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What Do Koreans Think of Foreigners Who Speak Korean?

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-09-14 17:57
What Do Koreans Think of Foreigners Who Speak Korean?

You're studying Korean, right? What do Koreans think about you? I wanted to ask them how Koreans feel when they hear you're trying to learn their language - whether you can speak it or not.

I filmed a series of interviews this summer in Korea, and asked several questions to people. I've since been compiling them into separate videos, and there are about 2 more left for this series. Next year I'll go again and film some more. Speaking of which, is there somewhere you'd like me to go to film my next series of interviews? I've done the past 2 at 광화문 (that's why everyone's wearing 한복s), and I've done one in 홍대.

Enjoy the video!

The post What Do Koreans Think of Foreigners Who Speak Korean? appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




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Korea TESOL International Conference

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-09-14 12:34
KOTESOL International Conference

Oct 13-14 2018

Seoul (Sookmyung University)

Pre-registration for attendees will run through Sept. 30, 2018


 Major Conference Speakers Plenary Speakers

Stephen Krashen ㅡ University of Southern California (emeritus), applied linguist.
Scott Thornbury ㅡ ELT author, academic, teacher trainer.

Featured Speakers

Jill Hadfield ㅡ Unitec Institute of Technology, ELT author, academic, teacher trainer.
Yilin Sun ㅡ Seattle Colleges
Ki Hun Kim ㅡ MegaStudyEdu
Steven Herder ㅡ Kyoto Notre Dame University
Jill Murray ㅡ Macquarie University
Jennifer Book ㅡ IATEFL TTEd SIG

Featured Panel

Boyoung Lee / Kyungsook Yeum / Joo-Kyung Park


The Korea TESOL International Conference

The Korea TESOL International Conference is the place to go to meet new people, learn new things and to become re-inspired as a teacher. The annual two-day conference will be held at Sookmyung Women’s University on October 13-14, 2018. All English language teachers are invited to attend. 

The theme of this year’s conference is “Focus on Fluency.” The conference chair, Kathleen Kelley, hopes that she and other attendees will gain a better understanding of how to promote English language fluency in the classrooms. 

The conference will feature an impressive line-up of invited speakers. With plenary sessions from the Steven Krashen, a world-renowned applied linguist, and author; and Scott Thornbury, English language teaching authority, author of An A to Z of ELT, and the popular blog of the same name. Other notable speakers include Jill Hadfield, well known for her books of classroom activities; and Kim Ki Hun, one of Korea’s millionaire English teachers, once featured on CNN.

In addition to the invited sessions, there will also be close to 200 concurrent sessions by passionate teachers and researchers on a wide array of topics related to teaching English in Korea, many coming from other countries to present. There will be strands for teachers of all age groups from young learners through adults. There will even be a “101” strand for new teachers, or experienced teachers who want to get back to the basics. 

To take a break from the sessions, sit on the patio and chat with other teachers, or visit the partner displays to check out the latest ELT books and textbooks, and browse for a degree program.

Attendees may register at the venue on conference weekend, but to save time and money, pre-registering is recommended. Pre-registration is open through September 30, and those who pre-register will save an average of 10,000 won. Please see the chart below for pricing, and visit to pre-register or learn more about the conference and its invited speakers. 

Registration fees

Registration Type 


Aug. 1-Sept. 30

Onsite Registration

(2-day pass) Oct. 13

  Onsite (Sunday Only)

  Oct. 14


50,000 won

60,000 won

  30,000 won


75,000 won 

85,000 won 

  40,000 won

Groups (5+ people) 

65,000 won 



Undergraduate Students 

25,000 won 

35,000 won

  15,000 won


Korea TESOL International Conference
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‘Don’t forget your chopsticks’ (Global Living Magazine)

Koreabridge - Tue, 2018-09-04 07:08
‘Don’t forget your chopsticks’ (Global Living Magazine)

Thanks to Alison Cavatore at Global Living Magazine for publishing this piece on her worldwide expat resource site. In the article, I share my (two!) experiences of having surgery in South Korean hospitals. Enjoy!

Don’t forget your chopsticks

An American expat goes under the knife in South Korea, after backing out eight years ago

By John Dunphy

The distance between one’s gallbladder and their right knee is not very far from a big picture perspective. But, the circumstances that brought me to a South Korean surgeon’s table in 2018 are perhaps wider than the years between it and my first attempt at going under the knife eight years ago in The Land of Morning Calm.

While both are typically laparoscopic procedures—gallbladder removal and meniscectomy, the procedure where a surgeon removes a torn portion of the horseshoe-shaped meniscus supporting the knee—are considered minimally invasive, any amount of “invasion” can be a harrowing experience. The anxiety only builds when such procedures are conducted in a foreign country, complete with their own sets of unforeseen cultural standards, a whole other suite of written and unwritten rules.

It was one of these unforeseen cultural standards that diverted my path in 2010 toward returning home to the United States early, instead of being cut completely open.

It’s also an important piece of information for anyone else who expects to stay overnight in a Korean hospital: Bring your own chopsticks. Or, forks, if chopsticks just aren’t your thing.

I did not know this when, on a chilly late March afternoon nearly a decade ago, I was admitted to Bumin Hospital in Busan for gallbladder surgery. But, not the laparoscopic procedure I would eventually have back in my home state of New Jersey. The old school kind. The kind that cuts you open.

I sat on my hospital bed in a room filled with Korean patients and me, the lone foreigner in the whole Korean world it felt like at the time. The translator spoke with the nurse amid blood being drawn, papers being signed and a television program being viewed at an uncomfortably-loud volume. In it, it appeared a shaman of some kind was circling a woman who kept moaning and shouting, as if an exorcism was taking place. The urge for my own soul to leave my body for a few weeks while all this was going on was rising fast.

Finally, the translator turned to me and spoke in English.

“Where are your chopsticks,” she asked.

It seemed like such a strange question that I thought I must have misheard her, or there had been some error in translation. But, no. I needed to provide my own cutlery, my own towels, my own water bottle (thankfully, the hospital provides the water). It was at that time as foreign an idea that I could imagine. It also gave me the opportunity to think twice.

My mind was made up as soon as I told the translator I could walk back to my apartment to collect the requested items: I was not getting surgery in South Korea. I was not even staying in South Korea. I was going home. A month later, as a fresh gallbladder attack doubled me over in the small hours, my father drove me to the local hospital in my suburban New Jersey neighborhood. Two days later, I had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, which carried with it its own set of problems that resulted in a longer-than-usual procedure and subsequent recovery.

But, at least I had family and friends to help me, listen to me whine and take care of me. For that alone, I hope I could be forgiven my decision to back out of gallbladder surgery in South Korea in 2010. I lacked a strong social network, having arrived less than two months before. I had a thin grasp on reading the Korean language, and almost no idea how to speak it. I was adrift in a system where it remains standard procedure for the majority of basic necessities—such as helping with feeding, changing undergarments, wiping a prone patient’s backside—to be done by a family member. That family member, by the way, typically stays with the patient the entire time (which is typically significantly longer than any American hospital I have known) sleeping on a cot pulled out from under the patient’s bed. I knew then, and still know, that I made the right decision.

My Korean world was far different when I had meniscus surgery at Haeundae Paik Hospital in July. I returned to Busan in February 2013 and spent the next several years as first an English teacher, then the foreign editor for the city’s official English newspaper. I host a pair of weekly radio segments on the city’s English radio station, have performed in several theater productions, traveled around the country and several other countries. I learned more of the language (though, I hardly deserve the boilerplate “you speak Korean very well!” I get from some folks when I even just say “thank you” in the native tongue). I met a wonderful, beautiful woman, another expat who has called Busan home since around the time I decided gallbladder surgery here might not be the best idea. I have the support system in 2018 that was nonexistent for me in 2010, the support system that is essential for anyone about to have any surgical procedure done, especially in a foreign country. That is probably, for me, the most important part to have lined up before going under the knife in South Korea.

