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Hushoor's Korea Briefing 2003-08-19

| 11 Comments | 3 TrackBacks
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Kwangju. TOP TOPIC * China And South Korea Enable North Korean Nuclear Program. Parapundit believes attempts to stop nuclear proliferation to Iran and North Korea have essentially failed, and the outcome is just a matter of time. * A pair of eye-opening reports in the Washington Post concerning North Korea's weapons program and exports over time. Other Topics Today Include: Negotiating with NK; 6-party talks, Military options; Hyundai Chief's suicide, Smuggling radios; SK's Anti-American shenanigans, Zen and the Art of Scatological Humor, and much, much more.
* Steven Den Beste has some very interesting things to say about negotiations with the North Koreans, as does Kevin at Incestuous Amplification and John Moore of Useful Fools. * Austin Bay discusses serious deterrence vs. "unshakeable faith in... nice words". (Hat Tip: Donald Sensing) * For fans of the diplomatic option, Michael O'Hanlon and Mike Mochizuki contributed a rather interesting piece to the NYT calling for the US to rescue the North's failed economy. The Marmot, living much further south on the peninsula than Kevin at Big Hominid, is much less optimistic concerning the effectiveness of aid to North Korea. * Six party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis are scheduled to take place in Beijing from August 27 to 29. North Korea is talking tough, however, claiming that it cannot dismantle its nuclear deterrent force (that "deterrent force" being undefined) if the United States does not abandon its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang. Of course, it's not like the United States hasn't done its fair share of trash talking so far - on July 31, US arms negotiator John Bolton labled North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a "tyrannical dictator" and described life in North Korea as a "hellish nightmare," prompting Pyongyang to call Bolton "human scum" and ban him from the upcoming talks. * For a discussion of Mr. Bolton's "diplomacy," check out the following posts from Kevin at IA (as thorough a fisking of the Boston Globe as you'll find anywhere), Brian at Cathartidae, and Kathreb (no permalinks, so look for "Corruption, corruption and more corruption" and "No invite for JB"). I would also read through IA's take on apparent splits within the Bush White House on North Korea. * For fans of the military option, ex-CIA head James Woosley and retired Air Force lieutenant general Thomas McInerney discuss in the WSJ the positives of using the big stick on the North Koreans. Kevin of Big Hominid, a resident of Seoul and thus well within North Korean artillery range, is slightly less enthusiastic. * If you're wondering whether North Korea could win if it attacked first like the First Korean War (1950-53), Jim Dunnigan has an answer for you. * Fans of other options, by all means take a look at Parapundit's Radio Smuggling Campaign: Give the Ear to a North Korean. * Chung Mong-hon, chief of Hyundai Asan, jumped from the 12th floor of Hyundai's corporate office in Seoul on August 3. Needless to say, he didn't survive the trip. Chung helped spearhead inter-Korean economic cooperation - his company was involved in a number of high-profile (and high loss) projects in North Korea - but was under heavy investigation for his role in the now infamous "cash-for-summit" scandal involving former President Kim Dae-jung. For my own personal feelings on the suicide, take a look here. For a very different take, check out Lee Keun-yeup's eulogy to the man in the Korea Times. Brian at Cathartidae has also been following the suicide (1, 2, 3), including its internal political ramifications and how it will affect the future of inter-Korean relations. * The radical pro-North Korean student group Hanchongnyon recently made waves by breaking into an American training ground during live-fire exercises, burning an American flag and climbing atop an American armored vehicle to chant anti-American slogans before being unceremoniously escorted off-base by American military personnel and arrested by the Korean police - I encourage you to watch the video of the incident. US military authorities were furious, demanding that the students involved be punished "to the full extent of the law." For the Korean government, it was an especially embarrassing event, coming as it does amidst severe disagreements with the Americans over US plans to turn responsibility for the DMZ entirely over to the South Korean side. Check out either my blog or Kevin of IA (or, heck, both) for Korean press analysis of the event. * August 15 was "Liberation Day" in Korea, and South Koreans celebrated it with a case of group-amnesia concerning who did the liberating. Neither the President, nor one single major Korean newpaper bothered to mention the fact that Korea was liberated from Japan by the victorious Allied powers - and in particular, the United States. Likewise, a South Korean delegation went to Pyongyang for joint Liberation Day ceremonies with the North, while anti-American and anti-North Korean held demonstrations in Seoul. * Domestic South Korean politics are a complete mess. We have Blue House officials boozing and whoring, the President fighting with the media, ex-kingmakers getting arrested, the President fighting with the media again, the judiciary in revolt, the military being shamed by a number of sexual abuse scandals... and there are some who want to change the spelling of the country from "K-O-R-E-A" to "C-O-R-E-A." * On a cultural/spiritual note, Kevin Kim, a student of religion currently living in Seoul, devotes a lot of space to Korean Zen at at BigHominid's Hairy Chasms - all you have to do is get past his fondness for scatological humor. The next installment of Hushoor's Korea Briefing is planned for September 16th. Meanwhile, regular updates concerning Korean events can be found at The Marmot's Hole (a.k.a. The Hushoor).

