North Korea - Page 4

Trump Administration Prepares For Donald/Kim Meeting In Singapore


The officials of both North Korea and the United States are working on the details of the upcoming meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The decision where will the talks be held is entirely on the US President, and he said that the location would be known in three days.

In most recent addressing to the press at the White House, Trump denied that he would be meeting Kim at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which was dubbed as one of the possible locations. The only one remaining that was mentioned before is Singapore, and the way things stand now, the two presidents will meet there. But, we must say, at the moment, no decision is final nor made official.

The city-state in Southeast Asia is a location preferred by US officials, as they are looking to avoid places that are too close to Pyongyang. When asked about the exact location of the meeting between the two leaders White House declined to comment. But, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stated that the date and location are already set: “I can tell you that a date and location are set but beyond that, I don’t have any other announcements at this point. But we expect that to be announced here in the next few days.”

North Korea Released US Prisoners

Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, was in North Korea setting up the details of Trump/Kim meeting and also to arrange the release of the US citizens held in NK. Kim Jong Un agreed to release all three men.

The upcoming meeting between Kim and Trump will be the first time in history that leaders of these countries will meet in person. And releasing the three prisoners is a sign of goodwill by NK.

As for the location, Singapore seems like an ideal choice. The country is a long-time US ally, and it has US military presence on its soil. At the same time, it is only one of the 47 world countries that have a North Korean embassy.

Some officials on both sides preferred DMZ as the location because of its symbolism and photogenic advantages. Both of these were visible during the last week’s meet-up between the presidents of two Korea’s.

According to people from Trump administration, POTUS was delighted with ‘historic images’ that were taken during that meeting. In hours after Moon/Kim meeting, Trump talked about the possibility of seeing Kim eye-to-eye in DMZ, but the idea was scrapped.

Talking about the upcoming summit, Mr. President said: “Everything can be scuttled. A lot of good things can happen, a lot of bad things can happen. I believe that we have… both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal. Lots of things can happen. And, of course, you’ll be the first to know about it if it fails.”


US Secretary of State Visits North Korea Prior Trump-Kim Meeting


Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, is paying an unexpected visit to North Korea. It is speculated that the reason behind his surprising visit is three Americans jailed in NK. Pompeo is looking to bring them home.

His visit will prepare the turf for the impending meeting between the president of the United States Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In addition to rescuing American civilians, Pompeo is expected to finalize the details of the meeting between Trump and Kim. The subject of the talks between two presidents will be denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but at the moment the release of three prisoners is the priority.

During a press conference in South Korea, officials of this country stated that the release of prisoners will happen as a sign of goodwill from NK and that it’s the right thing to do.

Talking to reporters before his visit to NK, Pompeo said: “We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months.”


One of the detainees was imprisoned since 2015 while the other two joined him last year. The world convicted the imprisonment of these men as it breaks the human rights. Through its history, North Korea often used foreign prisoners as leverage in diplomatic talks.

Otto Warmbier is the last American who was released by NK after he was imprisoned for stealing propaganda poster from a hotel. He died shortly after his release because of brain damage that couldn’t be explained. The cause of his death was never fully uncovered.

Mr. Pompeo is visiting Pyongyang second time after it was announced that Trump and Kim would meet. The relations between two countries improved in recent months after the two nations didn’t have diplomatic contacts in more than 15 years.


When President Trump announced the meeting between him and Kim world public was in shock because this will be the first time that presidents of two countries are meeting head to head.

Talking about the upcoming talks with Kim, POTUS said: “We think relationships are building with North Korea. We have our meeting set. The location is picked. The time and date, everything is picked. We will see how it all works out. Maybe it won’t. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, and the entire world.”

Prior to meeting with Trump, Kim Jong Un also visited China and had talks with President Xi Jinping. This is their second meeting in less than six weeks. Two men met in Dalian and were pictured walking along the shore together.


Talking about denuclearization of Korea’s, Kim said that he’s hoping that it’s going to be “phased and synchronized.”

One of the questions that will arise during the meeting between Trump and Kim will be the continuous test of ballistic missiles by NK which threatened Japan. Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, said that he is ready to normalize relations with Pyongyang if they decide to denuclearize and stop ballistic missiles test. Next move is on North Korea and Kim Jong Un.


The United States and China bonding over North Korea


As the world braces for the historic US-North Korea summit, the much larger potential conflict seems to be brewing in Asia.

The confrontation between China and the United States has been raising tensions worldwide for the last decade. Chinese accuse America of refusing to acknowledge Chinese development and superpower status, while Americans claim that China employs predatory tactic which fuels its economic growth. The recent exchange of economic tariffs initiated by the United States president Donald Trump hasn’t really done wonders for the relationship between the two countries.

