Skip to comments.Seoul and Washington closer to divorce
Posted on 03/06/2006 8:24:12 PM PST by gogoman
Seoul and Washington closer to divorce By Lee Kyo-kwan
SEOUL - South Korea and the US have drifted so far apart on North Korea policy there is now speculation the longtime partners are getting close to divorce.
Kurt Campbell, former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, reportedly likened the two to a king and queen who live separately but pretend to be happy before their subjects. The allies do not want to announce their divorce because it would have enormous consequences, he said at a seminar in Washington on February 27.
It is believed US officials no longer trust their South Korean counterparts on North Korea policy. Fueling that speculation has been the recent friction between Seoul and Washington over how to deal with US allegations North Korea is counterfeiting US dollars. While Washington has stepped up financial pressure on Pyongyang in an effort to defend the US currency, Seoul appears to have opposed such a move.
The US Treasury Department charged in September that Banco Delta Asia in Macau is one of the foreign financial institutions being used by North Korea to launder illegal money, including counterfeit currencies. The Treasury Department reportedly came up with a measure designed to prevent foreign banks with North Korean accounts from carrying out transactions with US banks.
So far, US pressure appears successful. South Korean banks have followed their Japanese counterparts in carrying out the US tactic - by last month the Korea Exchange Bank, Shinhan Bank and National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives had stopped all transactions with Banco Delta Asia.
However, unlike its banks, the South Korean government has been reluctant to support the US financial pressure on the North.
South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jong-suk last month said his country still needs to make a strategic judgment based on relations between North and South Korea over how much will it support the US measure against Pyongyang.
The government of President Roh Moo-hyun is known to have urged the US administration of President George W Bush to stop putting financial pressure on the Kim Jong-il regime.
Michael Green, former senior director in charge of Asia and the Pacific for the White House's National Security Council (NSC), said early last month that Seoul has sent Washington signals several times suggesting that the US lessen pressure on Pyongyang over the counterfeit issue.
Sending such signals seems to be in line with Roh's US policy. In his New Year's address in late January, the president said that if the US tries to solve matters with North Korea by methods aimed at the regime's collapse, it will cause a feud between Washington and Seoul. This suggests he sees US financial pressure on North Korea as a hardline scenario aimed at toppling the Kim regime.
Two weeks after Roh's address, friction between the two allies increased. South Korea and the US disagree over the origins of counterfeit US$140,000 found in April at the Namdaemun market in Seoul. Washington says it told Seoul the counterfeit dollars were printed in North Korea. But Seoul countered that it hadn't received any notice from Washington.
Since the US Treasury Department identified Banco Delta Asia as one of Pyongyang's money-laundering channels, most North Korean trading companies have suffered difficulties in foreign exchange transactions.
If the US measure aimed at preventing foreign banks with North Korean accounts from doing transactions with US banks is successful, nearly all North Korea's foreign-exchange transactions are forecast to be paralyzed, according to the diplomatic sources.
If such a scenario materializes, Pyongyang may have difficulty maintaining its political and economic system. North Korea as a result has called on the US to halt the pressure as a precondition of its return to the six-party talks on its nuclear program.
And if Pyongyang is seriously affected by the US tactics, Seoul's feud with Washington is likely to worsen.
Meanwhile, the number of South Korean officials voicing concern over US financial pressure is increasing. If US sanctions designed to contain North Korea economically work, there is a strong possibility of a severe diplomatic conflict between South Korea and the United States. Such a diplomatic split could be a death blow to the half-century-long alliance, diplomatic sources say.
Meanwhile, the US State Department insists pressure on North Korea and the six-party talks (involving the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the US) are separate matters. This suggests that regardless of the alliance's future, the US will continue its pressure on North Korea to stop the country printing counterfeit US currency.
Speculation that the alliance is in trouble is also precipitated by Seoul's three-year objection to Washington's policy aimed at enabling US Forces Korea (USFK) to be moved about freely beyond the Korean Peninsula.