3 TrackBacks

Tracked: August 19, 2003 5:09 PM
Hushoor's Korea Briefing: Aug 19/03 from The Command Post - Iran, North Korea & Other Hotspots
Excerpt: Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Kwangju, South Korea. TOP TOPIC China And South Korea Enable North Korean Nuclear Pro...
Tracked: August 19, 2003 6:55 PM
Excerpt: Winds of Change has a link-filled roundup of what's been happening in Korea lately. It captures the best writing on the situation from around the...
Tracked: August 20, 2003 10:21 PM
Korea from Backcountry Conservative
Excerpt: Winds of Change has an in-depth regional briefing on Korea. I found the link at Instapundit....


The tragedy on the "other options" approach is that while the United States spends hundreds of billions per year on defense its left to a Korean-American pastor to spend a whole $7000 dollars to send radios into North Korea by balloons. I was kinda hoping that the CIA would be budgeted a couple of billion per year to more aggressively pursue that option. But my hopes are fading on that along with my hopes of stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

BTW, the US Navy has announced it will be doing exercises in the Coral Sea to show how they might eventually start intercepting North Korean shipments. That's slightly promising.

The whole "Corea" thing: Maybe they like Chic and this is their way of paying homage to him? I gotta say, there was one good tune on Return To Forever that I'd like to hear again. But I also flash on the old Monty Python skit where the guy couldn't pronounce the hard C sound and the other guy suggests using K instead.

Blog-City has been experiencing some technical difficulties as they upgrade their stuff, so readers may have some problems with a number of the links. Hopefully, Blog-City will get their act together before too long.

For what it's worth, the Hyundai chairman is not the only prominent Asian with North Korean ties to go missing.

"Dutch-Chinese flower magnate Yang Bin has gone on trial in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang. Listed two years ago as China's second-richest man, Mr Yang faces an array of charges ranging from multi-million dollar fraud to attempted bribery and the illegal use of agricultural land. He was arrested last year, soon after his appointment by North Korea as governor of a special autonomous region."

Well, obvious the dead Hyundai chairman isn't missing, but let's just say he's missed.

Regarding the O'Hanlon/Mochizuki article, North Korea was poised to have an SEZ up and running earlier last year, but THEY jettisoned it by threatening their investors (Japan, South Korea). In Vietnam and China, SEZs worked because the governments were stable and people weren't starving to death; before the SEZ's took off, their economies were stagnant, not devastated. The "demands" section of the piece strikes me as the worst kind of wishful thinking since Bertrand Russell suggested that the Nazi threat could be averted by the UK disarming and thereby making the Reich "seem silly."

The US Navy is going to test a new visual submarine detection system in the Sea of Japan. I can't imagine that's going to please the DPRK, who's diesel subs frequent the place. But what will they do about it?

