Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners


Quotes of the Day:

“Even in former days, Korea was known as the 'hermit kingdom' for its stubborn resistance to outsiders. And if you wanted to create a totally isolated and hermetic society, northern Korea in the years after the 1953 'armistice' would have been the place to start. It was bounded on two sides by the sea, and to the south by the impregnable and uncrossable DMZ, which divided it from South Korea. Its northern frontier consisted of a long stretch of China and a short stretch of Siberia; in other words its only contiguous neighbors were Mao and Stalin. (The next-nearest neighbor was Japan, historic enemy of the Koreans and the cruel colonial occupier until 1945.) Add to that the fact that almost every work of man had been reduced to shards by the Korean War. Air-force general Curtis LeMay later boasted that 'we burned down every town in North Korea,' and that he grounded his bombers only when there were no more targets to hit anywhere north of the 38th parallel. Pyongyang was an ashen moonscape. It was Year Zero. Kim Il Sung could create a laboratory, with controlled conditions, where he alone would be the engineer of the human soul.”
- Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

“There is very little that is not wasteful and dismal about war. The only clear, deep, good is the special kind of bond welded between people who, having mutually shared a crisis, whether it be a shelling or a machine-gun attack, emerge knowing that those involved behaved well. There is much pretence in our everyday life, and, with a skilful manner, much can be concealed. But with a shell whistling at you there is not much time to pretend and a person’s qualities are starkly revealed. You believe that you can trust what you have seen. It is a feeling that makes old soldiers, old sailors, old airmen, and even old war correspondents, humanly close in a way shut off to people who have not shared the same thing. I think that correspondents, because they are rarely in a spot where their personal strength or cowardice can affect the life of another, probably feel only an approximation of this bond. So far as I am concerned, even this approximation is one of the few emotions about which I would say: It’s as close to being absolutely good as anything I know.”
- Marguerite Higgins, Korean War Correspondent

“A retreat to Pusan would be one of the greatest bloodbaths in American history. We must fight until the end…. If some of us must die, we will die fighting together. Any man who gives ground may be personally responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of his comrades. I want everybody to understand that we are going to hold this line. We are going to win.”
- Gen. Walton Walker


1. S. Korea, U.S., Japan finalize plan to hold trilateral summit on sidelines of NATO summit
2. <Inside N. Korea> The Kim Jong-un regime orders city dwellers to the farms to make up for lost time
3. Shanghai Declares Victory Against Covid as Dandong Flares Again
4. Forgotten no more: Korean War veterans from Hawaii honored at ceremony
5. Would United States risk New York to protect Seoul?
6. Examining North Korea’s COVID-19 Data: A Curious Case Study
7. North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker
8. The Washington Times factor in Pyongyang’s first suspension of ‘Hate America’ Month
9. New infections below 7,000 for 2nd day as omicron slows
10. Netflix remakes Money Heist through the unification of North & South Korea



1. S. Korea, U.S., Japan finalize plan to hold trilateral summit on sidelines of NATO summit

It seems to me that Japan is the one who is preventing a bilateral meeting.

Excerpts:

The trilateral summit, set for Wednesday in Madrid, will be the first such gathering in four years and nine months since the last meeting was held in September 2017 on the margins of a U.N. General Assembly. No trilateral meeting has since taken place amid badly frayed relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
The relations between the two countries have shown signs of a thaw since Yoon took office as South Korea's president with a pledge to improve ties with the neighboring nation, spurring speculation that Yoon and Kishida could hold a one-on-one summit in Spain.


(3rd LD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan finalize plan to hold trilateral summit on sidelines of NATO summit | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · June 26, 2022
(ATTN: ADDS more details on Yoon's itinerary in paras 8-9)
SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol will hold a trilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Spain this week on the sidelines of a NATO summit, his office said Sunday.
The trilateral summit, set for Wednesday in Madrid, will be the first such gathering in four years and nine months since the last meeting was held in September 2017 on the margins of a U.N. General Assembly. No trilateral meeting has since taken place amid badly frayed relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
The relations between the two countries have shown signs of a thaw since Yoon took office as South Korea's president with a pledge to improve ties with the neighboring nation, spurring speculation that Yoon and Kishida could hold a one-on-one summit in Spain.
But no such meeting, whether it be an official bilateral summit or a pull-aside meeting, is likely to take place, officials said. A four-way summit between South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand is also unlikely to take place, officials said.

