Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“Truth has to be repeated constantly, because Error also is being preached all the time, and not just by a few, but by the multitude. In the Press, Encyclopedias, in Schools, and Universities, everywhere Error holds sway, feeling happy and comfortable in the knowledge of having Majority on its side.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 "Don't argue with a fool. The spectators can't tell the difference." 
- Charles Nalin

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." 
- Voltaire

1. Putin 'is considering turning to Kim Jong Un for help in Ukraine'

2. North Korea's major weakness exposed: 'Take it away, everything collapses'

3. North Korea tests explosive devices at nuclear site: U.N. report

4. Koreas: The hidden risk of the “kill chain”

5. Kim Jong-un horror claim: Tyrant had uncle killed and fed to a pack of starving dogs

6. Pelosi visited Korean Demilitarized Zone with congressional delegation

7. Talking with Lavrov, S. Korean minister raises concern about N. Korea's possible nuclear test

8. North Korea marks end of first COVID wave, but risks persist

9. US military infections remain stable amid COVID-19 surge in South Korea

10. South Korean spacecraft launched to the moon, country’s 1st

11. Russia grows closer to North Korea amid international isolation

12. North Korean Hackers Are Reportedly Going After Gmail Accounts

13. S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 4th day

14. Poland is Buying 1,000 K2 Black Panther Tanks (And More) For a Russia War

15. ROK-US house speakers commit to strong nuclear deterrence

16. Phone conversation between Pres. Yoon and Nancy Pelosi

17. Egypt emerges as new market for Korean arms exports

18. Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats discuss Indo-Pacific strategy

1. Putin 'is considering turning to Kim Jong Un for help in Ukraine'

We have heard reporting on this though initial reports have described construction workers for support to rebuilding in Russian occupied areas. When I was in Korea last month I spoke with an analyst who assesses that north Korean combat troops (primarily nKPA SOF) will be sent to Russia to fight in Putin's War.

This bears watching. If they do engage in combat operations against Ukraine it will not stay secret for long. The question is how do we address this? There certainly will be information and influence opportunities here at the very least.

Putin 'is considering turning to Kim Jong Un for help in Ukraine'

Desperate Putin 'is considering turning to Kim Jong Un for help in Ukraine and offering energy and grain in return for 100,000 soldiers', Russian reports claim

  • N. Korea made it clear it is willing to assist in Russia's war, news agency reported
  • This would include providing a vast fighting force and builders to repair damage
  • In return, it said grain and energy would be supplied to Kim's stricken economy
  • Reacting, reserve colonel Igor Korotchenko told Russian state TV: 'We shouldn't be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jong-un.'
  • Russia and North Korea have shared close ties dating back to 1948, when Soviet Union became first country to recognise DPRK. Putin and Kim last met in 2019


PUBLISHED: 03:52 EDT, 5 August 2022 | UPDATED: 05:13 EDT, 5 August 2022

Daily Mail · by Will Stewart · August 5, 2022

A desperate Vladimir Putin is considering turning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for help in his invasion of Ukraine, and is willing to offer energy and grain in return for 100,000 soldiers, according to reports in Russia.

North Korea has made it clear through 'diplomatic channels' that as well as providing builders to repair war damage, it is ready to supply a vast fighting force in an attempt to tip the balance in Moscow's favour, reported Regnum news agency.

They would be deployed to the forces of the separatist pro-Putin Donetsk People's Republic [DPR] and Luhansk People's Republic [LPR], both of which Kim has recently recognised as independent countries.

A desperate Vladimir Putin is considering turning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for help in his invasion of Ukraine, and is willing to offer energy and grain in return for 100,000 soldiers, according to reports in Russia. Pictured: Kim inspects his troops in April, 2022

'The country is ready to transfer up to 100,000 of its soldiers to Donbas,' said the report by the pro-Kremlin news agency. 'Pyongyang will be able to transfer its tactical units to Donbas.'

In return, grain and energy would be supplied to Kim's stricken economy.

A leading defence expert in Moscow, reserve colonel Igor Korotchenko, told Russian state TV: 'We shouldn't be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jong-un.'

Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Russia's National Defence journal on Rossiya 1 channel, said: 'There are reports that 100,000 North Korean volunteers are prepared to come and take part in the conflict.'

He was challenged by other presenters of the propaganda channel on whether they could be volunteers from North Korea where total obedience is required.

But he said North Korean people were 'resilient and undemanding' and 'the most important thing is they are motivated'. He told viewers: 'We shouldn't be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jung-un…

North Korea has made it clear through 'diplomatic channels' that as well as providing builders to repair war damage, it is ready to supply a vast fighting force, reported Regnum news agency. Pictured: Kim Jong Un presiding over an event marking the 69th anniversary of the Korean War in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (left) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) in Vladivostok, Russia, on April, 25, 2019

A leading defence expert in Moscow, reserve colonel Igor Korotchenko (left), told Russian state TV: 'We shouldn't be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jong-un'

'If North Korean volunteers with their artillery systems, wealth of experience with counter battery warfare and large calibre multiple launch rocket systems, made in North Korea, want to participate in the conflict, well let's give the green light to their volunteer impulse.'

He said: 'If North Korea expresses a desire to meet its international duty to fight against Ukrainian fascism, we should let them.' It was the 'sovereign right of the DPR and LPR to sign the relevant agreements,' he said.

Russia has repeatedly claimed Ukraine is a 'fascist' country as one of its many ways to attempt to justify Putin's brutal invasion, that has killed thousands of civilians and caused millions of people to flee their homes.

Meanwhile Russia should end its participation in international sanctions against Kim's regime, Korotchenko claimed.

Ties between Russia and North Korea dates back to 1948, when the Soviet Union became the first country to officially recognise the DPRK. During the Korean war, the Korean People's Army was supported by the USSR.

Relations between the two countries continued even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with Vladimir Putin giving it more importance when he was elected president in 2000. Kim Jong Un accepted an invitation to visit Russia in 2015, and the pair met on Russian soul - in Vladivostok - on 2019.

When Putin launched his invasion in Ukraine on February 24, North Korea was one of five countries to vote against a United Nations resolution condemning the invasion.

North Korea also became the third country to recognise the independence of the breakaway states of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics in Eastern Ukraine - territory seized by Russian forces during the invasion.

Ukraine reacted by severing all diplomatic ties with North Korea.

The recent addition of to Ukraine's arsenal of U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems (pictured) has begin to move the dial in Kyiv's favour in some regions, allowing Ukraine's forces to neutralise Russia's use of artillery strikes. Pictured: Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 'Grad' shoots toward Russian positions at the frontline in Kharkiv region, August 2

Pictured: Residents carry their belongings near buildings destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the southern port city of Mariupol

The claim over North Koreans comes as Russia is desperately seeking to boost its frontline forces by recruiting prisoners in exchange for waiving their jail sentences.

A Dad's Army of men in their 50s and 60s is also being recruited with the offer of pay higher than many receive in Putin's moribund economy.

It comes as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth month, after Moscow brazenly expected to seize Kyiv in a matter of days. Instead, Putin's forces have found themselves fighting a protracted conflict against a fierce Ukrainian defence, with predictions putting Russian fatalities in the tens-of-thousands.

The recent addition of to Ukraine's arsenal of U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems has even begin to move the dial in Kyiv's favour in some regions.

Ukraine officials have said they operate up to a dozen HIMARS systems, whose accuracy and long range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia's artillery advantage.

Korotchenko is known for his fierce pro-Putin rhetoric.

Recently he urged Putin to bomb Kyiv with a Kalibr cruise missile inscribed 'Hasta la vista baby!' during any Boris Johnson farewell visit - not to 'murder' the UK prime minister but in a show of strength.

Russians should feel 'no shame' of its ambition of obliterating Ukraine as an independent state, he also said recently.

