Donald Trump's fascination with North Korea is understandable, but it is also emotional. My new piece for NK News: https://t.co/pNg4b5kePq
— Andrei Lankov (@andreilankov) May 24, 2017
Remember this the next time you buy a gold product in South Korea, it may have been sitting in someone’s rectum:
Dozens of Korean citizens were caught smuggling 2,348 kilograms of gold hidden in their “private parts,” the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said on Tuesday. It was the nation’s biggest smuggling bust.
Fifty-one people, including several housewives, were apprehended at Incheon International Airport early last month. The smuggling had been happening for about two years.
Male smugglers were hiding five or six gold bars (3cm x 3cm), each weighting 200 grams, in their rectums while the women hid the gold in their rectums or vaginas.
The value of the gold was about 113.5 billion won ($100 million) ― the highest value of gold confiscated in a single smuggling case.
The smuggling happened from March 2015 and the gold came from Tokyo and China’s Yantai.
Korea’s gold price is usually higher than many countries because of a 15 percent additional tax imposed on gold products, according to the KCS. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link.
This seems like a lot to ask of her daughter that grew up in the United States and has been a US citizen for over a decade:
Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha said Friday she expects her first daughter will give up her U.S. citizenship and switch to Korean soon.
“There will be a family meeting to discuss this matter,” Kang told reporters. “I think my daughter will decide to give up American nationality. What’s important is how she feels about it.”
Kang’s daughter, who was born and grew up in the U.S., chose to become American in 2006 when she was 22.
Her daughter’s nationality has emerged as a controversial point ahead of her confirmation hearing. Cheong Wa Dae earlier said it heard from Kang before she was nominated as the country’s first female foreign minister that her daughter may discard her U.S. nationality. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link.
It makes me wonder how many other Korean schools over the years have been conducting illegal wage skimming of foreign English teachers as well?:
Kyonggi Elementary School has been accused of skimming the wages of eight foreign teachers over several years with a contract clause that turned out to be illegal.
The wages that were taken from the native English teachers amounted to 45 million won ($40,240), with some losing more than 10 million won, according to labor attorney Jung Bong-soo, who represents the victims. They filed a collective complaint with the Seoul Regional Ministry of Employment and Labor in March, demanding reimbursement of their losses and replacing current contracts with “fair” ones.
The skimmed income ― 10 percent of their hourly wage ― was transferred to an independent Korean recruiter, who searched for and hired native English teachers on behalf of the private school in Seodaemun, northwestern Seoul.
The recruiter, surnamed Joo, is known to have introduced himself as a school adviser and is said to have drafted the contracts, including the controversial clause. The victims said they had signed their contracts not knowing the clause enforcing the monthly deduction was illegal. Under Korean employment law, giving recruiters a portion of a person’s first salary as an “introduction fee” is legal, but recruiters are not allowed to make regular deductions. [Korea Times]
You can read more at at the link.
I have been a supporter of women in the infantry with the caveat they should be held to the same standard as male troops. However, this article claims through anonymous sources they were not:
America’s first female Army Infantrymen are here, but not all of them made it through.
In fact, only eighteen of the thirty-two female infantry recruits made it through the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort Benning, Georgia.
While the attrition rate doesn’t seem all that alarming, it strikes a more concerning tone when factoring in that the females needed only to meet the much-lower female standards for physical fitness that separate them from their previously all-male counterparts.
That said, there were some women who certainly gave their male colleagues a run for their money.
“There was even one female that did better than 90 percent of the males on the PT test,” said one 22-year-old male trainee, who reportedly had high PT scores. “Speaking as the person who had the second-highest PT score- she had me looking over my soldier the whole cycle. It was something that definitely made me better, and maybe kept me up nights a few times. But certainly by the end of the cycle, I was doing more push-ups, because I had her chasing me.”
