The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Inter-Korean Issues (page 2 of 39)

N. Korea to withdraw all workers from Kaesong

When North Korea’s not nuking itself, it’s slapping sanctions on itself:

North Korea said Monday that it will withdraw all of its workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to provocations against the country’s dignity, creating the greatest challenge to the zone’s existence in the nine years it has been in operation.

The move could rock the foundation of the complex that has been hailed as the crowning achievement of the 2000 inter-Korean summit and withstood pitfalls such as the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
[...]
The KCNA monitored here said the official made clear that the complex will be “suspended temporarily,” and that Pyongyang will examine the issue to see whether it will allow it to reopen in the future. Kim also emphasized that the complex’s future will depend entirely on South Korea.

Oddly enough, the move is being interpreted as a way of putting pressure on South Korea.

Of course, it’s easy to assume this is all about nukes and joint military drills, but perhaps the North Koreans are just upset about the South Koreans colluding with the Australians to challenge the North in the meth market. Sort of like how corner grocery stores are upset at COSTCO. Come on, South Korea, are cars, ships, smart phones and semiconductors not enough for you? Where’s the 동반성장 spirit?

This morning’s North Korea stuff

- Nope, still no panic:

Scroozle declares a state of war exists between his blog and the BBC over the latter’s use of the term “panic,” which to the BBC’s credit, they later edited it to something else, my guess because somebody from the Ministry of Finance bitched up a storm. South Koreans might be nonchalant about North Korean threats of nuclear armegeddon, but they do take the KOSPI tanking because of talk of war very seriously.

All this being said, more South Koreans do seem to give a crap about the North now:

– BTW, North Korea is totally owning the media right now. Which, frankly, it the thing I’ve always resented most about North Korea—they’re the only Korea anyone cares about. South Korea pulls off a socio-economic miracle, going from ass-backwards, post-colonial basketcase to prosperous 21st century democracy in just half a century, and nobody cares. North Korea becomes a poverty-stricken, nuclear-armed cesspool run by an idiot manchild, and the eyes and ears of the world are entirely focused on them.

– For those keeping score at home, the WaPo’s Max Fischer posts a map of North Korean missile ranges. He also notes about the KN-08:

What about the range of the KN-08? Well, here’s the thing about that: It sure looks like an intercontinental ballistic missile, and North Korea claims it can reach about 6,000 miles, which puts Los Angeles in range, except that no one knows if it works because it’s never been tested. And that means it probably can’t hit squat at long range, if it can even take off.

New ICBM models aren’t like iPhones; you don’t just take them out of the box and expect them to function properly. They have to be rigorously, painstakingly tested. Markus Schiller, an expert in the North Korean military, told Global Security Newswire that it was “totally impossible” for the KN-08 to be operational without tests. Even countries that have successfully built and launched ICMBs before, which North Korea has not, wouldn’t expect a new model to work perfectly on the first try. The KN-08 was just unveiled last April in a military parade in Pyongyang and has never been test-launched. Analysts aren’t even sure that it’s real.

The most bullish analysis of the KN-08′s potential threat that I’ve seen this week, published in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, speculated that North Korea had only moved them to the coast so that, in the event of a test launch, they would be less likely to fall onto North Korean soil.

– The Pentagon thinks it may have contributed to ratcheting up tensions?

Recent announcements of American military deployments in response to belligerent statements by North Korea may have contributed to escalating tensions between the two countries, Pentagon officials told CNN on Thursday in explaining an effort to reduce U.S. rhetoric about the reclusive state.

“We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing,” one Defense Department official said.

The State Department is also signaling that it’s willing to give peace a chance:

“It was the ratcheting up of tensions on the DPRK side that caused us to need to shore up our own defense posture. We have done that,” Nuland said. “But we have also been saying all the way through that this does not need to get hotter, that we can change course here if the DPRK will begin to come back into compliance with its international obligations, will begin to cool things down, take a pause.”

