Monday, June 30, 2008

Korean Government Memorializes Sixth Anniversary of the West Sea Naval Battle
» by GI Korea

The new presidential administration of Lee Myung-bak had announced back in April that they would do something the prior government failed to do and properly memorialize the six South Korean sailors murdered six years ago by North Korean gun boats. The new government was good on its word:

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo offered an apology Sunday to the families of six South Korean soldiers killed in a 2002 naval clash with North Korea in the West Sea, saying the government has not properly honored their sacrifice.

South Korea’s previous liberal governments had officially labeled the tragic incident an “accidental exchange of gunfire,” not a naval battle, although the skirmish was a clear reminder of the grim reality that the two Korea's remain at war.

The families of the fallen soldiers have argued that the previous governments played down the significance of the incident in a bid to keep the fragile mood of inter-Korean reconciliation in tact. They also claimed that the military authorities did not want to talk publicly about the skirmish that had left six soldiers dead and 18 others injured. The North’s losses in the incident remain unconfirmed.

Delivering a message at a ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of the incident, the prime minister described it as a “victory” for the South against the North’s provocative attack.

“We have not appraised the Second Yeonpyeong Naval Battle correctly and have not honored the lofty sacrifice properly,” Han said in the ceremony held at the Command of the Second Fleet in Pyeongtaek, 70km south of Seoul. A previous inter-Korean naval skirmish near Yeonpyeong Island occurred in 1999. [Yonhap]

For the benefit of those that don’t know the West Sea Naval Battle occurred in 2002 when North Korean gunboats ambushed a South Korean naval vessel patrolling the maritime border known as the North Limit Line (NLL) killing six South Korean sailors and wounding many more. It is suspected that North Korea conducted the ambush in order to draw attention away from South Korea’s incredible success during the 2002 World Cup.

Wounded survivor from the attack.

What is particularly disturbing about this incident is how the Korean government did everything possible to minimize what happened to the Korean public by claiming it was an accidental firing. They would also not hold government memorial ceremonies and left it to the ROK Navy to hold the memorial services on their base in order to prevent the Korean public from turning out. In fact families of the deceased were distraught that USFK appreciated the sacrifices of their loved ones more then their own government:

The father said, “My son is buried in the National Cemetery. But I’m going to take my son’s remains to my family burial site in my hometown.” Having watched the situation develop, he thought his son who was killed by North Korean soldiers was considered nothing more than a criminal.

Some parents said that they are more scared of people who consider the U.S. a bigger enemy than North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who killed their son. We lose courage to defend the country, when we hear that a wife whose husband fell in the battle is preparing to leave this country. Reading a condolence letter from the USFK commander to mark the second anniversary, the wife said, “The Americans remember my husband and his brothers-in-arms better than Koreans… Frankly, I hate Korea.” [Chosun Ilbo]

The wife in question was so distraught she left Korea because of the way the government treated her. A perfect example of this is when the former Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung implied the soldiers died for nothing.

Last year claims were made that US veterans better remembered the sacrifices of these sailors when a memorial in the US was constructed in their honor. The wife that went to America has since returned to Korea with the election of Lee Myung-bak, who promised properly memorialize the soldiers as well as providing proper medical care for the wounded survivors which has been another major failing of the government.

What was particularly troubling from American perspective was how this incident where six South Korean sailors were deliberately murdered was minimized yet Korean politicians and society decided to begin an anti-US orgy of hate that has been unmatched in Korea over a tragic traffic accident involving a USFK vehicle that happened two weeks before this deliberate murder.

I’m glad finally these murdered sailors are being memorialized, but I do have one problem with this, where was President Lee? Maybe there is a good reason I don’t know about, but it seems like if you are going to make a big deal about how this government is going to properly remember the sailors killed serving their country, the actual President would be the one to appear at the memorial service?

One of my continued criticism of the prior President Roh Moo-hyun was how he would never attend any memorial service for the deceased sailors and now Lee Myung-bak is continuing this tradition.

Sunday, June 29, 2008



BY Ralph Peters NY Times

THE facts about your security are being torn to shreds by activist liars. And they think that you're too stupid to know the difference.

Let's lay out the worst current examples of media make-believe and election-year truth-trashing:

Whopper No. 1: America is less safe today than it was on Sept. 10, 2001. Oh, really? Where's the evidence? The Clinton years saw New York City attacked and Americans slaughtered by terrorists around the globe. Nothing was done to protect us.

And the true end of the Clinton era came on 9/11.

A record to be proud of.

Countless aspects of the Bush-Cheney administration deserve merciless criticism. But fair is fair: Since 9/11, we haven't suffered a single successful terrorist attack on our homeland. Not one.

Explain to me, please, how this shows we're less safe. What factual measurement applies, other than the absence of attacks?

God knows, the terrorists desperately wanted to strike our homeland. And they couldn't. Are we supposed to believe that was an accident?

Whopper No. 2: Al Qaeda is stronger than ever. Al Qaeda just suffered a strategic defeat in Iraq that may prove decisive. It can't launch attacks beyond its regional lairs. The cowardly Osama bin Laden can't show his face (remember his Clinton-era pep rallies?).

Yes, terrorists can still murder innocents on their home court. I personally prefer that to them killing Americans in Manhattan and Washington. Even in Iraq, al Qaeda's been beaten down to violent-fugitive status.

By what objective measurement is al Qaeda stronger today than it was when it had an entire country for its base and its tentacles reached all the way to Florida and the Midwest?

Whopper No. 3: Success in Iraq is an illusion - the surge failed. Folks, this is something only a New York Times columnist could believe.

Every single significant indicator, from Iraqi government progress through the performance of Iraqi security forces to the plummeting level of violence, has changed for the better - remarkably so.

If current trend-lines continue, it may not be long before Baghdad is safer for Iraqi citizens than the Washington-Baltimore metroplex is for US citizens. Iraq's government is working, its economy is booming - and its military has driven the concentrations of terrorists and militia from every one of Iraq's major cities.

And our troops are coming home. Where's the failure?

Whopper No. 4: Iran is stronger than ever. Tell that to the Iraqis, who've rejected Iranian meddling in their affairs, who've smashed the Iran-backed Shia militias and who didn't take long to figure out that Tehran's foreign policy was imperialist and anti-Arab.

The people of Iraq don't intend to trade Saddam for Ahmadinejad. Iran has lost in Iraq. At this point, all the Iranians can do is to kill a handful of innocent Iraqis now and then. Think that wins them friends and influence?

Whopper No. 5: The US-European relationship is a disaster. In fact, Washington and the major European capitals have built new, sturdier bridges to replace old ones that badly needed burning.

The Europeans grudgingly figured out that they need us - as we need them. The big break in 2003 cleared a lot of bad air (there was no break with Europe's young democracies). Relations today are sounder than they were in the fiddle-while-Rome-burns Clinton era.

Oh, and NATO has become a serious military alliance - fighting in Afghanistan, patrolling the high seas and conducting special operations against terrorists. The Germans announced this week that they're sending another thousand troops to Afghanistan. France is re-engaging with NATO's military side. Where's the disaster, mon ami?

Whopper No. 6: As president, Barack Obama would bring positive change to our foreign policy - and John McCain's too old to get it.

Hmm: Take a gander at Obama's senior foreign-policy advisers: Madeleine Albright (71), Warren Christopher (82), Anthony Lake (69), Lee Hamilton (77), Richard Clarke (57) . . .

If you added up their ages and fed the number into a time-machine, you'd land in Europe in the middle of the Black Death.

More important: These are the people whose watch saw the first attack on the World Trade Center, Mogadishu, Rwanda, the Srebrenica massacre, a pass for the Russians on Chechnya, the Khobar Towers bombing, the attacks on our embassies in Africa, the near-sinking of the USS Cole - oh, and the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Their legacy climaxed on 9/11.

You couldn't assemble a team in Washington with more strategic failures to its credit.

Whopper No. 7: Our troops are all coming home as psychos victimized by their participation in military atrocities.

Tell it to the Marines.

Good luck to anyone who owns this car...
Over the last few years, I have started to really hate Korean Films. They were just all flash and no substance. The plots were bad, the acting was horrible and by the end of the film, I would swear that I would never watch another Korean film ever again. Lately ever time I have broken that vow, I have been sorely disappointed by the crap that Korean films have become. I have only seen one Korean film that i even liked and it was a great one called, The Chaser

I had seen the previews for a film called The Crossing and I must admit, it looked good. It was telling about a family that was trying to survive in North Korea. I thought that it would be a good film. I had no idea that it would be a great film.

This review will be HEAVY SPOILER so if you do not want to know what happens then please stop reading now.

The film opens up and you see a family in North Korea just trying to get by. You see a sick mother a worried father and a boy and his dog. They are trying to work and stay alive in North Korea. Something is very wrong with the mother and her health is slowly getting worse. It get to the point where the father can not get food nor medicine to feed that family and they have to resort to eating the family dog.

You are also introduced to a black market person who likes the father and his son. They have a daughter and they are about the same age, she shows him a simple pencil sharpener and he looks with amazement. The men drink bootlegged Jack Daniels and they talk about life.

