Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"Insurrection by means of guerrilla bands is the true method of warfare for all nations desirous of emancipating themselves from a foreign yoke. It is invincible, indestructible." 
- Giuseppe Mazzini

"In such a society as ours the only possible chance for change, for mobility, for political, economic, and moral flow lies in the tactics of guerrilla warfare, in the use of fictions, of language." 
- Kathy Acker

"The art of teaching consists in large part of interesting people in things that ought to interest them, but do not."
- Robert M. Hutchins



1. North Korea: U.S. uses humanitarian aid for 'sinister' purposes
2. <Inside N. Korea> The Reality and Causes of the Deterioration of the People's Welfare (3) The economy is in a state of panic
3.  Yoon says his heart aches for jailed ex-presidents
4. President Moon in dilemma over Japan trip
5. Defenses against hacking badly neglected, says rep
6. Xi, Kim vow to strengthen bilateral ties
7. Vatican Secretary of State: ‘Pope wishes to visit N. Korea’
8. N.K. propaganda outlet denies Pyongyang's hacking of S. Korean think tank
9. US military’s coronavirus count hits record high on Korean Peninsula
10. N.Korea's Population Ages, Birthrate Decline
11. Biden’s high stakes on repairing Japan–South Korea relations
12. Korean Passport Ranked 3rd Most Powerful
13. The Challenge of Convincing China to Push North Korea Towards Denuclearization
14. 'We don't want Chinese songs on Korean shows': Anti-Chinese sentiments sweep through K-pop
15. Korean dumplings take on the world, and they're winning



1. North Korea: U.S. uses humanitarian aid for 'sinister' purposes
Ensuring humanitarian aid is delivered with transparency and procedures in place to ensure it gets to the intended and neediest recipients is not sinister.

North Korea: U.S. uses humanitarian aid for 'sinister' purposes
By Thomas Maresca flip.it3 min

An official with North Korea's foreign ministry criticized U.S. humanitarian assistance in an article, claiming Washington uses it as a tool to exert political control over foreign countries. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, July 12 (UPI) -- As Pyongyang continues to struggle with economic difficulties worsened by a prolonged COVID-19 lockdown, a North Korean official accused the United States of using humanitarian assistance programs as a means of exerting political and economic influence over recipient countries.
The article, by senior researcher Kang Hyon Chol, was posted on the North Korean foreign ministry website on Sunday.

"In actual practice, many countries have undergone bitter tastes as a result of pinning much hope on the American 'aid' and 'humanitarian assistance,'" Kang wrote.
The United States uses claims of human rights violations as a means of withholding assistance, the essay claimed, citing examples including the suspension of $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2020 after rival leaders failed to form a new government.
"This vividly reveals that the American ulterior intention of linking 'humanitarian assistance' with 'human rights issue' is to legitimize their pressure on the sovereign states and achieve their sinister political scheme," Kang wrote.
The article comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly slammed senior officials last month for mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic and causing a "great crisis," which was left unspecified.
North Korea maintains that it has had no COVID-19 cases, although many outside experts have questioned that claim.
Pyongyang has rejected offers of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was intended to be delivered through the COVAX facility, according to a report by a South Korean state-run think tank last week.
North Korea had been slated to receive nearly 2 million doses from the global vaccine sharing facility but has expressed concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country also appears reluctant to receive Chinese-made vaccines due to efficacy questions, according to the report from the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is associated with South Korea's spy agency.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last month that he would push for providing North Korea with vaccines, and Seoul has pointed to humanitarian aid as a means of kickstarting stalled relations with Pyongyang.
The United States has not officially announced any vaccine plans for North Korea, although a May report from CNN cited Biden administration officials as saying they were open to sharing doses if Pyongyang requested it.
North Korea's foreign ministry also criticized humanitarian aid last week, but Sunday's article by Kang was targeted specifically at the United States.
Kang claimed that unnamed analysts and international media outlets were also criticizing Washington, calling its humanitarian assistance "a political tool for subordinating other countries politically and economically, and [commenting that] the U.S. is raking in money a dozen times high in return for its trivial 'aid.'"
"Humanitarian assistance should, under no circumstances, be abused for sinister political purpose," Kang added.



2.  <Inside N. Korea> The Reality and Causes of the Deterioration of the People's Welfare (3) The economy is in a state of panic

Part 3 on the dire situation in north Korea.

Conclusion:
“The market is filled with sighs, shouts and screams. I can hear the sobbing of those who lost money and those who cannot afford the high prices. Many elderly people who live alone are starving to death," said a reporting partner from North Hamkyung Province. No one knows how to cope with and defend against the current chaos, and the future of the situation is entirely unclear.
The limitations of the Kim Jong-un regime's coronavirus quarantine policy are apparent. Even if North Korea itself is closed off from the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic will never be able to end unless vaccination progresses in China and other neighbouring countries. The lives of the people of North Korea have been deteriorating like a dam, and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis. The Kim Jong-un regime must ask the international community for urgent assistance in food and vaccines, and the international community should hasten to begin discussions.
<Inside N. Korea> The Reality and Causes of the Deterioration of the People's Welfare (3) The economy is in a state of panic ISHIMARU Jiro
The market of Chongjin, the country’s third largest city. With the food distribution system all but collapsed, the majority of people survive through their private market activity. Taken in September 2013 by ASIAPRESS.
In June, the economic turmoil began to take on the appearance of panic. Suddenly, the price of food on the market soared, and at the same time, the actual value of the Chinese yuan and US dollar plummeted. The writer has been conducting a weekly market price survey with a reporting partner who lives in North Korea. Since the beginning of July, the authorities have provided a few emergency food supplies to the residents. The amount is about 3 to 5 kilograms of corn per person. As a result, the market price has fallen a little, but it is still unstable due to the uncertainty of the future.
The following summarises recent developments (food prices are per kilogram, in North Korean won).
▼White Rice 4200(May 28)→ 4900(June 8)→7500(June 22)→5200 (June 29)→6300(7/8)
▼Corn 2200(May 28)→ 2800(June 8)→5500(June 22)→3600(June 29)→2800(7/8)
Within a month, the white rice price temporarily soared by about 1.8 times and the corn price by 2.5 times.
What is completely incomprehensible is the plunge in the Chinese yuan.
▼1 Chinese yuan is about 0.15 USD. 970(May 28)→670(June 8)→505(June 22)→520(June 29) →600(7/8)
The North Korean won is not recognized as an exchangeable currency in the international market, and it was treated as a piece of paper at one time in the country. However, it has stabilized under the Kim Jong-un era by adopting an intervention policy. Nevertheless, there are no objective conditions for the value of the North Korean won to rise.
Markets around the world are in turmoil. The price of food is going up every day, but there is no way to predict whether it will continue to rise or whether it has hit the ceiling, making it difficult to decide whether to price or buy. Some people have lost a lot of money due to the plunge in the Chinese yuan. Several merchants have stopped trading in a market with no foreseeable future, and anxiety is growing among residents.
◆ People starving to death
“The market is filled with sighs, shouts and screams. I can hear the sobbing of those who lost money and those who cannot afford the high prices. Many elderly people who live alone are starving to death," said a reporting partner from North Hamkyung Province. No one knows how to cope with and defend against the current chaos, and the future of the situation is entirely unclear.
The limitations of the Kim Jong-un regime's coronavirus quarantine policy are apparent. Even if North Korea itself is closed off from the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic will never be able to end unless vaccination progresses in China and other neighbouring countries. The lives of the people of North Korea have been deteriorating like a dam, and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis. The Kim Jong-un regime must ask the international community for urgent assistance in food and vaccines, and the international community should hasten to begin discussions. (END)

