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Korea Joongang Daily – Afghans airlifted to Korea to be granted long-term visas

A group of 378 Afghans who worked with the Korean government over the years and their families, including many young children, arrive at Incheon International Airport Thursday afternoon. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

A group of 378 Afghans who worked with the Korean government over the years and their families, including many young children, arrive at Incheon International Airport Thursday afternoon. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

A group of 378 Afghans who worked with the Korean government over the years and their families — including many young children — arrived in Korea Thursday afternoon on a military aircraft.

An additional 13 who couldn’t fit on the first plane will be coming soon.

These Afghans will eventually be granted F-2 long-term residency visas, announced the Justice Ministry Thursday, because of their “special contributions” working for Seoul’s embassy in Kabul or on Korean humanitarian aid projects in Afghanistan. This will require a revision to the current immigration law.

They will be able to freely live and work in the country, equivalent to what refugee status would have granted them.

The Afghans airlifted from Kabul in a speedy operation led by the Korean government landed at Incheon International Airport at 4:24 p.m., according to Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They departed from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad early Thursday on a Korean Air Force KC-330 multi-role aerial tanker, traveling some 9,000 kilometers after being flown out of Kabul on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry revealed Wednesday that the Korean government was in the process of airlifting 391 people from 76 households from Afghanistan.

Nearly half, or some 180, are children under the age of 10, according to a Defense Ministry official, and 100 are under five, including three infants born just this month.

The remaining 13 evacuees from three families were forced to stay in Islamabad because of a lack of space on the KC-330 tanker, which can seat around 330 passengers. They are expected to fly out soon and are under the supervision of the Korean Embassy in Pakistan.

On Monday, the Korean government sent three Air Force planes, the KC-330 and two Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft, to Pakistan to carry out an evacuation plan dubbed “Operation Miracle.” The two C-130Js moved people from Kabul to Islamabad.

The evacuees passed vigorous and sometimes perilous Taliban checkpoints to get to the Kabul airport. The Korean embassy in Afghanistan, in cooperation with friendly countries, helped the evacuees reach their flights on chartered buses.

The Afghan evacuees feared possible retaliations from the Taliban because of their work with Korea and had requested help from the Korean government.

The evacuees were initially expected to depart for Korea late Wednesday, but their departure was delayed to 4:53 a.m. Thursday because of airport security in Islamabad.

Upon arrival at Incheon airport, the Afghans were greeted with applause by Justice Minister Park Beom-kye and other Seoul officials.

The Korean government has stressed that the Afghans are “persons of special merit” rather than refugees.

The evacuees contributed their skills and expertise to Korean government efforts to help rebuild a war-torn Afghanistan over the past two decades, including working for a now shuttered Korea-built hospital and a vocational training center. They worked from anywhere between one and 10 years. The evacuee list included their spouses, children and parents.

The evacuees include medical professionals, IT experts, interpreters and other local staff who worked for the Korean Embassy in Afghanistan, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica), the Korean Hospital in Bagram, the Korean Vocational Training Center and a provincial reconstruction team in Charikar.

The Afghans were to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and stay at a temporary accommodation nearby until the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results came out.

Anyone who tests negative will be transferred on chartered buses to the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, North Chungcheong, where they will undergo a 14-day isolation period and two more Covid-19 tests, standard coronavirus quarantine measures.

The entire group will be housed at the institute’s Leadership Campus for around six weeks, where they will receive education and guidance on resettlement, including classes on Korean language and culture. They will then be able to move to other accommodations prepared by the government.

The Justice Ministry said that these Afghans and their families were initially granted C-3 short-term general visas to land in Korea, which will allow them to stay for up to 90 days. This will immediately be upgraded to F-1 visas, which enable longer-term visits but do not allow for employment.

They are expected to receive F-2 residency visas following their six-week stay at the training institute in Jincheon. The F-2 visa is considered equivalent to refugee status.

An F-2 long-term visa holder can be employed in Korea, live in the country for up to five years and eventually be eligible to apply for an F-5 permanent residency visa. The F-2 visa can be renewed every five years.

