Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."
-Albert Camus

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
- Viktor E. Frankl

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
- George Orwell


1. US, South Korea respond to North Korea’s latest missile tests with launches of their own
2. Seoul: North Korea launches 3 ballistic missiles toward sea
3. Spy chief nominee says North Korea apparently has no will to denuclearize on its own
4. After North Korea fires 3 missiles, US & South Korea hold live-fire drills
5. North Korea fires suspected ICBM after Biden’s Asia trip
6. North Korea Fires Three Missiles After Biden Ends Asia Trip
7. China, Russia planes penetrate Kadiz, Seoul scrambles jets
8. New chairman of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff named
9. Nuclear weapons vs. Covid (north Korea)
10. It’s democracies versus the totalitarian states
11. N. Korea tests nuclear detonation device: presidential office
12. New confrontation along Cold War lines? China, Russia warplanes maneuvers spark concerns
13. Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats condemn N.K missile launches in phone talks
14. S. Korea and US to build value-based alliance
15. WHO verifying N. Korea's COVID-19 data amid outbreak: report
16. S. Korea sets June 15 as 2nd launch date of homegrown space rocket
17. Biden visit showcases hardened stances on North Korea
18. Biden and Yoon Make a Hawkish Turn on North Korea
19. Gi-Wook Shin on Gwangju and South Korea’s Democracy
20. Anti-US axis creeping into view in Asia
21. #SouthKorea: No more appeasement. @GordonGChang, Gatestone, Newsweek, The Hill David Maxwell, Foundation for Defense of Democracies





1. US, South Korea respond to North Korea’s latest missile tests with launches of their own
I am leading Korea news with this article because the alliance response to the nK ballistic missiles test launches and suspected ICBM test is not getting much attention in the regular media. (of course other news events are trumping this kind of news today). Stars and Stripes should have used photos of alliance weapons systems.

US, South Korea respond to North Korea’s latest missile tests with launches of their own
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi and Hana Kusumoto · May 24, 2022
A North Korean missile is launched in this image released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Jan. 28, 2022. (KCNA)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — North Korea fired three ballistic missiles Wednesday morning off its eastern coast, prompting the United States and South Korea to respond with a show of force of their own launches.
North Korea’s missiles, fired hours after President Joe Biden wrapped up his first presidential trip to Seoul and Tokyo, came from the Sunan area, where the regime’s airport is located, according to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The three missiles were fired at 6 a.m., 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m. The first, believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, flew roughly 224 miles at a peak altitude of 336 miles; the second “disappeared” at an altitude of 12 miles; and the third, believed to be a short-range ballistic missile, flew about 472 miles at an altitude of 37 miles, according to South Korea’s military.
The Japan Ministry of Defense confirmed at least two ballistic missiles were fired Wednesday morning and landed outside of the country’s exclusive economic zone, Minister Nobuo Kishi told news reporters.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in an unsigned press release Wednesday said the incident did not pose “an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory” and that it highlights the “destabilizing impact of [North Korea’s] illicit weapons program.”
Following the launches, U.S. Forces Korea announced in an unsigned press release that it had fired surface-to-surface missiles toward its eastern coast “to demonstrate the ability of the combined [U.S.-South Korea] force to respond quickly to crisis events.”
USFK, which is responsible for roughly 28,500 troops on the Korean Peninsula, said in the release it used the Army’s Tactical Missile System and South Korea’s Hyunmu-2 missile system for the live-fire exercise.
South Korea’s military also conducted an armed exercise consisting of 30 South Korean F-15K jets, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement Wednesday.
“This armed protest by our military showed our will to firmly deal with any provocation, including North Korean ICBM launches,” the statement said. “We have the ability and the posture to conduct pinpoint strikes on starting points of provocations with our overwhelming fighting power.”
North Korea’s launches mark the regime’s 16th round of missile tests so far this year. It last conducted a missile test on May 12, roughly a week before Biden arrived in South Korea as part of his five-day trip to Asia.
U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials have warned in recent weeks that the North could conduct another missile or nuclear test as soon as this month. South Korean government officials braced for a possible weapons test during Biden’s visit and said they prepared adequate countermeasures.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday condemned the North’s tests and described them as a “grave provocation.”
Pyongyang’s continued provocations will inevitably lead to "stronger and swifter [South Korea]-U.S. joint deterrence and invite only its international isolation," Yoon’s office said in a statement.
Yoon, who was inaugurated this month, pledged with Biden to initiate talks to increase the scope and scale of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises due to North Korea’s “evolving threat.”
“We are going to step up our exercises,” Yoon said during a press briefing with Biden on Saturday.
Yoon, a member of the country’s conservative People Power Party, has vowed to increase cooperation with the U.S. military and respond decisively against North Korea’s provocations.
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi and Hana Kusumoto · May 24, 2022



2. Seoul: North Korea launches 3 ballistic missiles toward sea

This was not unexpected. But we should look at everything that is going on in the region. In addition to these test launches we have Chinese and Russian aircraft penetrating the Korean ADIZ and encroaching Japanese airspace. There is a lot going on in Northeast Asia.
Perhaps we need a Northeast Asia Combatant Command or a reprise Far Eastern Command to provide sufficient focus on this critical region.


Seoul: North Korea launches 3 ballistic missiles toward sea
militarytimes.com · by Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press · May 24, 2022
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched three ballistic missiles toward the sea on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, the Norths’ first weapons firings in about two weeks as the country makes a much-disputed claim that its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak is weakening.
The latest launches also came after the leaders of South Korea and the United States agreed to consider expanded military exercises to deter North Korean nuclear threats during President Joe Biden’s visit to Seoul last weekend.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that all three missiles were fired toward waters off North Korea’s eastern coast one after another between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
It said South Korea has subsequently boosted its surveillance posture and maintains a military readiness in close coordination with the United States. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol separately called a National Security Council meeting to discuss the North’s launches, his office said.
RELATED

North Korea has claimed the March 4 and Feb. 26 launches were merely to test cameras to be installed on a future spy satellite.
The launches were North Korea’s 17th round of missile firings this year. Experts have said North Korea’s testing is aimed at modernizing its weapons arsenal and at applying pressure on its rivals amid long-dormant nuclear diplomacy.
North Korea’s unusual pace in weapons tests this year included its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017 in March. U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials have that North Korea could soon conduct its first nuclear test in nearly five years as well.
While visiting South Korea, Biden brushed aside questions about any possible provocation by North Korea during his trip, saying, “We are prepared for anything North Korea does.” Asked if he had a message for the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, Biden offered a clipped response: “Hello. Period.”
After his Seoul trip, Biden traveled on to Japan and met with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, where the leaders vowed to work closely to address security challenges, including North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs and also what they called China’s “increasingly coercive” behavior in the region.
Hours before the North’s missile launches, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in Washington that North Korea may be on the verge of a major weapons test. “Our concern for another potential provocation, be it an ICBM launch, be a potential seventh nuclear weapons test, our concern has not abated in any way,” he said.
North Korea’s last missile tests occurred hours after the country on May 12 acknowledged its COVID-19 outbreak on its soil, after maintaining a widely disputed claim to be coronavirus-free.
The country has said in the past few days that there has been “a positive sign” in its anti-virus campaign. Some observers predicted that North Korea would soon resume its missile tests. Since its admission of the outbreak of the highly contagious omicron variant, North Korea has only stated how many people have fevers daily and identified just a fraction of the cases as COVID-19, while saying an unidentified fever has been spreading across the country since late April.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s state media said 115,970 more people fell ill due to an unidentified fever in the past 24-hour period but there was no additional death. It said a total of about 3 million people have shown feverish symptoms but only 68 of them died since late April, an extremely low fatality rate if the illness is COVID-19 as suspected.
North Korea has limited testing capability for that many sick people, but some experts say it is also likely underreporting mortalities to protect Kim from political damage.



3. Spy chief nominee says North Korea apparently has no will to denuclearize on its own

ROK and US alignment on the assumptions about the nature, objectives, and strategy of the Kim family regime.

Spy chief nominee says North Korea apparently has no will to denuclearize on its own
The Korea Times · May 25, 2022
Spy chief nominee Kim Kyou-hyun / Yonhap 

North Korea appears to have no intent on giving up its nuclear weapons on its own, South Korea's state intelligence chief nominee said Wednesday.

Kim Kyou-hyun, named to lead the National Intelligence Service, presented the view during his National Assembly confirmation hearing, just hours after Pyongyang launched three ballistic missiles into the East Sea amid concerns it may even carry out another nuclear weapon test soon.

"I think North Korea scarcely has a will to denuclearize on its own," Kim said.
On the COVID-19 outbreak in the North, he said people there appear not to have received vaccinations, while it remains unconfirmed whether or not leader Kim has been vaccinated.

The North seems to have received emergency medical supplies from China, he added.

Kim, formerly a veteran diplomat and senior presidential aide, voiced skepticism over the North's daily report of suspected coronavirus infections and deaths, saying, "The figures are hard to believe.

"There is no way to verify (the numbers) objectively, but it seems to be far from the truth," he said.