ISHIMARU Jiro
ISHIMARU was born in Osaka in 1962, covered North Korea three times domestically and about 100 times in the DPRK-China border region since 1993. He has interviewed about 1,000 North Koreans. In addition, he has established a network of reporters in North Korea.


3.  Yoon says his heart aches for jailed ex-presidents

I wonder if there is any other democracy that has put as many of its former presidents in jail than South Korea?

[Newsmaker] Yoon says his heart aches for jailed ex-presidents
koreaherald.com · by Kim So-hyun · July 12, 2021
Published : Jul 12, 2021 - 16:00 Updated : Jul 12, 2021 - 16:00
Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, now a presidential contender, said his heart aches when he thinks about ex-Presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, who were jailed for corruption as a result of investigations that he led.

“No matter the reasons, (I) offer consolation and express regrets to all who have gone through pain because of me,” Yoon said in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo published Monday, about the political corruption probes that he led as chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in the beginning of the Moon Jae-in administration.

“It’s not just about the investigations in the early days of the administration. A prosecutor should be considerate of those going through hardship due to the probe and always feel sorry. I fully understand that (they) can have ill feelings or even rancor against me.”

About the possibility of granting amnesty to the two former presidents, he said the reason a president has that right is to bring the Korean people together.

“I think President Moon will make a decision if he believes it is necessary to bring Koreans together,” said Yoon, who registered as a preliminary presidential candidate with the nation’s election committee on Monday.

About the possibility of unifying his candidacy with that of Choe Jae-hyeong, former chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection, Yoon said he “will make any decision, including unifying candidacy, if it will make the change of government certain.”

When asked if he was considering joining forces with Choe before or after joining the main opposition People Power Party, Yoon said, “Whatever it is, this administration has to be replaced. Everyone who wants a change of government should join forces. I can say for sure that I won’t disappoint the people who want government change.”

He gave the same response when asked whether he would join the People Power Party.

“Because the country must move on common sense, I plan to decide based on the criteria of whether it can make the change of government happen for sure,” the ex-chief prosecutor said.

About various suspicions surrounding his family, Yoon said, “If it’s slander for slander without any grounds, the people will make their judgments even if I don’t explain.”

With Yoon yet to decide whether to join the main opposition party and Choe yet to make his presidential bid official, ex-Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon is another opposition presidential hopeful talked about outside the People Power Party.

In the opposition camp, over a dozen people have declared or plan to declare presidential bids. Former four-term lawmaker Yoo Seung-min, Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, Rep. Ha Tae-keung, and Rep. Yoon Hee-sook are among them.

The ruling Democratic Party narrowed down its lineup of presidential contenders to six at the first round of the party primary on Sunday.

They are Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, ex-party chief Lee Nak-yon, ex-Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, ex-Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, Rep. Park Yong-jin and Rep. Kim Du-kwan.

In the latest presidential preference poll, Yoon and Gov. Lee remained in the lead while support for Lee Nak-yon, who officially announced his presidential bid a week ago, jumped 5.9 percentage points from a week ago to 18.1 percent.

In the nationwide poll of 1,014 people conducted last Friday and Saturday by the Korea Society Opinion Institute, commissioned by TBS, Yoon was ahead with 29.9 percent, followed by Gov. Lee (26.9 percent), ex-Democratic Party chief Lee (18.1 percent), former People Power Party legislator Yoo (4.5 percent), ex-Justice Minister Choo (4.2 percent), Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the People Power Party (4.1 percent), and former Board of Audit and Inspection chief Choe (2.5 percent).

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)




4. President Moon in dilemma over Japan trip

I have to admit that it seems to be asking a lot of Japan to do something during the Olympics. It is facing huge challenges with the Olympics. As an American concerned with security in Northeast Asia I very much want improved ROK-Japan relations. But is this the path to achieve that?

Excerpts:

However, Tokyo is seemingly unwilling to commit to a meeting, repeatedly leaking information on the negotiations to the media that deprecates a possible summit. Some media reported that any talks between Moon and Suga may last only 15 minutes due to time constraints.

"President Moon's attendance can be an opportunity to show his determination to improve Korea-Japan ties to neighboring countries as well as the Japanese people," Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said on Facebook, adding that the normalization of relations between the two was a task that Moon must resolve before leaving office.

"The worst-ever relationship between Korea and Japan has continued and the problem is that has weakened the nation's overall diplomatic capabilities as well as ties between Korea and the U.S."

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, an independent lawmaker, also said on Facebook, "Moon should participate in the opening ceremony and hold a summit to make a breakthrough in the impasse."


President Moon in dilemma over Japan trip
The Korea Times · July 12, 2021
President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga / Korea Times file
Japan lukewarm on summit ahead of Tokyo Olympics
By Kang Seung-woo

President Moon Jae-in has a hard decision to make on whether to visit Japan on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics as the envisaged trip is drawing a mixed response.

Advocates for the President's participation in the opening ceremony of the quadrennial sporting event, which kicks off July 23, insist that he needs to go in order to break a deadlock in strained bilateral ties, but those critical of this say he should not travel to Tokyo as Japan is taking a lukewarm attitude toward a summit and not showing much resolve in addressing various disputes between the two countries.

Moon is making a last-ditch effort to normalize Korea's relations with Japan before his term ends in May 2022, as this could enhance trilateral cooperation with the United States. In that sense, the two neighboring countries have been in talks over Moon's attendance at the opening ceremony, which would lead to his first summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and a discussion about pending bilateral issues, according to the foreign ministry here.

However, Tokyo is seemingly unwilling to commit to a meeting, repeatedly leaking information on the negotiations to the media that deprecates a possible summit. Some media reported that any talks between Moon and Suga may last only 15 minutes due to time constraints.

"President Moon's attendance can be an opportunity to show his determination to improve Korea-Japan ties to neighboring countries as well as the Japanese people," Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said on Facebook, adding that the normalization of relations between the two was a task that Moon must resolve before leaving office.

