Protesters Burn Kim Jong-un Poster as North Korean Delegation Passes Through Seoul Station

I wonder if the North Korean delegation was even able to see this protest?  I am willing to bet the ROK authorities kept the North Koreans out of view of this protest:

A conservative activist sets fire to a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the North’s flag in front of Seoul Station Monday in protest against the North’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

Conservative protesters on Monday burned a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the North’s national flag, in a rally against its participation in next month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The activists, led by the far-right Korean Patriots Party, held a press conference in front of Seoul Station at around 11 a.m., when a group of North Korean officials arrived at the train station from the eastern city of Gangneung, on the second day of their two-day trip for inspection of performance venues.

“The PyeongChang Winter Olympics is turning into ‘Kim Jong-un’s Pyongyang Olympics’ that effectively recognizes its nuclear armaments and propagates the North Korean regime,” they said. [Korea Times]

Delegation Returns to North Korea After Visiting Concert Sites in Seoul

It looks like Seoul will likely be hosting the Moranbong Band next month according to the article:

Surrounded by South Korean officials and guards, Hyon Song-wol enters Jangchung Arena in central Seoul on the second day of her delegation’s two-day stay in South Korea on Jan. 22, 2018. (Yonhap)

A North Korean delegation led by the powerful female head of a national orchestra returned home late Monday after touring concert halls in Seoul to inspect candidate venues for planned art performances during next month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Wrapping up a two-day stay, the North Korean inspection team led by Hyon Song-wol, the head of the Samjiyon Orchestra, passed through the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) office at Dorasan Station, just south of the border, at around 9:53 p.m. Their last engagement in Seoul was to have dinner at a hotel.

Hyon didn’t say anything in response to reporters asking for comments when she and the other North Korean officials left for the North.

Earlier in the day, a nonscheduled train took the seven-member team to Seoul from Gangneung, where they visited two candidate auditoriums on Sunday. Gangneung is a sub-host city of the games, 260 kilometers east of the capital.

In Seoul, the team inspected three facilities — the National Theater of Korea, Jangchung Arena and Jamsil Students’ Gymnasium — on a mission to locate venues for North Korean art performances celebrating the upcoming Olympics.

Touring the national theater as the final leg of the concert hall visit in Seoul, Hyon checked speakers and stage lights. She asked the operation staff to play orchestral music, and the theater officials played “Arirang,” a traditional Korean song, to test the audio systems.

The delegation spent far more time inspecting the national theater than the two other venues, spawning speculation that it may be chosen for the North’s musical performance in Seoul.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Chun Hyeon Becomes First South Korean Tennis Player to Advance to Quarterfinals of Australian Open

This is a very big win by the 21 year old South Korean tennis pro:

Chung Hyeon celebrates his win against Novak Djokovic during the round of 16 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Monday. / Reuters-Yonhap

Korean tennis player Chung Hyeon produced a huge shock by defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the round of 16 at the Australian Open, Monday.

At the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, the world No. 58 Chung defeated No. 14 Djokovic, 3-0 (7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) in the men’s singles.

With the win, Chung, 21, has become the first Korean player to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals. He is also the first Korean to reach the quarters at any Grand Slam tournament. Previously, Lee Hyung-taik’s 2000 and 2007 runs at the U.S. Open men’s singles, and Lee Duk-hee’s 1981 run at the U.S. Open in 1981 in the women’s singles, were the highest watermarks for Korean tennis.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: The Imjim Classic

Imjin Classic 2018

A Canadian veteran of the 1950-53 Korean War, Claude Charland (L), receives a plaque of appreciation from Army Maj. Gen. Park Jung-hwan, chief of the 1st Infantry Division, before a commemorative ice hockey game, the Imjin Classic 2018, at the Yulgok Wetland Park in the South Korean border town of Paju, north of Seoul, on Jan. 19, 2018. The Canadian Embassy organized the game, which coincided with the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics torch relay, in partnership with the PyeongChang Organizing Committee. During the 1950-53 Korean War, Canadian soldiers stationed near the front lines carved out a makeshift hockey rink on the frozen Imjin River, and two regiments played friendly hockey matches. (Yonhap)

