Would Pre-Emptive Strike of North Korea Lead to Seoul Getting “Flattened”?

If the US was to do a preemptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear program I seriously doubt the North Koreans would respond by launching an artillery strike that would flatten Seoul:

North Korea has a massive amount of artillery dug into bunkers and pointed toward Seoul, and missiles that can reach Japan and other key U.S. allies in the region.

A pre-emptive U.S. strike might slow North Korea’s advancing nuclear program, but there is no effective way of knocking out its ability to retaliate.

“A military strike might alleviate our concerns” about North Korea developing nuclear missiles capable of reaching U.S. cities, said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security. “But it would mean Seoul could get flattened.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have only sketchy knowledge of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, which includes ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. They are scattered around in hardened bunkers. Specialized bombs capable of penetrating bunkers would be required to destroy them.

Some of the missiles are mounted on trucks and can be hidden. “All they would have to do is successfully hide the no-dong missiles,” Albright said. “They have hundreds of them.” The missiles have a range of about 800 to 900 miles.  [USA Today]

You can read the rest at the link, but if North Korea flattened Seoul this would lead to a regime change invasion of North Korea by the ROK and the US.  Kim Jong-un is not suicidal and I believe would instead respond in a limited way that would not lead to a regime change scenario.  I think the Kim regime would focus on conducting an asymmetrical retaliation focused against the United States that would include cyber attacks and possibly launching a limited number of ballistic missiles at US targets.

Does anyone have any opinions on how they think the Kim regime would respond to a preemptive strike on their nuclear and missile programs?

President Trump Set to Put Heavy Pressure On Chinese Leader Over Support of North Korea

It would probably be interesting to be a fly on the wall to over hear what President Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping will discuss this weekend:

President Donald Trump listens to a question during a town hall with business leaders in the White House in Washington on Tuesday. [AP/YONHAP]

Claiming North Korea is a “matter of urgent interest” for President Trump and his administration, the official added that Trump “has been pretty clear in messaging how important it is for China to coordinate with the United States, and for China to begin exerting its considerable economic leverage to bring about a peaceful resolution to that problem.”

Such issues will come up in their discussions, the official said. “Even though we hear sometimes that China’s political influence may have diminished with North Korea, clearly its economic leverage has not,” pointing out that nearly 90 percent of Pyongyang’s external trade is with its closest ally Beijing.

The Trump administration has been suggesting a paradigm shift from previous U.S. governments on policy toward the North Korea issue, putting the Pyongyang nuclear issue as a top priority for the first time.

Trump’s administration also isn’t shy about the pressure it intends to put on China over North Korea.

In a town hall meeting with business CEOs on Tuesday, Trump said on his upcoming summit with Xi, “I’m sure we’re going to have a fantastic meeting and we’re going to talk about a lot of things, including, of course, North Korea,” which he described as “really a humanity problem.”

“China has great influence over North Korea,” Trump declared in an interview with the Financial Times on Sunday.

“China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”

He also said that he will solve the North Korea issue if China won’t do it – and without China’s help.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

US Secretary of State Announces Strategic Patience Policy With North Korea Has Ended

It appears to me that the Trump administration’s get tough on North Korea policy that includes increased emphasis on military strike rhetoric is aimed more at China than North Korea.  Tillerson seems to be basically signaling to the Chinese that if they don’t enforce stronger sanctions and reign in North Korea then the US will by military means:

In a press conference in Seoul, Tillerson declared the end of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” policy and signaled a sharp turn toward a tougher policy involving ramped-up sanctions, pressure and even military actions.

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” he said. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”

Tillerson said that military measures could be one option if the threat from the North gets too high.

He also ruled out the possibility of any immediate negotiations. He noted that conditions are “not ripe” for any talks with the North, while calling on China to do more to induce a meaningful change in its behavior.

In Tokyo, he emphasized the need for a “new approach” after the failure of the past two decades of talks and aid to the North on hopes that it will take the path to denuclearization.

He didn’t provide details but provided a glimpse into what appears to be the Trump administration’s new policy toward the recalcitrant North, experts said.

Wang, meanwhile, hinted that China doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the U.S. on how to deal with the North. He said that diplomacy should be pursued and called for the resumption of the long-suspended six-party denuclearization talks.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

US Secretary of State Strongly Criticizes Chinese THAAD Retaliation Against South Korea

Thehe retaliation by China against the ROK is extremely petty and not something an aspiring super-power should be doing:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, talks with USFK Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks in the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday while a North Korean soldier outside the building takes photos of them through a window. Tillerson began his two-day trip to South Korea on Friday, flying from Japan. [YONHAP]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) U.S. antimissile system was “inappropriate and troubling,” and that Washington asks Beijing to “refrain from such action.”Although the U.S. “acknowledges” China’s opposition, Tillerson urged China to “address the threat that makes Thaad necessary.”

The statement was Tillerson’s first time personally addressing the issue in public. It was made during a 20-minute joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se in central Seoul, ahead of his closed-door meeting with Yun.

