Top MHI-NK Stories from around the web:
Satellite image shows ongoing work on N.K.’s second SLBM test barge (Yonhap News) Recent satellite imagery showed ongoing work on North Korea’s second submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test stand barge off its western coast, a U.S. expert said Tuesday. “Commercial satellite imagery from Jan. 6 indicates work on North Korea’s second SLBM test stand barge, berthed at the Nampo Navy Shipyard, is ongoing,” Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., a North Korea military analysis, wrote on the 38 North website.
The North conducted its first SLBM launch in April 2016.
Since November, when the North moved its second SLBM test stand barge to its western port of Nampo, “there is now a small floating crane moored alongside the barge and its boom is extended over it,” Bermudez said.
The purpose of the movement is probably related to the “final stages of repair before declaring the barge operational since both the test stand barge and floating crane are located at the dock there.” But it is unclear when the barge will become operational.
NK berates Moon again over remarks on sanctions (Korea Herald) North Korea on Wednesday harshly condemned South Korean President Moon Jae-in again for his latest remarks on unwavering sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear development, irrespective of inter-Korean dialogue, calling them “stupid and nasty words.” During a New Year press conference on Jan. 10 , Moon expressed thanks to US President Donald Trump, saying that the inter-Korean talks that opened the previous day might have been an effect of US-led international sanctions and pressure on the North for its nuclear development. He also said Seoul will continue to keep pace with pressure and sanctions by the international community until the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved. The minister-level talks were held to discuss the North’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in the South Korean alpine town of PyeongChang.
U.N. chief believes war over North Korea nukes is avoidable (Asahi Shimbun) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he believes war over North Korea’s nuclear weapons is avoidable–but he’s worried and “not yet sure that peace is guaranteed.” “There is a window of opportunity,” he told a news conference. “That window of opportunity will, in my opinion, hopefully, make the war avoidable, but it is important that we don’t miss the opportunities that windows can provide.”Guterres’ comments follow the restoration of a military hotline and North Korea’s first formal talks with South Korea in about two years last week.
North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Feb. 9-25 Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang and hold military talks aimed at reducing frontline animosities. But Pyongyang has insisted its talks with South Korea won’t deal with its nuclear and missile programs, saying those weapons primarily target the United States.
Critics question how long the warmer mood can last without any serious discussion on the North’s nuclear disarmament.Guterres also made clear that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the key issue.”There are some signals of hope,” he said, and it’s extremely important to use them “to make sure that a serious process leading to the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula takes place.”
The secretary-general expressed concern that sometimes “we look at these symbols of goodwill and positive indications and we forget that the main problem is yet to be solved.”So, there is a risk that people think, “Oh now things are solved,” he said.
Sonu Jong from the Chosun Ilbo’s News Desk
N.Korea’s Army of Cheerleaders Needs to Stay at Home (Chosun Ilbo Opinion) The Olympics is a sporting event, not a propaganda platform. “The North Korean cheerleading squad is filled with hand-picked beauties who, aside from their lipstick and smiles, are remembered here for going into hysterics when they saw a picture of their leader hanging from a tree as they were driven through the streets of South Korea…
Continuation of Dual Track Approach (Comparative Connections) In the final months of 2017, South Korea and Japan despite their conflicts over issues of comfort women and Dokdo/Takeshima, converged on economics and North Korea. More than ever, the recent events demonstrate the importance of the triangular relationship of the U.S., South Korea and Japan”.
Trump’s state banquet: comfort women and Dokdo shrimp
While both countries outdid themselves with elaborate receptions, Trump’s Nov. 8 state banquet at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea’s presidential Blue House, became a diplomatic flashpoint between Seoul and Tokyo because President Moon Jae-in’s office put 88-year-old Lee Yong-soo, a Korean victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, on the guest list. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said in a news conference that the invitation breached the spirit of the 2015 comfort women agreement, which aimed to “finally” and “irreversibly” resolve the comfort women issue, and demanded that Seoul faithfully implement the agreement.
Civil society and historical and territorial contentions.
Given the rise of civic activism on historical and territorial issues, it is worth noting how civil society shaped the development of both the comfort women issue and the dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima. This fall, 15 civic groups from eight countries, including South Korea and China, regularly demanded the registration of 2,700 types of documents related to Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of women as a “Memory of the World” listing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Hopes for high-level shuttle diplomacy and the emperor’s visit
Despite contention over historical and territorial issues, both South Korea and Japan regularly expressed hope for the resumption of high-level shuttle diplomacy – annual reciprocal visits by the leaders that were suspended in December 2011 – to enhance bilateral ties.
Future-oriented cooperation: economy and social issues
Two areas where South Korea and Japan did make progress were in the economy and North Korea. For instance, on Sept. 13, the heads of the central banks of South Korea, Japan, and China held their annual meeting in Songdo, South Korea and exchanged views on economic and financial developments in the three countries.South Korea and Japan discussed cooperation on social issues that both countries face, such as a low birth rate, rapidly aging population, and a fluctuating job market that could influence long-term economic development of both countries.
Cooperation on North Korea: good and bad
Cooperation between Japan and South Korea over North Korean provocations and its nuclear program increased dramatically over the past year. It would be ironic if shared concerns over North Korea prompt them to cooperate on military and security matters – after years of stalling or dissembling.
The months ahead
As promised, the Moon administration issued an assessment of the 2015 comfort women agreement. On Dec. 27, Oh Tae-gyu, the head of a task force examining the issue, said the group concluded that “A victim-oriented approach, which has been accepted as a norm of the international community for human rights of wartime women, has not been fully reflected (in the deal).” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that the government accepts the review of the task force “in a serious and humble manner.”