North Korea’s Crumbling Facade & Imploding China Relations

Jang Song Taek formerly, Kim Jong Un's Uncle

Jang Song Taek
formerly, Kim Jong Un’s Uncle

 The execution of the No. 2 leader in North Korea, Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Jang Song Taek, was beyond brutal–savage by any account. At the time that this broadcast was made, it was believed that Jang’s execution was by machine gunning him down while tied to a stake (this was the fate of Kim Jong Un’s former girlfriend). Some hours after the show was taped, we learned of an even more savage execution from the Singapore Straits Times (http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/china/story/jangs-execution-bodes-ill-china-20131224 )

“According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called “quan jue”, or execution by dogs.

Military_dog_barking

The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.

The horrifying report vividly depicted the brutality of the young North Korean leader. The fact that it appeared in a Beijing- controlled newspaper showed that China no longer cares about its relations with the Kim regime.”

It is hard to imagine such savagery which puts it on a scale rivaled perhaps only by Pol Pot’s genocide, the Holocaust, and others of similar ilk. Whether or not the report is true, we shall have to wait and see but whether Jang was e executed by machine gun or by dogs, the result is the same–the former is less sensational.*

Jang’s execution means what for North Korea? Was there, in reality, a coup d’état or an attemped one?  Was the Jang execution a good or bad? Was it necessary?  

Patrick Border Citizen Diplomat Veteran North Korea Visitor

Patrick Border
Citizen Diplomat
Veteran North Korea Visitor

The North Korea policy wonks and observers are all over the map as to why this has happened and what it means for the future of the Hermit Kingdom. We turned to the fascinating perspective of an American who has recently returned from yet another trip to North Korea to understand what is actually going on on the ground. Patrick Border is an American citizen diplomat and veteran Hawaii North Korea traveler. We had an unusual conversation with Mr. Border as to the real “why” behind recent events in North Korea (Kenneth Bae, Merrill Newman and Dennis Rodman’s NBA exhibition game tryouts) and, in particular, Uncle Jang’s execution and its future implications.  

 

During this interview, Mr. Border discusses the armed conflict within North Korea between the respective factions of economic reformer Jang and the North Korean military, with officers of military being killed. He talks about the instability of the Regime, the “overreaching” that Jang’s execution signals as well as the potential for steps towards a “People’s Power” tipping point in North Korea. Mr. Border emphasizes that Jang was North Korea’s point man for its relations with China and that relationship is now bitterly shattered and he reveals just what he has seen in Pyongyang that proves this. He left us with the ominous perspective that North Korean Regime is now isolated–even more than ever with its old mentor and protector, China, shut out–and that the shabby facade that the Regime holds up to the global community is crumbling, its dirty linen has been aired like never before, and there are now clear factions in North Korea with people forced to choose sides.

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* On this particular point, you might be interested in a related piece on this website called, “Execution by dogs or machine guns: ‘What difference does it make?'” here. 


 

 

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China’s Next Moves Following its East China Sea ADIZ

So what are China’s next strategy moves in the Asia-Pacific Region? What does the PLA really think about the U.S. military and its capabilities? –a bizarre perception that encourages them to push harder now.

China has now been successful at establishing its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea. In the process, we have seen a bizarre, almost schizophrenic, series of contradictory communications on the subject coming out of Washington that have enhanced China’s successful roll-out.

Following the roll-out,  China’s lone aircraft carrier (sans aircraft) departed for the South China Sea for a “show the flag” cruise. Next, we witnessed a near collision by U.S. and Chinese naval ships in the South China Sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This program is Part 2 of the conversation between  David Day and China-Hand Michael Sacharski. Mr. Sacharski has spent some 3+ decades in China, met and worked with various members of its leadership and has fascinating perspectives to share about China’s ADIZ planning & gameplan, its unexpected success in the imposition of its new ADIZ in the East China Sea, and what strategic moves we can now expect China to make in the Asia-Pacific Region in the near term. Mr. Sacharski is the CEO of Pacific Enterprise Capital.

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China’s New ADIZ

Are there unusual crossovers of the new China ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) with both Taiwan and South Korea? There are and the Taiwan piece is perhaps something that most people do not know.   Is China’s new ADIZ over the Senkaku islands a precursor to further ADIZs China may have in mind? What is this new Air Defense Zone that China has imposed in the East China Sea all about? How did we get here? What about the schizophrenic, wires-crossed responses coming out of the Pentagon and the State Department? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia in Review” host David Day engages in a fascinating conversation with special guest Michael Sacharski. Mr. Sacharski has lived and worked in China as an American executive and entrepreneur for some 3+ decades and shares some interesting insights into the Chinese thinking behind this new strategy. Mr. Sacharski is the CEO of Pacific Enterprise Capital.

