The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: ROK-US Issues (page 2 of 71)

The Korean dude who heckled President Obama and Korea’s visa waiver status

By now, most American readers will probably be familiar with Ju Hong, the Korean guy who heckled President Obama during—ironically enough—an immigration rally.

Hong has a history of, depending on how you look at it, gutsy political activism or outrageously mocking the people’s laws on immigration.

I didn’t think much about the incident at the time, other than being somewhat impressed by Obama’s handling of the incident and, likewise, somewhat perplexed as to why Hong and his family weren’t immediately placed on a plane back to Korea where he can do his two year’s military service like every other Korean male in his age cohort—I’m sure the ROK military has plenty of need for good English speakers.

Then I read an interview Hong gave with Yonhap News, where he calls immigration reform an “important matter for Korean-Americans and a human rights issue.” But more interestingly, he claims that one in seven Korean immigrants to the United States is undocumented.

The interview is worth reading, as it not only explains how Hong’s family ended up in Migukistan, but it’s also fun to compare its tone with the one Yonhap would have likely adopted had this been Ahmed the Illegal Bangladeshi Factory Worker from Ansan heckling President Park Geun-hye during a presidential speech.

At National Review, Mark Krikorian discusses the problem Hong’s case presents to immigration law enforcement—his family entered the country legally enough, but simply overstayed their visas. And as Hong himself told Yonhap, there are apparently a lot of Koreans doing this:

The salient fact here for immigration policy is that he came with his family on a tourist visa, and never left. Visa overstayers are believed to represent between a third and a half of the 12 million illegal aliens in the United States — and with improvements in border enforcement it’s possible the majority of new illegal aliens are overstayers. That translates to 4 to 6 million liars, people who swore they’d leave when their visit was over but didn’t, something at least as contemptible as sneaking into someone else’s country. Hong came as a child, so he wasn’t doing the lying, but he’s no more entitled to stay than the child of someone who lied on a mortgage application and later lost his home.

There are also more Korean illegal aliens than you might think. For instance, nearly 7,000 South Korean illegal aliens have been amnestied by Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (a.k.a. the administrative Dream Act) through the end of August, making it the No. 5 country after Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Krikorian goes on to note that the problem—at least in Korea’s case—is made worse by the fact that Korea is included in the American visa waiver program:

Exacerbating this problem with regard to South Korea and other countries is the Visa Waiver Program. As the name suggests, people from the 37 countries on the list don’t have to get visas for short tourist or business trips. Only those countries whose citizens are very unlikely to overstay are supposed to be included in the program. Unfortunately, the main force expanding the list of participating countries has been lobbying pressure from the travel industry and foreign governments. South Korea was added in 2008 and Greece — Greece — in 2010. This has been a significant driver of illegal immigration; the GAO reported earlier this year that, of a very large sample of apparent overstays, nearly half were people who entered under the Visa Waiver Program.

To be honest, as far as nations of origin for illegal aliens go, you could do a lot worse than Korea, but still, something appears to be broken. Ultimately, it’s up to the United States to enforce its own immigration laws, but I wonder if perhaps there’s room for cooperation with Korean authorities to ensure Korean tourists don’t get lost on their visits, lest this become a bilateral diplomatic issue. You know, much in the way the Korean Foreign Ministry stepped in when a certain, ahem, segment of the Korean community in Australia became an issue.

And in today’s fight against Japanese imperialism: Unhappy pivots, evil JSDF spies and not all F-35s are created equal

In today’s Korea Times, we are treated to—sit down for it—complaining, particularly about how the US pivot towards Asia is putting Korea in a tough spot because a) Korea is being forced to choose between Washington and Beijing and b) Washington isn’t putting enough pressure on the Japanese to apologize:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thriving amid growing uncertainty in the region.

Experts say the trend is likely to continue, unless the United States reprimands Japan for denying its wartime history, for instance.

However, the U.S. engrossed in a duel with rival China can’t afford to alienate Tokyo.

Rather, it is encouraging Abe to become bolder, which he has done.