Yoon plans to depart for Spain on Monday for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit set for Wednesday and Thursday. The trip will mark his debut on the multilateral diplomatic stage since taking office last month.
South Korea is not a member of the military alliance but has been invited as a partner nation, along with other countries that include Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Yoon is expected to hold a series of bilateral meetings with leaders from Canada, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and the Czech Republic to discuss ways to expand economic cooperation, according to his office.
A summit could take place between Yoon and French President Emmanuel Macron and a pull-aside meeting is likely with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Yoon's office said.
Yoon will also deliver a brief speech highlighting South Korea's active engagement in various international security matters and calling for the international community's support for denuclearizing North Korea, at the NATO meeting involving the member states and partner countries.
First lady Kim Keon-hee plans to accompany Yoon on the upcoming trip.
She plans to attend sessions for the leaders' spouses and other events, beginning with a dinner reception to be hosted by Spanish King Felipe and Queen Letizia on Tuesday. She will also join a guided tour to the royal palace and a dinner meeting with Korean residents in Spain the following day, officials said.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
elly@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · June 26, 2022


2. <Inside N. Korea> The Kim Jong-un regime orders city dwellers to the farms to make up for lost time

More indications of dires straits in north Korea.


<Inside N. Korea> The Kim Jong-un regime orders city dwellers to the farms to make up for lost time

2022.06.25
(File Photo) A female farmer carrying a large bag. This photo was taken by ASIAPRESS’s Jang Jung-gil in October 2008 in an agricultural area on the outskirts of Pyongyang.
The spread of COVID-19 in North Korea began in early May, right when full-fledged efforts started on the transplanting and seeding of rice nationwide. Bans on movement made it impossible for urban North Koreans to be mobilized to agricultural areas. The land on collective farms were full of weeds.
Only after the lifting of lockdowns and bans on movement in mid-June did the Kim Jong-un regime mobilize urban North Koreans to farms as part of efforts to make up for lost time.
◆ Mobilized workers work from early morning as “commuters” or as part of labor brigades
“A,” an ASIAPRESS reporting partner in a city in North Hamgyung Province reported: “Everyone is being mobilized. Inminban and Socialist Women's Union members are being sent in rotation to the farms and working from the morning hours to 4 PM. Everyone must participate. People who return from work on the farms are given certificates showing their participation. If you don’t have one of these, you can’t buy things at the market. Of course, (the authorities) are strictly confirming the temperatures (of everyone being mobilized).”
※ Inminban are North Korea’s lowest administrative units and are made up of 20-40 households. The Socialist Women's Union is made up of non-working adult women, generally housewives.
People are also being mobilized from various government organizations, factories, and enterprises. They are given select areas of a collective farm to work on along with quotas to complete. Some workers “commute” to the farms, while others are there on a more permanent basis. In short, workplaces create “agricultural area labor brigades” to work on the farms until the end of the fall harvest.
Another reporting partner in Yanggang Province told ASIAPRESS: “The focus now is on weeding. Farmers had to weed their land at night when people weren’t being mobilized from the cities. There were also people who falsely claimed they had COVID-19 symptoms just to get out of the mobilizations.”


3. Shanghai Declares Victory Against Covid as Dandong Flares Again



Shanghai Declares Victory Against Covid as Dandong Flares Again
Bloomberg News
June 26, 2022 at 2:04 AM EDTUpdated onJune 26, 2022 at 6:17 AM EDT

Shanghai’s Communist Party chief Li Qiang declared victory in defending the city against Covid-19 at a local party congress over the weekend as authorities continued to ease measures in the hub of 25 million people.
There were two local asymptomatic cases in Shanghai outside of quarantine as of 5 p.m. Sunday, ending a two-day streak of no new local infections. Restaurants in some areas of the city with lower Covid risks can resume dine-in services starting from Wednesday, the municipal government said at a briefing on Sunday. 
Those in communities or towns without medium-risk areas or infections found outside of quarantine in the past week will be allowed to resume dine-in at a limited capacity, an official said. 
The Chinese city of Dandong, which borders North Korea, warned on Sunday of a persistent risk of new Covid-19 flareups as it gradually opens up from a weekslong lockdown. The city reported seven asymptomatic cases for Saturday -- half the total number of cases in all of mainland China for the day. 
A local disease control official said there was no clear origin for most of the cases in the current wave, which started May 24. The official added the city will carry out mass testings for all residents twice a week, according to a post on the city’s official WeChat account.
Beijing reported two local infections as of 3 p.m. Sunday. The capital is set to resume in-person classes for primary and middle schools on Monday. Li Yi, a spokesperson for the city’s education commission, said at a press briefing that two months’ remote learning is increasingly bringing “problems” to students, including on efficiency and their psychology.
Authorities in the gaming hub of Macau have decided to extend the suspension of public sector activities, except for emergency services, till at least July 1, according to a statement on the city government’s website. It reported 261 cases in the current outbreak and said a third round of mass testing will occur on Monday and Tuesday.
— With assistance by John Liu, and Jing Li
(Updates with Shanghai dine-in resumption in paragraph two)



4. Forgotten no more: Korean War veterans from Hawaii honored at ceremony

We will not have our veterans around much longer to remember. Video at the link: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2022/06/26/korean-war-veterans-hawaii-honored-punchbowl-ceremony/