OK, fine, but good luck getting North Korea to come into compliance with its international obligations. For the time being, deterrence works just fine for me. I haven’t seen the English, but the Korean report says Ms. Nuland also suggested that if North Korea kept its international obligations, it could receive economic aid.

– UDP lawmaker and Kim Dae-jung’s former chief of staff Park Jie-won called on President Park Geun-hye to give North Korea a face-saving way out by announcing measures to restart the Kumgangsan Tourism Project and measures to activate the Kaesong Industrial Complex. This, he said, would get dialogue between the two Koreas going. Honestly, I think giving North Korea anything after this streak of bad behavior is precisely the wrong thing to do.

– Seoul mayor Park Won-soon argued for engagement with the North by saying that 10 industrial complexes like Kaesong would give South Korea control of the North:

“If there were 10 industrial complexes like the one in Gaeseong in North Korea, it would give the South critical control over the influx of hard currency to Pyongyang,” the mayor said during a recent interview.

“It is like holding the lifeline of the North,” he said. The Gaeseong complex near the inter-Korean borderline houses 123 South Korean firms employing North Korean workers.

Park may be right about that, but the problem is, I’m pretty sure the North Koreans already know that (and if they didn’t before, they do now), which is why they’d never allow it. At any rate, if the North Koreans know how to do anything well, it’s make South Korean assistance to the North worth more to the South than it does to the North.

Kaesong closed (?), but Yongbyon open!

North Korea informed the South this morning that it would no longer allow South Koreans to enter the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

It would, however, allow South Koreans to leave Kaesong. As of this morning, there were 861 South Koreans in Kaesong.

None of this is likely to make the Kaesong business owners’ association very happy. Such is the cost of doing business with North Korea, I suppose.

On a positive (?) note, though, the North Koreans haven’t actually said they’ve shut Kaesong down. The North Koreans closed traffic to Kaesong down three times during 2009’s Key Resolve exercise, but reopened traffic after the conclusion of the drills.

While Kaesong might get shut down,Yongbyon looks like it will be open for business again.

What’s that you say? Didn’t the North Koreans demolish parts of that place? Why, yes they did:

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim, who was in charge of Korean affairs at the State Department at the time, traveled to North Korea in June 2008 to witness the demolition, which was broadcast live on CNN. The same year then U.S. president George W. Bush in turn removed North Korea from a blacklist of terror-sponsoring countries.

“There were some concerns at the time that the demolition was aimed at deceiving the international community,” said Yun Duk-min at Korea National Diplomatic Academy. “Now it has become clear that it was just a show. North Korea has repeatedly scrapped agreements with the international community after getting what it wants.”

The Korea Institute for National Unification’s Chun Sung-hoon was even more dire, telling the Chosun Ilbo, “The latest announcement shows that any agreements with the North to freeze its nuclear program are meaningless.”

What does ‘State of War’ even mean? Plus more crap about North Korea.

So what does a ‘state of war’ even mean?

The White House says it is taking North Korea’s latest rhetorical flourish seriously, but notes that we’ve seen talk like this before:

We’ve seen reports of a new and unconstructive statement from North Korea. We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council. “But, we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats, and today’s announcement follows that familiar pattern.”

The Mansfield Foundation Gordon Flake had his own amusing take on North Korea’s “state of war” declaration:

“The North Koreans in recent weeks have turned rhetoric into performance art,” said Gordon Flake, a Korea specialist and executive director of the Mansfield Foundation in Washington.

“When they have already declared the armistice null and void, I do not think a declaration of war breaks new ground,” Flake said.

But he added that the situation had now become so volatile that any slight miscalculation carried the potential for rapid escalation.

