ROK-U.S. News

Yonhap – U.S. space commander calls for deepening security ties with S. Korea in space field

By Oh Seok-min and Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) — The chief of the U.S. Space Operations Command called Monday for closer defense cooperation with South Korea in the domain of space to better cope with emerging threats and boost mutual capacity.

Gen. John Raymond made the remarks in his video message for the 2020 Defense Space Power Development Symposium organized by Seoul’s defense ministry and held in the day in Seoul.

“Today, space power is a growing source and conduit for national power, prosperity and prestige … However, access to the domain can no longer be assumed. There is a growing need for security,” Raymond said.

“In the future, the space force is committed to working with the Republic of Korea to improve our mutual capabilities to build capacity and resilience to emerging threats. Just like we have partnered on land, at sea and in the air, we must expand our cooperation in space,” the general added.

This image shows U.S. Chief of Space Operations John Raymond speaking in his video message for the 2020 Defense Space Power Development Symposium held in Seoul on Nov. 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

This image shows U.S. Chief of Space Operations John Raymond speaking in his video message for the 2020 Defense Space Power Development Symposium held in Seoul on Nov. 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

The U.S. commander then stressed that the goal of such cooperation is to expand “our collective advantage now to deter a conflict from starting in the first place,” noting that the space capabilities underpin the security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our relationship is a shining example of why our defense strategy tells us to strengthen alliances and attract new partners. We’re clearly stronger together,” the general added.

Defense Minister Suh Wook also delivered a congratulatory message for the inaugural symposium meant to explore ways to boost the country’s space capabilities in military terms.

“Our military has made diverse efforts to beef up our defense capabilities in space,” Suh said. “We will continue to enhance space capabilities by securing a military reconnaissance satellite and other assets, and setting up a system for joint space operations.”

In a keynote speech for the symposium, Moon Chung-in, a special security adviser to President Moon Jae-in, said it is time for the country to make a “big push” to boost space defense capabilities.

The government should first seek to form a shared public understanding that “space is where we should go, not necessarily for the purpose of engaging in battles but for self-defense,” the adviser said.

“If we stay defenseless and not prepared when everyone else goes to the space and targets us with a comparative advantage, we cannot help but face security threats,” he said.

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NEW YORK TIMES – She Helped South Korea in Its Time of Need. In the Pandemic, It Repaid Her.

NEW YORK TIMES –

Decades ago, a young American woman served an impoverished South Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer. Now the country is an economic powerhouse, and it decided to send her a token of its gratitude. ​

Credit…via Sandra Nathan

SEOUL, South Korea — Sandra Nathan spent 1966 to 1968 in a South Korean town as a young Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English to high school girls. Fifty-two years later, Ms. Nathan, now back in the United States, received a care package from South Korea that nearly brought her to tears.

Ms. Nathan, 75, had been feeling increasingly isolated at home in Stephentown, N.Y. Reports about the exploding number of Covid-19 cases in the United States had made her anxious about going outside, where experts warned of second and third waves of infection.

Then, early this month, she received a packaged labeled “Covid-19 Survival Box.” It was a gift from the South Korean government that contained ​100 ​masks and other items “as a token of our gratitude for your dedication to Korea.”

“It was as if this box had been traveling to me since 1968,” s​aid Ms. Nathan, a retired civil rights and labor lawyer. “​There was something magical about the box. Some people, Korean people, very far away wanted to make sure that I was OK; that I had what I needed to fight a bad disease. They behaved as though they cared and were responsible for me.”​

Decades ago, ​South Koreans felt similarly toward Ms. Nathan and 2,000 other Peace Corps volunteers. When the young Americans served as teachers and health care workers between 1966 and 1981, ​South Korea was a third-world country stricken by disease​​​, a dictatorship, poverty and destruction left by the Korean War.

South Korea is now one of the richest countries in the world, and its response to the coronavirus pandemic has been held up as an example for other nations, even as it deals with a small uptick in cases. In October, to pay back some of its debt, the government-run Korea Foundation said it was sending its Covid-19 Survival Box​es​ to 514 former Peace Corps volunteers.

“Thanks in no small part to the help received from the Peace Corps,” the Korea Foundation’s president, Lee Geun, said in a letter ​in the box​, “Korea has since achieved an economic breakthrough.”

South Korea was a country stricken by disease and poverty in the time Ms. Nathan and other Peace Corps volunteers spent there.
Credit…Kim Chon-Kil/Associated Press

 

Ms. Nathan joined the Peace Corps after graduating from the University of Chicago. She was among the first volunteers to arrive in South Korea and was assigned to Chunchon, in the north, where she taught English at a local high school. She was 21.

