US Government to Issue Travel Ban Against North Korea

The only thing surprising about this is that it took the US government so many years to finally implement this travel ban:

The Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea, U.S. officials said Friday, following the death of university student Otto Warmbier who died in June after falling into a coma in a North Korean prison.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to impose “geographical travel restriction” for North Korea, the officials said, which would make it illegal to use U.S. passports to enter the country. They said the restriction would be published in the Federal Register next week and will take effect 30 days after that.

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision before it is announced and spoke on condition of anonymity. Two tour operators that organize group trips to North Korea said they had already been informed of the decision.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link.

Defense Officials Say North Korea May Be Preparing for SLBM Test

It looks like North Korea’s next provocation may be another submarine launched ballistic missile test:

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 25, 2016 shows a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched at an undisclosed location. KNS/AFP/Getty

North Korea may be preparing for another missile launch aimed at the United States.

Kim Jong Un’s regime conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—with some experts speculating that the missile could reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.

And now the totalitarian regime appears to be preparing for submarine-based missile launches in the future.

Two U.S. defense officials told CNN on Thursday that a North Korean submarine was engaged in “unusual deployment activity” over the past 48 hours. The 65-meter-long submarine has sailed 62 miles out into international waters in the Sea of Japan/ East Sea, farther than the vessel has ever gone before.

U.S. officials are following the submarine via reconnaissance and the abnormal activity caused American and South Korean forces to slightly raise their alert level, according to one of the officials. [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link.

Journalist Describes What It Was Like Teaching English In North Korea

Here is an interesting interview with a journalist who worked for six months as an English teacher in North Korea:

In 2011, American journalist Suki Kim secured a job teaching English at an all-male university in North Korea. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology had just 270 students, all of whom were the sons of North Korean elites.

Kim spent six months at the college, recording notes for what would become her 2014 book, Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite.

Last week, after the news that North Korea had conducted yet another missile test, I reached out to Kim by phone. Her perspective is valuable and rare; few Americans have spent much time on the ground there. I wanted to know what daily life was like for average citizens of North Korea, the world’s most reclusive country.

“The level of fear is unimaginable,” she told me. “It’s possible to be both happy and terrified all at once, and I think that’s the case for many North Koreans.”  []

Here is a small snippet from the interview:

Sean Illing

If the Kim Jong Un regime were to collapse tomorrow, and North Koreans were suddenly liberated, how do you think they would react?

Suki Kim

I feel like they would probably be relieved about the system. But I also think they’d find something else to believe in absolutely, some kind of faith that requires total fidelity. There’s a deeper layer of psychological trauma here that is difficult to grasp. I think they’re conditioned to follow whoever is in power, whoever is appointed the leader.

We’ve now had three generations of tyrannical rule and abuse, and people who have lived under this their entire life have never thought for themselves. How do you fully account for that kind of damage? My suspicion is that they’d blindly follow whoever would ascend to power. I hate to say it, but the soil is ripe for future dictatorships.

You can read the whole interview at the link.

North Korea Once Offered to Sell Nancy Pelosi Ballistic Missiles

I am sure the Kim regime would be willing to sell their ballistic missiles to just about anyone with the cash to buy them even Nancy Pelosi:

The U.S. House minority leader expressed concerns Thursday about the possibility of North Korea transferring missiles and related technology beyond its borders, saying Pyongyang’s missile test-firings could be a “roadshow” aimed at selling the weapons.

“I’m concerned about North Korea for many reasons. But one of them, in addition to most of what you have heard, is that North Korea could be a proliferator,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters during a news conference.

“And all of these demonstrations of strength are really a roadshow for them to sell to a rogue nation or lone wolf, or whoever, some very dangerous technology,” she said.

Concerns about North Korean missile threats have spiked in the U.S. after the communist nation successfully carried out its first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that is now capable of striking Alaska and could be further developed to reach the U.S. mainland.

