Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

For several years I have been quit vocal about North Korea and how it had been running under the radar when it came to public awareness of it harsh policies. This was advantageous to prior administrations as America’s North Korean policy was more of pacification than confrontation and ultimately delaying major hostility between the United States and North Korea. For decades numerous administrations’ foreign policies were to do just enough to keep North Korea from bubbling up into a confrontation and thus let some future administration make the tough decisions when it comes to getting North Korea under control and act like a responsible nation. This concept of kicking-the-can-down the road and let the next administration handle the tough options has finally come to an end.
North Korea has snubbed its’ nose at the United States, the West and the United Nations since the armistice was signed on July 27th, 1953. There was no peace treaty and no surrender document. The war between North and South Korea has simply been put on hold.
North Korea has been testing the resolve of South Korea and the United States, South Korea’s biggest ally, since the 1950s. In the 1970s North Korea kidnapped ordinary citizens from the costal areas of Japan. The reasons are widely speculated. Some were believed killed so their identity could be used by the North Koreans. Some women were believed to be kidnapped to be married to Japanese terrorist living in North Korea. Others were believed to have been kidnapped to teach Japanese to North Korean spy schools. Officially only 17 kidnappings took place but unofficially the number is in the hundreds.
Prior to the kidnapping of Japanese citizens, the North Koreans attacked, boarded and confiscated a United States Naval ship in International water. The ship was a spy ship but was not operating in North Korean waters. America did launch a flight of fighter jets from Japan but recalled the aircraft. It was stated that it was becoming dark, so the planes returned to base. The truth is more likely to be that concerns with Chinese intervention during a time that we were mired in Viet Nam was a more viable reason for allowing North Korea to sieze an American war ship.
As South Korea flourished and became an internationally economically viable country, North Korea concentrated on building a massive army and required armaments. Eventually this morphed into the development of nuclear weapon and a deployment system that could reach the United States. In the past the United States indirectly negotiated the nuclear issue. North Korea placated American fears, Washington gave high fives for averting a North Korean nuclear threat and North Korea resumed nuclear weapon development as they giggled behind closed doors at the naivety of the West. All this has now changed; or has it?
The North Koreans have called for a meeting with South Korea and the United States. What a shock! Out of no where the North sent athletes to the Olympics in Seoul. Accompanying them were North Korean cheerleaders and the sister of the North Korean leader. Shortly after the Olympics ended North Korea asked for the meeting. Now there are reports that North Korea is prepared to dismantle its’ nuclear program.
This is a wonderful belief and it is hoped that the world has learned in the past that North Korea promises anything but the promises hold no merit. The possibilities are empty rhetoric. We can’t be duped any longer and there are several reasons to believe that foreign policy with North Korea will be different this time.
We have a president that is not skilled in previous international policy but is a master in negotiating. Prior failed negotiation tactics will take a back seat to new tough talk that brings a new look to how we work with North Korea. China used to be a major threat to our involvement on the Korean peninsula. China has grown up, has become the second largest economy in the world, has smelled economic success and does not want a major confrontation with the United States and desires an end to North Korea’s foolishness. A third reason that the North Korean meeting may be constructive is due to increased heavy economic sanctions placed on North Korea may be hitting deeply into the country. They may soon be in very dire economic straits. This could come to a head this fall so North Korea is anxious to come to a quick agreement.
I am optimistic that we may finally see an end to the Korean armistice and then see a peace treaty signed. Even more optimistically I am hoping that all the pieces come together and North and South Korea are unified into one country; a country that finds freedom and liberty for all citizens of the Korean peninsula.

