ROK-U.S. News

WSJ – U.S.-South Korea Military Exercises Stay Digital, as North Korean Threat Grows

President Trump’s directive two years ago to scale back field drills means most rank-and-file soldiers haven’t experienced combined maneuvers

By Andrew Jeong

SEOUL – The U.S. and South Korea plan to start their third major combined military exercise using computer simulations as early as next week, two years after President Trump ordered field drills be scaled back.
The move to digital drills means that most rank-and-file soldiers from the U.S. and South Korea haven’t physically conducted a combined exercise for a violent confrontation with the Kim Jong Un regime, which has continued to advance its weapons arsenal. Seoul’s military largely consists of draftees serving 18-month stints, while most American troops typically spend just a year based in South Korea.
The field drills were last conducted in early 2018 and involved tens of thousands of military personnel. They featured beach-storming marines and rumbling tanks. Now, the exercises unfold indoors in front of computer monitors. The digital drills require the involvement of just several thousand people, according to defense officials.
“There’s definitely a loss to preparedness,” said Oh Yeon-goon, a retired South Korean air force general. The yearly drills keep the combined U.S.-South Korean forces synchronized and accustomed to serving under the same chain of command, Mr. Oh said.
General Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. forces in Korea, said last month at a public event that his troops had “leveraged modified training events” to maintain readiness despite the reduction in exercises. The two allies have been conducting smaller-scale training, including an event involving special forces from both countries late last year.
After meeting Mr. Kim for the first time at a summit in Singapore in 2018, Mr. Trump, to the surprise of some of his own defense officials, abruptly said U.S.-South Korean military drills would be scaled back or suspended. The president has called the exercises “ridiculous and expensive.” Pyongyang has often lashed out against the combined training, viewing it even now as part of a U.S. “hostile” policy against the regime.
The lost training means the two countries will have less understanding of each other’s capabilities and weapons systems, eroding the mutual trust that is essential to fighting shoulder-to-shoulder should a war erupt, according to recently retired South Korean military officials.
Van Jackson, who served as a defense policy adviser in the Obama administration, said the U.S. has yet to receive any benefit from North Korea for suspending the field drills beyond Mr. Trump’s friendship with Mr. Kim.
“There are smart strategic reasons for suspending exercises if it buys you goodwill that you then turn into negotiating momentum,” Mr. Jackson said. “But that’s not what’s been happening in Korea.”
Over the past two years, the North has become a bigger threat to the U.S. and South Korea, military analysts say. Pyongyang has resumed its cycle of weapons testing and provocations as nuclear talks with Washington have stalled.
The North began its own summer military exercise in July, firing antiship missiles designed to hit U.S. and allied warships, South Korea’s military said. Last year, it showcased missiles resembling Russia’s Iskander missiles, that can hit U.S. bases in Korea, better evade existing American and South Korean missile defense systems, and carry nuclear warheads. The Kim regime has also resumed testing older ballistic missiles.
Mr. Kim, at an anniversary speech last week celebrating the end of the Korean War, declared that the nation’s nuclear program had ensured the “security and future of our state will be guaranteed forever.”
Gen. Abrams last month said this increased diversity and evolution of North Korea’s missile capabilities meant U.S. and South Korean forces needed to beef up their missile defenses.
In the past, the computerized simulations presented scenarios, like a surprise North Korean military attack against South Korea, or an internal Kim regime crisis that may warrant an allied intervention, recently retired South Korean military officials say.
In the upcoming drills, participants will be wearing masks and enforcing social distancing, as precautions against the virus, defense officials said. A similar computer exercise scheduled in the springtime this year was indefinitely postponed as coronavirus cases surged in South Korea. Seoul has now flattened the virus curve, with daily infections remaining in the double digits, in a country of 51 million.
A recent U.S. military think-tank analysis questioned America’s military preparedness in the Asia Pacific. U.S. forces are too concentrated in Japan and South Korea and need to be boosted in South and Southeast Asia, according to a July report from the Strategy Studies Institute, which is affiliated with the U.S. Army.
The current U.S. setup could be sufficient for a large-scale clash with North Korea, though it is “grossly inadequate for either hypercompetition or armed hostilities” with China, according to the report.
The Kim regime’s increased firepower comes as military cost-sharing talks between the U.S. and South Korea have strained relations. Seoul and Washington’s cost-sharing pact expired Dec. 31 and the two have yet to agree on how to divvy up the costs for stationing 28,500 U.S. military personnel in South Korea-home to America’s largest overseas military base. The U.S., at an earlier point in talks, had requested South Korea boost its payments fivefold to $5 billion annually.
The military-cost discussions are being closely watched by Tokyo, whose own arrangement with Washington expires next year. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono bristled at the notion the country’s payment could balloon in size.
“If we pay more, then the U.S. forces in Japan will become something like mercenaries, and I don’t think anyone wants to do this,” Mr. Kono said. Japan is home to 54,000 U.S. military personnel.
-Alastair Gale in Tokyo contributed to this article.
Write to Andrew Jeong at andrew.jeong@wsj.co
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Yonhap – N. Korea pursues long-range nuclear missiles through ‘deliberate testing program’: Pentagon official