Then one day the black market person's family just simply vanishes and the father decides that he has to try and get a job to save his wife and to get a soccer ball for his son.

The rest of the story tel about how he tries, with a lot of outside help, to reunite the family in South Korea.

What was great about the film was the reaction to the little things that we take for granted. He sees a big Chinese city for the first time and wonders what a
McDonald's' is. He can not believe that the world is so big and that he has lived in darkness for so long. What I also liked was the child finding his lost friend and trying to take care of her until the very end. It was sad to see.

END SPOILERS.......................................................

I have no idea how this film will do in South Korea. It should be seen by the majority of the population and they should ask themselves one huge question, Why did we ever agree to the Sunshine policy if this is the result.

Please see the film when you can

Grade A+

How I saw it. CGV Theater

Opened in Korea 26 June, 2008
Well as a fan of Nochnoy dozor/Night Watch, I was curious to see Timur Bekmambetov's first US Film,Wanted. Well, I have now seen it and I love it.

Within the last few years, Russia has started to produce some great movies, with the Night Watch Trilogy and The 9th Company , some attention is being shown to these films. Now with this film wanted now showing, should we see more Hollywood films under Russian directors?

For this who do not know this movie was originally a comic book by Top Cow Productions written by Mark Millar. In the past I have shown my total disdain for bad cartoon rip-offs but this film is not one of them.

I will make this review as spoiler free as possible.

What I liked was the way that the film was shot, the CGI was very well done and looked very real. I also liked that, in a way, you could actually believe this film.
The film was well directed and had a great script and a great plot and one heck of a fracked up ending. If you like this kind of film, then you need to see this when you can.

Wesley: [Final Line] What the f___ have you done lately?

Grade A-

How I saw it CGV Theater.

Opens in Korea. 26 June 2008 (South Korea)
une 29th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Exposing the Anti-US Activists as Violence Continues In Seoul

The protests against the importation of US beef into Korea (that really has nothing to do with US beef) broke out once again in downtown Seoul. The conflict began yesterday when the Korean police gave a deadline to the protests groups to remove their tents that were illegally occupying the front lawn of City Hall. The protesters refused and the police moved in an forcibly removed the tents:


In an attempt to end the protests, the Seoul Metropolitan Government removed 27 tents that were built illegally by rally organizers from Seoul City Hall Plaza. About 50 workers and 2,000 riot police removed the tents, which had been used as the headquarters of the civic groups’ alliance, the People’s Conference Against Mad Cow Disease.

About 400 protesters tried to physically block the removal, but failed. About 10 people who violently resisted were taken to a police station for questioning.

The city said it gave the organizer yesterday a noon deadline to leave City Hall Plaza, but the protesters did not cooperate, causing the police to forcibly evict them. [Joong Ang Ilbo]


While removing the tents the police also kept the road leading up to the Presidential Blue House blocked with their police buses in anticipation of the protest that was to begin that night:


After the police tore down the tent city the protesters then brought out a banner depicting Korean President Lee Myung-bak:


They then proceeded to walk all over it and eventually tore it up:


The protesters as usual brought out their young kids to inflate their numbers:


You are never to young to be brainwashed by these leftist goons:


Politicians from the United Democratic Party came out and protested as well:


UDP lawmaker Ahn Min-seok told the media he was assaulted by Korean riot police the night before that ended up being a total fabrication:

Representative Ahn Min-seok said he was assaulted by the police, although he had identified himself as a lawmaker.

Police disagreed. It was Ahn, they said, that actually assaulted three officers.

“We began collecting evidence to investigate this case,” Seoul police said yesterday.

Ahn’s punching a police corporal was captured by the video record of Joins TV, an Internet broadcaster affiliated with the JoongAng Ilbo. The footage was posted on the JoongAng Ilbo’s Internet site. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

The leftist propaganda sites though have been working overtime to spread the disinformation that Ahn was attacked despite the video evidence to the contrary. Below is a picture being spread on the Anti2mb website condemning the supposed attack on Ahn:


I’m sure you will never see on the Anti2mb website:


Here is an example of more violence against police officers from last night:

Around 1:20 a.m., Oh Myeong-hwan, a detective from the Namdaemun police precinct, attempted to arrest several protesters who vandalized the Koreana Hotel in central Seoul. He was soon surrounded by about 30 demonstrators. Lee Deok-wu, an attorney from the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, which represents the rally organizer, appeared 20 minutes later. Kim Won-jung, chief of the Namdaemun police, also arrived.

“The people nabbed Oh because they thought he was a kidnapper,” Lee said. At the time, Oh was not wearing his uniform. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

These people claim to be peaceful protesters yet they are vandalizing one of the better hotels in Seoul and beating policeman and then claim he is a kidnapper. How would a kidnapper kidnap “several” men at one time? These people will lie about anything.

These so called peaceful protesters have also ransacked offices of newspapers that have spoken out against the violence as part of the protesters campaign of intimidation to silence their critics:

Demonstrators have attacked journalists from conservative-leaning newspapers, which they claim carry unfair reports about the protests. They also broke windows to storm into the head offices of the Chosun Ilbo and Donga Ilbo dailies. [Korea Times]

Choe Sang-hun of the New York Times reported last night’s protests as having 15,000 people. Looking at the below pictures I would say that estimate is about right and would make this the largest of the violent protests so far:



As night fell the violence began:


Of course once again they were using ropes to pull on the buses with to try and move them:


I may have even been able to locate King Baeksu’s fire extinguisher from last night’s protest:


The Anti2mb site is claiming the policemen were beating down foreigners for no reason as well, just like Ahn Min-seok I’m sure:


To be fair some of the policemen were hitting some of the protesters pretty hard as this YouTube video shows but it tough to make out the context of what happened before the woman got hit with the batons. Did she she throw something that hit somebody in the head to provoke the attack? As we see with the Ahn Min-seok story, these groups will lie and lie regularly no matter how absurd the claims may be.

I actually thought this was kind of funny that some of the protesters brought their own water hoses to fight back with:


I was wondering what protesters were doing with these water guns in the previous night’s protest:


Well now we know:

“In the latest rallies, demonstrators shot acid at the police using water pistols and threw bricks at them,” said Han Jin-hee, chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. “The use of violence has crossed the line. It doesn’t feel like a democratic country anymore.” [Joong Ang Ilbo]

The leftist politician were also out getting their faces in the news again as well and fortunately there are no reports yet of them claiming they were beaten by police like the false claim from Representative Ahn Min-seok discussed earlier:


The guy dressed in the hanbok if anyone wondering is Hong Hui-deok is a member of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) that two years ago was linked to a North Korean spy ring.

With that an excellent report was published today that shows the background of two of the main organizers of these protests that clearly shows their anti-American backgrounds:

He said the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement, established last September, is the architect of the protests.
Oh Chong-ryol and Han Sang-ryeol, the co-chairmen of the civic group, as well as Park Seok-un, another senior leader, were singled out by Hong as ringleaders.

Oh, 70, who used to teach at Jeonnam Girls’ High School, is a well-known anti-U.S. activist. He is also a leader of the alliance of civic groups that oppose the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement as well as other anti-American measures.

Han, 58, whose career as an activist began as the student association president of Chonbuk National University, is famous for leading protests to demand the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Korea. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Han Sang-ryeol

Make sure to read the rest of the report but Han Sang-ryeol has a vast history of violence to include participating in the attempt to tear down the MacArthur Statue in Incheon and fighting with Korean police against the Camp Humphreys expansion. He is also a pro-North Korean stooge.

Oh Jong-ryeol

Oh Chong-ryol is the chairman of the Korea Progressive Coalition that is an umbrella group that includes mostly anti-US and pro-North Korean groups like Hanchongryun. Oh has been behind anti-US-ROK FTA protests as well as anti-US protests in 2002 in regards to the USFK armored vehicle accident. He was also involved in protests to shut down the USFK bombing range at Maehyang-ri in 2001.

It is pretty clear that these guys and others are hard core anti-US activists that have been spearheading these violent protests. In response to the violent protests the police have finally issued arrest warrants for organizers of the protests:

Police also said yesterday that they sought warrants to further detain two key members of the rally organizer on charges of violating laws governing assembly and demonstration. According to police, Ahn Jin-geol, 35, was suspected of inciting protesters to march toward the Blue House from May 13 to 25. Yun Hee-suk, 32, was accused of instigating a movement to oust President Lee Myung-bak by acting as a host for the candlelight vigils.

The police also applied for warrants to arrest eight others who are known as leaders of the anti-U.S. beef import rallies. Subpoenas were sent to two more activists. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Ahn Jin-geol was one of the organizers of the violent protests and is a member of the Peace Network. The Peace Network is a anti-US (some Japan bashing too) and North Korean apologist group that has held seminars criticizing actions against North Korea such as UN resolutions condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses. Yun Hee-suk on the other hand I couldn’t find out much about his background but considering the company he keeps we can assume where he comes from.

