Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

“If democratic power-sharing is a potent form of freedom, accepting an election loss may be the ultimate demonstration of how free you want to be. History is littered with fascist leaders who have rigged elections and tortured or killed critics, but their regimes are remarkably short-lived - especially considering the obsession these men usually have with holding power. Many wind up dead or in prison, and almost none leave behind stable regime. Western democracies, on the other hand, are among the most enduring and prosperous political systems in history. They seem to be able to transfer power almost indefinitely, which further bolsters their economies and cements their alliances.”
- Sebastian Junger, Freedom

"Stick to what’s in front of you – idea, action, utterance."
- Marcus Aurelius



                   

1. Can South Korea Bridge NATO and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy?
2. Yoon Seok-Yeol Is Rebuilding South Korean Foreign Policy
3. In chip war, Korea spends big to stay ahead of China
4. Baby steps toward a Japan-Korea rapprochement
5. North Korea says it has ‘beaten’ Covid – but there’s more to its outbreak than meets the eye
6. N. Korea reports 4,100 new suspected COVID-19 cases
7. New COVID-19 cases bounce back to over 10,000 amid resurgence woes
8. North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker
9. N. Korea blasts G-7 statement on its nuclear, missile programs, vows to bolster 'self-defense' capabilities
10. Yoon says S. Korea, Japan should discuss past, future issues simultaneously
11. Top economic policymakers of S. Korea, U.S. discuss Russian oil price cap
12. Chinese envoy prods South Korea to rethink pro-US pivot
13. 



1. Can South Korea Bridge NATO and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy?

Is this a major inflection point for the ROK, the ROK/US alliance, NATO and the INDOPACIFIC? It certainly is a chance for the ROK to "step up" as President Yon has emphasized.

The question is where do we go from Spain and the NATO summit?

Captain Yoon is concerned with China. He offers some pretty thorough analysis and offers a cautionary conclusion. But I think he is stuck on the balancing between China and the US.

There is hard work ahead.

Excerpts:

Yoon apparently envisages dramatic changes in the way that South Korea engages with the international community, moving beyond a purely local focus on the Korean Peninsula to encompass a global involvement with the peace and stability of the wider world. The prospect of such a profound policy shift invites a number of important questions.
...

Besides this primarily symbolic role, however, some more substantial cooperation was also agreed: A South Korean diplomatic mission to NATO has been established, which will be concerned with information sharing, integrated supply chain cooperation, maritime security, cyber- and space security, and climate change issues.
...
Besides this primarily symbolic role, however, some more substantial cooperation was also agreed: A South Korean diplomatic mission to NATO has been established, which will be concerned with information sharing, integrated supply chain cooperation, maritime security, cyber- and space security, and climate change issues.
...

Finally there is a question of whether the Yoon administration plans to pursue the Korea-first policy that was announced by the previous administration of Moon Jae-in.
South Korea is perfectly capable of conducting its own diplomacy, without deferring to the United States or NATO. The interests of the Korean people should be paramount, and it is time for a Korea-centered approach toward North Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. Who is best placed to understand and deal with the North Korean regime? External powers, whether the U.S., NATO or China, can only play a limited role, and in any case will always prioritize their own interests. It is the Korean people who are most directly threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles, and they should have the final say in dealing with them.
Conclusion:
To conclude: Yoon’s participation in the NATO summit will have proved much more difficult that his election rhetoric suggested. He faces a formidable strategic challenge in developing a new conceptual security framework that prioritizes Korean interests, also contributes to the stability of the wider Indo-Pacific region, and is networked into global security structures, including NATO. The United States is focused on Europe, and China is still dealing with COVID-19, but will surely soon resume its attempts to rehabilitate its historical prestige, using both military and economic means. South Korea must maintain a balance between its military alliance with the U.S. and its strategic economic partnership with China. Yoon has limited room to maneuver.