North Korea has claimed its outbreak of COVID-19 has been slowing down in recent days, with the total number of "fever" cases since late April standing at around 3.06 million. (Yonhap)
The Korea Times · May 25, 2022


4. After North Korea fires 3 missiles, US & South Korea hold live-fire drills


There is a 1:25 minute video at the link. South Korea released video of the ROK/US alliance launch. I have not seen very much reporting on this.


After North Korea fires 3 missiles, US & South Korea hold live-fire drills
Published: May 25, 2022, 02:25 PM(IST) WION Video Team



The United States and South Korea held combined live-fire drills on Wednesday in response to North Korea's missile tests just after US President Joe Biden ended his first Asia trip.


5. North Korea fires suspected ICBM after Biden’s Asia trip

And an "elephant walk" by the ROK Air Force

Excerpts:

In response to the launch, the militaries of the United States and South Korea conducted a live-fire exercise involving their own missile systems “to demonstrate the ability of the combined ROK-U.S. force to respond quickly to crisis events,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement.
South Korea’s air force conducted an “Elephant Walk” training with fighter planes the day before in preparation for a possible provocation by North Korea, the joint chiefs said. Elephant walking is a process that allows many planes to take off in close succession.


North Korea fires suspected ICBM after Biden’s Asia trip
By Min Joo Kim and 
Julia Mio Inuma 
Updated May 25, 2022 at 3:02 a.m. EDT|Published May 24, 2022 at 8:27 p.m. EDT
The Washington Post · by Min Joo Kim · May 25, 2022
SEOUL — North Korea launched three ballistic missiles, including a suspected intercontinental one, off its east coast on Wednesday, just hours after President Biden wrapped up his trip to Asia where he discussed a response to the security threats posed by the North.
South Korea also detected preparations for a nuclear test — which would be the first since 2017 — with the testing of a detonation device, said deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo. “It is unlikely that a nuclear test will happen in a day or two, but after that, there is enough possibility,” he told reporters.
North Korea’s launch of an ICBM that can potentially reach the U.S. mainland is considered a red line by Washington and its allies monitoring the North’s military actions.
The launches come just four days after Biden and his South Korean counterpart held a summit meeting in Seoul and agreed to consider expanded military exercises to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles lifted off from Pyongyang’s Sunan area, where North Korea’s main international airport is located. The three missiles were fired one after another over less than an hour starting 6 a.m. local time.
The first missile, which appeared to be an ICBM, flew about 224 miles at a maximum altitude of about 335 miles, according to the joint chiefs — far less than past ICBM tests, including one in March that flew 10 times higher.
South Korea’s Kim said Wednesday’s test could have involved Hwasong-17, North Korea’s largest known intercontinental ballistic missile, which was showcased in a military parade in Pyongyang last month.
The second missile is thought to have failed midair, while the third one appeared to be a short-range missile and flew about 472 miles and reached a height of 37 miles.
The South Korean government condemned the North’s launch as “a serious provocation that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and the international community.”
“North Korea’s continued provocations cannot but result in a stronger and quicker allied deterrence from the U.S. and South Korea,” the presidential office said in a statement. “It will only lead to North Korea’s international isolation.”
In response to the launch, the militaries of the United States and South Korea conducted a live-fire exercise involving their own missile systems “to demonstrate the ability of the combined ROK-U.S. force to respond quickly to crisis events,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement.
South Korea’s air force conducted an “Elephant Walk” training with fighter planes the day before in preparation for a possible provocation by North Korea, the joint chiefs said. Elephant walking is a process that allows many planes to take off in close succession.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung-han, “condemned the DPRK’s destabilizing ballistic missile tests and committed to continue building on their close coordination,” according to a readout of their call on Wednesday. DPRK is North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said it detected at least two ballistic missiles from North Korea and was investigating possibilities of additional launches.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi condemned the North’s missile launch as “clearly provocative, absolutely unacceptable.” He noted it came on the heels of the U.S. president’s meeting with Asian allies and member nations of the Indo-Pacific coalition known as the Quad.
“Even under a situation where covid-19 is spreading, North Korea continues to focus on nuclear and missile developments, without regard for the lives and livelihoods of the citizens,” he told reporters Wednesday. The two missiles landed in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese coast guard.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked to his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Wednesday, agreeing to work closely with them in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Wednesday’s launch marks North Korea’s 17th known weapons test this year, an unprecedented flurry. Pyongyang has been using the tests to diversify and expand its arsenal as part of leader Kim Jong Un’s five-year plan to expand the country’s military capabilities. Its last known weapons test was on May 12, when it fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea.
That test came just hours after North Korea reported its first coronavirus outbreak and called it “the most serious national emergency.” The largely unvaccinated country ordered a nationwide lockdown and mobilized its army to distribute covid-19 medications.
Just 10 days after reporting the country’s first outbreak, however, the North Korean state media shifted its tone on the epidemic, boasting about progress in its response. During his trip to South Korea, Biden, along with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, expressed willingness to provide coronavirus aid to North Korea, but Pyongyang has not responded to the offer.
U.S. and South Korean officials assessed that North Korea, despite the virus outbreak, could conduct a nuclear test or launch a long-range missile around the time of Biden’s five-day Asia trip that concluded Tuesday.
Biden told reporters on Sunday in South Korea that he was “not concerned” about a potential weapons test from North Korea. “We are prepared for anything North Korea does. We’ve thought through how we would respond to whatever they do,” he said.
North Korea may react angrily to Biden’s and Yoon’s recent promises to step up allied deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, which Pyongyang says is necessary to protect itself from American threats. A future expansion of U.S.-South Korean military exercises could dial up regional tensions, experts said. While the two allies say the drills are defensive in nature, Pyongyang called them preparation for an invasion.
The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that Wednesday’s missile launch “highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program.”
Inuma reported from Tokyo.
The Washington Post · by Min Joo Kim · May 25, 2022


6. North Korea Fires Three Missiles After Biden Ends Asia Trip

North Korea Fires Three Missiles After Biden Ends Asia Trip
U.S. officials had warned that Pyongyang appeared ready to launch long-range missiles around the time of the president’s visit

By Alastair GaleFollow
Updated May 24, 2022 11:43 pm ET


TOKYO—North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday that flew only briefly before landing in the sea east of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s military said.
The missile was one of three fired by North Korea hours after President Biden flew home from Asia following talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on deterring Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear threat.
U.S. government officials had warned that North Korea appeared ready to fire an ICBM around the time of Mr. Biden’s trip to Asia. They also said Pyongyang was primed to hold its seventh test detonation of a nuclear bomb.
South Korea’s military said the North fired three missiles from the Sunan airfield near Pyongyang around 6 a.m. The suspected ICBM flew as high as 335 miles and traveled around 224 miles, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
North Korean ICBM launched in March reached 3,700 miles in altitude and traveled 680 miles.
South Korea said a second missile launched Wednesday exploded shortly after launch and a third short-range missile crashed into the sea. Japan’s coast guard confirmed two apparent missiles landed in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Though North Korea didn’t conduct weapons tests while Mr. Biden visited Seoul and Tokyo through Tuesday, China and Russia held a joint strategic-bomber exercise near Japan on Mr. Biden’s last day in Tokyo.
North Korea has conducted more than a dozen missile tests this year, including the full-range ICBM launch in March and the launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine earlier this month. The latest launches come as North Korea reports a nationwide outbreak of Covid-19 that leader Kim Jong Un has called the nation’s worst-ever crisis.
Weapons experts say that even when North Korean missile tests appear to fail or fall short of their goals, engineers gain knowledge that can advance the country’s weapons program. Launches of missiles that don’t fly long distances can also be used to test components of larger weapons.
Missiles fired on Feb. 26 and March 4 with relatively short flight times tested components of a new ICBM system, U.S. officials said.

Wednesday’s launches making news in Seoul.
PHOTO: KIM HONG-JI/REUTERS
South Korea said it detected signs of the latest North Korean launches in advance and test-fired surface-to-surface missiles with the U.S. military in a move to show their readiness.
Japan’s defense minister, Nobuo Kishi, said after Wednesday’s launches that North Korea’s missile tests ”pose a threat to the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community, and are absolutely unacceptable.”
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii said in a brief statement that the missiles didn’t pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to U.S. allies, but highlighted the destabilizing impact of the North’s weapons program.
While in Seoul over the weekend, Mr. Biden agreed with new South Korea President to begin planning the resumption of joint military field exercises with South Korea and pledged that the U.S. would be prepared to send nuclear-capable military assets such as bombers to Korea if Seoul faced a crisis with the North.
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told Mr. Biden that Japan is committed to increasing military spending and developing capabilities to hit back at enemy missile bases that threaten Japan.
The U.S., South Korea and Japan have all sought talks with North Korea and say they would be willing to provide Pyongyang with aid to help it cope with the Covid outbreak. North Korea hasn’t responded to any of the outreach.
Pyongyang has been gradually expanding its military arsenal since talks on denuclearization broke down in 2019 following an unsuccessful summit in Hanoi between Mr. Kim and then-U.S. President Donald Trump.
Chieko Tsuneoka and Dasl Yoon contributed to this article.
Write to Alastair Gale at alastair.gale@wsj.com

7. China, Russia planes penetrate Kadiz, Seoul scrambles jets
China and Russia sending messages to the ROK, Japan, and the US.