Part of the problem with North Korea’s threats is that sometimes, things get lost in the translation. In a discussion about the map seen in the back of Kim Jong-un’s office, The Korean tweeted:

This may be true, but even if so, it’s only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that half the time, even the South Koreans don’t really know what what the North Korea are trying to say. Such is the case with the North Korea’s latest discharge of verbal diarrhea. Jeonsi sanghwang (“wartime situation”)? Eh? TV Chosun brought in University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin to help explain what that term probably means, with the good professor explaining that it likely means “a warlike atmosphere” and probably corresponds to Stage 5 or North Korea’s six-stage DEFCON-like scale, meaning a state of semi-war and one step below outright war. The point is, though, the Chosun needed to bring in an expert to ask, and even he doesn’t seem to know for certain.

In fact, all we really know is that the North Koreans are trying to sound really, really scary. As I’ve said in the comment’s section before, I half suspect a lot of what comes out of North Korea is written by mischievous government hacks just so that can watch New York Times writers shit their pants. Assuming North Korea doesn’t want to commit suicide by USAF, they’re not going to intentionally start Korean War 2.0. My concern, though, is that KJU might be dumb enough to start a war unintentionally.

Well, you’ve got to give Mike Chinoy points for consistency

In the WaPo, Mike Chinoy argues that now is the time for high-level engagement with North Korea. Like I said, you’ve got to give the man credit for consistency. Personally, I have little interest in dealing with North Korea at all. I’m not as adverse as I once was to paying off the North Koreans so that they stop making a nuisance of themselves—it worked for the Romans, at least for a while. If I had any faith at all that the North Koreans could be bribed to behave, I could be convinced to pay ‘em. Alas, I have no such faith. I think the Obama administration is doing just fine—just ignore the North Koreans until they do something really worth responding to.

F-22s above Korea

First it was the B-52s. Then it was the B-2s. Now it’s the F-22s. I have to say though that of all the scary toys the US has put on display so far, the F-22 is by far the prettiest. That’s one beautiful piece of aeronautical engineering.

Pyongyang threatening to shut down Kaesong

North Korea is so upset, it’s threatening to shut down its own cash flow:

North Korea on Saturday threatened to shut down an industrial park that is the last remaining showcase of inter-Korean cooperation.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex “will be mercilessly shut down” unless South Korea stops “damaging our dignity,” the North Korean agency in charge warned according to the official KCNA news agency.

The threat came just a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed an order putting missile units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific.

Frankly, if North Korea wants to cut off a flow of $87 million a year to itself, that’s fine with me.

Kim Jong-un telling troops to very careful not to invite ROK—US retaliation?

Quoting intelligence officials, the JoongAng Ilbo reported this morning that while Kim Jong-un might be all fire and brimstone in public, but secretly, he’s ordered North Korean units along the DMZ to be extra alert not to discharge their weapons or anything. Figures familiar with the North say Kim recently handed down orders not to give the South Koreans and Americans an excuse to attack the North in retaliation.

South Korea to get medieval on North’s ass: Dong-A Ilbo

OK, the Dong-A Ilbo didn’t say that exactly, but they got downright North Korea-esque in their headline, “Self-propelled artillery to belch fire if North launches provocation… command posts to be turned to ash by jet fighters.”

To sum up, if North Korea uses its coastal guns to attack somewhere like Baengnyeongdo, they’re gonna get a hurtin’. The South Koreans will first use their 20 K-9 pieces on Yeongpyeongdo and Baengnyeongdo, 130mm Multiple Rocket Launchers and 155mm towed artillery to rain fire on the offending artillery unit.

If North Korea persists, South Korea would commence the second stage of its retaliations by going after support and command units. ROKAF F-15s and F-16s would launch surgical strikes against command units in the rear such as the headquarters of the KPA 4th Corps, while the ROK Navy would put destroyers in the West Sea to guard against further provocations.

The ROK military is also ready for attempts by the North Koreans to land special forces on the West Sea islands in a bid to occupy them. The ROK military believes the North has plans to use air-cushioned vehicles to take over the islands within 30 minutes of crossing the NLL. South Korea has got Cobra gunships on Baengnyeongdo for just such an occasion.