"The worst-ever relationship between Korea and Japan has continued and the problem is that has weakened the nation's overall diplomatic capabilities as well as ties between Korea and the U.S."

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, an independent lawmaker, also said on Facebook, "Moon should participate in the opening ceremony and hold a summit to make a breakthrough in the impasse."

The two countries have been engaged in a feud over historical and territorial issues, with the latter dispute resurfacing after the Olympic organizer identified Dokdo, Korea's easternmost islets, as Japanese territory on an online map showing the route of the torch relay, drawing a backlash from Korea urging Japan to revise the map, but to no avail.

The map issue is further enraging the Korean side as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned South and North Korean athletes from marching with a flag of the Korean Peninsula depicting Dokdo during the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics due to a complaint from Japan, which claimed it was a political act contrary to the Olympic spirit. Korea accepted the IOC's call at the time.

Under the circumstances, critics are urging Moon to ditch the visit.
"The Dokdo issue has not been resolved yet, so why is the President going to Japan?" Yoo Seong-min, a former four-term lawmaker and presidential hopeful from the PPP, said on Facebook.

"Despite our goodwill (at PyeongChang) and calls for a revision to the map, Japan has still described Dokdo as its territory, a sign of its territorial greed. I hope that Moon will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics unless the Dokdo issue is resolved."
Olympic banners adorn the main press center of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Monday. AP-Yonhap

A Japan expert, who declined to be identified, said, "Despite the government's suggestion of various solutions to pending issues, Japan has rejected all of them. In addition, Tokyo's stance is that Seoul should resolve them by itself, which is not the way diplomacy works."

He also said the Japanese government's leaking of details of the negotiations on Moon's visit to Japanese media was aimed at framing Korea as yielding to Japan in their diplomatic spat, raising speculation that this high-handed stance may be a political maneuver to give Suga an advantage in September's general election.
"The government should not be in the frame," the expert said.

The public is also against Moon's visit to Japan, with a poll released on June 28 showing 60.2 percent of 500 respondents disapproved of his trip.
A large number of opinions expressed online are also opposed to it, with one person saying, "His attendance would be a humiliation. Even if he does, it would be a disgrace as a citizen."

Considering the negative sentiment, Cheong Wa Dae has made it clear that Moon's visit will only be made if a summit with Suga is assured, and results will flow from it.


The Korea Times · July 12, 2021



5. Defenses against hacking badly neglected, says rep

The modern "battlefield" in peace. armistice, the gray zone, competition, and war.


Monday
July 12, 2021

Defenses against hacking badly neglected, says rep
The government's main defense development agency hasn't conducted on-site investigations since last April's inter-Korean summit to prevent North Korean cyberattacks on key defense companies, according to an opposition lawmaker Monday.
 
Han Ki-ho, a lawmaker from the opposition People Power Party (PPP), reviewed reports from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and found that the agency conducted inspections into defense companies’ security safeguards only through written communications between last year and the first half of the year.
 
The revelation that the agency neglected to visit the companies to inspect their networks and data security for over a year comes after Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering both reported late last month that they had suffered hacking attempts by organizations probably backed by North Korean intelligence, which may have resulted in the theft of domestically developed naval vessels and aircraft designs.
 
According to Han, the reason given by DAPA for skipping on-site inspections of defense companies was the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The government since last year has only conducted what it calls “integrated surveys,” which combined and replaced previous security audits and on-site investigations into defense technology protection.
 
Experts criticized this change as having reduced the number of opportunities to diagnose the state of security of defense companies’ data and communications.
 
“Security leaks can occur even if we stay at the site for one to two weeks,” said Sohn Young-dong, a visiting professor at Hanyang University's Department of Integrated Defense, who previously served as the head of the National Security Research Institute.
 
“An [on-site] fact-finding mission must be dispatched to identify possible threats and weaknesses. Inspecting a company’s cyber security using documents submitted by the company is tantamount to doing nothing,” he added.
 
A government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity admitted to the JoongAng Ilbo, “In the case of the hacking of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering –– a company that had been subject to [written] inspections since last year –– [on-site inspections] would have spotted weaknesses earlier and led to corrective action.”
 
Both government insiders and outsiders point to lack of expertise and manpower at DAPA, which coordinates and supports defense technology development, as a more fundamental reason for the recent security breaches.
 
Under the administration of President Moon Jae-in, security oversight of defense companies by the former Defense Security Command –– now the Defense Security Support Command (DSSC) –– was transferred to DAPA after the former was found to have spied on civilians registered under the National Health Insurance Corporation.
 
Although DAPA can request assistance from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the DSSC if needed, an anonymous source within the government noted that “legal responsibility for safeguarding the security of defense companies no longer lies with the NIS or the DSSC.”
 
Furthermore, while there are currently five DAPA employees tasked with inspecting the security of defense companies, there are 133 physical locations and 86 companies that must be regularly checked.
 
Although DAPA requested an additional 18 people last year along with the establishment of a dedicated department to conduct security audits, the request was rejected, ostensibly due to lack of available personnel. However, the agency’s other requests to expand its other branches may have played a role in the rejection.
 
Earlier this year, DAPA expanded and reorganized its internal education center to take on 22 students. According to another government source, “The education sector is a project preferred by government departments that want to create a place for retiring government employees to go.”
 
However, the project remains in legal limbo, with the bill for the center’s establishment currently pending in the National Assembly. The source added, “That project just doesn’t seem urgent, but DAPA and other government departments are keen to see it passed.”
 
The source suggested that the reason behind the rejection of the DAPA’s request for a dedicated security department lies in its pursuit of a project that will create a comfortable post-retirement workplace for civil servants, but not a security department that is actually needed.

BY MICHAEL LEE, KIM SANG-JIN [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]



6. Xi, Kim vow to strengthen bilateral ties

The view from another Chinese propaganda mouthpiece.

Excerpts:
Over the past six decades, the DPRK and China have written a proud history of friendship through mutual support and help, he said.
He noted that in recent years, in the face of a complex and ever-changing international landscape, the comradely trust and friendship between the DPRK and China have grown stronger, and bilateral relations have advanced to a higher level.
It is the unswerving position of the WPK and the DPRK government to strengthen and develop the friendly and cooperative relations of the DPRK and China, he said.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi exchanged congratulatory messages on the anniversary with DPRK's Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon on Sunday.
They spoke highly of the development of the bilateral relationship over the past 60 years, saying that under the guidance of Xi and Kim, China-DPRK friendship and cooperation will consistently move forward in the new era.

