Pyongyang removes all workers from Kaesong

posted at 10:01 am on April 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Looks like North Korea wasn’t bluffing about cutting off one of their only channels to hard currency and global trade.  This morning, a high-ranking official of the DPRK announced that all 51,000 workers at the Kaesong industrial complex would leave, shutting down the last link of cooperation between North and South:

North Korea said Monday it will recall 51,000 North Korean workers and suspend operations at a factory complex it has jointly run with South Korea, moving closer to severing its last economic link with its rival as tensions escalate.

The statement from Kim Yang Gon, secretary of a key decision-making body, the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, did not say what would happen to the 475 South Korean managers still at the Kaesong industrial complex. …

“The zone is now in the grip of a serious crisis,” Kim said, according to state media. He said it “has been reduced to a theater of confrontation with fellow countrymen and military provocation, quite contrary to its original nature and mission.”

“It is a tragedy that the industrial zone which should serve purposes of national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification has been reduced to a theater of confrontation between compatriots and war against the North,” Kim said in remarks carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea’s finance minister, Hyun Oh-seok, said Monday that it is “quite ridiculous” for North Korea to be closing the border at Kaesong. “North Korea has nothing to gain from this kind of things,” he said at a news briefing.

That’s why this may be a canary-in-the-coal-mine moment.  Pyongyang’s other forms of sabre-rattling usually meant that the DPRK had grown desperate for hard currency, fuel, and food aid.  Except for one brief three-day period in 2009, the regime has left Kaesong out of the propaganda fight and kept its access to legitimate hard currency open.  Now, except for trade with China, clandestine arms sales, and counterfeiting operations, the DPRK has left itself with no options except Western aid or total military victory. That position cannot be rational unless Pyongyang really wants a war, or thinks it can win a nuclear-war bluff.

That prospect has Japan feeling more and more nervous, especially after a specific threat from Pyongyang:

Though it remains a highly unlikely scenario, Japanese officials have long feared that if North Korea ever decides to play its nuclear card it has not only the means but several potential motives for launching an attack on Tokyo or major U.S. military installations on Japan’s main island. And while a conventional missile attack is far more likely, Tokyo is taking North Korea’s nuclear rhetoric seriously.

On Monday, amid reports North Korea is preparing a missile launch or another nuclear test, Japanese officials said they have stepped up measures to ensure the nation’s safety. Japanese media reported over the weekend that the defense minister has put destroyers with missile interception systems on alert to shoot down any missile or missile debris that appears to be headed for Japanese territory. …

North Korea, meanwhile, issued a new threat against Japan.

“We once again warn Japan against blindly toeing the U.S. policy,” said an editorial Monday in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of its ruling party. “It will have to pay a dear price for its imprudent behavior.”

Even this might be a strategy to keep Japan out of a war with South Korea, and perhaps deny the US access to our assets in case war breaks out on the peninsula:

Also, a threat against Japan could be used to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington. Pyongyang could, for example, fire one or more Rodong missiles toward Tokyo but have them fall short to frighten Japan’s leaders into making concessions, stay out of a conflict on the peninsula or oppose moves by the U.S. forces in Japan to assist the South Koreans, lest Tokyo suffer a real attack.

“Given North Korea’s past adventurism, this scenario is within the range of its rational choices,” Michishita wrote.

This brings us back to China, whose military recently shifted to the Korean border.  CNN points out that while the DPRK and the PRC have been BFFs for decades, China’s economic engagement with the world — especially the US, Japan, and South Korea — may have them rethinking their support for the Kim dynasty.  The new top man in Beijing just said publicly that no country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain,” a remark that lacks any of the usual niceties of Asian subtlety.  That has the US detecting a shift in China’s attitude toward the DPRK that we’d like to exploit, and should have Pyongyang hitting reverse:

At some point, China will be forced to ask itself this question: Does it prefer having a loose cannon in Pyongyang who might provoke a war on purpose or by accident, thus guaranteeing US and Japanese interference on its doorstep for the next several decades, or a reunification that rids itself of Mao’s loose ends and gets the US and Japan off its back porch for good? They may never have asked themselves that question but for Lil’ Kim’s provocations, but now they have no way to avoid the decision.

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These guys are ridiculous. Like a drunk outside a bar, they must know the only way they can win this exchange is if a very weak US Administration backs down and makes concessions to make nice and …

Oh. Oh, never mind.

hawkdriver on April 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM

If I’m China, I’d much rather have a buffer state that’s prosperous, wealthy, and useful. Instead, they have the black hole that is North Korea.

If the North screws up and ends up getting crushed, it gives China the chance to install a more useful puppet government in the North.

Or, China may figure that a war-time disruption to South Korea’s economy may benefit China’s economy.

hawksruleva on April 8, 2013 at 10:12 AM

“We once again warn Japan against blindly toeing the U.S. policy,” said an editorial Monday in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of its ruling party. “It will have to pay a dear price for its imprudent behavior.”

He needed to say something here about “One Million Dollars!”

hawkdriver on April 8, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Admiral Josh Painter:

“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

HotAirian on April 8, 2013 at 10:14 AM

It is getting harder and harder to see how Kim Jong Un can back down without losing serious face. Even the PR coup of getting the United States to delay missile testing wasn’t enough to entice some sanity out of Pyongyang.

