North Korea….The Problem

Recently Russia/Putin made a comment about the possibility of the use of a nuke in or around Ukraine…..and the internet went batcrap crazy and the blogs exploded with the prediction of doom and gloom….the end of civilization was a tick away.

North Korea has the nuke capability and the delivery system to deploy the weapons as needed….I said reports…..recently NK responded to the drills that the US and South Korea were having….

North Korea issued a veiled threat Tuesday to use nuclear weapons to get the US and South Korea to “pay the most horrible price in history,” an escalation of its fiery rhetoric targeting the ongoing large-scale military drills between its rivals. Animosities on the Korean Peninsula have been running high in recent months, with North Korea testing a string of nuclear-capable missiles and adopting a law authorizing the preemptive use of its nuclear weapons in a broad range of situations. Some experts still doubt North Korea could use nuclear weapons first in the face of superior US and South Korean forces. North Korea has argued its recent weapons tests were meant to issue a warning to Washington and Seoul over a series of joint military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal, including this week’s exercises involving about 240 warplanes, the AP reports.

North Korea has argued its recent weapons tests were meant to issue a warning to Washington and Seoul over their series of joint military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal, including this week’s exercises involving about 240 warplanes. Pak Jong Chon, a secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party who is considered a close confidant of leader Kim Jong Un, called the so-called “Vigilant Storm” air force drills “aggressive and provocative.” He slammed South Korean military leaders over what he called “rubbish” comments that threatened to destroy North Korea if it uses nuclear weapons. South Korea’s military has warned North Korea that using its nuclear weapons would put it on a “path of self-destruction.”
 
“If the US and South Korea attempt to use armed forces against (North Korea) without any fear, the special means of the (North’s) armed forces will carry out their strategic mission without delay,” Pak said, in an apparent reference to his country’s nuclear weapons. “The US and South Korea will have to face a terrible case and pay the most horrible price in history,” he said. US and South Korean officials have steadfastly said their drills are defensive in nature and that they have no intentions of attacking North Korea. South Korean officials have said North Korea could up the ante in coming weeks by detonating its first nuclear test device since September 2017, which could possibly take the country a step closer to its goals of building a full-fledged nuclear arsenal capable of threatening regional US allies and the US mainland.

Lil Kim was thumping his chest, right?

Hours after threatening to use nuclear weapons in response to the US-South Korea joint military drills, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that crossed the sea border separating North and South Korea—the first time that’s happened since the two countries divided in 1948, the BBC reports. Other outlets say the missile landed close to the disputed border, but are not clear on whether it crossed. What was clear was that the missile landed further south than any other since the division, the Guardian reports. Seoul says Pyongyang fired about a dozen missiles in total Wednesday, though apparently just one landed near the tense maritime border, the AP reports. It landed 37 miles from the South Korean city of Sokcho, triggering air-raid alarms on Ulleungdo island.

The North Korean missiles were launched from the east and west coasts, CNN reports. In response, South Korea conducted air-to-surface missile tests, firing three precision-guided missiles near the countries’ eastern border, Seoul said. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea’s actions were “very unprecedented and we will never tolerate it,” and that the country “will strictly and firmly respond under close South Korea-US cooperation.” National security meetings have been called in South Korea and Japan in response to the latest missile launches.

All that and yet the internet is NOT full of doom and gloom….why is that?

I mean Kim is actually firing missiles….Putin was just talk.

Why no predictions of the end of civilization as we know it?

Maybe it is just the American people falling for the BS of the MSM.

Whatcha think?

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That North/South Thing Again

It seems that the animosities between North and South Korea are heating up once again….this has little to do with the recent missile fired over Japan that got them worried….this time it is in the waters off the peninsula.

North and South Korea exchanged warning shots Monday along their disputed western sea boundary—a scene of past bloodshed and naval battles—in a development that raises worry of possible clashes after North Korea’s recent barrage of weapons tests. South Korea’s navy broadcast warnings and fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant ship that violated the sea boundary at 3:42am, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. North Korea’s military said its coastal defense units responded by firing 10 rounds of artillery warning shots toward its territorial waters, where “naval enemy movement was detected.” It accused a South Korean naval ship of intruding into North Korean waters on the pretext of cracking down on an unidentified ship, the AP reports.

