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The National Interest – Anticipating the Biden Administration’s New North Korea Policy

The heart of the administration’s new Korea policy will likely focus on implementing the relevant UN Security Council resolutions to achieve North Korea’s verifiable nuclear dismantlement.


The National Interest · by David Maxwell · April 12, 2021

A meeting of national security advisors from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on April 2 appears to be one of the final steps before Washington announces its new policy for the Korean Peninsula. U.S. allies and adversaries, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, are eagerly awaiting Washington’s announcement. While no one can predict what the new policy will be, its basic contours are apparent from the official statements and comments of U.S. leaders.

The heart of the administration’s new Korea policy will likely focus on implementing the relevant UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCR) to achieve North Korea’s verifiable nuclear dismantlement. The United States and its allies articulated these commitments first in the April 2 joint statement of the national security advisors: “They agreed on the imperative for full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions by the international community, including North Korea, preventing proliferation, and cooperating to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Similarly, a March 12 joint statement by leaders of America, Australia, India, and Japan—also known as the Quad—highlighted the importance of “the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

The international community has agreed that Kim Jong-un’s malign behavior outlined in UNSCRs—from proliferation to cyberattacks to human rights violations—must stop. Thus, the implementation of the UNSCRs should be the baseline not only of the Biden administration’s new Korea policy but for all members of the UN Security Council as well as the ROK and Japan.

The national security advisers also stated on April 2 that Washington’s strategy would rest on the foundation of deterrence and defense against North Korean conventional and nuclear attack. This approach is essential to prevent Kim from dominating the peninsula and unifying it on his terms.

Likewise, during meetings last month in Japan and South Korea, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Auston affirmed that the U.S. alliance structure—particularly trilateral cooperation among Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo—is important for a successful Korea policy.

Another clue regarding the Biden administration’s policy for the Hermit Kingdom is its consistent use of the phrase “denuclearization of North Korea” to describe its long-term objective. The United States and its regional allies have long debated this phrasing. Washington and other members of the Quad prefer this wording, North and South Korea and many Korean pundits say the goal is “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

The latter phrase dates back to the 1992 North-South Agreement on Denuclearization, which pledged that neither North nor South Korea would seek nuclear weapons. Various agreements and resolutions over the past thirty years, including UNSCR 1718 and the 2018 statements at summit meetings in Panmunjom and Singapore, have also used this phrasing. Yet the “denuclearization of North Korea,” which solely references the Hermit Kingdom, is the more accurate description of what must take place on the Korean Peninsula.

This is because the ROK and the United States completed the denuclearization of the South when America withdrew tactical nuclear weapons in 1991. It is North Korea that has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction to threaten the ROK, the region, and the world. The Biden administration’s choice to use “denuclearization of North Korea” suggests the new policy’s objectives will not be complete until North Korea denuclearizes.

Kim Jong-un uses the phrase “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” as part of his demand for the end of Washington’s “hostile policy,” which he defines as the presence of U.S. troops in the region, the ROK/U.S. alliance, and Washington’s extended deterrence over South Korea and Japan. Whether witting or not, those who use this phrase are supporting the North Korean narrative, thereby providing the continued rationale for Kim Jong-un to make his various demands. Without U.S. forces, Kim believes he can successfully implement Pyongyang’s strategy, which is based on subversion, coercion, and extortion. If conditions are right, then he might even be able to achieve the regime’s strategic aim to dominate the peninsula in order to ensure its survival.

Developing the new policy and a supporting narrative around compliance with all relevant UNSCRs should end the debate about denuclearization of the North or the entire Korean Peninsula. This is because these resolutions cover the prohibition of all North Korean weapons of mass destruction to include nuclear, chemical and biological arms, ballistic missile programs, global illicit activities, and proliferation.

North Korea’s human-rights abuses are another concern. While China and Russia have prevented UNSCRs from effectively addressing human rights, individual countries and regional organizations have sanctioned the regime’s human rights abuses. Moreover, a 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry identified the comprehensive crimes against humanity conducted by Kim.

However, Kim will likely continue using the phrase “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” to mask his true motives. When he does so, the United States and the international community should respond with two messages as part of an influence campaign.

