Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"The people of North Korea are the same as the people of South Korea. All are loyal to the land of their birth with the very few minor exceptions of foreign trained and foreign directed communists. This war is not a conflict between North and South; it is a conflict between the few who are communists, who by an accident got control of half of our country, and the overwhelming mass of the citizens of Korea, wherever they may live."
- President Syngman Rhee

"Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future."
- Ellie Wiesel

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."
- G.K. Chesterton

1. Biden's Asia Trip: Was It a a Success or a Failure?
2. N.Korea stockpiled Chinese masks, vaccines before reporting COVID-19 outbreak
3.  North Korea punishes officials for failing to contain coronavirus
4. N. Korea touts progress in handling COVID-19 pandemic, but prepares for another wave
5. Unconditional Covid-19 aid for the North
6. Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S., Japan arranging talks in Singapore next month
7. China and Russia’s veto of North Korea resolution ‘undermines collective security’, says US envoy to UN
8. Sanctions won't help solve peninsula issue, China says
9. North Korea tests rivers, air, garbage as anti-Covid efforts intensify
10. Redback armored vehicle flaunts field maneuverability
11. N. Korea reports 89,500 new fever cases
12. N. Korea hints at possibility of easing COVID-19 curbs
13. Korean conglomerates vow to invest billions as new president takes office
14. Freedom is back in vogue
15. The 30 Best Korean Dramas on Netflix Right Now
16. Recognizing the power of Korean film
17. BTS members depart for U.S. to visit White House
18. A look through green-tinted glasses at Korea's soju obsession

1. Biden's Asia Trip: Was It a a Success or a Failure?

But was it an off the cuff remark?


So this was a solid trip of solid diplomacy. Other than Biden’s off-the-cuff remark, Biden and his team did a fair job firming up U.S. relationships on the big foreign policy for the U.S. in the coming decades – China.

Biden's Asia Trip: Was It a a Success or a Failure? · by ByRobert Kelly · May 29, 2022
U.S. President Joseph Biden has returned from his trip to East Asia, where he made visits to South Korea and Japan. He met South Korea’s new president and Japan’s prime minister. These talks focused respectively on North Korea and China. Biden’s comment about defending Taiwan attracted all the media attention, but this trip actually went pretty well. Former U.S. President Donald Trump had gone out of his way to antagonize U.S. allies in Asia and cozy up to the dictators of North Korea and China. Biden’s trip was as much about undoing Trump’s inexplicable policy turn as it was about substantive regional issues like the new ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.’
Trump and Withdrawal
Trump, as is now widely apparent, cared little for American alliances. He preferred the company of autocrats, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with whom he said he ‘fell in love.’ Trump actively disliked U.S. allies. He viewed most of them as free- or cheap-riders on American power. He wanted them to substantially expand their financial contributions to U.S. defense guarantees, and he wanted to draw down U.S. troop levels in both Europe and Asia.
Most U.S. allies parried Trump’s pressure by flattering Trump or dragging their feet. Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo relentlessly complimented Trump, even giving him a gold golf club. The South Koreans balked at Trump’s demand for money for U.S. bases by dragging out the negotiations in hopes Trump would lose re-election.
Biden and Restoration
Biden, by contrast, is an institutionalist. He was a senator for many years and served on the foreign relations committee. He strongly supports the U.S. alliance network. His instinct is to negotiate with U.S. allies and keep them on board. He senses that U.S. alliances provide moral legitimacy to U.S. overseas action, as well as basing and logistical support, even if their militaries are too small –which is frequently true.
In East Asia, this means pulling U.S. allies together on the long-term challenge of China. China is now, quite obviously, the leading autocracy in the world. North Korea is a flashy, attention-seeking trouble-maker but small nonetheless.
Russia is a spoiler. It can upend Europe’s security architecture, as it is doing in Ukraine. But it is losing the Ukraine war. It is deeply corrupt. Its economy will contract severely due to the Ukraine war sanctions, and its birth rate is stagnant. Putin is destroying Russia’s claim to great power status in Ukraine; Russia will emerge as a middle power.
China then is the real issue. And the Chinese challenge will likely last decades. China will soon be larger than the U.S. in absolute economic size. It is avoiding the errors of the Soviet Union – overspending on its military while overburdening its civilian economy – and Russia, alienating much of the world with openly aggressive action it has not the strength to maintain. China is not fighting foolish unwinnable wars like Iraq or Ukraine. It is husbanding its resources and biding its time. Its aggressive actions in the East and South China Seas are highly limited probes to slowly push out its sphere of influence without generating a backlash from the states near it like Japan or Vietnam.
The Quad
Under Chinese leadership before current leader Xi Jinping, Beijing elites talked up a ‘peaceful rise’ for China. China would not seek to turn the world system upside down as Imperial Germany or the Soviet Union did. It would avoid a ‘hegemonic clash’ between the U.S. or Japan. Xi seems to have dropped this. Under him, China has taken a more belligerent turn. Its language, especially towards its smaller neighbors like South Korea or the Philippines, has gotten harsher and more bullying. Even India, which is now growing faster than China, has felt Chinese high-handedness.
In Washington, this is reflected in the growing bipartisan consensus that China is a U.S. opponent, and Biden’s trip helped firm up the U.S. response – the Quad of Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia. Japan and Australia are now firmly on board, and India is moving closer. Holding Quad talks in Asia was a good way to signal that it is not U.S. imperialism or containment of China, but an Asian effort on an Asian issue. Keeping a low American profile is wise; that makes it harder for China to damn this as a U.S. plot. And South Korea, with its new, more hawkish president, is tilting toward the Quad too. It will likely find some adjacent role. South Korean public opinion is now fairly hostile to China.
So this was a solid trip of solid diplomacy. Other than Biden’s off-the-cuff remark, Biden and his team did a fair job firming up U.S. relationships on the big foreign policy for the U.S. in the coming decades – China.
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 a 1945 Contributing Editor as well. · by ByRobert Kelly · May 29, 2022

2. N.Korea stockpiled Chinese masks, vaccines before reporting COVID-19 outbreak

Of course they did.

N.Korea stockpiled Chinese masks, vaccines before reporting COVID-19 outbreak · May 28, 2022
By Stella Qiu, Ellen Zhang and Josh Smith
BEIJING/SEOUL – In the months before it acknowledged its first official COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea suddenly imported millions of face masks, 1,000 ventilators, and possibly vaccines from China, trade data released by Beijing showed.
Two weeks ago state media revealed the outbreak, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages. Chinese data show that even before that announcement, the North had begun stocking up.
North Korea is not known to have conducted any significant COVID-19 vaccine campaign. In February, however, China exported $311,126 worth of unidentified vaccines to its neighbour, according to the data released this month. China reported no other vaccine exports to North Korea for any other month this year, or all of last year.
From January to April, the last month for which data is available, the North bought more than 10.6 million masks from China, having bought none in December 2021.
In those four months, China also exported nearly 95,000 thermometers, more than 33 times than the total amount of 2021.
China exported 1,000 non-invasive ventilators to North Korea in April, worth $266,891, as well as laboratory supplies that could be used in COVID-19 test kits. Other medical imports included rubber gloves and protective clothing.
Overall China’s exports to North Korea hit $98.1 million in April, the highest since January 2020 when the figure was $186.8 million.
North Korea shut its borders to nearly all trade for most of the pandemic, only recently allowing a trickle of supplies and products into the country on trains and ships from China.
Three aircraft from North Korea’s Air Koryo arrived in China and returned to Pyongyang last week carrying medical supplies, a diplomatic source said. · May 28, 2022

3. North Korea punishes officials for failing to contain coronavirus
There will never be balme on Kim Jong-un despite the fact that all the problems in north Korea are a result of his deliberate policy decisions to prioritize nuclear and missile development over the welfare of the people and to keep north Korea isolated and refuse international offers of aid.