The country around Chunchon was beautiful​. Its pine trees were graceful, and azaleas covered its hills in spring. ​But most of the streets were dirt roads. Children went outside without shoes. After dark, ​Ms. Nathan could hear rats running across ceilings. Plumbing was generally nonexistent.

“An ongoing debate among volunteers was whether Time or Newsweek was more absorbent,” Ms. Nathan said​ in an email interview. “Toilet paper was unavailable.”​

Both magazines came with pages blacked out by ​government censors. Crude anti-communist propaganda was everywhere. During her stay in South Korea, North Korea captured a U.S. Navy ship, the Pueblo, off its coast and sent armed commandos across the border to attack the South Korean presidential palace.

On winter mornings, Ms. Nathan broke the ice in a plastic container in order to wash. Her school was a sad and drafty place where classrooms were heated by a single charcoal stove.

​“I began to feel uncomfortably cold so that when I was not teaching, I regularly followed the circling sun as it flooded through the windows around the school building,” she said. “Even when it was very cold, students did not wear coats to school or to morning assemblies, and probably no one had a coat.”

But Ms. Nathan developed strong emotional ties with her students, who were eager to learn English. She once took a poor and sickly girl to an American military doctor for treatment for intestinal parasites, a common problem in Korea back then. The girl’s mother later arrived at the school and presented Ms. Nathan with several warm eggs, soft gray feathers still attached.

“The eggs, which I am sure my student and her mother themselves needed, expressed such gratitude that I was close to tears,” she said.

The care package from South Korea that Ms. Nathan received. 
Credit…via Sandra Nathan

The irony of the reversal of fortunes during the pandemic did not escape her.

South Korea continues to keep the coronavirus largely under control, thanks in part to its aggressive contact tracing. Although it has recently faced a small rise in infections, it is nothing compared to what is happening in the United States, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has announced harsh new restrictions in Ms. Nathan’s home state.

In August, she received the offer from the Korean Foundation to send her the gift box​. She accepted, wondering​ if it was merely a public relations stunt for the Korean government.

“I did not think much about it until the box arrived on Saturday, November 7, ironically the day that the U.S. presidential election was called for Joe Biden,” she wrote.

Ms. Nathan said she delayed opening the package for about a week because she wanted to preserve the wonderful feeling that it gave her. ​

In addition to the masks, the box also included gloves, skin-care products, ginseng candies, a silk fan and two sets of silver chopsticks and spoons with the traditional Korean turtle design.

“I am a practical person, not usually given to ideas unfounded by fact,” wrote Ms. Nathan. “But there was definitely something magical about the box.”


ARTICLE: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/20/world/asia/korea-coronavirus-care-package-peace-corps.html

 

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Yonhap – Reinforcing U.S. alliance will be on Biden’s everyday agenda through cabinet: McDonough

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Joe Biden will work every day to strengthen his country’s relationship with its key allies, such as South Korea, as he promised, former U.S. National Security Adviser Dennis McDonough said Thursday.

McDonough noted Biden may not be able to personally take charge of the issue on a daily basis, but that his cabinet members will.

“When you think about the fact, ‘Well, is this gonna be on the president’s to-do list every day?’ Not necessarily,” said McDonough in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I mean, in all candor, he’s going to be dealing with a pandemic and he’s going to be dealing with the economy, but it’s going to be on his agenda every day in as much as he’s directing those cabinet members to make real his promises to the allies on behalf of the alliances — to reinvest and reinvigorate U.S. priority in those,” he added.

The captured image from the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows former U.S. National Security Adviser Dennis McDonough speaking in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based think tank on Nov. 19, 2020. (Yonhap)

The captured image from the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows former U.S. National Security Adviser Dennis McDonough speaking in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based think tank on Nov. 19, 2020. (Yonhap)

McDonough also served as the chief of staff of the National Security Council (NSC) of former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden.

The former national security adviser noted the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic dislocation, along with climate change and racial injustice in the U.S., will take up much of the new administration’s time in the early stage.

“Obviously, the first three that we mentioned do have Northeast Asia implications, and so I think it’s important to think about it in that way,” he told the webinar.

Still, he insisted Biden has already proven his resolve to strengthen his country’s alliance with South Korea and other allies when he accepted a congratulatory phone call from South Korean President Moon Jae-in and made it public.