Such an objective was 'absolutely healthy', he said.

'It was said here that Russia is trying to wipe Ukraine off the geopolitical map of the world,' he said. 'It isn't quite that. We are wiping an anti-Russia project off the geopolitical map of the world…'

Ukraine had 'never existed' as a truly independent state in the past, he falsely claimed. 'It is an artificial 'formation' which was born thanks to the national policy conducted after 1917 by the Bolsheviks,' he said.

But now it had become 'a springboard for a strike against Russia'.

Its political elite 'have no right to exist from the point of national interests of our country'.

The West 'will not be able to influence the decisiveness of the leadership of our country and our people to make it so that such a threat from the territory now called Ukraine never exists.'

Daily Mail · by Will Stewart · August 5, 2022

2. North Korea's major weakness exposed: 'Take it away, everything collapses'

It is good to see this focus on Office (Department or Room) 39 which conducts illicit activities around the world to bring in hard currency for the regime.

I have long advocated that if we want to conduct a real strategic strangulation campaign we need to make taking down office 39 around the world a major line of effort. The State Department has had some success helping countries around the world to go after Office 39 personnel operating in their countries over the years but we really need an intelligence/law enforcement task force (or a network - because it takes a network to defeat a network as they say). I am also told by former members of Office 39 that there are also opportunities to damage the network through defections of members. A significant number of members may desire to defect if they were offered the opportunity. Others may not because members of their family remain in north Korea as "hostages" to ensure their continued loyalty. However, these members might be targets for intelligence recruitment in return for future opportunities to defect.

But the bottom line is we need a concerted effort to deal with Office 39 around the world.


Koh Young Hwan, a former North Korea diplomat who defected from the country in 1991, added: "Legend has it that when Kim-Jong-il came to power, he renamed the finance department's of the Worker's Party central committee to Office 39.
"This is because it is located on floor three in room nine. Another story says that it was March 9 when Kim Jong-il issued an order to set up such a bureau.
"Either way, Office 39 is the department that collects and manages the Kim family's secret funds."

North Korea's major weakness exposed: 'Take it away, everything collapses'

NORTH KOREA's major weakness is its secret funding channel, an expert claimed as he warned the country is still able to evade sanctions.

Express · by Charlie Bradley · August 4, 2022

North Korean defectors deported back from South Korea in 2019

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South Korea’s central bank has claimed that the North Korean economy shrank for a second year in a row in 2021. It said that UN sanctions helped compromise the country's trade with China. The Bank of Korea's reports are one of few ways to track North Korea's economic performance as the country does not release its own official economic data. While North Korea has been heavily sanctioned by the West, some experts have warned that the country's regime, led by Kim Jong-un, can get around the economic penalties.

Speaking in a Deutsche Welle documentary last year, observers of North Korea discussed Office 39 – a secretive government department in North Korea which purportedly helps Kim Jong-un fund his nuclear weapons programme and other projects.

It is said that Office 39 allows North Korea to access foreign currencies, but also enables the country to make money through drugs trading, human trafficking and fraud.

In the film entitled 'How does North Korea finance a nuclear weapons program?', Remco Breuker, a historian focusing on Asia, explained how the mysterious office works.

North Korea news: Kim has a secret funding channel (Image: getty)

He said: "The sanctions that have been put on North Korea are extremely strict, there's probably not been a country that has been more diversely sanctioned, but at the same time they are no longer working.

"There is a huge problem with our North Korea policy and using sanctions to try and have the regime modify its behaviour because we are not sanctioning the one entity that earns most of its money and keeps it financially afloat.

"Talk to any prominent North Korean exile and they will tell you that Office 39 is absolutely crucial in earnings, revenues for the North Korean regime. It's absolutely vital.

"Take it away and everything collapses."

North Korea news: Pyongyang, North Korea (Image: getty)

Koh Young Hwan, a former North Korea diplomat who defected from the country in 1991, added: "Legend has it that when Kim-Jong-il came to power, he renamed the finance department's of the Worker's Party central committee to Office 39.

"This is because it is located on floor three in room nine. Another story says that it was March 9 when Kim Jong-il issued an order to set up such a bureau.

"Either way, Office 39 is the department that collects and manages the Kim family's secret funds."

North Korea has angered the West in recent years with its aggressive rhetoric and regular missiles tests.

North Korea news: North Korea has strong ties with China (Image: getty)

The country has also aligned closely with China – as seen this week when US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.

North Korea condemned Ms Pelosi for the visit, with Pyongyang's state media saying: “The current situation clearly shows that the impudent interference of the US in internal affairs of other countries and its intentional political and military provocations are, indeed, the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region."

China sees Taiwan as one of its provinces, but the island country has always tried to maintain its self-governance.

The US has supported Taiwan, angering the Chinese government in the process.

Express · by Charlie Bradley · August 4, 2022

3. North Korea tests explosive devices at nuclear site: U.N. report

A north Korean nuclear test is likely to occur in the near future if Kim Jong Un believes it will support his political warfare, blackmail diplomacy, and advanced war fighting strategies. He has to advance his nuclear program and this likely requires testing. And if he thinks he can use the nuclear test to coerce concessions (e.g., sanctions relief) then he is likely to test. So far we have shown Kim that the ROK and US will not appease him with sanctions relief. We need to continue to make that clear to Kim and show him that his strategies cannot be successful.

North Korea tests explosive devices at nuclear site: U.N. report

Activity at Punggye-ri paves way for atomic weapons development, experts warn

KAORI YOSHIDA and HIONA SHIRAIWA, Nikkei staff writers

August 5, 2022 05:27 JSTUpdated on August 5, 2022 07:43 JST

UNITED NATIONS -- North Korea has tested explosive devices and begun digging new underground tunnels at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which "paves the way for additional nuclear tests for the development of nuclear weapons," according to a draft U.N. report obtained by Nikkei.

The report, which covers the first seven months of this year, details tactics used by Pyongyang to dodge sanctions. It was submitted Wednesday to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee, and will be released after discussion among the council's permanent members.

North Korea has expanded its capacity to produce fissile materials -- a key component of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices -- at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, and is excavating tunnels at Punggye-ri that were destroyed amid denuclearization talks with the U.S. in 2018, according to the report.

Detonators that can be used in nuclear tests were being tested at Punggye-ri, according to a Security Council member. Preparations for a nuclear test had entered into their final stages as of early June, according to an analysis by two Security Council members.

Cybercrime group Lazarus Group and others continue to engage in cyberattacks, stealing hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in cryptocurrencies, including ethereum and USD coin, according to the report.

Forty-seven companies and institutions, including defense contractors, became infected with new malware distributed by Lazarus Group in the first quarter of 2022.

The report points out that North Korea is increasingly using nonfungible tokens for money laundering. The report claims that Lazarus stole cryptocurrencies in late March from services linked to NFT-based game Axie Infinity, popular in the Philippines and elsewhere.

In January, Lazarus targeted "multiple chemical and IT sector organizations to obtain intellectual property" in a campaign dubbed "Operation Dream Job," which installed malware on victims' devices, the report says.

The report suggests North Korea is still smuggling substantial quantities of refined petroleum products into its borders. Pyongyang's reported imports from U.N. member countries as of July 27 came to just 8.15% of the annual limit of 500,000 barrels set in a Security Council resolution. But the country, according to one member country, is estimated to have actually brought in 458,898 barrels, close to the cap.

North Korea has also kept exporting coal in defiance of a Security Council ban. A study by an expert panel and U.N. members found that Pyongyang has continued to unload coal shipments in China's territorial waters, without mentioning specific quantities.

The report touched on the spread of the coronavirus in North Korea. "There can be little doubt that U.N. sanctions have unintentionally affected the humanitarian situation," it said of the wave of infections in the country.