There were no reports of fighting, but the sea boundary off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast is a source of long-running animosities. The American-led UN command drew a boundary at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, but North Korea insists upon a boundary that encroaches deeply into waters controlled by the South. Among the deadly events that have happened in the area are the North’s shelling of a South Korean island and its alleged torpedoing of a South Korean navy ship, both in 2010. The two attacks killed 50 South Koreans. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean artillery firings Monday breached a 2018 inter-Korean accord on reducing military animosities and undermines stability on the Korean Peninsula. It said the North Korean shells didn’t land in South Korean waters but South Korea is boosting its military readiness.

 

 

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said North Korea had likely intentionally plotted its ship incursion because it would be “unimaginable” for a North Korean merchant ship to cross the boundary that early in a day without the permission of the South’s military. The General Staff of the North’s Korean People’s Army accused South Korea of provoking animosities near their land border as well with its own artillery tests and propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts. South Korea has already confirmed it performed artillery firings last week as part of its regular military exercises, but denied that it resumed the loudspeaker broadcasts that both Koreas halted under the 2018 agreement.

Oh goody!

What will this cost the over-stretched American taxpayer to hep South Korea ‘protect’ itself from the aggression of the North?

Biden will promise them more aid, no doubt….like he always does.

This is such crap!

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US Vs North Korea

Four years ago when the other guy was president….the situation with North Korea was all rain bows and lollipops….hugs and love letters….and now those of fantasy are gone.

Since Biden has been elected president….the chest thumping and rhetoric has changed…..but not the tactics.

Since Biden became president he has tried to take a hard line with North Korea…..to which a response has been issued by Kim’s sister…..

For the first time, a high-level regime official in North Korea has addressed remarks directly to President Biden. The warning message took issue with the US and South Korea’s joint military drills, which began March 8, the Japan Times reports. “We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off (a gunpowder) smell in our land,” Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, said. “If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.” Pyongyang says the drills are “rehearsal for invasion,” but the US and South Korea say the drills, which were scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are “defensive” in nature and don’t include field training.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made their first trip abroad, discussing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs during talks in Tokyo and planning for similar discussions Wednesday in South Korea. The US continues to await a response from North Korea after weeks of attempts at making diplomatic contact, the BBC reports. The Biden administration continues to review former President Trump’s North Korea policy, and plans to unveil its policy in the coming weeks, a senior State Department official tells CNN.

The US decided to answer with strong statements….

North Korea conceded Thursday that the US had attempted to establish contact between the two governments. The Biden administration sent emails and tried several ways to deliver telephone messages, even involving a third country. But the Americans’ effort was nothing but a “cheap trick,” a foreign ministry official said, to buy time while the US tried to sway public opinion. “What has been heard from the US since the emergence of the new regime is only lunatic theory of ‘threat from North Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about “complete denuclearization,'” Choe Son Hui said. She also criticized the US for keeping sanctions against her country, Reuters reports, and for conducting military drills with South Korea.

“We don’t think there is need to respond to the US delaying-time trick again,” Choe said in a statement, per the AP. “We have already declared our stand that no US contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the US rolls back its hostile policy toward” North Korea. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in South Korea, where Blinken told Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong the US will work with his nation and other allies to get North Korea to denuclearize. It’s the first time the US secretaries of state and defense have met with their South Korean equivalents in five years. Blinken and Austin had similar talks in Japan before traveling to Seoul.

Now the Pentagon has joined the chest thumping…..

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Thursday that American forces are ready to “fight tonight,” in response to North Korea slamming drills resuming between the US and South Korea.

The US and South Korean forces have resumed military drills after pausing the exercises more than a year ago over coronavirus concerns.

“Our force remains ready to ‘fight tonight,’ and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said.

(nypost.com)

Tit for tat rhetoric…..chest thumping accomplishes nothing…..

Stop the war cries and let diplomacy step in.

Diplomacy….that means let South Korea take the lead and we need to advise and stand back…..

