Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"We are choked with news but starved of history.”
- Will Durant

“Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.” Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed in another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something- something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?"
- John Boyd

“In modern democracies, however, an ethos of public sacrifice is rarely needed because freedom and survival are more or less guaranteed. That is a great blessing but allows people to believe that any sacrifice at all—rationing water during a drought, for example—are forms of government tyranny. They are no more forms of tyranny than rationing water on a lifeboat. The idea that we can enjoy the benefits of society while owing nothing in return is literally infantile. Only children owe nothing.”
- Sebastian Junger, Freedom




1.  South Korea’s Important Achievement at the NATO Summit
2. North Korea military celebrates ‘Anti-U.S. Joint Struggle Month’
3. South Korea's Yoon warns at NATO summit of threat to 'universal values'
4. From Europe, Yoon Suk Yeol Calls for International Cooperation on North Korea’s Nuclear and Missile Threats
5. Philippines awards contract to South Korean shipbuilder for six offshore patrol vessels
6. Biden and Leaders of Japan and South Korea Pledge Greater Cooperation
7. Yoon says S. Korea, Japan should discuss past, future issues simultaneously
8. Trump’s personal diplomacy with North Korea was fruitless, Mattis says
9. Ex-Pentagon chief stresses deterrence as 'primary' peacekeeping tool on peninsula
10. North Korea blames Covid-19 outbreak on 'unusual items' near South Korea border
11. N. Korea's first COVID-19 cases traced to area bordering S. Korea: state media
12. N.K. foreign ministry slams U.S. humanitarian aid offer amid pandemic
13. Attendance of Japan, S Korea at NATO Summit may stoke China's worst fears
14. Investigation Shows N.Korea Smuggling Coal to China
15. North Korea is likely culprit behind $100 million crypto heist, researchers say



1. South Korea’s Important Achievement at the NATO Summit
Conclusion:

Overall, Yoon has gotten off to a strong start on his first foreign trip as president. Many challenges and obstacles remain, particularly in rebuilding relations with Japan, which will be met with hostility by many South Korean voters, but he has a great deal to show for his first foreign foray. South Korea is earning newfound respect on the world stage—an important step in expanding the US-ROK alliance beyond the peninsula.


South Korea’s Important Achievement at the NATO Summit
By Sue Mi Terry & Kayla Orta on June 30, 2022
wilsoncenter.org · by Sue Mi Terry
The NATO Summit in Madrid on June 29-30 was a triumphant emergence on the world stage for South Korea’s newly elected President Yoon Suk Yeol. This was the first time that a South Korean president had been invited to a NATO summit, and it showed that South Korea and other Asian democracies are being driven closer to European democracies by mutual fears of Russian and Chinese power.
While in Madrid, Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with President Biden in the first trilateral summit between U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders since 2017. Following a decision to resume trilateral military exercises, which have not been conducted since December 2017, and a trilateral meeting of U.S.-Japanese-South Korean defense ministers earlier in June, this represents a significant warming in Japanese-Korean ties. That relationship could take another significant step forward if Japan and South Korea agree to enhance intelligence sharing, as suggested by South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin.
This not to say that the path to really improving Korea-Japan ties is remotely easy; it’s still a very steep climb. A South Korean court is still expected to rule on issues related to forced wartime labor, and Yoon, as a former prosecutor, will not want to jeopardize his political capital by superseding the judicial system. But this is nevertheless a significant start in expanding the trilateral relationship—and in building closer ties with Europe.
The United States gets to highlight the growing closeness between its European and Asian allies, while Yoon gets to make progress on his stated goal of turning South Korea into a “global pivotal state.” Yoon announced that South Korea will establish a diplomatic mission to NATO at its Brussels headquarters. South Korea is the only country out of the four Asian countries invited to the summit that has not yet set up a mission. By setting up a mission, South Korea is committing to more consistent dialogue with the Atlantic Alliance.
South Korea is making clear that it shares a broad range of values with other liberal democracies and that it will work with them to strengthen the rules-based international order. Yoon is not sending weapons to Ukraine, but South Korea has joined international sanctions on Russia and he has pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
South Korea’s improved relationships with Japan and NATO have the potential to bolster its defense against many emerging threats, including cyber-attacks, climate change, supply chain challenges, and North Korea’s growing arsenal of missiles and nuclear weapons.
One of the more significant outcomes in Madrid was NATO issuing a communique that labeled China a “systemic challenge” to the alliance and other countries. This was less blunt than the description of Russia as a “direct threat,” but it was nevertheless tough language that signaled NATO coalescing around the view that China poses a threat to the free world. This is a break from the past, when alliance members could not agree on a common approach toward China.
There is undoubtedly unease in Seoul over how Beijing perceives Yoon’s participation in this summit given NATO’s growing hardline on China. Beijing certainly views this summit with deep suspicion, as representing the emergence of a Cold War style of global alliance to contain China, particularly in light of other developments such as the formation of the AUKUS partnership (Australia-UK-US) and the potential expansion of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
The Yoon administration has been trying to lessen Beijing’s concerns by publicly stating that South Korea’s participation does not mean that it will join an international anti-China coalition or that it will become a NATO member. But South Korea is also signaling that is deeply concerned about China’s growing power, its crackdowns on human rights, its unwillingness to enforce sanctions on North Korea as it once did, and its strengthening relationship with Russia. The next question for South Korea is whether it will join the QUAD—a nascent anti-China alliance in the Asia Pacific region.
Also concerned about Japan and South Korea’s attendance at the NATO summit is Russia. Already, two formerly neutral nations, Finland and Sweden, are joining NATO. Now Japan and South Korea, while not joining, are becoming more closely associated with the alliance. South Korea has already become the first Asian country to join NATO’s cyber-defense unit based in Estonia. And Russia has already labeled South Korea an “unfriendly nation” because it joined the sanctions regime against Russia. South Korea’s relationship with Russia, already strained, will continue to worsen.
The concern from South Korea’s perspective is that its growing closeness with Japan and NATO could lead China and Russia to more actively support North Korea. Already China and Russia have been blocking further sanctions on North Korea at the UN since the start of the Ukraine war. North Korea is likely to be one of the big winners from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But by expanding ties to Japan and NATO, Yoon is showing North Korea that South Korea has powerful friends in the world.
Overall, Yoon has gotten off to a strong start on his first foreign trip as president. Many challenges and obstacles remain, particularly in rebuilding relations with Japan, which will be met with hostility by many South Korean voters, but he has a great deal to show for his first foreign foray. South Korea is earning newfound respect on the world stage—an important step in expanding the US-ROK alliance beyond the peninsula.
wilsoncenter.org · by Sue Mi Terry
2. North Korea military celebrates ‘Anti-U.S. Joint Struggle Month’

Regime intent could hardly be more clear. It needs the external enemy to justify the sacrifices of the Korean people in the north.



