US Embassy in Seoul Ends Its Internship Program

The US embassy in South Korea cannot win.  First they get criticized for having unpaid internship positions and now they get criticized for getting rid of the internship program:

A college student, who requested to be identified as Park, was supposed to start an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul this December.

After receiving a letter of acceptance July 21, she was preparing for the program — finding a residence in Seoul and buying work clothes — while dreaming of a future career after the internship.

On Sept. 6, however, she learned the program was suspended. She received an email from the embassy, which read “The U.S. Embassy will not be moving forward with our Winter Internship at this time.”

Explanations from the embassy frustrated her.

“The embassy staff simply repeated the answer that the decision was made due to personnel affairs in the organization,” Park told The Korea Times.

The cancellation of the internship program was more devastating for Park because the winter program was her last chance to work there before her graduation. “I even gave up a full-time paid job which gave me a final acceptance notification to do the internship, because the latter was only allowed for university students,” Park said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but this is what happens when interns complain about not getting paid.

South Korea Has Its Own Comfort Women Problem with Vietnam

Maybe Mike Honda can put a Vietnamese comfort women statue next to the Korean one that was put up in San Francisco:

But for a significant number of children fathered as a result of rape by South Korean soldiers, it was the start of a living hell.

Mr Nhat recalled: “Before April 1975, I had been treated well by the South Korean troops who lived on the base near my home in Phu Yen Province, central Vietnam. I was still too young to have any real sense of my identity and hadn’t yet questioned my mother about why I looked different to other Vietnamese children.

“But when the Communists declared victory, everything changed for me. Suddenly, I knew I was dangerously different.”

A period of painful bullying ensued in school. Mr Nhat said: “I was bullied repeatedly. The other children kept asking who my father was and called him a ‘dog’. I just kept suffering in silence.

“I was 18 when my mother finally sat me down and told me she had been raped by Korean soldiers – not once but three times. My two sisters are also mixed blood or Lai Dai Han as we are known in Vietnam.”  (…..)

South Korean troops were not alone in their exploitation of civilian women but their country has never acknowledged the allegations or taken steps to investigate.  (…..)

Mrs Ngai felt confused in the fog of war but now she is very clear about what she wants now. “I think the South Korean government should apologise for everything they did to women in Vietnam. [The Independent]

You can read more at the link.

Despite Provocations President Moon Wants to Move Forward with North Korean Aid Plan

It seems to me that every dollar South Korea spends on aid to North Korea is one more dollar that the Kim regime can divert towards its missile and nuclear programs:

President Moon Jae-in suggested Friday that South Korea could go ahead with humanitarian aid to North Korea in a thinly veiled rejection of a call for caution by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe asked Moon to consider the timing of the proposed aid during their phone conversation, but Moon said aid is an issue that should be dealt with regardless of political situations, an official said.

Moon said monitoring is a precondition to the aid in an apparent attempt to ensure that the aid reaches its intended beneficiaries in North Korea.

South Korea is set to decide next Thursday whether to approve the aid to infants and pregnant women in North Korea. If approved, it would mark the resumption of Seoul’s aid to North Korea via U.N. organizations, last carried out in December 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Man Made Star Island In Chungju

New star-shaped island

This photo from the city government of Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, on Sept. 13, 2017, shows a man-made island of water plants in the shape of a star. The island got its motif from a poem by writer Shin Kyung-rim, who was born in the city 147 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

President Moon Says No to Calls to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Here is President Moon’s response to those calling for either the deployment or development of tactical nukes in South Korea:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ruled out the possibility of redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons in the country Thursday, CNN reported.

In an interview with the U.S. cable news channel, he warned it could lead to a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.

“I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat,” he was quoted by CNN as saying.

The interview was made ahead of his visit to New York next week to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

Moon said South Korea needs to develop military capabilities in the face of the North’s growing nuclear threat, while expressing objection to some conservatives’ call for Seoul’s own nuclear armament.

“To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia,” Moon said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but this is what the academic circles are saying about introducing nuclear weapons to South Korea:

South Korea obtaining nuclear armament will not stop North Korea’s military provocations or deter its nuclear threats, experts on the North said Thursday.

They expect deploying tactical nuclear weapons will only give Pyongyang more reason to speed up its nuclear development.

