World View: U.S. and South Korea Resume Some Military Marine Drills, Despite North’s Objections

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • U.S. and South Korea resume some military marine drills, despite North’s objections
  • Disarmament proceeds along North-South Korea border, opposed by U.S.

U.S. and South Korea resume some military marine drills, despite North’s objections

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjom, in April. (Korea Times)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjom, in April. (Korea Times)

U.S. and South Korea marine forces will begin joint military marine drills around the southeastern port city of Pohang on Monday. It will involve 500 troops from the South Korean Marine Corps and the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa. South Korea announced that it will decide next month whether to suspend next year’s exercises.

Early in January of this year, at the time that North Korea was beginning its “charm offensive” and talking about participating in the Olympics games in Seoul, North Korea demanded that U.S.-South Korea military drills be postponed until after the Olympics. The military drills have been performed for years and they have always infuriated both the North Koreans and the Chinese. So, the U.S. and South Korea acceded to the North Korean demand to postpone the drills until after March 18, when the Olympics and Paralympics games finally end.

However, the charm offensive continued, with numerous negotiating sessions involving North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, including personal meetings between the national leaders. North Korea’s child dictator Kim Jong-un repeatedly insisted that he would fully “denuclearize.” North Korea has even “destroyed” a nuclear testing facility that it does not need or use to “prove” it was sincere.

Many analysts, including myself, believe that North Korea has no intention to denuclearize and that the purpose of the “charm offensive” is to apply political pressure to the United States to agree to and the sanctions with having to make any denuclearization concessions. I also believe that if Kim Jong-un tried to actually denuclearize, then he would be shot dead by his own generals.

North Korea has taken no steps towards denuclearization, even refusing to take the simple step of providing a list of all its nuclear development sites. No reason was given by the U.S. military why it is resuming the limited military drills, but it may be a warning to North Korea after 11 months of charm offensive that nothing has been accomplished.

Kim Jong-un appears to be replaying the same fraudulent script that his father Kim Jong-il followed in 2008. At that time, the North demolished a 60-foot-tall cooling tower to prove that it was ending its nuclear development programs. In reaction, the Bush administration agreed to remove all sanctions. As soon as they were removed, North Korea immediately and openly resumed its nuclear and ballistic missile development. They had completely defrauded the United States and the world.

On Friday, North Korea issued a statement threatening to resume nuclear development unless the sanctions are lifted. Specifically, the statement threatened to resume North Korea’s “pyongjin” policy of simultaneously advancing its nuclear force and economic development.

Some analysts claim that North Korea has already won. A year ago, the U.S. was threatening military action to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. Now, thanks to the charm offensive, the North had a year to continue nuclear and missile development in secret, lacking on the ability to openly test their development with hydrogen bomb tests and long-range ballistic missile tests. North Korea is believed to have an arsenal of ballistic missiles ready to be launched at the U.S. or other targets and, at a time of its choosing, it can simply start openly testing again.

The charm offensive will continue later this week when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with North Korean officials to discuss the next hallucinatory steps in the denuclearization process. Pompeo’s last meeting did not accomplish anything. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and AP

Disarmament proceeds along North-South Korea border, opposed by U.S.

For several months, there has been a separate “peace process” going on in Korea, not well publicized outside.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has had several well-publicized meetings with Kim Jong-un, and they have agreed to disarm the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border that separates North and South Korea.

Two weeks ago, the two Koreas announced that firearms and military posts have been withdrawn from a portion of the DMZ, turning the “truce village” of Panmunjom into a “peace village.”

This was done quickly after Moon and Kim agreed to it and it was the first step in fulfilling the far-reaching agreement of disarming the DMZ, removing land mines, declaring a no-fly zone over a huge region near the border, and eventually removing the 25,000 American troops stationed nearby.

There is no shortage of people calling this a super-wonderful first step on the road to peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

However, the U.S. State Department is opposing these steps. The North Koreans have never repudiated their oft-stated intention of invading South Korea and taking control. Demilitarizing the DMZ has a second purpose: removing some of the major obstacles to a North Korean invasion of South Korea. North Korea could send its 1.1 million man army across the border into Seoul, wiping out the 23,000 American soldiers stationed there.

The U.S. State Department is particularly objecting to the agreement to impose a no-fly zone over the border because it would effectively prevent close air support drills. The agreement also bars live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground guided weapons in the no-fly area.

If you step back and look at the entire year, Kim Jong-un seems to be winning on every point. There is widespread cheating by the Chinese and Russians over the sanctions. North Korea has been free to continue nuclear development and ballistic missile development, with no restriction except open testing. And the DMZ is being demilitarized, leaving Seoul open to invasion by the North at a time of its choosing.

All of this seems pretty obvious to a lot of people. The only question is: Why is Moon Jae-in facilitating it? Yonhap News (Seoul) and Stars and Stripes and Reuters (18-Oct) and Korea Herald (19-Sep)

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, North Korea, South Korea, Kim Jong-un, Moon Jae-in, Mike Pompeo, Pohang, Panmunjom, pyongjin policy, Demilitarized zone, DMZ
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