It’s also important to leave one’s idea of standard operating procedure in their own country at the door. In South Korea, I was originally told my meniscus surgery would include a five-to-seven day hospital stay, for a procedure that is usually outpatient in the United States. Is one better than the other? I think the sweet spot is somewhere between, which is why I was grateful to have a doctor who was flexible with this. I ended up staying in the hospital only two nights.

While it’s important for patients to be flexible with their ideas of what a proper hospital experience entails, it’s equally important to be an active member of the process. Some larger hospitals have full time translators on staff, many won’t. Whether you have a hospital translator, a Korean-speaking friend or an outside translator on hire, ask questions. Ask enough questions that you need to in order to be as knowledgeable as you would be in your native language. If something seems confusing or does not make sense, it might just be a cultural difference. Or, not. Ask questions.

The proof is in the final product. Weeks after having the surgery, my stitches long since removed, I can truthfully say I am glad to have had the procedure. Not only am I walking with considerably less pain (which is getting lesser by the day), I did not have to take out a second mortgage to have the procedure done. Indeed, my surgery, hospital stay and subsequent take home medicines cost me about as much (520,000 won, or about $460) as the MRI at another hospital that was the deciding factor in having the procedure (about 500,000 won). All of this from South Korea’s National Insurance.

Ultimately, surgery for an expat in South Korea will be a personal decision. It will also be a decision that hopefully is not made in urgency but with careful planning and consideration. For me, it was an experience that was beneficial and relatively pain-free (considering the circumstances, of course), provided I made sure I was flexible, patient and remembered that the world is a very big place.

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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Koreabridge Typhoon Center - Soulik Cometh!

Koreabridge - Tue, 2018-08-21 01:48



Latest Satellite Image  *  Latest Storm Track
Korean Meteorological Administration
Typhoon Safety Guide
Past Typhoons: Sanba   Bolaven  Photos

Hourly Local Forecasts

Typhoon Soulik  Updates

From Axios

  • Soulik is forecast to maintain its intensity through its close encounter with the Rykyu Islands, where it could deliver a punishing combination of strong winds, heavy rains, and storm surge flooding to Kagoshima Prefecture. It is then forecast to weaken to a Category 2 storm as it nears its second landfall in southwest South Korea.
  • By August 23, the storm should be delivering a windswept rainstorm to Seoul.+
  • Typhoon Soulik has an unusually large eye that is 86 miles (75 nautical miles, according to JTWC) across. Typically, such intense storms have eyes that are closer to 20 to 40 miles across, which is where the minimum central pressure is located. In contrast to the violent motions of air within the areas of showers and thunderstorms surrounding the eye, the air within the eye sinks, scouring out any cloudiness.

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Better beers are here in Busan (Dynamic Busan)

Koreabridge - Wed, 2018-08-08 15:24
Better beers are here in Busan (Dynamic Busan)

It’s a pretty great time to be in South Korea if you are a craft beer drinker.

The craft beer industry is blowing up all around the world. While it’s still pretty young in South Korea (especially here in Busan), that newness and freshness are really exciting. Especially for those of us who have been here for at least a few years and remember the times when there weren’t more than a few options beyond the bland, light American-style lagers that have dominated much of the beer-drinking world here.

It’s also great to have the input of Jiyoung Moon, my Korean editor and co-writer for this piece. With Dynamic Busan, what’s starts is her Korean story, which is then translated by our capable translator Sangmin Kim. Then, it comes to me. Besides cleaning up the text to better read like native English-written text, I consult with Jiyoung on what else should be added and what can be taken away. It has been a pretty (sorry) dynamic team effort.

The story can be found below and at the Dynamic Busan website. If you’re ever in Busan, South Korea, definitely consider grabbing a pint!


While the craft beer industry is booming worldwide, it has seen particularly solid growth here in Korea. This is partly because it is just so different from what has been available for as long as any beer could be bought here.

The government, for its part, is helping keep up the momentum. Busan last year designated craft beer as a local business it wants to see succeed and supported craft beer-related brand design, advertisement, promotions and more as a result. Korean craft beer is not only gaining traction here, it’s getting recognized beyond the country. Rate Beer, a well-known beer evaluator from the United States, highlighted four Busan-based craft beers during “The Best Beer in Korea” in 2016. They recognize greatness. Beer enthusiasts traveling from across Korea to Busan for its brews recognize greatness. Now, it’s your turn. Are you up to the challenge?

Busan Craft Beer Festival

Head to BEXCO in Centum City Sept. 5 through 9 for the inaugural Busan Craft Beer Festival. More than 50 businesses including Busan brewers, other domestic breweries, importers, food trucks and more are expected to participate in this festival. People will be able to taste 100 different kinds of craft beer during the festival and enjoy various music performances. Beer brewing lectures are also expected to be conducted. A website is expected to launch soon.

*Galmegi Brewing Company

Minsik Seo, Jiwon Jeong, Steven Allsopp and Ryan Blocker are making magic happen at Galmegi Brewing Company.

The galmegi (seagull) is not only the symbol of Busan. It has become the symbol of the emerging craft beer market here, as well. Busan craft beer began with Galmegi Brewing Company. In 2013, Galmegi opened Busan’s first western-style brew pub, located within shouting distance from Gwangalli Beach. Their beers that first year were contract brewed, which is when a business works with an outside brewery to make their beers, often using their own recipes. But, with immediate success brought rapid growth. The brewery opened a short walk away in 2014.

Their hard work has paid off. Besides the brewery in the Gwangan area, there are five Galmegi franchises, in Nampo, Seomyeon, Haeundae, the Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area and in the Pusan National University area. Galmegi Brewing Company’s beer is also available in a number of tap houses in Seoul. Galmegi has an assortment of beer styles that range from light to dark, slightly sweet to unapologetically bitter. India Pale Ales, ambers and stouts can be found on regular rotation. But, more unique, seasonal choices are available, as well, including a ginger-infused beer, a boozy triple IPA and a refreshing beer brewed with Korean yuja fruit.

-Location: 58, Gwangnam-ro, Suyeong-gu

-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 5. Walk down the cobblestone road toward the beach. Cross the street at the next main intersection and turn right. Walk until you see the brewery on the left., @galmegibrewing on Instagram

*Gorilla Brewing Company

Most breweries offer samplers of their selections.

Gorilla Brewing Company has been busy. Opening in a small space in Millak-dong (neighbor-hood) in January 2016, the owners of this British-style craft beer brewery quickly realized expansion would be necessary. The following year, Gorilla moved to Gwangan, in a larger two-story location a short walk down the road from Galmegi’s brewery. Gorilla Brewing harvests its hops, the flower that is a key component in beer making, from a farm in Gyeongsangbuk-do (province), which allows them to maintain a fresh taste that is very local. About 10 different beers are brewed by Gorilla, including their enormously-popular Gorilla IPA, Busan Pale Ale and more. Special beers have included Tiramisu Extra Stout and the FM Coffee Stout, brewed utilizing coffee beans from the popular FM Coffee shop in Jeonpo-dong. Their brew pub also has a number of other Korea-based brews on constant rotation, allowing visitors a condensed opportunity to taste what all the fuss over Korean craft beer is about.