The end of the piece quotes from a recent column by Stanford’s Daniel Sneider in the WaPo calling on Washington to help Japan do the right thing and resolve its historical issues with Korea. For what it’s worth, I agree that a satisfactory resolution to historical issues between Korea and Japan would be in everybody’s interest—well, everybody’s except possibly China’s. Maybe there’s even a role the United States can play in encouraging the Japanese to be more forthcoming.

There are several problems with this, though. Firstly, Koreans are already prone to doubt the sincerity of Japanese apologies, and I’d imagine they’d be even more keen to doubt them if it appears Japan was being “forced” to apologize by America. Sure, they’d enjoy the sight of Japan being humbled, but any apology would come off as forced and insincere. Secondly, even if Washington leaned on Japan to confront its past, there’s no guarantee Tokyo would do so, especially considering that a lot of the folk driving Japanese diplomatic hamfistedness towards Korea seem to believe the only real war criminal in the Pacific was the United States.

There’s something else to the complaints, too, namely, the lack of compartmentalization. Historical issues are one thing. Declaring large swaths of the East China Sea your ADIZ is quite another. Prioritize.

Meanwhile…

Japan’s Kyodo News is reporting that Japan’s Self-Defense Force (or as we like to call it with a giggle, the jawidae) not only has spies in Korea, but has also sent them without telling the Japanese prime minister:

Japan’s Self-Defense Force operates clandestine intelligence-gathering teams in South Korea and other countries without informing its civilian government, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

The teams are operated independently by the force without notifying the prime minister or defense minister, Kyodo quoted a former army chief and top defense intelligence official as saying, flying in the face of democratic control of the armed forces.

The force’s Ground Staff Office formed a spying team that sets up bases overseas to gather intelligence. All members undergo training in espionage and counterintelligence.

Huh. Japanese military forces operating independently of Japan’s civilian government. How could that possibly go wrong?

And finally, in the Chosun Ilbo’s gripe of the day, some ruling party lawmakers are beginning to grumble that Korea is getting a much worse deal on the F-35 than Japan. In particular, while Japan will be allowed to make most of its F-35s, Korea will be forced to import finished products from the United States.

Sometimes it’s good to spy on friends

In the Boston Globe, Walter V. Robinson argues that sometimes, spying on your allies can be a good or even necessary thing. He cites an example he was apparently involved in personally—the 1969 summit between Korean President Park Chung-hee and US President Richard Nixon:

In Asia, where a half million American troops were engaged in Vietnam, the Korean peninsula had become an unwelcome flashpoint. In January 1968, a team of North Korean commandos was narrowly foiled in an attempt to assassinate Park. Three days later, North Korean naval vessels seized the spy ship USS Pueblo and its 82 crew members. And then came the downing of the reconnaissance aircraft 15 months later.

There were 56,000 American troops in South Korea, and deep concerns in Washington that the Korean War might well resume. For the United States, good intelligence was critical, from either side of the demilitarized zone. Indeed, South Korea foiled a North Korean mission to land another team of commandos in the south in 1969, thanks to signal and communications intelligence intercepts of North Korean military transmissions.

In the weeks before the Nixon-Park summit, the NSA provided the Nixon Administration with scores of secret cables between Park’s senior aides, the South Korean Foreign Ministry, and its embassy in Washington. Many of them dwelt at length on Park’s negotiating strategy: Ask for much more than he needed, in weaponry and other US assistance to combat the threat from Pyongyang. And the cables, which Park’s government presumed were secret, also spelled out what he actually needed.

Nixon had been dealt a full house. Park held no cards at all.

Needless to say, many Koreans aren’t so happy about the latest round of spying allegations—one opposition lawmaker recently even called for NSA officials to be extradited to Korea for trial—but the government hasn’t been saying much. And for good reason—according to leaked NSA documents, South Korea was placed on a list—alongside China, Russia, Cuba, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, France and Venezuela—of countries engaged in intelligence operations against the US government, military, science and technology and intelligence community. Again, not surprising—if I were head of the NIS, I’d be spying on the Americans, too.