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) — North Korea continues to push aggressively to develop long-range nuclear missiles capable of striking the U.S. homeland through a “very deliberate testing program” for systems improvement, a senior Pentagon official has said.

Victorino G. Mercado, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, made the remarks during the 2020 Space and Missile Defense Symposium held online on Tuesday (Washington time), according to the transcript posted on the Pentagon website on Thursday.

“North Korea has worked aggressively to develop nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missiles able to threaten the homeland, allies and partners,” Mercado said. “Despite our ongoing diplomatic efforts, North Korea continues to expand its ballistic missile capabilities and conduct test launches despite international restrictions.”

The official noted that while many often highlight its failed launches, the regime “has a very deliberate testing program where they push their technological limits, learn from failures and demonstrate continual improvement.”

This photo shows the test-firing of North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29, 2017. The photo was released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) later in the day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This photo shows the test-firing of North Korea’s Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29, 2017. The photo was released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) later in the day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

As denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea have made little progress since the no-deal summit in Hanoi last year, Pyongyang has been focusing on its missile and other conventional weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, though it has refrained from test-firing long-range missiles since 2017.

North Korea is believed to have several types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), including the Hwasong-15 that is capable of striking any part of the U.S. mainland, according to data by the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

“U.S. missile defenses strengthen the leverage of our diplomats at the negotiating table, such as talks with North Korea on denuclearization, by demonstrating our ability to counter its threats of nuclear attack,” the assistant secretary said, adding that its missile defense system also serves as “insurance” against the possible failure of deterrence and diplomacy.

North Korea is believed to have secured a considerable level of technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead for ballistic missiles, according to South Korea’s defense ministry. The U.N. also reportedly said in a recent classified paper that Pyongyang has probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into its ballistic missile warheads.

Late last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that the country’s security and future will be guaranteed forever “thanks to our reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrence.”

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Donga – First U.N. report on N. Korea’s miniaturization of nuclear warheads

The United Nations published a report for the first time that North Korea might have completed the development of nuclear weapons miniaturized enough to be mounted on ballistic missiles.

Reuters reported that an independent panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against North Korea submitted the interim report to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on Monday (local time). According to the report, multiple unidentified countries said North Korea’s past six nuclear tests had likely helped it develop miniaturized nuclear devices.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear program, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor. A Member State assessed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing production of nuclear weapons,” the report said. It added that North Korea “may seek to further develop miniaturization in order to allow incorporation of technological improvements such as penetration aid packages or, potentially, to develop multiple-warhead systems.”

If indeed North Korea has succeeded the miniaturization of nuclear weapons, the country would be considered to have overcome major hurdles in the development of nuclear weapon systems as it could launch long-range missiles targeting the U.S., etc.

“North Korea’s miniaturization capabilities of nuclear weapons seem to have reached a significant level,” Moon Hong-sik, the deputy spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, said on the report during a regular briefing on Tuesday. “However, the South Korean government does not recognize the North as a nuclear state.”

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com


Article: https://www.donga.com/en/home/article/all/20200805/2141737/1/First-U-N-report-on-N-Korea-s-miniaturization-of-nuclear-warheads

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Stars & Stripes – Can you catch the coronavirus on a plane? It’s complicated

A sanitation crew works to disinfect the chartered Boeing 767 known as the Patriot Express at Osan Air Base, South Korea, July 14, 2020. MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: August 3, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea — The influx of American troops testing positive for the coronavirus after flying to South Korea and other U.S. bases highlights the dangers of air travel during the pandemic.

Nearly 82% of the 133 confirmed cases affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea have been service members or dependents moving to the peninsula for new assignments or returning from a trip abroad.

The overall USFK number is relatively low considering the Pentagon has reported that more than 27,000 troops globally have contracted the virus since the outbreak began earlier this year.

Still, the fact that all but 24 patients had traveled to the divided peninsula — mainly from the U.S. — warrants a look at the risks of flying and the best ways to mitigate them.

Can you catch it on a plane?

Airlines have measures in place to reduce the risk of in-flight germ transmission, including filtration systems that remove most airborne particles and a rapid turnover of air in the cabin.