“The call to reintroduce nuclear weapons reflects an understandable frustration,” Stephan Haggard, director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, told The Korea Times.

“But it does very little to strengthen the deterrent. Moreover, reintroducing nuclear weapons would only provide further justification for North Korea to continue with its own nuclear program. This is simply a bad idea.”

Joseph DeTrani, a former U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks, also said he is not in favor of deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, citing the U.S.’s extended nuclear deterrence commitment to the South.

“The U.S. is committed to the defense of South Korea, and our nuclear umbrella for South Korea and Japan is a very important and credible element of our deterrence strategy,” he said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

South Korean Navy Looks to Acquire Aegis SM-3 Missile Capability

South Korea is interested in fielding the Aegis SM-3 capability, but it seems to me it would make more sense for them to field a land-based Aegis Ashore that could be installed to provide persistent missile defense in the middle of the country:

Aegis SM-3 firing

Seoul needs to deploy U.S. ship-based missile interceptors known as RIM-161 Standard Missile 3s, or SM-3s, to complete its low-altitude air and missile defense system against North Korea, according to an internal report by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense that was exclusively acquired by the JoongAng Ilbo Monday.

Drafted in August and handed over by Bareun Party Rep. Kim Young-woo, a member on the parliamentary National Defense Committee, the report acknowledges that South Korea’s current low-altitude defense system, also known as the Korea Air and Missile Defense, or KAMD, is unable to intercept some North Korean missiles if they were to fly across the border.

A local government source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the military wrote the report in order to start policy discussions on how Seoul could deploy the SM-3s, which are said to be able to target any North Korean missile fired from a normal angle, filling in a gap left by the country’s current defense systems, mainly comprising the Patriot and Cheongung interceptors that can target an incoming missile up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) high, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile shield, which covers 40 to 150 kilometers in altitude.

An SM-3 has a range of up to 400 kilometers and can travel as far as 700 kilometers away.

The ministry stressed that the defense system would especially come in handy if North Korea carries out an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, as it recently threatened.

Under that scenario, the ministry said it was likely North Korea would blast its warhead-triggered EMP about 60 to 80 kilometers above ground, which can effectively be targeted by an SM-3.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Egypt Announces that It Has Cut Military Ties with North Korea

It looks like the Trump administration was able to get one less client of North Korea’s arms sales.  The Egyptians in the past have bought ballistic missiles from the North Koreans:

Egypt’s then Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi attends a Sept. 20, 2013, event in Cairo. South Korea’s news agency said Tuesday Sept. 12, 2017, that Sobhi, Egypt’s defense minister, on a visit to Seoul, announced his country has cut military ties with North Korea.

Egypt’s defense minister, on a visit to Seoul, announced that his country has cut military ties with North Korea, according to a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Egyptian government of the agency’s report, but Cairo has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to sever ties with North Korea as the United States seek to curb Pyongyang’s efforts to develop long-range nuclear weapons.

Last month Washington cut or delayed nearly $300 million in aid to Egypt over its human rights record and its ties with Pyongyang.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

South Korea Forms “Spartan 3000” Brigade to Hunt Kim Jong-un If Ordered

I doubt Kim Jong-un is very concerned about this when he knows there is almost zero chance the ROK President is willing to execute such a preemptive strike.  This report seems more for domestic consumption to show the ROK public the government is “doing something”:

South Korea’s defense minister is publicly boasting that it will create a new “decapitation unit” called the Spartan 3000 with the express intent of taking out North Korean leadership, The New York Times reports.

The brigade-sized unit of between 2,000 and 4,000 soldiers will be established by year’s end, The Times reported the defense minister, Song Young-moo, as saying, adding that the military was already “retooling” helicopters and transporting planes to be able to penetrate North Korean airspace at night.

It’s out of the ordinary for a senior government leader to publicly say they are working on a plan to assassinate a foreign head of state. But there’s an interesting reason behind it: The South is trying to freak out its northern neighbor and get it to the negotiating table instead of further developing nuclear weapons.

“The best deterrence we can have, next to having our own nukes, is to make Kim Jong Un fear for his life,” retired South Korean Lt. Gen. Shin Won-sik told The Times.  [Business Insider]

You can read more at the link.