A high-ranking military official told the Dong-A that it has more the quadrupled the amount of firepower its got on the West Sea islands and rewritten the rules of engagement since the Yeonpyeongdo incident. This time, the South would get proper vengeance if the North launches a provocation. Military experts, however, say it’s difficult to say who’s on top in the West Sea, with the North ahead quantitatively but the South ahead qualitatively.

And on a related note… hey, G’Na! Get off those flags!

OK, this is what has worried me about the North Korea situation

The Heritage Foundation’s Bruce Klingner apparently talked with the Naeil Shinmun, telling them he was concerned that North Korea might misjudge (or who knows, maybe they’re right about this) that South Korea and/or the United States would never retaliate against the North following a small-scale attack. This, combined with pressure on the Park administration not to pull an LMB 2010, might accidentally set off a full-scale clash.

This is the thing I’m most afraid of. I’m pretty sure North Korea doesn’t want a full-scale war, mostly on account that the leadership knows it will lose. I’m also pretty certain South Korea and the United States don’t want a war. The problem is, North Korea’s not crazy, but they have found a modus operandi they think works for them. How many North Koreans died in retaliatory strikes following the seizure of the USS Pueblo, or the Ax Murder Incident, or the EC-121 shootdown incident, or the 1968 Blue House Raid, or the Cheonan sinking, or the Yeonpyeong shelling? How could fault them for believing that it would be more of the same if and when they launch another armed provocation? That President Lee Myung-bak complained that the United States kept him from properly retaliating after the Yeonpyeong shelling has probably reinforced North Korea’s thinking on this matter.

Of course, it’s very likely that the next North Korean provocation won’t be met with the standard South Korean response. Even though South Korea has been taking shit from the North Koreans pretty much continuously for the last 60 years (with the late 1960s being an especially bad period), there’s only so much Seoul can take. Park is under pressure to make sure the next time the North Koreans pull something they get their teeth kicked in, preferably with F-15Ks. This will put North Korea in a place it’s not used to being—forced to chose between licking its wounds or trying to get the last punch in. And that’s when things could spiral out of control.

UPDATE: Actually, it looks like the Naeil Sinmun was quoting from Klingner’s piece in the NYT, the scary part of which reads:

A nuclear attack on the United States or full-scale invasion of South Korea remains highly unlikely, however, as either would ensure North Korea’s destruction. But it is only a matter of time before the regime launches another tactical-level attack on the South.

There is now a greater risk of miscalculation and escalation, due to new leaders in both Koreas. Kim Jong-un lacks experience and may stumble across red lines that his predecessors would have known not to cross. Moreover, he may be emboldened by North Korea’s new nuclear muscle and the knowledge that neither Washington nor Seoul ever responded to previous attacks.

Newly inaugurated South Korean President Park Geun-hye criticized her country’s past passivity and vowed to hit back hard and “exponentially” in case of another attack. The danger is that even a low-level retaliation could escalate into an all-out conflict. As a U.S. general on the peninsula warned, “Before you start even a limited response, you better be prepared to go all-in.”

South Korea has recently warned that it would go after the attacking units, support units AND command units in the event of a North Korean provocation. Now, just because South Korea is threatening to do something doesn’t mean it actually will—see former Minister of Defense Kim Tae-young. On the other hand, just because they bluffed last time doesn’t mean they are now.

Oh, and just to show you how little things change with North Korea, here’s a post I wrote during the big drills in the West Sea in 2010.

And in today’s episode of ‘The Great Korean Shit-Talking War’…

UPDATE: Oh Christ, now North Korea really means business:

스크린샷, 2013-03-08 18:09:13

Some cool shots of chicks with ushankas and AKs, too.

ORIGINAL POST: North Korea declared today it was ripping up non-aggression agreements with the South:

North Korea has announced it is voiding non-aggression pacts with South Korea and severing its hotline with Seoul, hours after threatening the US with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

North Korea “abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South,” the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement.

“It notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline,” said the statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Given the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong-do, you’d be forgiven for believing there were no such agreements to abrogate.

Anyway, nice hats, guys. Looking sharp.

