ROK-U.S. News

DoD – Joint Communique of the 52nd U.S.-Republic of Korea Security Consultative Meeting

OCT. 14, 2020

1. The 52nd United States (U.S.)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington, D.C., on October 14, 2020.  U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and ROK Minister of National Defense Suh Wook led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials.  On October 13, 2020, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Won In-choul, presided over the 45th U.S.-ROK Military Committee Meeting (MCM).

2. The Secretary and the Minister noted that the SCM has played a pivotal role in the development of the U.S.-ROK Alliance.  The two leaders recognized that the SCM would continue to be a cornerstone venue to discuss and affirm national commitments.  Both sides pledged to continue to develop the Alliance—the linchpin of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia—in a mutually reinforcing and future-oriented manner.  The Secretary and the Minister also noted that future defense cooperation, mutual trust, and shared values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—on which the relationship is built—would be further enhanced through continued commitment to the objectives set forth in the Joint Study for the Future Defense Vision of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

3. The Secretary and the Minister reviewed the current security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the region and discussed cooperative measures between the two nations. The two sides additionally had an in-depth discussion on North Korean military activities. In recognition of the significant threat that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to international security, both sides reaffirmed the need for close coordination and cooperation to establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as dismantlement of its ballistic missile program, consistent with multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.  The Secretary and the Minister urged North Korea to fulfill its commitments under the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, the Singapore Summit Joint Statement between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un, and other relevant arrangements and agreements.

4. The Minister noted that the various measures carried out by the ROK and North Korean military authorities for the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) set conditions for the easing of military tensions and reducing the threat of war on the Peninsula.  The two leaders concurred that the cessation of hostilities on the ground, and in the sea and air, through the inter-Korean implementation of the CMA, and continued United Nations Command (UNC) enforcement and management of the Armistice Agreement, maintained stability and significantly reduced the possibility of accidental clashes.  The Minister reaffirmed the ROK’s commitment to ensure that the implementation of the CMA contributes to the establishment of peace on the peninsula.  The Minister also expressed his expectation that the buffer zone, agreed to through the CMA, would contribute to preventing accidental clashes and supporting military confidence-building measures on the Korean Peninsula.  He expressed that the CMA implementation efforts should continue, including: the withdrawal of guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and the establishment and functioning of the inter-Korean joint military committee.  Both sides decided to continue to seek means of enhancing our security dialogues to better meet today’s security environment.

5. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the role of the United Nations Command (UNC) in maintaining and enforcing the Armistice Agreement.  Both leaders affirmed that the UNC has contributed to the successful maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for 67 years and continues to carry out its mission and tasks with the utmost respect for ROK sovereignty.  The Minister additionally noted that the Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been an effective means of separating ROK and DPRK military forces and preventing military tension to date.  The Secretary acknowledged that military confidence-building measures are important for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula, and he noted the important role performed by the UNC in implementing the Armistice Agreement and enabling confidence-building measures on the Korean Peninsula. The Minister affirmed his support for the roles and responsibilities assigned to the UNC in accordance with the Armistice Agreement and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

6. The Secretary and the Minister assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance is strong and reaffirmed the two nations’ mutual commitment to a combined defense as agreed in the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to defend the ROK.  The Secretary and the Minister noted that U.S. forces in the ROK have played a critical role in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for more than 67 years, and reaffirmed that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) are to continue to play an important role in preventing armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and in promoting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.  The Secretary reaffirmed the unshakable commitment of the United States to the combined defense of the ROK, as enshrined in the Mutual Defense Treaty.  The Secretary also reaffirmed the continued U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence to the ROK using the full range of military capabilities, including U.S. nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister committed to ensure that the Alliance deterrence posture remains credible, capable, and enduring.  To this end, the two leaders pledged to enhance deterrence through the implementation of many of the policy recommendations from the Extended Deterrence Joint Study. The two leaders committed to make a long-term plan to establish the conditions for the stable stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at Camp Carroll as part of this commitment.  The two leaders also pledged to explore jointly measures to enhance the Alliance deterrence posture and implement the Tailored Deterrence Strategy while considering the effects of changes in the security environment on the Peninsula and in the region.

7. The Secretary and the Minister received a report on the results of the U.S.-ROK MCM from the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC) Commander, General Robert Abrams, which highlighted that the combined defense posture is capable and ready to “Fight Tonight” and is prepared to respond effectively to any security challenge.  The Secretary expressed commitment to the CFC Commander’s efforts to update operational plans and Alliance procedures to respond to situations on the Korean Peninsula or in the region, considering changes in the operational environment relevant to the current CFC.

8. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to continue to conduct combined exercises and training events on the Peninsula to strengthen Alliance readiness.  The two sides also assessed that the 20-2 Combined Command Post Training, undertaken despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other combined training events performed throughout the year in a balanced manner, added strength to the U.S.-ROK combined defense posture and military readiness.  Each side assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance must continue to focus on military readiness and on the combined defense posture to address the dynamic changes on the Peninsula.