Also I recommend everyone go and read this posting from Gusts of Popular Feeling that lays out in great detail on how the online scaremongering scheme by some shady leftist groups coincided with the now proven to be fraudulent PD Diary report that greatly fanned the anti-US beef fears across the Korean public. It is coming quite clear how organized these protests were and all the players behind them.

This is all quite clearly an attempt by the anti-US leftist groups to politically neuter Korean President Lee Myung-bak because he put a stop to their leftist agendas by winning the election. They are now trying to do through misinformation, smears, violence, and intimidation what they couldn’t do in the ballot box.

As things stand now they have been extremely effective.

As end of Reunion Arena draws near, memories flood back

10:33 AM CDT on Monday, June 23, 2008
By ERIC AASEN / The Dallas Morning News

It was the house where Barack Obama blew his nose and the crowd went wild. Where Luciano Pavarotti belted out “Addio fiorito asil.”

And where Sam Burns came face to face with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

Many will remember Reunion Arena for the deafening Mavericks and Stars games and the likes of Van Halen and R.E.M. But for others, it represents a place full of defining moments for a city and its people.

Now, as the aging arena faces the wrecking ball — the Dallas City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on shutting it down — some North Texans can’t help but reminisce.

The building may fade away, they say, but not the memories.

Kendall Richards, Plano

As a Jumbotron camera operator at Reunion Arena, Kendall Richards got to literally rub shoulders with Mavericks and Stars players in the late '90s.

But it was his encounter with "His Airness" that was unforgettable.

"The very first game I worked ... Michael Jordan is standing on the court at the line, waiting, and he was staring through me," Mr. Richards said. "It sent chills down my spine."

When he wasn't catching the action on camera, Mr. Richards was panning through the boisterous crowds.

"I never saw it as work," he said. "It was a blast. ... I always considered it a major privilege to do what I got to do."

Thanks to his time shooting Stars games, Mr. Richards got hooked on hockey and started playing the game. He even got signed sticks from goalies Roman Turek and Ed Belfour.

Although Mr. Richards, 46, was happy the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, he was selfishly hoping they wouldn't have won it on the road. That way, he could have seen it with his own eyes – and captured it on the Jumbotron.

Sam Burns, Dallas

Sam Burns felt helpless three years ago as he walked around Reunion Arena, surrounded by Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

People wandered with their belongings stuffed in black trash bags. A sea of white cots covered the arena floor.

Mr. Burns, 39, established Internet access for Red Cross crews at the scene and set up computers for hurricane evacuees to check e-mail.

"There was no helping those people," Mr. Burns said. "It was so overwhelming to all of them. It was just in their eyes. ... They didn't know what to think."

Because of the evacuees, Mr. Burns said, Reunion was no longer just a place where you caught a game or a concert. He said he's glad the arena was used for something that "really mattered."

"It was transformed into this one city's civic responsibility to another city," Mr. Burns said. "That was probably the most useful Reunion Arena was to its fellow human being."

Michael Hanna, Rockwall

As Michael Hanna played piano on the Reunion Arena stage as part of Dan Fogelberg's band in the early '80s, it was a homecoming of sorts.

Mr. Hanna, a Corsicana native, was performing for a hometown crowd studded with friends and his mother, who was attending her first rock 'n' roll concert.

"She didn't know what to expect," said Mr. Hanna, 56. "I'm sure her eyes got wide open."

He worked for about 30 years with Mr. Fogelberg, who died in December.

But the Reunion concert almost didn't happen. Mr. Fogelberg was "sick as a dog" before his Dallas performance. There was chatter of canceling the concert, Mr. Hanna said. Fortunately, a throat specialist was flown in, and Mr. Fogelberg "sang like a bird."

A review of the performance in The Dallas Morning News declared: "It was so nice to see someone on that stage who seemed to be enjoying himself as much as those who crammed into practically every available seat in Reunion were enjoying listening and watching him."

David Marcus, Milwaukee

Like many fans who caught Mavericks games at Reunion, David Marcus remembers the deafening, bone-rattling noise.

The arena was practically shaking during one game in the '80s when the Mavs played the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

The crowd roared – and his ears rang.

"It got loud enough where you hear your ears reach this high pitch and you don't hear anything else," said Mr. Marcus, who grew up in Dallas. "It was the best headache I ever had."

Reunion Arena wasn't just a building for Mr. Marcus to watch pro sports. It helped influence his career choice – television sports anchor.

Mr. Marcus, 39, eventually covered sports for stations in Corpus Christi, Austin and Milwaukee. He's returning to Dallas and hopes to be a freelance reporter.

"It's not quite like Yankee Stadium closing," he said. "Reunion Arena will never be confused with the great, beloved, traditional venues in American sports."

But during Reunion's heyday, he said, it was "one heck of a place to be."

Buddy Shivley, Elba, Ala.

For Buddy Shivley, venturing to Reunion Arena was more than just watching famous athletes shoot hoops. It was a chance to bond with his girls over basketball.

In the late '80s, Mr. Shivley bought two Mavericks season tickets, and his young daughters, Sarah and Anna Lynn, took turns accompanying him to games, even on school nights. They'd mark down game days on their calendars.

Mr. Shivley treasures those moments.

"The longer you've been with them, the more they open up and get away from Mom and the house and the other sister," said Mr. Shivley, 59. "It was just good one-on-one time."

On game day, as Mr. Shivley drove from his Plano home down Central Expressway, his daughters would often tackle their homework in the back seat.

In the arena, they'd talk about who played well. (Rolando Blackman was his daughters' favorite.) They'd talk about how ugly some of the players were – particularly those who played for the Boston Celtics.

But the best part of being at Reunion?

For Mr. Shivley, it was walking up to the arena, holding his daughters' hands and seeing the excitement in their eyes.

Michelle Ordeneaux Jones, 32, Murphy

Memorable moment: Her first concert

"My best friend and I attended the Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet tour. With our giant bangs, matching acid-wash jean skirts and our newly purchased [tour] T-shirts, we donned the perfect hair-band-fan uniform."

Patricia Johnson, 50, Garland

Memorable moment: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

"When I divorced, I decided to start some new traditions for my daughter. We started going to [the circus]. ... I would save my money all year and when the circus came, I went all out with the best seats I could get."

Clint Schroeder, 30, Norwalk, Conn.

Memorable moment: Sidekicks soccer games "I am sad that I will probably not be able to take my daughter past Reunion Arena and say, 'Look, honey. There is where your dad graduated from high school. And where your grandpa used to take us all to soccer games.' "

Katrina McNair, 28, DeSoto

Memorable moment: Ice-skating Chipmunks "My father had picked up my sister and me to attend the show. We picked up these little tiny hamburgers called 'Burger Buddies' and gobbled them down on the way to Reunion. I remember thinking how big everything looked to me – and how cold it was inside Reunion."

AND NOW FOR MINE................................................................................................................

Flynn McStay, 42 Daejeon South Korea. "It was the place to go see concerts at in the 80's. My first Reunion show was U2 and I paid 10$ for a so-called bad seat. I have seen, Dokken, Judas Priest, Journey, (a VERY BAD DATE WITH NEW EDITION), Phil Collins, RESTLESS HEART AND Many others.

I was never much of a hockey fan, but I loved the Mavericks, so I would go to the games on Saturday while I was going to college at UNT and for 10-12 $ I had a nice high level seat to a few games. Then when I found out about the best seat after 5pm for 20-25$ I had some great seats for some games.

A while back the "Sportatorium" was torn down and now with this, my 80's memories are slowly fading away.

So, um, college drop-outs can become English teachers now?

Today's Korea Times tells us:
``Some foreign students have to give up their university studies due to financial difficulties. We will invite those young English-speaking foreigners to our schools for the program,'' Hwang Ik-jung, an official at the education office, told The Korea Times. ``It is very helpful for our country as those students can be emissaries for Korea in the future.''

Talk about mixed signals. People bitch and moan all the time about quote-unquote unqualified teachers, and that term is used as a catch-all under which all foreigners' offenses fall. Foreigners sleeping with Korean women? Unqualified teachers. Foreigners taking drugs? Unqualified teachers. Foreigners earning high salaries? Unqualified teachers. Foreigners teaching private lessons, just like countless Korean teachers and college students? Unqualified teachers. Foreigners coming to South Korea at the invitation of the government and at the behest of the free market? Unqualified teachers.

Korean teachers aren't, of course, painted with the same wide brush domestically. There are plenty of legitimate gripes against foreigners here, and I make them pretty frequently, but you can't just hire white people willy-nilly with no plans in place and expect things to improve. Well, okay Korea can and probably will, but I meant to say they shouldn't. I suspect this won't sit well with the Korean Association of Foreign Language Academies, who told the Korea Times last month:
``The government is under the illusion that an unlimited number of English teachers exists overseas,’’ said Seo Jung-sook, information director of the association. ``Inviting more foreign teachers will eventually degrade the average quality of instructors and drive up costs for us.’’

``No hagwon owners want to work with unqualified foreigners. Most hagwon employers terminate contracts of unacceptable foreigners, those guilty of sexual harassment or taking drugs,'' general director Choi Chang-jin said.