First, they should publicly explain Kim’s own hostile strategy every time the regime uses the phrase. This is in keeping with Sun Tzu’s famous dictum, “what is of supreme importance is to attack the enemy’s strategy.”

Second, they should remind the international community and North Korea that the ROK already completed denuclearization of the South back in 1991 and that there are no nuclear weapons on any southern territory. It is the North that has refused to comply with all relevant UNSCRs, and it alone must do so to complete denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula.

Critics will ask how a policy based on compliance with UNSCRs will lead to denuclearization of the North. They will say that this is in effect the same policy that has not worked since UNSCR 1718 was passed in 2006. They may very well be correct. However, what the policy will do, if consistently executed over time, is contribute to Kim Jong-un’s understanding that his policies have failed.

As long as the international focus is on full compliance with the UNSCRs, Kim cannot achieve his short-term goal of sanctions relief. Consistent application of this approach, with no backsliding, appeasement, or premature sanctions relief, is the only way to make Kim recognize that he cannot successfully execute his long con. Sanctions relief should remain off the table so long as Kim maintains his nuclear weapons, which he depends upon to ensure he remains in power and is someday able to dominate the entire Korean Peninsula.

Critics instead argue for arms control negotiations, sanctions relief in return for negotiations, an end of war declaration, acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state, and even a revitalization of the 1999 North Korean Perry Policy Review. The problem with such recommendations is that they rely on the false assumption that Pyongyang is willing to take negotiations seriously and indeed has made the strategic choice to relinquish its nuclear weapons. This has proven false numerous times.

Consequently, if the Biden administration pursues these alternative policies, the United States and its allies will hand North Korea a victory and Kim Jong-un will assuredly judge his long con, political warfare strategy, and blackmail diplomacy to be successful. He will likely double down using the seven-decades-old Kim family regime playbook of using threats, increased tensions, and provocations to gain political and economic concessions rather than participate in sincere and substantive negotiations.

This is why the new Biden policy must be built upon a thorough understanding of the nature, objectives, and strategy of the Kim family regime. The international community has stated its objectives and demands through the passage of relevant UNCSRs. It will be up to Kim to recognize that his path forward cannot be successful if it rests on a seventy-year-old fantasy that he can dominate the peninsula.

David Maxwell, a thirty-year veteran of the United States Army and retired Special Forces colonel, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he also contributes to FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP). For more analysis from David and CMPP. Follow David on Twitter @davidmaxwell161. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CMPP. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Yonhap – S. Korea, U.S. closely watching N. Korean moves on SLBMs, new submarine: JCS

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) — South Korea is closely monitoring North Korea’s military moves in coordination with the United States, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Monday, amid signs of activity at the North’s main shipyard used to develop submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

According to 38 North, commercial satellite imagery of the North’s Sinpo Shipyard indicates that a missile canister for the submarine missile test barge has likely been removed, possibly for maintenance or for the replacement of a new canister or launch frame to accommodate larger SLBMs.

This photo released by North Korea's state media shows a missile being launched from waters off its east coast on Oct. 2, 2019. The North's Korean Central News Agency on Oct. 3 said that it successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters off its eastern coast town of Wonsan the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This photo released by North Korea’s state media shows a missile being launched from waters off its east coast on Oct. 2, 2019. The North’s Korean Central News Agency on Oct. 3 said that it successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters off its eastern coast town of Wonsan the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

“Our military has been closely tracking and monitoring North Korea’s military moves, while the South Korean and the U.S. intelligence authorities have been maintaining close cooperation,” JCS spokesperson Col. Kim Jun-rak told a regular briefing.

“Keeping various possibilities in mind, we maintain a readiness posture,” he added.

Asked about any signs that North Korea is ready to launch a new 3,000-ton submarine, the spokesperson said the authorities are watching related moves closely, leaving every possibility open.

Sources said earlier that the communist country is believed to have completed the construction of the new submarine, which is expected to be capable of carrying three SLBMs. Pyongyang first unveiled the asset in July 2019.

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Yonhap – Military training important to protecting U.S. interest on Korean Peninsula: Pentagon

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Yonhap) — Defense readiness is especially crucial on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday, highlighting the importance of military exercises there.

John Kirby said the U.S. goal remains the denuclearization of North Korea.