Xi, Kim vow to strengthen bilateral ties
chinadaily.com.cn · by 于小明
Leaders exchange congratulations on 60th anniversary of friendship treaty
President Xi Jinping hailed on Sunday the 60 years of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and vowed to work with the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong-un to take bilateral ties to a new level.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in exchanging congratulatory messages with Kim, who is general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission and the commander in chief of the DPRK's armed forces, on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the China-DPRK Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.
Xi said in his message that in 1961, leaders of China and the DPRK made the farsighted strategic decision to sign the treaty, which laid important political and legal foundations for consolidating the friendship the two peoples had forged with blood, and to promote long-term bilateral friendly cooperation.
Over the past six decades, he said, China and the DPRK, have worked together and firmly supported each other in the spirit of the treaty. They have strengthened the traditional brotherly friendship between the two parties and countries, advanced the development of their respective socialist causes and upheld regional and global peace and stability, he added.
Speaking of a number of meetings with Kim in recent years, Xi said they used the events to jointly work out blueprints for the development of party-to-party and state-to-state relations, enrich the China-DPRK friendship in the new era and reach consensus on a series of important issues.
He underscored the profound changes in today's international landscape, and said he stands ready to work with Kim to strengthen strategic communication, chart the course for the China-DPRK relationship and lift the friendly cooperation between the two countries to new levels to bring more benefits to the two countries and their people.
Xi also talked about China's grand celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the CPC's founding on July 1, while adding the DPRK people are making all-out efforts in solidarity to implement the decisions and measures unveiled at the eighth WPK Congress.
He stressed that China firmly supports the DPRK in developing its economy, improving its people's wellbeing and vigorously advancing its cause of socialist construction. Xi said he is confident that the WPK and the DPRK people, under the leadership of Kim, will surely make new and greater achievements.
Kim said in his message that the signing of the treaty demonstrated to the world the firm will of the two parties, as well as that of the governments and people of the two countries, to promote long-term development of the DPRK-China friendship, forged with blood, on a solid legal basis.
Over the past six decades, the DPRK and China have written a proud history of friendship through mutual support and help, he said.
He noted that in recent years, in the face of a complex and ever-changing international landscape, the comradely trust and friendship between the DPRK and China have grown stronger, and bilateral relations have advanced to a higher level.
It is the unswerving position of the WPK and the DPRK government to strengthen and develop the friendly and cooperative relations of the DPRK and China, he said.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi exchanged congratulatory messages on the anniversary with DPRK's Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon on Sunday.
They spoke highly of the development of the bilateral relationship over the past 60 years, saying that under the guidance of Xi and Kim, China-DPRK friendship and cooperation will consistently move forward in the new era.
chinadaily.com.cn · by 于小明


7. Vatican Secretary of State: ‘Pope wishes to visit N. Korea’


But what could the Pope possibly achieve? I guess it would have to be a miracle.

Vatican Secretary of State: ‘Pope wishes to visit N. Korea’
Posted July. 12, 2021 07:13,
Updated July. 12, 2021 07:13
Vatican Secretary of State: ‘Pope wishes to visit N. Korea’. July. 12, 2021 07:13. by Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin met with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byung-suk on Friday. “It is certain that the Pope wishes to visit (North Korea),” he told Park. The Vatican has hinted at the possibility for the Pope’s visit to the Stalinist country once more after National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won said, “We are pushing to arrange the Pope’s visit to Pyongyang.”

Secretary of State Parolin, No. 2 at the Vatican, received National Assembly Speaker Park who is visiting Italy at the Apostolic Palace on the day, where he said, “The Vatican is exerting efforts to maintain a dialogue channel with North Korea. We are waiting for an invitation from Pyongyang.” When meeting with President Moon Jae-in in October 2018, Pope Francis said, “If (North Korea) sends an invitation, I will reply without any condition, and I can visit.”

Upon hearing Secretary of State Parolin’s remarks, Speaker Park said, “If the Pope proactively takes action to bring North Korea to the international community, it will be very helpful to bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. I hope that Secretary of State Parolin will play a significant role to support peace policy for the Korean Peninsula, which has remained divided for more than 70 years.” Secretary of State Parolin hosted a special mass for peace on the Korean Peninsula during President Moon Jae-in’s visit to the Vatican in 2018.

During Park’s meeting with Secretary of State Parolin, You Heung-sik, the bishop for the Daejeon Diocese who is the first Korean to be appointed as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican was mentioned. “I hope that Lazarus You will make contributions to the development of the Vatican and world peace,” and Secretary of State Parolin said, “We have high expectations on You.”

8. N.K. propaganda outlet denies Pyongyang's hacking of S. Korean think tank

Again, to beat the dead horse: admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter accusations. But they doth protest too much.

N.K. propaganda outlet denies Pyongyang's hacking of S. Korean think tank | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 최수향 · July 12, 2021
SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Monday denied allegations Pyongyang was behind the recent hacking attacks on South Korea's nuclear power think tank and an aircraft manufacturer, denouncing such claims as an "act of provocation" that seeks to disgrace the regime.
On Thursday, South Korea's spy agency reported to parliament that the Atomic Energy Research Institute was believed to have been exposed to North Korean hacking attacks for 12 days, though no major data was leaked, according to lawmakers.
"If they were hacked due to their carelessness and poor technology, they should look for the cause internally," Uriminzokkiri, one of the North's propaganda websites, said in a commentary.
Denouncing South Korean conservatives for raising such suspicions, the propaganda outlet called such allegations the "height of stupidity" and a "cliched method" to escalate tensions between the two Koreas, adding that such an "act of provocation cannot be overlooked."
"It just reminds us of what foolishness and sloppiness mean to see them link the issue, out of nowhere, with a subject that has no relation to it," the commentary said.
According to Rep. Ha Tae-keung, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, investigation is under way over suspicions Korea Aerospace Industries, the country's sole aircraft manufacturer, may also have been exposed to hacking attacks by a North Korea-affiliated organization.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 최수향 · July 12, 2021


9. US military’s coronavirus count hits record high on Korean Peninsula

Again we really need to know: Have the people been vaccinated or not? We should be reporting those statistics.

