South Korea

Trump’s plans for troop reduction in Korea


As the summit with Kim Jong Un approaches, President Trump has asked for information on how to reduce the number of US military personnel currently stationed in Korea, according to the New York Times.

Trump has tried that once before, in January last year, but gave up on the idea after a heated argument with his chief of staff.

Several sources, including National security adviser John Bolton, have denied Times’ report, calling it “utter nonsense.” Yet, after the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea last month and the prospects of signing a permanent peace deal, it is hard to see why US troops would remain on the peninsula, at least in numbers they are present today.

Even South Korea has admitted that in case of an official peace that would finally end the Korean War, there would have to be a reduction.

The North Korean side has been silent on the notion. Traditionally, Pyongyang has insisted on US army complete withdrawal from the peninsula before even entertaining the notion of denuclearization, but such demands were suspiciously absent from the Panmunjom Declaration, signed after the historic meeting between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in.

North Korea currently has approximately 1,2 million troops under arms, more than 400 warplanes, and 3,500 tanks. Most of its equipment and armament is hopelessly obsolete and after years of sanctions, probably not very functional. The US, on the other hand, has 28,000 troops in South Korea. Their mission is to “deter aggression and if necessary, defend the Republic of Korea to maintain stability in Northeast Asia.” This huge number of troops has caused Mr. Trump to complain about the cost, often stating that South Korea shouldn’t be getting a free ride, despite the fact that most of the expenses were footed by the Seoul government. US Army Gen. Vincent Brooks even went on record to say that it is cheaper to station troops in Korea than it is in the United States.

The issue that has caused some concern is the deployment of US THAAD missile defense system. Critics say that the system isn’t designed to defend South Korea from Pyongyang’s missile, but its sole purpose is to decrease Chinese military power. Still, the system remains, despite strong protests from Beijing.


Trump Orders Pentagon to Consider Reducing U.S. Army Presence in South Korea


According to an order that President Donald Trump issued to Pentagon, they will start the preparation to extract American troops from South Korea. This order was given only a few weeks before the leader of the United States meets with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.

This action has nothing to do with the meeting of two presidents. But if the negotiations between Trump and Kim go in the right direction, the need for 28,500 US soldiers on the South Korean soil will diminish.

The reason why POTUS wants to pull the troops from the south part of the peninsula is that the US has no benefits of having an army stationed there; that they spend more time protecting Japan than US interests; and that despite their presence there, North Korea managed to develop a nuclear arsenal.

This decision comes at the time when America and South Korea are negotiating on the subject of sharing the cost of US military presence in the SK. The talks are filled with tension as the expiration date of the current deal approaches. At the moment South Korea pays half of the cost which amasses up to $800 million a year. Trump’s administration demands that South Korea starts paying full price for US presence in their country.


The Pentagon and White House officials are worried that if the United States lower the number of their troops in South Korea, they could cause frictions between them and Seoul. They are also concerned about the Japanese reaction as they are also another country threatened by North Korean nuclear potential.

At the moment we can’t tell how much of the troops will be withdrawn as it is highly unlikely that they will remove all of the 28,500 military personnel. Leaving South Korea entirely would be unwise regardless of the fact that current negotiations with NK are going smoothly.

Donald Trump wants to denuclearize North Korea, and officials in South are worried that he could offer Kim troops withdrawal as the part of the deal. Jim Mattis, the Defense Secretary, stated that the future of US military presence in the SK is on the table: “That’s part of the issues that we’ll be discussing in negotiations with our allies first, and of course with North Korea. For right now, we just have to go along with the process, have the negotiations and not try to make preconditions or presumptions about how it’s going to go.”


The one who would benefit from the troop withdrawal the most is Donald Trump according to Victor D. Cha, a Korea scholar at Georgetown University. He bases his opinion on the fact that this move would save money for the US and it would be a valuable chip on the table with Kim. But what about its effect on South Korea? Mr. Cha said: “But from the perspective of the U.S.-South Korea alliance it would represent a major retrenchment.”

