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North Korea Threatens Border Closing, Evil Capitalists Swing Into Action

North Korea is now threatening to close the land border with the South, essentially shutting down the Kaesong Industrial Complex:

North Korea’s military threatened Wednesday to shut its border with the South from next month.

It said the measure was caused by Seoul’s “confrontation activities” despite repeated warnings, but propaganda leaflets sent by civic groups here are considered to be the real reason behind the threat.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification expressed regret over the announcement, urging the Stalinist state to respond to its calls for dialogue.

The threat came as South Korean civic groups have kept sending hot air balloons with more than 100,000 fliers attached to them containing criticism of the North’s dictatorship.

Nothing new, of course. When engagement projects are first proposed, they’re justified — honestly, I’d like to think — with arguments that they will give the outside world leverage over the North. Yet ultimately, they always seem to give the North leverage over its negotiating partners/shakedown victims.

Witness this brazen act of cravenness — CEOs of Korean companies at Kaesong asking the Unification Ministry to lean on civic groups sending leaflets into the North.:

CEOs of South Korean businesses at the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean city of Gaeseong plan to meet with Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong today to discuss operations at the industrial site.

They will ask the ministry to persuade civic organizations to stop dropping leaflets on North Korea, a company executive said.

Good luck with that. I will confess, however, that the activities of the groups sending the leaflets into the North concern me. You have to wonder when an incident like the 1996 shootdown by the Cuban Air Force of a plane flown by Cuban-American activists engaging in similar activities will take place. Sinking a Korean fishing boat full of activists in international waters wouldn’t be entirely out of character for the North, and would be a perfect way to ratchet up tensions with the Lee Myung-bak administration.

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  • slim

    As should have been done with Banco Delta Asia, when we find something that really gets up North Korea’s nose, we should STEP UP such activities, not back down when they start bitching. Let them make the actual belligerent moves as early steps in the assisted suicide of the Kim regime.

  • CactusMcHarris

    So for the benefit of some industrialists, the ROK’s government will again cave in to the North’s demands?

    Isn’t there a famine (or soon will be) in the North? It seems that the North could use a few friends or at least save some favors…but the DPRK never really has cared about the deaths of a few millions of its people.

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    These Kaesong CEOs get no sympathy from me. They are getting what they deserve as carpetbaggers who got down in the gutter with dogs. The lights can go out quickly in Kaesong, and they should have known that from the begininng.

    Can we now have a big singalong of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to celebrate the end of ten years of the Appeasement Policy?

    Would it be unseemly to tell Korean friends and co-workers that I’m happy to see the border close? Probably. But, in all sincerity, I wonder why. I guess because it would make sunshine supporters out to be foolish dupes. This episode exposes the dirty reality behind the fantasy facade of Korean Brotherhood — if the shooting of the housewife tourist on the beach at Kumgang and many other incidents didn’t already.

    And to think that just last week I was listening to a student who had participated in the 4-party talks (before the 6-party talks) tell me that he and his Unification Ministry cohorts enjoyed drinking parties with their North contacts, that they often gravitated to their North partners at functions due to the shared language, and that he found the Japanese focus on 일본 abductees “disgusting” in light of Japan’s war crimes.

    I think the leaflet droppers are heroes. They are morally right, and putting values ahead of monetary gain, unlike some other players in this saga.

    I’ll be watching 2MB closely on this one. This is an acid test for him. NK has no jurisdiction, of course, over the South and the leaflet droppers, and any buckling to their demands would be like giving up a little bit of sovereignty.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    As should have been done with Banco Delta Asia, when we find something that really gets up North Korea’s nose, we should STEP UP such activities, not back down when they start bitching.

    I’d prefer to step aside, offer moral support, and let the South Koreans figure out what gets up North Korea’s nose and decide how far to push it.

    I think the leaflet droppers are heroes. They are morally right, and putting values ahead of monetary gain, unlike some other players in this saga.

    They may very well be, and I wish them well, but they’re also playing a dangerous game that could put a relatively sympathetic South Korean government in a very bad position if something should happen to them. We need to remember that, too.

  • thekorean

    DPRK never really has cared about the deaths of a few millions of its people.