The U.S. and South Korea have reached two agreements about the near-term future of the alliance, the Biden administration announced before the recent meeting in Seoul. First, the two governments worked out a new cost-sharing arrangement for the extensive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula. And second, Washington and Seoul assented to suspend many of their annual joint military drills.

The latter is a smart move. It could well lower tensions and make space for useful diplomacy with North Korea, which regards the drills as practice for invasion and often responds with its own provocations in turn. The value of the cost-sharing arrangement is more difficult to assess. On the one hand, its settlement may allow more important diplomatic matters to move to the forefront in the relationship, which is to the good. But this deal also represents a recommitment to counterproductive U.S. dominance of inter-Korean relations, which serves neither U.S. interests nor the cause of peace.

Time For South Korea to Take the Lead on North Korea

Since South Korea has the most to lose and/or gain….they should take the lead on any negotiations.

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Biden And North Korea

It is not secret that I do not see much change in the US foreign policy under Biden……it will still be interventionist administration.

https://lobotero.com/2020/11/18/international-challenges-for-biden/

Since North Kora has unveiled a new missile we can start there….

North Korea displayed new submarine-launched ballistic missiles under development and other military hardware in a parade that underlined leader Kim Jong Un’s defiant calls to expand the country’s nuclear weapons program. State media said Kim took center stage in Thursday night’s parade celebrating a major ruling party meeting in which he vowed maximum efforts to bolster the nuclear and missile program that threatens Asian rivals and the American homeland to counter what he described as US hostility, the AP reports. During an eight-day Worker’s Party congress that ended Tuesday, Kim also revealed plans to salvage the nation’s economy, hit by US-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions, pandemic-related border closures, and natural disasters that wiped out crops.

Kim, wearing a black fur hat and leather trench coat, waved and smiled widely as his troops chanted “Let’s defend Kim Jong Un with our lives!” Flag-waving spectators, unmasked despite a fervent domestic campaign to fend off the coronavirus, cheered as troops rolled out some of the country’s most advanced weapons, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles described by the official Korean Central News Agency as the “world’s most powerful weapon.” The new type of submarine-launched missiles is larger than the ones North Korea has previously tested. The North also displayed a variety of solid-fuel weapons designed to be fired from mobile land launchers, which potentially expand its capability to strike targets in South Korea and Japan, including US military bases there.

How will Biden handle North Korea?

Joe Biden promises to return U.S. foreign policy to its pre-Trump status quo, with a few tweaks. The Biden approach will restore relations with allies, champion multilateral approaches to global problems, reemphasize human rights and democratic norms, and promote selective engagement with major adversaries like China and Russia.

Although this return to the status quo ante is deeply reassuring to the Washington policy elite as well as key U.S. allies, the leadership in Pyongyang will not be so enthusiastic. North Korea has generally preferred bilateral negotiations with the United States, not multilateral talks. It has perceived closer U.S. relations with its allies (like South Korea and Japan) as an intensified encirclement. And it will view a restored emphasis on human rights and democracy as a challenge to its own sovereign right to control what goes on within its own borders.

Biden’s Approach to North Korea and the NPT Option

Then there is the leftovers from Trump….not to worry NK will always remain that other country that the US needs to deal with as soon as possible.

But will we?

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Biden And North Korea

North Korea….remember them?

We have seen just how impotent the Trump policies have been in the curtailing of NK’s nuclear ambitions.

Well we have a new president and he has his finger on foreign policy….or so we are told….

What is Biden’s thoughts?

Look for familiar names from the presidency of Barack Obama to deal with North Korea after the inauguration of Joseph Biden as president on Jan. 20. Biden, having served as vice president for two terms under Obama, knows these old-timers well and may be inclined to name some of them to influential positions in hope, finally, of bringing North Korea to terms on its nuclear program.

The chances of Kim Jong-un saying, “right, we agree, and we’re giving up our nukes and missiles and the facilities for making them” range from nil to zero, but Christopher Hill, who led the Americans in failed six-party talks on North Korea’s nukes and then in frustrating negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Gye-gwan, never loses hope. In a Biden presidency, he said in a recent panel discussion, “There will be a little more focus on the substance of engagement and why we are willing to engage.”