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There are points of time in our lives that we wake up one morning and some negative influence that has a been a part of our lives is suddenly no longer an issue. It is like a breath of fresh air or looking up in the sky to discover one of those bright blue cloudless high pressure days that exhilarates the soul. Last week this happened to the United States and to the world.
In 1910 the Korean peninsula was annexed by Japan and thus became a colonial territory of the Japanese. Following World War II and after large war time atrocities, control of Korea was taken away from japan and Korea was divided in half. The Northern half of Korea was under the control of the Soviet Union and he Southern half was under the control of the United States.
Negotiations of unification failed and in 1948 the socialist government of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea was formed and the capitalistic Republic of Korea was formed in the south. The dividing line between the two countries was along the 38th parallel, an imaginary line that circles the globe and is used as a geographical boundary for mapping and land identification.
In 1948 the Soviet Union removed its’ forces and in 1949 the United States removed the majority of its’ forces. Kim–ll Sung became the North Korean leader. Following this removal of foreign forces from Korea, the North was concerned that the free South would invade and thus the communist leader of the North, Sung, successfully lobbied Joseph Stalin, the diabolical leader of the Soviet Union to invade the South. Stalin approved the invasion that was intended to turn the entire Korean peninsula into a Communist unified country.
On June 25th 1950 the army of North Korea invaded the south. Soon the South Korean and American forces and later United Nation forces from around the world pushed deeply into North Korea. As the force neared the Chinese border, the Chinese army crossed into North Korea and became a participant in the conflict on the side of the North Koreans. On July 27th 1953 an armistice was signed and once again the 398th parallel became the dividing line between the North and the South. No peace treaty was signed so the war has never been officially ended.
The Soviet Union and China both tried to overthrow the North Korean government but were unsuccessful. Capitalism did not flourish in the South and the North had expanded growth that dwarfed the South plus the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, was equal to the South up till the mid-1970s.
In 1978 the USS Pueblo, a Navy Spy Ship, was in International Waters when it was attacked and captured by North Korea. America had scrambled fighter jets from Japan but later recalled them and the ship was taken into North Korea. Negotiations were held and eventually the United States admitted to violations of North Koreas’ sovereignty. America also agreed to pay a ransom of heavy construction equipment. North Korea had won a very important propaganda war with the United States and they forced us to bow to their regime. We did get some sort of gratification from this. A friend of mine at Northeast Louisiana University was the son a large contractor in South Louisiana. He had a lot of old construction equipment that was not far from being scrapped. The United States government bought the equipment, repainted it to look like brand new and used this and other equipment as part of the ransom demand.
Power in North Korea began to shift to Kim Jong-ll as the first rulers health deteriorated. Then the original ruler, ll-Sung died of a heart attack during a very stressful negotiation period with the United States. George Bush declared North Korea to be a rogue state but was unable to reach any settlement due a being a one term president. The negotiations with the Clinton Administration involved North Korean Nuclear development and America’s attempt to stop it. Once again North Korea appeased the United States with its’ nuclear program, much as Iran has done, and continued to secretly build its’ nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration took a more philosophical posture and implemented a “strategic patience” approach that basically allowed North Korea to pursue its’ nuclear program in an effort to defuse tension between North Korea and the United States. In 2006 North conducted its’ first successful nuclear test.
Kim Jong-Un became the third leader of North Korea following his father’s death. Hopes for better relations fell short as he quickly solidified power. He killed his uncle and family. Then he executed the minister of his military and had his half brother assassinated. He understands on thing and one thing only; power. He had continued his nuclear program and not only does have “the bomb” but he also had a missile that can reach Washington, D.C.
President Trump has taken an different approach from all administrations since 1953. He has gone straight for the jugular vein and has used tough sanctions and threat to use military force and suddenly, like a breath of fresh air, North Korea wants to meet with the leader of South Korea and President Trump. Trump will go to Korea. Even liberal press channels paid homage to the President however negativity has entered into the conversation. Some say he should not go and be more presidential. Some say he is not prepared for the trip. One thing is certain; there is a new sheriff in town and he is sometime brash, he is sometime overextending and he is quit unconventional; but he is successful.
Let us relish in the moment and look at the clear blue sky.