In a briefing at the Incheon airport Thursday afternoon, Justice Minister Park said, “Refugees have to go through a complicated application, background check and examination process, but since these individuals have specially contributed to the Korean national interests in Afghanistan, there are plans to provide them with more consideration in terms of living expenses, settlement support and education.”

The Justice Ministry earlier Thursday gave advance notice of a revision to the Immigration Control Act to provide the F-2 long-term visas to people who have worked for the interests of Korea and to allow them to get employed in the country without restrictions. An amendment to the act had already been proposed before the Afghan evacuee situation, and the ministry said this situation hastened the revision process.

Background checks were already conducted on the evacuees prior to their flights to Korea.

Some 40 Justice Ministry officials, four doctors and six nurses will be dispatched at the Jincheon center to help the Afghan evacuees, he added.

Since the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan began in 2001, the Korean government has conducted various military and humanitarian relief operations, including provincial reconstruction team activities from 2010 to 2014 offering medical services and vocational training.

“This is the first example in the history of Korean diplomacy where we have evacuated locals [from a foreign country] by actively investing ours manpower and assets taking into consideration humanitarian concerns,” said Choi Young-sam, spokesman for Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, in a briefing Thursday. “Korea is fulfilling its moral obligation as a responsible nation that does not forget its friends and does not turn away from the difficulties of its neighbors.

The U.S. Department of Defense expressed gratitude to the Korean government for its part in contributing to the evacuation of Afghans.

Referring to Korea’s airlift operation, Maj. Gen. William Taylor, deputy director for regional operations of the Joint Staff, said in a briefing at the Pentagon Wednesday the United States was “extremely grateful for their contribution to increase our outflow.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


Article: https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2021/08/26/national/diplomacy/Afghan-evacuee-Afghanistan/20210826191600475.html

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Yonhap – S. Korea, U.S. wrap up summertime combined exercise amid tensions with N.K.

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States on Thursday concluded a summertime combined exercise conducted amid heightened tensions after North Korea warned of a “serious security crisis” in protest of the regular drills.

The nine-day computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training began on Aug. 16 in a scaled-back manner, mobilizing the minimum level of troops without any outdoor drills, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

“South Korea and the U.S. ended the training after successfully achieving its goal despite the COVID-19 situation,” a JCS official said.

This year’s summertime exercise kicked off amid strong protests from North Korea, with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, blasting the drills as an “unwelcoming act of self-destruction for which a dear price should be paid.”

Kim Yong-chol, a senior North Korean official, also said the North will make the South “realize by the minute what a dangerous choice they made and what a serious security crisis they will face because of their wrong choice,” raising concerns over a possible military provocation.

But no unusual activities have been detected from the North as of yet, according to the military.

Pyongyang has long railed against such exercises, denouncing them as a rehearsal for invasion, though Seoul and Washington have stressed that they are regular ones that are purely defensive in nature.

During the main exercise, the two sides were again unable to carry out a Full Operational Capability (FOC) test, further dimming prospects for Seoul’s retaking of the wartime operational control (OPCON) of its troops from Washington at an early date.

An FOC test is a crucial step to check if South Korea is on course to meet conditions required for retaking the OPCON, which has no specific deadline.

It was supposed to be held last year as part of the allies’ combined training, but the two countries failed to do so due to the COVID-19 situation.

Officials said some of the drills this year were conducted under FOC conditions “to maintain the progress on the conditions-based” OPCON transition.

This file photo, taken Aug. 3, 2021, shows military vehicles at U.S. military base Camp Casey in Dongducheon, 40 kilometers north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo, taken Aug. 3, 2021, shows military vehicles at U.S. military base Camp Casey in Dongducheon, 40 kilometers north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20210825003551325?section=national/defense

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Stars & Stripes – ‘Moral responsibility’: South Korea is airlifting hundreds of Afghans out of Kabul

BY DAVID CHOI AND YOO KYONG CHANG

Afghan families walk toward their plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. (Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Over 380 Afghans who supported South Korea in Afghanistan before the Taliban seized power are expected to arrive at an airport outside Seoul on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The evacuees include locals who worked at the South Korean embassy in Kabul, hospitals, vocational training centers and provincial reconstruction teams.

