Showing posts tagged as "north korea"

Showing posts tagged north korea

16 Sep
Despite warnings, more Western tourists are traveling to North Korea | STEVEN BOROWIEC
It’s the kind of publicity that would seemingly scare off sightseers: A trio of U.S. citizens detained in North Korea pleading for help last week in brief, rarely granted media interviews.
Yet even as the ordeal for the men, who had gone to the reclusive communist outpost with tour groups, drags on — and as the U.S. strongly warns Americans against visiting — North Korea is making a push for more Western tourists.
And more are visiting.
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)
Photo: Robert/Flickr

Despite warnings, more Western tourists are traveling to North Korea | STEVEN BOROWIEC

It’s the kind of publicity that would seemingly scare off sightseers: A trio of U.S. citizens detained in North Korea pleading for help last week in brief, rarely granted media interviews.

Yet even as the ordeal for the men, who had gone to the reclusive communist outpost with tour groups, drags on — and as the U.S. strongly warns Americans against visiting — North Korea is making a push for more Western tourists.

And more are visiting.

FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)

Photo: Robert/Flickr

7 Aug
Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea
Seoul/Brussels  |   5 Aug 2014
In the shadow of growing North Korean threats, South Korea needs to reform its intelligence apparatus to restore public confidence while enhancing the country’s intelligence capacity.
A series of intelligence scandals has plagued South Korea since the fall of 2012, exposing the risk of intelligence failure, the politicisation of intelligence and direct intervention by intelligence agencies in domestic politics. In its latest report, Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea, the International Crisis Group examines measures needed to reduce those vulnerabilities and explains why failure or manipulation of intelligence in South Korea could have serious consequences for security on the peninsula and beyond.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
With both Koreas ramping up their military capabilities, sound intelligence is crucial to manage tensions and reduce the risk of conflict, or to respond effectively if a crisis erupts. Should intelligence failure lead to military conflict, the costs would be enormous. Due to South Korea’s defence treaty with the U.S., it would trigger immediate U.S. involvement. A similar treaty between North Korea and China could elicit Chinese military intervention. Moreover, sound intelligence is needed for non-conflict scenarios, such as the North’s collapse or a humanitarian crisis.
Four broad reforms, independently identified by the main opposition party and the former National Intelligence Service (NIS) director, need to be implemented: 1) ending the embedding of NIS officers in South Korean institutions such as political parties, the legislature, ministries and media firms; 2) establishing greater oversight to ensure intelligence officers obey the law; 3) providing greater protection for whistle-blowers; and 4) restricting cyberspace operations to North Korean entities and not South Korean citizens or institutions.
These should be complemented by institutional reforms. Criminal investigation powers held by the NIS should be transferred to the Supreme Prosecutors Office. NIS directors should receive confirmation from the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee following presidential nomination. Consideration could be given to forming special courts to handle sensitive national security cases while ensuring appropriate respect for due process.
“South Korea’s ability to use tactical intelligence will be vitally important during a crisis or escalation. But it is no less important for other scenarios,” says Daniel Pinkston, Deputy North East Asia Project Director. “In case of a North Korean state collapse and a sudden unification, Seoul would have to make quick decisions to prevent a rapid deterioration of the situation”.
FULL REPORT

Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea

Seoul/Brussels  |   5 Aug 2014

In the shadow of growing North Korean threats, South Korea needs to reform its intelligence apparatus to restore public confidence while enhancing the country’s intelligence capacity.

A series of intelligence scandals has plagued South Korea since the fall of 2012, exposing the risk of intelligence failure, the politicisation of intelligence and direct intervention by intelligence agencies in domestic politics. In its latest report, Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea, the International Crisis Group examines measures needed to reduce those vulnerabilities and explains why failure or manipulation of intelligence in South Korea could have serious consequences for security on the peninsula and beyond.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • With both Koreas ramping up their military capabilities, sound intelligence is crucial to manage tensions and reduce the risk of conflict, or to respond effectively if a crisis erupts. Should intelligence failure lead to military conflict, the costs would be enormous. Due to South Korea’s defence treaty with the U.S., it would trigger immediate U.S. involvement. A similar treaty between North Korea and China could elicit Chinese military intervention. Moreover, sound intelligence is needed for non-conflict scenarios, such as the North’s collapse or a humanitarian crisis.
  • Four broad reforms, independently identified by the main opposition party and the former National Intelligence Service (NIS) director, need to be implemented: 1) ending the embedding of NIS officers in South Korean institutions such as political parties, the legislature, ministries and media firms; 2) establishing greater oversight to ensure intelligence officers obey the law; 3) providing greater protection for whistle-blowers; and 4) restricting cyberspace operations to North Korean entities and not South Korean citizens or institutions.
  • These should be complemented by institutional reforms. Criminal investigation powers held by the NIS should be transferred to the Supreme Prosecutors Office. NIS directors should receive confirmation from the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee following presidential nomination. Consideration could be given to forming special courts to handle sensitive national security cases while ensuring appropriate respect for due process.