The trade war that would threaten entire global economy may be averted, but the differences between Chinese economic system and the rest of the g20 countries may prove to be too much to reconcile. Beijing insists on its own blend of state capitalism rolled into a communist creed, and any change its trade partners demand is seen as a foreign threat and thus unlikely to be met. On the other hand, it holds 20% of the American foreign debt and the ability to absorb much more, which gives it a lot of leverage when it comes to dealing with Washington.

The economy is not the only field where America and China clash with each other. Politics in the region are also very sensitive, give the issues with Taiwan and Chinese expansion into the South China Sea. Taiwan has been a long-standing flashpoint and a point of dispute between Beijing and Washington. Chinese claims based on historical facts seem to put the country at odds with many of its neighbors and the tensions in the region are always high, occasionally flaring up, like the recent interception of the Australian ships by the Chinese Navy.

One thing both countries can agree is the need to resolve the North Korean issue peacefully. They don’t have many reasons to trust Pyongyang, but it would seem that Kim Jong Un may be sincere in his desire to open up a dialogue with the west, something that may prove beneficial to China as well. After all, if North Korea returns to the world markets, China is in a prime position to benefit from it, as the most likely investor who will fund the development of the Pyongyang’s economy.

The process will be a long one and no one can guarantee it will succeed, as any dealing with North Korea carries a risk. What is certain, is that both China and America will need to take part in it and it will be a great opportunity to work together and perhaps solve some of the issues that have been plaguing their relationships for decades.


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’s missed opportunities in foreign policy


Donald Trump conducts foreign policy the way he does everything else: aggressively, unpredictably, and with complete lack of interest or knowledge in proper diplomatic norms. Usually, this approach rarely ends well, but for Donald Trump, it almost worked. The only reason is that his bullishness is backed up by the largest economic and military power in the history of the world. Unfortunately, he almost always fails to capitalize on his initial gains.

Trump’s insistence on scrapping the Iran deal has left his European allies scrambling to fix it before his May 12th deadline expires. It was all America could hope for, European powers proposing sanctions for Iran’s involvements in Syria and ballistic tests. Both Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel visited Washington last month trying to persuade Trump to remain part of the deal. Britain, France, and Germany agreed that Tehran needs to be told that red lines in Syria apply to them as well. Renegotiating the agreement under those lines would be a major success of the White House foreign policy. Yet, Trump will squander it all away just so that he can say that he scrapped Obama’s deal.

This is quite similar to his actions in Syria. They were best described by Robert Worth:
“[A]fter the administration launched missile strikes on Syrian regime targets in retaliation for the poison-gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, there was a welcome opportunity to pressure the Syrians and their Russian backers. This was precisely what John Kerry dreamed of during Obama’s final years: a decisive show of force that would create leverage on the diplomatic front. Now Trump had achieved it. A European diplomat told me he spoke to McMaster just after the Syria strike and asked him: “Now you have leverage: What will you do?” McMaster stared back at him blankly, he told me. “For them, it was not leverage,” the diplomat said. “It was just a strike.”

Israel and Palestine peace talks are another example of how his unorthodox approach could have yielded unexpected results. While obviously pro-Israel, Trump wasn’t a stranger to criticizing Tel Aviv, a fact that show Palestine leaders that mutually beneficial agreement could be struck. Appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was a clear message that he takes a personal interest in the deal and most of the participants reacted positively to his initiative. Then he threw it all away by unilaterally deciding to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestinians are now boycotting the US, and any hope of even modest progress is lost.

Trump’s latest challenge is North Korea. What started as name-calling escalated into threats of annihilation with nuclear weapons. Fortunately, passions subsided and Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to visit South Korea, in anticipation of the summit between himself and Donald Trump. There are already worrying signs that Trump will miss this historic opportunity to create a lasting peace on Korean Peninsula as well. His remarks about “great celebration” at the DMZ could mean that he will either accept whatever deal Kim offers, regardless of how empty or unenforceable it is, or he will storm out and go back to threatening Pyongyang with nuclear devastation.

Despite his ignorance about the world and diplomatic protocol, Donald Trump has failed to entangle the United States in any disastrous foreign adventure, even that was something that many of his critics predicted. Instead, his approach has created several excellent opportunities, some of which his predecessors would do anything to had have. It was fumbling of those opportunities in order to achieve some short-term goal (mostly to allow him to brag at rallies or on Fox about them) that have a potential of turning into disasters. The most irritable fact is that his administration failed to even recognize the long-term possibilities of their boss’s unorthodox approach to diplomacy.

Not all is lost, though. The summit with North Korea is still a few weeks away, which is plenty of time for his advisors to properly prepare him. The Iran deal still isn’t dead in the water and there’s a slim chance that Mr. Trump may relent and allow his European allies to fix it. This would, in turn, stabilize Syria and allow Israel to stand down, which would clear up a path towards opening a dialogue with Abbas and his government.


