When veteran North Korea watchers turn their attention to a young man named Kim Han-sol, these days his real identity is no longer much in question. Their overriding concerns are “where is he?” and “who is hiding him?” Is he with the Chinese, the South Koreans or the Americans? Or is he the well-guarded guest of a North Korean defector group? Han-sol is the 22-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who was assassinated in Malaysia earlier this year in a plot involving suspected agents from Pyongyang. He is also the grandson of former North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il. This qualifies him as the last surviving male of so-called “Baekdu” descent — the direct bloodline running from North Korean state founder Kim Il-sung.(0 comment)

38 North is one of the more respected organizations devoted to analysis about North Korea. This is some powerful analysis here. Understanding the Asian mind takes years and years of experience and maybe can never be completely accomplished by westerners. North Korea may be so convinced that its strategic position vs. the US has changed for the better that it might be willing to step back from the brink of nuclear war and settle for “practical equilibrium” with the US. Robert Carlin, a veteran Korea analyst writing for website 38 North, says that since two successful ICBM launches last July, Pyongyang may have come to the heady conclusion that it has reached the “final stage” in bolstering the nuclear force.(0 comment)

I really don’t understand our pre-occupation with North Korea, other than to support the Neo Con/Lib folks in the military industrial complex. The countries that border North Korea (China, Russia and South Korea) certainly aren’t as obsessed as we are, and they live right next door. Does North Korea “want” to be able to hurt the US? Probably. Can they? Certainly not.(1 comment)

Wars don’t always end on the day that the fighting stops. The legacy of wars since WW I is the lingering effects of our more sophisticated bombs, mortars and mines have decades later. Most of us see the war movies and think that everything that is used blows up when it hits the target. The reality is that they often don’t go off when they are first used, and they explode many years later. I lost a friend in the first Gulf War when he drove over a US cluster bomb that didn’t go off when it was dropped on a bombing raid. Germany reports that there are “tens of thousands” of unexploded Allied aerial bombs from WWII lurking underground. In North Korea, we dropped more bombs during that three year war than we had dropped in the entire Pacific Theater during WWII. North Korea is still paying the price.(0 comment)

Regular readers know that I think the bombastic attitude of the US towards North Korea is foolish at best and dangerous at worst. Pushing for a nuclear WWIII is not a good idea and has no winners. The US concept of diplomacy at gun point has created many problems for us, but certainly makes the deep state a lot of money. Yours and my money. How can any thinking person not think that getting North and South Korea in the same place and talking to them be a bad thing? I know, the “Russia bad” mantra is a common retort to such diplomacy, but if they can ease the tensions, how is that a bad thing? Obviously Putin and the Russians aren’t doing this just for fun. They are looking out for their national interests. A concept that our leaders need to embrace too.

The “what” of North Korea’s nuclear weapons is a known thing. It’s a copy of a 1960’s Polaris missile. An old US design. This design was copied by Israel, France, Russia and China; probably even India. It is also the Israeli Jericho 2 design, copied from the Polaris A1 design. The UK also had it in their older nuclear submarines. The good news is that the warhead does not separate from the missiles’ main body, so it’s easy to intercept. The re-entry platform is quite crude. The bad news is that with 150kt yield, it’s still dangerous. What puzzles most analysts is how fast North Korea got from rudimentary designs to this latest improved version. In other words, who has been helping them. The notion that it’s Iran is pretty bizarre. Iran doesn’t have a nuclear bomb. It seem to make more sense to look at who does have them and see who would have an interest in North Korea having one too. This site below makes a strong argument that it’s China. This is the part of the post that drops down from knowledge to mere information. It’s a good argument, but for now I don’t know. You would think our zillion dollar intelligence agencies would have an answer. If you are a conspiracy minded person, you might be inclined to believe that they do know.

Foreign policy in this country has sadly fallen to the purview of the defense department, not the state department. This isn’t anything new, and has been this way since the end of the cold war. We conduct foreign policy at the end of a gun, sending drones, rockets and missiles at those who we disagree with. Some of this is a function of the fact that we were the only super power left at the end of the cold war. We could bully countries with ease and there was little that they could do to stop us. We damaged and destroyed a lot of countries, but have little to show for it. The tide shifted when we decided to mess with countries that had powerful allies that weren’t intimidated. Syria is the perfect example, where the Russians came to Syria’s aid. We’re reaping the seeds that have been sown in decades of intimidation and it’s not working. North Korea presents a lot of issues. Ignoring how we got to this situation in North Korea is foolish, but going forward in the face of “lack of cooperation” in our process from China, Russia and South Korea is a disaster waiting to happen. North Korea currently has no capability to hurt America. Sure they would like to, but they can't. China has consistently stated that if North Korea starts a war, they would be on our side, but if we started it, they would be on North Korea’s side. Are the neos that crazy that they would want to start WWIII?

No one can deny that North Korea is paranoid and wants to be seen as a legitimate “player” in the world. If we want to be seen as a leader in the world, we must though get beyond the notion that foreign policy is a “shoot first” and “occupy later” concept. Our role in how North Korea is now is based on our initial roles in how North Korea got to be.