South Korea Government doesn’t want US troops withdrawn even if they sign a peace treaty with North Korea. On the other hand, if they do sign it, how would they justify US presence anymore? Talking about his subject Moon Chung-in, an adviser to the president said: “What will happen to U.S. forces in South Korea if a peace treaty is signed? It will be difficult to justify their continuing presence.”

After a meeting between North and South Korean presidents, Kim declared that he would stop insisting on the removal of the US troops as he wants focus turned to the economic matters of his country. But this no longer interests Donald Trump, as his goal is to reduce America’s spending. Since US presence started in SK, the nation has developed itself both economically and militarily. Same goes for Japan. Trump believes that these two countries should take care of their business by themselves as the US has more pressing needs for both their money and their army.

With his own words: “We’ve got our soldiers sitting there watching missiles go up. You say to yourself, ‘Well, what are we getting out of this?’ ”

Apparently, President Trump has made up his mind.


Donald Trump Should Win Nobel Prize According To Moon


Donald Trump’s effort to end hostilities between two Korea’s should be rewarded with a Nobel Prize according to South Korean president Moon Jae-In. Trump has been instrumental in trying to persuade North Korea to denuclearize.

His efforts to end NK nuclear program didn’t go unnoticed in the south part of the peninsula. The Chief of State in South Korea said: “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace.”

Moon made these statements during the meetings with senior secretaries. The media was briefed by Blue House officials.

The first inter-Korean summit in more than ten years was held on Friday. The SK president met with his NK counterpart Kim Jong Un, and both men have pledged to make “complete denuclearization” a Korea’s a reality. The President of The United States is currently gearing up for his summit with Kim Jong Un. This meeting should occur in next two or three weeks.

According to reports coming from South Korea, the meeting between Trump and Kim was the main subject of the private conversation Moon had with Jong Un during their private walk on the border.

A few months ago while talking about the US president, Moon said: “Donald Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks. It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”


Moon Jae-In received a message of congratulations from Lee Hee-ho, who is a widow of former chief of state Kim Dae-Jung, in which she stated that Moon is deserving of a Nobel Prize. The current South Korea president responded that Trump is the one who deserves it.

Dae-Jung is remembered as the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts in starting peace talks between the two Korea’s. His meeting with NK president at the time Kim Jong II was the first of its kind prior to the one which happened on Friday.

The goal of a dialog between two Korea’s is to start making plans for economic cooperation which could begin after the sanctions to North Korea are lifted. The sanctions on NK were imposed after they refused to end their nuclear program and continued with testing of ballistic missiles.

Kim Jong Un Makes History as the First North Korean Leader to Visit the South


In a cheerful atmosphere resembling a family reunion, Kim Jong Un crossed the line in the Demilitarized Zone to become the first North Korean leader to visit South Korea. After 68 years, the Korean War will finally end.

The raised concrete slab over which Kim stepped over to enter South Korea has long been a symbol of the divide between the two countries. Dressed in his traditional black suit, North leader seemed relaxed as he shook hands with his counterpart from Seoul Moon Jae-in and invited him to jump over for a visit to the North. Moon Jae-in’s parents were refugees from North Korea, who fled the communists during the war on board of an American supply ship. Both of them returned to the Southern side and sat down for the negotiations, declaring the end of the war and announcing joint work towards “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Moon Jae-in has made no secret during his political career that unification of two Koreas has been his life-long dream and ambition. In the past, he brokered several deals between Pyongyang and Seoul, but this today is his highest achievement yet. He still has a lot of work ahead, as he prepares to mediate between Un and American President Trump in order to achieve a deal everyone will be satisfied with. The White House has issued a statement saying “that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.” President Trump said that he is looking forward to meeting Kim Jong Um in the near future, a sharp detour from just a few months ago when he was calling him a Rocket Man and threaten to annihilate his country.

As is customary with Korean meetings, the summit was orchestrated to the last detail and choke full of symbolic. Although not much in essence was agreed – Moon Jae-in will visit Pyongyang in fall, high-level military delegations will meet as soon as possible to discuss further de-escalation, and family reunions will resume – the atmosphere during the negotiations was very relaxed. Un joked about the North Korean type of noodles, which are very popular in the South and that he will stop waking up Moon Jae-in with missile alerts. The delegation from Pyongyang consisted of 9 members, one of which was Un’s sister.