However, some sources who graduated from within the unit -whom requested concealed identities to protect their new careers- claimed a clear double-standard between males and females in their training cycle, including lighter rucksacks and lower expectations.
“No way,” one soldier told Popular Military when asked if women were held to the same standards. “Lighter rucks, things like that.” [Popular Military]
You can read more at the link, but the Army has said the same standards were used so who knows what the truth is.
It is amazing to me that people continue to think that Pyongyang will negotiate away their nuclear weapons without the viable threat of military action against them. They might as well as advocate for North Korea having nuclear weapons because that is what over two decades of negotiations has led to:
A group of 64 U.S. Democratic lawmakers warned President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive strike on North Korea and encouraged “direct” engagement with the isolationist regime.
“Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea,” stated the letter addressed to Trump. It went onto warn that an “inconsistent or unpredictable policy runs the risk of unimaginable conflict” with such a volatile country as North Korea.
The letter was signed by a group of congressmen in the House of Representatives led by Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Barbara Lee of California and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.
The lawmakers called for more information about what steps the administration is taking “to advance the prospects for direct negotiations that could lower the potential for catastrophic war and ultimately lead to the denuclearization of the peninsula.”
They continued, “In the event that your plans do include an ill-advised military component, we stand ready to exercise our constitutional duty to approve, or reject, any such military action.”
This comes amid concerns in Congress over the Trump administration’s erratic policy toward the North, as the U.S. president has declared “all option are on the table,” leaving a door open to military action including a pre-emptive strike. Trump has also said that he is open to talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the right conditions.
The congressmen underscored that while the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide the president the authority to act in cases of emergencies, “both require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad.”
The letter stressed the past three U.S. administrations under presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton ruled out the possibility of military action against Pyongyang and “ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of counter-reaction from Pyongyang.”
Such retaliation from the North, it pointed out, could endanger as many as a third of the South Korean population, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in the region as well as over 100,000 U.S. citizens living in Korea.
The congressmen encouraged Trump to adhere to a diplomatic approach, expressing support for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that his preferred method for resolution is “direct talks with North Korea,” persuading the North that they do not need nuclear weapons to secure the existence of the regime. They also backed Tillerson’s remarks reassuring Pyongyang that Washington did not seek a regime change in the North or its collapse.
“President Trump’s irresponsible statements on North Korea endanger our troops, our regional allies such as South Korea and Japan, and global security more broadly,” said Conyers, dean of the House of Representatives and one of two remaining Korean War veterans serving in the U.S. Congress, in a press release. “As someone who has watched this conflict evolve since I was sent to Korea as a young Army lieutenant, it is a reckless, inexperienced move to threaten military action that could end in devastation instead of pursuing vigorous diplomacy.” [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link.
It seems the judge found middle ground here because the officer was convicted of the crime of sodomy, but he did not sentence him to jail since it was suspended for one year. So basically the officer has to stay out of trouble for one year to avoid going to jail. What I am wondering and the article does not clarify was if he was having a relationship with one of his subordinates? Whether you are gay or straight this is something that should not be going on in the military:
South Korea’s military court sentenced an Army captain to six months in prison, suspended for a year, Wednesday on charges of having sex with a fellow male soldier, a civic group said.
The captain, whose identity was withheld, was convicted for violating the Military Criminal Act, according to the Center for Military Human Rights Korea. Under the law, a soldier who commits “sodomy” or “other disgraceful conduct” can face up to two years in prison.
“It is a bizarre clause that only has a perpetrator, without a victim,” the group said in a press release, adding the captain had sexual intercourse at a private place under consent.
The defendant, however, will not appeal the ruling, according to an official at the group.
“The captain was fulfilling his military duty and was originally scheduled to be discharged in April,” the official said. “If he appeals the ruling he will have to stay in the military without knowing when the legal battle will be finished.”
The captain collapsed after the ruling was delivered and was transferred to a nearby hospital but is known to have left the hospital in stable condition, according to the official. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link.