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

1. US remains focused on NK denuclearization: Blinken

2. A Principled US Diplomatic Strategy Toward North Korea

Small Wars Journal3. Record 40.4% in Japan see ties with South Korea as ‘not important’

4. Unification minister renews calls for inter-Korean response system against infectious diseases

5. N.K. man caught on coastal CCTV cameras 10 times, military failed to respond

6. FDD | Biden Administration Should Not Provide Sanctions Relief for Terrorism

7. Gov’t to Push Ahead with Light Aircraft Carrier Project

8. [Column] Hopes and fears about Biden’s North Korean policy

9. Seoul says unfreezing Iranian fund in Korea requires US approval first

10. S. Korea, Tehran Agree ‘Proposals’ On Oil Billions: Seoul

11. North Korean women get 240 days of childbirth leave: report

12. US leadership crucial for regional peace

13. UN World Food Programme warns could suspend work in N. Korea

14. North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho honored with human rights award

15. North Korea Orders State Firms to Raise Rabbits For Public Meat Stocks At Their Expense

16. Report: North Korea’s trade with China declined 80% in 2020

17. Jill Biden’s Majordomo Gina Lee Speaks out

1. US remains focused on NK denuclearization: Blinken

koreaherald.com · by Kim So-hyun · February 23, 2021

He reads (and follows) his boss’ guidance:

“Words matter — and a president’s words matter even more. As President, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops. I’ll engage in principled diplomacy and keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula, while working to reunite Korean Americans separated from loved ones in North Korea for decades.” (Yonhap, October 30, 2020, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201030000500325)

Everyone speculates about the new Korea policy. They should start here:

Strong alliance

Principled diplomacy

Denuclearization of the north

reuniting separate families 

Unified Korea peninsula

In short: strong ROK/US alliance, diplomacy, denuclearization (of the north), human rights, unification.

 

2. A Principled US Diplomatic Strategy Toward North Korea

38north.org · by 38 North · February 22, 2021

38 North is the first I have seen to acknowledge President Biden’s guidance.

Now the question is the interpretation of the guidance and the implementation policy and strategy. What I find lacking in this prescriptive policy list is an accounting for the nature and objectives of the Kim family regime. This is an outline of principled diplomacy in the eyes of 38 North and will be very appealing to many – to include Kim Jong-un who likely views this as a target of opportunity for further execution of his political warfare strategy. But it also does not go far enough to implement the President’s guidance to achieve the acceptable durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US and ROK/US alliance interests on the peninsula and in the region, namely, unification.

3. Record 40.4% in Japan see ties with South Korea as ‘not important’

japantimes.co.jp · February 20, 2021

Not surprising, but of course not helpful either.

4. Unification minister renews calls for inter-Korean response system against infectious diseases

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · February 23, 2021

I think the regime would view this as internal meddling and they would accuse the South of espionage as they tried to collect information on infectious diseases. The regime does not want the outside world to know too much about what is happening inside the north.

5. N.K. man caught on coastal CCTV cameras 10 times, military failed to respond

en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · February 23, 2021

Boots on the ground. Patrolling, use technology to supplement and enhance but not replace the critical human component of defense.

6. FDD | Biden Administration Should Not Provide Sanctions Relief for Terrorism

fdd.org · by Matthew Zweig, Alireza Nader, and Richard Goldberg · February 22, 2021

Excerpts;

“It is also important to recall that Democratic and Republican administrations have determined that for over a decade, Tehran has “allowed [al-Qaeda] facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through” Iranian territory, “enabling [al-Qaeda] to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”

The large body of publicly available evidence that the CBI has played key a role in financing terrorism warrants its designation as an SDGT. The Biden administration could significantly, if not fatally, undermine the credibility of U.S. terrorism sanctions if it were to lift or waive terrorism designations against the CBI or other Iranian entities based on a desire to provide Iran JCPOA-related sanctions relief, rather than based on evidence that those entities have verifiably ceased financing or facilitating terrorism.

For the safety and security of all Americans, there should be no “tradeoff” when it comes to terrorism directed, sponsored, and/or supported by Iran and a limited, temporary, and flawed nuclear agreement with Tehran.”

7. Gov’t to Push Ahead with Light Aircraft Carrier Project

english.chosun.com· February 22, 2021

I would much rather have South Korea build a light aircraft carrier than a nuclear powered submarine.

8. [Column] Hopes and fears about Biden’s North Korean policy

Hani · Moon Chung-in

Note this excerpt:

To borrow a phrase from Harvard University Professor Joseph Nye, it’s time we gained some “contextual intelligence” about North Korea. It hardly needs to be said that the South Korean government is the Biden administration’s most critical partner for gaining that intelligence.

We need to understand the nature and objectives of the Kim family regime. The South’s strategic assumptions are dangerous to the security of the ROK – Moon Chung-in and the Moon administration assume Kim Jong-un wants peace and shares in the peace and reconciliation and peaceful coexistence vision. This is a dangerous assumption and is contrary to the history, culture, and political statements by the regime. With all due respect to the extensive expertise that exists in South Korea about the north (most all of which is not part of the current administration), it would be a strategic error to turn to the Moon administration for “contextual intelligence.’ 

9.Seoul says unfreezing Iranian fund in Korea requires US approval first

koreaherald.com · by Ahn Sung-mi · February 23, 2021

Seoul says unfreezing Iranian fund in Korea requires US approval first

10. S. Korea, Tehran Agree ‘Proposals’ On Oil Billions: Seoul

Barron’s · by AFP – Agence France Presse

11. North Korean women get 240 days of childbirth leave: report

The Korea Times · February 23, 2021

In addition, as a measure to encourage having children I think this might also be part of the campaign to make the north appear more normal. In addition this could also be perceived as a human rights issue and they ar showing they are concerned with the welfare of families. The north is threatened by human rights criticism and this might be one way to demonstrate (in the regime’ calculation) a concern for human rights.

 

12. US leadership crucial for regional peace

The Korea Times · by Kim Won-soo · February 23, 2021

I think the headline is 100%correct.

An interesting recommendation here:

“All of these require U.S. leadership. The first step is to appoint a high level focal point in the U.S. administration. The role played by the former Secretary of Defense William Perry as a senior coordinator on the Korean peninsula issues can be taken into account.”

13. UN World Food Programme warns could suspend work in N. Korea

24matins.uk · February 23, 2021

Again, it is the policy decision by Kim Jong-un that is responsible for the suffering of the Korean people.

14.  North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho honored with human rights award

upi.com · Elizabeth Shim· February 23, 2021

Much deserved. Ji Seong-ho is an inspiration. 

15. North Korea Orders State Firms to Raise Rabbits For Public Meat Stocks At Their Expense

rfa.org · Hyemin Son

The north has gone down this rabbit hole before.

 

16.  Report: North Korea’s trade with China declined 80% in 2020

upi.com · Elizabeth Shim · February 22, 2021

This Is the result of KimJong-un’s policy decisions.

 

17. Jill Biden’s Majordomo Gina Lee Speaks out

english.chosun.com · February 22, 2021

————–

 

“Americans need to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant it is.”

– Jeane Kirkpatrick

“I disapprove of what you say,

but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 

– S.G. Tallentyre

“You didn’t wait six months for a feasibility study to prove that an idea could work. You gambled that it might work. You didn’t tie up the organization with red tape designed mostly to cover somebody’s ass. You took the initiative and the responsibility. You went around end, you went over somebody’s head if you had to. But you acted. That’s what drove the regular military and the State Department chair-warmers crazy about the OSS.” 

– William Casey on the OSS

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