Picture of the Day: Foreigners Celebrate the Birth of Kim Jong-il in North Korea

N.K. celebrates birth anniversary of former leader

People in North Korea dance on the streets in this photo from the North’s Korean Central News Agency on Feb. 16, 2018, to mark the birth anniversary of the country’s late former leader Kim Jong-il, which is named “the Day of the Shining Star.”  (Yonhap)

President Moon’s Chief of Staff is a Former Supporter of North Korea’s Juche Philosophy

Keep the name Im Jong-seok and his background in mind over the next year as South Korea likely moves forward with appeasement Sunshine 2.0 with the Kim regime:

President Moon Jae-in’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, left, fires back at opposition lawmaker Jun Hee-kyung, who raised questions about his ideological background. [YONHAP]

I knew very little about Im Jong-seok until he became President Moon Jae-in’s chief of staff in May. All I knew was that as president of the National Council of Student Representatives, he served a prison term for orchestrating his fellow student Lim Su-kyung’s unauthorized trip to North Korea in 1989.

The council had been influenced by Kim Il Sung’s Juche idea of self-reliance and supported North Korean ideas like the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea, abolishing the National Security Law and achieving unification with North Korea based on a federal system. Therefore, it might be natural that some people consider the president’s chief of staff as a former Juche activist since he had been the head of a pro-North group. I thought so, too. If the public is wrong, it is up to Im, as a public official and politician, to set the record straight.

It was a surprise to me that Im responded fiercely when Juche was debated during the National Assembly’s audit of the Blue House on Nov. 6. Jun Hee-kyung, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberty Korea Party lawmaker, brought up the issue and said she saw the Blue House being dominated by Juche supporters and National Council of Student Representatives alumni.

The opposition party’s attack might have been expected, but Im questioned Jun’s motivations in the inquiry. “I don’t know how you lived during the Fifth and Sixth Republic juntas when soldiers-turned-politicians infringed democracy,” Im fired back.

But that was it. I wonder why Im let go of such a great opportunity. If he had said, “I never supported Juche and believe in liberal democracy; how can you say I support Kim Il Sung’s philosophy?,” all doubts could be cleared. But he did not.

So I traced his past and found many aspects of an emotional North Korea sympathizer.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Should the USAFA Vice Commandant Have Apologized for First Sergeant’s “Microaggressions” Email?

Here is the latest scandal, if you can call it that at the US Air Force Academy:

Master Sgt. Zachary Parish, the top enlisted airman over the cadet wing, sent an email on Wednesday urging proper grooming

The first sergeant of the Air Force Academy’s cadet wing sent an email on cadet grooming standards Wednesday that included racially tinged language, prompting a rebuke from academy leadership.

Master Sgt. Zachary Parish emailed cadets that morning about a perceived decline in some cadets’ grooming, and reminding both male and female cadets about the rules governing their hair.

The first sergeant concluded his email by reminding them about former NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s habit of appearing at press conferences in a suit and tie, even without a dress code requiring it.

“He was never seen with a gaudy chain around his neck, his pants below his waistline, or with a backwards baseball hat on during public appearances,” Parish said. [Air Force Times]

There is apparently concern that the email was racist.  However, if you read the whole email in context in my opinion it is not racist:

The email is fine until he gets to the final point portion about Michael Jordan.  Clearly in this section of the email he is trying to make the point that Michael Jordan understood how a professional appearance increased his own creditability and thus his personal brand.  He wants cadets to think the same way.  If he would have left out the gaudy chain and sagging pants line there probably would not be anything to complain about.

However, here is what the USAFA Vice Commandant for Climate and Culture had to say in response:

Col. Julian Stephens, vice commandant of cadets for culture and climate, sent another email that afternoon apologizing for Parish’s email.

“These comments were very disrespectful, derogatory and unprofessional and in no way reflective of [cadet wing leadership] views,” Stephens wrote. “Microaggressions such as these are often blindspots/unintentional biases that are not often recognized, and if they are recognized they are not always addressed.”