North Korea punishes officials for failing to contain coronavirus
Mid-tier managers are being confined for 3-4 days as leaders look to shift blame, sources say.
By Chang Gyu Ahn for RFA Korean
North Korea is sentencing mid-tier government and ruling party officials to short jail or labor sentences for failing to stop COVID-19 from spreading in the country, which sources see as an effort to deflect blame from the country’s leaders for the sudden rise in cases.
North Korea is in a state of “maximum emergency” after revealing this month that the virus had begun to spread among participants of a large-scale military parade in late April.
Prior to that, Pyongyang had for more than two years denied that anyone in the country had contracted COVID-19, and the government could now lose face if people start to question how the virus could have spread to more than 3 million people in such a short amount of time.
Accusing officials of being corrupt or incompetent, blaming them for the pandemic, then punishing them, even lightly, allows officials higher up, including leader Kim Jong Un to shift responsibility away from them.
“At an official meeting held at the party committee building last week, a number of officials were punished for their failure to adhere to the emergency quarantine system. Among them were two managers who were one day late in locking down the workers’ dormitory at their production unit,” an official from the city of Chongjin in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA’s Korean Service on Wednesday on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
Both managers were sent to “confinement” after they were brought on the stage and publicly criticized.
“The officials were locked up for three days,” the source said. “Since the implementation of the emergency quarantine system, these types of punishments are happening more often than before.”
Authorities were reluctant to release information to the public regarding the punishments, as they still want to protect the reputations and dignity of the officials, who belong to a class more privileged than those they supervise, the source said.
“Still, though, many of the officials are especially not happy with confinement. Two years ago they locked up a company official for five days. Feeling humiliated and insulted, he resigned the next day of his release, citing health concerns,” said the source.
“Being confined at the Social Security Department alongside criminals is such a petty way to punish someone for insufficient performance in their duties. Is it that the authorities can't control the cadre of officials except in this old-fashioned way?” the source said.
Confining officials can also be a way to get them to push their workers to work harder to achieve the country’s economic goals, a company official in the northern province of Ryanggang told RFA.
“Authorities, who previously pointed out that last year’s economic goals were not quite met, have been ‘encouraging’ officials to live up to their roles and responsibilities through punishment,” said the second source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.
“In April, officials were punished to three months of unpaid labor, including an official who failed to prevent an employee from smuggling, as well as several officials who failed to complete the spring land management mobilization task,” this source said.
“This month, organizations that were reported for failing to implement lockdown within their units and those officials who failed to mobilize their personnel for the housing construction task force in Hwasong, Pyongyang, were punished with confinement and unpaid labor,” the second source said.
Workers try to lessen the burden on their bosses who have been detained, knowing that the boss will shortly be released from jail, the second source explained.
“The workers negotiate with the Social Security Department to ensure that their superiors don’t eat meals provided by the detention center, and they deliver outside food for them. In addition, they urgently scramble to solve the problem that became a cause for punishment so that the locked up official can be released from the detention center as soon as possible,” the second source said.
“When the authorities lock up officials in charge of organizations and enterprises, their units do whatever it takes to solve their problems. So, it seems that the authorities are enjoying locking up officials in charge of organizations and enterprises. The general public does not appreciate the authorities’ way of motivating officials by insulting them,” said the second source.
The pandemic has heightened tensions in the country, the source said, quoting authorities as describing the campaign as “a test period to verify our patriotism and loyalty to our leader.”
“It’s a very tense atmosphere, like a state of war almost, so nobody dares to complain even if the authorities issue absurd policies or instructions,” the source added.
Though North Korea has acknowledged that the virus is spreading inside the country, it has only reported a handful of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which 38 North, a site that provides analysis on the country and is run by the U.S.-based Stimson Center think tank, attributed to insufficient testing capabilities.
Data published on the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center showed North Korea with only one confirmed COVID-19 case and six deaths as of Friday evening.
The country is, however, keeping track of numbers of people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
About 3.3 million people have been hit by outbreaks of fever, 69 of whom have died, according to data based on the most recent reports from North Korean state media published by 38 North. Around 3 million are reported to have made recoveries, while 233,090 are undergoing treatment.
Translated by Claire Lee and Leejin J. Chung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

4. N. Korea touts progress in handling COVID-19 pandemic, but prepares for another wave

But soon the regime will declare that COVID has been eradicated due to the superiority of the Juche ideology and the leadership of the dear, great, supreme leader of Kim Jong-un.

N. Korea touts progress in handling COVID-19 pandemic, but prepares for another wave · by Ji Da-gyum · May 29, 2022
Daily new fever cases stay below 100,000 for two consecutive days, data shows
Published : May 29, 2022 - 15:13 Updated : May 29, 2022 - 17:55
This photo, released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Sunday, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holding a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea to discuss anti-COVID-19 measures. (Yonhap)
North Korea has touted progress in curbing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, but admitted that the country is bracing for another wave of infections that could stem from the spread of new variants.

The Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on Sunday convened a consultative meeting at the headquarters of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang under the guidance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the state-run media including the Korean Central News Agency reported later in the day.

The politburo members were briefed about the spread of the infectious disease by region and the characteristics of the virus transmission as well as the country’s distribution of medicines and experiences in treating patients. They were informed of the national-level research on the origin of the initial outbreaks and the course of the virus transmission.

North Korea on May 12 officially admitted a COVID-19 outbreak and the detection of the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron virus. But state media outlets have not generally made any direct mention of COVID-19 while reporting the daily number of “fever” cases.

During the meeting, the politburo concluded that North Korea’s anti-epidemic measures have helped effectively curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Political Bureau made a positive assessment of the pandemic situation being under control and improved across the country,” KCNA and the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said in a Korean-language report.

The politburo members also discussed continuously stabilizing the outbreak and making progress toward epidemic control based on the anti-epidemic experiences learned in the early stage of the virus outbreak.

Pyongyang also alluded to the possibility of easing curbs and lockdown measures should the country continue to see a downward trend in pandemic-related cases.

“The Political Bureau deliberated on the issues of effectively and quickly adjusting and enforcing anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines in keeping with the stable trend in the spread of an epidemic disease,” the state media said.

Maintaining stable, downward trend
North Korea on Sunday claimed that its daily new “fever” cases stayed below 100,000 for two consecutive days as of Saturday afternoon amid what is widely believed to be a COVID-19 outbreak.

The state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters reported around 89,500 more people showed fever symptoms in the 24 hours up to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, putting the tally at 3,348,880, state media reported Sunday.

North Korea’s new fever cases dropped to below 100,000 for the first time as of Friday after the daily tally remained above 100,000 for six days in a row between May 21 and 26.

After the rare admission of the virus outbreak, the Kim Jong-un regime has trumpeted its achievement in constraining the infectious disease as it gears up for the party plenum scheduled for early June.

Official statistics suggest that the country has maintained a stable and downward trend in the virus spread despite remaining questions on the validity of the data.

But the Rodong Sinmun on Sunday urged health officials to continue to be vigilant although the country has kept the lid on the virus outbreak.

The daily cases of new patients with fever symptoms have decreased compared to the previous day in most regions and the number of recoveries has surpassed the daily tally.

“But it does not mean that we have completely regained stability in implementing an emergency anti-epidemic campaign,” the Rodong Sinmun said, adding that the country has not yet “thoroughly blocked and eradicated the transmission source of the malicious virus that flowed into our region.”

The newspaper warned that the country could face “serious consequences“ if it became complacent and numb to the virus outbreak.

Bracing for second wave
In a separate article, the Rodong Sinmun and KCNA on Sunday suggested that the country is preparing for a potential second wave that could originate from the emergence and transmission of new coronavirus variants.

“The emergency anti-epidemic sector accepts that another state of emergency could arise as a fait accompli in preparation for the serious situation that new virus variants have continued to emerge and be spread across the world,” the Rodong Sinmun said.

“It (the sector) has taken necessary measures while scientifically predicting the transmission trend of the malicious virus.”

North Korea’s health care officials and experts have been pushing a plan to overhaul and reinforce epidemic preparedness and response in the long-term perspective, according to the state media.

North Korea, for instance, has implemented a project on establishing quarantine facilities with improved accommodation capacity and treating conditions in Pyongyang and each province as well as designating professional organizations dedicated to disease control.

The country also has taken measures to supply medical appliance factories with materials needed to produce medical devices including respirators, patient monitoring systems and oximeters.

5. Unconditional Covid-19 aid for the North

There is only one condition that is necessary and that is complete transparency to ensure all aid gets to the people who need it. Based on the nature of the regime and its long history of diverting aid we must ensure that all international aid that is provided is properly distributed.

May 29, 2022

Unconditional Covid-19 aid for the North

Nam Jeong-ho

The author is a columnistat the JoongAng Ilbo.

The Covid-19 situation in North Korea is extremely serious. Although the number of suspected infections has decreased over the past few days, the daily number of “fever” cases, which was 18,000 on May 12, skyrocketed to 392,000 on May 15. Over three days, the number jumped 20-fold.

As of May 17, the North said 62 people had died from their fevers. But taking into account the fact that it takes two to four weeks for an infection to result in death, the number is likely to increase in the near future.

The North is one of only two countries without a Covid-19 vaccination program. The other is Eritrea. Vaccines clearly reduce the overall damage caused by the pandemic, and those who are not vaccinated will likely suffer more serious symptoms. Furthermore, the North’s medical facilities are extremely poor, and the country is short of test kits and face masks, leading to concerns that it will suffer a snowballing crisis.

Until now, many North Korean residents have purchased the over-the-counter medicines at local markets. The North Korean government, however, shut the markets because it was worried about spreading infections. The residents are now blocked from purchasing basic drugs. This is why some raised the possibility that the North Korean regime may collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And yet, a forecast based on empirical data shows that the projection is not well supported. Although the North’s medical system is extremely poor, the number of deaths won’t likely be large enough to topple the regime. Based on data on unvaccinated people in Hong Kong, Dr. Oh Myoung-don, a specialist in infectious diseases at Seoul National University Hospital, forecasts that about 34,000 will die in the North from Covid. That, of course, does not take into account the fact that Hong Kong medical facilities are far superior to those in the North. The number of pandemic casualties in the North is likely to be higher. Oh said if 30 percent of North residents are infected, about 420,000 need to be hospitalized, and if 70 percent of the population is infected, 700,000 will have to be hospitalized.