“I think it’s really important that, for example, Seoul understand that of all the things the president-elect has to deal with right now, he really wanted to prioritize that — receiving the kind of congratulations from the president of South Korea,” said McDonough.

“It’s meant to be a very important signal and I hope it’s interpreted as that,” he added.

In an oped contributed to Yonhap News Agency just before the Nov. 3 presidential election, Biden said he will “stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond.”

McDonough reiterated that once inaugurated on Jan. 20, Biden will “really be pushing on his cabinet representatives to get out there to make those promises real.”

As a piece of advice for the incoming U.S. administration, the former national security adviser highlighted the possibility of North Korea trying to test the new administration and the latter’s need to prevent such an incident.

“When I say, for example, North Korea trying to assert itself onto the agenda of the United Stats and that requiring discipline on the side of the United States, what I mean there is twofold. One is, it requires the discipline of great professional…in the NSC and through all of U.S. government, staying on top of what is happening, coordinating the whole U.S. government and then communicating clearly with our allies,” said McDonough.

“But it also means not letting the North Koreans dictate the terms of the dialogue, or the debate or the discussion. And so that’s going to require discipline, too, and for all that, you need a really experienced set of professionals in the NSC,” he added.

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Yonhap – USFK veterans’ association holds alliance conference for junior American soldiers

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — An association of American veterans who served in South Korea held a conference Thursday to help junior U.S. service members better understand the bilateral and security situations surrounding the Korean Peninsula, officials said.

The conference, which took place at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, brought together around 60 junior members of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and officers from the Seventh Air Force, according to the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA).

Last week, the organization hosted the same event at Camp Humphreys for the USFK’s Army members.

Maj. Gen. Stephen C. Williams, USFK’s chief of staff was quoted by the organization as saying that the Korea-U.S. alliance is the strongest in the world, and USFK has maintained a staunch readiness posture by rigorously conducting training exercises in preparation for threats by North Korea.

KDVA was founded in 2017 to advocate for the alliance and support the American and Korean military personnel who served or continue to serve it. The nonprofit organization is currently led by former USFK commander Vincent Brooks, and the Korean chapter is headed by retired general Lee Seo-young.

American service members and officials pose for a photo after a conference on the Korea-U.S. alliance held at Osan Air Base in the city of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and hosted by the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) on Nov. 19, 2020, in this photo provided by the association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

American service members and officials pose for a photo after a conference on the Korea-U.S. alliance held at Osan Air Base in the city of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and hosted by the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) on Nov. 19, 2020, in this photo provided by the association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – Top U.S. general in S. Korea hold talks with lawmakers on alliance

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) — The top U.S. general in South Korea on Tuesday met with several South Korean lawmakers during their rare visit to the headquarters of U.S. Forces Korea, the U.S. military said.

Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, had roundtable discussions with members of the parliamentary defense committee on how to deepen the alliance between the two countries, according to the U.S. military.

Abrams emphasized the importance of the alliance and maintenance of a strong combined defense posture to ensure peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it said.

“Today’s engagements confirmed to the National Assembly that we stand postured and ready to deter aggression, defend the Republic of Korea, and if necessary, defeat any adversary who would oppose us,” Abrams said, using South Korea’s official name, during a meeting at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

The lawmakers also toured the U.S. Army’s largest overseas installation and had a luncheon with service members, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. stations some 28,000 troops in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

This photo provided by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) shows South Korean lawmakers and USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams having discussions at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 17, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo provided by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) shows South Korean lawmakers and USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams having discussions at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 17, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201117009900325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – S. Korean, U.S. armies stage combined training exercises in California

SEOUL, Nov. 18 (Yonhap) — Dozens of South Korean troops visited a U.S. military training center in California and staged combined training exercises with American service members, officials said Wednesday.

Around 50 Army members, including those from a reconnaissance unit, carried out various joint maneuvers with the U.S. troops at the U.S. Fort Irwin National Training Center (NTC) for about a month from mid-October, according to the officials.

They returned home Tuesday and have been quarantined for the new coronavirus, they added.

Initially, the Army was scheduled to send troops to the training center earlier this year, but the plan was postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The NTC had been closed for months to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“The visit was made after careful consideration of diverse circumstances and close coordination between the two sides,” an Army officer said. “The two sides conducted combined exercises to check a readiness posture and strengthen relations.”

Located in the Mojave Desert, the NTC is one of the major training areas for the U.S. military and is designed to provide realistic joint and combined arms training.