``However, many of these `blacklisted' foreigners return and teach English at other hagwon. I have seen a foreigner, who was expelled on drug charges, return here within three days. This is because the government does not keep records on these foreigners,'' Choi said.

I already extended KAFLA an invitation to have intercourse with itself, but I'm a generous man and have no qualms about issuing another, should the opportunity present itself.

Stolen from here.

As most of us know, it was just last fall that foreign teachers---foreign teachers on E-2 visas, I mean---were the subject of a moral panic that arose when a teacher in Gwangju was arrested on child molestation charges for stuff he did in another country. We---foreign teachers on E-2 visas, I mean---were hit with all kinds of new regulations making the visa process more grueling and stringent. But because foreign teachers stopped applying---a recruiter on a Seoul Podcast episode said applicants were down by about 2/3rds---and because the teachers here started leaving, these regulations were greatly relaxed. So much so that I have no idea what they even are, and can't get any clear answers from my higher-ups at the local education office, a cause for concern since I need to renew my visa, like, soon. As I mentioned before, it's worth remembering that the Korean government went ahead and imposed all these regulations, even though foreign embassies were not equipped or interested in complying. We ought to call to mind, too, the arrogance of some officials, who had the gall to say shit like:
“I just don’t understand why [foreign embassies] cannot make some exceptions to accommodate the needs of their own nationals,” Choi [at the Justice Ministry] said. “In Korea, criminal records can be easily obtained online. But they don’t have a centralized system.”

As if South Korea has done anything of late to warrant this sort of consideration from foreign governments.

Also important to remember the statement immigration released last fall, in the middle of the moral panic:
The Korean Government will prevent illegal activities by verifying requirements of native English teacher and tighten their non-immigrant status [...] [and will] eradicate illegal activities of native English teachers who are causing social problems such as ineligible lectures, taking drugs and sex crimes. English teachers, who disturb social order during their staying in Korea such as illegal teaching, taking drugs and sex crimes, will be banned from entering South Korea.[...] [They will] prevent illegal English teaching activities and the taking of drugs and sexual harassment of English teachers, [...] teachers who disrupt the social order by taking drugs, committing sexual harassment and alcohol intoxication.

Um, that in the land where 73% of Korean men drink every day, in the land where rougly half smoke cigarettes, in the land that was labeled a "danger country for women," in the land where human trafficking is permitted to thrive and the sex trade openly plied, in the land where teachers routinely behave very badly, and in the land where private tutoring (.pdf) and after-school academies have long been part of the local culture, immigration decided to come out with that directed at a few thousand residents. Anyway, there have been all kinds of recruitment campaigns to get more foreigners in Korean schools after, paradoxically, the government and other forces had been working so hard to drive them away. Because there is little to no attention paid to how foreign teachers are to be used in schools, and because they often serve no greater purpose than window dressing, I do have to question how effective they'll be. But, given the extremely low abilities of many Korean English teachers, I suppose boatloads of foreigners can't do much worse. And given Koreans' remarkably low test scores, especially considering that education here revolves entirely around teaching toward tests, perhaps it is time for a change.

* Update: Galbijim brought up a good point:
Just wait till these guys see how little 1.6 is in this industry and how much they can make in privates or moonlighting at local hagwons and the govt realizes that they’ve created 600 teachers working illegally.
Violent Anti-US Beef Protests Continue In Seoul
» by GI Korea

The violent anti-US beef protests that have been paralyzing downtown Seoul continued on Thursday night, June 27th. The usual anti-US groups that have largely been abandoned by mainstream Korean society, continued to destroy property and assault Korean riot policemen.

Courtesy of another reader tip I have pictures of the June 27th protests. The number of protesters appears to be the usual 5,000-6,000 people that compose the anti-US groups that have been left protesting ever since most of the Korean public abandoned the movement when Korean President Lee Myung-bak implemented new US beef import regulations that seems to have largely addressed public fears of being killed by US beef:




As usual these anti-US protesters were assaulting the young Korean conscripts that compose the country’s riot police:


It just continues to piss me off how Korean society allows this people to bash in and assault young men that are conducting their mandatory service to the nation for about $40 a month. When I look at these young guys I think of the KATUSA soldiers I once led and how I would never allow people to treat them like these riot police are treated. No young men should be should be subject to this and is a national disgrace.

The protesters much like the night before, tried to move the buses blocking the path to the Korean Blue House by using ropes. Notice how one of the protesters has a police shield. I doubt the policemen handed it to him, which probably means he assaulted a policemen to get it:



In a new tactic the protesters even used sandbags stolen from a construction site to make an artificial hill to go over the buses with:


Looking at the age of the protesters in this picture, there is a high likelihood these are probably Hanchongnyun members:


I will give these people credit for teamwork that’s for sure:



The police tried to fight against the protesters by using what appears to be pepper spray:


It appears the spray had little effect as the mass of protesters kept pushing forward against the riot police:



As the protesters kept pushing forward they began to throw bottles filled with urine at the riot police:


Should anyone forced to do mandatory service for their nation be subjected to having urine thrown at them? What a disgrace.

It also makes me wonder what this guy with the water gun is shooting at the police? Is it water or urine?:


Once on top of the bus the protesters held up a banner saying Korean President Lee Myung-bak is fighting against the citizens of Korea:


And finally of course there were more injuries due to the violent protesters:




In response to this violence Korean President Lee Myung-bak has announced he is going to arrest the protest leaders and put die in the water cannons:

Police are getting tougher with protesters against U.S. beef imports.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Friday it will seek arrest warrants for eight protesters on charges of masterminding illegal demonstrations.

It is the first time that the police is seeking arrest warrants for leaders of the candlelight protests against U.S. beef imports.

The police also announced it will fire water cannons with colored water at violent protesters to make it easier to arrest them. [KBS Global]

I doubt this will do much, what the Korean authorities need to do is arrest people who assault policemen and destroy property. The people that assault policemen should be fined and jailed. It is a disgrace that these people are allowed to assault these conscripted riot police the way they are. The people destroying property should be arrested and then instead of sending them to jail, fine them the cost of the damage to property. If these people start getting hit in the pocketbooks I think the violence in these protests will drop dramatically.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Congrats NK

North Korea has handed over to China a dossier on its nuclear activities, and plans to destroy the cooling tower at its Yongbyon reactor complex.

The Bush administration will take North Korea off the State Department’s terrorism blacklist.

Secretary of State Condie Rice says the United States has the means to verify North Korea’s estimates of its nuclear programs. John Bolton thinks she’s full of shit:

“This is a sad, sad day,” said John Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations and a leading critic of the new American negotiating stance. “I think Bush believes what Condi is telling him, that they’re going to persuade the North to give up nuclear weapons, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’ve been taken to the cleaners.”

Well, at least Ban Ki-moon is happy.

Eight years, and we’ve got this steaming load of crap. The critics are right — if Agreed Framework 2.0 was going to be the result, we might as well have stuck with the Clinton deal.

Over at Think Progress, “Satyam” gives us a flashback to when Bush was governor and wondering why the hell he should care about North Korea. Funny thing is, the Ineloquent One had the right idea back then. If the Chinese and South Koreans want to pay off the nuclear basketcase in their backyard, that’s their business. Is it now US policy to pay off any regime that threatens to develop nuclear technology? Besides, assuming we’re concerned about North Korea’s sales of nuke technology to third parties (like Syria), isn’t rewarding them precisely the wrong thing to do?

North Korea should have been ignored and left to collapse on its own. Instead, it’s going to be another four years (at least) of watching North Korea play “let’s fuck with another US president.”

I can’t wait.

The More Things Change...

...the more they stay the same, as they say.

Read the words of the late Horace G. Underwood, whose words I am reminded of lately, and who had far more direct and passed-down experience in this country than I could ever hope to possess. It's spooky how similar many expats' experiences are in the present day to what this man, who quite literally stood at the center of modern Korean history as it was being made, had from decades ago. (HT to Dylan)

From the Korean-American Association Library


"Refill the Reservoir" - Dr. Horace G. Underwood

For over one hundred years there has been a deep reservoir of basically friendly relationship between Korea and America. Of course there have been ups and downs in that relationship as historical factors influenced either or both countries, but the basic pool of good will has until recently been sufficiently deep that many people take it for granted and have seen no need to take measures to preserve it. We have assumed that the minor flurries of disagreements would soon die down and the basic friendship would remain. Unfortunately, in recent years, the minor disagreements have more and more been publicized and deliberately distorted in what seems like a planned campaign to discredit the relationship between our two people.

The time has come when friends of Korea and America must wake up to the deteriorating atmosphere and take steps to stop the drain on the reservoir of good will. Incidents will no doubt continue to occur, but efforts should be made to put them in context, to insure that both sides of the story are given equal publicity, to call people's attention to acts of kindness and assistance, not just conflicts.

The SOFA agreement is often criticized by ill-informed people for its "unequal provisions", but are they really unequal against Korea's rights and interests? SOFA requires that all U.S. service personnel accused of Korean crimes be tried in civilian courts, not military ones. Yet it is my understanding that any Korean soldier accused of a crime is kept by the military and tried by the military. This does not sound to me like American troops are getting equal treatment to Korean soldiers.

