South Korea Proposing Billions of Dollars In Economic Aid Despite North Korean Provocations

What does North Korea have to do to convince the Korean left that billions of dollars in economic aid the Kim regime can use to bolster their nuclear and missile programs is not a good idea?:

This file photo taken on Aug. 23, 2017, shows President Moon Jae-in presiding over a foreign and unification policy discussion meeting in Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s unification ministry said Friday it plans to seek trilateral economic cooperation involving the two Koreas and Russia after taking into account international sanctions and public sentiment.

President Moon Jae-in has unveiled the so-called new Northern Policy designed to expand economic cooperation with northern states including North Korea.

The Ministry of Unification said that the initiative involving the two Koreas and Russia will help implement Moon’s another vision to build a new economic belt with North Korea.  (…..)

The JoongAng Ilbo reported that the government plans to boost the fund by about US$2 billion to fund a potential trilateral project among Seoul, Pyongyang and Moscow to establish the complex in areas spanning the North Korean port city of Rajin and Russia’s Khasan.

Lee said that the report is not true, saying that the state inter-Korean cooperation fund for next year amounts to just 1.046 trillion won.

The idea of building a factory park in the Rajin-Khasan area was first floated under the liberal government of former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2003-2008. But it was known to be put on hold mainly due to North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I am sure it would interesting to be a fly on the wall and listen to President Trump reaction after he reads this.

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.

Increasing Number of Lawmakers Want South Korea to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Probably the most interesting thing to see if South Korea develops nuclear weapons is not North Korea’s reaction, but China’s:

No longer sure they can rely on the United States, an increasing number of South Korean lawmakers say their country should develop its own nuclear arsenal to deter an attack by Kim Jong Un, their belligerent neighbor to the north.

North Korea’s rapid missile advances, including successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July and again on Friday, are reviving calls for South Korea to assert its “nuclear sovereignty.” South Koreans are wary of President Donald Trump’s isolationist rhetoric and his calls for Asian allies to shoulder more of the defense burdens borne by the U.S. military.

“Trump’s ‘America-first’ policy has triggered this kind of public sentiment,” said Moon Chung In, a top national security adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae In. Trump also has wavered on his commitment to defending South Korea, he said, including suggesting during the campaign that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear arsenals.

While President Moon, a liberal who took office in May, does not support calls for South Korea to join the nuclear club, polls show that a majority of South Koreans surveyed favor the idea. Support bumps higher whenever North Korea conducts a nuclear or missile test and members of South Korea’s two major conservative parties are pressing Moon to at least explore the nuclear option of developing nuclear weapons.  [Kansas City Star]

You can read more at the link, but members of the ROK parliament has long discussed developing nuclear weapons and it has been a popular idea with the ROK public.  However, until the ROK President decides to pursue them this is just all noise for now.

President Moon Continues to Advocate for North Korea to Join Pyeongchang Olympics

I will say it once again, if the South Africans were banned from the Olympics because of their Apartheid policies than why is North Korea with its far worse human rights violations being championed by President Moon to be part of the Pyeongchang Olympics?:

President Moon Jae-in, center, and former Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na, at Moon’s left, both honorary ambassadors for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, pose together to wish for the country’s successful hosting of the sporting event in a ceremony on Monday in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) east of Seoul. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in renewed his invitation on Monday for North Korea to attend the Winter Olympic Games in the South next year, continuing his strategy of using sports diplomacy to thaw inter-Korean relations.

“I urge the North once again to make a decision,” Moon said. “We won’t have hasty optimism, but there is no need for us to take a pessimistic view either. We will leave the door open and wait until the last moment.”

Moon made the remarks during an event to promote the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Gangwon. The games, scheduled for Feb. 9 to 25, 2018, will start 200 days from Monday. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Snubs Seoul’s Offer of Proposed Military Talks

I guess the Kim regime is too busy building ICBMs and nuclear weapons and don’t have time to talk to the Moon administration:

North Korea ignored South Korea’s proposal to hold military talks Friday, complicating President Moon Jae-in’s plan to improve relations starting with some kind of dialogue.

On Monday the South Korean military proposed talks on Friday to ease tensions along the demilitarized zone (DMZ), one of the most heavily fortified zones in the world. Seoul also proposed a meeting to discuss holding reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on Aug. 1. Pyongyang has said nothing about either proposal.