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.


A Review of Obama’s Asia Pivot Strategy

First mentioned after Hilary Clinton’s article America’s Pacific Century, in Foreign Policy, Asia Pivot has quickly become a very popular buzzword among American politicians. It encompassed the new approach to the deployment of American diplomatic and military power, with East Asia and Pacific becoming a new focal point.

Mrs. Clinton, the newly appointed Secretary of State, correctly observed several keynotes on Pacific theater. More than half of the world’s population lived in the area, and some of the strongest economic powers are located there as well. She proposed that such an environment presents an excellent opportunity for American investments which could fuel the region’s economic welfare into the new century, and all that under American leadership of course.

She states that “open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the nuclear proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.”

She proposed to achieve this by following six courses of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening America’s relationships with rising powers, including China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

The elephant in the room was China. Many experts claimed that the Asia Pivot is in fact just a new name for China containment strategy, aimed at encroaching it and cutting it off from potential allies. Mrs. Clinton was first to deny this, claiming that confrontation is not the only option when dealing with China and that Washington and Beijing must find a way to cooperate for the benefit of not their own nations, but the entire globe.

Diplomatically speaking, America managed to create some new ties in the region, but its main allies Japan and South Korea refused to engage in deeper military obligation Washington proposed. On the other hand, Vietnam was elevated to the status of strategic partner, according to Mrs. Clinton, a move that caused some friction with Beijing. She also managed to draw junta in Myanmar into negotiations, which was universally hailed as a positive move. Relationship with another important America ally, the Philippines, took a nose dive with the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, who threaten to expel US forces from his country.

The most important part of Asia Pivot was military redeployment and strengthening of American military assets in the region. The naval presence was increased by one carrier, seven destroyers, ten littoral combat ships, and two submarines. Additionally, the region would gain priority in the procurement of the new fifth-generation fighters, for both allies and American forces. In total, some 60% of US Navy would be deployed in Pacific, a 10% increase from earlier.

Asia Pivot strategy received mixed comments. Some argued that it was a move long overdue, like Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia at the time. He said that “without such a move, there was a danger that China, with its hard-line, realist view of international relations, would conclude that an economically exhausted United States was losing its staying power in the Pacific.”

Others weren’t so positive towards Obama’s policy. Robert S. Ross, an Associate at the John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, suggested that such policy only “unnecessarily compounds Beijing’s insecurities and will only feed China’s aggressiveness, undermine regional stability, and decrease the possibility of cooperation between Beijing and Washington.”

The Chinese were also less than thrilled with the whole concept. Former President Hu Jintao said: “[The United States has] strengthened its military deployments in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthened the US-Japan military alliance, strengthened strategic cooperation with India, improved relations with Vietnam, inveigled Pakistan, established a pro-American government in Afghanistan, increased arms sales to Taiwan, and so on. They have extended outposts and placed pressure points on us from the east, south, and west.”

While Mr. Trump’s policy on Asia is still largely unknown, the current steps indicate that confrontation with China remains his first option.

Americans imprisoned by North Korea to be set free


As the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un approaches, Pyongyang seemed determined to create some goodwill in advance and has decided to release three Americans who have been imprisoned in North Korea.

The news was broken by Rudy Giuliani while attending Fox and Friends show on Fox. Mr. Giuliani is currently serving as President Trump’s legal aid. Mr. Trump also took an opportunity to make an announcement on Twitter.

“As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail,” he said, despite the fact that two out of three detainees have been arrested in 2017 after he took over from Obama. Perhaps the Robert Mueller investigation has caused Mr. President to confuse dates.

The State Department refused to confirm Mr. Giuliani’s statement, only saying that it is “working to see US citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible.” It is unclear from where Mr. Giuliani got his information.

Kim Hak-song

Kim Hak-song is the most recent American prisoner in North Korea. He was working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) when he was arrested on May 6th, 2017, on the charges of “hostile acts.” Hak-song is an agricultural expert, running an experimental farm on PUST. The university itself was founded in 2010 by Christian missionaries and is known for having children of North Korea’s elites among its students.

Kim Sang-duk/Tony Kim

Arrested two weeks before Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk was charged with espionage. He also taught on PUST and was leaving the country as he was picked up by Kim Jong Un’s secret police. Some sources say that he wasn’t arrested for his work at the university, but rather for activities he was engaged in outside PUST.

Kim Dong-Chul

Kim Dong-Chul is a pastor, currently serving a 10-year sentence for spying. He was arrested in 2015 and promptly sentenced to hard labor. In a televised confession, Kim Dong-Chul confessed working with South Korea and stealing information for them, something Seoul denied. He has a wife and two daughters, neither of which he has seen since his arrest.