They are being flown out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul aboard three South Korean military airplanes, Second Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jongmoon said during a Wednesday press conference.

Choi cited the country’s “moral responsibility” to house the Afghans given the “serious situations” many of them are under. He added that the evacuees will be entering the country not as refugees, “but people who have done distinguished service to South Korea.”

Some South Korean lawmakers recently said the country ought to act amid the ongoing refugee crisis in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan needs the help of neighboring countries for getting immediate humanitarian aid; however, unfortunately, Europe and many surrounding nations are against accepting refugees from Afghanistan,” Rep. Jang Hye-young of the progressive Justice Party said in a Facebook post Friday.

Jang added: “We need to actively seek a role we can play in a direction, which is solidarity and cooperation on a global level, instead of shifting all burdens of the acceptance of refugees onto countries surrounding Afghanistan.”

Over 3,900 South Korean troops served in Afghanistan, according to a Defense Ministry official who spoke to Stars and Stripes on the customary condition of anonymity Wednesday. One South Korean soldier died after a bomb attack in 2007.

Plans to temporarily relocate evacuees to U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan were scrapped due to logistical and geographical factors, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

Over 58,700 people have been flown out of the airport in Kabul since Aug. 14, Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the Joint Staff’s deputy director for regional operations, said during a Pentagon press briefing on Tuesday. Between Monday and Tuesday, 37 U.S. military aircraft transported a daily record of 12,700 people since the operation began, Taylor added.

Roughly 6,000 U.S. troops are deployed to the country to assist in the evacuation.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern with the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline and dismissed the Taliban’s mandate for a complete withdrawal by that date. The deadline was moved earlier in April, after President Joe Biden extended the withdrawal date from Sept. 11.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, during an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, described the date as a “red line” and warned of “consequences” if it was not met.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reiterated on Tuesday that there was “no way possible” for the U.S. to evacuate all necessary personnel by the deadline.

“Even from our own reporting, from those who are in charge, will tell you they can’t get the job done in that short amount of time,” McCarthy said during a press conference. “Until every American’s out, we should not be working on anything else.”

The Biden administration is “currently on pace” to meet the Aug. 31 deadline, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. But, she added, that “depends on continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport.”

“I am determined to complete our mission,” Biden said in a speech Tuesday.


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Article: https://www.stripes.com/theaters/asia_pacific/2021-08-25/afghanistan-evacuees-south-korea-taliban-refugees-2661462.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2008.25.21&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

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U.S. decides not to use military bases in S. Korea for Afghan evacuees: report

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — The United States decided not to use its military bases in South Korea to temporarily house Afghan evacuees, Reuters reported Tuesday.

U.S. officials “appeared to have figured out better sites” and decided to remove South Korea, as well as Japan, from the list “because of logistics and geography among other reasons,” Reuters reported, citing sources well-versed in the issue.

The U.S. is currently working to transport tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees following the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has yet to comment on the latest report.

In response to an earlier Wall Street Journal report that Washington is considering USFK bases for those evacuees, USFK said, “To date, USFK has not been tasked to provide temporary housing or other support for anyone departing Afghanistan.”

On Monday, South Korea’s National Security Adviser Suh Hoon also said that the U.S. has decided to use its military bases in the Middle East or Europe to house Afghans.

“What has finally been concluded is that the U.S. will use its military bases in the Middle East or Europe in accordance with geographical conditions or conveniences,” he told a parliamentary session.

He added that the Seoul government is reviewing various options to provide refuge to Afghans who worked with South Koreans in Kabul, including the possibility of bringing them to Seoul.

