Archive | South Korea

What Would Help the Peace Process in Korea?

NOVANEWS
By David William Pear | American Herald Tribune 

It looks like peace is breaking out in Korea. The Koreans themselves are moving fast to mend their nation. When paradigm shifts happen they often happen quickly. In just a little over a year the South Korean people demanded the ouster of the corrupt rightwing Park Geun-hye as their president, and a new election replaced her with the liberal human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in.

Moon brought in a new era with the overwhelming support of the South Korean people. Kim Jong-un of North Korea responded likewise. Since the beginning of this year the normalization of relations between the North and the South have been moving fast. U.S. diplomats cannot keep up with it. So let us look into the deep roots of the Korean War and what would help the peace process.

We can start by answering what caused the Korean War. The conventional wisdom is that the war was started by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (i.e. North Korea) on June 25, 1950 when it invaded the Republic of Korea (i.e. South Korea). But the conventional wisdom is wrong. It is like saying that the Vietnam War started when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam; or asking when did the American Revolution start.

Scholars are coming around to recognizing that the Korean War was a civil war. Bruce Cumings in his book, “Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History”, explains it this way:

“The Korean War did not begin on June 25, 1950, much special pleading and argument to the contrary. If it did not begin then, Kim iI Sung could not have ‘started’ it then, either, but only at some earlier point. As we search backward for that point, we slowly grope toward the truth that civil wars do not start: they come. They originate in multiple causes, with blame enough to go around for everyone—and blame enough to include Americans who thoughtlessly divided Korea and then reestablished the colonial government machinery and the Koreans who served it.”

The Korean War has its roots in the mid 1800’s. There was a scramble for colonies, subjugation and influence in East Asia. The driving force of colonialism was trade. It was a scramble for booty, cheap labor, and markets. The Industrial Revolution and the instability of capitalism caused an excess of production; requiring new markets, and the need for more raw materials to feed the machines. Capitalism must constantly expand trade or growth stops, and the system collapses.

Fortunes were made in trade with Asia: tea, silk, spices, tobacco, sugar, rum, porcelain, cotton, coal, timber, gold and opium. The big powers in Asia were England, France, Dutch, Czarist Russia and the United States of America. Japan got into the game after the U.S. forcefully opened it for trade with the black gunboats of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854.

The Japanese were quick learners in the ways of Western imperialism. Theodore Roosevelt admired them greatly, and considered them to be a “superior” race of Asians. Racial stereotyping was then common and many Westerners considered Asians to be inferior heathens. It was not uncommon for Asians to view rightly foreigners and Christian missionaries as subversives, and wanted to keep them out.

In 1866 the U.S. armed merchant ship the General Sherman tried to force its way into a Korean port despite protests from Korea that it was not open for business. The Koreans attacked the ship, and when it got stuck on a sandbar they killed all the crew and burned the ship.

In 1871 the U.S. used the General Sherman incident as an excuse to launch an invasion of Korea with the aim of getting an apology and establishing trading relations. The U.S. invasion was a success, it taught the Koreans a lesson, but they still refused to establish trading relations.

Later, fearing subjugation by one colonial power or another, Korea decided to make a deal with what it thought would be the lesser evil, and entered into the Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation with the U.S. in 1882. Koreans took some comfort that the U.S. was on the other side of the ocean, unlike Japan.  In exchange for giving the U.S. unequal trading rights, the Koreans got a signed treaty of U.S. protection.

The U.S. broke its promise of protection and delivered Korea into the colonial hands of the Japanese with the Taft–Katsura agreement in 1905. Theodore Roosevelt made a secret pact with the Japanese during his mediation of the settlement of the Russo-Japanese War. The secret deal was that Japan got Korea, and the U.S. got a Japanese guarantee of non-interference with its colony in the Philippines. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, even though he secretly and cynically double crossed the Koreans.

After World War Two the U.S. denied Korea a chance for independence again.  Instead of liberating Korea, the U.S. was responsible for the division of Korea at the 38th parallel. Russia agreed, and while the Russians ushered in a government of Korean freedom fighters in the North, the U.S. in the South put in place a puppet government of Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese, and the hated right-wing Korean aristocrats known as Yangban.

In both the north and the south Koreans were ready for self-government. In anticipation of the defeat of the Japanese and liberation, they had set up the Korean People’s Republic with grassroots committees all over the country. The head of the KPR in the South was Yo Un-hyong. Yo was a popular left-leaning nationalist and land reformer. He was assassinated 2 years later by the U.S. backed rightwing puppet government of Syngman Rhee

Even though the Korean people had governed themselves for over a thousand years, the U.S. did not consider them ready for self-government.  At the Yalta Conference in February 1945 Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed that Korea be placed in a trusteeship. He said it would take 40 years before Korea would be ready for self-government.

When U.S. troops docked at the Port of Incheon Korea on September 8, 1945 Roosevelt was dead, and Harry Truman was president. Under Truman the ruse of a trusteeship was dropped. The spoils of war go to the victor and the U.S. set about establishing the southern half of Korea as if it was a new U.S. colony.

The Koreans did not even get to celebrate their first night of liberation in 1945. The U.S. military declared martial law and ordered a curfew for all Koreans. The Japanese colonial administrators were kept in place, and American and Japanese officers partied at the Chosen Hotel in Seoul for several drunken days.

The Japanese administrators, military and police simply put on U.S. Army Military Government (AMG) armbands, kept their rifles and patrolled the streets with fixed bayonets until 1946. Similar scenes were taking place in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia “liberated” from the Japanese. It was the beginning of the renewal of the U.S. “special relationship” with Japan that Theodore Roosevelt had established in 1905.

The U.S. befriended the enemy Japan and turned on their former Korean allies who had been fighting the Japanese for over 12 years. The U.S. military occupation government commanded by General John R. Hodge would be the military occupation government for the next 3 years.

In 1946 the Japanese administering southern Korea were replaced mostly with Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese, and the yangban kept their lands. The U.S. feared that communism would take hold in liberated countries. It was the communists who had put up the biggest armed resistance in Asia against the Japanese during World War Two. The U.S. no longer needed or wanted them.

The scene in northern Korea was quite different. The Korean People’s Republic and their grassroots committees took over the government functions. The Japanese war criminals, collaborators, and yangban fled south where the U.S. welcomed them with open arms.

Within 3 years the Russians had pulled out all of their armed forces. The Russians had their own devastated country to rebuild, and they were more concerned about Eastern Europe, which was the historical invasion route to Russia.

The U.S.’s own intelligence had identified the desires of the Korean people. They wanted independence, self-government and land reform. Those were the antithesis of what the U.S. wanted for the Korean people. It was the U.S. that was scrambling all over the world to stem the tidal wave of anti-colonialism.

Kim il Sung was a national patriotic hero that had been fighting Japanese colonialism since the early 1930’s. If the U.S. had not blocked nationwide elections in Korea, he or another leftist reformer would have overwhelmingly won a fair election.

In the Moscow Conference of December, 1945 the U.S. and Russia agreed that Korea would be independent within 5 years after nationwide elections and that all foreign troops would withdraw.  Russia kept its end of the bargain.  The U.S. broke its promise.

Instead the U.S. rigged an election in the South, in which the Communist Party and leftist were not allowed to participate. Later the U.S. would use the same trick in South Vietnam, in order to keep that country divided too. Like Kim il Sung in Korea, Ho Chi Minh was a national hero and would have won in a fair nationwide election in Vietnam.

Turn to 1950. Military clashes had been a regular occurrence along Korea’s 38th parallel for 2 years, many of them initiated by the South. The 38th parallel was not recognized as an international border by either the U.S. puppet government in South Korea or the anti-colonial government in North Korea.

Korea was one country, and each side claimed to be the legitimate government of all of Korea. Therefore, the Korean War was not a war of aggression. There was no invasion of Korea by Koreans. The invaders were the U.S. which was subjugating the South, and backed a little-known transplant named Syngman Rhee, who had lived in the U.S. for forty years.

The Rhee dictatorship went on an anti-communist witch hunt that killed, imprisoned, tortured and disappeared hundreds of thousands of patriotic left-leaning Koreans in the South. Repressive dictatorships continued the persecution of dissidents for the next 40 years.

No one knows exactly what happened on the night of June 25, 1950; both sides said that the other side started the clash. The scenario that has become official U.S. legend raised many questions, most notably by the investigative journalist I. F. Stone in his book “The Hidden History of the Korean War (1950-1951)”.

For Kim il Sung and his compatriots the Korean War was an anti-colonial war. First he fought against the Japanese, just as Vietnam was fighting then against the French and their puppet government. To Kim il Sung, South Korea was a colonial puppet government of the US. The U.S. can be seen as the aggressor in both Vietnam and Korea.

The legal fig leaf of U.S. subjugation and the establishment of a puppet government in South Korea was a U.S. dominated United Nations-backed rigged election in the South. Communists were not allowed to participate so they boycotted it.

For the next 40 years South Korea was ruled by U.S. backed dictators Syngman Rhee, Park Chung-hee, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo. If one wants to know who controls a country, then look at who controls the country’s military. South Korea’s military is still today under the wartime command of the US military.

Korea and Vietnam have many similarities. Both were invaded by colonial powers in the 1800’s. Would any historian today write something like: The Vietnam War started when the North Vietnamese attacked their French colonial occupiers? Would anybody say that The Vietnam War started in 1957 when Ho Chi Minh’s forces crossed the 17th parallel? South Vietnam, as was South Korea was ruled by a puppet government of the US.

Ho Chi Minh was a freedom fighter just as Kim il Sung was against the Japanese during World War Two. Both were fighting colonialism. The Vietnam War and the Korean War were wars against U.S. occupiers that had replaced colonial rule.

Neither North Korea nor South Korea recognized the 38th parallel as a border. As General MacArthur said when his armed forces crossed the 38th parallel on October 9, 1950, it was just an imaginary line.  MacArthur’s UN mandate was originally to repel the North Korean forces from South Korea. But MacArthur argued that the 38th parallel had no meaning and he ordered his army into one of the worst disasters in U.S. military history.