It is often claimed that compared to American troops in Japan and Germany American in Korea are prosecuted for only a very small percent of their crimes. The fact is that in Korea traffic violations are classified as "crimes" but not in Japan and Germany. If traffic violations are not included, the situation in Korea is similar to that in other countries, but people continue to claim that it is no equal. This well known to the Korean government officials negotiating SOFA, and I understand that the media know it, too, but neither the press nor the government says anything. The explanation is always left to an American spokesman, which many choose to think is just an American excuse. I am told there are similar problems about other provisions, but the Korean spokesmen seldom help clarify the situation.

Aside from SOFA, there is certainly very unequal treatment by the media. When an American officer was murdered in Itaewon last year there was minimum mention in the Korean press and I have never heard a report on the arrest and trial of the murderer. But when an American soldier murdered a prostitute there was great outcry over several days and many follow-up stories of the arrest, trial and imprisonment.

When the 8th Army mistakenly dumped a small amount of polluting material through the sewage system that is designed to handle such pollutants, there was a great outcry. A U.S. Army spokesman apologized and promises were made to be more careful, but even recently day there have been demonstration over the matter, and the newspapers report that someone is going to sure the officer in change. Yet when the Korean Army dumped 200,000 gallons of pollutants directly into the river there was only a simple news story, I have never heard that the Army apologized or that anyone was punished, or that environmental group held protests outside the gate of that unit.

There are on-going protests about bombing ranges used by the U.S. Air Force, but no protests about bombing ranges used by the Korean forces. The Korean military maintain a major firing range right next to one of the very popular summer resort beaches, firing over important fishing grounds, but if there have been any protests they have never been reported in the news media.

An American soldier on the subway was assaulted by a Korean passenger for touching a Korean woman-who was the soldier's wife!-but the news stories all blamed the soldier.

American military personnel are participating in the Habitat for Humanity program this summer, but were told they would get no publicity unless Korean troops were working with them. The American troops are glad to be joined by the Korean soldiers, but such an attitude by the press is hardly "equal treatment".

Far more than in the past, there seems to be a deliberate campaign to publicize fault of the Americans, but too many friends of America seem content to depend on the reservoir of good will, not realizing that it needs to be refilled from time to time. It is like the drought we are experiencing this year. Every year the water in the reservoir goes up and down depending on the weather, but there has never before been any real doubt that the water would be there when needed. This year, however, the reservoir are getting dry and extraordinary measures must be taken. Many farmers are urging that new reservoirs must be built for the future. So it is with Korean American friendship: we seem to be going through a very serious drought. The reservoir is getting dry and we must start taking extraordinary measure.

The Korean-American Association, and even more important, the individual members of the Association, must start taking positive steps to re-fill the reservoir. Where we have access to the media, to scholars, to private groups we must counter this constant draining of the reservoirs by refilling them. We must work to have both sides of the story told, to be sure that favorable items are publicized, to counter the bias that is all too evident in today's society.

In the 1950s and 1960s American soldiers disliked being assigned to Korea. many of them had bad experiences and even back in America there was a low opinion of Korea. Many in the American community in Korea were very disturbed by this and took measures to try to change opinions. I often spoke to both individuals and to groups to help them understand the country and the people. Where possible, I would explain the situation they were experiencing, but always I would tell of all the good things about being in Korea. I have no idea of how many minds I changed, but it is important for every one of us to speak up, to explain how the problem arose and to remind people of the good things that have happened. If we just sit back and no do nothing we will soon find that the reservoir of good will is dryer than the reservoirs thought they could depend on.
President Bush Removes North Korea from State Sponsors of Terrorism List
» by GI Korea in:

I can’t say I’m not surprised by this announcement, but I still find it to be utterly unbelievable:

It seemed dramatic. President Bush stepped into the Rose Garden to announce plans to remove North Korea from the U.S. terrorism blacklist and ease sanctions against a country he once branded as part of his “axis of evil.”

But just as soon as he said it, he played down its significance.

Bush said what the U.S. was giving North Korea in exchange for its long-awaited accounting of its secretive nuclear program was largely symbolic — that they would have little impact on North Korea’s financial and diplomatic isolation. [International Herald Tribune]

If dropping North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List according to President Bush is “largely symbolic” then so is North Korea’s nuclear declaration that is months late and totally incomplete because here is what is not in the declaration:

The number of bombs in storage, or information about what’s going to happen to them. The North proved it could build a working nuclear bomb when it carried out an underground nuclear test blast in October 2006. Details on the bombs, however, will be left to the next stage of the talks, when Pyongyang is supposed to abandon all its nuclear weapons program.

_Details about North Korea’s suspected nuclear program to seek weapons fueled by enriched uranium.

_An account of North Korea’s alleged role in helping Syria build what senior U.S. intelligence officials say was a secret nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium used in making high-yield nuclear weapons. Israeli jets bombed the structure in the remote eastern desert of Syria in September 2007.

With this much left out it is amazing there is anything in it at all. It is official that President Bush’s North Korea policy is even worse then the first Agreed Framework signed with North Korea by Bill Clinton. Critics of the current North Korea policy are currently letting their voices be heard about their displeasure with this announcement:

The White House didn’t want Bush’s announcement to be viewed as the U.S. bowing to the communist regime. It also helped temper outrage from conservative Republicans, who want the U.S. to take an even tougher stance against the regime.

“It’s shameful,” said John Bolton, Bush’s former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “This represents the final collapse of Bush’s foreign policy.”

“Profound disappointment” was the reaction of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

Bush critics said even symbolism was too much give to a regime that can’t be trusted, but Bush insisted he was not giving in to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

You know who else must be really angered about this agreement? First of all the Japanese who has citizens still unaccounted for that have been kidnapped by the North Korean regime, not to mention the hundreds of South Korean citizens kidnapped as well, which the South Korean government cares so little about that a 66 year old grandma had to launch her own rescue mission to rescue her husband. So the South Korean government may not be angered but the families of the South Korean abductees surely are.

Then you also have the Kim Dong-shik family. Reverend Kim Dong-shik was a US permanent resident married to a US citizen who has lived in America that past three decades before being kidnapped in China by North Korean agents for aiding North Korean defectors. It is suspected he was brought back to North Korea where he was tortured and killed. Barack Obama promised the Kim family who are his constituents in Illinois that he would not allow the removal of North Korea from the terrorism list until they came clean on the whereabouts of Reverend Kim. Since starting his presidential campaign, Barack Obama has been in hiding on this issue ever since and is as expected quiet on it now as well. There is change you can believe in.

However the person most upset about this has got to be Muammar Gaddafi. Just think Gaddafi had to completely give up his nuclear program, dispose of his chemical weapons, lose a lot of face in the Arab world, and had to pay $2.7 billion dollars in compensation money to the victims of Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland to get off the terrorism list.

Kim Jong-il on the otherhand bombs Korean Air Flight 858 killing 115 people plus other terror attacks and does not have to pay any compensation money and is having people pay him instead for being taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

It is sad days when I’m hoping Jimmy Carter will show up and rescue the Bush administration from this poor North Korea policy choice like he rescued the Clinton administration from its poor policy choice of deciding to attack North Korea in 1994.

One Free Korea of course has more on this issue that is of course a must read.


Get ready for NK's incomplete incorrect and flat out bull shit

[Updated below: Today, President Bush embarks on the process of throwing away most of our diplomatic leverage against North Korea in exchange for a declaration that’s incomplete, incorrect, and unverified. Those who rightly criticized President Clinton for appeasing North Korea after the 1994 Agreed Framework should be honest enough to admit that Bush’s eleventh-hour grasp at a diplomatic legacy is probably even more dangerous.]

[Original Post, 24 Jun 08] In a speech at the Heritage Foundation last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reported that North Korea’s nuclear declaration is imminent again.

Or not. North Korea was supposed to begin “discussing” the full disclosure of its nuclear programs and weapons by mid-April of 2007. The full written disclosure was due during a subsequent ”implementation phase,” though there was no deadline. In November, the North Koreans handed chief U.S. negotiator appeaser Chris Hill their idea of a declaration, but it was apparently so deficient that Hill told a little white lie and denied having received it. A deadline was set for the end of 2007, when the declaration was imminent until it wasn’t. It was briefly imminent again in January and in April.

This week, as Rice heads for Seoul and Tokyo, the declaration is rumored to be imminent again. It might coincide with an expensive act of what proliferation expert Henri Sokolski calls “nuclear theater“ – the demolition of the Yongbyon cooling tower on live TV. (It will cost us, of course.) There is even talk of Rice visting Pyongyang.

If you’re a superficial observer of this illusion – I’d say that describes AP correspondent Matthew Lee pretty well – you will believe. And ironically, that belief will find its widest acceptance among those who are usually Bush’s harshest critics.

