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

1. South Korean Conservatives Are on the Rise a Year Before Presidential Election

2. FDD | North Korean Human Rights Should Unite the U.S.-ROK Alliance, Not Divide It

3. General Officer Assignments – USAF (new SOCKOR Commander)

4. South Koreans See China as More Threat than Partner, But Not the Most Critical Threat Facing the Country

5.  Election Rout Signals a Shift in South Korea’s Political Scene

6. Moon takes election rout as ‘reprimand’ from the public, Cheong Wa Dae says

7. Ruling party leaders resign en masse for election defeat

8. Opposition Must Not Forget Why Voters Supported It This Time

9. Military training important to protecting U.S. interest on Korean Peninsula: Pentagon

10. Challenges of Negotiating with North Korea

11. US prepared for diplomacy for denuclearization of North Korea: White House spokeswoman

12. Prospects for interim agreement (Korea)

13. N. Korea slams Japan for referring to East Sea as ‘Sea of Japan’

14. North Korean Hackers Threatened Bithumb Exchange With a $16M Ransom Amid the 2017 Data Breach, Says Report – Security Bitcoin News

15. Gaps between market prices in different North Korean regions are growing

16. North Korean entity defeated in South’s court in first trade lawsuit

17. S. Korea replaces Marine Corps chief

 

1. South Korean Conservatives Are on the Rise a Year Before Presidential Election

WSJ · by Andrew Jeong and Timothy W. Martin

Democracy in Korea is a live and well.  I think even the conservatives were surprised by these results.

 

2. FDD | North Korean Human Rights Should Unite the U.S.-ROK Alliance, Not Divide It

fdd.org · by Mathew Ha · April 7, 2021

An important essay from my colleague Mathew Ha.

 

3. General Officer Assignments – USAF (new SOCKOR Commander)

defense.gov

Someone should let the US Air Force know SOCKOR is no longer located at Camp Kim Yongsan. I hope someone gets the new commander to the right location at Camp Humphreys!

 

4. South Koreans See China as More Threat than Partner, But Not the Most Critical Threat Facing the Country

thechicagocouncil.org · by Public Opinion Survey · April 6, 2021

Key point: In South Korea, unfavorable views of China are now on par with views of North Korea and Japan, and 59 percent say South Korea and China are mostly rivals. Specifically, clear majorities think China is more of an economic and security threat than a partner. But neither China’s economic power nor its military power are considered the top critical threats facing the country. Instead, larger majorities cite low birth rates in South Korea and North Korea’s nuclear program.

 

5. Election Rout Signals a Shift in South Korea’s Political Scene

The New York Times · by Choe Sang-Hun · April 7, 2021

What will be the implications of this election for Korea foreign policy, north Korean strategy and the ROK/US alliance.

On the surface this election appears to be good for democracy in South Korea. Contrary to the fears and allegations of many, it does not appear the ruling party could control the outcome of the election.

 

6. Moon takes election rout as ‘reprimand’ from the public, Cheong Wa Dae says

en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · April 8, 2021

A snarky comment:  The ruling party received a spanking.

 

7. Ruling party leaders resign en masse for election defeat

en.yna.co.kr · by 박보람 · April 8, 2021

 

8. Opposition Must Not Forget Why Voters Supported It This Time

english.chosun.com

Vote against versus vote for.

Conclusion: The PPP now faces an uphill struggle proving itself worthy of that trust as the public watches its every move. It will face many attempts by the old guard to return to their old ways and feed their political greed. If it forgets what led to its destruction and to whom it owes its resurgence, it will quickly collapse again.

 

9. Military training important to protecting U.S. interest on Korean Peninsula: Pentagon

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · April 8, 2021

Training is more than important. It is critical. If we cannot train our combat forces and if our crews, pilots, etc cannot maintain their qualifications we cannot leave them on the peninsula.

 

10. Challenges of Negotiating with North Korea

stimson.org · by Jenny Town · April 7, 2021

We should keep in mind two things.  First, Kim Jong-un has to want to negotiate.  If he does come to the negotiating table we need to assess why he is doing so.  We need to ensure we are not giving him a “win” meaning that he assesses that his long con, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy are working so that he will double down on them rather than negotiate with even modicum of sincerity. 

But we cannot have talks for talks sake. north Korea must be shown that diplomacy is his. only option.  But if we appease him and give him concessions then he will simply assess his strategy is working and he will continue to execute it.

Conclusion: “As North Korea resumes missile testing and other activities that start to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula once again, the impulse may be to set aside diplomacy for the near term. However, it is also a clear reminder that the longer we settle for the status quo, the more limited our options become. While there may be both a preference and pressure for pursuing an all-or-nothing approach to denuclearization with North Korea, this policy is doomed to fail. Instead, a long-term, step-by-step approach that offers progress in each of the lines of effort established in the Singapore Joint Statement provides the best chance of actually starting down the denuclearization road and improving the security situation for the U.S. and its allies.”

 

11. US prepared for diplomacy for denuclearization of North Korea: White House spokeswoman

The Korea Times · April 8, 2021

Splitting the difference or all encompassing? Denuclearization of the north and the entire Korean peninsula.  We should stress the South already complied with the 1992 North-South Agreement on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We  should also stress the north’s definition of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula includes an end to the ROK/US alliance removal of US troops and an end to extended deterrence.  We should not support the regime’s narrative but we should take every opportunity to expose it.

Excerpts: ”She said the U.S. remains committed to denuclearization of North Korea.

“We have a clear objective as it relates to North Korea, which is denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” the spokeswoman said at a daily press briefing. “We are, of course, continuing to enforce sanctions. We are consulting with allies and partners. We are prepared to consider some form of diplomacy if it’s going to lead us down the path toward denuclearization.”

 

12. Prospects for interim agreement (Korea)

koreajoongangdaily.joins.com · by Michael Green

As I have noted we must ensure we do not set the conditions so that Kim assesses his long con, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy are successful.

 

13. N. Korea slams Japan for referring to East Sea as ‘Sea of Japan’

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · April 8, 2021

One of the few things Koreans are unified over – opposition to Japan.

 

14. North Korean Hackers Threatened Bithumb Exchange With a $16M Ransom Amid the 2017 Data Breach, Says Report – Security Bitcoin News

news.bitcoin.com · by Security · April 7, 2021

The Kim family regime’s all purpose sword strikes again.

 

15. Gaps between market prices in different North Korean regions are growing

dailynk.com · by Seulkee Jang · April 8, 2021

This is the problem: The North Korean authorities are expanding their control over markets at an accelerating pace. According to the source, “operating hours of official markets [have been reduced to] 2 PM to 6 PM.”

 

16. North Korean entity defeated in South’s court in first trade lawsuit

upi.com· by Elizabeth Shim · April 8, 2021

Small victories.

 

17.  S. Korea replaces Marine Corps chief

en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · April 8, 2021

 

————

 

“Glory is now a discredited word, and it will be difficult to re-establish it. It has been spoilt by a too close association with military grandeur; it has been confused with fame and ambition. But true glory is a private and discreet virtue, and is only realized in solitariness.”

– Graham Greene (quoting Herbert Read), Ways of Escape, 1980

 

“…pessimism…can drive men on to do wonders.”

– V.S. Naipaul, A bend in the River, 1979

 

“Communism is cholera and you cannot compromise with cholera.”

– First President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee

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