Can South Korea Bridge NATO and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy?
What is the link between the North Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific regions, and what is South Korea’s role in this reimagined security framework?
thediplomat.com · by Sukjoon Yoon · July 2, 2022
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On June 29, the NATO summit in Spain showed indications of an emergent strategic linkage between the European and Indo-Pacific theaters.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, together with the leaders of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, also attended the top-level meeting of the transatlantic alliance. It was the first time a South Korean president has joined a NATO summit, and Yoon’s first overseas trip since his inauguration in May. There was also a trilateral summit between Japan, South Korea, and the United States. The most important item on the agenda was how NATO can continue to support Ukraine in its war of resistance against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, but the security issues of the Indo-Pacific also played a prominent role.
In his remarks at the summit, Yoon articulated his vision of interconnecting South Korea’s security and foreign policies with NATO’s robust stance against Russia in the European theater. He seeks a global role for South Korea by developing new strategic concepts to create a comprehensive security network with NATO. South Korea, as an established liberal democracy and a rising economic power, will contribute toward managing emerging security issues by networking with like-minded states, and by revitalizing economic interactions on nuclear energy, semiconductors, renewable energy, and defense industries.
Yoon apparently envisages dramatic changes in the way that South Korea engages with the international community, moving beyond a purely local focus on the Korean Peninsula to encompass a global involvement with the peace and stability of the wider world. The prospect of such a profound policy shift invites a number of important questions.
First, what is the impact of the war in Ukraine upon South Korea’s strategic alliance with the U.S., and more generally upon the Indo-Pacific region? So far the impact has been quite limited. Though both the United States and NATO would welcome some contribution from Seoul to support the war in Ukraine, in practice South Korea possesses insufficient resources and military capabilities, though Yoon did commit to providing humanitarian aid.
U.S. President Joe Biden would like Seoul to go beyond its current lip-service to play a more active role in relieving NATO’s burden in dealing with the war in Ukraine. South Korea is unlikely to provide substantial weapons and systems to Ukraine, however, not least because of poor interoperability between Ukraine and South Korea. Moreover, the Ukraine War is primarily land-based, whereas South Korea’s involvement in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy is essentially maritime.
Also, though South Korea is happy for the United States, NATO, and the EU to continue to responsibly uphold European peace and stability, Yoon is concerned that Ukraine may become a sacrificial lamb in a proxy war by the U.S. against Russia. In this era of great power competition, the lesser powers are vulnerable to such exploitation, and South Korea wants to avoid suffering a similar fate in either operational theater.
Next, the South Korea-U.S. alliance is now supposedly a comprehensive global strategic alliance, so how does this fit in with NATO’s outreach to countries beyond its heartland? NATO is explicitly a military alliance, in contrast to the informal security rallying arrangements of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy, which purports to be militarily neutral. What is the linkage between the North Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific regions, and what is South Korea’s role in this reimagined security framework?
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Yoon’s participation in the Spain summit was clearly on very different terms from the European countries, who are bound to the U.S. by military and diplomatic ties, within NATO, and/or the EU, or in some cases by the aspiration to join these bodies. For example, Finland and Sweden were formally invited to join NATO at the meeting. The main role that South Korea has at a NATO meeting, by contrast, is to demonstrate a shared investment in liberal democracy and the rule of law, thus helping to build a comprehensive strategic alliance to stand firm against a swelling tide of autocracy. That said, Yoon has cautiously avoided identifying too closely with the most vocal condemnation of Russia, and of China, which is typical of U.S. rhetoric.
Besides this primarily symbolic role, however, some more substantial cooperation was also agreed: A South Korean diplomatic mission to NATO has been established, which will be concerned with information sharing, integrated supply chain cooperation, maritime security, cyber- and space security, and climate change issues.
The South Korea-U.S. alliance, per se, remains focused on North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and the declared intention for it to take on a global role does not imply an active involvement in the Ukraine War. But it does demonstrate South Korea’s willingness to strengthen its alliance with the United States and with other U.S. allies. In recent years the South Korea-U.S. alliance has been eroded somewhat, both by Seoul’s policies toward North Korea and China, which Washington perceived as too accommodating, and by the ruinously transactional stance of the previous U.S. president. After the difficult Trump years ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command is now rewriting its Operations Plan and preparing for wartime OPCON transfer to South Korean forces. With China continuing to expand its military capabilities, and the U.S. perhaps losing its edge in Asia, Seoul must explore every avenue to ensure the continuing effectiveness of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
Another question concerns the significance of an expanded global role for South Korea in the context of the continuing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. If, as the United States wishes, all the liberal democracies are making common cause against autocracy, so that South Korea is becoming more involved in European security, does this not also imply that NATO and the EU have some role to play in mitigating the long-standing confrontation on the Korean Peninsula?
As things stand, North Korea is unlikely to engage with the Yoon administration, because the most senior of his North Korean advisers were also on former President Lee Myung-bak’s team, proposing policies which failed then and are no more promising now. Perhaps the involvement of some non-Asian parties might entice Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, in recognition that the security of Northeast Asia affects the wider world. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is known to relish opportunities to pose upon a global stage, and any success would surely validate the comprehensive strategic concept for the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
For the present, however, U.S. foreign policy is still almost entirely taken up with the war in Ukraine. The United States wants NATO members and other states to do more to assist Ukraine in resisting the Russian invasion, and sees the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as essential components of a global struggle against autocracy. Certainly this focus allowed Yoon to claim that his first overseas visit has made a valuable contribution to global peace and stability.
The situation of South Korea is very different from countries like Germany, which have provided military materiel to support Ukraine. South Korea remains technically at war and needs to retain all available resources in readiness to respond to potential provocations and incursions from North Korea. Ukrainian troops are now being trained to operate U.S.-designed Main Battle Tanks and self-propelled artillery guns, and in theory therefore South Korea could supply such weapons, but in practice South Korea cannot spare them. Other resources, such as ammunition, body armor, helmets, medical supplies, and so on, are also unlikely to be sent to Ukraine.
The fact is that the Ukraine War is on Germany’s doorstep, and South Korea has a local conflict of its own to deal with. It is hard to argue convincingly for South Korea to assist in a European war when Europe has done precious little to help with the nuclear and missile crises on the Korean Peninsula.
There is also a question about how South Korea’s national interests and values are to be protected when the United States is trying, more openly than ever before, to contain China, both militarily and economically, and is refashioning the world order to push other countries in the same direction. For decades South Korea has carefully balanced its military alliance with the United States against its strategic economic partnership with China.
Yoon’s new administration is keen on doing things differently from the previous one. His election platform emphasized moving closer to the U.S. and taking a tougher line on North Korea and China, but South Korea’s fundamental national interests have not changed: The balance still needs to be preserved.
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It is essential that South Korea does not become a victim of great power rivalry, as it was during the 19th century. Korea’s unique geographical position and strategic significance have historically limited its scope for autonomy, but the skillful choice is to maintain good relations with both sides. It is dangerous to tilt too clearly toward one side and then treat the other as a definite adversary.
So far Yoon’s attendance at the NATO summit has drawn only rhetorical repercussions from China, but if Yoon moves too far into the sphere of U.S. influence then there will surely be a return to the kind of economic coercion seen in reaction to South Korea’s deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system a few years back.
If the war in Ukraine has any lessons for South Korea, it has surely revealed Russia as a far greater security threat than China, both now and in the longer term. South Korea can and should participate in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, as part of a comprehensive network of strategic alliances, but South Korea cannot afford to be explicitly against China.
Finally there is a question of whether the Yoon administration plans to pursue the Korea-first policy that was announced by the previous administration of Moon Jae-in.
South Korea is perfectly capable of conducting its own diplomacy, without deferring to the United States or NATO. The interests of the Korean people should be paramount, and it is time for a Korea-centered approach toward North Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. Who is best placed to understand and deal with the North Korean regime? External powers, whether the U.S., NATO or China, can only play a limited role, and in any case will always prioritize their own interests. It is the Korean people who are most directly threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles, and they should have the final say in dealing with them.
The Ukraine War has prompted a reassessment of security needs, of course in Europe, but also around the world. This is a good moment to review the status of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and the optimal outcome is a robust and comprehensive alliance that is an integral part of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy and also of a wider global security framework, but which also allows South Korea a degree of strategic autonomy that befits its military, economic, and diplomatic standing.
The lingering legacies of the Cold War need to be overcome. Biden and Yoon should agree a new conceptual formula for the South Korea-U.S. alliance, as a binational structure in which South Korea has an equal voice, and as an essential component of a U.S.-led rules-based regional order and security framework. On the Korean Peninsula, the interests of the Korean people must ultimately take precedence over U.S. strategic interests.
To conclude: Yoon’s participation in the NATO summit will have proved much more difficult that his election rhetoric suggested. He faces a formidable strategic challenge in developing a new conceptual security framework that prioritizes Korean interests, also contributes to the stability of the wider Indo-Pacific region, and is networked into global security structures, including NATO. The United States is focused on Europe, and China is still dealing with COVID-19, but will surely soon resume its attempts to rehabilitate its historical prestige, using both military and economic means. South Korea must maintain a balance between its military alliance with the U.S. and its strategic economic partnership with China. Yoon has limited room to maneuver.
Sukjoon Yoon
Navy Captain Sukjoon Yoon, retired, is a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for Military Affairs. He has provided advice on defense policy for the Yoon administration.
thediplomat.com · by Sukjoon Yoon · July 2, 2022



2.Yoon Seok-Yeol Is Rebuilding South Korean Foreign Policy

Excerpts:
This was probably inevitable and probably for the best. Any country’s sovereign interest will trump its trade relationships. Moon obscured this point, most obviously with his dithering on sanctioning Russia over invading Ukraine. But South Korea is ultimately a liberal democracy, and Moon faced pressure from his own citizenry and foreign partners to take the Russian invasion more seriously. The South may want to trade with China or Russia – but not at the expense of its values and self-identity as a liberal democratic state.
This same dilemma will impact all countries which trade with China and Russia. The wealth to be gained from those relationships will ultimately not be worth the bullying Beijing and Moscow will try via trade interdependence. Much of the democratic world will likely unwind economically from China and Russia in the coming years in order to safeguard democratic values and sovereignty. Yoon sees that and the process has already begun in South Korea.