9. The two leaders also emphasized that continuous training opportunities for USFK are critical to maintaining a strong combined defense posture. The Secretary and the Minister concurred in the importance of communication and cooperation between the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) and USFK to coordinate for more effective and productive joint use of ROK facilities and airspace for the USFK training required to maintain readiness within our strong combined defense posture.  The two leaders also committed to continue cooperation on and set tangible milestones for the development of a combined joint multi-purpose live-fire training complex.

10. The Secretary and the Minister expressed appreciation for the CFC, which has played a central role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula and defending the ROK since its establishment in 1978.  The Secretary and the Minister reviewed preparations for the relocation of the CFC Headquarters (HQ) to Camp Humphreys. The two leaders also expressed their expectation that the CFC HQ relocation would contribute to an enhanced combined defense posture and shared the understanding that the relocation would be expeditiously completed as soon as the site was administratively and operationally suitable.  Both sides also pledged to work together to carry out the CFC Headquarters relocation with purpose in a safe, seamless, and effective manner.

11. The Secretary and the Minister reviewed the progress on directed tasks from the Conditions-based Operational Control (OPCON) Transition Plan (COTP).  The two sides noted progress made in the COTP and discussed the way forward for wartime OPCON transition to the Future Combined Forces Command (F-CFC) including the FOC certification. The two leaders reaffirmed that the conditions stated in the mutually agreed COTP must be fully met before the wartime OPCON is transitioned to the F-CFC. The two sides also reaffirmed the intent to comply fully with the 2015 COTP Base Plan as well as the 2018 COTP Change One.  The Secretary and the Minister positively noted the development this year of a single set of bilaterally formulated strategic documents for use in the assessments of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC) for F-CFC.  They further applauded the efforts of the Alliance to complete the F-CFC IOC certification assessment during the Crisis Management Staff Training (CMST) this Fall and the Secretary also noted the necessity of updating the 2016 Crisis Management Memorandum of Agreement (CM MOA) by the end of the year.

12. The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged that great progress had been made toward meeting the conditions for wartime OPCON transition through U.S.-ROK joint efforts.  The two sides noted multiple Permanent Military Committee Meetings (PMCs) on COTP topics were held in 2020 and concurred that the activities of the PMCs promoted the credibility of the evaluation and understanding of the conditions. The Minister reaffirmed that the ROK military will continue to acquire defense capabilities established in the conditions-based plan signed in 2015 and its change in 2018, and would pursue the plan’s objectives in a systematic manner.  The Secretary and the Minister also affirmed the necessity to cooperate closely to strengthen the Alliance’s combined defense capabilities and committed to continue efforts to meet the conditions for transition through a joint study on bridging and enduring capabilities.  The Secretary committed to the provision of bridging capabilities, but noted the need first to understand ROK acquisition plans in order to determine what specific capabilities are needed, and for how long.  Owing to South Korea’s economic and military advances, the Minister noted that the ROK will acquire, develop, and provide these capabilities, and committed to more robust discussions on ROK acquisition planning.  The Minister reaffirmed the ROK commitment to acquire appropriate defense capabilities of the ROK military necessary for the defense of the Korean Peninsula.  The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue the joint study to optimize the bridging and enduring capabilities in conjunction with the development of the ROK capabilities.  The two sides pledged to engage in regular evaluation and review of progress in OPCON transition implementation at the annual SCM and MCMs in order to maintain a steadfast combined defense system.

13. The Secretary and the Minister decided to continue strengthening cooperation in various areas, including space and cyber, in order to ensure an effective response against newly emerging threats and to bolster comprehensive Alliance response capabilities.  The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged the efforts of the respective defense authorities working to promote critical infrastructure, including information and space systems, and to improve the security of such systems.  The two sides expressed their shared goal of fostering closer space policy development for the Alliance. The two sides pledged to explore further cooperative measures to strengthen space capabilities as an Alliance, such as improving space situational awareness information-sharing systems, and expanding bilateral and multilateral combined exercises and training events to improve the Alliance space operation capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister also committed to exploring opportunities to develop space professionals. The two sides committed to maintain close communication and coordination regarding the cyber domain through sharing trends of cyber threats as well as discussing corresponding policy changes. They also concurred in the need for exchanges between the respective cyber commands with the aim of discussing and promoting mutual interests.

14. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed their commitment to advancing Alliance priorities and plans in the areas of capability development, interoperability, acquisition, and sustainment by more effectively leveraging U.S.-ROK consultative bodies and activities that address defense research and development, as well as industrial cooperation, capability acquisition, lifecycle logistics, and technology security.  The two sides also pledged to pursue expeditiously revisions of bilateral consultative bodies while continuing to coordinate objectives and activities across these areas to provide timely and integrated capability solutions to Alliance requirements.

15. The Secretary and the Minister also noted that U.S.-ROK science and technology cooperation has expanded in several domains such as cyber defense, artificial intelligence, automation, and directed energy.  The two sides assessed that such cooperation is continuing to develop in a way that furthers U.S.-ROK mutual interests.

