Chinese THAAD Boycott Expected To Ease After Moon’s Election

Many people have kind of expected the Chinese boycott to slowly dwindle away after a while and it appears it is beginning to go away:

China appears to be easing up on a wide-ranging unofficial boycott of Korean goods and service over the stationing of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. here.

The state-run People’s Daily, a bellwether of official opinion, repeatedly referred to Korea as a “close neighbor” recently after a telephone call between President Moon Jae-in, who is skeptical about the deployment, and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on May 11. This was closely followed by the dispatch of a special envoy to Beijing, former prime minister Lee Hae-chan, last week.

Korean businesses are resuming marketing in China that ground to a screeching halt amid the THAAD spat, and there are signs of sales recovering.

Chinese travel agencies expect Beijing to lift a ban on cut-price group tours to Korea as early as July, and visa applications are rising to 50 to 60 percent of last year’s level after falling to as low as 20 percent.

Chinese travel agencies are asking Korea tour operators about their packages again. The head of one travel agency here said, “Last week, three or four Chinese travel agencies expressed interest in summer tours. We have yet to see actual reservations, but the atmosphere has definitely changed. [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read the rest at the link.

Chinese Government Sponsored Rap Group Releases Anti-THAAD Song

Just when you thought the anti-THAAD silliness in China couldn’t get any stupider along comes this:

A rap group backed by China’s government is warning South Korea in a music video that “you’re going too far” with the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, as Beijing seeks to bring its state-supported cultural forces to bear in the international dispute.

A member of the group CD REV said government officials worked with them on the video and helped to promote it on foreign websites, many of which are blocked in China by official censors emboldened by the ruling Communist Party’s warnings against foreign “cultural infiltration.”

In the song, group members chant that “about THAAD we say no, no, no,” a reference to the U.S. Army’s missile defense system formally known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

Later in the song, they refer to South Korea, saying, “this time, kid, you’re going too far” and “your big brother’s annoyed,” a nod to China’s view of itself as the pre-eminent political and economic power in northeast Asia.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

How Clothing Made In China May Have Actually Been Manufactured In North Korea

Remember this the next time you buy clothes “Made in China”, you may be unknowingly supporting the Kim Jong-un regime:

North Koreans performing at a restaurant in Beijing last year. For decades, the North has been accused of sending workers abroad and confiscating most of their wages. Credit Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

As the end of the fashion season approached, and the suits and dresses arrived in her company’s warehouses here in the Chinese border town of Dandong, the accountant crammed about $100,000 into a backpack, then boarded a rickety train with several co-workers.

She asked to be identified only by her surname, Lang, given the sensitivity of their destination: North Korea.

After a six-hour journey, she recalled, they arrived at a factory where hundreds of women using high-end European machines sewed clothes with “Made in China” labels. Her boss handed the money to the North Korean manager, all of it in American bills as required.

Despite seven rounds of United Nations sanctions over the past 11 years, including a ban on “bulk cash” transfers, large avenues of trade remain open to North Korea, allowing it to earn foreign currency to sustain its economy and finance its program to build a nuclear weapon that can strike the United States.

Fraudulent labeling helps support its garment industry, which generated more than $500 million for the isolated nation last year, according to Chinese trade data.  (………..)

For those with quick deadlines or detailed specifications, she turns to Chinese factories in Dandong, where quality control is better. Yet even these factories employ North Korean laborers, she said.

For decades, North Korea has been accused of sending workers abroad and confiscating most of their wages, an arrangement that activists liken to slave labor. Researchers say the practice has expanded since Mr. Kim took power, with more than 50,000 workers now toiling in up to 40 countries.

In Dandong, the local government boasts that 10,000 North Koreans are employed in its apparel factories, working 12- to 14-hour shifts, with just two to four days off each month and a monthly wage of no more than $260.

 [NY Times]

You can read much more about how North Korea gets around sanctions aided by the Chinese at the link.

