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BeeKay
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: North Carolina mountains
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 02:22

What with all the posturing and name-calling (in reference to N. Korea's nuclear re-instatement) I am wondering what our "local" insider has to say about the subject. What is the word on the street there in S. Korea? Inquiring minds want to know!!

Cell Number: 494 / Inkstick

Suho1004
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 01-10-2003 03:02

That's a good question. I'm just about to hit the street myself...

From what I've gathered so far, the ROK government wants a swift resolution to the face-off. As you may know, S. Korea has recently elected a new president. Although it had seemed at first that the hardliner was going to get elected, there was a turn around (one candidate gave up the race to support another) and the softliner (is that a word?) won (his name is No Mu-hyeon, but he probably spells it Ro or something silly like that). He has a very open policy toward North Korea, which, in the long run, may turn out to be the best thing for N-S relations. We'll have to wait and see on that.

Of course, I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. As for the average Kim on the street, I don't think most Koreans are really worried about the situation. Everyone realizes that North Korea has no intention of actually using the nukes, because the DPRK knows they would be wiped off the planet in a matter of minutes. The thing you need to understand about the DPRK is this: they are technically communist, but in reality it is a cultish dictatorship. The DPRK government's sole goal is to keep the Kim dynasty in power. Using nukes would not accomplish this. Using nukes as a bargaining chip to better your position, though, might.

It's been like this since the Korean War, really. The nukes are just the latest (and most dangerous) move in the game. I do not know of a single Korean who has changed the way they live because of the current situation. Sure, we may think about, and we may hear about it on the news, but it doesn't have any real effect on our lives. In my case, the attention the media has been giving the issue has actually drawn attention away from the incident with the two girls and the anti-American movement that sprung up because of that. The downside, of course, is that most Koreans are aware that the only reason the ROK doesn't have a nuclear program is because the US won't let them. So, believe it or not, I've actually heard of some Koreans who are glad that the DPRK is developing nukes. I'm not exactly sure what the English expression is, but some Koreans feel that, since the ROK and DPRK were originally one country and still one people, North Korea's development of nuclear weapons brings a sort of vicarious pleasure. I think this is kind of twisted, but when my wife asked me why the US should have nuclear weapons and no one else (playing the devil's advocate), I didn't have an answer for her.

Now then, I'm not sure if that's enough info (or even well organized), but if I don't hit the street pretty soon my wife will most likely start hitting me...

Bugimus
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: New California
Insane since: Mar 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 08:53

Thanks for the info, Suho... hey that rhymed! Actually, I heard on the news the other day that the gallop organization in S.Korea conducted a poll about who do you fear more the Americans or the N.Koreans. Most of the respondents said they thought America was more of a threat.

That really sucks. Not because they don't like us but because it's so foolish.

I spoke to a Korean friend of mine about all of this and he had some very helpful insights. He said that the older generation remembers and realizes the nature of the regime to the North quite well. The younger generation on the other hand is far more inclined to believe that all they need to do is talk to the North and all will be well. I suppose that is the youthfulness causing that, I can still remember me in high school arguing in government class about how all we needed to do to overcome the Cold War was to have more joint ventures between us and the Russians like SkyLab and inviting the Russian Ballet to New York (being the liberal I was then and all)

But I digress. My friend also pointed out that the American military has a very disrespectful presence there. This was very much in line with what you were telling us before, Suho. He said that not only this recent incident with the girls but also there have been many other things that have been building up over the years. For the life of me, I can't understand why we conduct ourselves that way over there. It's an absolute disgrace! Sure we are protecting them from invasion but that gives us no right to be assholes!

When we occupied Japan after WWII, I understand MacArthur gave strict orders to treat the populace with the utmost respect. So much so that many of the GIs were pissed at him for having to treat the former enemy so nicely. I think he even had a standing policy that any GI found guilty of raping a woman could be executed. Anyway, that's the sort of standard we should be following over there and any other country we have a presence.

Good night, I'm almost ready to fall off my chair.

. . : slicePuzzle

WebShaman
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 01-10-2003 08:59

Hmmm...things are heating up...here.

Hoboy.

