EMOTIONALLY DISARMED MOON JAE-IN RISKS PLAYING INTO PYONGYANG’S HANDS
Unable to hide his excitement, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea greeted the younger sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on February 10 as if he had at long last met the woman of his dreams. Kim Yo-jong was on a three-day visit to South Korea from Pyongyang as her brother’s personal emissary.
Moon gave Ms. Kim and her entourage a quasi state guest welcome, daily hosting meals throughout their stay. She in turn passed on to him a personal letter from Jong-un’s personal letter inviting him to visit Pyongyang later this year.
Pyongyang’s state media quoted Yo-jong as urging Moon to decide on an early visit “with firm resolve,” while media outlets in Seoul reported that Moon replied that he would go to Pyongyang “under the right conditions.”
During a performance in Seoul of North Korea’s Samjinyoung Symphonic Orchestra on February 11, Moon proposed to Ms. Kim that the people in both Koreas “unite our minds and overcome obstacles” en route to achieving a reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
On the first day of her visit, Ms. Kim wore a stone-like facial expression, keeping her chin slightly up as if to look down on others. By the last day, however, her demeanor had changed significantly. Wearing a gentle and compassionate smile, she looked more comfortable. Her host also was obviously more relaxed with her.
Moon appeared completely caught up in the North’s pace, resigned to letting Pyongyang control the course of developments on the peninsula. Far from being alarmed by the North’s intent to win the South over, cause a rift in the US-South Korea alliance, and separate Seoul from Tokyo, Moon looks quite happy to give in to Kim Jong-un’s sinister plans.
With the communist regime extremely hard-pressed for funds, energy, and foodstuffs due to international sanctions, the Moon administration clearly wishes to give the North a chance to escape the penalties and recover economically. At a luncheon on February 10, Ms. Kim told Moon: “We hope to see you in Pyongyang at an early date.” Moon’s visit to Pyongyang may materialize sooner than expected.
After all, Moon is notoriously pro-Pyongyang. In my regular “Genron” Internet TV news show on February 9, Ms. Ruriko Kubota, a member of the editorial committee of the conservative national daily Sankei Shimbun, had this to say:
“Moon has said that, of all the Korean administrations, there have been only three that were legitimate—those of President Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-Hyun, and himself. The truth of the matter, however, is that Kim and Roh helplessly leaned towards Pyongyang, went ahead with South-North summits, and readily delivered cash and goods badly needed by the North.”
Administrations That Financed North Korea
In other words, Moon completely fails to recognize the accomplishments of previous presidents who squarely grappled with North Korea and built the foundation of the South’s economic miracle, including the administrations of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan. On the other hand, he gives high credit to the administrations that have extended cash and goods to the North.
Professor Tsutomu Nishioka, an expert on the Korean Peninsula who was a guest alongside Kubota, remarked:
“Leftwing politicians like Kim Dae-jung have attempted to realize a federal government embracing the two Koreas, which in fact means offering the whole of South Korea to the North. If any attempt was made to form a federal government now, South Korea would instantly be divided in two. Prior to taking that step, Moon would most likely try to completely crush his conservative political opponents. As a matter of fact, specific dates are already being discussed for the arrest of former President Lee Myung-bak (in connection with a corruption probe).”
Both Kim Dae-jung and Roh moo-hyun faced political rivals squarely in presidential elections. But Moon had his political rival, President Park Guen-hye, arrested along with a total of 35 business heavyweights and members of her administration. He had virtually all of his influential political rivals apprehended prior to the presidential election. Moon is the first president in South Korean history to dare do so.”
Intensely cautious and wily, Moon delivered an address on the fifth anniversary of Kim Dae-jung’s death in Seoul last August 18: “Why have we failed to realize the federal government that President Kim Dae-Jung envisioned? Under no circumstances, will I fail to live up to the expectations of the people.”
