Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.”
- George Washington

“In this, as in all our foreign wars, we never really established rapport. This was largely due to our overinflated hypnosis with the myth that the American way – in economics, politics, sociology, manners, morals, military equipment, methodology, organization, tactics, etc. – is automatically and unchallengeably the best (really the only) way to do things. This failing may well be the area of greatest weakness for the future of American arms.”
- Unnamed Vietnam-era General Officer, quoted in Douglas Kinnard, The War Managers: American Generals Reflect on Vietnam

"The U.S. approach to contesting revisionist, revolutionary, and rogue powers has relied almost exclusively on conventional capabilities. In U.S. contests with other state actors, DoS has typically taken the lead—exerting pressure through traditional tools of diplomacy and sanctions—with DoD providing defense and deterrence and with the Intelligence Community providing intelligence. And the U.S. response to nonstate actors has been dominated by conventional DoD capabilities, enabled by DoS and the Intelligence Community. Strikingly—despite the successes of the indigenous-centric U.S. irregular warfare capability against these threats, particularly when supported by comparable interagency capabilities—DoD does not yet have the organizational structures for its irregular warfare capability to lead such a response.We anticipate that an effective political warfare capability would require developing and synchronizing three core types of functional activities:

 Irregular warfare: DoD would remain the proponent for U.S. irregular warfare, which involves activities “in support of predetermined United States policy and military objectives conducted by, with, and through regular forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals participating in competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict.”20 This would include unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and stability operations. 

 Expeditionary diplomacy: DoS and USAID would become the proponents for expeditionary diplomacy, which would entail diplomats working in “fluid situations without a strong central host government or U.S. embassy infrastructure to promote the local government’s rule of law, reconstruction and economic development, and delivery of services.”21 This would include support to military forces during military operations and as part of a whole-of-government approach in preconflict or postconflict settings, functioning as a “form of asymmetric warfare in crisis countries, particularly those with crumbling regimes or new unstable governments.”

Covert political action: The Intelligence Community would become the proponent for covert political action, which would cause “economic dislocation, distortion of political processes or manipulation of information.”24 In addition, the Intelligence Community would continue to provide intelligence to support operations in situations short of armed conflict; however, this intelligence collection and analysis may become increasingly focused on understanding how civilian populations and partner forces may be influenced using nonlethal means."

- An American Way of Political Warfare,

1. North Korea seethes as U.S., South Korea plan new joint drills
2. Video: One Korea Network on Religious Freedom north Korea.
3. North Korean Oil Tanker Stops in Chinese Port in the First Recorded Visit Since 2017
4. 'Escape from Mogadishu' reenacts heart-warming story of North and South Koreans
5. North Korean defectors forced to pay more in bribes, research says
6. The rationing system is on the brink of collapse, North Korea’s food shortage is approaching a humanitarian crisis
7. <Inside N. Korea> Confusion over rising food prices continues with government forcing "lower prices." Vendors counter by refusing to sell.
8. Why North Korea is so afraid of K-pop
9. North Korea Commits Two People to Mental Institutions After Public Outbursts
10.  Repeated diplomacy bungles (China toward South Korea)
11. South Korean TV Network Apologises For Offensive Olympic Broadcast
12. Korea Faces Protracted Lockdown
13. Korea-Japan rivalry continues at Tokyo Games
14. US Working to Ease Suffering of N. Koreans in Response to Repatriation Concerns
15. Washington warns global businesses in S. Korea about legal risks

1. North Korea seethes as U.S., South Korea plan new joint drills
I provide some background and my opinions on ROK/US Combined exercises and those who want to cancel them.

Just one clarification. I believe I said the March 2020 exercise was cancelled due to COVID. The March exercise in 2021 was held so the August exercise will be the second major exercise of the Biden administration. Most important the exercise last August and this past MArch were held during the COVD era and there were no reports of anyCOIVD outbreak due to the exercises which may mean the mitigation measures of the ROK/US CFC were effective. And now with large numbers of ROK and US military personnel being vaccinated the risk should be manageable. I think in our long conversation this information might have been misunderstood.

North Korea seethes as U.S., South Korea plan new joint drills · by Mike Glenn

U.S.-South Korea annual military drills became a political football during the Trump administration, scaled back as President Trump pursued an elusive nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The first annual joint exercises of the Biden administration involving U.S. and South Korean troops are set to kick off next month, and Pyongyang isn’t happy about it.
With direct U.S.-North Korean diplomacy in a deep freeze since Mr. Biden took office, the North this week complained bitterly about the planned exercises dubbed Dong Maeng, the Korean word for “alliance.” A leading propaganda site for Mr. Kim’s regime slammed Seoul for agreeing to go ahead with the drills.
“It clearly shows the nefarious scheme of the fanatics that are pushing ahead with their war to invade the North and fight their own people,” according to the North Korean propaganda website, Uriminzokkiri.
Pyongyang has long branded the joint U.S.-South Korea maneuvers a rehearsal for invasion.
But U.S. commanders worried that Mr. Trump’s decision to scale back the annual exercises was cutting into the ability of Washington and Seoul to deter the nuclear-armed North, at a time when the two Koreas remain technically at war. The U.S. and South Korea have traditionally staged major joint exercises in March and August, with smaller drills scheduled throughout the year.
“We’re going to continue to remain committed to readiness and appropriate capabilities on the peninsula because we have such a serious commitment to our [South Korean] allies,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters this week. “All military operations and exercises that we conduct on the peninsula, we do it in consultation and close coordination with our [South Korean] allies.”
Some members of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party have recently urged that this year’s exercise, which will solely be a computerized command post drill, also be curtailed as an olive branch to Pyongyang. But David Maxwell, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, said that would be precisely the wrong response.
“Many in Korea, some within the administration [of President Moon Jae-in], think that if we appease them, it would be good for North-South negotiations and bring them back to the table,” said Mr. Maxwell, a retired Army Green Beret colonel with extensive experience in Asia. “It’s flat out wrong and it would be dangerous if we were to do that.”
The fact that next month’s Dong Maeng exercise will be a command post operation not involving units maneuvering in the field is not a sign it has been cut back in importance, Mr. Maxwell said. It will be the first major opportunity for Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, the new commander of U.S. Forces in Korea and the joint [U.S.-South Korean command], to plan how to defend against an invasion from the north.
“It allows him to not only learn the defense plan but to see the command and components in full operation,” Mr. Maxwell said. “He is able to assess the status of the combined command.”
In addition to the August command post exercise, both nations usually stage field maneuvers in March. It was canceled in March over COVID-19 concerns, a decision that Mr. Maxwell criticizes.
“COVID is like a biological attack. The commands have to be able to fight through a biological attack,” he said. “If we overreact and are too timid because of COVID, [North Korea] might get the idea that a biological attack would be effective.”
Although some civic groups in Seoul have called for the military drills to be canceled, military officials in Seoul and Washington say such combined exercises are necessary to military readiness on the peninsula. The area is so critical that the Navy admiral in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal visited the country only weeks before the maneuvers are expected to kick off.
Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, met with both U.S. and Korean commanders to discuss the deterrence posture and support the nation’s ROK allies on the Korean Peninsula.
“The strategic environment is rapidly changing. Deterrence in the 21st century has to involve our allies and partners,” Adm. Richard said. “It requires close cooperation, integration and an understanding of the differing perspectives on certain issues.”
North Korea often stages its own military maneuvers at the same time. Military officials in Seoul said they are monitoring the situation while maintaining close coordination with U.S. forces.
“Currently, there is nothing to say regarding the issue,” Korean military spokesman Col. Kim Jun-rak told the Yonhap news agency. “We are closely checking movements by the North’s military.”
As the military preparations proceed, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was visiting Seoul on Thursday as a part of a tour of Asian nations, including a weekend visit planned for China. The Associated Press reported that Ms. Sherman and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong agreed on the need to press North Korea to return to the bargaining table over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Top North Korean officials have adamantly refused so far to begin new talks with the U.S. since Mr. Biden‘s election. · by Mike Glenn