North Korean Delegation Arrives in South Korea to Visit Concert Sites

The North Korean delegation is visiting the ROK to view locations where the Moranbong Band will perform and hopefully not sing about the greatness of the Kim regime:

Hyon Song-wol, head of a North Korean delegation, arrives at Seoul Station on Jan. 21, 2018. (Yonhap)

A North Korean delegation arrived in Gangnueng, an eastern South Korean city, Sunday to check the venues for its proposed art performances at next month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The trip came amid brisk inter-Korean contact on the North’s participation in the Olympic Games to open in three weeks.

The seven-member team is led by Hyon Song-wol, head of the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, and known as one of the most influential women in the secretive communist nation.

She also serves as director of the Moranbong Band, the country’s well-known all-female musical group, reportedly created at the order of leader Kim Jong-un. There’s a rumor that she is an ex-girlfriend of Kim.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but a ROK delegation is supposed to go to North Korea and view the Mt. Geumgang Resort and ROK skiers are supposed to go train at the Masik Ski Resort.  This is all clearly intended to be an opening effort to get the tours restarted at Mt. Geumgang which was once a cash cow for the regime until it was closed after a grandma was shot in the back and killed by a North Korean soldier.

Opening the tours again would also circumvent the United Nations sanctions on North Korea and encourage other governments to circumvent them as well.  We will see what happens after the Winter Olympics is completed, but it seems to me it is pretty clear what the North Koreans hope to get out of their most recent charm offensive.

North Korea Wants ROK Government to Silence Conservative Media

I guess we will see how the South Korea government responds to this demand in order to ensure North Korean participation during the upcoming Winter Olympics:

The North Korean journalists union on Monday called on South Korea to “hold tight control” of its conservative media, warning that negative reports could scupper ongoing DPRK-ROK dialogue.

The commentary, carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), is written under the name of Kim Chol Guk, department director of the Central Committee of the Journalists Union of Korea.

Kim said South Korea’s conservative media had “astounded the world” by publishing “disgusting slander which deride and insult the sincerity of the fellow countrymen.”

The South Korean government must place controls over conservative media and should be aware that they “may mess up the great event of the nation,” his article said.

“Tongue may bring calamity and miswritten pen may become a sword beheading oneself,” an English language version of the article reads.

“The South Korean authorities may find the wedding ceremony turning into a mourning ceremony if they fail to hold tight control of media and of their own tongue.”

Conservative South Korean outlets have allegedly described the Pyongyang’s “proposal and sincere efforts for inter-Korean talks as double-dealing tactics,” the article said, without specifying which outlets it was referring to.

“They even admonished the authorities to be vigilant against ‘the north’s trick to impair the South Korea-U.S. alliance.’” [NK News]

You can read more at the link.

South Korean Military to Cut 120,000 Troops By 2022

It appears over the course of the Moon Jae-in presidency the South Korean military will be shrunk considerably:

 

South Korea’s military will reduce the number of troops to half a million by 2022 as part of a new round of defense reforms, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.

The mandatory service period of rank-and-file soldiers will be shortened to 18 months from the current 21 months, according to the ministry’s report to Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on its 2018 policies.

South Korea has 620,000 troops, including 483,000 Army service members, compared to North Korea’s 1.1 million armed forces.

The left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration has pushed for the so-called defense reform 2.0 aimed at making the nation’s military smaller but stronger.

It is seeking to expand the employment of civilians for non-combat missions, with more active-duty soldiers assigned to field operations. The number of general-grade officers, currently totaling around 430, will be adjusted. Some expect it to decrease by 70-80.

The ministry plans to complete a master plan for military reform by April for speedy legislative procedures.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but I have to wonder where the saved money from the personnel costs will be going to?