16. The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue enhancing defense and security cooperation to address wide-ranging global security challenges of mutual interest given the complex security dynamics in the region and around the world. In that sense, they also emphasized the need to seek synergies in U.S. and ROK regional strategies. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the rules-based international order and adherence to international rules and norms, including those of freedom of navigation and overflight. They further expressed their intent to work together for that purpose. They also reiterated their commitment to peacekeeping operations (PKO), counter-piracy operations, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, regional security cooperation initiatives, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The Secretary highlighted the effective leadership of the ROK in response to COVID-19 and expressed appreciation for the personal protective equipment (PPE) support that the ROK provided to the United States earlier this year.  The two sides committed to continuing close coordination and cooperation to deal with this global pandemic.  The Minister also noted the COVID-19 support that the United States and the ROK were providing to various nations in the region and the stringent measures USFK was taking to ensure COVID-19 protection.  The Secretary also separately expressed appreciation for the ROK’s dedication and contribution to various global security efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative.  The Secretary and the Minister applauded the U.S.-ROK Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) efforts to enhance the Alliance’s combined response capabilities to prevent the acquisition and use of WMD, and, if necessary, to respond to mitigate WMD threats.  They resolved to continue discussions about strengthening cooperation through the ROK-U.S. Counter WMD Committee (CWMDC), which has enhanced the Alliance CWMD capabilities.

17. The two leaders committed to continue U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral defense cooperation such as information-sharing, high-level policy consultation, including the defense trilateral talks (DTT), combined exercises, and personnel exchanges to maintain the peace and security of Northeast Asia.

18. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed that expedited USFK base relocations and land returns including those of the Yongsan Garrison are in the interest of both countries and pledged to work together closely on relevant matters, including environmental conditions, to ensure timely base returns in accordance with the U.S.-ROK Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).  The U.S. side noted that seventeen sites are ready for return to the ROK Government at this time.  The Secretary and the Minister confirmed their intent to continue to discuss relevant issues through the established processes of the U.S.-ROK SOFA Joint Committee.

19. The Secretary offered his appreciation for the ROK’s contributions toward ensuring a stable stationing environment for U.S. forces in Korea while emphasizing the importance of defense cost-sharing. The Secretary noted that the current lack of a Special Measures Agreement (SMA) could have lasting effects for Alliance readiness if an expeditious agreement is not reached.  The two sides concurred in the necessity of expeditiously resolving the SMA negotiations, in a fair, equitable, and mutually agreeable manner, particularly in light of the impact of the lapse on the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

20. Secretary Esper and Minister Suh expressed appreciation for the courtesy, hospitality, and work by both sides that contributed to the success of this year’s SCM. The Secretary and the Minister both assessed that the discussions during the 52th SCM and the 45th MCM contributed substantively to strengthening the ROK-U.S. Alliance and further enhanced the development of the bilateral defense relationship into a mutually reinforcing Alliance. Both sides expect to hold the 53rd SCM and 46th MCM in Seoul at a mutually convenient time in 2021.

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VOA – US experts say, “The gap between sanctions against North Korea still remains…Strengthening verification of implementation, cooperation with third countries is necessary”

Experts in the United States said that there is still a gap in the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and suggested supplementing the current sanctions framework and strengthening verification of implementation. It also emphasized cooperation with the international community, such as strengthening cooperation with third countries. Reporter Da-gyeom Ji reports. 

Andrea Mihalescu, former senior adviser in charge of sanctions against North Korea at the State Department, said at a video event hosted by George Washington University on the 13th that there is still a “blank” in the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. 

[Recording: Former Senior Advisor Mihalescu] “I am highlighting that there are sanctions gaps. And we like to think about what more can we sanction on North Korea and what other targets are there that we can go after.” 

Former senior advisor of Mihalesku estimated that up to tens of millions of dollars would have been invested in the fever ceremony held by North Korea on the 10th to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Labor Party, and there were many cases of sanctions violations within the fever ceremony aired by the North Korean state-run Chosun Central Broadcasting. I explained that it was captured.

On the screen of a fever-type broadcast, the images of flat-screen TVs, Japanese company Canon’s cameras, and a number of high-tech shooting equipment, were seen as luxury goods by the UN Security Council and banned from being exported to North Korea. 

In addition, he added that North Korea has purchased about US$600,000 worth of white horses from Russia over the past few years, and that the process of purchasing white horses such as payment of dollars, even if they are not subject to sanctions, could be a violation of sanctions. 

Former senior advisor of Mihalescu said that we need to devise a way to complement the limitations of the existing sanctions framework against North Korea, and that we must consider what can be added to sanctions against North Korea in the future and what targets can be tracked to detect sanctions violations.   

North Korean Economic Forum
Sanction experts speak at the North Korean Economic Forum hosted by George Washington University.

Former State Department Senior Advisor David Asher, who led the sanctions of Banco Delta Asia (BDA) Bank in Macau, noted that North Korea is evading the sanctions based on a’octopus expression’ network using camouflage companies from third countries. .

Former Senior Advisor Asher pointed out that many of the numerous companies involved in the network are still subject to sanctions and prosecution against North Korea. 

He also explained that the illegal activities in North Korea cannot be prevented simply by imposing sanctions and prosecuting sanctions violators by the US judicial authorities, and that the sanctioned people simply change their company name and continue their business. 

[Recording: Former Senior Advisor Asher] “The point is it is just huge, and it doesn’t mean the North Koreans are invincible. But what we need is a sanctions verification and compliance effort that is equivalent to what we do an arms control with like nuclear weapons treaties and things. We’ve got to get ahead of it.” 