This isn’t going to end well for somebody and my guess is that ultimately that somebody will be lil Kim.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Shump on April 8, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Also, a threat against Japan could be used to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington. Pyongyang could, for example, fire one or more Rodong missiles toward Tokyo but have them fall short to frighten Japan’s leaders into making concessions, stay out of a conflict on the peninsula or oppose moves by the U.S. forces in Japan to assist the South Koreans, lest Tokyo suffer a real attack.

Time to put the George Washington battle group between North Korea and Japan. Let’s have those missles fall short in the midst of the United States Navy. I would bet you that would cause Pyongyang to back down lest they suffer a real attack.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Surely we will setup a congressional gang of something to deal with this troublesome despot…

workingclass artist on April 8, 2013 at 10:18 AM

51,000 people out a work…?

We got them beat.

Electrongod on April 8, 2013 at 10:20 AM

They have threatened nuclear war on us, whether or not their missiles can actually carry out that threat is irrelevant. If we see missiles being readied to launch we should assume they mean to carry out that threat and we should destroy the missiles and launch sites.

Imrahil on April 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

If we see missiles being readied to launch we should assume they mean to carry out that threat and we should destroy the missiles and launch sites.

Imrahil on April 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

With the rat-eared devil as CINC and Chuck “Jew hater” Hagel as SecDef? LOL

Thanks for the good laugh on what is mostly a sad news day.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

The new top man in Beijing just said publicly that no country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain,”

Maybe he was talking about the U.S., not North Korea. Chew on that for a moment. I don’t trust either of them, and anything’s possible.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

They have threatened nuclear war on us, whether or not their missiles can actually carry out that threat is irrelevant. If we see missiles being readied to launch we should assume they mean to carry out that threat and we should destroy the missiles and launch sites.

Imrahil on April 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

and the seat of power in Pyongyang

D-fusit on April 8, 2013 at 10:26 AM

The new top man in Beijing just said publicly that no country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain,”

See this is where groupthink gets people into trouble. This statement Ed could just as easily be referring to SK, the USa or Japan. China did not once mention North Korea by name. the Chinesse government also issuesed this warning:

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by phone there were deep concerns. “We oppose provocative words and actions by any party in this region, and will not allow troublemaking on China’s doorstep,” he said on Saturday.

that statement unless you aren’t paying attention isn’t just directed at North Korea

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:27 AM

They have threatened nuclear war on us, whether or not their missiles can actually carry out that threat is irrelevant. If we see missiles being readied to launch we should assume they mean to carry out that threat and we should destroy the missiles and launch sites.

Imrahil on April 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Iran declared war on us in 1979 doesn’t seem to matter much to D.C

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM

This is a trip wire where we are supposed to act.

losarkos on April 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Man up China

cmsinaz on April 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

glad someone is seeing the same thing. when china made the statement they didn’t name NK. The reporters that were covering the event ASSUMED he meant North Korea. And wrote the story tha tit wa sa “veiled threat” against NK. Since then EVERY OTHER news organization has repeated the same talking point. Groupthink/driveby media at its best.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Will no one rid us of this meddlesome oompa-loompa?

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

The South was foolish to have set up Kaesong.

Hopefully, they got its value before the child leader busted up his best toy.

unclesmrgol on April 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Agreed. His statement just reeked of the old “America = Imperialist Pig” mantra; it was the first thing that came to my mind.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Maybe he was talking about the U.S., not North Korea. Chew on that for a moment. I don’t trust either of them, and anything’s possible.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

So what exactly would the US obtain by “selfish gain?”

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Stand outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, unarmed, and yell…”the first chance I get I am going to bomb the White House”…and see what happens to you.

You will be taken down, arrested, detained, fined, imprisoned…

So why do we allow someone to yell “the first chance I get I am going to bomb America”…and nothing is done…

right2bright on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Pyongyang could, for example, fire one or more Rodong missiles toward Tokyo but have them fall short to frighten Japan’s leaders into making concessions, stay out of a conflict on the peninsula or oppose moves by the U.S. forces in Japan to assist the South Koreans, lest Tokyo suffer a real attack.

Which could seriously backfire and cause the Japanese to become patriotic and warlike again.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

This brings us back to China, whose military recently shifted to the Korean border. CNN points out that while the DPRK and the PRC have been BFFs for decades, China’s economic engagement with the world — especially the US, Japan, and South Korea — may have them rethinking their support for the Kim dynasty

military shifted? Is that what we are now calling military exercises?

China’s military and defense ministry on Sunday confirmed that military forces in a border region near North Korea conducted live-fire drills amid tensions between North Korea and the United States.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Apparently Kim Phat-chunk hasn’t received his Ipod filled with Bark’s greatest speeches, or else he would know that Bark is a steel-spined Goliath who shoudn’t be messed with.

Bishop on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I keep thinking about how are we going to treat Iran with nukes. As horrible as it may sound, it may be best for North Korea to nuke something and millions die, because what Iran will do with nukes will be so much worse. North Korea’s actions are the only thing I see that will give the world moral clarity about a nuclear Iran.

thuja on April 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Will no one rid us of this meddlesome oompa-loompa?

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I thought oompa-loompas only came in orange. They have a yellow model now?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Also, a threat against Japan could be used to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington. Pyongyang could, for example, fire one or more Rodong missiles toward Tokyo but have them fall short to frighten Japan’s leaders into making concessions, stay out of a conflict on the peninsula or oppose moves by the U.S. forces in Japan to assist the South Koreans, lest Tokyo suffer a real attack.