Saturday visitors to Gorilla Brewing Company can check out live music every Saturday night, as well as free yoga classes at noon.

-Location: 125, Gwangnam-ro, Suyeong-gu

-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 1. Walk straight toward the beach. Turn left at the next intersection and walk straight for about five minutes. Gorilla Brewing is on the left., @gorilla_brewing on Instagram

*Wild Wave Brewing Co.

What began as a sour beer project in Gwangan has headed east to Songjeong Beach. While Wild Wave Brewing Co.’s Surleim sour beer is still one of its most popular brews (and available in bottles), they have expanded their choices beyond sour into other realms of deliciousness. The brewery’s regular rotation includes Surfing High, a highly drinkable kolsch-style brew, the full-bodied and flavorful Bella IPA and Hazelnut Ale, an Irish red ale made with maple syrup and hazelnuts. Enter their Songjeong brewery and the impressive array of oak casks immediately catches the eye. Wild yeasts and lactic bacteria from the air in these casks result in the sour, tropical flavors that have made Wild Wave famous. Order from their favorable menu of various pub grub, order a couple pints and prepare to have a fantastic afternoon that is only a short walk away from Songjeong Beach.

-Location: 106-1, Songjeongjungang-ro 5beon-gil, Haeundae-gu

-How to get there: Songjeong Station (Donghae line), exit 1. Cross the street and turn right down the alley near the bus stop.

-Information:, @wildwave.brew on Instagram

*Praha 993

A visit to F1963 in Mangmi-dong can fill up an entire afternoon. There are regular art exhibits, a bookstore, even a coffee shop. There’s also delicious Czech-style beer. Launched in 2017, Praha 993’s origins begin in its founders Czech Republic homeland. Its beers range from pilsners (which originated in the Czech Republic) and stouts to India Pale Ales and seasonal specialties like pumpkin ale that are brewed on-site. These pair well with an assortment of both Czech-inspired and pub-familiar meals including fish and chips and Koleno, savory slow-roasted pork knee that is a quintessential Czech feast. The number 993 in their name comes from the year beer is believed to have been produced for the first time in the Czech Republic. Beer drinkers can experience more than 1,000 years of beer history at not only their flagship location, but also in their Seomyeon branch and at other fine pubs across the city.

-Location: 20, Gurak-ro 123beon-gil, Suyeong-gu

-How to get there: Suyeong Station (Metro lines 2 or 3), exit 5. Take bus 54 and get off at the Sanjeong Apartment stop. Walk uphill toward F1963., @praha993_brewing on Instagram

*Hurshimchung Brau

Hurshimchung Brau has brewed their beer in a fun German-style beer house in Nongshim Hotel since 2004. Hurshimchung Brau uses imported German malt for its beers, which include familiar German styles like pilsner, weizen and dunkel.

Enjoy an array of German/Korean beer hall food fusion favorites such as Haxen, a German-style jokbal (braised pig’s feet), deep-fried octopus and more. Their great hall holds regular live performances and offers a view of the brewery. Hurshimchung Brau also holds a popular Oktoberfest outdoor event every year that features unlimited servings of their sensational suds.

-Location: 23, Geumganggongwon-ro 20beon-gil, Dongnae-gu

-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 1. Walk straight to public parking lot for two minutes. Cross the main road, then follow Geumgang gongwon-ro for three minutes. Cross the street at the intersection and Nongshim Hotel is on the right.


*Finger Craft

A former home and commercial milk storage building has been converted into Finger Craft, which refers to wanting to be the number one place for beer. Besides their warm and inviting flagship location along the Oncheoncheon Stream, Finger Craft has two other locations near City Hall and in Choryang. Six different contract-brewed craft beers are available utilizing their own recipes including Osige Ale, a beer created with coffee supplied by the popular Momos Coffee, also in the Oncheonjang area, the hearty Black Finger, the citrus-infused Mosaic Finger and more.

-Location: 7, Oncheoncheon-ro, Dongnae-gu

-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 2. Walk toward Myeongnyun Station five minutes. Their Captain Hook-style signboard will be seen on the left.

-Information: @fingercraft on Instagram

*Owl & Pussycat Taproom

“Good people drink good beer.” It is sound advice that adorns the wall of Owl & Pussycat Taproom in Gwangan.

This craft pub and bottle shop offers both an impressive selection of bottled beers from around the world as well as both local and international drafts. All of this with a breathtaking view of Gwangalli Beach. Owl & Pussycat Taproom features nearly a dozen different kinds of tasty contract-brewed beers created from their own recipes, including the aromatic Suri Saison, the coffee-infused Gwangan Brews, an India Pale Ale and more. Snacks that always pair well with beer such as pizza, sausages and fried chicken are also available.

-Location: 2F, 38-1, Namcheonbada-ro, Suyeong-gu

-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 3. Walk toward the beach. It is located in the same building as Ediya Coffee. , @opc_brewing on Instagram


Tetrapod offers customers house-branded contract-brewed beers and other beers from around Korea. From its stylish interior to curated design focus, those especially interested in design and branding will find something to enjoy. Their design aesthetic even garnered an iF product design award from International Forum Design of Germany. Familiar favorites like IPAs, pale ales and stouts are available.

-Location: 2F, 77, Jungang-daero 680beonga-gil, Busanjin-gu

-How to get there: Seomyeon Station (Metro lines 1 and 2), exit 6. Turn right after passing Electronic Land. Walk one more block and enter the alley on the left. Walk straight a little further, then walk toward the building with a brick wall on the left., @tetrapod_brewing_co on Instagram

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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LTW: BMW cars in Korea on fire (literally)

Koreabridge - Tue, 2018-08-07 03:15
LTW: BMW cars in Korea on fire (literally)
Much respected BMW is currently facing a big image problem as its 520d models keep catching fire in Korea. In 2018 alone until Aug 4, total of 32 BMW cars got fire on the road. More frustrating is that these engine fires take place only in Korea, not in other nations. After reports of some parking lots banning 520d models and an internet mockery of BMW as Burn My Wagon, BMW Korea finally made an apology on Aug 6, explaining that a leakage of coolant from the EGR cooler is the root cause of the problem, and that this is not a unique problem in Korea. Korean version of NHTSA is not buying BMW's root cause analysis, and urged BMW to come up with more detailed reports. It is estimated that 8.5% of the 106,317 BMW cars ordered for recall have potential to burst into flames. While BMW owners are lining up to file a lawsuit, BMW sales in Korea has dropped 43.9% in 4 months from 7,052 units in March to 3,959 vehicles in July.

I was at BMW headquarter in Munich, Germany, last week. With over 30 years in Korean auto industry, I thought about dashing into the head office for a meeting with high level engineering team to address the urgent issues from Korean consumers, especially on why fire in Korea only. My wife stopped me as she has more urgent issue to address at a Louis Vuitton store in downtown Munich.

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Should You Get a Korean Tattoo? + Interview with Koreans

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-08-03 18:00
Should You Get a Korean Tattoo? + Interview with Koreans

Over the past 5 years I've been asked over and over about helping people to decide their tattoos. Many people have wanted to get tattoos in Korean (in 한글) and have asked me for translations or advice. I wanted to answer some of those questions by making this video.

Actually, it might be a good idea to *not* get a tattoo in Korean if you're not committed to the idea. This is for several reasons, which I explain in the video, including them still not having the best image (although this is changing), being difficult to get, and the high chance that it won't look good or won't make sense. But if you still want to, I also outline a few tips for how to make sure your tattoo is as good as possible.