2. Video: One Korea Network on Religious Freedom north Korea.

Greg Scarlatoiu moderated a wide ranging panel on religious freedom in north Korea. I made my usual comments about human rights being not only a moral imperative but a national security issue as well as an overview of the security situation on the Korean peninsula (and the "Big 5"). There were very provocative statements on the situation in South Korea from or Korean friends.

Hosted by: International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit 2021 Hosted by: ONE KOREA NETWORK (OKN) Hosted by: Greg Skalatu (Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission in North Korea (HRNK)) Panel: Rev. Jeon Kwang-Hoon (Chairman of the Korean Christian Federation), Attorney Jin-Kyung Jeong (Former Judge), David Maxwell (Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, former Colonel in Special Forces) Dwight Leland Paris (Founder of “Mission with Youth” in Texas Chairman)

3. North Korean Oil Tanker Stops in Chinese Port in the First Recorded Visit Since 2017

There should be no doubt China is committed to ensuring there is stability on the Korean peninsula. China would rather ensure north Korea and Kim Jong-un survive than comply with sanctions to maintain pressure. It is obvious China is not committed to following, let alone enforce UN sanctions. China will provide energy and food to assist Kim Jong-un. That said, I think it is also important to note that China is only helping Kim to maintain the status quo and stability. China could provide much more aid to the north but it chooses not to. It only provides sufficient amounts to ensure stability.

But China is not complying with international sanctions that it approved at the UN Security Council.  Outside of the north Korean situation this is another example of China not complying with or contributing to the international rules based order. China must be held accountable for its actions

North Korean Oil Tanker Stops in Chinese Port in the First Recorded Visit Since 2017
It’s the first time since tight U.N. sanctions on the North’s oil imports went into effect that Pyongyang has openly sent a tanker to China. · by Leo Byrne · July 24, 2021
A North Korean oil tanker pulled up to a Chinese port in April this year, the such first recorded visit in nearly half a decade, after Pyongyang eschewed traditional trading methods in favor of sanctioned, difficult to trace ship-to-ship transfers at sea.
The North Korean-flagged Sin Phyong 2 (signaling its location under the name Songmyeng 2) visited the Chinese port of Longkou in the country’s northeast in mid-April, staying docked at the Chinese port for several days before signaling its journey back to the DPRK’s western coastline.
Although satellite imagery indicates that the ship was docked nearer to a bulk cargo handling facility, it was also just a short distance southward from a relatively large oil tank farm, where oil tankers are frequently visible in commercially available satellite imagery.
With oil exports to North Korea under United Nations Security Council (USNC) restrictions, any oil loading onto the North Korean tanker could potentially constitute a breach of U.N. resolutions, unless the UNSC were notified of the shipment and that overall shipments to North Korea remain below an internationally agreed threshold.
The Sin Phyong 2 / Songmyeng 2’s visit to Longkou Port on April 20. Oil storage infrastructure is visible to the north (satellite image does not match the date of the vessel visit). Image courtesy of Pole Star Space Applications.
Slick Trade
Once regular visitors to nearby Chinese and Russian ports, North Korea’s oil tankers began to disappear from Auto Identification System (AIS) tracking systems in mid-2017.
As international pressure mounted on Pyongyang in the wake of successive weapons tests, the UNSC begin limiting oil exports to North Korea, placing a cap on total annual imports and reporting requirements on the exporters.
But it did not take long to find the North’s missing tankers, with combinations of vessel tracking data and aerial and satellite photography showing that Pyongyang had changed its oil import patterns, conducting the trade at sea between vessels.
Pyongyang also appears able to persuade opportunistic oil traders to deliver directly to its Nampho oil terminal on the country’s west coast, which North Korea has been steadily expanding, despite the international restrictions that should have truncated trade to only a fraction of pre-sanctions levels.
Numerous governments, the U.N. Panel of Experts (PoE), and think tanks have all noted that these methods allow North Korea to far exceed the U.N. mandated cap on its oil import business.
Most of North Korea’s oil tankers have been sanctioned by the United Nations for violation of these resolutions, which should prohibit them from entering foreign ports, but Pyongyang has also been busy violating a different set of sanctions, which prohibit the purchase of new vessels.
The North Korean-registered tanker that visited China in April is once such recent addition to the country’s tanker fleet, with North Korea acquiring the ship in August 2019.
Prior to its acquisition, the PoE had already highlighted the vessel’s role as a ship-to-ship transfer vessel providing oil to its North Korean counterparts at sea, while sailing under the name Tianyou and flagged to Sierra Leone. But with a new North Korean registration and free of a U.N. designation, the Sin Phyong 2’s roles could feasibly include direct imports from foreign ports.
According to tracking data from the Pole Star Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) platform, after a long period of non-broadcasting the ship began moving around the Korean Peninsula in 2020.
This year, the ship has visited one of North Korea’s favored ship-to-ship (STS) transfer zones near Shanghai in addition to the trip to Longkou. The latter journey was first time a North Korean tanker broadcast such a visit to tracking systems since Washington began designating the North’s tankers in 2017, according to the Pole Star platform.
Although it is not possible to ascertain the direction of the trade from satellite imagery alone, it seems unlikely that North Korea would be exporting oil products to neighboring China. The country has no domestic oil and gas production and limited refinery capacity and has traditionally been heavily dependent on its neighbors for its energy needs.
The Sin Phyong 2 / Songmyeng 2’s journey back the North Korea following the visit to Longkou Port. Image courtesy of Pole Star Space Applications.
Sanctioned Status
As is the often the case with North Korea sanctions enforcement, whether an oil product transfer to the Sin Phyong 2 breached the U.N.’s restrictions likely comes down to a matter of interpretation.
According to the 1718 Committee website, which tracks reports of oil shipments to North Korea, no U.N. member state recorded an oil export to North Korea in April. China reported a small export the month prior, its first such report since September 2020, though perhaps the website has yet to be updated for more recent transfers.
The March shipment is the only reported oil transfer to North Korea so far this year, which the U.N. assesses to be equivalent to 0.98 percent of the agreed 500,000-barrel cap.
In this circumstance, given that the reported totals of oil transfers are so low, it would be possible to make the case that any transfer onto the Sin Phyong 2 would remain well below the U.N.-allowed threshold and subsequently not breach U.N. sanctions.
Yet in their most recent report published in March this year, the U.N. PoE noted that in 2020, North Korea exceeded the U.N.-mandated cap on oil imports by “several times the annual aggregate” of 500,000 barrels per year.
Given the relatively large volumes of illicit oil already flowing into North Korea via prohibited methods, it may also not be difficult to make the opposing case that any transfer to the Sin Phyong 2 would also be a violation of U.N. resolutions, if the illicit transfers have already reached the U.N.’s annual threshold.
The Sin Phyong 2’s continuous broadcasting, however, is unusual and may lend weight to the idea that Beijing and Pyongyang are (unsurprisingly) leaning toward the more lenient interpretation of the U.N.’s resolutions, though many North Korean vessels behave similarly in Longkou port, indicating that the waters are too busy to attempt such “dark” visits with any regularity.
Although North Korean oil tankers have not broadcast their locations in Chinese ports for years, the New York Times reported in March that a tanker called New Konk visited a different port along the country’s south eastern coast on January 1, 2021. The New Konk is not registered in North Korea and has been identified by the U.N. Panel of Experts as a ship-to-ship transfer vessel, with the PoE recommending the ship for U.N. designation and a global port ban.
Other North Korean tankers and coal smugglers also routinely visit Chinese waters along the country’s southeastern coast, with ship tracking data and the PoE indicating that not even the Pyongyang’s strict COVID-19 measures were not enough to greatly stem the flow of North Korea’s smuggling operations in 2020.
Beijing has typically been truculent with the U.N. Panel of Experts when asked about the large-scale sanctions evasion occurring on its doorstep, indicating that perhaps enforcement of the U.N.’s restrictions is not currently a priority, and the Sin Phyong 2’s arrival in the Longkou may be the next data point in this currently downward trend. · by Leo Byrne · July 24, 2021