The Chinese had repeatedly warned that they would intervene if MacArthur crossed the 38th parallel. Had MacArthur heeded that warning it may have saved millions of lives, including tens of thousands of American lives.

When MacArthur’s forces reached the Yalu River separating Korea and China there were 300,000 Chinese volunteers and Koreans waiting in ambush. MacArthur’s forces had to run a bloody gauntlet at the Chosen Reservoir as they retreated back across the 38th parallel. The U.S. forces suffered over 15,000 casualties in that single battle.

*(Retreat from the Battle of the Chosen Reservoir)

The reunification of Vietnam, like Korea, was agreed to be settled by nationwide elections. As in Korea, the U.S. staged a phony election in South Vietnam and established the government of the Republic of Vietnam, under the puppet president Ngo Dinh Diem. Just as in Korea, the U.S. knew that if there were fair elections in Vietnam, then the Communist Party would win. So like in Korea, the U.S. staged a phony election in the south in which communists were not permitted to participate.

Article V, item 60 of the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 recommended that within 3 months a conference would be held by all sides of the Korean War. All sides were to “settle through negotiation the question of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc. [sic]”.

The conference on Korea was held at the same Geneva Conference of 1954 that temporarily divided Vietnam. Nationwide elections in Vietnam were agreed to be held in 1956. No further agreement was reached on the “peaceful settlement of the Korean question”.

It was the US invasion of Korea in 1871, and Theodore Roosevelt’s betrayal that resulted in Korea being subjugated by Japan in 1905, and annexed in 1910. The U.S. caused much of the suffering, death and destruction of Korea for over a century, and a never ending war.

We cannot turn the clock back to March 1, 1919 when Woodrow Wilson made his 14 points speech that colonial people have a right to self-determination. Nor can we turn it back to 1948, and the promised independence for Korea.

What would help the peace process now in Korea is for the U.S. to get out of the way. All U.S. armed forces should be withdrawn from Korea, as they were supposed to have been in 1948. The US should stop bullying Koreans, stop meddling in the internal affairs of Korea, and let the Korean people settle their own destiny.

***

Reference and suggested reading

“Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom”, by Stephen Gowans.

“Reflections on the Roots of U.S. Involvement in Korea”, by Chang Soon.

“Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History”, by Bruce Cumings.

“The Hidden History of the Korean War (1950-1951)”, by I.F. Stone.

***

 

Posted in North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

Korea, China, Syria, Palestine

NOVANEWS

 

Pro-GMO Activism and Smears Masquerade as Journalism: From Seralini to Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts the Record Straight

By Colin Todhunter and Aruna Rodrigues, June 17, 2018

Rodrigues accuses Sandhya Ramesh of dubbing anything that is a proper critique of GMOs based on ‘independent’ science (the distinction is important) as the work of ‘anti-GMO’ activists. She argues that a properly researched piece would have entailed weeks of serious research into the various studies carried out by Seralini and his team over the last decade as well as the reappraisal of Bt brinjal (October 2009 to February 2010) ordered by Jairam Ramesh.

Trump Wants to Free America from “Fool Trade” and Flip the Tables on the EU

By Andrew Korybko, June 17, 2018

Tweeting from Singapore after the failed G7 Summit in Canada, the President wrote that “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal”, before explaining how Canada and Germany “rip off” the US through their own protectionist tariffs and insufficient contributions to NATO, respectively.

Aftermath of the Trump-Kim Summit: Unilateral Denuclearization, Continued US Military Threats, Economic Sanctions

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, June 17, 2018

ROK president Moon had demanded the suspension of the US-ROK war games directed against the DPRK to no avail.

Under the US-ROK combined forces command, all South Korean Forces fall under US command. The South Korean president is not the Commander in Chief and cannot under any circumstances veto the conduct of joint war games.

Trump Approves $50 Billion in Tariffs on Chinese Goods

By Stephen Lendman, June 16, 2018

Reportedly Trump met with his trade officials on Thursday, a decision reached to impose around $50 billion in tariffs on a range of Chinese goods – an announcement of the move expected on Friday or early next week.

Drivers Behind the War on Syria and the Impoverishment of Us All

By Mark Taliano, June 16, 2018

To be blunt, Western policymakers seek to destroy secular democracy in Syria, along with its socially uplifting political economy, with a view to installing a compliant fascist Wahhabi government.

The end result is chaos, the enrichment of the transnational “oligarchs” and the impoverishment of Syria.

What’s in Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’? The Answers Are in Plain Sight

By Jonathan Cook, June 16, 2018

According to Palestinian officials, they are likely to be offered provisional borders over fragments of land comprising about half the occupied territories – or just 11 percent of what was recognised as Palestine under the British mandate.

The Palestinian areas would be demilitarised, and Israel would have control over the borders and airspace.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, China, North Korea, South Korea, SyriaComments Off on Korea, China, Syria, Palestine

‘My life is not your porn’: 30,000 South Corean women protest spy cams

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‘My life is not your porn’: 30,000 South Korean women protest spy cams
In the biggest women’s rights march in the country’s history, thousands of female activists swarmed the streets of Seoul, venting their anger at a ‘hidden cam’ porn industry and police bias in investigating sex crimes by men.

Some 30,000 women, many of them wearing masks for fear of exposure, marched from Hyehwa Station in South Korean capital of Seoul, to protest what they say is a lackluster response of law enforcement to men spying on unsuspecting female victims in public bathrooms, on crowded trains, buses and in other public places with hidden cameras.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Raphael Rashid@koryodynasty

Nowadays, Korean women wear masks to cover their faces and look around for holes even when going public restrooms. are hidden in wall, and even INSIDE toilet. These crimes are rampant, also committed at public baths, gyms, swimming pools and lodging facilities.

The bizarre porn genre, known as “molka,” has grown increasingly popular with the tech-savvy population in South Korea.

Korea Exposé@KoreaExpose

Today’s demonstration was the largest women’s rally in South Korean history. Full video coming soon. Watch our trailer:

Hawon Jung@allyjung

History in the making. More than 20,000 South Korean women angrily urged the gov’t to crack down on the widespread ‘molka’ (spy cam) crimes that secretly film women at public toilet/public transport/office/school- in the biggest-ever protest held by women in the nation.

The protesters were carrying signs reading “My life is not your porn” and “Wanna shit with my guard down,” calling to punish both those who produce and consume the so-called ‘spy porn.’

Hawon Jung@allyjung

The women chanted,
“Those men who film molka (spycam)!
Those who upload it!
Those who watch it!
All should be arrested & face stern punishment!

Molka (hidden in) cigarette packets!
Molka in water bottles!
Molka in car keys!
Molka in eye glasses!
Restrict molka sales!

Saturday’s rally is the second time in two months that women have hit the streets to protest the impunity of the perpetrators of such crimes, who are predominantly male. On May 19, a similar rally drew in at least 12,000 women. Just like on Saturday, the demonstrators were covering their faces with masks and printed camera images.

While the issue is not new, the current wave of protests was sparked by an incident in early May, when a woman was arrested for filming and spreading the image of a nude male model posing for an art class at Hongik University. Police acted swiftly and not only brought the suspect to justice, but also paraded her in front of the media, albeit, with her face covered. The case became the last straw for many women, who saw gender bias in the police’s zealousness.

©Yonhap

“No case ever received as much media attention as the Hongik University incident,” an organizer of the May 19 protest, who, like her fellow demonstrators, preferred to stay anonymous out of fear of revenge, said at the time, as cited by Yonhap.

“Although females are victimized by hidden cameras even in public places, it is hard for us to see news of the men who film and leak such images being punished,” she added.

Police have rejected allegations of bias, insisting that they treat all victims the same. Critics of the protest movement argue that the woman was promptly detained for no other reason than clear evidence pointing at her.

According to police statistics, suspects in ‘molka’ cases are overwhelmingly male. In 2017, some 96 percent of suspects caught by police in 5,437 such cases were male. Of them, 119 were charged and faced punishment. Out of the 283 female suspects apprehended, none of them faced charges.

On a larger scale, only 2.6 percent of male suspects were arrested between 2012 and 2017, around 540 people out of over 20,900 suspected perpetrators.

Posted in South KoreaComments Off on ‘My life is not your porn’: 30,000 South Corean women protest spy cams

Setting the Stage for the Kim-Trump Singapore Summit

NOVANEWS

Setting the Stage for the Kim-Trump Singapore Summit: The White House Meeting of Donald Trump with Kim Yong-chol

  • On June 1, 2018 the President of the USA Donald Trump had a meeting with Kim Yong-chol, the Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the head of the United Front Work Department. He was formerly the Director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau. During the meeting, which lasted 80 minutes, Kim Yong-chol handed Donald Trump a letter from Kim Jong-un. Before the meeting, Kim Yong-chol had a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Given the high status of its participants, the meeting was as historic as the visit by the head of the South Korean National Intelligence Service to Pyongyang in 1972. That, however, was a secret visit, while Kim Yong-chol’s visit was widely publicized.

Until recently, Kim Yong-chol, more than any other figure in the North Korean regime, was seen by the USA as a political pariah. The South Korean intelligence services accused him of organizing the attack on the Cheonan corvette, which South Korea claims was sunk by an unseen North Korean submarine.

The contents of the letter have not yet been disclosed. The Wall Street Journal, citing a civil servant familiar with its contents, reported that it was “fairly basic” – and that it contained neither any threats nor any signs of a willingness to capitulate. As for the content of the conversation, President Trump described it as “about almost everything”, including sanctions. They did not talk about the human rights situation in North Korea, but in general the meeting went “very well”.

Nevertheless, it seems that this direct contact with a representative of the DPRK leadership has helped make things a bit clearer in Mr. Trump’s head, who had earlier been led to believe by South Korean sources that Kim Jong-un was ready to resign. Immediately after the end of the meeting, Donald Trump announced that the USA and the DPRK had agreed to hold a bilateral summit on June 12 in Singapore, and that he was optimistic about the North Korean leader’s willingness to denuclearize.