Yoon Seok-Yeol Is Rebuilding South Korean Foreign Policy
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · July 2, 2022
South Korea’s New President Brings Seoul Back to the Democratic Community: South Korea’s new president, Yoon Seok-Yeol, went to the recent Madrid summit of NATO. This was a sharp and welcome shift in South Korean foreign policy from the drift and distance from partner democracies that characterized the previous South Korean presidency, of Moon Jae-In.
Yoon made it a signature part of his election platform to restore South Korea’s relationship with like-minded states, particularly the United States. He won the election this February, but just barely. South Korea remains a divided society on core foreign policy questions like how close to cleave to the US and how tough to respond to the rising power of China’s autocracy.
South Korea’s Awkward Geopolitics
The core issue of South Korean foreign policy has always been the size of its neighbors. The country is an encircled middle power. Even before the peninsula’s division after World War II, Korea already struggled in its history with intervention by the much larger states around it – Japan, China, and Russia. This problem worsened with the foundation of North Korea, an Orwellian tyranny with a massive military and clear designs, in its early history, on South Korea.
Seoul’s primary response to this tough geopolitical position was to ally with the United States. But as its economy grew, it became less dependent on American power, and it developed economic relationships with those large neighbors too. The South Korean left particularly was keen to use those relationships to create some distance from the United States
The South Korean left has long been uncomfortable with the closeness of South Korea and the US. America had supported South Korea’s various dictators, and the left regularly argues that American hawkishness on North Korea inhibits détente with Pyongyang. As South Korea got wealthier, it did not need the US so much, and its local relationships encouraged the left to try balancing among South Korea’s various neighbors, not aligning with any of them too tightly.
South Korean Drift and Return
The peak of this effort came under the previous president, Moon Jae-In. Moon had a long history of skepticism of the US alliance, and he caused a serious rift with the Americans with his determination to pursue a breakthrough with North Korea even if it meant rolling back sanctions on Pyongyang without counter-concessions. This sharply divided South Korean opinion and former US President Donald Trump threatened to ‘blow up’ the US-South Korea alliance if re-elected.
Yoon came in this year determined to reverse all this. As a conservative, he had closer connections to the South Korean business community which strongly supports the US alliance. South Korea’s largest corporations know that the US alliance backstops South Korea’s access to the world economy, particularly to the US market, banks, and education system. Were the US military to leave, per Trump, South Korea’s currency would tumble and foreign capital would flee.
Yoon also heavily emphasized common values with other democratic states to play South Korea in a community of like-minded states. On his return from the summit, he noted South Korea’s alignment with NATO on human rights, democracies, and liberal openness. This obviously raises the distinctions between South Korea and its autocratic neighbors, China and North Korea. This was a point Moon downplayed regularly in order to pursue (and ultimately failed) a peninsular breakthrough with Pyongyang.
Decision Forks
The administration of President Joseph Biden has spoken of a global division between autocracy and democracy. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with tacit enabling by China, has thrown that contrast into relief. China’s threats to Taiwan similarly raise these issues. South Korea, like many small and medium state in Asia, faces competing pressures. Where Moon tried to float above these in pursuit of an independent deal with North Korea, Yoon has struck a safer course close to South Korea’s liberal political values. He has moved South Korea more clearly back to the democratic community.
This was probably inevitable and probably for the best. Any country’s sovereign interest will trump its trade relationships. Moon obscured this point, most obviously with his dithering on sanctioning Russia over invading Ukraine. But South Korea is ultimately a liberal democracy, and Moon faced pressure from his own citizenry and foreign partners to take the Russian invasion more seriously. The South may want to trade with China or Russia – but not at the expense of its values and self-identity as a liberal democratic state.
This same dilemma will impact all countries which trade with China and Russia. The wealth to be gained from those relationships will ultimately not be worth the bullying Beijing and Moscow will try via trade interdependence. Much of the democratic world will likely unwind economically from China and Russia in the coming years in order to safeguard democratic values and sovereignty. Yoon sees that and the process has already begun in South Korea.
Dr. Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kellywebsite) is a professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. Dr. Kelly is a 1945 Contributing Editor as well.
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · July 2, 2022


3. In chip war, Korea spends big to stay ahead of China
 

As an aside for all my Special Forces friends from 1st SFG, the mayor of Yongin is a friend of ours, retired General Baek Gun Gi, the former commander of the ROK Army Special Warfare Command (and later the Third ROK Army that used to be headquartered in Yongin ebfore the Army reorgnization). Check out his photo at this link.   https://www.kurdo.org/2021/10/07/baek-gun-gi-mayor-of-yongin-the-first-special-city-in-the-country-should-be-given-the-authority-and-responsibility-worthy-of-its-name/ He looks a lot younger than he did when we served with him. He would make a great president of the ROK someday but unfortunately I do not think a retired general will ever again be able to run for the presidency in Korea for obvious reasons due to ROK political history.


In chip war, Korea spends big to stay ahead of China
New Yongin cluster planned for Korea’s existing semiconductor super corridor will supply yet more chip-making heft
asiatimes.com · by More by Yu Jin-seo · July 1, 2022
YONGIN, South Korea – In the rural township of Wonsam in Yongin, a county 40 kilometers south of Seoul, local residents are awaiting seismic changes after a groundbreaking ceremony for a semiconductor, or chip, cluster set to be held this month.
“This area has been farmland for as long as I can remember,” remarked one elderly resident. “Why they chose to build something like that here is beyond me. Now, everything will change.”
Change is, indeed, coming. The land area of the cluster, which was first announced in 2019, will makes it the single biggest project in semiconductor history, according to South Korean media.

Undertaken by SK hynix – which, along with Samsung Electronics is one of South Korea’s two coveted chip-making champions – the project entails around US$100 billion in investment. The cluster will be capable of churning out a whopping 800,000 wafers per month and will stretch over 4 million square meters.
Some 50 suppliers of materials, parts and equipment will move in. The Yongin fab, once completed, will focus on dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips and on other, next-generation memory chips. SK Group, the conglomerate of which SK hynix is a core constituent, plans to invest around $110 billion over the next five years.
It is yet another addition to one of the most impressive industrial belts in the world: a semiconductor super-corridor that stretches from southern Seoul to the Yellow Sea port city of Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers south.
Korea, in its zero-to-hero industrialization process, came from nowhere to challenge – and overtake – mighty Japan in multiple sectors. Now is it facing another challenger that is using the same tactics to climb the value chain, but which boasts a far bigger domestic market and is equally determined to win the chip war: China.
As in other industries – shipbuilding, electric car batteries, electronics devices – the question is how long, or even whether, Korea can maintain its lead.

South Korea’s semiconductor belt stretches south of Seoul, through Suwon and Yongin, to Pyeongtaek – all within less than 90 minutes’ travel time. Image: Google Maps
Boomtowns on tap
Yongin is one of the cities and counties that make up Gyeonggi province, which surrounds the capital Seoul. As recently as the 1980s, this area was primarily agricultural. But after Korea’s quantum leap into high tech, the area has become a beneficiary of the global chip boom.
Land around the capital comes at a premium price, but it’s worth every won as South Korea’s two chip titans compete for top spots and scout for human resources.
The country’s top tech talent prefers to work in or near Seoul, thanks to the unbeatable educational, cultural, recreational and health infrastructure of the metropolis. With the national tech industry’s flagships headquartered in the posh Gangnam districts of southern Seoul, the half of Gyeonggi province bordering Gangnam has been transformed into the world’s premier chip-making cluster – rivaled only by Taiwan.
In the boomtowns of the region, business has never been better. While provinces outside of the Seoul Metropolitan area struggle with low birthrates, closing schools and the flight of youth, the situation could not be more different in Gyeonggi.
In the cities of Pyeongtaek, Hwaseong and Suwon, and the counties of Yongin and Icheon, new schools, apartments and restaurants are popping up. Entire new cities such as Dongtan have sprung into existence on what was, in recent memory, manure-scented farmland.