4. 'Escape from Mogadishu' reenacts heart-warming story of North and South Koreans

This has the potential to be useful for information andi influence in north Korea. I am reminded of a discussion I had with SGT Oh who is the nKPA soldier who escaped over the MDL in the JSA and was critically wounded. We were discussing the potential effect of the Netflix video "Crash Landing On You" on soldiers and the people in north Korea. He said half in jest it will make the nKPA soldiers want to come to the South even more. But the important point he made about it is that the series depicted the nKPA soldiers and the Korean people in the north as human beings and not as evil monsters. This influences the people to respect the South. SGT Oh told me that he had never seen a movie or read any publication that did not depict the South Koreans as the puppets of the US. Koreans from the South were always depicted as something less than human. The fact that a South Korean drama portrayed the people in the north as human has a positive effect. On the other hand, there are conservatives in Korea who think that it is wrong to portray the nKPA as anything but evil. But frankly that is shortsighted and based more on emotion rather than strategic thinking.

This is important for those professionals who are conducting information and influence activities against the north. Here are my thoughts on how South Korean dramas can prepare the people on the Korean peninsula for unification: "NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR THREAT: Can South Korean-made TV dramas prepare the North for reunification?"

'Escape from Mogadishu' reenacts heart-warming story of North and South Koreans
The Korea Times · July 23, 2021
Actors Koo Kyo-hwan, from left, Zo In-sung, Kim Yun-seok, and Huh Joon-ho pose for pictures during a media conference to promote the film "Escape from Mogadishu," held in Lotte World Tower, Songpa-gu, eastern Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of Lotte EntertainmentBy Lee Gyu-lee

It is widely known that the ongoing Somali Civil War started in 1991 with an uprising by the clan-based armed opposition group, or the United Somali Congress (USC), against a military junta led by Siad Barre.

However, the upcoming film, "Escape from Mogadishu," intends to shine the spotlight on the dramatic true story of South and North Korean diplomats coming together to flee the chaos in Somalia during that time.

"When I read the script for this film, I thought it would be a wild and bold challenge (to make it into a film). I wondered how director Ryoo Seung-wan would make it possible. But if it can be made possible, I thought I should be part of it and took the role placing my faith in the director," actor Kim Yun-seok, who plays the South Korean ambassador, said during a media conference for the film, held in Lotte World Tower, Songpa-gu, eastern Seoul, Thursday.

Set in the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu, the film starts by describing the background story of South Korean diplomats ― ambassador Han Shin-sung (Kim) and counselor Kang Dae-jin (Zo In-sung) ― and their antagonistic relationship with the North Korean diplomats ― ambassador (Huh Joon-ho) and counselor (Koo Kyo-hwan).

The two diplomats were stationed there on a diplomatic mission to convince the Somali government to back its membership in the United Nations in 1991.
However, when the opposition group took over the city, calling for a city-wide evacuation of residing embassies, the two ambassadors form an unlikely alliance to make it out of the country alive.

A scene from the film "Escape from Mogadishu" / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment

"'Escape from Mogadish' is a perfect movie to watch in summer. It's a movie that we can proudly present to audiences," Kim said, sharing his feelings after screening the movie. "The film is full of energy. I didn't realize how dynamic the story will unfold when I actually filmed it, but I was immersed in it from the beginning to the end."

The action blockbuster takes audiences on a 121-minute long ride through convulsive threats and attacks amid the civil war, and the North and South Koreans' heart-racing escape for survival.

Director Ryoo, who has extensive experience in leading tent poles like "The Berlin File" (2013) and "The Battleship Island" (2017), said the key goal during the production was to create a safe environment.

"My philosophy is that you get the best scenes when you have the safest environment for filming," he said. "Filming overseas for four months is not easy. One of my main priorities was to set up ways for the crew and cast members to complete the production without getting injured ― both physically and mentally."
Along with the fast-paced action sequences, the film also portrays people from two divided countries establishing a sense of companionship by going through a life-or-death mission.

"The film is set in an isolated place with the civil war at its peak. So I needed to recreate the tension, fear, and desperation people felt under that situation," he said. "When you shoot such large-scale films like this, you might steer away from focusing on the characters along with the flashy action sequences. So I tried to not lose my grip and to bring out the sentimental side of the story."

Zo recalled the time he stayed with the cast members for months in Morocco, before the pandemic, to film the movie. "I have been working on projects in which I was usually the sole lead. So I took this role because I wanted to be part of something that I can work together with veteran actors in," he said. "When I screened the movie, it reminded me of the time we basically lived there together. So this film comes to me as extra special."

"Escape from Mogadishu" is set to hit theaters on July 28.

The Korea Times · July 23, 2021

5. North Korean defectors forced to pay more in bribes, research says

Corruption within the party of agencies of the state is rampant in north Korea. 

One point not mentioned in this report is that some escapees are reporting that the families left behind are not always now sent to the gulag as in times past and in keeping with the "rule of three." (three generations of a family are sent to the gulag when someone is found to be disloyal to the regime.)

Now families remain in their homes but officials now extort money from them because they know the escaped family member will try to send money back to their families in the north. This is more profitable for party members and security services than sending family to the gulags.

