Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"In short, the strategic problem of the United States has two
aspects: to create a level of thermo-nuclear strength to deter the
Soviet bloc from a major war, or from aggressions in areas which
cannot be defended by an indigenous effort; but to integrate this
with a policy which does not paralyze the will to resist in areas
where local resources for defense do exist."

"The ultimate argument for the little war thesis, however, must
be in terms of the over-all requirements of United States security.
The most frequent argument in favor of our maintaining a foothold
on the Continent of Eurasia, and specifically in Western
Europe, is, in military terms, that our whole strategy depends on
the refueling facilities which our allies provide for our strategic
air force. But we have a strategic interest in Eurasia independent
of the range of our heavy bombers (which can, after all, be increased
by technical advances) , namely, the geopolitical fact
that in relation to Eurasia the United States is an island Power
with inferior resources at present only in manpower, but later
on even in industrial capacity. Thus we are confronted by the
traditional problem of an "island" Power—of Carthage with
respect to Italy, of Britain with respect to the Continent—that
its survival depends on preventing the opposite land-mass from
falling under the control of a single Power, above all one avowedly
hostile. If Eurasia were to fall under the control of a single Power
or group of Powers, and if this hostile Power were given sufficient
time to exploit its resources, we should confront an overpowering
threat. At best we would be forced into a military effort not consistent
with what is now considered the "American way of life."
At worst we would be neutralized and would no longer be masters
of our policy."


"If this is true, we cannot cast off the "grey areas" without dire
consequences. We may be able to win a war without their assistance,
but we cannot survive a long period of peace without denying
them to the U.S.S.R. If the United States ever became confined
to "Fortress America," or even if Soviet expansion in the
"grey areas" went far enough to sap our allies' will to resist,
Americans would be confronted by three-quarters of the human
race and not much less of its resources and their continued existence
would be precarious."
- Henry Kissinger, Military Policy and Defense of the 'Grey Areas'," Foreign Affairs, 1955





1.  North Korea in a Nutshell
2. The World Must Not Forgot North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity
3. N. Korea is one area U.S. and China share 'aligned' interests: State Dept.
4. Sherman: U.S. will discuss with China over N. Korea policy
5. Whither the Unification Ministry?
6. China Restarts Forced Returns of Refugees to North Korea
7. N. Korea beefs up crackdown on use of mobile phones, digital devices in border regions: report
8. N.K. paper calls grain production 'life-or-death' matter
9. Senior S. Korean diplomat holds talks with chief of U.N. peace-building body
10. U.S. looks forward to 'reliable, predictable, constructive' way forward with N. Korea: Sherman
11. [Editorial] Deep rift: Korea’s bid for Japan summit founders; leaders must keep trying to build trust
12. US diplomat worried about pandemic, food supply in N Korea
13. Indonesia Recalls Diplomats in N. Korea over Covid-19 Lockdown
14. Denuclearizing North Korea: Moon Jae-In’s Challenges – Analysis
15. North Korea warns young people to shun slang, style from South Korea
16. The COVID Effect on 'Carrots vs. Sticks' (north Korea)





1. North Korea in a Nutshell
Interview with Dr. Kongdan "Katy" Oh, one of the foremost Korean scholars in the U.S. I provided my review of her and her husband Ralph Hassig's recent book here: https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/area-study-north-korea-nutshell


North Korea in a Nutshell
Insights from Kongdan Oh.
thediplomat.com · by Mercy A. Kuo · July 20, 2021
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The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Kongdan Oh ̶ independent scholar; former senior researcher at RAND Corporation and Institute for Defense Analyses; and author of numerous publications, including “North Korea in a Nutshell“ (June 2021) ̶ is the 279th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”
Comment on North Korea’s strategic calculus toward the Biden administration.
American presidents come and go, but the three generations of the Kim regime have remained constant in their hostility toward the United States. North Korea says that until such time as the United States makes a “bold switchover” in its North Korea policy, replacing hostility with friendship, relations between the two countries cannot improve no matter what deals are made or agreements signed. Every American president for the last 30 years has insisted that North Korea end its nuclear weapons program, a demand that North Korea considers to be overtly hostile. Consequently, it is unlikely that the Kim regime will adopt a new calculus toward the Biden administration. The regime will continue to parry American proposals until North Korea has a sufficiently credible nuclear deterrent to discourage the United States from interfering in North Korean affairs, or until North Korea is able to win over South Korea and present a united front against the United States.
How does North Korea fit into the U.S.-China geopolitical rivalry?
For the United States, North Korea constitutes a military threat in terms of its conventional forces poised to attack South Korea and its weapons of mass destruction. For China, North Korea is merely a nuisance: a minor economic burden, a potential source of military and social instability on China’s border, and an embarrassment as a badly-run communist-style state. China would like to see a unified Korean nation friendly toward China and within China’s economic orbit. The United States would like to see a unified Korean nation friendly toward itself and its Japanese ally. North Korea remains fiercely independent, hostile toward the United States, and suspicious of China. North Korea’s greatest usefulness for China is to give Beijing the opportunity to play the role of “elder statesman” by mediating U.S.-North Korea disagreements.
What is North Korea’s impact on U.S.-South Korea-Japan relations?
Japan is the United States’ major ally in East Asia, America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” diplomatically close and hosting 55,000 American troops. South Korea is also an ally, although not as close, and hosts 38,000 troops. The United States, Japan, and South Korea form one political camp, with South Korea sometimes leaning a bit toward China and North Korea. On the other side is China, Russia, and North Korea, although North Korea does not consider itself to be part of any camp.
North Korea has the potential to be a key political player in the region. If it warmed up to South Korea, it might be able to move South Korea away from the U.S.-Japan alliance and bring it into the China-North Korea orbit. And yet, North Korea has always rebuffed South Korea. This counterintuitive strategy is dictated by the Kim regime’s long-standing claim that the South Korean government is illegitimate, and by the need to prevent the North Korean people from developing relations with their more successful neighbors to the south.
How stable is North Korea’s domestic political situation?
Since its founding in 1948, the North Korean state has lived under the thumb of three generations of the quasi-divine Kim family. The leader controls the country’s politics and military and dominates all aspects of society except the evolving (and illegal) people’s economy. Elite supporters, especially among the top generals, are closely watched. The other 24 million North Koreans do their best to ignore their leader and his appointed officials. The regime has always boasted of the country’s monolithic Kimist culture, but under the seemingly smooth surface small currents move like furiously paddling duck feet. Given the leader’s frequent purges, it can be assumed that most of the elite fear rather than respect him. Covert rivalries exist among political and military organizations. Most North Koreans are alienated from their government. The younger generations are attracted by foreign cultures; ordinary poor North Koreans resent the rising capitalistic economic class. If the leader, the cornerstone of North Korea’s stability, dies or is incapacitated without naming a successor (as has been the case since 2012), the country could quickly dissolve into political chaos.
Identify the top strategic threats that could escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Given the apparent political stability of the Kim regime, and the stabilizing influence of its quasi-allies, China and Russia, the number of strategic threats in the next few years seems limited. The North Korean people have long endured economic hardships and will die rather than rebel if living conditions worsen. The Kim regime frequently issues dire threats against the United States, Japan, and South Korea, but knows better than to carry them out. The United States has absolutely no appetite for another Korean conflict. If the Kim regime tests many long-range missiles or thermonuclear weapons, the United States might be tempted to take limited military action. Likewise, a North Korean provocation against South Korea could result in escalating border skirmishes. However, the most likely cause of tensions would seem to be the death of the North Korean leader, which might be followed by a series of military coups and, finally, domestic chaos that invites foreign intervention from South Korea and perhaps even from China.
thediplomat.com · by Mercy A. Kuo · July 20, 2021




2.  The World Must Not Forgot North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity

The subtitle says it all. There has been no change to the human rights situation in north Korea in the last seven years since the UN Commission of Inquiry.