US military’s coronavirus count hits record high on Korean Peninsula
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 12, 2021
A member of the 51st Medical Operations Squadron tests a service member for coronavirus at Osan Air Base, South Korea, July 14, 2020. (Stars and Stripes)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — At least 48 people with U.S. Forces Korea tested positive for the coronavirus last week, marking the most infections reported by the command since the start of the pandemic.
Twenty-four of the new patients are U.S. service members stationed at Camp Casey, the military outpost near the Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea, USFK announced in two separate statements on Saturday and Monday. Also testing positive were five service members from Osan Air Base, three from the K-16 Army airfield, one from Kunsan Air Base, and one each from Camps Humphreys, Hovey and Carroll.
The tally, which covers cases confirmed between July 5 and 9, includes service members’ dependents, South Korean base workers and Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldiers.
The record previously stood at 42 cases recorded over a much longer period, Dec. 28 and Jan. 8.
All who tested positive last week were quarantined in medical facilities, USFK said in a statement. Despite the uptick in cases, the command said it “remains at a high level of readiness” due to its mitigation efforts and having 80% of its personnel vaccinated.
The surge of new infections comes as South Korea grapples with its highest daily caseload of the pandemic. The country recorded over 1,300 new patients for three days in a row last week, surpassing the previous one-day record of 1,240 cases on Dec. 25, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The KDCA reported 1,100 new cases Monday, down from 1,324 the previous day.
South Korea has reported 169,146 infections during the pandemic. More than 10% of South Koreans were fully inoculated and at least 30% of the population has received a first dose, according to the KDCA.
South Korean government officials last week imposed the highest level of social-distancing restrictions in Seoul, the capital city, where most locally transmitted cases had originated. The new regulations, which will remain in effect for at least two weeks, include a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m., evening gym closures and the shutdown of bars and clubs.
Prior to last week’s record numbers, South Korean health officials began implementing additional measures that included inspections on businesses considered a high risk for transmissibility. Seoul officials also announced that the city would limit evening subway schedules by 20%.
David Choi
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 12, 2021


10. N.Korea's Population Ages, Birthrate Decline

I wonder if researchers are studying to forecast what might happen to population growth if there is unification? My gut feeling is the Korean people in the north will want to have more children when they are living a more safe and productive life and that they know there is a good future ahead for their children.

N.Korea's Population Ages, Birthrate Decline
July 12, 2021 13:06
Even underdeveloped North Korea's population is aging and its birthrate dwindling just like advanced countries', though the reasons may be different.
According to the UN Population Fund on World Population Day on Sunday, people over 65 make up 9.6 percent of the North Korean population, surpassing the seven-percent threshold of an aging society.
The North's total fertility rate is 1.9, far lower than the world average of 2.4. The rate refers to the number of children who would be born per woman over her lifetime.
Its annual average population growth rate was 0.5 percent for 2015 to 2020, which is also far lower than the world average of 1.1 percent. Some 58 percent of childbearing women aged 15-49 take contraceptives.

The life expectancy for North Korean men is 69 years and that for women is 76 years this year, much lower than 80 years for men and 86 years for women in South Korea.
But the main reason the North's population is aging could be scarcity and despair of a better future for people's children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the mortality rate for infants under five in North Korea is a staggering 27.9 percent or almost one-third of all small children, about eight times higher than South Korea's 3.5 percent.
North Korea's total population stands at 25.9 million, about half of South Korea's.
Meanwhile in South Korea, the population over 65s accounts for a whopping 16.6 percent of the total population, which means the country is now officially an aged society. It also has the lowest fertility rate in the world of 1.1, while its annual average population growth rate was a mere 0.2 percent in the past five years and the population started shrinking last year.
The UNFPA said that coronavirus pandemic "may have lasting consequences on the world population," resulting in "significant changes in birthrates."
The number of newborns in 15 EU countries dropped three percent on-year last October, five percent last November, and 8.1 percent last December.
  • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com



11. Biden’s high stakes on repairing Japan–South Korea relations

I fear repairing ROK-Japan relations may be as challenging as denuclearizing north Korea. But I agree with the editorial board about the missing ingredient being political leadership. It will take Moon and Suga or their successors to stand up to their domestic political base and state they are going to put national security and national proposeity ahead of historical issues and pledge to prioritize those while trying to manage the change of history without doing damage to security and prosperity. The US has a role in trying to help but it is only the political leadership of both countries that can bring about positive change.


Excerpts:
‘The strategic situation … lends weight to those who argue that the threat from China and North Korea should bind them together. In Washington, the broad effort to encircle China requires close ties to allies and between them. Both Tokyo and Seoul nominally support trilateral cooperation’, says Sneider. With Donald Trump out and Biden in, Sneider argues, ‘the US role has also shifted back toward bringing Tokyo and Seoul together’.
But the missing ingredient is political leadership. ‘The Moon administration has signalled, but not manifested, a desire to step back from its opposition to the 1965 treaty and the 2015 agreement. But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, confident in his alignment with Washington on China policy, has so far not reciprocated’, says Sneider.
Barring an Olympic breakthrough, we may have to wait for a change in leadership with Japan facing an election in September and South Korea electing a new president in March 2022.
If political leadership is to have a longer-lasting effect, it needs to be rooted in a broad and bipartisan commitment in both countries to refrain from politicising nationalistic issues for short-term domestic gains at the expense of long-term cooperation and regional stability.
That requires, at the very least, that leaders in both countries consistently and publicly articulate the importance of cooperation. It may also necessitate a deeper conversation and clearing of the air about the relevance and legitimacy of the 1965 treaty in the 21st century.


Biden’s high stakes on repairing Japan–South Korea relations | East Asia Forum
eastasiaforum.org · by EAF editors · July 12, 2021
Author: Editorial Board, ANU
US President Joe Biden has put priority on mending US alliance relationships in the Asia Pacific region, bringing US allies together in a united approach on China and restarting US negotiation to denuclearise North Korea. Deepening US–Japan–ROK trilateral cooperation is a key mechanism, critical to his agenda. But the current tensions and deep-seated complexities of the Japan–South Korea relationship continue to be serious stumbling blocks.