…Biden’s “first order of business is going to be to fix the alliances.” No, he said, “it’s not just NATO,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that formed the bulwark of allied defenses against the old Soviet Union in the Cold War era and now faces Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, definitely would prefer Trump. For nearly four years, Trump did his best to undermine NATO, blasting its members for not contributing, cutting back on U.S. forces and, disgracefully, trying to finesse a trade-off with Ukraine on military assistance against Russia in return for Ukraine digging up dirt on Biden’s son, Hunter. 

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2020/11/353_299127.html

New president…will US troops stay in South Korea?  Will Kim remain the social outcast or will a new day dawn in US/NK relations?

It will be interesting to see just in what direction the policies involving the Korean Peninsula will travel.

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It’s North Korea Again

We have not had much news abut North Korea in the last few months…all the air in reporting has been sucked out by the pandemic and the election…..so it falls on the Old Professor to bring you the news the MSM does not feel you should know.

The nuclear powers have been warned!

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Saturday that his country would “fully mobilize” its nuclear force if threatened as he took center stage at a military parade in which the country unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile and other additions to its growing weapons arsenal, the AP reports. Kim, however, avoided direct criticism of Washington during the event, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the country’s ruling party and took place less than four weeks before the US presidential election. Instead, he focused on a domestic message urging his people to remain firm in the face of “tremendous challenges” posed by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear program.

Kim described the North’s continuing efforts to develop its nuclear deterrent as necessary for its defense and said it wasn’t targeting any specific country with its military force. But “if any force harms the safety of our nation, we will fully mobilize the strongest offensive might in a pre-emptive manner to punish them,” he said. Kim’s speech was punctuated by thousands of goose-stepping troops, tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and a broad range of ballistic missiles rolled out in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square. The weapons included what was possibly the North’s biggest-yet ICBM, which was mounted on an 11-axle launch vehicle that was also seen for the first time. The North also displayed a variety of solid-fuel weapon systems that highlighted how the North has expanded its military capabilities.

That huge rocket could be something new…..

We don’t have a name or specifications, just photos from the parade. A lot of the crowd that usually frets about North Korea’s weapons noted this to be the biggest one we saw, and seem to be drawing the conclusion that must mean it’s the most powerful and most dangerous.

Which is just a guess. Size doesn’t dictate power or level of advancement for an ICBM, and if anything this missile is just a huge version of existing designs. Presumably it will go farther because it’s got room for all that fuel, but the ICBM is still just delivering a warhead if it is used.

Since North Korea never tested such a missile, or even bragged about having it, it’s also possible that the point of this big, noticeable design was to be big and noticeable at a parade, and one for an important anniversary.

(antiwar.com)

North Korea and China have developed a more intense cooperation….

In a congratulatory message to Kim Jong Un for the founding anniversary of North Korea’s ruling party, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he intends to deepen relations with Pyongyang, North Korean state media reported on Saturday.

“We have an intent to successfully defend, consolidate and develop the China-Korea relations together with Korean comrades and propel the long-lasting and stable development of the socialist cause of the two countries,” North Korean state news agency KCNA quoted Xi as saying.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-missiles-china/chinas-xi-says-intends-to-deepen-relations-with-north-korea-kcna-idUKKBN26U2K2

Yet another front for the US and China to stand-off on.

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North Korea/Kim News

Covid has pretty much sucked the air out of the international stories that we should be concerned with…….and North Korea is one of those countries that will use the pandemic as cover for their ambitions (kinda like Trump)……

Kim and “chukjibeop”……

North Korea’s official newspaper is reporting that Kim Jong Un can’t actually bend space and time. As the regime’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper revealed this week: “In realistic terms, a person cannot suddenly disappear and reappear by folding space.” A South Korean official told Yonhap News the development was “noteworthy” and said “it appears to stress patriotism and love for the people rather than mystification of the leaders.” Indeed, the Telegraph portrays this as an attempt to de-mythologize North Korea’s leaders and dispel a decades-old belief in “chukjibeop”—the notion that certain people can travel long distances in a short time by folding space.