North Korea military celebrates ‘Anti-U.S. Joint Struggle Month’
Frustrated by more hardline policies, Pyongyang is stepping up sloganeering against ‘imperialist aggressor’ U.S.
By Myung Chul Lee for RFA Korean
2022.06.30
North Korea’s military has designated the end of June and most of July as “Anti-U.S. Joint Struggle Month” as a means to foment greater hostility toward the U.S. in retaliation for the Biden administration’s lack of interest in negotiating with Pyongyang, military sources told RFA.
There were two summits between the two countries during Donald Trump’s presidency: 2018 in Singapore and 2019 in Hanoi. But ultimately the U.S. and North Korea were unable to work out a deal on sanctions relief in exchange for denuclearization. The shift in policy of the new administration makes a return to negotiations less likely, so North Korea is bringing back a more hostile style of rhetoric toward the U.S.
The month-long education project started on June 25, the anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War, and will last until July 27, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities in the conflict.
Over the course of the month, military personnel must learn why the U.S. is North Korea’s main enemy, a military related source in the northwestern province of North Pyongan told RFA on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“The General Political Bureau of the People’s Army… created new anti-U.S. education materials that say the U.S. is our main enemy and sent it down to all the subordinate units. From the 25th, all units… have been attending anti-U.S. classes during their mental education hours, which are held each day for about an hour,” the source said.
“Previous materials made since the time of the 2018 North Korea-U.S. [Singapore] Summit have used the [softer] term ‘imperialism’ to describe the U.S, in order to not provoke them,” said the source.
The new materials have been changed to use harsher language.
“They now call the U.S. an ‘imperialist aggressor.’ The content is intended to strengthen anti-U.S. sentiment and says things like, ‘The aggressive nature of the United States never changes. They are our enemy who must not live under the same sky with us,’” said the source.
“The General Political Bureau has also instructed the political departments of each unit to visit their respective education center during Anti-U.S. Joint Struggle month. The political department should organize officers and soldiers to attend classes there, and they must also punish those who neglect to visit with their units. So the military officials are nervous,” the source said.
Every province, city and county in North Korea has set up education centers that collect and display anti-U.S., anti-South Korean and anti-Japanese materials, according to the source.
“Since 2018, when we were trying to improve relations with the U.S., anti-U.S. education for military personnel was suspended, but this time, we will bring it back in time for the anniversary of the Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War,” the source said, using the North Korean term for the day the armistice was signed.
The source said the soldiers are not happy with the government’s flip-flopping on whether the U.S. is the number one enemy or not.
“They say, ‘They removed the hostile phrases to improve relations with the U.S., and now they are bringing them back. We don’t know how to play along.’”
The new materials say that peaceful coexistence with the U.S. is not possible, a military source in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
“It says that coexistence is just an illusion and equivalent to death, and we must be armed with a high sense of antagonism and ideological determination to fight against the U.S.,” the second source said.
“But the officers and soldiers come out of their mental education classes expressionless and with indifference,” said the second source.
“The General Political Bureau is also telling all units to post up new propaganda signs bearing the slogan, ‘Destroy all U.S. imperialist aggressors, the absolute enemies of the Korean people’ in their barracks. By posting anti-U.S. slogans, which previously we only attached to combat equipment, they will more intently concentrate on hostility toward the United States.”
The sources both said that they interpreted the renewed hostility toward the U.S. as the government expressing its dissatisfaction with a shift in Washington’s stance on North Korea to a more hardline position since the beginning of the Biden administration.
Though fighting in the Korean War ended with the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953, North and South Korea are still technically at war.
Translated by Leejin J. Chung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.




3. South Korea's Yoon warns at NATO summit of threat to 'universal values'

President Yoon is defending values.

If President Yoon is defending universal values I think it is clear which side he is taking.

Excerpts:

South Korea is a staunch U.S. ally and hosts some 28,000 U.S. troops. It has also developed a crucial economic relationship with China, South Korea's largest trading partner.
Yoon, like his predecessors, will have to balance those two relationships while at the same time facing a belligerent North Korea developing its arsenal of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.
Yoon hopes to build relations with NATO members in the face of an unpredictable international situation and promote international cooperation on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, South Korean officials said before the summit.




South Korea's Yoon warns at NATO summit of threat to 'universal values'
Reuters · by Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL, June 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's president warned a NATO summit of the threat to universal values at a time of new conflict and competition, a reference to Russia's aggression in Ukraine and China's engagement with Russia, a South Korean official said.
President Yoon Suk-yeol became the first South Korean leader to attend a NATO summit, joining national NATO leaders as an observer at a meeting in Spain as Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine.
"As a new structure of competitions and conflicts is taking shape, there is also a movement that denies the universal values that we have been protecting," Yoon said in a speech on Wednesday, according to a South Korean official.
While he did not identify Russia or China, Yoon said the international community was facing complex security threats that a single country could not solve, the official cited him as saying in his speech that was not made public.
"He was referring to the Ukraine war, and as most other participating countries did, he raised concern about Russia's responsibility for the war and China's responsibility in the international community," the official, who declined to be identified, said on Thursday.
South Korea is a staunch U.S. ally and hosts some 28,000 U.S. troops. It has also developed a crucial economic relationship with China, South Korea's largest trading partner.
Yoon, like his predecessors, will have to balance those two relationships while at the same time facing a belligerent North Korea developing its arsenal of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.
Yoon hopes to build relations with NATO members in the face of an unpredictable international situation and promote international cooperation on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, South Korean officials said before the summit.
South Korea's approach to NATO comes as the alliance is looking east towards a region it refers to as the Indo-Pacific, a new focus that Yoon welcomed, the official said.
NATO in its new strategic concept unveiled on Wednesday, for the first time described China as a challenge to NATO's "interests, security and values", as an economic and military power that remains "opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up".
China firmly opposes NATO's new strategic concept and called on NATO to "immediately stop groundless accusations and provocative remarks", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
"NATO's strategic concept document ignores the facts...discredits China's foreign policy, speaks ill of China's normal military development and national defense policy and encourages confrontation," Zhao said.
Yoon, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also attending the NATO summit as an observer, met and agreed that the progress of North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes posed serious threats to not only the Korean peninsula but also East Asia and the world. read more
Chinese state media had warned against South Korea and Japan attending the NATO summit and criticised the alliance's broadening partnerships in Asia. North Korea said this week that NATO involvement in the Asia-Pacific region would import the conflict raging in Europe. read more
Australia and New Zealand also attended the summit, making four observers from the region. The South Korean official said the four were "exploring their own Indo-Pacific strategies".
"At the heart of that, there are concerns and various dilemmas about China," the official said.
Asked on Thursday about South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand's attendance at the NATO summit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao said that third parties should not be targeted, or their interests undermined as different countries develop relations with each other.
"China will pay close attention to the relevant trends of NATO and will not sit idly by and do nothing if matters are harming China's interests," he said.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
Reuters · by Hyonhee Shin

