Free Korea

    • The U.S.-Korea alliance is “in jeopardy” & it’s not even (mostly) Trump’s fault
      MAKING THE ROUNDS IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK IS THIS MUST-READ REPORT, in Tokyo Business Today, by Stanford Professor Daniel Sneider: “Behind The Chaos Of Washington’s Korea Policy.” The report is based on Sneider’s discussions with insiders familiar with the administration’s North Korea negotiations and policymaking, and yes, you should be worried: [T]he spoken, and unspoken, aim of most professionals implementing North Korea policy is to hold off President Trump from meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un again. They worry about a repeat of the June spectacle in Singapore when Trump made significant concessions that undercut their attempts to ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-29By Joshua
    • New head of S. Korea’s ruling party once said North’s abuses were “not something other countries can intervene in”
      ON SATURDAY, SOUTH KOREA’S RULING “DEMOCRATIC” PARTY PICKED LEE HAE-CHAN as its new Chairman. Lee, who previously served as Prime Minister under Roh Moo-hyun, promised “unwavering efforts toward … inter-Korean peace.” The Joongang Ilbo calls him “a staunch liberal.” Lee replaces Choo Mi-ae, another “liberal” who was fond of making public threats to sue opposition politicians for criminal libel. In South Korea, the term is also broad enough to include the President’s Chief of Staff, Im Jong-seok, who as far as anyone can tell from his public silence is an unreconstructed sympathizer of North Korea’s ultra-nationalist totalitarianism, who once led a violently ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-28By Joshua
    • Why the domestic troubles of Trump & Moon are grave news for Koreans
      POLITICIANS DO THEIR WORST DIPLOMACY WHEN THEY’RE WEAK AT HOME. SCANDAL TEMPTS THEM TO SEEK GLORY ABROAD. The hyenas of the world’s ecosystem see them limp and decide to prey on them, or on the calves they can’t protect. Of Mr. Trump’s troubles, you already know plenty that I need not repeat here. Whatever your view of those troubles, they aren’t going away, and if you correctly acknowledge their political element, they’re apt to be more serious next January. The North Koreans know this, and given their successful flattery and manipulation of Mr. Trump thus far, it’s a sure bet ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-24By Joshua
    • If the deal-maker didn’t make a deal & the peace-maker didn’t make peace, could Twitter be wrong?
      DONALD TRUMP’S MOST LOYAL ADMIRERS ARE READY TO AWARD HIM A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. These people actually believe that Agreed Framework III proves his hype about what a great deal-maker he is. Moon Jae-in’s most loyal admirers are ready to award him a Nobel Peace Prize. These people actually believe that the Panmunjom Summit proves his hype about what a great peace-maker he is. It often seems that everyone on Twitter but me belongs to one of these tribes, which despite their temporary tactical alliance, generally hold each other in contempt. Each tribe can be right in its appraisal of the ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-22By Joshua
    • A new report says South Korea spends more to influence Washington than Israel, China & Saudi Arabia combined
      IN WASHINGTON, THERE IS GROWING UNEASE ABOUT how far and how fast South Korea’s anti-anti-North Korean President, Moon Jae-in, is moving to undermine the pressure of U.S. and U.N. sanctions before Pyongyang takes meaningful steps to disarm. The unease is greatest in Congress, where there is also unease that both Moon and Trump have done so much to legitimize a tyrant who would, in a more just world, be hauled before a tribunal and sentenced to spend the remainder of his life eating stewed vegetables. But with Moon now openly violating U.N. sanctions — and probably U.S. law — why ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-21By Joshua
    • Guest Post: Finlandizing freedom’s frontier
      The following guest post is submitted by Dr. Tara O. I’ve left Dr. O’s post in its original pdf format. Click to read: ~   ~   ~ Seoul Vulnerable DMZ Abandonment and Destruction of ROK Mil Capability 2018-8-17 Share 0 Tweet 0 Google Plus 0 reddit 0 Email 0Shares ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-20By Joshua
    • The Myth of Maximum Pressure: Why Trump’s North Korea sanctions strategy must change or fail
      If you’re a journalist or scholar who writes about North Korea, you’re apt to think that the Trump administration really did impose more-or-less “maximum” pressure on Kim Jong-un, although this was never really true. If your understanding of sanctions is based on a 1980s concept of sanctions as trade blockades that require the cooperation of every customs inspector at the country’s border, you’re also apt to harbor several other misunderstandings about how sanctions work, and consequently, to add to the torrent of flawed journalism and commentary about North Korea and sanctions. You’re apt to measure sanctions’ effectiveness in terms of ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-16By Joshua
    • South Korea has been caught violating 3 UN resolutions this week (so far)
      South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade now admits that it first suspected that subsidiaries of its national power company were importing North Korean coal as early as October 2017. For those of you who don’t do math, that was ten months ago. The result of that extensive ten-month investigation? Despite all the red flags that should have put everyone involved in this transaction on notice that they were buying North Korean coal, the South Korean government cleared its banks, the power companies, and (naturally) itself of any wrongdoing and charged three small-time importers with falsifying the certificates of origin ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-15By Joshua