To finish this video I went on the streets and interviewed some Koreans to ask them what they think about tattoos. The question that I asked Koreans living in Seoul is this: “외국인이 한국어로 된 타투를 하면 어떨까요?” (“What do you think if a foreigner gets a Korean tattoo?”).


The post Should You Get a Korean Tattoo? + Interview with Koreans appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




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South Korea is Now Running Détente with North Korea – and that is Probably a Good Thing

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-07-20 22:57
South Korea is Now Running Détente with North Korea – and that is ....

This is a local re-post of a lengthy review I wrote on this year’s détente for the Center for International Governance Innovation. This is the original version, rather than that edited up version. They’re basically the same

Basically, I argue that the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore was a nothingburger, that basically served to get Trump out of the way. The Americans had to be involved somehow given their importance to South Korea security. So Trump had to have something – unsurprisingly, a content-free, made-for-TV summit. With Trump now sidelined, Moon can do his stuff. I figure we’ll be lucky if he can cap NK at its current arsenal without giving up too much. That is the challenge now.

The full essay follows the jump:



In mid-June, US President Donald Trump met North Korean ‘Chairman’ Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Kim governs the North as the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, not as president. The summit was widely criticized in the United States as an empty photo-op, and there is growing evidence that North Korea is not in fact changing much of its nuclear program in response to the meeting. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to the North Korea this year to move the process along. This will be the acid test of whether the Singapore meeting changed the US-North Korea dynamic much.

I am skeptical the North Koreans will come around soon; any kind of serious denuclearization will take years and cost an enormous amount of money, because the North Korean program is now so elaborate. But Trump has already declared victory on this problem before the US media and dumped further efforts on Pompeo. So the most likely practical outcome of the Singapore summit is the recession of the Americans from the peace process and its further piloting by the South Koreans, particularly President Moon Jae In. As South Korea’s ally, the US had to be involved somehow, but Trump seems to have moved on, and his interest and knowledge of the relevant questions is thin. In effect then, Moon will run this détente going forward with few American constraints given how vague was the Singapore statement.

The following review covers the summit’s declaration, criticisms of it, the contours and concessions of a more serious deal with the North, and possible future paths Moon might follow:

1. The ‘Sentosa Declaration’

The summit declaration – so named for the small island in Singapore where the two leaders met – has four elements. One is the return of remains of US soldiers from the Korean War. This, while morally important for the families, is not a strategic issue and was appended late by Trump, likely to appeal to his conservative voters.

The main points are: a) ‘new relations of peace and prosperity;’ b) a ‘lasting and stable peace regime;’ and c) ‘complete denuclearization.’ All are somewhat vague; the statement is less than 400 words. So the following is somewhat speculative:

Point a) sounds like a market opening of North Korea. Trump showed a curious faux movie trailer to Kim pitching exactly that. China has similarly argued to the North for two decades that it should embark on a controlled liberalization of its economy, as Beijing did after Mao Zedong’s death. The hope is that a perestroika of the Northern economy along Chinese or Vietnamese lines would, at minimum, improve human, especially food, security in the North. The man-made famine in the North of the late 1990s killed around 10% of the population. A perestroika might also bring mild political liberalization too, moderating the worst, most orwellian aspects of North Korea.

Point b) likely hints at a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War. The two Koreas and the US are legally still at war. The current peace is technically an armistice stretching all the way back to mid-1953. North Korea particularly has long sought a treaty for the normalization and recognition of the North which it implies. North and South Korea make competing legitimacy claims against each other to be the ‘real’ Korea. In practical terms however, South Korea has long since won the inter-Korean cold war competition. North Korea now fears absorption along East German lines, and a peace treaty which recognizes North Korea as a distinct Korean state alongside the South is a long-standing goal. A ‘peace regime’ is a vaguer dictional choice throw around by proponents who fear a formal treaty will be too difficult to get past hawkish opposition in Seoul and Washington. The Moon government occasionally talks this way too. It is not clear what such a regime would be – perhaps UN monitoring of a demobilization along the demilitarized zone (DMZ)?

Point c) is a part of the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) mantra which the Trump and Moon administrations have pushed all year. CVID seek to remove all elements of North Korea’s nuclear (and, likely, missile) program in such a way that would make it both impossible to restart and verifiably terminated. This is, of course, a tremendous concession to demand of North Korea, and few North Korea analysts believe that Pyongyang would ever accept this. Or if it did, it would demand such extraordinary concessions – such as the cessation of the US-South Korea alliance – that the US and South Korea would likely never accept. Hence it was not a surprise that Trump was unable to get the “V” and “I” of CVID in the declaration. Pompeo has since been asked about this and responded that these were ‘understood’ as part of the declaration. That is almost certainly not correct and more a political than empirical claim.

2. The Critiques of Sentosa and CVID

There are two main lines of concern with the statement Trump brought back.

First, it is akin to previous statements on denuclearization which the North Koreans have signed with the US, South Korea, and other parties. As far back as 1993, North Korea and the US singed a joint statement on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The North has also agreed to such statements as a part of the ‘Sunshine Policy’ – an inter-Korean détente process from 1998-2007 under previous liberal South Korean presidents – and the Six Party Talks – a George W. Bush administration-era outreach effort which included the Koreas, China, Japan, the US, and Russia. Pulling yet another generic denuclearization statement out of the North Koreans this time around is not really an achievement.

Trump worsened this problem with his particular brand of hyperbole and overstatement. In the months running up to the summit, he and his administration talked about a huge breakthrough in US relations with the North, CVID, a peace treaty, a Noble Peace Prize, and so on. Since Trump returned to the US, he has claimed on Twitter and in Trumpist media that the threat is over, that he has great chemistry with Kim, and that Americans should treat him as North Koreans treat Kim, and so on. Expectations were poorly managed, creating an enormous disjuncture between what Trump appears to believe he has accomplished, and what the North Koreans did in fact agree to in Sentosa.

Second, the statement contains no action items, timeline, or detail. In that sense too, it does not move the process past previous statements. The statement says denuclearization is to begin ‘expeditiously.’ Pompeo has talked of serious movement in the next two to four month, or in the next two years. Both of those timelines conveniently fit the US electoral calendar. The North Koreans are highly unlikely to be so obliging. In past negotiations, they have dragged their feet, asked for huge concessions and side-payments, and insisted on synchronous steps from the US and South Korea. They are likely to do so again.

It is easy to foresee, for example, the North asking for billions of dollars in ‘decommissioning funding,’ which could be political difficult for Trump given his criticism that former President Barack Obama paid Iran as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The US might then try to push those costs onto China, Japan, and South Korea, as it did in a similar effort in the 1990s. All this would be time-consuming and contentious as US partners would resent this treatment.

Another thorny example is the “V” and “I” in CVID. Verifiability will be high bar, because the US and South Korea would likely demand inspectors and cameras. The North will likely fight that as violations of its sovereignty, much as Saddam Hussein did in the 1990s. There will likely also be a sharp conflict over which inspectors. The North will demand them from sympathetic nuclear states like China or Pakistan. The US, Japan, and South Korea will push for the International Atomic Energy Agency or more sympathetic nuclear states like France or Britain.

Irreversibility will be even harder. The nuclear and missile programs are now mature. North Korea has the relevant human capital now. Facilities could be destroyed, but what about the technicians themselves who could reconstitute the programs later? Would those individuals, potentially thousands of scientists and their families, be allowed to leave the country? This would be extraordinarily contentious.

These are just a few of the many thorny issues likely arise. They will likely require years to hammer out.

3. Meaningful North Korean Concessions

The above critiques of Sentosa point to the issues most important to the US and South Korea. Broadly, we are seeking two kinds of concessions: political and strategic. That Trump brought home neither is the grounds for dismissing Singapore as an enormous missed opportunity.

