South Korean commandos have retaken the Samho Jewelry, freeing the crew and reportedly eight pirates had been killed and five captured. I appreciate the president’s comments: “We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future.” which I hope includes North Korea.
In the CSM, Clayton Jones asks, “Can Japan and South Korea ever be military partners, even allies?”
Can Japan and South Korea ever be military partners, even allies?
Each nation is a democracy. They are already allies individually with the United States. Each trains with the American military separately in joint naval exercises.
Most of all they are close neighbors in the tough neighbor of Northeast Asia that includes North Korea, China, and Russia. The threat of North Korea someday launching a nuclear-tipped missile toward either country should have had the effect of drawing Japan and South Korea closer.
But as much as the United States wants the two countries to cozy up, history has long kept them apart.
I’d imagine South Korea and Japan cooperate more in the security sphere than anyone in a position to say will, at least on this side of the East Sea. In recent months, China has been making Korea—Japan cooperation a lot easier by acting like a thug, but domestic political considerations still make it difficult. For example, when news broke that Japan was sounding out Korea about the possibility of dispatching Japanese ships and aircraft to Korea to rescue Japanese nationals in the event of a war—not a completely unreasonable idea, mind you—even the conservative Chosun Ilbo felt the need to respond:
But for the South, it is difficult to accept the possibility of the Japanese military being dispatched to the Korean Peninsula as long as Tokyo continues to assert its territorial claim over the Dokdo Islets, not to mention living memories of Japan’s occupation and its denial of World War II atrocities. China views the South Korea-U.S.-Japan joint military exercises as a hostile move. For South Korea, the matter is extremely delicate and requires a cautious approach. Kan’s remarks were not only uncalled for but risk causing needless diplomatic friction.
Mind you, the Chosun was careful not to rule out the possibility completely, and one suspects that in their heart of hearts, the Chosun and a good many of its readers want to see greater security cooperation with Tokyo. To give you a better idea of what Japan’s up against, see Korea Times columnist Kim Tae-gyu, who wrote:
From the perspective of Koreans, however, the bottom line is not the right to get compensation. The thing is whether Japan genuinely regrets its past wrongdoings as it has said many times and whether it is ready not to commit such bad things in the future.
I have three benchmarks to check the deeply-ingrained mantra of the Japanese with regard to the above-mentioned question.
First, they are required to return all the Korean cultural properties, which they had forcefully taken, without any conditions. Second, they must sincerely apologize for mobilizing “comfort women,’’ or young women who were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Third, they should no longer claim sovereignty over Dokdo, South Korea’s easternmost islets, citing some bizarre reasoning from international agreements.
They are not about money. They are not about legal contentions, either. They are the minimum that Japan should show to Korea in order for the former to convince the latter that the country is now 100 percent fine to be an ally with.
Otherwise, Korea will harbor suspicions about the real intentions of Japan, which are still seen as aggressive and belligerent in the eyes of many Koreans; and this gives us the rights to worry very seriously about something like Kan’s remarks on a troop dispatch.
Likewise, I’ve been citing Canadian occupation of Machias Seal Island and jackbooted Canuckistani oppression of its native puffin population as grounds for a US withdrawal from NATO. Sadly, Washington doesn’t appear to be listening. When the Canadians put Defense Scheme No. 1 into motion, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One place I can very well see greater Korea—Japan security cooperation, and sooner rather than latter, is in theaters outside of Northeast Asia, especially naval cooperation against pirates and other threats to shipping lanes.
The UAE will be receiving the first 10 of a planned 130 special forces troops this week. They will ostentatiously be there to train UAE special forces. So, the UAE publication “The National” appears to have taken an interest in the recent history of South Korean overseas troop deployments.
“South Korea, after establishing its credentials in economic development, is seeking to enhance its international status,” said Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University in Hong Kong.
According to Mr Cheng, South Korea is following “a very typical pattern” of establishing itself as a developed nation and then making “an increasingly significant contribution to the international community”.
Putting things in perspective, Korea ranks just 32nd of 115 nations contributing UN peacekeepers. The fact that it can do more, hasn’t been lost to some.
Anthony Banbury, the UN assistant secretary general for field support, said… “Given the capabilities … and the size of the armed forces, the size of the economy here, we would hope that in the future, South Korea could increase its contribution to UN peacekeeping,” he said.
Mr Banbury said Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, would benefit from having South Korean peacekeepers.
However, where South Korea deploys troops generally tends to follow her immediate economic and political interests. So, you’ll see Korean troops in the UAE or Afghanistan, but not likely to see any in Sudan or the Congo any time soon.