This article addresses the recent report from Lord Alton in the UK:
This year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on North Korea in the British Parliament decided to shake the dust off the U.N.’s report, and investigate what has happened since 2014. The group, founded by Lord Alton of Liverpool in 2004 and currently chaired by Fiona Bruce, conducted an inquiry intended to follow-on from the U.N.’s investigation.
Its report, released this week at an event addressed by Kirby, is damning. Its major conclusion is that there has been no improvement in the human rights situation in the country. Most of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations have not been implemented and there is clear evidence of continued killings, torture, sexual violence, slavery, and religious persecution.
It confirms that these continued atrocities amount to crimes against humanity, and it goes further, suggesting that “there are reasons to believe that some of the atrocities reach the threshold of genocide.” This is a big claim, one that the U.N. inquiry stopped short of making, although it left a question mark hanging over the issue. The APPG believes the targeting of three groups in particular – Christians, half-Chinese children, and the so-called “hostile” class in North Korea – might reach the definition of genocide, the crime of crimes that requires proof of intent to destroy, “in whole or in part,” a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.



The World Must Not Forgot North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity
Seven years after a damning U.N. report on North Korea’s human rights abuses, nothing has changed.
thediplomat.com · by Benedict Rogers · July 22, 2021
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North Korea has been in the news again sporadically in recent months for a variety of reasons – speculation over Kim Jong Un’s health and weight loss, reports of starvation, COVID-19, and most recently a warning from the regime against South Korean cultural influences.
But earlier this week, a new report was published that reminds us of the most serious issue of all besides the regime’s nuclear program: its atrocious human rights record.
Seven years ago, a Commission of Inquiry established by the United Nations and brilliantly chaired by Australian judge Michael Kirby concluded that Kim’s regime is committing crimes against humanity, the “gravity, scale and nature” of which “reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
The U.N. report documented a catalogue of atrocities including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions,” as well as severe religious persecution, enforced disappearances, and starvation. All of this should lead, the inquiry recommended, to a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In the past seven years, the international community has done almost nothing in response. The U.N. established a Field Office in Seoul to continue to document the crimes committed by the regime in Pyongyang, and a few discussions were held at the Security Council, but otherwise Kirby’s report was put on a shelf to gather dust.
This year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on North Korea in the British Parliament decided to shake the dust off the U.N.’s report, and investigate what has happened since 2014. The group, founded by Lord Alton of Liverpool in 2004 and currently chaired by Fiona Bruce, conducted an inquiry intended to follow-on from the U.N.’s investigation.
Its report, released this week at an event addressed by Kirby, is damning. Its major conclusion is that there has been no improvement in the human rights situation in the country. Most of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations have not been implemented and there is clear evidence of continued killings, torture, sexual violence, slavery, and religious persecution.
It confirms that these continued atrocities amount to crimes against humanity, and it goes further, suggesting that “there are reasons to believe that some of the atrocities reach the threshold of genocide.” This is a big claim, one that the U.N. inquiry stopped short of making, although it left a question mark hanging over the issue. The APPG believes the targeting of three groups in particular – Christians, half-Chinese children, and the so-called “hostile” class in North Korea – might reach the definition of genocide, the crime of crimes that requires proof of intent to destroy, “in whole or in part,” a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
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The testimonies in the report are all-too chillingly familiar for anyone who has followed North Korea for any length of time. But the brutality and inhumanity described is no less shocking. The report quotes the International Bar Association’s 2017 report, which described a prisoner who “was raped by a security officer, after which the officer stuck a wooden stick inside her vagina and beat her lower body, resulting in her death within a week of the rape.” In another case a female prisoner was raped and impregnated by a prison officer. “When the woman gave birth, she was taken to the punishment block, and her newborn baby was fed to prison guard dogs.”
Christians are especially singled out for the worst treatment. Possessing a Bible means certain incarceration in a prison camp and the most severe forms of torture, while those who are caught sharing their faith face execution.
Half-Chinese children also appear to be particularly targeted. North Korean woman who are trafficked to China and become pregnant by Chinese men would be subjected to forced abortion upon return to North Korea. There are even allegations of infanticide of half-Chinese children, according to the APPG inquiry. “There are strong suggestions that no half-Chinese children are permitted to live,” the report claims.
North Korean society is divided by the regime into multiple political classes: “loyal,” “wavering,” and “hostile.” Anyone with a religious background, lineage connected with South Korea, or a wealthy ancestry is categorized from birth as disloyal to the regime and therefore in the “hostile” class, automatically consigning them to a lifetime of discrimination in employment, education, housing, health care, access to food, and other opportunities.
Thae Yong Ho, North Korea’s former deputy ambassador in London who defected in 2016 and is now an elected member of the South Korean National Assembly, told the inquiry that under Kim Jong Un, the human rights situation is “getting worse.” Frequent purges of the elite have created “an unpredictable atmosphere” in the regime, Thae said.
The APPG sets out a range of recommendations in its report, aimed primarily at the United Kingdom but relevant for all like-minded democracies. It argues that the United Kingdom must “re-engage” on the human rights questions in North Korea “using all available avenues,” work with the new U.S. administration and other allies to push for renewed attention on North Korea’s human rights crisis at the U.N. Security Council, and revisit the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s recommendation to establish a “human rights contact group” for North Korea to ensure coordination and dialogue between concerned states.
Options for accountability for crimes against humanity must be reviewed, including the possibility of the referral to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal. States should consider exercising universal jurisdiction, and action at the International Court of Justice for North Korea’s breaches of the Geneva Convention should be an option.
Work toward transitional justice, truth, and reconciliation should be supported, and targeted sanctions continued and strengthened. Humanitarian assistance should be coordinated to ensure it reaches those who need it in North Korea, and survivors of sex trafficking and sexual violence should receive support in the country where they are found, and given protection and assistance, including asylum, where needed.
This report does a great service in bringing us up to date on the human rights crisis in North Korea, and in providing us all with a wake-up call: nothing has changed, little has been done, and there is much, much more to do. In a world full of many problems today, there can be few issues more grave and more deserving of our attention than the plight of North Korea’s 25 million inhabitants. This report has blown the dust off the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry report. Let us not permit the dust to gather again on either – let both reports serve as manuals for action.
thediplomat.com · by Benedict Rogers · July 22, 2021



3. N. Korea is one area U.S. and China share 'aligned' interests: State Dept.

"Some" alignment perhaps.

China certainly does not share our our values here given the continued forced repatriation of Koreans escaping from the north among many other human rights abuses:
He said the U.S. will also continue to seek to improve human rights and humanitarian conditions in the impoverished North, while noting, when asked, that his country currently does not have any plans to share its COVID-19 vaccines with the North.
"We very much remain concerned about the human rights situation in the DPRK, about the humanitarian situation in the DPRK," he said.
"And ultimately, our policy goal, a policy goal of our DPRK policy review is to not only seek to secure our interests but also to uphold our values, and that is ultimately part and parcel of the reason why we seek to improve the humanitarian conditions for the people in North Korea. We'll continue to look at ways to do that, consistent with what we're able to do and what's appropriate."