South Korean first-strike capabilities has got American, Chinese attention: US researcher

In town for a forum hosted by the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Hudson Institute researcher Richard Weitz said Seoul has made so much progress preparing for a preemptive strike contingency against the North that its arousing the attention of Chinese and American officials.

Preemptive strikes would see the use of ballistic and cruise missiles and long-range guns. Weitz said Korea’s response system has improved greatly since the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeongdo.

He says, however, that experts worry Seoul might not be able to properly respond to a collapse of the North Korean regime, noting that in such a scenario, the South Korean military would have to enter North Korea, secure nuclear weapons and handle a humanitarian crisis with US forces playing a minimal role.

He said such a mission would require large-scale ground forces rather than advanced weapons, but South Korea has been gradually reducing its manpower and adopting more advanced weapons systems. He says it does not appear Seoul is well-prepared to handle a non-military clash lake reunification.

Weitz also noted that there’s a severe trade imbalance between Korea and the United States in terms of arms and defense products, and this imbalance could eventually limit Korea’s ability to purchase American fighter jets. To help avoid controversy over Korea joining a missile defense system and relax tensions surrounding the negotiations on burden sharing, the United States should purchase more Korean-made weapons and defense-related products.

Referring to the Foreign Policy piece on US suspicions that Korea was stealing its weapon technology, he said it seems this is merely a suspicion, and that the similarity of Korean systems to American ones appears to be the product of a strategy of boosting interoperability. He also said American firms have generally wanted Korea to produce weapons systems similar to their American counterparts as this could boost Korea’s dependence on US imports for things such as parts.

Marmot’s Note: Seoul’s preemptive strike capacity does seem impressive, which makes the less-than-inspiring comments coming out of the Ministry of Defense over the last couple of days even more bewildering. Not only do you have the Defense Intelligence Agency director saying that the South would lose a war to the North without US help, but yesterday you had Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin tell the National Assembly that South Korea’s military strength was only about 80% that of the North’s—a claim made all the more bewildering as he a) made it while simultaneously boasting that the South would destroy the North in a war even without US help, and b) he also noted that South Korea spent 34 times as much on defense than the North in 2013.

For what it’s worth, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) studies found that while South Korea’s military strength was just 88% of the North’s in 2004, by 2009 it was already 110% of the North’s. And as the Hankyoreh notes, the Defense Ministry-run KIDA’s estimations are considered conservative. According to GlobalFirepower.com, South Korea ranked eighth in the world in military strength—right behind Ze Germans and right ahead of the Italians—while the North placed only 29th, which ranked it a spot below Ethiopia. For those keeping score at home, Mongolia placed 61st.

Losers, NLL transcript, invisible US ambassador, Japan and UNESCO redux, complaining foreigners, pretty shaved heads and Lego

Losers

With guys like this running the Ministry of Defense, is it any surprise they’re dragging their feet with the transfer of wartime operational command?

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency touched off a furor by saying at a National Assembly audit that South Korea would “lose” in a one-on-one war with North Korea.

South Korea’s 2013 military spending is 33 to 34 times more than North Korea‘s.

Speaking at the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee annual audit of his office at the Ministry of National Defense on Nov. 5, Cho Bo-geun reportedly responded to a question about who would win in a war between South Korea and North Korea by saying, “If we fight as an alliance with the US under the current operational plan, we‘ll win by an overwhelming margin. If South Korea fights alone, North Korea has the superior fighting strength, so South Korea would lose.”

Twice the population, a military budget 34 times the size of North Korea’s, an economic gap that looks like this, and you still think you’d lose?

I just don’t know what to say, other than the Defense Ministry should hire Doug Bandow as a consultant or something.

Which way did the transcript go, George? Which way did it go?

More nonsense with the NLL:

“People all know that President Roh Moo-hyun guarded the NLL (Northern Limit Line),” Moon told reporters before his questioning. “The transcript [of the summit] is intact.

