ROK-U.S. News

Yonhap – Defense ministry vows to continue close work with Pentagon under Biden

By Oh Seok-min and Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — The defense ministry vowed Monday to continue to work closely with the United States under the incoming Biden administration to maintain a firm combined readiness posture for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

“The South Korean and the U.S. defense authorities will strive for maintaining a strong combined defense posture to militarily support the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” ministry spokesperson Col. Moon Hong-sik told a regular briefing.

After setting up a task force led by Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min, the ministry has been reviewing policy measures to be fully prepared for possible changes to defense issues between the two sides, Moon added.

Key issues include the envisioned transfer of the wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul, and the possible adjustment of the troop level stationed in South Korea, though the two sides have said the matter has not been officially discussed.

Defense Minister Suh Wook said the new U.S. administration could demand a smaller raise in Seoul’s payment for the upkeep of American troops in South Korea than the Trump administration did, though Seoul’s overall payment will likely have to increase from previous years.

On North Korea, Suh said Washington’s policy is expected to shift to a bottom-up approach based on Biden’s pledge to pursue a “principled diplomacy” toward the North.

Suh, however, doubted that Biden would repeat the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” policy of applying pressure while waiting for the North to return to the negotiating table.

“They would have had sort of a self-reflection on the policy, and my personal assessment is that they would opt for an evolved form of pressure with sanctions on the North and diplomatic engagement,” Suh said during a parliamentary session.

North Korea, in the meantime, has not shown any unusual military moves up until now, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, amid speculation that the communist country could take provocative moves, such as missile launches, given its track record of being provocative when a new U.S. government takes office.

North Korea has not made any official response to the U.S. election result.

This file photo, taken on Dec. 8, 2013, shows then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with his granddaughter, looking at North Korea through binoculars during a visit to a guard post near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). (Yonhap)

This file photo, taken on Dec. 8, 2013, shows then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with his granddaughter, looking at North Korea through binoculars during a visit to a guard post near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). (Yonhap)

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Reuters – South Korea’s Moon congratulates Biden, to ensure no gap in U.S. alliance

Reuters | By

SEOUL (Reuters) – President Moon Jae-in said on Monday South Korea will ensure there is no gap in the alliance with the United States and the process of building peace on the Korean peninsula, as he congratulated Joe Biden on his U.S. presidential election win.

South Korea found outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump a willing partner in efforts to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. However, the relationship was strained by disagreements over exactly how to engage with Pyongyang, trade and Trump’s demand that Seoul pay billions of dollars more to support the U.S. troop presence on the peninsula.

“We will gather forces as an alliance on the shared values of democracy, peace, human rights, international solidarity and multilateral cooperation,” Moon told his top aides, the presidential Blue House said in a statement regarding the incoming Biden administration.

The South Korean government will work to promote economic relations through bilateral trade and policies and cooperate towards carbon neutrality and tackle climate change, said Moon.

He also vowed to make progress on denuclearisation on the peninsula with the next administration, while seeking new opportunities and solutions to improve inter-Korean ties.

South Korea’s ruling party floor leader Kim Tae-nyeon on Monday separately called for an arrangement of an early summit between Moon and Biden once he is inaugurated.

On Sunday, South Korea’s foreign minister arrived in Washington for talks with her American counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who cancelled his planned visit to Seoul last month after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Kang Kyung-wha said it was too soon to predict how the new U.S. administration would handle specific issues, but she didn’t expect Biden to return to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy of strategic patience toward North Korea.

“It should be made based on various progress and achievements made the past three years.”

Yonhap said Kang would meet Biden’s foreign affairs and security members and discuss cooperation during her unusually long visit to the United States, without elaborating.

Her agenda includes sitting with Pompeo on Monday to discuss solidifying the alliance between the two countries and the issues at stake on the Korean peninsula. She had said she would also meet with senators and scholars.

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Yonhap – Moon congratulates CFC on 42nd founding anniversary

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in on Friday expressed gratitude to the Combined Forces Command (CFC) between South Korea and the United States for helping Seoul tackle the coronavirus pandemic as he congratulated the command on its 42nd founding anniversary.

