ROK Foreign Minister Nominee Asks Daughter To Give Up US Citizenship

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:

Kang Kyung-wha

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.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in Was Former Commando Who Was Part of Operation Paul Bunyan

New ROK President Moon Jae-in was once a ROK Special Forces commando who served during the 1976 Operation Paul Bunyan.  Moon’s involvement with this operation reminded me of this story of the crazy ROK commandos who accompanied the US soldiers who chopped down the tree:

Moon was a commando in the Korean Army in 1975, a year after a court gave him 10 months’ probation for leading an anti-government demonstration in 1972. [Korea Times]

The dumptruck with the engineers pulls up next to the tree, so they can stand on it instead of having to use a ladder. The ROK’s with us, who are “supposed to” be limited as we are, with just .45’s and axe handles, begin throwing sandbags out of their deuces, Under the sandbags they have M-16’s, M-60’s, and a few M-79’s.

Several f them head over to Exum’s deuce and stand around watching the KPA guards across the bridge. I’m on the detachment that’s facing north, and I can see the 4 guards over there frantically running about and trying to get a hold of a superior on the phone. I look over at KP#3, a North Korean checkpoint just outside of the JSA and situated up on a hill, and I can see the guards up there run outside with a machinegun and set it up covering us. About two minutes later, a bunch of the KPA guard trucks and several buses pull up across the bridge from us. It seems like they sit there forever, several minutes at least. A few of the ROK marines with us unbutton their shirts, showing that they have claymore mines strapped to their chests and they have the clacker (firing mechanism) in their hands. They start yelling and waving at the KPA to come on over. One of the ROK’s is laying on his side, on the ground, supporting his head his his hand, looking all casual and care free. Once in a while he lifts his head a bit and hits the rear tire of Exum’s deuce with the back of his fist, shaking the entire truck bed. Anybody who’s ever been on a deuce knows that’s not easy.

Unfortunately President Moon was not one of the crazy commandos with claymores strapped to their chest.  He was in a back up role to respond to assist the crazy commandos if trouble was to occur.  Regardless it must have been interesting for Moon to be part of such a major moment in South Korea’s modern history.

TIME Magazine Interviews ROK President Moon Jae-in

TIME Magazine this week has a long profile and interview with the new ROK President Moon Jae-in that is worth reading for those unfamiliar with his background.  Here is an excerpt about his views on North Korea:

Moon has seen these kinds of negotiations in action before and believes they can work again. As chief of staff to Roh, he helped engineer the South Korean President’s historic summit with Kim’s father Kim Jong Il in 2007, and the six-party denuclearization talks between North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, which ran from 2003 to 2009. A satellite launch by Pyongyang ended the talks, and critics say the $4.5 billion of aid funneled to the regime during the “sunshine policy” of engagement actually accelerated the weapons program. Moon, however, points to the Sept. 19, 2005, Joint Declaration — encompassing full dismantlement of North Korean nuclear weapons, a peace treaty and even normalized relations with the U.S. — as evidence the sunshine policy was better than the following decade of isolation and censure. “The North even blew up the cooling tower of its nuclear reactor,” he says. “The same step-by-step approach is still workable.”

Given Trump’s stated disdain for the nuclear deal the U.S. helped fashion with Iran, it’s hard to imagine he would be eager to pursue a similar agreement with the Kim regime, which has a track record of noncompliance. But Moon says he and Trump already agree that the Obama Administration’s approach of “strategic patience” with North Korea was a failure. Surely the U.S. President could be persuaded to take a different tack, he says. “I recall him once saying that he can talk with Kim Jong Un over a hamburger.” Trump, he adds, is above all a pragmatist. “In that sense, I believe we will be able to share more ideas, talk better and reach agreements without difficulty.” Indeed, on May 1, Trump told Bloomberg that he “would be honored” to meet Kim.  [TIME]

You can read more at the link, but the destruction of the cooling tower was only in response to the Bush administration freezing millions of dollars of North Korean money in a Macau bank.  Kim Jong-il would have never agreed to the deal without the pressure from the asset freezing.  They will never agree to a deal today without similar pressure which it appears the Trump administration is trying to do.

At the time I called the 2007 deal a charade because there were no measures in place to ensure verifiable denuclearization and history has proven me right.  I guess we will see in the coming months if history repeats itself and the Kim regime signs another deal to receive free aid without verifiably dismantling their nuclear weapons.

President Moon Vows to Reform South Korean Business Conglomerates

Good luck with this because chaebol reform has been something that Korean politicians have tried in the past and it never seems to create much change in how they are run:

Moon Jae-in, who is sure to be South Korea’s next president, is expected to focus on the country’s four biggest conglomerates as he pushes for a broad corporate reform drive, his economic aides said Wednesday.

