North Korean missile crap… like you actually care (updated)

Everything you wanted to know about the North Korean missile launches and didn’t care enough to ask:

  • Voices in South Korea are criticizing the government for its relatively easy-going response to the latest North Korea-ism, especially compared to Japan. According to SBS, President Roh didn’t get his first report on the missile launches until 5:01 a.m., immediately after the Taepodong 2 launch but roughly an hour and a half after the first missile launch. Prime Minister Koizumi got his first report a mere 20 minutes after the first missile was launched. Japan called a ministerial meeting at 4:00 a.m., while the first South Korean meeting was held at 5:00, and that was a Defense Ministry crisis committee meeting. Japan called a national security council meeting at 7:00 a.m., while South Korea called one at 7:30. Cheong Wa Dae explained, however, that its crisis control manual stipulates that a report go to the president only after a Taepodong goes off. And, as one Cheong Wa Dae adviser said, it’s natural that there be a difference in the sense of crisis between Korea, which is already well within North Korean missile range, and Japan, which is just now coming within North Korean missile range. Anyway, the administration is coming under fire not only from the conservative opposition, but also from some sectors of the ruling party.
  • As posted earlier, South Korea will likely review its relationship with Pyongyang, and it appears Seoul has decided to suspend rice and fertilizer aid to the North, although no official decision has been made as far as I know. Seoul is embarrassed, with Pyongyang ignoring several warnings, and the Roh administration may find it difficult to ignore worsening domestic and international opinion and pretend like nothing’s happened. At least initially, anyway. Baek Hak-sun, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told KBS that because the launch was aimed at the United States, intra-Korean ties might be rocky, but as time passed, Seoul would maintain its fundamental policies of reconciliation and cooperation with Pyongyang. At any rate, it looks like next week’s intra-Korean ministerial meeting in Busan will be held as scheduled.
  • Yonhap reports that while Cheong Wa Dae may protest the launch, it has decided to act carefully and flexibly under the belief that increasing tensions on the peninsula won’t help matters. Cheong Wa Dae’s unification, diplomacy and security office told Yonhap that putting pressure on the North and creating tension would not help resolve the problem and, considering the positions of China the nations involved, would be of dubious effectiveness. Cheong Wa Dae’s foreign policy people would like to patiently resolve the missile issue through dialogue. They believe the North’s objectives behind the launch were political, and as such any response should be political and diplomatic.
  • Yonhap also has a very long and boring piece on why you can stick a fork in the six-party talks for now, although it does note that even hardliners United States and Japan are still calling for Pyongyang to get back to the talks, so there’s some room for hope, I guess.
  • While we’re at it, Yonhap also noted that additional missile tests could take place over the next couple of days, quoting the WaPo.
  • The Chosun Ilbo, of course, is bashing the governments of both Koreas. So is the JoongAng Ilbo. The Hankyoreh also condemns North Korea’s “misjudgment,” but also calls on Seoul to handle things in a manner that doesn’t make things worse.

UPDATE: Strategy Pages is reporting that North Korea’s unusual dealings may extend to more than just missiles—the site claims that North Korea has been keeping the trains the Chinese use to ship aid to the country, sending the crews across the border. I can’t find any news stories corroborating this, however, and the story’s unusally bizarre even by North Korean standards.

UPDATE 2: Russia and China have shot down a proposed UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on North Korea. I know… who would have seen that coming?

