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

1. N. Korean leader Kim given coronavirus vaccine from China: U.S. expert

2. North Korea: Kim Jong Un given coronavirus vaccine – 19FortyFive

3. Ex-CIA official suggests Biden administration propose working-level talks with N. Korea

4. S. Korea, U.S. are not just allies but family: Ambassador Harris

5. S. Korea, U.S. hold first defense cost talks since U.S. election

6. FM calls for efforts to develop alliance, Korea peace process with Biden administration

7. Business and opinion leaders stress need to mend Seoul-Tokyo rift

8. Pres. Moon’s plan to provide rice to N. Korea is canceled

9. Risks over Korea-China-Japan FTA

10. Why sanctions are not the way to fix relations with North Korea

11. Korean, U.S. negotiators hold icebreaker on stalled cost-sharing deal

12. New beer factory in N. Korea

13. Half of N. Korea’s First Corps not ready to take part in winter training

14. N. Hamgyong Province witnesses soaring prices and more homeless on the streets

15. Another massive military event could be on tap in North Korea

16. N. Korea might seek to improve cross-border ties to strengthen leverage over Washington: think tank

17. Trump exit prompts calls for arms control offer to Kim Jong Un

18. New ‘BTS law’ is passed in South Korea. An army of fans rejoices.

19. ‘Stealing our culture’: South Koreans upset after China claims kimchi as its own

20. Kim Jong-un on brink: despot ‘venting anger’ and making bizarre decisions – alert issued

21. China claims Great Wall stretched near Korean Peninsula

22. How China can craft a better relationship with South Korea

23. South Korea matters more to the United States than North Korea’s nukes

 

1. N. Korean leader Kim given coronavirus vaccine from China: U.S. expert

Yonhap News Agency · 변덕근 · November 30, 2020

A question: does China have a safe vaccine that works? How does Harry know that Kim received the vaccine?

 

2. North Korea: Kim Jong Un given coronavirus vaccine – 19FortyFive

1945 · Harry Kazianis · November 30, 2020

Ah… two anonymous Japanese intelligence sources have provided this information.

 

3. Ex-CIA official suggests Biden administration propose working-level talks with N. Korea

Yonhap News Agency · 최수향 · December 1, 2020

We have sought working level talks since Singapore in June 2018. Why will Kim allow them now?

But, coming from Andrew Kim, this is an important assessment.

 

4. S. Korea, U.S. are not just allies but family: Ambassador Harris

Yonhap News Agency · 오석민 · December 1, 2020

 

5. S. Korea, U.S. hold first defense cost talks since U.S. election

Yonhap News Agency · 김승연 · December 1, 2020

This must have been an interesting discussion.

 

6. FM calls for efforts to develop alliance, Korea peace process with Biden administration

Yonhap News Agency · 이해아 · November 30, 2020

We can fix SMA and get OPCON transition on track and solve the training issues for USFK but if we cannot sufficiently align alliance strategic assumptions about the nature and strategy of the Kim family regime friction within the alliance will remain.

 

7. Business and opinion leaders stress need to mend Seoul-Tokyo rift

Korea Joong Ang Daily · Kim Da-Young & Sarah Kim · November 30, 2020

This is a good step forward. They need to tell Moon and Suga that they need to prioritize national security and national prosperity while pledging to manage the complex historical issues (and pledging not to allow the historical issues to interfere with national security and national prosperity).

 

8. Pres. Moon’s plan to provide rice to N. Korea is canceled

Dong-A Ilbo · Oh-Hyuk Kwon · December 1, 2020

Again, the Korean people in the North suffer because of the decision making of Kim Jong-Un.

 

9. Risks over Korea-China-Japan FTA

Dong-A Ilbo · December 1, 2020

Can South Korea maintain “strategic ambiguity?”

 

10. Why sanctions are not the way to fix relations with North Korea

World Economic Forum · Geoffrey See · November 30, 2020

Quite a thesis put forth by the author. I am not convinced. I am especially not convinced, because this goes against the nature of the Kim family regime. It assumes the regime wants engagement and peace and reconciliation. That assumption could not be more wrong.