    That’s the core problem in dealing with NK. It’s difficult to deal with a government that absolutely does not care about its own people.

    whitey,

    I wouldn’t dog Sunshine Policy that quickly. People don’t talk about the policy’s benefits because they dislike Kim Daejung/Roh Moohyun administrations, but the benefits are real and substantial. When the day of reunification comes, Sunshine Policy will be remembered as the foundation for the reunification.

  • slim

    Kim Jong-il has hundreds of millions, if not billions, more dollars (of authentic currency) in his coffers than he would have had otherwise, thanks to the Sunshine Policy. He has not reciprocated in the least, and in fact, the DPRK’s dislike of the expression “Sunshine Policy” and the induced change it implied forced Seoul to change the name.

    I can’t see the Sunshine Policy as doing anything other than delaying reunification by prolonging the lifespan of the DPRK. That seems to suit both Korean governments fine, but it’s no foundation of reunification.

  • thekorean

    Kim Jong-il has hundreds of millions, if not billions, more dollars (of authentic currency) in his coffers than he would have had otherwise, thanks to the Sunshine Policy.

    How about a little bit of research before you type, eh?

    South Korean direct aid to NK since 1995 – around $850 million. Source

    American direct aid to NK since 1995 – around $1.1 billion. Source

    So the U.S., free from the virus that is Sunshine Policy, actually helped NK more in 10 years! (Sources are current up to 2005.) And these aids were in food and materials (e.g. rice and clothes), not in cash.

    South Korea does have an indirect cash aid, in the form of Geumgangsan tour and Gaeseong industrial complex. But that’s nothing close to billion dollars.

    I can’t see the Sunshine Policy as doing anything other than delaying reunification by prolonging the lifespan of the DPRK.

    It is foolish to wish for reunification by North Korea’s death. That scenario is a disaster scenario for South Korea. SK absolutely cannot handle a sudden collapse of NK. The only viable path to reunification is the way in which the two Koreas join as equals (at least nominally.) For that to happen, the condition precedent is reduction of military tension. Sunshine Policy achieved exactly that.

  • thekorean

    A little more information about how much NK earned through Gaeseong. Article

    According to the researcher in the Ministry of Reunification, Gaeseong complex earns about $3.8 million per month, or $45.6 million per year. Just as a guestimate, suppose $20 mil of that goes to KJI’s private coffers each year. (Which is a very generous of an estimate.) And Gaeseong complex has been around for a little less than 10 years. Billion dollars my ass.

  • slim

    South Korean Sunshine Policy regime-enabling largesse consists of ALL flows of cash northward — the 6.15 summit bribe, the high Kumgangsan fees, the Kaesong investments and fees and numerous other transfers we may learn about only when the regime is gone. In nearly every joint project, even the Olympics marches in Athens and Sydney, the South paid the entire bill. The summit bribe alone was half a billion and the summit was delayed until Lim Dong-won’s payments cleared. South Korea’s own cumulative government figures were close to $7 billion last time I looked, late in the Roh era. (I’ll have to check for links.)

    That Naver link wouldn’t open for me where I am now, but US aid has largely taken the form of donations to buy food aid to the WFP — and lately, the occassional food bribe to keep North Korea (formally) on the 6-party program. Uncle Sam also pays exorbitant “costs” to recover MIA remains.

    It is way too early to speak of a reduction of military tensions, other than the potential threat reduction that came from the attenuation of North Korean military power and readiness as a result of its dire economic straits since the early 1990s. Current headlines, with North Korea’s renewed threats to turn South Korea not just into a “sea of fire” but into “debris”, underscore the unchanged essential nature of Songun Chosun — an illegitimate entity that needs tension and war to justify its existence.

    I don’t fault South Korea for TRYING and even accepting half a loaf in what were supposed to be reciprocal projects. North Korea is entirely to blame for the failure of any of this stuff to really pan out. But I draw the line at entertaining those who pretend the Sunshine Policy has worked or is working to make North Korea a reasonable reunification partner. THat’s not in the cards.

  • wjk, 검은 머리 외국인

    they must lack the manpower to clean up leaflets.

    leaflets. Bee-ra.

    I never saw one, but during military regime, I recall vaguely being educated about this as a kid.

    North Korea and South Korea would send balloons with written propaganda messages.