That’s like a person shooting at you, and missing so they are not punished because they are a bad aim…the fact is, an attempt to destroy, kill, has to be thought of as the event actually taking place and succeeding.

A bank robber isn’t successful, so he isn’t arrested?

right2bright on April 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Apparently Kim Phat-chunk hasn’t received his Ipod filled with Bark’s greatest speeches, or else he would know that Bark is a steel-spined Goliath who shoudn’t be messed with.

Bishop on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Goliath is a bad analogy. We don’t want to make Kim into David.

thuja on April 8, 2013 at 10:38 AM

steel-spined Goliath who shouldn’t be messed with.

Bishop on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

A classic…

right2bright on April 8, 2013 at 10:38 AM

It’s obvious what’s happening — Kim Jong Un needs to manufacture a crisis to establish his mythology among the Norks.

There will be an incident, probably an exchange of fire, and then Dear Leader will rescue the country and things will go back to “normal.”

TallDave on April 8, 2013 at 10:39 AM

F-ckin’ A! Shump

Bensonofben on April 8, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I wonder if china is pushing the buttons here with covert russian approval to see what it takes to make our administration cave?

I really don’t believe that obama would authorize any response to north korea except for attack on American soil.

Anyhow as in the movie hunt for red october, yes we will be lucky to get out of this alive.

losarkos on April 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM

So what exactly would the US obtain by “selfish gain?”

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I disagree with the premise entirely (if he WAS talking abut the U.S.) I was just pointing out that he never made it clear who he was talking about.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:46 AM

I thought oompa-loompas only came in orange. They have a yellow model now?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Because diversity.

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Agreed. His statement just reeked of the old “America = Imperialist Pig” mantra; it was the first thing that came to my mind.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM

following back I see this whole China warns North Korea groupthing was started by the New York times. Geez imagine that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/world/asia/from-china-a-call-to-avoid-chaos-for-selfish-gain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

BOAO, China — In an indirect but clear reference to the North Korean crisis, China’s president, Xi Jinping, said Sunday that world peace should not be put at risk because of a single country.

No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain,” Mr. Xi said in a speech at an annual regional business forum in Boao, China. Mr. Xi did not single out any countries or disputes, but in separate remarks, China’s Foreign Ministry repeated its “grave concern” over the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

So the New york times is using the Foreign Ministry’s remarks to bolster its claim that Pres XI was reffering to NK. So what were the FM statements then:

1)

On Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying it was “seriously concerned” about the “continuously escalating tensions.”

2)

In the conversation, Wang Yi repeated China’s oft-stated position that issues with North Korea can be solved only through dialogue, but he also said China is opposed to “any provocative words and actions from any party in the region and does not allow troublemaking at the doorsteps of China.”

how did the MSM get those comments to mean China was rebuking North Korea? Well you see tha tis what the Obama admin wants it to do:

But sensing an opening amid Chinese frustrations, the Obama administration is trying to push Beijing to take a much stronger stance against the renegade country than it has in the past, U.S. officials have said in public and private comments in recent days.

“Clearly with the border they have, with the economic relationship that they have, they can do more,” Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday at a women’s summit in New York. “What’s interesting about China’s stance now is that you can tell by the nature of their statements, by the nature of their actions, that, unlike in the past, they also are very much of the view that Kim Jong Un has gone too far, and that this now is a situation that has the potential to directly threaten their interests in the region — both economic and security.”

Amazing how the NYT and the WAPO articles line up with the Obama admin view of the criss. Isn’t it?

but wait ther eis more if china was softening/souring on NK why would US Senates publicilly push China to step up?

Meanwhile, three U.S. senators called on China to apply more pressure on North Korea.

“China does hold the key to this problem,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

“Chinese behavior has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber­security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea or whether their failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation,” he said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who appeared on the same program, said he agreed with McCain.

“You know, the Chinese hold a lot of the cards here,” Schumer said. “They’re by nature cautious, but they’re carrying it to an extreme. It’s about time they stepped up to the plate and put a little pressure on this North Korean regime.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), appearing on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” said: “I blame the Chinese more than anybody else. They’re afraid of reunification. They don’t want a democratic Korea next to China, so they’re propping up this crazy regime, and they could determine the fate of North Korea better than anybody on the planet.”

both GOP and Dem senators went after china and not one of them seem to say china was softening/souring/getting tired of NK

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/china-expresses-concern-over-north-korea-tensions/2013/04/07/ffa01ea6-9f62-11e2-9c03-6952ff305f35_story.html

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:48 AM

That position cannot be rational unless Pyongyang really wants a war, or thinks it can win a nuclear-war bluff.

Pyongyang really does want a war but knows President Obama is desperate to stay out of a war–any war–in his second term no matter the provocation. All of our enemies know this. They also know key leadership positions in the United States–Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, POTUS–are occupied by arguably the least strategically capable men in the country’s history. What better time than now to make their move?

Right now, I’d guess the Norks are planning an imminent conventional attack targeting Seoul. They know President Obama must engage conventionally because of our troops stationed there, but are probably confident fear of sparking a larger war with China (and the threat of the war going nuclear) will keep ground hostilities confined south of the 38th parallel, limiting the number of combatant states to North Korea, South Korea, and (a very hesitant) United States. The point of this exercise is to completely devastate South Korea, to destroy it as an economic and military force, to take it off the board for at least the next ten years.