It also jibes with a Kim quote after he and President Trump failed in 2019 to hammer out a denuclearization agreement for a second time. “Mystifying a leader’s revolutionary activity and appearance would result in covering the truth,” Kim said last March. “Absolute loyalty would spring up when (they) are mesmerised by the leader humanly and comradely.” For the curious, “chukjibeop” apparently derives from East Asian mythology and translates as “distance-shrinking magic,” per the International Business Times. There was a hit North Korean song called “General Uses Chukjibeop” about Kim’s dad, Kim Jong Il, using the supernatural power.

Those talks with NK have been stalled and now Kim decides that nukes would be the place to put his energies…..

North Korea’s peace talks have been stalled for many months, and with no signs of that changing soon, Kim Jong Un has announced that he will be working on enhancing North Korea’s nuclear deterrence and putting strategic forces on high alert.

Kim made this announcement in his later infrequent public appearance, the first in three weeks. During coronavirus, Kim has been se4en less and less, leading to international speculation at times about his status.

Though a peace process would clearly be preferable for all sides, the lack of any such options has North Korea’s state media emphasizing their ability to “reliably contain the persis6tent big or small military threats from hostile forces.

At one point, North Korea was to disarm its nuclear program as part of a peace and normalization deal with the US. The US refused to give North Korea any relief, and North Korea backed away from the process until the US was willing to give them something. The two nations have returned to not talking, and occasional US threats.

(antiwar.com)

Let’s take a look at the negotiations over 3 presidents through the eyes of National Interest……

George W. Bush vs Kim Jong-il ended zero to eight. Having entered office insisting that Kim Jong-il would never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, as Bush left office, the intelligence community estimated that Kim had an arsenal of eight.

-Barack Obama vs Kim Jong-un requires two scores: Kim’s arsenal grew from eight balls to some twenty to sixty. But more consequentially, Kim ate his Wheaties and worked on extending the distance to which he can throw a ball from five feet to twenty-five feet (far enough to reach American military bases in Guam); and Kim was also practicing a maneuver that would allow him to throw shots eighty feet to hit the American homeland. 

-Under Trump, Kim increased and improved his arsenal of shots, including material for making the balls, but on the second metric—“throw distance”—while Kim perfected his technique to reliably throw balls to twenty-five feet, Kim stopped practicing the maneuver that would otherwise have proven beyond doubt he could throw shots all the way to Washington, DC.

Why should we as Americans care about the negotiations with North Korea?

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Washington policymakers fixated on the status of Kim Jong-un, the 36-year-old leader of an isolated, impoverished state half a world away. Then came reports of North Korean construction of ICBMs and a new missile support facility.

The Pentagon previously cited Pyongyang as a reason the U.S. required a credible nuclear deterrent. President Donald Trump even threatened “fire and fury” against the Kim government, before switching course and organizing a summit with the communist monarch. At that time six of every ten Americans believed the North to be the nation posing the greatest threat to America.

Why do Americans pay attention to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)?

https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/499431-why-do-americans-worry-about-north-korea

There always seems to be something happening on the Korean Peninsula……and we miss a lot of the stuff.

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He Lives!

Believe it or not….there is news other than the pandemic and its stats….

The media has been reporting the possible death of North Korea’s Kim I admit I bit on the story as well…..https://lobotero.com/2020/04/27/nks-kim-is-he-is-or-is-he-aint/

…….but it appears that the tales of his death may be overstated….

According to the Yonhap News Agency in Seoul, South Korea, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks.

Kim’s lengthy absence from the public view, coupled with rumors that his health was in “grave danger” following a heart procedure, had led some to speculate that he might be dead or dying — something that was difficult to confirm or deny due to North Korea’s infamously secretive and propagandized environment.

No details about the nature of Kim’s public appearance have yet been released.

(rawstory.com)

Another report of the sighting…

North Korean state media say leader Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance in 20 days, during which speculation about his health flourished. The Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that he attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory in Suncheon, near the capital of Pyongyang, with senior officials who included his sister, Kim Yo Jong. Photos from the ceremony weren’t immediately released, the AP reports. Kim Jong Un had been last seen during a ruling party meeting on April 11 to discuss coronavirus prevention. Rumors about his health swirled after he missed the April 15 celebration of the birthday of his late grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, the country’s most important holiday.