Forgotten no more: Korean War veterans from Hawaii honored at ceremony
hawaiinewsnow.com · by Annalisa Burgos
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Saturday marked the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, when North Korean forces aligned with the Soviet Union and China to invade U.S.-backed South Korea.
A special ceremony honored Korean War veterans at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
About 50 veterans and their families attended the commemoration hosted by the Korean War Veterans Association Hawaii Chapter 1 and Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu.
“Without the participation of the U.S. military in the Korean war, we would not see the current status of Korea now. That’s why the we are gathered here to express our deep gratitude to the veterans,” said Seok-In Hong, consul general of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu.
The Korean government presented Ambassador for Peace Medals to veterans in Hawaii.
Korean former prime minister Kyo-Ahn Hwang and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander Admiral John C. Aquilino were among the dignitaries who came to recognize the service of millions of Americans — thousands from Hawaii — who fought alongside Koreans from 1950 to 1953.
“Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. As we remember their devotion to duty, let us renew our shared commitment to defend freedom, liberty, and to continue to pursue peace,” Admiral Aquilino said.
The Korean government estimates says more than 450 military service men and women from Hawaii were killed in action in the war and about 160 veterans are living across the state.
“It means so much to me that South Korea has honored us and told us that we appreciate the sacrifice that you gave us,” said KWVA Hawaii Chapter 1 president Herbert Schreiner.
“But most of all, you know who the heroes are. The parents, the husband and the wives because when they came back, no arms, no legs, broke, blind. The family is the one that taking care of them,”
The so-called “Forgotten War” ended in an armistice and the creation of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.
“Thank you South Korea, thank you for not forgetting us and most of all, all you people know what freedom is. thank you so much,” Schreiner said.
Technically, the Korean Peninsula remains at war because no peace treaty was signed, and concerns over nuclear threats from North Korea remain.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
hawaiinewsnow.com · by Annalisa Burgos


5. Would United States risk New York to protect Seoul?

The scary thing is if we withdraw troops from Korea because we make the choice to protect New York (or LA) instead of Seoul we will actually increase the chances of a conflict that will severely damage the US (physically as well as economically) and its interests around the world. And if we take the trade argument to its logical conclusion we must also withdraw troops from Japan as well. This will be very dangerous. And unfortunately advancing the "trade New York for Seoul" argument undermines strategic reassurance and strategic resolve but of course plays well with the people in New York and the general public. We need to do a better job of explaining how security in Northeast Asia is important to the wellbeing of Aermicans economy and from a security perspective. But that is a tough argument to make.

The question is not whether we have to make a choice between New York, LA, or Seoul but whether we are going to do what is necessary to deter war and if deterrence fails, to defeat aggression.  But better than US deterrence alone is combined strategic deterrence. The ROK can, must, and will make a significant contribution to deterrence.

Excerpts:

Demonstration of a determination to use extended deterrence at times of contingency can pressure China and Russia to dissuade North Korea from resorting to nuclear attacks. At the same time, such moves can build trust in the deterrence as well as facilitate communication to discuss concrete ways to extend the unilateral deterrence.
 
But extended deterrence is not a panacea. South Korea must reinforce an ability to defend itself based on the three-axis system: a Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan. The country must have the ability to destroy all missile bases in the North if it fires a missile at South Korea.



Sunday
June 26, 2022

Would United States risk New York to protect Seoul?

Kim Min-seok
The author is an editorial writer and former director of the Institute for Military and Security Affairs at the JoongAng Ilbo.

Would Washington risk New York to protect Seoul?


In a meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961, French President Charles de Gaulle asked if the United States would be willing to risk New York and Washington to defend Paris. At that time, the United States was trying to dissuade France from developing nuclear weapons by promising to protect it from a Soviet Union nuclear attack with its nuclear umbrella. But de Gaulle rushed to develop nuclear weapons and downgraded membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) due to his suspicions about the nuclear umbrella.

The Korean Peninsula is entering a new nuclear era. In an expanded meeting of the Workers’ Party of North Korea from June 8 to 10, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, chairman of the mighty State Affairs Commission, declared a “head-to-head war with enemies” after underscoring the importance of self-defense against external threats. In a military parade in April, he vowed to use nuclear weapons preemptively, a dramatic shift from defensive to offensive posture in his nuclear strategy.

In response, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol specified a “nuclear counteraction” in a statement announced after his summit with U.S. President Joe Biden on May 21 in Seoul. The counteraction refers to curbing the North’s nuclear threats through extended nuclear deterrence. Four days later, Yoon ordered the military to take substantial steps to activate the extended deterrence in case North Korea fires missiles.
 

Foreign Minister Park Jin and U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken hold a joint press conference at the State Department after meeting on June 13. [YONHAP]

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) estimates that North Korea has assembled 20 warheads and obtained enough nuclear material to make 45 to 55 warheads. It is developing ballistic missiles that can carry warheads. It tested ballistic missiles, including ICBMs, 18 times so far this year. The ICBMs target the U.S. mainland.