    North Korea is complaining, because they can’t clean’em up.

    Never saw these in Seoul. Maybe in Wiejungboo?

    Probably doesn’t touch Pyong yang’s elite, who are slurping on NongShim Shin RaMyun.

  • slim

    While we have no way of knowing how much KJI pocketed, aside from the sure bet of the 6.15 payoff, The Korean is lowballing his motherland’s generosity:

    “During the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, the ministry says the South gave a total of about W3.5 trillion in government and private funds to the North, either as humanitarian aid, or aid to lay the foundation of economic cooperation, or aid in return for economic cooperation.

    The South gave W2,036.6 billion in humanitarian aid, including food and fertilizer aid; W417.1 billion to build infrastructure for economic cooperation projects, including the construction of railways and roads and infrastructure in the Kaesong Industrial Complex; and US$1,030.48 million in the form of private business deals, including the Hyundai Group’s business rights in the North, for which money was sent to the North during the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, fees for tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort, and wages for North Korean workers at the Kaesong complex.” (9/19 Chosun Ilbo)

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #7,

    So, you’re telling us that the North Korean government isn’t involved in the underground economy (drugs, counterfeiting, etc)?

  • Jewook

    The sunshine policy was important for unification because it got our foot in the door. Now that our foot is in the door LMB should grow a pair and not let SK give in to every whiny complaint and blank threat NK makes. If LMB has half brain he won’t listen to the CEOs of Korean companies at Kaesong who are stupid enough to fall for NK’s bluff.

    BTW, those balloons are unmanned. The balloons are released into the air when winds blow north. The leaflets are probably automatically released once over NK. No one has to get close to the border to send leaflets. The droppers are heroes yes, brave no.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    The sunshine policy was important for unification because it got our foot in the door. Now that our foot is in the door LMB should grow a pair and not let SK give in to every whiny complaint and blank threat NK makes.

    I believe the problem is that “giving in to every whiny complaint and blank threat NK makes” IS the price you must pay for “keeping your foot in the door.”

    BTW, those balloons are unmanned. The balloons are released into the air when winds blow north. The leaflets are probably automatically released once over NK. No one has to get close to the border to send leaflets.

    Yes, but when you release those balloons at sea — as they do — you run the risk of having the North Koreans — not renowned for their respect for either South Korea’s territorial waters or, for that matter, international waters — doing something, well, North Korean, like attacking one of the boats doing the launching.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Yes, but when you release those balloons at sea — as they do — you run the risk of having the North Koreans — not renowned for their respect for either South Korea’s territorial waters or, for that matter, international waters — doing something, well, North Korean, like attacking one of the boats doing the launching.”

    I doubt it. It seems reporters are always present. Do you think North Korea wants to see videos of its navy attacking South Korean civilians on Youtube? It would be the end of them.

  • Jewook

    Robert

    Are balloons released at sea?(Sincere question) Is that necessarily? Wouldn’t releasing from a nearby mountain be more efficient and easy. I don’t think you need to put your neck on the line by doing it at sea. I understand that the winds change with the seasons, but leaflets don’t need to be sent North all year round to be effective do they? If I’m wrong please enlighten me.

    Aren’t the North more dependent on Kaesong than we are? This is what I base my judgment on. Pushing our foot out and closing door would be like shooting themselves in the foot. Am I that naive to think that they are smarter than that? Maybe I’m being too optimistic.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    Billion dollars my ass.

    Don’t forget to shake the sand out of your ears whenever you decide to remove your submerged head.

  • eujin

    Jewook,

    They’re released both from the sea and the land.

    http://www.nancarrow-webdesk.com/warehouse/storage2/2008-w40/img.371193.html

    It probably depends on who is doing the releasing, what area they are trying to target and what the weather is like. I’ve seen pictures of them doing it from Imjingak too.

    I don’t know what the range of the balloons is. It might not be too far (tens of kilometers?). The guys in Cuba were probably buzzing Cuban airpsace partly to show off how brave they were. “Civil disobediance” they called it.

  • globalvillageidiot

    #18 – “The guys in Cuba were probably buzzing Cuban airpsace partly to show off how brave they were.”

    You’re probably right. A serious miscalculation on their part as it turned out.