Gyeonggi’s population surpassed Seoul’s 10 million in 2003 and has never looked back. Youth fleeing Seoul because of its sky-high apartment prices have found the surrounding province, with its booming tech economy, shiny new infrastructure and close proximity to the capital, a welcoming alternative.
South Korea’s chip corridor takes in Cheongju in neighboring Chungbuk province in the south to Icheon in the east and Pyeongtaek in the southwest. It has a nearly unparalleled ecosystem encompassing research and development centers, fabs, equipment suppliers and fabless designers, built up over three decades. Universities in nearby Seoul and Daejeon educate the talent that runs these businesses.
This cluster had humble beginnings. In 1984, Samsung began churning out 256-kilobit DRAMs in its first chip fab in Giheung, Yongin. In only a few years, Samsung and Hyundai Electronics – the predecessor to SK hynix – seized the memory crown from their Japanese counterparts.
Today, South Korea is the world’s leading supplier of memory chips.
Not satisfied with their memory dominance, Korean firms are now turning their attention to non-memory chips – a high-value-added sector that is currently dominated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

In a challenge to its Taiwanese rival, Samsung is slated to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in foundry services for non-memory seminconductors – through 2030.
“Although it is true that memory takes up the larger portion of Korea’s chip industry, Korea’s entry into the [non memory] semiconductor sector is not new at all,” said Cho Kyeong-soon, a professor of Electronic Engineering at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
“Korea has been in the [non-memory] semiconductor business for decades, it’s only that Korea’s efforts in this area have not been as successful as they have been in memory.”
There are two national competitors, though just one in manufacturing.
“America’s lead in design, and Taiwan’s lead in manufacturing, have long been difficult to overcome,” Cho continued. “For Korea to maintain its edge in the chip sector, it is not a matter of choice, but a must” to strengthen its high-end, non-memory sector.
When it comes to corporate rankings in the market for chip foundry – ie, the contracted manufacturing of non-memory chips – there are some positive signs for Korea.
According to data on the global market share for foundry by revenue in the first quarter of 2022 as collated by research firm TrendForce, the leading player is TSMC with a 53.6% global market share. The number two is national champ Samsung, with 16.6%.
The even more distant number three is UMC, another Taiwanese firm, with 5.9%, followed by New York-headquartered Global Foundries with 5.9%. Chinese firm SMIC rounds out the top five, with a 5.6% market share. All told, Chinese firms held a combined 10.2% of world market share.
While the data may, on first sight, make Korea’s lead over Chinese players clear, it has been interpreted negatively by some in Korea, for Samsung’s market position dropped from 18.3% in the last quarter of 2021 to 16.3% in Q1 2022.
Samsung is making a big play to dominate the fast moving foundry market. Image: AFP
Chips to the fore
The global chip industry has always been fluid, with the semiconductor crown being exchanged among different countries and companies several times throughout the industry’s seven-decade history.
South Korea and Taiwan have dominated wafer production for more than a decade. Western companies lost their leadership in the chip manufacturing space, choosing instead to focus on design.
But even the sector’s kings have little breathing room to sit back and enjoy their position at the top. In the capital-intensive chip game, they must continue to invest massively in R&D and leading-edge new fabs to maintain market share.
With the specter of decoupling descending over the global economy in a fast-digitizing world, semiconductors have become highly strategic.
Because of this, worried national governments around the world have vowed to create their own domestic chip supply chains by offering tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to potential collaborating chipmakers to build out new fabs within their borders.
However, there is no guarantee that these ambitions will come to fruition.
A multibillion-dollar fab cannot stand alone. To operate effectively, it must be accompanied by a network of equipment and materials suppliers, efficient transportation nodes and reliable water and electricity supplies.
Moreover, its location must include the kind of high-end housing and educational and recreational facilities that can meet the lifestyle demands of the workforce. And, of course, that skilled and knowledgeable workforce must also be in situ.
If these multiple conditions are not in place, a brand-new, sparkling fab can end up as a rusty cog in an inefficient, uncompetitive supply chain – propped up only by endless government subsidies.
Samsung is South Korea’s national flagship firm, and the world’s top memory chip maker. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je
Current champs, rising challenger
The world’s top two chipmaking clusters are south of Seoul and along the western coastline of Taiwan. Each was built up over decades through careful, sustained cooperation among government, industry and academia. This kind of farsighted, multi-stakeholder industrial policy explains the industry dominance of their respective clusters.
Very few democratic governments outside of South Korea and Taiwan have the political insight, will and capability to make such a decades-long commitment. In fact, there is a real chance that – once post-pandemic supply chains are re-normalized, assuming they are – public attention to chips in North America and Europe will fizzle out and politicians will naturally move their discussion to newly urgent matters.
There is perhaps only one government other than Seoul and Taipei that is potentially capable of politically and economically creating and sustaining leading chip clusters: Beijing.
Despite US-led sanctions on high-tech chip-making equipment and software, China’s authoritarian government, armed with seemingly limitless resources and a national will to free itself from foreign reliance, is determined to make its dream of semiconductor dominance come true.
The pressure of this rise is already being felt in Taiwan and South Korea. Each has seen thousands of its chip engineers poached by emerging Chinese players.
The game that is now afoot is a big one. The rise of China’s semiconductor industry could potentially affect not only the technological leadership of South Korea and Taiwan but also their mutual hold on economic prosperity.
The risk is that the current winners’ own playbooks could be used against them.
The tactics of fostering chip supremacy include achieving economies of scale by building massive fabs, maximizing generous government support and poaching foreign talent. These tactics were employed by Japan to seize the semiconductor crown from the United States, and later by South Korea and Taiwan to seize it from Japan.
Now, China is deploying these very tactics – a trend that is worrying for some South Korean experts.
“In the case of China, they have heavily invested in their own semiconductor sector, [and are in many ways] already ahead of Korea,” Cho, the electronic engineering professor, said. “For example, in terms of training and procuring the required labor force, [China] is very strong.”
Moreover, Chinese media Guancha, in a recent piece on the competition between China and South Korea, noted that in the first quarter of 2022, a Chinese firm entered the list of the world’s top ten semiconductor design companies for the first time, “while Korean companies did not even have a name [in that sub-sector].”
In chips, size matters. The size is not simply the ever-decreasing nanometerage of the wafers – where Korea and Taiwan are manufacturing kings – but also the size of the market in which they can be incubated.
Guancha added, “although the industry generally believes that China’s competitiveness is not as good as that of South Korea in terms of quality, some analysts pointed out that China’s semiconductor industry will develop rapidly under the strong support of its own government and the full fault-tolerant opportunities provided by the huge domestic market.”
Given how South Korea carefully incubated its own industrial exports in a closed, home market from the 1960s to the ’80s, those words no doubt send a shudder down the spine of Korean semiconductor executives.
And there are yet more forces at work – albeit in the West, not the East.
The US, the European Union and Japan are also eager to regain their own chipmaking bases by throwing tens of billions at the sector. This vast pool of new capital may dilute the investments made by the likes of TSMC and Samsung.
Hsinchu, Taiwan-based TSMC is, along with South Korea’s Samsung, one of the two leading pillars of the global chipmaking industry. Photo: AFP / Sam Yeh
A war worth fighting
South Korea is a global leader in industries including shipbuilding and electric-vehicle batteries and is winning global kudos for its popular culture. But none of these sectors are nearly as lucrative or geopolitically significant as the semiconductor industry.
For South Korea’s economy to continue to grow and prosper in the face of a shrinking population and geopolitical uncertainties, all-out efforts to foster its chip industry are imperative.
South Korea no longer feels assured by being the dominant player only in memory. It now looks to become the dominant force across chip manufacturing, from contract manufacturing to image sensors to automotive chips. If achieved, this would mean economic prosperity for decades to come.
In May of 2021, South Korea announced a whopping $450 billion chip investment plan dubbed the “K-Semiconductor Belt Strategy” to take the nation’s chip industry to the next level. Of course, much of that capital expenditure had already been announced by industry players. Even so, the scope remains massive.
Then-president Moon Jae-in said at the time that South Korea “will solidify its position as the world’s top memory semiconductor producer and take the lead globally in [non-memory] semiconductors as well, thereby achieving the goal of becoming a comprehensive semiconductor powerhouse in 2030.”
And this kind of massive spend will have to continue. Of the three strategic industries that South Korea has chosen as its future breadwinners – non-memory semiconductors, future mobility (vehicles of all kinds) and bio-pharmaceuticals – it appears the first will soak up much of the country’s investment capital and talent.
There are, however, several stumbling blocks.
The biggest hindrance may be South Korea’s regulators. Bureaucracy on both the local and national levels, increasing environmental regulation and local residents’ pushback and real-estate opportunism all make doing business in Korea difficult – even for companies that are global champions.
Case in point? After the announcement of Samsung’s new chip-making complex in Pyeongtaek, the largest in the world, it took the company nearly five years to begin construction.
Compare this with rival countries in the industry, where the time gap between announcement and construction may be only a matter of months.
The pro-business Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which came into office in May, is determined to expedite processes and encourage investment by cutting red tape. South Korea’s battery, display and bio industries are anticipating similar benefits.
But there are business people who will say roll their eyes and say they have heard the “slashing red tape” mantra many times before.
It is impossible to say how long South Korea can maintain its position at the pinnacle of the chip industry. But with national economic prosperity and prestige on the line, it will compete like never before – and Gyeonggi province will be at the heart of it.
asiatimes.com · by More by Yu Jin-seo · July 1, 2022