Wednesday
May 25, 2022

China, Russia planes penetrate Kadiz, Seoul scrambles jets

 
A Chinese Xian H-6 jet bomber, seen from the cockpit of a Russian Sukhoi fighter jet during the two countries' drills in December 2020, a previous instance in which China and Russia entered the Korean air defense identification zone. [YONHAP]
Chinese and Russian warplanes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone (Kadiz) on two separate occasions without notice on Tuesday, prompting the Air Force to scramble fighters to the scene, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.  
 
According to the JCS, two Chinese and four Russian warplanes entered the Kadiz, but did not violate South Korea's territorial airspace.
 
“Prior to their entry into the Kadiz, our military deployed Air Force fighters to conduct tactical maneuvers in preparation against potential accidental situations," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
 
Unilaterally designated by countries, air defense identification zones (Adiz) are not subject to international agreements and are more extensive than traditional national airspaces. 
 
The U.S. was involved in defining the air defense identification zones of Korea, Japan and Taiwan during the Cold War.
 
According to the JCS, two Chinese H-6 bombers entered the Kadiz from an area 126 kilometers (78 miles) northwest of Ieodo, a submerged reef formation south of the southern island of Jeju, at 7:56 a.m. on Tuesday.
 
The two aircraft moved toward the East Sea and exited the Kadiz at around 9:33 a.m.
 
The two Chinese warplanes later joined four Russian warplanes, including two TU-95 bombers, and entered the Kadiz together at 9:58 a.m. They left the zone at 10:15 a.m.
 
Four Chinese and two Russian military aircraft were spotted flying in an area some 267 kilometers southeast of Ieodo – outside the Kadiz – at 3:40 p.m., the JCS said.
 
Before Tuesday, the last Kadiz intrusion occurred on March 24, when Russian warplanes flew into the Kadiz northwest of Ulleung Island in the East Sea at around 11 a.m. and left 30 minutes later.
 
A Chinese military plane also entered the Kadiz near Ieodo the day before that.
 
China’s Adiz, proclaimed in 2013, overlaps South Korea’s where the two countries have disputes over claims, such as Ieodo, which belong in waters that both Seoul and Beijing claim.
 
As submerged reefs, Ieodo cannot be considered disputed territory but Korea and China’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs) overlap at that point.
 
While a country’s national airspace and territorial sea extends only 12 nautical miles from its coastlines or around islands it claims, an EEZ can include waters 200 nautical miles from a country’s coastlines. 
 
Effectively controlled by Korea, Ieodo is located 149 kilometers southwest of Korea’s southernmost Mara Island in the East China Sea and 287 kilometers from China’s eastern Yushan Island in Zhejiang Province.
 
South Korea has maintained an ocean research station built atop the area since 2003, though China has criticized this as an “illegal activity” while downplaying suggestions there is a dispute between the two countries.
 

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]


8. New chairman of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff named
Leadership changes for the services and CFC as well.

Excerpt:

Ahn Byung-seok, the Army vice chief of staff, will succeed Kim Seung-kyum as deputy commander of the Combined Forces Command.

Could General Ahn be the next ROK/US CFC commander if OPCON transition takes place in the next 3 years?

Wednesday
May 25, 2022

New chairman of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff named

Army Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, is named new chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). [YONHAP]
Army Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, was named chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.  
 
If appointed, Kim will be the first graduate of the Korea Military Academy to helm the JCS in nine years, since Jeong Seung-jo, JCS chairman from 2011 to 2013 under the Lee Myung-bak administration. 
 
Kim is set to replace Air Force Gen. Won In-choul, an Air Force Academy graduate. 
 
Kim, 59, is an expert in combined and joint operations and is known for his operational command and crisis management skills. 
 
He previously served as a South Korean Army vice chief of staff, commander of the 3rd Corps, JCS joint operations director and president of the Joint Force Military University's Army College. 
 
Kim will have to undergo a National Assembly hearing but parliamentary approval is not required for his appointment. 
 
His nomination comes as the Yoon Suk-yeol administration aims to strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance and promises to expand combined military exercises and training on the Korean Peninsula with United States forces. Earlier in the morning, North Korea fired three more ballistic missiles, a move "strongly condemned" by the South Korean government.
 
Kim was among seven general-level posts announced Wednesday, the first military leadership reshuffle since the launch of the new government. 
 
Ahn Byung-seok, the Army vice chief of staff, will succeed Kim Seung-kyum as deputy commander of the Combined Forces Command.
 
Lt. Gen. Park Jeong-hwan, JCS vice chairman, was named the Army's chief of staff and Lt. Gen. Jung Sang-hwa, JCS strategic planning division chief, the Air Force chief of staff. Vice Adm. Lee Jong-ho, JCS military support division chief, was tapped as chief of naval operations, just five months after Adm. Kim Jung-soo took the post. 
 
Lt. Gen. Jeon Dong-jin, JCS operations division chief, was tapped as Ground Operations Command chief, and Lt. Gen. Shin Hee-hyun, commander of the Army's 3rd Corps, as chief of the 2nd Operations Command.
 
The Ministry of National Defense said in a statement, "We prioritized the ability and expertise to systematically and substantively promote major defense policies — such as establishing a strong defense posture, defense innovation and the improvement of defense culture."
 
A Defense Ministry official told reporters the appointments are meant to "drive defense innovation and establish a stable military command system at an early stage in consideration of the continued North Korean nuclear and missile threat."

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

9. Nuclear weapons vs. Covid

A logical argument in the conclusion that I wish Kim Jong-un would embrace. But this kind of logic does not appeal to him (except he does not want to be dependent on China)

Conclusion:

Kim Jong-un wants to develop North Korea into a normal state. However, achieving a normal state with nuclear possession is only a dream, as proven in the experience of the past seven years. How can a country be a normal state if it cannot release Covid-19 statistics correctly because of the nuclear program? Once the Covid pandemic ends and North Korea-China trade resumes, its economy could have a little room to breathe. But the normal state that Kim dreams of cannot be attained without being incorporated into the global economy and accepting investment. The goal is unachievable with the North Korea-China trade alone. Moreover, is it desirable for North Korea’s future to be completely dependent on China for its economy as well as politics?

Wednesday
May 25, 2022

Nuclear weapons vs. Covid

Kim Byung-yeon 
The author is the director of the Institute of the National Future Strategy at Seoul National University.


As of Tuesday, the number of suspected of Covid-19 cases in North Korea reached 3 million. According to Worldometer, it is the 38th highest number in the world. However, the number of deaths is very low at 68, ranking 195th in the world. It is only 1 percent of Denmark’s deaths, which had similar number of confirmed cases.
 
The trend of suspected cases is clearly different from patterns in other countries. The “doubling” of confirmed cases over a certain period of time is not detected, with the cases surging from 10,000 to 390,000 in three days. Also, the number of daily cases dropped to less than half from the peak only in a week. In short, it is exceptional. It may be due to technical challenges, such as a lack of diagnostic equipment, but it is also possible that the statistics are intentionally distorted.
 
The number most likely to have been distorted is the number of deaths. When Omicron variant spread, the fatality rate in Hong Kong was 0.71 percent. Applying this factor to the number of aggregated fever cases in North Korea yields 21,000 deaths. If half of the North Korean population were infected, it could be estimated that 90,000 people would die.
 
However, unlike Hong Kong, North Koreans have not been vaccinated and have poor nutrition, and the country has poor medical infrastructure and lacks medicines. Still, 12 percent of the population is classified as having suspected case of the coronavirus, and the current number of deaths is fewer than 70. The number of deaths by age shows that the proportion of the elderly is very low. The number of elderly deaths from Covid-19 doesn’t seem to be counted properly, or it was deliberately under-reported.
 
Kim Jong-un is also injecting the spirit of self-reliance into statistics. While he defined the Covid crisis as “the most serious turmoil since the founding of the country,” he emphasized that the crisis can be overcome in the shortest time possible if party and people have unity and faith.
 
In North Korea, if the leader stresses mental control rather than science, statistics needs to be fortified with an ideology of self-reliance. Officials who instinctively understand this would not want to report the cause of deaths for the elderly as Covid-19. To be flexible, they seem to prefer taking temperature rather than using an accurate diagnostic kit. Ordinary North Koreans are likely to be suffering severely from lack of proper medical treatment as medicines, which are already short, are being stolen or hoarded. The number of residents who die without receiving proper treatment and don’t get the cause of death identified correctly seem to be much higher than the statistics.
 

In this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on May 16, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a pharmacy in Pyongyang on May 15 to check on the state of supply and distribution of medicine. Kim berated officials at a Politburo meeting earlier in the day for delays in delivering medical supplies. [YONHAP]
Even at this stage, North Korea is not receiving South Korea’s aid because of North Korean leader Kim’s attempt to become a nuclear power and self-reliant economy. Kim’s emphasis on a self-reliant economy began with the collapse of the Hanoi denuclearization talks. Operation Hanoi to turn North Korea into a normal nuclear state by removing all effective sanctions with only partial denuclearization ended in failure. After that, North Korea started to hold that there would be no negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea unless the U.S. came up with a new formula. The destruction of the inter-Korean joint liaison office was also a part of an ideological signal that North Korea should not dream of getting help from the South and pursue self-reliance. If North Korea receives South Korea’s aid to treat Omicron patients and reduce the number of deaths, it would mean acknowledging the failure of self-reliance both internally and externally. Furthermore, it would be admitting that nuclear development itself was a mere dream of Kim Jong-un who has failed to take the situation and reality into account.
 
