Where to Order

Find Authors

Little Madmen: Correspondents' Tales

History
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
Dispelling myths about the sinking of the South Korean navy corvette the Cheonan in March 2010
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
2.Covering Korea
Q&A, Asia-Pacific Businss & Technology Report
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
Following the story
How the news goes in and out of the Hermit Kingdom
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
The story of North Korea's 105-story white elephant
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

Hither and Yon

Fog, policy prevented a shoulder-to-shoulder stand at DMZ

November 11, 2017

Tags: Donald Trump, Marine One, National Assembly, Panmunjom, DMZ, Demilitarized Zone, President Moon Jae-In, National Assembly

November 9, 2017
Special to WorldTribune.com

By Donald Kirk

At least Donald Trump gave it a shot. He really wanted to make it up to Panmunjom but was turned back by the weather.

For most visitors, the fog that hung over the line between North and South Korea would not have been too much for a beautiful U.S. Marine One helicopter to navigate.

It wasn’t as if there were high winds or a terrific downpour. The passenger in this case, however, was the president of the United States. Nobody wanted to take the remotest chance on the helicopter going down with the Trumpster himself on board.

If anything should happen to him, who would believe for a moment that he wasn’t the victim of some terrible North Korean plot? Just imagine the ru mors and “reports” that would have been circulating ― not just right away but for years to come.

As it was, having not succeeded in what would have been a surprise, unannounced sortie to the Demilitarized Zone, Donald Trump showed up on time, two hours later, Wednesday at the National Assembly. The speech was all over television, on Korean and international channels, in Korean and English, but I joined the journalistic mob, including the White House press corps.

All that was missing was a line to the effect, “I have looked inside North Korea and seen the evil of the regime.” It’s possible to interpret what he wound up saying in quite different ways.

One interpretation that I would dispute, after having also heard him standing beside President Moon Jae-In in their briefing at the Blue House the previous evening, was that he was showing a more moderate position or that he truly believed negotiated accommodation with North Korea might be possible.

Don’t count on it. The Trumpster, after going through pleasantries and praise for South Korea’s accomplishments, in his assembly speech launched into one of the most all-around denunciations of North Korea that I have ever heard. Okay, we’re all aware of the many reports on North Korea, ranging from rape to executions to starvation, but rarely do we hear them all summarized in one non-stop denunciation.

What is Trump trying to get across? Does he think he’s preparing South Koreans, like Americans, for war, or at least for a limited strike on North Korea’s nuclear and missile complexes? Or is he saying North Korea gets one more chance, then, bang, Armageddon?

The speech was well organized, carefully crafted. He got to the real point toward the end, climactically, dramatically. “The time for excuses is over,” he declaimed. “Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong.”

Yes, that was an applause line, but looking down from the spectators’ seats on the assembly members at their desks below, I could not help but notice that not everyone was clapping.Although assembly members were uniformly polite in applauding as he was introduced and then as he was leaving, clearly not all of them were on board with what some saw as a possibly dangerous policy.

It could have been his allusions, both in the press briefing and in his speech, to those three U.S.aircraft carriers, plus a nuclear submarine, lurking in nearby waters that showed he had not given up on “the military option” or a “preemptive strike.”

No, the Trumpster did not use either of those stock phrases, which President Moon doesn’t like at all, but he might as well have when he talked about the carriers with F35s and F18s on their decks.Most assembly members did applaud when he concluded that riff by declaring, “I want peace through strength.”

Left unstated was how that strength might be used ― as a threat, an act of intimidation, or in a real shooting war. It’s dead-certain that Trump discussed the odds with Moon, but we will probably have to wait a while before getting the full unexpurgated version of their summit conversation.

Moon himself appears eager to get along with Trump ― but not to the extent of joining in rhetoric that he believes would ruin any chance for serious dialogue with the North. Words aside, he evinced his support for the U.S.-Korean alliance by joining Trump on his visit to the new U.S.headquarters complex at Pyeongtaek and then waiting in vain for him at Panmunjom.

Did the Americans really have to call off Trump’s visit to the DMZ? Looking at weather reports, why did they not arrange for his motorcade to take him there by road rather than rely on a helicopter? What a photo-op that would have been ― the two of them shoulder to shoulder, staring across the line into the jaws of the tiger!

Donald Kirk has been covering war and peace in Asia for decades.

This n That






Dancing to a new tune


On Forbes' Rich List




The Sewol Tragedy








©DON KIRK PHOTOS