TonyK 
Member since Nov 6, 2009


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Re: “Understanding North Korea

I'm going to focus on just one portion, since there was so much that was risible about the entire article.

"Every year, the militaries of the United States and the Republic of Korea stage a joint exercise, simulating an invasion of the North. This year, that event happened to coincide with the entry into North Korea of journalists Ling and Lee. Knowing that, the public might view their capture somewhat differently."

1) The article suggests that the exercise is intended as a practice preemptive invasion of North Korea, and that the exercise contributes to North Korea's nuttiness. That assertion strikes me as incorrect. Based on the context, I can only assume that the article is referring to Ulchi Freedom Guardian (formerly Ulchi Focus Lens). Ulchi Freedom Guardian is essentially a computerized command post exercise designed around a _response_ to North Korean attack. See http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/BrowseComments?oid=1224351; http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/ulchi-focus-lens.htm. I doubt that the general public would be shocked to learn that the military plans for contingencies. Remember how the REFORGER exercises caused the Soviets to send a minisub filled with commandos off the coast of West Germany, and to initiate naval battles off the coast, and to shoot a tourist on a resort located on their territory? Yeah, me neither.

2) Also relevant to the Ling/Lee capture is Lisa Ling's documentary, with undercorver footage that portrayed North Korea in an unflattering light. One scene, as I recall, involved a Nepalese doctor on a medical mission restoring the eyesight of an old woman. Said woman proceeded to thank Kim Jong Il for saving her eyesight. See http://ngccommunity.nationalgeographic.com/ngcblogs/explorer/2007/02/inside-north-korea.html.

While I understand the argument for economic engagement, based on the ROK experience with the Kaesong trade zone and the Mt. Kumgang resort (where the aforementioned tourist was shot), I don't think that's fruitful.

Posted by Tony on 11/06/2009 at 10:38 AM

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