Many also have implemented new coronavirus-specific rules including mandatory masks, limited interaction with flight attendants and reduced capacity.

“So far there’s no evidence that anybody definitely got it from the airplane,” said Qingyan Chen, an engineering professor at Purdue University who has researched disease transmission aboard aircraft.

Nor has it been ruled out since much remains to be studied about the virus, which first appeared in China late last year and has proven highly contagious.

“I don’t think there’s any virus in the air conditioning system supplied into the cabin,” Chen said in a recent telephone interview.

“But the infection doesn’t occur because of the air conditioning system. The infection occurs when your neighboring passenger coughs, talks or breathes,” he added.

Travelers also may be exposed to the virus during other parts of the transportation process starting with their ride to the airport.

“The whole United States now has rampant community transmissions,” said Paloma Beamer, president of the International Society of Exposure Science. “It could be in their communities before leaving. It could be on the flight. It could be at the airport.”

With little control over most aspects of travel, the best way for people to minimize the risk is to protect their personal space as much as possible, she said in a recent telephone interview.

Beamer, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona, recommends multiple, shorter flights to decrease the need to use the lavatory and to lessen time spent on the same flight as somebody who may be infected.

“Duration is really important because the longer you’re breathing the air, the larger viral dose you would get,” she said.

Other suggestions:

• Avoid crowded lines for security and maintain distance from other people while waiting for the flight and boarding.

• Use plastic bags for tickets and passports that often need to change hands.

• Choose a window seat to minimize the number of people nearby.

• Bring sanitizing hand wipes to clean unavoidable surfaces such as seats, armrests and trays.

• Turn the ventilation above the seat to the highest level you can tolerate.

Quarantine requirements

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that the risk of in-flight transmission is low but has recommended that Americans avoid all international travel during the pandemic.

“Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” the CDC says.

“However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights,” according to the agency. “This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The Defense Department halted military moves in March but recently lifted restrictions for many locations, including South Korea, that have had success in slowing the virus’ spread.

Anticipating a surge of newcomers during the summer, USFK implemented a two-week quarantine process that begins the moment passengers get off the plane. Everybody is tested at least twice — upon arrival and before being allowed to leave quarantine.

Many service members travel on a government-chartered flight known as the Patriot Express, which originates in Seattle. Others take commercial flights.

USFK spokesman Col. Lee Peters said Monday that 23% of the new arrivals had negative results on the arrival test but positive on the second one required to exit quarantine.

The estimated median incubation period for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is five days.

“We don’t know where the people are catching COVID-19,” Peters said. “All we know is that we control our bubble, and when they come to South Korea we immediately take control of them.”

“They don’t have interaction with anyone on USFK installations or the local community,” he added.

The U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees the Patriot Express, said passengers and crew members undergo medical screenings and temperature checks prior to flight.

“We continue to evaluate these cases and are not aware of any confirmed transmissions of COVID-19 in-flight,” a spokesperson told Stars and Stripes in an email.

The directive to wear face coverings during the flights and inside air terminals applies to all military personnel, family members, contractors and civilian employees.

“Data from multiple sources indicate the risk of viral transmission in this environment is low,” the spokesperson said in response to questions.

Aircraft also are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA, filtration systems and a rapid turnover of air in the cabin.

“The system does not kill the virus but filters it out of the airstream,” the Transportation Command said.

Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/can-you-catch-the-coronavirus-on-a-plane-it-s-complicated-1.639832?fbclid=IwAR2qhmLuNx43c6Oy5S8E0vVVXtn6_OJwV2m0J8drRmlsciUtLnNNBRXtjMc

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Yonhap – U.S. names new envoy for defense cost-sharing talks

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) — The U.S. State Department has named a new envoy for defense cost-sharing negotiations with South Korea and other nations, a department spokesperson said Monday.

Donna Welton, who recently served as assistant chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, will succeed Jim DeHart, who was appointed last week as the U.S. coordinator for the Arctic region.

“As Mr. DeHart’s successor, Ms. Welton will pick up where Jim left off in regards to the ROK Special Measures Agreement, the Japan Host Nation Support Agreement, and all other defense cooperation and burden sharing negotiations we conduct worldwide,” the spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

This photo from the website of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan shows Donna Welton. (Yonhap)

This photo from the website of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan shows Donna Welton. (Yonhap)

Defense cost-sharing negotiations between Seoul and Washington have been deadlocked for months amid U.S. demands for a significant increase in South Korea’s contribution to the cost of stationing 28,500 American troops on the peninsula.

Under the previous one-year agreement, which lapsed at the end of December, South Korea agreed to pay US$870 million.