4. Baby steps toward a Japan-Korea rapprochement



​Yes but it cannot seem that the ROK wants it more than Japan. They both must commit.​
Baby steps toward a Japan-Korea rapprochement

Leaders show signs of unusual amity on sidelines of NATO Summit as hopes grow for a sweeping bilateral resetLeaders show signs of unusual amity on sidelines of NATO Summit as hopes grow for a sweeping bilateral reset
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · June 30, 2022
SEOUL – Could Washington’s long-held dream of a US-led Northeast Asian alliance finally become reality?
That might be a stretch, given the long, contentious history of emotive squabbling between Seoul and Tokyo. Yet on Wednesday (June 29), Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol sat down under the gaze of US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the ongoing NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain.
The importance of the meeting to Biden may be gauged by the fact that it was put on his Madrid agenda despite the pressing importance of the issue dominating the summit – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In what may have been music to the US president’s ears, Yoon said, “I hope that our meeting today will position the [South Korean]-US-Japan partnership as yet another central pillar for global peace and stability.”
Kishida was less inclusive, referring to the two separate US alliances and to a more specific geography. But he did say, “Through this meeting, I hope that trilateral cooperation regarding our response to North Korea will be solidified.”
Yoon, who took office in May, has zero diplomatic experience but was firing on all cylinders in Madrid.
Brushing aside a faux pas from the US president – film showed a wobbly-looking Biden apparently not recognizing Yoon, greeting him with just a perfunctory handshake – Yoon praised Kishida, saying, “I came away confident that Prime Minister Kishida will become a partner in resolving issues between South Korea and Japan.”
The presence of the two Asia leaders exemplifies the latest effort by Washington to ring its Chinese and Russian competitors with a network of alliances that criss-cross the globe.

For the first time, the NATO Summit was joined by US treaty partners from the Indo-Pacific: The leaders of the democratic nations of Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
But in a sign of the complexities and divergent interests at play in current geopolitics, the world’s largest democracy was not in the room. New Delhi is aligned against Beijing as a member of the Quad security dialog but has declined to condemn Moscow’s assault upon Ukraine and continues to acquire Russian arms and purchase Russian fuel.
Still, dragging the Japanese and Korean leaders to the same table at a security forum – albeit one thousands of miles from their respective capitals – is a step forward for US security ambitions.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left), US President Joe Biden (center) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right).
The two nations lie off China’s strategic northeastern flank, are adjacent to the Russian Far East and lie in range of North Korea’s expanding missile arsenal.
Both have separate security alliances with the US – alliances complicated by their respective relationships with their leading trade partner, China.

Both wield powerful militaries, using NATO-standard equipment, with roughly complementary strengths. Continental Korea fields a huge, conscript-manned ground army. Ex-continental Japan is further developing its already powerful blue-water navy.
Both militaries face domestic constraints, however. Since its bloody intervention in the Vietnam War, South Korea’s forces have remained heavily deployed against nearby North Korea. Japan is prevented from kinetic expeditions by its pacifist constitution.
And both operate high-tech research and manufacturing sectors that produce strategic products, with interlinked supply changes.
However, while trilateral military cooperation may make logical sense, US officials have for decades been tearing their hair out over the emotive issues that keep Seoul and Tokyo at daggers drawn.
Historical animosities relating to Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula have been an endless source of diplomatic-political tensions.