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Russia’s Asia “Pivot” with Focus on Energy

     In this broadcast,“Asia-in- Review” Host Hong Jiang explores Russia’s recent foreign policy and geopolitical shifts into Asia followed by its fascinating energy moves into the Region with international business lawyer & professor,  David Day.

     The program starts with the recent Russian foreign policy moves into the Middle East after the U.S. Syria debacle, followed by the new Russian military arms sales to Egypt, and some discussion of Russia’s client nuclear state, Iran. The Russian geopolitical moves into Asia are next, as Hong Jiang discusses with Mr. Day, Putin’s recent trip to Vietnam, along with Russia’s  (1) Kilo class submarine sales to Vietnam,(2)  mutual defense pact, and then (3), new joint venture operations between Vietnam’s PetroVietnam and Russian energy companies for joint oil & gas exploration efforts in both the South China (“East Sea” in Vietnam) and the Artic Seas.

     Next, the conversation turns to the critical and fascinating energy “pivot” that Russia is now engaged in, shifting its focus from its former European gas and oil pipeline customers to new pipeline developments with Japan, South Korea, and yes, even North Korea.

     Russia’s foreign policy regarding The Korean Peninsula is also probed.

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American Eyes Inside North Korea’s Nuclear Facilities and Others

Nicole FinnemanFormerly, Korea Economic Institute, Washington, D.C.

Nicole Finneman
Formerly, Korea Economic Institute,
Washington, D.C

 

 

 

Hosted by David Day, this television program aired statewide in Hawaii and features, as its special guest, Ms. Nicole Finneman, formerly with the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Finneman, an American eyewitness inside North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility and other fascinating facilities and locations throughout the country, talks about those experiences.

The conversation turns from the Yongbyon visit to the potential business and commerce development in North Korea and references American firms now lining up to do business in North Korea in the future, including the Korean-American-owned, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (a private university).

Ms. Finneman talks about her visits to various commercial enterprises, the Koryolink mobile phone explosion in the country, and the market/commercial developments within the country. (Koryolink, a joint venture between the Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holdings and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation, is North Korea’s only 3G mobile operator.)

Nicole also discusses  her visit to the digital libraries at Kim Il Sung University and their remarkable high tech facilities which many universities in the U.S. currently do not have…but only connected to an intranet–no internet.

Finally, Ms. Finneman and David Day talk about the infrastructure for commerce and foreign investment that is now being put into place in North Korea and her crystal-ball view of the potential for change in that country.

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The Korean War & Its Armistice: Unfinished Framework for a Future

Hyunh-Oh Kim, Consul for Political Affairs Consulate, Republic of Korea

Hyun-Oh Kim, Consul for Political Affairs Consulate, Republic of Korea, Honolulu

               June 25, 1950 marked the beginning of the Korean War and in Hawaii, as well as in many other locations around the globe, ceremonies of commemoration were held. The ceremony in Hawaii is the starting point for this conversation that covers a brief overview of the Korean War, its decimation of South Korea, and the uneasy truce that punctuates the DMZ–all of which has served to create a framework for the unfinished future of Northeast Asia. Korean Consul Kim discusses the rise of South Korea, literally from ashes, to the global stage and credits that rise, in significant part, to the critical involvement of the United States in the war and its assistance to South Korea in the rebuilding process.

Seongho Hong  Kelley Fellow  Pacific Forum CSIS

Seongho Hong
Kelley Fellow
Pacific Forum CSIS

Seongho Kim, talks about the missing piece in the framework for Northeast Asia–North Korea. He also emphasizes that the Korean War Armistice froze the 2 Koreas in place, along the DMZ, and effectively blocked the Korean peninsula from developing economically to its full potential. Both Counsel Kim and Seongho drill down on the missing piece and the need to somehow get North Korea back to the bargaining table for not only nuclear talks but also the discussion of economic development (for North Korea) options.