4. From Europe, Yoon Suk Yeol Calls for International Cooperation on North Korea’s Nuclear and Missile Threats
Excerpts:

As raising South Korea’s voice on international issues as a rising middle-power country is one of Yoon’s initiatives, such specific mentions of North Korea and cooperation between NATO and the Indo-Pacific partners might be considered an achievement in itself by the Yoon administration.
However, questions remain over the effectiveness of cooperation with NATO on North Korea issues.
North Korea deems the United States as the only counterpart it can negotiate with over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has always had questions over Seoul’s role in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including while negotiating with the Trump administration from 2018 to 2019.
Under the U.S.-centered international order, NATO and its allies in the Indo-Pacific will strengthen ties to cope with broader issues. However, since the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula cannot be achieved without China’s support, Seoul’s decision to attend the NATO meeting, strengthen ties with its partners in Europe, and raising a clear voice on the international issues linked with China would explicitly enhance ties between North Korea, China, and Russia. If things come to this stage, the Korean Peninsula will be the main battleground of the new Cold War – which would lead to an arms race among the countries in the region.


From Europe, Yoon Suk Yeol Calls for International Cooperation on North Korea’s Nuclear and Missile Threats
As China opposed Yoon’s attendance at the NATO meetings, Seoul will likely face more complicated obstacles to deter North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments. 
thediplomat.com · by Mitch Shin · June 30, 2022
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The leaders of the United States, South Korea, and Japan met in Madrid on Wednesday. Held on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meetings this week, the trilateral summit meeting was the first of its kind since September 2017.
As Pyongyang prepares to conduct its seventh nuclear test, the three leaders agreed to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats through trilateral cooperation.
“Our trilateral cooperation, in my view, is essential to achieving our shared objective, including a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” U.S. President Joe Biden, who hosted the meeting, said in his opening remarks.
Since Biden took office, Washington has consistently made clear that it has “no hostile intent” toward North Korea in a bid to overcome the so-called “hostile policy” framing initiated by Pyongyang. In order to restore the deadlocked dialogue, Washington has expressed willingness to sit down with Pyongyang “anytime, anywhere, with no preconditions.” Pyongyang has not responded to its messages but instead demanded that Washington make concessions. In North Korea’s view, the United States – and specifically then-U.S. President Donald Trump – bears responsibility for the failure of the 2019 Hanoi summit, so Washington must make the first move to restart dialogue again.

Before the trilateral meeting, Biden said he remains “deeply concerned at the DPRK’s continued escalatory ballistic missiles and tests and potential to conduct a nuclear test.” (DPRK is the acronym of North Korea’s official name: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.) However, he did not come up with new messages on the ways to tackle the issue, implying that he has not changed his precondition for meeting the North’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
Seoul and Washington have closely coordinated new stronger sanctions to follow the North’s seventh nuclear test, if it happens. However, it was not discussed during the trilateral summit meeting, according to South Korea government officials.
Expressing “sincere appreciation” to Biden for hosting the 25-minute trilateral meeting, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also said he was “delighted” to meet with the Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. Yoon was reportedly eager to have a meeting with Kishida while both leaders were in Madrid for the NATO summit.
“The DPRK’s nuclear and missile threats continue to evolve, and the global landscape is facing increased uncertainties, thereby rendering our trilateral partnership all the more significant,” Yoon said.
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To cope with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats, Yoon, a hawkish conservative on North Korea, has emphasized the importance of strengthening extended deterrence by building up relations with South Korea’s allies since he took office in May. He has criticized his predecessor’s North Korea policy as appeasement. One of Yoon’s initiatives to approach the North’s missile threats differently is restoring bilateral relations with Japan.
Seoul sought to hold a bilateral summit meeting with Tokyo but failed to arrange it as the two countries still have different views over the unresolved historical disputes.
However, Yoon publicly expressed his hope to develop bilateral ties with Kishida and pursue rapprochement, saying he is confident that Kishida will “become a partner in resolving issues between South Korea and Japan” after a four-way meeting of the four Indo-Pacific Partners – South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand – invited for the NATO meetings.
Following the trilateral summit meeting, Yoon attended the NATO summit, marking the first debut of a South Korean president at the top NATO meeting. During his short address, Yoon urged the international community to shows its strong will to “pull North Korea onto the path of denuclearization.” He called the North’s nuclear and missile programs “a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions” and “a serious challenge” to peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the international community, according to the official from the presidential office.
Yoon’s predecessor, President Moon Jae-in, used dovish overtures to try to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula under his peace process centered on dialogue. Moon also adopted a stance of “strategic ambiguity” toward the China-U.S. rivalry, given Beijing’s importance in the North Korea issue, as well as for South Korea’s economy. In this context, Moon had been accused of being pro-China by some conservatives in South Korea, as Seoul did not fully engage with U.S.-led working groups such as Quad while he was in office.
With Yoon’s attendance at the NATO meeting, South Korea has explicitly demonstrated that it is now formally a part of the U.S.-led anti-China movement, meaning it would likely face further criticism and antagonism not only from North Korea but also from China and Russia. The Madrid Summit Declaration had strong language on China, which was named as a country “who challenge[s] our interests, security, and values and seek[s] to undermine the rules-based international order.”
China has already opposed South Korea’s decision to attend the NATO meeting. Chinese state media, Global Times, published a story criticizing both Yoon and Kishida’s attendance at the NATO meeting.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow have vetoed Washington’s efforts to impose additional sanctions over North Korea’s missile tests in the U.N. Security Council. As long as China and Russia exercise their vetoes as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, no new U.N. sanctions can be imposed against North Korea.
In NATO’s 2022 strategic concept, the first update since 2010, North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and missile programs is mentioned as having “negatively impacted strategic stability.” The strategic concept also mentions increased cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners to “tackle cross-regional challenges and shared security interests.”
As raising South Korea’s voice on international issues as a rising middle-power country is one of Yoon’s initiatives, such specific mentions of North Korea and cooperation between NATO and the Indo-Pacific partners might be considered an achievement in itself by the Yoon administration.
However, questions remain over the effectiveness of cooperation with NATO on North Korea issues.
North Korea deems the United States as the only counterpart it can negotiate with over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has always had questions over Seoul’s role in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including while negotiating with the Trump administration from 2018 to 2019.
Under the U.S.-centered international order, NATO and its allies in the Indo-Pacific will strengthen ties to cope with broader issues. However, since the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula cannot be achieved without China’s support, Seoul’s decision to attend the NATO meeting, strengthen ties with its partners in Europe, and raising a clear voice on the international issues linked with China would explicitly enhance ties between North Korea, China, and Russia. If things come to this stage, the Korean Peninsula will be the main battleground of the new Cold War – which would lead to an arms race among the countries in the region.
thediplomat.com · by Mitch Shin · June 30, 2022

