Tag Archives: South Korea

Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us, by Justin Raimondo

The real diplomatic story on the Korean Peninsula is this week’s summit between the North and South Korean leaders, not the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Yesterday they told us that President Trump was intent on war – he was about to invade Korea¸ unleash “fire and fury,” and millions would die.

Today many of these very same people are telling us that President Trump has been “snookered” by the wily Kim Jong-un, who doesn’t really mean all the pre-summit concessions he’s already made quite publicly. Trump, they say, is about to give away the farm to the North Koreans without getting anything in return.

The only constant note emitted by the Trump-hating chattering classes is their obsessive focus on That Man in the White House. Yet this development actually has little to do with Trump, at least in its origins: indeed, it’s not about us. The Korean summit came out of the election victory of President Moon Jai-in, whose signature campaign issue was reintroduction of the late lamented “Sunshine” policy of rapprochement with the North.

Moon and Kim will meet this week in a preliminary summit leading up to the supposedly bigger event, the Trump-Kim super-summit. Or so the conventional wisdom would have it: after all, isn’t everything in the world really about us?

Well, no, but you’ll have a hard time telling the pundits and policy wonks that. They don’t realize that the real summit is taking place this week in Korea, as the two leaders form a united front against Washington’s War Party – hoping to enlist Trump on their side.

As for the President, he’s optimistic but rightly says “we’ll see if it works out,” even as he lists the concessions already made by the North, which include:

  • A commitment to complete denuclearization
  • A pledge to end nuclear testing
  • A pledge to end ICBM tests.
  • A statement dropping their longtime demand for the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea.

Significantly, the office of President Moon and the North Koreans have jointly declared their intention to formally end the Korean war, presumably by signing a peace treaty, replacing the current armistice.

Prediction: Trump will make a big show of accepting it, and implicitly taking credit for it. But, hey, the Koreans don’t care who gets the credit, nor do they care about the vagaries of American politics except as they affect the ability of the Korean nation to reunite and recover from their national trauma.

To continue reading: Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us


Trump Is The Great Disruptor, by Justin Raimondo

Trump upsets some foreign policy applecarts, but as SLL has said repeatedly, the national security establishment’s real fear of Trump is that he’s got the goods on it and can expose and prosecute all sorts of corruption and criminality. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Why is the US national security Establishment – the CIA, the FBI, the Dr. Strangeloves – engaged in open warfare against the President? Why, ever since well before Trump’s stunning victory, has the political class done everything in its power to destroy him? We’ve never seen this kind of thing before – at least, not so out in the open. Certainly there have been internal power struggles and plenty of palace intrigue, but this kind of left-right near unanimity, coupled with the brazen activism of the “intelligence community,” is unprecedented. The full institutional power of the Deep State is being deployed to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive – not in some Latin American banana republic but right here in the good ol’ USA.

Why is this happening?

Here is why, and if you click on the link you’ll find the answer:

“President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten to withdraw US troops from South Korea if he can’t get a better trade deal with Seoul.

“In a fundraising speech in Missouri, Trump told donors South Korea had become rich but that American politicians never negotiated better deals, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post and confirmed to CNN by an attendee.

“‘We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them,’ Trump said. ‘We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let’s see what happens,’ Trump said.

“The President went on to argue, ‘Our allies care about themselves. They don’t care about us.’”

The South Korean Finance Minister, Kim Dong-yeon, found this upsetting:

“‘We don’t think it’s ideal to link an economic issue with such an issue [the withdrawal of US troops],’ said Kim, while speaking on South Korean TBS radio.”

This linkage is, indeed, the missing link that is always absent from ostensibly libertarian critiques of Trumpian trade protectionism. Well, yes, it’s quite true that tariffs are taxes, that they hurt consumers – i.e., everyone – and benefit only a few producers at the expense of the rest of us. Yet these libertarian critics never mention that we are also paying for the defense of our trading partners, a gigantic subsidy that is an essential part of the deal we make with our Asian and European protectorates. In exchange for giving, say, South Korea unobstructed access to our markets, Seoul essentially gives up its sovereignty by allowing US soldiers to occupy the country.