Former Senior Advisor Asher stressed that in order to prevent North Korea from evading sanctions, it is necessary to verify and comply with sanctions at the same level as the armament control through nuclear weapons agreements.  

In addition, he said that the imposition of sanctions alone cannot lead to business closure without’complete’ cooperation from foreign governments, and that the greatest pressure can be embodied when there are multi-level cooperation between US ministries as well as international social efforts.

[Recording: Former Senior Advisor Asher] “It (maximum pressure) really is an across the board, multi-level interagency and international effort to go after North Korea’s access to money and the modalities generated.”

Neil Watts, a former member of the UN Sanctions Committee’s expert panel, pointed out that the US administration’s own financial sanctions, such as secondary boycotts, or third-party sanctions, cannot produce the greatest pressure. 

Companies that are subject to sanctions against North Korea are avoiding sanctions by easily establishing new companies or by purchasing off-the-shelf companies among established companies to continue their business.  

Former Commissioner Watts compared the current situation to the “Whac-A-Mole activity,” and explained that imposing sanctions against North Korea on companies involved in illegal activities will result in the establishment of a new business entity and another problem. 

[Recording: Former Watts Commissioner] “So, I would say it is difficult to maintain maximum pressure just from one side. I think global events right now undermine the maximum pressure campaign because maximum pressure has to be maintained from all angles and from all countries.”  

Former Commissioner Watts stressed that it is difficult to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea through the efforts of the US administration alone. 

Therefore, the highest pressure on North Korea should be maintained in all areas and countries, but the lack of participation from Russia and China and the movement to ease sanctions has weakened the campaign against the highest pressure on the international stage, Watts pointed out. 

Former State Department Senior Advisor Asher said there was a need to stop North Korea’s sanction-avoidance activities. Said it would be necessary. 

This is Da-gyeom Ji from VOA News.

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Yonhap – Former USFK base in Incheon returned to citizens after 81 years

INCHEON, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) — A former United States Forces Korea (USFK) base in Incheon’s Bupyeong district, just west of Seoul, was formally opened to the public in a ceremony on Wednesday following its return to the South Korean government last year.

The opening of parts of the former site of Camp Market to the public came 81 years after the area, about 25 kilometers from the capital, became an off-limits zone for use by the Japanese imperial army in 1939.

Incheon’s municipal government held a ceremony on the site to mark the public opening of a 93,000-square-meter area that had previously housed a baseball field, a swimming pool and a theater of the 440,000-square-meter Camp Market.

Ordinary citizens are now allowed to freely enter the former Camp Market area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

Dignitaries open the main gate of the former site of USFK base Camp Market in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 14, 2020, during its public opening ceremony. (Yonhap)

Dignitaries open the main gate of the former site of USFK base Camp Market in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 14, 2020, during its public opening ceremony. (Yonhap)

The opening ceremony began after South Korean Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min delivered the key to the main gate of Camp Market, which was acquired from the USFK, to Incheon Mayor Park Nam-choon.

Park walked into the former USFK base, together with about 100 dignitaries, including lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party, to be greeted by a performance of Korean traditional music and a festival.

“We’re thrilled to greet a glorious day like this. We have gathered the wisdom and strength of all citizens to regain Camp Market,” the mayor said in an address. “We’ll closely cooperate with the defense ministry and the USFK over the area’s soil decontamination to ensure that all citizens can safely use the returned land,” he stressed.

The former site of Camp Market was previously used as a weapon manufacturing factory of the Japanese military during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before being taken over by the U.S. military in 1945.

In December last year, 210,000 square meters of Camp Market were handed over to South Korea under a bilateral agreement, while the remaining 230,000 square meters will be returned later.

The Incheon government plans to map out measures to utilize the former Camp Market site by December next year.

The return is part of a broad relocation scheme to consolidate U.S. bases across the peninsula into two garrisons in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul, and Daegu, with an aim to enhance defense readiness and operational efficiencies in the face of North Korean military threats. Currently, the USFK maintains some 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Meanwhile, an LED billboard installed for the opening ceremony of the former USFK base collapsed at 1:29 p.m., injuring six citizens, firefighters said.

One of them was seriously injured while five others sustained minor injuries, they said, adding all were rushed to the hospital.

The billboard measuring two meters in width and one meter in length was installed for use during the opening ceremony.


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VOA – Former Commander Brooks “Unexpected Speed ​​of Modernization of Conventional Power in North Korea…Severe Threat to Defense of the Korean Peninsula”

On the 10th, a weapon appeared to be a new supersized firearm at the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Labor Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.
On the 10th, a weapon appeared to be a new supersized firearm at the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Labor Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.


North Korean experts in the United States have shown that North Korea has recently shown that it is focusing considerable investment on conventional electricity, which has been evaluated as relatively old. Former ROK-U.S. coalition commander Vincent Brooks said North Korea’s conventional forces could pose a serious threat to the defense of the Korean Peninsula. Reporter Kim Dong-hyun covered it. 

US experts say North Korea’s recently unveiled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), other than the threats of conventional capabilities, should not be overlooked.

Former Commander Brooks “Significant investment in conventional North Korean power”

Former ROK-US Combined Commander Vincent Brooks told VOA on the 13th that he was honestly surprised by North Korea’s conventional tactics unveiled at this feverish ceremony.

