North Korea Chooses Nukes And Suffering

North Korea Chooses Nukes And Suffering

North Korea Chooses Nukes And Suffering

Things in North Korea have been ramping up again within the last week after a relatively long period of quiet. But after the outright rejection of humanitarian aid, the United States and South Korea look to be back to business as usual, running military exercises together after a long break due to COVID-19.

Joe Biden has had his hands full with losing Afghanistan, Russia invading Ukraine, trying to restart the Iran Deal, begging the Saudis for more oil, and saying one thing about Taiwan while his administration says another. Absolutely no one could call his presidency a foreign policy success by any stretch of the imagination. And up until this point, the Biden team has largely not dealt with North Korea. Whether that was due to COVID-19, or because they knew they couldn’t have Joe Biden engage at the same level that Donald Trump did with Kim Jong-un (whether you agreed with Trump’s approach or not, there is no way that Biden’s staff is going to set a senile old man on the same stage as the North Korean dictator – just one “look, fat” and we’re all in big trouble), North Korea, either by accident or design, was ignored.

And of course, North Korea was having to deal with COVID-19 as well. While their isolation from the world keeps us from knowing just how badly COVID-19 has affected them, we do know that it has been bad, and the only assistance they were getting was from China.

North Korea has not revealed how many confirmed infections of the virus it has found, but since July 29 it has reported no new suspected cases with what international aid organizations say are limited testing capabilities.

While lifting the maximum anti-pandemic measures, Kim said that North Korea must maintain a “steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier and intensifying the anti-epidemic work until the end of the global health crisis,” according to a report by state news agency KCNA.

But just ten days ago, North Korea declared “victory” over COVID-19.

North Korea’s official death rate of 74 people is an “unprecedented miracle” compared to other countries, KCNA reported, citing another official.”

Instead of confirmed cases, North Korea reported the number of people with fever symptoms. Those daily cases peaked at more than 392,000 on May 15, prompting health experts to warn of an inevitable crisis.”

The World Health Organization has cast doubts on North Korea’s claims, saying last month it believed the situation was getting worse, not better, amid an absence of independent data.”

Pyongyang’s declaration of victory comes despite rolling out no known vaccine program. Instead, the country says it relied on lockdowns, homegrown medicine treatments, and what Kim called the “advantageous Korean-style socialist system.”

And if you believe that only 74 people died of COVID-19 in North Korea, I have a bridge to Gaza to sell you. Especially because North Korea has continued to import masks and gloves, even though they are saying COVID is over.

Pyongyang last week declared victory over the coronavirus, ending a little-detailed fight against “fever” cases that had risen to 4.77 million in the country of around 26 million people. It has registered no new such cases since July 29.”

Still, China exported 1.23 million facial masks to North Korea in July, worth $44,307, surging from 17,000 the previous month, according to data released by Chinese customs at the weekend.”

From January to July, the last month for which data is available, the North bought more than 11.93 million masks from China, data showed.”

Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong (the Olympic Ice Queen, if you remember) openly blamed South Korea for spreading COVID-19 in North Korea, and claiming that they will seek to retaliate. Yeah, could that brain trust back up her claim that the South Koreans managed to get their COVID-contaiminated litter across the DMZ to cause the outbreak?

Kim Yo-jong is starting to pop up more in the news, speaking for her brother the dictator. Recently, South Korea offered food and humanitarian aid to the north, asking them to start “denuclearization.” Kim Yo-jong told the South Korean president to shut up. Literally.

Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister, has slammed Seoul’s offer of economic aid in return for denuclearisation steps, calling it the “height of absurdity.”

“No-one barters their destiny for corn cake,” she said in a statement.”

South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol had Wednesday reiterated the plan, which he first mentioned in May.”

But Ms Kim said on Friday that Mr Yoon should “shut his mouth” and called him “simple and still childish.”

South Korea’s presidential office said it regretted her “rude” remarks, but that the offer still stands – the office was responding to Ms Kim’s statement, released by state news agency KCNA on Friday.”

“North Korea’s attitude is in no way helpful to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula, as well as its own future,” it said.”

One has to wonder, if the average North Korean who is starving, living in the most restrictive conditions, could only know that the Kims were refusing food and help in favor of shooting off missiles and trying to create nukes. Just how much do they believe in the family of the “Great Leader” after all these years? How much brainwashing can there be when people are either starving or dying of COVID-19? These people, whether they know it or not, live in a communist monarchy that has total control over them, and really doesn’t care if they do live or die. Last week, North Korea launched a couple of missiles off their coast toward the sea, just to remind everyone that they have them and are not shy about using them.

Which means that the military exercises that have been suspended due to COVID-19 are back on, starting today.

The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises will continue through Sept. 1 in South Korea and include field exercises involving aircraft, warships, tanks and potentially tens of thousands of troops.”

While Washington and Seoul describe their exercises as defensive, North Korea portrays them as invasion rehearsals and has used them to justify its nuclear weapons and missiles development.”

Ulchi Freedom Shield, which started along with a four-day South Korean civil defense training program led by government employees, will reportedly include exercises simulating joint attacks, front-line reinforcements of arms and fuel, and removals of weapons of mass destruction.”

The allies will also train for drone attacks and other new developments in warfare shown during Russia’s war on Ukraine and practice joint military-civilian responses to attacks on seaports, airports and major industrial facilities such as semiconductor factories.”

The United States and South Korea in past years had canceled some of their regular drills and downsized others to computer simulations to create space for the Trump administration’s diplomacy with North Korea and because of COVID-19 concerns.”

There are no good solutions to North Korea, short of an internal uprising against the Kim dynasty. And even then, who would take control? It’s not like there is a vibrant dissident movement within North Korea, waiting in the wings. But just because there are no good solutions doesn’t mean that the threat they pose can be ignored. Between North Korea and China, we ought to be paying a whole lot more attention to Asia than we have been.

Featured image: Pyongyang, North Korea, Kim Il Sun Square, via gfs_mizuta on Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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