While not legally binding, such reports have served as a basis for measures taken against individuals or organizations found to have violated sanctions.

4. Koreas: The hidden risk of the “kill chain”

Everyone focuses on the kill chain as pre-emptive decapitation strike. That sensationalism is not helpful as the author notes. And if you think about it it would be a one time use. Either the north's attack would be pre-emptive or if what is most likely to happen there will be no pre-emptive strike because it will be hard to fuse the intelligence assessment with the political decision making and if the north is going to strike it probably will before the political decision to conduct a pre-emptive strike can be made. I am sure there are those in South Korea who focus on the kill chain as a preemptive decapitation strike to support deterrence (a point I think the author is making). But will it actually deter Kim?. But the real value of the kill chain, if properly employed, is that it will be used to attack the entire missile system (command and control, logistics, hide sites,and launch sites, etc.) after the north initiates hostilities. It will attack the chain of missile operations in depth.

But most of the author's arguments below are not credible to me (e.g., trading Boston for Pusan and the kill chain will drag the US into conflict).

Koreas: The hidden risk of the “kill chain” | Lowy Institute

South Korea’s threat to pre-emptively decapitate the leadership

in Pyongyang may drag the United States into a conflict. · by Khang Vu

In a move to prove that the age of appeasing North Korea is over, South Korea’s newly-inaugurated president Yoon Suk-yeol has quickly moved to revive a “Kill Chain” strategy towards North Korea – a plan which would in the face of imminent nuclear attack launch a pre-emptive strike to remove the leadership in Pyongyang. Yoon had promised as much on the campaign trail, arguing South Korea would have “no recourse but a pre-emptive strike” because there was simply not enough time to intercept missiles.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un last month responded with the expected ire, warning a pre-emptive strike would only ensure Seoul was annihilated in turn. Kim also cautioned the South that he would use nuclear weapons should a conflict break out. Experts and government officials continue to see a significant chance that North Korea will soon test a nuclear device, which, considering Yoon’s remarks about a “Kill Chain”, could lead to a full-blown crisis.

South Korea plainly lacks the geographic depth to absorb a North Korean first strike.

In addition to boosting South Korea’s military capabilities, Yoon also pledged in a summit with US President Joe Biden in May to enhance build upon a strategy of extended deterrence. Joint military exercises with the United States that had been scaled back during the former Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in administrations in support of a diplomatic effort to engage North Korea have been restored, a move that also sparked criticism from Pyongyang. Yoon wants to reinstate the “Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group” (EDSCG) with the United States, which helps the two allies assess how to defend the South in the face of North Korean provocations. Notably, he also delayed the transfer of wartime Operational Control Authority (OPCON) from the United States, claiming that preparations are not sufficient.

Yoon and Biden have both indicated they remain open to a summit with Kim, but only through step-by-step engagement and working-level talks first. They claim that the ball is in Kim’s court and would impose more sanctions if he carries out any major provocations. Importantly, the two allies share the common objective of denuclearising the Korean peninsula, which makes for a significant contrast the South Korean focus on peace talks under Moon. Certainly, the US–South Korea alliance appears more cohesive under Yoon.

But there are still sources of discontent.

US President Joe Biden in a joint press conference in Seoul on 22 May with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (White House/Flickr)

For one thing, the rationale behind Yoon’s emphasis on strengthening an independent military capability lies in an uncomfortable truth that Washington would never trade Boston for Busan in defence of South Korea. Strategic studies experts would attribute the driver of this policy to the logic of abandonment and entrapment risks in an alliance. Abandonment risks increase when allies have major policy disagreements, as it was the case during the Moon administration when the United States worried where Moon’s engagement bid with North Korea might lead. Entrapment risks, meantime, increase when an alliance becomes so cohesive that one ally can drag the other into an unwanted conflict.

For the United States, South Korea pre-emptively attacking the North without its consent significantly raises the risks of North Korean missiles landing on its soil.

Yoon’s “Kill Chain” strategy could feasible drag the United States into a conflict with North Korea, so Washington is understandably wary. As one former US senior official put it: “to conduct a pre-emptive strike would not be an act of self-defence, and by definition this would fall under the category of an alliance decision.” But it would not be the first time Washington has sought to rein in Seoul. During the Cold War various South Korean presidents made a bid to march North, and as recently as 2010 Washington had to urge restraint from South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak administration when retaliating to several North Koreans attacks.

But South Korea plainly lacks the geographic depth to absorb a North Korean first strike. The prospect of North Korea launching missiles with various ranges and altitudes at the same time makes it equally understandable that Seoul worries about overwhelming the joint US-South Korea missile defence system. For South Korea, attacking North Korean missiles before any launch could appear logical. However, for the United States, South Korea pre-emptively attacking the North without its consent significantly raises the risks of North Korean missiles landing on its soil.

Consequently, the United States will use the EDSCG not only to increase the capability and credibility of extended deterrence but also to leverage its position as the senior ally to rein in Seoul’s temptations. This may cause discomfort in South Korea if it must seek an approval prior to attack when it already had little time to respond under “Kill Chain”.

It amounts to a conundrum. Under Moon, the alliance was put to the test when diplomacy with North Korea was flourishing. Under Yoon, the alliance is likely to be put to the test when tensions with the North are rising.

To reduce the chance of fracturing the alliance, Yoon should avoid publicly threatening to decapitate the leadership of a nuclear-armed state. The aim of diplomacy with North Korea should not be denuclearisation, but more modest, such as an arms limitation agreement, to keep relations from spiralling out of control. Who knows whether Washington will really come to Seoul’s defence when the missiles are pointed toward the United States, too? · by Khang Vu


Kim Jong-un horror claim: Tyrant had uncle killed and fed to a pack of starving dogs

Sensational reporting, yes. But it is a brutal regime even if this report is exaggerated.

Kim Jong-un horror claim: Tyrant had uncle killed and fed to a pack of starving dogs

Express · by Ciaran McGrath · August 5, 2022

Kim Jong-un threatens South Korea with nuclear 'annihilation'

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Jang Song-thaek was killed and fed to the animals, who had been starved for three days beforehand, in 2013, the state-run newspaper claimed. The former Minister of the State Security Department fell out of favour, and was once described by the state as "despicable human scum, worse than a dog".

Additional reports suggested officials stood watching as the dogs ate his remains, while eight of his closest allies were also executed.

Supreme leader Kim, who has been in power since 2011, is known for his ruthlessness, using his security forces to crush without mercy the merest hint of dissent in the Hermit State.

The purge which cost Jang his life was motivated by Kim’s desire to remove what he called "factionalist filth" in the communist state, the report claimed.

Kim Jong-un is notorious for his brutal approach as Supreme Leader (Image: GETTY)

North Korean military dogs attack a dummy of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin in 2013 (Image: Reuters)

Jang, who was understandably said to have fainted during his, ordeal, was likely killed in order to consolidate Kim’s grasp on power after succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il, two years earlier.

Ra Jong-yil, author of Son-in-Law of a Theocracy, a biography of Jang, said: "With his execution, North Korea lost virtually the only person there who could have helped the country introduce reform and openness."

Jang was widely reported to have indulged in a "pleasure squad", whereby young women would reportedly sing American songs and perform stripteases.

If accurate, his death would be eerily similar to pictures released by the North's KNCA agency in 2013 of a North Korean military dog biting a portrait of South Korea's Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin fixed to a dummy.

After he died, Hang was replaced by Jo Kyong-chol, a North Korean general nicknamed the "Angel of Death”.

Describing Jo, Michael Madden of US-based think tank the Stimson Center, said: "We can link him overall to supervising the process whereby top North Korean military officers and party cadres are incarcerated and executed."