In particular, Chairman Kim Jong-un emphasized the nuclear-economic parallel line, but he pointed out that considering the fact that there is no progress in the current economic situation, it is possible to infer that a lot of manpower and funds are being invested in the conventional military industry in addition to strategic weapons.

[Record: Former Commander Brooks] “Considerable energy and effort have gone into military industry and the production of much newer self-propelled combat systems… so that means that these systems are ones that will increase the ability to hold Seoul at risk, and to potentially strike much deeper into South Korea with conventional force’s missiles.”

“Increase in threats across South Korea… Korean military modernization is required”  

North Korea’s conventional tactics, revealed at the ceremony, are very concerned, as it suggests that it will strengthen its capacity to threaten Seoul, and that a potential blow to deeper inland is possible.

Former Commander Brooks said that during his tenure, he emphasized the modernization of the ROK military on missile defense systems and UAVs because he expected North Korea to focus on these capabilities at the time.

[Recording: Former Commander Brooks] “There are concerns. It is why I as a commander began to emphasize the modernizing air and missile defense including counter rocket, counter artillery, counter mortar and counter unmanned aerial systems. Because those were clearly going to be the areas where North Korea would concentrate. And indeed they’ve shown that that is what they have been doing for the last 3 years. So I do have some concerns about that. It requires modernization for South Korea especially. And Defensive systems to be created to ensure that North Korea could not hold South Korea at a greater risk.”

Byungsik this year clearly shows that North Korea has been focusing on conventional attack capabilities for the past three years, and therefore, it is desperately required to modernize the ROK military and establish a new defense system that can cope with new threats.

Bruce Bennett: “Mobile radar, biochemical forces should be alert” 

Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the Rand Institute, said North Korea should be alert to new conventional weapons, especially biochemical units equipped with mobile radar and new gas masks.

Senior researcher Bennett said the exact specifications of the mobile radar are not known, but experts have long been concerned about the possibility that North Korea will have an artillery detection radar capable of tracking the firing point of South Korean artillery forces.

Korean Army K-9 self-propelled artillery.
Korean Army K-9 self-propelled artillery.

In addition, the ROK military’s deployment posture of K-9 self-propelled artillery has been relatively neglected to North Korea’s origin strike, and analyzed that if the radar shown this time is one of the types of artillery detection radar, it could be a serious threat.

In relation to North Korea’s disclosure of biochemical units wearing gas masks, he introduced the remarks that the USFK commander at the time of Lean Raport in the early 2000s said, “North Korea regards biochemical weapons forces as conventional weapons, not asymmetric forces.”

[Recording: Senior Researcher Bennett] “The US commander in Korea General Laporte did a TV interview and he said that’North Korea does not think that chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They think they are conventional weapons’… … All of North Korea’s neighbors are members of the Chemical Weapons Convention. They aren’t planning on firing chemical weapons. So why does North Korea need chemical protective equipment? And the answer is because they plan to use it.”

It is pointed out that North Korea’s installation of gas masks implied the possibility of use in emergency as an attacking force.

“In spite of promoting the modernization of the Korean military, both troops and capabilities are inferior” 

Senior researcher Bennett also said that the report by the Strategic Research Institute under the U.S. Army Graduate School in July, which analyzed that the conventional power of North Korea will deteriorate over the next 10 years, proved to be false.

[Recording: Senior Researcher Bennett] “The US Army War College Report cited that as an assumption. All of the underlying elements of that assumption appear to be wrong and therefore, one would have to ask, can we really make that assumption? I would say no… ”

Bruce Klinger “misinterprets the nuclear-economic translation route… I have never stopped increasing the armament.”  

Bruce Klinger, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argued that the analysis of Chairman Kim Jong-un’s nuclear-economic translational line was wrong, who interpreted that he would focus on the future economy by breaking away from the Songun policy.

[Record: Senior Researcher Klinger] “Some interpreted as a sign of economic reform and reduction of the military first policy of his father, etc. But Byung Jin was created in 1962, at a central committee meeting under his grandfather… Well, he continued all the military programs, and obviously now, even more programs than we were aware of.”

Senior researcher Klingner said that North Korea has never stopped investing in the military sector even in the Kim Jong-un era, and said the results were shown through this passionate ceremony.

Meanwhile, the North Korean military introduced four types of new short-range ballistic missiles and firearms that were tested last year, including the Iskander-class KN-23 capable of evasive maneuvering during this row of arms.

We also unveiled a new tank, a biochemical unit wearing a gas mask, an improved rifle equipped with sights and silencers, and a mobile radar system.

This is VOA News, Donghyun Kim.


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Yonhap – N.K. likely to unveil new ICBM during parade: sources

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) — North Korea has shown signs of preparing to unveil a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) during a military parade expected to take place on Saturday to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party, sources said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could also deliver an address during the event, the sources said.

“Preparations for the parade are at the final stage, and North Korea is likely to go ahead with it as widely expected,” a military official said.

During a parliamentary audit earlier this week, Seoul’s Defense Minister Suh Wook said that the North is expected to mobilize strategic weapons in a show of force, and the unification ministry noted that the possible display of newly developed weapons would aim at strengthening internal unity amid economic difficulties.