Some very, very tough dudes are heading to the UAE to train the kingdom’s Special Forces:
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill on sending up to 150 combat troops to the United Arab Emirates in January for a two-year mission to help train the Middle East country’s special forces.
In a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, the Cabinet members endorsed the troop dispatch, which Seoul officials say will promote national interests and further boost military and economic ties with the oil-rich country.
The UAE requested the troop dispatch in August, expressing hope that it wants to train world-class special warfare troops with assistance from South Korea.
The Koreans will be based in Al Ain, which seems like a rather nice place. Definitely a step up from Arbil, Bagram and the Lebanon. It even has two ice hockey teams.
Something I learned today — UAE troops have been operating in Afghanistan. And for quite some time, apparently:
Oh, and some ROK Special Forces promotional stuff:
South Korean airports are to start screening passengers with full body scanners. The scan is optional and those that wish can elect to be scanned manually by airport staff. This comes before the G20 meeting.
This after Seoul — ignoring my own humble advice on how to deal with missionaries caught in Muslim war zones — reportedly paid US$20 million of the taxpayers’ money to the Taliban (!) to free these guys.
Would it be too much to ask for them to pay the taxpayers back their money and perform a sambo ilbae to the embassy of every country with troops in Afghanistan?
It’s a very interesting question.
We here at the Marmot’s Hole have been known, on occasion, to, ahem, question the scale of Korea’s contribution to the US-led war in the War on Terror, but over at The Diplomat, David Axe writes that Korea is taking a more active military role overseas, and that the Provincial Reconstruction Team being sent to Afghanistan is just a cover for a what is, in essence, indistinguishable from a US Army combat task force:
The South Korean contingent in Afghanistan illustrates Seoul’s veiled approach to a wider security role. The Korean troops, with their helicopters and armoured vehicles, form a ‘heavy’ reconstruction team that is, in fact, virtually indistinguishable from a US Army combat task force. And in fact, both the Korean PRT and a typical US task force conduct many of the same kinds of operations. After all, the Afghanistan war is a counter-insurgency campaign, where efforts to win Afghans’ allegiance drive military planning. In Afghanistan, the only important distinction between the South Koreans and the Americans is rhetorical.
Seoul is not the first government to attempt this sleight of hand in the interest of deploying forces to Afghanistan. The Dutch government deployed a similar heavy PRT to the southern part of the country soon after the US-led invasion in 2001. The Hague sold the deployment as a strictly peaceful, reconstruction exercise—never mind the jet fighters, artillery and helicopter gunships that accompanied the engineers. The rhetoric of peace was the only way to avoid a popular backlash against the operation.
The Taliban poked holes in The Hague’s cover story when hundreds of armed extremists attacked Dutch positions in Uruzgan Province in June 2007. It was one of the largest pitched battles of the year for NATO forces. Several Dutch soldiers died, while more than a hundred Afghan civilians were killed when the Dutch fired artillery and dropped bombs on heavily populated areas. In the aftermath of the fighting, elements in the Dutch government advocated cancelling the Afghanistan deployment; it took more than two years of political manoeuvring, but in February The Hague announced it would evacuate its troops this year.
Read the rest on your own.
Apparently a company/group of individuals in the UKRAINE is offering to manufacture “high quality fake passports” not only for Korea and Australia but a large number of nations as well. I am reproducing part of the ad, dated April 9, 2010, because I am not sure how long it will remain up. The homepage address that was given is no longer in operation:
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Per Bloomberg and Yonhap, South Korean authorities have concluded that the Chonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo.
… South Korean military intelligence, partly backed by the U.S., indicates North Korea fired a torpedo from a submarine to tear apart the 1,200-ton patrol ship on March 26, the Seoul-based agency said today.
Perhaps now the South Korean public will clearly understand the reality of its situation and China — North Korea’s number one enabler — should be held accountable for this.
An oil tanker carrying five South Korean crew members and 19 Filipinos was apparently hijacked in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates on Sunday, the Korean government said.
The Ministry of foreign Affairs and Trade announced that the 300,000-ton ship, the Samho Dream, which was on its way from Iraq to the U.S. state of Louisiana, is “believed to have been seized by Somali pirates at around 4:10 p.m. (Seoul time) Sunday.” The hijacking happened in waters about 1,500km southeast of the Gulf of Aden, where a South Korean Navy destroyer is operating to help the global efforts to fight piracy there, it said.
The ship has a total of 24 crew — five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos, it added.
There is a funny and unusual member of the Korean diaspora in the Middle East that I was surprised to hear doing comedy in Korean, English and Arabic. His name is Chung Wonho (Korean father/Vietnamese mother) and was apparently a member of the dreaded “Axis of Evil” comedy tour. Here is another video of the “New World Order” tour in Qatar. I love the introduction for him on the latter.