False, Late, and Incomplete

But if the North Koreans finally do hand over their “disclosure,” we know it will be incomplete and incorrect. Our negotiators let the North Koreans know at the beginning of this year that we were willing to accept an incomplete declaration. Full disclosure has since been renegotiated down to a disclosure that essentially covers one worn-out 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon that age, overuse, and shoddy concrete disabled with greater speed and efficiency than our finest diplomatic minds could.

Absent from the declaration will be North Korea’s other, larger reactors, its proliferation activities, its uranium enrichment program, its completed fissile material, or its completed nuclear weapons. That’s not much of a declaration, and honest observers and experts of most partisan persuasions are in uncanny agreement about that:

“We appear ready to accept considerably less than the original agreement,” said Michael Green, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Bush administration National Security Council official. “It appears that there have clearly been some corners cut. Acknowledging U.S. concerns about the (uranium enrichment) program, or proliferation, is not a declaration,” he added.

Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst and Korea expert now at the Heritage Foundation think tank, said the administration appeared upbeat about the declaration and welcomed movement on ending its plutonium program. “Any progress on getting North Korea working towards plutonium denuclearization is all to the good,” he said, but he added Pyongyang should not be allowed to “skate by” on giving information about any uranium and proliferation programs. [Reuters, Arshad Mohammed and Susan Cornwell]

More specifically:

Quid: What the North Koreans Will Do.

North Korea’s Existing Nuclear Weapons. North Korea will not disclose how many completed nuclear weapons it has, what their yield is, or where they are. Not now, and if listen to what they’re saying, not ever.

Fissile Material. Ditto. The North Koreas won’t have to tell us how much reprocessed plutonium they have ready for molding into nuclear weapons, or for resale to the highest bidder. Maybe this fall, maybe never. [See Update 1 below. The North Koreans are expected to disclose some amount of plutonium, although that amount is likely to be several bombs short of our own estimates. Regardless of the amount, it will be unverifiable for the foreseeable future, and the North Koreans say they’re keeping it.]

Other Reactors. I’ve been suggesting for months that disabling the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon would mean very little if the North Koreans are almost ready to start up a 50-megawatt reactor next door. Judging as best I can from these Google Earth images I downloaded recently, the 50-megawatt reactor looks finished, but a 200-megawatt reactor 13 miles away appears to have a way to go yet. North Korea isn’t disabling either of these reactors.

Proliferation. As with its uranium program and fissile material, North Korea admits nothing, and we all ”sidestep a dispute over how much detail North Korea must provide about any past uranium enrichment-related activities and its involvement in a mysterious Syrian facility.” That facility has become more mysterious this week following a report by that notorious neocon mouthpiece, Der Spiegel, that the North Koreans weren’t just helping Syria get The Bomb, they were also helping Iran:

The weekly said the Syrian site at al-Kibar was used to produce nuclear material the Iranian regime needed to make a bomb. North Korean scientists worked alongside Syrians and Iranians at the site, where a reactor was being built to produce weapons-grade plutonium, Der Spiegel quoted the intelligence reports as saying. The report said Iranian scientists had made progress in enriching uranium but had no experience with plutonium and sought the help of the North Koreans. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, via Ha’aretz]

See also the Khaleej Times, New Kerala, and the Irish Sun (which is both a newspaper and an oxymoron). Not that this should astonish us. At least as early as 2005, there were reports of an Iran-North Korea oil-for-nukes deal.

Uranium Enrichment. The ink on the 1994 Agreed Framework had barely dried when the CIA caught the North Koreans secretly dealing with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan to build a capability to enrich uranium, an alternate route to a nuclear weapons capability that’s easier to conceal from our spy satellites (more).

The Clinton Administration chose to ignore this. When the Bush Administration confronted the North Koreans with the evidence in 2002, the North Koreans admitted it. Then they went back to denying it again, although we’ve since intercepted aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuge casings on their way to North Korea. Pakistan has since confirmed selling the North Koreans complete centrifuges. The Directorate of National Intelligence still thinks the North Koreans had an undisclosed uranium enrichment program, but the North Koreans have been far more stubborn in refusing to re-admit this than we have been in demanding that they come clean. The result was an agreement that the State Department would write North Korea’s declaration for it, and that North Korea would merely “acknowledge” our concerns. This makes it all the easier for them to disavow them later.

Last year, the North Koreans took one of our diplomats to a missile factory to prove that the aluminum tubes were merely for rocket fuselages. They agreed to provide a sample of the aluminum but insisted on smelting it down first. The sample tested positive for enriched uranium.

In May, the North Koreans handed over 18,000 pages of documents about their plutonium reprocessing. The State Department, under withering fire for giving away much and getting too little in return, paraded the documents before the press without having even translated them. And would you believe?

The United States in recent weeks has obtained new intelligence — fresh traces of highly enriched uranium discovered among 18,000 pages of North Korean documents — that are raising new questions about whether Pyongyang pursued an alternative route to producing a nuclear weapon, according to sources familiar with the intelligence findings.

Officials at the State Department and with the director of national intelligence declined to comment on the new information, but sources said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an oblique reference to it in a speech on North Korea policy to the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.

“As we’ve gotten deeper into the process, we’ve been troubled by additional information about North Korea’s uranium-enrichment capability,” Rice said. “And this information has reaffirmed skepticism about dealing with North Korea.”

The new intelligence arrived at an awkward moment for the Bush administration. North Korea next week plans to submit its long-awaited declaration on its nuclear programs, which is expected to disclose that its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon produced about 37 kilograms of plutonium. Then, on June 27 or 28, North Korean officials are expected to blow up the cooling tower attached to the facility, diplomats said. [Washington Post, Glenn Kessler]

This report seems inconsistent with Sung Kim’s statement at that press conference that the documents were only photocopies. Call that another unresolved question.

Quo: What We Will Do for Kim Jong Il

Food Aid. No, we shouldn’t punish the North Korean people for Kim Jong Il’s actions. Yes, we should provide food aid, and yes, we ought to monitor it so that we know that the regime and the military won’t steal it. But that’s not what we’re doing.

Proliferation Aid. We’re paying for all of North Korea’s “disabling” activities. The State Department is currently seeking a waiver of sanctions under the Glenn Amendment.

Energy Aid. The rest of North Korea is slipping back into famine, but regime tour guides are boasting to foreign journalists that there are no more blackouts in Pyongyang. That’s because of the heavy fuel oil the United States has been shipping while North Korea proliferated and stalled on meeting its own obligations. (There have been reports that North Korea has diverted the oil for military use, but I put little credence in them. Heavy fuel oil is probably too thick to be re-refined into a suitable fuel for vehicles or aircraft.)

Diplomatic Relations. All of President Bush’s talk about human rights was just that. Concentration camps, gas chambers, infanticide, crushing repression, and the use of food as a weapon appear to be no impediment to recognizing Kim Jong Il’s regime and exchanging ambassadors, which could only mean that we have no standards whatsoever. North Korea is still counterfeiting our money and they’re running what may be, on a per capita basis, the most repressive regime in the history of mankind, but those are differences we can live with ”in the context of two states that have diplomatic relations.”

Terror Sponsorship De-Listing. Never mind the unexamined findings of the Congressional Research Service that North Korea has recently aided Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers. The State Department is determined to de-list North Korea and throw away most of our leverage:

“We are looking to receive the declaration soon,” Hill said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and the Japanese and South Korean nuclear envoys. “We’ve done a lot of work on it.” Komura hinted the declaration may not be as thorough as previously hoped. “The Japanese government believes that a complete declaration is necessary for complete abolition” of the North’s nuclear weapons, Komura told reporters.

“But there’s an idea that it’s better to ease the stalemate and move forward, even by lowering (the hurdle) for the sake of reaching our goal of denuclearization,” Komura said. The U.S. has pressed North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test in 2006, to clear up allegations that it helped Syria build a nuclear facility and ran a secret plutonium program. The U.S. reportedly earlier agreed to let North Korea simply acknowledge the allegations without confirming them.

The reports triggered a backlash among conservatives in the U.S. They accused US President George W. Bush, who once branded North Korea part of an “axis of evil,” of rushing a deal in his last months in office. [AFP]

The idea of lifting this designation is to make it possible for Kim Jong Il to obtain the massive windfalls of World Bank loans and trade with the United States. North Korea is a Tier 3 country for human trafficking, which raises questions about Tariff Act prohibitions against importing goods made with forced labor.

Japan, our most important Asian ally, also sees these sanctions as important leverage in forcing Kim Jong Il to return the unknown number of Japanese citizens it has abducted. Japan reportedly will ask Rice not to remove North Korea from the terror-sponsor list. Refusing Japan’s request will strain our most important Asian alliance for dubious returns.

For those who are interested, I’ve added two press conference transcripts below the fold; one from Chris Hill and one from Condi Rice.

Update 1: According to this, the North Korean declaration — now expected this Thursday – will discuss other nuclear facilities besides the 5-MW reactor at Yongbyon, although it’s anyone’s guess which ones. There’s a link below to Google Earth images of the major ones. Chris Hill also contradicts me regarding the disclosure of plutonium, and giving Hill the benefit of the doubt for the time being (I see that one of my links is dead), I’ve made a correction to the post below:

“The key element of the declaration of course is the North Koreans, in addition to laying out all their facilities, giving us a verifiable figure on how much plutonium they have,'’ Hill said today in Beijing. “Plutonium here is really the heart of the game because that’s the stuff they make bombs out of.'’ [Bloomberg]

So the actual bombs they’ve already built — or sold — are not really the heart of the game?