UPDATE 3: The JoongAng Ilbo reports that Korea’s TV broadcasters are taking flack for their lackadaisical treatment of early reports of the launches. State-owned KBS was actually the last of the major broadcasters to report the launch, running a short cut-in during live World Cup coverage some 58 minutes after Japan’s NHK ran its first report. NHK’s report, which was the one cited by all of Korea’s major broadcasters, was made 4:29 a.m. SBS issued its first report of the launch at 4:59, followed by MBC seven minutes later. KBS 2 didn’t issue it’s first report until 5:27. Also interesting was that while MBC and SBS ran four and two cut-ins, respectively, KBS ran only one. Neither KBS-2, MBC and SBS saw it necessary to interrupt live coverage of the Germany-Italy match, preferring to break the news through subtitled cut-ins along the lines of “NHK reports North Korean missile launch.” The JoongAng Ilbo quoted two professors as criticizing taxpayer-funded KBS for shirking its responsibility to give priority to major news stories. KBS, however, defended itself by pointing out that KBS-2 was an entertainment channel with a different role from KBS-1, which deals more in hard news. I guess it would be a cheap shot for me to point out that KBS president Jung Yun-joo was formerly the chief editorial writer for the Hankyoreh?

UPDATE 4: Take that, you criminal-bred Aussie lackies of American imperialism! Kim Myong-chol, the freakshow who now calls himself the unofficial spokesman of the North Korean embassy in Canberra, apparently reminded the Australian government that North Korea could use its missiles and nuclear warheads to attack targets in Australia. Kim, supposedly speaking for Pyongyang, was reacting to his four-bottle soju lunch the Australian government’s condemnation of North Korea’s missile tests. Just to note, this isn’t the first time Kim Myong-chol has threatened the Lucky Country with nuclear armageddon.

UPDATE 5: U.S. broadcaster NBC reports that North Korea is readying another Taepodong 2 for launch.  Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the station said the missile was in its final assembly stage, but has yet to be put on a launch pad.  South Korean military officials, however, are saying they’ve yet to see signs North Korea is preparing to launch another Taepodong 2.  Their analysis of satellite photos turned up no signs of launch preparations near the North Korean launch facility at Musudan-ni, Hamkyongbuk-do, from where North Korea launched yesterday’s Taepodong (Marmot’s note: earlier reports were that the North Koreans didn’t use the Musudan-ni site.  Right now, I have no idea what’s what).  They also said they’ve yet to detect transportation vehicles or other signs that the North Koreans have entered to final assembly stage on a Taepodong.  They noted, however, that because Scud and Rodong missiles are mobile, the North could fire them off at any time.

  • JiMong

    North Korea has made similar “pledges” in the past.

    The Leaders and Military of NK are really good at this game of intimidation, bluff and misdirection. North Korea will gain what they want and yet they will continue to obscure their activities and do what they like.

    Nothing has changed but the diplomatic world will gloss it over until the day it is too late, again.

  • slim

    North Korea has long stolen railroad cars from China and Russia.

    The DPRK is a full-service criminal regime, full-stop.

  • sewing

    The UN Security Council is meeting and discussing sanctions, so I’m not sure the diplomatic world is being so quick to gloss things over. On the other hand, the Chinese ambassador is hinting that sanctions might not get past China. According to the AP, the most that came out of the SC after the 1998 test was a press statement, “which does not even become part of [the Security Council’s] official record.”

  • bluejives
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  • wjk

    bluejives, what is this music that you have linked to? Could it be…the North Korean national anthem? I’ve never heard it, so I ask. But I did hear your link.

  • mcnut

    i love how the liberal left comes out and says this is the US’s fault because we are not directly talking with the North Koreans

    but isnt this where the clinton administration had taken us and went no where

    everyone knew they would launch some type of missle
    except for the South Koreans who seem to think two rocks in the middle of the ocean are worth going to war over but

    turn blind eyes to NK

    i wonder if they will stick with their potential satellite story!!!

  • Jing

    Marmot, the tinfoil beanie brigade at Strategypages got their information from here

    The link was partially translated by Korean speaking regular at the Free Republic.

    Ph3ar my l33t int4rn3t 5killz!

  • wjk

    so, what’s the mood of the people in South Korea? Are they clogging up the supermarket aisles and buying up water, ramen, rice, and other durable foods and goods?

    I conjecture that they are not doing this at all.