First of all I can’t believe the USAFA has an O6 position for Climate and Culture?  Isn’t climate and culture something commanders are supposed to set?

Anyway in my opinion this email is more troubling than the original email.  The whole “microaggressions” line seems to me to paint the First Sergeant as being unknowingly racist in effort to appease the Daily Kos / Huffington Post social justice warrior crowd.

It seems to me that Colonel Stephens could have said that First Sergeant Parish’s email referencing grooming standards could have been worded differently and he has been counseled on proper email etiquette.  However, the First Sergeant’s point about improving grooming standards in the Air Force Academy is still valid.  Writing a response like this would have saved the creditability of the First Sergeant and reinforced his message.  Instead he is made out to be unknowing racist and thus a pariah.

With that all said why does an email about grooming standards even need to be sent out?  Isn’t there enough leaders at the USAFA to light up cadets not following the grooming standards?  Do leaders now not want to hurt cadets’ feelings by telling them to get a haircut and instead send out emails to enforce standards?

B.R. Myers Explains the Role South Korean Conservatives Played in the Impeachment of President Park

The always interesting B.R. Myers has an interesting essay posted about the role the Lee Myung-bak conservative right played in the impeachment of fellow conservative President Park Geun-hye:

Not until Park Geun-hye’s presidency (2013-2017) did the issue make a strong comeback. Conservatives in the National Assembly were then roughly divisible into a faction loyal to Park and one loyal to her predecessor Lee Myung Bak. Naturally his followers had learned to like the presidential system during his occupancy of the Blue House (2008-2013), only to find it inherently despotic again the moment Park took over. What really worried them was the likelihood that she would take revenge for the “nomination massacres” that had occurred during Lee’s rule, when he had excluded many of her followers from candidacies in parliamentary elections.

Sure enough, there ensued the “nomination massacre” of spring 2016, in which even some of the most popular pro-Lee or “non-Park” politicians were bypassed for nominations in favor of the president’s people. From then on calls for a parliamentary system grew in intensity until the Lee-conservative press broke the story of the Choi Soon-sil scandal in the autumn of 2016.

It was just what many pols had been waiting for: a chance to get the public so angry about the status quo that it would finally sign off on a whole new system of government. Conservatives were confident they could remove Park with left-wing help without losing the presidency altogether. They would simply make the returning hero Ban Ki-moon their candidate while pushing hard for constitutional revision, then trounce Moon in the election. What could go wrong?  [B.R. Myers]

Well a lot did go wrong if the Lee Myung-Bak supporters thought they could get Ban Ki-moon elected.  He ended up quickly dropping out of the election because of what he said was all the “Fake News” published about him.  It probably was all fake news, but if he can’t fire back against lies in the media he clearly did not have what it took to be the President of South Korea.  Without a strong candidate the Korean right ended up getting trounced in the election now leaving them in a worse position than if Park remained President.

Speaking of fake news I am still curious to who doctored and planted the tablet PC for the media to find?:

JTBC reporter Shim Su-mi reports where and how she found the tablet PC.

The evidence has turned out to be thinner than was initially believed. The tablet PC on which Choi allegedly edited Park’s Dresden speech had so obviously been tampered with that the court did not consider it in Choi’s trial. It is still unclear how Park’s pressuring of businesses to contribute to this or that national team or foundation differed to a criminal degree from established presidential practices. We have to wait and see, but the recent decision to charge her even with meddling in her own party’s nominations suggests a desperation to find things that will stick. While she may well have deserved impeachment by absolute standards, she was probably less deserving of it than a few of her predecessors.

The planting of the tablet PC is the real scandal which no one in the Korean media seems eager to try and uncover. The finding of the tablet is in my opinion what turned the tide against President Park.

Anyway so what happened after President Moon took power?  Well he staffed the Blue House with the same type of people that President Park had around her with hardly a complaint from the media and candlelight protest crowd:

The once bipartisan pretense that removing Park was a non-ideological response to her abuses of power is now upheld only by the right-wing impeachers and the foreign press. Upon his election Moon appointed several Gangnam leftists with records of tax avoidance, real-estate speculation, and the Choi-like pulling of strings on relatives’ behalf. This prompted much use of the crypto-Sinitic compound naero nambul, short for “When I cheat, it’s romance, when others do, it’s adultery.”