N. Korea is one area U.S. and China share 'aligned' interests: State Dept. | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · July 23, 2021
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, July 22 (Yonhap) -- The United States and China may share similar interests when it comes to the issue of denuclearizing North Korea despite their sometimes competitive and even adversarial relationship, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.
Ned Price made the remarks as Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is set to visit China for discussions on issues that will include ways to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and provocative ballistic missile programs.
"The DPRK is one of those areas where there is at least some alignment of interests, and so we think that there is room for, at the very least, discussion with the PRC when it comes to the challenge posed by the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its other threatening activity," the spokesman said, referring to North Korea and China by their official names, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of China.
"A DPRK that poses a threat to its neighbors, to our allies, that is not in the interest of the ROK. It's not in the interest of Japan, it's not, certainly not, in the interest of the United States," he added.
ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

Price's remarks also come amid U.S. efforts to bring North Korea back to denuclearization negotiations.
The North has stayed away from talks since early 2019, while it remains unresponsive to a number of overtures made by the Joe Biden administration since it took office in January.
"As you know Deputy Secretary Sherman will be in the PRC this weekend," said Price. "She will take part in high level meetings there. I would expect that the totality of that relationship, the competitive elements, the adversarial elements, but also the potentially cooperative elements will be on that agenda."
The spokesman also emphasized the need to work with U.S. allies and partners in ridding North Korea of its nuclear ambitions.
"One of the most important tools we have is the unprecedented system of alliances and partnerships that we have around the world," he said.
"We have invested heavily, and we will continue to invest heavily in these alliances, in these partnerships, including and especially in the Indo-Pacific, knowing that we have any number of shared values, and we have any number of shared interests, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a diminution of the threat posed by the DPRK and its nuclear, its ballistic missile programs, that is a shared interest across the region, and it's something we'll continue to pursue," added Price.
He said the U.S. will also continue to seek to improve human rights and humanitarian conditions in the impoverished North, while noting, when asked, that his country currently does not have any plans to share its COVID-19 vaccines with the North.
"We very much remain concerned about the human rights situation in the DPRK, about the humanitarian situation in the DPRK," he said.
"And ultimately, our policy goal, a policy goal of our DPRK policy review is to not only seek to secure our interests but also to uphold our values, and that is ultimately part and parcel of the reason why we seek to improve the humanitarian conditions for the people in North Korea. We'll continue to look at ways to do that, consistent with what we're able to do and what's appropriate."
bdk@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · July 23, 2021



4. Sherman: U.S. will discuss with China over N. Korea policy

And China's response will be to tell us to lift sanctions and cancel exercises to entice the north back to the negotiating table.

Sherman: U.S. will discuss with China over N. Korea policy
Posted July. 23, 2021 07:33,
Updated July. 23, 2021 07:33
Sherman: U.S. will discuss with China over N. Korea policy. July. 23, 2021 07:33. niceshin@donga.com,tree624@donga.com.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the No. 2 diplomat in the U.S. State Department, who is currently visiting South Korea, met President Moon Jae-in on Thursday and stated that she will have a thorough discussion on the U.S. policy towards North Korea in a forthcoming visit to China. Washington and Beijing are known to have recently resumed regular high-level talks strictly focused on diplomatic relations, including concerns over North Korea, while keeping a distance from the recent contention over economic matters. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are scheduled to meet on Sunday and Monday.

President Moon met Deputy Secretary Sherman at Cheong Wa Dae and requested that the U.S. play an active role to restart discussions between Washington and Pyongyang. “The U.S. looks forward to a prompt positive response on the resumption of dialogue from North Korea. We hope to continue our closely coordinated efforts for dialogue with North Korea,” Ms. Sherman said.

According to a person familiar with foreign affairs, the U.S. and China have recently reopened a diplomatic channel, which had been practically severed during the Trump administration. An official declined to be named said that the resumed talks are expected to revolve around matters concerning diplomatic relations, including North Korea policy, which both Washington and Beijing agreed on the need to cooperate on. The source further said that the two countries will adopt the two-track approach that separates economy from diplomacy.


5. Whither the Unification Ministry?

A sacthing critique from the former head of the Korean Institute for National Unification. 

Excerpts:

Forget about the human rights lawyer-turned-president who has never proclaimed peaceful reunification based on liberal democracy, referring himself only as the “president in the south,” not sparing “praise and applause” for the North Korean dictator and describing him as “very frank, passionate and decisive on what’s going on in the world.” Forget about the unification minister devoted to respecting his boss no matter what he says.

It is the time for the unification ministry to look back on itself. Is there any other way other than inducing North Korean residents to recognize the system of South Korea as their future goal and encouraging them to voluntarily make a decision and work with us? The essential task is to show them the outside world and Korean society, let them feel how we want to be together, and win their hearts. Has the government dealt with defector success stories properly so that North Koreans could envy our society?

The Moon Jae-in administration repatriated North Korean defectors who are Korean citizens under our Constitution. It kept quiet when the North Korean regime used slander and recklessly criticized South Korean politics. Yet the government enacted a law banning the distribution of propaganda leaflets across the border to help restrict external information flowing to North Korean residents. The government ignored the death of a South Korean fisheries official who was shot and killed by North Korean navy in the West Sea. The unification ministry called for supplying aid to North Korea even after it blew up the Kaesong inter-Korean liaison office building, which cost 27 billion won ($23.5 million) in taxpayer’s money.


Thursday
July 22, 2021
Whither the Unification Ministry?

Son Gi-woong

The author, former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, is the director of the Korea Institute for Peace and Cooperation.


The Ministry of Unification is the center of unification process. We want to reunite the divided Korea Peninsula to enjoy humane life in an integrated country which is stronger in political, economic and military terms. The ministry covers the entire peninsula. While other government ministries work with the premise of the current situation of the peninsula, the Unification Ministry prepares for changes in the peninsula.

For the ministry to carry out its mission successfully, sufficient human and material support is essential. It is better to promote the minister to deputy prime minister level — on the premise that the ministry manifests the will for reunification at home and abroad and does the job properly. The Korea Institute for National Unification and the National Institute for Unification Education need to be unified, and officials dealing with unification affairs need to be dispatched to major countries again and more often. There’s a long way to go, but the unification ministry’s existence is debated once again. It is more painful because it caused the trouble itself.
 

Unification Minister Lee In-young, a democracy activist during college days, makes a speech near the DMZ on April 26 to mark the third anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration between President Moon Jae-in and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Forget about the human rights lawyer-turned-president who has never proclaimed peaceful reunification based on liberal democracy, referring himself only as the “president in the south,” not sparing “praise and applause” for the North Korean dictator and describing him as “very frank, passionate and decisive on what’s going on in the world.” Forget about the unification minister devoted to respecting his boss no matter what he says.

It is the time for the unification ministry to look back on itself. Is there any other way other than inducing North Korean residents to recognize the system of South Korea as their future goal and encouraging them to voluntarily make a decision and work with us? The essential task is to show them the outside world and Korean society, let them feel how we want to be together, and win their hearts. Has the government dealt with defector success stories properly so that North Koreans could envy our society?

The Moon Jae-in administration repatriated North Korean defectors who are Korean citizens under our Constitution. It kept quiet when the North Korean regime used slander and recklessly criticized South Korean politics. Yet the government enacted a law banning the distribution of propaganda leaflets across the border to help restrict external information flowing to North Korean residents. The government ignored the death of a South Korean fisheries official who was shot and killed by North Korean navy in the West Sea. The unification ministry called for supplying aid to North Korea even after it blew up the Kaesong inter-Korean liaison office building, which cost 27 billion won ($23.5 million) in taxpayer’s money.

President Moon has said “Peace is economy, and economy is peace!” But how is the peace economy connected to reunification? Is the reunification of one people, one nation, one system and one government still valid? Or does inter-Korean reconciliation and co-existence mean reunification? Is it why the government ignored the German reunification and instead studied cases of the EU and the CIS?

Are human rights not mentioned out of concern that North Korea would refuse to talk at all? Haven’t they seen North Korea seeking to improve relations with the U.S. when it legislates the North Korean Human Rights Act? When even the president is overly cautious, the North Korean dictator is dismissive toward Moon. Will human rights and freedom be discussed when relations improve?

Is it because of the U.S. that inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation don’t work? Didn’t they know in advance that support of the U.S. was the condition for new economic map of the Korean Peninsula? Despite the sanctions by the international community, the government wants to facilitate exchanges with North Korean residents.

Didn’t the government learn anything from Germany’s “Realpolitik” of riding on America’s world politics, resolving the Berlin issue through basic treaties with East Germany, reunifying the country with the approval of the United States, and raising its own voice after the unification?


6. China Restarts Forced Returns of Refugees to North Korea

The international community must hold north Korea and China accountable for the human rights abuses.