“The crux of this matter is that the ruling party and the National Intelligence Service abused the transcript stored at the NIS by distorting its contents for [last year’s] presidential election,” said Moon, who was also the Democratic Party candidate defeated in last year’s presidential election.

When asked by reporters why the transcript wasn’t transferred to the National Archives, Moon did not answer.

He’s probably right about the NIS using the transcript for political purposes in the last election. As far as everyone knowing that Roh defended the NLL, I’d say recent elections and polling would suggest that’s far from the case.

US ambassador needs to drink more

Somebody at the JoongAng Ilbo apparently doesn’t think US Ambassador Sung Kim is drinking enough:

Modesty and passiveness are different. Kim’s background is too special for him to be just another ambassador.

Because he is the first Korean-American to be appointed U.S. ambassador to Seoul, and because he is the forerunner for other people of Korean descent who will take senior posts in other countries, our expectations are high.

It is not too late. We want to see His Excellency Kim meeting Koreans over glasses of makgeolli during the rest of his term.

There seems to be some confusion here, and I’ve noticed it with previous ambassadors here, too. More specifically, it sometimes seems the media expects the US ambassador to represent Korean interests to the US government. Sure, I guess in terms of public policy, it doesn’t hurt to mix with the locals. Could be fun, too. But that’s not his job.

Oh, not this again…

The JoongAng Ilbo thinks the Japanese are being insensitive by pushing the registration of their modern cultural heritage with UNESCO:

Japan was a regional front-runner when it came to industrialization and economic success. The government is seeking to register its early industrial sites as Unesco World Heritage sites to rekindle pride in its economic legacy. Doing so, however, the country has once again demonstrated insensitivity toward its neighbor. Eleven out of the 28 “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” it plans to seek for UN recognition in February 2015 served as labor camps for Korean prisoners and civilians during World War II.

At least 1,481 Koreans were forced to work as slaves in sites that include a shipyard in Nagasaki, a defunct coal mine and a steel mill in Fukuoka, according to a study by the Prime Minister’s Office.The Hashima coal mine was notoriously referred to as the “island of hell” because Koreans were forced to work for 12 hours a day in pits of 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) below the surface. Few Koreans came out alive or even healthy.

Any country is entitled to vie for international recognition and protection for its heritage and cultural properties under the World Heritage Treaty of 1972. The places Japan wants to list as World Heritage sites may be valuable assets to the Japanese, but they trigger bitter and painful memories for Koreans. It is spiteful to honor its past glory at the expense of others’ pain.

I’ve already explained why I think this is a losing fight for the Korean side here.

Sometimes, this blog just writes itself

OK, it’s a bit dated, but in case you missed the Korea Times piece about the gay American pastor in HBC complaining about Korea’s homophobic textbooks, then you also missed this beauty from an Education Ministry official—be warned, though, that you should not be drinking anything when you read it, especially coffee, which can be especially difficult to wipe off your monitor:

“Every country has its own set of laws in evaluating and approving the education material for books. I don’t know if it’s appropriate for a foreigner to judge how we manage our education. You won’t see us commenting how other countries teach at schools.”

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing.

Like a very pretty bhikkhunī

Say what you will about Rep. Kim Jae-yeon’s politics—needless to say, I’m not a fan of her party. Still, she does look good with a shaved head.

Lego screwing Korea

Or that’s what some folk are complaining, anyway:

“Lego is too expensive, that’s why moms usually band together and make bulk purchases through the Internet,” Park Jin-hai, 38, a mother of two kids aged nine and six, said.

“Moms all know Lego is expensive, but we have no choice because kids love it. Also, it is difficult to find individual stores and service centers where customers can get the customer service in person,” Park added.

“Lego uses its international economic scale to raise awareness and the price here. Comparably smaller Korean toy firms cannot win with those strategies,” a market insider added.

Foreign coffee chains, outdoor fashion brands, Danish toy companies… when will these outrages stop?