For anyone that is not aware we are in the middle of the Winter Olympic Games. What a wonderful sporting event for the world to witness. This is the 23rd time that the Olympics have been held (XXIII Olympiad) and is an add-on to the original games, the summer Olympics. Originally both the summer and winter Olympics were held on the same year. Recently this changed to provide more time to enjoy the games and thus allow time for sponsors to not be stretched so thin when it comes to marketing dollars.
The Olympics were supposed to be void of political intrigue and pure of heart. Unfortunately this has not all ways been true. The intestinal fortitude and sacrifice required for any Olympic athlete is nothing short of amazing. The pressure to participate and to win are enormous. For a select few the financial rewards are enormous but for most the opportunity to receive a single medal and stand on a podium as the flag of the winner’s country is hoisted makes it all worthwhile. This pressure to achieve is so great that many individuals and in some areas the majority of a countries teams will take illegal drugs to insure success.
When Russia invaded Afghanistan the Carter administration boycotted the Russian hosted Olympics to protest the invasion. Forget the purity of the games, it was then politicized. This year Russia, as a country, was banned from the Olympics due to sanctioned doping of its’ athletes. If athletes could be proven to not have performed any doping they would be allowed to participate in the Olympics; not as a part of the Russian country but listed as an athlete from Russia. No Russian flag would fly at these games.
America has it’ own political drama. Linsey Vaughn stated she would not go to the White House to visit President Trump if she won a medal. Unfortunately, it is the position and not the person that should be respected. This boycott does nothing for the country except to be divisive; however, Linsey does have every right to express her own views. Our founding fathers founded our nation on this concept and laws have been instituted to insure this right is protected. Unfortunately this freedom of speech and dissent is not a popular concept to many. After her first loss in a downhill event the Tweeters came out in droves with wishes of physical harm to the skier and hopes she continually loses. Two problems with this; first: she is still representing our country and she should be paid the respect for that and wish her good will, second: the presses assessment that the Trump supporters are wishing her bad luck is incorrect. Many Trump supporters do whish her good luck as a flag bearer of our nation. We are all Americans.
Korea has its’ own political drama. North Korea sent a contingent to the games. This is unprecedented and what is even more astounding is that some team sports consisted of both North and South Koreans competing together. The biggest point of intrigue was when the leader of North Korea’s sister arrived for the games and then offered an invitation to the leader of South Korea to meet with her brother. This has sent a flurry of diplomatic chatter between the United States and Korea and if unilateral talks take place between the two Koreas the United States will be in a very vulnerable position.
We have grossly underestimated the North Korean government. We thought it was a back wood country that was on the verge of collapse. They proved they had the ability to develop and the knowledge to hack into American computer systems. North Korea has built a nuclear weapon and now has developed a missile that can hit Washington D.C. Now they appear close to have performed and end-around of the United States diplomatically. They have definitely proven themselves to be a worthy adversary. One last political coupe that North Korea performed at the Olympics; the North Korean cheerleaders. North Korea sent an entourage of beautiful young cheerleaders to support North Korea during the Olympics. A minor detail that has proven to be a big hit at the games. No other country sends cheerleaders.
The original Olympic games were founded in ancient Greece in the country that developed and then spread the unorthodox concept of Democracy. The first Olympic games were founded in 776 B.C. These games were to honor religious gods Zeus and Pelops and consisted of athletic events. Wars were even suspended during the celebration. Due to the religious games the Spartans could not send its’ army to stop the Persians from invading Greece. Instead Sparta only sent 300 Spartans to stop the Persians from invading Greece. The games were held every 4 years, just as they are today. Location of the games was at Mt Olympus. City States and geographical areas of ancient Greece sent their athletes to compete just as countries compete today. But what was amazing was that the men competed for; glory and the admiration of their countrymen. The award was simple. A crown of olive leaves adorned the heads of the winners.

This week has been both sad time for our community while at the same time a tense time for both our nation and the world.