    I haven’t discovered any before in twelve years of hiking, but I know people who used to find North Korean ones while hiking on Bukhansan or Dobongsan. I think this would have been in the late 80s or early 90s.

    I also know someone – who at the time was the sole foreigner in his neighborhood – who used to receive them in his mailbox, so who needs balloons when you have a few (dozen? hundred?) Southern converts to Juche philosophy who are willing to deliver them by hand?! (On a positive note, I don’t think he’s gotten any mail for the past few years.)

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    China increases troops on North Korea border

    By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Song Jung-a in Seoul

    Published: November 13 2008 00:25 | Last updated: November 13 2008 00:25

    The Chinese military has boosted troop numbers along the border with North Korea since September amid mounting concerns about the health of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, according to US officials.

    Beijing has declined to discuss contingency plans with Washington, but the US officials said the Peoples’ Liberation Army has stationed more soldiers on the border to prepare for any possible influx of refugees due to instability, or regime change, in North Korea.

    US and South Korean intelligence agencies believe Mr Kim suffered a stroke in August that has left him paralysed on his left side, possibly severely enough to prevent him from walking…

    One official cautioned that the increase in Chinese troops was not “dramatic”, but he said China was also constructing more fences and installations at key border outposts…

    US officials believe, however, that one recent photograph of Mr Kim – purportedly watching a football match from the stands of a stadium – appears authentic. But they say the fact that Mr Kim is sitting, with his left arm dangling, reinforces the conclusion that he is paralysed and having difficulty walking. The US believes North Korea would release video footage of Mr Kim to eliminate speculation about his health if that were possible…

    One US official said North Korea was becoming increasingly bellicose towards South Korea because the decision by Seoul to cut off food aid was starting to impact the North Korean military…

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    It is foolish to wish for reunification by North Korea’s death. That scenario is a disaster scenario for South Korea. SK absolutely cannot handle a sudden collapse of NK. The only viable path to reunification is the way in which the two Koreas join as equals (at least nominally.) For that to happen, the condition precedent is reduction of military tension. Sunshine Policy achieved exactly that.

    While I agree that it is foolish to WISH for reunification via a North Korean collapse, realistically, I don’t see a happy ending here. You don’t run a country like North Korea has been run for the last half a century and expect everything to be OK in the end. You certainly can’t expect the two Koreas to join “as equals,” because equals they will never be. The most you can hope for is that the North can carry out some sort of Chinese-style economic miracle and reduce the gap somewhat… and even this is asking a lot of the North Korean regime.

    I also admit there’s a moral element to this, too. The world sat by and watched as the Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Co. built one of history’s most reprehensible regimes. Now, granted, there was very little that could have realistically been done about this, especially during the Cold War, and only a lunatic would wish the kind of war that would be required to rid the world of the Kim regime. Still, a choice was made, choices continue to be made, and choices have consequences — even if said choices were the right ones.

    As for the Sunshine Policy reducing military tensions, I have to ask, has it? It seems to me the degradation of North Korean military capabilities is much more responsible for any reduction in tensions… if North Korea’s internal issues, possible nuclear proliferation activities and continued fondness for crises haven’t actually increased the likeliness of a military confrontation over the last decade.

  • wjk, 검은 머리 외국인

    theKorean is reconciling his ideological differences with regards to Korean and American politics.

    I propose that even working people like theKorean be forced to join the New Obamamerica Youth, especially on Friday evenings and Saturday evenings. To establish Obamamerica, free labor is in dire need. Remember, everyone will get something free as a result.

    Obama is making the mistake of bailing out Detroit one more time. This is the 3rd time in my life span Detroit was bailed out. Clinton. Daimler-Benza. Obama. Let’s hope that Daimler’s smartcars be the nail in the coffin for Detroit. Detroit must die, because it’s social programs catered to the UAW must die. Then, hopefully, Hyundai can buy it cheap. And kill its own Hyundai Korean union.

  • wjk, 검은 머리 외국인

    what Detroit needs is higher tariffs against all imports. But, it’s too late. Domestic production of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai are taking place outside of the UAW on North American soil.

    Curiously, none of these are claiming imminent death.