As for the military, these types of things are not just isolated to South Korea...they happen everywhere (even in the States). Why? Good question...I don't know. As I was in the Air Force, there were lots of problems with the SPs...'Special Police'. Seems there was always a 'scandal' going on...mostly involving members of the SP. Most of these 'skandals' were kept out of the eye of the public. Why this is, is to me a mystery.

Suho1004
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 01-10-2003 09:42

Bugs: Your friend raises some good points, but I would put it a little differently. I don't think it is so much that the younger generation doesn't realize what the DPRK regime is like, it's just that they've been desensitized. When it's something that you live with day in and day out, either you become desensitized to some extent or you go crazy. What the older generation remembers better than the younger generation is the Korean War (which is probably what your friend was talking about). This is why most of the older generation approves of a US military presence in Korea (despite all its flaws), while a majority of those calling for the withdrawal of US troops are university students (then again, not to sound like a cliche, but the universities in Korea have traditionally been hotbeds of communist activity and cozy nests for DPRK agents provocateur--must have something to do with the idealism of youth).

As an aside, want to hear something amusing? Some of the hardline elements in Korea cite Japan as one of the reasons we (er, they, whatever) need a US military presence here--they say that Japan will invade Korea if US troops leave. Granted, Japan has been trying to conquer Korea since the beginning of recorded history (check out the Japanese Kojiki if you don't believe me), but the idea of Japan invading Korea is ridiculous. And yet there are people who fear this (or at least say they fear this).

Back to the subject at hand, though. I was talking with my wife today at lunch, and she had two insights that I found interesting (and which are somewhat related to what Bugs' friend had to say). The first is that most South Koreans are not worried about North Korea because they don't believe that North Korea would ever harm South Korea--after all, they are the same people, the same blood. I don't agree with this, of course--I think if US troops pulled out of Korea you'd be seeing a second Korean War shortly thereafter--but that's the way a lot of people here think, consciously or not. The second point (which I believe has more validity) is that South Koreans don't consider this to be a quarrel between the ROK and the DPRK--it's a quarrel between the US and the DPRK, and none of the ROK's business. That may sound harsh, but by repeatedly ignoring ROK suggestions and pleas in forming its policy, the US has made it quite clear that it does not consider South Korea to be all that vital in solving the North Korean "problem."

An example: the US, the ROK, and Japan met recently to discuss what to do about DPRK nuclear development. South Korean officials suggested focusing on getting rid of plutonium enrichment projects first and worrying about uranium enrichment projects later, since the DPRK currently has the technology for plutonium but not uranium (in other words, deal with the most pressing problem first and worry about the other problems later). The US and Japan, though, unilaterally rejected this proposal and went on to form their own policy. It wasn't: "Oh, well, that's something to consider." They didn't even pretend to consider it, but immediately and fully rejected the proposal as completely unacceptable. Time and time again, the US has shown very little desire to actually work with the ROK in dealing with the DPRK, instead merely pushing forward with its own agenda, and the rest of the region can go to h-e-double hockey sticks.

So it should come as no surprise that most South Koreans feel this is an American problem and not a Korean problem. Obviously the government wants a quick resolution for the sake of stability on the peninsula (not to mention in the entire region), but in reality there is not much they can do about it.

As for US military in behavior in Korea, WS is right. It's not just South Korea. In fact, not only is it not just South Korea, it's not just the US either. I'm sure you've heard of some of the atrocities committed by Japanese troops occupying Asia during the Pacific War. The US just happens to be the big kid on the block at the moment, but it happens anywhere and everywhere you have a foreign occupying army present. It's just the nature of the beast.

WS: I followed your link, and I must say I am neither surprised nor very much concerned. This is the next logical step for the DPRK. It's their way of saying, "Look, we're serious here." It really wouldn't make sense for them not to pull out of the treaty at this point. Not to be flippant about it, of course--it certainly isn't a development for the better.

The bottom line, really, is that the US is probably far more concerned about this than the average Korean. In fact, the US probably has more to be concerned about than the ROK. I'm not saying that the DPRK would resort to terrorist acts: they are not stupid, and they are aware of what the repercussions of such acts would be, and it would most certainly not be conducive to keeping Kim Jeong-il in power. Also, some Islamic nations, they are no religious fanatics (the only religion is the worship of the Great Leader) and there are no radical elements (radical elements cannot feasibly exist in the DPRK environment). They do have special forces that are trained for years to risk their lives in secret missions and commit suicide if they fail, but these troops engage in espionage, not terrorism. Just in case anyone out there was worried about the possibility of DPRK terrorist acts against the US--while I can't guarantee that it won't happen (I can't see the future), I can tell you that the chances of it happening are very, very small.