When North Korea conducts its seventh nuclear test, it will be able to produce a tactical warhead weighing less than 200 kilograms (441 pounds). If such small warheads are loaded onto the KN-23 — a North Korean version of the Iskander, a Russian short-range ballistic missile system — they will be very difficult to intercept due to their mid-flight maneuverability. The KN-23 with the 600-kilometer shooting range can strike any part of South Korea.

North Korea is expected to have over 100 warheads soon. They can be placed on short-range ballistic missiles, ICBMs and SLBMs. The first goal of North Korea is to acquire the capability to strike back with nukes after suffering a retaliation by the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces after the North’s first nuclear attack. North Korea wants ward off any attack. The problem is that it could use nuclear weapons for offensive purposes, not defensive, which is different from other nuclear powers. Its targets are South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.
 
In a seminar hosted by the Korea-America Association on May 19, Evans J.R. Revere, a former acting ambassador to Korea, linked North Korean nuclear weapons to the need for Kim Jong-un to “unify the Korean Peninsula, not to maintain his regime.” Revere went on to say, “Since denuclearizing North Korea is nearly impossible now, it is time to cope with its nuclear threats.” South Korea has two choices, he said. One is surrendering to the North’s nuclear threats and the other is convincing Pyongyang of its demise if it uses nuclear weapons.
 
The first option to deal with the North’s nuclear threats is nuclear armaments for the South. In a survey in February by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) of 1,500 South Koreans, 71 percent supported nuclear arms for their country. Some of them demanded America consider nuclear arming of its ally, but it is not an easy choice given all the risks involved. And yet, we need to keep the idea open as an option.
 
If South Korea cannot have nuclear weapons, it has no other choice but to rely on U.S. extended deterrence, which includes nuclear weapons, missile defense systems, and command and control systems. According to the Pentagon, extended deterrence means ensuring that adversaries of U.S. allies don’t make dangerous miscalculations about what they can get away with based on what they think the U.S. is capable of or willing to do in response. But if the U.S. hesitates to take action when North Korea chooses a nuclear provocation, extended deterrence fails.
 
If extended deterrence is to succeed, the U.S. must immediately retaliate against an enemy with its own nukes. But suspicion arises over whether America really can do that, as suggested by de Gaulle. Would the United States be willing to leave New York vulnerable to ICBM attacks from North Korea to defend Seoul? Pyongyang could threaten Tokyo with nuclear missiles to prevent Washington from using its military bases in Japan. That poses the risk of the U.S. and Japan being taken hostage to North Korean nuclear weapons.
 
The U.S. reportedly has not included a nuclear option in its military operations. During the Gulf War in 1991, Washington considered that option, but gave it up. Therefore, there is hardly any possibility of using that option on the Korean Peninsula, according to Prof. Song Seung-jong, an expert in military affairs at Daejeon University. Such a nuclear option with no probability of execution is called a “torn umbrella.”
 
In what can be dubbed the Healey theorem, former British defense minister Denis Healey famously said that it only takes a 5 percent belief in American retaliation to deter an attack, but it takes 95 percent belief to reassure the allies. He reached the conclusion in 1964 after attending a countless number of meetings on NATO defending Europe from Russia’s nuclear threats.
 
The United states eventually forward-deployed its tactical nukes to five members of NATO to ease the suspicions of Europeans and reassure them that U.S. tactical weapons can be used if needed, as they are positioned in Europe.
 
Could U.S. tactical weapons be redeployed in South Korea by the same logic? A CCGA survey showed that 56 percent of South Koreans supported it. The U.S. pulled all tactical nukes from South Korea in 1991 after deploying them in 1958.
 
But critics say a redeployment could destabilize the peninsula since North Korea already possesses nuclear weapons. In other words, the North could be tempted to use them if U.S. tactical weapons are redeployed in the South. Neither Seoul nor Washington support the policy of redeployment.
 
An alternate option is a so-called phased and adaptive policy aimed at easing concerns about extended deterrence and coping with the North’s nuclear weapons in a realistic way. The idea was initially suggested by Shane Smith, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, in a May 2020 commentary on “38 North,” a website devoted to analyzing North Korea. Smith once worked for Defense Secretary William Perry.
 
Phased adaptation refers to meeting preconditions for the activation of the nuclear umbrella before an imminent attack from North Korea. If such preparations are done, the time needed to deploy U.S. nukes in times of crisis can be cut. That can also enhance trust in the nuclear deterrence.
 
Phased adaptation has four steps: first, searching for a location that fits the deployment of tactical nukes; second, joint training aimed at guarding the periphery of the nuclear depot and responding to possible accidents; third, joint drills for F16 or F35 stealth fighter jets to carry out missions during peacetime; fourth, building a facility to store tactical weapons in an emergency.
 
Demonstration of a determination to use extended deterrence at times of contingency can pressure China and Russia to dissuade North Korea from resorting to nuclear attacks. At the same time, such moves can build trust in the deterrence as well as facilitate communication to discuss concrete ways to extend the unilateral deterrence.
 
