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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 20997 times)
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« Reply #100 on: May 05, 2014, 03:45:26 PM »
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 04:02:45 PM by G M » Logged
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Posts: 4702

« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2014, 07:47:54 PM »

Is Korea up to it's old tricks or does this mean something with regard to power shift in N Korea?

*****The Koreas
Till Kimdom come
An unusual visit to South Korea by a powerful Northern trio raises plenty of questions
Oct 11th 2014 | SEOUL | From the print edition Timekeeper CloseSave this article
THE surprise at the Asian games, in the South Korean city of Incheon, did not come on the track. Rather it was when three of North Korea’s most powerful men suddenly appeared on October 4th, the day of the games’ closing ceremony.

The seniority of the men visiting South Korea was unprecedented. Though it was at least the third trip south for Kim Yang Gon, North Korea’s point-man on relations with the South, it was the first for Choe Ryong Hae, thought to be the closest aide of the young dictator, Kim Jong Un—until watchers believed he had been purged in May. Most surprising, however, was Hwang Pyong So, head of the political bureau of the Korean People’s Army and probably the North’s second-in-command.

The trio dropped in with only a day’s notice and had, it appears, no particular message. Still, they were warmly welcomed by the South’s unification minister for lunch and tea; Mr Hwang in turn conveyed Mr Kim’s “heartfelt greetings” to President Park Geun-hye. They also met Ms Park’s national security adviser, Kim Kwan-jin, and the prime minister, Chung Hong-won. After months of refusals, the North agreed to a new round of talks soon.

On the face of things, it marks a transformation of the lousy North-South relations since Ms Park took office last year. North Korea has fired a score of rockets into seas around the Korean peninsula this year. A relentless propaganda offensive has taken aim at Ms Park. Now, North Korea may want to patch up with the South as its relations with China sour. Remarkably, the Chinese media made no mention this week of the 65th anniversary of the two countries’ ties; North Korean mouthpieces returned the compliment. But money usually counts for much with the North. It may be keen to see South Korean trade sanctions eased and to restart hard-currency tours to Mount Kumgang, a resort shut off since 2008, when a soldier shot dead a South Korean tourist.

High-level officials from the North have not come south since the funeral of a former president, Kim Dae-jung, in 2009. Indeed, no one as senior as Mr Hwang has ever visited South Korea before, says Michael Madden, who runs “North Korea Leadership Watch”, a blog. Mr Hwang arrived in full military garb and on Mr Kim’s personal plane. Sending its heavyweights for snaps with foreign officials makes North Korea look “more like a sovereign state, less like a gangster fiefdom”, says Robert Kelly of Pusan National University. North Korea is burnishing its image elsewhere, too. Last month its foreign minister attended the UN’s General Assembly, for the first time since 1999, and in Europe a senior diplomat even met the EU’s top human-rights official.

All this has rumbled on while the young Mr Kim has been out of view. He was last seen on September 3rd, attending a concert with his wife. Mr Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, would disappear for months. But his son has been much more visible, and this is his longest absence yet. He even skipped a set-piece meeting of the North’s parliament.

Mr Kim, who may be 31, is fat, drinks heavily and smokes even in front of the cameras. In July he was seen limping. Gout and an ankle injury are thought to be reasons for his “discomfort” announced by state media last month—possibly the first-ever acknowledgment of problems with a North Korean leader’s health.

Now Mr Hwang’s sudden appearance in the South has some wondering who wields ultimate power in the North. Mr Hwang has been promoted five times this year, an “unprecedented, almost scary” rise, says Mr Madden. He gained his most senior title yet, that of vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission—the North’s top executive body, headed by Mr Kim—at the very gathering from which Mr Kim was absent.

Mr Hwang is also an official of the Organisation and Guidance Department (OGD), seen by some as a party within the party and established by Kim Jong Il to keep rivals and relatives in check. It has the power to appoint and dismiss all party members. Jang Jin-sung, a former propaganda official for Kim Jong Il who fled the North in 2004, thinks there has been a power grab. Mr Hwang arrived in Incheon flanked by two bodyguards: a move that Mr Jang sees as lèse-majesté, for hitherto only the supreme leader could ever be seen to be guarded. The trio looked in control, “not like anyone’s delegation”, says Aidan Foster-Carter, an analyst of North Korea at Leeds University. They also stinted in public on flattering the Young Leader; and rather than bridle at questions about his ill health, they denied any problem.