There are suggestions details of Jang’s horrific demise have emerged nine years later because China is displeased with the North Korean regime, with the two countries previously being referred to as “bitter allies”.

Kim Jong Un meets veterans of the Korean War, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the war armistice (Image: Reuters)

A report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission into relations Beijing and Pyong Yang suggested China has "taken steps to maintain its influence over North Korea".

The China-North Korea Strategic Rift: Background and Implications for the United States report said: "China remains invested in ensuring North Korea’s economic dependence."

However, the report explained the two countries at times maintained frosty relations, with North Korea trying to prevent major decisions from being influenced by China.

Kim Jong Un addresses a special workshop for officials last month (Image: Reuters)

It adds: "Pyongyang has continued to maintain some distance from Beijing, maintaining tight control over its border with China and rejecting Chinese offers of novel Covid vaccines."

Yesterday details emerged of forthcoming joint military drills involving the United States and South Korea, including a mock assassination of Kim himself.

The move is likely to further ratchet up tensions in south-east Asia already heightened by Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.


Speaking to the Daily Beast, an insider familiar with the planned exercises said they would end with a “decapitation” drill where the deep core of North Korea’s elite will be tackled and taken out.

Even though the source has revealed some key aspects, the US has not publicly admitted they are planning to carry out a dry run of Kim’s assassination.

The two nations have not held full-scale military drills since Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s predecessor as US President, met Kim in a series of high-profile summits.

Express · by Ciaran McGrath · August 5, 2022

6. Pelosi visited Korean Demilitarized Zone with congressional delegation

Pelosi visited Korean Demilitarized Zone with congressional delegation

By Clare Foran, CNN

Updated 5:36 PM ET, Thu August 4, 2022

In a photo House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, the California Democrat is seen visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

(CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that a congressional delegation traveled to South Korea and visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea.

"It was a privilege to engage with American heroes in uniform on the ground in Korea, led by General Paul LaCamera, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. During visits to the Demilitarized Zone/Joint Security Area (DMZ/JSA) and Osan Air Base, we conveyed the gratitude of the Congress and the Country for the patriotic service of our Servicemembers, who stand as sentinels of Democracy on the Korean peninsula," Pelosi said in the statement.

The DMZ is a 160-mile-long no-man's land about 30 miles north of Seoul that was established in the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement. It is often described as the world's most heavily armed border.

Pelosi said the delegation also visited Seoul and praised what she described as "a strong bond" between the US and South Korea.

"The United States and South Korea share a strong bond formed for security and forged by decades of warm friendship. Our Congressional delegation traveled to Seoul to reaffirm our treasured ties and our shared commitment to advancing security and stability, economic growth and democratic governance," Pelosi said.

Pelosi said the delegation was "honored to be hosted" at a parliamentary meeting "where we reaffirmed our commitment to the U.S.-Korea alliance" and "was pleased to engage in a phone meeting with Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol."

Providing a readout of the call, Pelosi said, "we thanked the President for Korea's hospitality of 28,000 U.S. Servicemembers and their families. Each Member engaged in conversation with the President, highlighting areas of continued cooperation to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The announcement comes after Pelosi recently visited Taiwan amid threats of Chinese retaliation.

Pelosi landed in Taipei on Tuesday, marking a significant show of support for Taiwan. Pelosi's stop in Taipei is the first time that a US House speaker has visited Taiwan in 25 years. Her trip comes at a low point in US-China relations and despite warnings from the Biden administration against a stop in Taiwan.

This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

CNN's Jeremy Herb and Sol Han contributed to this report.

7. Talking with Lavrov, S. Korean minister raises concern about N. Korea's possible nuclear test

Like China, we cannot expect Russia to help solve ROK and US security issues.

Talking with Lavrov, S. Korean minister raises concern about N. Korea's possible nuclear test | Yonhap News Agency · by 김은정 · August 5, 2022

By Kim Eun-jung

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met Friday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and expressed concern about the possibility of North Korea carrying out another nuclear test, a source said.

The ministers were seated next to each other during the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in Phnom Penh. They had a conversation just before the session.

Park raised the North Korean nuclear issue, and Lavrov mentioned the word "tit-for-tat." The detailed background of why the top Russian diplomat used the wording was not immediately confirmed.

The ministers also talked about the Ukraine war.

Park told Lavrov the situation in Ukraine is having "adverse impacts" on South Korea-Russia relations. He voiced hope for an early restoration of peace in Ukraine and normalization of Seoul-Moscow ties, according to his ministry.

It was their second meeting since Park took office in May. They met each other in Indonesia last month, where the Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting took place.

Among other attendees at the EAS session were U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Later in the day, Park is scheduled to join the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

On Thursday, he met informally with Pyongyang's top delegate, An Kwang-il, during a welcome dinner. Park asked An to convey his congratulatory message for the North's Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui on being promoted to the post. Apparently, Choe is not joining the ARF in person due to the North's strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. An is the North's ambassador to Indonesia and doubles as point man on ASEAN.

(END) · by 김은정 · August 5, 2022

8. North Korea marks end of first COVID wave, but risks persist

north Korea and COVID: A study in propaganda to solve a problem. Just say it is over.

North Korea marks end of first COVID wave, but risks persist

Reuters · by Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL, Aug 5 (Reuters) - North Korea on Friday said all of its fever patients have recovered, marking the end of its first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but challenges linger with economic hardships deepening and an unvaccinated population exposed to future resurgences, analysts said.

While state media said the "anti-epidemic situation ... has entered a definite phase of stability", rather than boasting of victory, North Korea said it would "redouble efforts to maintain perfection in the execution of state anti-epidemic policies". read more

The reclusive country has never confirmed how many people caught COVID-19, apparently lacking testing supplies. But it said around 4.77 million fever patients have fully recovered and 74 died since late April. It has reported no new fever cases since July 30.

South Korean officials and medical experts have cast doubts on those figures, especially the number of deaths.

Shin Young-jeon, a professor at Hanyang University's medical school in Seoul, said while the peak of the first COVID wave may have passed, the stated fatalities were nearly "impossible" and there could be up to 50,000 deaths.

"Their success, if any, should lie in the fact that the outbreak didn't lead to a political or social chaos. Whether their COVID response was successful was another problem."

South Korea's Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, said this week there were "credibility issues" with the North's data but the COVID situation seemed "somewhat under control."


In a sign of easing outbreaks, the ruling Workers' Party hosted a large, mask-free event in late July, inviting hundreds of Korean War veterans. read more

People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in North Korea, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The national football league kicked off its season this week following a three-year halt, state media reported, as did swimming, yachting and bowling competitions.

Most games appeared to be held without spectators, but a photo of a taekwondo match carried on Monday by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed an audience wearing masks and sitting seats apart.

Some analysts say challenges around the economy, food security and public health remain and could be further exacerbated if infections return as seen in Asian neighbours amid a spread of Omicron sub-variants.

Still, leader Kim Jong Un has yet to lift strict movement restrictions, and the Chinese border remains shut, with no officials travelling abroad and diplomatic missions in Pyongyang vacant.

"Despite the weak medical infrastructure, each North Korean community has a designated doctor, and the socialist system's strict controls and concerted responses might help find out and isolate potential cases," said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said the North's outbreak was possibly less severe than expected, as the publicised fever cases could include large numbers from other seasonal epidemics.

South Korea's spy agency said in May that some waterborne diseases such as typhoid or cholera were already widespread in the North before COVID hit. read more

Cho Han-bum, a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said Kim might have decided to seek herd immunity in the face of worsening food shortages and public sentiment due to restrictions.

Experts said the pandemic and a nationwide lockdown would deepen the North's already dire food situation, and the World Health Organization said in June the COVID situation there could be getting worse.