“Training is important on the peninsula. We have to make sure that the alliance is sound and solid and ready to, obviously, defend our interests and the interests of our Korean allies on any given day,” he said at a press briefing.

The captured image from the website of the U.S. Defense Department shows spokesman John Kirby at a daily press briefing at the Pentagon on April 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

The captured image from the website of the U.S. Defense Department shows spokesman John Kirby at a daily press briefing at the Pentagon on April 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea and the United States recently concluded a joint military exercise that was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reduction in scale, however, also came amid renewed objections from North Korea, which calls the joint military drills rehearsals for war.

Seoul and Washington maintain their joint exercises are strictly defensive in nature.

Meanwhile, North Korea has fired at least four short-range missiles, presumably including two ballistic missiles, last month alone.

Kirby said the U.S. is still analyzing what appeared to be short-range ballistic missile launches.

“I won’t get into intelligence assessments of what the DPRK is pursuing, and we have not finished our analysis and assessment of the March 25 launches,” he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The March 25 launches came after a year-long hiatus in short-range ballistic missile tests by the North.

Pyongyang continues to maintain a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests since November 2017.

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CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula: Recommendations for the U.S.-Korea Alliance

March 22, 2021The U.S.-Korea alliance has faced headwinds in recent years generated by the shifting geopolitical dynamics of U.S.-China rivalry and transactional alliance issues, all while being unable to agree on common approaches to major security challenges concerning North Korea and China. This report—based on the work of a bipartisan commission of experts, scholars, and former U.S. officials organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)—offers concrete proposals for a journey of revitalizing the alliance in the areas of extended deterrence, global contributions, regional relations, denuclearization and peacebuilding on the peninsula, and trade and global governance.

The publication of this report is made possible by CSIS. The report drew from dialogues the commission members had with a broad scope of experts in the United States and South Korea, including seminars organized by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies. The contents of this report reflect solely the views of the CSIS commission, though particular commissioners may have had individual views that vary on some recommendations.

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VOA – What are the implications of French-led quad expansion maritime training?…

What are the implications of French-led quad expansion maritime training?… “The potential value is high from the perspective of the United Nations Corporation”

Reporter Kim Dong – hyun

From the 3rd to the 5th, a joint maritime drill for'La Peruz' was conducted in the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, in which French, US, Japanese, Indian and Australian navies participated in the Bay of Bangal in eastern India. From the nearest ship, the US landing ship Somerset and the Indian Sivalik class frigate Sappura. French landing ship Toner. Photo = US Navy.
From the 3rd to the 5th, a joint maritime drill for’La Peruz’ was conducted in the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, in which French, US, Japanese, Indian and Australian navies participated in the Bay of Bangal in eastern India. From the nearest ship, the US landing ship Somerset and the Indian Sivalik class frigate Sappura. French landing ship Toner. Photo = US Navy.


Recently, the first in-region combined maritime drill was conducted, led by the French Army, in which the US, Japan, Australia and India participated. It is evaluated that it is part of a plan to develop Quad as a regional collective security initiative. Reporter Kim Dong-hyun covered it. 

Naval forces from five countries, including France, the United States, Japan, India, and Australia, conducted regular joint maritime drills,’La Peruuz’, in the Bay of Bengal in eastern India from the 3rd to the 5th.

With the addition of the Indian Navy, which did not participate last year, it is evaluated as the first multinational military exercise in the region after the’Quad’ summit consisting of the United States, Japan, India and Australia in March.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Command said on the 5th that the training focuses on mutual cooperation, warfare, enhancing cohesion, and strengthening readiness in connection with dynamic light bulbs, maritime superiority, and power projection.

In the training, eight ships from five countries, including the Somerset, an amphibious transport ship belonging to the US 7th Fleet, were mobilized.

On the 6th, Vincent Brooks, chairman of the US Forces Korea Friendship Association (KDVA), who served as the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Army and the USFK commander, told the VOA on the 6th, “This training reflects the counting law that offshore countries such as France also value the strategic interests of the free and open Indo-Pacific. That’s it.”

In September of last year, when US Defense Secretary Mark Esper proposed a collective security initiative to confront the threats from China, he said that it targets not only Japan, Australia, and South Korea, but also allies in Europe, which have considerable influence in the region.