Pelosi said her concerns about the North’s proliferation deepened after a trip to the North many years ago.

“When we went to Pyongyang, and we talked about missiles, we talked about MIAs and POWs, we talked about home, we talked about a number of subjects. But about the missiles, because the development of missiles was a national security issue of concern,” Pelosi said.

“They said, ‘Look, we just make these to sell. You want to buy them? We’ll sell them to you,'” she said.  [Yonhap]

North Korean Media Outlet Calls on President Moon to End US-ROK Military Drills

This is another example of the momentum building towards a freeze deal with North Korea:

A pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said Tuesday that President Moon Jae-in should not expect a positive response from Pyongyang to his latest reconciliatory proposal, as Seoul is still not giving up its submission to the United States.

The Chosun Sinbo also called on South Korea to end its joint annual military exercises with the U.S. if it hopes to prove its willingness to improve ties.

Moon unveiled a broad vision for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula during his speech in Berlin last Thursday, two days after the North test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“If the proposal is based on South Korea’s subversion to the U.S. and hostility toward the North, Seoul cannot expect Pyongyang’s positive response,” the newspaper said.

The paper serves as an unofficial mouthpiece for Pyongyang. North Korea’s state media has yet to unveil its official response to Moon’s proposal.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but calls from the North Korean media to end US-ROK military drills will be ceased upon by the freeze deal advocates as a sign that the Kim regime is acceptable to such a deal.  The Chinese and Russians have also come out in support of suspending US-ROK military drills in return for North Korea suspending their missile and nuclear programs.

A Recommendation on How to Live with a Nuclear North Korea

John Wolfsthal a nuclear policy expert writes in Foreign Policy about how the United States needs to accept North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and learn to live it like we have China and other countries:

At the same time, we have to accept that the game has changed. The dangers of a military conflict between the United States and North Korea have global implications. This means the United States and North Korea must begin immediate talks to avoid such conflicts, and to communicate directly to North Korea’s leaders exactly what actions would require a direct U.S. military response. We have had to do this as other states gained nuclear capabilities, because failure to do so left too much to chance. This is no concession, but self-preservation.

This list is not exhaustive, but the president, his cabinet and advisors, and our leaders in Congress need to begin the long-overdue conversation about what North Korean actions we seek to prevent. Unlike Trump’s tweets, our conclusions need to be specific and we need to back them up, lest confidence in U.S. commitments — to deter our enemies and protect our allies — gets even weaker. [Foreign Policy]

You can read the rest at the link, but his recommendations include communicating to the Kim regime that proliferation will lead to a “direct response” whatever that means.  North Korea has already tried to proliferate nuclear technology to Syria and nothing happened to them then.  So would the US be willing to attack North Korea in future if it tries to proliferate again?  I am skeptical.  He also recommends that the US respond to proliferating missile technology.  They have already done this with little consequence as well.  He also thinks that North Korea needs to be engaged at the sub strategic level when they commit bad acts such as cyber attacks.

South Korean Intelligence Says North Korea Has Not Mastered ICBM Reentry Technology

As we have seen with North Korea’s missile program it is only a matter of time before they develop the reentry technology:

North Korea has yet to fully secure the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as it remains unknown whether the country’s recently fired ballistic missile successfully re-entered the atmosphere, lawmakers said Tuesday quoting the spy agency.

On July 4, North Korea fired a ballistic missile called Hwasong-14 which reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 km for 39 minutes. The North touted it as the country’s first successful ICBM launch.

But South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) concluded that the latest missile still lacked re-entry technology although it flew as far as an ICBM does, Rep. Yi Wan-young of the Liberty Korea Party and Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party said following the spy agency’s parliamentary report on the July 4 launch.

“Although North Korea claimed that (the missile’s) heat resistance was verified, whether it re-entered (the atmosphere safely) was not confirmed and the country has no relevant test facility, making it look like it has not secured the technology,” the NIS was quoted as reporting to the parliamentary intelligence committee.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.