In a message sent to a ceremony held in Yongsan to mark the anniversary, Moon said that South Korea’s anti-COVID-19 measures could become a role model for the world as all members of the command endured inconveniences to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Going forward, let’s overcome all obstacles together as we do right now,” Moon said in the message.

The binational entity was established on Nov. 7, 1978, as the warfighting headquarters with a mission of deterring outside aggression against South Korea.

“Today, as we celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the Combined Forces Command, I remind everyone that Combined Forces Command, the heart and soul of the ROK-U.S. alliance, is stronger than ever before, and we are ready to deter, defend and if necessary defeat any adversary who seeks to do us harm,” its commander Gen. Robert Abrams said. ROK stands for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

CFC deputy commander Gen. Kim Seung-kyum said the command should serve as a linchpin to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula through a strong alliance, urging all members to strengthen its “Fight Tonight” readiness posture.

Later in the day, the command was to host a virtual K-pop concert to mark the anniversary.

The ROK-U.S. Alliance Concert will be livestreamed on U.S. Forces Korea’s Facebook account starting at 6 p.m., featuring artists including Lovelyz, YooA of Oh My Girl and Chung Ha, as well as taekwondo, dance and traditional music performances.

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams (L), also commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), and deputy commander Gen. Kim Seung-kyum bump fists during a ceremony to mark the CFC's 42nd founding anniversary at a U.S. base in Seoul on Nov. 6, 2020. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams (L), also commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), and deputy commander Gen. Kim Seung-kyum bump fists during a ceremony to mark the CFC’s 42nd founding anniversary at a U.S. base in Seoul on Nov. 6, 2020. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

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Reuters – South Korea’s top diplomat to visit U.S. amid election uncertainty

FILE PHOTO: South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha arrives to visit the Berlin Wall memorial at Bernauer Strasse, in Berlin, Germany, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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The Korea Times – Two Korean Americans win US congressional elections

Two Korean Americans, including a female politician, won elections to the U.S. House of Representatives in this week’s congressional races.

Democrat Marilyn Strickland, former mayor of Tacoma, won the race in Washington’s 10th Congressional District, becoming the first Korean American woman elected to Congress in its 230-year history.

Strickland also became the first African American to represent Washington State at the federal level. She was born in Seoul in 1962 to an American father and a Korean mother.

Marilyn Strickland
Marilyn Strickland
Marilyn Strickland
Andy Kim

Democrat Andy Kim won the race in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, the AP reported.

Known for his expertise on the Middle East, Kim previously worked at the White House on counter-terrorism, advised the Pentagon on national security and served in Afghanistan as a civilian adviser to top U.S. military brass.

Along with Strickland and Kim, three other South Korean candidates ― Republicans Young Kim and Michelle Steel, and Democratic David Kim ― also ran in Tuesday’s congressional elections.

The vote counting is still underway for the three candidates’ electoral districts. (Yonhap)


Article: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/world/2020/11/684_298805.html

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Yonhap – S. Korea expresses thanks to Korean War comrade countries

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) — Defense ministry officials have held a series of thank-you meetings with senior envoys of the foreign countries that fought alongside South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the war’s outbreak, the ministry said Wednesday.

From Oct. 19 to Thursday, ministry officials met with ambassadors or military attaches of a total of 20 countries, including the United States and Britain, by visiting their embassies or inviting envoys to the ministry, the ministry said.

The events were arranged as South Korea could not send delegations to the countries to mark the anniversary due to the COVID-19 situation. The ministry originally planned to host various events at the countries from April to November.

Foreign military attaches said they are proud to have protected South Korea’s freedom by taking part in the war and expressed thanks to Seoul for remembering their sacrifice, according to the ministry.

“Though we could not deliver our appreciation in person as our visits were restricted due to COVID-19, South Korea always remembers the veterans’ sacrifice and dedication,” a ministry official said.

In this photo provided by the defense ministry, participants at a luncheon for military attaches of countries that took part in the Korean War pose for a photo in Seoul on Oct. 28, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In this photo provided by the defense ministry, participants at a luncheon for military attaches of countries that took part in the Korean War pose for a photo in Seoul on Oct. 28, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201104002700325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – Panmunjom tours resume after 13-month suspension due to African swine fever

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) — Tours to the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom will resume this week after more than a year of suspension due to the outbreak of the African swine fever, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

The tours to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas will begin on a trial basis early Wednesday, with around 80 tourists and reporters scheduled to visit there, according to the ministry.