Well, I hope that builds a bit on what I said above, and provides a bit more insight into the situation.

InSiDeR
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Oblivion
Insane since: Sep 2001

posted posted 01-10-2003 12:45
quote:
I am wondering what our "local" insider has to say about the subject.


Not a lot actually

tomeaglescz
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Czech Republic via Bristol UK
Insane since: Feb 2002

posted posted 01-10-2003 13:47

just when i thought he had grown up !!!! is yannah a clone of insider????

BeeKay
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: North Carolina mountains
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 13:51
quote:
The DPRK government's sole goal is to keep the Kim dynasty in power. Using nukes would not accomplish this. Using nukes as a bargaining chip to better your position, though, might.



OK. So, is something threatening the Kim dynasty right now? Is this just a move to demonstrate "hey, I'm still powerful and can tick off all the world's big guys and get away with it." Or is there something worrying the dynasty that it feels it must do this nuclear bit to stay in power? Are the N. Korean natives (the starving masses) getting restless? I just still don't understand what is sparking all this. I am getting a beginning grasp of the "why" but I still don't comprehend what prompted the actions.

Oh, and speaking of military follies ... let's just put it this way: troops can be stupid. Get a barely educated troop away from family and friends back home, mix him up with others in the same situation, add lots of macho drunk prove your manhood peer pressure, and PRESTO, you have an international incident. I've seen it happen too many times to count.

Cell Number: 494 / Inkstick

WebShaman
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 01-10-2003 13:51

Damn...you guys snuck your posts in before mine...

The is for...InSiDeR...

[This message has been edited by WebShaman (edited 01-10-2003).]

Raptor
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: AČ, MI, USA
Insane since: Nov 2001

posted posted 01-10-2003 15:17

I don't mean to hijack the thread here, but -

tomeaglescz, WS - don't you think that's a bit much? He simply made a wisecrack in an otherwise serious thread. This kind of thing happens all the time around here, but people certainly aren't as quick to jump down the kidder's throat.

Lighten up.

tomeaglescz
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Czech Republic via Bristol UK
Insane since: Feb 2002

posted posted 01-10-2003 15:47

Raptor:

there is a time and place for light hearted comments, ya right, but come off it that wasn't even funny

And i dont call that jumping down anyones throat

[This message has been edited by tomeaglescz (edited 01-10-2003).]

WebShaman
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 01-10-2003 15:51

I understand your concerns, Raptor...and if he had contributed a bit to the conversation, I'd have let it go...

But

There seems to be little purpose to the post...and was pretty 'lame', where humor is concerned...

However, you have a point...silliness is a part of this Forum...*shrugs*

Can we now continue?

BeeKay
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: North Carolina mountains
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 15:56

Yes, please continue ...

Is Bush calling N. Korea one of the axis of evil something the pushed N. Korea's buttons? Are there other political shenanigans taking place over the years leading up to this? Just kinda casting out my bait to see what bites ... when I have a moment or two, I'll wander the web in search of some answers, but was looking to see if anyone here already knows ...

Cell Number: 494 / Inkstick

Gilbert Nolander
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Washington DC
Insane since: May 2002

posted posted 01-10-2003 15:58

Yes, you have my permission.

Teach me, wise souls...

Cell 816~teamEarth~Asylum Quotes

BeeKay
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: North Carolina mountains
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 17:18

OK, research report time. Answered some of my own questions while doing some internet reading.

1. A brief political history: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/783966.stm

quote:
The country's fundamental economic difficulties, its inability to feed itself and the internal political contradictions imply it is no longer a question of if the regime collapses but when.

However, a rapid disintegration could have a number of dangers for North Korea's neighbours and for the US which maintains a military presence in the South. A number of scenarios have been discussed.


A huge wave of refugees could flood across the borders into South Korea, Russia and China.

Hardline elements could launch a desperate attack on the South. This is known as the 'nightmare scenario' by western planners.