“South Korea’s ability to use tactical intelligence will be vitally important during a crisis or escalation. But it is no less important for other scenarios,” says Daniel Pinkston, Deputy North East Asia Project Director. “In case of a North Korean state collapse and a sudden unification, Seoul would have to make quick decisions to prevent a rapid deterioration of the situation”.

FULL REPORT

29 Jul
No Such Thing as a Free Ride? ROK Missile Defence, Regional Missile Defence and OPCON Transfer | Daniel Pinkston
Daniel Pinkston is Crisis Group’s North East Asia Project Deputy Director.
In a previous post, we examined South Korean intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities as they relate to larger alliance dynamics and the issue of the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) military and wartime operational control (OPCON). South Korea also seeks to improve its missile defense (MD) capabilities. While ISR and MD are interrelated, the latter presents its own distinct set of regional and alliance-based issues.
"The U.S. has been keen to deploy more MD assets to the region given North Korea’s apparent determination to increase the quality, quantity and ranges of its missiles."
On 3 June, General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), recommended the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles to South Korea. These were the first public remarks by the U.S. military regarding such a deployment, following previous reports of U.S. defence officials stating that it was being considered. The THAAD system reportedly would serve as a more advanced missile-defense system to counter North Korean missile capabilities, which were most recently demonstrated by flight tests of the road-mobile Rodong missile, with a range of more than 1,000km.
While Washington has made no formal proposal to deploy THAAD to the ROK, the U.S. has begun an initial review and carried out site surveys of possible locations. The potential deployment of such a system highlights several ongoing issues that are both technical and highly political in nature. These include upgrading MD capabilities in response to an evolving North Korean threat; the potential expansion of the U.S.-led regional missile defence system, which is part of the U.S. rebalancing strategy in the region; and the ROK’s efforts to upgrade its own MD capabilities while simultaneously balancing its longstanding alliance with the U.S. and its deepening economic and political ties with China.
FULL ARTICLE (In Pursuit of Peace)
Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

No Such Thing as a Free Ride? ROK Missile Defence, Regional Missile Defence and OPCON Transfer | Daniel Pinkston

Daniel Pinkston is Crisis Group’s North East Asia Project Deputy Director.

In a previous post, we examined South Korean intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities as they relate to larger alliance dynamics and the issue of the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) military and wartime operational control (OPCON). South Korea also seeks to improve its missile defense (MD) capabilities. While ISR and MD are interrelated, the latter presents its own distinct set of regional and alliance-based issues.

"The U.S. has been keen to deploy more MD assets to the region given North Korea’s apparent determination to increase the quality, quantity and ranges of its missiles."

On 3 June, General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), recommended the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles to South Korea. These were the first public remarks by the U.S. military regarding such a deployment, following previous reports of U.S. defence officials stating that it was being considered. The THAAD system reportedly would serve as a more advanced missile-defense system to counter North Korean missile capabilities, which were most recently demonstrated by flight tests of the road-mobile Rodong missile, with a range of more than 1,000km.

While Washington has made no formal proposal to deploy THAAD to the ROK, the U.S. has begun an initial review and carried out site surveys of possible locations. The potential deployment of such a system highlights several ongoing issues that are both technical and highly political in nature. These include upgrading MD capabilities in response to an evolving North Korean threat; the potential expansion of the U.S.-led regional missile defence system, which is part of the U.S. rebalancing strategy in the region; and the ROK’s efforts to upgrade its own MD capabilities while simultaneously balancing its longstanding alliance with the U.S. and its deepening economic and political ties with China.