"The North could be trying to ease the restrictions to let people go out and feed themselves, as food shortages become serious and there would be more outbreaks," Cho said.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi; Additional reporting by Hyun Young Yi and Joori Roh; Editing by Lincoln Feast

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters · by Hyonhee Shin

9. US military infections remain stable amid COVID-19 surge in South Korea

Vaccinations? Procedures? Discipline in both areas?

US military infections remain stable amid COVID-19 surge in South Korea

Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · August 4, 2022

U.S. Forces Korea's health protection condition remains at Alpha, which signifies a limited alert and the beginning of community transmission. (Gabrielle Spalding/U.S. Air Force)

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See more stories here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Cases of COVID-19 continued to increase in South Korea over the past two weeks while the U.S. military infections remained around 300 for the same period.

U.S. Forces Korea reported 316 new cases in the week ending Monday, according to an update on its website Tuesday. The command reported 294 cases between July 19 and 25, and 380 cases July 12 to 18.

The command reported its record weekly high of 1,599 cases in January.

USFK’s health protection condition remains at Alpha, which signifies a limited alert and the beginning of community transmission. The command, which is responsible for about 28,500 troops, still allows its personnel to visit most off-base businesses.

Most USFK pandemic mandates, including a mandatory seven-day quarantine for arriving personnel, were rescinded by June.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is surging again in South Korea, which reported 107,894 cases Wednesday and a three-month high of 119,922 cases on Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The country’s one-day record of 621,328 new infections was reported on March 17.

South Korea has recorded over 20 million COVID-19 cases, roughly 39% of its population, since Jan. 20, 2020, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters. As of Wednesday, 25,144 people in South Korea have died of COVID-19 complications.

“Once again, the government calls upon the people to take special care of themselves if they are at performance halls and beaches, where many people are gathered, and be careful at geriatric hospitals, where people are vulnerable to infections,” Lee Ki-il, a vice minister of health and welfare, said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

The country was better prepared to deal with the surge and was preparing for an influx of cases, Lee said.

In recent weeks, KDCA estimated the country’s daily caseload would reach 200,000; Lee said health officials were preparing for 300,000 cases and were trying to secure more hospital beds.

South Korea has rescinded many of its social distancing restrictions, such as business curfews, but still requires people to wear masks when using public transportation or when out in groups of 50 or more people.

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · August 4, 2022

10. South Korean spacecraft launched to the moon, country’s 1st

Korea's first moonshot. A global pivotal state - in the future a space pivotal state.

South Korean spacecraft launched to the moon, country’s 1st

Stars and Stripes · by MARCIA DUNN · August 5, 2022

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, or KPLO, lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — South Korea joined the stampede to the moon Thursday with the launch of a lunar orbiter that will scout out future landing spots.

The satellite launched by SpaceX is taking a long, roundabout path to conserve fuel and will arrive in December.

If successful, it will join spacecraft from the U.S. and India already operating around the moon, and a Chinese rover exploring the moon’s far side.

India, Russia and Japan have new moon missions launching later this year or next, as do a slew of private companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. And NASA is next up with the debut of its mega moon rocket in late August.

South Korea’s $180 million mission — the country’s first step in lunar exploration — features a boxy, solar-powered satellite designed to skim just 62 miles above the lunar surface. Scientists expect to collect geologic and other data for at least a year from this low polar orbit.

It is South Korea’s second shot at space in six weeks.

In June, South Korea successfully launched a package of satellites into orbit around Earth for the first time using its own rocket. The first try last fall fizzled, with the test satellite failing to reach orbit.

And in May, South Korea joined a NASA-led coalition to explore the moon with astronauts in the coming years and decades. NASA is targeting the end of this month for the first launch in its Artemis program. The goal is to send an empty crew capsule around the moon and back to test the systems before a crew climbs aboard in two years.

Danuri — Korean for “enjoy the moon" — is carrying six science instruments, including a camera for NASA. It's designed to peer into the permanently shadowed, ice-filled craters at the lunar poles. NASA favors the lunar south pole for future astronaut outposts because of evidence of frozen water.

South Korea plans to land its own spacecraft on the moon — a robotic probe — by 2030 or so.

“Danuri is just the beginning,” Sang-Ryool Lee, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said in the SpaceX launch webcast.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying Danuri took off from Cape Canaveral close to sunset. The first-stage booster — making its sixth flight — landed on an ocean platform several minutes later for further recycling.

It was the third spaceshot of the day from the U.S.

United Launch Alliance kicked things off at sunrise in Florida, launching an Atlas V rocket with an infrared missile-detection satellite for the U.S. Space Force. Then Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company sent six passengers on a quick ride to space from West Texas.

Across the world, the company Rocket Lab launched a small classified satellite from New Zealand for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Stars and Stripes · by MARCIA DUNN · August 5, 2022

11. Russia grows closer to North Korea amid international isolation

Revisionist and rogue/revolutionary powers working together.

Russia grows closer to North Korea amid international isolation

Moscow floats idea of using workers provided by Pyongyang to rebuild Donbas

GABRIELA BERNAL, Contributing writer

August 3, 2022 14:00 JST

SEOUL -- The international isolation of Russia is pushing the country closer to Pyongyang, raising the prospect that North Korean workers could be employed to rebuild war-torn regions of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

In April an article posted by North Korean media voiced backing for Moscow's invasion. "We are sending our full support and showing solidarity to the justified struggle of the Russian people to protect the autonomy and security of the country and to defend national interests," it stated.

Russia has reciprocated, blocking U.S. attempts to pass additional sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations in May.

North Korean support for Russia entered a new phase on July 14, when Pyongyang officially recognized two breakaway Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine -- the People's Republic of Donetsk and the People's Republic of Luhansk. This prompted Kyiv to sever diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed her country's intent to develop "state-to-state relations" with the republics. Donetsk People's Republic leader Denis Pushilin hailed North Korea's recognition as a "triumph of diplomacy" for the region and expressed hope for "active and fruitful cooperation."

Moscow was pleased with the move. Deputy Chair of the State Duma Committee for Commonwealth of Independent States affairs Kazbek Taysaev called North Korea "a very large strategic partner for Russia." Dmitry Peskov, Russia's presidential media secretary, also said North Korea's decision was regarded "positively" in Moscow.

On July 19, Russia's ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, said in an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia that North Korean workers could prove a useful asset to Russia in its efforts to rebuild the Donbas region, home to the two breakaway republics.

"Highly qualified, hardworking, and ready to work in the most difficult conditions, [North] Korean builders will be an asset in the serious task of restoring social, infrastructure and industrial facilities [in the Donbas] destroyed by the retreating Ukrainian forces," Matsegora said.

According to a Daily NK report posted on Monday, North Korean authorities are planning to dispatch around 1,000 workers currently stationed in Russia to the Donbas region. More may be sent in the future should there be a request from the Russian government, the report stated.

Andrei Lankov, professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, said the Russian and North Korean economies are largely incompatible in most areas, but one important exception is labor. "I expect that many North Korean workers, especially construction workers, will be dispatched to the Donbas republics," he said.

This would be beneficial for both sides, Lankov said. "Russians will get cheap labor, ready to work among the minefields and unexploded shells. The North Korean government will get hard currency" while workers can earn money they could "never dream about" back in North Korea.

Ambassador Matsegora said that North Korea and the two separatist republics have "wide prospects for bilateral cooperation" and are expected to establish mutually beneficial trade relations soon.

But Sangsoo Lee, head of the Stockholm Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, said that "sending North Korean workers abroad is a violation of U.N. sanctions, and the Russian ambassador's remarks are intended to blatantly weaken these U.N. resolutions."

Both Russia and China have allowed North Korean laborers to overstay their visas in clear violation of resolutions, according to the U.N.

Russia appears unconcerned about sanctions or other bans put in place by the international community on North Korea. Matsegora noted that there are many goods in which the republics and North Korea can trade.