The stakes are high for Japan and South Korea to repair their economic, diplomatic and security cooperation. They are both economically advanced democracies whose prosperity is rooted in a free and open global trading system and with important roles to play as leaders in the region.
Japan and South Korea are both important US allies in East Asia and efforts on alliance deepening, bolstering deterrence capabilities, reducing the US security burden and persuading the United States to stay engaged in the region would be better channelled trilaterally.
Japanese and South Korean efforts to engage and shape China as a responsible and constructive regional stakeholder, such as through the China–Japan–ROK trilateral, would be more effective if Japan and South Korea were working together with common purpose.
US–Japan–ROK trilateral contingency planning vis-a-vis North Korea is imperative given the need for US troops based in Japan and the Japanese Self Defense Forces logistical support in case a major crisis were to erupt on the Korean Peninsula.
Yet history, identity and territory issues continue to spoil Japan–South Korea cooperation and the closing of the US–Japan–ROK triangle. South Korea’s historical wounds go as far back as Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s attempts to invade Korea between 1592–1598, and Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his turtle ships used to repel Japan feature prominently in the discussion of South Korean national identity today. Japan’s colonial rule of Korea from 1910–1945 evokes bitter memories about assimilationist policies, the forced conscription of labourers and the involuntary recruitment of ‘comfort women’ for soldiers in Japanese military brothels.
The territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets, referred to in Japan as Takeshima, has been politicised by nationalist politicians on both sides and continues to be a thorn in the relationship.
In 2019, Japan–South Korea relations reached their lowest point since normalisation in 1965. The rot set in as Japan started a trade war by imposing restrictions on the export of three chemicals critical to the South Korean economy used in manufacturing semiconductors and smartphone display screens.
Japan insisted that the restrictions were purely in relation to security concerns regarding South Korea’s inadequate re-export control management and the risk that military dual-use chemicals could find their way to North Korea. South Korea saw the move as retaliation for the Moon government’s cancellation of the domestically unpopular 2015 ‘comfort women’ agreement as well as rulings by its courts for Japanese companies to compensate the families of Korean wartime forced labourers.
In South Korea, the dominant narrative became one of Japanese high-handedness heaping on historical injustice. In Japan, the narrative on South Korea claims that the country can’t stick to international agreements, including the 1965 Japan–ROK Basic Treaty under which the Japanese government insists that all pre-1945 legal claims between the two countries were settled.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been working to bring the two sides together. An opportunity for a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Cornwall was missed, as Suga spurned South Korean advances after it came to light that the South Korean Navy would hold its regular military drills near Dokdo on 15 June.
Some progress has been made as the three countries conducted an official-level trilateral meeting on 21 June, where they agreed to continue cooperation toward denuclearising North Korea.
Follow-through is now needed to continue the momentum, something which could potentially be occasioned through a Suga–Moon meeting during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
As Daniel Sneider points out in our lead article this week, history shows us that Japan–South Korea cooperation is possible under the right conditions. In particular, three key elements are needed: political leadership in both countries, the right strategic and tactical conditions, and support from the United States.
All three elements, Sneider argues, were present when Japan and South Korea normalised their diplomatic relations in 1965 and when they concluded the ‘comfort women’ agreement in 2015.
‘The strategic situation … lends weight to those who argue that the threat from China and North Korea should bind them together. In Washington, the broad effort to encircle China requires close ties to allies and between them. Both Tokyo and Seoul nominally support trilateral cooperation’, says Sneider. With Donald Trump out and Biden in, Sneider argues, ‘the US role has also shifted back toward bringing Tokyo and Seoul together’.
But the missing ingredient is political leadership. ‘The Moon administration has signalled, but not manifested, a desire to step back from its opposition to the 1965 treaty and the 2015 agreement. But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, confident in his alignment with Washington on China policy, has so far not reciprocated’, says Sneider.
Barring an Olympic breakthrough, we may have to wait for a change in leadership with Japan facing an election in September and South Korea electing a new president in March 2022.
If political leadership is to have a longer-lasting effect, it needs to be rooted in a broad and bipartisan commitment in both countries to refrain from politicising nationalistic issues for short-term domestic gains at the expense of long-term cooperation and regional stability.
That requires, at the very least, that leaders in both countries consistently and publicly articulate the importance of cooperation. It may also necessitate a deeper conversation and clearing of the air about the relevance and legitimacy of the 1965 treaty in the 21st century.
The EAF Editorial Board is located in the Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
eastasiaforum.org · by EAF editors · July 12, 2021



12. Korean Passport Ranked 3rd Most Powerful

Interesting. And where does our blue US passport rank?

Korean Passport Ranked 3rd Most Powerful
Koreans have the third-most powerful passport in the world, according to an annual index by the Swiss-based research firm Henley and Partners released on Sunday.
The firm ranks passports based on the number of countries people can visit visa-free. Koreans can travel to 191 countries without obtaining a visa beforehand, the same number as Germany.
Korea's ranking remains the same as last year.
Japan's passport continues to top the list, granting access to 193 countries, followed by Singapore with 192.
The research firm noted that the rankings do not take into account travel curbs for the coronavirus pandemic.



13.  The Challenge of Convincing China to Push North Korea Towards Denuclearization

I do not believe the PRC will help the ROK and the US solve our nuclear security challenges.

Excerpts:
The United States and China will likely differ over what the rollback of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities and the country’s ultimate denuclearization will look like. China prefers a nuclear-free North Korea but wants it only on terms that benefit Beijing. Most important for China is that denuclearization takes place without strengthening U.S. influence in the region.
It may prove challenging to convince China to use its leverage to push for deeper denuclearization steps. The United States may have to try to change China’s strategic calculus. For example, it could consider trade-offs with other issues that Beijing considers important, such as those that concern trade or other foreign policy matters.
The United States could then face the question of weighing such costs with the benefits of obtaining Chinese cooperation. Although a coordinated approach does not guarantee that North Korea will respond in a favorable manner, it could increase the chances that it will do so. After all, any arrangement that has the backing of North Korea’s largest ally is likely to be more stable than one that does not.


The Challenge of Convincing China to Push North Korea Towards Denuclearization
Washington wants to reduce the threat that Pyongyang poses to the West. Beijing also prefers a nuclear-free North Korea but wants it only on terms that benefit China.
The National Interest · by Naoko Aoki · July 11, 2021
The United States should try to collaborate with China on the North Korean nuclear problem. The two countries will likely be able to work on some aspects of the issue without too many problems, while agreement on others will likely be difficult and may ultimately prove to be impossible. But cooperation between the two major powers is worth pursuing as it could raise the chances of producing a stable solution to the North Korea conundrum.
Relations between China and North Korea are currently at one of their warmest points in recent years. Politically, Chinese and North Korean leaders have exchanged messages reaffirming the traditionally close ties between the two countries. Militarily, they are set to renew a mutual cooperation treaty. In theory, the treaty would obligate them to come to the defense of one another even if there is debate about whether China would actually do so. Economically, China remains North Korea’s biggest trade partner, even though trade between the nations has dropped significantly over the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea’s current economic difficulties likely mean that it will need to rely on its neighbor for assistance in the months ahead.
In short, China’s leverage over North Korea is growing. While this does not mean that North Korea will do China’s bidding, it means that China continues to have more influence than any other country over North Korea. After all, Beijing has been frustrated many times by Pyongyang’s refusal to heed its advice.
China is likely to use its leverage in at least one area of shared interest with the United States: it wants to prevent North Korea from conducting further nuclear and long-range missile tests. China expressed its opposition to such tests in 2017 by supporting stringent economic sanctions at the UN Security Council. Also, there were signs that China, which is normally very wary about pushing North Korea to its breaking point, was at one time enforcing those sanctions to an unprecedented degree.