North Korean defectors forced to pay more in bribes, research says
By Elizabeth Shim
July 23 (UPI) -- North Korea is cracking down on defections as arbitrary home searches and surveillance are on the rise, according to a new annual report from Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification.
The 2021 White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea published Friday states North Koreans who attempt to flee the country face heavy punishment. The price of bribes is on the rise for individuals seeking lighter penalties, Newsis reported.
Defectors in the South have said they often make multiple attempts to leave the country because of the high likelihood of arrest. The number of "successful defections" has "decreased significantly," the South Korean white paper said.
Invasions of privacy are also common in North Korea. Wiretapping of homes and arbitrary or illegal house searches are ongoing and are expected to "further increase in the name of establishing a law-abiding ethos and socialist lifestyle," South Korean researchers said.
House searches in North Korea are deemed illegal if they are carried out without a warrant. Defectors in the South said more searches are being carried out without authorization on a "limited scale." The evaluation of the searches among North Koreans as illicit "provides a glimpse of the North Korean people's [rising] awareness of rights," the South Korean paper said.

The South's researchers also said that distrust of authority is growing in North Korea after alleged cases of "extortion." North Korean officials enrich themselves by demanding money and valuables during house searches, the paper said.
North Korea is also cracking down on digital content found on personal computers and mobile phones, with heavier punishment for people who download and watch South Korean TV shows or music than in the past, the report said.
But the crackdown has failed to eliminate the "desire and demand for information access" among North Koreans.
The 2021 South Korean white paper includes testimonies from 50 North Korean defectors, according to local paper Sports Kyunghyang.
Fewer defectors have resettled in the South during the coronavirus pandemic, Seoul has said.

6. The rationing system is on the brink of collapse, North Korea’s food shortage is approaching a humanitarian crisis

This is a translated article that continues to discuss reports of the dire situation inside north Korea.
The rationing system is on the brink of collapse, North Korea’s food shortage is approaching a humanitarian crisis
New head shell newtalk | Hong Shengfei Compilation report
Release 2021.07.21 | 16:46

The Nikkei Asian Review reported that North Korea’s rationing system is on the verge of collapse and food shortages are approaching a humanitarian crisis. Picture: Recap of "What's New Current Affairs" WeChat ID of Lunet
North Korea has closed its borders since the outbreak of the epidemic last year, which has led to a growing food shortage. Although the country’s authorities have tried to be self-sufficient, they have achieved little success. The Nikkei Asian Review reported earlier that North Korea’s rationing system is on the verge of collapse and food shortages are approaching a humanitarian crisis.
The report quoted a recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, stating that North Korea will be short of about 860,000 tons of food this year, which is the country's normal demand for two months.
Jiro Ishimaru, a well-known Japanese journalist who reports on North Korean news, pointed out that the current food shortage in North Korea is rapidly evolving into the worst humanitarian crisis in Asia.

North Korea’s food rationing system also appears to have collapsed. In many areas there was little or no supply for several months.
Since North Korea first closed its border with China more than a year ago, the Kim Jong Un regime has been strengthening border repression and surveillance to prevent smuggling and defections. "Daily NK" recently reported that the authorities may be trying to use 5G technology to monitor the situation on the border through the remote monitor lens.
This is bad news for ordinary people who are struggling to survive every day. According to a recent report by Radio Free Asia, due to lack of income and basic resources, many North Koreans risked smuggling and selling pirated foreign films and dramas. Many people were arrested and sent to labor camps as a result. If they are caught "hoarding" food, they are more likely to face execution.
Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), pointed out that “the (North Korea) government is taking these measures because it is afraid of losing control of power... The regime is using the epidemic as an excuse to crack down on markets and information from the outside world, which it believes is a major threat to its legitimacy."
So far, North Korea still claims that the country has "zero confirmed cases." However, "Daily Korea" reported this week that North Koreans not only have the infection, but also have a high rate of death after the release of quarantine. A local source pointed out that about 10% of the people who left the national quarantine institution in South Ping'an Province died later.
Scaratoiu pointed out that the number of COVID cases in North Korea is extremely unlikely to be zero. "According to me off from living in South Korea and other countries," the North's message had won, "many patients are diagnosed with it may be COVID of" respiratory disease ", but these cases have not been documented."

Sri Lanka Karatoiu pointed out that North Korea’s problem is not due to the COVID, but because the country has almost no economy and almost no infrastructure. The current crisis in North Korea may make the entire population more susceptible to illness, and because of food shortages, people are forced to go out to find food, causing more problems.

7. <Inside N. Korea> Confusion over rising food prices continues with government forcing "lower prices." Vendors counter by refusing to sell.
The competition between the party's central control versus market forces.

<Inside N. Korea> Confusion over rising food prices continues with government forcing "lower prices." Vendors counter by refusing to sell.
(Photo) The two encountered a police crackdown on their way to take grain they had purchased in a farming village to the market. Photographed by Zhang Zheng-ji on the outskirts of Pyongyang City in August 2008 (ASIAPRESS).

It has been more than a month since the market’s food prices soared in June. Grain prices have been swinging wildly across North Korea, and the market is still in turmoil. The authorities, fed up with the situation, began to take draconian measures by forcing dealers to sell their products at lower prices and confiscating them if they do not comply. It is said that vendors who have rebelled against the unreasonable price controls have stopped selling. The authorities' strong control seems to have little effect on price stability (Kang Ji-won / Jiro ISHIMARU).
◆The Impact of Food Price Soaring Continues
In mid-June, the food prices in various parts of North Korea soared as if they had burst out of a dam. Compared to the end of May, the white rice price temporarily rose 1.7 times and the corn price 2.4 times, causing turmoil among the ordinary people.
Many vulnerable groups who could not afford to buy food faced starvation and even workers who could not go to work due to malnutrition. Therefore, the authorities distributed 5-7 kilograms of corn for free in various areas at the end of June and mid-July. In addition, the local government advertised that it would start selling corn at a slightly lower price than the market price at its "Grain Marketing Centres" (food marketing centres).
Market prices have dropped slightly, but are still wildly volatile. The following is a survey of food prices conducted by ASIAPRESS in several cities in the northern region. (Unit: won, price per kilogram; foreign currency exchange rates also fluctuate wildly, with 1 U.S. dollar worth about 5,000-6,000 won)
〇White Rice
4200(June 28)→ 7000(June 15)→7500(June 22)→5600(July 16)→6200(July 20)
2200(May 28)→5300(June 15)→5500(June 22)→3200(July 16)→ 3400(July 20)
◆Strong measures to confiscate goods if sold at high prices
In a desperate attempt to control prices, the authorities began to control selling prices in the second half of July. They have been monitoring the market to ensure that rice is sold at the prevailing prices of 4,000-4,500 won and corn at around 2,200 won.
The Social Security Department (police) is in charge of this. According to a reporting partner who lives in the northern region,
"The police have informed the traders that they will be severely punished not only for selling at high prices, but also for operating outside the market and hoarding grain, saying that ‘the traders are confusing the state policy by being so greedy for money-making.’”
So, what is the market situation like? A reporting partner in Ryanggang Province explains as follows:
"There is a shortage of grain now, and competition is fierce as Tungchu (the rich) are buying up all the grain they can. Even though the prices are rising because of this, they interfere and even confiscate the grain, saying that it should not be sold at a high price or only stored and not sold. Due to the strict price monitoring by the market controllers, most of the vendors have stopped going to the market and sell their products at home. However, the crackdown team has been going to the vendors' houses. They will go after you just for having a bag of rice at home.”
◆Inspection to stop outflow from rural areas to markets
The authorities are also paying close attention to the outflow of food from rural areas to cities. Cooperative farms have a stockpile of "reserve rice," and the authorities are wary of the resale of this food on the market at high prices.
Farmers who are unable to go to work due to the number of “Food Insecure Households" that have run out of cash and food are increasing in rural areas. In May and June, at the direction of the authorities, a survey of “Food Insecure Households" was conducted at various farms. However, an ASIAPRESS survey in June revealed that 30% of households on one farm in North Hamkyung Province and 50% of households on another farm in Ryanggang Province were recorded as "Food Insecure Households.”
If the farm workers are starving, it is inevitable that the fall harvest will be affected negatively. The authorities are trying hard to prevent the farm's "reserve rice" from being distributed to the cities.
"The roads leading to the farming villages are checked and food is only allowed to be taken out of the villages up to 10 kilograms," said a reporting partner in North Hamkyung Province.
◆Residents are skeptical about market stability
As I mentioned above, the authorities are forcing the market to "lower its prices," but our reporting partners say that they think “it will be difficult to stabilize prices.”
Due to the lack of funds and shortage of farming materials such as fertilizer, the predominant expectation is that this year's harvest will not be good. The earliest corn harvest will be at the end of August in some areas. Since rice harvesting is in October, the shortage is not expected to be resolved in the foreseeable future unless a large amount of food aid arrives from China and other countries.
"There is food held by government agencies, but the executives want to sell it to the market to make money. A senior official I know said that ‘food prices would go up again.’ They seemed to be looking for an opportunity to sell food at a higher price. The police are even alerting government agencies to their movements and increasing their surveillance,"
said a reporting partner from Ryanggang province.
※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.