    Strangely, the South Koreans may be feeling pretty confident that war is not imminent, and that this doesn’t affect them personally at all. Which is also a weird phenomenon.

    I conjecture that the South Koreans are taking this as North Korea’s way of playing politics. I have no idea of what they hope to gain from this, by pissing off a source of aid from Japan.

    I wonder why they chose not to test the missiles toward the western waters.

    I hate Mao.

  • mcnut

    no one in SK cares

  • snow

    Here’s my prescription for the situation with the Norks (totally unrealistic since it would require the SK to play a leading role):

    Maybe it would be better to just ignore the Norks. No negotiations, no dealings, no nothing. In a sense, just walled off, ignore them, let the US and others squeeze them with financial and other kinds of sanctions. If the Norks want something, they’ve got to come to us, not the other way around. The Norks aren’t willing to play by anyone’s rules but their own, so don’t play their games, just ignore them completely (publicly, though not intel-wise). When things get desperate enough, they’ll stop trying to rattle the cage for attention and may actually try to deal in a reasonable way. And even then, the onus should be on them. If they want to play the one step forward two steps back game, don’t take the bait. They come to the table to deal or we walk away, no skin off our backs. Don’t play the Norks games.

    I’m not against more talking, in fact, I think lots should be done, but after a certain point, enough’s enough. Talking’s been tried and tried and tried, with negligible results (unless you consider the status quo a result). Maybe it’s time for a different tack, that of ignoring them. No comments about them, no information, no nothing. Just continue to say, the ball’s in their court. When the Norks are serious about dealing with the outside world, we will listen, but if they continue to threaten, they will just be ignored (and our ships will intercept criminal activity). Treat them like the criminals KJI and his cronies are.

  • Brendon Carr

    North Korea has long stolen railroad cars from China and Russia.

    In September 1996 I visited Rajin-Sonbong by train overland from Russia. Part of my visit involved an overlong (overnight! — what was I thinking?) “layover” in Khasan, the rail terminus and last stop in Russia. The Russian town was nothing much, but at least they were talkative. I asked about trade volumes and cross-border rail traffic, and the rail-station manager laughed. “Cross-border trade? Our trains cross the border, and they trade us excuses and promises!” he snorted. Since the rail company had just recently been put in the position of paying to replace stolen railway cars they had lost interest in freight to North Korea — and volumes plummeted, which made Khasan even more of a lonely and forlorn place than it was before.

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  • Sonagi

    Right-wing response to any criticism of Bush’s handling of NK: B-b-b-ut Clinton…

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  • sunbin

    Taepodong-2 was launched from Taepodong aka musudan-ri.
    The 6 Scud/Rodong from another site in Gitdaeryung, Anbyon, near Wonsan.

  • Darin

    “it’s natural that there be a difference in the sense of crisis between Korea, which is already well within North Korean missile range, and Japan, which is just now coming within North Korean missile range.”
    Japan has always been just as in range as South Korea. Remember the test in 1999 that flew over Japan? The new Taepodong-2 has zero effect on Japan, but the other 6 fired did.

  • Antti

    Take that, you criminal-bred Aussie lackies of American imperialism! Kim Myong-chol, the freakshow who now calls himself the unofficial spokesman of the North Korean embassy in Canberra, apparently reminded the Australian government that North Korea could use its missiles and nuclear warheads to attack targets in Australia.

    Robert, you have missed an important piece of Kim Myong-chol comment, but I don’t blame you because it was in Noise for People: “If it had been a missile, USA would have been informed in advance”

    Kim Myong-chol, the head of Korea-America Peace Center in Japan, told on July 5 that “it is likely that the object that DPRK launched was a satellite, and if it had been a missile aimed at USA, it would have been informed in advance.”

    So it seems that Mr Kim himself has become better informed meanwhile. (By the way, wouldn’t it be that Kim Myong-chol is the unofficial spokesman of whole North Korea, whom the NK embassy in Australia only used to convey the less than subtle message.

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