Despite his wishes, Moon Jae-in isn’t in a position to offer much to his Northern counterpart. The talks of denuclearization of the peninsula are a matter that will be handled by the direct negotiations between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, while any significant economic relief South may offer is blocked by the latest round of the UN sanctions, placed in response to the nuclear test North Korea performed last year.

Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean studies at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said that “Serious discussion about denuclearization is simply impossible because this is not so much an issue of South Korea, but rather an issue of the United States.” He also remarked that “South Korea should push the United States towards accepting a compromise,” something Moon Jae-in is probably eager to do.

Although North Korea agreed to stop further tests and even dismantle its testing facility, which reportedly collapsed, causing huge damage and unconfirmed deaths of several of the country’s leading nuclear scientists, denuclearization may be a tall order for America to achieve. Pyongyang has sacrificed too much in order to obtain nuclear weapons and, with its largely obsolete military, it is the only real deterrent they have in the face of a possible invasion. While ordinary people may welcome the unification, North Korea’s elites, which are the regime’s backbone, aren’t thrilled with the prospect of their children losing all of their privileges.

This puts South Korea’s leadership in a tough position, making it increasingly hard for them to persuade Trump and his hawkish advisors, namely Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, to agree to the deal that doesn’t feature full disarmament. Both Pompeo and Bolton have insisted that the military option is still on the table, regardless of the possible casualties that North Korea can inflict to South Korea and Japan’s civilian population. This will be the hardest part of the deal for Moon Jae-in since Trump is becoming increasingly unpredictable and keeping him at the table and willing to negotiate may prove quite impossible.


Donald Trump and South Korean President will Meet Before Trump-Kim Summit


Donald Trump has accepted Kim Jong-Un’s invitation to meet, and he is the first president to do so. However, before the highly-anticipated meeting, Donald Trump is going to hold his own summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss what’s to come and prepare for the main event. According to a senior official in Moon’s administration, this meeting will be held in Washington DC, and Moon is supposed to update Trump on the results of the inter-Korean summit that takes place later this week.

Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-In are going to see each other face-to-face in the demilitarized zone which separates the two countries. It has been more than a decade since the leaders of these two countries spoke face-to-face.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s top national security officer Ching Eui-Yong has met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Washington on Tuesday, and this is where the idea of a Trump-Moon summit emerged, according to Yoon Young-chan, President’s secretary for public relations of South Korea. Yoon said that Chung had considered this meeting with Bolton “very substantial and beneficial.”

“The two countries have agreed to consult after the inter-Korean summit for the success of the North Korea-US summit,” Chung said, according to Yoon. We are slowly getting more details about the meeting between the two Koreas, and Moon administration displayed the symbolic dishes which will be served for the two leaders. Some of the food that will be served includes noodles, barbeque beef, and dumplings. On Wednesday, Seoul showed photos of the room in which the two leaders will talk, and it is the Peace House in the demilitarized zone on the border. The room has been redecorated to commemorate this historic meeting.

According to South Korea spokespersons, the oval-shaped table has been chosen so that the two sides can speak truthfully and the width of this table, where two leaders will sit, is 2018mm, which marks the year of the inter-Korean summit. Furthermore, a painting of Mt. Kumgang will be placed in the room, which is a mountain in North Korea that has been closed to the South Korean visitors in 2008. This painting should symbolize the reconciliation between the two Koreas as well as Pyongyang and Washington. Meanwhile, the blue carpet symbolizes “beautiful and healthy spirit of the nature of the Peninsula,” whereas the walls resemble the ones in a Hanok, a traditional Korean house.


The USA and North Korea – What does Denuclearization mean?


Next week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is going to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss different topics one of which is going to be denuclearization. This term has been in the media in recent weeks, and just like many, we are not sure what it means. Is it giving up on the nuclear weapons for? Or destroying all the weapons assembled so far? These are just some of the explanations of the term, but what is it that America wants North Korea to do exactly? The summit was planned, and US President Donald Trump is going to meet with Kim Jong-Un to discuss denuclearization, but America needs to show precise demands if they want the talks to be successful.