 

11. Korean, U.S. negotiators hold icebreaker on stalled cost-sharing deal

Korea Joong Ang Daily · Sarah Kim · December 1, 2020

Icebreaker?

 

12. New beer factory in N. Korea

Yonhap News Agency · November 30, 2020

Important news from North Korea. 🙂  A display of normalcy.

But seriously: priorities, priorities.

 

13. Half of N. Korea’s First Corps not ready to take part in winter training

Daily NK · Jeong Tae Joo · December 1, 2020

Obviously ,an important indicator. You can show off all kinds of modern military equipment at a military parade. but it matters naught if you do not have soldiers trained to use it.

I would like to know the status of the other three frontline corps (4, 2, and 5, especially the 2d and 5th corps) as well as the mechanized and armored units.

 

14. N. Hamgyong Province witnesses soaring prices and more homeless on the streets

Daily NK · Kim Yoo Jin · December 1, 2020

Tragic suffering of the Korean people living in the North. Will it lead to civil unrest and political resistance and political violence? Based on past history and the apparent continued effectiveness of the security services, suppression of any opposition will continue.

 

15. Another massive military event could be on tap in North Korea

Korea Joong Ang Daily · Park Yong-Han & Shim Kyu-Seok · December 1, 2020

Yet half of the North Korean 1st Corps is unavailable to conduct the winter training cycle.

 

16. N. Korea might seek to improve cross-border ties to strengthen leverage over Washington: think tank

Yonhap News Agency · 고병준 · December 1, 2020

I doubt the North is going to pursue improved cross-border cooperation. But if it does, it will not be for the intent of leverage. It will be to drive a wedge in the alliance. Divide to conquer, divide the ROK/US alliance to conquer the ROK.

 

17. Trump exit prompts calls for arms control offer to Kim Jong Un

Financial Times · Edward White · December 1, 2020

This is exactly what Kim Jong-Un wants: to conduct arms control negotiations (SALT and START-like) so it can retain its nuclear weapons and be recognized as a nuclear power. This will be an interim victory for the regime’s political warfare strategy and long con.

 

18. New ‘BTS law’ is passed in South Korea. An army of fans rejoices.

New York Times · Choe Sang-Hun · December 1, 2020

A breakdown in Korean culture? What will be the second and third order and future effects of this law?  On the other hand, perhaps the military is happy about this development as it will not have to deal with these celebrities who are distractions to military training and operations.

 

19. ‘Stealing our culture’: South Koreans upset after China claims kimchi as its own

Guardian · Justin McCurry · December 1, 2020

A soft power competition.

 

20. Kim Jong-Un on brink: despot ‘venting anger’ and making bizarre decisions – alert issued

Express · Rachel Russell · November 30, 2020

The nature of a despotic leader.  Note the Express has not updated its military power chart and still lists North Korea as having 20 aircraft carriers.

 

21. China claims Great Wall stretched near Korean Peninsula

UPI · Elizabeth Shim · November 30, 2020

I think this must be an attempt to prevent Korean claims to old Koguryo, which extended well into Manchuria (see the map here).

 

22. How China can craft a better relationship with South Korea

National Interest · Doug Bandow · November 30, 2020

Why would we want to violate Napoleon’s dictum to never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake? Why do we want to help China bring South Korea closer to it? If China follows this advice, the ROK and US should exploit it. However, I do not think China is going to change its strategy toward either North or South Korea.

 

23. South Korea matters more to the United States than North Korea’s nukes

Foreign Policy · S. Nathan Park · November 30, 2020

This is a difficult concept for many to grasp. One point I will continue to emphasize is that there will be no success regarding denuclearization or any outcome on the Korean peninsula (e.g., the Korea question) without a strong ROK/US alliance.

 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

– Viktor Frankl

 “Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy.”

– Anonymous

“The heart of our problem, here, lies in our assessment of the relative importance of the various dangers among which we move; and until many of our people can be brought to understand that what we have to do is not to secure a total absence of danger but to balance peril against peril and to find the tolerable degree of each, we shall not wholly emerge from these confusions.”

– George Kennan

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