If the North Koreans provide a disclosure on plutonium, they are likely to disclose an amount of reprocessed plutonium that’s far lower than our own estimates. And because there’s no verification mechanism in place, we’ll have no way of knowing for sure. And of course, disclosing some amount of plutonium is one thing; actually handing it over is another.

The Donga Ilbo gives more explanation of why the detonation of the Yongbyon cooling tower is mostly for show. But not so fast, say the North Koreans:

North Korea wants to obtain “final assurance” from the U.S. that it will remove the communist nation from its list of terrorism-sponsoring nations as promised, a South Korean government official said Tuesday, with the six-way talks on the nuclear crisis expected to resume soon. [Yonhap]

It’s clear from the article exactly what the North Koreans will stall, other than the next round of talks, if they don’t have their advance assurance of the de-listing, something that is certain to draw congressional opposition. In another sign of trouble, Japan continues to hint that it may publicly oppose de-listing North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism.

Update 2: They’ve handed it over, whatever it is. The uncritical shallowness of most of the coverage — even on generally conservative blogs — excrutiates, with only a few observers mentioning what’s not in this declaration. The Administration has most journalists looking at this story through its soda straw.

Uncharacteristically, the McPaper asks about The Pink Elephant in the Room: “One item that won’t make the declaration … will be North Korea’s nuclear bombs. The omission means the world will have to wait for an answer to the question at the heart of the nearly six-year-old standoff: Is the North ready to give up its nuclear weapons?”

The AP provides some background for how the North Koreans talked us down to a declaration that declares no weapons, uranium enrichment, or proliferation through “months of haggling,” but buries it deep inside its story. This story is slightly more inquisitive, but also deep down in the text:

Besides providing information about its nuclear facilities, North Korea’s declaration is to provide a verifiable figure on how much plutonium they have. That still won’t answer the question of how many bombs North Korea has stockpiled, but plutonium is the “heart of the game because that is the stuff they make bombs out of,” says Christopher Hill, the lead U.S. negotiator in the talks under way between Pyongyang and the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

What’s not in the declaration is as important as what it includes.

It won’t illuminate North Korea’s suspected program of developing weapons fueled by enriched uranium. As a result of the six-nation nuclear talks, the North has stopped making plutonium and begun disabling its nuclear facilities, but it still has a stockpile of radioactive material that experts believe is enough to build from six to 10 bombs.

The North proved it could build a working nuclear bomb when it carried out an underground nuclear test blast in October 2006. Details on the bombs, however, will be left to the next stage of the talks, when Pyongyang is supposed to abandon all its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea’s declaration also won’t give a complete accounting of how it allegedly helped Syria build what senior U.S. intelligence officials say was a secret nuclear reactor meant to make plutonium, which can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons. Israeli jets bombed the structure in the remote eastern desert of Syria in September 2007. [AP, Deb Reichmann]

On the other hand, Don Kirk gets it: absolute must read.

The White House’s press release and a transcript of President Bush’s statement in the Rose Garden, with some Q&A, is added below the fold.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill
Trilateral Joint Press Availability with Director General Akitaka Saiki and Chief Nuclear Negotiator Kim Sook

June 19, 2008, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, Japan

[Note: Director-General Saiki spoke in Japanese, and Chief Negotiator Kim Sook spoke in Korean. Their comments are not included except in reference to A/S Hill’s remarks.]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, let me just say that we very much value these three-party meetings. Obviously, we’re at a very important phase in the Six-Party process. So I think it’s very appropriate that Japan, the ROK, and the U.S. get together and discuss how we can make progress at this very important moment. I think we did have a very good discussion about the various aspects of it. Of course there are sequencing issues that need to be discussed, but also issues relating to obligations that all the parties need to make and issues relating especially to, as Secretary Rice noted today in her speech, issues relating to the need for verification. So we’ve had a good discussion on all of these things and look forward to further discussions later on.

QUESTION: With regard to the question of America’s delisting of the DPRK and the abduction issue, what did Assistant Secretary Hill say about this?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL SAIKI: With regard to the question of America delisting the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism and with regard to U.S.-DPRK relations — if the DPRK submits a declaration, the United States will remove the DPRK. In the context of Japan-DPRK relations as well, the United States is well aware that this is a very significant development. Regarding progress in Japan-DPRK relations, we explained the situation to the U.S. The U.S. has said that it will continue to fully communicate with Japan about the matter and act accordingly. That’s our awareness.

QUESTION: (directed to Assistant Secretary Hill) How about this question?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That’s exactly as we discussed it. I think that Secretary Rice spoke to this issue today. We have felt that it has been very important to be in close coordination with the Japanese Government throughout this issue. Obviously, the question of abductions is not just a question that is of interest to the Japanese government; it’s also of interest to the U.S. Government as well. So we stay in very close contact with Japan on this. We have followed the progress very closely of these new discussions that have taken place between Japan and the DPRK. And I think that as we go forward, we will stay in close contact with each other.

QUESTION: I’d like to ask about the declaration. A complete and correct declaration has been demanded, but actually the amount of plutonium and other issues will not be addressed at this point. Regarding the fact that nuclear weapons are not included, Japan and South Korea are located near North Korea, so they are exposed to this threat. America is especially focused on nuclear proliferation, but isn’t it rather lax on other issues?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: First of all, I want to make very clear that our position is a position that has been set out in the Six Parties all along — which is, the goal here is complete denuclearization. The goal here is not just the declaration. The goal here is complete denuclearization.

Now we have done this in phases, with the understanding that we could not just complete everything in one phase. We needed more than one phase. So our position is that as we go forward, we need to achieve the complete goal — and that is the complete abandonment of all nuclear programs, nuclear weapons, and the return of the DPRK to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards. And that’s very clearly spelled out, very clearly spelled out, in the September ’05 statement.

So we will not finish this process until we have achieved the full implementation of that September ’05 statement. In return for this complete denuclearization, we are also obligated to do some things for the DPRK, including normalization. So we understand we have obligations, but we shall not be able to achieve our obligations if we do not get a complete denuclearization. I want to be very clear that is the purpose of this, and the purpose is not just to stop half-way.

Remarks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, En route Berlin, Germany, June 23, 2008


QUESTION: Thank you. I have two questions on North Korea. First, we expect so much things will happen this week out of North Korea. But the Japanese people feel – some Japanese people feel some sort of disappointment because we don’t – we haven’t got any real progress on the abduction issue. We – you are ready for removing North Korea from the sponsors terrorist list. So my question is: How do you explain to Japanese people on U.S. intention and how will U.S. facilitate the progress on abduction issue from now?

And the second question is: Could you tell me about the timing of the ministerial meeting on the six-party talks?

SECRETARY RICE: There has been no ministerial meeting set at this point. We will see when it is appropriate to have a ministerial meeting for the six parties.

In terms of the ending of phase two of the denuclearization efforts vis-à-vis North Korea, we will see if North Korea, indeed, delivers to China, which is after all the chair of the denuclearization group, if they deliver to China a declaration that, as we’ve said, would have to be verifiable as complete and accurate. It would be an important step. The North Koreans – we also have to do a verification protocol with North Korea so that we could make certain that we did have the means to verify. And so we’ve not – the Chinese have not received that yet, and so it’s premature to judge what steps the United States and the other members of the six-party talks would take.

As to the abduction issue – or I should say, of course, if the declaration is there then the second phase does anticipate that the United States would, as a part of several actions that others – that states are taking, that the United States would, indeed – the President would notify the Congress of our intention to de-list. That takes then 45 days before it goes into effect, in which time we would continue to monitor and assess what North Korea’s doing to live up to its obligations.

Now, we’ve been very clear that the United States is not going to set aside or forget the Japanese abduction issue. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that the bilateral talks that Japan and North Korea have had are in no small part due to the efforts of the United States to press North Korea on this issue.

And so I would hope that Japanese people would recognize that, that this was an issue that was going nowhere until the United States pressed the issue. In fact, it is my understanding that the North Koreans took some – I think they were described by Japan as small steps. And Japan, in return, took some steps. So we will see. But this issue is not going away. It’s not going away for Japan; it’s not going away for the United States and we’re going to continue to press North Korea to make certain that this issue is dealt with.

Japan is America’s – one of America’s strongest allies in Asia and we recognize the – I should say one of America’s strongest allies in the world – and we recognize the sensitivity of this issue. It is a deep humanitarian issue. It is a wounding issue that this kind of thing could have been allowed to happen. And the President has met with family members of the abducted. We have never – we’ve never made a statement in which we did not raise this issue publicly and privately. And so the Japanese people can be assured that it is an issue of extreme importance for the United States and we’re going to continue to press on this issue.

Thank you.