Political concessions are the most important. The most fundamental reason why North Korean nuclear weapons worry so many is the nature of the regime. North Korea is the closest to George Orwell’s 1984 the world has ever seen. Its gulags have been compared to Nazi Germany in the most definitive human rights portrait of the country. Its personality cult is more servile than Stalin or Mao’s. It has engaged in gangster and terrorist behavior for decades – dealing methamphetamines, murdering its critics overseas, attacking South Korean vessels, and so on.

Were the North Koreas to close a gulag, initiate even a bit of liberalization at the bottom, or even pass a genuine commercial law to protect foreign investment in the North, the country’s most hawkish critics would relent. Trump however dismissed human rights at Singapore. There are some hints that Kim himself may want some kind of economic opening, which could in turn soften the regime’s harshest edges. But even if this is true, there is no evidence that anyone around Kim on the State Affairs Commission wants this liberalization.

If North Korea is not going to change, if it intends to remain the orwellian Democratic People’s Republic Korea, then US and allied goals switch to the strategic – nuclear weapons, missiles, biological and chemical weapons, force deployments of the North Korea military near the DMZ, particularly Seoul, and so on. Pompeo and Moon will likely push for movement on these issues in the months to come. Without some progress, hawks will decry that détente is becoming appeasement.

Moon is a liberal who is likely comfortable giving the North pretty serious concessions on strategic questions. But he was only elected with 41% of the vote. South Korea remains politically deeply divided over how to respond to North Korea. If this year’s détente is to survive the next partisan transition in the South Korean presidency, then Moon will have to claw out enough concessions to somewhat placate the South Korean right.

Trump is in a similar bind. Neoconservatives in the US will be looking for these sorts of concessions in the coming months with limited patience. Lindsey Graham, the hawkish US senator, has already said that war will be an option once again, after last year’s war crisis, if the North Koreans do not meaningfully disarm.

The North is currently flirting with an artillery pullback. This is progress, but ultimately the US and South Korea are going to demand concessions on nuclear weapons and missiles. One starting point would simply be a stockpile inventory – how many warheads do they have? (Guesses hover around fifty.) How many missiles do they have? (Hundreds?) How may kilograms of plutonium and highly enriched uranium? (Hundreds?) A basic worksheet on these questions from the North Korea would relieve a lot hawkish anxiety – there would be less pressure to strike if exaggerated estimates are corrected. It is another disappointment of the Singapore meeting that Trump could not even pull something this basic out of Kim.

4. Future Prospects: Moon’s Detente

The Singapore summit did not return much unfortunately. Trump got only another pro forma denuclearization agreement from the North along the lines of many it has signed in the past. This would have been easier to swallow if Trump had not hyped the event so much. But on the issues which really matter – political concessions on human rights, e.g., or strategic concessions such as a missile count – this year’s détente has still not advanced much. To date there has been much pageantry and symbolism: Moon had his own summit with Kim in April, and it was similarly theatrical but thin on detail.

The challenge going forward is to pull costly concessions from North Korea, ideally for as little from the democratic camp as possible. But realistically, the North Koreans will not give away another serious for little. They have been tenacious bargainers in the past. The allies should expect to have to make costly concessions too.

Allied concessions could include sanctions relief and aid most obviously. The North Koreans have complained about the sanctions for years. The North is not autarkic despite its ideology. It needs access to the world economy, and banking system particularly, to finance needed inputs. Similarly, North Korea is poor and its economy fairly dysfunctional. South Korea has given it direct aid transfers in the past. Seoul could resume those. More serious concessions would involve US forces in Korea. The North Koreans fear US airpower, so US air wings could be withdrawn to Okinawa or Guam; US troop totals on the peninsular might also be reduced.

The exact mix of these elements, and Northern reciprocal concessions, has scarcely been broached yet in the media unfortunately. CVID has absorbed much attention, but it should be noted that the North is highly unlikely to go to zero on warheads and missiles. Pyongyang spent fifty years developing these weapons; they provide a powerful deterrent against US-led regime change. The allies must need to grasp that CVID will almost certainly not happen and start thinking about a mixed package deal of concessions and counter-concessions.

All this falls to Moon now. Trump is little interested in the details of a North Korean deal. By his own admission, he did not prepare for Singapore, and he has dropped it since his return, after a few celebratory tweets. Moon has thought about these questions for decades. He is popular and has a majority in the parliament. With Trump self-sidelined, Moon now has the political space to push for a major deal. If he can pull enough strategic concessions out of Kim to placate hawks in Seoul and Washington, he has a chance to break the long stalemate.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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BGN Eye Hospital

Koreabridge - Mon, 2018-07-09 06:20

BGN Eye Hospital - your comprehensive and specialized eye care provider in Busan!

BGN Eye Hospital is a part of BGN Eye Care Group, it is located in Seomyeon area ( Buam station, exit 2) .

BGN Eye Hospital is a part of BGN Eye Care Group, it is located in Seomyeon area ( Buam station exit 2). BGN Eye Hospital specializes in treatment of cataract, glaucoma, presbyopia, retinal diseases, children myopia, dry eye syndrome, comprehensive Eye Examinations as well as in in Laser Vision Correction (Lasik, Lasek) and ICL vision correction surgeries ( Aqua ICL/Toric ICL).

Why choose BGN Eye Hospital?

1) Our ophtalmologist have rich professional experience in performing operations for vision correction, cataract, retina and glaucoma treatment.

2) We offer our patients the most advanced, safe and innovative equipment for examination and surgeries.

3) We work with Global insurances, including Bupa and Cigna and provide direct billing service for our patients.

4) We provide one stop service and full patient support in English, Russian and Chinese languages. We will do our best to make your stay at the hospital as comfortable as possible.

5) We constantly have promotions and discounts for ou patients!

Curently we have promotion prices for Laser Vision Correction Surgeries ( Prime Lasek 1,000,000 won, All Laser Fit Lasek ( Fisrt Plus Lasek) 1,400,000 won, Custom Lasik 1,600,000 won) and special discounts for Comprehensive Cataract Examination!

Find out more by contacting us!

Direct: 010-3030-0327/051-933-85 ( English, Русский, 中文)


BGN Eye Hospital: Busan, Busan-jingu, Gaya-daero 729 ( Buam subway station, exit 2)

cigna bupa advertisement.jpg - 복사본 (2).jpg BGN Eye Hospital
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Korean Cosplay Convention (with Abby P) | 코스프레 체험

Koreabridge - Sat, 2018-07-07 17:25
Korean Cosplay Convention (with Abby P) | 코스프레 체험

I've wanted to try cosplaying since I was a teenager, but didn't have an opportunity. I wasn't a big fan of anime, but I did watch some, and I thought it'd be fun to visit a convention. Well this year in Korea I found out that there are several conventions going on, and one of them was a cosplay convention in Seoul. So I contacted my friend Abby P (another YouTuber) and we went together in cosplay as characters from the movie "Spirited Away."

Have you ever tried cosplay before? What are your experiences?

Abby P also made a video about our cosplay experience on her channel here:

The post Korean Cosplay Convention (with Abby P) | 코스프레 체험 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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North Korean vs South Korean Dialects

Koreabridge - Sat, 2018-06-30 14:55
North Korean vs South Korean Dialects

Have you ever wondered why North Korean news announcers seem to talk so differently than South Koreans?

Do you want to know how North Korean and South Korean dialects are different?

Ever since my last dialect video I made in 2016, I've wanted to tackle the topic of North Korean dialects. But it's just such a large topic, and it's difficult to find information besides vocabulary words and a plethora of North Korean TV dramas.