South Korea’s government had played down rumors and unconfirmed reports that Kim was in poor health following a medical procedure, saying it had detected no unusual activity in the North. The North Korean government reported Friday that Kim has been writing letters of praise to government departments and leaders, per Newsweek. One commented on the influence the propaganda department is having on the people of North Korea with its “powerful” work. It’s not unusual for members of the ruling family to vanish for long periods, an opinion piece in the Washington Post noted. During one official disappearance in 1986, eulogies began and funeral dirges were playing in the demilitarized zone when Kim’s grandfather resurfaced, putting a sudden stop to both.

DAMN!

I was hoping there was going to be some power struggle…..would have made great news.

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NK’s Kim: Is He Is Or Is He Ain’t?

The reports for the past couple of weeks has been that Kim has disappeared from public eye……and that absence has started all sorts of rumors and speculations…..

Is he suffering from the Covid-19?  Did he have a stroke like his father? Is he in a coma?  Is he dead?

Kim Jong Un is either vegetative or dead after undergoing a failed cardiovascular procedure on April 12, according to Asian media reports—but Reuters has been unable to confirm or deny. All reports agree that China has sent a team of doctors and officials to North Korea to advise on the nation’s leader, but beyond that, it’s a wash. The Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai reports that a member of the team said Kim grabbed his chest and fell to the ground on a visit to the countryside in early April, per the Jerusalem Post. The team member also said Kim’s accompanying doctor called for the team’s help, and Kim was in a vegetative state.

Kim Jong Un is either vegetative or dead after undergoing a failed cardiovascular procedure on April 12, according to Asian media reports—but Reuters has been unable to confirm or deny. All reports agree that China has sent a team of doctors and officials to North Korea to advise on the nation’s leader, but beyond that, it’s a wash. The Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai reports that a member of the team said Kim grabbed his chest and fell to the ground on a visit to the countryside in early April, per the Jerusalem Post. The team member also said Kim’s accompanying doctor called for the team’s help, and Kim was in a vegetative state.

Is he is or is he ain’t?

Kim Jong Un hasn’t been seen in public in more than a week, but South Korea is refuting reports that the North Korean leader’s health is in danger. The denial came soon after a CNN report claiming that the US is monitoring intelligence suggesting Kim is “in grave danger” after an unspecified surgery, plus a report from South Korea’s Daily NK claiming Kim was recovering from a cardiovascular procedure. Two South Korean government sources say those reports are incorrect and Kim is not gravely ill, Reuters reports.

If he is not capable of using the reins of power who will step in and fill the leadership void?

Kim Jong Un is in a “vegetative state” or flat-out dead after a failed heart surgery. Or he’s got COVID-19. Or just a sprained ankle. The rumor mill is turning after reports emerged that a Chinese medical team had been dispatched to help North Korea’s leader in his time of need, the New York Times reports. With some Asian media outlets reporting the worst news, and Western media taking a mostly careful approach, we look at the latest:

  • ‘Shocked’: Sen. Lindsey Graham says he would be “shocked” if Kim wasn’t “dead or incapacitated” at this point, per the Hill. “You don’t let rumors like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society, which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea.”
  • Kim’s train—if it really is his train—could play a role. A US-based project called 38 North, which monitors North Korea, says the train has remained at the “leadership station” at Wonsan since at least Tuesday, per the Guardian. “The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,” the project says.
  • ‘Game changer’: North Korea watchers are giving the story a raised eyebrow but won’t toll the death knell just yet, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Kim Jong Un’s death is a low-probability event,” says an Asan Institute research fellow. “But his death would be a game changer.”
  • Little sister: In that vein, the Daily Beast looks at Kim’s younger sister, 31-year-old Kim Yo Jong, who is apparently feared and respected for her high position in the North Korean government. But is she capable of leading the brutal regime if her brother dies? Fox News calls her “his most likely successor” and Reuters says she “has a firm control of key party functions, setting herself to be the main source of power behind a collective leadership.”
  • A half-brother: A rumor flourishing on messaging apps in South Korea has Kim in a coma and Kim Pyong-il, half-brother to Kim’s deceased father, already seizing power. The Asia Times reports that Pyong-il was once rising in the ranks before angering the elder Kim and spending time in exile.
  • No worries: Yet South Korea maintains that Kim Jong Un is “alive and well.” Moon Chung-in, the South Korean president’s top foreign policy adviser, tells CNN that Kim “has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
  • And so? Whether any of this matters is open to interpretation. “Regardless of who assumes power, there are no indications that a successor would pursue different domestic or foreign policies,” writes Bruce Klingner, an ex-CIA Korea official, per the Washington