Discussions on the subject continued on Friday. Sin Hong Chol, North Korea's ambassador to Russia, held talks about bilateral relations with Olga Makeyeva, the Donetsk People's Republic's envoy to Russia.

"The two sides discussed the development of bilateral relations in various spheres, including economic cooperation," North Korea's diplomatic mission reported.

Soo Kim, a policy analyst at U.S. think tank RAND Corporation, said: [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] buys time and collects the political capital while the U.S. and the international community concentrate efforts in dealing with Russia, supply chain issues and the economic downturn."

12. North Korean Hackers Are Reportedly Going After Gmail Accounts

Beware Kim's all purpose sword.

North Korean Hackers Are Reportedly Going After Gmail Accounts


They're stealing thousands of emails.

Skimming Emails

North Korean hackers are using never-before-seen methods to bypass Google's email security measures to read and download messages and attachments — all without Google detecting it.

They're using simple browser extensions to steal mail data directly, and are reportedly targeting users in the US, Europe, and South Korea, according to a blog post by cybersecurity firm Volexity — sophisticated attacks that could set a jarring precedent.

While these sorts of attacks, known as "spear phishing," have required unwitting users to voluntarily download rogue browser extensions in the past, these attacks are different, because the malware involved can download itself onto target computers without the victims knowing.

Worse yet, Google and Microsoft's browsers are unable to detect that they've been infiltrated by bad actors.

The malware has also steadily evolved since its discovery, Volexity notes, and is already in its third version.

Window Me This

In an email to Ars Technica, Volexity noted that the current iteration of the attacks dubbed SharpTongue is only affecting Windows users. Volexity President Steven Adair warned, however, that there's no reason MacOS or Linux users couldn't be next.

There's good reason to suggest the hackers are backed by North Korean state actors and affiliated with North Korean hacking group Kimsuky.

Volexity said in its post that it "frequently observes SharpTongue targeting and victimizing individuals working for organizations in the United States, Europe and South Korea who work on topics involving North Korea, nuclear issues, weapons systems, and other matters of strategic interest to North Korea."

In other words, these attacks may be primarily politically motivated, so unless you have sensitive information about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea stored on your computer, you probably don't need to worry.

READ MORE: North Korea-backed hackers have a clever way to read your Gmail [Ars Technica]

More on phishing scams: Crypto Fans Are So Dumb They're Clicking .EXE Files Disguised as NFTs


13. S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 4th day

north Krea would say be like us and you would have no COVID (of course being like them would mean lying about the numbers to make them look good).

(2nd LD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 4th day | Yonhap News Agency · by 황장진 · August 5, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases exceeded 100,000 for the fourth straight day Friday amid a wave of infections driven by a highly infectious omicron variant.

The country added 112,901 new COVID-19 infections, including 497 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 20,273,011, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Friday's figure is slightly up from 107,894 Thursday. On Wednesday, the daily caseload stood at 119,922, which was the highest since the 125,821 cases reported April 15.

The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 was 47, up 13 from a day earlier, raising the death toll to 25,191. The fatality rate was 0.12 percent, the KDCA said. The number of seriously ill patients rose 10 to 320 on Friday.

South Korea, with a population of 51.6 million, reached the grim milestone of 20 million coronavirus infections Wednesday, 2 1/2 years after its first COVID-19 case was reported Jan. 20, 2020.

To stem the spread of the omicron variant BA.5, health authorities have asked older adults to get their second boosters. But only about 45 percent of people aged over 60 and subject to a fourth vaccine shot have received it.

Of the 112,404 locally transmitted cases, 49.8 percent of them came from Seoul and its neighboring metropolitan areas and 50.2 percent came from the non-capital areas, the KDCA said.

The country also confirmed two more COVID-19 cases of BA.2.75, a new fast-spreading omicron subvariant, bringing the total such cases to 16. The two new cases were from Mexico, it said.

Of the total 16 cases of BA.2.75, 13 cases were imported from overseas while three were locally infected cases.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, local governments had reported 107,807 additional cases, down 583 from the same time Thursday and 1.37 times the number from a week before.

Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

(END) · by 황장진 · August 5, 2022

14. Poland is Buying 1,000 K2 Black Panther Tanks (And More) For a Russia War

Again, Korea becoming the global pivotal state and contributing to the arsenal of democracy.

Poland is Buying 1,000 K2 Black Panther Tanks (And More) For a Russia War · by Sebastien Roblin · August 5, 2022

Poland is going all in on new military hardware from South Korea: Following a visit to Seoul by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak late in May 2022 Warsaw announced late last month it was purchasing a massive quantity of South Korean arms, including over 1,600 armored vehicles and 48 FA-50 fighter jets.

The deal reportedly totals a staggering $14.5 billion (over several years) and comes as Poland seeks to increase defense spending up to 3% of GDP, even when most NATO states fail to meet the ostensibly required 2% minimum.

K2 Black Panther. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia’s brutal, large-scale invasion of Ukraine has evoked sympathetic psycho-historical trauma in neighboring Poland, which lacks favorable defensive terrain and has been invaded and occupied by Russia and Germany multiple times (often simultaneously) in the last three centuries.

Since Putin invaded in February, Poland has not only served as the key transit point for Western military assistance to Ukraine, but also donated a large share of its military assets. But these donations leave big gaps in its arsenal at the very moment it fears conflict with Russia more than ever. But why is Poland turning to South Korea’s arm industry, and not buying more U.S. or German weapons, like its 249 German Leopard 2A4 and 2A5 tanks, 366 U.S.-built M1 Abrams, and 20 HIMARS artillery systems?

According to Krzysztof Kuska, an expert on the Polish defense sector, it’s because those options simply couldn’t arrive fast enough.

“It seems that time is a key factor for Warsaw,” he wrote to me. “There are tight schedules for every piece of military equipment and even when the Polish government would like to buy something it would land at the end of the line.”

Seoul, by contrast, can begin initial deliveries of what Warsaw wants by the end of 2022 and with less red tape and strings attached. And further down the line, South Korea has agreed to localized production in Poland, which Warsaw hopes will revive its arms industry so it can build more of what it needs for itself.

K2 and K2PL Black Panther Tank

Poland has donated 230 T-72M and an unknown number of more advanced PT-91 Twardy main battle tanks to Ukraine—more tanks than are operational in the French, German or British armies.

Poland had previously considered and rejected the South Korean K2 Black Panther tank by choosing to order 250 M1A2 Abrams tanks from the United States, since expanded with 116 additional M1A1SAs .

But rather than ordering even more Abrams, Warsaw is now getting a thousand Black Panther tanks too!

The K2 is a newer, lighter design than the Abrams at about 61 tons with a smaller crew of three, made possible due to its high-speed autoloader (max 10 rounds per minute). Lower weight is desirable to cope with the infamously muddy East European Spring and Fall prone to bogging down tanks on dirt roads. The K2 uses a diesel engine, which trades acceleration for greater fuel efficiency compared to the Abram’s gas-turbine engine.

The Black Panther represents a huge leap in performance over Poland’s donated T-72Ms. Besides the expected steel/composite armor reinforced with explosive reactive bricks, and powerful 120-millimeter gun, it’s tricked out with sophisticated systems including a laser-stabilized hunter-killer fire control system to improve accuracy while moving, an EHF radar to both acquire targets and warn of incoming missiles, a ‘soft-kill’ active protection system that can cause aforementioned missiles to miss, and KSTAM top-attack anti-tank missiles it can shoot from the gun at targets up to 5 miles away.

Poland will initially only buy 180 K2s directly from South Korea. These will begin arriving later in 2022, along with technical and engineering support vehicles and armored bridges. But the following 820 Black Panthers will be a customized K2PL model beginning production in Polish factories starting in 2026.

