Moon Jae-in Draws Red Line Against North Korean Nuclear Weapons Development

It seems President Moon has made himself a pretty specific red line with North Korea that in my opinion he has no intention of actually enforcing:

The President’s definition of a “red line” for North Korea has fueled controversy, with critics questioning its adequacy.

At a press conference to mark his 100th day in office Thursday, President Moon Jae-in said that he would consider North Korea had crossed a red line “if it completes development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and weaponizes it by fitting a nuclear warhead on it.”

He also said, “North Korea is nearing the threshold of the red line.”

Some people, including Moon’s aides, interpreted the rare remarks as a warning to the North on its rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles. But criticism of his “diplomatic immaturity” was prevalent.

Pundits expressed concerns that the statement narrowed the Moon administration’s policy options in dealing with North Korea.

“Moon must be the first leader in the world who went into details of what constitutes a red line,” said Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University’s department of unification and diplomacy. “Keeping ambiguity suits national interests. Moon may have said so to prevent a U.S. preemptive attack, but still, it exposed our intentions.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

New Korean Movie Highlights Force Labor at Japan’s ‘Battleship Island’

Here is the latest South Korean movie that is expected to rekindle anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea:

The shape of Hashima Island resembles a warship from a distance as shown in this photo taken by South Korean photographer Lee Jae-gab in July 2008. The photo was provided by Lee. (Yonhap)

When Choi Jang-seop left for Japan more than seven decades ago, the 16-year-old did not know that the journey would change his life.

He was one of hundreds of Koreans who were conscripted into forced labor on Japan’s Hashima Island as part of the country’s mobilization of Koreans during World War II. Korea was under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

Choi — wearing only underwear — toiled eight hours in a hot, cramped undersea coal mine with the constant fear of death. Other survivors said they worked for 12 hours at a time as three eight-hour shifts gave way to two 12-hour shifts with the rising demand for coal during the war.

What’s worse is that forced laborers, mostly in their teens and 20s, were given food that was mostly remnants of beans after the vegetable oil had been extracted, a situation that led to malnutrition and starvation among some forced laborers.

“I was hungry all the time and life was miserable beyond description,” Choi recalled of his days on the island between 1943 and 1945 in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency at his small apartment in Daejeon, some 160 kilometers south of Seoul.  [Yonhap]

You can read much more at the link, by the way has anyone seen the movie yet?

K-9 Thunder Training Accident Leads to Death of 1 ROK Soldier, 6 More Injured

Here is news of a tragic training accident that occurred up in Choerwon:

One Army soldier was killed and six others were injured Friday in an explosion during an artillery firing drill, the military said.

The blast occurred on the shooting range of a front-line Army unit in Cheorwon, some 88 kilometers north of Seoul, at 3:19 p.m., according to an Army officer.

Seven servicemen were rushed to a hospital and one of them, a 27-year-old sergeant first class, died during the transport, the officer said.

“An unidentified explosion took place during the drill, injuring some people,” he said. A probe into the cause of the incident is underway, he added.

Flames erupted from inside one of the 10 K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers during the training session, injuring the seven soldiers attending it, according to the officer.  [Yonhap]

Japan to Decides to Purchase Aegis Ashore System In Response to North Korean Missile Threats

This expected purchase of an Aegis Ashore system seems to make sense considering it can provide a persistent missile defense capability for Japan without having to rotate in and out their current Aegis BMD ships:

Japan is planning to deploy a new U.S.-developed ground-based missile defense system.

The Defense Ministry is to provisionally request that the fiscal 2018 budget cover planning costs for installing the Aegis Ashore system, according to a ministry official. “We are being urged to enhance our capabilities to continually protect the entirety of Japan from the threat of a missile attack,” the official said.  (……)

Japan’s Defense Ministry has studied whether to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system or the Aegis Ashore shield. But it has not planned for Aegis Ashore installations. The system is not included in the current National Defense Program Guidelines or mentioned in mid-term defense planning documents. The official said Aegis Ashore plans will be finalized by the end of the year.  [Asian Review]

You can read more at the link.

General Vandal Apologizes for Photo Incident During THAAD Deployment to Seongju

My guess would be this apology must be something the ROK government recommended to USFK to do in order to get the protesters to stop blockading the road considering it is happening four months after the fact.  I guess we will see if this will help lead to the end of the blockade:

Lieutenant General Thomas Vandal

Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of the 8th U.S. Army, apologized Sunday to the people of Seongju over one of his soldiers using a smartphone to film a protest involving physical clashes, smiling as he did so.

The Seongju residents rejected Vandal’s apology, saying it was four months too late.

First, Vandal and his superior officer, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander Gen. Vincent Brooks, should find a better way of dealing with this incident. The protesters should stop using the apology issue for political purposes.

The incident happened in the early hours of April 26 when a convoy of U.S. military vehicles pushed their way through to deliver equipment for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, a U.S. missile interceptor, to the site in the vicinity. Twelve people were injured. A GI in one vehicle was caught filming the scene with a snigger on his face.

For that, Vandal went down to Seongju and bowed at a press conference after the residents refused to meet him. He said the soldier’s behavior was inappropriate and that he was fresh on his Korean tour and had not finished his orientation program.

The residents questioned Vandal’s sincerity because his apology came four months after the incident, despite repeated demands. The residents claimed they felt ignored by Vandal.

Vandal should have apologized earlier. The USFK is often belated in dealing with accidents in relation to Koreans. One example is the 2002 Yangju Highway Incident where a U.S. military vehicle crushed two Korean girls to death. Then, the USFK dragged its feet, letting the incident grow out of proportion in a major PR fiasco.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but the Korea Times in regards to the 2002 Yangju Highway Incident do not know what they are talking about.  Both the 8th Army commander and the 2nd Infantry Division commander apologized after the accident happened.  2ID even paid an initial $1,000 payment to the families to assist with funeral expenses.  Then 2ID soldiers held a candlelight vigil and fundraising drive in honor of the two girls that were tragically killed.  The fundraiser raised $22,000 for the families.

2ID soldiers attend candle light vigil in memory of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun.

Finally the USFK commander put the soldiers on court martial strictly for PR purposes despite this being a clear accident.  Anyway much more about the 2002 accident can be read at the below link:

GI Flashbacks: The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident

‘The Hunger Games’ Theme Park to Be Built on Jeju Island

Maybe it is just me but it seems like there is something inappropriate about a “Hunger Games” theme park considering the movie involves teenagers hunting each other to the death:

Audiences that raved about novel-based science fiction adventure film franchise “Hunger Games” will be able to experience the thrill at a theme park on Jeju Island.

Landing Jeju Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Landing International Development Limited, said Wednesday it signed with the United States’ Lionsgate, the franchise’s distributor, to build “Lionsgate Movie World” as part of recreational resort complex Jeju Shinhwa World now under construction.

The theme park, built over 122,000 square meters, will be Lionsgate’s first branded outdoor park and the biggest among the studio’s location-based entertainment businesses.

The park will have seven zones, each themed around different blockbuster movies and featuring reproduced streets and towns, rides, 4D experience halls, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and entertainment performances. The thematic movies include the “Hunger Games,” “Twilight Saga” and “Now You See Me” franchises and “Robin Hood,” to be released next March.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.