I’d also go with the idea that China is behind this business, urging Kim Jung Un on behind the scenes. They’re probably promising Kim reunification on his terms. That will never happen, of course, but he’s young and none-too-bright, easily manipulated. Kim Jung Un is a catspaw, a patsy. No way Kim Jung Un is going into this without assurances and promises of support from his sponsors in Bejing.

My main point is this: China is the driver here. They’re pulling the strings and making it happen. (And make no mistake, it’s going to happen, and soon.)

Paraphrasing the Godfather, ‘It was Barzini all along.’

troyriser_gopftw on April 8, 2013 at 10:48 AM

I don’t understand what it will take for the North Korean to get fed up of starving and being without electricity before they rise up and depose Lil Kim, the same way Romania depose Ceausescu.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM

So what exactly would the US obtain by “selfish gain?”

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

It would be in the USA interest to see areunification of Korea, it would be in the USA interest to be the big dog on the block as China pressures Japan, Tawain and the Phillipines over islands and control of the sea. the USa has a lot to lose if they lose face with Korea. Not only south Korea but Japan, tawian and the PI would have to rethink their alliance and defensive posture. The aussies as well.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I don’t understand what it will take for the North Korean to get fed up of starving and being without electricity before they rise up and depose Lil Kim, the same way Romania depose Ceausescu.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM

It would take the same thing it took in Romania and eastern Europe the implosion of their mothership. With Romania and eastern Europe that was the fall of the USSR. with NK that would be the overthrow of the communist china government. Once the “help” is no longer there form China NK’s governemnt falls.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Thanks for doing all the legwork! Your point #2 really does jump out, doesn’t it?

China is opposed to “any provocative words and actions from any party in the region and does not allow troublemaking at the doorsteps of China.”

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

It’s obvious what’s happening — Kim Jong Un needs to manufacture a crisis to establish his mythology among the Norks.

There will be an incident, probably an exchange of fire, and then Dear Leader will rescue the country and things will go back to “normal.”

TallDave on April 8, 2013 at 10:39 AM

some advice about always fighting the last war comes to mind here.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Which could seriously backfire and cause the Japanese to become patriotic and warlike again.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Or it could be good buffer against China?

Oil Can on April 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Time to put the George Washington battle group between North Korea and Japan. Let’s have those missles fall short in the midst of the United States Navy. I would bet you that would cause Pyongyang to back down lest they suffer a real attack.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:17 AM

china’s new anti carrier missle might be why the USA has not sent a carrier task force into the region.

ByCharlie Reed and Erik Slavin

Stars and Stripes

Published: December 29, 2010

The Chinese have made significant progress on a missile system designed to sink a moving aircraft carrier from nearly 2,000 miles away, according to the top U.S. commander in the Pacific.

China’s anti-ship missile system has reached the rough equivalent of what the U.S. military terms as “initial operational capability,” Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said in an interview with Japan’s Asahi newspaper Tuesday.

At the heart of the system is the Dong Feng 21D, a mobile, land-based missile that is projected to strike a carrier from between 1,200 and 1,800 miles, depending on its payload and other factors.

Willard said that the “component parts of the anti-ship ballistic missile have been developed and tested,” according to Asahi.

http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/china/admiral-china-progressing-on-anti-carrier-missile-system-1.130209

notice that was 3 years ago.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:06 AM

On Monday, amid reports North Korea is preparing a missile launch or another nuclear test, Japanese officials said they have stepped up measures to ensure the nation’s safety. Japanese media reported over the weekend that the defense minister has put destroyers with missile interception systems on alert to shoot down any missile or missile debris that appears to be headed for Japanese territory. …

Any other country, and we would’ve already launched a preemptive strike on their missile batteries. And yet we leave North Korea alone because of China? China is starting to back away, because they’re more afraid of us than we are of them, but you know that once the dust settles, they’ll rattle their impotent saber and curse those imperialist American dogs for attacking a key Chinese ally, even if the result was a huge bullet dodge for China. People who keep harping on how China “owns” us (what a laugh) fail to understand how little leverage China has in any kind of standoff. Their options are extremely limited, and the biggest one to their east is flying the coop in grand fashion.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:07 AM

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

yeap and I’m not saying it couldn’t be directed at North Korea also. Just pointing oout the groupthink that is saying it is ONLY directed at north korea.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:08 AM

China is starting to back away,
mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:07 AM

how is massing an army on the border of their ally and warning all parties they will not accept trouble on their doorstep “backing away”?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM

oh and its still hitting freezing mark in North korea at night. The north could simply be waiting for good weather to launch an attack be it missles or the amry over the border.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Which could seriously backfire and cause the Japanese to become patriotic and warlike again.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I suspect that somewhere in a deep dark secret underground bunker the Japanese have already assembled a tactical nuke or three.