Few besides Mr Jang support the theory of a coup, however. Had the Kim family been overthrown, there would presumably have been troop movements, particularly in sensitive border areas. And, despite strained ties, the top brass would surely first turn to China for reassurance, says Hahm Chai-bong of the Asan Institute, a South Korean think-tank. Still, the tantalising possibility arises of Mr Kim being at the centre of a cult, but not the centre of power.

As soon as the trio had returned home, calls grew in South Korea for a response to their unusual gesture. For the first time, members of the ruling conservative party asked to lift trade sanctions introduced in 2010 after a South Korean corvette was torpedoed, killing 46. Yet just three days after the visit, North and South Korean ships exchanged fire when a Northern patrol boat crossed a disputed maritime boundary. The North can surprise. But it can also be wearyingly predictable.

From the print edition: Asia

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Posts: 4702

« Reply #102 on: October 29, 2014, 07:35:27 AM »

Mystery Of Kim Jong Un's Disappearance May Be Solved
Posted:  10/28/2014 8:14 am EDT    Updated:  10/28/2014 10:59 pm EDT   
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's spy agency believes it has solved the mystery of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's 6-week public absence that set off a frenzy of global speculation, a lawmaker who attended the agency's closed-door briefing said Wednesday.

The National Intelligence Service told legislators Tuesday that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his left ankle, lawmaker Shin Kyung-min said. He said the spy agency also told lawmakers that the cyst could recur because of Kim's obesity, smoking and heavy public schedule.

After last being seen in state media on Sept. 3, Kim reappeared on Oct. 14 hobbling with a cane, but smiling and looking thinner. The speculation during his absence was particularly intense because of the Kim family's importance to the country locked in a long-running international standoff over its nuclear and missile programs. The family has ruled the nation since its founding in 1948.

Shin said the spy agency identified Kim's condition as tarsal tunnel syndrome, an often painful condition that is caused by the compression of a nerve, sometimes because of a cyst. Surgery is generally seen as a last resort after other treatments are unsuccessful.

No weight should be put on the foot for 10 days after an operation, and an improvement in symptoms may take two to three months, according to the website of the NYU Langone Medical Center's Department of Neurosurgery.

It wasn't immediately clear how the information about Kim's condition was obtained by the spy agency, which has a spotty track record of analyzing developments in opaque North Korea.

The agency also told the lawmakers that North Korea has expanded one of its five political prisoner camps in the country. The agency said it believes authorities are relocating inmates held in the Yodok camp, northeast of Pyongyang, to the expanded camp in the northeastern town of Kilju, according to Shin's office.

Shin said the agency also believes that North Korea recently used a firing squad to execute several people who had been close to Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was considered the country's No. 2 power before his sudden purge and execution in December 2013.

In an intelligence success, South Korea's spy agency correctly said that Jang had likely been dismissed from his posts before North Korea officially announced his arrest.

However, it received heavy criticism when its director acknowledged that it had ignored intelligence indicating North Korea's impending shelling of a South Korean island in 2010. It also came under fire because of reports that it only learned of the 2011 death of then leader Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, more than two days after it occurred when state media announced it to the world.


Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report
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« Reply #103 on: October 29, 2014, 09:47:15 AM »

I wondered what ankle injury could take a leader out for 6 weeks.  Maybe they flew him to the best in the world, in Cuba, where Hugo Chavez was treated.

"the agency also believes that North Korea recently used a firing squad to execute several people who had been close to Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was considered the country's No. 2 power before his sudden purge and execution in December 2013."

And Joe Biden thinks he gets rough treatment. 

I wouldn't want to be the doctor who tells Dear Leader he's overweight and smokes too much.
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Posts: 35067

« Reply #104 on: May 16, 2015, 08:37:04 PM »

 North Korea: The Shortcomings of a Successful Missile Test
May 15, 2015 | 14:38 GMT
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A man watches a report on a North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station in March 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

On May 9, North Korea tested its new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile under the watchful gaze of U.S. satellites, aircraft and observation ships. North Korea’s launch was successful: military personnel ejected the missile from underwater, its engine ignited at the surface and it flew about 150 meters (490 feet) before crashing into the sea. Fully developing this technology would extend the reach of North Korean nuclear missile systems and improve the country's second-strike capability in case its ground-based facilities are taken out. The smoothness of the test and the resulting media attention, however, obscure the major obstacles to developing this capacity. Developing the missile technology is one step, but Pyongyang also needs a suitable ballistic missile submarine of the requisite size, endurance and stealth — something that it does not have and will find challenging to develop.

