I guess we will see if any backroom deals have been worked out to reduce Lee Seok-ki’s prison sentence after the leftist lawmaker was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for being a North Korean spy that was plotting against the government:
Prosecutors on Monday demanded a 20-year jail sentence for a left-leaning lawmaker accused of plotting an armed rebellion against the government.
Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) went on trial in September on charges of conspiring with members of a clandestine organization to topple the Seoul government if a war with North Korea broke out and instigating them to do so.
In February, a local court sentenced him to 12 years in prison and stripped him of his civic rights, such as suffrage, for 10 years following his eventual release from prison.
“Considering that the accused prepared a rebellion in detail through the revolutionary organization named RO that defines the Republic of Korea as its enemy, the original 12-year sentence is too light for him,” a prosecutor in charge of the case told the Seoul High Court.
The prosecution previously demanded the same 20-year sentence during the first trial.
At the appeals trial, prosecutors explained in detail about the revolutionary organization and its activities as well as the dangerousness of the alleged rebellion plot.
“The RO, during a meeting in May last year, discussed in detail about how to acquire firearms and bombs and blow up railways, communication lines, gas lines and roads,” the prosecutor told the court. “We request that the court apply the maximum penalty for the crime, which could have caused huge human losses and social chaos.” [Yonhap]
I think cooperating with China for disaster relief missions in Pacific Rim kind of depends on which countries we are talking about:
China is geographically the largest country in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also home to the world’s second largest economy and the world’s third most powerful military. As it expands its regional and global influence, it rattles the nerves of its neighbors. In recent years, many in the leadership in China have expressed desire for a bipolar world, with the United States controlling the West and China managing the East. However, there is a gap in how China perceives itself and how it projects itself. A greater presence on the world stage also demands a larger and more comprehensive responsibility toward global affairs.
When arguing for China’s increased participation in disaster relief efforts, it should be stressed that the United States should not scale back its own capabilities in the Asia-Pacific. In addition to providing first-responder capabilities in times of crisis, the United States military also serves as a constant presence that encourages regional stability. Tensions in the region are arguably higher than they have been in decades, with skirmishes over territory occurring often and increasing in frequency. Preemptively, the United States positioned air and naval assets in and around the South China Sea long before China became a regional power. These assets, many of which have been in place since World War II, have been a fairly effective deterrent to regional conflicts. However, greater cooperation and shared responsibility for humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in the region would be to the benefit of all countries involved. An increased role by China would serve to benefit China, the United States, and its neighbors. [The Diplomat]
You can read more at the link, but the problem with China unlike the United States is that they may not leave. Take for example the Philippine Island in the South China Sea, Mischief Reef. After a storm caused the evacuation of the island the Chinese military moved in afterwards and claimed it as their territory. The Philippine controlled Second Thomas Shoal today is surrounded by Chinese military forces just looking for an opportunity to steal it as well. Because of this any country in the South China Sea would probably be very hesitant to welcoming a Chinese military response to a natural disaster.
For those that have spent time living in Korea nothing in this article should come as much of a surprise:
ODAESAN, South Korea — South Koreans are weekend warriors. The sport of choice? Hiking. Mountains are everywhere, and most can be climbed in a day. You need only the following prerequisites: a love of nature, multi-course meals packed into Tupperware, several bottles of rice wine and high-end gear.
Hiking has long been a South Korean pastime, but it has become more like a national identity. In a typical month, about 1 in 3 Koreans goes hiking more than once. The mountainous national park north of Seoul attracts more visitors annually than the Grand Canyon. [Washington Post]
You can read more at the link, but some of the gear can be outrageous at times. I once saw a guy with an ice axe strapped to his pack going up Dobongsan in the summer.
— Asian Correspondent (@AsCorrespondent) July 28, 2014
This would not be surprising if true considering how North Korea has long had weapons ties with Iran and the Assad regime in Syria to include trying to build Syria a nuclear reactor that the Israelis bombed in 2007. So sending rockets to a known terrorist group for cash is an easy deal for the Kim regime to agree to in comparison:
Islamic Extremist group Hamas is trying to seal a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communication equipment to keep up its offensive against Israel, the U.K. daily newspaper The Telegraph reported Saturday.