This AP photo shows Afghan people who were transported as part of the evacuation process from Afghanistan walking after disembarking a plane at the Torrejon military base in Madrid on Aug. 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

This AP photo shows Afghan people who were transported as part of the evacuation process from Afghanistan walking after disembarking a plane at the Torrejon military base in Madrid on Aug. 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20210824010100325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – Ongoing S. Korea-U.S. exercise optimal for war preparations: defense chief

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) — The ongoing combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States is “optimal” for preparing for contingencies, Seoul’s defense chief said Friday, dismissing concerns that the scaled-down drills would not be enough to maintain a readiness posture.

Seoul and Washington are staging the joint summertime exercise from Monday through next Thursday. The computer-simulated exercise does not include outdoor drills and involves a smaller number of service members than previous ones amid the COVID-19 pandemic and peace efforts involving North Korea.

“The exercise under way by the Combined Forces Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and component commands may be seen as troops doing computer games, but it is being taken under the scenarios very close to real war situations,” Minister Suh Wook said during a parliamentary session.

“Despite unfavorable conditions due to COVID-19, we organized this exercise by making utmost efforts in coordination with the health authorities,” Suh said. “What we are doing is the optimum way of being prepared for a war.”

Critics and some opposition lawmakers have claimed that such scaled-back exercises without outdoor drills will badly affect the combined defense posture, criticizing the government for caring about North Korea too much.

Pyongyang has long bristled at the South Korea-U.S. combined exercises, calling them a rehearsal for invasion. Last week, it lambasted the two nations and warned of a “serious security crisis.”

Since 2019, their major combined exercises, which usually take place twice a year, have not included outdoor drills. The defense ministry has said that outdoor maneuvers have been carried out throughout the year rather than being done intensively at a specific period of time.

This file photo, taken on Aug. 5, 2021, shows military vehicles parked at Camp Casey in the city of Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

This file photo, taken on Aug. 5, 2021, shows military vehicles parked at Camp Casey in the city of Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – N. Korea issued navigational warning for East Sea in indication of missile launch preparations

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) — North Korea had declared a no-sail zone for ships off the east coast earlier this week, sources said Thursday, indicating that it had plans to launch missiles amid an ongoing combined exercise between South Korea and the United States.

The navigational warning was issued for Sunday through Monday for northeastern regions in the East Sea, according to the military sources. Such an advisory is usually issued ahead of missile launches or other weapons tests to warn vessels to stay clear of certain areas expected to be affected.

But no actual ballistic missile launches or artillery firings took place during the period, according to officials at Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Many have predicted that the communist country could carry out provocative acts to protest joint military exercises under way between South Korea and the U.S. The North has long denounced such drills as a rehearsal for invasion.

Last week, the North slammed the South and the U.S. for going ahead with the exercise, saying it will “make them realize by the minute what a dangerous choice they made and what a serious security crisis they will face because of their wrong choice.”

The JCS said that no peculiar movements by North Korea have been detected, but sources said that the North Korean military has conducted trainings near inter-Korean border areas in response to the ongoing Korea-U.S. exercise.

“We are closely monitoring military moves by North Korea while maintaining a tight readiness posture in close coordination with the U.S.” a JCS official said. On Monday, the U.S. military flew the E-8C, or JSTARS, and other surveillance aircraft over the Korean Peninsula.

This year’s summertime computer-simulated exercise does not include outdoor drills and involves a smaller number of service members than previous ones amid the COVID-19 pandemic and peace efforts involving North Korea, according to the defense ministry.

The last known major missiles test took place in March this year, when the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea days after Seoul and Washington staged their springtime combined exercise.

A new type of a tactical guided missile is launched from the North Korean town of Hamju, South Hamgyong Province, on March 25, 2021, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. South Korea's military said the previous day that the North fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

A new type of a tactical guided missile is launched from the North Korean town of Hamju, South Hamgyong Province, on March 25, 2021, in this photo released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. South Korea’s military said the previous day that the North fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – Biden has no intention to reduce troop levels in S. Korea or Europe: U.S. official

WASHINGTON/SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Joe Biden has no intention to reduce the presence of American troops in South Korea or Europe, his top security advisor has said, as the U.S.’ pullout from Afghanistan raised doubts over Washington’s security commitments to allies.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made the remarks during a White House press briefing on Tuesday, stressing that “our commitments to our allies and partners are sacrosanct and always have been.”