But extended deterrence is not a panacea. South Korea must reinforce an ability to defend itself based on the three-axis system: a Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan. The country must have the ability to destroy all missile bases in the North if it fires a missile at South Korea.


6. Examining North Korea’s COVID-19 Data: A Curious Case Study

Important analysis from Martyn Williams. Graphs and data at the link: https://www.38north.org/2022/06/examining-north-koreas-covid-19-data-a-curious-case-study/

Excerpts:

Despite reports of outbreaks, North Korea denied any COVID cases for two years. This time, it appears likely the scale of the outbreak and the need for lockdowns in major cities, including Pyongyang, forced it to acknowledge the situation.
Recognizing that the main audience for the data is domestic and not foreign, the motivation for providing it is likely to emphasize the seriousness of the problem and the need to follow public health protocols. At the same time, the government will be eager not to induce panic and has been emphasizing Kim Jong Un’s personal attention and sacrifice to addressing the epidemic.
The high case numbers would appear to be enough to convince many that the situation is serious while a low death toll could help prevent too much worry among citizens. Thus, there is ample motivation for the state to keep the number of fatalities artificially low.
Just as foreign analysts have questioned the figures and unusually low fatality rate, so it appears are North Koreans. On June 9, state media reported work was underway to “enhance the scientific accuracy, promptness and credibility of medical checkups, tests and treatment,” suggesting internal questioning of the numbers as well.
Even the World Health Organization is having trouble getting accurate information. It's COVID data for the country comes from the same state media announcements that everyone sees and 38 North reports on daily.
“We have real issues getting access to raw data and to the actual situation on the ground,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director of health emergencies, told reporters on June 1. “We are triangulating like everybody else.”
Examining North Korea’s COVID-19 Data: A Curious Case Study
It has been just over a month since North Korea announced its first official confirmed case of COVID-19, and began reporting detailed data on the scope and status of the outbreak.
Every day, the party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, provides its readers with data on the number of new and current cases nationwide (using “fever” as a proxy for confirmed COVID cases, since testing is limited) as well as COVID related deaths. On state television Ryu Yong Chol, an official with the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters, appears each morning and evening to walk through provincial data and explain the latest on the epidemic.
Ryu Yong Chol, an official with the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. (Source: KCTV via Martyn Williams)
North Korea does not usually release much data on anything. Economic and industrial achievements, or even the budget performance and projections, are typically presented in terms of percentage increases and decreases without ever disclosing actual numbers, so the release of detailed, provincial-level data about the COVID outbreak is exceptional.
It might be easy to reject the state-provided numbers out of hand, due to high mistrust of the North Korean government. However, setting biases aside, it is worth comparing the month’s- worth of data in hand, against global COVID outbreak trends to see how it stacks up.
The immediate conclusion? Something isn’t right. The figures, especially the number of deaths reported, appear to run contrary to the global experience of COVID-19. Whether that is due to poor data collection, limited testing capabilities, deliberate misreporting, or something else is still unclear. While the data has been useful in at least understanding that the outbreak is nationwide, the chances are high that the situation is worse than that being reported
Deaths
The biggest mystery surrounds the announced number of reported deaths. As of June 21, that stood at 73 people, which is remarkably low for a COVID-19 outbreak that has hit 4.7 million people or roughly 18 percent of a completely unvaccinated population.
At that level, the fatality rate is just 0.002 percent, which is far removed from the global experience.
Globally, the current average fatality rate is 1.18 percent. In advanced countries it tends to be lower, for instance, 0.13 percent in South Korea and 0.3 percent in Japan, according to Our World In Data. In less developed countries that are more similar to North Korea, it is 3.7 percent in Myanmar, 2.6 percent in Chad and 0.4 percent in Laos and Vietnam. And in New Zealand, which similarly shut its borders to all travel like North Korea, it is 0.1 percent.
Not only is North Korea’s COVID-19 death rate exceptionally low, but the timing of when most of the deaths occurred is suspicious. In most cases, deaths from COVID-19 occur two to three weeks after infection, but in North Korea, the greatest number of deaths were reported to have occurred before the epidemic spiked with very few since the first few days of the outbreak.
North Korea said the outbreak began in late April and its first report said 187,800 were under treatment on May 12. That figure swelled to 754,810 people a week later on May 19. However, the number of deaths peaked on May 13 at 21. Two to three weeks after the case peak, deaths averaged less than 1 a day.
The demographics of North Korea’s COVID-19 related deaths are also unusual. According to figures broadcast on May 17, when 56 people had been reported dead, the number of deaths of those 61 years of age and above was the same as those 20 years old and under.
In comparison, the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control put the risk of death from COVID-19 in the US at 25 to 330 times greater for those over 60 years old than those 18-29 years old. In South Korea, just 31 people under 20 have died of COVID-19 versus 22,859 people 60 years of age and above.
Nowhere in the world is the risk to those under 20 anywhere close to that of those over 60, yet in North Korea, they represent the two largest proportions of deaths during the epidemic. State media stopped disclosing details of deaths by age group after just a few days of reporting on May 17.
Number of deaths by age group. (Source: KCTV via Martyn Williams)
Early on in the epidemic, the state did release data on the cause of death but, if anything, that produces only more confusion. When the death toll stood at 56 people, 29 of the deaths were attributed to drug misuse and side effects rather than illness itself.
Cause of death and death total. (Source: KCTV via Martyn Williams)
Murky Data
Clearly something is amiss, but unfortunately, we can’t call Pyongyang and query the data. That is a shame because it is unclear exactly what North Korea is counting and how reliably that data is being collected.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, state media has announced “fever” cases and it appears that only a tiny fraction of all announced cases have been confirmed as COVID-19.
On May 13, when the outbreak was first announced, just one of the six deaths was attributed to Omicron BA.2 and the rest were left unattributed, according to state media. After that, no information has been provided on how many of the cases and deaths have been confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is likely due to a lack of testing capacity. In recent weeks, state media has talked about the need to improve testing and on June 14, said lab tests needed to be done “on a more rapid and scientific basis.”
If the state is only announcing deaths of those confirmed to have COVID-19, that could explain the low fatality rate. Although if true, that raises the disturbing possibility that the death toll could be considerably higher than has been announced.
It is also possible that some cases are not COVID-19 at all but other illnesses. On May 19, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reportedly told lawmakers that it believed some of the fever cases were due to measles and typhoid, and last week state media announced an intestinal disease outbreak in Haeju City. State media acknowledged this issue on June 9 and said efforts are being made to “correctly discriminate ordinary fever cases from COVID-19,” but health experts say the rapid rise in cases indicates the majority likely are COVID.
Beyond the question of exactly what is being reported, it is also unclear how data is being collected—whether this is based on reports from health facilities, or some kind of self-reporting or survey data. We know little about the state’s ability to accurately survey the population daily and collate and report back accurate numbers.
Misinformation
And finally, there is the real possibility that the figures are being deliberately misreported. This could be happening at the local level, by officials keen to make it look like they have a handle on the epidemic, all the way up to the national level by propaganda chiefs who want to shape the message and public opinion.
Despite reports of outbreaks, North Korea denied any COVID cases for two years. This time, it appears likely the scale of the outbreak and the need for lockdowns in major cities, including Pyongyang, forced it to acknowledge the situation.
Recognizing that the main audience for the data is domestic and not foreign, the motivation for providing it is likely to emphasize the seriousness of the problem and the need to follow public health protocols. At the same time, the government will be eager not to induce panic and has been emphasizing Kim Jong Un’s personal attention and sacrifice to addressing the epidemic.
The high case numbers would appear to be enough to convince many that the situation is serious while a low death toll could help prevent too much worry among citizens. Thus, there is ample motivation for the state to keep the number of fatalities artificially low.
Just as foreign analysts have questioned the figures and unusually low fatality rate, so it appears are North Koreans. On June 9, state media reported work was underway to “enhance the scientific accuracy, promptness and credibility of medical checkups, tests and treatment,” suggesting internal questioning of the numbers as well.
Even the World Health Organization is having trouble getting accurate information. It's COVID data for the country comes from the same state media announcements that everyone sees and 38 North reports on daily.
“We have real issues getting access to raw data and to the actual situation on the ground,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director of health emergencies, told reporters on June 1. “We are triangulating like everybody else.”
(Anthony Park contributed to this article)