This photo, captured from the U.S. Fort Irwin National Training Center's Twitter account on Nov. 13, 2020, shows a large-scale contingency training exercise. (Yonhap)

This photo, captured from the U.S. Fort Irwin National Training Center’s Twitter account on Nov. 13, 2020, shows a large-scale contingency training exercise. (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – Moon, Biden agree to cooperate closely on N. Korean nuke issue in phone call

By Lee Chi-dong and Chang Dong-woo

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his incoming U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, agreed to work closely together to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, as they had a 14-minute phone conversation Thursday, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Biden described South Korea as a “linchpin” of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Moon’s spokesman Kang Min-seok.

Moon asked Biden to “communicate closely” for the forward-looking development of the Seoul-Washington alliance, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of lasting peace here.

The president cited the allies’ 70 years of partnership for the protection of such shared values as democracy and human rights, Kang said.

Biden reaffirmed Washington’s firm security commitment to South Korea and said that he would “closely cooperate” for a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, he added.

They also agreed to expand cooperation on global challenges, including COVID-19 and climate change, and agreed to meet at an early date after Biden’s inauguration, Kang said.

It marked their first conversation since Biden was declared the winner of last week’s election.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) makes a phone call with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 12, 2020 in this photo released by his office. An Associate Press file photo (R) shows Biden. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) makes a phone call with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 12, 2020 in this photo released by his office. An Associate Press file photo (R) shows Biden. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

A screenshot of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s social media post on Nov. 12, 2020, describing his telephone conversation with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Moon took note of Biden’s visit to the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia on Veterans Day.

While praising Seoul’s efforts to contain new coronavirus transmissions, Biden said he will do his best to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. before the official launch of his administration.

Moon earlier wrote on Twitter that he and Biden “reaffirmed our firm commitment to a robust ROK-US alliance and peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.” ROK is the acronym for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

He added, “Going forward, I will work closely with him to meet global challenges, including COVID-19 and climate change.”

Moon also mentioned Biden’s connection with late former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

It’s been reported that Biden and Kim communicated closely during the 1980s when Kim, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize, fought for democracy in South Korea.

Moon said, “South Korean people are well aware that President-elect Biden worked hard to advance South Korea’s democracy during his days at the U.S. Senate.”

According to Cheong Wa Dae, Biden expressed gratitude for Moon’s remarks.

Moon also reportedly quoted a poem by Irish poet Seamus Heaney, whose work was referenced during Biden’s presidential candidacy acceptance speech at the U.S. Democratic National Convention in August.

Last December, Bono, leader of Irish rock band U2, presented Moon with a collection of Heaney’s poetry, with the author’s signature, when the singer visited Cheong Wa Dae.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said Moon and Biden did not talk about the protracted diplomatic dispute between South Korea and Japan or Seoul Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee’s bid for the leadership of the World Trade Organization.

Biden reportedly spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the day as well, following calls with Canadian and European leaders.

Meanwhile, members of Cheong Wa Dae’s National Security Council’s standing committee discussed the developments of the American presidential election and the means to sustain and further develop the South Korea-U.S. relationship based on the bilateral alliance.

The session was presided over by Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae.

The members also discussed measures to “achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and its denuclearization,” according to Cheong Wa Dae.

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201112001454315?section=national/diplomacy

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TIME – Why Joe Biden Could Face a North Korean Nuclear Standoff Before He Even Takes Office

NOVEMBER 9, 2020 10:41 PM EST

People watch a TV broadcast showing a file footage for a news report on North Korea firing two projectiles—possibly missiles—into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, in Seoul on Oct. 31, 2019

People watch a TV broadcast showing a file footage for a news report on North Korea firing two projectiles—possibly missiles—into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, in Seoul on Oct. 31, 2019 Heo Ran—REUTERS

North Korea watchers are warning that Kim Jong Un could ratchet up tensions with the U.S. as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January. Biden will have daunting domestic challenges—the coronavirus pandemic and the recession chief among them—but he could also find his Administration quickly drawn into a nuclear standoff with North Korea.

“It is possible Pyongyang will conduct a nuclear or long-range missile test prior to the inauguration or shortly thereafter as a way of laying down a marker with the new president and increasing its negotiating leverage with Washington,” Evans Revere, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former State Department official with extensive experience in negotiations with North Korea, tells TIME.

In many ways, North Korea is more isolated, more desperate and more dangerous than ever. The pressures of crushing international sanctions, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic have worsened living conditions for regular North Koreans. And although President Donald Trump boasted about his friendly relationship with North Korea’s brutal leader and claimed that he had averted a war, experts say his strategy of face-to-face summits led to no real progress toward disarmament.