Those animosities surged over their customary firewalls into the legal, economic and military spheres during the terms of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe (who held office, for his second term, from 2012-2020) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (in office from 2017-2022).
With Abe and Moon now both out of office, the chances for a reset look good.
Though Kishida has been largely non-committal, Yoon made clear – in a highly unusual stance for a South Korean politician – during the presidential election campaign that he strongly favored strengthening bilateral ties.
Asia Times understands that a 2018 South Korean legal decision related to colonial-era forced labor is viewed by Japan as the key stumbling block to better relations.
Yoon not only has the apparent political desire to remove the roadblock, he also has related professional expertise. Having been a state prosecutor prior to becoming president, he is fully familiar with Seoul’s murky political-judicial interface.
Change agent? South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. Photo: AFP
What they talked about
While the NATO summit focused heavily on Russia, and to a lesser extent China, the public comments the three leaders made on Wednesday before reporters all related to North Korea.
Unlike Moon, Yoon does not prioritize engaging North Korea, putting him on the same page as Biden and Kishida.
“I very much welcome the prompt response by the Japan-US. and US-[South Korea] alliances against ballistic missiles launched by North Korea,” Kishida said. “And the agreement reached at the recent trilateral ministerial meeting between defense ministers to conduct trilateral missile warning and ballistic missile search and tracking exercises is welcomed,” Kishida said.
The last remark refers to exercises off Hawaii, scheduled for August, between the three navies. He added that if, as expected, North Korea conducts another nuclear test, “I hope that response can be taken at the trilateral level, including joint exercises.
Even prior to the Madrid meeting, steps had been taken by the Yoon administration to upgrade relations – albeit in a gradualist manner.
Both countries’ foreign ministers have called for an upgrade in the GSOMIA, or General Security of Military Information Agreement, a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact. The deal was signed in 2016, but in 2019, Seoul threatened to nullify it.
That did not happen due to a US intervention but the comments of the two ministers suggest there is room for improvement in its implementation.
There is a pending need for optimal interaction. North Korea is currently on a missile testing spree and is widely expected to test a new nuclear device in the near future.
Against this backdrop, and as noted by Kishida, the drills off Hawaii in August aim at improving missile detection and tracking capabilities.
There is a pressing need for improved relations between the Japanese and Korean navies, in particular
In 2018, Seoul ordered a Japanese vessel invited to a Korean naval review to strike its ensign: The design recalls Imperial Japanese symbology. The Japanese ship declined and departed in a cloud of indignation.
More seriously, in the same year, a Korean destroyer on the high seas locked its target radar onto a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft – then declined to respond to urgent Japanese radio queries on the matter.
The Korean side insisted that the Japanese plane was buzzing the ship at unsafe distances.
Fumio Kishida is more cautious than his Korean counterpart on the issue of upgrading bilateral relations. Photo: AFP / Du Xiaoyi
Business, travel, return to life
Wednesday’s Madrid meeting was not the only sign of a possible spring coming to a wintry relationship. The bilateral freeze was not just a result of politics, but also Covid-19. With the pandemic evaporating, new activity is gathering pace.
The first meetings of business leaders of the two countries in three years will take place in Seoul next Monday, it has been announced.
The Korea-Japan Business Council, attended by the key corporate lobby groups of the respective nations, the Federation of Korean Industries and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), will be held for the first time since 2019.
Some 20 executives, including the heads of the two organizations, will join the event.
Meanwhile, commercial flights between Seoul and Tokyo, which were on a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have resumed this week. Four airlines – All Nippon Airways, Asiana, Japan Airlines and Korean Air – started round trips through the route between Seoul’s Gimpo Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
However, these are baby steps: Only eight flights a week will connect the two giant capitals, which have a combined total of 24 million residents.
Still, the pandemic is arguably a lower bilateral barrier than the other issues that divide them. Differing perceptions of Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the peninsula, and its post-1945 apologies and compensations, deeply divide the two countries.
Looking forward or backward?
The two sides’ positions can – very broadly – be summarized as follows.
South Korea’s stance is that Japan has neither appropriately apologized nor adequately compensated the victims of its 1910-1945 colonial rule. Moreover, its political and educational sectors refuse to take responsibility for past crimes and a reactionary clique continues to hold influence over Japan’s polity.
Japan’s position is that it has repeatedly apologized and compensated but has been rejected again and again and thus accuses Seoul of bad faith. Moreover, Korean activists exaggerate or even in some cases invent historical details and actively humiliate Japan on the issue in the global community.
South Korean protesters tear up a huge Japanese flag during a rally near the Japanese embassy in Seoul in 2019. Under the new president, scenes like this could become less common. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je
Matters came to a head in 2017, when the Moon government unilaterally abrogated a bilaterally agreed 2015 apology-compensation deal for surviving “comfort women.” Then, in 2018, Korean courts seized Japanese companies’ assets to compensate colonial-era forced laborers.
While angered by the former, Tokyo was infuriated by the latter on the grounds that it overturned a long-standing 1965 deal that enabled the opening of diplomatic ties. Under that, Tokyo had paid hundreds of millions of dollars in soft loans and grants – including compensation for forced laborers.
In 1965, the Seoul government of the day – under an authoritarian president who had been a Japanese collaborator during the colonial years – deployed the Japanese monies for economic development rather than victims’ compensation.
In response to the 2018 action, Tokyo removed Korea from its most-favored trading nation list and emplaced export controls on key chemicals used by Korea’s flagship chip and display industries. Korea retaliated, removing Japan from its trade white list.
However, opacity descended in the wake of these decisions.
Tokyo’s shipments of chemicals – while delayed – continued. South Korea’s chip production was not impacted, and indeed, semiconductor shipments soared during the “stay-at-home, play-at-home” era that marked much of the Covid pandemic.
And the seized Japanese assets have not, despite the passage of four years, yet been liquidated by the courts. Japan has warned of massive retaliation if that process proceeds.
Writing in April, before Korea’s May election, Japan’s liberal Asahi newspaper editorialized “Irreparable confrontation would result if the cash-out were to become a reality. South Korea’s judiciary authorities are evidently taking an unusually long time in putting the step into practice because they know the gravity of its consequences.”
Follow this writer on Twitter@ASalmonSeoul
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · June 30, 2022


5. North Korea says it has ‘beaten’ Covid – but there’s more to its outbreak than meets the eye

But have they really?

We must assess their public statements from the perspective of the regime's political warfare strategy.

North Korea says it has ‘beaten’ Covid – but there’s more to its outbreak than meets the eye

North Korea says it has ‘beaten’ Covid – but there’s more to its outbreak than meets the eye
The Telegraph · by Nicola Smith,
When North Korea declared its first major Covid outbreak in May, leader Kim Jong-un described it as the greatest “turmoil” to befall the country in 70 years, while public health officials predicted an apocalyptic disaster with a potentially massive death toll.
Some two months on the isolated country – which has barely vaccinated its malnourished population, and which lacks the medicines to treat them – appears to have defied the pandemic odds.
Pyongyang has lifted its lockdown, allowing citizens to return to work, and the regime claims to have tamed the spread of the virus. As of Friday, it had recorded a total of 4.74 million “fever” patients, plus an improbably low death toll of just 73.
Few believe the figures. The authoritarian state strictly controls access and information, and has a vested interest in touting its success in overcoming a virus that has wreaked havoc in the West. The country also lacks testing facilities, instead marking cases by the presence of a “fever” – a less common symptom of the omicron variant.
“The point here is that they said there were 4.5m cases of fever. I wonder if the number of actual confirmed cases was higher, like double that,” Kee Park, director of the Korea Health Policy Project at Harvard Medical School, told the Telegraph.

