Korea Diary, 29 May 06

A Cold Wind in the North: North Korea has cancelled its visa waiver program for some Chinese visitors, and China has reciprocated. Like every other effort to explain what the North Koreans are up to, it’s speculative. The Joongang Ilbo’s writer speculates that it’s about North Korean fears of excessive Chinese economic influence, which makes sense, whether or not it’s the reason for this move. Another possible explanation — purely speculation and entirely my own — is that North Korea is reacting to increased Chinese pressure over its counterfeiting and proliferation.

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Freedom for the Shenyang Four: America is doing the right thing:

China and the U.S. have reportedly agreed that four North Korean defectors who barged into the U.S. Consulate in Shenyang after making their way into the South Korean legation will be permitted to leave the country. It is understood that the U.S. has decided to give them asylum.

Sources said Thursday’s secret negotiations were favorable to the defectors, adding Washington would accept the group’s request for asylum.

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Exit the Eighth Air Force? Or a portion thereof? That’s reportedly what Don Rumsfeld threatened to do recently over the lack of bombing ranges in Korea.

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Pre-Election Nordpolitik Failed to move the Peace Train to Pyongyang. Now the South Koreans are making noises about withholding some of their aid to the North. The aid consists of “material for the North’s clothing, shoe and soap industries.” and “railroad construction materials.” Unrestricted, unmonitored humanitarian aid will be unaffected.

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If I had known that the Superbowl would have had this kind of effect on South Korea society, I’d have paid more attention (as might more Koreans). Hines Ward is returning to Korea with $1 million to start “Hines Ward Helping Hands Korea.” Maybe an informed reader will let me know if there’s any connection to the Helping Hands Korea that helps North Koreans escape to the South. Meanwhile, South Korea continues to toy with the idea of giving more civil rights to non-Koreans. Just in case you lost track, it’s 2006. With a “2.”

2 Comments

  1. Re: the 8th force exiting? Yet more evidence of the slow death of the US-ROK alliance. Despite the claims of the leadership of both countries, it seems so apparent that conditions for the continuation of the alliance are certainly not improving over time.

    Note: Did anyone see any articles about the North selling its humanitarian fertilizer aid from the South to Thailand? My wife read it in one of the Korean newspapers, but I haven’t been able to find a word in any of the English language papers.

  2. Add his to the curbs on humanitarian NGO activity and the closing of grain markets and we have Kim Jong-il’s recipe for continued death and disaster.

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