“The North has yet to state its position [on our proposal for today]. As such, it has become effectively impossible to hold talks today,” said Moon Sang-gyun, the Defense Ministry spokesman, during a regular press briefing on Friday. The defense ministry continued that “restoring a communication channel in the military field” and “easing military tensions” on both sides of the border were tasks that required “a sense of urgency.”   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

White House Says Conditions Not Met for Talks with North Korea

It looks like the US government will not be participating in any talks with North Korea any time soon:

The White House expressed veiled opposition to South Korea’s proposal for rare inter-Korean talks Monday, saying current conditions are “far away” from those needed to reopen dialogue with the recalcitrant state.

Seoul proposed military talks for this coming Friday and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to discuss ways to ease tensions along their shared border and resume reunions of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The offer came amid renewed tensions over the North’s first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.

“Well, obviously those comments came out of the Republic of Korea and I would refer you back to them,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a briefing, when asked if there are certain conditions U.S. President Donald Trump would like to see met before the talks take place. “That being said, I think the president has made clear in the past with respect that any type of conditions that would have to be met are clearly far away from where we are now.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Wants 12 Defectors Repatriated Before Considering Military Talks

It would be political suicide if the Moon administration forced the 12 North Koreans who defected from a restaurant in China to be repatriated:

South Korea may propose inter-Korean military talks as early as this week to follow up on President Moon Jae-in’s offer to stop all acts of hostility on the border, a government official said Sunday.

The unification, military and other relevant ministries are discussing the plan one day after Pyongyang first reacted to Moon’s suggestion, according to the official who asked not to be named de to sensitivity of the issue.

During his speech in Berlin on July 6, Moon laid out his vision for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula, including a proposal to mutually halt acts of hostility along their tense border as of the July 27 anniversary of the armistice treaty that ended the three-year Korean War in 1953.

He also offered to hold reunions of families torn apart by the war on Oct. 4, Korea’s lunar fall harvest holiday and the 10th anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party, carried a commentary by a private writer, on Saturday saying it seemed “fortunate” as Moon included his government’s committment to the landmark joint declarations signed at the inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007. The two declarations aim to foster cross-border cooperation, exchanges and reconciliation.

The newspaper emphasized that the first step to improve relations should be the resolution of the fundamental issue of military confrontation.  (………..)

But experts said the resumption of the event may take a bumpy road since the communist state continued in the commentary to demand South Korea repatriate 12 female North Koreans who worked at a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China and defected to Seoul en masse last year.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Moon Calls for Signing A Peace Treaty to End the Korean War

I foresee this being the opening gesture by the Moon administration towards some kind of freeze deal with North Korea that has a growing chorus from experts and the media:

President Moon Jae-in speaks about peace on the Korean Peninsula, inter-Korean relations and unification at the old city hall of Berlin, Germany, Thursday. The non-profit Korber Foundation invited the President to the event. / Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in said Thursday he will seek to pursue a peace treaty with North Korea, taking a step forward for inter-Korean reconciliation despite Pyongyang’s test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) two days earlier.

Moon’s pledge comes after North Korea and China have repeatedly called for the signing of a peace treaty with the United States to formally end the Korean War and settle the security crisis on the peninsula.

The President appeared to be seeking U.S. support in his push for a peace treaty as the U.S., on behalf of the United Nations, signed the 1953 armistice agreement with North Korea and China. South Korea was not among the signatories.

“We should make a peace treaty joined by all relevant parties at the end of the Korean War to settle a lasting peace on the peninsula,” Moon said during his Korean-language invitational speech at the Korber Foundation, a nonprofit think tank in Berlin. “I will take a comprehensive approach to North Koream nuclear issues to pursue the peace treaty along with complete denuclearization (in the region.)”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but remember North Korea does not want peace, it wants peace treaty negotiations.  There is a big difference.

North Korea Demands that South Korea Hand Over Former President Park for Execution

Here is the latest outrageous demand from North Korea:

This graphic shows, from left, former NIS chief Lee Byung-ho, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Yonhap)

North Korea on Wednesday warned of capital punishment against a former South Korean president and former spy chief for their alleged plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The angry statement came after a Japanese media report that former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had instructed former National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Lee Byung-ho to oust Kim by any means — including assassination.

The latest claim came amid lingering tensions on the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Former President Park Geun-hye and former spy chief Lee Byung-ho as well as NIS agents can never make any appeal even though they meet miserable dog’s death any time, at any place and by whatever methods from this moment,” the North Korea Ministry of State Security said in an English-language statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement demanded South Korea immediately hand over Park and Lee to North Korea, claiming they committed what it claims is hideous state-sponsored terrorism against the North’s supreme leadership.

North Korea also warned it will impose summary punishment without advance notice on those who organized, took part in or pursued the plot in case the U.S. and South Korea again try to stage a terrorist attack against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope President Park has good security around her because of how unpopular she is in South Korea you never know if the Kim regime may think they could get away with an attack on her.