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.

South Korea Has Upcoming Decision After the Olympics On Whether to Conduct Joint Military Exercise

The upcoming decision to me is pretty clear, what does the Moon administration value more, continued appeasement of the Kim regime or maintaining the readiness of US and ROK military forces?:

President Moon Jae-in is facing a growing dilemma over South Korea’s planned military exercises with the United States, with North Korea offering a rare gesture for warmer inter-Korean relations.

On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a meeting with its highest-ranking delegation which returned to Pyongyang Sunday after ending their three-day trip to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, ordered the regime to elevate the ongoing peaceful bilateral relationship with the South,.

The uncommon sign for reconciliation is raising the likelihood for a possible inter-Korean summit this year.

This is in line with President Moon’s North Korean policy under which he has underlined the need for holding enough dialogue to stop Pyongyang’s provocative military threats.

However, the South Korean government is likely to face a bumpy road ahead on the matter, as Seoul and Washington plan to resume their annual joint military exercise sometime in April. They delayed the drills – which normally take place around late February to early March – until after the Winter Olympics.

The South Korea-U.S. drills have for years drawn a strong backlash from North Korea. The Pentagon has in recent weeks reaffirmed its willingness to stage the drills right after the closing of the PyeongChang Paralympics in mid-March.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but either way Kim Jong-un has set him self up to win because if the joint exercise is cancelled he advances his agenda of separating the US from the ROK.  If the joint exercise is executed he then uses that as an excuse to continue missile and maybe even nuclear testing.

Regardless of the decision I would expect that Pyongyang will still push for the inter-Korea summit with the South just likely on different timetables.  The Kim regime needs the inter-Korean summit in order to get their payday of reopening the Kaesong Industrial Park and the joint tourism ventures in North Korea.  These ventures will help them skirt international sanctions to maintain revenue flowing into the regime.

Picture of the Day: Dokdo Issue in Japanese Textbooks?

Japan reinforces Dokdo claim in high school textbooks

This photo, taken on Feb. 14, 2018, shows Tokyo’s government website announcing a draft guideline for Japanese high school textbooks to state that Dokdo, a set of South Korea-controlled islets in the East Sea, belong to Japan. This is the first time that Tokyo has specified its territorial claim to Dokdo in high school textbooks. (Yonhap)

South Korea Will Reportedly Lose Over $10 Billion Hosting the Winter Olympics

Unsurprisingly South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics at an enormous financial cost to the country:

Leave it to Andrew Zimbalist to throw cold water on an even colder Winter Olympics. The Smith College economics professor and long-time Olympics skeptic hopped on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to spill the beans on the pitfalls of the PyeongChang Games.

The most stunning nuggets? That South Korea is staring down a loss north of $10 billion for hosting this year’s international festivities.

“At the end of the day, they spent $13 billion. They’ll get back about $2.5 billion,” Zimbalist said. “The only way you can justify that kind of a terrible balance is if, in the long run, it’s going to promote tourism, promote trade and promote foreign investment.

“There’s no evidence from other Olympics that that might happen.”

That astronomical bill stems, in part, from building scantly used Olympic venues — and not just the $109 million ceremonial stadium in PyeongChang. The organizers also spent untold sums to clear 58,000 trees from a sacred forest on Mount Gariwang, where the Alpine skiing course was subsequently constructed.

Beyond that, South Korea spent billions on infrastructure to connect PyeongChang to the South Korean capital of Seoul. Even with the addition of high-speed rail, the commute still clocks in close to two hours.

Some of these costs might be justifiable if the host country’s citizens were enthusiastic about snow and ice activities. But to hear Zimbalist tell it, “The South Koreans are not very fond of winter sports in general.”  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but the article goes on to explain how only 60% of the tickets for the events have been sold showing how little interests locals have in the games.  What is even sadder about this economic loss is that the biggest winner of the Winter Olympics has so far been North Korea with their propaganda coup all at the ROK government’s expense.

Korean Court Rules in Favor of Compensation for Prostitutes that Worked Outside of US Military Bases

This is ruling about prostitution outside US military bases is nothing new and widely known for decades throughout Korea:

Women who were encouraged by the South Korean government to work as prostitutes near US military bases hold a press conference outside of the Seoul High Court in the Seocho neighborhood following a court ruling on their case on Feb. 8. (by Kim Min-kyung, staff reporter)

A court issued a first-ever ruling acknowledging that the Republic of Korea actively justified or encouraged prostitution with the operation of US “military camp towns” for the sake of the military alliance and foreign currency acquisition.“In regarding the right to sexual self-determination of the women in the camp town and the very character of the plaintiffs as represented through their sexuality as means of achieving state goals, the state violated its obligation to respect human rights,” the court concluded, ordering the payment of compensation to all 117 plaintiffs.

Hon. Judge Lee Beom-gyun of Seoul High Court’s 22nd civil affairs division ruled on Feb. 8 in the case filed by 117 former military camp town prostitutes to demand damages from the state, which was ordered to pay compensation of 7 million won (US$6,370) to 74 of the plaintiffs and 3 million won (US$2,730) to the remaining 43.“According to official Ministry of Health and Welfare documents, [the state] actively encouraged the women in the military camp towns engage in prostitution to allow foreign troops to ‘relax’ and ‘enjoy sexual services’ with them,” the court said.“In the process, [the state] operated and managed the military camp towns with the intention or purpose of contributing to maintenance of a military alliance essential for national security by ‘promoting and boosting morale’ among foreign troops while mobilizing prostitutes for economic goals such as acquisition of foreign currency,” it ruled.  [Hankyoreh]

You can read more at the link, but there is some nuance to the ruling in favor of the prostitutes to worked outside of US military base. The court did not find the government liable for forcing them into prostitution, just managing it by forcing them into medical treatment:

But the court did not accept the plaintiffs’ claim that the state had also violated the law by establishing the base village in the first time “to allow prostitution to take place easily.”“It is impossible to conclude that the victims were in a situation where they did not begin engaging in prostitution within the area of their own free will or could not leave,” the court said.  [Hankyoreh]

This is important because if the government was found to have forced these women into prostitution than that would allow the Japanese right to say that the ROK government should stop complaining about World War II era comfort women when they had their own comfort women system going.  This is technically correct because the ROK government was not grabbing women out of their homes and putting them into clubs.

Many of the prostitutes came from poor families who sold their daughters to the club owners to make ends meet or put a son through college for example.  Other became prostitutes in the hope of marrying a GI to escape poverty.  However, they ended up in the club system they were effectively managed by the Korean government to not spread disease.  They were forcibly given STD treatments and those that were found to be diseased were then forcibly interned.  This is where the human rights violations come into play for these women by the state.

Something to keep in mind is that the US military bases were not the only locations with prostitutes.  Can prostitutes stationed outside ROK Army bases or even in urban red light districts now sue for damages as well?  What about the women brought in from the Philippines beginning in the 1990’s that were forced into prostitution?  Can they sue for damages as well?

Tweet of the Day: Are US and South Korean Relations Fraying?