Five Myths About North Korea, by Joel S. Wit & Jenny Town

[This article appeared in the 29 March 2013 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. Joel S. Wit is a visiting fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and founder of its North Korea website, 38North. Jenny Town is a research associate at the Institute and the editor of its website. –CanKor]

It’s Not a Hermit Kingdom, and 4 Other Myths About North Korea

Yes, we should be taking Kim Jong Un’s recent threats seriously. But first, we have to lose the comic-book caricature of his country.

(Photo by Erich Weingartner)

(Photo by Erich Weingartner)

Every day the media is filled with reports of North Korea threatening to attack the United States and its close allies. An escalating cycle of threat and counter-threat has been going on for the past few months. It started with the North’s partially successful long-range rocket test in December, was followed by its third test of a nuclear bomb in February, new U.N. sanctions in response to those tests, U.S.-South Korean military exercises, Pyongyang’s bellicose threats to launch strikes against the United States, and now the temporary deployment of long-range U.S. B-2 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to South Korea.

Americans should be deeply concerned about these events. While the North may eventually be able to put a nuclear weapon on top of a long-range missile and attack the United States, Pyongyang’s bombs can already reach our friends in South Korea and Japan. There is also a danger that North Korea may export nuclear technology to other rogue states, like Iran and terrorist groups. Remember that the North did send a nuclear reactor for producing bomb-making material to Syria — luckily Israeli warplanes destroyed the unfinished facility in 2006. The danger of exports will grow in the future if the North’s nuclear arsenal continues to grow. Read the rest of this entry »

Testimony Before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, June 4, 2013

[On June 4, 2013, I was called as a witness to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Below is the entirety of my prepared statement – I believe, there were some off the cuff remarks that probably drove the French language interpreters nuts.]

Jack KimGood afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me today to speak. As I wear several hats when it comes to North Korea, whether it is HanVoice, www.cankor.ca, or the North Korean Human Rights Film Festival Toronto, on behalf of all these organizations, I again extend my thanks.

Canada’s DPRK Policy: Controlled Engagement

Canada’s response to North Korea has been, at least rhetorically, aggressive. Since 2010 our government has pursued what has been termed a “Controlled Engagement” policy. The Controlled Engagement (“CE”) policy restricted bilateral contact with the regime except to four distinct areas: regional security concerns, human rights and the humanitarian situation, inter-Korean relations, and consular issues. It also forbid Canadians from importing and exporting anything into North Korea, and also introduced strict technology and investment sanctions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Koreas resume talks, The Current on CBC Radio

[CanKor Human Factor editor Jack Kim was one of three guests interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s public affairs programme “The Current” this morning, 10 June 2013, on CBC Radio 1. The following text is from the CBC.ca website. The 22 minute segment can be listened to by clicking on the image of host Anna Maria Tremonti below. –CanKor]

North and South Korea have gone from a chilling standoff, to the start of talks that could mean a thaw with plans for the first senior government talks in six long years. All of this comes just as the Presidents of the United States and China wrapped up their own weekend meetings promising greater cooperation. Today, we’re asking about the future of the two Koreas when the biggest players outside their borders aren’t interested in a fight.

Listen to The Current segment on Korea by clicking the image of host Anna Maria Tremonti below:

TheCurrent-220x124

The Current: The Koreas resume talks

“Immortal Feats for DPRK-China Friendship”

[Under the above title, the DPRK’s most authoritative newspaper Rodong Sinmun published a rare editorial on the eve of the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first summit meeting with US President Barack Obama in California. Rodong Sinmun is the official organ of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Ostensibly, the occasion for the editorial is the 30th anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s first visit to China. It is a legacy to which young leader Kim Jong Un is said to be paying “great attention”. The China-DPRK friendship will go “a long way towards stabilizing the situation in the Korean Peninsula,” says the editorial, without wasting a single word on the nuclear question, a topic that will likely figure prominently in the Obama-Xi talks. –CanKor]

Xi, right, and Pyongyang's special envoy Choe Ryong-hae meet in Beijing. (Photo by Xinhua)

Xi, right, and Pyongyang’s special envoy Choe Ryong-hae meet in Beijing. (Photo by Xinhua)

This is the 30th year since Leader Kim Jong Il’s first visit to China from June 1 to 13, 1983. His train trip covered a total of 6 250 km, making more solid the DPRK-China friendship provided and kept in bloom by the leaders of old generations of the two countries.

It is a beautiful tradition for the leaders of the two countries to frequently visit each other like brothers without being restricted by any diplomatic conventions and rules and share and deepen the friendly feelings.

The 30 years that followed his first visit to China furnished an ample proof that the DPRK-China friendship would be unbreakable.