 

Kerry Gershaneck, former US Marine Officer stationed in Korea and Senior Associate and Director of Governmental Affairs, Pacific Forum CSIS

Kerry Gershaneck, former US Marine Officer stationed in Korea and Senior Associate and Director of Governmental Affairs, Pacific Forum CSIS

Finally, the discussion between Consul Kim, Seongho Hong and Kerry Gershaneck looks at Mdme. President Park’s current visit to Beijing and the interesting language issued in the Joint Communique between China and South Korea directed at North Korea.

Host: David Day

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The Asia-Pacific Region’s Flashpoints: An Update

Brad Glosserman Executive Director Pacific Forum, CSIS

Brad Glosserman
Executive Director
Pacific Forum, CSIS

Pacific Forum CSIS’s Executive Director, Brad Glosserman, reviews with David Day the key tense and potentially dangerous security Flashpoints that the Asia-Pacific Region now faces.

 

Asia Pacific Region

Asia Pacific Region

The conversation places these Flashpoints in the context of the rising economic dynamism of the Region, the re-focus of the “whole of government and business” into the Region and its need for stability and security. Potential border spillover Flashpoints are considered with (1)  the ethnic violence in Myanmar,(2) the latest developments in the South China Sea disputes (including the possibility of China now dragging Malaysia into the fray, in addition to the Philippines and Vietnam), (3) China’s dispute with Japan over the Senkakus, and (4) the current situation with the enhanced bellicose rhetoric coming out of North Korea.

 

Hosted by David Day

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Chalk Up Yet Another Successful Round for North Korea

Kim Kyong Hui - The Auntie

Kim Kyong Hui – The Auntie

North Korea has done it again, but this time at the helm of its new, young leader, Kim Jong Un. Meaning what? The current round of enflamed bellicosity has served North Korea well. It has been a 24/7 infomercial for the country’s arms sales client states, including Iran and Syria, as well as other potential rogue countries and terrorist organizations. The infomercial continues to underscore the respect that the most developed nations in the world accord North Korean arms technology and weaponry. It also sends a strong message of encouragement for other would-be nuclear regimes to get into the nuclear club as quickly as possible (i.e. Syria and Iran) as a means of status, and more importantly, regime preservation.

            The nuclear option, North Korea teaches, makes even the most outrageous conduct acceptable and immunizes a regime from attack. It is a powerful message and demonstration by Pyongyang that does not serve the interests of peace and stability well. Secretary Kerry’s entreaty to North Korea that the U.S. is willing now to sit down and talk, provided Pyongyang will agree to give up the nuclear card is somewhere between silly and naive. Perhaps it is a good policy statement for the folks in Foggy Bottom, but it is just not going to happen.

            Despite another successful dictator encouragement/arms sales PR round, Pyongyang still needs the final offramp to get off the current bellicosity highway. The threatened missile test is one option—but a dangerous one. The rhetoric is been cranked up so high that a missile test will have to be executed in a direction certain not to arouse confusion or mistake and a possible retaliatory strike. Even a short range missile test is a risky move for Pyongyang under the current atmosphere that it has created. What then is the offramp option? Prepare for a second nuclear test. This will allow Pyongyang to pull off a move not likely to generate a retaliatory strike– plus it has the added propaganda and PR advantage of North Korea thumbing its nose to the United Nations, China and the U.S. in the face of the recent sanctions imposed on it for the country’s last nuclear test earlier this year.

            So when is such a test likely to occur? The best propaganda move for Pyongyang would be to execute the test on or around April 15, when a large celebration is planned for the country. April 15th is a significant date for North Korea. It is the birthdate of the current leader’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The deceased grandfather is known as North Korea’s “Eternal President” or “President for life.”

There is greater significance beyond just the office held between the former North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung, and their current leader Kim Jong Un. The link between the two comes by a rarely spoken of yet incredibly important female by name of Kim Kyong-hui.

Kim Kyong-hui is one of the last living “old guard” within North Korea’s communist dynasty. She is Kim Jong Un’s aunt and just so happens to be the daughter of North Korea’s “Eternal President.” Many intelligence analysts who focus on Asian affairs believe Kim Kyong-hui is the true leader in North Korea today as she is the one who specifically instructs Kim Jong Un on each decision he makes.

So how does all of this fit together? April 15, and the days around it, is the opportunity for Kim Jong Un to please his most important Aunt and mentor. He can do this with a major display of the country’s military might. A show of strength works wonders to show her that her father’s country is in strong, capable hands.

It all comes together in the coming hours and days. This round has been won and the offramps of a nuclear test and the more risky, missile test are in sight.

 

 

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