Fenris on April 8, 2013 at 11:15 AM

I don’t understand what it will take for the North Korean to get fed up of starving and being without electricity before they rise up and depose Lil Kim, the same way Romania depose Ceausescu.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM

It would take the same thing it took in Romania and eastern Europe the implosion of their mothership. With Romania and eastern Europe that was the fall of the USSR. with NK that would be the overthrow of the communist china government. Once the “help” is no longer there form China NK’s governemnt falls.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

It would take much more than that. North Korea’s isolationism was intended to create a 1984-style state where the leader is given godlike status. And I DO mean “godlike.” It’s not a cult–it’s a full-on religion, with people genuinely crying and being moved to be in the presence of a portrait of Kim Il-Sung, their Eternal Leader. All generations currently living in Korea have lived under this type of brainwashing, although for the ones who do not believe, punishments are intended to permanently remove them from the equation. That’s why they’ll take your entire extended family and put them in the labor camps for up to three generations. The brainwashing that occurs if people survive it needs to be comprehensive, so the entire family unit is isolated for just as long as the oldest person in Korea has lived under this style of government. In short, the people of North Korea will never revolt on their own. Revolt makes Eternal Leader shake his head disappointingly, and that is a fate worse than death for too many North Koreans.

Now, if you want North Korea to collapse in a couple of weeks, all that would take is a coordinated revolt at the labor camps. The stuff produced by prisoners in them is pretty much the only thing keeping them afloat. A coordinated revolt would never happen, though, given the perpetual iron curtain placed over every aspect of the country.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM

oh and its still hitting freezing mark in North korea at night. The north could simply be waiting for good weather to launch an attack be it missles or the amry over the border.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

It’s interest to note this is the time of the year that North Korean army marches in the rice patties for planting season. I’m not joking the North Korean army plants rice and then harvests the crop in the fall. Can they lanuch an invasion and have winter food?

Oil Can on April 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM

It would take the same thing it took in Romania and eastern Europe the implosion of their mothership. With Romania and eastern Europe that was the fall of the USSR. with NK that would be the overthrow of the communist china government. Once the “help” is no longer there form China NK’s governemnt falls.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

I’m going to have to disagree with you here. Romania and the USSR have hated each other dating way back mainly due to Russia stealing land (Moldova) from romania. Ceausescu was able to hold on to power as long as he did because he was able to tap in to the Romanian people’s hate of the USSR and the constant fear of the USSR coming and stealing more land from them.

Ceausescu got deposed because people got tired of starving, and in 1989, the final straw came when Ceausescu showed up at a “grocery store” that was loaded with food and smiling people. While in reality, the country was in a deep deep famine. So people rose up and deposed him.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM

how is massing an army on the border of their ally and warning all parties they will not accept trouble on their doorstep “backing away”?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM

They’re scared. They are no longer content to let North Korea needle Japan, the U.S., and South Korea, and now they putting people there to discourage North Korea.

That’s not for North Korea’s benefit. That’s for China’s. Just like the North Korean border guards are there not to prevent invasion, but to prevent defection, China is putting people on the border to prevent people from fleeing into North Korea if we and our allies decide that enough is enough. China doesn’t want to be seen as aiding and abetting North Korea in that instance. They are well aware of what will likely happen in a war scenario, and are hedging their bets rather openly, although it didn’t stop them from saber rattling back when they thought that North Korea wasn’t on the brink of war with everyone.

China’s telling everyone “GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS,” knowing full well that the message extends to their “ally” and knowing that the perception of disapproval of North Korea’s actions would go a long way in a post-North Korean world.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM

good points…but that perpetual iron curtain is held up in the South by the DMZ the east and west by the sea and the north by China and Russia. If NK is pressured from all sides it pops like a grape no matter the “godlike” figure IMO.

China giving food fuel and world acknowledgment of Kim allows him to keep his “god-like status in the people’s eyes. cut that off and his staure shrinks quickly.

but I do agree at a certain level it will not be easy. Maybe more like cuba than Romania.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Imagine if Iran had nukes and tried a similar stunt in the Middle East. Threatening Israel, Saudi Arabia…

albill on April 8, 2013 at 11:25 AM

North Korea makes an attack.
US and South Korea prepare counter attack.
China says you better not or we will act militarily…

Barry goes home with tail between legs…

albill on April 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

That’s not for North Korea’s benefit. That’s for China’s. Just like the North Korean border guards are there not to prevent invasion, but to prevent defection, China is putting people on the border to prevent people from fleeing into North Korea if we and our allies decide that enough is enough.
mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

It might be but there is just has much chance they are thre to reinforce and aid in follow on attacks. Or it is there to ensure that the allies don’t push past the 38th as it was in 1950.

the problem is we don’t know. And to make decisons and take actions and write news reports thinking we do know is beyond dangerous and borders on pre 1941 pearl harbor type thinking.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

North Korea makes an attack.
US and South Korea prepare counter attack.
China says you better not or we will act militarily…

Barry goes home with tail between legs…

albill on April 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

didn’t that happen in 2010?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM

China is putting people on the border to prevent people from fleeing into North Korea if we and our allies decide that enough is enough.
mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

one last point IF that is the case then why is china practicing live fire exercises. You don’t need to roll and practice firing tanks and other military manuerves if your objective is border patrol and enforcement.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Imagine if Iran had nukes and tried a similar stunt in the Middle East. Threatening Israel, Saudi Arabia…

albill on April 8, 2013 at 11:25 AM

and imagine if Russia and China were backing up Iran….and imagine if North Korea again threatens this at the same time as Iran…..good thing Obama and his admin is cutting the dept of defense down so it can’t fight two wars anymore…

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:34 AM

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:34 AM

So you believe that if North Korea attacks South Korea, China will support North Korea militarily?

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 11:37 AM

didn’t that happen in 2010?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Heh. It did. There’s a small difference here, though.