Former Commander Brooks “Execution of military development to guarantee’common value’” 

Former Commander Brooks said the future US-centered regional collective security initiative is not an organization directly aimed at China. He said the focus is on ensuring regional common values, such as democracy.

[Recording: Former Commander Brooks] “I would counter the view that this is about China. It isn’t. But it also does not ignore China and China’s activities in that region as well. It’s more about like-minded nations ensuring that there is a free and open Indo Pacific and that they’ll even commit military presence to ensure openness of the Indo Pacific region… ”

However, he said that the intention was not to condone China’s misconduct, and that it implies that the countries concerned could carry out military deployments in the future to ensure the value of a focus on freedom and openness.

Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike squadron entered the South China Sea on the 4th. Two F18E Super Hornets belonging to VFA 87 of the Carrier Combat Strike Battalion are sorting out from the deck on the 6th. Photo = US Pacific Fleet Command.
Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike squadron entered the South China Sea on the 4th. Two F-18E Super Hornets belonging to the VFA-87 of the Carrier Combat Strike Battalion are on the deck on the 6th. Photo = US Pacific Fleet Command.

“Enhancement of interoperability of multinational forces, high utilization value in case of emergency on the Korean Peninsula”

Former Commander Brooks replied that it is “very valuable” to a question asking about the impact that training to strengthen interoperability among democratic countries could have on the UN Command in an emergency.

Former Commander Brooks said that as the regional collective security initiative, centered on the quad, is being reorganized into a “value”-centered organization, various agendas such as disasters and North Korea’s countermeasures against the proliferation of illegal weapons can be addressed.

He explained that the expansion of interoperability between the armies of the participating countries is very useful in effectively coping with these various agendas.

Therefore, if other regional training participants decide to provide assistance in the event of an emergency or war on the Korean peninsula, he said it is of considerable value to the United Nations Command, and that the capabilities of these reinforcements will be combined to support the ROK-US CFC.

[Record: Former Commander Brooks] “There is value to UN command if those countries that participate here in these exercises would choose to participate in a way that supports the Korean Peninsula at a time of crisis or war, And that’s the role the UN command would play, would be to bring those together in support of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command.”

Professor Holmes “Emphasis on strengthening solidarity… Formation of a democratic fleet” 

James Holmes, a professor at the U.S. Naval Staff College, said the training between the French Navy and the Quad nations was not limited to the naval capabilities, based on personal opinion.

[Professor Holmes VOA written response] “In the case of France and the Quad, the partners are making a statement not only about naval capability, which is obviously important when war could happen, but about solidarity among democratic seafaring nations toward an increasingly bellicose China … This is what I call a’Democratic Armada’… ”

The purpose of showing solidarity among maritime-centered democratic countries against China, which is becoming increasingly belligerent, is that he regards this solidarity movement as the formation of a’democratic fleet’.

The Roosevelt Carrier Strike fleet re-deploys in the South China Sea… China’s carrier fleet also develops air pollution in Japan 

Meanwhile, the US Pacific Fleet announced that the 7th Fleet’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Division had entered the South China Sea from the 4th.

This is the second South China Sea deployment this year since the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Team was dispatched to the 7th Fleet.

The Roosevelt Carrier Strike Division plans to conduct coordinated tactical training along with fixed-wing, rotary-wing air operations, marine-based strike training, and anti-submarine training during the development of the South China Sea, the Pacific Fleet Command said.

In response, China also deployed six ships, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, to the Pacific Ocean on the 6th, passing between the main island of Okinawa and the high seas of Miyakojima, Japan.

This is VOA News, Donghyun Kim.


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Military Times – Thousands of name errors possible in new Korean War remembrance wall, advocates fear


Next month, the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall will have a new focal point — a remembrance wall featuring the names of approximately 36,574 Americans who died supporting the war and more than 7,200 Koreans who died while augmenting the Army. Their names will be organized by rank and respective branch of service, demonstrating how the war’s burden fell unevenly across the military.

According to the National Park Service, work began in early March on the addition and additional renovations, which will cost approximately $22 million. The groundbreaking marks the completion of a years-long fundraising process that began when Congress passed the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act in 2016. The non-profit Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation successfully raised the money through private donations from American and South Korean citizens and corporations.