5. Philippines awards contract to South Korean shipbuilder for six offshore patrol vessels





Philippines awards contract to South Korean shipbuilder for six offshore patrol vessels
Defense News · by Daeha Lee · June 30, 2022
SEOUL — The Philippine Defence Department has awarded a contract to Hyundai Heavy Industries to build six 2400-ton offshore patrol vessels, the South Korean company announced June 27, as well as a deal for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of two frigates that the shipbuilder previously delivered.
Under the 744.9 billion won (U.S. $573.8 million) contract, HHI’s Ulsan shipyard in South Korea is charged with delivering six Wonhae vessels to the Philippine Navy by 2028.
They will measure 94.4 meters long and 14.3 meters wide, and have a maximum speed of 22 knots (25 mph) and a cruising speed of 15 knots (58 mph). Their cruising range reaches to 5,500 nautical miles (6329 miles). Each OPV will be armed with one 76mm gun and two 30mm guns. They also feature a deck from which helicopters or UAVs can operate.
Earlier this month, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his Philippine counterpart Delfin Lorenzana talked on the phone to discuss the direction of bilateral defense cooperation and South Korean-made offshore patrol vessels.
In addition to Lorenzana, those attending the recent signing ceremony included Sam-hyeon Ga, vice chairman of HHI subsidiary Korea Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering; Sang-Hoon Nam, who leads an HHI shipbuilding division; In-cheol Kim, ambassador to the Philippines; and Philippine Navy Adm. Bernard Valencia.
In 2016, HHI delivered two frigates to the Philippines, and last year it signed a contract to build two corvettes for the country.
About Daehan Lee
Daehan Lee is a South Korea correspondent for Defense News.




6. Biden and Leaders of Japan and South Korea Pledge Greater Cooperation
Some good news but still a lot of work to do anda long way to go.

Biden and Leaders of Japan and South Korea Pledge Greater Cooperation
Tokyo-Seoul relations are on a tentative recovery path after deteriorating in recent years

By Timothy W. MartinFollow in Seoul and Alastair GaleFollow in Singapore
June 29, 2022 11:01 pm ET

President Biden met with the heads of Japan and South Korea—the first such gathering between the three countries’ leaders in nearly five years—and pledged deeper cooperation to counter North Korea’s weapons provocations.
The Wednesday meeting, on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Madrid, was another example of increased coordination between Washington and two of its key Asian allies. Tokyo-Seoul relations are on a tentative recovery path after deteriorating in recent years over historical grievances and trade disputes.
Fresh leadership in both countries has injected hope for a diplomatic reset. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office in October, while South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol was inaugurated last month. Both are conservatives. The two spoke briefly at a Tuesday gala dinner, with Mr. Yoon expressing a desire to move forward in a “future-oriented manner,” according to South Korea’s presidential office.
Mr. Biden met the two leaders during separate stops to Seoul and Tokyo during his first presidential trip to Asia last month. The heads of the U.S., Japan and South Korea hadn’t met together since September 2017, coming shortly after North Korea conducted its sixth, and most recent, nuclear test.
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“Our trilateral cooperation, in my view, is essential to achieving our shared objective, including a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Yoon, embarking on his first overseas trip as president, said there is an even greater importance for cooperation between the U.S., Japan and South Korea due to North Korea’s weapons advances. The three countries’ alliance should be an “important central axis for world peace and stability,” Mr. Yoon said.
Earlier this month, the defense ministers of the three countries agreed to hold joint military drills to improve their detection and response to North Korean missile launches. On Wednesday, Mr. Kishida said the three nations would also strengthen military coordination if North Korea conducts a seventh nuclear test, which American and South Korean government officials believe is a likely prospect.
“It’s essential that Japan, the U.S. and South Korea work closely together,” Mr. Kishida said.
While emphasizing close cooperation with South Korea over threats from the North, Mr. Kishida has been cautious about holding bilateral talks with Mr. Yoon because of lingering historical disputes between Tokyo and Seoul. Mr. Yoon has pledged to overcome those disagreements.
Friction between Japan and South Korea is a headache for the U.S., which wants a united front with its allies to counter North Korea and the growing power and influence of China in Asia.

The U.S. Strategy to Catch Up on China’s Global Push for Influence
The U.S. Strategy to Catch Up on China’s Global Push for Influence
Play video: The U.S. Strategy to Catch Up on China’s Global Push for Influence
The U.S. wants to counter China’s influence around the world by providing everything from infrastructure to vaccines and green energy. WSJ’s Stu Woo explains how the plan, dubbed Build Back Better World, aims to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Photo composite: Daniel Orton
North Korea’s flurry of missile tests this year—more than in 2020 and 2021 combined—have helped catalyze greater military coordination between Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.
In April, Washington and Tokyo carried out joint naval exercises in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Messrs. Biden and Yoon, at their meeting in Seoul, agreed to expand joint military drills and committed to the deployment of strategic American military assets to South Korea to counter North Korea’s threats.
North Korea, in a Wednesday state media report, criticized South Korea and Japan for “kowtowing to the U.S.” and called their increased closeness a dangerous prelude to the creation of an “Asian version of NATO.” Last week, Mr. Kim decided with senior military leaders to bolster front-line defenses and approved a further strengthening of the country’s weapons program.
Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were invited to the NATO summit as the group’s Asia-Pacific partners. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin voiced opposition last week to the four countries’ attendance, saying the Asia-Pacific region is “beyond the geographical scope of the North Atlantic.”
Security issues between Europe and Asia look more overlapping in nature now, from contending with tighter ties between Moscow and Beijing, to the shared challenges of soaring food and energy prices emerging in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Mason Richey, an international politics professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. That means the U.S. will look to use alliances in a more inter-regional way, he said.
Tarini Parti contributed to this article.
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Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com and Alastair Gale at alastair.gale@wsj.com
Appeared in the June 30, 2022, print edition as 'Biden Meets With Asian Allies'.


