North Korean Defector Arrested for Making Payments and Planning Return to North Korea

How come I get the feeling there is more to this story?:

A North Korean defector has been arrested and indicted on charges of supporting the North and preparing to defect back to Pyongyang in violation of the National Security Law, prosecutors here said Sunday.

The defector identified only as a 49-year-old woman is accused of sending 130 tons of rice worth about 105 million won (US$97,000) to North Korea’s State Security Ministry, according to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office.

The rice was sent via a broker in China on two occasions last year, the prosecutors said.

Prior to her arrest, the defector again attempted to send additional rice to the North by remitting 80 million won to the broker, they noted.

The former North Korean woman is also suspected of having attempted to return to the North, as she has sold her house in the South and disposed of other personal belongings.

It is rare for a North Korean defector to voluntarily send rice to a North Korean government organ.

The woman came to the South in 2011 and began contacting the North’s government early last year, prosecutors said, adding she told investigators she wanted to return to the North to be reunited with her son.  [Yonhap]

I would not be surprised if this woman was being blackmailed with threats by Kim regime agents against her son if she did not send the payments.

The True Villain of the Winter Olympics is Not Shaun White

Here is a really good take down of the media’s love affair with Kim Yo-jong at this year’s Winter Olympics:

Kim Yo-jong

After a slow start, the media has its designated bad guy at the Winter Olympics. No sooner had Shaun White won the half-pipe than he became the snowboarding version of Harvey Weinstein.

Stories surfaced of sexual harassment allegations made against White in 2016. Reporters went into full #MeToo mode, repeating salacious details from a lawsuit filed by Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer in White’s rock band.

White’s dark background suddenly became the Big Story. I’m not here to defend White. If he did what was alleged, it is indefensible.

I’m just wondering why the selective outrage?

When it comes to dark backgrounds, the gold, silver and bronze medals at Pyeongchang all go to Kim Yo Jong. She is the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, though from media reports you might only know her as “The Ivanka Trump of North Korea.”

Yeah, she’s just like the president’s daughter except for the death camps, the mass enslavement, the public executions, the starvation of her people, the torture and murder of a U.S. student Otto Warmbier and the threats to turn California into a nuclear wasteland.  [Orlando Sentinel]

You can read more at the link, but not only shouldn’t Kim Yo-jong be celebrated, but she and the rest of the North Koreans should not have been even allowed to even attend the Olympics.  Apartheid South Africa  was not allowed to attend the Olympics and they did not have no where near the same level of human rights violations as the Kim regime.  Additionally Apartheid South Africa was not a threat to world peace like the Kim regime.  Yet during the years of Apartheid did anyone see political and media figures championing that regime like we saw during the Winter Olympics with Kim Yo-jong?

North Korean Cheerleaders Kept Under Tight Control During Winter Olympics

The New York Times has an interesting article published about the unsurprisingly tight controls put on the North Korean cheerleading squad that has been one of the media highlights of the Winter Olympics:

They are under tight control, entering and exiting the arenas staging the world’s biggest sporting event with minders who shield them from any interaction with strangers. In this very public bubble, they have been the source of endless, intense curiosity. And in their sheer numbers and with the surreal scenes they have created, they have garnered a level of attention — in competition venues and in the news media — that would make most Olympic athletes envious.

“This is another part of their charm-and-peace offensive,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum. “If you look at the big numbers, that’s a spectacle.”

For all the scrutiny they have garnered, little is known about the cheerleaders.

On Monday, the squad rode for an hour and a half in eight buses — accompanied by six police cars — from a remote resort at the Inje Speedium, a racetrack complex in Inje County, along the foothills of Mount Sorak.

The cheer squad is occupying 108 condominium units there, with two people sharing a room in most cases, according to Kim Tae-eun, a spokesman for the Inje Speedium. There are 21 North Korean reporters staying in rooms there, too. Most units have two televisions with network and satellite channels available, Kim said.

The cheerleaders have been eating their meals in one of the ballrooms of the adjacent hotel, about 100 meters from their accommodations, Kim said. The women arrived for meals in staggered groups of 30 or so, with two older male chaperones accompanying each group. They enter the ballroom in neat, double-file lines, and when they are finished eating they line up again for the two-minute walk back to their rooms.

Such military precision has been one of the visual hallmarks of their visit this month. At the stadium on Monday, the North Koreans carried identical bags with cheering props, including the white-and-blue unification flag. They wore matching red snowsuits — which swished loudly as they walked in packs — and white sneakers that looked vaguely similar to Adidas. They yelled slogans about unity and sang old Korean folk tunes.

The North Koreans do not make a move without at least one other compatriot and a South Korean government monitor. Trips to the restroom before and after the hockey game, for instance, took place in groups. And the older North Korean men chaperoning the squad who left the stadium during the game for cigarette breaks did so in groups of three.  [New York Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but could you imagine the political problem for the Moon administration if one of these cheerleaders was able to defect?

Interpreting What a New Photo of Kim Jong-un Means

Here is how scholar Michael Madden interprets a recent picture of Kim Jong-un with the North Korean delegation that recently returned from the Winter Olympics:

Hiding the notebooks behind their backs and thus clasping their hands in the Supreme Leader’s presence would be interpreted as highly disrespectful.

