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

1. U.S. Army Pacific commander named new USFK chief: sources

2. Proposed U.S. defense budget bill limits reduction of USFK troop level

3.  US military families in South Korea? Top US general wants policy change

4. North Korea sends anti-aircraft units to Chinese border to stop illegal border crossers

5. The ruling party destroys South Korea’s capability to catch North Korean spies…

6. S. Korea, US need to work together in Asia but first set objectives: officials

7. The South Korean defense industry in numbers: Is the new dawn coming?

8. North Korea’s new Kim Jong-Un biography skirts over mother’s Japanese heritage

9. An inside look at South Korea’s covid-19 warning system

10. North Korea hackers created spoof Hyundai sites, report says

11. Unification minister urges N.K. to refrain from provoking incoming U.S. administration

12. Unification minister cites European coal and steel community as model for inter-Korean cooperation

13. New virus cases at 9-month high of over 600, tighter curbs to be considered

14. Christian leader facing charges for launching Bibles into North Korea asks for prayers

15. Biden’s policy on North Korea should be prudent dialogue—not sanctions

16. Gov’t risks violating constitution to appease N. Korea

17. North Korea enforces tougher antivirus measures in Pyongyang amid heightened alert

18. What South Korea wants from Joe Biden

19. A glass half-empty: Kim Jong Un’s economic policies one year after the 2019 plenum speech

20. North Korea’s very odd year

 

1. U.S. Army Pacific commander named new USFK chief: sources

Yonhap News Agency · 오석민 · December 4, 2020

Still have not seen anything official on the DOD web site.

 

2. Proposed U.S. defense budget bill limits reduction of USFK troop level

Yonhap News Agency · 변덕근 · December 4, 2020

Will this put a crimp in General Milley’s plans? 

 

3. US military families in South Korea? Top US general wants policy change

Korea Times · December 4, 2020

The Congress has a say. The military could probably conduct an early return of dependents and leave the forces in place without violating the legislation in the 2021 NDAA. It is a good thing the Korea government invested so much in in the “Little America” of Camp Humphreys (93% of $10.7 billion) so we did not waste US taxpayers funds on building the largest US military base outside of CONUS. Yes, I am making snarky comments.

But this needs to be thought through. What do we want in our alliances? There are so many intangibles to alliances such as sustained relationships and our families add a lot to those relationships and the sharing of values. Yes, I can make the argument we should have no US military dependents in harm’s way in Korea. But we really need to think through what we want in our alliances (not just in Korea) and proceed accordingly. Maybe we want to minimize the presence of US ground forces and be dependent on air and sea power. We can make that deliberate decision. Maybe we do not want strong alliances that are relationship and values based. Maybe we just want a minimum military relationship. But once we give up these relationships, we will never get them back. I think we are going to limit our strategic options and agility over time if we cut too much muscle and bone from these alliances.

 

4. North Korea sends anti-aircraft units to Chinese border to stop illegal border crossers

Radio Free Asia · Sewon Kim, Leejin Jun, & Eugene Whong · December 2, 2020

North Korea loves to use their anti-aircraft weapons in a ground role (to include for executions).

 

5. The ruling party destroys South Korea’s capability to catch North Korean spies…

East Asia Research Center · Tara O · December 3, 2020

Troubling reporting from Dr. Tara O.

 

6. S. Korea, US need to work together in Asia but first set objectives: officials

Korea Herald · Yonhap · December 4, 2020

I hope Marc can stay on in the next administration. He is, after all, a career foreign service officer and a member of the senior foreign service.

 

7. The South Korean defense industry in numbers: Is the new dawn coming?

KF-VUB Korea Chair · Dr. Sung Kyoo Ahn · December 4, 2020

 

8. North Korea’s new Kim Jong-un biography skirts over mother’s Japanese heritage

Telegraph · Julian Ryall · December 2, 2020

If anyone wanted some themes and messages to support an information and influence activities campaign, this would be one that would contribute to undermining the legitimacy of the Kim family regime and cause divisions among the elite. Just think about the Paketu bloodline having Japanese blood in it.

I have been told by escapees that very few Korean people in the north know that Kim Jong-un is a bastard child with Japanese blood.

 

9. An inside look at South Korea’s covid-19 warning system

Elemental · Benjamin Davis · December 3, 2020

What can we learn from South Korea?

 

10. North Korea hackers created spoof Hyundai sites, report says

UPI · Elizabeth Shim · December 3, 2020

North Korea’s all-purpose sword bears watching (and taking action against.)

 

11. Unification minister urges N.K. to refrain from provoking incoming U.S. administration

Yonhap News Agency · 이원주 · December 3, 2020

I am doubtful that Kim will heed this call if he thinks his blackmail diplomacy and political warfare will achieve effects he desires. Statements like these of the Minister make me want to re-emphasize that we must reassess our strategic assumptions about Kim Jong-Un, the Kim family regime, and the strategy and objectives of the North. I would ask the minister to have his staff answer these questions:

  • What is the acceptable, durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US and ROK/US Alliance interests on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia?
  • Who does Kim fear more: the US or the Korean people in the North? Answer: it is the Korean people armed with information knowledge of life in South Korea.
  • Do we believe that Kim Jong-Un has abandoned the seven decades old strategy of subversion, coercion-extortion (blackmail diplomacy), and use of force to achieve unification dominated by the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State in order to ensure the survival of the mafia like crime family cult known as Kim family regime?
  • In support of that strategy, do we believe that Kim Jong-Un has abandoned the objective to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the peninsula? Has KJU given up his divide to conquer strategy – divide the alliance to conquer the ROK?