This year the U.S. is known to be requesting $1.3 billion a year, a 50 percent increase on last year, while South Korea maintains it can only increase its payment by 13 percent.

Japanese media reported Welton’s appointment earlier, saying she will lead negotiations for the two countries’ defense cost-sharing agreement, which is due for renewal in March.

Welton is known as an expert on Japan with a fluent command of Japanese. She previously served in Tokyo, Nagoya and Sapporo, Japan, and also worked as a curator of Japanese art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As a diplomat, Welton has over 25 years of experience and has worked in countries including Finland and Indonesia and at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

She has studied Korean, Indonesian and German, among other languages.

The personnel shift comes amid renewed speculation the U.S. may pull troops from South Korea if the defense cost-sharing negotiations continue to stall.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Pentagon presented the White House with options to reduce troops in South Korea in March.

“President (Donald) Trump has already rejected a tentative agreement once, so it’s unclear how much discretionary power a new negotiator will have,” a diplomatic source said, referring to an earlier near-deal to increase Seoul’s contribution by 13 percent.

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Yonhap – S. Korea’s first military satellite successfully reaches orbit

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s first military communications satellite successfully reached its final position in the geostationary orbit Friday, 10 days after its liftoff, the arms procurement agency said.

The Anasis-II, launched last week from Florida atop a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket manufactured by U.S commercial space firm SpaceX, arrived at the position in fixed orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the Earth at 7:11 a.m. (Korean time), according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

The South Korean military will take over the system in October after the satellite manufacturer Airbus Defense and Space tests its functions and operability, the agency said.

With the successful launch of the Anasis-II satellite, South Korea has become 10th in the world to own a communications satellite for military purposes only.

The arms procurement agency said the satellite is expected to significantly boost the military’s capability to cope with network centric warfare, citing its increased transmission capacity and anti-jamming capabilities.

On the ground, the state-run Agency for Defense Development has been leading the project to develop eight different devices, including those that can be used on vehicles, to communicate with the Anasis-II.

The satellite will be put under the final operational assessment by the end of the year.

“We will put more effort into developing the related defense industry to gain the upper hand in space, which will become a new battlefield,” Wang Jung-hong, chief of the arms procurement agency, said.

A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket carrying the Anasis-II satellite, South Korea's first military communications satellite, lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 20, 2020, in this photo released by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket carrying the Anasis-II satellite, South Korea’s first military communications satellite, lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 20, 2020, in this photo released by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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Yonhap – 7 Korean War veterans laid to rest 7 decades after outbreak of conflict

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — The remains of seven soldiers killed in North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War were buried at a national cemetery Wednesday, following their return home, 70 years after the outbreak of the conflict, the Army said.

A burial ceremony took place at Daejeon National Cemetery, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, presided over by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook, according to the military.

The seven veterans are among 147 South Korean warriors whose remains were repatriated from North Korea via Hawaii last month.

They are all presumed to have died in December 1950 near the Changjin Lake in South Hamgyong Province, one of major Korean War battle zones in the communist state.

“The seven heroes answered the call to defend the country and sacrificed themselves for freedom and peace. The prosperity South Korea and we enjoy today were possible thanks to them,” Suh said during the ceremony. “Carrying on their patriotism and military spirit, we will steadfastly preserve peace in South Korea.”

Around 140,000 South Korean troops were killed in action, and some 450,000 others were injured during the three-year war. The number of fallen South Korean troops whose remains have yet to be recovered stands at around 123,000.

A burial ceremony is under way at Daejeon National Cemetery, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 29, 2020, for seven soldiers killed in North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. They are among 147 South Korean warriors whose remains returned home from the North via Hawaii the previous month, 70 years after the outbreak of the conflict. (Yonhap)

A burial ceremony is under way at Daejeon National Cemetery, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 29, 2020, for seven soldiers killed in North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. They are among 147 South Korean warriors whose remains returned home from the North via Hawaii the previous month, 70 years after the outbreak of the conflict. (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – UNC chief reaffirms ‘unwavering’ commitment to peace on peninsula amid ‘uncertainty’

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL/PANMUNJOM, July 27 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) — United Nations Command (UNC) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said Monday the command remains “unwavering” in its commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula as he marked the 67th anniversary of the signing of the 1950-53 Korean War armistice agreement.

Abrams made the pledge during a ceremony at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom to mark the anniversary amid chilled relations between the two Koreas and little progress in nuclear talks between the United States and the North.

“Last year on this day, when I stood before you right here at the Freedom House, there was an air of cautious optimism as the world witnessed a significant and palpable reduction of tensions between North and South Korea,” he said. “Today, this cautious optimism has shifted somewhat to an air of uncertainty.”