2010:

North Korea tries initiates conflict
US and South Korea prepare response
China says “WHATCHOO GON’ DO SON”

2012:

North Korea threatens full-on nuclear war and mobilizes
US and South Korea are pretty much fed up with North Korea
China says: “H-HEY NOW EVERYBODY LET’S NOT DO ANYTHING WE MIGHT REGRET”

The optics are priceless.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

North Korea threatens full-on nuclear war and mobilizes
US and South Korea are pretty much fed up with North Korea
China says: “H-HEY NOW EVERYBODY LET’S NOT DO ANYTHING WE MIGHT REGRET”

The optics are priceless.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I agree. I think China is done with North Korea. Here’s a crazy possibility:

China invades North Korea.

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

You don’t need to roll and practice firing tanks and other military manuerves if your objective is border patrol and enforcement.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

China has mobilized tanks for less. Welcome to communism!

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I agree. I think China is done with North Korea. Here’s a crazy possibility:

China invades North Korea.

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Highly unlikely, as it’s the worst-case scenario for China.

I’m willing to bet they’ve discussed the possibility in the Chinese war room, though. A worst-case scenario is still a scenario.

If it looks like the U.S. and South Korea are just going to plow straight through to China (which they won’t; we don’t like China, but we respect their sovereignty), it is entirely possible that China, seeing no other options, might try to be the hero and dismantle the Kim regime, hoping to score points with the rest of the world. North Korea is a prop for China which China has allowed to become too powerful and independent, similar to the relationship between Russia and Cuba. That perception still looms large over their “relationship,” and China most certainly fears a backlash by association from the rest of the world should North Korea start launching missiles eastward. I mean, the Chinese people aren’t huge fans of North Korea right now, so a move like that would likely enjoy majority popularity within the populace.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM

it is entirely possible that China, seeing no other options, might try to be the hero and dismantle the Kim regime,

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM

China will be responsible for what North Korea does. At least, they’ll be viewed as responsible. They may also be viewed as complicit. I don’t think they’ll allow that. So either they explicit give the US and SK the green line to invade/liberate North Korea, or they do it themselves. If they do it themselves, they maintain their buffer. If they allow the US/SK to do it, that buffer is gone.

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 11:51 AM

China has mobilized tanks for less. Welcome to communism!

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

The tanks roll when the government is threatened. either internally or externally. I guess that means China feels threatens….like I said It could be from a fea rof mass refugees or it could be from the USa/SK/Japan. Regardless the tanks are rolling. Something the Whitehouse tried to lie about last week. which brings the question if CHina was mobilizing for border security why would the Whitehouse try to hide the news of said mobilization if it had no bearing on the present crisis?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:58 AM

I wonder who China will choose to play the role of Archduke Ferdinand in this brewing historical drama?

MTF on April 8, 2013 at 12:17 PM

So either they explicit give the US and SK the green line to invade/liberate North Korea, or they do it themselves. If they do it themselves, they maintain their buffer. If they allow the US/SK to do it, that buffer is gone.

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Why would China give the US and South Korea the go-ahead to invade North Korea with ground troops? Why would they do it themselves? Once the war is underway, China would be seen as being compromising and cooperative if they were to allow aircraft to conduct bombing runs in North Korea. You’re also assuming President Obama has the stones to take it all the way to the Yalu.

Lots of factors are in play here but the idea China is somehow alarmed or affronted by Kim Jung Un’s bellicosity just doesn’t fit the facts. Ask yourself: who profits? Not the North Koreans, who will certainly lose any sustained conflict, nukes or not. Not the South Koreans, whose capital city will be reduced to smoldering rubble in the first few days of any Korean conflict. Not us.

China’s behind all of this, manipulating Kim Jung Un and his generals into taking a path from which no retreat is possible. A militarily and economically powerful and united Korea is one of China’s greatest strategic fears. Chinese leaders are willing to take enormous risks to ensure it doesn’t happen. Hence, a regional war guaranteed to forestall even the idea of Korean reunification for the next 50 years, if not forever.

troyriser_gopftw on April 8, 2013 at 12:17 PM

If I’m China, I’d much rather have a buffer state that’s prosperous, wealthy, and useful. Instead, they have the black hole that is North Korea.

If the North screws up and ends up getting crushed, it gives China the chance to install a more useful puppet government in the North.

Or, China may figure that a war-time disruption to South Korea’s economy may benefit China’s economy.

hawksruleva on April 8, 2013 at 10:12 AM

There’s another perspective. Put yourself in the Chinese leadership’s shoes and look inward, to the domestic situation:

If I’M China, I’m thinking, I’ve got Tibetans in Tibet that want independence, a slew of ethnic Tibetans in western Yunnan and Sichuan provinces who want Tibetan independence, Muslim Uighurs who want independence, Mongolians who want their province to become part of a greater Mongolia, Manchus who want independence, ethnic Koreans near the border who want to be part of a unified Korea, and a whole slew of various non-chinese ethnic groups in the Southwest (Guangxi Province) who want independence.

Think of the old Soviet Union keeping a slew of non-Russian ethnicities bottled up, and when the Soviet Union broke up suddenly you had a bunch of non-Russian states getting independence (Ukraine, the 3 Baltic States, Belarus, Kazakhstan, a few other “Stans” (Uzbek, Kirgiz, Tajik, etc.), etc.