China may also be open to the idea of using its influence to cap North Korea’s production of nuclear weapons and missiles, a desirable development for the United States. China may see the benefit in doing so because quantitative, as well as qualitative improvements in North Korea’s arsenal, could encourage the United States and its allies to beef up their own systems in response, which goes against China’s interests.
The United States and China will likely differ over what the rollback of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities and the country’s ultimate denuclearization will look like. China prefers a nuclear-free North Korea but wants it only on terms that benefit Beijing. Most important for China is that denuclearization takes place without strengthening U.S. influence in the region.
It may prove challenging to convince China to use its leverage to push for deeper denuclearization steps. The United States may have to try to change China’s strategic calculus. For example, it could consider trade-offs with other issues that Beijing considers important, such as those that concern trade or other foreign policy matters.
The United States could then face the question of weighing such costs with the benefits of obtaining Chinese cooperation. Although a coordinated approach does not guarantee that North Korea will respond in a favorable manner, it could increase the chances that it will do so. After all, any arrangement that has the backing of North Korea’s largest ally is likely to be more stable than one that does not.
Dr. Naoko Aoki is an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University and a Research Associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. She specializes in East Asian political and security affairs.
Image: Reuters
The National Interest · by Naoko Aoki · July 11, 2021

14.  'We don't want Chinese songs on Korean shows': Anti-Chinese sentiments sweep through K-pop
The soft power battle.

'We don't want Chinese songs on Korean shows': Anti-Chinese sentiments sweep through K-pop
The Korea Times · July 11, 2021
Xiaojun, left, and Kun of WavY, the Chinese sub-unit of K-pop boy group NCT / Courtesy of SM EntertainmentBy Dong Sun-hwa

Last month, one of the performances featured on MBC M's music show, "Show Champion," irritated many Korean viewers: two members of WayV, a Chinese sub-unit of K-pop boy group NCT, crooned their latest ballad "Back to You" in Chinese.
After WayV's performance hit the air, many took to the internet and complained about the Chinese-language song being played on a Korean program, which they could not understand without Korean subtitles. But the issue wasn't mainly about the language. Experts say it had more to do with the anti-China sentiment that has been sweeping through the Korean entertainment scene.

"Seoul and Beijing's recent feud over the 'origins' of traditional Korean assets like kimchi and hanbok, as well as the latter's inclination toward egocentrism, appears to have ruffled the feathers of Korean viewers," pop culture critic Kim Hern-sik said during a recent interview with The Korea Times.

"Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2013, China has been striving to cultivate and disseminate its own cultural products instead of consuming ones from other countries. China's restrictions on Korean cultural content (triggered by diplomatic friction) still remain in place and are unlikely to be lifted in the foreseeable future … Moreover, a lot of cultural content from Korea including K-pop contains messages such as freedom and democratization, which China sees as threats to its regime."

Korean singers have been practically prohibited from performing in Beijing since 2016, the year Seoul deployed a U.S. missile defense battery ― the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system ― on Korean soil in spite of Beijing's objections.

In contrast, Chinese stars, as members of "K-pop" groups, are allowed to perform and pursue their careers in Korea. Many Koreans believe that this inequity is unfair.

"Millennials and generation Z, who were born between 1980 and 2010, are the major consumers of pop culture here and they highly value fairness," Kim pointed out. "To them, China's one-sided crackdown on Korean culture can be regarded as inequitable."

Lee Gyu-tag, a professor of cultural anthropology at George Mason University Korea, echoed this view.

"WayV members are not the first foreign acts to sing in their own language on a Korean music show," he noted. "But the growing anti-China sentiment here seems to have triggered negative reactions."

Many Koreans no longer believe that the mainland Chinese members of K-pop groups will stay loyal to their groups, after quite a few of them abruptly left their bands and returned to their home country, experts say. In the case of K-pop behemoth EXO, it was initially a group consisting of eight Koreans and four Chinese, but three members hailing from China ― Kris Wu, Lu Han and Z. Tao ― quit the act only a few years after their debut in 2012.
From left, Lu Han, Kris Wu and Z. Tao, the Chinese former members of K-pop act EXO / Courtesy of Produce Camp 2020"Nevertheless, K-pop record labels still include Chinese members in their groups in order to target lucrative Chinese markets," critic Kim said. "But that seems too unpredictable now. I am quite skeptical that K-pop will have another heyday in China anytime soon, like it did in the past."

"Patriotic" and "nationalistic" remarks made by several mainland Chinese members of K-pop groups have also negatively affected how Korean fans feel about them. On July 1, mainland Chinese singers, including NCT DREAM's Renjun and Chenle, Seventeen's THE 8 and (G)I-DLE's Yuqi, caused a stir here for sharing their messages on social media to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Numerous Koreans reckon it is inappropriate for them to support openly their one-party rule while taking advantage of Korea's free, democratic systems for their careers.

"Why are they promoting communism using K-pop?" an internet user commented on an online forum.

A wave of singers also showed their support for cotton produced in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China ― where the Chinese government is accused of using the ethnic Uyghur Muslim minority as forced labor ― and supported China's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, too. In fact, Chinese people who were born after 1990 ― or "jiulinghou" ― are known to have received intensified "patriotic education" as the country seeks to ensure loyalty among its young people.

Lee, however, pointed out that it might be inevitable for these singers to make nationalistic comments, as freedom of speech is limited in their country.
"These singers are Chinese, but they are also part of the K-pop industry," he said. "To maintain a harmonious relationship with their international followers, they should be more open-minded. I think Korean management companies should provide education concerning cultural diversity for their singers so that they can be more prudent about their words and acts."

He added that K-pop fans in Korea have to be more open-minded, too.
"We are proud to see K-pop singers singing in Korean on foreign shows or programs," he said. "But why are we reacting so negatively to mainland Chinese K-pop stars singing in Chinese? As K-pop becomes more global, we also need a global mindset to understand others."


The Korea Times · July 11, 2021

15. Korean dumplings take on the world, and they're winning

More on the global soft power battlefield.

Some of us could live on Kimchi and Mandu (dumplings).

Sunday
July 11, 2021

Korean dumplings take on the world, and they're winning
 

A CJ CheilJedang food truck selling Bibigo dumplings in Manhattan in February 2020. [CJ CHEILJEDANG]

 
With the humble dumpling, Korea is establishing another beachhead in the world markets, its mandu together with K-pop, "Parasite," cars and handsets building the national brand overseas and boosting sales.
 
In the all-important freezer case at Costco, one of America's largest retailers, the battle is already being won. 
 
For over two decades, Ling Ling dumplings dominated. The Hayward-California brand, started by Taiwanese immigrants and now owned by Tokyo's Ajinomoto, was pushed out in 2016 by CJ CheilJedang's Bibigo as the leader in the dumpling section at Costco, the Korean company says.
 
It's been No.1 since.
 
Bibigo dumplings are available in around 70 countries, including China, Germany and Vietnam. In 2020, 1 trillion-won ($890 million) worth of the product was sold globally. 
 
"Many countries have their own styles of dumplings, like ravioli in Italy and empanada in Latin America," said Lee Hye-jin, a spokesperson for CJ CheilJedang, adding that the food's universality has made Bibigo dumplings easier to sell abroad.
 