Mr. Trump also said that, given the normalization of dialogue, he no longer wanted to use the phrase “maximum pressure” in relation to the DPRK. That does not necessarily mean that the USA’s position has changed, however. As a representative of the White House said,

“We have sanctions on, they are very powerful and we would not take those sanctions off unless North Korea denuclearized.”

However, the American President also stated that he will not initiate any new sanctions against North Korea. That is despite the fact that the USA had “hundreds of sanctions” ready to be imposed on the DPRK.

“But I said, why would I do that when we’re talking so nicely?”, Mr Trump said.

And, most importantly, Mr Trump stated in an interview with Reuters that he had never said that agreement on the denuclearization of the DPRK would be reached in one meeting.

“I think it’s going to be a process – relations are developing, and that’s a very good thing.”

Donald Trump also pointed out that the denuclearization would have an effect on North Korea’s rocket potential.

Image result for Kim Yong-chol + trump

Finally, the US President said that he does not, as yet plan to sign any documents during the summit.

Image on the right: Donald Trump with Kim Yong-chol

The President of the USA is thus recognizing that the Singapore summit will just be the beginning of the negotiation process, and the question is not going to be resolved in a single meeting. The author of this article agrees – since there is no question of capitulation, a one-day summit is not going to produce many results. The most that can be done in the meeting will be to draft a road map for future cooperation and define the level of reconciliation which the parties will work towards. That is a fairly important reply, which shows that Mr. Trump has taken some steps towards a more pragmatic view of the situation. It seems that the US President understands that “checkmate in one move” is not going to happen, and so he is preparing a safety net for himself. If the first summit is not a complete success then it can at least be stated with confidence that it was just a first step (and in order for it to happen, Kim Jong-un has already made a number of concessions) and that the future meetings may be successful.

It should be noted that on the same day Kim Jong-un met Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, and he reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and expressed a hope that, little by little, this issue would be resolved. The leader of the DPRK emphasized that all questions relating to the improvement in relations between North Korea and the USA, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, would need to be addressed on a stage by stage basis, and that approaches should be found that would be in the interest of both parties in the new conditions.

In Singapore and Panmunjom simultaneous meetings were held between representatives of the USA and the DPRK. In Singapore the parties discussed protocol and security issues, while in Panmunjom they discussed the main questions on the agenda of the summit between the two leaders, which, it has been announced, will start at 9 a.m. in the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore. At first, many people expected the summit to be held at the Shangri-La hotel, where the Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou in 2015 – the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries since 1949. But, when the choice of venue was being discussed the Capella emerged as the preferred option. This is because access to the site can be completely blocked off by closing the bridge and the other access roads to Sentosa island, where the hotel is located.

At the same time the American intelligence service is compiling a dossier on the leader of the DPRK, by interviewing everyone they can who has met him, but the lack of reliable sources of information is making their task difficult. The collection of information is complicated by the fact that they do not have enough local agents, and by the difficulty of cyber espionage in North Korea, a country where the Internet is virtually non-existent. They see Kim Jong-un as a “rational actor”, whose priority is to ensure the preservation of his own regime and ruling dynasty. He is pitiless enough to have his own relatives assassinated, but now feels that his position is secure and is ready to enter into talks.

According to the Washington Post, citing a source who is familiar with the situation, it is still uncertain who will pay for the North Korean leader’s stay in the Singapore hotel. Apparently, the US wants Singapore to pay his expenses.

On May 21 it was reported that the White House had already commissioned souvenir medallions, bearing the profiles of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un against the a background of their national flags, in honor of the talks between the USA and North Korea.

What is the meaning of all this? It seems to the present author, in view of Mr. Trump’s aggressive negotiating style and reckless approach to doing business, that he sees the summit as a kind of test of his personal skills, and wants to see if he can push Kim Jong-un around in the context of a one-to-one meeting. The problem is that if he tries to talk to him like one businessman to another then he may find this strategy fails. Kim Jong-un sees himself as an anointed leader and does not make any distinction between his own personal fulfillment and the good of his country.

It seems as if Mr. Trump both believes that the attempt to normalize relations with Pyongyang should have been made 5, 10 or even 20 years ago, and also that, if, in the past, America had been “paying them [the DPRK] extortion money for 25 years” (the present author has questioned this idea in a number of articles on the NEO site) he will not let anyone trick him.

It is also possible that Mr. Trump is thinking about President Nixon’s historic visit to China, which enabled America to bring Mao round onto its side at a time when the USSR and Beijing were at a standoff. The present author considers that the level of tension between the PRC and DPRK is not so high, and he will probably not be permitted to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea, upgrading it from its current status of “currently unrecognized state”, (as the USA did back in the 1970s with Mao’s China).

Mr. Trump is fairly optimistic. On one occasion, when asked whether the DPRK is really committed to the idea of denuclearization, Mr. Trump answered:

“Well, I think they want to do that. I know they want to do that.”

They also want to “develop as a country” and in a press conference held together with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on April 24, Donald Trump said of Kim Jong-un,

“He really has been very open and, I think, very honorable from everything we’re seeing.”

However, on April 19, in a press conference held after a meeting with the Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, Mr. Trump said,

“if the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave…”, and the present author was rather surprised at his volte-face in first “cancelling the summit” and then, later, reinstating it.

It is necessary, however to bear in mind how little room for maneuvering Mr. Trump has: if the summit fails to bring satisfactory results this will be used against him by his many opponents, both among his own Republican Party, and among the Democrats. Readers may judge for themselves whether Mr. Trump should have held back from adopting a more pragmatic approach, given that the US Democratic Party had sent him a letter telling him that under no circumstances should the sanctions against North Korea be lifted until it had completely closed its missile and nuclear programs. The members of the Democratic party consider that, before the sanctions can be lifted, North Korea needs to stop producing uranium and plutonium for military purposes, completely close down its nuclear test site and the related infrastructure, and also stop testing ballistic missiles.

Readers will remember, and it is important to make this clear, that the decision to hold the summit with the North Korean leader was not just a voluntary concession, but was taken in accordance with an established procedure.

That is to say, Mr. Trump is continually having to prove that he is not giving in to Kim Jong-un. Thus, on April 22, he was forced to respond to allegations by certain media outlets that Washington had made important concessions to Pyongyang, and that the latter, in contrast, had not agreed to give anything up. He pointed to North Korea’s announcement that it was releasing 3 US citizens accused of spying, and to the demolition of its nuclear test site, and emphasized that while North Korea had done everything it had been requested to do, the USA had not made any concessions of an equivalent significance.

John Bolton, the United States’ National Security Adviser, is not in favor of holding the summit. According to media reports, he was absent from the meeting between Mr. Trump and Kim Yong-cho because Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, had advised Mr. Trump that his presence would be “counterproductive”. It is therefore likely that some attempt will be made to sabotage the summit or disavow its achievements, by means of ill-considered declarations or actions.

Mr. Trump may find the summit a severe test of his patience: he gets impatient with long briefing sessions, and his suite often has to decide exactly what information to give him, and how to stop him making purely instinctive decisions.

Nevertheless, the present author looks forward to the meeting between the two leaders. On June 5, speaking about the upcoming summit in Singapore, Donald Trump declared that it would be a very important “couple of days”, which led experts from South Korea to speculate that maybe the summit will be extended, or discussions will continue after it has finished. There have even been speculations that Donald Trump may be considering the possibility of holding a three-party summit, between the USA and both Koreas, and even that the end of the Korean war may be officially declared. As for the intended agenda of the summit, and its results, the present author will write about these matters once this long-awaited meeting has taken place.

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Setting the Stage for the Kim-Trump Singapore Summit

Mystery “Grim Reaper” CIA Officer Thrust into Spotlight Ahead of Kim Summit

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While President Donald Trump seems intent to make a deal with North Korea seemingly at any cost, the CIA has apparently deployed one of its most hawkish North Korea hands to be at the president’s side during the summit, allowing the intelligence community to rein in any of the president’s excesses as it angles for a historic diplomatic achievement.

In a piece published late Wednesday, Bloomberg profiles Andrew Kim, a CIA officer who first came to prominence when he was photographed sitting alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during Pompeo’s first meeting with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

Kim

Source: Zero Hedge

Kim has become an integral part of the White House’s North Korea team – a role that is unusual for an intelligence official.

“It does seem unusual,” said Bruce Klingner, the former CIA deputy division chief for Korea and now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Just as the policy community isn’t supposed to infect the intelligence community, the intel community provides information to enable policy makers to make the best informed decisions possible but are not supposed to provide advice.”

Born and raised in South Korea, Kim is distantly related through his mother’s side of the family to Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security adviser. He also briefly attended the same prestigious Seoul high school as Suh Hoo, the leader of Korea’s national intelligence service. Somehow, he ended up leading the CIA station in Seoul, and has since become known as the “Grim Reaper” for his extremely hawkish views on North Korea.

Pompeo

Source: Zero Hedge

Pompeo, who led the CIA before becoming Secretary of State, is said to trust Kim so absolutely that he now includes him in in nearly every meeting on North Korea. Kim has directly briefed President Trump, and is set to attend the Singapore summit on June 12. During Pompeo’s meeting with Kim Jong Un, Kim monitored the North Korean translators to make sure they were feeding accurate translations to the North Korean leader.

Fellow North Korea hawks will probably welcome Kim’s presence, given Kim’s proven skepticism.

“The North Korean side regards diplomacy as war by other means,” said Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. “The North Korean government doesn’t do ‘win-win,’ it doesn’t do ‘getting to yes.’”

Notably, Kim has the approval of both Republicans and Democrats – a rare feat in modern times.

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, waved off questions about Kim during an interview in Washington earlier this week, then relented just a bit.

“He’s excellent, he’s really excellent,” Clapper said. “He’s very realistic about North Korea.”

But Kim has done far more than serve as translator. He’s used his knowledge of North Korean politics to help the White House discern Kim Jong Un’s intentions heading into the Singapore Summit. His elevation has “pushed seasoned diplomats and policy-makers to the sidelines” as he’s become involved in “almost all levels of the government strategy toward North Korea.”

“He is in effect the connective tissue right now across the dialogues with the North Koreans,” said Rexon Ryu, a partner at the Asia Group and former White House official and Pentagon chief of staff. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the reality is Andy is perhaps the most influential player right now.”