  • thekorean

    Alright, first I want some links for the Chosun Ilbo article. I am always up for more education, but that newspaper is not above number manipulation when it comes to North Korea.

    While I agree that it is foolish to WISH for reunification via a North Korean collapse, realistically, I don’t see a happy ending here. You don’t run a country like North Korea has been run for the last half a century and expect everything to be OK in the end.

    What is the alternative then? The alternative is to isolate and suffocate North Korea hoping for either 1. crystallization of the status quo, leading to permanent separation of the two Koreas, or 2. complete collapse of North Korea when it finally runs out of gas, after millions die from starvation.

    (2) is a disaster for South Korea. It also entails the possibility of NK initiating military conflict out of desperation. (1) may be the less of all evils, but it is unacceptable. That point, I think, is what really drives the difference in opinions here. Some people — especially non-Koreans — think reunification is unnecessary. South Korean government, and I, think it absolutely is.

    So given the alternatives, there really is only one viable path for South Korea, and Sunshine Policy took that admittedly unpalatable path. It must talk and engage NK, and pay them off from time to time if necessary.

    To that end, even accepting arguendo that KJI has a billion dollars in his coffers, so what? Billion dollars means nothing to South Korea. And to the extent it lengthened the survival of NK regime, that’s exactly what SK wanted — it cannot afford an NK collapse.

    You may argue that the money funded the nuclear program, but even nuclearized NK does not even damage SK much more than it previously did. Remember, even without any nuclear weapon, the NK artillery along the DMZ is enough to completely destroy Seoul in less than 5 minutes.

    As for the Sunshine Policy reducing military tensions, I have to ask, has it?

    That’s a fair question. I’m not arguing here that Sunshine Policy was a complete smashing success; many mistakes were made in the implementation of it, some very big. (Nuclearized NK would be one of them.)

    But the proper measure for success of Sunshine Policy is not found in the governmental level of the two Koreas; it’s found in the level of ordinary people.

    Even up to the late 80s, the people of the South Korea were absolutely prepared for an imminent war. Given the periodic terrorist attacks of NK, such thought was reasonable. Much of my elementary school education consisted of demonizing NK. I would learn over and over again about that hokey story about how NK soldiers killed a SK boy just like me because he said he hated communists. We were told that although we are not in military conflict, we are in economic war against NK — we must win, and achieve victory by starving NK to death.

    Sunshine Policy decidedly changed this. It told South Koreans that the option of fighting another war was off the table. Thanks to 10 years of SP, only fringe lunatics of SK advocates for war. Now, because people are convinced of the value of peace, South Korea is more or less disabled from fighting a war of aggression against North Korea. That’s a good thing.

    Sunshine Policy changed North Korea as well. Because of increased contact with South Koreans, North Koreans now know that SK is infinitely ahead of them; that they are the ones living under poverty and oppression, not South Koreans; that they stand no chance in a military conflict. Of course, there are enough number of brainwashed North Koreans who would fight in a war against SK. But should the war happen, and when the SK wins (because it will, albeit at a crippling cost), this gives the SK army a chance to be genuinely greeted as liberators.

  • slim

    I must say I’m relieved that the spectre of South Korean military aggression against North Korea has been banished in our lifetimes. Maybe Seoul should launch a Sunshine Policy with Japan to change anachronistic South Korean attitudes toward that neighbor.

    For now, if I were LMB (or Barack Obama), I’d ignore the current North Korean tantrums completely with a polite “Call us when you’re serious” while continuing to extend offers of humanitarian aid through international channels. Let them shut the border and mothball the projects until they get over themselves. Outsiders must stop being enablers of North Korean childishness by offering concessions to placate them. North Korea’s crisis-manufacturing and salami-slicing extortion methods are so well known at this stage that all involved should be able to see what’s coming and deal with it calmly. Obama must also pointedly show north Korea that it won’t get any sweetheart deal or even sustained bilateral talks with Washington that doesn’t involve Seoul.

    When they do come back, resist any temptation to highlight their foolishness or otherwise humiliate them publicly. LMB can also quietly restate Seoul’s offer to treble the North’s GDP with a big package of post-denuclearization aid (err… cooperation) projects.