“The Korean War Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited monuments on the National Mall, with over four million visitors annually.” said KWVMF executive director James Fischer in an email to Military Times. “Completing the Wall of Remembrance will help educate these visitors about the costs of war and honor those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.”

Getting the money was step one. Now getting the names right is the task at hand. And advocates are questioning the accuracy of the Defense Casualty Analysis System database that the Defense Department used to provide the initial list of names to KWVMF.

The wall, which will include the names of those killed or reported missing between June 1950 and March 1954, will provide a sobering reminder of the war’s ferocity. More than five times as many Americans died in support of the Korean War than the approximately 7,056 who have died in support of the Global War on Terror.

DoD won’t release the current DCAS list it provided to KWVMF, so the best glimpse into the data comes from an archived, publicly available version of the list available through the National Archives and Records Administration website. Korean War veterans advocates are alarmed at the inaccuracies they are finding there.

From their home near Dallas, Hal and Ted Barker run the Korean War Project, a free-to-use online archive and database documenting those lost in Korea. The site represents more than four decades of research and effort to tell the stories of Korean War veterans such as their father.

The Barkers and KWP volunteer researchers estimate there are some 2,000 name discrepancies in the DCAS list publicly available through NARA, they told Military Times.

Some shouldn’t be there. Some should be there but aren’t. Others are grievously misspelled or misformatted.

Of particular issue, they explained, are Native American, Asian-American, Hawaiian, and Latino names.

And soon these errors could be cut into stone.

One glaring example is that of a Navy officer who died in…2013.

Included in error

“Killed in action…remains recovered.”

That’s what the NARA public version of the DCAS database has to say about Navy Lt. j.g. Edwin Nixon Jr., a carrier-based fighter pilot shot down during the Korean War. Nixon’s F9F Panther fighter went down in flames in March 1953, crash-landing in North Korea.

Contrary to what his fellow pilots reported, what the newspapers reported, and what the NARA DCAS archive says, Nixon survived the crash and became a prisoner of war.

He survived his ordeal and returned to his family in Seattle, eventually having three children and self-publishing a memoirKilled In Action: Dead…Wrong!, about his experience.

Nixon is not the only person included on the list in error, either.

Another erroneous entry is that of Wilson Fielder Jr., Time magazine’s Hong Kong bureau chief who was killed while reporting near Taejon in July 1950.

NARA DCAS lists Fielder as “killed in action.” The Time correspondent had served as a Marine Corps officer during World War II, and was an inactive member of the Marine Corps Reserve at the time of his death, but was not serving at the time. As a result, DoD recorded his death as a battle casualty.

Other servicemembers in the NARA DCAS list “died from [various] accidents” outside the theater of operations, said Hal Barker, including some who were not supporting operations in Korea.

One such example is Navy Lt. j. g. Lawrence Frederick Emigholz Jr., who died in a 1952 accident while trying to land his fighter on the USS Wasp in the Mediterranean Sea, according to contemporaneous newspaper accounts. His remains were never recovered.

The NARA DCAS database states that Navy pilot “Lawerence Freder Emigholz Jr.” died in an accident aboard the USS James C. Owens, a Sumner-class destroyer that had no planes. His misspelled name appears in a mockup of the Wall of Remembrance presented to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by the National Park Service on September 17, 2020.

But for each name erroneously included in the database, there are others not included.

Those left out

Air Force and Navy personnel who died in accidents are included — or not — haphazardly, explained Barker.

Some troops lost in air crashes outside of Korea are included in the NARA DCAS list, such as Air Force 1st Lt. Frank M. Lopes. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron who boarded a C-47 transport flight on October 15, 1950 in an effort to get back to his unit in Japan after surviving an emergency landing of his damaged jet in Korea during a combat mission.

The transport became lost over the ocean amid adverse weather after takeoff. Four hours later, the pilots radioed that fuel was running out, and the crew and its lone passenger, Lopes, would bail out. The aircraft wasn’t heard from again, and search teams failed to locate its wreckage, much less its crew and passengers.

Lopes remains listed as missing in action, and his name will appear on the Wall of Remembrance.