Over the past 30 years the situation of Korea and the North East Asia was very complex, but the two countries supported and closely cooperated with each other in their struggle for socialist construction and national unity. Read the rest of this entry »

A Call for Peace and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula

koreapeace[The Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta was the site of an ecumenical Korea peace conference from 15 to 17 May 2013. Theme of the event was “Embrace Peace, Pursue It: From Armistice to Just Peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Keynote and plenary speakers included The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church USA, The Rev. Dr. Syngman Rhee, former president, National Council of Churches USA and a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, The Rev. Dr. Jaejung Lee, professor at the Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, former South Korean Minister of Unification, and Dr. Christine Ahn, Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute. Sponsoring organizations were the United Methodist Korean American National Association; Committee on Korean Reunification & Reconciliation; General Board of Global Ministries; United Methodist Women; United Methodist Korean Ministry Plan; and the National Council of Churches, South Korea. Workshop theme were: Building a Case for Peace Treaty: Steps for Advocacy; Women & Militarism; Humanitarian Mission & Building Solidarity in North Korea; The suffering of North Korean defectors and their survival in the South Korean society and church; and Nuclear Armament & Peace in the Korean Peninsula. Following here is the statement issued by conference participants. –CanKor] Read the rest of this entry »

Ending the Korean War: conference report by Peggy McInerny

[CanKor editor Erich Weingartner spoke at a recent UCLA Center for Korean Studies conference, which brought together a wide range of speakers to reconsider how to end a war that never technically ended. Peggy McInerny, the author of the article which follows, is Director of Communications at the UCLA International Institute. A full conference summary may be read here: The Heartbreak of a Divided Nation by Peggy McInerny. –CanKor]

Podium and first row, left to right: Paul Liem, Korea Policy Institute; Dorothy Ogle, former Methodist missionary to South Korea; Pilju Kim Joo, Agglobe Services International; Indong Oh, M.D.; Jeong Young-Hee, farmer and peace activist from Gangjeong, Jeju Island; Christine Ahn (back turned), Global Fund for Women and Oakland Institute, and daughter. Top row, left to right: Moon Jae Pak, M.D., U.S.-North Korea Medical Science Exchange Committee; historian Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago; Erich Weingartener, CanKor; Rev. Syngman Rhee; James Chun, One Korea Movement; Hosu Kim, City University of New York. (Photo by Peggy McInerny)

Podium and first row, left to right: Paul Liem, Korea Policy Institute; Dorothy Ogle, former Methodist missionary to South Korea; Pilju Kim Joo, Agglobe Services International; Indong Oh, M.D.; Jeong Young-Hee, farmer and peace activist from Gangjeong, Jeju Island; Christine Ahn (back turned), Global Fund for Women and Oakland Institute, and daughter. Top row, left to right: Moon Jae Pak, M.D., U.S.-North Korea Medical Science Exchange Committee; historian Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago; Erich Weingartner, CanKor; Rev. Syngman Rhee; James Chun, One Korea Movement; Hosu Kim, City University of New York. (Photo by Peggy McInerny)

The UCLA Center for Korean Studies hosted a conference entitled “Ending the Korean War” on May 9, 2013. The meeting brought together a wide range of speakers — historians, sociologists, former missionaries, peace activists, Korean War survivors, and people currently engaged in humanitarian projects in North Korea — to reconsider how to end a war that never technically ended. Instead of a peace agreement, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement in 1953 on behalf of their allies on each side.

Sixty years later, the Korean Peninsula remains heavily militarized, the United States has still not recognized North Korea, and acute tensions between the two states earlier in 2013 threatened to lead to military conflict.

Historian Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago, where he is Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the history department, served as keynote speaker. In his view, U.S. policy toward North Korea over the past 60 years, which has consisted mostly of nuclear threats, has been a complete failure. Not only does North Korea now have nuclear weapons, as well as long- and medium-range missiles, the two nations are no nearer to a peace agreement than they were in 1953. Read the rest of this entry »

What Park Geun-hye actually said about North Korea in Washington

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to a Joint Session of Congress

Location: House Chamber, The Capitol, Washington, D.C., Time: 10:39 a.m. EDT, Date: Wednesday, 8 May 2013

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE:

Speaker Boehner, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of the House and the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I’m privileged to stand in this chamber, this hallowed ground of freedom and democracy, to speak about our friendship and our future together.

After I arrived in Washington the day before yesterday, I went to the Korean War Memorial, near the banks of the Potomac. I read the words etched in granite. Our nation honors the sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met. Time and again, I’m moved when I read those familiar words. (Applause.)

Let me express on behalf of the people of the Republic of Korea our profound gratitude to America’s veterans. Their blood, sweat and tears helped safeguard freedom and democracy. (Applause.) Read the rest of this entry »

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