It is rare when we meet a person that has so much impact on her community in so many ways.  It is even more sad when we lose this person.  Last week we lost our beloved editor and this loss is widespread and deep.  It is seldom that we find a person who embraces her profession with total dedication and love and Jessie was that person.  She garnered the respect of citizens throughout Union Parish that she worked with for years while living her Christian values.  This is a mixture that is admirable and this work ethic and moral values will be sorrowfully missed.  The Bernice Banner has lost a wonderful leader and Union Parish has lost a wonderful person.

While we were grieving our loss in Union Parish, the world tensed as rhetoric became bolder between North Korea and the United States.   We saw this coming.  Last winter I wrote about North Korea flying under the radar and the dangers it posed.  Then I wrote about the reality of what will happen if there truly is a war on the Korean peninsula and the massive loss of life that will take place.  Unfortunately, this is coming to fruition and it only hoped that cooler heads will take hold and pull us back from the brink.  I truly believe that this saber rattling is only that and the world leaders will come to the salvation of the planet and show the leadership required to prevent a major war.

  The President of the United States, POTUS, has declared that the United States is prepared to unleash fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen.  My first thought was of rolling boiling earth and debris launched skyward into a mushroom sky as thousands of North Koreans are incinerated and the world experiences a modified nuclear winter.  Then I realized that this is not what was actually said and fire and fury could truly be an unleash of conventional weapons.  Unfortunately, our press has repeated the American answer to Korea to be nuclear in nature.

North Korea has declared to test a missile and have it land close to Guam, an American territory.  The missile is targeted to land on a trajectory near Guam but would land in international waters.  If the launch takes place it is hoped that we keep our finger off the button and not launch anything based solely on supposition.  Then if there is truly a strike, unleash the fury of the United States and the free world.  We have no other option.

For decades, the various United States administrations has kicked the Korean issue down the road with the final resolution residing with a future administration.  That time has come and it is now time to find a solution for Korea.  There is one action that has caught my ear.  China, a staunch ally of North Korea and a country that entered the Korean war on the side of the North, has stated that if North Korea launches the first strike it will not enter the conflict.  This is a major statement that could possibly lead to a negotiated settlement.  Let us hope that this crisis can be resolved and settled and let’s hope that China is now working behind the scenes. China has much more to lose today than it ever has since the founding of the communist country.

One thing is certain, the next few weeks will be very interesting albeit very tense. 

 

North Korea has finally developed and tested via a successful launch an International Continental Ballistic Missile, ICBM, that is capable of reaching the United States. At this stage in the fledgling North Korean missile program, the only state that the missile can hit is Alaska but it won’t be long before Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles will become targets. Parallel development of a nuclear weapon that can be transported by one of these missiles is ongoing. Even if a nuclear payload is not available a conventional bomb can be transported on the ICBM and can ultimately cause damage to our beautiful nation.
Another threat leaves North Korea clean when it comes to launching a missile on the West. It will let some other country do the dirty work. North Korea will be able to dismantle and sell its’ weapons of destruction to countries that wish to do harm to Western nations. If transport is not available for the weapons, North Korea can sell the technologies and then let rogue nations build their own missiles much as a child designs and builds an erector set. The nuclear warhead will come later and we are then in a huge and complex mess as countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Germany become easy targets for North Korean Technology that is launched from reprobate locations in the Middle East. North Korea becomes a double winner in this scenario. Western countries are hit and harmed while North Korea’s coffers are filled with foreign money funded by the sale of the sinister weapons.
It appears that the decision is simple; let’s hit them and hit them quick. Not so quick my friend. There is no way short of a nuclear strike that we could hope to neutralize the North Korean Military. Nuclear attack is not an option. With a standing army of 700,000 and several million reservists, we can damage the beast but not destroy it. North Korea is waiting for provocation and they will not be satisfied to take a defensive posture. North Korea will move south and with speed. So where will the North horde go. It will wear out tanks speeding to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul is only 30 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries and contains ten million residents. The loss of life would be catastrophic. While the North Korean army would take large losses it would continue to function as it moves south. I worked with Koreans in Arabia and the Koreans are a tough race, very tough. The North Korean army can take a lickin and keep on ticken.
Another concern is China. While China has become a major world economy there is all ways that isolated chance that China will enter the campaign and support North Korea just as it did during the Korean War of the 50s. This is almost incomprehensible but if that happened we could see an escalation that could pull the Mid-East into the conflict as an opportunity to strike a blow against the West. Then we have to ask what will Russia do and who will they side with.
Korea is quit complex and it is not a new issue. It began when America had a warship stopped, boarded, captured and taken to North Korea in the 1960s. The USS Pueblo’s crew was eventually released, but only after the Unites States paid ransom. Since then North Korea held America at lower esteem and America thought it could negotiate itself out of any conflict. We fooled ourselves and for the last forty years North Korea has built one of the largest armies in the world while laughing at America and the West. We have really painted ourselves into a corner and we can’t wait for the paint to dry to walk out.

