Monday, February 11, 2008

A carousel of ideas

First of all, I would like to express my sincere feelings of sadness about the tragic fire in Sungyemun. I did have the pleasure of seeing it when I was in Korea and I can only imagine the heartbreak that this event must be causing in Korea and to Koreans abroad.

Moving On

When I want to get away from the biased, controlled, worthless propaganda rags of the west,I turn to fair and balanced "Korean Central News Agency" which often has stories, like this one:

("School Youth and Children Tour Area of Mt. Paektu") 2008/2/11

According to this article the children "made a study tour of revolutionary sites and battle sites in the area of Mt. Paektu between Feb. 3 and 9 on the occasion of the birthday of Kim Jong Il."
Note the interesting attempt in this article to make this simple school road trip to Paekdusan a connection between the socialist "revolution" (a la Lenin or Trotsky) and to an obvious, at least obvious to me, fascist dictator like Kim Jong Il.
I really got a chuckle from the last paragraph on the actual activities the children participated in.
I can imagine the conversation with the children and parents once they returned home:

Little North Korean child:"Hey mommy guess what we did for our dear leaders birthday!"

North Korean Mother: "What did you do my dear communist child?"

Little North Korean child: "On Mount Paek du we conducted diverse political and cultural activities including a question-and-answer contest on the revolutionary traditions of the Workers' Party of Korea!"

North Korean Mother: "Wow, I am so proud of you comrade child!"

Well, if you ARE interested in visiting North Korea for "our dear leaders birthday" you'd better reserve your space with Koryo Tours today. (I know, dangerously close to being off topic but i couldn't resist.)

I also came across this article (2008/2/9) on the KCNA website about the joint South Korean/US military
exercises in March. Like I said before, the Korean Central News Agency is very fair and balanced so as you read pay no attention to terms like: "The United States and the south Korean bellicose forces" or "unreasonable sophism designed to cover up their aggressive nature" or better yet "south Korean war-like forces." as these are just temporary slips of the tongue from a normally unbiased, uncensored, news organization. As I read this article a second time, it got me thinking. Do the North Koreans really feel threatened by these annual war-time strategy "games" held to the south? Or is it more North Korean Propaganda speak? Truth is I have no idea. Whats worse I think the US government also has no idea. Every year we (South Korea/US) hold these massive joint military exercises ;every year The DPRK comes out with condemnations. Every year the response from the US is:"this is not meant to be provocative (to North Korea) in any way." We in the US and South Korea can say: "of course we mean no harm."

But how does North Korea know?

The past two US Administrations have threatened the North militarily. In 1993 Clinton administration threatened an air strike on the Yongbyon Nuclear plant. The Bush administration has a history of cowboy diplomacy (2006.7.20) all over the world and threaten the North Koreans with military action before. So If you were Kim Jung Il and you saw a massive military force massing to the south what would you think?
It almost begs to question if the US military presence in South Korea is more of a determent slowing down the process of peace on the peninsula. I wont even go there this time.
What do neighboring news agencies have to about this?
South Korea

Waste Dumping in the East Sea

It looks as thought South Korea has been dumping waste into the uhmmmm...Sea of Japan...or is it the East Sea...I can never decide. Although this was done unknowingly, The Japanese government has filed a complaint with the Korean Ministry of Maritime affairs. South Korea is taking this matter very seriously and is currently deciding how to take corrective measures. Since this matter is taking place in the East Sea/Sea of Japan other controversies such as what to call this body of water between the two nations and the Dok do/Takeshima islands must be boiling just under the surface. Probably, should keep an eye on this story.


Ken said...

Yeah, the KCNA cracks me up too.

But alternatively, what does this means for ROK's security dilemma?

Meaning, if the US forces were to scale-back or even withdraw, could this be perceived as reduced US commitment to defend the ROK? If so, with the DPRK become emboldened?

Plus, what does this mean for alliance politics? Since the US does provide the ROK with a measurable security blanket, how can the US effectively rebalance its forces w/out amplifying ROK's fears of abandonment and driving her towards China?

Just a few thoughts.

Justin-B형 said...

Well, I think that the 25,000 + troops stationed in across South Korea are more symbolic than for protection(by the way south Korea has about 880,000 troops). I have spoken with military stationed there (friends, family, and former coworkers)and many of them expressed the feeling that they were more like "tripwire" to a major military invasion from either north Korea or China. They felt that their numbers were much too small and spread too thin to make a significant military threat.
That said, reducing or redeploying US troop will make a statement about where the US interests lie in that area of the world. But let's be honest many South Koreans see the US military as an imperial force that is impeding progress towards unification and therefore resent our presence. Also there is a natural movement towards the PRC anyway, maybe because of proximity or maybe just "because".
Anyway, regardless of my feelings i believe that the US force will not exist in the Korean peninsula in its present state for another generation(It has already started to be a significant topic between the US and South Korea--see
02/116_18494.html). In fact I think the coming administration will have to deal with that issue.
anyway thanks for sending a comment. It lets me know someone is looking at my mumbling nonsense.