The US and China Agree that Korean Peninsula Needs to Be Denuclearized

This is easier said than done:

China and the United States agreed that efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be “complete, verifiable and irreversible”, Chinese state media said on Saturday, reporting the results of high level talks in Washington this week.

“Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Thursday that the United States pressed China to ramp up economic and political pressure on North Korea, during his meeting with top Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui met Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the talks. Yang later met with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House, where they also discussed North Korea, Xinhua reported.

The consensus document also highlighted the need to fully and strictly hold to U.N. Security Council resolutions and push for dialogue and negotiation, which has long been China’s position on the issue.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link.

4,000 Thousand South Koreans Hold Anti-US Protest Day Before Anniversary of the Start of the Korean War

These protesters may have wanted to rethink their protest date considering the 67th anniversary for the start of the Korean War is this weekend:

Thousands of protesters marched near the U.S. embassy in Seoul on Saturday, accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of “forcing” South Korea to deploy the controversial American missile defense system China opposes.

The protest came as South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-In heads to Washington next week for his first summit with Trump amid soaring tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Around 4,000 people participated in the first anti-U.S. rally under Moon’s presidency. It was also the largest protest since South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy the system, known as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

Protesters marched with placards that read: “Trump, stop forcing (South Korea) to deploy THAAD” and “No THAAD, No Trump.”

The crowd included residents from the southeastern county of Seongju where the system is being deployed.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but Yonhap had the protest number at 3,000.

What I am wondering is how many of these protesters are actually from the village bordered by the THAAD site outside of Seongju?  How many were from the anti-US leftist groups that typically turn out to protests like this?  You would think that would be basic information a reporter would try and find out.

Secondly their turn out for being a weekend in Seoul is actually quite weak which is an indication of the public support the South Korean leftists have on the THAAD issue.  Recent polling data shows that 53% of Koreans support the deployment and 32% are against it.  The only thing that I see that could change those numbers in favor of the leftists is if President Trump makes unreasonable compensation demands for the deployment on President Moon.  Hitting the pocket books of South Koreans is something that could quickly get the South Korean public to side with the leftist protesters.

Remains of an American Korean War Soldier Found Near Daejon

This makes you wonder how many more US soldiers are still buried under the ground in South Korea waiting to be found?:

A fallen soldier from the Korean War passes the colors one last time in South Korea during a repatriation ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Thursday, June 22, 2017.

A U.S. soldier’s body is heading home 67 years after he went missing in action during the Korean War.

The U.S. accepted the remains of the 1st Cavalry Division soldier Thursday during a repatriation ceremony hosted by the South Korean military and United Nations Command at Yongsan Garrison. UN colors draped his casket, which stood alone on the ceremonial field.

The soldier is thought to have died in late July 1950 when U.S. forces, including elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, delayed the North Korean army’s advance along the peninsula and bought time for the U.N. to establish a line of defense around the southern city of Busan.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but the body was found this past March by a telecom worker installing cables under a road.  Hopefully the body is quickly identified and returned to surviving family members.

USFK Responds to President Moon’s Claim THAAD was Only to Install One Launcher this Year

It appears that President Moon can’t keep his THAAD excuses straight and USFK has had to correct the record:

A THAAD interceptor launcher is in place at a former golf course in Sejongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in this file photo. (Yonhap)

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Friday it has an “original” agreement with South Korea to deploy the THAAD missile defense system here as soon as possible.

It was in response to President Moon Jae-in’s view that the deployment process has been “accelerated for some reason” that he does not know.

He has apparently questioned the transparency of the related procedures, especially at home.

“Originally, the alliance decided to deploy THAAD as soon as able in order to substantially improve our layered missile defense against North Korean missile threats,” a USFK spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.

She would not discuss specifics on the timeline, however, citing “operational security reasons.”

The official stressed that the U.S. “trusts” South Korea’s official stance that the THAAD deployment was an “alliance decision.”

“We have worked closely and have been fully transparent with the ROK government throughout this process,” she said, using the acronym for South Korea’s formal name, the Republic of Korea.

It’s rare for the USFK to issue a statement on the sensitive THAAD issue. It usually leaves it to the Pentagon or refers media to South Korea’s defense ministry.

It came a day after a foreign news report said that Moon, a liberal leader who took office in early May, took issue with the timeline of the deployment of the U.S. strategic asset on the peninsula.

In an interview with Reuters, Moon was quoted as saying that just one THAAD interceptor launcher was originally scheduled to be installed this year, with five others to arrive in 2018.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but the ROK government and I believe President Moon knew about the six launchers and have just been using this for domestic political reasons to appease his anti-US base.  His upcoming summit with President Trump could be very interesting.

Camp Stanley Training Tunnel will Continue to Be Used Even After 2ID Relocation

I have been to Camp Stanley so many times and I never realized this training tunnel was located there:

A chemical-sniffing robot patrols the underground training facility at Camp Stanley, South Korea, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

Boxes have been packed and nails stick out from walls where pictures and maps used to hang.

U.S. soldiers are getting ready for a historic move from the front lines to new quarters south of Seoul, South Korea, as part of a relocation plan that has been in the works for more than a decade.

But there’s one important feature they can’t take with them — a half-mile tunnel carved into a mountain that rises above Camp Stanley, which has been home to 2nd Infantry Division units since shortly after the 1950-53 Korean War.  (…..)

Training for the possible need to search and clear such facilities is high on the agenda for U.S. and South Korean forces. But it’s about to become more challenging for the 23rd Chemical Battalion, which is preparing to move to Camp Humphreys, about 55 miles south of Seoul, this month. It will retain access to the tunnel, although it’s unclear how that will work without a regular presence on the base.  [Stars and Stripes]

You can read more at the link.