 

 

 

Last week I discussed Korea being a major threat to the United States and any capitalistic democratic country.  It is a conventional military threat greater than any other country in the world today and this threat has remained camouflaged as we have focused on the threats from the Middle East and non-conventional military action.  The military force of Korea as well as all political and economic activities reside in the hands of a twenty-seven-year-old dictator that many consider to be mad while others consider him to be quite sane and smart yet ruthless.

 

Korea was occupied by the invading army from Japan from 1910 to 1945.  During this time Korea launched guerrilla war against the invaders from Japan.  Kim ll-sung was one of the guerillas and he later became the first leader of North Korea.  After World war II a boundary was drawn that divided the country in half much as what happened to Germany.  Russian control was in the North and American control was in the South. 

 

In 1949 North Korea invaded South Korea with the aid of the Soviet Union.  Eventually the United Nation supported army moved north, crossed the 38th  parallel that marked the border between the two countries, destroyed the majority of industrial buildings and stopped at the border with Korea and China.  An armistice was signed and remains in effect today.  There was no formal surrender or peace treaty.

 

Over the years China continued to support the North while America supported the south.  In 1958 China officially moved out of North Korea and that is when North Korea marks the birth of its’ nation.    Kim ll-sung remained in power until 1994 when he died of a heart attack.  At the time the countries was in collapse following reduced support from China and the collapse of its’ largest financial supporter, the Soviet Union.  Korea was in a standoff with America over its’ nuclear program and the stress was too much on the elder leader.

 

Kim Jong-ll assumed power but the stress was still there.  North Korea had a great famine and this disaster proved that the country could not support itself in such a catastrophe.  Then George W. Bush declared North Korea to be a Rogue State.  In 2006 North Korea conducted its’ first Nuclear Bomb test.  In 2011 Jong-ll died and he was replaced by his son and current ruler Kim Jong-un.

 

Jong-ill had planned for his son to assume the lead as ruler of Korea.  What was not planned was his early death and it was speculated that Jong-ll’s son, Jong-un was not experienced enough to rule North Korea.  Many believed that Jong-un’s uncle would act as regent until the child-ruler had matured.  This did not happen and eventually the uncle was stripped of all power, his pictured was removed from all public locations and the uncle was executed.  It was reported that his family members were also executed to include children and grandchildren thus eliminating all trace of Jong-ll’s life.

 

Jung-un used the press to build his power and position.  He was declared as “a great person born of heaven”.  Then the working party declared that “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader.  One Korean magazine declared Jong-un to be the most handsome man in the world for that year.

 

His education was based in Switzerland where he attended school under an assumed name.  He is reported to have been quiet but not a good student and liked basketball.  This could be a reason that he enjoyed a visit from Dennis Rodman to North Korea.  His attendance at school was not good either and his mentor was the North Korean ambassador to Switzerland. When he returned to North Korea he is suspected of attending a military college for five years.  North Korea is very secretive and very little is known of its’ ruling class.