The official reopening will be Friday.

A tourism support center will also be launched in the area. Unification Minister Lee In-young will attend its opening ceremony, his office said.

The tour program to Panmunjom has been put on hold since October last year amid worries about the spread of the African swine fever.

The ministry said that it decided to resume the tours as there have been no reports of ASF outbreaks near the truce village in recent months. It vowed to take necessary precautions at the tour sites, including disinfecting vehicles and conducting temperature checks on visitors.

Tourists will be allowed to visit Panmunjom for 12 days in November and 15 days in December. Future schedules will be determined in consideration of ASF-related situations, the ministry said.

Up to 40 people can visit the area twice a day, about half the scale of the tour program enforced before the suspension, according to the ministry.

The file photo taken Sept. 16, 2020, shows Unification Minister Lee In-young waving toward North Korean soldiers during a visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, north of Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The file photo taken Sept. 16, 2020, shows Unification Minister Lee In-young waving toward North Korean soldiers during a visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, north of Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap News – Former USFK Commander Brooks “No need to deploy THAAD in Korea”

Reporter Bae Young-gyeong

Former USFK Commander Vincent Brooks needs to additionally deploy THAAD if the THAAD deployed in Korea is integrated with other missile defense systems such as Patriot. Insisted that there is no.

Former Commander Brooks told the US Free Asia Broadcasting System ( RFA ) on the 3rd that THAAD can defend South Korea from North Korean missile threats by integrating with other missile defense systems such as the Patriot missile defense system radar and South Korea’s Greenpine radar.

He analyzed that this method “will be a better integrated defense system” than the additional deployment of THAAD.

In particular, former commander Brooks noted that last month, the US Missile Defense Agency ( MDA ) successfully conducted an integrated intercept test between THAAD and Patriot missiles.

He said, ” MDA will be able to directly apply the results of interoperation tests that successfully intercepted enemy missiles with Patriot, a low-altitude interceptor missile using THAAD radar, to Korean missile defense.”

In addition, former Commander Brooks said, “It is not about the additional deployment of THAAD, but to improve the existing THAAD battery stationing environment,” on the issue of guaranteeing the stable presence of THAAD base and preparing a long-term plan’ dealt with at the Korea-US Security Council last month.

Earlier, in a joint statement released after the 52nd ROK-US Security Council held in Washington, DC on the 14th of last month (local time), the ROK-US first stated that it would prepare a long-term plan for the presence of the THAAD base in Seongju, Gyeongbuk. ykbae @ yna.co.kr


Article: https://n.news.naver.com/article/001/0011988078

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The Korea Times – Biden vows not to extort South Korea with troop withdrawal threats

Helicopters are parked inside the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Korea Times file
Helicopters are parked inside the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Korea Times file

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged Friday to strengthen the alliance with South Korea, rather than “extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops,” and keep pressing toward North Korea’s denuclearization through “principled diplomacy.”

Biden made the pledge in a special article contributed exclusively to Yonhap News Agency just days ahead of the U.S. presidential election, reciting the catch phrase of the Korea-U.S. alliance, “Katchi Kapshida,” or “We Go Together.”

“As president, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops,” Biden said in the article, titled “Hope for Our Better Future.”

“I’ll engage in principled diplomacy and keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula, while working to reunite Korean Americans separated from loved ones in North Korea for decades,” he said.

Biden’s first contribution to a South Korean media outlet in the election year came four days before he will face off President Donald Trump in what has already become one of the most contentious presidential races in modern U.S. history.

Biden recalled his 2013 visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the inter-Korean border.

“I will never forget standing less than 100 feet away from North Korea at the DMZ with my granddaughter, Finnegan, beside me. I felt the pain of division on the Korean Peninsula and the separation of families since the Korean War,” he said.

Helicopters are parked inside the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Korea Times file
Former vice-president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Drive-In event in Tampa, Florida, on October 29, 2020. AFP-Yonhap

“It was more visceral, because earlier in the day, I had just laid the wreath at the War Memorial of Korea to honor the 36,574 American soldiers who died during war,” he said, stressing that the alliance between the two countries was “forged in blood.”