    If the Norks try to raise the ante, as history suggests they will, stay cool. Any escalation will so clearly be solely the fault of North Korea that not even China or Russia will give Pyongyang their usual cover. (China will be particularly pissed at anything North Korea does that adds tensions on its border at a time of financial crisis and rising social instability.)

    If they trigger a sea clash or a cross-border shoot-up, respond with restraint and proportion, but whack them if necessary. The last several Yellow Sea clashes were started by the North, but the South got the better of them immediately — and shut down that version of North Korean trouble-making for a few years.

    With Bush and his crew gone, it will be easier to work out post-Kim OPLANS with Seoul (this is already happening now, thanks to Kim Jong-il’s health issues and Roh’s departure) and it will be potentially more promising to sell the idea of at least privately discussing regime change and any other reunification scenarios with the non-DPRK members of the six-party talks. Kim’s health issues provide cover for this.

  • eujin

    “Remember, even without any nuclear weapon, the NK artillery along the DMZ is enough to completely destroy Seoul in less than 5 minutes.”

    What’s the thinking on this? Are we talking completely destroyed in the way Baghdad and Belgrade were “completely destroyed” or are we talking completely destroyed in a Hiroshima or Dresden sense?

    In five minutes?

    What do they target with all their artillery? I would’ve thought that a large amount of it is targeted at known South Korean retaliatory capability, perhaps some at bridges and intersections. Reconfiguring the architecture of Seoul might not be the best use of their resources.

    Their ground based stuff is still quite a way away. It’s 56km from Dorasan to Seoul Station. GlobalSecurity reckons the 170mm Koksan guns have a range of about 50-60km.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/m-1978-170.htm

    It’s 45km from Seoul to the place that Google Earth calls Amsil (the bit across from Gangwhado).

    Maximum effective range on the 240mm rocket launcher (with big uncertainty) is 35km.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/m-1985-mrl.htm

    Even if they could get off 10,000 rounds that’s probably not even one per apartment block if they had perfect targeting. Granted they can make a real mess and it wouldn’t be much fun. But it probably wasn’t much fun in Baghdad during “shock and awe” and that lasted a bit longer than 5 minutes.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    What is the alternative then? The alternative is to isolate and suffocate North Korea hoping for either 1. crystallization of the status quo, leading to permanent separation of the two Koreas, or 2. complete collapse of North Korea when it finally runs out of gas, after millions die from starvation.

    (2) is a disaster for South Korea. It also entails the possibility of NK initiating military conflict out of desperation. (1) may be the less of all evils, but it is unacceptable. That point, I think, is what really drives the difference in opinions here. Some people — especially non-Koreans — think reunification is unnecessary. South Korean government, and I, think it absolutely is.

    The goal of the last decade of Sunshine — or more accurately, its last five years — has been precisely alternative No. 1. Do you honestly believe anyone in the Unification Ministry — then or now — believes the policy is about anything other than keeping North Korea on life support? Sad thing, this still may not be enough to prevent alternative No. 2, hence the resurrection of operational plans for a collapse.

    And just for your reading amusement, the Sunshine Policy — when it was first crafted back in the good old days of DJ — was intented to bring about regime change in the North by opening them up and letting the forces unleashed by that do the rest — not that anyone said this publicly, for obvious reasons. Problem was, the North Koreans weren’t stupid and had the advantage of hindsight (with the Soviets and Romanians). Unfortunately, when you spend the kind of political capital DJ spent on pushing a controversial policy, you can’t just say that it failed. The policy becomes its own end rather than a means to an end. Hence, Sunshine mission creep — working for unification, building peace, preventing North Korean collapse, balancing Chinese influence in Pyongyang… Sunshine is what you want it to be now.

    BTW, as for attitudes towards reunification, I can’t say I’m surprised by your inclusion of “especially non-Koreans,” but even Koreans aren’t so hot on the idea:

    http://article.joins.com/article/article.asp?total_id=3306177

    통일=남북통일이 이뤄져야 한다는 응답은 지난해보다 다소 낮아졌다. 반드시(12%) 또는 가급적(43%) 통일돼야 한다는 의견이 55%로 2007년의 58%에 비해 3%포인트 떨어졌다. 통일이 이뤄져야 한다는 응답은 2005년 61%, 2006년 54%로 50%대 후반을 오르내리고 있다.