That is not serious enough to cause the North Korean regime to collapse. Compared to other countries, the loss is not too serious. Until now, over 1 million have died of Covid-19 in the United States and advanced countries in Europe, such as England, Germany and France, each with over 100,000 deaths. Fatality rates were high in those countries because they were hit by the pandemic early. At the time, the fatality rate was 7.3 percent. But the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is the dominant strain in the North, and its fatality rate is far lower. The rate of death in the North is likely to be low.

As of now, the global fatality rate is 0.25 percent. It is about one-thirtieth the rate during the early stages of the pandemic.
As a controlled society, the North can endure mass casualties and the regime can survive. It did not collapse when up to 3 million people starved due to the serious famine in the late 1990s. There is little possibility that North Korean society will collapse over 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
I am not saying the North Korean suffering is not serious. It is likely that North Korean authorities will maintain a cruel lockdown policy, similar to China’s zero-infection policy. Farmers won’t be able to plant rice in time, and the country will face famine in the future, in addition to the pandemic. This is why the South Korean government must actively contact the North to support pandemic control measures.
There are many options. Three types of aid can be offered — test kits, vaccines and prevention and treatment goods. According to experts, the most urgent task is offering cures and preventive goods. Some have said vaccine supply will be effective, but it is too late.
It would take at least one month for the vaccines to arrive in the North, taking into consideration negotiation and delivery time. It also takes another two weeks for the vaccines to be effective, so the vaccine assistance program is not that meaningful. The North is short of refrigeration facilities and refrigerated trucks to store and distribute vaccines, so it is questionable if the country will be able to administer them properly. mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require special freezer facilities, but the North reportedly has none.
The Yoon Suk-yeol administration said its basic stance is to offer pandemic control support to the North, “if the North wants it.” In his budget speech on May 16, the president said “If the North Korean authorities respond, we will not hesitate to offer all possible support, including Covid-19 vaccines, medicines, medical tools and public health manpower.”
Many experts say, however, that unconditional support is a wiser policy in the long term. The condition of “if the North Korean authorities respond” appears to mean an overt request from the Kim Jong-un regime. It seems that the Yoon government will offer support if the Kim regime requests treatments or vaccines. But a veteran expert with much experience in negotiating with the North said there are many ways to aid the North while allowing it to save face. This would include offering aid packages through international organizations such as the United Nations. If the government offers financial and material support earmarked for the North through the World Health Organization, it will be able to help the North without making much noise, he said.
There is nothing we can do if the North refuses to accept. It has rejected the international community’s vaccine offer, enough to inoculate 8.11 million people. But the situation has become extremely urgent, so there is a possibility that the North may accept the aid if we quietly negotiate and confirm Pyongyang’s intention to accept the package.
The biggest challenge in inter-Korean relations currently is restarting dialogue, which has been frozen for years. Only after that will we be able to accomplish anything, such as denuclearization talks or inter-Korean exchanges. It is unrealistic to think that the North Korean regime will fall due to the pandemic. It is also absurd for some to argue that vaccine supply should be linked to denuclearization measures. It is wise to offer humanitarian help to the North to at least start dialogue.
There are many precedents, about 10 past cases of direct or indirect assistance. During the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, the South offered 16.7 billion won in addition to 500,000 doses of Tamiflu antiviral drugs. It won’t be the first time for the South to give vaccines and treatments to North Korea.
Experts also said communication between medical professionals from the two Koreas, in addition to political dialogue, is crucial and would have a significant impact. It will be a great help to the North Korean doctors if the South shares its Covid-19 experience and knowhow.

6. Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S., Japan arranging talks in Singapore next month

​Trilateral cooperation. Good news for the US INDOPACIFIC strategy.

Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S., Japan arranging talks in Singapore next month | Yonhap News Agency · by 김덕현 · May 29, 2022
TOKYO, May 29 (Yonhap) -- Defense ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan have been arranging trilateral talks on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore next month, Japan's Kyodo News reported Sunday.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Lloyd Austin and Nobuo Kishi, are reportedly expected to join the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore set for June 10-12.
Citing a Japanese government official, the report said that the three defense ministers plan to deepen their cooperation against North Korea's recent provocations, including ballistic missile launches, during the planned three-way talks.
Should the three-way talks take place, they would mark the first such in-person gathering since November 2019.
The defense ministers of South Korea and the U.S. are likely to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the security forum, but Seoul and Tokyo are unlikely to hold bilateral defense talks, the report said.
North Korea has staged ballistic missile tests at a record pace this year, including at least four suspected launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Officials in Seoul have said North Korea appears to have completed "all preparations" for a nuclear test, which would mark North Korea's seventh nuclear test if conducted. Pyongyang last conducted a nuclear test in September 2017.

(END) · by 김덕현 · May 29, 2022

7. China and Russia’s veto of North Korea resolution ‘undermines collective security’, says US envoy to UN


“Additional sanctions against the DPRK will not help resolve the problem, but only lead to more negative effects and escalation of confrontation,” Zhang said. “The situation on the peninsula has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip-flop of the US policies, and its failure to uphold the results of previous dialogue. This is an undeniable fact.”
Thomas-Greenfield countered that the US had made “serious, sustained efforts, publicly and privately, to pursue diplomacy with the DPRK without preconditions”. She said the US, Japan and South Korea would continue to speak out and work together to protect the region and the world “from the DPRK’s continued and unprovoked escalations”.

China and Russia’s veto of North Korea resolution ‘undermines collective security’, says US envoy to UN
By Mark Magnier South China Morning Post3 min

Mark Magnier in New York
Published: 3:06pm, 27 May, 2022

Diplomats take part in a meeting of the UN Security Council
Japan, South Korea and the United States criticised China and Russia for vetoing a United Nations resolution on Thursday that had sought to punish North Korea for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch.
Thursday’s US-drafted resolution in the UN Security Council would have pared back the amount of oil North Korea could legally import for civilian purposes from 4 million barrels annually to 3 million barrels and cut the level of refined petroleum.
“The vetoes today are dangerous. Those members have taken a stance that not only undermines the Security Council’s previous actions to which they’ve committed, but also undermines our collective security,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, on behalf of the three nations. “These tests are dangerous. They are destabilising …. They pose a threat, not just to [North Korea’s] neighbours, but to the entire world. This must stop.”
US and South Korea strengthen military ties after North Korea's latest missile tests
Washington and Seoul reported that North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), fired three missiles on Wednesday, including one that may have been Pyongyang’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, to date, hours after US President Joe Biden visited the region. The missile launches, totalling 23 this year, represent a “threat to the peace and security of the entire international community,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Thirteen members of the 15-member Security Council supported the resolution. Of the 15, only five permanent members – China, Russia, the US, Britain and France – have veto power. The remaining 10 positions rotate among other nations.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, bridled at the imposition of sanctions against Pyongyang despite supporting similar measures in the past.
This follows growing polarisation between democratic and autocratic states and an unprecedented sanctions campaign by the US and numerous Western allies directed against Russia following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The US “should not place one-sided emphasis on the implementation of sanctions alone. It should also work to promote a political solution”, China’s ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said on Thursday.
Russia, which has struggled to import vital technology and seen overseas accounts and the assets of its oligarchs frozen since the invasion, accused Washington of ignoring North Korea’s request to ease hostilities.
“It seems that our American and other Western colleagues are suffering from the equivalent of writer’s block,” said Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. “They seem to have no response to crisis situations other than introducing new sanctions.”
Thomas-Greenfield said this was the first time in 15 years that Security Council members – without mentioning China or Russia by name – had used a veto to stop the council from holding North Korea accountable for unlawful testing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The Security Council agreed to impose sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test blast in 2006. It tightened these in 10 subsequent resolutions in following years, trying unsuccessfully to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and halt its financing.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatens nuclear strike while showing off newest ICBM missiles
“We three countries reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the DPRK,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Thursday. “We urge the DPRK to invest in its people instead of its destabilising weapons.”
In an explanation of China’s veto, Zhang said its action was taken in part because of “the negative impact on the DPRK’s domestic response to Covid-19”, blaming the lack of dialogue and negotiation on the US.
“Additional sanctions against the DPRK will not help resolve the problem, but only lead to more negative effects and escalation of confrontation,” Zhang said. “The situation on the peninsula has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip-flop of the US policies, and its failure to uphold the results of previous dialogue. This is an undeniable fact.”
Thomas-Greenfield countered that the US had made “serious, sustained efforts, publicly and privately, to pursue diplomacy with the DPRK without preconditions”. She said the US, Japan and South Korea would continue to speak out and work together to protect the region and the world “from the DPRK’s continued and unprovoked escalations”.
Mark Magnier is a US correspondent based in Washington. Before joining the Post, he worked for the Wall Street Journal in China and for the Los Angeles Times in India, China and Japan. He’s covered the Chinese economy, China and India’s explosive rise and conflicts in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

8. Sanctions won't help solve peninsula issue, China says
​From the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. This is their consistent position. They are now actively working to have sanctions either lifted or at least neutered. And along with Russia, China is complicit in helping north Korea evade sanctions. China and Russian are deliberately undermining the rules based international order.