The US Defense Department since 2003 has called on the Roh government to allow US forces to be dispatched to regions near the peninsula - such as the strait between mainland China and Taiwan - whenever there is a security crisis in the region. The Pentagon calls the policy "strategic flexibility".
But the Roh government had refused permission, based on a long-standing agreement involving US forces based on South Korean soil, because of its deep worry that South Korea could be unwillingly involved in military conflict between the United States and China.
Seoul decided early this year to accept a limited version of the Pentagon policy of strategic flexibility. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, signed an agreement in late January in Washington. According to the deal, the US is required to obtain permission from Seoul before deploying South Korea-based troops to other areas near the peninsula.
However, two weeks after the deal was signed, it ran into strong opposition within the South Korean government and the ruling Uri Party. Opposition is being led by lawmakers and some Foreign Ministry officials who have sought security policies more independent from Washington.
Uri Party Representative Choi Jae-chon produced a confidential NSC document showing that in late 2003 senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and the NSC sent Washington a memorandum spelling out their intention to permit USFK's strategic flexibility without Roh's permission. The document was made public with the help of some Foreign Ministry officials working in the presidential office who have reportedly advocated independent foreign policy.
It would appear that officials seeking independent foreign policy are accelerating their attack on their counterparts who have placed more emphasis on policy coordination with Washington.
With the South Korea-US alliance rapidly deteriorating, USFK is having difficulty securing training fields across the nation. US General Leon LaPorte last month expressed concern about the alliance's future in a speech before leaving his office as commander of both USFK and the South Korea-US Joint Forces.
"In the coming years, the ROK-US alliance will be tested," he warned, referring to South Korea by its official name, Republic of Korea.
If a conservative candidate supporting the alliance fails to win the Korean presidential election of 2007, the US is forecast to withdraw its forces from South Korea, according to diplomatic sources. In fact, speculation the allies' split may be imminent has begun spreading since Roh took office in 2003 - mainly because his government has officially sought much more autonomy from Washington in its North Korea and military policies.
Such a policy shift has contributed to widening the rift in the 53-year alliance. The split began with former president Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy, which advocates peaceful cooperation between North and South with short-term reconciliation in advance of eventual unification of the peninsula.
Kim, Roh's predecessor, provided Pyongyang with economic support. Washington's neo-conservative hardliners lashed out at the Kim government for weakening their efforts by economic containment to prevent Pyongyang from making weapons of mass destruction. The policy rift is believed to have led to North Korea beginning its highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear-weapons program in the 1990s.
James Kelly, then assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, told North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-kwan during a visit to Pyongyang in October 2002 that Washington knew North Korea had an HEU nuclear-weapons program. Kim denied the accusation, though the next day North Korean First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju admitted to Kelly that his country had the program.
Two weeks after Kelly left Pyongyang, the White House announced North Korea's admission. But Pyongyang denied acknowledging existence of the program and called on Washington to sign a non-aggression pact in return for abolishing all nuclear-weapons programs. Washington rejected the proposal.
Since the end of 2002, the Kim Jong-il regime has adopted brinkmanship policies such as withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Roh government as part of its effort to seek independent foreign policy, has refused to join the Bush administration's diplomatic and military pressure on North Korea.
For example, the Roh government so as not to irritate North Korea hasn't participated in the June 2003 US-led Proliferation Security Initiative to diplomatically and militarily prevent weapons of mass destruction from proliferating. The initiative is believed aimed at blocking North Korea's proliferation of fissile material and missile technology.
Seoul has also blocked Washington's plan to present Pyongyang's violation of the 1994 US-North Korea Agreed Framework on nuclear issues to the UN Security Council. North Korea has maintained that if the United States brings the issue before the council, it will regard the move as a provocation of war.
As proved by these disagreements in North Korea policy coordination, South Korea and the US seem to be having difficulty keeping a minimum alliance.
In South Korea, the progressive camp continues to seek a security policy much more independent of the United States regardless of concern over the weakening partnership, while the conservative camp strives to resurrect the struggling alliance.
The former maintains the current North Korean nuclear crisis originates from the US military goading the North. But the latter contends the South Korea-US alliance has prevented North Korea from provoking a war over the past five decades.