The upcoming parade has drawn keen attention, as the communist country could unveil new strategic weapons that leader Kim pledged to show off in his New Year’s message, such as an ICBM and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

The Seoul government reportedly detected signs that Kim Jong-un will deliver a speech during the parade.

Initially, there was a possibility that the Korean Central Television could air the parade live, but it appears that the state-run broadcaster could record the parade and air it on Sunday.

In April 2017, North Korea broadcast live a military parade to mark the 105th birth anniversary of Kim’s grandfather, the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung.

At that time, the regime showed off a new ICBM and diverse types of weapons, and the then-vice chairman of the party delivered a speech to warn of war if the U.S. takes military action.

This photo, released on April 16, 2017, by the Rodong Sinmun, a daily of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, shows presumed-to-be new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) first disclosed at a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea tends to mark every fifth or 10th anniversary with larger-scale events, such as missile launches and parades of troops and advanced military hardware.

Chances for the North to test-launch such strategic weapons this time remain low, but the authorities are closely monitoring related movements in close coordination with the United States, the Seoul official added.

Last month, North Korea built a structure on an uninhabited island in the East Sea, which is presumed to be used as a target for its test-firing of missiles, according to Rep. Yoon Ju-keyng of the main opposition People Power Party.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Won In-choul said Thursday that the military “bears in mind diverse possibilities” regarding those activities, vowing a staunch readiness posture.

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Yonhap – Moon hopes for S. Korea-U.S. collaboration on declaring end to Korean War

Yonhap | By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in proposed Thursday that South Korea and the United States join forces to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, saying it’s a way to open the door for peace on the peninsula and make the alliance even greater.

“I hope that our two countries work toward the end-of-war declaration and draw active participation from the international community in this regard,” he said in a video speech for the Annual Gala Dinner of the Korea Society. Based in New York, the private and nonprofit organization has long campaigned to promote ties between the allies.

“When we not only deter war but also actively create and institutionalize peace, our alliance will be even greater,” Moon said.

He stressed that the end-of-war declaration will “indeed pave the way for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

And, he added, establishing permanent peace in Korea is “the only genuine way to reciprocate the sacrifices and dedications of the Korean War veterans.”

President Moon Jae-in delivers a prerecorded keynote speech via a video link at the Annual Gala Dinner of the Korea Society in New York on Oct. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by Cheong Wa Dae. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in delivers a prerecorded keynote speech via a video link at the Annual Gala Dinner of the Korea Society in New York on Oct. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by Cheong Wa Dae. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Addressing the virtual U.N. General Assembly session last month, the president restated his suggestion that the two Koreas, the U.S. and, probably, China declare that the war is over. The two Koreas remain technically at war as the conflict finished in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Moon used the Korea Society speech to emphasize the significance of the end-of-war declaration amid a controversy over the recent killing of a South Korean government worker by the North’s troops around the Yellow Sea border.

While the North’s leader Kim Jong-un issued a rare apology to Moon and South Koreans over the incident, Pyongyang has been unresponsive to Seoul’s offer of a joint inquiry on what happened.

Those critical of the Moon administration have fiercely condemned its handling of the case.

Moon cited “substantive process” in efforts to bring lasting peace to Korea thanks to a series of inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea summit talks.

“However, the talks have now stalled, and we are catching our breath,” he said. “We can neither allow any backtracking on hard-earned progress nor change our destination.”

He added that South Korea and the U.S. will continue the efforts to build trust with North Korea “by keeping our ears, mind and heart open toward it.”

On the Seoul-Washington alliance, Moon said it’s in a “new evolutionary phase” with the two countries dealing with not only regional but also global issues together, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is high time for the ROK-U.S. alliance to demonstrate its power once again,” he said, using the acronym for the Republic of Korea, South Korea’s official name.

He referred to President Donald Trump’s invitation of him to attend the G-7 summit.

“I take it as America’s call on Korea to assume responsibility and a role commensurate with its international stature based on deep mutual trust between our two countries,” Moon said.

South Korea will live up to these expectations and also actively join the concerted global efforts to respond to the coronavirus crisis, he added.

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Yonhap – JCS chief says conditions for OPCON transfer could be revised if transition delayed too much

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Won In-choul said Thursday conditions for the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul need to be revised if the transition is delayed too much.

Won made the remark during a parliamentary audit session, saying that South Korea is currently trying its best to meet the conditions as soon as possible under the framework agreed with the United States.

The Seoul government seeks to retake the wartime OPCON before the current Moon Jae-in administration’s term ends in May 2022, though the transition is not time-based but conditions-based.

“If the OPCON transition becomes a distant aim, or is delayed too much compared to what we expect due to the conditions, those parts need to be revised or supplemented,” Won said.

The remark came after Rep. Park Sung-joon of the ruling Democratic Party raised concerns over whether the fact the transition is conditions-based, not time-based, could serve as a pretext to indefinitely postpone the transfer.

