The Situation on the Korean Peninsula

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I think that in order to understand what’s going on between North and South Korea, and I mean REALLY understand it, you must have spent time in Korea. There is a national flavor to the situation that I haven’t found anywhere else on the planet. Much of it has to do with emotion and pride that runs to the very core of the culture — going back thousands of years. The only way I have found to explain it to make it meaningful to people in “the West” is to explain it this way: When Gene Roddenberry (created of the popular media series, Star Trek) wrote about Klingons, he used Koreans as the model.
That is not to say that I don’t like Korean people. Quite the opposite. It’s just that trying to explain a Confucian warrior culture to somebody who hasn’t been exposed to it is difficult.
On 20 August, North and South Korea carried out their respective threats. North Korea threatened to destroy South Korean propaganda broadcast stations. At 15:53 local, it fired a single round at a broadcast station in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province. At 16:12 it fired a greater number of shells across the Demilitarized Zone. South Korean authorities said the attack caused no casualties or serious property damage.
Senior South Korean authorities threatened strong retaliation for any North Korean provocations and authorized forward forces to retaliate. In response to the North Korean fire, South Korean 155-mm howitzers returned fire. North Korean media said they fired 36 shells, but inflicted no casualties.
The South Korean national defense ministry said that about 17:00 local time, it received a message from North Korea via a communications link at Panmunjom that contained an ultimatum from the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army. The ultimatum said that if the South did not stop the propaganda broadcasts within 48 hours from 17:00, then the North would begin strong military action.
A South Korean military source said Wednesday that North Korea’s military was ratcheting up its combat readiness posture. Front-line fortifications have opened their weapons portholes and units had intensified artillery firing drills. “The North Korean army is performing its exercises more frequently, including one that aims to speed up artillery operations.”
Later on the 20th, North Korean media reported that Dear Leader Kim Jong Un ordered the Korean People’s Army to move to “semi- war” combat readiness as of 17:00 Korea time (0430 ET) on 21 August.
South Korean forces are at their highest alert level. South Korea has implemented a partial evacuation of civilians from the western part of the Demilitarized zone.
The semi-war combat readiness condition is the second highest combat readiness condition. A semi-war state brings the combat forces to a condition from which they can launch attacks without warning, although all readiness measures are not completed. It always means there is a crisis, but not that a general war is imminent or likely.
The North appears ready to order increased readiness to the civilian sector, but the report does not indicate that Kim gave such an order. The changes to civilian normality under an order to increase civil readiness are so disruptive and destructive of national life that they would mean the end of Kim’s building and development programs for a considerable time. Such an order to the civil sector also would significantly increase the probability of an armed confrontation across the Demilitarized Zone.
Conditions are in place for a potentially serious escalation. The North Korean ultimatum requires some form of military action against the South Korean broadcast stations to prevent a loss of face. The North Koreans might have misjudged South Korea’s readiness and willingness to take them on. The chances of a miscalculation of intentions feeding escalation of the crisis are high. It’s likely that North Korea will test a ballistic missile by shooting it in the general direction of South Korea.

23 thoughts on “The Situation on the Korean Peninsula

  1. Question. If memory serves there are roughly 35,000 American troops in South Korea?

    If so, are most of them based near the northern border?

    I ask because I've always said one cannot negotiate with a mad man. In turn, I'm also assuming they have at least a short range missile capable of lobbing a nuke over our main base?

    Not trying to fear monger hear, but again I refer to my madman reasoning. As I've followed you long enough now (and I think a few years ago, I actually ran my madman argument by you) I'm wondering if one gets the sense this could be a worse scenario then some can imagine.

    As you say above, one would not be surprised if they did in fact "test" a missile.

    In all seriousness though, I have worried for some time as to the number of our troops there and the horrible consequences of what could happen as to loss of life and worse.

  2. The US troops are scattered around Korea. The Air Force is primarily in Osan, and Kunsan (West Coast), The Army has half a dozen bases up along the DMZ which is a tripwire for an invasion coming across the border to Soul. They also have a base at Daegu in the South. The Navy and Marines Corps are based in Chinhae with the ROK Navy HQ in the far south near Pusan.

    The truth of the matter is that the US is not in South Korea to protect South Korea per se so much as it is in South Korea to keep them from going north and embroiling the US in a(nother) land war in Asia. South Korea is capable of defeating North Korea without any help from anyone. The second and very important points here are that:

    1. Any war on the Korean Peninsula must take place during the winter when the ground is frozen. Any attacking land force would be immediately bogged down in mud. Korea is made up of very steep mountains and rice-paddy landscape. The North is not serious about attacking. People always forget that dynamic.

    2. If North Korea mobilizes, they will not harvest a crop this year, which would mean that half the nation will starve during the coming winter.

    3. If North Korea uses a nuclear weapon, the US will retaliate in kind. Yes, even our timid Dear Leader. If they nuke the south, they nuke US troops and then the game is really afoot. It would mean that the fat little dictator and his coterie of parasites would not have anyone to push around ever again, and they know that.

  3. The fat little retard dictator has executed about 80 or so elite political figures, and his popularity among the ruling class is at best putrid.

    This little kerfuffle may be just enough to topple the tubby little sack of shit.

  4. Nah. The Army backs him. As with all dictators, he needs well paid guards to keep the people down and he still has that. He can always sell off a nuke or two to Slobovistan or Iran if he needs more cash.

  5. Maybe this will be the spark that blows us all away.
    Pray for the flatting of mecca and medina.
    That would help some.

  6. I don't think that Iran wants to flatten Mecca and Medina – just occupy them. As to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – they are just trying to keep the lights on and run a Potemkin Village that only they believe is real. Funny if not for all the suffering people in the DPRK.

  7. I don't think the murderous little prick is crazy either. I just hope that that the idiots who can actually start a conflict (on both sides) are buttoned down. Just so tired of his ridiculous rants and what those poor NK SOB's have to live with.

  8. Korea is the only place I ever went to jail. Didn't stay long – they found out I wasn't broke so I had to buy dinner and drinks for the police. I was glad ti do it. The jail SUCKED.

  9. Kim Jong Un is like a retarded cousin who rants and raves and everyone ignores — but with nuclear weapons.

  10. I am positive that jail in South Korea sucks. I'm also positive that jail in North Korea would suck worse.

  11. I'm sure that Obama, Clinton, Sanders, and throw in Socialist NY Mayor DeBlasio for good measure – should spend a few years there. Then they can come back and speak with authority on the glories of the worker's paradise.

  12. This one is getting scary… Our folks are on an increased level of readiness over there too… At least 'some' of our commanders are actually honoring the threat!

  13. "The truth of the matter is that the US is not in South Korea to protect South Korea per se so much as it is in South Korea to keep them from going north and embroiling the US in a(nother) land war in Asia."

    First I've ever heard that. Food for thought.

  14. I think that the DPRK wants to make good the threat, but I don't think that they want a war that will throw their leadership from power, or in the grave.

  15. Thanks for the clarification. I knew you had been there before.

    Another question. I saw today a report that 50 of NK's 70 submarines were deployed but "no one knows where the hell they are"

    any thoughts on this? I'm surprised because I thought we could pretty much track just about anything (I'm assuming here that most of their subs are not nuclear powered?)

  16. I suspect that we know where they are…

    If the government acknowledges that we know, it would be divulging classified information.

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