North Korea criticized the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, too:

“The frantic Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises being staged by the South Korean warmongers together with the U.S. in the land, air and seas of South Korea … are open acts of aggression against the DPRK and a vivid expression of wanton violation of all the agreements on nonaggression reached between the North and the South,” the statement said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also visited yesterday the coastal artillery unit that bombarded Yeonpyeong-do , where he said the Korean military was ready to commence a “Korean-style full-scale war”—I’ll allow readers to interpret on their own what that means.

Kim also apparently got to ride a boat while he was down there (see last photo), which must have been fun.

The South Koreans have aren’t taking it quietly—they’d don’t have North Korea’s mad, Gary Payton-esque trash-talking skills, but they’ve still got game. South Korean trash talk also tends to be blissfully easier to translate.

Defense Ministry Kim Min-seok warned North Korea that if they attacked the South with a nuke, the Kim Jong-un regime would “vanish from the earth.” Sure, nukes were used to end World War II, Kim noted, but if the North attacks a society living happily within a liberal democratic system like South Korea, mankind would not forgive them. He also said North Korea’s talk of preemptive nuclear strikes were a threat and blackmail directed at the Korean people.

About KJU’s visit to the unit that attacked Yeonpyeong-do, Kim said he thought the visit showed North Korea’s intention to launch provocations against the South, but warned that no matter where Kim Jong-un goes or what he does, the South Korean military would mercilessly respond to North Korean provocations. He added that this time, there would be no limit to the scale of South Korea’s retaliation.

The main way South Korea shit talks, though, is by leaking stuff to the conservative press. In this case, the JoongAng Ilbo got their hands on some video material that lends credence to South Korean threats that they’d go after command units should North Korea launch a provocation. The video shows not only the headquarters building of what experts believe to be the unit that hit Yeonpyeong-do, but also marks the location within that building of the command room. A military official said the location of the room was learned through humint. According to the report, South Korea could hit that office with SLAM-ERs launched from F-15Ks.

Not all is shit talk, though—the Chosun Ilbo warned that with the North Koreans talking of a new precision nuclear devise, there is speculation the North might have their hands on an honest-to-God EMP device. North Korea’s never mentioned they have one, but former CIA analyst Peter Vincent Pry said Russian scientists had told him that EMP technology had been leaked to the North Koreans.

If the North Koreans were to detonate an EMP device over South Korea, it would truly such since not only is Korea the world’s most wired nation, but it’s major military command facilities have done a piss-poor job of proofing themselves against an EMP attack. The ROK military is working on improving the situation, but protection won’t be complete until 2015.

It would also suck if a North Korean EMP went off over the United States, although I must confess, “Dark Angel” was a pretty cool series. Shame it lasted only two seasons.

Oh, and North Korea might test launch a mobile ICBM.

So, back to question of whether Roh wanted to give up the NLL…

Last week, prosecutors decided NOT to prosecute Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Moon-hun—whom we discussed here—for spreading false information:

Prosecutors said Thursday that they will not charge a ruling party lawmaker for claiming that late President Roh Moo-hyun made remarks undermining the legitimacy of the western sea border during the 2007 inter-Korean summit meeting.

Wrapping up the investigation into claims and counter claims raised by political parties, prosecutors said the remarks by Rep. Chung Moon-hun cannot be viewed as false information.

Prosecutors, however, did not clarify whether the former liberal president actually had made such remarks.

The conservative papers just loved it—they read the ruling as a confirmation that Roh had in fact offered to surrender the NLL:

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday stated it is “hard to refute the claim that former President Roh Moo-hyun disavowed the NLL [Northern Limit Line] during the 2007 South-North Summit,” indirectly confirming that Roh made the remarks in a secret meeting with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as Chung asserted in October.

Former Roh administration folk released a statement soon after the judgement claiming Roh never gave up the NLL, with at least one of them calling for the transcripts to be made public. This is interesting, because that’s precisely what a lot of conservatives are calling for, with the major exception being the conservative in Cheong Wa Dae, who for turf and security reasons is not particularly keen to do so.