“The Biden team will be mindful of the failings of Trump’s approach, which has amounted to turning a blind eye to North Korea’s steady accumulation of nuclear weapons and testing of medium-range missiles,” Revere says.

How North Korea got more dangerous

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stand on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone between on June 30, 2019

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stand on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone between on June 30, 2019 Erin Schaff—The New York Times/Redux

Pyongyang has a track record of carrying out provocations early in the terms of U.S. presidents, and tensions with North Korea began to spike soon after Trump took office in 2017.

That year, Trump vowed to execute a policy he called “fire and fury,” as the two sides traded verbal barbs, with Trump calling Kim “little rocket man,” while North Korean state media called the U.S. president a “dotard.”

The tenor of the two leaders’ exchanges had changed significantly by spring of 2018, when Trump and Kim met for the first-ever summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea. After that exchange, Trump and Kim vowed “to establish new U.S.–[North Korea] relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”

With Trump now on his way out of office, those lofty claims have come to nothing, as North Korea has continued to develop advanced weaponry. In October 2019, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile that American officials said had a range of more than 1,200 miles—a capability that would make North Korea’s nuclear threat even harder to contain. At a military parade last month, the North’s military displayed what experts said is a new, bigger intercontinental ballistic missile.

How North Korea got more desperate

People leave after paying their respects to the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu hill, Pyongyang, on Oct. 10

People leave after paying their respects to the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu hill, Pyongyang, on Oct. 10 Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has not reported any cases of coronavirus, though experts doubt that the country is free of COVID-19. In an effort to defend its fragile health system it closed its border with China—the only active overland frontier and the conduit for much of the country’s international trade.

As a result, vital trade has plummeted. United Nations Security Council data shows imports of oil from China fell to just 142 tons in August, the most recent month for which data are available, compared to 2,200 tons in the same month last year.

Doh Hee-youn, a human rights worker and director of Happy Unification, a civic group that educates young South Koreans about North Korea, says, “All movement toward the border has been cut off by the military, which has made the unusual move of deploying more soldiers around the border.”

“Daily life has gotten extremely difficult there, as even the informal markets are not operating,” he adds.

How Biden is likely to react to North Korea

On Dec. 7, 2013, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, visits Observation Post Ouellette inside the Demilitarized Zone, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War

On Dec. 7, 2013, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, visits Observation Post Ouellette inside the Demilitarized Zone, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War Lee Jin-man—AP

Analysts say that once Biden takes office in January, he is likely to take a far more conventional approach to relations with North Korea than his predecessor—who famously eschewed formal diplomatic channels and instead put his faith in his personal relationship with Kim.

“I strongly suspect the Biden Administration’s approach on North Korea will rely on pressure and sanctions to raise the cost to North Korea of its nuclear and missile programs,” Revere says.

Having served as Vice President from 2008 to 2016 under Barack Obama, Biden comes into office familiar with the North Korea question. The Obama Administration took a starkly different approach to Pyongyang than the outgoing Trump administration did, refraining from any high-level dialogue as part of a policy dubbed “strategic patience.”

The core of the policy was waiting for international sanctions to cut off North Korea’s sources of outside revenue, eventually forcing Pyongyang to take verifiable steps toward denuclearization as a way of winning sanctions relief and gaining access to the international trade system.

The policy achieved none of its objectives, however, as North Korea expanded its nuclear capability throughout Obama’s term. South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has said she expects a Biden Administration to formulate a new policy.

If North Korea resorts to provocation, Biden is likely to shut down any chance of talks, says Clint Work, a security fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. “Biden is not inclined to give Pyongyang the benefit of the doubt, nor are those who advise him,” he says.

Leaning on allies

President Donald Trump, President Moon Jae-in, and Kim Jong Un speak outside the Freedom House on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom, June 30, 2019

President Donald Trump, President Moon Jae-in, and Kim Jong Un speak outside the Freedom House on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom, June 30, 2019 Erin Schaff—The New York Times/Redux

The challenge presented by North Korea will also motivate Biden to improve Washington’s relations with allies in the region—particularly South Korea. Trump frequently depicted South Korea and other allies as taking advantage of the U.S. as a defense partner. He even floated the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, which has been divided from the North since the end of World War II.

“Biden’s diplomacy can start with a very deep consultation with our allies in Seoul, to get an understanding of the viewpoints there, to allow Seoul and Washington to find a common approach,” says Kathleen Stephens, president of the Korea Economic Institute and U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 2008 to 2011.