So over the past year or so I've been collecting North Korean language resources (textbooks, grammar explanations, vocabulary, phrases, intonation samples, and more) to compile a long list of differences and unique points about North Korean dialect to create a video. Finally this January I started putting those items together and shortening the list into what might be an easy-to-digest and watchable video... and here it is!

Let me know your feedback on this new video. I'd like to be able to make more dialect-related videos in the future as well.

The post North Korean vs South Korean Dialects appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




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LTW: - S.Korea clashes against Germany in World Cup and in automotive quality battle

Koreabridge - Thu, 2018-06-28 23:09
LTW: - Korea clashes against Germany in World Cup and in auto quality South Koreans were exhilarating at 1:00am on June 28 when South Korean soccer team beat defending champion and world #1 Germany in World Cup match in Russia. It was the first time Asian country ever defeated Germany in World Cup history, and the first time Germany got eliminated in the World Cup preliminary league since 1938. Another news with South Korea over Germany came as Hyundai Genesis ranked highest in the recent influential J.D Power 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Survey(IQS) which measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles during the fist 90 days of ownership.The lower the score, the better. Its sister Kia took the 2nd with 72, followed by Hyundai with 74. Impressed with Korean Hyundai and Kia in top 3, Forbes magazine compared it "man biting dog." Premium German car maker Porsche ranked 4th with 79 while BMW and Mercedes-Benz found themselves at 11th and 15th, respectively. My German friends won't call me for a while..

Though Hyundai has become a major player with over 8 million vehicles a year, its start was meager. Hyundai's first model, Ford Cortina, went into production in Ulsan plant in Nov 1968, assembling Cortina components from Ford U.K. Its production was less than 6,000 a year. Many of Hyundai engineers who worked on Cortina in 1968 are still active in Korean auto industry. Imagine those engineers who built Model T with Henry Ford are still pounding table at operation reviews in Detroit suppliers.

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Cycling the northern Han River

Koreabridge - Sun, 2018-06-24 12:07
Cycling the northern Han River

A friend asked about cycling from Seoul to Busan and although I haven’t done that, I’ve been to the starting point. The Bukhangang (northern Han River) cycling track is an incredibly scenic getaway east of the congested Gangnam/Jamsil area. It’s the first leg of the 700km Seoul-Busan route, but it’s also a perfectly good destination in itself, suitable for those of us who can only peddle for an hour before our butt hurts too much.

To get started, catch the Seoul metro to Paldang station (팔당역, K128 on the Gyeongui-Jungang line) in the east. Alternatively, if you’re coming from the south, you could take a bus to Hanam City / Misa-ri but be prepared for a nice long walk through the park and across the Paldang bridge (팔당대교).

At Paldang station, turn left when you come out and walk past some restaurants selling 콩국수 (soybean noodles). You’ll see a pretty large and professional-looking bike shop. Rates are shown in the photo, with the cheapest bikes at 3,000 won an hour. There are options for city bikes and mountain bikes with gears.

Once you’ve got your bike, come out of the store and turn left, heading east into the hills. The trail is pretty obvious and flat, following the Han River. Look out for raptors such as the White-tailed Sea Eagle or Steller’s Sea Eagle as they coast on the updrafts between the mountains before hunting fish in the river.

Click on the map above for a larger image. The top right-hand corner is a recreational sightseeing route. Note that the map is upside down (south is up) so the bike shop is at the right hand side and our route takes us past the pink numbers 1,2,3 and 5. The other two maps on the board are for hard-core cyclists who want to go to Busan.

The route offers plenty of photo opportunities as it runs past and onto an old railway track, featured in the drama Doctors with Park Shin-hye and Kim Rae-won. We took our time and got to the point where the railway crosses the river in about an hour (It’s about 10km). There, we stopped at a three-storey café for a coffee before heading back to the bike shop.

Cycling at Paldang bridge was much more fun than Yeoido (which is not too bad really). The bike shop is more professional than most you find in Seoul, the scenery is breathtaking and the coffee is good and cheap. Even if you don’t cycle, there is a great café spot near the train station that is worth a date.

Blogging on is my way of sharing cool travel experiences with all of you. I do my best to personally verify everything posted here. However, prices and conditions may have changed since my last visit. Please double check with other sources such as official tourist hotlines to avoid disappointment. If you like this post, disagree, have questions or want to contribute additional information for other travelers, please comment below! =)

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After the Trump Show in Singapore, N Korea Gets Kicked Back to Moon Jae In

Koreabridge - Sat, 2018-06-23 05:29
After the Trump Show in Singapore, NK Gets Kicked Back to Moon Jae In

This is a local re-post of a Singapore response piece I wrote for the Lowy Institute a few days ago.

I’ll be honest and say that I still don’t really know what Trump achieved in Singapore. He’s running around the US and Fox claiming that he solved North Korea and and all that. But that’s not true. Just go read the Sentosa Declaration. It’s only 400 words and mostly aspirational. That’s not bad, but hardly worth presidential involvement.

In effect, what it really does is remove the Americans from the process and let Moon run this détente basically as he sees fit. Whether or not that is good thing depends on your North Korea politics, but the most important thing about Sentosa is that Trump got his spectacle and can now forget about North Korea and go back to Mueller and the Deep State and all that.

Moon now has checked the American box. He’s got an 80% approval rating. The left just cleaned up in the local elections last week, which were partially a validation of the outreach program. And the left is the largest bloc in parliament. So all the stars are aligned for a major left-progressive effort on North Korea. For three decades, progressives told us they could solve this if the right and the layers of bureaucracy and inertia were just out of the way. Now comes the test of that.

The text follows the jump:



The Trump-Kim summit last week was a nothingburger – not good or bad, just nothing new really at all. After months of hype, including grossly inflated talk of a CVID (complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament) and a Nobel prize, US President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jeong Un returned very little. As was quickly pointed out on Twitter and in the cable news coverage, the Sentosa Declaration was disappointingly similar to previous statements. In fact, it was somewhat inferior.

In practice, going forward now, the fizzle in Singapore opens the door to South Korean President Moon Jae-In to run this year’s North Korea détente as he sees fit. Moon’s party also cleaned up in last week’s local elections in South Korea. Even the mayoralty of the city I live in, Busan, was won by the primary left-wing party, the Democratic Party. I believe this has never happened before. This was in part a validation of Moon’s outreach strategy.

The South Korean left is now in a strong position from which to pursue a vigorous détente. The Democrats are the largest bloc in the legislature. Moon is a liberal with an 80% approval rating. The Democrats just won elections in the middle of the détente season. And Trump has effectively withdrawn from the peace process.

Singapore was, therefore, a curious sort of win for engagers. As South Korea’s only ally, the US had to be involved in the peace process in some way. The US is the world’s sole superpower; it is deeply vested in northeast Asia. Around 300,000 Americans live in South Korea, and the US defense shield has been central to South Korean security for decades. So, Washington’s participation was inevitable.

But Trump is notoriously lazy and checked-out from policy detail. He is also impulsive, belligerent, and unpredictable. Last year it seemed like he might start a nuclear war. The US has also been generally more hawkish on North Korea than the South. So for engagers, Singapore takes care of a few necessary elements:

It ties Trump ever more tightly to a diplomatic track, making backsliding toward last year’s war threats harder. Trump’s media addiction is now sated. He got his big TV appearance; he got the global publicity he craves. He can now claim, as he already has on Twitter and in Trumpist-conservative media back home, to have taken care of the North Korean problem. He can now push it all onto Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and go back to attacking his domestic enemies, which interests him far more than the thorny Korean issues which would require real focus and energy to manage. But because the Sentosa Declaration has no hard substance to it, Moon is not locked into any framework or direction by it. It is the best of both worlds for Moon: Trump’s taste for substance-free publicity and disdain for detail both removes him from the process now, and lets Moon more or less do whatever he likes.