Excerpts:
North Korean authorities consider departures from the country without permission a serious crime. Since anyone who returns to North Korea after fleeing will likely be tortured or otherwise mistreated, all have a claim for refugee status in whichever country they reach.
The Chinese government should provide asylum to North Koreans in China or give them safe passage to South Korea or another safe third country. It should allow the UN Refugee Agency to exercise its mandate and let them have access to the detained North Korean refugees.

China Restarts Forced Returns of Refugees to North Korea
At Least 1,170 North Koreans Face Torture, Sexual Abuse if Sent Back
hrw.org · by Lina Yoon Senior Researcher, Asia Division @linayp @linayp · July 22, 2021
Photos of the North Korean refugees helped by the North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association of Korea are displayed in Seoul, South Korea on June 11, 2019. © 2019 Josh Smith/Reuters
For months, North Koreans living in South Korea who have relatives detained in China have been imploring government officials, foreign diplomats, United Nations agencies, and others for help. They hope international pressure can dissuade Chinese authorities from forcibly returning their relatives and other refugees to North Korea.
Concerns among relatives spiked last week when Chinese authorities forcibly returned nearly 50 North Korean refugees who now face torture, imprisonment, sexual violence, and forced labor. The North Korean government reopened its borders on July 14 after closing them in early 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing the risk of forced repatriation. The families’ fears have grown as North Korean authorities are reportedly inflicting more severe punishments on anybody trying to escape the country.
The nearly 50 returned refugees are the latest victims of Beijing’s efforts to deter North Koreans from fleeing to China to escape horrific human rights conditions at home. Based on information from sources with local contacts, Human Rights Watch believes that the Chinese government is currently holding at least 1,170 North Koreans in detention. These include 450 North Korean men in a prison in Changchun, Jilin province serving sentences for alleged criminal activities, who will be deported after completing their sentences. There are also 325 North Korean refugees in Tumen city, 47 in Changbai county, 104 in Linjiang city in Jilin province, 180 in Dandong, and 64 in Shenyang in Liaoning province.
The Chinese government routinely labels North Koreans as illegal “economic migrants” and forcibly repatriates them under a 1986 bilateral border protocol. But as a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and the UN Convention against Torture, China is obligated not to force back anyone who would be at risk of persecution or torture upon return.
North Korean authorities consider departures from the country without permission a serious crime. Since anyone who returns to North Korea after fleeing will likely be tortured or otherwise mistreated, all have a claim for refugee status in whichever country they reach.
The Chinese government should provide asylum to North Koreans in China or give them safe passage to South Korea or another safe third country. It should allow the UN Refugee Agency to exercise its mandate and let them have access to the detained North Korean refugees.



7.N. Korea beefs up crackdown on use of mobile phones, digital devices in border regions: report
This is a real threat to the regime. The 6.5 million smart phones help the markets function, provide contact between families with members who have escaped, allow the transfer of funds (through the use of minutes as currency) and of course allow the transmission of information among the people.

The KINU gets this wrong. It is not sanctions. It is Kim Jong-un's decision making and prioritization that is causing the suffering. Remember that sanctions do not prohibit food, medical, or humanitarian aid. Kim Jong-un actually prevents it and of course he prioritizes his resources for nuclear weapons and missiles, modernization of the military and support to the elite over the welfare of the people. Do not blame sanctions for Kim ong-un decision making. Yes, women, children, and the disabled are suffering horrendously. But it is because of Kim Jong-un.

Excerpt:

The sanctions, along with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, are also taking a toll, especially on women, children, the physically challenged and other at-risk groups in North Korea, the report added.

N. Korea beefs up crackdown on use of mobile phones, digital devices in border regions: report | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · July 23, 2021
SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have intensified its crackdown on the use of mobile phones and other digital devices in border regions to prevent the inflow of culture from South Korea, a think tank report showed Friday.
In the annual report on the human rights situation in North Korea, the Korea Institute for National Unification said that such controls are believed to be part of Pyongyang's ongoing efforts to tighten ideological discipline and safeguard socialism among its people.
The report is based on interviews with 50 North Koreans who recently defected to the South, the think tank said.
"The North Korean people usually get access to outside information through mobile phones, but since mid-2019, crackdowns on and punishment for the use of mobile phones in border areas have been beefed up," the report said.
"In particular, crackdowns on and punishment for (holding) recorded materials, records on phone calls and text messages linked to South Korea have been intensified," it added. "This could be understood as part of the recently ramped-up regulation on non-socialistic practices."
In December, the North reenacted a law that toughens punishment for possession of videos made in South Korea as part of efforts to prevent the inflow of outside culture that could influence its people's ideology.
The report also said that North Korea appears to continue to face chronic food shortages and the prolonged economic sanctions are having a "negative" impact on food supplies to its people.
The sanctions, along with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, are also taking a toll, especially on women, children, the physically challenged and other at-risk groups in North Korea, the report added.
The report said that the defectors' testimonies show fewer public executions in North Korea recently and less mobilization of citizens, which it cited as potential signs of an improvement in overall human rights conditions there, though it noted that more evidence is needed for confirmation.
kokobj@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · July 23, 2021


8. N.K. paper calls grain production 'life-or-death' matter

Kim has the money to purchase food to make up the shortfall. But instead he builds nuclear weapons.

Excerpt:
Experts say that North Korea needs to produce around 5.5 million tons of food every year to feed its population. A think tank in Seoul earlier said the North could face a food shortage of around 1.3 million tons this year.

N.K. paper calls grain production 'life-or-death' matter | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · July 23, 2021
SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Friday called for all-out efforts to maximize grain production this year, saying successful farming is a "life-or-death" matter that could determine the country's fate.
"The top priority issue of this year's national policy is successful farming," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the country's ruling Workers' Party, said in an editorial.
"All citizens living in this country should provide every possible support while regarding good farming as a life-or-death matter that determines the fate of themselves and their children as well as that of their country," it added.
Saying that farming has been carried out as planned so far, the paper warned that typhoons and flooding, which devastated the country's major rice-producing areas last summer, could hit the country this year too.
"The guard cannot be lowered at any moment with regard to farming," the paper said. "Given the lessons learned from last year and in light of the importance of this year's farming, support for the agriculture sector should be provided ceaselessly until work is completed."
North Korea is known for chronic food shortages, which appear to have been aggravated by last summer's back-to-back typhoons and flooding that wrought havoc on key farming areas. In June, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un acknowledged that the country is facing a "tense" food shortage.
In a report recently submitted to the United Nations, North Korea said that its production dropped to the lowest level in 10 years in 2018 due to natural disasters, lack of farming materials and low levels of mechanization. It also admitted having failed to achieve its national target of producing 7 million tons of food.
Experts say that North Korea needs to produce around 5.5 million tons of food every year to feed its population. A think tank in Seoul earlier said the North could face a food shortage of around 1.3 million tons this year.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 고병준 · July 23, 2021

9. Senior S. Korean diplomat holds talks with chief of U.N. peace-building body

South Korea contributing globally as a strong middle power:
In the meeting Thursday (New York time) with Rosemary DiCarlo, U.N. undersecretary general and chief of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), Ham stressed South Korea's willingness to expand cooperation in efforts related to peacekeeping, women and peace security, children and armed conflict, and cybersecurity, the ministry said in a release.
Ham noted that Seoul is ready to actively engage in discussions to resolve such pending global issues, as it seeks to become a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council for 2024-25, the ministry said.