    • South Korea implicated in large-scale violations of U.N. coal, shipping sanctions against North Korea
      This week, a scandal is burgeoning in South Korea that a wholly owned subsidiary of the nation’s largest power company purchased large quantities of North Korean coal in violation of the coal export ban of UNSCR 2371. The other day, I tweeted about a Korean-language report in the right-leaning site Pennmike, indicating that a Belize-flagged ship carrying North Korean coal was spotted in the port of Pyeongtaek. We’ve since learned that this violation was part of a broader, long-standing, illicit trade. An opposition lawmaker claimed Sunday that three more foreign vessels suspected of carrying North Korean coal, a banned ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-08-07By Joshua
    • Kaesong is a buffalo jump for amoral politicians & unlawyered cretins
      Mark Lambert, who is “U.S. State Department official in charge of Korean affairs,” and who is also a mensch, is in South Korea this week, where he will meet with Korean officials, and also with “a group of South Korean businesspeople involved in inter-Korean economic projects.” Over the course of 15 years, this blog has followed the various get-broke-quick buffalo jumps that promoters, most of them amoral politicians who specialize in throwing away other people’s money, euphemistically call “inter-Korean projects.” Whoever knows the history of inter-Korean projects or invests there without learning it, and who still invests in North Korea anyway, proves ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-07-26By Joshua
    • The Trump-Kim Pact was a con by both men. We’re the marks.
      WHEN I FIRST WROTE ABOUT THE TRUMP-KIM NON-AGGRESSION PACT, I expressed pessimism but reserved judgment until I knew more about its vague terms. I now wonder if history will record it as the most disastrous international agreement since Molotov-Ribbentrop, one that will put the U.S., South Korea, and Japan forever under the shadow of North Korean nuclear blackmail, forever break the global nonproliferation regime, mark the beginning of the end of South Korea’s experiment with liberal democracy, and put us on the path to an inevitable war that could draw in China or Russia. The latest revelation is that Trump’s talk of complete ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-07-05By Joshua
    • Agreed Framework III: A fisking
      Yesterday, I said the best we could hope for from the Trump-Kim summit would be “a vague agreement that North Korea will denuclearize, without Trump making any concessions for such a nebulous promise.” We have that vague agreement (full text here). It is so vague, in fact, that it’s hard to even say what concessions were given, implied, or will be given in the coming months. Historically, this is the kind of agreement Pyongyang loves. One the one hand, it will put an implausibly narrow interpretation on its own concessions: “What you do mean this includes uranium?,” or, “You said ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-06-12By Joshua
    • Why Trump can’t lift North Korea sanctions unilaterally
      THE HIGHEST EXPECTATIONS WE SHOULD HAVE FOR THE UPCOMING CIRCUS IN SINGAPORE are low expectations — that the summit breaks with, at most, a vague agreement that North Korea will denuclearize, without Trump making any concessions for such a nebulous promise. No one deserves a Nobel Prize for trading away our last chance to disarm Kim Jong-un peacefully for more lies, or for excusing Kim Jong-un from the few consequences he faces for proliferation, crimes against peace, organized crime, and crimes against humanity. And no deal Kim Jong-un will give us this year, before a smarter and tougher sanctions strategy ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-06-11By Joshua
    • Guest Post: Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok vs. Dr. Ji Man-won: Im sues Ji for defamation; Ji sues Im for National Security Law violations
      The following guest post is submitted by Dr. Tara O. While I’m writing about the Circus in Singapore, Dr. O informs us about far more consequential things for Korea’s future. ~   ~   ~ On May 31, 2018, Im Jong-seok (임종석) (age 52), the Blue House Chief of Staff, sued Dr. Ji Man-won (지만원) (age 76) for defamation. Im also sued a small, online independent news outlet called Newstown (, which publishes Dr. Ji’s work, and others for defamation at the same time. Dr. Ji, who has been researching and publishing about the Gwangju uprising, has referred to Im Jong-seok as “Jusapa” (주사파). Ji is charged ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-06-11By Joshua
    • Guest Post: Journalist preemptively jailed for libel in South Korea, the only OECD country to do so
      The following guest post is submitted by Dr. Tara O. ~   ~   ~ The Committee to Protect Journalists’ map shows that 262 journalists were imprisoned in numerous countries around the world in 2017. The Republic of Korea was not on the map as one of those countries . . . until now. With the jailing of Byun Hee-jae of a small independent media outlet Media Watch ( on May 30, 2018, South Korea is the only OECD country to now join the ranks of those countries that jail journalists. The Moon administration has already targeted major media broadcasters. Early in his ... read more
      Source: Free KoreaPublished on 2018-05-31By Joshua