JoongAng Ilbo senior columnist Kim Young-hie presents some very powerful arguments for sending Korean troops to Afghanistan:
The dispatch was approved by the National Assembly. Still, many Koreans may wonder why we need to send young soldiers to the harsh terrain in South Asia when we appear to have few ties to impoverished and war-ridden Afghanistan.
We can find the answer when we think back on our June 25 civil war 60 years ago. As the unprepared South Korean army was helplessly trying to defend the Nakdong River line, sending aides of President Syngman Rhee to discuss setting up a government in exile in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan, forces from 15 countries under the United Nations banner came to the rescue and helped to turn the tide of the war.
During the three-year war, 930,000 young men from 15 different countries fought for the lives of South Korean people and saved them from a communist takeover. To the families and countrymen of those young men, a small country in the far east of Asia would have seemed as distant and strange as Afghanistan is to us. South Korea then was a country taking baby steps as independent democratic state after a 35-year colonial rule by Japan.
Moreover, she argues, the deployment is an opportunity to train experts in the South Asian region:
But our venture in Afghanistan will end in a lost opportunity if we don’t repay old debts. We must generate greater value from our contribution. Only one out of 10 soldiers who wanted to go to Afghanistan were selected. These men together with 150 civilian aid workers of the Provincial Reconstruction Team should be encouraged to employ their expertise and language skills to become experts on the South Asian region. The gain to the country will be priceless if dozens of regional experts in diplomatic and corporate fields are born through this process.
Their eyes will be opened to an entirely new world and their hearts inspired with a pioneering and enterprising spirit. Their experience in Afghanistan and South Asia will be invaluable to them as individuals as well as the country if they can use it to seed their future.
Fair enough — you know what they say, of course, about war being God’s way of teaching Americans geography. Having regional experts — civilian and military — never hurts. But if the future they’ll be seeding is one of chasing goat herders around the the middle of Bumfuck, Afghanistan for nine years as Central Asian kleptocrats pillage your tax payers, all to fight terrorists who are just as likely (if not more so) to live in London as they do in Kabul, then best of luck to you.
The arrest of a Pakistani national with alleged ties to the Taliban has local Muslims “shocked” and “angered,” according to the KT:
Muslims in Korea have expressed shock and anger after a prominent member of their community was detained by police. The man, who has trained young Muslims here, allegedly has links to the Taliban.
The Pakistani national was arrested last Thursday at his home in Daegu on charges of using a forged passport to enter the country and being linked to the terrorist group. However, he has denied any connection to the Islamic militant group. He is currently being detained for questioning.
The suspect, whose name has been withheld for legal reasons, was an acting Imam of the Daegu Islamic Center, and affiliated with the Korea Muslim Federation. The federation declined to give an opinion at this stage, saying only, “we do not trust the media now. Whenever we get the police investigation revealed, then it will be possible to talk about it.”
A Bangladeshi Muslim who requested anonymity told the KT that Korea needs to pay greater attention to fingerprints and IDs:
A Bangladeshi Muslim, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, felt that “the government should be more alert. The government should be stronger about fingerprints and identity.”
The man, also a business owner in the Islamic area of the Seoul district of Itaewon, said that he knew of people who had been deported before, and then simply returned here with a new passport.
“They come back with a new passport,” he said, “They are very dangerous for Korea.”
Members of the Muslim and Pakistani community say he often confessed about serving the Taliban and collecting information about US troops in Korea.
Read ROK Drop for more.
- Nine out of 10 Korean Special Warfare Command soldiers want to go to Afghanistan.
- On a related note, President Lee will reportedly ask Uzbek thug-in-chief Islam Karimov to allow the US to use Navoi International Airport as a supply base for US forces in Afghanistan. Lee enjoys close ties with Karimov.
- The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) says that visa issues are what trouble foreigners most.
- Australia’s replacement of its “occupations-in-demand” list means a whole lot of Koreans won’t be immigrating to the Lucky Country.
- The North Koreans have completed the “African Renaissance” memorial in Dakar, Senegal. Not sure which renaissance they’re referring to, exactly, but damn, that’s a cool memorial. Sure, it’s a huge waste of money, and I’d have modeled the female figure on a young Pam Grier, but as far as white elephants go, it’s easier on the eyes than the Akosombo Dam.
- The Korea Herald talks to the man behind Korean News Feeds.
- The Hankyoreh ran a piece on former conscripted laborers in Sakhalin Island.
- Steeling booze? Really, guys?
- An old Russian Jewish school in Harbin is now a school for the city’s Korean minority. Which beats turning the synagogue into a cafe.