This is good or bad depending on your North Korea politics of course. The South Korean left has long complained that the US intervenes too much in Korean politics and that the two Koreas should be left to their own devices. Conservatives worry that without US hawkishness on North Korea, the South Korean left will offer a lot for very little. The South Korean left has long flirted with the idea of a federation of some kind. Conservatives have often opposed this, because they fear it will turn into semi-permanent subsidization of the North, and lead to curbs on freedoms in the South. It is unclear if Moon has enough political support to push something like a Greater Koryo Confederation, but if there was ever a time to try, this is it. The political winds are about as favorable as they are going to get for leftist, big-bang approach to a final status deal with North Korea.

The promise of the left for a generation regarding North Korea was that it represented a different, less confrontational approach than the usual suspects on the right. In this narrative, the old guard which held the South Korean presidency for decades, and the hawks who filled the national security bureaucracies in the US and South Korea for decades, had little to offer but more competition, threats of force, and the status quo. Those hawks dragged their feet out of deep distrust for North Korea. Now we have a chance to test the outreach argument. Trump has recessed himself. Moon has the political support for a major effort. He knows the issues as well as any liberal of his generation. This is it. Maybe he can pull it off. I am doubtful myself, but we wish him luck.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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Singapore Summit: The Trump Show Goes to North Korea

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-06-08 21:59
Singapore Summit: The Trump Show Goes to North Korea


This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote earlier this week for The New York Review of Books.

I haven’t blogged here in awhile, because I am so busy. Last weekend, I went to the Shangri-La Dialogue (reflections here). Today I am flying down to Singapore to provide analysis for BBC for the Trump-Kim summit. Two weeks after that, I am going to the Jeju Peace Forum. So sorry. Also, I am slowly gravitating toward Twitter more for my commentary. Please go there.

This NYRB essay focuses on the extraordinarily chaotic ‘process’ of Trump foreign policy-making applied to the North Korean case. The short version is that there is scarcely a process at all. Trump agreed to the North Korea summit 45 minutes after it was broadly suggested to him by the South Korean government. He has since done none preparation, and Bolton has all but abjured what NSA’s are supposed to do.

So now, we are basically going into this blind. It’s a Trumpian crap-shoot, and no one really knows the outcome will be, because no one knows what Trump will say, or worse what he will give up for his ‘win’ for the fall midterms. Call it this whole mess of reality TV affectations + incompetence + unprofessionalism the ‘Trump Show.

My guess, the summit will be a nothingburger. The strategic and ideological divisions between the two sides are too wide for such a tight timetable, and Trump is way too checked-out from the details of nuclear missiles to seriously bargain the issue. Even Trump is now saying it’s just a ‘get to know each other’ meeting, which is default win for the Norks, because the get the photo-ops. So wait, why are we even doing this now?

In short, we should have cancelled long before, but now it is too late. And Rodman, Gorka, and Hannity are coming too, just to make sure this whole thing is a gonzo Trump Show entertainment-not-reality joke. Whatever…

The full essay follows the jump:



The last few weeks in North Korea diplomacy have been tumultuous but curiously pointless, in our modern “Trumpian disruption” way. US President Donald Trump has for months flouted established patterns of engagement with North Korea, and he clearly relishes doing so. Cable TV is filled with pro-Trump pundits praising his marginalization of “so-called experts” on the North. The analyst community is apparently to be swept aside before Trump’s bold moves and wheeler-and-dealer bravado, which will bring North Korean supremo Kim Jong-un to the table.

But it is not at all clear that this turmoil has resulted in anything other than chaos, setting off a daily rollercoaster of changes, such as the South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s sudden suggestion that he, too, might participate in the summit. We are still waiting for a clear sign of triumph or improvement in America’s position in relation to North Korea: Pyongyang has offered nothing yet that cannot be easily reversed, while in South Korea, Trump’s antics have noticeably worsened US standing.

Trump’s bellicose 2017 rhetoric has scared up a huge dovish consensus for the liberal Moon to make concessions to the North—which is an ironic result, perhaps, for a hawkish Republican US administration to have achieved. Elected a year ago with just 41 percent of the vote, Moon’s approval rating is now above 80 percent, despite no serious domestic achievement. Trump has also regularly bullied South Korea—by, for example, calling Moon an appeaser, threatening to unilaterally withdraw US troops, and forcing an unnecessary and contentious trade-deal renegotiation.

The US president is now extraordinarily unpopular here, even as the South Korean government has taken to rank flattery to keep him at bay. It is an open secret in South Korea that Moon’s suggestion that Trump might win the Nobel Peace Prize was nothing but a gimmick to appeal to Trump’s vanity and keep him on a diplomatic track in the place of his threatened “fire and fury.” No one in South Korea actually believes it—and it is a mark of just how effectively Trump sets the US media agenda that the notion was seriously debated at home for several weeks.

Conversely, when the Trump administration decided to put the Singapore meeting back on track, it sent to Pyongyang, on May 28, precisely those sorts of experts—people like US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, and National Security Council Korean specialist Allison Hooker—who represent the supposedly stodgy status quo. After two months of his showboating on North Korea, when the president finally decided to commit to the meeting with Kim, he fell back on establishment policy wonks operating quietly on business trips. These officials now face a nearly insuperable burden of slapping together in just a few weeks a framework deal that has eluded US negotiators for years. A successful outcome in this venture is highly unlikely.

This return to backroom expertise suggests that the Trump-Kim summit process has, in the harsh glare of the global media, been overexposed. One might call it the “Trump Show”: a disquieting mix of ginned-up melodrama and neediness for attention. And this was apparent from the start, when Trump accepted the general suggestion from South Korean envoys to meet Kim. It is unclear if the envoys actually spoke for Kim himself. They may simply have encouraged Trump. But Trump, ever impulsive and disdainful of experts, agreed to it without even telling his own staff. He then, bizarrely, sent the South Korean envoys outside the White House in the middle of the night to make a statement that the US secretary of state should have made in a proper forum.

This mix of reality TV antics and Trumpian disruption has characterized the entire run-up to the summit, generating endless TV talking-points, but little actual movement on the technical issues. Indeed, Trump’s bragging about how he had forced the North Koreans to agree to talks and the speculation about a Nobel almost certainly worsened the negotiations. The North Koreans partially halted the summit process in mid-May because of hype from the White House that Pyongyang would completely denuclearize. Compare this chaotic approach to President Lyndon Johnson’s boisterous yet meticulous engineering of Civil Rights and Great Society legislation, spending hours on the phone with members of Congress, fighting for every inch of political advantage.

As so often occurs with Trump initiatives, the process became more important than the substance itself. Rather than debating the details of what complicated deal we might strike with North Korea—a cap on missiles in exchange for a relocation of US peninsular airpower to Japan, Guam, or Hawaii, for example, or cameras in North Korean facilities in return for targeted sanctions relief—the media focus has been on the frenzy of daily moves and counter-moves, such as Trump’s strange, “jilted lover” withdrawal letter of May 24. Trump cannot help but makes his policy initiatives about himself, and this was no different. Meanwhile, no one seemed to notice that Trump never made any programmatic statement about what US talks with North Korea hope to achieve beyond highly unlikely CVID (complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament).