7. Yoon says S. Korea, Japan should discuss past, future issues simultaneously
I would recommend putting national security and national prosperity first while managing historical issues to ensure they do not impact on security and prosperity.



(LEAD) Yoon says S. Korea, Japan should discuss past, future issues simultaneously | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · July 1, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES with Yoon's remark on trilateral cooperation in last 4 paras)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol said Friday he believes South Korea and Japan should discuss past and future issues simultaneously to overcome the disputes that have plagued their relations in recent years.
Yoon made the remark to reporters on Air Force One en route home from Spain where he attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit this week and had multiple encounters with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines.

"I have stressed that historical issues and issues about the two countries' future should all be placed on one table and resolved together," the president said.
"We must reject the approach that without progress between the two countries on historical issues, there can be no discussion on current and future issues," he continued. "They can all be discussed together, and I believe that if South Korea and Japan can work together for the future, historical issues will also be resolved for sure."
Relations between South Korea and Japan have suffered in recent years due to disputes stemming from Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, including the issues of wartime sex slaves and forced labor.
Yoon has expressed a commitment to improving the badly frayed relations.
After meeting Kishida for the first time in Madrid, he told reporters he came away confident that the prime minister would become a "partner" in resolving issues between the two countries and developing bilateral ties.
The relationship between South Korea and Japan has undermined trilateral cooperation with the United States in countering North Korea's nuclear threats.
Yoon, Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden held a trilateral summit on the margins of the NATO gathering in what was the first such meeting in nearly five years.
"We agreed in principle that it would be desirable to resume (trilateral) military-security cooperation, which has been suspended for a considerable period of time, in order to respond to the North Korean nuclear issue," Yoon said.
"I believe we will make progress on the details as discussions continue between the foreign ministers, defense ministers and other security officials of each country," he added aboard the flight.
Military cooperation with Japan is a sensitive issue in South Korea due to lingering resentment over Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and suspicions that Japan could attempt again to seek militarism.
Earlier, a presidential official had rejected talk of military cooperation with Japan as something far off into the future.
hague@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · July 1, 2022

8. Trump’s personal diplomacy with North Korea was fruitless, Mattis says
Actually I somewhat disagree. What came out of the personal diplomacy by both Trump and Moon is the knowledge that if they could not make a deal with Kim Jong Un no one can. Also, Kim missed his opportunity to make a deal because he had two leaders who desperately wanted to make one. And I think that illustrates that he has no intention of ever denuclearizing north Korea and there is no better evidence of that than the failure to get a deal since 2018. We must understand the nature, objectives, and strategy of the Kim family regime, deal with Kim as he really is and not as we would wish him to be and execute a superior form of political warfare that recognizes the KFR strategy, understands it, ex[poses it, and attacks it (with information and influence) while ensuring the highest level of military readiness to ensure deterrence and defense. 



Trump’s personal diplomacy with North Korea was fruitless, Mattis says
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 1, 2022
Jim Mattis, at the time the U.S. Defense Secretary, is pictured at a news conference at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 2, 2017. (Amber I. Smith/U.S. Army)
SEOUL, South Korea — Donald Trump’s unconventional summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018 and 2019 produced nothing, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at a forum here Friday.
The United States under Trump’s presidency was “not traditional for what America’s role has been in the world,” the retired Marine general and former head of Central Command said at a gathering hosted by the Seoul Forum for International Affairs, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Korea Society in Seoul.
The two nations were threatening war in 2017, but Kim and Trump emerged friends from their 2018 summit in Singapore, trading “love letters” afterwards. The two met again the following year in Hanoi, Vietnam, and at the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea.
Trump hailed the meetings as momentous developments, but foreign policy experts widely criticized them for failing to produce any agreements between the two countries. “As far as what came out of it, I would say nothing,” Mattis said of the summits. “I saw nothing that came out of it.” In 2020, North Korea resumed missile tests and its bellicose statements aimed at the U.S. and South Korea. North Korea has so far this year launched 17 rounds of missile tests, a one-year record. “President Trump was an unusual leader” who believed in “personal diplomacy,” Mattis said.
“He was convinced that he could work something out with Kim — I was not optimistic,” he added. “My job was to make certain I did everything I could to stand by the [South Korean] Ministry of Defense and make certain the U.S. military … ties were absolutely at the top of their game to ensure that we were buying the time to safely engage in that summit.” In contrast to Trump’s record, Mattis said, President Joe Biden met with South Korean President Yoon Seok Youl a record 10 days after Yoon’s inauguration in May. “Under President Biden, we have seen the earliest summit meeting between Korea … which shows the priority that the Americans place on the relationship,” Mattis said.
Trump’s presidency was a “very strange time in America,” Mattis said.
“Democracies go through raucous times,” he said. “Democracies will at times go populist and they will at times break the tradition. It’s the nature of democracies at times to be testing ideas.” The first of Trump’s three defense secretaries, Mattis resigned from the Cabinet in 2018, citing his disagreement with the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. Two years later, Mattis, quoted in The Atlantic magazine, said Trump “is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”“
Deterring aggression in the Indo-Pacific requires a group effort, and the U.S.-South Korea is key to that effort, Mattis told his audience. “I think that the Korea-American alliance is actually a model for others,” Mattis said. “Why? Because in the face of an adversary right next door, within artillery range of where we sit right now, it is the alliance that has helped maintain the peace.”
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 1, 2022

9.  Ex-Pentagon chief stresses deterrence as 'primary' peacekeeping tool on peninsula

Yes. It is necessary that any negotiations that take place rest on a foundation of deterrence and defense. Doing anything from a position of weakness or appeasing the regime only makes Kim believe his political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy is successful and that will cause him to double down rather than negotiate in good faith as a responsible member of the international community.