The People’s Republic of China is no different.

Letting the North fall and allowing reunification on the Korean Peninsula under Seoul’s leadership, would provide a wonderful example of the political, social, and economic benefits of relative democracy and relative free-market capitalism.

Which would likely drive unrest among Chinese and non-Chinese alike to both want independence and/or the benefits of a system like S. Korea, now a relatively wealthy nation.

If I’M the Chinese leadership, I want to do everything I can to “keep the lid on the bottle”. And that includes continuing to support the North.

Perhaps China will do the “smart thing” (trying to look at it from their perspective) and simply force a change in regime yet keep the North intact?

Just guessing.

Yiwen on April 8, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Why would China give the US and South Korea the go-ahead to invade North Korea with ground troops?

I think it more likely the China neutralize NK than allow the US and South Korea to. Allowing the US to do so would keep their hands relatively clean though. Why fight a war when another capable nation is willing to sacrifice the men and treasure to do so?

Ultimately, as another poster put it, NK has gotten out of control.

That idea directly contradicts your belief that NK is completely in China’s control. I don’t think a war would benefit China at all though, as I don’t think it would be a “50 year” type deal. I think it’d be closer to the reunification of Germany, which would lead me to believe that China’s not in control of this situation.

If a war starts between North Korea and South Korea/US, China loses.

segasagez on April 8, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Regardless the tanks are rolling. Something the Whitehouse tried to lie about last week. which brings the question if CHina was mobilizing for border security why would the Whitehouse try to hide the news of said mobilization if it had no bearing on the present crisis?

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 11:58 AM

It’s entirely possible that our government is trying to give China leeway to “handle” this crisis on their own by not forcing their hand and telling everyone what they’re up to. It’s not like this is the most transparent adminisration EVAH, or anything.

But yes, they’ve actually had a decent contingent at the border turning away starving North Korean soldiers for a couple years, now. That’s a red flag as far as China’s concerned. It means that their buffer zone is only as good as the land that separates China from the enemy.

mintycrys on April 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Sorry, but all I can think of saying is a morbid, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”

Dusty on April 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Looks like the Magical Kingdom of Mr. Kim has decided the new food for the people will be Soylent Green.

ajacksonian on April 8, 2013 at 12:29 PM

The part that bothers me about all this is, why would China help create a situation that encourages Japan to rearm and become nationalistic, once again?

OldEnglish on April 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM

On Monday, amid reports North Korea is preparing a missile launch or another nuclear test, Japanese officials said they have stepped up measures to ensure the nation’s safety. Japanese media reported over the weekend that the defense minister has put destroyers with missile interception systems on alert to shoot down any missile or missile debris that appears to be headed for Japanese territory. …

If North Korea launches an unprovoked attack on Japan, Japan has the right to defend its territory, and probably WILL be brought into a war against North Korea. If Krazy Kim III attacks Japan, he will most likely lose Chinese support, because China does not want a direct military conflict against Japan.

But since China has been building military forces along its border with North Korea, if Krazy Kim did something really stupid such as attack Japan, China would probably depose Kim militarily and take over North Korea, then negotiate peace with South Korea and Japan.

At some point, China will be forced to ask itself this question: Does it prefer having a loose cannon in Pyongyang who might provoke a war on purpose or by accident, thus guaranteeing US and Japanese interference on its doorstep for the next several decades, or a reunification that rids itself of Mao’s loose ends and gets the US and Japan off its back porch for good?

China would probably never allow a re-unification of the two Koreas under the Seoul government, similar to that carried out in Germany in 1989. What does China have to gain with a prosperous, stable democratic government occupying part of the Asian mainland and the east Asian coast up to the Russian border, and sharing a much longer land border with China? Besides, Japan will never be off China’s “back porch” unless China invades Japan, since the Japanese people aren’t going anywhere off their islands.

China would probably prefer to occupy North Korea itself, keeping South Korea isolated on its peninsula, and gaining access to the east Asian coast between South Korea and the Russian border.

Whoever occupies North Korea after the demise of the Kim regime will have a heavy financial price to pay to rebuild North Korea into 21st century prosperity from the forced poverty of Communism circa 1953. North and South Korea have nearly equal populations, while North Korea’s population is less than 3% of China’s population, so that the “rebuilding cost per capita” would be much less for China than for South Korea.

Steve Z on April 8, 2013 at 12:58 PM

China has little reason to support South Korea, Japan and the United States in a dispute with North Korea. China wants to dominate the China Sea, is practically in a shooting war over the Spratleys already, and has historically regarded the Koreans as little more than genetically diminished renegados anyway; China will support Kim and the NORK leadership right up until the moment we agree to sell out the countries of the region and reduce our naval presence in the China Sea. If we don’t, expect a sudden hot exchange as a step-up in tension followed by a serious threat by China to peace in the Pacific Ocean writ large.

MTF on April 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Which could seriously backfire and cause the Japanese to become patriotic and warlike again.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

According to at least one admittedly anecdotal report I got out of a co-worker who frequents Japan for business this is already happening.

alchemist19 on April 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Right now, I’d guess the Norks are planning an imminent conventional attack targeting Seoul. They know President Obama must engage conventionally because of our troops stationed there, but are probably confident fear of sparking a larger war with China (and the threat of the war going nuclear) will keep ground hostilities confined south of the 38th parallel, limiting the number of combatant states to North Korea, South Korea, and (a very hesitant) United States. The point of this exercise is to completely devastate South Korea, to destroy it as an economic and military force, to take it off the board for at least the next ten years.