Senior S. Korean diplomat holds talks with chief of U.N. peace-building body | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · July 23, 2021
SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- Ham Sang-wook, deputy foreign minister for multilateral affairs, has held talks with the chief of a U.N. body handling peace-building affairs about cooperation in conflict prevention and peace-building efforts, the foreign ministry said Friday.
In the meeting Thursday (New York time) with Rosemary DiCarlo, U.N. undersecretary general and chief of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), Ham stressed South Korea's willingness to expand cooperation in efforts related to peacekeeping, women and peace security, children and armed conflict, and cybersecurity, the ministry said in a release.
Ham noted that Seoul is ready to actively engage in discussions to resolve such pending global issues, as it seeks to become a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council for 2024-25, the ministry said.
DiCarlo, in turn, asked for Seoul's continued cooperation as a key contributor in U.N. peace-building and conflict prevention efforts, expressing concerns that the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the security situations in major conflict zones around the world.
During the talks, the two also discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Israel-Palestine.
The DPPA is a key security-related department in the U.N. Secretariat that handles policies on preventive diplomacy and mediation and supports the activities of U.N. envoys for conflict regions around the world.

elly@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김승연 · July 23, 2021


10. U.S. looks forward to 'reliable, predictable, constructive' way forward with N. Korea: Sherman

But the ball is in KJU's court.

(4th LD) U.S. looks forward to 'reliable, predictable, constructive' way forward with N. Korea: Sherman | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · July 23, 2021
(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 17-18)
By Song Sang-ho and Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- The United States looks forward to a "reliable, predictable and constructive" way forward with North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday, redoubling calls for Pyongyang to respond to Washington's overtures for dialogue.
Sherman made the remarks after talks with First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun in Seoul, amid uncertainty over the resumption of nuclear diplomacy following Pyongyang's rejection of dialogue last month.
"We are looking forward to a reliable, predictable, constructive way forward with the DPRK," Sherman told reporters, referring to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "We have offered to sit in dialogue with the North Koreans, and we are waiting to hear from them."

The deputy secretary also expressed concern over North Korean people facing multiple hardships.
"We all feel for the people of the DPRK, who are indeed, facing all the most difficult circumstances given the pandemic, and what it means as well for their food security," she said. "We only hope for a better outcome for the people of the DPRK."
Despite the U.S.' offer to meet with the North "anywhere, anytime without preconditions," North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon has said that his country was not considering "even the possibility of any contact" with the U.S. That dampened optimism that emerged after leader Kim Jong-un signaled openness to dialogue.
Asked about China's role in addressing North Korea's nuclear issue, Sherman called it "certainly an area for cooperation."
"Thinking together about bringing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is certainly an area for cooperation," she said.
Sherman plans to visit the northeastern Chinese port city of Tianjin on Sunday and Monday for talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and others, where North Korean issues will be discussed.
"I have no doubt that in my conversations in Tianjin in a few days, that we will discuss the DPRK. China certainly has interests and thoughts," she said.
At the start of the talks with Choi, Sherman said the agenda included regional challenges that "threaten to undermine the rules-based international order," while stressing Seoul and Washington are bound by "our common security interests" and "our common values of democracy and freedom."
Her remarks came as Washington has been hardening its stance against Beijing's policies on Hong Kong, the East and South China seas, and the Taiwan Strait, while warning against businesses with supply chain and investment links to the Xinjiang province, which Washington accuses of forced labor and rights abuses.
Beijing remains defiant, as President Xi Jinping has said in a recent speech for the Communist Party's centenary that potential adversaries would "crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel" should they "bully, oppress or enslave" his country.
During the talks, Choi took note of Sherman's role in the Perry Process in 1999, saying the effort demonstrated that the Korean Peninsula issue can be settled through diplomacy.
Proposed by former Defense Secretary William Perry, the process refers to a three-stage proposal to tackle the North's nuclear problem, which involves the normalization of ties between the U.S. and the North.
"Since the launch of the Biden administration, bilateral communication and exchanges have continued without a pause even for a day," Choi said. "That attests to the fact that the South Korea-U.S. alliance is being upgraded into a sound alliance."
In a press release, the foreign ministry said that Choi and Sherman agreed to closely cooperate to tackle global challenges, such as climate change and public health, "based on shared values."
They also agreed to continue joint efforts for the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccine supplies across the world based on a global vaccine partnership that Presidents Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden agreed to forge at their summit in Washington in May.
Sherman arrived here Wednesday for a three-day visit, after she had trilateral talks with Choi and her Japanese counterpart, Takeo Mori, in Tokyo to highlight trilateral cooperation against a recalcitrant North Korea and an assertive China.
Sherman is set to depart for Mongolia later in the day.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
elly@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 송상호 · July 23, 2021


11. [Editorial] Deep rift: Korea’s bid for Japan summit founders; leaders must keep trying to build trust

A lot of hard work is necessary. But change will not come until political leaders pledge to place national security and national prosperity as the priority over historical issues (but pledge to work on historical issues as well but security and prosperity are the paramount considerations).

Excerpts:

Chances are pretty high that the Korea-Japan relations under the Moon administration will be carried over to the next government. Korea failed to convert a chance into reality, but it must not give up efforts to find a turning point if it wants better relations with Japan. The people and businesses of both countries will only end up getting caught in the crosshairs because of the antagonism toward each other.

It is fortunate that consultations on Moon’s visit to Japan are said to have produced a significant level of mutual understanding on some issues. Korea and Japan must not give up trying to restore mutual trust and improve their relations. Trust cannot be built in a day.

Above all, politicians in both countries must not use Korea-Japan relations to push their political agenda. With a future-oriented attitude, they must keep trying to find a way for their countries to prosper together.

[Editorial] Deep rift
koreaherald.com · by Korea Herald · July 21, 2021
Korea’s bid for Japan summit founders; leaders must keep trying to build trust
Published : Jul 22, 2021 - 05:30 Updated : Jul 22, 2021 - 05:30
President Moon Jae-in’s decision not to visit Japan this week shows again the deep rift in relations between the two countries.

The Moon administration tried to make a breakthrough in the deteriorating Korea-Japan ties by using the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games as an opportunity to hold a bilateral face-to-face summit.

Korea-Japan relations remain at a low under the Moon administration primarily due to frictions over the historical issues of compensating former Korean victims of forced labor and military sexual enslavement during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910-1945 and Tokyo’s export curbs implemented in 2019. No summit talks have been held between the two countries since Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office in September last year.

In consultations about the summit, Tokyo did not step back from its position that Seoul must first offer solutions to the issues related to the former victims of forced labor and sexual slavery. For the Korean government, this is a tall order.

Japan’s obstinate attitude gave an impression that the country looked away intentionally from the necessity for the two leaders to meet up with each other to resolve pending problems. It also raised suspicions that Tokyo used Seoul’s push for summit as a leverage to gain concession. Despite Japan’s high-handed and insincere attitude toward the summit, Korea tried to keep up negotiations.

To make matters worse, a high-level Japanese diplomat in Korea made obscene comments that disgraced Moon. Nevertheless, the Japanese government neither offered a plain apology nor made a corresponding personnel transfer.

Japan looked as if it would not feel sorry at all even if Moon’s visit goes up in smoke. It is deeply regrettable that the Japanese government showed a stubborn and passive attitude, causing the miscarriage of the summit.

The Korean government needs to take this opportunity to look back on how Korea-Japan relations came to this.

Early in his presidency, Moon broke the agreement on the issue of former Korean victims to Japan’s military sexual slavery, arguing that the accord has a serious flaw. That was the beginning of the breakdown in bilateral relations.

In September 2018, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in favor of former Korean victims of forced labor who sought compensation from Japanese companies, adding fuel to the fire. Nearly three years have since passed, but it is hard to say that Cheong Wa Dae and the Moon government tried their best politically and diplomatically to resolve the conflicts. In response to Japan’s export curbs, which came after the ruling, high-ranking government and ruling party officials instigated anti-Japanese sentiment, mentioning Japan’s past invasions of Korea. Rather than trying to ease conflicts, they stimulated them.

The Tokyo Olympic Games may effectively be the last chance for the Moon administration to try to restore tattered relations. After the Olympics, both countries will have a busy election schedule. Prime Minister Suga faces a leadership election of the Liberal Democratic Party in September. In Korea at that time, both ruling and opposition parties are likely to elect their presidential candidates.