8. Why North Korea is so afraid of K-pop
Yes, there is a lot of reporting on this. But it is important for us to keep emphasizing that Kim Jong-un is more afraid of the Korean people in the north than he is of the US.

Why North Korea is so afraid of K-pop
CNN · by Jessie Yeung and Yoonjung Seo, CNN
(CNN)North Korea is doubling down on its culture war, warning citizens to stay away from all things South Korean -- including its fashion, music, hairstyles and even slang.
In the past decade, South Korea has emerged as a formidable cultural force, with products from makeup to K-pop and K-drama finding enthusiastic fans around the world.
But one place trying to stop South Korean influence from permeating its borders is its neighbor to the north.
For decades, North Korea has been almost completely closed off from the rest of the world, with tight control over what information gets in or out. Foreign materials including movies and books are banned, with only a few state-sanctioned exceptions; those caught with foreign contraband often face severe punishment, defectors say.
Restrictions have softened somewhat in recent decades, however, as North Korea's relationship with China expanded. Tentative steps to open up have allowed some South Korean elements, including parts of its pop culture, to seep into the hermit nation -- especially in recent years, when relations thawed between the two countries.
Read More
But the situation in North Korea is now fast deteriorating -- and strict rules have snapped back into place, in a crackdown reminiscent of its earlier, more isolated history.

Earlier this month, South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-keung said after attending a briefing by the country's spy agency that North Korea's regime was implementing strict rules on how young people dress and speak. For instance, South Korean women often use the term "oppa" for their romantic partners -- it's now forbidden in the North. Instead, North Korean women must refer to their lovers as "male comrades," said Ha.
Propaganda videos in the country also denounce behaviors that show "foreign influence," such as public displays of affection. Those who violate the rules are the "sworn enemy of the revolution," Ha said, citing South Korea's National Intelligence Service.
Last Sunday, the regime blasted foreign ways of life in an article in state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, urging young people to be "faithful to the calling of their country."
"Struggle in the field of ideology and culture is a war without gunfire," said the article, citing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Without specifically naming South Korea, it added that losing the culture war would "bring many times more serious consequences than on the battlefield."
Clothing, hairstyles and language were "a reflection of the state of thought and spirit," it added. "Even if young people sing and dance, they should sing and dance to the melodies and rhythms that fit the needs of the times and the national sentiment of our people, and flourish our style of culture."
These restrictions may seem outlandish -- but things like slang, innocuous on the surface, represent a much more complicated struggle over power and control, experts say. And North Korea's tolerance for foreign influence is in constant flux, shifting alongside its economic wellbeing and international diplomacy.
Why hair and music matter in North Korea
North Korea's relationship with South Korea has remained fraught since the Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953. No peace treaty was ever signed, meaning the war never formally ended.
North Korea had once been among the most industrially developed parts of East Asia, said Andrei Lankov, director of the Korea Risk Group and professor at Kookmin University in Seoul. But after decades of isolation, its people now live in grinding poverty.
The North Korean economy spiraled downward in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which ended the flow of aid into the country, leaving China as the country's biggest trading partner.
By contrast, South Korea is Asia's fourth-largest economy, with a GDP per capita on par with European nations like France and Italy. Its soft power has boomed as cultural exports like music, food and beauty products gained popularity around the world.
That's why North Korea is so wary of allowing any foreign influence such as South Korean slang, said Lankov -- because it means "acknowledging that the alternative model of society worked, and the North Korea model did not."
North Koreans who adopt South Korean mannerisms -- fashion, hairstyles, vocabulary -- thus indicate two things, Lankov added: access to banned materials, and "an indication of admiration and sympathy" toward South Korea."

The potency of this soft power relies upon the vast inequity between the countries. People are dying of hunger in North Korea, where supply shortages mean the prices of some staple food items are skyrocketing. Kim has acknowledged the "tense food situation," though he blamed it on a series of typhoons and floods.
It's not necessarily that North Korean leaders fear a mass uprising from a disgruntled public, said Lankov -- the regime is "brutal" enough to punish "everybody who will dare to open his or her mouth."
But rising knowledge about the outside world, and about just how much worse things are in North Korea, could erode the regime's legitimacy and its entire ideological framework -- similar to how the clamor for Western goods in 1980s Soviet Russia contributed to public disillusionment and its eventual fall.
"It absolutely does pose a threat if young North Koreans are watching South Korean dramas and seeing what life is like for Koreans outside their country, because they're seeing images of Seoul, of how well they're living, how freely they're living," said Jean Lee, senior fellow at the US-based Wilson Center and the former Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press.
And young people are the biggest target of the crackdown because they're "the most vulnerable to new influences," Lankov said. "Older people don't want change ... But all the new ideas are spreading among the younger generation."
Politics and pop culture
Talks between the North and South have started and stalled numerous times over the years -- and North Korea's attitude toward foreign pop culture appears to have relaxed and hardened accordingly.
After Kim assumed power in 2011, he initially favored a more liberal approach, said Lankov -- even allowing some Western music, and forming an all-girl North Korean band.
Lee, who was based in the capital Pyongyang during those early years, said foreign influences became apparent as the rules relaxed. North Koreans would casually drop South Korean slang as a "sly way to hint that they were watching South Korean dramas," she said. Tourist attractions began to adopt English signage. Elite North Koreans were allowed to travel more, primarily to China.
But Kim soon adopted a more conservative approach, and began cracking down on USBs and other technology that could be used to smuggle in information, said Lankov.
Tensions escalated in 2016 and 2017 with a series of North Korean missile launches. But relations began thawing after South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office -- by the end of 2018, Moon and Kim had vowed to formally end the Korean War and work toward complete denuclearization.
That same month, Kim and his wife attended a rare concert of South Korean singers and performers in Pyongyang -- the first time in more than a decade that South Korean musicians had traveled to North Korea.