An internal coup could be launched by disaffected groups in the military or government.
The collapse of the North could lead to a serious escalation of tension between China and the United States.



So, there is real danger to the dynasty as Suho implied.

2. Kim the nut: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/783967.stm
and http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/01/08/wbr.kim.jong.il/index.html

Apparently this guy is not all there. However, he is still in power, so that must mean something, eh?

More coming as I find it ...
edit: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea.html -- great reading material. Will take a while to browse through all the articles there. I did really enjoy the 'I made pizza for Kim Jong-il' series there. http://www.armscontrol.org/

Cell Number: 494 / Inkstick


[This message has been edited by BeeKay (edited 01-10-2003).]

St. Seneca
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 3rd shelf, behind the cereal
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 17:36

I think that Beekay is correct about the military's behavior.

Enlisted men are usually just boys. They are no different than your random frat boy except that they have less education. Surely, these GI's are causing no more trouble than Korean boys.

No one wants to read about the two Korean boys who lost control of their car on a crowded street and hit two pedestrians. They always want to read about the foreigners who had the same accident. Us vs. Them is always good for news and controversy sells newspapers. Koreans hurt other Koreans on a daily basis and is not newsworthy; GI's hurting Koreans is.

Over time, story after story, a pattern develops of rape, murder, and disrespect that the people become hostile to the foreigners even though as a population I would wager they commit no more crimes than the Korean population. With military discipline, I would guess it is probably even less.

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 18:13

I Would probably agree with much of that St Seneca, but I find the idea that "With military discipline, I would guess it is probably even less" very hard to swallow.

I think that the purpose of their presence tends to give a superiority complex, and the local people tend to get viewed as somehow less than human (or at least less worthy humans...).

Certainly such stoires make better news, but it's no secret that people in such positions as a military presence occupying a foreign nation tend to take some liberties that they are not entitled to.

Bugimus
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: New California
Insane since: Mar 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 19:38

Right. There is and should be a higher standard on the behavior of our personel because we are guests in *their* country. It wouldn't matter if the Korean crime rate was 10 times that of the GIs, it's a matter of them representing the US as a whole. That's how I see it. People who delude themselves into thinking they are superior human beings infuriate me. Just because we are militarily stronger nation and are protecting a weaker nation from invasion, gives us absolutely no right to be any less repsectful of said nation.

BeeKay, I have to chuckle when people suggest N.Korea's recent actions are a result of the axis of evil rhetoric. It did not cause their actions because they've been breaking the treaty for years long before Bush even became president. And I had just heard about that "pizza" story yesterday... unbelievable.

BeeKay
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: North Carolina mountains
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 20:15

Ah, yes, I understand the axis of evil thing now that I've been reading some. I was just casting about for an understanding of what is going on.

On the other hand, it looks like the U.S. is just as guilty of not going through with their end of the bargains in the past too. Supposedly we promised to help build a smaller nuclear facility for N. Korea, but it was very slow to get started and is a good 3 years behind schedule. And we are supposedly constantly late with oil shipments to them.

Of course, I have to take everything I read with a grain of salt. Everyone has an agenda and their own slant on the story. However, I don't doubt that the U.S. hasn't been complying with it's end of all the bargains.

Cell Number: 494 / Inkstick

Bugimus
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: New California
Insane since: Mar 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 21:19

Yeah, being late with shipments and construction not being on schedule is a pretty normal occurrence every and hardly constitutes non-compliance. But continuing your nuclear weapon program and actually building a couple that can reach Tokyo seems a bit more worthy of that charge.

St. Seneca
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 3rd shelf, behind the cereal
Insane since: Dec 2000

posted posted 01-10-2003 22:05

DL, I considered that right after my post and came to a similar conclusion.

I didn't want to edit and make my post any longer though; Thanks for making the point.

Suho1004
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 01-13-2003 04:44

Just a brief note here (I spent most of my time on my latest message in the other thread; the last part deals briefly with the Korean attitude toward the US military). Sorry to be linking back and forth like this, but there's a lot of overlapping going on here, and I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment.