The “nuclear sword” that was supposed to protect North Korea is becoming a dagger harming its own people. By refusing assistance from South Korea and the international community, lives, which are far more valuable than nuclear weapons, are at risk. Regardless of the number of deaths announced, how can they avoid the deaths caused by Omicron, which the world has already witnessed? That’s not all. Due to international sanctions and the Covid crisis, the average annual economic growth rate of North Korea from 2017 to 2022 is estimated to be -3 to -4 percent. If the pre-sanction average annual growth rate was 2 percent under Kim Jong-un leadership, it means the economy has had 5 to 6 percent negative growth after the sanctions. Considering North Korea’s gross domestic product, it is recording a loss of more than 1 trillion won in every year due to nuclear development. Then, has North Korea’s security situation improved? On the contrary, the South Korea-U.S. alliance was even strengthened because of the North Korea’s nuclear program. The financial statements of North Korea’s nuclear development are accumulating only debts rather than profits. It is practically in a state of capital impairment.
 
Kim Jong-un wants to develop North Korea into a normal state. However, achieving a normal state with nuclear possession is only a dream, as proven in the experience of the past seven years. How can a country be a normal state if it cannot release Covid-19 statistics correctly because of the nuclear program? Once the Covid pandemic ends and North Korea-China trade resumes, its economy could have a little room to breathe. But the normal state that Kim dreams of cannot be attained without being incorporated into the global economy and accepting investment. The goal is unachievable with the North Korea-China trade alone. Moreover, is it desirable for North Korea’s future to be completely dependent on China for its economy as well as politics?


10. It’s democracies versus the totalitarian states

Conclusion:

We stand in the middle of a deepening conflict between totalitarian states and free democracies. We must take our position very seriously indeed. 


Wednesday
May 25, 2022

It’s democracies versus the totalitarian states

North Korea has renewed missile launches in the middle of a Covid-19 outbreak. The launches are the 17th this year and the second since President Yoon Suk-yeol started office on May 10. They come in the wake of South Korea-U.S. summit talks in Seoul over the weekend. Of three missiles launched Wednesday, one is suspected to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), possibly the Hwasong 17, and the two smaller ones can still reach U.S. forces in South Korea and Japan. All three can carry nuclear warheads.
 
Pyongyang timed the provocations before President Joe Biden arrived home from his visit to South Korea and Japan. On Wednesday, six jet fighters and bombers of China and Russia invaded and roamed around the South Korean and Japanese air defense identification zones for about two hours without prior notice. The two could have been demonstrating joint military muscle after the founding of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Forum and summit of U.S. Japan, Australia, and India for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. North Korea may have been showing its own attitude toward the alliance of democratic nations.
 
President Yoon Suk-yeol convened his first emergency National Security Council meeting and commanded “real actions” of expanded deterrence capabilities and joint defense posture as agreed in the two summits. He condemned North Korea for violating the United Nations resolutions and threatening the peace of the Korean Peninsula.
 
The Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that South Korean and U.S. combined forces were ready to strike against any missiles after firing Hyunmoo-11 ballistic missiles and one Army Tactical Missile System into the East Sea.
 
The last time the combined forces responded to a North Korean missile test was in July 2017. Under the last government and its so-called peace process in the Korean Peninsula, South Korea was generally mute to provocations. The two summits confirmed their alliance.
 
It is pity Pyongyang is wasting its resources on military provocations when its unvaccinated residents suffer fear and pain from lack of treatment against Covid-19. It is estimated to cost 1.2 billion to 1.3 billion won ($1 million) to fire a short-range missile. An ICBM costs 10 to 20 times more. Pyongyang is said to have completed preparations for its seventh nuclear test
 
The Korean government issued a statement, warning that continued provocations would encourage a stronger and faster South Korea-U.S. deterrence, and North Korea would fall deeper into isolation. 
 
We stand in the middle of a deepening conflict between totalitarian states and free democracies. We must take our position very seriously indeed. 

11.N. Korea tests nuclear detonation device: presidential office


Excerpt:

Later in the day, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers that the launch was the first time North Korea had fired more than two types of ballistic missiles at the same time under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

(2nd LD) N. Korea tests nuclear detonation device: presidential office | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김수연 · May 25, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 4 paras)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been testing a nuclear triggering device apparently in preparation for what would be the country's seventh nuclear test, a senior presidential official said Wednesday.
The experiments have been taking place at a location away from Punggye-ri, the site of all six North Korean nuclear tests to date, said Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Office, without naming the place.
"Operation tests of a nuclear detonation device, which are to prepare for the seventh nuclear test at Punggye-ri, are being detected," Kim told reporters. "The possibility of an imminent nuclear test in the next day or two is low, but after that, there is certainly a possibility."

The last time North Korea carried out a nuclear test was in September 2017, when it claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb.
The next few years saw the United States engage in unprecedented summit-level diplomacy to try to get the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, but the effort ultimately failed.
This year the North has launched missiles on 17 separate occasions, the latest of which came early Wednesday as U.S. President Joe Biden was en route to Washington after a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan.
Kim said he could not predict when the nuclear test would take place.
"It's likely the North Korean leader has not decided himself," he said. "The North Korean authorities are imminently near the final preparation stage for a nuclear test of a scale and quality they want."
Kim confirmed earlier assessments that Wednesday's launch involved one intercontinental ballistic missile of the newest Hwasong-17 model and two short-range ballistic missiles.
He suggested the SRBMs should not be dismissed as their launches were likely intended to improve their nuclear delivery capability.
He also claimed there was a political motivation behind the test-firings, such as to "interfere in the imminent domestic political schedule in the Republic of Korea," a likely reference to the upcoming June 1 local elections, and to "test the new government's security posture."
"The fact that they began the provocations around the time that U.S. President Joe Biden was entering his country's airspace was a strategic message to both South Korea and the United States," Kim said.
Later in the day, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers that the launch was the first time North Korea had fired more than two types of ballistic missiles at the same time under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a closed-door briefing on North Korea that it is closely monitoring of the situation as there is a possibility that the North could carry out additional provocations, including a nuclear test, according to lawmakers.
"In its firing of ballistic missiles, North Korea appears to be testing various nuclear delivery means," Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the main opposition Democratic Party, told reporters after the briefing.
He said the NIS reported that the North's testing of a nuclear detonation device may not necessarily be a sign that its seventh nuclear test is imminent, as previous similar tests did not lead to a nuclear test.

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김수연 · May 25, 2022

12. New confrontation along Cold War lines? China, Russia warplanes maneuvers spark concerns


Cold War 2.0?


New confrontation along Cold War lines? China, Russia warplanes maneuvers spark concerns
koreaherald.com · by Jo He-rim · May 25, 2022
China and Russia protest as US president travels to Seoul, Tokyo to bolster regional prominence
Published : May 25, 2022 - 15:32 Updated : May 25, 2022 - 17:42
A Russian fighter jet escorts a group of Russian and Chinese aircraft on Tuesday in a joint patrol mission carried out over the East Sea and the East China Sea, in this photo taken from the video created by the Russian Defense Ministry. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry conveyed regrets to the Chinese and Russian governments via diplomatic channels after the two countries deployed multiple warplanes into Korea’s air defense zone without prior notice, and warned against a recurrence, the ministry said Wednesday.

Early Tuesday, two Chinese and four Russian fighter jets entered the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone without notice to the Korean government, an apparent show of protest as US President Joe Biden wrapped up his travels to Seoul and Tokyo to bolster regional alliance.

According to Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, two Chinese H-6 bombers first entered the KADIZ from an area 126 kilometers northwest of Ieodo, a submerged rock near Jeju Island at 7:56 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Chinese bombers stayed there until 9:33 a.m., and then exited the zone to reenter from the north of KADIZ, joined by four Russian fighter jets, including two TU-95 bombers, at 9:58 a.m. In the second entrance, the fighter jets stayed for 17 minutes.

At around 3:40 p.m., the six jets were spotted heading for KADIZ in an area some 267 km of Ieodo, and South Korea deployed fighter jets before the Chinese and Russian fighters’ entered the air defense zone.

Japan also scrambled to deploy its jets and expressed “grave concerns” to Russia and China, viewing it as a provocation against the country and the region.

An air defense identification zone is declared by a country to detect early signs of aircraft approaching its territorial airspace to prevent infiltration and accidental clashes, and is not a territorial airspace.

‘New Cold War’ battle line

While both Russia and China denied any violation, saying they were conducting a joint air patrolling mission, the unexpected deployment is seen as a provocative move, occurring during US President Joe Biden’s first trip to Seoul and Tokyo.

“The purpose of Biden’s visit to Seoul is obviously to keep China and North Korea in check, and China would not just sit idle and watch,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told The Korea Herald, explaining that the aircraft deployment in the KADIZ was meant as a show of force.