Sanctions won't help solve peninsula issue, China says · by 刘小卓
Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN. [Photo/Agencies]
China's top envoy to the United Nations reiterated on Thursday that sanctions will not help solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, but rather will lead to escalation of confrontation.
The UN Security Council earlier that day failed to adopt a United States draft resolution that sought to impose additional sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Chinese delegation has voted against the draft.
"China has been calling on all parties to exercise calm and restraint, and to desist from actions that could increase tensions and lead to miscalculations," explained Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, after the vote.
Zhang said the council should play a positive and constructive role, and its actions should help de-escalate the situation and prevent it from deteriorating or even getting out of control.
"Facts have proved that dialogue and negotiations are the only viable way to solve the problem. The US, as a main stakeholder in the peninsula question, is directly responsible for promoting dialogue and negotiations," he said.
"The situation on the peninsula has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip-flop of the US policies and its failure to uphold the results of previous dialogue. This is an undeniable fact."
Facts have also shown that reliance on sanctions will not help resolve the peninsula issue, he said.
The ambassador said countries concerned should not place one-sided emphasis on the implementation of sanctions alone, but should also work to promote a political solution and ease sanctions where appropriate.
He pointed out that additional sanctions will only lead to more negative effects, escalation of confrontation, and cause greater humanitarian impact. The goal should be to promote dialogue and negotiations, and create a favorable environment for political solution.
Zhang noted that the US has been vigorously promoting the Indo-Pacific strategy, "which is necessarily linked to the latest developments on the peninsula".
The US' moves have all "sent wrong signals and negatively impacted the resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue," Zhang said. "We advise countries concerned to put the international and regional peace and security first, abandon the Cold War mentality, and not to travel further and further down the wrong path," he added.
"China once again calls on all parties to exercise calm and restraint, and calls on the US side to seriously reflect on its policy toward the DPRK, adhere to the general direction of political settlement, take meaningful actions to respond to the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the DPRK, and create conditions for the de-escalation of the situation and the resumption of dialogue and negotiations."
Zhang also rejected accusations against China's position from the US ambassador to the UN.
"China has been a responsible member of the Council, engaging in the Council's work responsibly, and working hard to maintain the unity of the Council," he said.
"China's position is independently self-determined, and it does not have to be aligned with that of the United States. Not to mention such alignment is not required in the Council's rules of procedure."
The reason why the draft resolution failed to pass was not China's fault. "In fact, perhaps some people wanted nothing but this situation based on their cynical intentions," he said.
"China's voting position is based on our assessment as to whether a proposal contributes to a solution, whether it helps maintain international and regional peace and security, and whether it can head off greater tensions or a bigger disaster."
The key to solve the Korean Peninsula issue is whether or not someone wants to use the issue as a card for its so-called Indo-Pacific strategy, whether or not they want to use the handling of the issue as a chessman on the chessboard for their so-called Indo-Pacific strategy.
If some people are making other plans deep down with the objective to spread the flames of war to Northeast Asia, to the Korean Peninsula, Zhang said, "China would have no choice but to take stern and firm initiatives to defend the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and that of Asia-Pacific, because that is what we have to do in order to fulfill our due responsibility." · by 刘小卓

9. North Korea tests rivers, air, garbage as anti-Covid efforts intensify

“Emergency anti-epidemic sectors at all levels give precedence to the test of specimens collected in rivers and lakes, while disinfecting hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sewage and thousands of tons of garbage every day and examining and analyzing samples,” KCNA said.
It did not elaborate on testing methods. North Korea said last year it had developed its own polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test equipment, but has never confirmed how many people have tested positive, instead reporting the number with fever symptoms.
Experts have said those figures could be underreported, and make it difficult to assess the scale of the situation.

North Korea tests rivers, air, garbage as anti-Covid efforts intensify
State media said authorities are stepping up testing and disinfection across the country, after reporting this week a “stabilizing” trend in the outbreak.
NBC News · by Reuters · May 27, 2022
SEOUL, South Korea — Health officials in North Korea are testing rivers, lakes, the air and household wastewater and garbage for the coronavirus as the country intensifies the fight against its first outbreak, state media said Friday.
The isolated country has been in a heated battle against an unprecedented virus wave since declaring a state of emergency and imposing a nationwide lockdown this month, fueling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food.
State media said authorities are stepping up testing and disinfection across the country, after reporting this week a “stabilizing” trend in the outbreak, including signs that the wave of fevers was abating and a relatively low death toll.

May 16, 202202:30
Some 100,460 more people showed fever symptoms as of Thursday evening, compared with nearly 400,000 about 10 days ago, the official KCNA news agency said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters.
The total number of fever patients since April rose to 3,270,850 among the 25 million population, and the death toll to 69, up by one from a day earlier.
In another dispatch, KCNA said anti-virus offices gathered samples from many sources to check whether areas had been infected with the virus.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics
“Emergency anti-epidemic sectors at all levels give precedence to the test of specimens collected in rivers and lakes, while disinfecting hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sewage and thousands of tons of garbage every day and examining and analyzing samples,” KCNA said.
It did not elaborate on testing methods. North Korea said last year it had developed its own polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test equipment, but has never confirmed how many people have tested positive, instead reporting the number with fever symptoms.

May 13, 202200:51
Experts have said those figures could be underreported, and make it difficult to assess the scale of the situation.
A video provided by KCNA showed a group of officials wearing protective clothing and medical masks conveying boxes with signs saying “specimen carrier” or “bacteria, virus tester.”
Reuters was unable to independently verify information contained in the video.
NBC News · by Reuters · May 27, 2022

10. Redback armored vehicle flaunts field maneuverability

​I bet Ukraine could put this vehicle to good use.

Redback armored vehicle flaunts field maneuverability | Yonhap News Agency · by 송상호 · May 29, 2022
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean-made armored vehicle roared through puddles, traversed unpaved roads and shifted course smoothly in its first local capability demonstration open to the press at an Army training site.
The manufacturer, Hanwha Defense, held the event highlighting the maneuverability of the Redback -- the vehicle designed to meet the Australian military's operational requirements -- at the 11th Maneuver Division in Hongcheon, 102 kilometers east of Seoul, on Friday.
The Redback has been in a competition to join the Australian Army's high-profile procurement project, called Land 400 Phase 3. Canberra is expected to announce the winner of the project this fall, according to officials here.
Some 80 people, including reporters and officials from the Korean Army and the state Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), as well as foreign defense attaches, attended the demonstration.
It involved troops of the Army division that has been test-running the vehicle as part of a program to support local firms' defense exports and their efforts to cement footholds in foreign markets.

The Redback carrying the troops rolled down uneven, rough terrain, showing off its high maneuverability. It then pivoted smoothly and demonstrated the movement of a turret. Troops were also seen boarding it and dismounting.
That scene unfolded in front of not only rolling cameras and media crew but also potential buyers from home and abroad.
"Through our military's trial-operation of the weapons system designed for exports, we plan to provide our operation data, including those about its up-to-date capabilities and reliability, and will actively support its exportation," Brig. Gen. Cho Hyun-ki, the director general of DAPA's Maneuver Program Department, said.
Cho added that the South Korean government can "positively" consider introducing a Redback that meets its military's operational requirements -- remarks that raised the possibility of the Korean Army rolling it out.

Hanwha Defense is also looking to advance into U.S. and European markets.
Hanwha Defense USA, a division of Hanwha Defense, is participating in a consortium to compete for the U.S. Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program's concept design phase. The consortium seeks to leverage the capability of Hanwha's Redback chassis, officials said.
The 42-ton Redback can carry 11 people with a maximum speed of 65 kph. It is equipped with the Mk44 Bushmaster II, a 30 mm chain gun, Spike, an Israeli anti-tank guided missile, and a 7.62 mm machine gun.
(END) · by 송상호 · May 29, 2022

11. N. Korea reports 89,500 new fever cases

N. Korea reports 89,500 new fever cases | Yonhap News Agency · by 이치동 · May 29, 2022
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's daily new suspected COVID-19 cases stayed below 100,000 for the second straight day, according to its state media Sunday.
More than 89,500 people showed symptoms of fever over a 24-hour period until 6 p.m. the previous day, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. It again gave no information on whether additional deaths were confirmed.
The total number of fever cases reported in the country since late April came to 3.45 million, of which 3.26 million have recovered and around 186,110 are being treated, the KCNA reported.
Meanwhile, the North's leader Kim Jong-un "guided" a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) to discuss measures in the antivirus fight, the KCNA said in a separate report.
During the consultative session, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK "made a positive evaluation of the pandemic situation being controlled and improved across the country and discussed the issues of continuously stabilizing and improving the overall anti-epidemic situation while further consolidating the experiences gained in the early period of the anti-epidemic work," the KCNA said in its English-language report.
The North disclosed its coronavirus outbreak on May 12.
(END) · by 이치동 · May 29, 2022

12.  N. Korea hints at possibility of easing COVID-19 curbs

Again, soon the regime should claim victory in its "COVID war."