North Korea Welcomes Moon Jae-in Presidency with Successful Ballistic Missile Launch

The Kim regime has welcomed the new ROK president the way they typically do by conducting a provocation:

North Korea fires a medium-range ballistic missile in February in this file photo. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from a site north of Pyongyang, South Korea’s military said, as President Moon Jae-in immediately convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the issue.

“North Korea fired an unidentified missile at around 5:27 a.m. today from an area in the vicinity of Kusong, North Pyongan Province,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement

The projectile flew some 700 kilometers, it said, adding it’s analyzing more details.

The flight distance suggests a success of the missile test, the North’s first military provocation since the inauguration of Moon last week.  [Yonhap]

The type of ballistic missile has not been disclosed yet, but PACOM has already said that it was not an ICBM.  However, the Japanese are calling this the highest fired missile they have seen yet from North Korea:

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, reaching an altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers and was believed to have traveled some 800 kilometers before falling about 400 kilometers outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japan Times.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada was quoted as saying that the launch, which was likely conducted at a steep or “lofted” trajectory, could be of a “new type of ballistic missile.” It hit the highest-ever altitude recorded by Japan’s defense authority for a North Korean missile.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

At least one scientist thinks this is a new type of missile that has been tested:

“I don’t believe the missile test Sunday involved existing models, such Pukguksong-2 or Scud-ER, considering its flight distance was about 700 kilometers,” said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University. “The test appears to be aimed at developing a new type of missile with an improved performance.”

David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Associated Press that Sunday’s launch may have been of a new mobile, two-stage liquid-fueled missile that North Korea displayed during an April 15 military parade to mark that 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung

Wright estimated that the missile had a range of 4,500 kilometers if it travelled on a standard, instead of lofted, trajectory.  [Korea Times]

If the range of this missile is 4,500 kilometers that means it is not designed to strike South Korea or Japan which it already has SCUD and Nodong missiles to hit these two countries with.  Instead the only reason to develop a missile with this range would be to strike Guam which would be within its 4,500 kilometer maximum range since it is roughly 3,300 kilometers from North Korea:

This test may be a response to the fact that the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group is supposed to be in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) conducting exercises.

In response to the provocation the Chinese are urging all parties to show the typical “restraint” they always seem to put out after a North Korean provocation.  The United States is trying to play the Russians against the North Koreans after this test since the missile landed close to Russia:

Fox News reported that the White House said North Korea has been a “flagrant menace for far too long” and that Trump “cannot imagine that Russia is pleased” with the latest missile test because the missile landed closer to Russia than to Japan. U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also condemned the launch in a 25-minute phone call with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin and agreed to combine forces towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

I doubt Putin really cares, and then in South Korea new President Moon Jae-in wants North Korea to change its attitude if it wants negotiations:

During his first NSC meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, President Moon strongly condemned the launch, saying, “It was an apparent violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and also a serious challenge to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula as well as the international community.”

Moon said he found North Korea’s provocation regretful, citing that it came despite his speech to make full-pledged efforts to bring peace to the peninsula during his May 10 inauguration ceremony.

“I’m strongly warning North Korea, and at the same time, I find its reckless provocation deeply regretful.”

The president said he is open to resuming dialogue with North Korea, but added his government would deal sternly with the North’s provocations to ensure that the reclusive state does “not make a misjudgment.”

“We must show the North that dialogue will be possible only when it changes its attitude,” he said.  [Korea Times]

Good luck with that since people have been waiting decades for North Korea to change its attitude.  As this test proves, a new ROK President promising Sunshine Policy 2.0 is not going to change the nature of the Kim regime.

Yellow Dust Phenomenon Has Been Happening on the Korean Peninsula for Centuries

A ROK Drop favorite Robert Neff has an published in the Korea Times that explains how the yellow dust problem that has been plaguing Korea has actually been worse in centuries past than what has been seen recently:

Namdaemun circa 1911.

For the past several days, the air quality in Korea has been horrible _ filled with dust and pollution. Many blame desertification in China due to its rapid industrialization but this phenomenon is not new _ it is one that has plagued the Korean Peninsula for hundreds of years.