The question is: Will having a CIA-trained hawk in the negotiating room be an obstacle to peace? Or will he help Trump strike a better deal?

*

Featured image is from Twitter/FMT.

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Mystery “Grim Reaper” CIA Officer Thrust into Spotlight Ahead of Kim Summit

For Lasting Peace, President Moon Must Lead South Korea Out of America’s Orbit

Featured image: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un embrace each other after releasing a joint statement at the truce village of Panmunjeom, Friday. / Korea Summit Press Pool

It didn’t take much for the leaders of the two Koreas to put an end to the decades-long culture of crisis pervading the Korean Peninsula. With a phone call, a quick drive to the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, and a public embrace, South Korean President Moon Jae-inand North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un emphasized the absurdity of the barrier wedged between a people with a common history, culture and language.

It was the United States’ aversion to diplomacy that encouraged Moon and Kim into one another’s arms on May 26th, and it may ultimately have been the impetus needed for South Korea to take the lead in ensuring this peace process — a top priority of the current administration — is a success.

Moon’s agreement to meet with Kim so soon after Trump unilaterally called off the Singapore summit was nothing short of an act of defiance against the US administration, something no South Korean president before him would have had the domestic backing to do.

With images of their embrace broadcast around the world, North Korea’s genuine interest in diplomacy became undeniable and the onus was immediately put on the United States to reopen the summit. Failure to do so would throw into stark relief what few politicians, media members or regular South Korean people have been willing to acknowledge — that the United States has been the most to blamefor antipathy between the two Koreas since the Korean War.

Forced to follow suit, Trump eventually declared the summit will go ahead after all. Though his decision should be applauded, the process remains a lengthy one with no clear end in sight — at least not a positive ending — if America alone is permitted to determine its outcome. After all, it is extremely risky to trust the United States, and the North Koreans know it.

America: An Unreliable Diplomatic Partner with a History of Duplicity

The stated aim of this whole process is, of course, peace through North Korean denuclearization — something the US establishment remains skeptical Kim will ever do. Yet while the North’s commitment to nukes is often stated as the reason why this initiative won’t end successfully, in truth it is America’s long-standing policy of North Korean regime change as well as its overall record of duplicitybetrayaland general lawlessness around the world that makes it impossible for Kim to completely believe any security guarantees the Trump administration may offer as the process moves forward.

The most recent examples involving Libya and Iran stand as more than enough evidence of this, and North Korea also has its own experience with the US failing to abide by agreements — particularly when the George W. Bush administration was in power. The provocative military drill earlier in May and the aggressive rhetoric of top US officials over the past few weeks leading up to the summit cancellation only served to highlight that the US establishment may be wholly disinterested in making a fair deal and sticking to it.

It therefore makes no sense for Kim Jong-un to simply lay down his nuclear shield for what are likely to be ephemeral security and economic guarantees from the US that can be canceled or obstructed on a whim by a future hostile administration or congress. And if the reaction of the establishment media to the diplomatic process is any indication of a Washington consensus, there’s no reason for North Korea to think any deal dependent on the long-term commitment of the United States will stand the test of time.

So even though the peace process will go nowhere if America is to be the Great Decider, it is safe to assume that Kim Jong-un isn’t just doing this for a lark. Conditions have changed internationally and on the Korean Peninsula since North Korea’s last serious attempt to come in from the cold. Internationally, Kim must be aware that America is bleeding out its influence around the world — a fact that is increasingly obvious as economically powerful nations that normally go along with American sanctions begin to push back when it hurts their own economies. At the same time — and more critically — North Korea finally has a negotiating partner in South Korea that has an unprecedented ability and apparent inclination (proven by Moon and Kim’s impromptu second meeting) to be an independent actor in the peace process.

The Path to the Impossible: How Peace Became an Option in South Korea

The president of South Korea completely flipped the script by agreeing to meet Kim on the North Korean side of the DMZ on May 26th. In doing so, he proved to the South Korean people that they no longer have to passively accept the foreign policy whims of the United States. As a result, South Koreans woke up to the prospects of peace after going to bed frustrated, disappointed and concerneddue to Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the summit.

Moon has been empowered by the rapidly changing political dynamics in South Korea. The entire sequence of diplomatic events between the two Koreas leading up to the significant meeting on May 26th would have been purely unthinkable little more than a year ago. After all, Moon is the president that wouldn’t have been had the right-wing Park Geun-hye not been impeached in March last year.

As Park Geun-hye’bizarrely and ineptly corrupt administration collapsed upon itself, it brought downwith it the entire political establishment that dominated politics in the country since the age of military dictatorship — an establishment intimately aligned with the United States. The crimes of Park’s predecessor, the hawkish Lee Myung-bak, were also later exposed and he too now sits behind bars waiting for sentencing. With the anti-North Korean old guard suddenly rendered to the fringes of politics, the younger generation has begun to take control of its political fate and won’t be fooled by the classic red-baiting tactics of the past.

Moon Jae-in easily won the subsequent 2017 presidential election and has enjoyed a remarkably highapproval rating so far, particularly since the peace process began. The right wing is divided, conquered and completely irrelevant. A high number of South Koreans say they trust the motives of Kim Jong-unand so many approve of the peace process that at least one local politician affiliated with Moon’s party is using it as a backdrop to his campaign in the upcoming local elections. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest Moon might just have the most backing a democratically elected leader has ever had to fulfill a key administrative goal — and there are four years remaining on his term. He will need to use every bit of this leverage to see the peace process to a successful end.

Peace Requires South Korean Independence

With the hyenas from within put down, the South Korean president may now focus on the enemies of peace from without — the United States military establishment and, in particular, officials like John Bolton at the very top of a Trump administration that bears an increasingly striking resemblance to that of George W. Bush.

It was the latter administration that oversaw the destruction of the last nuclear agreement, a development that convinced the North to go nuclear and nixed the Sunshine Policy peace initiative Moon played a part in as chief presidential secretary to former president Roh Moo-hyun. President Moon is therefore very aware of what he is up against.

While Moon’s political backing at home will protect his flank, inter-Korean cooperation will serve as the vanguard as the South Korean president advances against these enemies of peace. It’s still early days, but a nascent web of trust is being woven between the Koreas that will be increasingly difficult to break. They won’t stop working together simply because Trump or other American officials say they shouldn’t.

The two Koreas can therefore collaborate to keep the US at the table with a dogged willingness to ignore or overcome the many challenges likely to be mounted by the American establishment — just as they did with the recent meeting in the DMZ. In doing so, they will eliminate any pretext for the US to drop out of the peace process without alienating the South.

The actions of the Trump administration around the world admittedly suggest it cares little about angering allies by starting trade wars or incentivizing them to strengthen their diplomatic and economic ties with supposed American rivals. Yet there may come a point where enough dominant voices in Trump’s inner circle recognize that axing the peace process could push South Korea — a crucial foothold in America’s mission to militarily encircle China — too far beyond US influence for comfort.

Still, even if the US remains sincere, it will take ironclad security guarantees to convince North Korea to denuclearize, as Russian President Vladimir Putin rightly stated in late May. This is where South Korea must take the lead.

A good start might be the South Korean government publicly declaring that, not only does South Korea decide when war happens on the Korean Peninsula (as Moon already asserted last September), its military will never be a part of a preemptive strike on North Korea, and no future invasion of North Korea will be permitted from South Korean soil. They might also unilaterally ban all future military drillsnear the inter-Korean border that have threatenedKorean stability in the past.

All of these guarantees will require significant changes to the current relationship between the South Korean and American militaries, something Moon can carry through by taking advantage of his political clout at home. He can also use his domestic leverage to work around the US and encourage multilateral security initiatives with China and Russia that, taken as a package, could serve as insurance for North Korea if, or when, the US fails to live up to its side of any future deal.

Could America Backing Out be the Path to True Korean Independence?

However, given the hawkish and domineering nature of the US administration, it seems just as likely that they will refuse anything short of outright North Korean capitulation and eventually back out of talks.

This wouldn’t have to be the end of the game though, because doing so would only confirm to South Koreans that they have little further to be gained by marrying their security to the imperial agenda of the United States. A resulting surge in anti-American sentiment and the continued desire for peace among the South Korean electorate could set the stage for a divorce from America that President Moon alone has the power to lead.

If the US attempts to punish South Korea for their peace initiative and Moon carries his level of public support to a majority victory in the 2020 national assembly elections, it could result in a dramatic departure from America’s shadow — perhaps even the nullification of the US-Korean alliance and the banishing of US troops from South Korean soil.

This may sound like pure fantasy, but consider the possibility that peace with North Korea is Moon’s lifelong goal and something to which he has devoted much of his political career. He already expressed the position during his presidential campaign that South Korea “…should adopt diplomacy in which it can discuss a US request and say no to the Americans.” His statement at the first inter-Korean summit in the DMZ on April 26th was an even more explicit acknowledgment that the Koreas may inevitably be forced to go it alone for peace:

“Today we have dispersed the dark clouds of war from the Korean Peninsula and opened a new path to peace, prosperity and unification. Though we must move forward with the support and cooperation of the international community, we have both agreed that it is South and North Korea who must take the lead in deciding the fate of the Korean people. We also both agree that the historic duty to create a new global order rests with us.” *(quote translated by author)

Moon may therefore be ready and willing if there comes a point when South Korea is forced to actively work against the US and seek additional help from other emerging global powers to push diplomacy with the North forward.

South Korea’s drift outside America’s orbit could also be expedited by an increasingly desperate US establishment lashing out as it loses its hold on the peace process and South Korea, further exposing itself as a malign force in Northeast Asia.

This would merely be an acceleration of a natural development required of South Korea in the long term. China is by far South Korea’s number one export market (accounting for twice the volume of trade to the US) and its greatest source of tourism revenue. It is becoming increasingly untenable for the South, with a military still under the command of the US in wartime, to continue serving as a bastion in the American containment of China. The US standing in the way of the peace process could be enough to wake up South Koreans to the inevitability of their situation.