I’m with you on this. The whole point of Krazy Kim’s bellicosity is to launch a conventional artillery attack on Seoul and inflict heavy civilian casualties, after which South Korean (and hopefully American) air forces bomb the Nork artillery batteries, then Kim suddenly offers peace in exchange for food, and China agrees to “stay out” of the conflict if America feeds the starving North Koreans.

This is why we need continuous aerial surveillance of the DMZ by jets armed with smart bombs NOW, ready to “take out” any Nork artillery gunner that dares to shoot over the border. But does our Peace Prize Prez have the cojones to do that, which would probably be the best way to prevent a war and save Seoul?

Steve Z on April 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Agreed. His statement just reeked of the old “America = Imperialist Pig” mantra; it was the first thing that came to my mind.

IrishEi on April 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM

The Imperialist Pig they’re in business with. The Cold War is over.

alchemist19 on April 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Steve Z on April 8, 2013 at 12:58 PM

I disagree with China being completely against re-unification of the Korean Peninsula. I could see a scenario of re-unification where they would actually prefer it under South Korean control.

Right now, China is completely propping up North Korea. The country isn’t capable of standing on it’s own without China injecting food, fuel, cash, etc. And now you have Kim Jong-un going all bat-$hit crazy (which I suspect is mainly designed to up his standing among the North Koreans, and impress the military leaders into supporting him as they did his grandfather and father). I could see China going to South Korea and saying they would support unification under South Korean control if in return South Korea is willing to sign certain trade agreements with China (mainly designed to bring a unified Korean more into China’s sphere of economic influence), and remove any US military bases from the Korean Peninsula. If China is concerned about Pacific ports, then I’m sure they would insist those treaties include Chinese use of certain ports along the Korean coast. Of course, South Korea will now be saddled with rebuilding and reunifying the country, which gives China a perfect opening to suggest they’ll continue to provide aid to Korea for that rebuilding as part of the economic treaties they would insist upon. That sweetens the deal for Korea to accept said treaties, and allow China more access to Korean markets.

This could explain the military build up on North Korea’s border. If they have to go to Kim Jong-un and tell him he’s done, they’ll want forces on the border to tell him he can do this the hard way or he can do it the easy way.

China would benefit in so many ways. They could get the US bases out of a unified Korean, moving US forces further from the Chinese mainland. They could open up Korean markets to more Chinese goods, knowing that a unified Korea under South Korean leadership becomes a much better economic partner than North Korea could ever hope to be. At the same time, they stop expending the resources to prop up North Korea… economic win-win for China.

gravityman on April 8, 2013 at 1:36 PM

…then Kim suddenly offers peace in exchange for food, and China agrees to “stay out” of the conflict if America feeds the starving North Koreans.

Steve Z on April 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

I can’t see China being game such an option. The last thing China will want is more US presence on the Korean peninsula.

If that were the scenario, then I would think it would be aimed at China. North Korea says they’ll get the food from the US unless China ponies up more, which of course China will do to keep the US out of further influence in the region.

gravityman on April 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM

fwiw, Japan could build and deploy several nukes about as fast as it takes them to build and deploy a showroom full of Toyotas and Hondas, a fact of which China is no doubt keenly aware.

Sacramento on April 8, 2013 at 1:52 PM

gravityman on April 8, 2013 at 1:36 PM

I don’t disagree with most your thinking here, but keep in mind that SK is already very much within China’s economic sphere of influence, being SK’s largest trading partner by far (twice the level of trade between them than between the US and SK).

I also don’t think China has any particular need for ports on the Korean peninsula, seeing as they have the nearby Liaoning and Shandong peninsulas already. That consideration is probably a minor one at most.

That said, I do think your idea that China has a lot to gain from a mostly peaceful, China-supported reunification that leads to the removal of US bases makes a lot of sense.

DarkCurrent on April 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

The Imperialist Pig they’re in business with. The Cold War is over.

alchemist19 on April 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Since when did communists put profit infront of ideology? China opened up its economy because it saw what happened to the USSR, it did not change its govenrment. when the people tried the China government rolled over them in tanks in their capital city. when will capitalists understand that while profit is the important thing to them others don’t care. thanks to the relationship with the USA the communist government of China has the domestic infrastructure to support a thriving economy with 4 times the amount of customers than the USa has. Thanks to stupid deals China wealth while the capitalists have debt. thanks to the outsourcing China can make anything and the USa can make very little. Who wins if for some reason China and the USa suddenly cut trading ties? china can with little trouble turn its production into domestic consumption. The USA can not quickly reopen all the plants and businesses it has lost over the last decade.

You say the Cold war is over? Maybe but communist government still exist. this country itself is 50/50 with 52% support an out and out marxist in the whitehouse. The UN is filled with capitalism hating countries. the only reason we aren’t in a Cold war is our country no longer pushes the idea of freedom across the globe. Doesn’t mean those that want to destory the idea of freedom went away.

unseen on April 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Japan needs to arm itself with nukes. Nukes there nukes now.

Sherman1864 on April 8, 2013 at 4:15 PM

ED MORRISSEY:

Was Hotair under Nork hack attack today or something?
Website was “strange looking” most of the afternoon.

Yiwen on April 8, 2013 at 6:46 PM