N. Korea hints at possibility of easing COVID-19 curbs | Yonhap News Agency · by 김덕현 · May 29, 2022
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Sunday indicated that it may ease COVID-19 curbs as the country's pandemic situation has shown signs of improvement and of disease transmission coming under control.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea and "made a positive evaluation of the pandemic situation being controlled and improved across the country," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, without saying when the meeting took place.
The Political Bureau meeting "discussed the issues of continuously stabilizing and improving the overall anti-epidemic situation while further consolidating the experiences gained in the early period of the anti-epidemic work," the KCNA said.
It also "examined the issue of effectively and quickly coordinating and enforcing the anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines given the current stable anti-epidemic situation."
The KCNA report hinted that it could ease virus curbs to prevent the economy from deteriorating further, while expressing confidence that the pandemic situation is being controlled.
Hong Min, a researcher at the state-run Korea Institute of National Unification in Seoul, said, "According to North Korean broadcasting, production activities were carried out on a daily basis with exceptions, despite quarantine and containment measures."
The North's indication of easing virus curbs appears aimed at recovering its fragile economy, Hong said.
Hong said North Korea could highlight Kim's leadership by publicizing reports that its pandemic situation has been brought under control.
North Korea's daily reported cases of feverish symptoms peaked at 392,920 on May 15 and has trended downward since then.
North Korea's daily new suspected COVID-19 cases stayed below 100,000 for the second straight day, according to its state media Sunday.
(END) · by 김덕현 · May 29, 2022

13. Korean conglomerates vow to invest billions as new president takes office

Will this prime the Korean economic pump?

Korean conglomerates vow to invest billions as new president takes office
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong leaves Seoul Detention Center last August. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
SEOUL, May 27 (UPI) -- South Korea's conglomerates have announced plans to invest billions of dollars over the next five years as new President Yoon Suk-yeol takes office.
The country's leading Samsung Group announced Wednesday it would invest $356 billion through 2026, up more than 30% from the previous five years, and employ 80,000 workers.
Samsung vows to spend 80%, or $285 billion, in South Korea during the five-year term of Yoon, a former prosecutor.
The group said it would focus on next-generation growth engines, including fabless system semiconductors, foundry business and the biopharmaceutical industry.
Hyundai Motor and its sister companies announced Tuesday they would spend $49.8 billion in the Korean market through 2025 to strengthen the competitiveness of their automotive businesses.
SK Group said it would channel $195 billion during the next five years into the chip, battery and biopharmaceutical industries, hiring 50,000 employees. It plans to spend 72.5%, or $142 billion, in South Korea.
No. 4 conglomerate LG Group said Thursday it would invest $84 billion domestically in research, infrastructure and cutting-edge production facilities through 2026.
Other major groups like Lotte and Hanwha also disclosed their five-year investment plans this week.
Analysts questioned the timing of the investments, to coincide with the new president's term.
"I don't believe that such promises would be 100% kept. For one, the groups pledged to recruit more than 250,000 new employees, which are about one-third of their payrolls. It's hard to accept," Seoul-based business tracker Leaders Index founder Park Ju-gun told UPI News Korea.
"That's why some doubt that the investment plans have non-economic incentives, like striving to gain special pardons," he said.
The country's economic organizations have asked the government to give special pardons to tycoons including Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin so that they would be able to concentrate on leading their businesses.
Both were jailed for cases related to bribing an adviser to former President Park Geun-hye.
The two tycoons have been released on parole. Hence, their participation in the management has caused controversy. In addition, Samsung's Lee is going through other court trials involving Samsung units.

14. Freedom is back in vogue

​Like Spiderman said, with great power comes great responsibility. I think the same is true with freedom. With great freedom comes great responsibility.

May 29, 2022

Freedom is back in vogue

Lee Jong-wha
The author, former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank and a senior adviser for international economic affairs to former President Lee Myung-bak, is a professor of economics at Korea University.

“It is our generation’s calling to build a nation that espouses liberal democracy and ensures a thriving market economy ... a nation that truly belongs to the people,” President Yoon Suk-yeol said in his inaugural address. He repeatedly stressed “freedom” and said he was determined to create a free country. He underscored the importance of freedom as a universal value. In a controlled, repressed society where civic rights and political freedom are infringed upon, the people cannot be happy.

In addition to political freedom, economic freedom is a universal value. A citizen without such freedom cannot be truly free. Economic freedom is the cornerstone of a capitalist economy, which develops through exchanges on a free market, execution of contracts and protection of private property rights. Historically, many countries prospered when they enjoyed high degrees of economic freedom, hence democracy also advanced.

In his book “Free to Choose,” Nobel laureate Milton Friedman talked about three categories of economic freedom. First is freedom to choose how much and where you will use your income. When a state regulates an individual’s consumption and exchanges and increases taxes, this freedom is violated. Second is freedom to dispose material and human resources based on an individual’s value. There should be no restriction on choosing a job or engaging in a business activity. Third is freedom to own assets, and property rights must not be violated. Friedman said an economy prospers when the government minimizes market intervention and individuals and companies enjoy increased economic freedom.

“The economic order of the Republic of Korea shall be based on a respect for the freedom and creative initiative of enterprises and individuals in economic affairs,” says our Constitution. But the international community does not rate the freedom of economic activities in Korea highly.

In his inaugural address on May 10, President Yoon Suk-yeol repeatedly underscored the importance of freedom in people's lives. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The Fraser Institute releases an annual report of economic freedom in the world, ranking major countries in five areas: size of government, legal systems and property rights, soundness of money, freedom to trade internationally and regulations. In its latest report, Korea was ranked 47th in the world for economic freedom. It received particularly low scores, ranked at 99th on government size and 70th on regulations. This was because the government’s expenditure was large, the income tax rate was high, and regulations on business, labor and credit markets were severe.

The government must reduce intervention and regulations to promote economic freedom. And yet, a small government is not necessarily desirable. A state must increase effectiveness and fairness of a market with proper policies. It must stimulate competition, maintain law and order and build public infrastructure to allow stable economic growth. Furthermore, the government must create a social safety net to support basic lives of those who fell behind and vulnerable populations and reduce inequality by increasing social mobility between classes and generations. It must offer equal opportunity to all people to develop their abilities and skills as much as possible. When it does, the government should be careful that its intervention, intended to promote equality, does not lower economic freedom and the effectiveness of the market economy.

Steady growth of an economy is only possible when economic freedom leads to innovation. Innovation takes place when new ideas, new products and new production methods arise and create value. According to Joseph Schumpeter, innovation is a process of creative destruction, in which a new technology destroys an existing technology, and a driving force for economic development.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, Korea was one of the world’s most advanced countries, ranked sixth for science and technology innovation capabilities such as research and development spending and the number of patents. But its business vitality was only ranked 25th. It received low scores in categories such as expenses to create start-ups, growth of innovative companies, risk-taking of entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. For the sake of our future, we must encourage entrepreneurs to face immediate risks and lift excessive regulations that bar new companies from entering markets and allow innovative entrepreneurs and technology start-ups to grow.

Data from different countries shows that economic freedom and innovation are closely linked. Companies and the government must work together to create an ecosystem in which economic freedom and creativity are encouraged to boost innovation followed by more economic freedom. For example, regulations were temporarily eased during the pandemic to allow telemedicine, which helped boost economic freedom. That should be systemized to bring innovation to the entire public health system. We must learn lessons from Switzerland, the United States and Singapore — leaders in economic freedom and innovation — to upgrade our policies and systems.

Over the past years, the pandemic resulted in more government intervention, controls and manipulation of information and restrictions on the freedom of citizens. As a new administration started its term in Korea, it is meaningful that the government values the importance of freedom. We must build a dynamic economy full of freedom and innovation by integrating an effective market, proper policies and a rightful system.

15. The 30 Best Korean Dramas on Netflix Right Now

If I were directing a Korea PSYOP effort I would have the PSYOP professionals (along with advice and assistance from escapees from north Korea) determine which of these films can have effects in north Korea and figure out how to build on certain themes and messages in these films.

As an example, "Crash Landing on You" has been useful for strategic influence in north Korea.

Of course many are just good entertainment (which is an important message itself).