The anti-peace right-wing suddenly lost its grip on South Korean politics due to the ineptitude and corruption of the Park Geun-hye administration. In the same sense, the Trump administration appears to be accelerating the decline of American influence around the world with its heavy-handed approach to diplomacy and trade policy. If this trend continues on the Korean Peninsula, the peace process may end up being the most significant chapter yet in the decline of the American empire.

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on For Lasting Peace, President Moon Must Lead South Korea Out of America’s Orbit

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula: A Blessing for South Korean People

NOVANEWS

We have gone through, for the last three months, unusual experiences.

We could admire the humanism in sports; we were touched by the beauty, the elegance and the professionalism of North Korean singers and dancers.

We saw, through the Kim-Moon summit and the North-South exchange of musical groups, that the North-South blood tie was stronger than the North-South regime divide. 

We were hoping with all our mind and heart for the closing of the last pages of the Cold War. But we realized that the Pyongyang Wall was pretty high. 

We pray that the Singapore summit will make the Pyongyang Wall crumble, once and for all, as did the Berlin Wall.

We have been, for the last three month, hearing and reading, in connection with the nuclear issues, about governments, political leaders, diplomats and different events. 

But, we seldom hear or read about the people who have been affected in different ways by the nuclear crisis.

Well, in this paper, I will discuss about how the South Korean people have been affected by the nuclear crisis.

To better understand the impact of the nuclear crisis on South Korea and its people, it is better to examine its internal political history.

In South Korea, there are two distinct groups in connection with the nuclear crisis. The one which has benefitted from the nuclear crisis is the conservative government and its supporters. The other one is the South Korean people for whom the nuclear crisis and North-South conflict were a heavy burden.

The principal negative impact of the nuclear crisis on the South Korean people includes the retreat of democracy, the increased Korea risk hurting foreign direct investments and the destruction of the groundwork of reunification.

My argument is that these heavy cost incurred by the South Korean People is attributable, mainly, to the dictatorship of the conservative government, which was facilitated by the Korean nuclear crisis and North-South tension.

On the other hand, as far as the conservative government and its supporters are concerned, the nuclear crisis has been very beneficial.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the nuclear crisis of North Korea has allowed the conservative government to scare the voters with frequent fabricated threats from the North and to get the votes in its favour. It has made itself elected many times owing to this unethical tactic.

Second, the nuclear crisis has given the conservative government ample opportunities to enrich, through illegal kickbacks, bribes and other illegal means, those individuals and the institutions involved in the production and the transactions of weapons.

Consequently, the denuclearization is a losing game as far as the conservative government and its supporters are concerned; they may even wish the Trump-Kim summit not to be successful.

To see this, we have to learn a few things from the Korean political history of the post-Pacific War era.

We will see how the conservative government has exploited the North-South conflict for its political ambition and financial greed.

When Korea was liberated from the yoke of Japanese colonialism in 1945, a conservative democratic government was established in the South under President, Syngman Rhee and a communist government, in the North under President, Kim Il-sung.

Thus, from the beginning of the post-Pacific War era, Korea was divided along the line of ideology. This was bad enough, but what was even worse was the division along the line of pro-Japan and anti-Japan positions. 

The South Korean government was formed essentially by those who served the Japanese during the colonial era and who participated in the torturing of the Korean patriots and in many other crimes against Koreans, while the North Korean government was established by those who fought the Japanese armed forces.

In this way, the Korean peninsula was divided into pro-Japan democratic conservative group in the South and communist anti-Japan group in the North.

This double-line division of the Korean peninsula has created mutual mistrust, animosity and hostility. Under this situation, the conservative South Korean government and its supporters have developed “anti-North Korea culture” in which North Korea was demonized. North Korea was described as the eternal enemy of South Korea and a source of great danger.

Therefore, in the eyes of the conservative government, those who were sympathiser of North Korea were also enemies of South Korea, or more precisely, the enemy of the conservative government and its supporters.

The anti-North Korea culture made it easy for the conservative government to label all those who criticized it as “sympathizers of North Korea” and to punish them harshly in the name of the National Security Act. 

All those who criticized the conservative government or who were not friendly to it were categorized as “Red”. 

The “Red-Culture”, called in Korean language (Palgaing-ie-moon-hwa) emerged. Under the Red-Culture, even if you are pure democrat, you are a “Palgaing-ie”, if you are not with the conservative government.

Under this situation, it was easy to impose dictatorship. In fact, all the conservative governments since 1948 were ruled by dictators.

President Syngman Rhee (1948-1960) had the most aggressive anti-North Korea attitude. He accused more than two hundred thousand civilians for being “Red” and killed them all in areas of Jeju, Yosu and Soonchon. 

His government was one of the most corrupted governments and it ruled the country through the police dictatorship. 

On April 19th, 1960, more than sixty thousand students revolted and chased Rhee out of Korea. He escaped on board of an American CIA plane.

We call this student revolt as Revolution-4.19 (Sa-il-goo-hyung-myung)

The next brutal government was that of General Park Chung-hee who ruled from 1962 to 1979 through military-CIA dictatorship. To silence voices of criticism and objection, he used innocent citizens to produce false North Korean spies. 

Millions of families which had nothing to do with North Korea were the target of police harassment for the simple reason of knowing somebody who had liberal ideology. 

There were many who killed themselves by burning, because, in the absence of freedom of speech, it was perhaps only way of accusing injustice and violation of human rights. 

From October 16 to 20 of 1979, more than fifty thousand students in Busan and Masan (BU-MA) areas revolted against electoral fraud committed by General Park and this is known as Resistance-BU-MA (Bu-ma-hang- jaing).

General Park was assassinated by his CIA director, Kim Jae-kyu, on October 26, 1979.

The conservative government following Park Chung-hee’s was that of General Chun Doo-hwan who ruled from 1979 to 1987. He was as brutal, if not more, as General Park. 

His most subhuman crime was the massacre of Kwang-ju citizens on the 18th of May, 1980. 

About nine hundred were killed by the Korea army who used even helicopters to shoot down the citizens of all ages; more than one thousand were injured. 

It started by a peaceful demonstration against injustice and violation of human rights, but General Chun wanted to destroy the very roots of complaints against him and falsely accused the citizens as soldiers from North Korea.

This incident is called Kwang-ju Fight for Democratization-5.18 (Oh-il-pal- kwang-ju-min-ju-hwa-un-dong).

General Chun was tried and condemned to death but pardoned by President Kim Dae-jung. He was also accused for embezzling several hundred millions of US dollars.

The dictatorship of the conservative government had continued until June, 1987 when far more than one million citizens took the street to stop the system of indirect election of president and amend the constitution allowing direct presidential election.

This huge demonstration is called the June Resistence (Yu-wol-hang-jaing).

Chun was succeeded by another general, Rho Tae-woo (1987-1993) who continued military rule. He was condemned and imprisoned for the embezzlement of millions of dollars and corruption.

After the five-year rule of the government of Kim Yong-sam (1993-1998) during which the military domination became less visible, the two liberal progressive governments took power.

Ten years of liberal progressive government of Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) and Rho Moo-hyun (2003-2008) was a period of peace and North-South multi-dimensional cooperation. 

And democracy was restored. 

But, the restoration of democracy and inter-Korea peace was broken when President Lee Myong-baktook power in 2008. 

He ended all inter-Korea contacts in 2010 by virtue of a decree of May 24 of 2010, called Policy Measure-5.24 (Oh-ie-sa-jo-chi). 

This Policy Measure prohibited North Korean ships from using South Korean harbours, cut off all North-South trade, prohibited South Korean citizens from traveling to North; it made illegal South Korean investments in North Korea. In addition, it stopped all aids to North Korea. 

In short, the Policy Measure-5.24 meant a complete cessation of North-South dialogues and cooperation.

The end result of this Policy Measure was the intensification of the North-South tension, which inevitably facilitated the conservative government’s control of media and political movement of the liberal progressive group. 

Lee Myung-bak ruled through the dictatorship of CIA, the police and even military intelligence service.

Lee Myong-bak is now in prison and accused of the manipulation of social media for his presidential election, embezzlement of millions of dollars, abuse of power and transaction of influences and several other crimes of corruption.

His successor, Mme Park Geun-hye (2013-2017), daughter of General, Park Chung-hee, took power in 2013. She repeated what Lee Myung-bak had done, may be even more.

She made a black list of ten thousand artists, filmmakers, actors, journalists and civil movement leaders to silence their voice of criticism. 

She has embezzled a huge amount of money in complicity with her friend Choi Sun-sil; she mobilized the whole government agencies of power for her personal greed and ambitions.

She is now in prison to serve 24 years of imprisonment.

Thus, South Korea has had six conservative presidents. Of these six, one was chased away by students, one was assassinated by his CIA director, four are or were imprisoned for abuse of power, embezzlement of public funds and violation of human rights.

The Korean people have, under these politicians, endured the 55-year dictatorship; they suffered from fear and anguish produced by the brutality of authorities; they were fed up with the never – ending corruption of high-placed people.

But, they did fight back; for seven months from 2016 to 2017, 17 million people of all ages, all regions and all sectors of the society took the sub-zero cold streets of Kwanghwah-Moon of Seoul and elsewhere in the country.

And they produced the miracle of the Candle-Light Revolution (Chop-pool- hyung-myung).

The Candle-Light Revolution impeached Park Guen-hye and elected, as President, one of the most honest, the most competent and the most loving men in the modern history of Korea.

His name is Moon Jae-in who will lead the destiny of Koreans toward the society of security, justice, equality and prosperity. More than 80% of South Koreans have faith in him.

With Moon Jae-in, the North-South tension is attenuated and the democracy is restored again after 55-year dictatorship of all sorts committed by the conservative government

The second type of cost imposed on South Korea was the increase in Korea risk preventing a normal inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI). South Korea shows one of the lowest FDI ratios among the OECD countries. In 2017, the ratio of inflow FDI stock to GDP was 12.0 % as against 52.0% for OECD countries.