Ex-Pentagon chief stresses deterrence as 'primary' peacekeeping tool on peninsula | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · July 1, 2022
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- Former U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday emphasized the importance of deterrence as a "primary" tool to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and help diplomats work to that end "from a position of strength."
Mattis, who led the Pentagon from January 2017 to December 2018 under former President Donald Trump's administration, attended a security forum in Seoul, as South Korea and the United States are striving to sharpen deterrence against North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
"We are now going to have to shift to a primary deterrence, not stopping diplomacy, not stopping dialogue. Of course, we want to continue that opportunity," he said at the forum organized by the Seoul Forum for International Affairs, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Korea Society.
"But we are going to have to turn to deterrence as our primary effort to keep the peace so our diplomats have time to try to solve this problem," he added.

Recalling former South Korean President Moon Jae-in's unfruitful efforts to address the North's nuclear quandary, Mattis pointed out the need to "recognize the reality" now.
His remarks were in line with the ongoing efforts by the administrations of Presidents Yoon Suk-yeol and Joe Biden to reinforce America's extended deterrence, its stated commitment to using a full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear options, to defend its ally.
Deterrence efforts came amid the lingering talk of the need for South Korea to possess its own nuclear weapons or to seek the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear arms here to better counter North Korea's nuclear threats.
Mattis rejected the idea of the South being armed with nuclear arms, which he characterized as "horrible weapons."
"You don't need nuclear weapons on the peninsula to ensure an extended deterrence so long as there is trust between the ROK and the United States," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea. "The location of the weapons is not important, and I think that (if there's) anything you can do to avoid having these weapons yourself, you should do so."
But to prevent other countries from developing their own nuclear arms, Mattis said Washington has to reassure its allies that "We are with them 100 percent.
"We must have a sufficient deterrent to ensure those horrible weapons are never employed," he said.
Asked about the preemptive strike option regarding North Korean threats, the former Marine general refused to comment but underscored the need to do "everything" to ensure diplomats can work "from a position of strength."
"We have never seen peace maintained through weakness. ... We must be strong and strong together," he said.
On China, Mattis pointed out that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) portrayed China as posing "systemic challenges" in its latest strategic concept. But he said China is "not an adversary yet."
The former Pentagon chief also took a swipe at Russia's aggression as he outlined lessons from the conflict in Ukraine.
"Don't have incompetent generals in charge of your operations," he said. "In this campaign, the immoral, the tactically incompetent, operationally stupid and strategically foolish effort that has gone on there is a reminder that when you switch over to the military instruments, you better have some of your best and brightest down there in the ranks guiding what's going on."
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · July 1, 2022


10. North Korea blames Covid-19 outbreak on 'unusual items' near South Korea border

They must have spotted the alliance COVID Fans that are blowing COVID into the north (note sarcasm)

Seriously, the "unusual items" might be the balloons sent north by escapees who are sending medicines along with information into the north. The regime might be using the good will and humanitarian efforts of the escapees to place blame on the South for the COVID outbreak in the north.


North Korea blames Covid-19 outbreak on 'unusual items' near South Korea border
CNN · by Jessie Yeung and Yoonjung Seo, CNN
Seoul, South Korea (CNN)North Korea on Friday claimed its Covid-19 outbreak began when two residents touched "unusual things" near the South Korean border, according to state media.
The impoverished nation publicly acknowledged the virus had breached its borders for the first time in May, though it's difficult to assess the real situation on the ground due to the opaque regime and its isolation from the world.
North Korea's Emergency Epidemic Prevention Headquarters, which had been investigating the outbreak, said Friday it had started in the Ipho-ri area of Kumgang County, north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the country from South Korea.
An 18-year-old soldier and a 5-year-old child in the area were identified as the first two positive cases of this outbreak, and began showing symptoms after coming into contact with "unusual items" on a hill near the border in early April, according to the investigation report, released by state-run news agency KCNA.

The report did not specify what the "unusual items" were -- but stressed the need "to vigilantly deal with unusual items coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons" along North Korea's southern border.
Read More
While it is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, the risk is generally considered to be low, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In late April, a North Korean defectors' activist group based in South Korea, Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK), claimed it had sent large balloons carrying anti-North Korea leaflets across the border.
The group also said it sent balloons carrying medical supplies such as Tylenol and Vitamin C to the North in June during the country's Covid-19 outbreak.
Both shipments were sent without the required approval from South Korean authorities.
In response to the North Korean report, the South Korean government denied the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through leaflets sent from the South, quoting local and international health experts on the low risk.
Health workers disinfect a trolley bus in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 9.
The South Korean Unification Ministry's deputy spokesman, Cha Deok-cheol, said in a briefing on Friday that the government had repeatedly asked the group to stop sending its balloons over the border, as the government is working on inter-Korean cooperation to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.
Prior to May, North Korea had not acknowledged any coronavirus cases -- though few believe that a country of about 25 million people could have been spared by the virus for more than two years.
Since acknowledging its first infections, North Korea has reported more than 4.7 million "fever cases," but claims the vast majority have fully recovered.
It is difficult to independently verify the case numbers and recoveries North Korean state media is reporting due to a lack of free media in the country.
The outbreak raised alarm internationally, given North Korea's dilapidated public health infrastructure, lack of testing equipment and largely unvaccinated population.
CNN · by Jessie Yeung and Yoonjung Seo, CNN


11. N. Korea's first COVID-19 cases traced to area bordering S. Korea: state media

Aliens in north Korea. Call Area 51.

Blame the balloons for COVID.

Excerpts:
Although the North did not specify what the "alien things" were, it alluded to balloons often flown by North Korean defector groups in South Korea, carrying such materials as anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets, portable radios and U.S. paper money, over the heavily fortified border.
The leaflets have been a source of tension between the two Koreas, with the Kim Jong-un regime angrily responding to the issue.




(3rd LD) N. Korea's first COVID-19 cases traced to area bordering S. Korea: state media | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · July 1, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES with S. Korean government's response in paras 12-15)
By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korean health authorities have concluded its COVID-19 outbreak originated in an area near the inter-Korean border as local residents came into contact with "alien" stuff there, state media reported Friday, a move seen as aimed at ascribing the virus crisis to South Korea and using it for political purposes.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cited a probe into the transmission route of the omicron variant outbreak, which Pyongyang made public on May 12.
"The investigation results showed that several persons coming from the area of Ipho-ri in Kumgang County in Kangwon Province to the capital city in mid-April were in fever," it said in an English-language article. "A sharp increase of fever cases was witnessed among their contacts and that a group of fevered persons emerged in the area of Ipho-ri for the first time."
The KCNA added that an 18-year-old soldier and a 5-year-old kindergartener had contact with "alien things" in the area in early April and that they had tested positive for the virus after showing symptoms.
The North's Ipho-ri area borders South Korea's eastern counties of Inje and Yanggu in Gangwon Province.
It added that the State Emergency Epidemic Prevention Headquarters issued an instruction stressing the need to "vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders."
The instruction also called for strengthening the reporting system of the "alien things" and measures to strictly remove them, according to the KCNA.