To continue reading: Trump Is The Great Disruptor

South Korean Report on Summit Discredits US Elites’ Assumption, by Gareth Porter

Dig enough and you soon discover the news outside the US is radically different from what’s reported within the US. Certainly the US media is either downplaying or ignoring South Korean reports that Kim Jong Un may be ready to give up North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

Media coverage of and political reactions to Donald Trump’s announcement of a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have been based on the assumption that it cannot succeed, because Kim will reject the idea of denuclearization. But the full report by South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s national security adviser on the meeting with Kim last week—covered by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency but not covered in U.S. news media—makes it clear that Kim will present Trump with a plan for complete denuclearization linked to the normalization of relations between the US and North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The report by Chung Eui-yong on a dinner hosted by Kim Jong UN for the 10-member South Korean delegation on March 5, said the North Korea leader had affirmed his “commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and said he “would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed.” Chung reported that Kim expressed his willingness to discuss “ways to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and normalize [U.S.-DPRK] bilateral ties.”

But in what may be the most important finding in the report, Chung added, “What we must especially pay attention to is the fact that [Kim Jong UN] has clearly stated that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was an instruction of his predecessor and that there has been no change to such an instruction.”

The South Korean national security adviser’s report directly contradicts the firmly held belief among US national security and political elites that Kim Jong UN would never give up the DPRK’s nuclear weapons. As Colin Kahl, former Pentagon official and adviser to Barack Obama, commented in response to the summit announcement, “It Is simply inconceivable that he will accept full denuclearization at this point.”

But Kahl’s dismissal of the possibility of any agreement at the summit assumes, without saying so, a continuation of the steadfast refusal of the Bush and Obama administrations for the United States to offer any incentive to North Korean in the form of a new peace treaty with North Korea and full normalization of diplomatic and economic relations.

To continue reading: South Korean Report on Summit Discredits US Elites’ Assumption


Peace in Our Time? Only if America is “Agreement Capable”, by Tom Luongo

An agreement between the US and North Korea could have long-term consequences far beyond the Far East. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Those who have followed this blog for the past year know that I feel Presidents Trump and Putin are working towards a Middle East Peace Agreement.  Brick by brick, day by day, the foundation for this agreement is being built

Last night’s nigh-historic statement by the South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong is another piece of that foundation.  You can read the entire statement here, but I’ll highlight the important part:

“I told President Trump that in our meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests; he understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue.  And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”

President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”

This is the breakthrough that everyone was waiting for.  Once Trump gets involved in the negotiations, a deal will be made.  That’s his wheelhouse, making deals.  Everyone walks away a winner in their minds.

We can argue about the effectiveness of Trump’s sanctions until we are blue in the face. But the reality is that 1) Koreans no longer want separation and 2) North Korea is not the economic basket case we are constantly told it is in the media.

I remember meeting with Jim Rogers in 2015 at a conference and the two areas of the world he was most bullish on were Kazakhstan and North Korea.

Because North Korea, under Kim Jong-Un, is moving towards a more open society, not a closed one.  The sincere desire for reunification of the Korean peninsula, if only symbolically through a more open border, is the animating principle here.

And that only happens with a North Korea entering the modern world economy.

To continue reading: Peace in Our Time? Only if America is “Agreement Capable”

Breakthrough: North Korea Ready To Denuclearize “If Regime Safety Is Guaranteed”, by Tyler Durden

If this pans out it would be good news indeed. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Score another diplomatic victory for Trump, whose hard line negotiating tactic appears to have generated a dramatic – and favorable for market – outcome. Moments ago futures spiked, 10Y yields jumped and the USDJPY bounced about 106 on what the FT dubbed a “diplomatic breakthrough” that North and South Korea have agreed to hold direct talks between their leaders with North Korea signalling it is willing to abandon its nuclear program “if regime security can be guaranteed.


The headlines come from South Korean National Security Office special envoy Chung Eui-yong, who is speaking to reporters in Seoul after returning from Pyongyang. Remember he and another envoy, National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Monday. Chung confirms that North Korea is indeed ready to stop the jawboning and negotiate:

  • Kim Jong Un open to frank talks with U.S. for denuclearization: Chung
  • North Korea to suspend provocations during talks: Chung
  • Promises not to use any weapons against South Korea: Chung

Next step: a summit in April between the two neighbors where details will be ironed out: “North Korea, South Korea agree to hold summit in April”, Chung says. Pyongyang vowed not to test any ballistic missiles or make further provocations during talks, according Chung clarified.