The one thing I do want to comment on is BeeKay's question about the Axis of Evil. In my opinion, Bush's AOE certainly didn't help relations with the DPRK, and most likely pissed off the DPRK leadership. I realize that Bush probably cares little about this, but that was a wonderful first step to allowing North Korea to paint the US as a big bully (not that they needed much help with that in the first place). I'm not saying that I agree with them, of course. My position is this: if you're going to do something, do it--don't just stand around and call people names. It was totally unnecessary, and I can see no benefit from it, other than perhaps laying the foundation for a future declaration of war.

That being said, Bugs is right: the AOE declaration did not suddenly push North Korea over the edge. It didn't help matters, though, and I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all." Or something to that effect.

St. Seneca and DL are pretty much right on the money with their comments. That superiority complex only grows in the face of protests, of course--it allows the US military to feel a righteous indignation at being so mistreated. As I said before, though, that's just the nature of the beast.

WebShaman
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 02-04-2003 09:32

It would seem the situation is slowly escalating...see here for details...

quote:
The United States is considering strengthening its military forces in the Pacific Ocean as a deterrent against North Korea.
US officials said the reinforcements would help signal that a possible war with Iraq was not distracting the US from a nuclear stand-off with the North.


The USS Kitty Hawk may need to be redeployed
North Korea reacted to the reports with customary alarm, claiming the US wanted "to crush us to death".

--BBC News



And though I agree with this 'show' of force...what are things like in South Korea, Master Suho?

Suho1004
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 02-04-2003 11:16

Well, at the moment I'm taking a break from translating and considering what I should have for dinner. Maybe... rice?

Um, I haven't really watched the news much lately, so you probably know more about the latest developments than I do. As for what people think about this here, well, pretty much the same as always.

Although, interestingly enough (and I think I may have mentioned this before), I've heard people who say they are pleased that North Korea is "standing up to the US" because it is something that South Korea can't do. So they are getting some sort of vicarious pleasure from the whole thing. Needless to say, I think these people are complete and total morons, and I have really had to exercise restraint in some conversations.

I suppose I can understand where these people are coming from, though. It has been a long time since Korea has been a strong nation in military terms (and South Korea has never been a militarily strong nation). Throughout it's history, Korea has spent quite a bit of time in the shadows of other nations, first China, then Japan, and now the US. So it's understandable that the people might be a little bitter. If I were Korean, I would probably feel the same way. But to actually be pleased at the crap that is going on right now is just sheer lunacy--and I think, deep down inside, they know this, and if they were pressed on the issue they would express disapproval.

The ability to feel pleased, though, is tied directly to what I keep saying regarding the situation here: South Koreans have gone through crap like this for decades (granted, not with the nuclear element thrown in, but still), and it just doesn't have the same urgency or immediacy that it may have once had. Because a lot of people don't realize how serious this could get if people (on both sides) lose their heads (or, even if they do realize it on an intellectual level, it just doesn't sink in), they can allow themselves the luxury of being pleased.

Even though I understand how they can think this way, it still aggravates me to no end because of the inherent anti-US sentiment involved. I've been mostly locked away in front of the computer translating these days, though, so I fortunately haven't been exposed to it all that much. I imagine I will be getting back into the thick of things come March, when I start my PhD coursework. If the Korean peninsula hasn't been blown up by then, that is.

WebShaman
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 02-04-2003 14:34

Master Suho, have you heard anything on this?

quote:
SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- South Korea's much-touted efforts to reconcile with North Korea suffered a major setback as a controversy flared up that President Kim Dae-jung had bribed the communist regime to stage a historic inter-Korean summit in 2000.

A former intelligence officer has revealed that the South Korean leader funneled some 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) to his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Il, in return for holding the summit, and lobbied foreign countries to get the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize.

With the cash, North Korea purchased key components for nuclear weapons, 40 Soviet-made MiG jets and a submarine from Kazakhstan, said the former agent known only by his family name, Kim.

The flap came just after government auditors confirmed that the country's giant business conglomerate Hyundai secretly transferred some $200 million, obtained from a South Korean state-run bank, to North Korea just ahead of the summit in June 2000.

Auditors said the purposes of the expenditures were unclear, but opposition lawmakers say the money was given to the North as "payment" for the unprecedented inter-Korean summit, which helped Kim Dae-jung win the Nobel Peace Prize. Under South Korean law, any secret financial aid to North Korea is illegal.

--UPI



Interesting. Especially if true.

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