As the US is ramping up efforts to bolster its presence in the Indo-Pacific region to block China’s expansion of power, Yang said “new Cold War” battle lines are being drawn in the region -- the US with its allies South Korea and Japan, against China, with Russia and North Korea.

Early Wednesday, North Korea also fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile and other two ballistic missiles off its east coast early on Wednesday.

“(From deploying its warplanes) China is also sending the message that it is ready to take actions when the US and its allies impose any kind of pressure against its allies, as the US and Korea agreed to closely cooperate to deter North Korea’s nuclear threats,” Yang added.

In a rare move, China released a video of Tuesday’s joint air training, made by the Russian Defense Ministry, on a social media account for its military TV channel that is operated by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television.

As the military provocations from China, Russia and North Korea coincided, South Korea’s presidential office said they are likely to have similar reasons for their respective actions.

“We assume China and Russia prepared (and carried out the aircraft exercise) as a series of diplomatic events were wrapping up, including the Korea-US summit, Quad summit and the launch of the IPEF, to deliver their political, diplomatic and military message to the international society,” Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Office, told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are not sure whether the three countries (China, Russia and North Korea) worked together (to carry out the provocations at similar timings) but we assume they have similar intentions.

The “Quad” is the US-led security grouping, known officially as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which includes India, Japan and Australia. IPEF is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a newly-launched US-led economic initiative. Both regional groupings are widely viewed as a means for the US to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region to keep China in check.

Over the course of his first trip to Asia from Friday to Tuesday, Biden forged several regional initiatives intended to contain China’s clout.

After arriving in Seoul on Friday, Biden held his first summit with South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol on Saturday, where they vowed for stronger cooperation and partnership on the economy and security fronts. Biden stressed the importance of strong alliance, as “the competition between democracies and autocracies are growing,” implicitly targeting China, Russia and North Korea.

In Tokyo, Biden launched IPEF, his economic initiative to build partnerships in the region and largely intended to contain China. South Korea also joined the IPEF as an initial member along with 12 other countries, including Japan and the US.

During the Quad leader’s summit, Biden also said he would be willing to use force to defend the democratic island of Taiwan, which angered China.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)



13. Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats condemn N.K missile launches in phone talks

But China and Russia will not allow any more sanctions:

Foreign Minister Park Jin and his American counterpart Antony Blinken agreed to cooperate closely in a push for a new U.N. Security Council resolution against Pyongyang, as they called the North's move a "grave provocation" that only leads to its isolation and threatens regional peace and stability, it added.


(2nd LD) Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats condemn N.K missile launches in phone talks | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김은정 · May 25, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES with Seoul envoy's phone talks with Chinese, Russian ambassadors in last two paras)
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States strongly condemned North Korea's latest missile launches in their phone talks Wednesday, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.
Foreign Minister Park Jin and his American counterpart Antony Blinken agreed to cooperate closely in a push for a new U.N. Security Council resolution against Pyongyang, as they called the North's move a "grave provocation" that only leads to its isolation and threatens regional peace and stability, it added.
It remains unclear whether the U.N. panel will adopt additional sanctions on Pyongyang, which many say depends primarily on the positions of the veto-wielding permanent members of China and Russia.
Earlier in the day, the North lobbed an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and two other ballistic ones into the East Sea, the South's military said.

Park and Blinken shared the same view that it is "very regrettable" that the Kim Jong-un regime is diverting its scare resources to its nuclear and missile programs while the nation's people are suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the ministry.
They also noted that the weekend summit between South Korea and the U.S. served as a "milestone" for upgrading their alliance into a "global comprehensive strategic partnership," and agreed to have follow-up discussions when Park visits the U.S. soon, it added.
Arrangements are under way for Park's visit to Washington next month, according to informed sources.
On Wednesday, Kim Gunn, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, had back-to-back phone calls with his American and Japanese counterparts, Sung Kim and Takehiro Funakoshi, respectively, to discuss the North's missile launch and joint responses, the ministry said in separate statements.
The Seoul envoy also talked over the phone separately with Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming and Russian Ambassador Andrey Kulik. He stressed the need for a unified response over North Korea's missile tests and asked for their countries' support at the U.N. Security Council.
In response, the ambassadors reaffirmed their commitment to playing a "constructive role" for a peaceful resolution of Korean Peninsula issues, it noted.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김은정 · May 25, 2022

14. S. Korea and US to build value-based alliance


The strength of our alliance:

The base of an alliance is shared values and interests. A value-based alliance and an interest-based alliance are the two sides of the same coin. In addition, an alliance is a pact to fight together against potential threats. South Korea should address crises, such as supply chain disturbances, by reinforcing channels between South Korea and the U.S., including the newly established the ‘economic security dialogue,’ while demonstrating the diplomatic capabilities based on national interests and pragmatism to build inclusive trade order by actively participating in the IPEF from an early stage.

S. Korea and US to build value-based alliance
Posted May. 23, 2022 08:00,
Updated May. 23, 2022 08:00
S. Korea and US to build value-based alliance. May. 23, 2022 08:00. .
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden ended their four-day schedule with a visit to the Korean Air and Space Operations Center (KAOC) located at Osan Air Base on Sunday. The two leaders have decided to elevate the ROK-U.S. relationship to a ‘global comprehensive strategic alliance’ based on values shared by the two countries, from responses to North Korea to the economy and technology security and global issues. The two will meet again via conference call at a summit meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to be launched in Japan on Monday.

The two leaders agreed to expand the geological scope of the ROK-U.S. alliance from the Korean Peninsula to the globe and develop it to be at the center of not only military but also the economy and technology security and global issues. It is a parting from the Moon Jae-in administration’s focus on issues on the Korean Peninsula, such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and the Donald Trump administration’s abandonment of leadership in the international community, as well as a fundamental redefinition of the alliance.

In particular, Presidents Yoon and Biden put the core of the alliance on universal values, such as free democracy and human rights. President Yoon mentioned freedom dozens of times in his inaugural speech and President Biden has been calling for the solidarity of democratic countries against authoritarian dictatorship. The two got along well based on similar ideas. President Biden said a vibrant democracy is the driver of global innovations and President Yoon responded by saying that the high-tech industry is impossible without the free democratic system.

The joint statement made by the two contained agendas based on such values. South Korea agreed to join the U.S. in endorsing the Declaration for the Future of the Internet against digital authoritarianism. The country also expressed its willingness to host the Biden-led Summit for Democracy. All of them are the issues that the previous administration had declined to join or been passive due to its relationship with China. South Korean diplomacy, which had been focusing on an awkward balance, made a clear move to the liberal side.

The two countries’ military and security pledges have been further strengthened. The summit meeting took place amid the situation where North Korea has completed preparation to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles and conduct nuclear tests. A plan B of the South Korean and U.S. leaders getting in a united command bunker in case of emergency was put in place. Reflecting such political circumstances, the joint statement included practical measures, such as the reactivation of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), the expansion of joint drills, and the timely deployment of strategic assets.

The base of an alliance is shared values and interests. A value-based alliance and an interest-based alliance are the two sides of the same coin. In addition, an alliance is a pact to fight together against potential threats. South Korea should address crises, such as supply chain disturbances, by reinforcing channels between South Korea and the U.S., including the newly established the ‘economic security dialogue,’ while demonstrating the diplomatic capabilities based on national interests and pragmatism to build inclusive trade order by actively participating in the IPEF from an early stage.


15. WHO verifying N. Korea's COVID-19 data amid outbreak: report


I fear this is mission impossible for the WHO.

WHO verifying N. Korea's COVID-19 data amid outbreak: report | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · May 25, 2022
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) is checking suspected COVID-19 data released by North Korea after the secretive country shared related information on its virus outbreak, the U.N. agency's report showed Wednesday.
The North reported to WHO over 1.62 million people with fever and 23 associated deaths between May 13 and 18, according to the organization's latest regional COVID-19 situation report.
The report, however, noted the North has not provided the case definitions for the figures and that the agency is "currently in the process of verifying COVID-19 data" from Pyongyang. It added that there was no information on COVID-19 vaccinations in the country.
It said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the organization's regional director of Southeast Asia, sent a letter to the North Korean ambassador in New Delhi on May 16 to propose support for the country in its fight against the virus.
On May 12, the North confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 after claiming to be free of the virus for over two years.
Its state media has been reporting daily COVID-19 related data, with over 115,000 new fever cases recorded Tuesday, raising the total number of such cases since late April to over 3 million.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · May 25, 2022



16. S. Korea sets June 15 as 2nd launch date of homegrown space rocket


S. Korea sets June 15 as 2nd launch date of homegrown space rocket | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 장동우 · May 25, 2022
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday set June 15 as the second launch date of its homegrown space rocket Nuri, eight months after the first launch failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit.
Nuri, also known as KSLV-II, is set to lift off from the Naro Space Center in the country's southern coastal village of Goheung between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m, though the exact time will be determined on that day, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.
The ministry set the period between June 16 and June 23 as the launch window after holding a meeting of its launch management committee with the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute in Goheung.
In October, Nuri successfully flew to a target altitude of 700 kilometers but failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit as its third-stage engine burned out earlier than expected.