Arguably, the most important question for South Korea is whether it can succeed in peacefully solving the social and political conflict.
Lee Kyo-kwan is a Seoul-based writer covering Korean political and business affairs. He has worked for the Chosun Ilbo, the Korea Herald and the Sisa Journal.
Time to move out some troops!
What you have is leftist madness and communist propaganda coming to the fore. Only idiots believe the US made North Korea develop nukes, the US posing absolutely zero offensive threat against the North. Then you have South Koreans so greedy they don't want their northern brethren freed, because of the reconstruction bill they would be left with. Pathetic but the left will destroy any society. Once the USA is gone, what do you think will happen to South Korea?
If I recall correctly the last time we became "involved" in a military conflict with China it was over...now, let's see, what country was it our troops died to defend from 1951-53? The name will come to me...
I agree. Lets pull out our troops and see how long S. Korea can defend itself from a communist invasion.
Yeah, current administration in South Korea, Roh, is a prominent leftist.
It's about time, we have 37,000 stationed there.
Is there any good reason why the US keep its military in South Korea? Why doesn't the US go to the UN (which, I believe, where it got its mandate to be in South Korea) and tell them, that's it. Why don't you guys find another way to solve this half century war. We don't want to be there alone anymore.
The problem is that most of the ones who remember the korean war are now much older.
The new generation is filled with spoiled socialist college kids and appeasing liberals who would do anything for false promises by NK about how they will one day be together again. They have no concept that south korea would look like north korea if not for the US. Many colleges hold rallies all the time spouting that US soliders are all rapists and commit worse crimes that NK.
I do understand many south koreans emmotional attachment to north korea. They still have relatives they can't see up there and there are sites very sacred to them there as well.
But China created this mess. The North Koreans continue to be brainwashed. And instead of them pissed off at the US for helping protect them, the south koreans should be directing that anger at China.
The fact that when North Koreans escape across the border into china and beg them to let them get to south Korea, the chinese send them back into NOrth Korea to be killed is a horrible crime.
When I was in the Army I was stationed with a bunch of guys who did tours in South Korea. The general consensus among them was that if anything were to ever happen, that their presence over there would be little more than to act as speed bumps.
LOL. Does Hangul ping work?
If there then isn't one, S. Korea will only have the US to thank for the US's previous efforts.
They are likely to be the first to see North Korean military action. Didn't the US move some of its troops further south of the DMZ though?
Moving further south of the DMZ in South Korea is just about the same as moving from NYC to Philadelphia; it's not very far, because there is only so far you can go before you hit water.
37,000 US troops vs. 1 million North Koreans is a mismatch and recipe for disaster. I don't care if the NK army is starving or not.
How much troops do the South Koreans have? I remember a South Korean friend of mine was required to do a couple years of military service in S Korea after college. In the event of war, US troops there should provide tactics, not become war fodder.
You're just taking US troops into account. If you add the SK troops, we're talking what--37,025, 37,026 total troops?
It certainly isn't close to a million. Regardless, if I was stationed there I sure as hell wouldn't want to gamble my life against a million-strong, starving, brainwashed, invading army on the abilities of a much smaller and untested SK army. We should either finish the job and liberate the North or get out of there all together. IMHO, to do otherwise would be just waiting for a massacre.
The South Koreans need to look at the economic consequences of the BEST case, which is unification. Just look at German unification. West Germany spent thirty years building a treasury, only to see much of it sunk into the economic slum of East Germany.
I have seen this coming for a while. There has been no gradual step-by-step resolution of a crisis in S. Korea. That is a historical perspective. Now coupled with frenzy of constant agitation and propaganda from left-dominated mass media, people do get to believe such nonsense as appeasement of N. Korea and readily serve as N. Korean apologists. Many(younger folks) feel that this is what "self-respecting" "intelligent" folk should do.
What drive domestic atmosphere to current level is S. Korea's strong herd mentality. That is, if everybody else does it, they should, too. It is particularly strong in S. Korea. With this, it is much easier to herd people into a single direction. They always pay attention to what others are up to. Much more so than in other countries such as U.S.
