in Korea in 2018.

 

7. After the parade, North Korea’s steady progress matters more than its big new missile

thebulletin.org· by Jenny Town · October 16, 2020

Key points from Jenny Town: “But the fixation on the two new ballistic missiles has obscured a far more important story about North Korea’s overall military modernization. While the new ballistic missiles themselves may ultimately bring little in the way of strategic benefits, the level and pace of North Korea’s broader military modernization should compel US policy makers to rethink the current approach to denuclearization.”  And this “The rate of change North Korea has demonstrated in its military modernization and strategic weapons development over the past five years is telling. Despite “biting” sanctions, Pyongyang has consistently shown a superior ability to adapt to the times and find ways to meet its strategic goals. The question is whether US policy makers can be equally as adept at adjusting their approach to one that will bring about incremental results to prevent a repeat modernization story five years from now.”

In my assessment, north Korean actions illustrate there is no intent to denuclearize the north but the long term strategy to dominate the Korean peninsula remains the “lodestar” and guiding principle for the regime.

 

8. Xi tells Japan’s leader he shares concern over North Korea kidnappings

South China Morning Post · October 17, 2020

Sure.  I am sure he is sincerely concerned. (not).

 

9. Military Warns of New N.Korean Landmines

english.chosun.com · October 16, 2020

This is a danger after every Monsoon.  And it will persist in the vicinity of the DMZ long after unification occurs.  The DMZ will never be completely safe.

 

10. Army chief apologizes for military’s role in 1980 pro-democracy uprising

en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · October 16, 2020

This is troubling.  The Kwangju story still has not been sufficiently told. But historical revisionism is bent on ensuring that the Army is vilified and the “activists” are almost deified.  

 

11.  N. Korea pressures some border residents to hand in foreign cell phones

dailynk.com· by Kim Yoo Jin · October 16, 2020

The regime is deathly afraid of external information and communication among the Korean people in the north.  But I wonder how effective “inducement” will be.

Excerpt: “Not only professional smugglers and brokers but also residents of border areas with foreign-made mobile phones are reportedly handing over their phones voluntarily to the Ministry of State Security. The source noted, however, that this appears to be aimed at temporarily escaping surveillance and pressure from the ministry.”

The fear of the draconian population and resources control measures seems to be inducing them.

 

12. N. Korea still rejecting Chinese proposals to repatriate defectors

dailynk.com· by Mun Dong Hui · October 15, 2020

Potentially some slight good news for escapees in China.  The north remains fearful of COVID and that is preventing repatriation.

 

13. BTS’s Loyal Army of Fans Is the Secret Weapon Behind a $4 Billion I.P.O.

The New York Times · by Ben Dooley · October 14, 2020

Pretty amazing that a “boy band” could generate this level of funding.  The Korean wave (Hallyu) continues.

 

14. End-of-war declaration and denuclearization are linked, says Seo Hoon

donga.com · October 17, 2020

How so?  How will an end of war declaration improve security on the Korean peninsula? Why does north Korea want an end of war declaration? What are they going to do with it?  What are they going to do after such a declaration is made?  How long before the north and anti-American activists in the South push for withdrawal of US troops?

 

15. Suh says Seoul, Washington on the same page regarding end-of-war proposal

koreajoongangdaily.joins.com· by Ser Myo-Ja

Well there you go.  I guess it is a done deal. I hope we have a strategy for this.  I want the war to end.  I want peace on the Korean peninsula. I do not want to provide an advantage to the north especially due to the second and third order effects that will result from such a declaration.

 

16.  South Korea voices ‘deep regrets’ over Suga’s offering to Yasukuni war shrine

The Korea Times · October 17, 2020

Not helpful.

 

17. Pence Cartoon: “Crocodile Tears” – Daily NK

dailynk.com · by Gregory Pence  ·October 15, 2020

Not VP Pence.

 

———–

 

“It is important to remember that bureaucratic politics and rivalry are not just matters of competing for primacy in foreign policy – although they are that too. Rather, most bureaucratic competition comes from the fact that these bureaucracies often have overlapping jurisdictions on policy matters and that each may have legitimate but differing responsibilities. For example, both the CIA and the Defense Department have large intelligence-gathering operations, and at times these overlap and compete; at the same time, the State Department and Defense Department both have important but very different responsibilities in American foreign policy-making, and it is quite understandable that these are not always in exact accord.”  

– Howard J. Wiarda, American Foreign Policy: Actors and Processes

 

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

– Marilyn vos Savant

 

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

– Rumi

Hits: 5

With artificial intelligence, every soldier is a counter-drone operator 10/18/2020 News and Commentary-Korea | Small Wars Journal