South Korea announced in February it will make a second attempt to launch Nuri in mid-June and had tentatively set June 15 as the launch date.
The three-stage space rocket, which weighs 200 tons and measures 47.2 meters in height, is currently being assembled at Naro Space Center.
KARI completed combining the first and second stages of the rocket on May 12. Full assembly is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
Unlike the October launch, which carried a single dummy satellite, Nuri this time will be loaded with a 180-kilogram performance verification satellite to test the rocket's capabilities and four separate cube satellites developed by four universities for academic research purposes.
Nuri also underwent reinforcements of an anchoring device of the helium tank inside the third-stage oxidizer tank.
In October, the helium tank in the third-stage rocket fell off due to increased buoyancy during the flight and eventually caused the engine to shut off prematurely, according to a governmental committee.
The government also said it conducted a comprehensive inter-agency drill on May 19 to prepare against an array of possible contingencies, such as fuel leakage from Nuri.
South Korea has invested nearly 2 trillion won (US$1.8 billion) in building the three-stage Nuri since 2010.
The whole process of the launch of Nuri was carried out with domestically made technology on South Korean soil, including design, production, testing and launch operation.
South Korea's rocket launches ended in failures in 2009 and 2010.

odissy@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 장동우 · May 25, 2022


17.  Biden visit showcases hardened stances on North Korea


Strategic patience 2.0? An unfair characteristic in my opinion. One big difference is the high priority the Biden (and Yoon) administration is placing on the alliance and deterrence and defense. In addition there is a realistic understanding of Kim Jong-un and his likely intent. While the administration will provide the opportunity for Kim to engage if he chooses to, the alliance is not going to sit on its hands or try to appease the regime to bring it to the negotiating table. Most important the alliance is going to focus on deterrence and defense- preventing a war by being strong.


Biden visit showcases hardened stances on North Korea
By Min Joo Kim and 
Updated May 25, 2022 at 12:19 a.m. EDT|Published May 24, 2022 at 7:01 a.m. EDT
The Washington Post · by Min Joo Kim · May 24, 2022
SEOUL — President Biden was about to take off from Seoul to Tokyo during his first Asia trip as president, when a reporter asked if he had a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Biden’s succinct reply? “Hello. Period.”
His two-word answer stood in stark contrast with former president Donald Trump’s active pursuit of engagement with the North Korean leader. While Trump met with Kim three times and boasted friendly ties through “love letters,” Biden has taken a decidedly different approach, saying he would not meet with Kim unless he is “sincere” and “serious.”
North Korea has been barreling forward with its weapons program, with another missile test likely on the way. The reclusive country has retreated ever inward during the pandemic, and is now confronting its first covid-related public health crisis. Yet the prospect for re-engaging North Korea remains further out of reach than ever.
During his Asia trip, Biden sought to strengthen relationships with allies in the region. On North Korea, that means the United States and South Korea — which has a new conservative leader who is skeptical of its northern neighbor — hope to work more closely to show they are prepared to deal with Kim’s missile threats. They are leaving the door open to dialogue with North Korea, but in no rush to force a breakthrough.
For many North Korea watchers, the Biden administration’s approach is reminiscent of the Obama era’s “strategic patience,” which consisted of waiting for North Korea to change and avoiding actions that would intentionally escalate tensions.
“The Biden administration’s inaction towards North Korea increasingly looks like the so-called ‘Strategic patience 2.0’ or even a strategic negligence,” said Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “It has been clear that President Biden has little confidence in Kim Jong Un.”
During Biden’s first summit with newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, the two countries agreed to consider expanding the joint military exercises in response to the threat from North Korea — an activity that has long angered the reclusive nation. Trump had pledged to cancel the allied military exercises, calling them “war games” that are “provocative” and "expensive.”
“The president’s message to Kim while in Seoul — a simple ‘hello’ — left no room for misinterpretation. Brevity is the soul of wit, and in Biden’s case, one simple word conveyed his sentiments toward the DPRK leader and his behavior,” said Soo Kim, a North Korea expert at RAND Corporation in Washington, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.
“It’s possible that the administration has opted for this position similar to ‘strategic ambiguity’ to convey to Kim that the U.S. will not be shaken up by his provocations,” she said. “The ambiguity in discerning what the U.S. is thinking or considering as options for dealing with North Korea might be unnerving for Kim.”
The range of messages Biden sent during his trip, from offering coronavirus aid to expanding allied military drills, demonstrated the balance in the president’s approach, according to the administration. Biden sought to show how United States will work with its allies to provide deterrence on North Korea, and "to make very clear that we’ll respond decisively to any threats and any aggression,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.
But North Korea has not responded to any offers of aid, whether directly by Seoul or indirectly by Washington. It also has not yet reacted to Biden’s vows to step up nuclear deterrence, and has not yet conducted the long-range ballistic missile test that Washington and Seoul predicted could take place around the time of Biden’s trip to Seoul.
Instead, North Korea claimed this week that it was resolving its outbreak of “fever” patients on its own, citing decreasing numbers of suspected covid cases.
Meanwhile, North Korea continues to build its nuclear-capable weapons arsenal, and emphasizing its policy of “self-reliance." Its borders have remained shut for more than two years, despite the economic and humanitarian turmoil that is brewing inside the country because of it. It is unclear when Kim would engage again with the outside world — or what it would take to get him there.
Despite unfavorable situations including the coronavirus crisis in the country, Kim is unlikely to change courses on his military pursuits, said Ryu Hyun-woo, North Korea’s former acting ambassador to Kuwait who defected to South Korea in 2019. Ryu said Kim will not accept offers of aid from South Korea and the United States, when his bigger priority is moving ahead in the arms race and strengthening the country’s nuclear arsenals.
“Kim Jong Un sees nuclear and missile development as a way to boost internal unity,” Ryu said. “It means he will not turn away from, but hold onto nuclear pursuits in face of difficult challenges.”
Lee reported from Tokyo.
The Washington Post · by Min Joo Kim · May 24, 2022


18. Biden and Yoon Make a Hawkish Turn on North Korea

Are Yoon and Biden hawks? Or are they just realistic and understand the existential threat from the north and are committed to preventing war on theKorean peninsula by having a strong alliance?

Biden and Yoon Make a Hawkish Turn on North Korea
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · May 24, 2022
American President Joseph Biden swung through South Korea this week. There was much anxiety that North Korea might launch a long-range missile or test another nuclear weapon during his visit. Thankfully, it did not – until Biden left Asia, that is. It might have elicited an aggressive statement from Biden, as he gave regarding Taiwan. But this might also account for the mixed media response to the trip. The U.S. media seemed excited to see North Korean hijinks, but they never arrived. So the trip became a fairly conventional U.S. presidential trip abroad.
But if Biden’s Taiwan remarks overshadowed this trip, we have missed an important hawkish turn on North Korea. South Korea’s new president, Yoon Seok-Yeol, is a conservative and seeks a tougher line on Pyongyang than his predecessor, leftist Moon Jae In. Similarly, Biden is hawkish on North Korea, far more than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who notoriously claimed to “fall in love” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The US and South Korea are now on the same hawkish page regarding North Korea for the first time since 2016. We should expect, among other things, more unified support for sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, less willingness to talk for talk’s sake with Pyongyang, and more emphasis on North Korean denuclearization.
Time of Appeasing North Korea Is Over
In an interview with CNN, Yoon said the “time of appeasing North Korea is over,” which the South Korean conservative press has greeted with relief. Moon made an enormous effort to solicit North Korea. He complimented Kim publicly, spoke of him as a dynamic leader, and talked up his ostensible support for a Korean ‘peace regime.’
Unfortunately for Moon, Kim never really offered him much. Kim sought to disjoin South Korea from the U.S. to negotiate directly with Moon without the Americans. Moon ultimately demurred. He did not have enough popular backing in South Korea to openly break with the Americans to pursue détente alone with the North. The North responded harshly and stopped dealing with Moon.
The North then engaged the Americans directly. Trump had three summits with Kim. But there too, Kim offered little. At their Hanoi summit in 2019, Kim offered a deal to Trump which was so balance-negative for the US – one nuclear power plant for all sanctions removed – that Trump, despite his desire for a Nobel Peace Prize, was forced to turn it down.
So by the end of Moon’s term this spring, he had little to show for five years of engaging Kim. South Korean conservatives saw this fruitless engagement as appeasement: South Korea offering to treat North Korea – an Orwellian slave state of tyranny – as a normal state, thereby jeopardizing the relationship with the Americans who were more hawkish on North Korea than Moon.
Yoon pretty clearly means to end all that. He has spoken of restoring the U.S. alliance, with the implication that Moon damaged it. And given that the core focus of the alliance is North Korea, that means a hawkish turn on dealing with it.
The Status Quo is Back, Again
The moral appeal of Biden and Yoon’s return to the pre-Trump/Moon status quo is clear. North Korea is governed by arguably the worst people in the world. If anyone in the world deserves to be sanctioned, it is the Pyongyang elite. A more hawkish South Korean posture also helps the alliance. Trump never won over the U.S. foreign policy community with his dovishness on the North. Where Moon had some domestic support for his outreach to the North, Trump had almost none, and much of Washington official was relieved when Trump finally abandoned Korean diplomacy in late 2019. So Yoon is restoring the relationship with America by bringing South Korean policy closer to its traditional alliance norm.
The problem with this, however, is that it offers little more than the indefinite status quo – stalemate, containment, division, deterrence. Yoon is correct that Moon bent over too far for the North. By the end of his term, Moon was so desperate for any kind of Korean deal for his presidential legacy, that his efforts did seem like appeasement. But to his credit, Moon tried something new to break the deadlock. With Biden and Yoon, the old impasse is back, and despite their desire for denuclearization, that is highly unlikely. Once again, we are back to bad choices with North Korea.
Dr. Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kellywebsite) is a professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. Dr. Kelly is now a 1945 Contributing Editor as well.
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · May 24, 2022


19. Gi-Wook Shin on Gwangju and South Korea’s Democracy


Some Korean history which we should be aware of. And we should be aware there are different interpretations and histories of this event.