It is unnerving that on something as momentous as North Korea’s nuclear program, the president has never spoken in any detail about what trade-offs the US might consider in order to demobilize those weapons. If the North Koreans reject CVID, as most analysts expect, would the US accept something less? If so, in exchange for what? This is the sort of mixed-deal package likely to emerge, and Trump has not publicly laid any groundwork for what compromises the US might accept. Instead of maximalist campaign-rally speeches and the Nobel hype, moving the negotiations to the expert staff level—and giving them more time—would help a great deal.

The necessary presidential framing is probably missing because, first, the president himself does not understand these issues and does not want to spend the time studying them (reportedly, he “doesn’t think he needs to” prepare for the Singapore summit); and second, since he appears unwilling to actually negotiate with the North at Singapore, there is no need, conveniently, to learn any details. With a penchant for threats and little interest in the giving-to-get of diplomacy, Trump appears to expect to dictate terms, as he has attempted to do in negotiations over Obamacare repeal, China, NAFTA, Iran, and elsewhere.

A sign of this belligerence in the North Korean case was the promotion by Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton of the “Libya model,” referring to the agreement with the former leader of Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, to give up its entire nuclear program upfront in exchange for vague future promises of security guarantees and economic assistance. This major blunder suggests that Bolton and Pence were deliberately undercutting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s outreach to Pyongyang, even attempting to sabotage the June summit.

Few in the analyst community think North Korea will accept Libyan-style CVID. The North Koreans spent forty years working on nuclear weapons. They have written them into their country’s constitution. The ballistic missile warheads give Pyongyang the power of direct nuclear deterrence over the US mainland, and that is a powerful shield against any US-led attempt at regime change in North Korea. It would be astonishing if the North Koreans were suddenly to surrender their arsenal. Even were they to agree to that, the counter-concessions they would demand would be enormous—such as the end of the US-South Korean alliance.

Notably, the Libya deal ended very badly for the Libyan elite, particularly for Qaddafi. The US provided neither the economic aid nor the security assurance. First, Washington dragged its feet on the benefits, much to the enragement of Libyan officials, who started claiming they had been cheated. Then, during the 2011 Arab Spring, the US violated the security guarantee by supporting the Libyan revolutionaries. Qaddafi met a grisly end when rebels hunted him down, captured, and killed him. No one misses Qaddafi, of course, but the US’s clear failure to uphold its end of the bargain damaged American credibility in dealing with other rogue states over nuclear weapons.

It speaks to its high-handedness and disdain for diplomacy that Team Trump even suggested this as a framework, for Pyongyang has often said that a Libyan outcome is exactly what it fears. The North Koreans have told US negotiators for years that if Qaddafi had held onto his nuclear program, he would likely still be alive. This is almost certainly true.

Worse, this storyline from the North Koreans about Qaddafi is so well-known among those who work on North Korea that is it hard to imagine Bolton and Pence did not know it. When they invoked the Libyan model, they almost certainly knew it would set off a harsh response—as it did, with Pyongyang calling Pence a “dummy” the next day. They also likely knew it might even bring down the summit, which it nearly did. North Korea’s mid-May semi-halt to the process directly followed the Libya references. Pence has been a notably hawkish voice on North Korea from the start of the Trump administration, and Bolton has repeatedly advocated a military strike against North Korea or all-out regime change.

Little of the above suggests that Trumpian disruption has improved American foreign policy outcomes. Indeed, Trump’s manic behavior nearly sank the summit three times—first, with his early May triumphalism, predicting that the North would denuclearize and hyping the Nobel; second, with his May 24 semi-withdrawal letter, which simultaneously threatened nuclear war again; and third, through his inability to control his subordinates’ provocations about the Libya model. Amid the media distractions, no one appears to be talking about the specifics of a possible deal: some mix of aid, sanctions relief, cameras or inspectors in North Korea facilities, a pullback of US conventional forces or airpower, a peace treaty, a North Korean missile cap, a stockpile inventory, and so on. In the event that Trump does strike a deal, the US public—told hyperbolically last year that a nuclear North Korea was an existential threat to America—will be wholly unprepared for such a volte-face.

From the repeal of Obamacare to trade with China, from his border wall to an infrastructure plan, Trump’s overexposure of his proposals by stimulating a media frenzy through his own shenanigans routinely undercuts his efforts. There probably is room for a US-North Korean deal—both sides seem to want the summit—but Trump’s propensity to turn every major policy initiative into personal theatrics may well undercut his Korea effort, too. Pyongyang may judge that it cannot trust someone so unstable and prone to change his mind.

Worse, the North Koreans may try the flattery route to obtain a deal. They, too, can see that Trump has been easily rolled by sycophancy from such diverse quarters as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Persian Gulf royals, and US CEOs. The North Koreans were always canny negotiators in past dealings; it should not surprise us at all if they have now identified Trump’s vanity as his weakness, and choose to cater to it, as did their fawning response to Trump’s May 24 letter. Are you ready for Ambassador Dennis Rodman to take up residence in Trump Tower Pyongyang?

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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Reality TV Diplomacy: Pageantry Trumps Tension as US-NK Summit Proceeds

Koreabridge - Tue, 2018-06-05 12:29
Reality TV Diplomacy: Pageantry Trumps Tension as US-NK Summit Proceed Listen to "Reality TV Diplomacy: Pageantry Trumps Tension as US-NK Summit Proceeds" on Spreaker.

On episode 75 of The Korea File podcast:

Former U.S. diplomat, speechwriter, and commentator on U.S. foreign policy in Asia Mintaro Oba joins host Andre Goulet to discuss this month’s on again off again US-North Korea meeting how the Moon administration’s heroic heavy lifting has kept the summit on track. Plus: a risk-free template for how to be a North Korea pundit. 

This conversation was recorded on June 1st, 2018.

Music on this episode is from the album 'The Best of Yi Moon-sae'.

    The Korea File

AttachmentSize xTKF ep75 Mintaro Oba (Mono).mp314.89 MB
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LTW: Sin-soo Choo and BTS shine in the U.S

Koreabridge - Fri, 2018-06-01 01:33
LTW: Sin-soo Choo and BTS shine in the U.S While Donald Trump is changing his mind on the meeting with Kim Jong-un as often as he makes trips to bathroom in diarrhea, two Korean celebrities have made histories in the U.S. Sin-Soo Choo, a Korean in Texas Rangers, hit a good-bye home run, his 176th home run in his MLB career, on May 27 in the 10th inning against Kansas City Royals, becoming the Asian with most home runs in MLB history since his debut in 2005 with Seattle Mariners. Matsui Hideki of Japan had held the title with 175 home runs until his retirement in 2012. Another Korean sensation was with boy band BTS as they earned the first No.1 album on Billboard 200 chart with 'Love Yourself:Tear', becoming the first K-pop album to lead the Billboard 200, and the first foreign language chart topper since 2006 when Il Divo topped the list with Ancora in the mixture f Spanish, Italian and French. 

Sin-Soo Choo and BTS are not the only Korean history makers in the U.S. Another great MLB achievement that no one had made before, and no one will ever repeat, was accomplished by Korean pitcher, Chanho Park of LA Dodgers, on Apr 23 in 1999. In the 3rd inning against St.Louis Cardinals, Chanho Park allowed two grand slams, to the same hitter , and all this in one inning. Bill Phillips of Pittsburgh Pirates gave two grand slams in one inning nearly a century ago in 1890, but it was with two different hitters. The Cardinals hitter that helped Chanho Park shine in MLB history was Fernando Tatis who is also listed with the most RBI in one inning in MLB history. Hard to believe? Just check it out below. 
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