Kim Jong Un attends K-pop concert in Pyongyang 01:32
The same switch happens in the South too, Lee said, where North Korean products and culture become "trendy" during times of diplomacy, and taboo when tensions rise. "It's the political climate that affects pop culture," she added.
But talks faltered in 2019 after a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump fell apart, and communication ultimately broke down. By early 2020, the country completely shut its borders due to Covid-19, cutting off nearly all trade with China, its main economic lifeline.
The state of North Korea's economy often dictates its restrictions. And with the country in increasingly dire straits, the regime isn't taking any risks.
In December, North Korea passed a new law to prevent the spread of content not approved by government censors; this February, Kim suggested greater controls on societal content could be coming; the following month, a North Korean propaganda website accused K-pop record labels of "slave-like exploitation."

It's impossible to say for sure what triggered Kim's latest crackdown on foreign influence in the past two to three years, said Lee -- but she added it could be linked to the border closures and extreme economic hardship.
"Goods and people are not going across the border, so they can't get the things that they want or crave, she said. "So what we know from this edict that was passed down is that they're telling their people, stop craving that stuff. And (they're) phrasing it in a way that's about North Korean identity -- let's get back to our tradition, our language, who we are, and not be so covetous of foreign things."
But, she added, things can change quickly depending on the state of inter-Korea diplomacy.
"The party is constantly changing the rules about what's acceptable when it comes to foreign content, and the people have to pay attention," she said. And the message now is: "There may have been a period where it was okay to covet these things, to crave these foreign goods. But it's no longer okay."
CNN · by Jessie Yeung and Yoonjung Seo, CNN

9.  North Korea Commits Two People to Mental Institutions After Public Outbursts

This is the key point. Kim Jong-un has been using the pandemic to crack down on market activity and the rising economic independence of the people. But cracking down on market activity is destroying the resilience capability of the population and what allowed them to survive in the decades since the Arduous march of the famine of 1994-1996. There could be catastrophic effects for the people and the regime because of Kim Jong-un's policies.

And thanks to Radio Free Asia for providing the reporting that we depend on because it is so hard to get information into and out of north Korea.


The pandemic has not been kind to residents who buy and sell goods to support themselves. Emergency restrictions have made travel between provinces illegal, meaning inter-provincial commerce is almost nonexistent.

North Korea Commits Two People to Mental Institutions After Public Outbursts
In two isolated incidents, the coronavirus pandemic ruined their food sales businesses.
Authorities in North Korea have committed two disgruntled food merchants to mental institutions after they lost their composure publicly, a situation that is becoming increasingly common due to the people’s difficulty in making a living during the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the country told RFA.
The pandemic has not been kind to residents who buy and sell goods to support themselves. Emergency restrictions have made travel between provinces illegal, meaning inter-provincial commerce is almost nonexistent.
Additionally, Beijing and Pyongyang agreed at the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020 to close the Sino-Korean border and suspend all trade, a move that was disastrous for the North Korean economy, as well as its food situation.
The absence of Chinese imports has made food prices skyrocket at a time when many families are unable to make money.
People are now being pushed to the brink and are lashing out publicly due to their extremely difficult living circumstances, sources said.
“Last week, a woman in her 40s came out into the street crying loudly. She began to shout, ‘Kill me!’ and she swore at law enforcement agents. So they dragged her away,” a resident of Songchon county in South Pyongan province, north of the capital Pyongyang, told RFA’s Korean Service Tuesday.
Illustration by Rebel Pepper. Credit: RFA
“They detained her in a waiting room at the police department after she violently shook the collar of the security agent… The next day she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to the No. 49 hospital in Yangdok,” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.
The woman had been the sole breadwinner for a relatively large family and had lost her livelihood due to the pandemic.
“She had been living with her elderly parents, now in their 70s, and with three children,” the source said, adding, “She used to sell corn from the rural areas in the marketplace to make a living for the family, but when even short-distance travel became difficult due to emergency coronavirus restrictions, the business fell apart.”
“After severe difficulties, her resentment against the authorities exploded, so she came out into the street and caused a scene by crying and screaming and denouncing the authorities,” said the source.
North Koreans are seeing more and more of these kinds of incidents as economic conditions worsen, according to the source.
“This year alone, in Songchon county, about 10 people were committed to Yangdok Psychiatric Hospital,” a resident of Yangdok county in South Pyongan province told RFA’s Korean Service Tuesday.
“There are people who cannot control their anger because they couldn’t endure the hardships in their lives caused by the coronavirus crisis. They did things like screaming on the road in the middle of the night or voicing their anger or resentment toward authorities with harsh language,” said the source.
As poverty and hunger become more of a constant during the pandemic, these kinds of incidents will happen even more often, the source said.
“Resentment against the country and its leaders is so prevalent that people are driven to insanity. But the authorities do not care about the root causes of the problem and just lock them up as schizophrenics,” he said.
Another source, speaking from North Pyongan province’s Ryongchon county, told RFA the same day that a similar incident occurred there last week.
Illustration by Rebel Pepper. Credit: RFA
“A man in his 40s who made a living selling seafood from Chongjin at the Sinuiju market got in trouble for violating quarantine policy,” said the second source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Chongjin is an east coast port city and capital of North Hamgyong province, three provinces to the east from northwestern coastal North Pyongan. Travel restrictions during the pandemic forbid travel between provinces.
“Authorities confiscated all of his seafood, and his business was completely ruined. Outraged by the injustice, the man took to drinking and set fire to the storage room at his house, causing a great disturbance in the neighborhood,” said the second source.
“Security agents tried to stop him from lashing out in anger, but he had built up resentment against the authorities and hurled all kinds of abusive language at the agents,” the second source said.
Illustration by Rebel Pepper. Credit: RFA
The agents took him to a detention center on charges of arson in a residential area, and once there, he continued to scream incessantly, according to the second source.
“The police department therefore classified him as mentally ill and put him in a psychiatric hospital,” the second source said.
“After the incident, residents have become suspicious of law enforcement for committing a mentally capable person simply because he defied law enforcement. They are critical of the authorities, saying they too may one day be committed if they find themselves in such a tough situation.”
Reported by Hyemin Son for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

10. Repeated diplomacy bungles (China toward South Korea)

Attempting to appease either north Korea or China just does not work.