According to Błaszczak, the K2PL would be compatible with programmable 120-millimeter multi-purpose shells (which can be instructed to airburst over enemies in cover or delay detonation to explode inside buildings), possibly mount a Polish 12.7-millimeter heavy machine gun, an omnidirectional observation system and a hard-kill Active Protection System that can swat down incoming missiles. (South Korea has developed the KAPS hard-kill system, but doesn’t yet include it on most K2s.)

It will also have reinforced side armor, as getting attacked from the flank was seen as more likely on Poland’s open plains than the Koreas fortified, mountainous border.

Changes previously proposed for the K2PL include lengthening the hull, giving it an additional seventh pair of road wheels, creating space to separately stow ammunition and blow out panels to reduce crew casualties if the armor gets penetrated, and additional cage armor to defeat anti-tank rockets/missiles. However, it’s unclear whether the lengthened concept will make it into the finalized K2PL.

Poland is choosing not to expand its fleet of 250 German-built Leopard 2 tanks which are comparable to the Abrams in performance. Warsaw’s disinterest may be related to Berlin’s inability or unwillingness to help replace hundreds of tanks Poland donated to Ukraine in prompt fashion as promised. It’s reported Berlin was only offering to ship over 20 old Leopard 2A4s starting at a rate of one per month in April 2023.

While not the same as ordering new-built Leopard 2A7V tanks from manufacturer LMW, Warsaw likely doesn’t believe it can rely on orders it places to arrive in a timely fashion given the German Army’s own deficits in equipment.

KMW advisor Nicholas Drummond argues that a Leopard 2 buy would have kept Poland inside a more reliable and affordable regional supply chain, as there are many European Leopard 2 operators. That may be, but Warsaw wants to eventually build its own tanks, and is sore about its exclusion from the next-generation French-German Main Ground Combat System program.

K-9 Thunder Self-propelled Artillery

High-intensity warfare in Ukraine has reaffirmed the dominant killing power of artillery, especially when aided by overhead drone spotters. It’s also confirmed the greater survivability of self-propelled artillery systems that can shoot-and-scoot to avoid counter-battery fire.

Poland had already invested in artillery modernization in the 2010s when it procured Krab 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers to replace its Soviet-era 122-millimeter 2S1 systems. The Krab combines the hull of South Korea’s K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer, the turret and 52-caliber gun of the British AS90M Braveheart prototype, and the Polish Topaz fire control system. Warsaw has already donated 18 Krabs directly to Ukraine, with 54 more on order.

Poland now is simply ordering South Korean K9A1s, not Krab hybrids. That’s not because the Krab is bad, Kuska wrote to me:

“Polish Krab [howitzer] is produced very slowly, and moreover part of the recently produced batch is already in Ukraine and one can assume that more [at least 54] will be sent. South Korea can deliver [K9s] at a reasonable price and also do it quickly.”

Polish defense minister Błaszczak stated that a standing order for 48 more Krabs from manufacturer Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) won’t be fulfilled until 2026.

Meanwhile, Poland will directly purchase 48 K9A1s from South Korea due to arrive 2022-2023. The 52-ton howitzers will be supported by K10 ammunition resupply vehicles and K11 command vehicles, ammunition and other assets.

Then Poland will establish an indigenous production line to build 624 more customized K9PLs based on the new K9A2 model. This features an improved chrome barrel with 50% more barrel life (1,500 rounds); a fully autoloader system allowing downsizing of crew from 5 to 3 and increasing maximum fire rate to 9-10 rounds per minute.

The A2 model is also more comfortable and survivable, with an automatic fire-suppression system, air conditioning, mine protection, and a remote-control functionality for its defensive machine gun. The K9PL will use the Topaz fire control system, like the Krab.

As I’ve detailed previously, the Thunder is a modern, combat-tested system with a range of 26 miles or 35 using rocket-assisted projectiles, hydropneumatics suspension for enhanced mobility, and ability to three rapid-fired rounds that all land simultaneously.

Nearby Estonia, Finland, Norway also use K9s, as does Turkey, implying robust regional support for the system.

Poland’s long game

Warsaw is also reportedly considering procuring/jointly developing additional land warfare systems form Korea including the 42-ton AS21 Redback tracked infantry fighting, which can carry 8 infantry dismounts and is armed with a 30-millimeter autocannon, anti-tank missiles, and two machine guns. Also of interest is the HIMARS-like K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery system, which can fire twelve GPS-guided 239-millimeter rockets at targets up to 50 miles away.

Warsaw clearly seeks to deepen its relationship with South Korea’s burgeoning arms industry—and not just because it can deliver the goods in a pinch. Błaszczak says he hopes to eventually develop successor designs—the K3PL tank and K9PLA3 howitzer—jointly with South Korea. It also plans to eventually refit initial base-model vehicles received to the ‘Polonized’ standard.

Not only do domestic production arrangements create economic goods, but they advance a longer-term goal of revitalizing an independent Polish arms production capacity.

As Kuska put it: “At the end there is also the technology transfer aspect and in-house production. Much of the ordered equipment might be produced locally, ‘Polonized’, and Korea has some interesting programs for future military equipment, so the recent buys might be a start of a long relationship.”

Sébastien Roblin writes on the technical, historical and political aspects of international security and conflict for publications including the The National InterestNBC NewsForbes.comWar is Boring and 19FortyFive, where he is Defense-in-Depth editor. He holds a Master’s degree from Georgetown University and served with the Peace Corps in China. You can follow his articles on Twitter. · by Sebastien Roblin · August 5, 2022

15. ROK-US house speakers commit to strong nuclear deterrence

​It would be great to have north Korea as a bipartisan issue in the legislatures of both countries.​

ROK-US house speakers commit to strong nuclear deterrence

Posted August. 05, 2022 08:04,

Updated August. 05, 2022 08:04

ROK-US house speakers commit to strong nuclear deterrence. August. 05, 2022 08:04. by Na-Ri Shin

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited South Korea on Thursday and met with National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, echoing their mutual commitment to working towards denuclearizing North Korea and bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula through nuclear deterrence against the communist regime.

“Seoul and Washington expressed deep concerns about the dire situation and the escalating threats from North Korea,” said Mr. Kim through a joint press statement after meeting with Ms. Pelosi. “We agreed to support each government’s effort to realize an effective denuclearization and bring peace to the peninsula based on a strong and extended deterrence against North Korea that can reassured our people.”

The two speakers of the house said they discussed how to provide parliamentary support so that the ROK-US alliance can expand into other areas encompassing military security, economy, and technology. With a shared understanding about the importance of forging an economic alliance to tackle the global supply chain disruptions derived from the covid-induced economic doldrums and Ukrainian invasion, they discussed measures on technological cooperation including the introduction of visa quota on specialist jobs and offering of citizenship to Korean adoptees.

“The U.S. and the Republic of Korea relationship is special to us,” Ms. Pelosi said in a joint press announcement after having the discussion for about 70 minutes, stressing the importance of inter-parliamentary cooperation. “We shared values, fighting the pandemic, saving the planet, there are so many things to discuss, which can be better served by the discussion in an inter-parliamentary way in addition to heads of state to heads of state.” She also stressed Washington’s commitment to pass the resolution on the 70th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. alliance next year to mark the historic year.

After the luncheon, Speaker Pelosi visited the JSA, emphasizing her focus on security, following her latest visit to Taiwan. This marks the first time that a high-level official from Washington has visited the JSA since President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

It is expected that she will examine the current security stature on the Korean Peninsula and prepare a message to the North to warn on the seventh nuclear test by the North and North Korea’s human rights record. Ms. Pelosi, who visited North Korea in 1997 to witness firsthand the abject reality of North Korean people, has called the North “a rogue nation” and has been a vocal proponent of addressing the human rights issues in the North and realizing denuclearization.