Some think it is his sister, Kim Yo Jong…..yes he has a sister and she is moving up in the governmental apparatus…..my thought as well…..what do we really know about sis?

Full siblings: Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un have the same parents (their mother was a dancer who was one of Kim Jong Il’s wives), and she has for years been seen at her brother’s side at public functions, reports Reuters. The pair, along with another full sibling, Kim Jong Chol, who stays out of politics, are believed to have attended school in Switzerland. She is also believed to be married, possibly to the son of a powerful party secretary.

Her job: Kim Yo Jong is now an alternate member of the party’s decision-making body, which generally rubber-stamps Kim Jong Un’s mandates. But she would theoretically get to take part in debates on issues including military decisions. She is only the second woman known to get such an appointment. The first was her aunt, who hasn’t been seen in public in years and may be under house arrest. The aunt’s husband was executed in 2013, per the Times.

Since the position of Supreme Leader is a family affair then sister would be a logical person to step into the shoes of power.

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North Korea–Virus And Dictators

The most outrageous story of the last week…..seems a couple of lawmakers from the US want to send help to North Korea….

Two U.S. lawmakers have announced the introduction of a bill calling for streamlined procedures to expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid to North Korea.

The bill, named the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act, was announced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) on Monday.

“I firmly believe that multilateral pressure is necessary to support our diplomacy with North Korea in order to keep the American people safe from the murderous Kim regime,” Markey, ranking member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement posted on his website.

“But we must not stand in the way when selfless humanitarians seek to give North Koreans a chance against hunger and deadly infectious diseases,” he said, adding that sanctions programs are “not successful” if they prevent basic humanitarian assistance.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200415000200325

While the US debates helping North Korea Kim fires off some missiles in a display…..

President Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim’s sister said Sunday. The correspondence came as Kim observed the firing of tactical guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as nuclear talks remain deadlocked. In a statement carried by KCNA, Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, praised Trump for the letter at a time when “big difficulties and challenges lie ahead in the way of developing ties” between the countries. She said Trump explained his plan to “propel the relations between the two countries … and expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work.” She said her brother expressed gratitude for Trump’s letter. North Korea has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case of coronavirus on its soil. Some foreign experts question that claim and say an outbreak in the North could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its poor medical infrastructure.

Last month, the State Department expressed concerns about North Korea’s vulnerability to a potential coronavirus outbreak and said it was ready to support efforts by aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness in the North. There was no comment from the White House, notes the AP. Kim Yo Jong said Trump’s letter is “a good example showing the special and firm personal relations” between the North Korean and US leaders. But she said it’s not a good idea to “make hasty conclusion or be optimistic about” the prospect for bilateral relations. “I think that the bilateral relations and dialogue for them would be thinkable only when the equilibrium is kept dynamically and morally and justice ensured between the two countries,” she said. “Even at this moment we are working hard to develop and defend ourselves on our own under the cruel environment which the US is keen to ‘provide.'”

Does Kim have the virus…..he was a no-show at a celebration for his grandfather……

Kim Jong Un doesn’t typically miss showing off whenever his famous relatives are honored during North Korean national holidays. That’s why there are now whispers as to why he didn’t show (or wasn’t shown by state media) in a Wednesday birthday tribute to his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, with speculation now circulating the North Korean leader might be ill. Only senior officials were said to have been part of the delegation that came for “the Day of the Sun” to view the embalmed body of Kim Il Sung at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, per Reuters. There was also no state media report about the country’s alleged cruise missile tests on Tuesday, which there normally would be, with Kim in attendance. The last time the 36-year-old was seen in public was last Saturday, when he attended a Workers’ Party politburo meeting.