Chances are pretty high that the Korea-Japan relations under the Moon administration will be carried over to the next government. Korea failed to convert a chance into reality, but it must not give up efforts to find a turning point if it wants better relations with Japan. The people and businesses of both countries will only end up getting caught in the crosshairs because of the antagonism toward each other.

It is fortunate that consultations on Moon’s visit to Japan are said to have produced a significant level of mutual understanding on some issues. Korea and Japan must not give up trying to restore mutual trust and improve their relations. Trust cannot be built in a day.

Above all, politicians in both countries must not use Korea-Japan relations to push their political agenda. With a future-oriented attitude, they must keep trying to find a way for their countries to prosper together.

By Korea Herald (koreaherald@heraldcorp.com)

12. US diplomat worried about pandemic, food supply in N Korea

As we must be. No one can predict what will happen but I fear the conditions that exist today could make the 1994-1996 Arduous March pale in comparison. There will be no South Korean Sunshine Policy to bail out the regime as it did in 1997. And the regime has been doing everything it can to further repress the population so the safety valves and coping mechanisms brought about through market activity are being severely affected by regime actions.

US diplomat worried about pandemic, food supply in N Korea
AP · by HYUNG-JIN KIM · July 23, 2021
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — America’s No. 2 diplomat on Friday expressed sympathy for North Koreans facing hardships and food shortages linked to the pandemic, and renewed calls for the North to return to talks over its nuclear program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently warned of a “tense” food situation and admitted his country faces “the worst-ever” crisis. But his government has steadfastly insisted it won’t rejoin the talks unless Washington drops its hostility.
“We all feel for the people of the DPRK, who are indeed facing all the most difficult circumstances given the pandemic, and what it means as well for their food security,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters in Seoul, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We only hope for a better outcome for the people of the DPRK,” she said.
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Sherman spoke after meeting South Korean officials, during which the two sides reaffirmed that they’ll continue diplomatic efforts to convince North Korea to return to the nuclear talks.
“We are looking forward to a reliable, predictable, constructive way forward with the DPRK,” Sherman said. “We have offered to sit and dialogue with the North Koreans, and we are waiting to hear from them.”
Speaking beside Sherman, South Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Choi Jong Kun, said, “We’ll wait for a North Korean response with patience as now is the coronavirus period.”
The talks between Washington and Pyongyang have made little headway since early 2019, when a second summit between Kim and then-President Donald Trump collapsed due to wrangling over U.S.-led economic sanctions. Kim has since threatened to bolster his nuclear arsenal and build more sophisticated weapons unless the Americans lift their hostile policy, an apparent reference to the sanctions.
Some experts say North Korea may be compelled to reach out to the United States if its economic difficulties worsen. Outside monitoring groups haven’t reported any signs of mass starvation or social chaos in North Korea. In recent speeches, Kim has called for his 26 million people to brace for prolonged COVID-19 restrictions, indicating the country wasn’t ready to reopen its borders despite the massive toll on its economy.
South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers this month that North Korea hasn’t received any foreign coronavirus vaccine. COVAX, the U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, said in February that North Korea could receive 1.9 million doses in the first half of the year. But UNICEF, which procures and delivers vaccines on behalf of COVAX, said recently that North Korea hasn’t even completed the paperwork for receiving the vaccines and that it was unclear when they could be delivered.
After Seoul, Sherman is to travel on to Mongolia and then China, the North’s last major ally and aid benefactor. She’ll be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January.
During her visit to the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin on Sunday, Sherman said she’ll discuss North Korea with Chinese officials, saying Beijing “certainly has interests and thought” on it.
“The Biden administration has described our relationships with China as obviously a complicated one. It has aspects that are competitive, it has aspects where it is challenging, and aspects where we can cooperate,” she said. “And thinking together about bringing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is certainly an area for cooperation.”
Choi said China knows well it can play “a very important role” in efforts to bring back North Korea to dialogue. He said Sherman’s China trip would be “very meaningful” and that Seoul and Washington have a shared responsibility for Beijing to play its role.
Ahead of the meeting with Sherman, China has adopted a confrontational tone, reflecting the sharp deterioration in relations that began under Trump and continued under Biden.
The U.S. is “defining China as a competitor, provoking confrontation, and containing and suppressing China’s development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing. “The U.S. side has been calling for dialogue with China from a position of strength, which only reflects its arrogance and hegemony.”
AP · by HYUNG-JIN KIM · July 23, 2021


13. Indonesia Recalls Diplomats in N. Korea over Covid-19 Lockdown

It would be interesting to debrief these diplomats on their experiences in north Korea. A reception at the US Embassy in Jakarta might be a nice welcome home event for them.

Indonesia Recalls Diplomats in N. Korea over Covid-19 Lockdown


In this Feb. 19, 2021 photo, Indonesian Ambassador to North Korea Berlian Napitupulu hosts a meeting with his foreign counterparts at the Indonesian Embassy building in Pyongyang. (Photo Courtesy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry)
BY :ANTARA
JULY 23, 2021
Jakarta. Indonesia is temporarily pulling its diplomats out of North Korea in response to the the latter's coronavirus lockdown, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced.
The North Korean government has asked foreign envoys in Pyongyang to temporarily recall their diplomatic staff or international organizations home since late last year, according to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah.
"North Korea has imposed a lockdown by closing access for the movement of people and goods. This policy entered into force since the pandemic began [and will be in effect] until further notice," Faizasyah told Antara news agency on Thursday.
Faizasyah said the recalling of Indonesian diplomats are unrelated to the bilateral relations, which are still going well. Many embassies in Pyongyang are also making these adjustments.
According to Faizasyah, Indonesia had previously discussed in detail with the North Korean government regarding its decision to adjust its diplomatic missions. The North Korean authorities are also fully facilitating the adjustment.
"We will conduct our diplomatic missions from Jakarta until it is possible for them to return to Pyongyang," Faizasyah said.
North Korea so far has yet to report a Covid-19 case to the World Health Organization (WHO) and thus its pandemic situation remains unclear.
Its leader Kim Jong Un, however, said the failure to implement measures against the coronavirus has caused a great crisis. He has berated ruling party officials for putting the country and people at risk, North Korea's state-controlled media KCNA reported earlier this month.
South Korean and American officials have questioned North Korea's coronavirus-free claims. Nonetheless, North Korea has taken strict measures to keep the virus at bay, such as by closing its borders and restricting domestic travels.


14.  Denuclearizing North Korea: Moon Jae-In’s Challenges – Analysis

I think the clock is running out for the Moon administration.

Conclusion:
To conclude, notwithstanding his sincere efforts at improving Seoul’s ties with Pyongyang and moving towards North Korean denuclearisation, President Moon remains far off from his goal. Time is running out for him; he has less than nine months left for his term to end. He needs to review his diplomatic course vis-à-vis Pyongyang and make the latter respond positively to his efforts for the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
Both Washington and Tokyo have of late come together with Seoul to focus on having a trilateral mechanism aimed at meeting the North Korean challenge. President Moon could use this opportunity to devise, in consultation with Washington and Tokyo, effective strategies and tactics to push North Korea towards its denuclearisation.