Still, lasting peace remains the command’s “earnest goal,” Abrams said, adding that it is the responsibility of the command to enforce the armistice until that goal is achieved.

Established in 1950 under a U.N. mandate in response to North Korea’s military provocations, the U.S.-led UNC has played a role as the enforcer of the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas are still technically at war, as the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

“UNC’s commitment to this goal, 67 years later, is unwavering,” the U.S. general said. “Today we reaffirm our commitment to the principles that banded our forebears together.”

Maj. Gen. Kang In-soon, the chief delegate of the UNC Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC), said challenges remain in the journey to build peace on the peninsula, citing Pyongyang’s recent destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in the North’s border town of Kaesong.

“But I am sure that this crisis and challenge will turn into an opportunity if we continue our efforts to build a lasting peace,” he said, expressing gratitude to all members of the command for their efforts to enforce the armistice.

From left are United Nations Command (UNC) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams; Maj. Gen. Hibbe Corneliusson, the Swedish member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission; Brigadier Michael Murdoch, U.K. member of the UNC Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC); and Maj. Gen. Kang In-soon, the chief delegate of the UNCMAC, at a ceremony at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom to mark the 67th anniversary of the signing of the armistice for the 1950-53 Korean War on July 27, 2020. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

From left are United Nations Command (UNC) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams; Maj. Gen. Hibbe Corneliusson, the Swedish member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission; Brigadier Michael Murdoch, U.K. member of the UNC Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC); and Maj. Gen. Kang In-soon, the chief delegate of the UNCMAC, at a ceremony at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom to mark the 67th anniversary of the signing of the armistice for the 1950-53 Korean War on July 27, 2020. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – S. Korea sees ‘high chances’ of defector’s border crossing into N. Korea

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) — South Korea sees “high chances” of an individual’s alleged illegal border crossing into North Korea, a military official said Sunday after Pyongyang claimed that a defector with suspected virus symptoms recently crossed the demarcation line to return home.

“The military is looking into the detailed routes, seeing high chances of a certain individual’s border crossing into the North,” the official said. “Regarding the North’s media report, our military has specified some people and is verifying facts in close collaboration with related agencies.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff is reviewing the military’s overall readiness posture, including its monitoring equipment and recorded video clips, he said.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said earlier in the day that leader Kim Jong-un convened an emergency politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party and adopted the “maximum emergency system” against the coronavirus after a defector returned home with suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

“An emergency event happened in Kaesong City where a runaway who went to the South three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus, returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line,” the report said.

Authorities are known to be looking into a 24-year-old resident in Gimpo, west of Seoul, based on the KCNA report that the person had fled the North in 2017.

The defector, surnamed Kim, is known to be currently out of contact. He has been under police investigation over suspicions of raping a female defector last month.

Kim reportedly fled to the South by swimming, and the possibility is high that he swam back to the North, instead of using land routes, such as through the heavily fortified military demarcation line separating the two Koreas.

North Korean defectors usually receive three months of resettlement education upon their arrival to the South and are put under the support and management of the police for a five-year protection period. But it is known to be practically difficult to follow their movements in real time considering the large number of defectors in the country.

The latest incident is expected to bring the military under fire again, as it has already faced intense public criticism for a series of security breaches highlighting lax discipline.

The military pledged a watertight posture last year after a wooden boat carrying four North Koreans arrived at a South Korean port on the east coast without being detected.

(3rd LD) S. Korea sees 'high chances' of defector's border crossing into N. Korea - 1
scaaet@yna.co.kr
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Yonhap – United Nations Command launches official website

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — The United Nations Command (UNC) launched an official website as it marked the 70th anniversary of its establishment, officials said, in a move seen as part of the U.S.-led entity’s push to strengthen its presence and roles on the Korean Peninsula.

The website, http://www.unc.mil, introduces its mission, multilateral contributors, history and roles “in preserving security, stability and enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula,” UNC said on its Facebook page on Friday.

The UNC had previously shared the website with U.S. Forces Korea.

The UNC was established on July 24, 1950, upon the outbreak of the Korean War, as the world’s first unified command structure, to command the multinational military forces supporting South Korea. Since the Armistice Agreement that halted the three-year war, the UNC has been in charge of enforcing the agreement.

The UNC has taken various measures under a revitalization campaign in recent years, such as having more officials exclusively dedicated to UNC roles, rather than taking multiple responsibilities for USFK or the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

This screen grab, taken on July 27, 2020, shows the front page of the United Nations Command's official website captured. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This screen grab, taken on July 27, 2020, shows the front page of the United Nations Command’s official website captured. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200727001900325?section=national/defense

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