Although the North did not specify what the "alien things" were, it alluded to balloons often flown by North Korean defector groups in South Korea, carrying such materials as anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets, portable radios and U.S. paper money, over the heavily fortified border.
The leaflets have been a source of tension between the two Koreas, with the Kim Jong-un regime angrily responding to the issue.
It has strongly demanded the South's government take tougher measures to stop such a leaflet-sending campaign, even warning of a military response from border regions.
By linking the virus crisis with South Korea, albeit indirectly, the North appears to be seeking to stimulate public antipathy toward Seoul or leaflet-spreading activists as well as trying to discourage its people from picking up those materials, observers said.
The South Korean government immediately dismissed the North's assertion, saying there is no possibility that its coronavirus outbreak is connected with such materials from the South.
There is a "common view" of South Korean and international health care organizations and experts that COVID-19 infection through the virus on an object's surface is realistically impossible, Cha Duck-chul, the unification ministry's deputy spokesperson, said during a press briefing.
"As far as we know, there have been no officially verified cases of coronavirus infection via postal or other materials," he said.
Meanwhile, the North's new suspected COVID-19 cases remained below 5,000 for the second consecutive day, according to state media.
More than 4,570 people showed symptoms of fever over a 24-hour period until 6 p.m. the previous day, the KCNA said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters.
It did not provide information on whether additional deaths have been reported.
The total number of fever cases since late April came to over 4.74 million as of 6 p.m. Thursday, of which more than 4.73 million have recovered and at least 8,130 are being treated, it added.
The North's daily new fever count has been on a downward trend after peaking at over 392,920 on May 15.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · July 1, 2022


12.  N.K. foreign ministry slams U.S. humanitarian aid offer amid pandemic


north Korea is so skilled at biting hands which could potentially feed it. What the regime is really saying is that the only way you can help the Korean people suffering in the north is by lifting sanctions. Kimis using the threat to the Korean people as part of his blackmail diplomacy because he knows the ROK, the US, and the international community care more for the Korean people in the north than does the regime.

Excerpt:

"The U.S. is trying to evade the international society's criticism by speaking of humanitarian aid while attempting to isolate and squeeze us to death," the ministry said.




N.K. foreign ministry slams U.S. humanitarian aid offer amid pandemic | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김나영 · June 30, 2022
SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Thursday slammed the United States' expressed willingness to offer pandemic-related humanitarian aid to the reclusive country, calling it "a scheme to realize a foul political purpose."
In a statement posted on its website, the North's foreign ministry said Washington and its allies have been misleading public opinion as if Pyongyang is in a humanitarian crisis due to the prolonged closure of its border.
South Korea and the U.S. have offered to provide humanitarian assistance to the North since Pyongyang first announced its apparent virus outbreak last month. Pyongyang, however, has remained unresponsive.
"The U.S. is trying to evade the international society's criticism by speaking of humanitarian aid while attempting to isolate and squeeze us to death," the ministry said.
The ministry also claimed North Korea holds the record in terms of reporting zero infections for the longest period among all countries and was controlling the virus situation successfully.
"The U.S. and the Western nations should care about their domestic situation, as they are suffering the biggest number of patients infected with the disease and deaths," it said.


nyway@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김나영 · June 30, 2022

13. Attendance of Japan, S Korea at NATO Summit may stoke China's worst fears


Attendance of Japan, S Korea at NATO Summit may stoke China's worst fears
business-standard.com · by Isabel Reynolds | Bloomberg · June 29, 2022
For the first time, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will all attend a 30-member NATO Summit



At a virtual BRICS summit last week attended by Putin, Xi accused the US of seeking to expand military alliances and split the world economy into mutually exclusive zones
Ever since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, China has blamed NATO for antagonizing Russia and accused the US of seeking to set up a similar alliance in the Asia-Pacific. The presence of four leaders from the region in Spain this week will only make Beijing more paranoid.
For the first time, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will all attend a summit of the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At the meeting starting Tuesday in Madrid, the alliance is set to label China a “systemic challenge” in new policy guidelines for the coming decade, reflecting shifts in the geopolitical landscape as President Xi Jinping increasingly joins hands with Putin in opposition to the world’s democracies.
While the US has dismissed the idea that an Asia-Pacific NATO is in the works, the Biden administration has strengthened ties with partners in the region to both push back against China’s assertiveness over disputed territory and sanction key officials over alleged human-rights abuses in places like Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Fears are also growing that Xi will look to invade Taiwan in the coming years, potentially triggering a wider war in Asia.

At a virtual BRICS summit last week attended by Putin, Xi accused the US of seeking to expand military alliances and split the world economy into mutually exclusive zones. He warned that “those who obsess with a position of strength” would “only fall into a security conundrum.”
“The new development certainly will make China feel uneasy, encircled and threatened,” Vivian Zhan, an associate professor specializing in Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said of NATO’s focus on China.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said NATO had become a “tool for certain countries to uphold their hegemony.” He said China follows an independent foreign policy of peace, and called the growth of the world’s second-biggest economy “an opportunity for the world.”
“After disrupting Europe, NATO should not try to destabilize Asia and the whole world,” Zhao said.
US allies and security partners in Asia aren’t convinced China’s rise is peaceful. In recent years, Beijing has increased military activity around Taiwan and become more assertive over disputed territory off its coastline from Japan to the Philippines. It has boosted security cooperation with Pacific Island states near Australia and sparked the deadliest border fight with India in decades.