7. North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker


North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker
Article last updated on June 24, 2022.
After two years of claiming no confirmed COVID-19 cases, North Korea disclosed a nationwide outbreak on May 13 and launched emergency epidemic prevention measures. The epidemic began in late April.
Officially, only a handful of cases have been confirmed as COVID-19, with the rest attributed to an unidentified “fever.” This is likely due to insufficient testing capabilities, and many are assumed to be COVID-19 related, however, that might not be the entire picture. North Korean state media has been publishing daily data on the outbreak, which is featured below. 38 North will update these numbers daily as new information becomes available.
Current Situation
Data reports from state media note further decline in new fever cases. In the 24 hours to 6 p.m. on June 23, 11,010 additional cases were counted. At 16%, this was the largest reported decline since May 23. New recoveries dropped 18%, with 13,890 cases. This brings the total cases reported to 4,696,580, with 4,676,760 total recoveries.  
In a recent piece for 38 North, Martyn Williams discusses the data trends and how they compare to global standards. Of particular note, has been the incredibly low number of reported deaths—only 73 since June 16—well below global average COVID-19 death rates.  
Provincial Data
Provincial totals as of 6 p.m. on June 23 show continued decline in each province, consistent with overall trends nationwide. The percent of population with reported fever cases is highest in Rason and South Hwanghae Province, though at 0.19% and 0.17% respectively are not indicative of a high concentration of number of cases.  
Previous Updates
June 22, 2022
Consistent with the recent trend, the number of newly reported fever cases continues to decline. Based on figures reported in the 24 hours to 6 p.m. on June 21, there has been a 12% decline in new cases, a greater drop than the past three days. New cases totaled 15,260, alongside 18,540 new recoveries. In addition, 26,000 people were reported under treatment, bringing the cumulative total number of cases to 4,672,450. 
No new deaths have been reported since June 11, maintaining the number of reported deaths at 72.  
On June 21, KCNA expressed thanks to more than 1.2 million healthcare workers across the country who have been dedicated to testing and treating cases. Amid the epidemic, however, local workers were reportedly dispatched to South Hwanghae Province, to take "a series of preventive measures to probe into, curb, contain and eliminate" a particular "source of an acute enteric epidemic"—seemingly an outbreak separate from what has been presumed to be COVID-related fever cases. 
Provincial totals as of 6 pm on June 19 show a declining number of cases in each province. The largest percent change was reported in North Hamgyong province, with a 40% decline in cases from June 17 to June 19.  


