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

1. Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung – United States Department of State

2.  Blinken urges N. Korea to engage, saying U.S. seeks practical progress

3. Biden Administration Gives Indication of North Korea Policy, but Questions Remain

4. Kim launches preemptive strike on Biden-Moon meet

5. Biden Wants a Pragmatic Approach Towards North Korea. Why Not Leave Korea Altogether?

6. Blinken urges North Korea to embrace diplomacy after consulting allies

7. N.K. paper says coronavirus vaccines ‘far from a panacea’ amid delay in securing supplies

8. North Korea: Keeping Its Powder Dry

9. Pyongyang’s Seoul-bashing over publication of Kim Il Sung memoir

10. Blinken tries to engage Pyongyang from London

11. US falls short of persuading North Korea to dialogue: experts

12. Analysis: Diplomatic dance or standoff? N.Korea and U.S. tread cautious line

13. N.Korea ‘Likely to Test Nuclear Weapon or ICBM This Year’

14. Head of Mangyongdae Revolutionary School demoted for failing to prevent suspected COVID-19 outbreak

15. The Latest: NKorea warns people to brace for virus struggle

16. US Calls on North Korea to ‘Engage Diplomatically’

17. South Korea’s ruling party elects hardliner on Japan issues

 

1. Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung – United States Department of State

state.gov · by Office of the Spokesperson  · May 3, 2021

 

2. Blinken urges N. Korea to engage, saying U.S. seeks practical progress

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · May 4, 2021

My assessment: Secretary Blinken explains the US seeks dialogue through practical and principled diplomacy and is providing Kim Jong-un the opportunity to act as a responsible member of the international community and negotiate in good faith to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. 

We only have an announcement that the policy review is complete and some supporting talking points from the White House spokesperson and POTUS’ statement during the Congressional address. There are other indications of the new US policy in the March Quad Statement, the 2+2 statements from Tokyo and Seoul, and the joint statement from the three national security advisors of the ROK, Japan, and the US. However, no significant details of the policy have been released. My assessment of the anticipated policy is here:

My sense is the Biden administration is basing their new policy on a deep (and realistic) understanding of the nature, objectives, and strategy of the Kim family regime. However, it will still be a compromise policy taking into account many of the diverse views of both US internal differences and those of our allies (a tough thing to do). The greatest friction will be within the ROK US alliance and the conflict between Moon’s peace agenda, desire to offer concessions (and demand sanctions relief for the north) to support north-South engagement, and the north’s appeasement of the regime (e.g., the anti-leaflet law in direct response to Kim Yo-jong’s threats). The US and the ROK have different views of the nature, objectives, and strategy of the regime. Kim Jong-un will seek to exploit these differences with his “divide to conquer line of effort – e.g., divide the ROK/US alliance to conquer the ROK.

But…..I hope there will be a publicly discussed overt policy (that is based on principled (and practical) diplomacy (which means a phased approach and “action for action”), a human rights upfront approach, deterrence and defense and full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions) and that it supports a classified superior political warfare strategy to counter the regime’s political warfare strategy with Juche characteristics.

I expect the heart of the policy to be based on full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. This is because they are fairly comprehensive and because of the Biden administration’s foreign policy aim to properly use international institutions. Most importantly, the UN Security Council Resolutions are what the world demands and not just the US.

Regarding north Korean remarks on POTUS remarks in address to congress, announcement of completion of the policy review, and US statement on north Korean human rights abuses: The US should not be pressured by north Korea statements and over the top rhetoric. This is business as usual for the north. It is clear that all the regime knows is blackmail diplomacy – the use of threats, increased tensions, and provocations to gain political and economic concessions. The US (and the ROK) should be exposing the strategy and tactics of the north and not make decisions based on north Korean rhetoric (though it must take the rhetoric seriously and must thoroughly analyze it for the messages the regime is trying to send).

Kim Jong-un is clearly trying to make the new Biden Korean policy dead on arrival, or he is trying to establish the conditions to demand sanctions relief in return for a promise of talks. The US seeks talks but will not be coerced or extorted by the north. However, POTUS does not have the authority to unilaterally lift sanctions – it will require agreement at the UN Security Congress to lift UN sanctions and the US Congress to lift congressional imposed sanctions. Most important POTUS must not lift sanctions otherwise Kim Jong-un will assess that his political warfare strategy, his long con, and his blackmail diplomacy tactics are successful and rather than negotiating in good faith he will double down and seek more concessions.

 

3. Biden Administration Gives Indication of North Korea Policy, but Questions Remain

dailysignal.com · by Bruce Klingner · May 3, 2021

Good analysis from Bruce. There is still more that we need to know to understand the full scope of the policy.

 

4. Kim launches preemptive strike on Biden-Moon meet

asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · May 3, 2021

Again, Kim is using his blackmail diplomacy tactics to set the conditions to extract concessions from the US and international community in return for a promise of conducting diplomacy in the future.