Excerpts:
What is the relevance of the U.S. approach to the Gwangju Uprising for the modern-day relationship? Does past U.S. support for South Korea’s dictators, despite the bloodshed at Gwangju, still rankle?
Charges of U.S. complicity in the Gwangju massacre and the subsequent rise of anti-Americanism in Korea undoubtedly concerned American policymakers. When millions of people filled the streets again demanding democratic reform in the summer of 1987 with such anti-American slogans as “Yankees, Go Home,” the U.S. was deeply concerned. This time the Reagan administration moved decisively by sending Gaston Sigur, an assistant secretary of state, to Seoul to meet with Chun, who was considering mobilizing armed forces once again to resolve the crisis. The U.S. seemed to learn lessons from what had happened in Gwangju seven years prior. Pressured by the Americans, Chun cancelled plans to crush the opposition by using military force and granted political concessions that paved the way for a democratic transition in Korea.
Still, anti-Americanism continued to rankle U.S.-ROK relations for many more years that followed. In 2002 when two Korean school girls were killed by U.S. military vehicles during the military exercises, for instance, another wave of anti-Americanism swept the country and the progressive candidate Roh Moo-hyun, who took a tough stance toward the U.S., won the 2002 presidential election.
Since then, however, anti-American sentiments gradually declined, and now the majority of South Koreans do not any longer hold resentment against the U.S. On the contrary, an increasing number of South Koreans support a stronger alliance with the U.S. in the face of rising China. The new Yoon government is expected to join the U.S. in defending a liberal international order that is threatened by autocratic leaders like Putin and Xi.

Gi-Wook Shin on Gwangju and South Korea’s Democracy
“The tragic outcome was a brutal wakeup call to Korean democratic movements.”
thediplomat.com · by Shannon Tiezzi · May 24, 2022
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The Gwangju Uprising of May 18-27, 1980, was a pivotal step in South Korea’s march toward democratization. After protesting students were brutally attacked by soldiers, the people of Gwangju joined in armed resistance against the martial regime of Chun Doo-hwa, who had seized power in a coup. The uprising was put down by government troops; the final death tally remains hotly debated, but most academic estimates place it at over 1,000 dead.
The public outrage sparked by the incident sowed the seeds of Chun’s downfall, though it would take another seven-plus years for South Korea to hold its first democratic presidential election.
The Diplomat interviewed Gi-Wook Shin – the director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and the founding director of the Korea Program, both at Stanford University – about the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea, and how it resonates today. Shin is also the William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea; a senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; and a professor of sociology, all at Stanford University.
The Gwangju Uprising was in 1980; South Korea would finally hold democratic elections in 1987. What role did the Gwangju Uprising — and the resulting massacre — play in South Korea’s democratization process?
The tragic outcome was a brutal wakeup call to Korean democratic movements. Their failure in 1980 called for a new movement strategy to build an alliance between students/intellectuals and grassroots citizens. This alliance became instrumental in successfully organizing and mobilizing the masses in the summer of 1987, when millions of people marched together for democracy. Gwangju also became a symbol of the struggle for freedom and human rights throughout Korea’s democratization.
The massacre also created serious legitimacy problems for the Chun regime throughout its tenure. Chun was widely portrayed as the only ruler in Korean history who mobilized government troops to kill their own innocent citizens. It was almost impossible to justify extending autocratic rule beyond his regime, and Chun and his military colleagues had to accept democratic reform and elections in 1987.
Finally, the massacre provoked anti-American sentiments and movements in the 1980s during pro-democracy movements. Largely pro-American until then, Koreans expected the U.S. to support their fight for democracy – in fact, the Carter administration pressed the Park Chung-hee regime to improve human rights and political freedom. However, Koreans were disappointed and angry that the U.S. did not stop the Korean military, which was under the U.S. commandership, from killing innocent citizens. While there existed controversies over the extent to which the U.S. was complicit in the tragic incident, the U.S. was no longer deemed an ally in their fight for democracy but just another neocolonial power supporting dictatorship.
Both Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo were sentenced to prison for their roles in the Gwangju massacre, among other charges. Both former presidents, however, were pardoned in 1997. Chun and Roh passed away in 2021, eliminating any possibility of an apology. Is there still a sense of “unfinished business” or a lack of closure after the massacre of May 1980?
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Gwangju became the most important issue of transitional justice in the democratic era and victims were compensated through a special law, while perpetuators such as Chun and Roh were punished. The uprising was officially recognized as “Gwangju Democratization Movement,” and May 18 is celebrated as an unofficial memorial day in Korea.
However, there remains a sense of lack of closure. Besides the two former presidents passing without making an apology, there has been little progress on efforts to recognize the “May 18 Democratization Movement” in the preamble of South Korea’s constitution. President Yoon made campaign promises to support such recognition, and if/when this happens, it will be an important step toward a final closure.
Gwangju’s legacy remains contested. The far-right claims (as Chun did until his death) that North Korea was behind the unrest and that death counts were overblown. Is this a fringe view, or does it resonate more broadly with South Korea’s conservatives?
Gwangju’s legacy is now much less contested, and such a view is held only by the far-right minority. Presidents of conservative administrations such as Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye attended the May 18th Memorial Services held in the city and the main conservative party apologized for its past members (far rightists) who “defamed” and “insulted” the Gwangju movement a few years ago.
President Yoon visited the city to pay a tribute to the victims during his presidential campaign and attended this year’s memorial services on May 18. Furthermore, his cabinet members and presidential advisers, as well as National Assembly members of his party, all accompanied him to the service. This shows a broad consensus about the meaning and legacy of Gwangju in Korean society, regardless of political or ideological orientation.
How does the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising reflect a broader disagreement in framing the legacy of South Korea’s past dictators? For example, after Chun’s death Yoon Suk-yeol – then a candidate, now South Korea’s president – praised the former dictator for being “good at politics.”
There certainly exists a nostalgia among some conservatives in South Korea who believe that leaders like Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan did well in improving the nation’s economy, while being authoritarian. Yet even those people would not contest the tragic nature of the uprisings and their aftermath.
Yoon’s comment was made as an attempt to explain that even though he does not have much experience in politics, he could do well by relying on able technocrats, as did Chun. I don’t think he meant by it that he supports dictatorship, and he immediately made an apology for his remark.
How does South Korea’s struggle for democracy factor into modern day politics, especially as the generation directly involved are aging out of the political sphere? Does the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising resonate with young South Koreans?
Democratic activism has become a valuable type of political capital since democratization, and former activists have become the ruling elite of the progressive governments, especially in the Moon Jae-in administration. As these so called “386 generation” activists (those who were born in 1960s, entered college in the 1980s, and were in their 30s at the time of their activism) became the power elite, however, they acted no differently than their conservative counterparts. After all, they were accused of simply becoming another new establishment.
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As a result, after the Moon administration, past activism lost moral ground and is no longer valued as political capital. As I pointed out elsewhere, the former activists played a crucial role in bringing in democracy but have since stopped short of advancing liberal democracy in Korea.
As far as I know, the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising does not resonate much with young South Koreans – it is just part of Korean history.
What is the relevance of the U.S. approach to the Gwangju Uprising for the modern-day relationship? Does past U.S. support for South Korea’s dictators, despite the bloodshed at Gwangju, still rankle?
Charges of U.S. complicity in the Gwangju massacre and the subsequent rise of anti-Americanism in Korea undoubtedly concerned American policymakers. When millions of people filled the streets again demanding democratic reform in the summer of 1987 with such anti-American slogans as “Yankees, Go Home,” the U.S. was deeply concerned. This time the Reagan administration moved decisively by sending Gaston Sigur, an assistant secretary of state, to Seoul to meet with Chun, who was considering mobilizing armed forces once again to resolve the crisis. The U.S. seemed to learn lessons from what had happened in Gwangju seven years prior. Pressured by the Americans, Chun cancelled plans to crush the opposition by using military force and granted political concessions that paved the way for a democratic transition in Korea.
Still, anti-Americanism continued to rankle U.S.-ROK relations for many more years that followed. In 2002 when two Korean school girls were killed by U.S. military vehicles during the military exercises, for instance, another wave of anti-Americanism swept the country and the progressive candidate Roh Moo-hyun, who took a tough stance toward the U.S., won the 2002 presidential election.
Since then, however, anti-American sentiments gradually declined, and now the majority of South Koreans do not any longer hold resentment against the U.S. On the contrary, an increasing number of South Koreans support a stronger alliance with the U.S. in the face of rising China. The new Yoon government is expected to join the U.S. in defending a liberal international order that is threatened by autocratic leaders like Putin and Xi.
thediplomat.com · by Shannon Tiezzi · May 24, 2022

20. Anti-US axis creeping into view in Asia


To answer the question in the subtitle: It looks like it.