CJ CheilJedang became the No. 1 seller of frozen-ready meals, which includes dumplings, in Vietnam in 2018, according to Euromonitor International.
 
The company expects the popularity of Bibigo dumplings to drive sales of related products, like gochujang chilli-paste sauce, which people use as dipping sauce for dumplings.
 
Other domestic food companies, including Dongwon F&B and Haitai Confectionery & Foods, sell dumplings abroad to around 10 countries. But their target is overseas Korean residents.
 
Pulmuone, the second largest frozen-dumpling seller in Korea, is currently preparing to sell frozen dumplings overseas, but no specific plan is in place yet.
 
CJ CheilJedang's biggest focus at this point is the U.S. market, where it runs 21 factories. The company hopes success in the United States will raise brand recognition in other countries. 
 
 
Healthy dumplings
 
"What I love about Bibigo mandu is that they are loaded with high-quality meat and vegetables all in a tasty noodle wrapper -- top them with gochujang sauce if you like spicy or even barbecue [sauce]," American chef George Duran said during an interview on Washington's WUSA.
 
He wasn't sponsored, according to CJ CheilJedang.
 
Mandu is Korean word for dumpling.
 
"The Bibigo brand was created to spread Korean food to the world," said a spokesperson for CJ CheilJedang.
 
When Bibigo mandu first entered the United States in 2011, the company tried to differentiate it from other types of Asian dumplings - like Japanese gyoza or Chinese jiaozi- by offering a product that could be cooked in a variety of ways and marketing itself as a healthy food containing lots of vegetables and with a relatively thin layer of dough.
 
For filling, Bibigo added ingredients that match local preferences. For instance, dumplings in the United States contain cilantro, while those in China contain lots of corn, the company says.
 
Helped by Covid-19-driven at-home dining, CJ CheilJedang sold 1.03 trillion won of Bibigo dumplings last year.
 
Of that, 65 percent was abroad, 420 billion won in the United States, 160 billion in China, and 16 billion won in Vietnam.
 
"Korean mandu are enjoying popularity globally because they can be steamed, fried and used in soups because they have thin wrappings," said Sim Hye-jeong, a researcher at the Institute for International Trade. "They contain fewer carbohydrates than the competition, and contain lots of vegetables and protein, and therefore, are seen as a healthy food."
 
Sim added that mandu is becoming a part of a proper meal instead of a snack in the United States. 
 
Chinese dumplings are usually difficult to cook because they have a thick layer of dough and are usually frozen raw instead of being frozen after they are steamed, according to CJ CheilJedang. Bibigo dumplings are steamed and then are frozen before they are marketed, making them easily microwavable.
 
And compared to Japanese gyoza, the mandu market is more diverse.
 
"There are many different types of Korean dumplings that have no Japanese equivalent, like kimchi mandu," a merchandiser told Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in an interview. But the merchandiser added that Korean dumplings are sometimes crushed in the distribution process because they are just all packed in a single vinyl bag.
 
CJ CheilJedang said its dumplings in Vietnam are packed in a plastic tray due to hot weather. 



 
Aggressive acquisitions
 
On top of the food itself, overseas sales of Bibigo mandu were helped by the acquisition of local businesses.
 
CJ CheilJedang acquired Schwan's in the United States in 2018 and three companies in Vietnam, including Cau Tre, which is well known for spring rolls and dim sum. 
 
Schwan's and Cau Tre both specialize in frozen food. 
 
CJ CheilJedang owns 70 percent of Schwan's and all of Cau Tre.
 
Before acquiring Schwan's, CJ CheilJedang's distribution channels in the United States were mainly to Korean marts and Costco.
 
It now distributes Bibigo products to major U.S. retailers where Schwan's products are sold.
 
"Unlike in Korea, a food company has to sign a deal with U.S. retailers by state or even by store for the same retail brand," said the spokesperson for CJ CheilJedang. "We were able to quickly distribute Bibigo dumplings at major retail stores in the United States through Schwan's distribution channels."
 
CJ CheilJedang and Schwan's now share the same distribution networks, including a logistics company for delivery.
 
Schwan's products are currently distributed at around 30,000 retail stores in the United States, while CJ CheilJedang brands are distributed at around 3,000, according to a report from NH Investment & Securities. The distribution channels for CJ CheilJedang are expected to grow in number grow based on Schwan's network, according to the report.
 
Schwan's also helped set up an ethnic food zone at one of the major retail stores in the United States, according to CJ CheilJedang. Bibigo dumplings, along with other ethnic foods, are sold in that space.
 
CJ CheilJedang hopes to achieve synergy with Schwan's by developing products together. 
 
The company's business has also grown in Vietnam through acquisition.
 
CJ CheilJedang established CJ Food Vietnam in the Southeast Asian country in 2013 and spent around 35 billion won acquiring local food companies in 2016 and 2017, like Vietnamese kimchi distributor Kim&Kim, Cau Tre and Minh Dat Food, a fish and meat processor.
 
CJ CheilJedang "acquired these local companies to avoid risks of direct investment," said the company spokesperson. "Through the acquisitions, we acquired their production plants and saved time that we would have needed to stabilize business in the country or receive the government approvals to build factories."
 
CJ CheilJedang in Vietnam is a No. 1 seller in the frozen ready-meal market, according to Euromonitor International. Frozen ready-meals include dumplings and nuggets. 
 
Cau Tre was the No. 2 frozen ready-meal seller in Vietnam when it was acquired by CJ CheilJedang in December 2016.
 
CJ CheiJedang acquired Germany's Mainfrost Foods in 2018 and Osaka's Gyoza Keikaku in 2019. They are both manufacturers of frozen food. 
 

CJ CheilJedang’s frozen dumplings sold in Veitnam [CJ CHEILJEDANG]
 
Solidifying identity
 
Despite the increasing sales abroad, more should be done to solidify the market position of the Korean-style dumpling, according to experts. 
 
"Though western people are already used to eating wrapped food like dumplings, raising the recognition of the Korean-style dumplings with local consumers has just taken baby steps," said Sunny Moon, a consultant at Euromonitor International Korea.
 
"Gyoza, Japanese dumplings with a higher global recognition, are positioned as high-quality snacks, while China's dim sum is recognized as a junk food but is also regarded positively for its cheap price."
 
Moon added Korean mandu should be positioned as a delicious and nutritious meal that is also convenient to eat, as it contains lots of filling compared to gyoza or dim sum. 
 
Prof. Cho Chun-han, who teaches retail marketing at Gyeonggi University of Science and Technology, suggested Korean dumplings better suit western eating habits.
 
"To target global consumers, mandu should not easily break down or fall apart when picked up using a fork or is cut in half with a knife," Cho said.  


BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]





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.

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