16. Phone conversation between Pres. Yoon and Nancy Pelosi

No more tightroping walking. The ROK must align itself to protect its interests and security.

This is old think. It must stand up for itself. The balancing act gives an appearance of weakness which is what China will exploit.


As the new cold war intensifies, the importance of alliance cannot be overemphasized. However, for South Korea, which is at the forefront of the battlefield of the new cold war, it is important not to antagonize China, its biggest trading partner and neighboring country. The government must act in caution with a meticulous diplomatic strategy. If it is swayed by the public sentiment every time the protocol issue emerges, the government’s aim of becoming a global pivotal state will become unachievable.

Phone conversation between Pres. Yoon and Nancy Pelosi

Posted August. 05, 2022 08:02,

Updated August. 05, 2022 08:02

Phone conversation between Pres. Yoon and Nancy Pelosi. August. 05, 2022 08:02. .

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol had a phone call with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and welcomed the visit of the U.S. congressional delegation. President Yoon said that the delegation’s visit to the JSA would become a sign of deterrence against North Korea. Earlier, Ms. Pelosi visited Taiwan and strongly condemned China. On her visit to South Korea this time, the U.S. house speaker highlighted the need to strengthen the extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear threat. After meeting with her South Korean counterpart Kim Jin-pyo and a visit to the JSA, Ms. Pelosi went to Japan.

The phone call between President Yoon and Speaker Pelosi was not planned, and it may be seen as a compromise under diplomatic etiquette. For President Yoon, currently on vacation, it would have been an odd situation, where he is hanging in the wild between avoiding the visit by the ally’s house speaker and coming to work in the middle of the vacation, for him to meet Ms. Pelosi.

Maybe that was the reason for the presidential office’s disordered response over the meeting of the two. The presidential office made it clear that there would be no meeting between President Yoon and Speaker Pelosi, citing the president summer vacation. However, when some media outlets reported about the possibility of a surprise meeting, the presidential office said that the meeting was being mediated, and again retracted that there was no such mediation. Only on Thursday morning, the presidential office announced that President Yoon and Speaker Pelosi would have a phone call, stating that this was a decision in full view of the national interest.

In fact, Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan brought a fierce resistance from China and military tension and confrontation. China has embarked on military training that practically sealed off Taiwan both on the sea and in the air, and there is a distinct potential for collision. South Korea cannot look on with indifference. In fact, the Yoon administration, pursuing to rebuild security ties with China, marking the 30th anniversary of South Korea-China diplomatic relations on Aug. 24, feels hugely burdened to take a tough line with China .

As the new cold war intensifies, the importance of alliance cannot be overemphasized. However, for South Korea, which is at the forefront of the battlefield of the new cold war, it is important not to antagonize China, its biggest trading partner and neighboring country. The government must act in caution with a meticulous diplomatic strategy. If it is swayed by the public sentiment every time the protocol issue emerges, the government’s aim of becoming a global pivotal state will become unachievable.


17. Egypt emerges as new market for Korean arms exports

​I am going to beat the horse dead with Korea's new nickname - global pivotal state. ​This is "stepping up" in accordance with President Yoon's visit.

Egypt emerges as new market for Korean arms exports

The Korea Times · August 5, 2022

The Black Eagles, the Korea Air Force's aerobatic flight team, stages a performance during the Pyramid Air Show over the Giza Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, Thursday (local time). Courtesy of ROK Air Force

North African country interested in Korean military hardware

By Kang Seung-woo, Joint Press Corps

Following a massive arms deal with Poland, Korea has now set its eyes on Egypt, a new potential suitor seen as the next biggest market for defense products after the United States.

According to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Friday, a delegation comprised of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the Air Force and KAI flew to Cairo to promote the company's FA-50 light attacker, a variant of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet, co-developed with Lockheed Martin. Ahead of a stop in Cairo, the delegation also visited Britain and Poland.

"We have laid the groundwork for cooperation in various fields with Egypt in the medium to long term," said Lee Bong-keun, vice president and general manager of KAI's International Business Division.

Egypt, one of the largest military powers a​cross the African continent and the Middle East, plans to replace its trainers and fighters, and is regarded as a potential purchaser of the FA-50 as well as the newly-developed KF-21 Boramae fighter jet.

The KF-21 is the nation's first warplane domestically manufactured under the KF-X program and it successfully conducted its flight test on July 19 and 29.

Egypt is expected to purchase around 100 trainer jets, which is the second highest after 500 required by the respective programs of the U.S. Air Force and Navy to procure advanced tactical trainers.

Egypt has expressed its interest in Korean-made military hardware. In February, the African country signed a 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion) deal to buy some 200 K-9 self-propelled howitzers, produced by Korea's Hanwha Defense. But ahead of the contract, the North African country has been in negotiations with KAI about procuring the FA-50 and local production of the aircraft.

Given that Egypt's per-capita income is $4,000, there might be speculation that its industrial competitive is low. But many say the number is not really indicative of how competitive the country is in the defense sector.

Egypt developed and produced a supersonic fighter in 1964 and in addition it possess 1,360 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, most of which were locally manufactured, meaning that the country has a wealth of experience in local production of military hardware.

The delegation believes that if Korea's technology is added to Egypt's experience and potential, the synergy effect would be significant, and it would be possible to meet the demands of the Egyptian military and even promote exports to a third country by locally producing aircraft following Korea's technology transfer.

"Egypt is a country with the best defense capabilities on the African continent and the Middle East," Lee said. "Once the joint production and maintenance contract is signed, Cairo will become a major key hub covering the entire African and Middle Eastern markets."

Korea's Ambassador to Egypt Hong Jin-wook also said, "Cooperation on the defense industry is only available with the highest level of trust between two countries, because it is directly related to the safety and lives of people."

The promotion in Egypt came after Poland last month signed "frame contracts" with Korea to acquire 48 FA-50 jets, 980 K2 battle tanks and 648 K9 howitzers ― one of the Eastern European country's most important and largest defense orders in recent years, according to its government.

In addition, KAI, the nation's lone aircraft manufacturer, seeks to sell 1,000 FA-50s within a decade.

Last month, KAI President Ahn Hyun-ho said exporting 1,000 of the jets will open up a market worth 40 trillion won in sales and 100 trillion won in follow-up logistics support.

The Korea Times · August 5, 2022

18. Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats discuss Indo-Pacific strategy

Top S. Korean, U.S. diplomats discuss Indo-Pacific strategy

The Korea Times · August 5, 2022

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday. AP-Yonhap

The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States had discussions on regional and global issues, including relations with China, in Phnom Penh on Friday.

The talks between Foreign Minister Park Jin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were held on the sidelines of ASEAN-hosted annual sessions.

"Our alliance is really a linchpin for peace and security in the Indo-Pacific. And, of course, we are working together to confront so many different regional as well as the global challenges," Blinken told reporters following the 25-minute meeting.

Park also said he used it to explain Seoul's position on relations with China and Japan in light of the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Among other issues discussed were how to cope with nuclear and missile threats from North Korea as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, they added.

Asked about whether the sensitive matter of the Washington-led Chip 4 Alliance for the semiconductor industry was raised as well, Park just said, "We had useful discussions on various pending issues."

Park had the one-on-one meeting with Blinken three days before heading to China for bilateral talks with the country's foreign minister, Wang Yi. It marked the fourth meeting between Park and Blinken since the minister took office in May. (Yonhap)

The Korea Times · August 5, 2022

De Oppresso Liber,

David Maxwell

Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation

Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy

Editor, Small Wars Journal

Twitter: @davidmaxwell161


Phone: 202-573-8647


David Maxwell
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Foundation for Defense of Democracies
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