Finally, another heavy cost was the total destruction – by Lee Mung-bak and Park Gun-hye – of the groundwork of Korean reunification carefully established by the two liberal progressive governments of Kim Dae-jung and Rho Moo-hyun

In short, the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula has imposed heavy cost on South Korea and its people. This cost includes, as seen above, the retreat of democracy, the destruction of the groundwork of the country’s reunification and negative impact on its economy. 

To conclude, if the Singapore Summit is successful so that denuclearisation takes place, it will be a great blessing for South Koreans. 

They will be able to further develop true democracy, advance toward the reunification of the Korean peninsula, a new round of the rapid economic development.

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula: A Blessing for South Korean People

Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

NOVANEWS
BY 

“Houses of Parliament,” a series of oil paintings by Claude Monet (the one shown here is “Trouée de soleil dans le brouillard” or “Sunlight in the fog”), gives an impression of London in the distance. The UK, a preferred destination for many North Korean migrants, is also quite distant for those in Northeast Asia. | Image: Wikicommons

For North Koreans considering a new life in South Korea, there are two basic and competing narratives: South Korea is the land of milk and honey, or it is a place of capitalist exploitation and class-based inequality (Sino-NK has studied discourse on the latter). Neither is completely true, but there are kernels of truth in both narratives.

On the one hand, as a developing body of literature indicates, many North Korean migrants are successfully integrating into South Korea’s democratic society. However, not all of them integrate. Many seek onward migration and secondary asylum after arrival to South Korea. This phenomenon may seem puzzling at first, but the decision to forgo resettlement in South Korea has a clear rationale. Their decision to exit, or vote with their feet, underscores the very real struggle many North Korean migrants face. Reflecting upon several years worth of fieldwork in the United Kingdom, where many migrants chose to migrate, Dr. Jay Song (University of Melbourne) shares what she learned about North Korean migrants who leave South Korea. — Steven Denney, Senior Editor

Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

Youth Day dancing in DPR of Korea with Young Pioneer Tours.

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Thursday, May 31, 2018

by Jay Song

Why do North Koreans leave South Korea? After all the difficulties endured in escaping political repression and hunger in North Korea, making their way through China, Thailand and Laos, and then re-settling in a country which provides relatively substantial resettlement support, they still chose to move onward. The number of North Korean secondary asylum seekers from South Korea has grown markedly in the last decade. Among top destinations, over a thousand applications for refugee status were submitted in the United Kingdom (UK) between 2000 and 2015 (see figure below). Starting in 2011, I conducted 6 years-worth of semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory observation of North Koreans in the UK in order to understand the motivations and methods of their journeys from South Korea. The findings from this study were recently published in Migration Studies.What I found was both saddening and surprising, as well as somewhat shameful as a South Korean researcher. Many North Koreans describe a glass ceiling in South Korea for Koreans born in the DPRK: discrimination based on their place of origin and lack of market-ready talent. My co-author, Markus Bell, has long seen social mobility for resettled North Korean migrants as limited in South Korea. These challenges were sufficient to motivation North Koreans to seek secondary asylum in a country where they cannot speak their native language freely. They sought opportunities for improved living, welfare, and educational conditions for their children in the UK. These are the push and pull factors that explain the transnational movement of North Koreans.

DPR of Korea song: 60 Years of Victory

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Friday, June 1, 2018

What’s more, I found that brokers play a crucial role in this onward migration process. After many years of trust-building, I managed to get access to them and their largely untold stories on how they recruited prospective asylum seekers wanting to resettle in the UK. They were not part of criminal gangs but ordinary people with dense social networks. They are intelligent, adventurous, and responsive to complex environments. They fed information through personal and professional networks and recruited North Koreans who were looking for better opportunities elsewhere, as equally adventurous and intelligent as the brokers themselves.

Laypeople, and many well-informed academics, tend to see North Koreans as helpless victims of Asiatic dictators in need of saviors. This is an unfortunate stereotype. Refugees are highly intelligent human beings with full agency to employ their multiple identities and to exercise their mobility whenever and wherever they can. North Koreans I met in the UK were indeed not poor in South Korea. They were better off than average North Koreans. They were subjectively happier (the suicide rate among North Koreans in South Korea is 3-4 times higher than the national average) and more entrepreneurial (unemployment and lack of employable skillsets are barriers for many North Koreans). They were well-connected, well-funded, and sufficiently educated. These traits enabled them to travel all the way to the UK to claim refugee status. They are true survivors. Ironically many who tell their story — academics and non-academics alike — do not like tales of survival. They prefer the story of North Koreans as poor and helpless victims.

 

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Thursday, May 31, 2018

North Korean life in the UK, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Language is an obvious obstacle for those newly arrived, but the second generation of resettled North Korean migrants pick up English very quickly. Some speak with perfect British accents. There are also co-ethnic or ideological frictions among North Korean themselves, with the Korean-Chinese, and with native-born South Koreans. The friction between North Koreans and the Korean-Chinese is especially high as they both compete for work with South Korean employers. More substantively, many North Koreans favor socialist systems over free-market capitalism. (With its greater social protections and market regulations, the UK is seen as a preferential destination, a few told me.) Lastly, maintaining a Korean identity was a concern for some North Korean parents whose children were born in South Korea, but raised in the UK.

It’s been a fascinating journey for myself as a researcher to see how my fellow Koreans from the North have survived beyond the Korean peninsula. Going forward, I intend to compare North Korean diaspora communities in the UK, Canada, and Australia, to see how their motivations and modes differ.

Posted in North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

Credit Moon, Not Trump or Kim, for the Breakthrough With North Korea

NOVANEWS

Moon Jae-In stands in front of Donald Trump and waves to guests at the White House | Getty Images

South Korea’s president has been planning his peace gambit for his entire life. If peace breaks out on the peninsula, he’ll deserve the bulk of the applause.

SEOUL, South Korea—Last summer, South Korea’s new president, only two months into his term, announced sweeping new goals—including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, inter-Korean industrial economic zones and traffic networks that he described as a“New Korean Peninsula Economic Map,” and a peace treaty. “The five-year plans for state affairs announced today will be the blueprint and compass for a new Korea,” Moon said.

Few people outside of the country took much notice—Americans have been too busy debating whether their own president, Donald Trump, deserves credit for bringing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to the table. Yet this year, events have kept falling into place with an eerie sense of predestination.

Diplomacy is rarely so neat. It takes planning—and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in has been preparing for this moment for his entire life. It’s not Trump or Kim who should be lauded for setting the conditions for peace in Korea—it’s Moon.

***

The image was stunning: Moon, the son of North Korean refugees, beaming at the grandson of the North Korean founder, Kim Il-sung, who created the conditions that forced his parents to flee their village for a refugee camp to the south. The stage-managed moment was also not without a touch of theatrical flair. Each detail of the April 27 inter-Korean summit was hammered out in advance to make Kim feel comfortable on his foray across the demarcation line, hand in hand, with Moon.

Many steps brought the 65-year-old South Korean president to this juncture. He came of age during a military dictatorship that began when the father of his immediate predecessor seized power in a 1961 coup. As a young man, he worked as a human rights attorney and helped found the left-leaning national newspaper Hankyoreh. After years as a subaltern in the country’s liberal Democratic party, he swept to power in a May 2017 election to replace his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, after her impeachment on corruption charges.

South Koreans compare him with a past leader from his party, President Kim Dae-jung, whose “sunshine policy” of increasing contact with the North and a groundbreaking 2000 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang garnered him the Nobel Peace Prize later the same year. A second summit between the two sitting Korean leaders followed in 2007 with Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun. As the South Korean leader’s chief presidential secretary, Moon was one of the organizers.

Many conservative South Koreans deem the sunshine policy a failure. North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing programs have only grown stronger since the two previous summits. Worse, some experts believe the research has been funded in part by a large payment made to North Korea in advance of the 2000 summit, the extent of which only became known later. A South Korean investigation into a $500 million transfer to North Korea made by Hyundai found that possibly as much as a quarter of it was government money, while the rest was a business investment.

But Moon is clearly undaunted by the doubts. Soon after moving into the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence, he began cultivating the other members of the former six-party talks to put a halt to North Korea’s nuclear program: the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

The Oval Office was among his first stops. He made an official state visit in June, a month after winning the South Korean presidency. His relationship with Trump appeared to nosedive in September when the U.S. president accused him of “appeasement” for favoring dialogue with the North. Two months later, Trump was posing for photographs by his side in Seoul, South Korea’s kinetic capital of 10 million.

Then in a New Year’s phone call, a visibly relieved Moon convinced the U.S. president to shorten the annual joint military exercises between the two countries—which North Korea habitually views as a provocation—from two months to one. “I believe it would greatly help ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games if you could express an intention to delay joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises during the Olympics,” he told Trump, who agreed to postpone the drills until April 1.

In his next deft diplomatic move, Moon seized upon the symbolism of the Olympics to pry open negotiations with his country’s bellicose neighbor. His administration spent $3 million to subsidize North Korea’s participation at the Winter Games, where the reclusive state sent athletes, cheerleaders and even Kim’s sister. This wasn’t mere window dressing, but an opportunity for soft diplomacy.

Moon took charge of the diplomatic endeavors in the Olympic corridors by meeting with high-level delegations from the U.S., Japan, North Korea and others. At the Opening Ceremony, Kim’s younger sister personally handed him a letter from her brother inviting him to Pyongyang. Although the inter-Korean summit was later held at Panmunjom, the “truce village” along the border, the South Korean president immediately responded to this invitation by sending an envoy to the North Korean capital. Chung Eui-Yong, the South’s national security adviser, followed up his trip to the North with a dash to Washington to persuade Trump to meet face-to-face with Kim. In a huge favor to Moon, the White House allowed Chung to brief reporters about Trump’s willingness to attend an unprecedented summit with North Korea.

As he emerged from the Oval Office, Chung said he had told the U.S. president how much Kim had “stressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.” Although Moon had set the ball rolling with his Olympics diplomacy, Chung was careful to credit the American president with a leading role. “Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution,” he said. In a possible attempt to reassure the foreign policy hawks on North Korea, he said his country stood firm with the United States “in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.”