China's high-handed attitude in dealing with Korea issues has continued since the Moon Jae-in administration has maintained low-profile diplomacy toward the neighboring country. For instance, Korea's foreign ministry has been silent on Taiwan, though its vice minister discussed the matter with his counterparts from the United States and Japan, Wednesday, who gave a briefing on the matter in press conferences. This shows the foreign ministry attempted to take into consideration China's side.

Repeated diplomacy bungles
The Korea Times · July 23, 2021
Beijing should stop high-handed approaches toward Seoul

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian cannot deflect criticism for his remark which interferes with Korea's domestic politics, including the presidential election slated for March next year. "We also hope that ROK politicians and the public will voice support for the development of China-ROK relations amid and beyond domestic elections, and inject positive energy into the bilateral relations," Zhao said during a regular press briefing Wednesday. ROK is an acronym of the nation's official name Republic of Korea.

Zhao also mentioned recent statements made by former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a leading presidential hopeful of the opposition camp, and Lee Jun-seok, chairman of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), with regard to the issues of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Hong Kong.
"I've noted the remarks by some ROK political figures on issues relating to Hong Kong and THAAD, many of which China finds unacceptable," he said. Stressing Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are purely China's domestic affairs, he said, "No country, organization or individual has any right to make wanton comments." His remark apparently targeted Lee who mentioned the democracy movement in Hong Kong. It is totally improper for the Chinese foreign ministry to criticize the opposition leader.

Yoon earlier said THAAD has been deployed within our territory and China should first remove its long-range radars installed along the borders before demanding withdrawal of THAAD. Yoon's remark is highly plausible based on common sense. Yet, Chinese Ambassador to Korea Xing Haiming aroused a dispute by denouncing Yoon via a contribution to a domestic daily, claiming THAAD deployment has seriously undermined China's interests.

It's rude and discourteous for an envoy to denounce the remark of a leading presidential aspirant in the country where he is posted. Adding fuel to the controversy, spokesman Zhao defended Xing's statement. "Chinese diplomats posted overseas have the responsibility to make clear China's position on issues concerning major interests of the country in a timely manner," he said.

China's high-handed attitude in dealing with Korea issues has continued since the Moon Jae-in administration has maintained low-profile diplomacy toward the neighboring country. For instance, Korea's foreign ministry has been silent on Taiwan, though its vice minister discussed the matter with his counterparts from the United States and Japan, Wednesday, who gave a briefing on the matter in press conferences. This shows the foreign ministry attempted to take into consideration China's side.

Following the vice-ministerial talks, the U.S. and Japan also gave a briefing on how to contain China in the Indo-Pacific area while Korea kept silence. The Moon administration should squarely cope with China to prevent it from acting so high-handed. It is a matter of national pride and prestige. China should assume a more prudent and gentle manner as a responsible leading member of the international community. Bilateral prosperity and peaceful coexistence is possible only on the basis of mutual respect.

The Korea Times · July 23, 2021

11. South Korean TV Network Apologises For Offensive Olympic Broadcast
What was MBC thinking? Did they contract out their research to north Korea's Propaganda and Agitation Department or as noted in the article did they just use what popped up first in google searches? Is MBC so foolish to think that only Koreans are watching their network and that this would appeal to South Koreans and no one outside of Korea would notice (but many Korean people in the South were not pleased with this).

South Korean TV Network Apologises For Offensive Olympic Broadcast
Barron's · by AFP - Agence France Presse

MBC -- one of the largest South Korean television networks -- used images of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster for Ukraine, a riot for Haiti and a promotional bitcoin poster for El Salvador when each nation entered the stadium
Text size

A major South Korean broadcaster apologised Saturday for using offensive images and captions to describe participating countries during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night.
Coronavirus restrictions meant a stripped back celebration with the traditional delegations of athletes masked and far smaller than usual, ranging from just a handful of people to a few dozen.
MBC -- one of the largest national television networks -- used images of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster for Ukraine, a riot for Haiti and a promotional bitcoin poster for El Salvador when each nation entered the stadium.
The broadcaster issued an apology following the opening ceremony, saying "inappropriate images and captions were used to introduce some countries."
"We apologise to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers," it said.
For some countries, the descriptions were more gastronomic, with images of pizza for Italy, sushi for Japan, and salmon for Norway.
In the captions, the network described the Marshall Islands as "a former nuclear test site for the United States" and Haiti as a country "with an unstable political situation due to the assassination of its president".
Despite the network's apology, the images and captions triggered outrage online.
"They used whatever popped up first on Google," said one user online.
Another added: "This is a serious diplomatic discourtesy."
Barron's · by AFP - Agence France Presse

12. Korea Faces Protracted Lockdown

Korea Faces Protracted Lockdown
July 23, 2021 10:19
Korea faces a protracted lockdown amid the collapse of the government's vaccination plans as new infections as new infections reached 1,650 as of Friday morning.
The current lockdown rules for the greater Seoul area and some other parts were extended for another two weeks on Friday.
Outside the capital, new cases surged to 546 on Wednesday, above 500 for the second day running and the highest since the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic that swept Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province in March last year.
They made up over one-third of cases across the country.
Gimpo International Airport is crowded with travelers on Thursday. /Yonhap
On July 12, health authorities tightened lockdown in the capital region, limiting private gatherings to four people until 6 p.m. and to two after that. When infections began to spike elsewhere, local governments to follow suit, but this has so far had no great effect on the number of cases.
One reason seems to be that people fled the capital as the peak summer vacation season approaches. Of 161 people who tested positive for coronavirus on Jeju Island from July 12 to 21, 34 had come from elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Moderna's vaccine that is to be given to people in their 50s here, has proved 83 percent effective against the Alpha variant and 72 percent effective against the Delta variant of COVID-19 even among those who had only been given their first jab, a Canadian study shows.
But in Korea, people over 50 will not be fully inoculated until the end of August or early September amid a shortage of vaccines, and there is no guarantee that the pace will pick up after that.

  • Copyright © Chosunilbo &

13. Korea-Japan rivalry continues at Tokyo Games

Korea-Japan rivalry continues at Tokyo Games
The Korea Times · by 2021-07-23 08:12 | Tokyo Olympics · July 24, 2021
Korea and Japan could clash in the quarterfinal of the men's football at the Tokyo Olympics. Korea Times file

No-spectator Olympics to benefit Team Korea against Japan
By Kang Seung-woo

Whenever Korea and Japan met in any international sporting event, they were the biggest draw from fans from the both countries.

Fueled by recent historical and territorial feuds between the two sides, the rivalry is expected to further intensify as their squads are likely to square off against each other in several events, some of which could decisively affect the two sides' medal hauls.

Although Japan may have a home-field advantage this time, it is a silver lining that Team Korea will not see raucous Japanese fans ― even some extremely imperialist Japanese spectators using the Rising Sun flag ― rooting for their athletes in the stands thanks to the Olympic organizer's decision to hold the event without spectators due to the city's coronavirus state of emergency.

The events drawing the most attention are baseball and football, where the bilateral rivalry has been building up for years.