On the other hand, there could be a degree of spontaneity. Perhaps, meeting done, the photo session was impromptu and Mr Choe and Mr Ri did not have time to put their notebooks down.

We don’t know if the meeting was lubricated with wine toasts or liquors. Choe Hwi is relaxed and bemused, while Ri Son-gwon (being a former military intelligence officer) almost cracks a smile, in contrast to the fairly tense expression he wore throughout the weekend in the South.

Closer to Mr Kim, we find Kim Yong-nam holding hands with the North Korean leader.

There is an act of respect and deference on Kim Jong-un’s part as he is the one holding Kim Yong-nam’s arm.

On Kim Jong-un’s other side, again in an act of respect, Kim Yo-jong clutches her brother’s arm, like other officials that are subordinate to him. The Supreme Leader, when we look closely at his face, is amused at the whole scene. There is a subtle transparency here.  (……)

The recently released photo is intended to show the more relaxed, freewheeling aspects of the North’s top leadership. It softens some of the sharp edges and shows a youthful leader so confident in his role and position in the regime that he is ready to deal with the South.  [BBC]

You can read more at the link.

Does Kim Yo-Jong Have the Smuggest Smile Ever?

Is it just me or does Kim Jong-un sister, Kim Yo-jong have the smuggest smile I have ever seen?  Here is a picture of her arriving at the airport:

N.K. delegation arrives in South

Kim Yong-nam (R), North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, and Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North’s top leader Kim Jong-un, walk into a reception room at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2018. The two are members of the North’s high-level government delegation that came to the South on the same day for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

Here she is at the welcome reception:

Kim Yo-jong lightly smiles during the welcoming reception hosted by South Korean unification minister at Incheon International Airport’s VIP reception room, Friday. / Yonhap

Here she is sitting next to US Vice President Pence at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.  This was probably a pretty awkward moment for everyone involved:

PyeongChang Olympics open

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in the host town of PyeongChang, east of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2018. Seated behind Pence are Kim Yo-jong (R), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-nam, the North’s ceremonial head of state. (Yonhap)

Explaining the “Wedge Theory” for North Korea’s Nuclear Program

A ROK Drop favorite Tom Coyner explains the “wedge theory” in a recent article in the Joong Ang Ilbo:

Tom Coyner

If Washington affairs are unpredictable, the same can be said about the entirety of the Korean Peninsula. As such, there are various ideas and theories of what is the fundamental thinking and strategy of North Korea. The most likely scenario being played out is the so-called wedge theory. Many scholars disagree, but I subscribe to it as the most likely explanation for both obvious and insidious reasons.

North Korea is unintentionally serving China’s geopolitical interests. First and most obviously, it serves as a physical barrier between China’s capital and U.S. forces based in South Korea. More controversially, North Korea’s nuclear program is not being designed to start a nuclear exchange unless absolutely necessary. Rather, its weapons are like other nations’ nukes. The weapons are meant as deterrents. But unlike other nations’ arsenals, the DPRK’s nukes are serving the hegemonic interests of its neighbor, China.  (…..)

Many North Korea watchers believe the real aim of the DPRK nukes is to threaten the U.S. and intimidate Washington out of its ironclad guarantee to come to the aid of Seoul under all circumstances. Which is to say, be able to challenge the current or future American president into deciding whether to stand by Seoul or risk having one of America’s cities be nuked. Of course, such a scenario would lead to the total destruction of North Korea by a vengeful America. But beyond simply living with a nuclear DPRK, all military scenarios are high risk, including ending with the ultimate destruction of North Korea. (……..)

Consequently, the wedge theory is the most plausible. If the U.S. backs away from its 100 percent support of South Korea, North Korea can further its political agenda to ultimately achieve a peace treaty leading to confederation without need for U.S. forces.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but I have long believed that the Kim regime and the Chinese government have a long term goal of driving a wedge between the US and the ROK.  That is what is behind the THAAD retaliation against South Korea by the Chinese government.  They know THAAD is not a threat to them, but it is an issue they can use to drive a wedge between the US and the ROK.  Likewise that is what North Korea is to the Chinese, yet another issue to drive a wedge between the US and the ROK.

South Korea Attempts to Get Exemption on Travel Sanctions for North Korean Officials to Attend Winter Olympics

It is pretty clear that the Kim regime is using the Winter Olympics to set a precedent for other countries to point to in order violate United Nations sanctions:

Both Kim Yo-jung and Choe Hwi are sanctioned by the United States for human rights abuses. Kim because she is “part of the agency in North Korea who’s responsible for propaganda, for censorship, controlling information so that the people of the country do not know about the rest of the world,” says the Treasury Department. Choe is subject to United Nations sanctions, as well, which actually bar him from leaving his country.

Choe is “First Vice Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls all Democratic People’s Republic of Korea media and is used by the government to control the public,” the United Nations says. The South Korean government is reportedly trying to get an exemption to the travel ban for the Olympics from the UN Security Council.  [Weekly Standard]

You can read more at the link.