The reason why the meeting didn’t happen earlier is that North Korea wanted the US troops to withdraw from the region. But they do not anymore, and the summit will take place. Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said: “North Korea has been saying all the right things … they want this summit to occur, and they’re doing what it takes to make it happen.”

However, North Korea has been quiet, and Kim’s public statements were vague and not so promising. In Beijing, at the end of March, Kim Jong-Un said: “It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il.”
But are the three presidents have the same thing in mind when they talk about denuclearization?

The US and South Korea

For the United States and South Korea, denuclearization means only one thing. Josh Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It’s called CVID — complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean program.” The word “irreversible” means that once the North Korean nuclear program is dismantled, it cannot be launched again. Moreover, this process needs to be under scrutiny and someone independent needs to oversee it. “Unless there is independent monitoring … any unilateral undertakings by the North Koreans will probably not be worth the paper they’re written on,” said Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM, and diplomat.

Two countries have advocated denuclearization of North Korea for decades, and this is the first time that some progress could be made. In 1991, Pyongyang joined Seoul and signed a “joint declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” After that, they requested international aid and promised to dismantle the program, but the words were all there was. After almost three decades, hope is rekindled, and this time it could be different. Even though we are doubtful that two sides have the same idea of denuclearization, Moon said: “I do not think there is any difference in the concept [between North and South Korea].”

North Korea

According to Xinhua, Chinese news, Kim Jong-Un didn’t speak of Pyongyang ending its program when he promised the talks in Beijing in March. He referred to “denuclearization on the (Korean) Peninsula.”

If you are still not sure what the difference is, Kim Jong-Un considers the denuclearization of the entire peninsula which means that both North and South Korea would have to give up on the nuclear program. They also consider the American presence on the South Korean soil to be the direct threat despite the fact that the US hasn’t installed any nuclear weapons since 1992. Pollack noted: “They really are threatened by superior American and South Korean military power, they need nuclear weapons to try and prevent an invasion in their view. They feel the need to equate their nuclear program with the (US and South Korean) military alliance and claims the military alliance is a nuclear threat, when there’s no real grounds for that.”

Pollack also made another interesting point that North Korean leader wants to create a gap between Washington and Seoul with his decision to discuss denuclearization. Pollack said: “The pessimistic interpretation is that Kim is intent on making concession after concession in private to show Moon that he is the reasonable one, with the expectation that Trump will ultimately be unable or unwilling to deliver.”

With this in mind, the dialogues would most likely be futile. The two sides have different views on denuclearization, and North Korea will not abandon its nuclear program while South Korea keeps developing it and the US forces stay in the region.


The United States and South Korea—A Legacy of Foreign Assistance Success


President Obama’s visit to South Korea in April 2014, was considered particularly important for two reasons. First of all, it was to highlight the importance of the alliance between the two countries, and second of all, it was to emphasize its success as one of the greatest achievements in American history when it comes to foreign aid. To be more precise, the fact that South Korea became a global partner with an 11-percent increase in foreign assistance budget says a lot about their success, which, again, implies that the US foreign assistance can contribute to security, as well as economic prosperity.

The Korean War had a detrimental impact on South Korea, especially on its population, along with economic and military capacity. So, the United States invested about $35 billion in economic foreign assistance with the aim of getting the country back on the road to its recovery, but also to protect it from North Korean aggression that could possibly come in the future. And, of course, the job was done successfully, as the economy of South Korea flourished soon afterward, while Seoul became a major bulwark of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific.

Not only did South Korea’s transformation prove to be a diplomatic triumph for the US, but it was also a smart investment for American businesses. How is that possible? It’s quite simple – those $35 billion they provided, in fact, “amount to less than what the United States exports to South Korea annually.” All in all, as a result of such an economic miracle, South Korea became the tenth largest export market for US goods. Furthermore, Seoul implemented the US-South Korean free trade agreement (which was reached two years earlier, in 2012) only helped the country develop even more and import even more goods from the US.