Those who’ve watched his behavior say it would be unlike him to skip the birthday tribute: Yonhap notes Kim hasn’t skipped the holiday visit to the mausoleum since he took power in 2011, per Fox News. “He has been going there on the birthdays of his grandfather and father to flaunt his royalty to them and sacred bloodline,” a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute tells Reuters. While some wonder if he’s sick or has another health issue, some observers tell Fox he may be trying to distance himself from his relatives to establish his own legacy. Still others suggest he may have paid tribute beforehand to shelter himself from coronavirus exposure. “This is a leader whose … trademark [is] hugging his people a lot,” an international relations professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University tells CNN. “I think we have to include the possibility that this is related to their process to make sure he stays safe.”

Then if something happens to Kim will his younger sister step into the leadership shoes?

Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, was appointed to North Korea’s politburo in 2017 but is believed to have been removed last year after a second Kim-Trump summit fell through. Now she’s been reinstated, the Guardian reports. Kim Yo Jong has long been a close aide to her brother, but is recently rising again within the country’s hierarchy, experts say. On Saturday, she was reappointed to the central committee’s political bureau as an alternate member; the Korea Herald describes it as the top policymaking body in the country and says Kim Yo Jong’s reappointment marks her “comeback.”

Other top officials were also reshuffled that day, with Kim Jong Un presiding over the meeting during which Kim Yo Jong’s appointment was confirmed. She was also recently appointed first vice-department director of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, and just last month started issuing statements under her own name. Also at Saturday’s meeting, the party adopted a resolution to take “more thorough state measures to protect life and safety of our people from the great worldwide epidemic disease” of COVID-19. North Korea officially claims zero coronavirus cases, but the Korea Times reports some observers think the country might be hushing up an outbreak.

His sister is on the rise……and we need to know more about her in case she steps up if something should happen to Kim……

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un promoted his younger sister over the weekend, naming Kim Yo Jong, believed to be 28, to the nation’s most important political body, the Workers Party’s Politburo. It’s a rare sign of trust by Kim in a family member, and the New York Times speculates that he may want to make sure a familial successor is in line should anything happen to him before his young children are old enough to assume power. Related developments:

  • Full siblings: Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un have the same parents (their mother was a dancer who was one of Kim Jong Il’s wives), and she has for years been seen at her brother’s side at public functions, reports Reuters. The pair, along with another full sibling, Kim Jong Chol, who stays out of politics, are believed to have attended school in Switzerland. She is also believed to be married, possibly to the son of a powerful party secretary.
  • Blacklisted: In 2014, Kim Yo Jong began working for the ruling party’s propaganda arm and thus found herself among those blacklisted this year by the US Treasury Department for “ongoing and serious human rights abuses and censorship activities,” per Time.
  • Image control? Reports in South Korean media suggest that Kim Yo Jong has been trying to improve her brother’s image by encouraging visits to hospitals and such, reports USA Today. She may also be behind his odd friendship with Dennis Rodman.
  • Her job: Kim Yo Jong is now an alternate member of the party’s decision-making body, which generally rubber-stamps Kim Jong Un’s mandates. But she would theoretically get to take part in debates on issues including military decisions. She is only the second woman known to get such an appointment. The first was her aunt, who hasn’t been seen in public in years and may be under house arrest. The aunt’s husband was executed in 2013, per the Times.
  • Taking a toll: Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that US pressure on Pyongyang is beginning to seriously pinch. More than 20 nations have reduced business or diplomatic ties with North Korea through various means: kicking out ambassadors or guest workers, barring ships, limiting flights, etc. The idea, being pushed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is to try to show Kim that the price for becoming a nuclear power is too high.
  • Trump skeptical: One person apparently not sold on the above progress is Trump himself. On Monday, he tweeted, “Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn’t work!”

We need to know as much as possible……

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