“I understand your concern as qualitative assessment is included, but for now we are trying as much as possible to (meet the goal) while following the procedures agreed” with the U.S., the chairman said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Won In-choul speaks during a parliamentary inspection of the JCS at the JCS headquarters in Seoul on Oct. 8, 2020. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Won In-choul speaks during a parliamentary inspection of the JCS at the JCS headquarters in Seoul on Oct. 8, 2020. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Though the transfer is conditions-based, it will effectively become time-based once the two countries complete the Full Operational Capability (FOC) test and decide the year for the transition, Won said.

South Korea and the U.S. conducted an initial operational capability (IOC) test last year and planned to move on to the FOC test this year to assess how well South Korea is prepared to retake the wartime OPCON.

But they failed to fully assess the FOC this year, as they had to scale back the summertime exercise due to the new coronavirus situation. Following the FOC test, they should carry out a Full Mission Capability (FMC) test.

“South Korea and the U.S. have been holding discussions to carry out the FOC test next year,” Won said, adding that Seoul’s aim is to complete the test by the first half.

The two sides will confirm the plan during a series of high-level defense talks slated for next week, he said.

Won will hold the annual Military Committee Meeting with his U.S. counterpart Gen. Mark Milley in a video call on Tuesday, followed by the Security Consultative Meeting between Defense Minister Suh Wook and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper the next day.

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Stars & Stripes – US military hasn’t used $60 million in South Korean defense funds, data show

American and South Korea flags wave outside Camp Humphreys, South Korea, March 16, 2020.



SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. military has left unspent nearly 68 billion won, about $60 million, in South Korean funds provided over the past six years as part of defense burden-sharing agreements, according to data released this week by a South Korean lawmaker.

The unused funds amount to $7.4 million in 2014, $9.3 million in 2015, $4.8 million in 2016, $12.4 million in 2017, $17.5 million in 2018 and $6.7 million in 2019, according to the data provided by Rep. Jeon Hae-cheol of the ruling Democratic Party.

Jeon, who is on the National Assembly’s foreign affairs and unification committee, said he received the data from the Ministry of National Defense. The defense ministry declined to comment.

The information raised the stakes as talks over a new contract, known as the Special Measures Agreement, have deadlocked due to U.S. demands that Seoul sharply increase its contribution for stationing some 28,500 American troops on the divided peninsula.

The figures — about 12.5% of the total for all six years — also gave insight into U.S. priorities for the South Korean funds. All the money allocated for local labor was used. Most of the unspent funds were earmarked for military facilities improvement and logistics support.

U.S. Forces Korea said it was working with the Ministry of National Defense to reconcile former Special Measures Agreement contributions.

“A significant portion of these funds are accounted as in-kind contributions from [South Korea] and, thus, not fully visible to USFK,” the command’s public affairs office told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.

“USFK looks forward to a joint accounting of the (South Korean) use of cash and in-kind contributions and increased transparency of the manner in which [South Korea] supports USFK under past and future SMAs,” it added.

The allies are operating without a funding agreement because the previous contract expired at the end of last year. The issue has become a major irritant in the alliance, which was forged in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Jeon said the unused defense funds should be fully reflected in future talks on the Special Measures Agreement, claiming that USFK has not been transparent about how it has handled the money, according to the Yonhap News Agency, which first reported on the data.

Ahn Gyu-back, a member of the Democratic Party and the parliamentary defense committee, also noted that the amount of funds carried over from year to year was often high, except with regards to labor.

“It means that South Korea’s defense contributions for the South Korean-U.S. alliance and the stationing of American troops in Korea already are enough,” he said Wednesday in a statement from his office. “It also means that the Trump administration’s demands are very excessive.”

The Trump administration, in line with the president’s overall policies toward allies, maintains that South Korea is a wealthy country that can and should pay more for its own defense.

Experts say it’s unlikely that any deal will be reached before the U.S. presidential election next month.

Kyle Ferrier, director of academic affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based Korea Economic Institute of America, said the data appeared to vindicate South Korean concerns that President Donald Trump’s demands for money lack justification.

“The fact that it was leaked by a Korean lawmaker, whose support would be needed to approve whatever SMA deal is reached, is further suggestive of the extent that the White House’s hard-nosed approach could ultimately backfire on itself,” he said.

“While the SMA negotiations have taken a back seat to the elections and other major news stories in the U.S., this latest development emphasizes just how big of an issue this is in Korea,” Ferrier said. “The longer the issue continues to be unresolved the more detrimental it will be to how South Koreans view the U.S.”

South Korea has offset the costs for hosting the U.S. troops under the agreement since 1991. Negotiations over the amount have always been contentious, but they reached a breaking point in 2018 when Trump reportedly demanded up to $5 billion per year, a fivefold increase.

Previous contracts have lasted for five years, but the allies agreed to a retroactive, one-year stopgap measure for 2019 after failing to meet the end-of-year deadline.

That deal expired on Dec. 31, eventually prompting USFK to place more than 4,000 local base workers who provide food and administrative services — nearly half of its workforce — on unpaid leave. The furlough was lifted in June after South Korea agreed to pay $200 million for salaries through the end of this year.
Twitter: @kimgamel


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KEI – 2020 Report on American Attitudes Toward the Korean Peninsula

KEI’s 2020 Report on American Attitudes Toward the Korean Peninsula focuses on U.S. views on relations with South Korea, U.S. awareness of South Korean brands and cultural products, and views on North Korea and was conducted by YouGov. The results reveal that while Americans have a favorable view of South Korea and about half are supportive of maintaining U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, few Americans watched or listened to Korean cultural products in the last year. Americans also view North Korea as one of the three critical challenges for the United States, but fewer than 1-in-3 approve of the administration’s handling of North Korea.