She adds that Biden will reassure Seoul “on the issue of U.S. commitment to defend South Korea, and try to do things that will forestall the incipient feelings that maybe they can’t depend on the U.S.”

In South Korea, the left-leaning administration of President Moon Jae-in has made rapprochement with North Korea a key policy objective, despite a current lack of momentum in inter-Korean relations. Officials in Moon’s administration have spoken of South Korea playing an active role in fostering dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

“Seoul will likely seek to persuade Washington to restart the suspended nuclear talks next year,” says Shin Kak-soo, a former diplomat who represented South Korea at the United Nations.

“Biden prefers bottom-up diplomacy, unlike President Trump, and that will make it difficult for both sides to enter into real nuclear negotiations, as no North Korean official except Kim Jong Un has the authority to discuss nuclear issues.”

The lingering problems in North Korea mean that even if Kim doesn’t provoke a crisis in the coming months, Biden’s grace period will be limited, according to Revere, the former State Department official: “As I have long said, the North Koreans won’t allow you to ignore them.”


Article: https://time.com/5910016/north-korea-joe-biden/

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Yonhap – USFK veterans’ association holds alliance conference for junior American soldiers

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — An association of American veterans who served in South Korea said Monday that it held a conference to help junior U.S. service members better understand the alliance between the two countries and security situations surrounding the Korean Peninsula.

The conference took place at Camp Humphreys in the city of Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on Friday and brought together around 80 junior members of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and officers from the Eighth Army, according to the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA).

The organization also plans to host another round of the alliance conference next week at Osan Air Base, which will be attended by dozens of U.S. service personnel and USFK’s deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus, it added.

The KDVA was founded in 2017 to advocate for the alliance and support the American and Korean military personnel who served or continue to serve it. The nonprofit organization is currently led by former USFK commander Vincent Brooks.

American service members attend a conference on the Korea-U.S. alliance held at Camp Humphreys in the city of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and hosted by the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) on Nov, 8, 2020, in this photo provided by the association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

American service members attend a conference on the Korea-U.S. alliance held at Camp Humphreys in the city of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and hosted by the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) on Nov, 8, 2020, in this photo provided by the association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – Ruling party calls for early summit between Moon, Biden

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party stressed the need Monday for early talks between President Moon Jae-in and his incoming U.S. counterpart Joe Biden.

“It’s necessary to hold a South Korea-U.S. summit at an early date following President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration,” the party’s floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon said during a meeting of the top party council.

He added, “It’s important for (South Korea) to have close diplomatic communications (with the U.S.) so that the South Korean government’s position can be sufficiently reflected in the process of the new American administration’s review of Korean Peninsula and North Korea policies.”

In that regard, he said, the coming 100 days are crucial, as South Korea would be able to expand its mediator or facilitator role in the region and secure more room in terms of inter-Korean relations, a task dependent on its “strategy and efforts.”

He said his party, which holds a majority of seats at the 300-member National Assembly, will fully support efforts for progress in the Korea peace process via “multi-sided” lawmakers-level diplomacy.

Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a top party council meeting on Nov. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a top party council meeting on Nov. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Opposition parties, however, argued that the upcoming power transition of the U.S. should serve as an opportunity to course correct Seoul’s current conciliatory stance towards North Korea.

“The faulty North Korea policies and misjudgment of both South Korea and the U.S. over the past several years resulted in increased threats from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles,” Kim Chong-in, the interim leader of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), said during a party meeting.

Kim added, “I look forward to the return to the principled North Korea policy that includes the discarding of North Korean nuclear (arsenal) and the (full) reinstatement of South Korea-U.S. military exercises.”

Rep. Park Jin, a four-term PPP lawmaker well versed in diplomatic issues, also said the “submissive” conciliatory North Korea policy of the Moon administration should also change fundamentally in the upcoming Biden era.

Kim Joon-hyung, head of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, meanwhile, argued that the incoming Biden administration is unlikely to return to former Democratic President Barack Obama’s unsuccessful “strategic patience” policy toward the North.

“(The Obama administration) strategically left North Korea unattended because it was not a nuclear-armed state then,” Kim said in during a lecture at the National Assembly in Seoul.

Kim added, “It’s hard to accept (strategic patience) as a (viable) policy now that North Korea is building its nuclear military strength every day.”

He also stated that Biden’s Democratic Party is inclined to a “bottom-up” approach to North Korea, while Pyongyang tends to be averse to such methodology, as it has traditionally emphasized international nuclear inspections and verification ahead of anything else.

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