Younger people thinks that appeasement is "new" "better" and "hip." Confronting N. Korea is so "old" "bad" and "passe." Come to think of it, the ground of their thinking is rather shallow and vapid.
They are in a giant political bubble akin to a financial bubble of 90's in U.S. They take for granted a sh*tload of nonsense.
While the political consequence of electing the current regime is quite clear on economic front(economy here sucks royally and they are raising varieties of taxes,) many still have not realized what a dangerous situation is emerging w.r.t. N. Korea and S. Korea-U.S. alliance.
I am afraid that S. Korea may suffer the double whammy of economic and political/military crisis. That is, Israel and California rolled-up together. Once the whole Israel embraced "Peace Now" movement, totally disregarding any possibility of PLO's full-scale terrorist war, and they paid for the consequence. Once California totally neglected their power situation, and espoused militant environment dogma. The result is California's power crisis and the bankrupt state Treasury. S. Korean government's unyielding stance would create a situation where the whole N. Korean crisis could go supernova rather than subsiding gradually, while their economy could get hit financially due to internal or some external factors.
These fools have no idea what US military capability is until they throw it out and have to fight for themselves.
The hordes would overwhelm South Korea in a matter of 2-3 days.
Well, if their "common Koreity" has gone to their heads to such an extent, they should be left alone to be eaten alive - as an object lesson to others. Of course, their economy would have to be obliterated at the time of the takeover by NK.
Thanks for your comments. South Korean economy is currently benefitting from trade with China. Many Chinese today prefer Korean over Japanese electronic products. How much does China play on the decision-making process of South Koreans' views toward North Koreans? From talking to South Koreans, it seems that many do not want reunification (they fear it will collapse their economy), but rather wish to encourage North Koreans to follow the Chinese model of economic reform, thereby slowly developing on its own pace. How valid is this mode of thinking?
It keeps the North Koreans that much further from Japan.
Kim Jomg Il is just so...................
There are about 700,000 South Koreans under arms and 1.1M NKs. It would be impossible to invade NK due to the network of underground fighting positions in the mountainous country; especially as this defense would take too long to defeat and the Nukes could be brought to the table. There is also speculation that the South Koreans may have a nuclear capability that they achieved in counjunction with the former rouge UN states seeking admittance, e.g., South Africa, Tawian, Israel and S. Korea. It is thought these nukes were developed at the end of the 70's/early 80's. If so, the transfer from South Africa would have been the first nuclear disarment of a program, and not Lybia.
US Military forces on the ground (or at Sea and in the Air) have always been the insurance incentative for financial investment, hence the European and Asian Free Market miracles facing comunism/socialism in the cold war.
Reagan had it right when he stated, "Peace through Strength" as the Political-Economic-Military Complex is the only key to capitalism; any leg of the triangle broken and it comes apart. In South Korea, the Political and not Economic legs are down with fleeting military ties. The US will break with South Korea. South Korea hopes to provide investment to China and North Korea and that they will become a New Japan together with China ruling the Pacific.... Dunces.
We should of course leave them alone to achieve peace, if they wish. They should consider the history of Vietnam...and we should assure them that we will not interfere in their foolishness.
He is trying to play footsie with the Chinese and Russian governments, who in turn arm the North Koreans.
It is called tactical nuclear warheads. End of story.
While many relished playing China against U.S. initially, it has been markedly dampened because China showed its mind too soon. There have been overbearing and pushy behaviors from China. Such as threatening individual S. Korean legislators with harmful consequence if they visit Taiwan. China claims much of Yellow sea except 12 mile area off S. Korean shore. Then, they try to rewrite ancient history claiming that a large Korean kingdom was actually Chinese, even though China went to war with it many times. Then there is what is suspected to be movements to legitimize Chinese encroachment into N. Korea.
People are not favorable to China anymore. It dawns on them that China is the same old China for last two millenia. An overlord bent on expanding its territory and influence, subjugating neighbors.
At the time of souring Chinese boom, people's fascination with China is also evaporating.