# # #

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release, June 26, 2008


The United States welcomes the North Korean declaration of its nuclear programs. Today’s development is an important step in the multi-step process laid out in the Six Party Talks between North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

The Six Party Talks are based on a principle of “action for action.” North Korea has pledged to disable all its nuclear facilities and tomorrow will destroy the cooling tower of the Yongbyon reactor. North Korea also pledged to declare its nuclear activities. This information will be essential to verifying that North Korea is ending all of its nuclear programs and activities.

The United States will respond to North Korea’s actions by lifting the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act as well as announcing our intent to rescind North Korea’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terror in 45 days. During this period, the United States will carefully assess North Korea’s actions particularly with regard to verification.

There is still more work to be done in order for North Korea to end its isolation. It must dismantle all of its nuclear facilities, give up its separated plutonium, and resolve outstanding questions on its highly enriched uranium and proliferation activities. It must end these activities in a fully verifiable way.

Multilateral diplomacy is the best way to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue. North Korea should seize this moment of opportunity to restore its relationship with the international community.

The President will make a statement on this subject in the Rose Garden at 7:40 am EDT today.

# # #

Rose Garden

7:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. The policy of the United States is a Korean Peninsula free of all nuclear weapons. This morning, we moved a step closer to that goal, when North Korean officials submitted a declaration of their nuclear programs to the Chinese government as part of the six-party talks.

The United States has no illusions about the regime in Pyongyang. We remain deeply concerned about North Korea’s human rights abuses, uranium enrichment activities, nuclear testing and proliferation, ballistic missile programs, and the threat it continues to pose to South Korea and its neighbors.

Yet we welcome today’s development as one step in the multi-step process laid out by the six-party talks between North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

Last year, North Korea pledged to disable its nuclear facilities. North Korea has begun disabling its Yongbyon nuclear facility — which was being used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. This work is being overseen by officials from the United States and the IAEA. And to demonstrate its commitment, North Korea has said it will destroy the cooling tower of the Yongbyon reactor in front of international television cameras tomorrow.

Last year, North Korea also pledged to declare its nuclear activity. With today’s declaration, North Korea has begun describing its plutonium-related activities. It’s also provided other documents related to its nuclear programs going back to 1986. It has promised access to the reactor core and waste facilities at Yongbyon, as well as personnel related to its nuclear program. All this information will be essential to verifying that North Korea is ending its nuclear programs and activities.

The six-party talks are based on a principle of “action for action.” So in keeping with the existing six-party agreements, the United States is responding to North Korea’s actions with two actions of our own:

First, I’m issuing a proclamation that lifts the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to North Korea.

And secondly, I am notifying Congress of my intent to rescind North Korea’s designation as a state sponsor of terror in 45 days. The next 45 days will be an important period for North Korea to show its seriousness of its cooperation. We will work through the six-party talks to develop a comprehensive and rigorous verification protocol. And during this period, the United States will carefully observe North Korea’s actions — and act accordingly.

The two actions America is taking will have little impact on North Korea’s financial and diplomatic isolation. North Korea will remain one of the most heavily sanctioned nations in the world. The sanctions that North Korea faces for its human rights violations, its nuclear test in 2006, and its weapons proliferation will all stay in effect. And all United Nations Security Council sanctions will stay in effect as well.

The six-party process has shed light on a number of issues of serious concern to the United States and the international community. To end its isolation, North Korea must address these concerns. It must dismantle all of its nuclear facilities, give up its separated plutonium, resolve outstanding questions on its highly enriched uranium and proliferation activities, and end these activities in a way that we can fully verify.

North Korea must also meet other obligations it has undertaken in the six-party talks. The United States will never forget the abduction of Japanese citizens by the North Koreans. We will continue to closely cooperate and coordinate with Japan and press North Korea to swiftly resolve the abduction issue.

This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea. If North Korea continues to make the right choices, it can repair its relationship with the international community — much as Libya has done over the past few years. If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and our partners in the six-party talks will respond accordingly. If they do not fully disclose and end their plutonium, their enrichment, and their proliferation efforts and activities, there will be further consequences.

Multilateral diplomacy is the best way to peacefully solve the nuclear issue with North Korea. Today’s developments show that tough multilateral diplomacy can yield promising results. Yet the diplomatic process is not an end in itself. Our ultimate goal remains clear: a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula, where people are free from oppression, free from hunger and disease, and free from nuclear weapons. The journey toward that goal remains long, but today we have taken an important step in the right direction.

I’ll take a couple of questions.


Q Mr. President, thank you very much. After declaring them a member of the “axis of evil,” and then after that underground nuclear tests that North Korea conducted in 2006, I’m wondering if you ever doubted getting to this stage. And also, I’m wondering if you have a message for the North Korean people.

THE PRESIDENT: I knew that the United States could not solve, or begin to solve, this issue without partners at the table. In order for diplomacy to be effective, there has to be leverage. You have to have a — there has to be consequential diplomacy.

And so I worked hard to get the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese and the Russians to join with us in sending a concerted message to the North Koreans, and that is, that if you promise and then fulfill your promises to dismantle your nuclear programs, there’s a better way forward for you and the people. In other words, as I said in the statement, it’s action for action.

It took a while for the North Koreans to take the six-party talks seriously, and it also took there to be concerted messages from people other than the United States saying that if you choose not to respond positively there will be consequences.

And so I’m — it’s been a — multilateral diplomacy is difficult at times. It’s hard to get people heading in the same direction, and yet we were able to do so along — our partners helped a lot, don’t get me wrong.

The message to the North Korean people is, is that we don’t want you to be hungry; we want you to have a better life; that our concerns are for you, not against you; and that we have given your leadership a way forward to have better relations with the international community. This is a society that is regularly going through famines. When I campaigned for President, I said we will never use food as a diplomatic weapon. In North Korea, we have been concerned that food shipments sometimes don’t make it to the people themselves — in other words, the regime takes the food for their own use.

So my message to the people is, is that we’ll continue to care for you and worry about you, and at the same time, pursue a Korean Peninsula that’s nuclear weapons free. And today we have taken a step, and it’s a very positive step, but there’s more steps to be done.


Q Mr. President, what do you say to critics who claim that you’ve accepted a watered-down declaration just to get something done before you leave office? I mean, you said that it doesn’t address the uranium enrichment issue, and, of course, it doesn’t address what North Korea might have done to help Syria build its reactor.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, let me review where we have been. In the past, we would provide benefits to the North Koreans in the hope that they would fulfill a vague promise. In other words, that’s the way it was before I came into office.

Everybody was concerned about North Korea possessing a nuclear weapon; everybody was concerned about the proliferation activities. And yet the policy in the past was, here are some benefits for you, and we hope that you respond. And, of course, we found they weren’t responding. And so our policy has changed, that says, in return for positive action, in return for verifiable steps, we will reduce penalties. And there are plenty of restrictions still on North Korea.

And so my point is this, is that — we’ll see. They said they’re going to destroy parts of their plant in Yongbyon. That’s a very positive step — after all, it’s the plant that made plutonium. They have said in their declarations, if you read their declarations of September last year, they have said specifically what they will do. And our policy, and the statement today, makes it clear we will hold them to account for their promises. And when they fulfill their promises, more restrictions will be eased. If they don’t fulfill their promises, more restrictions will be placed on them. This is action for action. This is we will trust you only to the extent that you fulfill your promises.

So I’m pleased with the progress. I’m under no illusions that this is the first step; this isn’t the end of the process, this is the beginning of the process of action for action. And the point I want to make to our fellow citizens is that we have worked hard to put multilateral diplomacy in place, because the United States sitting down with Kim Jong-il didn’t work in the past. Sitting alone at the table just didn’t work.

Now, as I mentioned in my statement, there’s a lot more verification that needs to be done. I mentioned our concerns about enrichment. We expect the North Korean regime to be forthcoming about their programs. We talked about proliferation. We expect them to be forthcoming about their proliferation activities and cease such activities. I mentioned the fact that we’re beginning to take inventory, because of our access to the Yongbyon plant, about what they have produced, and we expect them to be forthcoming with what they have produced and the material itself.

So today I’m just talking about the first step of a multi-step process. And I want to thank our partners at the six-party talks. It’s been incredibly helpful to achieve — the beginnings of achieving a vision of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula to have the Chinese to be as robustly involved as they are. You notice that the North Koreans passed on their documents to the Chinese; after all, we’re all partners in the six-party talks.

The other thing I want to assure our friends in Japan is that this process will not leave behind — leave them behind on the abduction issue. The United States takes the abduction issue very seriously. We expect the North Koreans to solve this issue in a positive way for the Japanese. There’s a lot of folks in Japan that are deeply concerned about what took place. I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office. It was a heart-wrenching moment to listen to the mother talk about what it was like to lose her daughter. And it is important for the Japanese people to know that the United States will not abandon our strong ally and friend when it comes to helping resolve that issue.

Today is a positive day; it’s a positive step forward. There’s more work to be done, and we’ve got the process in place to get it done in a verifiable way.

Thank you.

END 7:53 A.M. EDT