The 30 Best Korean Dramas on Netflix Right Now
Marie Claire · by Quinci LeGardye · May 27, 2022
Korean content has had a surge in popularity in the U.S. over recent years, from the zombie flick Train to Busan and Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning satire Parasite to the dystopian drama that took over the world last year, Squid Game. Luckily for anyone who saw Squid Game and wants to check out more Korean television dramas, a.k.a. K-dramas, Netflix has one of the largest libraries of the best Korean dramas and films in the U.S.
From action, to romance, to mystery, melodrama, and even more dystopia, there's a K-drama out there for everyone's TV taste. We can also expect several highly-anticipated new Korean dramas on Netflix in 2022 (opens in new tab), but that doesn't man you have to wait to dive into some beloved dramas. Here's the best shows to check out immediately (prepare to get totally invested in a 16-episode season).
'Crash Landing on You'
This beloved romance drama takes the "lovers from two different worlds" trope to a new level. South Korean heiress Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) gets in a paragliding accident and lands in the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea. She's rescued by Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a North Korean Special Forces captain, who has to take her in and help her return home. In addition to the heartwrenching romance, the show also includes a multifaceted portrayal of life in North Korea, and a stellar supporting cast. Plus, the two A-list leads began dating IRL after filming the drama and just got married(!!!).
'SKY Castle'
The best melodramas are both mesmerizing and enraging, while shining a light on an important social issue affecting the country. And by "the best melodrama," I mean SKY Castle. This 2018 smash-hit (like second highest ratings in Korean cable network history smash-hit) follows a group of ultra-wealthy families obsessed with gaining admission to the most prestigious universities in South Korea for their high school-aged kids. With the uber-competitive environment leading to mental breakdowns, estrangement, and even death, this satire shines a light on whether that amount of parental pressure is beneficial at all for kids.
'It's Okay to Not Be Okay'
A warning, this drama is heavy—tackling mental health and trauma—but extremely worth the watch. A psychiatric ward caregiver Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) who takes care of his autistic older brother Moon Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se) falls for children's book author Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) who has an antisocial personality disorder. The overall vibe of the show is a dark fairy tale, like Moon-young's books, and the starring trio give amazing performances.
'Squid Game'
The most-watched Netflix show of all time is a brutal, realistic thriller about the depths that everyday people can be pushed to when they're truly desperate. A group of people, from a deadbeat dad threatened by loan sharks to a North Korean refugee seeking a better life for her little brother, are invited to play a series of popular children's games, competing for billions of Korean won (millions in US dollars). The catch is, when they lose, they die.
'Twenty Five, Twenty One'
This coming-of-age rom-com recently stole viewers' hearts thanks to its determined characters, living through the IMF financial crisis. Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri) is a teenage fencer who refuses to give up after her team shuts down, instead transferring to the team of her idol-turned-rival, Go Yoo-rim (WJSN's Bona). Baek Yi-jin (Nam Joo-hyuk) is the son of a former conglomerate family, now broke and struggling to find a job. The romance between Hee-do and Yi-jin plays out over their teenage years, and is both lovely and at times heartwrenching.
This lauded military drama takes place amid South Korea's 18 month mandatory military service, and sheds light on cases of desertion stemming from hazing mistreatment by higher-ranking officials. New soldier Ahn Jun-ho (Jung Hae-in) joins the D.P. (Deserter Pursuit) team, returning to civilian life to bring back rogue soldiers, all the while understanding what drove the deserters to run. The harsh, realistic depictions of bullying are hard to watch, but it's propelled by great acting performances.
'Business Proposal'
Every popular rom-com trope comes up at least once in this fan-favorite drama, following two couples from meet-cute to another type of proposal. Food researcher Shin Ha-ri (I.O.I. and Gugudan's Kim Se-jong) agrees to sabotage a blind date for her wealthy best friend Jin Young-seo (Seol In-ah). It turns out the date is with the president of her company, Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop), who has decided to marry the next woman he meets. Meanwhile, Young-seo falls for Tae-moo's childhood friend and assistant, Cha Sung-Hoon (Kim Min-kyu), with the second-lead couple also having great chemistry.
This detective drama takes place across time, with a past-and-present team solving crimes based on well-known criminal cases in Korea. Criminal profiler Park Hae-Young (Lee Je-hoon), who lives in 2015, discovers a mysterious walkie-talkie that allows him to communicate with Lee Jae-han (Choi Jin-woong), a detective from 2000 who's working to solve a cold case that affected Hae-young as a kid. The two cops, along with 2015 detective Cha Soo-hyn (Kim Hye-soo), work together to solve cold cases across time.
'When the Camelia Blooms'
This show belongs to a genre-mixing category specific to k-dramas, where a heartwarming romance is interspersed with a thriller subplot. Single mother Dong-baek (Kong Hyo-jin) moves to the town of Ongsan with her baby boy to open up her own bar, The Camelia. Police officer Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul) falls for her at first site and does whatever he can to win her love, while she's distracted by her ex-boyfriend arriving in town. Meanwhile, a serial killer called The Joker starts killing members of the community.
'Mr. Sunshine'
This sweeping historical drama is set in the early 1900s, in the period between Korea (then Joseon's) freedom from Chinese influence and the country's annexation by Japan. Joseon-born U.S. Marine Eugene Choi (Squid Game's Lee Byung-hun) returns to his home country after fleeing to escape slavery as a child. There he meets Ae-shin Go (Twenty Five, Twenty One's Kim Tae-ri), a noblewoman who is secretly part of a militia working against a plot to colonize the country. Eugene soon has to choose whether to keep his neutral position as an American diplomat or join the effort to secure the country's independence.
'Hospital Playlist'
Fans of hospital shows like Grey's Anatomy and E.R. should try out this comforting multi-season drama, which focuses more on the relationships between hospital workers and the patients and families they help. At the center of the show is a group of five doctors who have been friends since med school and play in a band together in their spare time. As they deal with difficult work situations and romances, the group are always there to comfort each other.
'All of Us Are Dead'
South Korea is known for its excellent zombie content (see the aforementioned Train to Busan). This drama sees the zombie drama take over a high school, when the school's science teacher accidentally unleashes a virus that quickly takes over the school and town. A group of students, including friends Lee Cheong-San (Yoon Chan-young) and Nam On-Jo (Park Ji-hu), jock Lee Su-Hyeok (Lomon), and class president Choi Nam-ra (Cho Yi-hyun), band together to fight their way out, learning along the way that humans can be more monstrous than the actual monsters.
'Move to Heaven'
This tearjerker will have you reaching for tissues from the first episode, but it's also a moving story of life and death. Young Geu-Ru (Tang Joon-sang), who lives with Asperger syndrome, works for his father's business, arranging the items left by the deceased. When his father dies in an accident, his ex-convict uncle Sang-Gu (Lee Je-Hoon) reappears and becomes his guardian, with the two men running the business, named Move to Heaven, together.
'Beyond Evil'
Over two decades ago, a serial killer rocked the Manyang village and changed the life of Lee Dong-sik (Shin Ha-kyun), who was falsely accused and still seeks vengeance for his sister, one of the killer's victims. More women begin disappearing in the present, with the murders looking similar to the 20-year cold case. Now a detective, Dong-sik and his new partner Han Joo-won (Yeo Jin-goo) investigate the case and its several twist and turns, which will leave you on the edge of your seat for 15 episodes.
'Our Beloved Summer'
When they were in high school slacker Choi Ung (Parasite's Choi Woo-shik) and overachiever Kook Yeon-su (Kim Da-mi) were subjects of a slice-of-life documentary that paired the two opposites together. They ended up falling into a high school romance. Now, years later, they re-connect as adults after parting ways on bad terms. Can they make amends, or maybe even fall in love again?
The lead of this action melodrama, Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), was adopted to an Italian family as a child and grew up to be a lawyer working as a mafia consigliere. Fleeing from a mob war, he returns to South Korea to recover a secret treasure, ultimately getting involved with another lawyer, Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), and the tenants of the rundown Geumga Plaza. While the supporting characters bring a comedic touch, the ultimate conflict between VIncenzo and the corrupt Babel Group CEO Jang Jun-Woo (Ok Taec-yeon) keeps tensions high.
'Itaewon Class'
This drama starring new MCU addition Park Seo-joon is a David and Goliath tale spanning decades. When Park Saeroyi (Park) was a teenager, his life fell into ruin after he stood up to wealthy father-son villains, food conglomerate CEO Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae-myung) and Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun). Years later, he opens a bar with the goal to turn it into the largest food company in Korea, toppling his enemies in the process. To help, he hires a ragtag team including a friend he met in prison, a trans chef, a Black Korean searching for his father, and the determined-slightly sociopathic Cho Yi-seo (Kim Dami).
'Hometown Cha Cha Cha'
This comforting romance takes place in the fictional seaside village of Gongjin. Dentist Yoon Hye-Jin (Shin Min-ah) is a city-dweller who's unable to find work at another clinic after leaving her job. One day she travels to her hometown for her mother's birthday and meets Hong Du-shik (Kim Seon-ho), who's unemployed and spends his days doing odd jobs for the community. Hye-jin, discovering that the village is in need of a dentist, moves to Gongjin and slowly begins connecting more with Du-shik.
'Hotel de Luna'
This supernatural drama is beloved for lead actress IU's stunning costumes as much as the engrossing story. Jang Man-Wol (IU) is the CEO of the Hotel de Luna, a way-station for ghosts who have unfinished business on earth before heading to the afterlife. Man-wol, who is selfish and rageful, has been running the hotel for a thousand years, bound by a past resentment from betrayal. However, things change when a new human manager, Koo Chan-Sung (Yeo Jin-goo), arrives.
The first Netflix original k-drama to make a splash in the U.S., Kingdom takes the historical and zombie dramas, two of the most beloved among k-drama fans, and combines them in a suspenseful thriller. A mysterious virus quickly spreads through Joseon-era Korea, affecting everyone from everyday citizens to the king of Joseon himself. During the upheaval, the crown prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) teams up with a brilliant physician (played by Sense8's Bae Doona), a mysterious warrior, and his personal guard to fight the spread of the disease and also stop a coup seeking to overthrow his claim to the throne.
'Reply' series
The nostalgic Reply anthology is beloved for its depictions of South Korean life during momentous years in Korean pop culture, with phenomenons like the first generation of idol groups and the Seoul Olympics serving as backdrops. Each series follows a community living during these times, with the day-to-day lives of teens, college students, and their parents taking center stage. As for which to start with, the last series released, Reply 1988, is the most celebrated of the trilogy and features great performances from stars like Park Bo-gum and Girl's Day's Hyeri.
'Because This Is My First Life'
This drama is as much an ode to friendship as a rom-com, following three unmarried women dealing with society's expectations as they head into their early '30s. Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min) finds herself homeless due to financial and family problems. In search of housing, she enters a contract marriage with house-poor Nam Se-hee (Lee Min-ki), as both of them have no interest in romantic relationships. Meanwhile, Woo So-ji (Esom) deals with sexism at work and only engages in hook-ups, while Yang Ho-rang (Kim Ga-eun) has been dating her boyfriend for seven years and desperately wants to get married.
'Law School'
Fans of legal shows, this is your next must-watch. Law School follows both the professors and a group of first-year students at a prestigious law school rocked by a grim incident. When a colleague dies, no-nonsense criminal law professor Yang Jong Hoon (Kim Myung-min)—think the Annalise Keating of the show—is wrongfully accused. As the students assist in his trial defense while also trying their hardest to not fail, other subplots highlight their struggles, including one that shows the difficulty of seeking justice for dating abuse.
'Her Private Life'
Though many K-pop idols have starred in hit dramas, this rom-com is the show to watch for fangirl representation. Sung Deok-Mi (played by rom-com queen Park Min-Young) is an art curator with a secret hobby running a fan site for her favorite idol group member, Shi-An (ONE). She hides her fangirl activities at work, but she gets a new boss with a connection to Shi-An—Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook)—it gets harder to balance her work life and her private life.
'Sweet Home'
It's a great time to check out this gory zombie drama, with a second season reportedly in the works! Loner Cha Hyun-soo (an unrecognizable Song Kang), who lost his family in a car crash, has just moved into the rundown Green Homes apartment complex when a virus quickly takes over the word, turning people into monsters. He joins the residents of Green Homes as they all try to survive and see both the best and worst of humanity.
'The Uncanny Counter'
This supernatural action drama follows So Mun (Joe Byeong-gu), a student who lost his parents in a suspicious car accident as a child. He becomes a Counter, a human partnered with a good spirit, who hunts down evil spirits using their own special abilities, including superhuman strength and speed. His fellow Counters are the staff of a noodle restaurant: Ga Mo-Tak (Yu Jun-sang) who uses psychometry, Chu Mae-Ok (Yum Hye-ran) who is the mother figure with healing abilities, and Do Ha-Na (Business Proposal's Kim Se-jeong) who can sense evil spirits from miles away and read people's memories through touch.
'My Name'
Han So-hee stars in this crime drama as Yoon Ji-Woo, whose father was murdered on her 17th birthday. Taken in by Dongcheon's kingpin Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon), Ji-woo trains to become the gangster's mole in the police force. As she investigates her father's murder, bent on revenge, she also finds herself caught between the law and the criminal underworld, not knowing which side was responsible for her dad's death.
'One Spring Night'
This realistic romance drama depicts the love story of Yu Ji-ho (Jung Hae-in), a single father who works as a pharmacist, and librarian Lee Jeong-in (Han Ji-min). The first interaction between the two is mundane—Jeong-in goes into Ji-ho's work and realizes she forgot her wallet—and the woman already has a boyfriend of four years. Still, their chance meetings building into a deep attachment, with the pair falling in love despite everyone around them telling them not to.
'Juvenile Justice'
Signal's Kim Hye-soo stars in this procedural drama as Shim Eun-seok, a judge who's transferred to a juvenile criminal court, despite her openly detesting young offenders. She disagrees with the laws for offenders under the age of 13, who get a shorter sentence in juvenile detention instead of prison time, even in cases of murder. As she works in the court, she tries to balance those beliefs with her strong sense of justice, even going out of her way to investigate some cases and even coming up with her own punishments for guilty offenders.
'Mystic Pop-up Bar'
Ssanggab Cart Bar is a food stall that only opens at night on the rooftop of a building, run by hot-tempered Wol-ju (Hwang Jung-eum). The customers include both the living and the dead, all of whom have grudges and internal wounds. Wol-ju can enter their dreams and help them heal, along with Manager Gui (Choi Won-young) and new part-timer Han Kang-bae (BTOB and Goblin's Yook Sung-jae).
Marie Claire · by Quinci LeGardye · May 27, 2022