Tensions will be managed.
Will there be a time to say, "Let them eat bark," and redeploy the 37K U.S. forces?
The collective hysteria of the left is ignorance and arrogance in action and breathtaking to behold.
Raytheon announces CHIAAD, Chia Head Idiot Airhead Attack Device:
Its not the troops. The 1 million troops is simply typical commie "Look how big it is" military numbers.
What the real deal is that NK has thousands of missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan which can deliver massively powerful warheads. Seoul is really not that far from the DMZ. If war occured, NK had made it clear they would simply unleash the biggest barage of missiles the world has ever seen and kill as many south koreans and japanese as possible. They are targeted for major cities. Its the only real defense they have. "You go to war with us and we will kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process". And while South Korea and the US could overrun the NK within a week if they wanted too, the human life cost in this war would be unbelievable.
Ancient Korea has its roots in current day Manchuria(esp. southern Manchuria and Lia-liang.) Founders of ancient dynasties are mostly from north. As you said, there was no such thing as China and Korea in the current sense. However, there is definitely dynasty of steppe nomads and Han Chinese. Koguryo's social and governmental institutions are not like China. It did not have so-called 6 Ministries. Although its culture was influenced by China later, it has its own worship of steppe-nomad's gods, and their art contains many steppe-nomad motifs. There are certainly sinicized natives in this region. However, the country that existed has a lot more in common with Korea or even Japan than China. You find strong undercurrent of Shamanism in both countries than in China.
And even Belarussian and other media near Russia is starting to be sympathetic with the Russians and stalin... 50% of Ukranians think that Stalin was a "Good Man", not to say the number of Russians who think that way...
China is a civilization masquerading as a nation state.
As you said, Chinese identity is not ethnic. Liao is definitely not Chinese while it existed. Still, China tries to prop up Chinese identity as something as cohesive as ethnic identity. Further, they use it to serve their current power politics. Consolidating what they have territorially and go for more if opportunity arises.
To its neighbors, China's identity is thus a dangerous ideology.
There is something peculiar about Chinese identity. If some country imports Chinese custom or culture, it becomes Chinese. If another country brings in external culture to China, it becomes Chinese culture. By that reasoning, San Francisco or any other city with big Chinatown will be part of China. As such, they should be part of China at some point in future as reasoning goes.
As another person stated succinctly in this thread, China is a civilization masquerading as a nation state. Chinese draw prides from being part of this mega-state, an empire. Overexpansive definition of Chinese identity serves this goal, substituting a nation state for a civilization. It helps maintain such a huge state with diverging elements under a single political power. It also provides a justification to draw many tons of blood to keep it in line. There will be nothing but trouble as long as China keeps pretending that it is a nation state. The trouble is that China has not learned to coexist with its (Chinese/non-Chinese) neighbors as equals. Its one China-ideology(identity) dictates that all Chinese cultural sphere ought to be unified no matter how bloody the process is. Chinese automatically assume that multiple states lead to certain chaos and calamity. It is only possible when every Chinese state go for the ultimate power of the whole Chinese lands, i.e., subscribing to the one-China dogma.
The current thinking of including Liao and Jurchen Chin as Chinese dynasties started in early 20th centuries as far as I know. They used to be barbarian dynasties. Chinese also rebelled against Ching court partly because they are barbarians. Their overexpansive Chinese identity is only a recent invention, probably about 100 years old.
They are not only playing with fire, but are being back stabbing slime balls.
Screw South Korea. Japan and India will be the true allies in that region.
That summarizes the issue well.
I just hate the dumbness of people in this world. How they forget even recent history. May be they don't consider communism to be bad.
South Korean military (2002)
Active troops: 727,000
Reserve troops: 4,500,000
Combat aircraft: 555
I served in Korea (1962-63) and can tell you that the Korean military is tough as nails and first rate. They were trained by the U. S.
When the 1st ROK Division was in Viet Nam, the Viet Cong and NVA went out of their way to avoid meeting them in battle. The ROK 1st played by their own rules which were not as touchie-feelie as the U. S. forces.
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