8. The Washington Times factor in Pyongyang’s first suspension of ‘Hate America’ Month

An interesting story.

The Washington Times factor in Pyongyang’s first suspension of ‘Hate America’ Month
washingtontimes.com · by​ Thomas J. Ward​ The Washington Times https://www.washingtontimes.com

OPINION:
June 25th marks the seventy-second anniversary of Pyongyang’s military invasion of South Korea. For North Koreans, June 25th also opens their annual “Hate America Month” which lasts until July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 signing of the Armistice that ended the Korean War. During “Hate America Month” North Koreans elevate their denunciations of the United States for past atrocities and our alleged ongoing “occupation” of South Korea.
Thirty years ago, a high-level delegation of former US government officials, sponsored by the American Freedom Coalition (AFC), were hosted and received in Pyongyang by top Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) officials including President Kim Il Sung. Former Missouri Congressman Richard Ichord led the delegation. He met with George H. W. Bush National Security Advisor Brent Scrowcroft before and after the visit. Ichord’s marching orders were to use this visit as a first step towards smoothing relations between Washington and Pyongyang.
The AFC delegation arrived on May 25 and both toured the North and met numerous key DPRK officials. We finally met with Chairman Kim Il Sung himself on June 1. Kim posed for a photo with each of us and hosted a luncheon where, with great charm, he shared the challenges and achievements of the DPRK. The massive round table where we sat with him for lunch comfortably accommodated some sixty attendees including DPRK officials and the entire AFC delegation.
Our delegation had decided in advance that, at the luncheon, Congressman Ichord would be our designated and sole spokesperson. After the luncheon, many felt that we had made a mistake and that it would have been beneficial for Chairman Kim to hear from the other members of the delegation including former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Douglas MacArthur II, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore John Holdridge, who had served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and, under Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had played a key role in the re-establishment of US-China relations.
Congressman Ichord felt that there should be a document memorializing the AFC visit and outlining the next steps in Washington-Pyongyang relations. The following morning, on the tarmac, as we prepared to take leave from Pyongyang, Congressman Ichord unexpectedly turned to me and told me that the “Mission was not accomplished.” In front of Kim Il Sung’s personal interpreter, he asked me to remain in Pyongyang and work on a joint statement.

I remained in Pyongyang for five more days. Although we reached no consensus on the text that I had helped to craft, I was given assurances that President Kim Il Sung had “something” in the works.
On June 23, 1992, I received a call in my New York office from Ambassador Ho Jong of the DPRK Mission to the United Nations. He invited Congressman Ichord and me to meet him the next day. In our June 24 meeting, the official informed us that, for the first time since the end of the Korean War, the DPRK would suspend its annual “Hate America” month.
The DPRK representative explained that he had been directed to convey this decision to us rather than use official channels because Reverend Moon’s organizations, rather than traditional channels, had played the pivotal role that led to this conciliatory gesture by Pyongyang. He requested that Congressman Ichord himself convey Chairman Kim’s decision to the White House, which Ichord did when he met General Scowcroft on June 25 and this was followed up later with a meeting with President George H. W. Bush.
Ambassador Ho pointed to the Washington Times as a key reason for this decision. As a follow-up to the visit of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon to Pyongyang at the end of 1991, the Washington Times sent Josette Shiner, one of its top journalists to interview Kim Il Sung in April 1992. Chairman Kim expressed appreciation that the Times had published his words rather than “explain” them. Ambassador Ho also expressed how much Chairman Kim appreciated that the American Freedom Coalition (AFC), founded by the Moon in 1988, had sponsored such a high-ranking delegation of former US officials to visit Pyongyang.
Since her husband’s passing in 2012, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon has continued the efforts, which led him to create the Washington Times in 1982 and to remain committed to its important work until today. Like him, Dr. Moon harbors great appreciation for the Pax Americana which, in the Post-World War II period, facilitated the birth of democracy and rule of law in Tokyo and in Seoul. Ongoing saber-rattling in Northeast Asia nonetheless reminds us that the American presence is still required and that the Washington Times plays a key role in informing the region’s quest for genuine peace.
  • Thomas J. Ward is Distinguished Dean Emeritus of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Public & International Affairs and Professor of Peace and Development Studies at Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York City.