16. Recognizing the power of Korean film

The best psychological operators in Korea are filmmakers. :-) 

May 29, 2022

Recognizing the power of Korean film
A new milestone has been reached in the 100-year history of Korea movies. At the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival that closed Saturday, actor Song Kang-ho received the Best Actor Award for “Broker” and director Park Chan-wook took the Best Director Award for “Decision to Leave.” The twin achievements at the film festival are the first of their kind, although they recall director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” winning the Palme d’Or in 2019 following actress Jeon Do-yean’s receipt of the Best Actress Award for “Milyang” in 2007.

This is a great honors for Korean movies and demonstrated the full blossoming of our films after years of persistent experiments with diverse themes and genres. In particular, actor Song Kang-ho’s Best Actor Award shone. Invited to the film festival for the seventh time since his appearance in “The Host” in 2006, Song has emerged as a favorite of the Cannes Film Festival. In “Broker,” he was acclaimed for his delicate performance as a seller of abandoned babies. Director Park Chan-wook has lifted his third trophy since he was awarded them for “Oldboy” in 2004 and “Thirst” in 2009. The successive awards for Korean movies manifest the remarkable achievements the Korean film industry has made over the past decades.

“Broker” and “Decision to Leave” proved the endless evolution of Korean films. This carries special meaning as the two movies helped expand the boundaries of K-Cinema. “Broker” was directed by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, the awardee for the Palme d’Or in 2018, and “Decision to Leave” was directed by Park Chan-wook and starred by Tang Wei, a Chinese actress famous for her performance in “Lust, Caution” (2007). The two movies were Korean movies produced by Korean capital but also multinational productions involving Korea, China and Japan.

The latest achievement has reaffirmed the global power of K-content that can impress the world thanks to the continuous investment in movies and their development. The accomplishment also has pointed to the direction our movie industry must go. The clues can be found in Park Chan-wook’s hopes for “further revitalization of exchanges such as the ones made in Europe in 1960s to create quality international movies” and Song Kang-ho’s praise of the “Korean movies’ effort to challenge for change in a dynamic way.”

The marvelous achievements have also highlighted some challenges facing Korean movies. What counts most is the building of movie infrastructure to produce young directors, actors and actresses who can take the baton from famous directors and actors like Im Kown-taek, Lee Chang-dong, Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Song Kang-ho. We look forward to seeing a beautiful revival of Korean movies hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. We congratulate the artists recognized by the Cannes Film Festival.

17. BTS members depart for U.S. to visit White House

BTS members depart for U.S. to visit White House | Yonhap News Agency · by 장재순 · May 29, 2022
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- Members of South Korean boy group BTS left for the United States on Sunday to visit the White House for a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss ways to deal with rising anti-Asian hate crimes.
The White House has announced that BTS will meet with Biden on Tuesday to "discuss Asian inclusion and representation and to address anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination, which have become more prominent issues in recent years."
On Sunday, six members of the septet headed to the U.S. as Jungkook left a day earlier.
After arriving at Terminal 2 of Incheon International Airport around 9:30 a.m., they waved to fans and reporters before heading to board their flight.
(END) · by 장재순 · May 29, 2022

18. A look through green-tinted glasses at Korea's soju obsession

Something everyone going to Korea should be familiar with.