Tillerson touched down at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, 70 miles south of the capital, Friday morning for his second of three-leg trip in Asia. He had flown in from Tokyo, where he had talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, among others.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

US Trade Deficit with South Korea More Than Doubled After Free Trade Agreement

It looks like the Trump administration will at some point demand a renegotiation of the US-ROK FTA:

The U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday the free trade agreement with South Korea resulted in a “dramatic increase in our trade deficit,” stressing it’s time for a major review of how the U.S. approaches trade deals.

“The largest trade deal implemented during the Obama administration — our free trade agreement with South Korea — has coincided with a dramatic increase in our trade deficit with that country,” USTR said in President Donald Trump’s 2017 Trade Policy Agenda.

Compared with before the deal went into effect in 2012, the total value of U.S. goods exported to South Korea fell by $1.2 billion, while U.S. imports of goods from South Korea grew by more than $13 billion, USTR said.

“As a result, our trade deficit in goods with South Korea more than doubled,” it said. “Needless to say, this is not the outcome the American people expected from that agreement. Plainly, the time has come for a major review of how we approach trade agreements.”  [Korea Times]

I think what would be interesting to see is a report on any artificial barriers making it difficult for US companies to compete in South Korea which may contribute to the trade deficit.

Korean Illegal Immigrants Fear Being Deported By New US Immigration Enforcement Policies

I hope the Korean consulate and advocacy groups are recommending to the illegal immigrants calling them to go back to Korea instead of remaining as criminals in the US:

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs take an undocumented immigrant to a patrol car in Los Angeles on Feb, 7, 2017, in this photo released by The Associated Press. (Yonhap)

Park Sang-ok, a consul responsible for immigration affairs at the South Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles, was inundated with telephone calls all day long on Friday.

Many Koreans who are not legally in the United States called him for inquiries, as they were becoming aware that the anti-immigration polices of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration were imminent and are scared of possibly being deported.

According to Park, the callers, including one from Boston, Massachusetts, were responding to the consulate general’s posting of a notice about the U.S. administration’s measures to toughen immigration polices and related information.

Advocacy groups supporting the rights of Korean immigrants, such as the Los Angeles-based Korean Resource Center (KRC), have been dealing with an increasing number of callers seeking more information about the administration’s campaign to crack down on illegal immigration. The center, founded in 1983, was created to educate, serve and organize the Korean-American community in Los Angeles.

One of the officials at the KRC, Chung Sang-hyuk, said, “We received an average of 20 calls a day last week. There were calls from Ohio State and New York as well as Los Angeles.”

The Korean-American community has been gripped by fear since the Trump administration on Tuesday announced new guidelines that could lead to more aggressive deportations of undocumented immigrants inside the country and at the border.  [Yonhap]

The new immigration policy deports illegal immigrants arrested for crimes.  Such as this guy here quoted in the article:

A Korean-American in his 20s living in Georgia State said to Yonhap News Agency, “I have been fined for drunk driving in the past and my visa has expired. I am so worried about agents coming after me.”

If an illegal immigrant is driving around drunk, putting people at risk, why should American citizens be expected to let this person stay?

Here is the other effect from President Trump’s new immigration policy, it is forcing people to apply for residency and citizenship:

Against the backdrop, lawyers specializing in immigration law are cashing in on many Koreans’ needs to obtain permanent residence rights and citizenships earlier.

A 49-year-old Korean resident near Los Angeles said on the condition of anonymity that he hurriedly applied for citizenship right after President Trump’s inauguration. “But it remains to be seen whether I will get it in due time,” he said.

I have little sympathy for illegal immigrants that have had years to apply for residency and did not do it.

Pro-Park Activists Wave US and Israeli Flags During Protest

It does seem pretty weird that the pro-Park protesters are waving US and Israelis flags which have absolutely nothing to do with the corruption scandal that caused her impeachment:

Controversy is brewing over the use of U.S. and Israeli flags by supporters of the impeached President Park Geun-hye during their weekend rallies that have nothing to do with the countries.

Right-wing groups have organized these rallies to counter much-larger demonstrations demanding Park’s removal from power by the Constitutional Court.

Pro-Park counterprotesters have waved the Korean national flag, or Taegeukgi, at the rallies, which they call “Taegeukgi rallies” themselves. Lately, they have also been bringing U.S. and Israeli flags to the political events.

The participants claim it is a way to show their “patriotism,” but criticism is prevalent that the flags are being misused.

Several protesters, who are mainly in their 60s or older, have been waving the Korean and U.S. flags together in a bid to underscore the Korea-U.S. security alliance against “North Korean sympathizers.”

Some others, who call themselves devout churchgoers, have brought the Israeli flag with a wooden cross and other symbols they think can represent their faith.

But critics said Monday that such expressions may only stir up misunderstandings toward the U.S and Israel as well as Christianity.

The U.S. and Israeli embassies in Seoul were not available for comment.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.