LASH sub-hunting trials

"all you have to do is get past his fondness for scatological humor."

Arrrrrgh, another puckered anus with prim comments about scatological humor! Look, everyone's got an asshole, even squirrels and dead people, last time I checked. And to my knowledge, nobody deliberately sews their gateways shut, so the assholes are free to sing loudly and brownly. This is a problem?

The only difference between me and people like you is that, when I scratch my ass and accidentally dig out a peanut or piece of corn, I sniff, laugh... and then NIBBLE. Aside from that, what's the big fuckin' deal?


OK, having said my piece, I humbly thank you for not just one, but TWO links to my site. I appreciate the traffic.

HOWEVER-- I don't think I've written much that's specific to Korean Zen quite yet. For people who want to know a lot in a hurry about that subject, I highly recommend Robert Buswell's "The Zen Monastic Experience." Buswell was a monk in a Korean order for about five years; he now teaches at UCLA and remains active in Korean affairs. His book is a view "from the inside," if you will, and it's well-written.

One thing Buswell notes is that many Korean monks tend to take on only one kong-an (koan) their entire career, as opposed to the Japanese style of moving from koan to koan. Another contrast I'll note is that Korean Son (Zen) monks, contrary to their Japanese counterparts, aren't quite so obsessed with physical pain as part of the meditative process (as Steven Den Beste might say, "DWL!" I know not all Japanese monks are this way, either).

OK, all for now. Let me hit this sexily rectangular "post" button and disappear in a mushroom cloud of flatulence.

Shittily yours,

Kevin Kim

Basic realities of dealing with the North Koreans, and a modest proposal for a solution:

1. The North Korean need for nuclear weapons is so intense that it trumps all but the direst consequences.
2. The Chinese government can terminate the NK regime any time it wants, but is dithering because it is unsure what is the optimum path for the ruthless pursuit of Chinese interests.
3. The South Koreans want to avoid war more than any other party right now, because of war’s physical and economic costs.
4. America’s overwhelming interest is now centered on one thing above all else: the threat of a North Korean WMD being used by radical Islamic suicide bombers in the United States.
5. Japan's interest is very similar to that of the United States.

What would satisfy all of these disparate interests, and is easiest to achieve without war?

Answer: a regime change in North Korea to a government that is a client of the Chinese government.


No nukes for North Korea, for obvious reasons, therefore no threat to the United States, lunatic Islamicists have to look elsewhere. Bonus: military forces now distracted by the prospect of conflict in Korea can be moved to dealing with the real threat: islamofascism. No unification, so the South is off the hook for aid, the South’s economic miracle can continue. The Chinese are more expert at both running and reforming an old-fashioned Stalinist regime. Bonus: the Chinese would presumably allow more interaction than the current NK regime. Double bonus: the Chinese would have no incentive to attack the South. Triple bonus: the Chinese will start some kind of more rational development program for the North Koreans – anything is better than what they have now. Bonus for the Chinese: some of the political pressure for a nuclear-defended, missile-shielded Japan evaporates in Japan.

So: sell the North Koreans out to the Chinese. Game, set, match.

How could this be engineered? I’d bet that just bringing up the possibility in the current round of multilateral talks would work a small miracle on North Korean thinking. If not, then threaten the North Koreans with a little muscle from all sides – South Korean, the seas, China, Japan and Russia unless they submit to immediate regime change. Give Kim some retirement program, and help him and some of his key loyalists to bug out, maybe even a gig on South Korean TV. Once the threat of force is overwhelming and the retirement program sufficiently attractive, the regime will be gone in short order. The current joint military exercise among the Japanese, South Koreans, and Russians is a nice message in this direction. Even the Chinese are doing some joint thing with the Japanese Navy. If the Chinese government raises objections that the whole thing is going to cost them too much money: a little judicious aid, no?

In the long run, the Chinese will bug out of North Korea anyway. The Koreans will see to that…they’ve had lots of experience in the last 2000 years, dealing with invasion and occupation.