May 28, 2022

[WHY] A look through green-tinted glasses at Korea's soju obsession

So-hee, Ji-yeon and Ji-gu drink soju in a scene from "Work Later, Drink Now" (2021) [SCREEN CAPTURE]
In Korean dramas when characters celebrate good news or sulk with their friends, there is always one thing in common — green bottles of soju spread across the table.
A recent example was seen in “Work Later, Drink Now" (2021), an original series available on streaming service Tving. In the show, three friends — So-hee, Ji-yeon and Ji-gu — drink soju together after work to celebrate Christmas and to cry about the loss of a family member.
Unsurprisingly, these dramas reflect reality: Soju is the obvious choice when going out for a drink with people in Korea. 
The iconic green bottles are a must at hoesik, or after work dinners, while hanging out with friends or to accompany a wide variety of foods.  
In 2020, 3.7 trillion won ($3 billion) of soju was sold in Korea, according to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation. Although the figure was down 0.92 percent due to there being less soju consumed with large gatherings banned during the pandemic, it still made up for 42.1 percent of alcohol sales, followed by beer with 39.7 percent.
Soju's popularity in Korea today is unquestionable, but how did the green-bottled drink become so popular in the first place?
Why green?
One thing you immediately notice about soju is that most bottles are green. They are shaped the same, and share the identical green color. 
Although soju used to be in different colored bottles — brown, white and blue — everything changed when Doosan Beverage released the Green soju in 1994. It chose the color green to advertise that its soju had a clean and mild taste, and it was an immediate hit. 
The Green soju had a 30 percent share of the Korean soju market in 1999, and other soju makers quickly jumped on the bandwagon to also sell their products in green bottles.
With everyone making green-bottled soju, companies went a step further and decided to work together to make production efficient.
Seven soju companies — including Lotte Chilsung Beverage, HiteJinro, Daesun Distilling and Hallasan Soju — made a voluntary agreement with each other in 2009 to manufacture soju in green bottles with the same size and design so they can easily be reused. Empty soju bottles are collected at restaurants and by individuals, and can be sold back to soju makers for 30 to 100 won a bottle.
According to the Korea Vessel Recycling Association, 97.9 percent of soju bottles were collected in 2020, and 85 percent of them were cleaned and reused. 
However, because the agreement is voluntary and not bound by law, some alcohol makers bottle their soju in different colored bottles.
HiteJinro's Jinro soju, released in 2020, is now put in a transparent blue bottle. The company said it made the decision because the Jinro soju mimics the company's soju sold between the 70s and 80s, which was also in a blue bottle. Similarly, Hallasan Soju is now commonly available in a clear glass bottle as well as the green bottle.

Yeon-soo and Ung drink HiteJinro's Jinro soju in a scene from ″Our Beloved Summer" (2021). [SCREEN CAPTURE]
How did soju become so popular?

“When I was a university student, my friends and I would always drink soju and maybe mix it with beer because it’s always the cheapest drink on the menu,” said Shin Ye-ji, a 27-year-old living in Seoul. “Expensive drinks like cocktails would cost way over 10,000 won and craft beers would be 8,000 won or more, and I would have to spend more than double the money if I wanted to get drunk on those drinks.”

People drink soju with samgyeopsal, or sliced pork belly. [PIXABAY]
One of the reasons soju became so popular is its cheap price. 
A bottle of soju sells for less than 2,000 won at discount stores and convenience stores and is sold for around 4,000 won at restaurants and bars. 
"In the past, soju was around 1,000 won a bottle and you would have to drink four times the amount of beer and pay more than triple the cost to get drunk," said Hur Won, a bioengineering professor at Kangwon National University that has been teaching alcohol production as an elective course for over 20 years. "Soju isn't as expensive when choosing what to drink on the side with your food."
But looking back at its history, soju wasn’t always that cheap.
It is written in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty that King Seongjong received various complaints from officials regarding soju, saying that soju should be prohibited from being used at parties because of the huge costs. Jibong Yuseol, a record of life during the era of King Gwanghaegun published in 1614, states that nobles are living an extravagant life, drinking soju until they get drunk.
The soju we know today was developed around 1965, when the government prohibited manufacturers from using rice grown in Korea to make the drink. The main reason was the shortage of rice in Korea due to the huge famine of 1963.
Rather than distilling a blend of high-quality rice and grains to make soju with an array of unique scents and tastes, alcohol makers switched to using other starches. Cheaper ones such as sweet potatoes and imported tapioca were widely used, and are still used in most common soju today.
This took away the unique tastes and aroma of soju, creating the harsh, flavorless alcohol we know today. However, some Koreans preferred the change.
“Korea’s economy was rapidly growing during the 70s and 80s, and we had the bbalii bbalii culture,” said Professor Myung Wook, who lectures on Korean traditional liquor in Sejong Cyber University’s barista and sommelier department, using the term to refer to Koreans wanting to do everything fast. “People wanted drinks that could be consumed fast and get them drunk fast, and the change [of how soju is made] fit well with society at that time.”

Is all soju cheap?

Although soju is best known as a cheap way to get drunk, that stereotype is starting to change. So-called premium soju has been gaining popularity over the past few years.

The Ilpoom Jinro, a premium soju sold by HiteJinro. [HITEJINRO]
HiteJinro sells two types of premium soju. Ilpoom Jinro is advertised as using a freezing filtration process to remove the alcohol smell, and retails at discount stores for around 12,000 won. Ilpoom Jinro 21 Years is a similar product but aged in an oak barrel for 21 years, retailing for over 160,000 won.  
Sales of the two Ilpoom Jinro products jumped 78 percent in 2021, although the total sales figure wasn’t disclosed.
One explanation is the Covid-19 pandemic. 
There were less group dinners during the pandemic due to restrictions on private gathering size and business operating hours, which led to less soju consumed at restaurants.
Instead, a lot of people started drinking at home. 
In a survey of 2,000 people conducted by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2020, 70 percent of respondents said they had drunk alone during the pandemic, compared to 13.6 percent saying they did before the pandemic. Rather than gloomily taking shots of cheap 2,000-won soju at home, people turned to more expensive soju to enjoy a more luxurious and unique experience.
“Soju such as Andong Soju and Won Soju are different from [the usual] soju we know of, and you can have a distinct flavor developed both from the rice and the aging process,” said Professor Myung. “People enjoy the soju and find their preference, their style, and become willing to pay the extra price of the premium soju.”  
Andong Soju is a traditional soju made in Andong, North Gyeongsang, using rice grown in the area and bedrock water drawn from about 300 meters below the surface. Won Soju is another traditional soju, made by rapper Jay Park’s company Won Spirits using totomi rice, a variety grown in Wonju, Gangwon. 

A passerby takes a photo of Won Soju, a traditional soju made and sold by rapper Jay Park's liquor company Won Spirits. [YONHAP]
Cheap or expensive, how do Koreans consume soju?

Liquor is often divided into two groups: Either ideally consumed before dinner to stimulate people’s appetite or as an after-dinner drink. However, soju is mostly consumed alongside food.
It’s popular to have soju with spicy stews and with sashimi, but a lot of soju lovers drink it with just about any food. 
The Korean term banju comes from this culture, referring to having a shot or two of soju with every meal, regardless of whether its lunch or dinner, or what food is served.
"Having drinks like beer with food makes you easily full, and soju is a good choice when having a drink with a hefty meal," said Professor Hur. "Drinks like Whiskey have a strong scent that doesn't go too well with a lot of foods."  
Pairing with various foods is relatively easy because of soju’s neutral taste. The drink is bitter with a subtle sweetness, but doesn’t have a strong distinct flavor. 

People drink soju, pairing it with a spicy stew. [PIXABAY]
The trend of selling soju with a lower alcohol content also makes it easy to drink during meals. 
HiteJinro and Lotte Chilsung Beverage lowered the alcohol content of their soju — Chamisul Fresh and Chum-Churum — from 16.9 percent to 16.5 percent in 2021. Considering Chamisul started as a drink with a 23-percent alcohol content in 2001, it has been quickly become much milder.
“What’s interesting about soju is that the alcohol content has been lowered to around 14 to 17 percent, similar to wine, a drink widely consumed around the world,” said Professor Myung. “If you drink it mixed with beer, then the alcohol content becomes even lower to around 10 percent, which makes it easy to drink with food.”
“No other country in the world drinks distilled alcohol with food."
Is soju only popular in Korea?

Models promote HiteJinro's fruit-flavored soju at a discount mart in Singapore. [HITEJINRO]
In 2020, soju was given the distinct dishonor of being ranked the worst Korean foodstuff in a Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs survey of 8,000 foreigners living abroad, with 14.1 percent of respondents saying soju is what they most dislike.  
The list was followed by kimchi, at 9.5 percent.
But in a similar survey last year, soju disappeared from the list. The ministry only discloses the top three disliked foods, which were samgyetang (ginseng and chicken soup) with 10.5 percent, budae jjigae (spicy stew) with 10.1 percent and kimchi, at 10.1 percent.
Some say soju was able to quickly bounce back due the popularity of Korean culture.

Blackpink's Jennie models for Lotte Chilsung Beverage's Chum-Churum soju. [LOTTE CHILSUNG BEVERAGE]
“A lot of foreigners now think of Korean culture as hip and trendy due to Korean media becoming popular,” said Professor Myung. “They think soju’s symbolic green bottle is unique and are interested in how to make somaek [a mix of soju and beer].”
“Popular Korean singers such as Blackpink advertise soju, adding to its popularity.”
For people abroad, fruit-flavored soju is driving the trend.
According to Korea Customs Service, $69.5 million of fruit-flavored soju was exported between January and the end of October last year. That’s up 94.2 percent on year, and even surpasses the $68 million won of flavorless soju.
HiteJinro has been exporting fruit-flavored soju to 80 countries since 2016, with its Jinro Grapefruit and Jinro Strawberry varieties proving especially popular. Lotte Chilsung Beverage exports various fruit-flavored soju as well. It sells Chum-Churum Yogurt and Apple Mango exclusively abroad, with the apple mango flavor made due to requests from overseas customers.


De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation
Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy
Editor, Small Wars Journal
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Phone: 202-573-8647

David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email:
Web Site:
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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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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