Many other troops who died in the numerous flights that crashed on their way to or from Korea won’t appear on the wall. That includes the 129 servicemembers who died in a C-124A crash near Tachikawa Air Base, Japan in June 1953.

Most of the troops onboard the Korea-bound plane were returning to their combat duties following a brief rest period in Japan. The plane went down in a watermelon field, where the only survivor died shortly after an airman passing by stopped and pulled him from the wreckage.

At the time, the crash was the deadliest air disaster on record, and it was the first plane crash to ever see more than a hundred lives lost.

Hal Barker says the inconsistencies are partially the fault of the services. “Each service had widely varying interpretations of [Theater] of Operations or never reduced their definition of theater to writing…and that is a problem,” he said.

The volunteer researchers of the Korean War Project have identified “at least 500” victims of accidents that took place over Japan, Okinawa, and on the seas between that are “missing from the official database,” said Barker.

But even some those who are indisputably qualified for inclusion on the Wall, such as the “Borinquineers” of Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry Regiment, suffer from misspellings and misformattings in the NARA archive of the DCAS database.

Names misspelled and misformatted

“In accordance with their Latin culture, many [Puerto Rican] soldiers…use[d] both their paternal and maternal last names, usually hyphenated,” said Noemi Figueroa-Soulet, a documentary producer and advocate for Puerto Rican veterans, in a letter to KWVMF officials she shared with Military Times. “In some cases where two long surnames are used, either a surname or a first name is [shortened].”

She pointed to the NARA DCAS listing for Army Pvt. Nelson Galarza-Lebron, who died of wounds sustained in combat in October 1952. In his case, the database lists him as “Nelson G. Lebron,” which means “a family member looking for their loved one’s name would not be able to find it,” according to Figueroa-Soulet.

The Barkers said they have identified and worked to correct “approximately 280 Puerto Rican/Latino name issues” through years of coordination with Puerto Rican advocacy groups and people like Figueroa-Soulet.

“Three Medal of Honor recipients’ names are spelled incorrectly in the official database,” said Hal Barker. “A number of servicemen used assumed names, and many servicemen had their names changed by clerical error by the military.”

Fixing the list

The KWVMF is now working rapidly to identify and address errors in the initial DCAS list they received.

“The KWVMF notified DoD last week that they had made changes to that list and the department is reviewing those documents,” said Army Maj. César Santiago, a DoD spokesperson.

“Beginning in February 2020, we have worked diligently on the information we initially received from DMDC which, by law, is the authoritative source for the list of names for inclusion on the Wall of Remembrance,” said Fischer, executive director of the KWVMF, in an email to Military Times.

Fischer explained that KWVMF is working “on a potential list of names,” but “final confirmation for inclusion on the Wall of Remembrance must come from DoD.”

“We continue to extensively review our information to verify the proper spelling of Latino surnames, remove any truncating of name anomalies because of how the individual reporting database parameters may affect how a name is reported in a listing, and address any additional formatting issues,” he added.

Fischer’s statement to Military Times is a change from what another KWVMF official told Figueroa-Soulet in January, according to emails the documentary producer shared with Military Times. In response to a January letter from Figueroa-Soulet, KWVMF board secretary Michel Au Buchon said, “Although there may be inaccuracies [in Latino and other names], we are unable to change or deviate from this [DCAS] official record.”

“We are bound to…H.R. 1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act,” said Au Buchon in January, citing the legal requirement for DoD to provide the list of names.

Figueroa-Soulet is now encouraged by KWVMF’s recent commitment to correcting the names. “That is the right thing to do for those soldiers who served our country but never came back. But it leaves me wondering what sources they are using to correct these names and if the supposed corrections will be accurate.”

“The department has established procedures for the military service departments to update or correct errors in casualty records or in the Official Military Personnel File,” said Santiago, the DoD spokesperson.

“The official list for the Korean War Veterans Memorial will be available to the public once the [final] eligibility criteria is published,” said Santiago. “It is not available for public release at this time.”

Fischer and KWVMF did not immediately respond to questions seeking clarification on how they were working to correct the names, and what research and documentation requirements were required to do so.

“Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing the Wall of Remembrance with the correct names listed,” said Figueroa-Soulet, the documentary producer.