Some key insights from the survey include:

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) have a “very favorable” or “favorable” view of South Korea, with only 11% of Americans indicating “very unfavorable” or “unfavorable” and 23% responding “not sure.”

  • 42% of Americans see South Korea as a “very” or “fairly influential” nation in the world compared to 29% who view North Korea as an influential nation.
  • 49% of Americans view South Korea as a friend to the U.S.
    • At least half of Americans would like to see the U.S. and South Korea cooperate on several issues such as international peacekeeping, global health, trade rules, and technology infrastructure.
    • Democrats are generally more likely to desire this cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea.
    • Four-in-ten Americans (40%) responded with “no opinion” to viewing South Korea as a friend of adversary.
  • 37% of Americans approve of U.S. administration’s handling of relations with South Korea. However, four-in-ten Americans are “unsure” suggesting a lack of information on the current U.S. policy towards South Korea.

Seven-in-ten Americans (71%) have a “very unfavorable” or “unfavorable” view of North Korea.

  • 68% of Americans see North Korea as an adversary of the U.S. – one of the highest of all nations or regions included.
    • Further, 38% of Americans consider North Korea among the top 3 critical foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. – trailing only the challenges presented by China and Russia.
  • 84% of Americans think it is “very important” or “important” that North Korea give up its military nuclear capabilities.


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USNI News – Former U.S. Forces Korea CO: Pausing Exercises ‘No Longer Relevant’ to North Korea Nuclear Negotiations


Republic of Korea Army soldiers stand resolute at the iconic Joint Security Area where South and North Korean soldiers stand face to face across the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Panmunjom, South Korea, June 19, 2018. US Army Photo

The former top commander in South Korea said he thinks continuing to halt large-scale military exercises “is no longer relevant” as a negotiating tool with North Korea over denuclearizing the peninsula.

Retired Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, speaking at an Atlantic Council virtual conference, said Friday the more than two-year pause in the major training exercises between South Korean and American forces “didn’t seem to yield the diplomatic traction” to advance negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

During his remaining tenure as commander of U.S. Forces Korea “we did exercises in different ways,” he said. President Donald Trump ordered a halt to the exercises after his summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “That’s a tradeoff where we could take some risk” at the time, Brooks said. He added that his successor, Army Gen. Robert Abrams, and Seoul’s top military commanders have continued to find workarounds to keep readiness high while also not conducting large exercises.

But over time “there is some degradation” by not having major exercises to iron out challenges, Brooks said. Abrams, in a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies forum, gave an example of this. He acknowledged his concern that combined air-ground maneuvering exercises could not be done on the peninsula and that not conducting those drills had an impact on readiness.

“Right now, I think we’re at an impasse” in meaningful talks with North Korea,” Brooks said. He cited a number of reasons why: waiting for the outcome of the American election, the combined impact of economic sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic on its already weak economy and slow recovery from three typhoons earlier this year.

“They had their hands full,” dealing with those events.

Unchanged is North Korea’s insistence on remaining a nuclear power to guarantee its survival.

When asked about the restraint Kim has shown since the Singapore summit, Brooks said one way of looking at last year’s short-range missile tests is as reminders to Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to not “count us out” because “we’re still very, very dangerous.”

He said even during this time of restraint the North tested new land-based missile launchers to demonstrate a different capability.

Another benefit to the North with these shorter-range tests is that they “keep tensions in the alliance structure” since the American homeland is not directly threatened. “South Korean officials might say: are you still with us” if the North uses these weapons on us, Brooks said.

That hasn’t been the case.

Brooks said the American-South Korean alliance is strong. The two nations “don’t have to be in lockstep” but should “operate in tandem” on Pyongyang’s efforts to deal only with Seoul on the peninsula issue and Washington on nuclear programs.

Brooks called North Korea “the land of many surprises” where “changes can be abrupt” as they were in 2017. Throughout the year, North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic and submarine-launched ballistic missile tests and increasingly powerful nuclear weapons.

But Kim saw “the U.S. is doing things we haven’t seen before” [threatening military action] after the ICBM tests that threatened Guam, Hawaii and the mainland “and put all of the alliances of the United States at risk.”

“The lack of dialogue” posed “significant danger.” Brooks posed a rhetorical question, were North Korea and Washington close to war and answered “yes.” He added, “we were certainly prepared to strike North Korean launches” of missiles that appeared to threaten allies or the United States.

The American pressure caused Kim to change the calculus of his actions.

“That created … decision change by Kim” to pull back from force and try face-to-face diplomacy with Trump. “The game was changed” to allow diplomacy “to keep us from going over the brink.”

Oct. 10 marks the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers Party, the bedrock of Kim’s regime. The anniversary is usually marked by large parades of military equipment that this year could include displays of multiple independently targetable missiles [MIRV] or re-entry vehicles that can be maneuvered in flight.

“We can’t stand down” and must not “misread what we see,” Brooks said.


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