washingtontimes.com · by The Washington Times https://www.washingtontimes.com

9. New infections below 7,000 for 2nd day as omicron slows

I am going to make my first trip to Korea next month since the COVID era began (last rip January 2020). I hope the cases are reduced enough for South Korea to eliminate their entry restrictions.


(2nd LD) New infections below 7,000 for 2nd day as omicron slows | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · June 26, 2022
(ATTN: ADDS 9 p.m. tally in 6th para)
By Choi Kyong-ae
SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases remained below 7,000 for the second consecutive day Sunday as the omicron variant is slowing down.
The country added 6,246 new COVID-19 infections, including 135 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,326,019, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Sunday's tally is down from Friday's 7,227 and Saturday's 6,790. The daily caseload has been on the decline and stayed below 10,000 since June 10, after hitting more than 620,000 in mid-March.
The KDCA reported six more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 24,522. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.
The number of critically ill patients came to 54, up from 50 a day earlier.
As of 9 p.m., the country had reported 3,301 new infections, down by 2,592 from the same time the previous day. Daily infection cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

Despite the downtrend, health authorities remain cautious that relaxed virus curbs could prompt another virus resurgence during the summer holiday season.
Health authorities said the government will maintain the seven-day self-isolation mandate for COVID-19 patients until July 17, a second extension after putting off the plan once in late May.
In mid-April, the authorities removed most social distancing restrictions, except the indoor mask mandate, a decision to restore pre-pandemic normalcy.
But health officials say weekly deaths have to stay under 100, and the fatality rate needs to fall below 0.1 percent for the isolation rule to be lifted.
The KDCA made repeated calls for people to continue to get vaccinated with a fourth shot, especially elderly people in their 80s, to minimize infection risks.
Of the 6,111 locally transmitted cases, Seoul accounted for 1,302 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 1,633 cases. There were 322 infections in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · June 26, 2022



10. Netflix remakes Money Heist through the unification of North & South Korea


I was not interested in this Netflix show before. But hearing that it has a unified Korea I now think I need to watch it. Trailer at the link:  https://mixmag.asia/read/netflix-money-heist-remake-unite-north-south-korea-film-tv?utm_source=pocket_mylist

Netflix remakes Money Heist through the unification of North & South Korea
Seems like just yesterday the world bid “bella ciao” to Money Heist and its 5 grappling seasons that made us fall in love with their Spanish fictional characters and masterminds. However, this summer Netflix gifts us with a spin-off we didn’t know we needed — from both regions of Korea.

‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ has been announced with a trailer that reveals the premiere is coming to our screens on June 24. The 12-episode series is set in a utopian reunification of North and South Korea as both nations prepare to print a unified currency. As with the original Money Heist, aka ‘La Casa de Papel’, the Professor rounds up a gang of outlaws from both districts in a grand larceny attempt of the Korean mint.

According to the Netflix website about the series, “Thieves overtake the mint of a unified Korea. With hostages trapped inside, the police must stop them — as well as the shadowy mastermind behind it all.”



From the trailer, fans can expect the infamous red jumpsuits and masks that have flurried costume stores and Halloween parties for the past few years. Taking an alternative route to the Salvador Dali masks, actors will be sporting Korean Hahoe-inspired ones instead. According to soompi.com, Jang Yoon-ju, who will be playing Nairobi, mentions that the “Hahoe masks capture a wide variety of facial expressions. Although they’re obviously smiling, they’re not just smiling. Within that, there’s also anger and mystery.” Squid Game star Park Hae Soo continued, “There’s also the meaning of freedom or the criticism of the classes of power.”

View this post on Instagram

The Korean remake stays true to the original series’ nine characters Berlin, Tokyo, Rio, The Professor, Denver, Helsinki, Moscow and Nairobi along with other personas. Cast members include well-known actor from the popular Squid Game series Park Hae-soo playing Berlin and Kim Yunjin from the beloved Lost series best known as Sun playing Seon Woo-jin. In both the official trailer and announcement video, you’ll see her play the lead investigator; we’re guessing it’ll be reminiscent of Alicia Sierra, Luis Tamayo or a pre-Lisbon Raquel Murillo.



The first season is set to be released in two parts, with the first six episodes to be released in a couple of weeks. Take a look at the ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ trailer below.

Miki Kitasako is Mixmag Asia’s Social Media and Content Producer, follow her on LinkedIn.









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
VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell
Phone: 202-573-8647

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

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

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