The regime released a number of staged pictures showing the country taking control of its outbreak Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
But he added: “Everybody, including myself, predicted a very high-risk population in North Korea – malnutrition, immunologically naïve, and compared with other countries of similar income levels and health systems, predicted a case fatality rate of around 1-1.5 per cent.”
This could have meant a death toll upwards of 45,000 people. “That didn’t materialise – at least we don’t think so,” said Dr Park. “The North Korean authorities are also surprised. I think they were braced for the worst, and it wasn’t as bad as they expected,” said the neurosurgeon, who has visited the country on several occasions.
How and why remains a mystery, but theories abound. Some say the death rate appears low because people have been dying silently in their homes without seeking medical treatment, as many did during a brutal famine in the 1990s.
Others say the timing of the Covid outbreak may have spared the country the Covid catastrophe anticipated even by the regime itself, as the spread was dominated by the less virulent omicron variant. The country was also able to enforce tight, swift lockdowns, while the population of 26m has resilience after decades of enduring disease and harsh conditions.
Survival of the fittest
According to Dr Park, North Korea appears to have followed a pattern similar to that of Malawi, Tanzania and Madagascar, where Covid-19 swept through the low vaccinated populations without a calamitous outcome for public health.
That hypothesis leads to a somewhat grim conclusion. In some countries, including North Korea, the population may already have been “selected out to be the survivors. So, the ones who were weak to begin with never survived,” said Dr Park.
This contrasts to wealthier countries, he said, where chronic patients are propped up by a robust medical system. The more vulnerable are the “first ones to go” when a pandemic strikes.
Meanwhile Kim Sin-gon, professor at Korea University’s College of Medicine in Seoul, suggested low-income countries may weather Covid-19 better because of pre-existing immunity from other disease outbreaks.
“Countries that had a lot of exposure to viruses develop a level of cross-protective immunity, and North Korea could be one of those countries,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

But even if North Korea survives the pandemic relatively unscathed, the prospect of a bigger threat of starvation, worsened by sweeping punitive sanctions as well as pandemic isolation, is looming large, warn experts.
“We don’t have anything other than sporadic reports out of North Korea, but they are pretty steadily reporting starvation and it’s logically impossible that there couldn’t have been starvation given that we know what is going in and we know what people need,” said Prof Hazel Smith, of the Centre for Korea Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
North Korea’s food insecurity problems long pre-date the pandemic. According to a 2019 assessment by the World Food Programme, 11m people (out of a population of 26m) were undernourished and in need of humanitarian assistance.
Prof Smith attributes a “catastrophic” fall in agricultural production to the imposition of comprehensive UN sanctions against North Korea in 2017 to curb its nuclear weapons programme.
‘People will just go home and die’
She warned that sanctions, natural disasters, pandemic border closures and trading bans had combined to create the same level of food insecurity as seen in the famine years of the 1990s: “Disastrous food harvests four years in a row, and a lack of ability for the population to buy food from abroad.”
Household and government food stocks were now likely running dry, she said, adding: “The scale of the food deficit is absolutely enormous.”
An estimated 240,000 to 3.5m people died of starvation or hunger-related illnesses during the North Korean famine of 1994 to 1998, also known as the “Arduous March”.
Prof Smith, who lived in North Korea working for UN humanitarian organisations in the two years following the famine, believes up to half a million died over a period of about four years, and likely did so at home.
“It’s easily possible that that situation could replicate itself. So you don’t have mass starvation out in the streets but you have people dying earlier, in childbirth, from illnesses they wouldn’t have died from if they weren’t hungry,” she said.
It’s a phenomenon that may also be occurring during the Covid outbreak, she suggested.
“People will just go home and die, just like the last time,” she said, casting doubt on the official Covid-19 fatality rate.
The dire situation leaves Pyongyang with a choice of whether to continue with its draconian “zero Covid” policy or cautiously learn to live with the virus and reopen the borders for trade, boosting the economy and tackling food insecurity.
Dr Park believes there are signs the outbreak has prompted the regime to adopt the second approach, and begin slowly lowering restrictions.
“If they are smart then they are shifting from zero Covid… to now saying we have millions of people potentially infected and it isn’t overwhelming our health system, let’s just tap on the brakes, let’s not go for zero Covid anymore because this is a way to vaccinate the whole population,” he said.
Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security
The Telegraph · by Nicola Smith,


6. N. Korea reports 4,100 new suspected COVID-19 cases

Less than in the ROK (though the ROK has twice the population).



N. Korea reports 4,100 new suspected COVID-19 cases | Yonhap News Agency
m-en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · July 2, 2022

06:45 July 02, 2022

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new suspected COVID-19 cases remained below 5,000 for the third consecutive day, according to state media Saturday.
More than 4,100 people showed symptoms of fever over a 24-hour period until 6 p.m. the previous day, the official Korean Central News Agency 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. Friday, with at least 7,360 under medical treatment, it added.
The country's daily fever tally has been on a downward trend after peaking at over 392,920 on May 15.
(END)
m-en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · July 2, 2022

7. New COVID-19 cases bounce back to over 10,000 amid resurgence woes




(LEAD) New COVID-19 cases bounce back to over 10,000 amid resurgence woes | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 정주원 · July 2, 2022
(ATTN: ADDS details throughout, photos)
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back to over 10,000 Saturday as the daily cases seemed poised to take an upturn again after months of decline.
The country added 10,715 COVID-19 infections, including 173 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,379,552, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
The tally increased from 9,528 the previous day and 6,786 a week ago.
The country added seven COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 24,562. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.
The number of critically ill patients stood at 53, down from 56 the previous day, the KDCA said.

South Korea's COVID-19 outbreaks have shown a downward trend after daily new cases peaked at an all-time high of over 620,000 in mid-March.
But the KDCA has said the pace of decline has recently slowed down amid waning immunity and eased social distancing rules.
Authorities said the nation's mobility increased during the summer vacation season, accelerating the spread of COVID-19 subvariants.
Of the 10,542 locally transmitted cases, Seoul accounted for 2,768 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 2,800 cases. There were 472 infections in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul.
Overseas infections remained high in Incheon -- where Incheon International Airport is located -- at 53.
The jump came in line with the increasing international flights to the country.
In June, Seoul lifted the seven-day self-isolating requirement for all international entries, regardless of travelers' nationalities and history of vaccination.

jwc@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 정주원 · July 2, 2022

8. North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker


North Korean COVID-19/Fever Data Tracker
Article last updated on July 1, 2022.
After two years of claiming no confirmed COVID-19 cases, North Korea disclosed a nationwide outbreak on May 13 and launched emergency epidemic prevention measures. The epidemic began in late April.
Officially, only a handful of cases have been confirmed as COVID-19, with the rest attributed to an unidentified “fever.” This is likely due to insufficient testing capabilities, and many are assumed to be COVID-19 related, however, that might not be the entire picture. North Korean state media has been publishing daily data on the outbreak, which is featured below. 38 North will update these numbers daily as new information becomes available.
Current Situation
Data reports from state media note further decline in new fever cases. In the 24 hours to 6 p.m. on June 29, 4,570 additional cases were counted, a 3% drop from the day prior. New recoveries totaled 5,690. This brings the total cases reported to 4,744,430 with 4,736,220 total counted recoveries.   
State media reported that the source of COVID-19 cases has been identified. In Ipho-ri, part of Kumgang County north of the South Korean border, it was reported an 18-year-old soldier and 5-year-old “contacted with alien things” in early April. The article also issued instruction to “vigilantly deal” with unknown objects “coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons,” namely around the border.