The answers to these questions should guide us to the strategy to solve the “Korea question” (para 60 of the Armistice) and lead to the only acceptable durable political arrangement: a secure, stable, economically vibrant, non-nuclear Korean peninsula, unified under a liberal constitutional form of government with respect for individual liberty, the rule of law, and human rights, determined by the Korean people. In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).

 

12. Unification minister cites European coal and steel community as model for inter-Korean cooperation

Yonhap News Agency · 이원주 · December 4, 2020

I give the Minister credit for trying to find creative engagement ways. But it would seem to me that this is another line of effort that would require sanctions waivers if not sanctions relief. And I would question how this approach would contribute to the security and peace of the Korean peninsula? How would we prevent Kim from exploiting such a model to sustain his brutal regime and continue to develop advanced military capabilities?

 

13. New virus cases at 9-month high of over 600, tighter curbs to be considered

Yonhap News Agency · 주경돈 · December 4, 2020

Is the virus winning?

 

14. Christian leader facing charges for launching Bibles into North Korea asks for prayers

Christian Post · Leah MarieAnn Klett · November 27, 2020

Religion is one of the most subversive forms of resistance in North Korea.

Who does Kim fear more: the US or the Korean people in the North? Answer: it is the Korean people armed with information knowledge of life in South Korea. Of course, they fear the Korean people who hold a belief in a higher power than the Supreme, Great, and Dear Leader.

And religion will be critical during the unification process because the Korean people in the North will need faith in something beyond Juche when they learn the decades of indoctrination has been simply a lie.

 

15. Biden’s policy on North Korea should be prudent dialogue—not sanctions

Newsweek · Daniel R. Depetris · November 27, 2020

Sanctions are a tool, a critically important tool. They are not a strategy.

For all those who advocate for sanctions relief in the mistaken belief that it will lead to a change in North Korean behavior and will contribute to a denuclearization agreement, I would ask you to think about the effects. I do not believe sanctions relief should not be used as a concession or bargaining chip.

Sanctions are imposed because North Korea does not act as a responsible member of the international community, it threats the region with violence, it violates international agreements, and it conducts horrendous human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.

When you advocate for sanctions relief, what behaviors by the north do you wish to condone and tolerate?

Nuclear and missile development?

Illicit activities around the world? Counterfeiting, drug trafficking, money laundering, shipping to luxury goods back to Korea for the elite?

Cyber-attacks? 

Weapons proliferation around the world but including conflict areas in the Middle East and Africa?

Overseas slave labor?

Human rights and crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north?

For all those who want to lift sanctions, which of the above behaviors are you willing to condone?

We should also not blame sanctions for the suffering of the Korean people living in the North. The suffering is a result of the deliberate policy decisions of the Kim family regime. It prioritizes weapons development over the welfare of the people. It makes sufficient funds through illicit activities to feed the Korean people. We have seen on October 10th in the military parade this prioritization: the development of advanced military capabilities over the past 5 years while the plight of the people has gotten worse (especially since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic).

 

16. Gov’t risks violating constitution to appease N. Korea

Dong-A Ilbo · December 4, 2020

I hope this Moon administration heeds this warning. The law against information going to North Korea is a huge mistake. 

 

17. North Korea enforces tougher antivirus measures in Pyongyang amid heightened alert

Yonhap News Agency · 고병준 · December 3, 2020

I cannot emphasize how much this requires a focus on the indicators inside North Kora. If there is a widespread outbreak in North Korea, it can lead to instability. If it significantly infects the military, it could lead all the way to regime collapse.

 

18. What South Korea wants from Joe Biden

Nikkei Asia · Soo Kim · December 4, 2020

Soo Kim is one of the very best analysts on Korea today. Everyone should pay attention to her writing.

 

19. A glass half-empty: Kim Jong Un’s economic policies one year after the 2019 plenum speech

38 North · Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein · December 3, 2020

 

20. North Korea’s very odd year

Interpreter · Khang Vu · December 4, 2020

I am not optimistic that the “odd year” will provide new opportunities, but I hope they do arise. That said, if we are willing to conduct a superior form of political warfare, we can exploit the odd year conditions and create opportunities to support achieving our long-term objectives – to include, most importantly, the resolution to the Korea question.

 

“In effect, the human being should be considered the priority in a political war.   And conceived as the military target … the human being has his most critical point in   his mind. Once the mind has been reached, the ‘political animal’ has been defeated without   necessarily receiving bullets.”

– US Central Intelligence Agency training manual

“Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.”

– Sun Tzu

“Knowing is different from doing and therefore theory must never be used as norms for a standard, but merely as aids to judgment.”

– Carl von Clausewitz

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