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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From Our Friends at KSG NightWatch: For the Night of 30 August

* Contents below are entirely from our friends at KGS NightWatch:

Comments from KGS NightWatch: On 30 August, Chinese and North Korean media confirmed Kim's visit to China and carried limited details about it. As is the custom, the communist media confirmed the visit only after Kim was back safely in Pyongyang.

In a dinner speech for Chinese President Hu, Kim described his visit in terms of a pilgrimage that his late father, President Forever Kim Il Sung, always intended to make but never did. Kim said, in part, "Permeated in Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces (of China) are immortal footprints of the bloody anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle President Comrade Kim Il Sung waged with Chinese comrades from early on. As such, they are unforgettable lands of history which are cherished dearly in the hearts of our people; they are also witnesses of the North Korea-China friendship.

"When he was alive, President Comrade Kim Il Sung would never forget this eventful Northeastern region and, reminiscing on it, would say that he would be back here for sure. We have come today, embracing his wish.

The other distinctive feature of the North Korean media description of the visit is the use of communist cult language to explain every Chinese accomplishment. Everything Kim observed and all his interactions were described as the result of communist and socialist wisdom and planning. Kim repeatedly paid tribute to Chinese communism, as if to applaud the Chinese for swindling the successful modern systems in the world. He ignored that China began to progress by abandoning communist economics where it could and by copying capitalist , free market enterprise.

The international media described the visit as rich in policy implications, highlighting Kim's so-called desire for an early resumption of nuclear talks. Actually, Kim's public statements indicate he said there was no change in the North's desire for early nuclear talks. "No change" means the North continues to condition talks on acceptance of the North as a nuclear armed power.

As for other issues, the pervasive theme in the press statements is easing of tension. The North is not at all interested in talks soon. All in all, the visit looks like a Confucian farewell, performing last rites for unfinished family business. -
KGS NightWatch

Monday, August 30, 2010

From Our Friends at KSG NightWatch: For the Night of 29 August

* Contents below are entirely from our friends at KSG NightWatch:

North Korea-China: North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il remained in northeast China on 29 August visiting the city of Harbin. Initial news reports asserted Kim's train was bound for Pyongyang. Instead, The train left Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province, which borders North Korea, the evening of the 28th and went south to Harbin to visit a plant.

The Japanese media reported hotel closures and tightened security at the Dandong border crossing site, the usual signs that North Korean leadership train's arrival is expected.

Comment: The proximity of this visit to the Party general meeting in early September is the basis for the inference that Kim's visit is related to the process of introducing his third son to the Chinese leadership and showing him around and off.

The visit appears too short to have moved other outstanding issues, including flood relief along the Yalu and the Six Party Talks. The brevity and location of the visit to Chinese areas near North Korea support those analyses that the visit also served the strategic goal of quieting the international environment before and during the Party plenum.

One commentary assessed that also was the primary aim in the North's handling in such low key fashion former President Carter's visit to obtain the release of the captive American. Aside from Six Party talks, there are now no potentially disruptive issues between the US and North Korea, such as an American in a North Korean jail.


The trip to China during the Carter visit also conveys a clear statement of North Korean foreign policy priorities. China is more important than the US.

These assessments imply that for the next two weeks, tension should ease and provocations are unlikely. However, the North may be expected to respond in prickly fashion to any actions by the US or South Korea that it perceives as a provocation, just to show that its inward focus does not signify weakness or inability to respond swiftly. China will be in overwatch position. The message from North Korea is, "leave us alone." - KGS NightWatch

Comment from the Author: Xinhua News Agency's English site posted a report on the Chinese president Hu Jintao's meeting with Kim Jong-il on Friday, 27 August, at 7:19 PM on 30 August, Beijing Time - which would make it 7:19AM on 30 August, Eastern Time.

China-Burma (Myanmar): Xinhua News Agency (the official news agency for the PRC) reported two Chinese navy ships from the 5th Escort Task Group, the Caohu and Guanhzhou, called at Myanmar's Thilawa Port on 29 August. The visit is to last five days to promote "good" relations.

Comment: This is the first time Chinese naval ships have called at a port in Burma. It also is a direct challenge to Indian naval dominance of the Indian Ocean region. - KGS NightWatch

Friday, August 27, 2010

Carter and Aijalon Gomes Arrive in Boston

By Hwang Doo-hyong of Yonhap News Agency from Washington, D.C.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter returned home Friday with an American held in North Korea for seven months for trespassing, reports said.

A private charter flight carrying Carter, Aijalon Gomes and their entourage arrived at Logan International Airport in Boston, the hometown of Gomes, who was sentenced in May to eight years in a labor and re-education camp and fined US$700,000 for illegal entry in January.

Carter flew into Pyongyang Wednesday [25 August] on a private mission to secure Gomes' release. His very presence in Pyongyang was seen as a thaw in U.S. relations with North Korea, which had been chilly since North Korea's torpedoeing of a South Korean warship in March.

However, the former U.S. president apparently did not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. who abruptly left for China as Carter flew to Pyongyang.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

From Our Friends at KGS NightWatch: For Night of 25 August 2010

*Contents below are entirely from our friends at KSG NightWatch:

South Korean National Defense Ministry sources divulged that the North Koreans have staged a buildup of military units near Pyongyang since mid-July. "Preparation for a massive national event is under way" in North Korea and the move presumably is related to the third ever Workers' Party plenum in September and the 65th anniversary of the party's founding on 10 October, according to a report submitted to a parliamentary committee today.

Comment: North Korean military choreographers routinely require 90 to 120 days to prepare for a major military demonstration. The mid-July start of preparations is consistent with past preparations for a large scale parade on 10 October. The anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party usually features a parade.

The Workers' Party plenary meeting in September will not be the occasion for a large parade because these meetings are infrequent and North Korean parades celebrate great events in the past. The South Korean reports suggest the October celebration will be unusually large, implying it might have some connection to a succession event decided at the September meeting. - KGS NightWatch

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From Our Friends at KSG NightWatch

*Contents below are entirely from our friends at KSG NightWatch:

South Korea - North Korea: South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Tae Young said on 24 August that his troops are now allowed to respond immediately in the event North Korean shelling impacts on land south of the maritime border off the west coast.

South Korean troops previously were banned from firing back north of the Northern Limit Line if the North did not stop firing after warnings, even if shells landed on the South's side. Minister Kim said South Korea will give the North advance warning.

Comment : This represents an official authorization for more aggressive rules of engagement. The South has decided it will not be bullied by the North even if the new rules of engagement put other issues at risk, such as resumption of nuclear talks.

The historic record shows that the South's approach is much more likely to be productive than the alternative. North Koreans respect power, though they will test it to decide whether it is power or bluff. There will be artillery exchanges off the west coast this fall. - KSG NightWatch

North Korea-US: Former US President Carter will depart soon for North Korea on a private mission to free US citizen Aijalon Mahli Gomes who has been imprisoned after crossing illegally from China.

Comment: The North Koreans will welcome President Carter warmly because he is the only American President to have held discussions with the late President Kim Il-sung. Carter would not go were a warm welcome and high likelihood of success not in prospect.

The details of the North Korean welcome -- whether he meets Kim Chong-il and/or Chang Song-taek, for example - plus the success of his rescue mission will provide insights into the stability and confidence of the North Korean leadership and the prospects for Six Party talks. - KSG NightWatch

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Little Break

It has been over a month since I posted last. There have been some major personal events since my last posting - like moving the family across the Pacific Ocean.

The postings will begin again soon.