Consequences of not acting: North Korea acquires a nuclear arsenal sufficient to deter any attack. Then what? The South’s economic miracle will then be sitting under the threat of a nuclear war and blackmail – oh, that’s a nice prospect for profitable investment isn’t? A nuke or two might slip to the islamofascists or a Japanese city, either for profit or out of simple bloody-mindedness on the part of the North Koreans. In the end, the only way to deal with the North Koreans will be all-out war, with probable use of nuclear weapons on Seoul and other cities. The North will be annihilated, the South severely damaged. Note to China: you get to fret about a nuclear armed North Korea for awhile, then you get probable nuclear war on your doorstep, the Japanese will get nukes and a missile shield, and troops doubly unfriendly to you will now be on your border.

Ok. What’s everyone waiting for? Divine intervention? Barring that, tell me how crazy and cynical I am....

re: cliff's NK sell-out to China

It's an interesting proposal, and I want to raise some points to consider simply for the sake of argument. As I understand it, you're basically saying that the US should reassure (with words and perhaps with aid) a dithering China that there will be no negative effects from their taking over North Korea, and push for China to do so. But does the US want to promote Chinese expansionism in the region? Japan and South Korea (not to mention India, Russia, and Mongolia, for that matter) may have some serious reservations about this.

You're proposal, in some ways, is the antithesis of what Victor Cha has frequently argued: that US policy vis-a-vis NK should seek to reduce regional "security dilemmas" (in the Jervis sense) arising from the inevitable reunification of the Koreas. This means containment of NK's regime until it collapses, while building a "regional security system" that can ease in a reunified Korea. (Sorry I don't have a link for a Cha article, but a Google search should find something easily enough.)

Following Cha's line of thought, one might argue that promoting a Chinese takeover of NK would go against the flow of this "inevitable reunification", thus increasing US-ROK animosity and creating serious security dilemmas of its own: as mentioned above, all of China's neighbor's would be made wary.

Finally, to put your proposal in other terms, you're basically saying the US should tell China to take full responsibility for NK. But isn't this what the US has been telling China all along? I suppose that means that for China, the costs associated with taking on full responsibility for NK are prohibitively high, even with offers of US assistance?


Thanks for the tip on Victor Cha...I looked him up...I'll read his stuff!

Actually, there is a sixth fact of reality about North Korea:

6. The North Korean refugee situation will continue to grow inexorably, and no one wants these people, but no one except the North Koreans, and to a lesser extent the Chinese, are willing to shoot them.

That refugee problem is going to continue to grow regardless of what happens, even if China or South Korea or the United States were to take over. Even the North Koreans are losing their grip, and it has been quite ruthless so far. The North Korean population is slowly, inevitably, inexorably changing the situation with their bare feet, and everyone else is trying to 'manage' that. The North Korean government’s desire to handle this with nukes is deeply ludicrous, on top of being extremely dangerous.

You are right that the Chinese leadership is quite concerned about the many costs of handling the North Korean situation, but it is reluctantly dawning on them that the costs of not handling it are growing much, much higher. Since they own much responsibility for the disaster in North Korea, it is perfectly just that they should be discomfited now.

As a footnote, the Chinese leaders are constantly playing a vicious and stupid Machiavellian game with history, and are just too clever for their own good. They are addled with an addiction to fraud and force for advancing Chinese interests, and by a barely concealed but very deep Chinese racism. Add to that the deep foolishness of 'face' (a method of denying denial), and they become recalcitrant and dangerous clowns. If there were a single factor that would change the situation for the better, it would be for the Chinese leadership to grow up and take some responsibility for their foolishness. They will only be coerced and bribed into doing so, however.

There is a simpler solution, really, than Chinese takeover of NK. The Chinese take any and all refugees from North Korea, and the rest of the interested parties take them in. The treatment of North Korean refugees is the litmus test of morality and realism among all the parties to this issue……

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