Biden praised South Korea’s miraculous rise from the ashes of the war to become “a shining example of a flourishing democracy and economic powerhouse.” He said the South has also been “a global leader in the fight against COVID-19; and a strong ally in the region, to advance our shared prosperity, values, and security, and to meet global challenges.”

Biden said the about 2 millions Korean Americans in the U.S. have made “innumerable” contributions, “especially during these tough times when the United States is at a crossroads, facing a pandemic, a recession, and an election that will decide our futures for a very long time.”

“For more than a century, Korean Americans have made our country strong ― from the very first immigrants in Hawaii on January 13, 1903, to the rising entrepreneurs and business owners driving us forward now,” he said.

Biden promised efforts to help all immigrants, including undocumented Koreans.

“I’ve fought my whole career to support hard-working immigrant families who came to America to build a better life,” Biden wrote in his special contribution. “I’ll work to fix our broken immigration system, provide a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented Koreans, and recognize the tens of thousands of Korean adoptees as the Americans they are.”

“I’ll fight for a better future for all our children and grandchildren. Katchi Kapshida,” he said.

Helicopters are parked inside the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Korea Times file
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus briefing at the White House, Monday. AP-Yonhap

The U.S. election is watched closely in South Korea because it will have a profound impact on how the U.S. deals with a series of key issues facing the two countries, including North Korea’s denuclearization.

Trump has held three historical meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader in June 2018, when the two held the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit.

Biden insists the three Trump-Kim meetings with no “thought-out plans” have achieved nothing, except giving the North Korean leader the global recognition that he had long desired.

He also maintains the U.S.’ relationships with its key allies, including South Korea, have significantly deteriorated under the Trump administration.

“He (Trump) embraces every dictator in sight, and he pokes his finger in the eye of all our friends,” Biden said earlier in an interview with U.S. TV network CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

Trump has often criticized U.S. allies, including South Korea, as free riders.

“Our allies in many ways treat us worse than the enemy. The enemy, at least we have our guard up. Our allies, what they’ve done to us in terms of military protection and trade is disgraceful,” Trump said earlier Thursday while speaking at a political rally in Tampa, Florida.

The Trump administration is viewed to be using a possible drawdown of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Seoul to set the latter’s share of burden in maintaining some 28,500 U.S. soldiers there.

Seoul has offered to increase its cost sharing burden by 13 percent from the US$870 million it paid under last year’s agreement, but the negotiations are currently deadlocked, with Washington reportedly seeking a 50 percent spike to $1.3 billion, which still marks a sharp drop from $5 billion a year Trump initially demanded. (Yonhap)


Article: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/11/205_298477.html

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Yonhap – S. Korea, U.S. closely monitoring activity at N. Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex: officials | Yonhap News Agency

SEOUL, Nov. 2 (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States are closely watching movements at North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex, military authorities said Monday, amid a report on signs of brisk activities there.

Last week, 38 North, a U.S. website monitoring North Korea, reported that activity has picked up throughout the Yongbyon site, citing commercial satellite imagery showing “smoke or vapor” emanated from a building just south of its uranium enrichment plant.

“Historically, this building was used to recover and purify uranium from yellowcake and, in some cases, from leaching solutions from uranium milling facilities,” the article read. “However, what is taking place now is unclear.”

As the North’s mainstay nuclear complex located north of Pyongyang, the Yongbyon facility is home to a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor that was the source of weapons-grade plutonium for the North.

“The South Korean and the U.S. intelligence authorities are carefully monitoring related movements while maintaining close coordination,” JCS spokesperson Col. Kim Jun-rak told a regular briefing. “As of now, there is nothing to be noted for further explanation.”

Another military official said that such signs of activity at the facility have been detected since last year, and any fresh indications do not appear to have been spotted.

In 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to permanently dismantle the Yongbyon facility in return for corresponding steps from the U.S. But denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since the breakdown of the Hanoi summit in February last year.

This image captured from the website of 38 North on Nov. 2, 2020, shows a plume of smoke or vapor observed over North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image captured from the website of 38 North on Nov. 2, 2020, shows a plume of smoke or vapor observed over North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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