South Korean Journalist Says She Is As Worried About President Trump as Kim Jong-un

Here is another example of the equivalency many journalists try to make between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump:

People watch President Trump on TV at a railway station in Seoul on Wednesday.

I think if I really think about it, I’m a little concerned. But it’s also in the sense that I’m concerned about how easily accessible nuclear weapons are increasingly in this world. And it’s not just North Korea. It’s the United States, it’s Russia, it’s all these different countries.

There’s another layer of hypocrisy in the way we report about North Korea. Like, the United States owns nuclear weapons, but why is North Korea in the axis of evil that doesn’t get to because it’s supposed to be the less rational one? I’m just generally afraid of nuclear weapons in general. I’m just as afraid of Trump owning nuclear weapons as Kim Jong Un owning one.  [VOX]

You can read more of the interview at the link, but does this South Korean journalist believe Japan should get nuclear weapons because everyone should have the right to pursue them?  That is the obvious logic being advocated for here.

Plus in my opinion anyone who thinks President Trump is just going to wake up one day and authorize a nuclear weapons strike should not be taken seriously.  The same can be said for anyone who thinks Kim Jong-un is just going to wake up one day and launch a nuclear weapons strike as well.

Kim Jong-un Backs Down from Plan to Attack Guam

Long time Korea watchers are probably not surprised by the below statement from Kim Jong-un who has backed down from his supposed plan to fire four missiles towards Guam:

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that the army had finalized the blueprint and presented it to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he inspected his Strategic Force command the day before.

“He examined the plan for a long time and discussed it with the commanding officers in real earnest,” KCNA said, adding that Kim offered praise for the “close and careful plan.”

The leader reportedly said “he would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees,” as the North calls the Americans, and warned that he may “make an important decision as it already declared” if the conduct persists.
KCNA quoted Kim as saying “that if the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the U.S. is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks.”

Kim said the U.S. “should stop at once arrogant provocations against [North Korea] and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer,” the agency said.
Analysts said Kim was trying to tamp down skyrocketing tensions that have generated the most serious crisis on the divided peninsula in years. But they also warned he left the door open to launch a missile if he feels provoked.
“By North Korean signaling it’s a clear de-escalation, and it’s also an ask for the de-escalation from the American side,” said John Delury, an Asia expert at Yonsei University in Seoul.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but the whole threat was clearly just rhetoric because the regime is not suicidal.  They know full well attacking Guam would lead to the end of the regime.  This backing down from attacking Guam doesn’t mean they will not launch a provocation.  With the upcoming UFG military exercise they will very likely do something.

As I have said before if there are any deadly provocations planned they will be launched against a ROK target not the US.  North Korea has killed and injured many ROK servicemembers and civilians over the decades to include in recent years with little to no retaliation.  They know killing Americans will lead to retaliation which is why provocations directed towards the US have been missile and nuclear tests.  I don’t see anything right now changing this calculus for the Kim regime.

Guam Governor Makes Good Point About Prior Threats Against North Korea Made By President Obama

It seems that further an American is away from the US mainland the better their perspective becomes on the recent rhetorical wars between President Trump and Kim Jong-un because I think Guam Governor Eddie Calvo is correct in his assessment:

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo

Guam’s leader said Monday that “sometimes a bully can only be stopped with a punch in the nose”, in a spirited defence of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against North Korea which has the island in its crosshairs.

While Trump’s critics accuse him of inflaming tensions with Pyongyang, Guam governor Eddie Calvo said he was grateful the US leader was taking a strong stance against North Korean threats to his Pacific homeland.

“Everyone who grew up in the schoolyard in elementary school, we understand a bully,” Calvo told AFP.

“(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-Un is a bully with some very strong weapons… a bully has to be countered very strongly.”

Calvo, a Republican, said Trump was being unfairly criticised over his handling of the North Korea crisis, which escalated when Pyongyang announced plans to launch missiles toward Guam in a “crucial warning”.

He said North Korea had threatened Guam — a US territory which hosts two large military bases and is home to more than 6,000 military personnel — at least three times since 2013.

Trump has responded by threatening “fire and fury”, warning last week that the US military was “locked and loaded” to respond to any aggression.

“President Trump is not your conventional elected leader, what he says and how he says it is a lot different from what was said by previous presidents,” Calvo said.

But he pointed out previous presidents had also used strong words to warn off Pyongyang, including Barack Obama who said last year that “we could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals”.

“One president (Obama) said it one way, cool and calmly with a period… the other said fire and fury with an exclamation point, but it still leads to the same message,” Calvo said.

He rejected suggestions that Trump and the North Korean dictator were as bad as each other when it came to the sabre-rattling playing out in the western Pacific.

“Well there’s only one guy that has vaporised into a red mist his uncle or a general because he fell asleep in a meeting with an anti-aircraft gun, that’s Kim Jong-Un,” he said.

“There’s only one guy that’s killed his brother with one of the most toxic nerve agents ever created, that’s Kim Jong-Un.”  [AFP]

You can read more at the link, but the statement that Governor Calvo is referring to is when President Obama threatened that the US could destroy North Korea in response to a submarine launched ballistic missile test just last year.  The media did not freak out and it did not lead to a global crisis where everyone thought war was imminent.

H.R. McMaster Says Kim Jong-un “Should Not Be Sleeping Well” At Night

I tend to think that Kim Jong-un is probably sleeping very well considering he is nearing his strategic goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon with a reliable delivery system.  Once this goal is achieved he pretty much guarantees himself the ability to prevent outside regime change.  Additionally the whole world is not against North Korea, they have enough partners internationally that they continue to bring in enough revenue and components to advance their nuclear and weapons programs:

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

McMaster told MSNBC in an interview, “I think he should not be [sleeping well] because he has the whole world against him… He’s isolated on this.”