The easing of tensions between the two Koreas and this clearly positive geopolitical development has triggered a broad based risk-on move. Fixed income is selling off sharply here, with Bunds flying. As the spot KRW market is closed, the NDF space is in focus. The 1m NDF has traded from 1076.0 to 1070.8 at time of print. USDJPY is spiking higher at 106.10 at print. This move may have legs especially as early NY begins to come in

The question now is whether this unexpected diplomatic victory for Trump will further empower him to demand similar concessions on the trade side, and launch the “trade wars”, even as the market is now fully convinced that the US president will backtrack.


Make Sports, Not War, by Eric Margolis

Mike Pence reportedly refused to stand when South and North Korean athletes marched jointly into the Olympic Stadium. If that’s true, both Pence and American foreign policy look like spoiled brats, upset because they’re not the center of attention. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Considering that a nuclear conflict over North Korea appeared imminent in recent weeks, the winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea, is a most welcome distraction – and might even deter a major war on the peninsula.

The highlight of the games was the arrival of Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un. This was the first time a member of North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty had come to South Korea. Her handshake with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in was a historic and welcome moment.

So too the planned joint marches by North and South Korean athletes under a new reunification flag.  For all Koreans, this was a deeply emotional and inspiring ceremony.

But not for US Vice President Mike Pence, who was sent by Trump to give the Olympics the evil eye.  He even refused to stand for the joint marchers in a surly act that spoke volumes about his role.  Whether he meets President Moon or Kim Yo-jong remains to be seen. Even a cup of tea between Pence and Kim could end all the crazy talk about nuclear war. Does anyone in Washington know that North Korea lies between China and Russia?

All this drama is happening as the Trump White House is advocating giving North Korea a `bloody nose.’  Meaning a massive bombing campaign that could very likely include nuclear weapons.  Trump, who received a reported five exemptions from military service because of a little bone spur in his foot, revels in military affairs and thinks a ‘bloody nose’ will warn Kim Jong-un to be good. Trump is planning a big military parade at which he will take the salute.

This writer went through US Army basic and advanced infantry training with a broken bone in my foot, and has no sympathy with the president’s militaristic pretensions.

To continue reading: Make Sports, Not War

Korea, the Winter Olympics, and the Spirit of Queen Min, by Justin Raimondo

North Korea are bound by ties of blood and nationalism. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Nationalism means peace on the Korean peninsula

We are told by practically everyone that nationalism is an archaic, aggressive, and downright evil sentiment, one that causes wars, racism, bigotry, and probably the common cold as well. And we get this from both the right and the left. Nationalism of any kind, we are told, is a dangerous atavism, a throwback to primitive “tribalism” and an insult to sacred “modernity.” While this nonsensical view is pretty widespread throughout the Western world, it is especially dominant – at least among the political class – here in the United States, where it is routinely alleged that America isn’t a place, it isn’t the American people: America, they solemnly intone, is an Idea. What sort of idea, or, rather, whose idea, seems to be a matter of some dispute: but, in any case, we aren’t really an actual country, according to the wise and wondrous elites who let us know what to think, so much as we’re an abstraction, floating in the ether, like a cloud in the sky imprinted with the image of a giant welcome mat.

Things are quite different on the Korean peninsula.

They called it the Hermit Kingdom before its forcible opening by the Western powers, and for a very good reason: unlike Japan and, later, China, the Koreans stubbornly resisted trade – or, indeed, any sort of contact with the West, which was strictly forbidden. While Western writers routinely attribute this to the supposedly tyrannical rule of Yi Ha-ung, the Regent (1864-97), Koreans then and now revere him as the defender of the nation from European encroachment and domination, which was China’s sad fate.

An American crew in service to a British company made the first serious attempt to “open” Korea: in 1866 the General Sherman tried to sail up the Taedong river to reach Pyongyang, but were ordered back by the Korean authorities. The Westerners ignored this edict and continued on their way, but were soon beached when the river waters ran low. They were then set upon by the Koreans, who rescued the Korean officials who had been taken hostage by the crew and killed everyone on board. An inauspicious beginning to a relationship rife with conflict: today there is a monument on the spot where the General Sherman was burned which informs visitors that the leader of the attackers was the great-grandfather of Kim Il-Sung!

To continue reading: Korea, the Winter Olympics, and the Spirit of Queen Min