Spy Games

There’s now speculation about what President Park will do should is be learned that the United States bugged her phone. The Chosun Ilbo seems to think it did:

The U.S. government promised Korea to “review intelligence activities” after Seoul asked whether the National Security Agency wiretapped the Korean Embassy in Washington. This is seen as tantamount to an admission that it did.

“Seoul had demanded that Washington verify rumors about wiretapping and make its position clear,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young said Tuesday. “The U.S. has said it understands allies’ worries and promised to review intelligence activities.”

Given Korea’s own forays—not always successful—into the realm of cloak-and-dagger skulduggery, I really don’t know what Cheong Wa Dae will say should it be confirmed that the NIS eavesdropped on them. A DP lawmaker, meanwhile, is claiming the US may have been peaking at Korea’s cards during the FTA negotiations.

On the other side of the ledger, Foreign Policy has run a piece on US concerns that South Korea may be stealing its weapons technology:

But just beneath that relationship’s surface is a growing unease. South Korea, one of America’s strongest partners in East Asia, is aggressively targeting U.S. advanced technology for its own use in a variety of Korean weapons programs, Foreign Policy has learned. From anti-ship missiles, electronic warfare equipment, torpedoes, a multiple-launch rocket system, and even components on a Korean-made Aegis destroyer, the United States is concerned about the uncanny resemblance those systems bear to American weaponry. Even the tanks Hagel watched on the range that day may be partial knock-offs: The Korean models have fire control systems that appear to be all-but-identical to the American versions.

Though the United States long has had systems in place to monitor technology-sharing with allies, the case with South Korea has become particularly acute in the last few years. As the United States pivots East and Asia’s once sleepy defense industries begin to awaken, it has quietly begun to scrutinize its technology-sharing relationships with such allies, conducting secret but robust “dialogues” — diplomatic-speak for a series of private exchanges on tech-sharing between the two countries — to ensure that American secrets stay that way.

This is particularly relevant at a time when Korea is considering the purchase of the F-35:

Right now, the dialogue between the two countries is focused heavily on the potential sale of the advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the South Koreans. American officials are putting into place a strict security agreement to ensure that nothing is shared, either with the wrong people, or for use by a buyer of a Korean-made copycat for Korea’s own competitive purposes. The South Koreans are interested in the F-35, but their interest comes at the same time as South Korea’s bid to build its own stealth jet, raising bureaucratic eyebrows in the United States. It could be the equivalent of South Korea taking a fighter jet on a test drive, as it were, flying it around the corner to kick its tires, only then to return it to the dealership and say it’s not interested, but first looking under the hood and taking some pictures.

Some quarters of the Korean press claim US concerns are more about competition from Korea in the global arms market. Like US concerns about theft, I’m sure there’s some truth to that, too.

(HT to Wangkon)

Seoul says no to US missile defense initiative

Korea will not joint the US-led missile defense initiative, but will go its “own path”:

Currently, South Korea is building an independent, low-tier missile shield called the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system with a plan to upgrade PAC-2 missiles to PAC-3.

“Unlike the U.S. missile defense system covering its mainland, Hawaii and Guam, the KAMD system is aimed at only intercepting missiles from North Korea,” Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told reporters.

“Considering need, suitability and budget availability, we will not join the U.S. missile defense system, but take our own path.”

Presumably, this is to prevent diplomatic problems with China. What’s interesting—other than the fact that Korea apparently expects the United States to help protect it from missile attack but doesn’t feel it should help stop a missile attack on the United States, let alone Japan—is that some felt the proposed delay in transferring wartime operational command had something to do with Korean participation in the US-led MD program:

The unscheduled press briefing is seen as the ministry’s move to preemptively calm down growing speculation that the postponement of wartime operational control (OPCON) may have to do with South Korea’s participation in the U.S. missile defense system. The OPCON transition is scheduled for December 2015, but South Korea has asked the U.S. side to reconsider the handover, citing changed security situation on the Korean Peninsula due to rising North Korean threats.

However, the minister denied it, saying “There was no missile defense discussion in tandem with the OPCON issue.”