The new Moon government has two major goals in reforming the business giants: one is to keep growth and wealth from being concentrated in large family-run companies known as chaebol, and the other is to improve their governance structure for transparency and fair competition, Moon’s chaebol policy adviser Kim Sang-jo told Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea’s four largest chaebol groups — Samsung Group, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group and LG Group — currently account for half the assets held by the country’s top 30 companies.

In his campaign pledges, Moon vowed to “gradually but fully” achieve his reform goals during his five-year term in office that began Wednesday, a day after the people voted him in.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

As Expected Moon Jae-in to be Elected as the Next President of South Korea

Koreans will be waking up with Moon Jae-in as their new President:

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, speaks to his supporters and party officials at the National Assembly after an exit poll showed him set to win South Korea’s presidential election held May 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

Moon was estimated to have garnered 41.4 percent of all votes, according to the exit poll conducted by three major local broadcasters — MBC, KBS and SBS.

The front-runner was followed by Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party with 23.3 percent.

The outcome of the exit poll was announced as the one-day voting came to an end at 8 p.m.

Apparently seeing no possibility of the actual outcome of the vote being any different from the exit poll, Moon said his election, if confirmed, would mark the people’s and the party’s victory.  [Yonhap]

What surprised me about this election was how far the software mogul and populist candidate Ahn Cheol-soo dropped by getting 21% of the vote when at one point in the campaign it appeared he was challenging Moon Jae-in’s polling numbers.  Something else surprising is how well the conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo did considering the drag that the scandal plagued former President Park Geun-hye created for conservative candidates.

I think what this means that instead of conservative voters rallying around Ahn Cheol-soo to deny Moon an election victory, they instead voted for Hong.  Hong and Ahn’s numbers together would have been enough to defeat Moon.

Here is what Moon Jae-in had to say about his election victory:

Seemingly moved by the overwhelming support, he threw his hands up to the sky and gave his symbolic thumbs-up gesture, prompting thunderous applause from party members and supporters there.

“This crushing victory was expected and is a victory of longing,” Moon told jubilant party members. “‘I will achieve reform and national unity, the two missions that our people long for.”

He went on: “The results will come in hours, but I truly believe that today is the day that opens the gateway to a new Korea. I will embody the public’s passion. Your sweat and tears will never be forgotten within me.”  [Korea Times]

I am not sure what the new Korea is going to look like, but everyone will find out over the course of the next five years of Moon Jae-in’s presidency.

Moon Jae-in Featured on the Cover of TIME Magazine

It looks like TIME magazine has declared Moon Jae-in the winner of the upcoming ROK Presidential election already:

Appearing on the cover of the U.S. magazine TIME is sometimes more than just being a cover model — especially before important political events.

The news magazine used to wrap its front cover with a staged portrait of the most likely new leader of a country before his/her formal election (or victory by any means). And in recent memory, there was no case denying the accuracy of its model-winner matchup.

Four years ago, TIME bet on Park Geun-hye, not knowing that she — described as the Strongman’s Daughter in its cover story — would defeat Moon by a very narrow margin.

On Thursday, Moon appeared on the cover of TIME’s Asian edition, which indicates that the magazine firmly believes he will be South Korea’s next leader, replacing the ousted Park Geun-hye, when the presidential election is held on May 9.

The photo shows Moon glaring forward with his lips shut tightly -– somewhat resolutely –- against a black backdrop, under the headline “The Negotiator.”

The story covers Moon’s life, from a front-line commando who put his life on the line in 1976 for a deadly mission in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), to his family background, the time he served as a human rights lawyer, political philosophy (especially on North Korea and the United States) and how he made his way toward the nation’s top job.

Moon told TIME that his destiny is to bring the two Koreas closer together after seven decades being apart.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Leading ROK Presidential Candidate Refuses to Call North Korea Its Primary Enemy

So what else does North Korea have to do to the ROK to gain primary enemy status?:

Yoo: “Is North Korea our primary enemy?”
Moon: “Such a designation must not be made by president. If you become president, Mr. Yoo, you yourself would also have to solve inter-Korean problems.”
Yoo: “This is nonsense the commander in chief cannot call North Korea our primary enemy.”

Bareun Party candidate Yoo Seong-min asked Democratic Party’s Moon Jae-in if North Korea is the primary enemy.

Moon responded that presidents should not label the North as such as the job requires solving inter-Korean problems.

As Moon avoided answering the question, Yoo said it was nonsense that a candidate for commander in chief cannot identify North Korea as an enemy.  [KBS World Radio]

You can read more at the link.