“The president, as he has said repeatedly, has no intention of drawing down our forces from South Korea or from Europe, where we have sustained troop presences for a very long time — not in the middle of a civil war, but to deal with the potential of an external enemy and to protect our ally against that external enemy,” he said.

“So, it is a fundamentally different kind of situation from the one we were presented with in Afghanistan,” he added.

This photo, released on Aug. 17, 2021, by Reuters, shows U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaking during a press briefing about the situation in Afghanistan at the White House in Washington. (Yonhap)

This photo, released on Aug. 17, 2021, by Reuters, shows U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaking during a press briefing about the situation in Afghanistan at the White House in Washington. (Yonhap)

Since May, the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have started to withdraw their forces to conclude nearly 20 years of war under a plan to complete the pullout by the end of this month.

The withdrawal has led to the collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul, the Taliban militant group’s return to power and a chaotic exodus of Afghans fleeing to safe places — a scene that has unnerved U.S. countries reliant on Washington for security.

Biden has defended the withdrawal and chided the Afghan military for its unwillingness to fight and Afghan leaders for disunity, while stressing the U.S. goal had been preventing terrorism rather than “nation building.”

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20210818005800325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – N. Korea sees ties with China as ‘fundamentally distrustful’: think tank

SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) — North Korea is economically dependent on China but views their relationship as fundamentally based on distrust, a U.S. think tank said Tuesday.

The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. also said that China is unwilling to solve the North Korean issue as it views Pyongyang through the lens of competition with the United States.

“Therefore, real practical cooperation between the U.S. and China on denuclearization is limited,” the think tank’s office of congressional relations said in a report, titled “Wilson Memo: The Unique Relationship Between China & North Korea.”

“On one hand, there is a chance that North Korea may be willing to denuclearize if it feels comfortable with China expanding its nuclear umbrella over North Korea. However, any agreement in this realm would clash with the ideology of juche, therefore making it unlikely,” it added.

The think tank attributed such deep distrust between Pyongyang and Beijing to the North’s “juche,” or self-reliance ideology, and more specifically to historical events, such as the Minsaengdan Incident in the 1930s, a massacre of ethnic Koreans carried out by the Communist Party of China in the name of purging pro-Japanese spies.

It also pointed out that Beijing, unlike Washington, does not want to see regime change in the North as it could promote stronger U.S. influence over the Korean Peninsula.

“Ultimately, it is likely that China would prefer the deAmericanization of the peninsula rather than its denuclearization,” it said.

N. Korea sees ties with China as 'fundamentally distrustful': think tank - 1

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The Korean Times (Opinion) – A bilateral free trade deal between two Koreas

gettyimagesbank
gettyimagesbank


By Michael Schluter, Jeremy Ive

gettyimagesbank
Michael Schluter

We should never give up on the hope for long-term peace, and even eventual unification of the Korean Peninsula, even though it might be easy to do so. Indeed, there are a number of reasons for believing that this is just the time to look for a major move forward. More importantly, as we outline below, there is a way to overcome the obvious obstacles in the path to achieve this.

What exactly are we proposing? An incremental Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (BFTA) between South Korea and North Korea, initially for trade in agricultural products, but then extending step-by-step to other sectors over a period of 10 years. The goal would be to further intra-Korean cooperation and relieve humanitarian hardship in North Korea without the need for aid. For agricultural trade, sanctions exceptions would be needed to enable North Korea to export fish and marine products ($200m), nuts and forestry products ($150m) and products of lesser but still significant value including ginseng, beer, high quality water, and kimchi. North Korea would likely import from South Korea’s agricultural machinery such as small tractors and other agricultural equipment, fertilizers (phosphates and potash), insecticides/pesticides among others. North Korea could even buy rice from South Korea in any future state of emergency.

gettyimagesbank
Jeremy Ive

What are the obstacles to such a trade agreement? The most obvious are the political will in both North Korea and South Korea to engage in such an agreement, and the U.N. and other international sanctions. The latter could be overcome in return for North Korea indicating a willingness for step-by-step, verified denuclearization in return for incremental sanctions exemptions on bilateral trade. The terms of such a deal would be subject to negotiations between North Korea and the U.S.