 

Recently, Jong-un is believed to have ordered his half-brothers assassination in Thailand.  The man has no conscience and his method of execution is intended to serve as a psychological message to any that oppose him.

 

The future is very perilous when it comes to North Korea and even though America would triumph in a war, it would be very bloody and brutal.  Twenty-five million civilians would be caught directly in the fire of the two military giants.  Also, as bad as the North wants to march South the South also want to go North and vanquish the devils in North Korea. 

 

The coming weeks will prove to be very interesting if not disconcerting.

 

 

Over the past several years the primary focus of the American population has centered on the Mid-East and especially ISIS and the revolution in Syria.  Issues in Iraq filled up the remainder of the space in the newspapers.  Of course we have had a presidential election to end all elections and that has filled up much of the space in the papers and on the airwaves.  With all the attention on the Mid-East and domestic politics Korea has flown under the radar.  In fact Korea poses a much larger problem from both a military perspective and a leadership perspective than what is general understood.

From a military aspect North Korea is a formable foe and while many feel that the North was defeated in the Korean war there was no surrender.  Instead there was a cease fire and the line between the North and the South was established on the 38th parallel.  This cease fire has remained in effect for almost 65 years.  Today the North Korean army numbers 700,000 with an additional 4.5 million Koreans in the reserve.  The active duty troops in North Korea outnumber the South Korean troops by 2 to 1.  Logistically the North Koreans have 70 submarines, 4,200 tanks, 458 fighter jets and 572 fixed-wing aircraft.

Until recently there was a deterrent to North Korea moving south and attacking the democratic governed country loyal to America and the West, South Korea.  That deterrent was nuclear arms controlled by the United States located within South Korea.  North Korea has now tested five nuclear bombs and the last test was a bomb small enough to be transported on a missile.  This changes the entire  power structure in the region.  With North Korea developing a missile that could reach the United States we now have a nut  in North Korea could severely damage property and kill American citizens.

The worst case scenario in world terrorism has roads through North Korea.  ISIS and other terrorist organizations would love to have a nuclear weapon that they could get into Europe or the United States and then detonate the bomb.  Soon North Korea will have the ability to provide such a weapon.  Providing a nuclear bomb to ISIS would be a win/win for North Korea.  ISIS would gladly pay dearly for the weapon and then ISIS would do North Korea’s dirty work when it detonates the nuclear bomb.

In addition to one of the largest and best prepared militaries in the world, North Korea has a mad man that controls this force.  Kim Jong-un inherited his position when his father died.  Very little is known about the leader of North Korea; however, it is understood that he did receive two college degrees.  It is also thought that he spent some time in Switzerland in school but under an assumed name.

When he first came to power I had erroneously thought that we may have an opportunity to obtain an easing of tension on the Korean Peninsula.  This Pillsbury Dough Boy looking child-like leader quickly proved me wrong.  He is ruthless with little or no conscience and no regard for human life.  Soon after taking power he had his uncle executed; fearing his uncles attempt to seize power.  He  later had the minister executed by firing squad.  The firing squad consisted of anti-aircraft guns.

America does have a card up its’ sleeve.  All earlier American administrations used diplomacy to deal with North Korea.  While it had an effect on keeping North and South Korea from an all-out war, the North Korean government continued to build a massive military while snubbing its’ nose at world-wide sanctions.  America even had a military ship illegally seized in the late 60s and America had to pay a ransom for the release of the men.  Today we have a new player in the White House and this is certain to have North Korea guessing.  Following a massive cruise missile attack on Syria and then a week later having the largest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal dropped in Afghanistan has certainly had Korean diplomats scratching its’ head.  North Korea does not know what to expect from the new administration and that is exactly the response that we want.  This new uncertainty is what we need to keep North Korea off base and questioning what will happen next.  In the meantime, an American aircraft carrier is steaming off the coast of North Korea and several Japanese destroyers have joined the task force in a training exercise.

North Korea is no longer the flying under the radar.