Still, the Asian leaders attending the NATO summit must walk a fine line with Beijing. China remains the biggest trading partner of Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand, and has used that leverage to inflict pain in geopolitical disputes.
About a decade ago, a dispute over East China Sea islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing led to a boycott by Chinese consumers of goods that prolonged a recession in Japan.
“It’s impossible for Japan to stand up to China by itself, either economically or militarily,” said Kyoko Hatakeyama, a professor specializing in security at the University of Niigata Prefecture. “America is backing us, but even so, it’s a bit difficult, so we must have Europe take an interest.”
China’s actions have prompted a vow from Japan under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to upgrade its military, in a departure from the pacifism it embraced under a US-drafted constitution after its defeat in World War II. That includes boosting defense spending beyond a longtime cap set at 1% of gross domestic product.
South Korea is in a similar position. President Yoon Suk Yeol, a newly elected conservative, has sought to align his country more closely with the US and its allies in Europe.
Linking up with NATO “may protect South Korea’s interest against that of Beijing in case of the decline of US influence in the Pacific region in the long term,” said Cheon Seong-whun, a former security strategy secretary for South Korea’s presidential office.
The heavily controlled state media in North Korea, which has a longstanding partnership with China and Russia, published an opinion piece Wednesday from a local academic who accused NATO of turning ''its sinister eyes’’ toward Asia.
''NATO is nothing but a perpetrator of the U.S. hegemonic strategy,’’ its Korean Central News Agency, which often acts as a proxy for the state, quoted political researcher Kim Hyo Myong as saying . ''It is simply a tool for local invasion.’’
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who took office last month, warned China this week to learn lessons from Russia’s “strategic failure” in Ukraine when weighing what to do with Taiwan.
The Ukraine invasion brought democratic nations together, “whether they be members of NATO, or non-members such as Australia,” Albanese said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review.
Yet while Asian countries are more interested in linking up with NATO, there’s little prospect of them joining in a similar collective defense arrangement. The US and other colonial powers once sought to form the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization as a regional NATO to fight communism, but it suffered from organizational problems and eventually disbanded in 1977.
All of the US mutual defense treaties in Asia — with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia — are bilateral and have been around for decades. Southeast Asian nations in particular have no interest in picking sides, and Japan and South Korea remain at odds over disputes stemming from Japan’s past colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Only a regional crisis like a Chinese invasion of Taiwan might prompt Asian nations to overcome their differences and form a security bloc, according to Japanese lawmaker and former vice defense minister Akihisa Nagashima.
“If China tried to unify with Taiwan by force, I don’t think other Asian countries could accept it, and they might consider creating an Asian NATO,” he said. “But at this point, no one would join. And even if it was somehow created it wouldn’t function.”



14. Investigation Shows N.Korea Smuggling Coal to China



​No surprise that China is complicit in north Korean sanctions evasion.

Investigation Shows N.Korea Smuggling Coal to China
July 01, 2022 13:05
North Korea has been smuggling large amounts of coal to China despite international sanctions that ban exports from the renegade country, the Nikkei reported on Thursday.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution five years ago banning the UN member nations from importing North Korean coal in case the proceeds fund Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. China is one of the five permanent members of the UNSC.
Based on data from the automatic identification systems of about 180 North Korean ships over the past year and six months, the Japanese daily reported that more than 50 of them entered Chinese ports with coal-loading berths.
/News1
The AIS automatically transmits a ship's location but can be turned off by clandestine operators. To be on the safe side, the daily then cross-checked AIS data with satellite images from Earth imaging firm Planet Labs.
They show for example that the North Korean freighter Taephyong 2 left the port of Nampo on Aug. 9, 2021 after loading coal the previous day. The ship entered the Chinese port of Longkou in Yantai, Shandong Province on Aug. 13 and remained there until Aug. 26.
Satellite imagery shows dark blotches around the ship's hull that look like heaps of coal.
The daily said the North no longer tries to disconnect or switch off the AIS, perhaps for fear of attracting even more attention if ships disappear from the radar.
Coal is North Korea's mainstay export and used to earn it US$1.1 billion worth of hard currency a year, accounting for 40 percent of all shipments. Officially there were zero coal exports from North Korea since the USNC sanctions.



15. North Korea is likely culprit behind $100 million crypto heist, researchers say




North Korea is likely culprit behind $100 million crypto heist, researchers say
KEY POINTS
  • Hackers targeted Horizon, a so-called blockchain bridge that lets users swap tokens between different networks.

  • There are “strong indications” that Lazarus Group, a hacking collective with strong ties to Pyongyang, orchestrated the attack, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic said in a blog post Wednesday.

  • Harmony said it is “working on various options” to reimburse users as it investigates the theft, but stressed that “additional time is needed.”

CNBC · by Ryan Browne · June 30, 2022
A photo illustration showing the North Korean flag and a computer hacker.
Budrul Chukrut | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images
North Korean state-sponsored hackers were likely the perpetrators of a hack that led to the theft of around $100 million in cryptocurrency, according to analysis from blockchain researchers.
The hackers targeted Horizon, a so-called blockchain bridge developed by U.S. crypto start-up Horizon. The tool is used by crypto traders to swap tokens between different networks.
There are "strong indications" that Lazarus Group, a hacking collective with strong ties to Pyongyang, orchestrated the attack, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic said in a blog post Wednesday.
Most of the funds were immediately converted to the cryptocurrency ether, Elliptic said. The firm added that hackers have started laundering the stolen assets through Tornado Cash, a so-called "mixing" service that seeks to obscure the trail of funds. So far, around $39 million worth of ether has been sent to Tornado Cash.
Elliptic says it used "demixing" tools to trace the stolen crypto sent through Tornado Cash to several new ether wallets. Chainalysis, another blockchain security firm that's working with Harmony to investigate the hack, backed up the findings.
According to the companies, the way the attack was carried out and the subsequent laundering of funds bear a number of similarities with previous crypto thefts believed to be perpetrated by Lazarus, including:
  • Targeting of a "cross-chain" bridge — Lazarus was also accused of hacking another such service called Ronin
  • Compromising passwords to a "multisig" wallet that requires only a couple signatures to initiate transactions
  • "Programmatic" transfers of funds in increments every few minutes
  • The movement of funds stops during Asia-Pacific nighttime hours
Harmony said it is "working on various options" to reimburse users as it investigates the theft, but stressed that "additional time is needed." The company also offered a $1 million bounty for the return of the stolen crypto and information on the hack.
North Korea has frequently been accused of carrying out cyberattacks and exploiting cryptocurrency to get around Western sanctions. Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury Department attributed a $600 million heist on Ronin Network, a so-called "sidechain" for popular crypto game Axie Infinity, to Lazarus.
North Korea has denied involvement in state-sponsored cyberattacks in the past, including a 2014 data breach targeting Sony Pictures.

CNBC · by Ryan Browne · June 30, 2022









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."
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