9. N. Korea blasts G-7 statement on its nuclear, missile programs, vows to bolster 'self-defense' capabilities


The regime's statement will be interpreted by some to "prove" that it is the US (and the international community) that has the​ "hostile policy" toward the north and it is these types of statements from the G7 and other organizations (and th4e US) that "justify" the north's nuclear and missile program for deterrence. If we did not show "hostile intent" toward the north it would not have to develop nuclear and missile capabilities. But who has the real self defense policy? Which came first the north's hostile policy that seeks domination of the peninsula ) or the alliance deterrence and defense policy (which seeks peace, security, stability and prosperity for the entire Korean peninsula).

The regime is developing its nuclear weapons and missile systems for two purposes: 1) to support its political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy; and 2) to support offensive warfighting capabilities to dominate the peninsula.

Recognize the regime's strategy, understand it, expose it, and attack it with information and a superior form of political warfare executed on a foundation of deterrence and defense (that ultimate leads to the solution of the "Korea question:" – a free and unified Korea)



N. Korea blasts G-7 statement on its nuclear, missile programs, vows to bolster 'self-defense' capabilities | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · July 2, 2022
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Saturday it will never back down on its move to beef up its "self-defense" measures against threats from the United States.
Pyongyang was taking issue with the latest statement issued by the leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) following their summit in Germany earlier this week.
They urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."
In response, Jo Chol-su, director general of the international organizations department at North Korea's foreign ministry, said the regime's step for bolstering its military capabilities is a "reasonable and legitimate exercise of the right to self-defense" to protect its rights and interests from the threat of the U.S., the world's biggest nuclear weapons state and wrecker to world peace and security, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"So, nobody has a right to blame it," Jo added, "We will never stand back on the road of justice for defending the dignity and rights of our state, whatever words from others."
The U.S. is a member of the G-7 along with Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
(END)

en.yna.co.kr · by 이치동 · July 2, 2022


10. Yoon says S. Korea, Japan should discuss past, future issues simultaneously


As long as they pledge to prioritize national security and national prosperity and do not allow historical issues to impact on those two priorities.

(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


11. Top economic policymakers of S. Korea, U.S. discuss Russian oil price cap
Sustained high level alliance engagement and global issues.


Top economic policymakers of S. Korea, U.S. discuss Russian oil price cap | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김수연 · July 2, 2022
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- The top economic policymakers of South Korea and the United States have discussed a Washington-led proposal to impose a price cap on Russian oil as part of sanctions against Moscow, Seoul's finance ministry said Saturday.
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a conference call on Friday to discuss the issue, ahead of her planned travel to South Korea on July 19-20, according to the ministry.
Yellen raised the need to introduce a price cap on Russian oil in a bid to help stabilize high energy prices and reduce Russia's revenue from oil exports, the ministry said.
Choo expressed his "understanding" about the intention of the proposed price cap and asked the U.S. to share details if its action plan is fleshed out.
Despite international sanctions, Russia has enjoyed higher oil export revenues as it has shipped crude oil to China and other developing nations at a discount price.
The Group of Seven (G7) have recently agreed to explore options to impose price caps on Russian oil in an effort to reduce Russia's funding for its war in Ukraine from oil revenue.
Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, reportedly asked South Korea to join the move during his recent visit to Seoul.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김수연 · July 2, 2022

12. Chinese envoy prods South Korea to rethink pro-US pivot

Threats begin. They will likely increase. The US and like minded democracies must stand with the ROK.

Chinese envoy prods South Korea to rethink pro-US pivot
By Shi Jiangtao South China Morning Post3 min
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3183844/chinese-envoy-prods-south-korea-rethink-pro-us-pivot?utm_source=rss_feed

South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol attends the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday. Photo: dpa
China’s ambassador to South Korea has urged Seoul to rethink its pivot away from China amid a diplomatic row over South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s participation in the Nato summit this week.
In a speech on Thursday, Xing Haiming also brushed aside growing criticism of China at the summit, including remarks by Yoon hinting that China is a threat to “universal values”.
Speaking at a seminar on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of China’s ties with South Korea, Xing slammed Washington’s “comprehensive containment and suppression of China” and accused Nato of “unmistakable” offensive expansion, contradicting its claim that it is a defensive organisation.
China remains hypersensitive about Nato’s expansion, especially in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has been vocal against Asia-Pacific nations – including South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – attending the Madrid summit as observers.
Last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Nato of trying to “replicate the kind of bloc confrontation seen in Europe here in the Asia-Pacific” and warned the four nations not to “extend the military bloc to this region or stir up division and confrontation”.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo pushed back on Tuesday, saying China’s opposition to Yoon’s involvement in the Nato event was “not in line with mutual respect”.
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Xing also hit back against Nato’s new strategic blueprint, adopted on Wednesday, which labelled China a “systemic challenge” to the Western alliance’s “interests, security and values”.
“China advises Nato to stop spreading false facts and provocative remarks against China, and not to sow chaos in Asia and the world after messing up Europe,” he warned.
Recalling the 1999 US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during a Nato mission, which killed three Chinese journalists, Xing said the US-led bloc “has yet to pay off its blood debt”.
During his speech at the Nato summit, Yoon took a veiled swipe at China and Russia, saying: “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.”
Citing an unnamed South Korean official, Reuters reported that Yoon was referring to his concerns about Russia’s war on Ukraine and “China’s responsibility in the international community”.
Beijing has been wary of the Yoon administration’s tilt towards Washington and its criticism of former president Moon Jae-in’s China-friendly approach.
Unlike Japan, which has become increasingly hostile towards China and played a leading role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy, Beijing hopes to maintain friendly ties with South Korea, which depends on China for trade.
South Korea has become a priority for Beijing’s diplomacy in recent months, with President Xi Jinping reaching out to Yoon after he was elected in March and Vice-President Wang Qishan attending his inauguration ceremony in May.
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However, according to a poll by the US-based Pew Research Center this week, public perceptions of China among South Koreans have seen a sharp decline this year, with only 19 per cent saying they hold a favourable view of the country, while 89 per cent said the same of the US.
In his speech on Thursday, Xing tried to play down the ideological differences between Beijing and Seoul over Yoon’s increasing alignment with Washington and urged South Korea to help ease tensions between China and the US.
“We hope and believe that from the standpoint of constructive, long-term interests, South Korea will properly handle its bilateral ties with both China and the US, and play a role as a ‘lubricant’ between China and the US, in order to maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” he said.
Xing described growing criticism in South Korea and elsewhere of the Communist Party as “prejudice and misunderstanding”.
“The Communist Party of China has always emphasised democracy and freedom, and has its own profound understanding of democracy and freedom,” he said.
Describing Seoul as a strategic partner, Xing urged South Korean leaders to take a long-term, historical view of bilateral ties and help guide public opinion to “view China and China’s domestic and foreign policies objectively and rationally”.
A former diplomat, Shi Jiangtao has worked as a China reporter at the Post for more than a decade. He's interested in political, social and environmental development in China.








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