We should be very worried about Moon Jae-in (updated)

Is South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, forming a cabinet or a politburo? As I’ve written here, there has long been good reason to be worried. Moon has a long association with Minbyun, the hard-left lawyers’ group that is acting as Pyongyang’s law firm in South Korea by using the courts to wage lawfare against refugees, in violation of their human rights. He was chairman of the campaign of Roh Moo-hyun, the “anti-American” and “a little crazy” president who rode to power on the shoulders of a violent mob that attacked, spat on, and threw firebombs at American soldiers. As Roh’s Chief of Staff, Moon decided to seek Pyongyang’s input before abstaining from a U.N. resolution denouncing severe human rights abuses against its people, and then lied about it.

The most alarming development of all may be Moon’s choice of Im Jeong-seok as his Chief of Staff. Im was jailed for three-and-a-half years for accompanying organizing the illegal 1989 visit to Pyongyang that made Lim Soo-kyung a North Korean propaganda star. (Lim is now a lawmaker in Moon’s party. I previously discussed her drunken 2012 tirade against North Korean defectors and human rights activists. A previous version of this post, since corrected, said that Im had gone to Pyongyang with Lim.)

Via Benjamin Young, we also learn that Im was “involved with a Juche Study Group during the 1980s.” After I retweeted this, Oranckay, who was a student in South Korea at the time and thus almost necessarily a close observer of left-wing political groups, responded that Im had also headed a radical student group called Chondaehyop. Researching this group further, Chondaehyop turns out to have adhered to the pro-North Korean “national liberation” ideology, and had a violent history:

[link]

Chondaehyop was involved in a series of arson and vandalism attacks against Hyundai showrooms in 1989 during a strike by Hyundai shipyard workers. On June 12, 1990, 300 members of Chondaehyop staged a firebombing attack on the Kwangju American Cultural Center, which damaged a police station and injured four officers. Then, on October 18th, eleven members of Chondaehyop were arrested for attempting to firebomb the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and planting IEDs on the roof of the Consular Annex (all of the IEDs failed to explode).

After Chondaehyop was banned, it reemerged under the name Hanchongryon, under which name it was active in leading violent anti-American demonstrations during my tour in Korea. Even during the democratically elected Kim Young-sam administration, the prosecution accused Hanchongryon of being under the control of North Korea’s United Front Department, the agency responsible for overseeing the manipulation of public opinion in South Korea.

To be fair, Oranckay did not observe Chondaehyop engaging in violence at the time Im led it, but not much time could have separated Im’s leadership from its occurrence.

Then, there is the worrisome fact that Moon Jae-in gave one of his first post-inauguration interviews to Tim Shorrock, a pro-North Korean hack (he calls himself a “journalist”) with a long career of denialism of Pyongyang’s crimes going back to the 1983 Rangoon bombing, and its crimes against humanity.

More recently, Mr. Shorrock has been spreading unsubstantiated anti-American agitprop, which I can’t ask him to substantiate because he blocked me on Twitter months ago.

Shorrock is also really, really angry at Bernie Sanders for being too critical of North Korea.

Now, when you call someone a Marxist, you’re apt to be called a McCarthyist, so instead, I’ll just link to, say, this post where Mr. Shorrock wrote, “I’m a Marxist.” Or, I’ll announce that I have in my hand a list of Mr. Shorrock’s tweets, to give you a better idea of his political views. Draw your own conclusions. (Sorry for the image quality. As mentioned, Mr. Shorrock blocked me several months ago, but a couple of readers sent me screenshots from his feed. I didn’t know then they’d come in handy later.)

And here’s Shorrock defending Roh Kil-nam (who I discussed here).

I believe the specific reason why Mr. Shorrock blocked me, incidentally, was that I repeatedly tried to get him to state whether he still demanded that the South Korean government release Lee Seok-ki, a hard-left ex-lawmaker who was recorded plotting violent attacks against critical infrastructure in South Korea in support of a North Korean invasion, even after Mr. Lee was convicted of treason and sent to prison and his conviction was affirmed by an appeals court.

In conclusion, a bigger dirigible bag of combustible gas has not been seen in America since May 6, 1937, over Lakehurst, New Jersey. And like Mr. Shorrock, this predecessor was a propaganda banner for a fascist state that sent children to die in concentration camps — only Shorrock is either too blind or too stupid to distinguish between Marxism and hereditary rule by an organized crime family that has created a society of permanent classes, propagates vile racism, enforces racial purity with infanticide, anointed its ruling family as gods, and created arguably the world’s greatest gap between rich and poor. That President Moon granted an interview to Mr. Shorrock should alarm us for the same reason it alarmed us when Donald Trump gave an interview to Alex Jones.

