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Caught between huge conflicting forces, people look with foreboding on the gathering clouds of war
1.Points of Crisis
The rise of Kim Dae Jung and the high price of his failed drive for reconciliation with North Korea
Three contributions on Korea -- North, South and Kim Dae Jung -- for this massive five-volume work on human rights issues worldwide
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Memories of the Vietnam War and its aftermath from the arrival of U.S. forces to the release of the last U.S. POWs
The Vietnam War as it spread through Cambodia and Laos into northern and northeastern Thailand
Washington's pact with Pyongyang won't help the starving children
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Looking back to the Old Days: A Correspondent's Field Manual; A Reader’s Guide to Real News:
Korea through the eyes of correspondents who were there, 1871-2006
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3. Business and Economy
The Rev. Moon's empire bouncing back in South Korea
Play-by-play account of the meltdown that nearly bankrupted the South Korean economy
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An unauthorized study of Korea's largest business group, its triumphs and failures, and the peasant's son who founded it.... "Korean Dynasty is a must read for business people and students of business and the social sciences learning about the socio-economics of Asia." Business Book Review Library; 1995, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p1
The ultimate business reference to the Philippines, providing practical advice from leading experts
Iraq and South Korea face contrasting economic problems and issues, as seen in these articles for Institutional Investor
4. Seoul-Searching
I.--Heart and Seoul: From the ashes of war, Korea's capital rises like a phoenix to world-class. II.--Three Perfect Days: Wining, dining, sightseeing and strolling around one of the world's oldest and greatest capitals




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©DON KIRK PHOTOS

Hither and Yon

Mar-a-lago menu: THAAD and Kim Jong-UN; Powerpoints and hot air

April 8, 2017

Tags: ThAAD, Trump, Xi Jinping, Mar-a-Logo, Korea, China

April 6, 2017
Special to WorldTribune.com

By Donald Kirk

From the outset, the idea of implanting a Star Wars weapon capable of zapping an enemy missile 150 kilometers above the earth’s surface had to be controversial.

The real problem from the South Korean viewpoint initially was, what for ― what we really need are short and mid-range missiles for not only countering whatever North Korea is throwing at us but also delivering body blows to targets on North Korea soil. South Koreans hemmed and hawed with visiting American potentates, from cabinet-level personages to military officers to corporate types and engineers, and even a physicist or two, all laden with charts, graphics, power-point and information sheets showing why South Korea needed THAAD for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

(Parenthetical note: At first the “T” in THAAD stood for “Theater,” but someone in Washington decided that “theater” might raise paranoid eyebrows elsewhere, that is, in China and Russia. They had that right. Good thinking, guys, though apparently “terminal” hasn’t made anyone happy either. Maybe it seems too much like “terminate,” as in that old CIA term, “terminate with extreme prejudice.” Why couldn’t they just have settled on “HAAD” for “High Altitude Area Defense.” That would have gotten the idea across just fine.)

Ok, back to topic. So after hearing enough of all that, over too many lunches, dinners, drinks and coffees, the South Koreans said, Okay, maybe you guys know what you’re doing, we got the idea, we’ll go for it, and THAAD was on the way. The fact that it’s here, being implanted at this moment amid the verdant fairways and manicured greens of that Lotte golf course well south of Seoul, does not mean it’s worth the gazillion dollars it’s costing.

(Second parenthetical note: No one really knows how many billion dollars this baby is costing American tax payers. Brings to mind what a U.S. senator said years ago talking about foreign aid. “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” As I see it, if they ever fire one missile or one volley, we, tax-paying Americans, are down another $100 million. Such is the price of freedom, freedom is not free.)

Okay, returning to the narrative. The real question about THAAD is not what China or Russia say, which is balderdash since they know it’s not aimed at them, but whether it will work. Is there any guarantee one of those hyper-kinetic, super-high-flying, beautifully sculpted, silver-plated chrome projectiles will come anywhere near the target?

And who’s testing, anyway? Are they going to shoot a couple up from the Lotte golf course, the same way North Korea test-fires mid-and-long-range missiles, soaring way over the east coast into Japanese waters? How else will anyone know if these missiles ­ or “counter-missiles,” in the preferred vernacular ­ will hit anything if they don’t fire a shot or two or maybe a few more?

But no one’s going to do that. South Korea’s next president may say, THAAD’s here, let it stay where it is, and go on to other more mundane topics, but you can bet he’s not going to say, Oh, now let’s make sure it works, how about some test shots just to raise our confidence level? No, the next president, if he’s not so inundated by anti-THAAD protests as to be unable to sleep comfortably in the Blue House, will put this one on the back burner: Let the Americans have their toy, forget it.

In fact, we may never have a clue as to whether THAAD is a great idea or totally absurd. That’s because Kim Jong-Un, while he gets his jollies “ordering” missile shots, cannot be so dumb as to fire a real live missile in anger at South Korea. The crews minding THAAD will never have the opportunity to prove, Look, we’re right, you really needed this thing.

Most likely, after THAAD has been sitting there a few years, the Americans will have another gigantic gizmo to sell. Not to worry. The only ones hurting are those of us who have to foot the bill for these games.

Maybe Donald Trump can add the price to China’s outsized trade surplus: Hey China, you made us pay for this by not stopping North Korea’s nuke program. Isn’t that what he’s telling Xi Jinping over chop suey and fortune cookies in Mar-a-Lago?

Donald Kirk has been covering war and peace in Northeast Asia for decades. He’s at kirkdon4343@gmail.com