The U.S. has recently clarified its willingness to talk to North Korea about anything, at any time, and anywhere; presumably, this would cover negotiations around incremental sanctions exemptions in return for incremental denuclearization. Indeed, the U.S. might welcome not only the initial conversation but the prospect of an annual conversation as North Korea and South Korea request to expand the trade agreement beyond the agricultural sector to others, such as textiles and mineral resources in exchange for energy and transport equipment.

U.S. support is even more likely if North Korea and South Korea agreed to use an SDR-type currency arrangement (see Intra Korean Won), which would in effect be using local currencies for trade settlement facilitated by the two countries’ respective central banks, as no hard-currency would be involved.

From a wider strategic standpoint, China would likely welcome this contribution to a more politically stable North Korea, increased trade opportunities and better transport links across the peninsula, as well as steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea. Japan would welcome the reduced threat from North Korea, and the opportunity to trade with North Korea in the future. For the U.S., stronger relationships between North Korea and South Korea would offer the prospect of long-term peace on the peninsula, as well as finding at last a way forward toward tackling denuclearization.

What would be the benefits to North Korea? On the basis of what Kim Jong-un, general secretary of the Workers’ Party, has repeatedly promised to his people, such an agreement would help with modernizing the economy. This step-by-step proposal for expanded trade with North Korea would give a practical roadmap for modernization of the whole economy. Starting with the agricultural sector, growth of agricultural incomes would generate demand for locally produced textiles and other consumer goods, and local construction with multiplier effects across the whole economy. It would also help to stabilize inflation.

What would be the benefits for South Korea? The BFTA would create the opportunity to build a relationship with North Korea based not on humanitarian aid but on mutual respect and to mutual benefit. It opens up future possibilities not only for trade but for economic and even social convergence through the exchange not only of goods but also of professional and civil servants across different sectors of public life. This could possibly even contribute to a future vision where the Korean peninsula could be a multi-connected neutral state, like Switzerland in Europe, rather than the DMZ becoming the “Berlin Wall” of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China.

How can the process be kick-started? We believe that one way would be for the South Korean government to indicate to North Korea that it is interested in exploring this possibility, and for the U.S. saying that it would be willing to negotiate sanctions exemptions for a BFTA in return for step-by-step denuclearization. Is not this the moment for both North Korea and South Korea to “seize the day,” as all parties have an urgent interest to make it happen?


Dr. Michael Schluter is an economist and is President and CEO of Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives (www.relationalpeacebuilding.org) and Dr. Jeremy Ive is RPI’s senior advisor. They have worked together on a number of high-level peace initiatives in Africa and Eastern Europe since 1986. Further details of these proposals can be found on the RPI website.


Article: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2021/08/197_313522.html

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Yonhap – S. Korea, U.S. start joint training amid N. Korea’s protest

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States kicked off their annual joint military training Monday, undeterred by North Korea’s strong protest and threats of a serious security crisis.

The nine-day command post exercise staged on the peninsula is based largely on a computer simulation with no field training, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The drill is defensive in nature as usual, it stressed in a statement.

An image of South Korea-U.S. combined military drills (Yonhap)

An image of South Korea-U.S. combined military drills (Yonhap)

The number of participating troops will be restricted in consideration of the COVID-19 situation, with the scale of the joint exercise smaller than the one held in March.

The United Nations Command has not formally informed North Korea of the beginning of the training, an informed source said. The command usually gives it a prior notice on the schedule and characteristics of the allies’ regular exercise.

Pyongyang has accused the two sides of pressing ahead with the war games despite its efforts for dialogue and peace.

It warned of serious consequences, again halting its daily hotline communication with the South.

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