Pyongyang is naturally secretive about its submarine-launched ballistic missile program and has carefully guarded the details of it. Because of this, post-test estimates of the program’s progress have varied. An anonymous South Korean defense official told the media that North Korea could develop a fully operational system within two to three years. U.S. officials, however, believe a fully functional system is far from completion and allege the test was not actually carried out from a submarine. Instead, they suggest it was a simulated firing to test an underwater ejection system, perhaps from a towed launch pad.

Fielding a submarine-launched ballistic missile is difficult. The technology is much more complex than land-based missile technology, which itself has already proved challenging for North Korea. Underwater launch first requires a successful ejection system and a gas generator for reducing hydrodynamic resistance. Still, a reliable submarine-launched ballistic missile is not completely out of North Korea’s reach. With time, continuous tests and the necessary resources, the North Koreans could eventually develop a successful system.
North Korea's Geographic Challenge

The technology for the missile system itself, however, is just one aspect of a successful system. A sea-based nuclear missile capability hinges on developing an adequate carrier vessel — a ballistic missile submarine. Without a large, stealthy and long-range submarine, the North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile effort will simply consume significant resources without altering the nuclear equation.

On paper, North Korea’s submarine fleet is quite large, comprising around 70 vessels. But the majority of these are mini-submarines that displace about 300 tons of water and are unsuited for operations beyond littoral waters. The North Korean navy’s largest submarines at the moment are Chinese Type 033 vessels. These are copies of Russia’s 1950s-era Romeo-class submarines and displace 1,830 tons. Rumors suggest North Korea is developing a replacement for these submarines: the Sinpo-class. These new vessels, however, are unlikely to exceed the capabilities of the improved Type 033 variants currently in use and will be of around the same size, displacing approximately 1,500 tons.

Unfortunately for Pyongyang, the Sinpo-class submarines under development simply do not meet the requirements to be an adequate ballistic missile launching platform. In order to function in this capacity, a submarine would need to be of sufficient size to carry a ballistic missile. The smallest submarine to ever carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile is the Soviet Zulu IV-class, which carried one to two nuclear ballistic missiles, displaced approximately 2,000 tons and was a full quarter heavier than North Korea’s Chinese Type 033 or Sinpo-class submarines. Pyongyang will need bigger vessels in the future to carry one to two missiles in an operational capacity. To carry more would require a new and entirely different class of submarine.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of a fielded submarine-launched ballistic missile are substantial. This capability would give North Korea two advantages not offered by ground-based missiles. First, it would extend the reach of North Korea's missile systems and theoretically enable it to strike targets outside of ground-based missile range. Second, submarine-launched missiles, because they are offshore and mobile, would give North Korea a second-strike capability, allowing it to retaliate against attacks on its land-based nuclear bases and launch pads. These benefits assume, however, that North Korea’s submarines have an adequate level of endurance, the amount of time a vessel can remain at sea unsupported. Submarines would need to be able to remain unsupported long enough to reach targets beyond the range of land-based missiles. In order to fulfill a second-strike role, vessels would need to be deployed for months far from vulnerable ports and remain ready for counterattack.

North Korea’s current Type 033 submarines, even with modifications, cannot meet these endurance requirements. A fully functioning KN-11 missile would have a range of approximately 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles). The Type 033 submarine has a range of around 15,000 kilometers. This is not enough to approach within 2,500 kilometers of the U.S. mainland and return without at-sea refueling. Were North Korea to refuel these vessels at sea, it would significantly degrade the stealth variable of these vessels.

Stealth would be essential in order to avoid being detected and neutralized by an enemy in long patrols at sea or a mission to the U.S. mainland. The Type 033 is a diesel electric boat and can be stealthy in short missions within littoral waters. Beyond these near-shore environments, however, the submarine would have a more difficult time concealing itself without the noise or clutter typically found in littoral waters. The Type 033 would also be forced to spend significant time at the surface to recharge its batteries by running its diesel engines, a process for which they need atmospheric oxygen. Many of the latest conventional submarines, by contrast, are equipped with air-independent propulsion, which means they do not need to surface to run their engines.

Without an adequate submarine, the resources Pyongyang is investing in new missile technology will not improve the capability of its existing land-based missile program. The missiles in the current KN-08 program will still have greater range and will be able to be more rapidly dispersed in large numbers and in difficult terrain. Eventually, North Korea could develop a suitable ballistic missile submarine, but it would take several years to complete. Such a development would truly change the nuclear equation. For now, however, the successful test conducted May 9 is not going to alter North Korea’s nuclear capability.
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