Denuclearizing North Korea: Moon Jae-In’s Challenges – Analysis
eurasiareview.com · by Observer Research Foundation · July 23, 2021
By Abhijitha Singh*
Ever since communist North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the successive governments in Seoul have perceived any increase in Pyongyang’s military strength as an existential threat and sought to contain it. The current administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is no exception. Since South Korean President Moon Jae-in came to power in May 2017, the denuclearisation of North Korea has been one of his most cherished foreign policy objectives. Like his predecessors, Moon perceives North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapon programme as a major threat to the South and has made serious efforts to end it. He has adopted a policy that seeks to promote an ever-increasing exchange with North Korea and make the latter see the benefits in denuclearising itself and, thus, fostering a closer relationship with the economically advanced South. But as President Moon’s term in the Blue House is nearing its end, it is apparent that he is still far from his goal of denuclearising North Korea. In his recent talks with the United States President Joe Biden, Washington affirmed its inclination to work closely with Seoul to denuclearise North Korea. Biden also stressed the need for US-ROK-Japan trilateral cooperation to bolster a rule-based order in the region. Therefore, the atmosphere is conducive for President Moon to accomplish his long-standing goal, by efficiently coordinating with the current administrations in Washington and Tokyo and devising strategies and tactics that would work to denuclearise North Korea.
Moving against the odds
President Moon has throughout adhered to his policy against all odds. Some of his conservative predecessors in the Blue House adopted a policy of confrontation to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. After the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) suspected Pyongyang of developing nuclear weapons in 1993, then US President Jimmy Carter met President Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang and signed with him an agreed framework on the North’s controversial nuclear programme. The former South Korean President Kim Young-sam opposed it and stated, “We cannot shake hands with a partner with nuclear weapons.” The administrations of both Presidents Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013) and Park Geun-hye (2013-2017) in Seoul declared the two Koreas would engage only when Pyongyang denuclearised itself.
In contrast, after Moon took over as the country’s President, he indicated he was serious about talking to current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in person. Eventually, Moon held three summits with Kim. In 2018, when former US President Donald J. Trump threatened the Kim regime ‘with fire, fury and frankly power… never seen before’ and Pyongyang retaliated by increasing its nuclear tests, Moon did not sway from his policy and remained stoic. He successfully persuaded the Trump administration in Washington to reach out to Pyongyang.
Goal remains far off
One, however, doubts if President Moon’s policy would be able to accomplish North Korean denuclearisation any time soon. History bears witness to Pyongyang’s incessant policy to advance its nuclear-missile programme. It did, however, enter into a few agreements over the period of time. It ratified the multilateral Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in December 1985. In January 1992, North Korea agreed with the South to “not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons.”
During former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit to Pyongyang in 2000, North Korea agreed to discuss its ballistic missile programme and missile technology exports. In the Six Party (South and North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States) talks held in September 2005, Pyongyang committed to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and implement the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and the terms of the NPT. In 2012, North Korea agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment operations in Yongbyon, invite IAEA monitors, and carry out a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear testing.

But North Korea has never complied with these agreements. Pyongyang built its first nuclear facilities in the early 1980s. By 1994, it produced one or two nuclear weapons. In 2006, North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test. It carried out nuclear tests also in 2013 and 2016. In 2017, Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test. Today North Korea is believed to be armed with short-, medium-, long-range, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Pyongyang continues to be ambitious about its nuclear military programme. It seems to calculate that the possession of nuclear weapons helps it in securing the loyalty of its officials and people. Besides, Pyongyang seems to conclude that its nuclear military capability gives it a military edge over its neighbours Seoul (and Tokyo).
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Challenges
Given this background, President Moon is confronted with formidable challenges in his journey towards North Korean denuclearisation. He may have to display a lot of diplomatic dexterity to drive sense into Pyongyang and make it agree to its denuclearisation. Seoul may think of engaging with Pyongyang economically. It could entice the North with some big-ticket economic projects like the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Seoul could also send relief supplies to the North to help it out of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Today, North Korea has strict border closures — including with China. This is believed to have taken a severe economic toll in the North.
More importantly, Seoul may have to coordinate better with Washington and Tokyo and evolve a policy that would exert a reasonable pressure on Pyongyang to denuclearise itself. Fortunately, Moon has the current administrations in Washington and Tokyo on the same page to achieve North Korean denuclearisation.
During his 21 May summit with American President Joseph Biden in Washington, the latter joined him to express a “common belief” that diplomacy could achieve the complete denuclearisation and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Biden expressed his “support for inter-Korean dialogue, engagement, and cooperation.”
President Biden promised that in denuclearising the North, the United States would “proceed in close consultation with the Republic of Korea.” Biden also stressed the need for, “US-ROK-Japan trilateral cooperation for… protecting our shared security and prosperity, upholding common values, and bolstering the rules-based order.”
Pertinently, both Washington and Tokyo have long perceived a threat to their national security from North Korea’s nuclear-missile programme. As such, the subject of North Korean denuclearisation happened to occupy a prominent place in Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s summit talks with the United States President Joe Biden on 16 April 2021.
Policy of ambiguity
Needless to mention, President Moon would do well not to expect much from important powers, such as Russia and China, in denuclearising the North. Moscow and Beijing have had a policy of ambiguity in the matter.
In the recent decades, Russia has been a key partner in UN Security Council (UNSC) deliberations to impose sanctions related to North Korean nuclear and missile tests. But Russia has never been committed to UNSC resolutions. Russia’s trade relationship with North Korea is strong. Russia-North Korea trade in 2019 totalled over US $48 million. Russian companies re-export North Korean coal and trans-shipped oil and petroleum to other countries. Russia allows upward of 10,000 North Korean labourers to work in Russia letting Pyongyang earn foreign currency from its forced labour abroad.
As for China, it has demanded in the United Nations Council resolutions that North Korea abandon its nuclear programme. But it does not seem to be serious. Beijing may be calculating that the denuclearisation of the North might lead to the unification of the peninsula and “a catastrophic collapse of North Korea,” and that might create problems on its borders.
Besides, Beijing has a unique mutual aid cooperation treaty with Pyongyang signed in 1961. The treaty says that if either country comes under armed attack, the other would provide immediate assistance, including military support. The two countries have no such defence treaty with any other nation in the world. China continues to remain North Korea’s top trading partner. China-North Korea trade totalled over US $2.7 billion in 2019.
Need for effective strategies
To conclude, notwithstanding his sincere efforts at improving Seoul’s ties with Pyongyang and moving towards North Korean denuclearisation, President Moon remains far off from his goal. Time is running out for him; he has less than nine months left for his term to end. He needs to review his diplomatic course vis-à-vis Pyongyang and make the latter respond positively to his efforts for the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
Both Washington and Tokyo have of late come together with Seoul to focus on having a trilateral mechanism aimed at meeting the North Korean challenge. President Moon could use this opportunity to devise, in consultation with Washington and Tokyo, effective strategies and tactics to push North Korea towards its denuclearisation.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s).
eurasiareview.com · by Observer Research Foundation · July 23, 2021


15. North Korea warns young people to shun slang, style from South Korea

Comments from Soo Kim and me below.
North Korea warns young people to shun slang, style from South Korea
"Frankly, outside information is an existential threat to the survival of the regime," one expert said.