“It’s the least we can do for their families.”


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Yonhap – U.S. takes alliance commitment with S. Korea very seriously: Pentagon spokesman

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, April 5 (Yonhap) — The United States takes its defense alliance with South Korea very seriously, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, highlighting U.S. efforts to ensure the countries’ joint defense readiness at all times.

John Kirby also said the U.S. always evaluates its military exercises in any given year to make sure that the military is ready.

“Obviously, we’re all committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, and to security and stability on the peninsula,” he said when asked about the U.S.’ ongoing North Korea policy review and if its outcome might affect the U.S. military presence and exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

Kirby noted the review was still underway, but said the U.S. always takes a look “in any normal year” about the degree, scope and frequency of military training all around the world and “certainly on the peninsula as well to make sure that we are as ready as possible to deter.”

“But we take our commitments to the alliance that we have with the Republic of Korea very, very seriously,” he added.

In addition to the North Korea policy review, which is largely led by the State Department, the U.S. is conducting a global defense posture review, which might change the number of U.S. troops deployed overseas.

The U.S. currently has some 28,500 troops in South Korea.

The spokesman’s remarks come amid strong objections from North Korea against joint military exercises by South Korean and U.S. troops, which Pyongyang denounces as rehearsals for an invasion despite repeated assurances that the exercises are strictly defensive in nature.

Pyongyang has turned a deaf ear to U.S. overtures for engagement since mid-February and says it will continue to ignore any calls for dialogue until Washington gives up what it calls a hostile policy.

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Yonhap – N. Korea decides not to participate in Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus concerns

By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) — North Korea said Tuesday it will not participate in the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics to protect its athletes against the coronavirus pandemic, dashing South Korea’s hopes to use the games to kickstart the stalled peace process with Pyongyang.

The decision was made during a general assembly meeting of the North’s Olympic Committee held in Pyongyang on March 25, according to Sports in the DPRK Korea, a website on sports affairs in North Korea.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games during the general assembly to protect our athletes from the global health crisis situation related to the coronavirus as proposed by committee members,” the website said.

This photo showing North Korean athletes at the closing of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 25, 2018, was released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) the following day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

State media earlier reported that the North held the meeting via video links to discuss “practical issues linked to actively organize public sport events,” but did not announce the decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics set to kick off in July.

South Korea has hoped to use the sports event as a major chance to engage with Pyongyang amid stalled cross-border dialogue as was the case with the North sending athletes to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which led to the historic first-ever summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then U.S. President Donald Trump.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has placed tight border controls and taken other antivirus measures to ward off an outbreak in the country since early last year.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said the government still hopes the North will take part.

“We support Japan’s hosting of the Olympics with anti-coronavirus measures, and as the Olympics is a festival of world peace, and there is time left ahead, we hope that North Korea will participate,” ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a press briefing.

The unification ministry voiced disappointment.

“We had hoped that the Olympics could serve as an opportunity to make progress in inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation and to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula and it is a disappointment that this has become unlikely due to the COVID-19 situation,” a ministry official said.

This marks the first Summer Olympics that the North will skip since the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Later in the day, the North’s Korean Central News Agency issued a commentary slamming Japan over Tokyo’s recent censure of Pyongyang’s firing of short-range ballistic missiles.

“Japan is the very country that is gravely threatening the region’s peace and security,” the commentary said.

It added that Japan’s condemnation of North Korea’s missile test was a “violent infringement of (the North’s) right to self defense.”


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Support of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Statement

As leading organizations for the Veterans who defended Korea and U.S. interests from 1950 to the present day, for the economic and people-to-people relationships between Korea and the United States, and as champions for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we condemn violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as with any and all other groups of our fellow citizens.

We are joined together in making this strong, collective statement of support that we hope will resonate in the hearts of every one of our members, and in every community where our members live.

  • Korea Defense Veterans Association
  • Korean War Veterans Association
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation
  • Korea Economic Institute of America
  • Non Commissioned Officers Association
  • The Korea Society
  • Executive Law Partners, PLLC
  • Fisher Events and Marketing


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Korea-US Alliance Foundation Newsletter – April 2021

Download: KUSAF Newsletter 2021 April

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