Excerpts:
But how far the three nations are on the same page as regards their ongoing military moves is a mystery.
“The Chinese and Russians did a joint press conference about joint tabletop exercises in 2018, and the question about the third triangulation point, North Korea, is a very interesting one,” said Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based security consultant. “It is difficult to corroborate conjecture but the timing [of the sorties and launches] is interesting and it has happened twice.”
Lankov wondered if the change global situation since the invasion of Ukraine was influencing matters. “Before February 24, I would have smiled at this,” Lankov said, referring to trilateral security moves. “But now, I am not so sure.”
A fog of opacity around a possible emerging anti-US axis is – naturally – in place.
“The Chinese have unofficially denied any coordination with the North Koreans,” said Chun. “But there was definite coordination between the Chinese and Russians, and it would make sense that the Chinese and the Russians would have notified the North Koreans [of their aerial drills] – and a notification is, itself, coordination.”
These matters will not go unnoticed by generals and admirals. “Anyone on the security side has to think of worst-case scenarios,” Chun said.

Anti-US axis creeping into view in Asia
Are China, Russia and North Korea starting to coordinate their military provocations against America’s Asian allies?
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · May 25, 2022
SEOUL – Russian and Chinese warplanes buzzed South Korea on Tuesday (May 24) evening, then this morning (May 25) North Korea test-fired three ballistic missiles.
The incidents will have Japanese, South Korean and US defense planners knotting their brows for this convergence of events has an unmistakable precedent: The sequence of events exactly mirror a series of joint Chinese and Russian flypasts that preceded a North Korean ICBM test on March 24.
While huge questions hang over coordination between Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang – or lack thereof, given that no official security architecture links the three nations – the timing of the events looks far from coincidental.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden was in Japan, winding up the first Asia trip of his presidency following three days in South Korea.
In Japan, Biden unveiled the new, US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, summited with leaders of the Quad security dialog bloc and in a shock announcement stated that the US would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion.
Though White House handlers talked back the statement, a person familiar with military affairs told Asia Times that Biden is seeking to signal to Beijing that the US would not take the same hands-off approach to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan that it has taken in Ukraine.
Prior to Russia’s February 24 invasion, Washington and London, the source stated, had revealed that they would not fight for Ukraine, which may have influenced Russian decision-making.
Biden may thus be seeking to dissuade Beijing from any military adventurism around Taiwan by signaling less “strategic ambiguity” and more “strategic clarity.” He is certainly working to rally democratic allies against Russia while strengthening security ties in the Indo-Pacific.

But these various moves may be generating unintended pushback as Asian powers aligned against the US look to be upgrading their own military coordination.
Asked about the possible emergence of two opposed trilateral security groupings in the region, Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean general, said he did not know if that shift was underway but acknowledged the risks that configuration would present.
“That is a scary question – South Korea, the US and Japan versus China Russia and North Korea,” Chun told Asia Times. “This is a bad omen”
Chinese troops under a Russian flag in a file photo. Image: RT
According to South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff, at 7:56 AM on May 24 two Chinese H-6 bombers entered the South Korean Air Defense Identification Zone, or KADIZ, from northwest of Ieodo, a submerged rock south of the Korean island of Jeju. It then exited the zone at around 9:33 AM.
The ownership of the reef is disputed between China and Korea, and Seoul maintains a naval base on Jeju, a popular holiday destination. Korea scrambled its own warplanes to monitor the sortie.

Later, the two Chinese warplanes joined four Russian warplanes, including two TU-95 bombers and entered the KADIZ together at 9:58 AM. They then left the zone at 10:15 AM.
Though Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi expressed “grave concern” over the flights, which traversed part of the Sea of Japan, the news generated only mild interest.
An ADIZ is a unilaterally drawn geometry with no force in international law. Neither South Korea’s nor Japan’s sovereign air space – i.e. the space above its territory, extending 12 nautical miles outward from its coastline – was penetrated.
But regional defense chiefs were on alert again this morning when North Korea test-fired three ballistic missiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. The missiles were fired from Sunan, close to Pyongyang and the site of the capital’s international airport, between 6:00 AM and 6:42 AM.
This morning’s test firings took place just hours after Biden had left Tokyo on Tuesday evening. In a typical response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs called the launches “a serious provocative act.”

The source familiar with military affairs – who spoke to Asia Times on condition of anonymity as he did not have clearance to speak to media – was confident that the Chinese and Russian drills were coordinated but doubted North Korea had joined the huddle.
Yet this morning’s and yesterday’s events exactly mirror – in terms of the parties involved; the incidents themselves; and the sequencing – Chinese, Russian and North Korean actions two months ago in March.
On March 23, Chinese warplanes flew through the KADIZ. Russian warplanes flew through the KADIZ the following day, March 24 – exactly one month after the invasion of Ukraine.
Also on March 24, hours after the Russian jet sorties fly-by, North Korea tested-fired an ICBM, marking its first test of such a long-range weapon since 2017.
This screen-grab image taken from North Korean broadcaster KCTV in 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watching the launch of a ballistic missile at an unknown location. Photo: AFP / KCTV
The near-identical patterns of March 23/24, and May 24/25, could simply be a coincidence. After all, North Korea has conducted 19 missile tests this year while China and Russia have staged multiple flights in the air space around the flashpoint peninsula.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul confirmed to Asia Times that there had been a similar flypast by Chinese and Russian warplanes in January but did not have wider data on the number of incidents, nor did he confirm the date.
North Korea conducted six missile tests that month. Earlier sorties by Russian and Chinese planes took place on November 11, 2021. There were no North Korean missile tests that month.
As Washington extends its web of regional defense networks – from its bilateral defense treaties with Australia, Japan and South Korea to the more recent Quad and AUKUS multilaterals – regional competitors appear to be closing ranks.
While China and Russia have strong defense ties and share similar doctrines and kit, they are not linked by any formal treaty. They have, however, been conducting an increasing range of joint drills since the giant Vostok 2018 military drills in the Russian Far East. Their ongoing joint exercises include both aerial and naval components.
Moreover, in February, three weeks before the assault upon Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow announced an “Unlimited Partnership” that was strongly defined by security issues: Both supported each other’s positions on Taiwan and NATO expansionism, and critiqued AUKUS.
Independently-minded North Korea operated closely with both the USSR and China during the Korean War but, though it shares Beijing and Moscow’s anti-US posture, has sought strategic independence in the decades since.
“The Chinese and the Russians are not very fond of the North Korean nuclear missile program,” said Andrei Lankov, a Russian expert on North Korean who teaches at Seoul’s Kookmin University: Neither county, after all, favors events that compel the US to upgrade military activities in the region.
Even so, China and North Korea maintain a mutual treaty that dates back to the post-Korean War era. Neither country has any such treaty with another nation. And recent events suggest North Korea may be betting into bed with China and Russia once more.
A US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber flying over South Korea with US and South Korean fighter jets during a joint military drill. Photo: South Korean Defense Ministry via AFP
In January, China and Russia stymied US moves in the UN Security Council to add further sanctions on North Korea. And China and North Korea have both refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or join Western sanctions on Moscow.
But how far the three nations are on the same page as regards their ongoing military moves is a mystery.
“The Chinese and Russians did a joint press conference about joint tabletop exercises in 2018, and the question about the third triangulation point, North Korea, is a very interesting one,” said Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based security consultant. “It is difficult to corroborate conjecture but the timing [of the sorties and launches] is interesting and it has happened twice.”
Lankov wondered if the change global situation since the invasion of Ukraine was influencing matters. “Before February 24, I would have smiled at this,” Lankov said, referring to trilateral security moves. “But now, I am not so sure.”
A fog of opacity around a possible emerging anti-US axis is – naturally – in place.
“The Chinese have unofficially denied any coordination with the North Koreans,” said Chun. “But there was definite coordination between the Chinese and Russians, and it would make sense that the Chinese and the Russians would have notified the North Koreans [of their aerial drills] – and a notification is, itself, coordination.”
These matters will not go unnoticed by generals and admirals. “Anyone on the security side has to think of worst-case scenarios,” Chun said.
Follow this writer on Twitter at @ASalmonSeoul
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · May 25, 2022
21. #SouthKorea: No more appeasement. @GordonGChang, Gatestone, Newsweek, The Hill David Maxwell, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

My latest interview with John Batchelor and Gordon Chang.

Photo: A communications shelter set up for a joint Korean Exercise BEAR HUNT 88 is completely covered by a camouflage net

#SouthKorea: No more appeasement. @GordonGChang, Gatestone, Newsweek, The Hill
David Maxwell, Foundation for Defense of Democracies



V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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