NBC News · by Chantal Da Silva · July 22, 2021
Young North Koreans have been told to avoid using "dangerous" slang, with the country's official newspaper telling younger generations to honor traditional lifestyles as part of a ramped-up campaign to block cultural influences from South Korea.
"When the new generations have a sound sense of ideology and revolutionary spirits, the future of a country is bright," said an editorial published in state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. "If not, decades-long social systems and revolution will be perished."
In particular, the newspaper warned young people against adopting slang from South Korea, telling them to remain true to their country's "superior" language. It also cautioned them against taking style inspiration from South Korea, including fashion and hairstyles.
"The ideological and cultural penetration under the colorful signboard of the bourgeoisie is even more dangerous than enemies who are taking guns," it said.
North Korean high school students visit the Juche Tower, built to commemorate the 70th birthday of former President Kim Il Sung.Alain Nogues / Corbis via Getty Images file
It is not the first such warning North Koreans have gotten.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been issuing directives for months ordering citizens to shun the influence of the outside world, from fashion and hairstyles to dance moves and K-pop, which Kim recently branded a "vicious cancer," according to The New York Times.
However, under the regime's deepening crackdown, citizens could be more likely to face harsher penalties for being caught consuming South Korean pop culture. A new law introduced in December calls for up to 15 years in labor camps for those caught accessing South Korean entertainment and threatens the death penalty for those caught distributing it, according to the Times.
The ramped-up campaign comes amid a growing amount of media and information entering North Korea from outside the country and suggests the government might be insecure and fearful of losing power, said David Maxwell, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank.
"Frankly, outside information is an existential threat to the survival of the regime," he said.
With speculation swirling around Kim's health after he appeared to have lost weight in recent photos as North Korea grapples with food shortages and an economic crisis sparked by a fall in trade with China during the Covid-19 pandemic and worsened by international sanctions, Maxwell said Kim has become increasingly focused on stamping out that threat.
Soo Kim, formerly a CIA analyst focusing on North Korea and currently an analyst at the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, California, agreed.
"For the North Koreans, while they're suffering right now, to see that beyond [the southern border] there's wealth, there's food and there's freedom is just not going to bode well in terms of Kim's grip on power," she said.
Despite the Kim regime's longstanding efforts to keep South Korea's influence out of the North, however, pop culture from the south continues to reach residents across the border.
A woman and child walk before a fountain in a park next to the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 5.Kim Won Jin / AFP via Getty Images
In a survey conducted among 116 North Korean defectors in 2020, Seoul National University found that nearly 48 percent of defectors had been regular consumers of South Korean TV and films, as well as of the country's music, before they fled the North.
Meanwhile, just 8.6 percent of participants said they had never enjoyed South Korean pop culture before defecting from North Korea.
Both Maxwell and Kim said that trend is unlikely to stop, even in the midst of North Korea's heightened clampdown.
Noting it has become "much easier now than before for North Koreans to obtain outside information," Kim said, "We're not just relying on DVDs anymore, but a lot of these [nongovernmental organizations] are now using small USB drives that are much easier to transport than back in the olden days of video cassettes."
Ultimately, North Koreans will continue to take risks to try and absorb culture from beyond their borders, Kim said.
"The people are hungry for information, and they know the risks and they accept the risks because they would rather have the information," she said. "They desire change and they desire freedom."
NBC News · by Chantal Da Silva · July 22, 2021


16. The COVID Effect on 'Carrots vs. Sticks' (north Korea)

A policy dilemma.

Conclusion:

What all of this points to is a policy dilemma. Because of COVID and North Korea's self-imposed quarantine from the world, neither a policy of carrots or sticks on denuclearization would seem to be effective. It leaves the U.S. only with two practical measures to consider. One would be to gather more intelligence and information about the COVID situation inside of North Korea. With the January 2020 lockdown, all NGOs and foreign diplomatic personnel left the North and there is very little information about what is going inside of the country. The second task would be to see how open the North Koreans are to some form of humanitarian assistance dialogue with regard to the current COVID situation. This could be done initially through online meetings if the North Koreans fear virus transmission. Right now, the conventional means of diplomacy on denuclearization remains otherwise stymied because of COVID.
The COVID Effect on 'Carrots vs. Sticks'
By Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown University, Senior Fellow in Human Freedom at George W. Bush Institute, and Korea Chair at CSIS in Washington, D.C.

In my last column, I wrote about what details can be gleaned from the Biden administration's cryptic policy review on North Korea. The bumper sticker for the policy describes what it is not, rather than what it is. That is, Biden says his policy is not the strategic patience of the Obama administration, and not the summit diplomacy of the Trump administration. At the same time, in an interview with a South Korean newspaper in May, Senior White House Coordinator for Asia policy Kurt Campbell stated that the U.S. government will accept the Trump administration's Singapore Declaration as a starting point for policy. However, six months into the Biden administration's term, the unknown variable in U.S. policy toward North Korea is the COVID situation.
North Korea has declared to the international community and to the World Health Organization that it does not have any cases of COVID inside of the country. To ensure that there is no transmission of the virus, it has closed its border since January 2020. An outbreak of the pandemic inside of North Korea would be devastating to the country. Its public health system is in a state of disrepair. There are of course many facilities and clinics available to average North Korean citizens throughout the country, which CSIS has been studying, but there is very little available to these citizens in terms of modern technology and basic medicines. In addition, decades of food shortages have left segments of the population malnourished, which has also created a population with co-morbidities. This combination of factors, and the lack of adequate testing and tracing capacity would allow the virus to spread like wildfire.
North Korea has applied to COVAX for vaccines and its application was approved but the vaccines have not yet arrived in the North due to global supply shortages, as well as questions as to whether the country is capable of maintain cold chain storage of vaccines. Moreover, the number of vaccines allotted to North Korea is low (around 1.6 to 2 million) compared to the size of the population. Adding to the problem, the regime has effectively stated in words and in actions that it is skeptical of almost all of the vaccines currently being used. At one point, it said that it would only accept WHO-approved for emergency use vaccines. North Korea reportedly received a shipment of Chinese vaccines, but the regime did not administer them to elites. Pyongyang also reportedly is not interested in the Russian vaccine or the Astra Zeneca vaccine. This demonstrates a level of paranoia that is unprecedented even for North Korea.
While the regime maintains that it has no cases, the North Korean leader castigated his senior leadership at a recent Politburo meeting for "critical lapses" in protecting against virus transmission. It is not entirely clear what this meant, but one has to imagine that either smuggling or earlier efforts to relax the border closure could have created a vulnerability to virus transmission. Commercial satellite imagery by CSIS in May of the Dandong-Sinuiju border suggested that North Korea may have relaxed restrictions to allow for exports to China in order to earn hard currency, but that has since halted.
The regime certainly has ways of containing the virus among its population through draconian measures that would violate most civil liberties in ways that would be unacceptable in the West, but the real question is how much longer the economy can survive without any real trade or commerce with China upon which it depends for 90 percent of external trade. Reports are that the food situation in the North is becoming more dire and that prices are starting to rise 18 months into the border closure. North Korea has always demonstrated remarkable resilience despite extreme hardship, but this is arguably an unprecedented situation. Moreover, North Korea would be expected to keep its border closed at least through the end of 2021 into early 2022. Past precedents show that with SARS, MERS, and Ebola, North Korea did not open up until several months after South Korea opened. Thus, if the target for herd immunity from COVID in the South is November, then the North will be remained closed well into the first or second quarter of 2022. Can the economy survive for over two years without any trade with China?
There are several reasons why this matters for U.S. policy. COVID has rendered moot the traditional carrots versus sticks policy debate on North Korea. First, advocates for a sanctions-only policy may find their thesis being tested right now in the sense that North Korea has self-imposed tighter sanctions than John Bolton could ever have hoped for. Even if China wanted to help North Korea, that assistance -- except for many some smuggling and some ship-to-ship transfers -- is being rejected for fear of the virus. And yet, we do not see North Korea suffering under the weight of sanctions begging for new talks with the U.S. and South Korea, which has been the driving thesis of sanctions advocates.
Second, advocates for engagement with North Korea also see their arguments being rendered unusable by the pandemic. This is because the regime, for fear of the virus, is not willing to accept face-to-face talks. The Biden administration completed its policy review over two months ago and has reached out to North Korea for dialogue, but there has been no response. Moreover, the promise to lift economic sanctions -- a key part of the carrot approach -- will not incentivize North Korea because of the border lockdown.
Third, usually by this time in a new U.S. presidency, North Korea would have carried out some major provocation to test the will of the new president and to force itself onto the agenda as a priority issue for the U.S. It carried out long-range ballistic missile tests and nuclear tests in the early months of both the Obama and Trump administrations. But aside from some minor projectile launches, the North Koreans have remained unusually quiet -- again, perhaps because of the internal situation created by COVID.
What all of this points to is a policy dilemma. Because of COVID and North Korea's self-imposed quarantine from the world, neither a policy of carrots or sticks on denuclearization would seem to be effective. It leaves the U.S. only with two practical measures to consider. One would be to gather more intelligence and information about the COVID situation inside of North Korea. With the January 2020 lockdown, all NGOs and foreign diplomatic personnel left the North and there is very little information about what is going inside of the country. The second task would be to see how open the North Koreans are to some form of humanitarian assistance dialogue with regard to the current COVID situation. This could be done initially through online meetings if the North Koreans fear virus transmission. Right now, the conventional means of diplomacy on denuclearization remains otherwise stymied because of COVID.








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."

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