He described North Korea’s missiles as a “grave threat” but declined to confirm that the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile the North tested recently can reach New York. “I’m not going to confirm it,” McMaster said. “But as I mentioned, really, whether it could reach San Francisco or Pittsburgh or Washington — how much does that matter, right? It’s a grave threat.”

He added it is intolerable for North Korea have nuclear weapons that could threaten the U.S., and all options including a military option should be on the table.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters the previous day that the U.S. is willing to hold talks with the regime and added, “We do not seek regime change.”

But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal the same day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence ruled out direct talks. The U.S.’ strategy doesn’t involve “engaging North Korea directly,” he said.

The shambolic Trump administration has frequently made it difficult to discern any clear line in the fog of obfuscation and braggadocio that emerges from it.

McMaster, an Army lieutenant general, is seen by some in the U.S. mainstream media as the most rational in the national security team and is thought to stand his ground against President Donald Trump if necessary.  [Chosun Ilbo]

By the way the past week has had a lot of White House intrigue involving H.R. McMaster.  Factions in the White House are unhappy that McMaster has been cleaning house in the National Security Council.  He even fired a staffer named Ezra Cohen-Watnick that an article last month in the Atlantic proclaimed him as,  ‘The Man McMaster Couldn’t Fire.’

Now right wing elements want President Trump to fire McMaster because of his house cleaning.  However, President Trump has come out and supported McMaster today.

President Duterte Says Kim Jong-un is a “Son of a Bitch” who is “Playing with Dangerous Toys.”

It seems like President Duterte has nothing good to say about every world leader to include Kim Jong-un:

Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest controversial remarks target the North Korean regime, and they come just a few days ahead of his hosting a meeting of foreign diplomats at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.

In his typical colorful rhetoric, Duterte professed his hatred for war and described North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un as a “fool” and a “son of a bitch” who is “playing with dangerous toys.”

“This Kim Jong Un, a fool…. He is playing with dangerous toys, that fool,” Duterte said in a speech live-streamed on Facebook to tax officials on Wednesday. Then, he commented on Kim Jong Un’s appearance.  [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link.

Kim Jong-un Mocks US After Secretary of State Confirms ICBM Test

Talking smack to someone like President Trump may not be wisest thing for Kim Jong-un to be doing:

The show of force came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that North Korea had launched an ICBM on Tuesday, reversing an initial U.S. assessment that it was an intermediate-range missile.

He also said the U.S. would push for tougher sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, which planned an emergency meeting later Wednesday to discuss the latest provocation.

“Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region and the world,” Tillerson said in a statement. “Global action is required to stop a global threat.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meanwhile, reportedly called the ICBM test an Independence Day “gift” for the Americans and promised to send more “big and small gift packages often in the future so they don’t get bored.”  [Stars & Stripes]

Kim Jong-un better hope that President Trump doesn’t send him some big and small gift packages in return.

Even though the US is calling this an ICBM test its maximum range of possibly 5,500 kilometers barely makes it an ICBM and analysis has not determined if the reentry technology worked or not:

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense followed up on Tillerson’s statement hours later, announcing Wednesday that the missile was a “new type” of ICBM, apparently a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), also known as a KN-17, modified into a two-stage projectile.

An IRBM class missile has the capacity to fly between 3,000 and 5,500 kilometers (1,864 to 3,418 miles), shorter than an ICBM’s capacity of more than 5,500 kilometers.

But the ministry fell short of saying whether North Korea’s ICBM launch was successful, saying it was hard to confirm yet. Analysis of whether Pyongyang has perfected re-entry technology, a core part of a long-range missile that’s been considered the last hurdle for North Korea’s ICBM development, was still ongoing, according to Defense Minister Han Min-koo, who briefed lawmakers on the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee Wednesday. Han said the Hwasong-14, North Korea’s name for its ICBM, qualified to be an ICBM when considering its travel distance, but that the maximum speed was way below the threshold of Mach 20.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

At its maximum range the KN-17 puts Guam and parts of Alaska at risk.  This is clearly significant progress, but the Kim regime has not perfected ICBM technology that can reliably strike the US mainland, yet.  At this point it seems like it is only a matter of time if the US and the ROK allow the Kim regime to have that time.

North Korea Demands that South Korea Hand Over Former President Park for Execution

Here is the latest outrageous demand from North Korea:

This graphic shows, from left, former NIS chief Lee Byung-ho, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Yonhap)

North Korea on Wednesday warned of capital punishment against a former South Korean president and former spy chief for their alleged plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The angry statement came after a Japanese media report that former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had instructed former National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Lee Byung-ho to oust Kim by any means — including assassination.

The latest claim came amid lingering tensions on the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Former President Park Geun-hye and former spy chief Lee Byung-ho as well as NIS agents can never make any appeal even though they meet miserable dog’s death any time, at any place and by whatever methods from this moment,” the North Korea Ministry of State Security said in an English-language statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement demanded South Korea immediately hand over Park and Lee to North Korea, claiming they committed what it claims is hideous state-sponsored terrorism against the North’s supreme leadership.

North Korea also warned it will impose summary punishment without advance notice on those who organized, took part in or pursued the plot in case the U.S. and South Korea again try to stage a terrorist attack against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope President Park has good security around her because of how unpopular she is in South Korea you never know if the Kim regime may think they could get away with an attack on her.