One would hope this has an impact on the discussions on the delay. But I doubt it.

Great role for Japan in military matters?

It looks like the United States is supporting an enlarged role for Japan in security and military matters:

The foreign affairs and defense chiefs of Japan and the United States agreed Thursday to revise bilateral defense cooperation guidelines by the end of 2014 so the joint security alliance reflects rising threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the “two-plus-two” meeting, in which the participants for the first time in Tokyo involved all the heads of their respective ministries, the four agreed that the guidelines, last revised in 1997 to outline how the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military should cooperate, must be changed to take into account the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear threats, as well as cyber-attacks and terrorism.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and their American counterparts, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, also confirmed that steps would be taken to reduce the concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

As if to highlight the irony, when I walked into work this morning, there were two newspapers on the table—the Chosun Ilbo with an article on the front page about the US supporting Japan’s enlarged military role, and the Hankyoreh with a front-page article about Korea delaying the transfer of wartime operational command.

Anyway, in its editorial on the matter, the Chosun Ilbo warned the United States that it would first need to earn the understanding and agreement of nations victimized by Japanese imperialism before it expanded security cooperation between Korea, Japan and the United States. In particular, Washington can no longer be a bystander in Korea—Japan historical disputes. It must clearly convey to Japan what its historical duties are and warn Tokyo against actions that run counter to those duties.

Mind you, the Chosun doesn’t oppose greater tripartite security cooperation. It just thinks a) Korea needs time to convince the people why its necessary and b) the United States needs to lean on the Japanese to play nice. Oh, and Korea needs to consider how to ensure such cooperation doesn’t lead to problems with China. Good luck with that.

I like the F-15 as much as the next guy, but…

With the final selection of Korea’s next-generation fighter set for Sep 24, we’ve got quite a few folk unhappy with the sole choice on the table, the F-15 Silent Eagle.

And by “quite a few unhappy folk,” I include 15 former chiefs of the ROKAF, who naturally wonder why Korea should be buying a “next-generation” fighter based on a 40-year-old airframe:

“We can’t just choose minicars over sedans because they are cheap,” said Kim Hong-rae who served as the air force chief of staff in 1994 and 1995.

“Like the United States and Japan, we need F-35s as fifth-generation aircraft. We can wait another one or two years, looking ahead 40 years, with the finally selected fighter jets,” Kim told Reuters, referring to any delay if the current process is cancelled.

The “F-15SE is still a paper airplane under development based on 1970’s models, which raises lots of questions on the effectiveness” of upgrading the F-15 platform, the statement said. “Japan recently bought 42 F-35s and the crucial weapons system to deter North Korea’s threats is a stealth fighter,” it added.

Of course, the problem with the F-35 is that exceeds the budget allocate for the project (probably something that would apply to the United States, too. Just ask John McCain). That and there were quite a few questions about the fighter even before it was disqualified for cost reasons.

In the end, the F-15SE may get disqualified, too, since it is only partially stealthy. The ROKAF—and more vocally, its former chiefs—wants a fully stealth aircraft to scare the crap out of the North Koreans—the appearance in Korea of American F-22s was enough to keep late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il indoors, after all. And yeah, China and Japan are developing/buying them, so Korea needs them, too. Or so the argument goes.

On the other hand, some argue against getting too fixated on stealth. Nothing is completely stealth, and at any rate, the Russians and Japanese are working on new radar systems to detect stealth fighters. Besides, for the cost of buying stealths, it might be more effective to buy more of the cheaper stuff to attack the North with after North Korea’s air defense system has been neutralised by missiles or American stealth aircraft. Or so some government official told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Korea asks to postpone operational command transfer. Again.

We’re never going to transfer wartime operational command, are we?

A top U.S. government official said Tuesday South Korea has requested another delay in the schedule to regain operational control (OPCON) of its troops in the event of war.

“I know that has been proposed by the South Korean government, and we are looking at that, working with the South Korean government,” the official told Yonhap News Agency on background.

Related consultations are under way between the allies, with the White House and the State Department handling the issue, added the official.

