Friday, July 16, 2010

Korean Conundra

  • Stephen M. Walt analyses the "diplomatic dispute between the United States and South Korea, arising from South Korea's desire to begin reprocessing some of the spent fuel from its large nuclear power program," noting that "it's hard not to be struck by the basic hypocrisy of the U.S. position, which it shares with other existing nuclear powers" — What's behind the U.S-South Korea nuclear flap.

  • GI Korea argues that "by allowing the South Koreans to reprocess their spent nuclear fuel the US is not only allowing South Korea to solve their spent fuel problem, but also sending a subtle message to the Chinese that the US is allowing the South Koreans to get closer to building nukes themselves if the North Korean threat isn’t reigned in," and posts a poll on the issue — Should the United States Allow South Korea to Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel?

  • Speaking of North Korea, things don't look to good up there, "with doctors sometimes performing amputations without anesthesia and working by candlelight in hospitals lacking essential medicine, heat and power" — North Korea's health system 'on its knees'. (Bill Anderson looks at the "positive" side — Yeah, But They Have “Free” Healthcare).

  • A troubling indication that the "poor harvest and the disastrous revaluation of the North Korean currency in November of last year has worsened the nation's already dire economic straits" — North Korean soldiers defect to China fuelling fears of imminent military clash. "Previously considered to be among the regime's most important assets, the North Korean People's Army has always been well provisioned in order to ensure the troops remain loyal."

  • "North Korea has been distributing a propaganda poster apparently boasting about its sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March" — N.Korean Propaganda Poster Hints at Cheonan Sinking. "The poster shows a North Korean soldier's fist smashing the ship into two pieces, accompanied by a slogan saying, 'We'll take it down with a single blow if it attacks!'"

  • "The United States-South Korean Cheonan initiative has apparently fizzled," suggests Peter Lee, "giving China a chance to shift the geopolitics of Korean policy to its preferred framing" — China turns netizen anger on Seoul. "Beijing apparently benefited from the shaky character of the Cheonan dossier that the Republic of Korea (ROK) forwarded to the UN Security Council."

  • "The United States appears to be cooling on the idea of joining South Korea and independently sanctioning North Korea for its role in the sinking of the Cheonan" reports Kim Yong Hun — North Korean Statement Cools Sanctions Interest. "This has become especially obvious since North Korea indicated its desire to resume the Six-Party Talks" and "it seems that the U.S. is going to postpone the scheduled sanctions measures and observe North Korea’s attitude first."

  • "The U.S. government is apparently debating how to stage joint exercises with South Korea not only this month but all year round as a response to North Korea's torpedo attack on the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March" — U.S. Mulls Year-Round Drills with S.Korea.

  • "Park Han-shik, professor of the University of Georgia, after a visit to North Korea, suggested the country seemed "focused on economic growth, and did not witness concerns about political stability" — N.Korea expert says Kim Jong-un could lead reform in N.Korea. "Kim Jong-un could become a figure like China’s Deng Xiaoping."

  • "The Catholic Church has made it clear that humanitarian aid for the sick and starving should not be politicized but must be carried out regardless of the circumstances," reminds Maryknoller in Korea — How The Catholic Church Sees North Korea.
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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.