I don’t have the time or energy to translate the editorials, but if you read Korean, here’s the Dong-A‘s, and here’s the Chosun‘s. You can probably guess what they have to say on the matter. However, even the Seoul Shinmun-–which usually leans left—even conceded that it looks like Roh sent North Korea the wrong signals by telling them things that made it look like he wanted to surrender the NLL.

North Koreans disappointed with Park victory

Reporting from North Korea, China’s official CCTV says most of the North Koreans it talked to were disappointed with Park Geun-hye’s victory.

North Korea’s official media, on the other hand, has yet to issue a position on the election results.

CCTV thinks the glum mood in Pyongyang is because North Koreans believe Park will treat the North much as Lee Myung-bak has.

Anyway, the North is expected to say, well, something about Park’s victory soon.

Chosun Ilbo bitching about South Korea falling behind in the space race

You know who’s really upset about the North Korean missile launch?

The Chosun Ilbo, that’s who.

To be sure, they’re upset about the security lapse. But they’re also upset that according to “experts,” the South now lags seven to 10 years behind the North in space launch development. Which really ticks them off, because the South has 39 times the GDP or the North, 19 times the per capita income, and was ranked the world’s fifth most scientifically competitive nation by the IMD.

The problem, they say, is—wait for it, wait for it—the bilateral missile agreement Seoul has with los Estados Unidos. This agreement, says the Chosun, blocks Korea from not only building long-range missiles, but also developing rockets for space exploration. Even with the Naro project, the has inspected the Agency for Defense Development several times to make sure no missile parts have gone into it. Which, IMHO, is a dick move.

At any rate, the Chosun notes there’s no reason South Korea should be behind the North in space technology, that Japan and China have space programs, and Seoul needs to get with the program and present a new national vision and strategy for science and space development.

Marmot’s Note: I’m on record supporting South Korea’s development of not only long-range missiles, but also nice, shiny MIRV warheads to sit on top of those missiles, so sure, I’m down with rockets for “space exploration.” Whether space exploration should be a national priority is another matter. There was a time the Soviets were ahead of the United States in space technology, and look where that got them.

For what it’s worth, Park Geun-hye said during the last debate that the Korean flag would be flying on the moon by 2020. Moon Jae-in thought this was a good idea, too. Korea currently plans to put a landing vehicle on the moon by 2025. When will they put Sam Rockwell on the moon? That’s anyone’s guess.

Roh engaged in anti-Americanism during summit with Kim Jong-il: Report

In a story submitted to the Monthly Chosun magazine, investigative journalist and conservative idealogue Cho Gap-je claims that during his 2007 summit with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, late President Roh Moo-hyun basically told Kim he had worked to reduce pro-American opinion in South Korea and lessen American influence.

Basing his claims on testimony from multiple officials who’d seen the summit transcript, Cho says Roh told Kim “we” (i.e., South Korea, or at least his government) were “working hard, too.” He told Kim USFK was to leave the capital region and Seoul was to regain wartime operational command. Even better, he told Kim that recent opinion polls showed South Koreans considered the United States the biggest threat to South Korean security, followed by Japan and then North Korea, and that this was “something you couldn’t even imagine a decade ago” and “the result of persistently promoting independent diplomacy and inter-Korean cooperation.”

Roh also allegedly suggested then-US President George W Bush, Kim and him declare an end of the Korean War and hold talks to sign a peace treaty. Kim apparently showed interest in this.

According to Cho, Roh also bragged to Kim about torpedoing OPLAN 5029, which he called an American plan to make war. Roh and his NSC did in fact halt talks to complete OPLAN 5029, which was finally completed in 2008 under Roh’s successor after Kim’s stroke.

Roh also told Kim he thought US measures regarding BDA, taken to stop North Korean money laundering, was a mistake.