He emphasized that the U.S. would not “abruptly make decisions that would impair or endanger the security of South Korea.”

“We need to keep working on this,” he said.

Keep working on this? I thought we did work on it—two Korean presidential administrations ago.

To be fair to the Korean side, I don’t think the Koreans ever wanted to take back wartime operation command in the first place. That is to say, I believe it was something forced on Korea by the Americans as a result of then-President Roh Moo-hyun doing what he did best—miscalculating:

When then President-elect Roh mentioned in December 2001 a review of bilateral relations with the U.S., Rumsfeld ordered the U.S. Defense Department to accept Roh`s request. Having wanted Seoul to raise its financial contribution to U.S. forces in South Korea, Rumsfeld must have rejoiced when Roh later urged Washington to return wartime operational command to Seoul. People will wonder if Roh was aware that his bid to get South Korea more independent from the U.S. instead helped Washington to get what it had long wanted.

Or read that in Rummy’s own words here.

The thing is, though, that Rumsfeld was right, and a transfer of command is probably in the long-term best interests of both allies. If left up to the Korean side, however, the transfer won’t happen, so the Americans need to move it along.

So, just how are the Koreans taking having their embassy bugged?

The answer is—well, they’re not especially happy, but they’re not raising a shit storm, either.

Or, as Yonhap’s Washington correspondent put it, the government and Korean embassy are reacting cautiously to the reports.

The Foreign Ministry has asked the United States for an explanation, and the Democratic Party is demanding the government ask Washington for an apology, going as far as to say that Korea is the only country that hasn’t expressed outrage about the Guardian report.

The problem is that, like pretty much everybody else, the Koreans spy on allies and business partners, sometimes to great comedic effect. And let’s not get started on the French. This is why, as a diplomatic source told one Yonhap, nations have a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regards to leaked national secrets.

Roh agreed to abandon NLL: National Assembly intel committee lawmakers

Saenuri Party lawmakers on the National Assembly intelligence committee say they’ve read the sections of the conversation record from the 2007 inter-Korean summit where President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il discussed the West Sea NLL, reports the Chosun Ilbo.

And more to the point, they say Roh made a statement that suggested he wanted to abandon the NLL. To sum up, Roh said he agreed with Kim that the NLL needed to be changed and called for it to be turned into a “zone of peaceful cooperation.” Kim responded by suggesting Roh abandon its laws regarding the NLL so that the two sides could enter working-level discussions on creating said zone, to which Roh said, “Yes, fine.”

They also said the sanctions the US placed on BDA in 2005 were a “clear American blunder.” Best of all, Roh also told Kim that if you poll South Koreans, the country they hate the most is the United States. When asked which nation threatens peace the most, South Koreans respond with the United States at No. 1, Japan at No. 2 and then North Korea.

Lovely.

Much, much more here. The stuff in these documents come from NIS reports in 2009 when the LMB administration was secretly preparing for a possible summit with the North. Wanna play a game? Guess which leader said the following about the BDA sanctions, Roh and Kim Jong-il:

“분명히 얘기를 하는데… BDA 문제는 미국의 실책인데… 북측에 손가락질하고 북측보고 풀어라 하고, 부당하다는 거 다 알고 있습니다.… 뭐 제일 큰 문제가 미국입니다. 나도 역사적으로 제국주의 역사가 사실 세계 인민들에게 반성도 하지 않았고 오늘날도 패권적 야망을 절실히 드러내고 있다는 인식을 갖고 있으며 저항감도 가지고 있습니다.”

If you guessed Roh, you would have guessed right. Among other things, Roh also apparently expressed a desire to build a light water reactor for the North instead of the United States, bragged about sinking OPLAN 5029, and much, much more. Oh, and as for Kim Jong-il supposedly agreeing to the stationing of US troops in Korea during the 2000 summit with Kim Dae-jung, what KJI actually said appears to be more along the lines of “the US troop presence is useful because I can use it to drum up anti-American sentiment at home.” Which is remarkably frank, but also not the line of steaming BS the DJ administration tried to sell the South Korean and American publics.

