President Moon Wants North Korea to Answer the Phone

I am sure if the South Koreans pay the North Koreans enough in “aid” someone will pick up the phone:

South Korea urged the North to pick up the phone, saying it’s time for the rivals to reopen communication channels that have been suspended for more than a year amid rising tensions.

The top U.S. commander in the Pacific, meanwhile, warned that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is “a recipe for disaster,” three days after the communist state test-fired what some said was its most successful missile.

The hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula has been dormant since North Korea severed the channels after Seoul closed a joint industrial complex in the border city of Kaesong.

A unification ministry spokesman in Seoul said Wednesday that the lines haven’t technically been cut, but North Korean officials have not responded to near daily calls from their counterparts in the South.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

President Moon Says He Is Willing to Travel to North Korea

I hope some journalist at some point asks President Moon why doesn’t Kim Jong-un honor the promise his father Kim Jong-il made and instead travel to South Korea?  Why does the ROK President always have to be the one traveling to North Korea and serve as a Pyongyang propaganda puppet?:

President Moon Jae-in took the oath of office Wednesday, and offered to visit Pyongyang if conditions were met to help resolve the deadlock over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In a message to the people delivered at the National Assembly, he said he would also go to Washington as soon as possible if necessary.

To address security problems on the Korean Peninsula, Moon said after taking the oath, “I’ll fly to Washington, Beijing and Tokyo soon if necessary. And I’ll go to Pyongyang if conditions are met. I’ll do everything I can for peace on the peninsula.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Defense Minister Orders Troops to Immediately Retaliate Against Any North Korean Provocation

I wonder if this will still be the direction given to the ROK military after the Korean left likely wins the Presidency in May:

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo speaks during a visit to an Army command post in this file photo provided by his ministry. (Yonhap)

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Wednesday instructed troops not to hesitate to take retaliatory actions in the event of a North Korea attack.

Inspecting a coastline guard post of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Division, Han stressed the need for “perfect” combat posture both on the front lines and in the rear.

“There shouldn’t be any disorder even by an inch in the military,” he said. “Any provocation from the North should not be tolerated.”

The minister urged the military to be fully ready for the completion of operations “on-the-spot” at a “decisive” time, citing the grim security conditions on the peninsula.  [Yonhap]

Long time Korea watchers may remember that the last time the Korean left held the presidency, ROK servicemembers who defended the nation against North Korean aggression were treated like criminals.  Hopefully these same policies are not enacted when the Korean left likely takes over this time.

Kaesong Industrial Park Business Owners Want More Compensation from ROK Government

I find it hard to feel sorry for this businesses that knew what they were getting themselves into in order to take advantage of near slave labor to make profits.  Their gamble ultimately did not pay off so why should the South Korean taxpayer be on the hook to completely bail them out of their losses?:

Chung Ki-seop (L), a joint head of an emergency committee for 124 South Korean firms that once operated in Kaesong, speaks in a special meeting with Rep. Woo Sang-ho (2nd from L), floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, held in Seoul on Jan. 12, 2017. (Yonhap)

It will have been a year since they were forced to leave their workplace in North Korea’s border town of Kaesong this week, but nearly half of the firms that were once celebrated as symbols of reconciliation with the communist North are now struggling just to stay alive.

The 124 South Korean firms were told by their own government to leave the joint industrial complex a year ago Friday.

The unexpected shutdown of the joint complex followed a series of military provocations from the North that included a nuclear test in January 2016.  (……..)

He said the total damage suffered by all 124 firms came to at least 1.5 trillion won (US$1.31 billion).

The amount includes some 840 billion won in fixed and floating assets left behind in Kaesong, such as equipment and raw materials, as well as 150 billion won the firms had to pay in penalties or damage to their contractors and buyers for breached contracts.

Their combined losses stemming from reduced sales also came to 314.7 billion won in 2016 alone, the committee said.

The government, however, has compensated them 483.8 billion won, only 32 percent of the damage suffered by the firms, it added.

“The government has only provided some 359 billion won in compensation for investment assets in Kaesong and 125 billion won for floating assets, but refuses to provide any support for loss of business, the penalties the firms had to pay or any other damage stemming from the shutdown,” an official from the emergency committee said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Gives Up On Propaganda Broadcasts Into South Korea

It appears South Korea’s efforts to jam North Korea’s AM radio propaganda broadcasts has been successful:

Echo of Unification (통일의메아리방송), a North Korean radio station that broadcasts propaganda towards South Korea, dropped all mediumwave (AM band) broadcasting on December 21.

The move seemingly confirms the futility of the broadcasts, which consumed large amounts of electricity but were blocked by powerful South Korean government jamming transmitters, but the station isn’t giving up. In their place, it has brought on air additional shortwave and FM transmitters.

It’s all part of a game that’s been going on for decades. North and South Korea both broadcast propaganda at each other while trying to stop their own citizens from hearing the other’s broadcast. Similar battles used to be played out across borders around the world but have largely moved to the internet and social media. The lack of internet in North Korea and South Korean censorship mean radio still plays a part on the Korean peninsula.  [North Korea Tech]

You can read more at the link.

South Korea Uses Loudspeakers to Try and Communicate Return of Fishermen to North Korea

It seems the ROK should just bring the fishermen to Panmunjom and let them cross over the border there even if the North Koreans don’t communicate back to them:

Eight North Korean fishermen spent weeks lost at sea. Now they’re adrift in a diplomatic limbo.

The fishermen all said they wanted to go home after being rescued by South Korean maritime police earlier this week, but Seoul has been unable to reach the other side to arrange their return, officials said.

The case offers an unusual glimpse into the communication methods used between the two enemies, which are divided by the world’s most heavily fortified border and remain technically at war.

When the North Koreans didn’t pick up the phone, the South resorted to a form of shouting: broadcasting the request across the Demilitarized Zone via loudspeakers.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Government Calls North Korean Invasion Drill A “Childish Act”

The South Korean government has now responded to North Korea’s invasion drill:

South Korean officials were quick to condemn the movements.
“(We) view the drill from yesterday as a childish act to display that their system is undiminished, in response to our internal situation,” South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said.
“Kim Jong Un has been continuously visiting its military units since November and it has been escalating tension. We strongly condemn it.”  [CNN]
You can read the rest at the link.