Oh, there’s more. Much more, in fact, including (drum roll):

– That Roh adopted a subservient posture before Kim from beginning to end;
– That Roh proposed a joint fishing zone in the West Sea premised on Seoul giving up the NLL as a territorial line;
– That Roh did not demand the North abandon its nuclear program;
– That Roh did not ask for the return of South Korean POWs and abductees;
– That Kim, startled by Roh’s sizable offers of aid, worried that the South Korean government would soon change, to which Roh said that’s why he needed to conclude things now.
– That people who’d read the transcript said Roh had harmed South Korean dignity, and that at least somebody said it made him so angry he couldn’t finish it.

Now, of course, Cho—or his sources—could just be making stuff up. Nobody else seems to be touching this besides the Chosun, and it is a convenient time politically to come out with all this stuff.

Still, I can see Roh saying pretty much everything Cho has attributed to him. My instinct is telling me at least some of this is true.

I know TK will probably have some unkind things to say about this, although for the post, he has only himself to blame since he’s the one who sent me the link. So here’s your HT, TK.

At least the people in Yeoncheon will know how much Kim Jong-un sucks

Launching leaflets by balloon into North Korea may not be as effective as you might think:

Lee Min-bok, a North Korean defector and activist who has sent such leaflets to the regime for 13 years, said that balloons mostly tend to blow toward the northwestern regions of South Korea due to the winds and fail to get across the border.

“The Imjin Pavilion is the worst place to send balloons to the North,” Lee said. “Even in summer, winds near the Imjin Pavilion mostly blow from the southwest, so most balloons end up in cities [in South Korea] to the east, such as Pocheon, Yeoncheon and Cheolwon.”

Speaking of North Koreans, there were rumors earlier about Kim Jong-nam wanting to defect to the South. Looks like they’re just that—rumors.

Did Roh give up the NLL, or didn’t he? And if he did, what does it mean?

This whole mess over the NLL is getting more interesting that I thought it would get.

The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) said they plan to take legal action against presidential security secretary Chun Yung-woo and an unspecified official responsible for record keeping at the country’s spy agency, for violating existing laws governing non-disclosure of highly classified files.
[...]
Chun said Thursday during a parliamentary audit session that he saw a transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit two years ago that is held by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), although he declined to elaborate on its contents.

The NIS has confirmed that it has a copy of the official summit transcripts.

The NIS director, for his part, doesn’t think the transcripts should be made public, and what’s more, there’s no “secret transcripts” of conversations between ex-president Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il.

The Hankyoreh thinks the NIS’s testimony should have brought the NLL issue to a conclusion. As Korea’s paper of progressive record sees it, Chung Moon-hun’s claim that the NIS and Unification Ministry possessed a secret transcript—given to them by the North Koreans!—in which Roh tells KJI that Seoul would no longer claim the NLL since it was simply a line drawn by the Americans to grab more territory was revealed to have been a lie, and it’s that lie that kicked off the Saenuri Party’s calls for a parliamentary investigation and even President Lee’s visit to Baengnyeong-do. Sure, since we can’t release the official summit transcript in the NIS’s possession, you can think maybe something’s in there, but the officials who accompanied Roh to Pyongyang all say he never gave up the NLL, so the Saenuri Party should just shut up and repent.

The Dong-A Ilbo, of course, begs to differ—they want to see what’s in the transcript. Harmonizing protecting secrets with the right to know and all that. The head of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee has asked the NIS to allow him to see the documents, which I’m guessing he can as secret documents can be viewed by anybody with clearance (which I would certainly hope he has). I confess, even if Chung Moon-hun was talking out his ass (and the Saenuri Party says he ain’t), the opposition’s, well, opposition to even reviewing the documents—and the Hankyoreh’s concern for state secrets—have got me quite curious. What’s in there they don’t want the Saenuri Party to see?