    가까운 시일 내에 통일이 이루어질 것이란 예상은 줄어들었다. ‘5년 이내’ 2%, ‘6~10년’ 11%, ‘11~20년’ 20%로 우리 국민 3명 중 1명(33%)은 향후 20년 이내에 남북이 통일될 것으로 예상했다. 2007년(47%)보다 통일에 대한 낙관적 전망이 줄어든 셈이다. ‘20년은 더 걸리겠지만 언젠가 이루어질 것’이란 다소 막연한 통일론은 46%였다. 한편 ‘통일이 이뤄지지 않을 것’이란 응답은 22%로 2007년의 11%보다 높아졌다.

    통일 비용으로 세금이 더 늘어나는 데 대해선 46%가 부담하겠다는 의사를 밝혔다. ‘기꺼이 부담’ 8%, ‘약간 부담’ 38%를 합친 수치다. 일정 금액 이상의 통일 비용을 부담하겠다는 우리 국민의 의사 표시는 2004년 56%로 가장 높았다가 지난해 43%를 나타냈다.

    And how many of the pro-reunification folk in that survey do you think answered the way they did because it was the “right thing to say.” I’d be willing to bet Korean reunification is a more popular idea with non-Koreans — including diaspora Koreans like yourself — who wouldn’t be obliged to pay for it than actual Korean taxpayers, who would.

  • eujin

    So why exactly did this mission creep with the Sunshine Policy begin? Did it have anything to do with Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech in January 2002? A handy spanner in the works? I can imagine that this was interpreted in Pyongyang as Bush putting them on notice and beginning to build the case for direct intervention.

    What do the isolationists who agree with Bandow think of Bush’s statement “the price of indifference would be catastrophic”? Why are the North Koreans the only ones on “life support”? Who is feeding the Cubans?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    So why exactly did this mission creep with the Sunshine Policy begin? Did it have anything to do with Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech in January 2002?

    No.

    What do the isolationists who agree with Bandow think of Bush’s statement “the price of indifference would be catastrophic”?

    They think it’s a stupid statement. If they didn’t think so back then, they do now.

    Why are the North Koreans the only ones on “life support”? Who is feeding the Cubans?

    The North Koreans are not the only ones on life support — Iraq and Afghanistan are on life support, too. Add Pakistan into that mix, too. Probably a few more regimes being kept afloat with foreign money because people are afraid of what would follow in the event of a collapse.

    Funny you should mention the Cubans. Ever wonder what the Cubans think of their brothers in socialism?

    On Sunday night, once more I was taken to the “Pyongyang diplomatic club”. Che had prepared himself for the occasion, and was dressed in an Yves-Saint-Laurent shirt rather than the usual Korean work dress. Whereas only two Chinese diplomats were there on the previous day, I was lucky in finding a trio of Cuban diplomats, two men and a woman. As the karaoke played, and as they did much drinking and talking, they were most pleased to find a Westerner who spoke their language. As is customary with Latin Americans, we immediately established friendly talk. And in between one drink and another, I asked some timid questions about what North Korea was really like.

    My questions were timid, but their answers were not. Taking the opportunity in order to express his latent frustrations, one of the three, the embassy’s commercial attaché Evelio Dueñas, spoke out while his two colleagues were not listening. “The people in this country are really nice and warm”, he said “but the leaders are simply sh…”. I was surprised. I enquired whether this referred to the revered leader of the Juche idea, who is also highly respected in the rest of the socialist world. “Yes”, Evelio replied “These two guys are full of sh…, and if this were what socialism is all about, Cuba would really be fu…d up”. Evelio told me what the markets are like, with a mere “they are empty” and “people have no food”. Indeed, I agree that Cuba is a capitalist democracy, in a hypothetical comparison with North Korea. Evelio explained that even diplomats are restricted in their movements, especially if they wish to go outside town, yet they are of course are allowed some degree of freedom of movement within the capital, and could therefore see much more than me. It should be remarked, nevertheless, that of all Western countries, only Sweden and Germany have representations in Pyongyang, making it very hard for genuine information to ‘leak out’.

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?messageID=3191924&tstart=0

  • eujin

    You seem very confident that it had nothing to do with it.