As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Personnel is policy. You judge a man by the company he keeps. Pick your own expression. The clear message Mr. Moon is sending to Pyongyang is, “I’ve chosen sides, but for now, there are some understandable political constraints.” You might choose to assume that Moon and Im have moderated with age. You might cite any number of Moon’s statements during the campaign to take comfort from the moderate views he expresses now. Most politicians, after all, are highly sensitive to what views they can express without losing votes.

But this collection of circumstantial evidence of Moon’s origins and associations suggests the more alarming — and equally plausible — explanation that Moon and those closest to him cannot be trusted with the most sensitive U.S. intelligence about our contingency plans, and that their unreconstructed views are merely latent for the time being. It’s time to be very worried about Moon Jae-in.

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Update: Veteran journalist Bradley K. Martin’s detailed Asia Times story about Im Jeong-seok is an absolute must-read:

There seems to be little surprise in Seoul about the appointment of Im, who’s now 51. After all, Moon is a former militant anti-government activist. Later, he was a close supporter of two earlier presidents’ decade-long pursuit of the “Sunshine” policy of making nice to the North in the hope the two could negotiate their differences.

Moon has since his election sought to downplay his differences with US policy toward North Korea. So the suggestion that Im’s appointment sounds like an appalling development is left to just a few observers.

Read the rest on your own. Those zany right-wing conspiracy theories about a quiet coup in South Korea suddenly aren’t sounding all that zany at all. “Appalling” is right.

9 Comments

  1. “Moon and those closest to him cannot be trusted with the most sensitive U.S. intelligence about our contingency plans.”

    The “Death of an Alliance,” for which you have posted (over the years) a medical chart in installments, seems irreversible now. It’s all over but the shouting.




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  2. While I wouldn’t refute the distastefulness of such characters as top members of the administration, isn’t the politburo defined as a sub committee of a larger socialist governance structure?

    Though credit where credit is due, these characters do seem to be very inclined towards stereotypical socialist revolutionary tendencies.




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  3. If people like me were “worried” about Moon before he got elected, we are now starting to get pissed off that he is challenging our intelligence with his moderated talks backed by asinine actions that show his true colors.

    If it weren’t for my unconditional love for my mother country, I would say “let Moon fuck things up, as he is sure to do here and let him and his cronies suffer…..”

    The two idiots (Shorrock and Roh) should spend a nice long day together in Kuala Lumpur where they can get a first taste of what happens to people/countries that had already adopted Moon’s “Sunshine 2.0” policies and got bitten in the ass.




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  4. Unless one is a Korea watcher, no one is picking up on story. Everyone assumes ROK is true and steady. AP or Reuters is covering the raw basics. (Text book law, peace overtures) China even seems to be distracted with their silk road project (even though Venezuela will default on its loan repayment schedule). No one seems yet to be exploiting this weakness




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  5. I clicked the link to T.Shorrock and it led to “The Nation.” It is a perfect fit; this is the same magazine that in 1983 devoted several pages to Seymour Hersh, another alleged “journalist”, “proving” that Korean Airlines Flight 007 was part of a CIA plot to gather intelligence on Russian weapon systems (I think the article was an excerpt from his book, “Shootdown”).




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  6. I just read Mr. Martin’s story. While I enjoyed reading the same, there is nothing new or anything that I already didn’t know…

    I would like the Asia times to follow up and ask the new Chief of Staff Mr.Im a one question: “Are you ready to set up another office and a second home in Pyongyang with your entire family (including your extended family) to pursue your ideals?”

    In light of his experience, Im can allow those friendly South Koreans to freely travel to Pyongyang (and outside of Pyongyang if you truly dare) and see for themselves why DPRK is considered one of the most backward countries in the entire universe…

    We shall see how many of those takers decides to stay after about a month.




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  7. “”If you are a country that is supplying or supporting North Korea, we will call you out on it. We will make sure everyone knows who you are and we will target those sanctions towards you as well.”
    – Nikki Haley- http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2017/05/17/0401000000AEN20170517000400315.html?input=www.twitter.com

    Good! Now tell your boss Trump to start with that country called China. And then pay close attention to a country led by a guy named Moon Jae In.




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  8. There has been no indication yet of any volcano-like eruption of venomous rage from Shorrock in response to your post, which is
    highly uncharacteristic of him. Remember, he has savaged those
    of his fellow Marxists who have said anything slightly critical of
    the North. I suspect that he either has not yet seen your post, or
    he is suffering in silent anger because he fears that if he responds
    in his usual over-the-top manner, then mainstream media in ROK
    may take notice, and he is intent on hiding his true views from the
    Korean public.




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  9. This article conflates a lot of things without understanding. Most important is how the US supported the dictatorships in South Korea and American involvement in the Gwangju Uprising. You might want to study SK-US history before you sound off.




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