PS: Yes, the reason the Chosun is going big with this is probably to distract the public from the ever growing evidence that the NIS was engaged in some serious nonsense during the last presidential election. It’s still fun reading through this stuff, though.

What? We sold a cruise missile to the Finns, but we won’t sell them to the Koreans?

Korea is soon to be the brand new owners of some nice, shiny Taurus air-to-ground standoff cruise missiles for their fleet of F-15s.

The bunker-busting missiles are made by German-Swedish partnership. Seoul was apparently interested in a US missile, the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 JASSM, but Washington reportedly refused to sell them to Korea. OK, fair enough—there’s no obligation to sell, after all. What I don’t get is that the JASSM’s current users are the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and Finland—yes, Finland, the nation that brought you Nokia, Linux, Angry Birds and, more to the point here, Finlandization. I guess what I’m having difficulty processing here is why we’d sell advanced cruise missiles to a nation that spent much of the Cold War kissing the Soviets’ asses (admittedly, a decision that wasn’t entirely their fault), but we WON’T sell it to a nation that’s been one of our most steadfast allies since 1953.

Competing interventions in North Korea

In the Korea Times, John Burton discusses OPLAN 5029, possible unilateral Chinese military intervention into North Korea and the risk of a Sino-American clash.

It’s an interesting piece, although I do wonder about some of the premises, though. For instance:

Since the 1990s, the U.S. and South Korea have been preparing contingency plans, known as OPLAN 5029, for dealing with “sudden change” in North Korea. Although few details are publicly known, OPLAN 5029 calls for U.S. and South Korean military forces entering North Korea to secure nuclear and military facilities and provide humanitarian assistance under what is known in Washington as the responsibility to protect (R2P) concept.

There are several obvious difficulties in carrying out OPLAN 5029, however. One is that the rapid deployment of U.S. and South Korean forces large enough to secure order might be hampered by the presence of the heavily fortified DMZ. Another is the likely hostile reaction of the North Korean population to presence of soldiers from the U.S., a country that has been demonized in the North for more than 60 years.

OK, I certainly accept that it’s possible the North Korean population would be hostile to US troops. I’m just not sure if it it’s likely to be so. Sure, Pyongyang has demonized the US for six decades, but it’s spent a good part of that time brutalizing its own people, too. US troops now operate in lots of countries that spent the Cold War demonizing the United States. Japan spent the war years demonizing the hell out of the United States, but US occupation troops met no major hostility. My own prediction is that in the event of a North Korean collapse, the general population may be simply too traumatized to care who is occupying them, be it the United States, South Koreans or Chinese. I’m also guessing that American troops would be a secondary presence behind South Koreans troops, a fact that might allow an occupation to go down better with the locals.

Then again, nobody is likely to know until the troops start moving.

About possible Chinese plans to occupy parts of North Korea—the so-called Chick Plan—Burton writes:

China already has large military forces stationed along the North Korean border and it could probably execute a rapid occupation, particularly given its knowledge of local conditions. Although it is uncertain what the reaction of North Koreans would be to the presence of Chinese troops on their soil, it is likely to be less hostile than that the U.S. military would face because of the long history of close Sino-North Korean ties.

Again, I accept it’s quite possible that North Koreans would react better to Chinese troops on their soil than American ones. But would the Chinese likely be accepted better than the Americans? Again, I don’t know. China has enjoyed relatively close ties with North Korea for a long time, but then again, many North Koreans may privately blame China for keeping the Kim Dynasty in power. The former British ambassador to North Korea noted that North Koreans are not especially fond of their Chinese allies, finding them, among other things, smelly and arrogant. I’m sure Chinese boots on the ground will prompt fear in at least some North Koreans that China intends to annex the North.

Awesome photo from Key Resolve

Came across this Reuters/Yonhap photo taken last month during the Korea—US Key Resolve exercise while at the office yesterday.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2014 The Marmot's Hole

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