During Chung’s perambulations from Pyongyang to Washington in the first week of March, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a group of international journalists meeting in Seoul, “Although there were no direct contacts between the United States and North Korean delegations on the sidelines of the Olympics, we were able to confirm through our discussions with each the willingness of both sides to engage directly.”

Kang credited Trump’s toughness on North Korea with helping to bring Kim to the negotiation table.She told the journalists on March 5 that if North Korea changed course on the nuclear issue, the United States and South Korea “stand ready to offer it a brighter, more prosperous future,” language that has since been echoed by Trump.

By the end of the week, Kang would be packing her bags to visit Washington to pave the way for what may become the first U.S.-North Korea summit.

Shortly after the announcement, Kim left North Korea on a slow-moving train to Beijing. Some media reports portrayed this as a bold, new chapter in his leadership. You might equally compare it with a teenager coming home from college for spring break: Although he is used to a degree of autonomy, he still needs to ask to borrow the car.

It is no exaggeration to say that Kim’s regime couldn’t exist without the support of China. Over the years, it has sold North Korea such life essentials as fuel, rice and textiles, while buying its coal, iron ore and finished clothing.

China has been helping to construct this diplomatic puzzle that South Korea began piecing together late last year. The work has proceeded in a pattern of bilateral meetings. In part, this is due to pragmatism. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump said repeatedly that as president he would engage in bilateral talks. He portrayed America as getting a raw deal in multilateral negotiations, particularly on trade. Taking the piecemeal approach has also allowed Moon and his envoys to play to the egos of both Trump and Kim.

An annual journalism conference in Seoul during the first week of March, which I attended as the incoming president of the Society of Professional Journalists, provided a glimpse into the country’s new foreign policy stance. The title of this year’s conference—the first since Moon took office—was ripped straight from the pages of his policy agenda: Role of Press for Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula and World Peace. The annual event is hosted by the Journalists Association of Korea and co-sponsored by the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other organizations.

More than 60 international journalists gathered a few days after the closing ceremony of the Olympics. A colleague and I were the only Americans. Several countries in the region sent three participants each, including China, Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam. Yet some key Pacific Rim countries weren’t represented, such as Canada, Australia, and most notably, Japan, which at the nearest point is some 130 miles off the Korean peninsula.

We began with an opening day forum about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a term that wasn’t any more clearly defined than it has been in subsequent media coverage. Does Kim intend to destroy all the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that his country has spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating? Only South Africa has ever done that, although some Eastern European countries eliminated nuclear arsenals they inherited from the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Even some of the local staff we encountered during the week doubted that Kim would take the ultimate step in denuclearization. “He wants to keep his regime,” said Park Hyun-sook, a tireless freelance tour guide, who goes by the name “Honey” in English. “He will never give up the nuclear weapons, but he also will not attack. I think the nuclear is only for threatening, to get favors at the negotiation table.”

North Korea is widely considered the most militarized country on the planet. It maintains an army of 1.1 million by keeping a large portion of its population in uniform for a decade or more. Young men are required to serve for 10 years beginning at 17, and some are pushed to remain in uniform until they reach 30.

However, Kim may have calculated that long-range missiles and sophisticated nuclear devices aren’t necessary to preserve his regime. South Koreans long ago became an effective human shield to thwart any preemptive military action against the North.

Seoul is only as far from the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, as Baltimore is from Washington. “You are sitting in the heavy target,” South Korean journalist Choi Woosuk Kenneth told the recent forum in South Korea’s capital. “This is the place where North Korea will strike first.” Referring to the annual joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea, at the time less than a month away, he said, “We’re preparing for a potential invasion from the North, not the other way around.”

Choi, the editor of the future planning news desk at the conservative daily newspaper Chosun Ilbo, asked the audience why they thought South Korea hadn’t pursued a nuclear arms program of its own. One of the journalists piped up, “Because of America!”

“It’s not America alone,” Choi responded. “The global community would shun us. And if we cannot trade, we cannot survive.”

Kim may be coming around to the same conclusion. In 2016, China bought more than 85 percent of North Korea’s estimated $3 billion in exports and sold 90 percent of the $4 billion of goods imported by its southern neighbor, with which it shares an 880-mile land border.

Yet experts say that China recently began enforcing U.N. sanctions, driving the isolated state’s remaining trade into the shadows. The U.N. accuses North Korea of using false paperwork and ship-to-ship cargo transfers at sea to get around the sanctions. In March, the U.N. Security Council blacklisted shipping companies—including 12 based in North Korea, three in Hong Kong and two in mainland China—for helping the North to continue the coal exports and oil imports. The net is tightening.

Along with a peace treaty, Kim no doubt wants relief from the sanctions, and ultimately, normalized relations with the South and other potential trading partners. Yet theDemocratic People’s Republic of Korea, his country’s official name, is anything but a normal country. It is among the worst state actors in terms of human rights, press freedom and economic development. A 400-page U.N. report describes decades of official murder, torture and rape in North Korea;upwards of 100,000 North Koreans are held in conditions akin to Nazi concentration camps. Witnesses quoted in the report describe prisoners who were forced to burn corpses, and the murder of newborns to repatriated women who had attempted to defect through China, because the prison guards assumed the babies were mixed-race Chinese.

Even before the stiffer sanctions, satellite images showed the DMZ slashing across the peninsula like a scar from an old wound, leaving the North in darkness after sunset. By contrast, the South is lit up like a candle at night. A technology-fueled economic boom, driven by global brands like Samsung and Hyundai, has made South Koreans rich in a single generation. The country ranks 33rd in the world in terms of income per person, better off than Spain and Italy. It has an average annual income around $40,000, a roughly 20-fold increase from $2,000 in 1980. Now they have cars, cell phones and nice apartments with all the modern amenities. And here comes the beggar from the North.

So far, the costs are real, but contained. The $3 million spent on the North Korean trip to the Olympics was largely symbolic. South Korea makes substantial outlays to house, care for and integrate into their society the more than 1,000 defectors who succeed in reaching the South each year. They receive a mandatory three-month reeducation process and $6,450 a year to subsidize living costs. Choi’s presentation called attention to the discovery of an 11-inch tapeworm in a North Korean soldier who had sprinted across the DMZ amid a hail of bullets in November as evidence that some defectors require major medical attention.

“There’s a saying in Korea, if there’s a fight between a beggar on the street and a gentleman, who do you think is going to win?” Choi asked the audience rhetorically. “The beggar. Why? Not only because he’s more desperate, but because he’s going to put all the dirt onto the gentleman’s clothes, so the gentleman is going to run away.”

***

South Korea must walk a narrow path between its two powerful neighbors to the north, China and Russia, and its traditional allies like the U.S. and Japan. I got a small taste of this during the conference, which served as a kind of microcosm of the careful coalition diplomacy Moon has been juggling for the past year. The conference organizers divided participants into separate groups during site visits, and rotated honors, such as the toasts and press interviews, among journalists from different countries.

Occasionally, our Korean hosts had to scramble to preserve harmony. When I became embroiled in an exchange with the two young Russian journalists, who were skeptical that their country was behind the social media “bots” aimed at influencing American political opinions, a Korean staffer materialized by my side. I had to greet the local dignitary hosting our lunch. I protested that we were already in the middle of lunch and I didn’t want to leave the table. A few moments later, I was bowing and exchanging cards with a man in a suit.

Russia has a scant 11-mile land border with North Korea, along the Tumen River, with a single 1950’s-era rail bridge near Vladivostok, dubbed the “friendship bridge.” Although the two countries were major trading partners in the 1970s and ‘80s, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, China has replaced it as North Korea’s lifeline. Recently, however, Russia expressed interest in building a vehicle bridge across the river so that its trucks wouldn’t need to pass through China to reach North Korea.

Russia’s trade with South Korea totals around $15 billion, but Moon has said he’d like to expand that rapidly. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September. The South Korean president hopes to establish a free trade agreement with Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union.

“Moon’s main motivation for closer ties with Russia is focused on North Korea,” said Artyom Lukin, an associate professor of international relations at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, where he attended the forum. “Seoul hopes that strong links with Russia will eventually help engage North Korea in the process of economic integration and opening up, including through trilateral (South-Russia-North) projects.”

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner, and by a wide margin. It buys more than a quarter of South Korea’s $550 billion in exports and sells more than one-fifth of its $450 billion in imports. U.S. trade in both directions is almost exactly half the size.

China has also become a major property developer in the south. Landing International Development, a Chinese real estate development company that trades on the Hong Kong stock exchange, recently cut the ribbon on Jeju Shinhwa World, a 27-million-square-foot resort complex on Jeju, a beach resort island off Sourth Korea’s southern coast, with 2,000 luxury hotel rooms, condominiums and shops, including the island’s largest food and beverage complex. It also boasts a convention center, theme park and casino. Future planned additions include a waterpark and a Four Seasons Resort & Spa.

Many of the visitors will likely be Chinese. In recent years, Jeju’s provincial government has encouraged Chinese real estate investment with liberal visa policies and permanent resident status for condominium owners. Jeju’s airport, the country’s second-largest, is a regional hub with direct flights to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and many other Chinese cities.

With greater rail and road links between the two Koreas, China might even extend the Belt and Road Initiative—its Goliath effort to unite Eurasia and East Africa in a vast transportation network of its own creation, also known as “One Belt, One Road”—as far down as Jeju.

***

At our final dinner, the staff passed around glossy printed copies of a statement. The polished young South Korean woman who had been serving as our translator read it from the podium. The audience applauded. With our applause, she said, we had approved the declaration.

Some of us became agitated. I skimmed the handout to discern how our “approval” might be construed.

It began by saying that inter-Korean reconciliation had become an “irreversible trend of our time” and expressing hope that “spring comes heralding rapprochement and peace on the Korean Peninsula.” It continued by calling on members of the former six-party talks—the United States, China, Japan and Russia—to join the “path toward security and peace on the Korean Peninsula.” The last paragraph troubled me. We were promising to contribute to peace on the Korean peninsula “through articles and other activities after returning home.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some of the journalists in a huddle. The translator returned to the stage to announce that they were striking the final paragraph, which had been added by mistake.