FULL ARTICLE (In Pursuit of Peace)

Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

1 Jul
A turbulent triangle: Beijing, Seoul, and Pyongyang | Matthias von Hein
Beijing’s relations to North and South Korea are a clear example that theory does not necessarily go hand in hand with practice. In theory, North Korea is supposed to be China’s closest ally. Over 50 years ago, both countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, thus committing themselves to defending one another in the case of conflict.
But in practice, China has had a troublesome relationship with its wayward “little brother,” especially after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test in February, despite Beijing urging it not to.
Since Kim Jong Un assumed power at the end of 2011, no foreign leader has so far visited North Korea
This prompted China to vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s actions and imposing sanctions against its regime. Pyongyang’s execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek - who was China’s most important contact among the North’s ruling elite - has further strained the relationship.
This development stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s relations to South Korea, which normalized in 1992. In a little more than two decades, South Korea has become China’s third-largest trading partner. One fourth of Seoul’s exports go to China, making it the country’s biggest trading partner. While bilateral trade stands at around 230 billion USD, South Korea currently enjoys a hefty trade surplus of some 60 billion USD.
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: Korea.net/flickr

A turbulent triangle: Beijing, Seoul, and Pyongyang | Matthias von Hein

Beijing’s relations to North and South Korea are a clear example that theory does not necessarily go hand in hand with practice. In theory, North Korea is supposed to be China’s closest ally. Over 50 years ago, both countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, thus committing themselves to defending one another in the case of conflict.

But in practice, China has had a troublesome relationship with its wayward “little brother,” especially after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test in February, despite Beijing urging it not to.

Since Kim Jong Un assumed power at the end of 2011, no foreign leader has so far visited North Korea

This prompted China to vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s actions and imposing sanctions against its regime. Pyongyang’s execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek - who was China’s most important contact among the North’s ruling elite - has further strained the relationship.

This development stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s relations to South Korea, which normalized in 1992. In a little more than two decades, South Korea has become China’s third-largest trading partner. One fourth of Seoul’s exports go to China, making it the country’s biggest trading partner. While bilateral trade stands at around 230 billion USD, South Korea currently enjoys a hefty trade surplus of some 60 billion USD.

FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: Korea.net/flickr

4 Jun
Putin looks east to bolster ties with North Korea | Eric Talmadge
Angry with the West’s response over Ukraine and eager to diversify its options, Russia is moving rapidly to bolster ties with North Korea in a diplomatic nose-thumbing that could complicate the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons program.
Russia’s proactive strategy in Asia, which also involves cozying up to China and has been dubbed “Putin’s Pivot,” began years ago as Moscow’s answer to Washington’s much-touted alliance-building and rebalancing of its military forces in the Pacific. But it has gained a new sense of urgency since the unrest in Ukraine — and Pyongyang is already getting a big windfall with high-level political exchanges and promises from Russia of trade and development projects.
Moscow’s overtures to North Korea reflect both a defensive distancing from the EU and Washington because of their sanctions over Ukraine and a broader, long-term effort by Russia to strengthen its hand in Asia by building political alliances, expanding energy exports and developing Russian regions in Siberia and the Far East.
FULL ARTICLE (Associated Press)
Photo: Russland und Ukraine/flickr

Putin looks east to bolster ties with North Korea | Eric Talmadge

Angry with the West’s response over Ukraine and eager to diversify its options, Russia is moving rapidly to bolster ties with North Korea in a diplomatic nose-thumbing that could complicate the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons program.

Russia’s proactive strategy in Asia, which also involves cozying up to China and has been dubbed “Putin’s Pivot,” began years ago as Moscow’s answer to Washington’s much-touted alliance-building and rebalancing of its military forces in the Pacific. But it has gained a new sense of urgency since the unrest in Ukraine — and Pyongyang is already getting a big windfall with high-level political exchanges and promises from Russia of trade and development projects.

Moscow’s overtures to North Korea reflect both a defensive distancing from the EU and Washington because of their sanctions over Ukraine and a broader, long-term effort by Russia to strengthen its hand in Asia by building political alliances, expanding energy exports and developing Russian regions in Siberia and the Far East.

FULL ARTICLE (Associated Press)

Photo: Russland und Ukraine/flickr

22 Apr
South Korea: North Believed to be Preparing for 4th Nuclear Test | Steve Herman
Speculation is growing that North Korea is planning to conduct an underground nuclear test to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the peninsula this week.
South Korea’s foreign minister is warning the North not to carry out a fourth nuclear test. Speaking at an international forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se remarked: “If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test as it has publicly warned, it will be a game changer.” 
Daniel Pinkston, the Northeast Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, said Pyongyang is unlikely to worry about the South’s reaction.
“They’ve demonstrated a long dedication, persistence and resolve to dedicate a lot of resources over a long period of time. They’ve been able to bear the international pressure and sanctions and everything else. So I think it’s a clear indication that the nuclear program is very important to the leadership and so I don’t expect them to stop or reverse course,” said Pinkston.
FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)
Photo: John Pavelka/flickr

South Korea: North Believed to be Preparing for 4th Nuclear Test | Steve Herman

Speculation is growing that North Korea is planning to conduct an underground nuclear test to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the peninsula this week.