The national baseball team, led by manager Kim Kyung-moon, is not grouped with Japan in the preliminary round. But the arch rivals are set to meet each other for a semifinal berth if both countries finish first in the opening round.

Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball is regarded as superior to the Korea Baseball Organization. But Korea carries a better Olympic pedigree. Korea won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and defeated Japan in the bronze medal match at the 2000 Sydney Games. Japan has collected one silver and two bronze medals at the Summer Games.

In men's football, Korea, which has clinched the Olympic berth for a record ninth-straight time, will not face Japan in the preliminary round.

However, another rival match between the two countries can be set up in the quarterfinal if Korea and Japan finish first and second in their respective groups or the other way round.
Their last Olympic clash in football took place at the 2012 London Olympics when Korea ousted Japan in the third-place match to take the bronze medal.

Ball sports, other than baseball and football, will also highlight the athletic rivalry between Korea and Japan.

The women's volleyball team, led by Kim Yeon-koung, one of the nation's best players, if not the best-ever, is seeking to earn a medal in the sport for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where Korea won bronze.

Korea, which lost to Japan in the bronze medal match in London, avenged its loss four years later in Rio with a victory behind Kim's solid performance.
The two sides are scheduled to square off on July 31.

In women's handball, Korea and Japan, bracketed in Group A with Angola, Norway, Montenegro and the Netherlands, will have a preliminary match, July 29.
The Korea-Japan rivalry will likely be strong in individual events also, including judo, table tennis, wrestling and golf.

In particular, women's golf should unfold interestingly.

Korea will field four LPGA star players ― all of whom are ranked among the top five players in the world ― to compete at the Tokyo Games. They are No. 2 Ko Jin-young, No. 4 Kim Sei-young and No. 5 Kim Hyo-joo along with defending Olympic champion, No. 3 Park In-bee.

However, Japan's Nasa Hataoka, ranked ninth in the world, has been emerging as an up-and-coming medal contender based on her recent strong performance. Hataoka won the Marathon LPGA Classic earlier this month, while finishing second at the U.S. Women's Open in June.
Kim Yeon-koung participates in a training session at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Wednesday. Joint Press CorpsWith most of the Olympic events set to be held without spectators, Korean athletes will be relieved from facing their Japanese counterparts with a loudly cheering crowd of home fans in the venues, creating more of an atmosphere of playing at a neutral site.

In the lead-up to the Tokyo Games, there have been concerns in Korea that some Japanese fans may wave the Rising Sun flags in the stands. The flag is widely regarded here as a symbol of Japan's imperialism and its World War II atrocities and many people liken it to Nazi Germany's swastika.

The Korea Times · by 2021-07-23 08:12 | Tokyo Olympics · July 24, 2021

14.  US Working to Ease Suffering of N. Koreans in Response to Repatriation Concerns

There is little we can do if Kim Jong-un will not allow help.

Human rights upfront.


Porter said the U.S. will continue to prioritize human rights in its overall approach on North Korea. She said even when the U.S. disagrees with a regime like the North, it must work to the best of its ability to alleviate the suffering of its people, and the U.S. strives to act in a manner that does not harm the North Korean people.

US Working to Ease Suffering of N. Koreans in Response to Repatriation Concerns
Write: 2021-07-24 13:19:41 / Update: 2021-07-24 13:24:46

Photo : YONHAP News
The U.S. State Department has stressed efforts to alleviate the suffering of North Korean people in regards to the regime's human rights concerns, after reports emerged of a possible repatriation of North Korean escapees detained in China.

In a telephone briefing Friday, the department's deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said the U.S. is certainly committed to placing human rights at the center of foreign policy, and this of course includes North Korea.

Earlier Human Rights Watch said at least one-thousand-170 North Koreans are currently detained in China and facing forced repatriation to the North as Pyongyang recently reopened its borders.

Porter said the U.S. will continue to prioritize human rights in its overall approach on North Korea. She said even when the U.S. disagrees with a regime like the North, it must work to the best of its ability to alleviate the suffering of its people, and the U.S. strives to act in a manner that does not harm the North Korean people.

She said Washington will continue to support international efforts aimed at the provision of critical humanitarian aid in the hope that North Korea will accept it.


15. Washington warns global businesses in S. Korea about legal risks
South Korea must improve its regulatory environment. 


The decrease of direct overseas investment in the South Korean market over the recent two years is attributable to a poorer regulatory system, too high corporate tax, etc. Nevertheless, the ruling party with a majority of the legislative seats taken is hell-bent on strengthening regulation by proposing to tighten the serious accidents punishment act, which has not yet been put in force. If it is the case, it will be hard not only to attract overseas businesses to the South Korean market but also to stop South Korean companies from choosing an exodus.

Washington warns global businesses in S. Korea about legal risks
Posted July. 24, 2021 07:18,
Updated July. 24, 2021 07:18
Washington warns global businesses in S. Korea about legal risks. July. 24, 2021 07:18. .
The 2021 Investment Climate Statements issued by the U.S. State Department on Wednesday (local time) points out that leaders of global businesses are highly likely to be faced with legal risks such as arrests and indictments in South Korea. The report provides U.S. businesses with a comprehensive analysis of the level of business-friendliness of 170 countries when they consider making any overseas investment.

The statements is highly critical of South Korea’s legal and regulatory issues while appreciating its COVID-19 response system, political stability, public safety, world-class infrastructure and a highly skilled labor force. As for its legal system, it writes, “The CEOs of local branches can be held legally responsible for all actions of their company and at times have been arrested and charged for their companies’ infractions.” It is a warning message that foreign CEOs may often be faced with criminal action in South Korea, which rarely happens in other advanced nations. For example, GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem were banned from leaving the country on charges of illegal hiring as many as twice in the recent two years.

The report says that eighty percent of all new bills in South Korea are supposed to go through the National Assembly before written in law without any rigorous assessment made on possible impact, adding that legal ordinances are made public despite lack of opinions heard from industrial insiders and other related parties. It implies that global businesses in South Korea should stay cautious about any change in the business environment following unexpected acts and ordinances issued by the legislative body and the administration for domestic political and social reasons.

It is no news that the South Korean regulatory system ranks the lowest in terms of competence among those in advanced countries. What’s worse, the regulatory framework has become ever more unfavorable to businesses over time. A great example of a worsening business environment in South Korea is the introduction of an act to punish business owners and CEOs for any severe industrial disaster related to their companies including deadly accidents by giving them more than one year’s imprisonment or a fine of more than 100 million won. It has been reported that such a heavy legal burden on the shoulders of CEOs makes it hard for global businesses to find any applicant who is willing to serve as a leader of their South Korean branch.

The decrease of direct overseas investment in the South Korean market over the recent two years is attributable to a poorer regulatory system, too high corporate tax, etc. Nevertheless, the ruling party with a majority of the legislative seats taken is hell-bent on strengthening regulation by proposing to tighten the serious accidents punishment act, which has not yet been put in force. If it is the case, it will be hard not only to attract overseas businesses to the South Korean market but also to stop South Korean companies from choosing an exodus.

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

David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email:
Web Site:
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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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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