The arms deal is estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars and being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company which has close ties to the militant Palestinian organization, the news outlet said.
Hamas officials have already made the first payment, and it is believed that Pyongyang will soon ship extra supplies of weapons to Gaza, it added.
“Hamas is looking for ways to replenish its stocks of missiles because of the large numbers it has fired at Israel in recent weeks,” a security official was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. “North Korea is an obvious place to seek supplies because Pyongyang already has close ties with a number of militant Islamist groups in the Middle East.” [Korea Herald via reader tip]
You can read more at the link, but North Korea is also believed to be helping Hamas with the construction of tunnels into Israel from Gaza. Once again this news is not surprising since the North Koreans have reportedly been helping the Iranians with creating large tunnels to hide their nuclear program in.
So once again why is North Korea not on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism?
Here is an article in NK News that discusses the possible deployment of a THAAD missile defense battery to Korea:
At the time, though, the MND referred specifically to the L-SAM, which is being developed indigenously by South Korea. Seoul has decided against buying the THAAD system for its own military in favor of developing a similar Korean-made system and, until recently, been hesitant about the U.S. military themselves deploying it to the Korean Peninsula.
For years, South Korea has shown an increasing preference for designing and manufacturing its own weapons and military equipment – including tanks, naval vessels, trainer jets and missile systems – rather than simply purchase them from overseas. This frees Seoul of dependency on foreign governments and companies for these systems and also produces revenue for the South Korean economy through arms production and sales. This is one of the primary reasons Seoul has opted to build its own missile defense system.
Now, though, Seoul seems to be willing to allow the U.S. to deploy its own THAAD batteries on the peninsula. A U.S. deployment would serve as a stop-gap measure, providing more missile defense coverage until South Korea can field its own system. [NK News]
You can read more at the link, but the Koreans have already made it pretty clear that they would welcome the deployment of THAAD on the peninsula as long as the US pays for it. The Koreans like to develop and field their own systems if they have the know how to do so. However, for missile defense this is not something you can spend a few years developing and then field. Developing a reliable missile defense system is a long term development project that is very expensive and even after fielding will require constant testing and upgrades to the system to make it effective against new threats. Because of this, if and when THAAD does get deployed to Korea expect it to be there for a very long time before the Koreans develop anything domestically to replace it. Look no further than the old Patriot PAC-2 systems they are still using that they bought from the Germans and fielded in 2008; they have yet to develop their own domestic lower tier missile defense system to replace them much less an upper tier missile system like THAAD.
Anyone who thinks that Japan is in any position today to emulate the Imperial Japanese of World War II are a bunch of fools:
China and South Korea held their fourth Defense Strategic Dialogue this Wednesday in Beijing. The Chinese delegation was led by Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the Korean delegation was led by Baek Seung-joo, deputy defense minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK). Baek additionally met with the Chinese defense minister ahead of the dialogue. The two sides discussed North Korea, particularly the country’s worrying missile and nuclear programs, and also considered setting up a defense hotline between the two defense ministers. The Defense Strategic Dialogue follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s much publicized visit to South Korea just a few weeks ago.
According to Yonhap, Baek expressed “concerns” over Japan’s recent decision to reinterpret its constitution allowing for its military to participate in collective self-defense–an act that was previously banned under Article 9 of Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution. According to a statement from the Chinese Defense Ministry, Baek “expressed concerns over the Japanese government’s insistence on the wrong and backward conception of history and its massive amendment of the defense policy.” Relations between Japan and South Korea have been strained during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term which began in December 2012. Abe, a conservative nationalist, has raised concerns in South Korea and especially in China due to his nationalistic posturing. His cabinet’s decision to approve a resolution reinterpreting Japan’s pacifist constitution has led to concerns that modern Japan may emulate the militarism of Imperial Japan in the 1930s. [The Diplomat]
You can read more at the link, to include about the military hotline being established between China and South Korea. However, the only country in the region that has the ability and has so far even shown intent to emulate the Imperial Japanese would be ironically enough the Chinese.