South Korea’s foreign minister is warning the North not to carry out a fourth nuclear test. Speaking at an international forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se remarked: “If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test as it has publicly warned, it will be a game changer.” 

Daniel Pinkston, the Northeast Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, said Pyongyang is unlikely to worry about the South’s reaction.

“They’ve demonstrated a long dedication, persistence and resolve to dedicate a lot of resources over a long period of time. They’ve been able to bear the international pressure and sanctions and everything else. So I think it’s a clear indication that the nuclear program is very important to the leadership and so I don’t expect them to stop or reverse course,” said Pinkston.

FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

Photo: John Pavelka/flickr

South Korea: North Believed to be Preparing for 4th Nuclear Test | Steve Herman
Speculation is growing that North Korea is planning to conduct an underground nuclear test to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the peninsula this week.
South Korea’s foreign minister is warning the North not to carry out a fourth nuclear test. Speaking at an international forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se remarked: “If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test as it has publicly warned, it will be a game changer.”
 FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)
 Photo: Emmanuel Dyan/Flickr

South Korea: North Believed to be Preparing for 4th Nuclear Test | Steve Herman

Speculation is growing that North Korea is planning to conduct an underground nuclear test to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the peninsula this week.

South Korea’s foreign minister is warning the North not to carry out a fourth nuclear test. Speaking at an international forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se remarked: “If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test as it has publicly warned, it will be a game changer.”

 FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

 Photo: Emmanuel Dyan/Flickr

11 Apr
Out of the blue | S.C.S.
FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)
Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr

Out of the blue | S.C.S.

FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr

7 Apr
South Korea finds images of presidential residence on Kim Jong-un’s drones | Julian Ryall
Two North Korean drones that crashed in South Korea had taken hundreds of aerial photos of military installations as well as the official residence of President Park Guen-hye, authorities in Seoul have revealed.
Presidential security has been stepped up after one of the unmanned aerial vehicles, which crashed near the town of Paju last week, was found to contain images of the Blue House, the target of a 1968 assassination attempt by Pyongyang against the then South Korean leader.
Another, which crash-landed on Baeknyeong Island, off the west coast of the Korean peninsula on Monday, had photographed the defences on the island and the neighbouring islands of Socheong and Daecheong.
FULL ARTICLE (The Telegraph)
Photo: toughkidcst/flickr

South Korea finds images of presidential residence on Kim Jong-un’s drones | Julian Ryall

Two North Korean drones that crashed in South Korea had taken hundreds of aerial photos of military installations as well as the official residence of President Park Guen-hye, authorities in Seoul have revealed.

Presidential security has been stepped up after one of the unmanned aerial vehicles, which crashed near the town of Paju last week, was found to contain images of the Blue House, the target of a 1968 assassination attempt by Pyongyang against the then South Korean leader.

Another, which crash-landed on Baeknyeong Island, off the west coast of the Korean peninsula on Monday, had photographed the defences on the island and the neighbouring islands of Socheong and Daecheong.

FULL ARTICLE (The Telegraph)

Photo: toughkidcst/flickr

31 Mar
North Korea declares no-sail warning off coast to conduct firing drills | Jack Kim and James Pearson
North Korea declared a no-sail warning on Monday for areas off its west coast near a disputed border with South Korea and has notified the South that it will conduct firing drills, a South Korean government official said.
The area is near the so-called Northern Limit Line, drawn up at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which the North has refused to recognize. Past clashes between the two navies in the area killed scores of sailors on both sides.
The warning comes amid heightened tensions surrounding the North after the U.N. Security Council condemned Pyongyang for its mid-range missile launches last week, just as the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the United States met to discuss the North’s arms program.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: expertinfantry/flickr

North Korea declares no-sail warning off coast to conduct firing drills | Jack Kim and James Pearson

North Korea declared a no-sail warning on Monday for areas off its west coast near a disputed border with South Korea and has notified the South that it will conduct firing drills, a South Korean government official said.

The area is near the so-called Northern Limit Line, drawn up at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which the North has refused to recognize. Past clashes between the two navies in the area killed scores of sailors on both sides.

The warning comes amid heightened tensions surrounding the North after the U.N. Security Council condemned Pyongyang for its mid-range missile launches last week, just as the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the United States met to discuss the North’s arms program.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: expertinfantry/flickr