    This article, published on the very same day as Bush’s State of the Union Address, January 29th, 2002, has the lines

    “Experts agree that now may be the best and last chance during Mr. Kim’s presidency for the North to respond to South Korean, as well as U.S., overtures.”

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2002/01/29/a5_67.php

    During Bush’s visit in February he did try to downplay the damage that his remarks had done. But after that we had the World Cup, the West Sea Battle, all the carry-on with the two schoolgirls and Roh and your last five years of mission creep. I wonder at what point the North really started to realize they weren’t about to go the way of Iraq.

    I think theKorean makes some fair points about how the Sunshine Policy changed attitudes at street level. I’ve heard some pretty scary stories about how things used to be around here. And I can’t see the idea of reunification ever going away. Even if South Koreans are currently worried about the cost entailed if it was to happen today or there was an economic collapse, if the North could be coaxed out of their paranoid schizophrenia somehow, I think you’d quickly see the familiar Korean unanimity forming.

    As for what to do now, I have to agree with slim’s supernanny policy.

  • slim

    Very well put, here, Marmot:
    And just for your reading amusement, the Sunshine Policy — when it was first crafted back in the good old days of DJ — was intented to bring about regime change in the North by opening them up and letting the forces unleashed by that do the rest — not that anyone said this publicly, for obvious reasons. ….. Unfortunately, when you spend the kind of political capital DJ spent on pushing a controversial policy, you can’t just say that it failed. The policy becomes its own end rather than a means to an end. Hence, Sunshine mission creep — working for unification, building peace, preventing North Korean collapse, balancing Chinese influence in Pyongyang… Sunshine is what you want it to be now.

    And your take on relative attitudes toward reunification is spot on, too. I would add that in addition to sticker shock among taxpayers at the expected bill for reunification, exposure to North Koreans in various settings (robotic cheerleaders, spy-riddled family reunions, tourist-shooting Kumgang-san sentries) left a lot of South Koreans convinced that their northern cousins were from another planet.

  • thekorean

    eujin,

    They had artillery shells that traveled 50+ miles by World War II, thanks to rocket-propelled shells. Cities as south as Sungnam and Ansan are within the range. Within 5 minutes of the beginning of a war, there will be 3000 shells flying toward South Korea. Not necessarily Dresden level destruction, but enough to destroy much of Seoul.If South Korean artillery does not respond in kind, there is another round coming in 5 minutes. Much of South Korean army’s preparation for the war involves what to do in that 5-minute window.

    Robert,

    Cheap shot on the diaspora Korean thing — I am with Joe Biden that paying taxes is patriotic. But my “non-Korean” dig was equally cheap, so I’ll let it go.

    Also, I am well aware of the statistics on that regard as well — I already wrote about it on my blog. It saddens me. But even for those Koreans who no longer care about reunification, keeping peace is a critical mission. And Sunshine Policy definitely contributed in that regard.

    I do agree that Sunshine Policy gradually deteriorated in the last five years of its existence (under Roh presidency) into keeping NK on life support. But your idea of “mission creep” is unwarranted. Any policy has the highest level of success, medium level of success, and low level of success. For example, the highest level of success for a welfare program is to quickly help the unfortunate back on his feet so that he becomes a productive member of the society. But the lower level of success is to keep the bums off the streets, and reduce petty crimes.

    So sure, the loftiest possible goal for Sunshine Policy was a peaceful regime change. But the lower level success was to ease military tension and maintain peace. Clearly, SP was not a complete smashing success and I am not arguing that. I am saying that Sunshine Policy was not futile; it had some success that served as a foundation for the policies to follow subsequently.

    Which brings me to the next point…

    slim,

    what you are describing is a decent strategy. At this point, it probably is the only right strategy. But you have to realize how much of that strategy depends on the previous (again, admittedly limited) success of Sunshine Policy. Before 1995, just the idea of “talking to NK” amounted to treason! Any offer of benefit to NK was an unacceptable political suicide. People went to jail for advocating humanitarian aid.

    Simply put, people underestimate the depth of antagonism and hate between the two Koreas prior to Sunshine Policy. Sunshine Policy enabled engagement. That may not be the highest possible success, but it nonetheless is a significant, foundational achievement.