I recommend reading the whole essay at the link.

Gangwon Province Governor Wants to Host 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea

It truly is amazing how South Korean politicians want to reward the Kim regime’s crimes against humanity and threat to world peace by letting them co-host a major sporting event:

A South Korean province is considering a proposal to co-host the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea in a bid to strengthen inter-Korean ties, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Saturday, quoting provincial governor Choi Moon-soon.

Gangwon province, host for the current 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, is considering the idea also as a way of making further use of Olympics venues, Choi was quoted as saying.

North Korea is participating in the Pyeongchang Games at the invitation of the South, which is using them to help ease tensions between the two countries, still technically at war.

The host city for the 2021 event has not been decided yet.

A spokesman for South Korea’s sports ministry said it “hopes to continue sports exchanges with North Korea after the Winter Games” but it had not yet discussed any bid for the 2021 Games.  [Reuters]

I hope Gangwon is not chosen for the host site for the 2021 Asian Winter Games simply because of this idea.  Plus how many missile and nuclear tests will there be between now and 2021?

Tweet of the Day: Can A Democracy Activist Be An Admirer of Kim Il-sung?

What the US Should Do with North Korea After the Winter Olympics

Here is what ROK Drop favorite Bruce Klingner says should happen after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics:

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in watch an Olympic hockey game in Gangneung, South Korea on Feb. 10, 2018. (Felipe Dana / Associated Press)

Seoul worries that Washington won’t risk Los Angeles for Seoul, but that it would trade Seoul for Los Angeles. Concern is so acute in South Korea, in fact, that Moon thought it necessary to declare: “There cannot be any military action on the Korean Peninsula without a prior consent of the Republic of Korea.”

All this fear could lead to discord between the United States and South Korea, something that in turn could be exploitable by Pyongyang. The North’s participation in the Winter Olympics, which highlighted common Korean themes, is part of Kim’s campaign to drive a wedge between the allies.

If it plays a high-stakes game of brinkmanship, the United States will paint itself into a corner. By defining the completion of North Korea’s ICBM program as an intolerable and strike-inducing event, the Trump administration would be drawing a red line it is not necessarily prepared to hold.

Eventually, every poker player must deliver on their bet, or be revealed as a bluffer. If the United States comes out looking like a bluffer, American credibility will be gravely eroded.

We are now closer to a war on the Korean Peninsula than at any point since 1994. The Trump administration should avoid both a premature return to negotiations and a reckless preventive attack. Instead, it should respond to the growing threat by seriously pursuing its policy of “maximum pressure.”   [LA Times]

You can read more at the link, but I think it is arguable that all the talk of a preemptive strike is part of the “maximum pressure” strategy.  The US government is putting everyone on notice that if maximum pressure does not work because other countries are not complying than the preemptive strike is an option that will be used instead.

What Would Have Happened If Chloe Kim Was Born In South Korea?

Via a reader tip comes this BBC article that explains how many on South Korean social media are wondering what would have happened if American Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Chloe Kim was born in South Korea?:

The teenager’s name was the most searched on Naver, South Korea’s largest portal, as many swelled with pride at her performance. Kim’s parents are South Koreans who emigrated to the United States in 1982.

But some social media users in the country are keenly imagining alternative lives for the unstoppable 17-year-old Californian, asking could she have achieved gold if she’d been born in South Korea?

“If she grew up in South Korea, she would be stuck on the bus going to academies (hagwon) all day,” one Naver used commented, referring to the country’s culture of encouraging long hours of studying and suggesting she would not have had the opportunity to become an athlete.

“If you were born in my country, you would be doing extra study at this hour. Envy you, American,” another wrote.  [BBC]

You can read more at the link, but if she was born in South Korea and her parents wanted her to pursue a sports career it likely would not have been in snowboarding because of the lack of facilities to train.  She likely would have been a speed skater considering the emphasis put on the sport in South Korea.