“For that purpose,” explained Prof. Nishioka, “Moon has pledged to remove from power all conservative and mainstream forces, claiming that only the three afore-mentioned administrations have been legitimate and that all the rest have represented ‘anti-democratic’ pro US-Japan forces. As he vowed last August, Moon is steadily working on a plan to create a federal government representing both Koreas by working in tandem with the North.”
Given such a mindset, it is easy to understand how readily Moon took up the North’s proposal for a rapprochement with the South. That the North came up with the proposal in such haste is proof of how hard-pressed Pyongyang was, driven into a corner by the international sanctions brought on by its global missile and nuclear program.
That Jong-il said it was alright for North Korea to take part in the Pyeongchang Olympics in his New Year address was in itself emblematic of his immense frustrations.
North Korea’s proud announcement last November 29 that it had succeeded in a launch of a Whasung-15 missile, an ICBM, was quickly met on December 22 by a resolution on severe economic sanctions by the United Nations Security Council. At that juncture, Kim Jong-un abruptly switched his strategy to a peace offensive towards the South in the form of participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics. Kim obviously figured that this way he would be able to play for time while managing to avoid further sanctions. He must have thought he would also be fortunate enough to wrest funds and goods from the South.
Although Kim decided to pursue a peace offensive towards the South, he still needed to demonstrate his nation’s ability to attack the US mainland anytime it desires. That is why he carried out a massive military parade in the North Korean capital on February 8, just a day before the Pyeongchang Games.
The founding day of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) was originally set as February 8, 1948. The KPA was created by the Soviet Army after it advanced to North Korea following Japan’s defeat in the last war, putting Kim Il-sung in charge of the interim People’s Committee.
In the 1970s, Kim Il-sung’s successor Jong-il fabricated history, claiming that the real war heroes were partisan fighters like his father and crediting the KPA with having defeated Japan. To that end, the founding day of the KPA was changed to April 25, 1932, and remained so—until this year.
Economic Sanctions Are Steadily Working
But Jong-un had to stage a military parade prior to the Pyeongchang Games in order to show off his power to the US. So he changed the date of the KPA’s founding to February 8, saying that while the revolutionary army was founded on April 25, North Korea’s regular army was indeed established on February 8.
But this doesn’t make sense. For one thing, this would mean the KPA was founded before the birth of the People’s Republic of Korea. But President Moon appears little bothered by such preposterousness on the part of the North. He only appears interested in ingratiating himself with Kim’s kingdom.
Nishioka explained that the mobile launchers shown with Hwasung-15 ICBMs on board during the February 8 military parade deserve special attention:
“These launchers, manufactured in North Korea, have nine huge tires in two rows on each side for a total of 18. Previous launchers were manufactured in China and had one less tire in each row for a total of 16. Manufacturing these multi-axial mobile launchers is technologically quite demanding, as so many tires are involved and their angles must be delicately adjusted for going around curves. But the North has somehow managed to make them—not only one but four. What the North did with these launchers this time is to show that it can simultaneously launch at least four missiles capable of reaching the US east coast from four separate locations.”
But is the North really serious about attacking the US? Experts have doubts, pointing out that the number of military vehicles in the parade looked too small for a full-fledged attack. Presumably, fuel is running short in the North. If that is the case, the international sanctions have finally started to bite.
All the more reason for the North to want to wrest whatever it can from the South as soon as possible. This may likely have prompted the North to so suddenly change its strategy towards the South after last December 22, when the UN voted to punish the North further with stricter sanctions. It is almost certain that this is why the North adjusted the day of the KPA’s founding to February 8.
It is interesting to note that all the calendars printed in the North prior to this change are said to show April 25 as the day of the KPA’s founding.
What moves the US and China will make going forward are difficult to predict, but one thing for sure is that the emotionally disarmed Moon Jae-in will continue to be pulled closer and closer towards Pyongyang. In the end, we can not rule out South Korea being completely absorbed by North Korea.
Under such circumstances, Japan must forge ahead with an aggressive doubling of our defense expenditures, steadily building up our military in order to solidify our own national defense.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 791 in the February 22, 2018 issue of The Weekly Shincho)