 

5. Biden Wants a Pragmatic Approach Towards North Korea. Why Not Leave Korea Altogether?

The National Interest · by Doug Bandow · May 3, 2021

The fastest way to bring war to the Korean peninsula is to follow Mr. Bandow’s advice.

 

6. Blinken urges North Korea to embrace diplomacy after consulting allies

24matins.uk · May 3, 2021

As I said: Secretary Blinken explains the US seeks dialogue through practical and principled diplomacy and is providing Kim Jong-un the opportunity to act as a responsible member of the international community and negotiate in good faith to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. The onus is on Kim Jong-un to come to the table.

Blinken urges North Korea to embrace diplomacy after consulting allies

 

7.  N.K. paper says coronavirus vaccines ‘far from a panacea’ amid delay in securing supplies

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · May 4, 2021

The Propaganda and Agitation Department covering the failures by the Kim family regime.

And I am sure when they do procure vaccines they will spin it that Kim Jong-un is responsible for their discovery and development and that he has (again) saved the Korean people in the north.

 

8. North Korea: Keeping Its Powder Dry

38north.org · by 38 North · May 3, 2021

Attempting to set conditions for future demands and actions in my opinion.

 

What is missing from the analysis below is no mention of the regime’s reactions to the US statements on north Korean human rights. The regime has reacted strongly to the statement because it undermines regime legitimacy and is a threat to the regime. We need to examine the full scope of north Korean statements to better understand the nature of the regime.

 

9. Pyongyang’s Seoul-bashing over publication of Kim Il Sung memoir

donga.com  · May 4, 2021

Another of north Korea’s propaganda lines of effort.

But what is interesting is how the Propaganda and Agitation Department turns democratic principles against the South to further the north’s agenda.

 

10. Blinken tries to engage Pyongyang from London

Koreanjoongangdaily · by Sarah Kim · May 4, 2021

The question is will Kim Jong-un act and negotiate like a responsible member of the international community or will he continue to execute this long con, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy tactics? 

 

11.  US falls short of persuading North Korea to dialogue: experts

The Korea Times · by Kang Seung-woo · May 4, 2021

Wow. It seems like some pundits are in full support of Kim Jong-un’s objective to make the new Biden Korea policy dead on arrival.

But we have really only heard the policy review is complete and we have heard some talking points. Do we really expect that to “persuade” north Korea? How about allowing some diplomacy to be attempted before we jump to conclusions.

 

12. Analysis: Diplomatic dance or standoff? N.Korea and U.S. tread cautious line

Reuters

The diplomatic dance has only just begun.

 

13. N.Korea ‘Likely to Test Nuclear Weapon or ICBM This Year’

english.chosun.com

At least I think that is what Kim wants us to believe. Fits right into his blackmail diplomacy tactics.

 

14. Head of Mangyongdae Revolutionary School demoted for failing to prevent suspected COVID-19 outbreak

dailynk.com · by Ha Yoon Ah · May 4, 2021

So was there really an outbreak? Is this an admission? If not how can you be responsible for preventing a “suspected outbreak?” 

This really seems like it counters the continue regime reports of no COVID cases within north Korea:

Excerpts: “Mangyongdae Revolutionary School started preparations for its students to attend the Oct. 10, 2020 military parade in May of last year. In September, there was a surge in suspected cases of COVID-19 among some of the students, twelve of whom died. The twelve students reportedly had preexisting conditions and died after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms such as high fevers, coughs, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and hemoptysis.

The school’s hospital attempted to escape blame for the deaths by claiming the students had become ill because the long hours they spent practicing for the upcoming military parade kept them from sleeping properly. The school claims that the students died from sepsis and alveolar shock, but those within the military believe they died from COVID-19.

News of the deaths was belatedly reported during the KPA Party Committee’s plenary meeting, where it was decided that Oh should be demoted for failing to prevent a major incident where the “children of fallen warriors were killed en masse.”

 

15.  The Latest: NKorea warns people to brace for virus struggle

Star Tribune · May 3, 2021

Perhaps the pandemic is hitting or about to breakout in the north. If an outbreak occurs it could be catastrophic. Are we ready for the possible contingencies?

 

16. US Calls on North Korea to ‘Engage Diplomatically’

voanews.com · by Nike Ching · May 3, 2021

We need to emphasize the new policy is an offer to the north to negotiate as a responsible member of the international community. It is up to Kim Jong-un. But we are likely to see him continue his long con. political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy.

 

17. South Korea’s ruling party elects hardliner on Japan issues

asahi.com · by Takuya Suzuki · May 3, 2021

 

————-

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” 

– Mark Twain

 

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself makes you fearless.” 

– Lao Tzu

 

 “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

– Eleanor Roosevelt

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