Historical records from the Three Kingdoms period indicate dust storms occurred at least as far back as 174 A.D. One powerful dust storm in the early sixth century left the capital of Baekje shrouded in darkness as if it were night and a couple of decades later, Silla suffered one that lasted for five days. Perhaps the strangest of these weather phenomena took place in 644 when a red-tinged snow fell in Pyongyang.

The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty provide even more examples.

In November 1412, a horrendous dust storm mixed with fog blanketed the land. The visibility was so bad that people could not even see the person standing in front of them and the sudden spring-like weather melted the ice on the rivers.  [Korea Times]

Mr. Neff provides more examples of the bizarre weather created by the yellow dust at the link.  What I found of interest was that if this same bizarre weather happened today people would be claiming it is because of global warming.

Horrific Traffic Accident Kills 10 Korean Kindergarten Students in China

Condolences to the effected families; this is absolutely horrible:

A school bus heading to a Korean international school bursts into flames in a tunnel in Huancui District in Weihai, China, Tuesday morning, killing 12 out of 13 passengers, including 11 kindergartners. [SCREEN CAPTURE FROM WEIBO]

A fiery accident in a tunnel in Shandong Province, eastern China, killed 12 people, including 11 kindergartners heading to a Korean international school on Tuesday.

A school bus was passing through a tunnel in Huancui District in Weihai, a port city in eastern Shandong, at around 9 a.m., local time, when the vehicle suddenly burst into deadly flames.

The Korean Embassy in China confirmed that 10 of the 11 kindergartners killed were of Korean nationality and the other child was Chinese.

There were 13 passengers on the bus, including the teacher in charge, who is reported to have been severely injured, and the driver, who was killed. Both were Chinese.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

China Asks Trump Administration To Fire Top Commander in the Pacific

Admiral Harris must be something right to have the Chinese this upset with him:

China urged the United States to sack the head of the U.S. Pacific Command in return for exerting more pressure on North Korea amid concerns over its growing nuclear and missile threats, a source close to U.S.-China ties said Saturday.

The Chinese leadership headed by President Xi Jinping made the request, through its ambassador in the United States, to dismiss Adm. Harry Harris, known as a hard-liner on China, including with respect to the South China Sea issue, the source said.

China’s envoy to the United States, Cui Tiankai, conveyed the request to the U.S. side, to coincide with the first face-to-face, two-day meeting between President Donald Trump and Xi in Florida from April 6, but the Trump administration likely rejected it, the source said.  [Japan Times]

You can read more at the link, but this is probably directly related to Admiral Harris’ backing of the “freedom of navigation” patrols he continues in the South China Sea in response to China’s island building campaign there.

I thought this was a funny response from Bruce Klingner:

North Korea Issues Blistering Rebuke Towards China for “Disloyal and Betraying Act”

We will see how long China keeps the pressure on the Kim regime to abandon their nuclear weapons:

Cracks in the alliance between North Korea and China widened Thursday as Pyongyang labeled its longtime communist ally a traitor, while Beijing expressed skepticism about renewing a 56-year old friendship and mutual assistance treaty.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency issued a commentary on Wednesday that included a rare and blunt attack on China. The commentary said China had violently crossed a “red line” in their relationship. “It is a “disloyal and betraying act,” it said.

The North “will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is,” the commentary also said.

In an attempt to avoid a formal diplomatic feud, the North issued the commentary in the name of a private citizen, Kim Chol, rather than having it come from a government official or entity.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

China Makes Latest Threat Against THAAD Deployment

Instead of making threats about the THAAD deployment how about Beijing do something about the Kim regime that is the reason for it being in South Korea in the first place?:

China on Tuesday warned of stern measures against the ongoing deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

“China calls for an immediate stop to the THAAD deployment on the Korean Peninsula,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular press briefing.

“China will pursue protecting its interests going forward by taking the necessary measures in a stern manner.”

He was speaking in response to the U.S.’ announcement that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery being installed on a former golf course in the southern county of Seongju is “operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend” South Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.