Something else has me curious. A couple of days ago, I read an interview in OhMyNews with Professor Moon Chung-in, who served in the Roh administration and is frequently cited in the Western press. He argued the NLL wasn’t a territorial line—either under Article 3 of the ROK Constitution (which claims the entirety of the Korean peninsula) or according to American CIA documents—and to claim it as a territorial line would violate Article 3 since this would in effect be recognizing North Korea as a sovereign state, and then the NLL would become a UN Law of the Sea issue. It’s an interesting interview—if you read Korean—and while he says he’s certain Roh didn’t tell KJI he’d give up the NLL, Moon does say that even if he had, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Moon is also on record—not by his own choosing—discussing the summit and the NLL in a 2007 US State Department cable leaked via Wikileaks:

(C) Moon said the NLL (Northern Limit Line) issue should not be considered a military or sovereignty issue since that would be an acknowledgement of perpetual division of the Peninsula. Instead, the NLL was simply a fisheries issue and, while complicated, could be solved by the two Fisheries Ministers so that both North and South Korean boats could fish in the West Sea. This issue was pressing, Moon said, since PRC fishing vessels were already encroaching in West Sea fishing grounds.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking Roh is recorded saying something about the NLL.

South Korea prepares to evacuate DMZ

Is it just me or does that title sound a little dramatic?  Well, it was the title Bloomberg (October 21, 2012) used.  According to the article:

South Korea is preparing to evacuate more than 800 residents along the demilitarized zone after North Korea threatened to fire on activists planning to send balloons across the border carrying leaflets critical of its regime.

While no orders to leave are currently in place, authorities have been preparing citizens residing within the civilian control line to evacuate if any signs of a possible attack emerge, Park Kwang Hae, an official at Paju City Council, said by telephone today.

Yonhap (October 22, 2012) merely notes that the military is on high alert:

“Our military units near Imjingak are maintaining readiness to immediately return artillery fire,” a senior military official said, asking for anonymity, as he is not allowed to talk about military information. “We are closely watching the North Korean military’s movements.”

The South Korean military has stepped up combat readiness by deploying artillery and tank brigades and combat air patrols by F-15K and KF-16, according to the official.

The threat of an attack against activists is the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his father Kim Jong Il in December. South Korea has not sighted any unusual troop movements north of the border today, said a Defense Ministry official, who could not be named due to military policy.

While I think it is interesting to note that this is the first threat over balloons by Kim Jong-Un, it is not uncommon.  Actually, to be honest, I was really surprised this made it in the news as it is a fairly common thing with the balloon activists.  They were supposed to have started their balloon campaign about ten minutes ago but considering how hard it is raining – I am guessing it has been called off or the turnout is much lower than expected.

Bloomberg did, however, note an upside of these times of uncertainty:

Defense shares rallied in Seoul, with Huneed Technologies (005870), which manufactures military communication equipment, gaining as much as 11 percent. It was up 2.6 percent at 3,900 won at 9:50 a.m. Victek Co. (065450), a producer of electronic warfare equipment, rose 4.7 percent to 1,790 won while the benchmark Kospi fell 1.3 percent.

North Korea threatens: A “merciless military strike”

If the balloons go up, North Korea promises a merciless military strike.  According to AP (via AZ central):

“Merciless military strike by the Western Front will be put into practice without warning” if South Korean activists make a move to fly leaflets on Monday, the North’s military said in a statement in English. It also warned South Korean residents in the border area to evacuate in advance.

In South Korea, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said at a parliamentary hearing that his troops would “thoroughly annihilate” any base responsible for the strike if the North attacked.

Choe Sang-hun with New York Times adds:

An umbrella group of anti-North Korean groups, led mostly by defectors from the North, says it plans to release balloons carrying propaganda leaflets on Monday in Imjingak, near the border with North Korea. Activists have conducted similar balloon launchings before. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said, “The leaflets are a most undisguised act of psychological warfare, a violation of the armistice and an intolerable act of war.”

I am assuming that Park Sang-hak is involved.  Balloon launchings are not new and have been discussed before on The Hole. See Dollars from Heaven and Park Sang Hak and North Korea threatens border closing and South Korean socks.

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