It’s tempting to see this as simply a cultural misunderstanding. The Journalist Association of Korea considers working toward the peaceful reunification of the peninsula among its organizational goals. An American journalist group would never pursue a political goal. But the stakes are larger. Moon is fast-tracking his agenda amid the usual cloud of skepticism because North Korea has promised to end its nuclear program before, only to reverse course. He and his supporters know that Kim could very well be shooting off rockets again if the negotiations don’t go his way, so they don’t want to overlook any potentially useful pieces of the puzzle.

And who knows, perhaps this time really is different, as the country North Korea cannot live without now has a clear economic interest at heart. Yet it worries me to watch the euphoria over “peace” blot out the memory of the ongoing crimes that have been exposed in North Korea. Throughout my stay, I was reminded of my flight over the North Pole to reach Seoul. Although the calendar skipped ahead a full day, the sun kept skimming above and below the horizon, neither dark nor day.

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Credit Moon, Not Trump or Kim, for the Breakthrough With North Korea

Seventy Years After Korea’s Division, Women Lead Push for Peace

NOVANEWS

By Jon Letman

South Korean and women representing more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women's DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)

Women representing South Korea and more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women’s DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)

When scores of Korean women representing a coalition of some 30 peace groups and NGOs entered South Korea’s National Assembly on the banks of Seoul’s Han River, they weren’t alone. This week, the Korean peace makers were joined by an international delegation of women peace activists for a symposium focused on ending the Korean War. A women’s peace walk along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is scheduled for May 26.

When women participate in negotiations, the likelihood of achieving peace increases substantially and that peace lasts longer.

For the fourth time since 2015, these activists gathered to strategize how to most effectively advance peace on the Korean Peninsula and support diplomatic efforts to that end. #WomenPeaceKorea delegates’ efforts include engaging with South Korean government officials, foreign diplomats and US embassy officials.

Most of the international delegates are members of Women Cross DMZ and the Nobel Women’s Initiative who have traveled to Seoul to lend their support and raise awareness of the vital role women play in ending conflict.

Multiple studies have shown that when women participate in negotiations, the likelihood of achieving peace increases substantially and that peace lasts longer.

Ahn Kim Jeong-ae, one of the symposium’s organizers, said the diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea makes this week’s events even more crucial.

Because women suffer disproportionately in war, they have a critical role to play in conflict resolution.

Ahn Kim noted that 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of separate governments in Seoul and Pyongyang. This spring was also the 70th anniversary of the April 3 incident in which some 30,000 civilians on South Korea’s Jeju Island were massacred over a seven-year period when US military-backed right-wing forces violently purged opponents of a divided and occupied Korea.

“We want to commemorate these historical facts on May 24, International Women’s Day for Disarmament and Peace,” Ahn Kim said, noting that because women suffer disproportionately in war, they have a critical role to play in conflict resolution.

A Change in Tone

Christine Ahn is the international coordinator for Women Cross DMZ, which crossed from North to South Korea in 2015. She said the fact that this year’s symposium was held at the National Assembly (the South Korean equivalent of the US Congress), was “hugely significant.”

Unlike in 2015, when Women Cross DMZ was barely acknowledged by South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, this year’s symposium was financed by the South Korean Ministry of Gender, Equality and Family, Ahn said.

The difference reflects a dramatic change from the administration of deposed South Korean President Park Guen-hye to the progressive administration of current President Moon Jae-in, who favors engagement with the North.

“It’s night and day,” Ahn said. “We are getting the red carpet treatment … [and] are respected and welcomed in a way that we weren’t in 2015.”

“We need to define security in far different terms than the militarized national security.”

Ahn said this week’s symposium provided an outlet for all women to express their desire for peace, adding, “We’ve also heard from women from Hawaii, Guam, China and Japan about how tensions last year threatened them all.” In response to Trump’s sudden cancellation of the proposed Singapore summit, Ahn said, “We must call for both to return to talks because too much is at stake and there has been too much work to bring final resolution to the longest standing US war.”

With the proposed Trump-Kim summit summarily cancelled by Trump on Thursday, Ahn said women’s participation is even more essential to reframing what security actually means. “We need to define security in far different terms than the militarized national security,” she told Truthout.

Aiyoung Choi, who was born in what is now North Korea, today serves on the Women Cross DMZ steering committee. She’s heartened to have the support of women peacemakers from countries as diverse as Canada, China, Russia, Iraq, Colombia, Kenya, Japan and the Philippines.

“Men have been in the driver’s seat all along, doing things their own way,” Choi said. “It is time to live up to the leadership role of women, to live up to the mandates of [United Nations Security Council] Resolution 1325 that recognizes the critical role of women in conflict resolution, and the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 that President Trump signed last October, which passed with bipartisan congressional support.”

To Support and to Learn

Korean and women from other nations hold a peace quilt symbolizing peace and unity between people on the Korean Peninsula during last year's women's peace symposium in Seoul. (Photo: Jon Letman)Women hold a quilt symbolizing peace and unity between people on the Korean Peninsula during last year’s women’s peace symposium in Seoul. (Photo: Jon Letman)

Among the women who traveled to North Korea in 2015 to meet with North Korean women before crossing the DMZ was Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1976) Mairead Maguire, from Northern Ireland. As she prepared to return to Korea this week, Maguire told Truthout that the international delegates’ role was to listen, learn from and support Korean peacemakers.

Making peace is a process, and it takes time and it takes courage.

“We also come with a certain amount of experiences in our own situation where peace has worked for those of us who come from certain areas,” Maguire said, citing her own work to end the violence in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Recounting the 2015 trip, Maguire recalled how she was struck by the intense yearning for peace expressed by the thousands of North Korean women they met at rallies in Pyongyang and Kaesong. Those women, Maguire explained, wanted to reunite with family members on the other side of the DMZ.

“Peace is possible and the civil community has a role in helping to build that peace and to support political leaders who show courage to try to make peace, but you can’t leave out the civil community and particularly women,” Maguire told Truthout.

“Making peace is a process, and it takes time and it takes courage. And it takes people to constantly sit at the table and to be prepared to compromise and to listen to each other and find solutions,” Maguire added.

Also joining this year’s symposium was San Francisco State University professor emerita Margo Okazawa-Rey, who told Truthout that the women activists who are participating in the peace movement place a special emphasis on conflict resolution due to their “concern for life, community, families — the nuts and bolts of living life in a conflict situation.”

“Because women are burdened with the daily aspects of occupation or armed conflict, I think we have a lot more at stake for making sure that peace processes actually are put in place and they actually work,” she added.

She pointed to peace efforts and mass mobilization by women in Liberia as a prime example of how they can help end war, but added that the role of men cannot be discounted.

“Obviously, it’s a joint effort … the reunification question, in a very fundamental way, is about reunifying families that have been separated since the split,” she said.

Okazawa-Rey cautioned that peace talks should not be limited to high-level diplomatic talks and spoke of the need for a range of dialogues at every level, including citizen diplomacy. “Let the people in on some of the action,” she told Truthout.

Having reached this historic moment in Korea, Okazawa-Rey praised the ambitious goals of the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula, signed by Kim and Moon at the DMZ on April 27.

“It has to be bold. It has to be super-idealistic to help people imagine possibilities, to imagine a certain kind of generative direction that the Korean people should be headed toward,” she said.

Among its many stated targets, the Panmunjeom Declaration calls for an end to division and confrontation, intra-Korean contacts at all levels and replacing the armistice with a final peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

Take Nothing for Granted

Two of the international delegates in Seoul this week came from Pacific islands that have firsthand experience with the threat of war with North Korea: Hawaii and Guam.

This potential for hope and peace has been laid down brick-and-mortar by the Korean people themselves.

Kalamaokaaina Niheu is a family doctor on Oahu whose own family has a long history of fighting for justice in the Pacific. With a Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) father and Korean mother, Niheu feels a deep sense of solidarity with both places and recognizes how each has been impacted by colonization and militarization.

“Without a doubt, this unification, this potential for hope and peace has been laid down brick-and-mortar by the Korean people themselves,” Niheu said. “They have desperately, and with great integrity and principle, fought for it and struggled for peace and reunification of their people, and it’s been a long time coming.”

The current situation in Korea, if handled poorly, could precipitate World War III, Niheu said. But, if handled well, could offer a beacon of hope to other strife-ridden regions. “We need to have these moments of hope and peace. We need to make sure they are protected and uplifted and supported as much as possible.”

With so much fragility in the world, Niheu said, nothing should be taken for granted. “Nothing is guaranteed. Every possibility of forward progressive movement needs to be fiercely protected.”

But women have been notoriously pushed to the side for many centuries, according to Niheu, who said she sees an increased recognition of the invaluable and intrinsic contributions women make, not just to creating peace, but to creating lasting peace.

“Peace on the Korean Peninsula is peace for the rest of the world.”

“Involving women in [peace-building] is not for show. It is a fundamental incorporation of the backbone of society,” Niheu said. “Women in particular have fought for this because they’re fighting for their families, they’re fighting for their villages, they’re fighting for their communities and they’re fighting for future generations.”

Also in attendance was Lisa Natividad, president of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. In 2015, Natividad was part of the Women Cross DMZ delegation that traveled to Pyongyang, where she witnessed the heartbreak North Koreans expressed, longing for family members across the DMZ.

Natividad’s home on Guahan (Guam) is some 2,000 miles from North Korea, but the island’s large US military presence, which includes nuclear capable bombers, has placed it in the crosshairs of a possible war. In Natividad’s words, “the cookie crumbles on Guam.”

Before he called off the scheduled June 12 summit in Singapore with North Korea, President Trump, who frequently boasts about being pro-military, had suggested “everyone thinks” he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, when asked who should receive a Nobel Peace Prize if a Korean peace treaty is signed, Natividad said she believes most women are less focused on being recognized or given credit than they are with tangible results. “Women have played a very critical role, whether or not it’s in the spotlight. Quite frankly, I don’t think most women are that concerned with acknowledgement,” she said. “Peace on the Korean Peninsula is peace for the rest of the world.”

Posted in North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Seventy Years After Korea’s Division, Women Lead Push for Peace

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