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.

Korean Ruling Party Leader Raises Possibility of Demanding Removal of THAAD

It would be very interesting to see what the Trump administration reaction to any demand by South Korea to remove THAAD would be if the liberal Democratic Party gets its way:

The floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party on Wednesday raised the possibility of sending back a recently installed missile defense system to the United States if there are any procedural problems with its deployment.

Rep. Woo Won-shik also reiterated that the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery to South Korea requires parliamentary approval.

“We have to look into issues including the possibility of sending back Thaad, if it has not properly undergone domestic legal procedures,” Woo said during a radio interview, who was elected floor leader on Tuesday.

The liberal party has long called for a suspension of the Thaad installation and stressed the need to secure parliamentary approval, claiming that the former government failed to forge sufficient public consensus over the crucial national defense decision.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: North Korea Publishes Satellite Images of THAAD Golf Course

N.K. discloses satellite photo of S. Koea's THAAD battery

This photo, released by the (North) Korean Central TV Station on May 10, 2017, is a composite of satellite images which the North claims show a golf course in South Korea’s southeastern county of Seongju where an advanced U.S. missile defense system, dubbed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, has been deployed. (Yonhap)

Media Report Claims President Trump “Screamed” at National Security Advisor Over THAAD in Korea Comments

It looks like the honeymoon for Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster is over if the media is to be believed:

McMaster’s allies and adversaries inside the White House tell me that Trump is disillusioned with him. This professional military officer has failed to read the president  — by not giving him a chance to ask questions during briefings, at times even lecturing Trump.

Presented with the evidence of this buyer’s remorse, the White House on Sunday evening issued a statement from Trump: “I couldn’t be happier with H.R. He’s doing a terrific job.”

Other White House officials however tell me this is not the sentiment the president has expressed recently in private. Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president’s threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.  [Bloomberg]

You can read more at the link, but who knows what the real story is when this is all sourced from anonymous leaks from officials in the White House probably eager to undercut General McMaster’s influence with President Trump.

Picture of the Day: THAAD Protesters In Front of US Embassy

Residents from the southeastern town of Seongju and nearby Gimcheon rally in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on May 8, 2017, to urge the U.S. Army to stop introducing equipment for the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system to a former golf course in Seongju. They were blocked from presenting a basket of melons (front) to the embassy, as quality melons are a specialty produced in Seongju. In April, U.S. troops began deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense near the town, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Forest Fire Started Outside of THAAD Site in South Korea

It will be interesting to see if this fire was started intentionally to threaten the THAAD site in South Korea:

Another fire broke out late on Sunday near the site where the U.S. is installing the controversial anti-missile system called THAAD. It started at around 7:30 p.m. near the top of a mountain located closely to the golf course picked for the THAAD deployment in the country’s southern town of Seongju.

Firefighters are working to bring the fire under control but are having trouble in doing so due to darkness. The exact cause of the fire has not been confirmed yet.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Report Claims High Altitude Ballistic Missiles Can Defeat US Missile Defenses In South Korea

Once again people are confusing the term missile defense system with THAAD:

North Korea is believed to have designed its series of missile tests in a way that can beat THAAD and other U.S. missile defense systems aimed at protecting South Korea and Japan, according to a congressional report Thursday.

The Congressional Research Service said in a report cited by the Washington Times that the North test-launched missiles last year in flights precisely designed to avoid interception by rocketing them into much higher altitudes.

That was aimed at getting the reentry warhead to descend at a steeper angle and faster speed, “making it potentially more difficult to intercept with a missile defense system,” the CRS report said, according to the newspaper.

The North has also demonstrated an ability to launch a salvo attack with multiple missiles, it said.

“This is consistent with a possible goal of being able to conduct large ballistic missile attacks with large raid sizes, a capability that could make it more challenging for a missile defense system to destroy each incoming warhead,” the CRS report said.  [Yonhap]

First of all of course if North Korea masses enough ballistic missiles at one location and there is not enough Patriot and THAAD interceptors to shoot them down then ballistic missiles will get through.  This is not a missile defense problem it is a math problem.  The other thing people need to realize is if the Kim regime masses missiles in one location to defeat a missile defense battery that means it has less in its inventory to use in other locations.

Secondly there are different types of missile defense systems which THAAD is one part of.  Patriot is a lower tier system that cannot do engagement outside the atmosphere.  THAAD is a system that can do engagement outside the atmosphere to intercept missiles fired at higher altitudes as cited in the article.

When I get time I will have to read the actual CRS report because what the media claims and what is actually in a report are often very different things.

Korea Times Chief Editorial Writer Advocates For Paying More to US For THAAD

Oh Young-jin over at the Korea Times seems to have a better understanding of President Trump than the rest of Korea:

Let’s calm ourselves down.

It’s exasperating to hear U.S. President Trump demand South Korea pay $1 billion for a missile interceptor owned and operated by the U.S. After all, the two allies cut a deal by which Korea provided land for a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, while the U.S. paid for the rest ― hardware and maintenance.

It’s tempting to shout back at Trump and tell him that we don’t want it so he can take it back.

But here are some sobering questions.

Can we defend ourselves without U.S. forces? The South excels the North in the size of economy many times and is more than double it in terms of population. So the answer to this question is yes, we can.

But if so, what extra cost would we have to pay for their absence? Billions of dollars would be needed to make up for the U.S. Forces Korea with its 28,000 American troops stationed here. They serve as a tripwire to bring in bigger and more powerful reinforcements ― the so-called extended deterrence (nuclear umbrella) included ― from the U.S. in the event of a war. The tab for this is uncountable because it has worked as the bedrock for Korea’s sense of security for decades.

Would you be willing to pay that extra cost? The bulk of the budget for welfare, infrastructure and other key state affairs would have to be diverted to cover our own defense spending. This means bigger tax bills for fewer services. Then, the security void that would be created by the U.S. withdrawal would have foreign investors rethink their plans involving Korea.

THAAD can turn this chain of hypotheses into reality. (……….) Now, it is important to think of how Trumpian arithmetic works.

Trump is a “successful” businessman and showbiz celebrity.

Therefore, he shuns money-losing businesses and sticks to the “beneficiary-pays” principle. This characteristic reflects his demand for Korea’s THAAD payment as he sees the U.S. as a benefactor and Korea as a beneficiary so he thinks it is natural for Seoul to pay.  [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but Mr. Oh advocates for paying Trump off by having a pro-rated cost for use of the THAAD system each year. This gets back to my belief this whole topic is about the USFK cost sharing negotiations next year which President Trump wants the Korean government to understand they need to pay more for advanced US capabilities.

By the way I still love Mr. Oh’s email: