The 10 Biggest Liars That I know Of Here In The U.S.

The 10 Biggest Liars That I know Of Here In The U.S.

 

Obviously this list is only my personal list and is open to everyone’s versions and interpretation.  I started to make a list of the 10 biggest habitual liars in the World then realized that most of the names were Americans. I am not the wisest person in our World, I do not know all of the bad people within every Nation so I am sure that if I made a ‘World’ list that I would be missing at least a million names on my top ten list. This list is just for the fun of it, so if you would, make your own list of habitual liars within your own Country, or the World, if you wish. Here in the South-Eastern United States us Hillbillies tend to call it a “just for the shits and grins of it’ kind of a list. I know that don’t make no sense but, this is Appalachia Kentucky after all so just ‘grin and bare it.’

(SINCE THE DEVIL HIMSELF IS THE ‘FATHER OF ALL LIARS’ THEN THESE 10 MUST HAVE BEEN ON HIS HONOR ROLL STUDENT LIST.) 

1.) Donald Trump

2.) Mike Pence

3.) Mitch McConnell

4.) Hillary Clinton

5.) Bill Clinton

6.) Nancy Pelosi

7.) George H. W. Bush

8.) Donald Trump Jr.

9.) Jared Kushner

10.) Rudy Giuliani

(OK, I GAVE INTO MY OWN THOUGHTS WHILE DOING UP THE AMERICAN TOP 10 LIST AND DECIDED TO AT LEAST  A ‘WORLD’ TOP 5 LIST. SO, HERE GOES.)

1.) President Donald Trump of the U.S.

2.) President Vladimir Putin of Russia

3.) President Xi Jinping of China

4.) President Kim Jong Un of North Korea

5.) Saudi Crown Prince  MBS

( HOW ODD: TURNS OUT TO BE PRESIDENT TRUMP AND FOUR OF HIS “GOOD FRIENDS’)

Trump Shows His Ignorance And Stupidity In Fox News Interview About North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump made some very scary statements about North Korea in his Fox News interview

It looks like he actually considered war at one point.

President Donald Trump answers questions during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore.
 Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump just basically admitted that the US was very close to going to war with North Korea last year, and that he doesn’t believe clear intelligence showing Pyongyang is improving its missile program.

He made those comments publicly during his Sunday interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace — but you likely didn’t hear about it.

Much of the coverage of the interview has centered on Trump’s disparaging comments about a former top Navy SEAL; his defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite mounting evidence that the royal knew about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder; and his decision to not attend a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery because he was “extremely busy.”

All of this overshadowed Trump’s North Korea remarks toward the end of the discussion, but they shouldn’t be missed. His statements show how seriously the president considered Pyongyang a threat last year, but also how incredulous he is of pictures — actual pictures — showing the country’s weapons program is getting better.

Trump also left the door open, however slightly, to considering a fight with Pyongyang again despite his repeated expressions of deep skepticism toward war.

Let’s take each comment in turn.

It seems like war with North Korea was seriously on the table

When Wallace asked Trump about the biggest decision he’s had to make as president, he referred to his discussion on North Korea because “we were very close.”

After mentioning his North Korea chat with former President Barack Obama during the transition, the president said, “I think we had a real decision as to which way to go on North Korea. And certainly, at least so far, I’m very happy with the way we went. I have a very good relationship with Kim.”

President Donald Trump sits next to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — who advocated for military options to strike North Korea — on July 18, 2017.
President Donald Trump sits next to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — who advocated for military options to strike North Korea — on July 18, 2017.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Trump didn’t say the word “war” in that part, but he didn’t have to. When he says “we were very close,” it’s fairly clear he’s referencing attacking the country to punish it over improving its nuclear arsenal, and he’s made references to how close the US and North Korea came to blows before.

That was seriously considered: Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster advocated for military options within the White House, including a limited attack to deter Pyongyang from building more nuclear bombs. But instead, the Trump administration chose another way — the current diplomatic push between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — in part because Kim wants to reduce US-imposed economic pressure on his country.

It’s good news that both Washington and Pyongyang are currently talking instead of making imminent war plans, as a US-North Korea war could turn into a nuclear conflict that leaves millions of people dead.

But while it’s comforting to know war is off the table for now, it’s not comforting to know that Trump had to think hard about that option. And should diplomacy with North Korea not go as planned, it’s possible Trump will be faced with the same choice.

And here’s the bad news: Diplomacy with North Korea isn’t going well.

Trump doesn’t believe North Korea is improving its weapons programs. It is.

Since Trump’s historic June summit with Kim in Singapore, the two have worked to lower tensions. Kim, essentially, wants the US to stop militarily supporting South Korea and threatening the North, while Trump wants Kim to dismantle his nuclear arsenal.

The problem is, North Korea is only improving its weapons capabilities, not tearing them down. For example, a report last week from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, included satellite images showing North Korea had enhanced its ability to launch missiles from a base near South Korea’s border and capital. That comes after credible reports detailing how Pyongyang is continuing to make nuclear weapons, too.

People watch a television broadcast, reporting North Korea’s test-launch of its new missile, at the Seoul Railway Station on November 29, 2017 in South Korea.
People watch a television broadcast, reporting North Korea’s test-launch of its new missile, at the Seoul Railway Station on November 29, 2017, in South Korea.
 Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Wallace brought up the issue during the interview on Sunday, noting “there’s talk that [North Koreans are] putting up new sites.” Trump quickly deflected.

“Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. I don’t. And, you know, could. And which is — if it — if that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes. You know, I go with the way we have to go,” the president said.

So Trump doesn’t currently agree with the available intelligence that North Korea is gaining strength while it engages in talks with the US. And while it’s unclear how he feels about secret intelligence he’s privy to, it’s possible he’d come to the same conclusion.

It’s “the policy of denuclearization by denial and delusion,” Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at MIT, told me. “Hear no evil, see no evil.”

There is, however, some logic behind Trump’s decision to make that statement.

If he admits North Korea deceived him, it would make him look weak in the midst of negotiations and he would have to start curtailing the diplomatic initiative. If that were the case, it’s chilling to think about what Trump — who has expressed deep reservations about war before — means when he says, “I go with the way we have to go.”

Korea, North: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Communist Hell Hole

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Korea, North

Introduction An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist domination. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic “self-reliance” as a check against excessive Soviet or Communist Chinese influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang’s control. KIM’s son, the current ruler KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father’s successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM’s death in 1994. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of approximately 1 million. North Korea’s history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, and long-range missile development – as well as its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and massive conventional armed forces – are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, following revelations that the DPRK was pursuing a nuclear weapons program based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement with the US to freeze and ultimately dismantle its existing plutonium-based program, North Korea expelled monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In January 2003, it declared its withdrawal from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. In mid-2003 Pyongyang announced it had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods (to extract weapons-grade plutonium) and was developing a “nuclear deterrent.” Beginning in August 2003, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US have participated in the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the stalemate over the DPRK’s nuclear programs. North Korea pulled out of the talks in November 2005. It test-fired ballistic missiles in July 2006 and conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks in December 2006 and subsequently signed two agreements on denuclearization. The 13 February 2007 Initial Actions Agreement shut down the North’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in July 2007. In the 3 October 2007 Second Phase Actions Agreement, Pyongyang pledged to disable those facilities and provide a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs. Under the supervision of US nuclear experts, North Korean personnel completed a number of agreed-upon disablement actions at the three core facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex by the end of 2007. North Korea also began the discharge of spent fuel rods in December 2007, but it did not provide a declaration of its nuclear programs by the end of the year.
History Formation

In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea, which ended with Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, the Soviet Union accepted the surrender of Japanese forces and controlled the area north of the 38th parallel, with the United States controlling the area south of this parallel. Virtually all Koreans welcomed liberation from Japanese imperial rule, yet objected to the re-imposition of foreign rule upon their country. The Soviets and Americans disagreed on the implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea, with each establishing its socio-economic system upon its jurisdiction, leading, in 1948, to the establishment of ideologically opposed governments.[11] The United States and the Soviet Union then withdrew their forces from Korea. Growing tensions and border skirmishes between north and south led to a civil war, known as the Korean War.

On June 25, 1950, the (North) Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel, with the war aim of peninsular reunification under their political system. The war continued until July 27, 1953, when the United Nations Command, the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement.[12] Since that time the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has separated the North and South.

Economic evolution

In the aftermath of the Korean War and throughout the 1960s, the country’s state-controlled economy grew at a significant rate. It was considered the second most industrialized nation in Asia, after Japan.[citation needed] During the 1970s, the expansion of North Korea’s economy, with the accompanying rise in living standards, came to an end, and a few decades later went into reverse. The country struggled throughout the 1990s, largely due to the loss of strategic trade arrangements with the USSR,[13] and strained relations with China following China’s normalization with South Korea in 1992.[14] In addition, North Korea experienced record-breaking floods in 1995 and 1996, followed by several years of equally severe drought, beginning in 1997.[15] This situation, compounded by the existence of only 18 percent arable land[16] and an inability to import goods necessary to sustain industry,[17] led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Large numbers of North Koreans illegally entered the People’s Republic of China in search of food. Faced with a country in decay, Kim Jong-il adopted a “Military-First” policy to reinforce the regime.[18]

Although private property is still formally prohibited, the volume of private trade with China grows year by year. The collapse of the system of state allowances has also contributed to the growth of a multi-sector market economy.[19] Collapse of large state-owned enterprises released a huge amount of workers who engage in cross-border trade with China.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 127 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries: total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
Coastline: 2,495 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
note: military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned
Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 22.4%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 75.94% (2005)
Irrigated land: 14,600 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 77.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
per capita: 401 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Environment – current issues: water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
Politics North Korea is a self-described Juche (self-reliance) state.[20] Government is organized as a dictatorship, with a pronounced cult of personality organized around Kim Il-sung (the founder of North Korea and the country’s first and only president) and his son and heir, Kim Jong-il. Following Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of “Eternal President”, and was entombed in the vast Kumsusan Memorial Palace in central Pyongyang.

Although the active position of president has been abolished in deference to the memory of Kim Il-sung,[21] the de facto head of state is Kim Jong-il, who is Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People’s Assembly, currently led by President Kim Yong-nam. The other senior government figure is Premier Kim Yong-il.

North Korea is a single-party state. The governing party is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition of the Workers’ Party of North Korea and two other smaller parties, the North Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Human rights

Multiple international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation.[22] North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people”, due to the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms.[23] North Korean defectors have testified to the existence of prison and detention camps with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labour, and forced abortions.

The system changed slightly at the end of 1990s, when population growth became very low. In many cases, where capital punishment was de facto, it replaced by less severe punishments. Bribery became prevalent throughout the country. For example, just listening to South Korean radio could result in capital punishment. However, many North Koreans wear clothes of South Korean origin, listen to Southern music, watch South Korean videotapes and even receive Southern broadcasts, although they are still prohibited; in most cases punishment is nothing more than a pecuniary fine, and many such problems are normally solved “unofficially”, through bribery.

People Population: 23,479,089 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.9% (male 2,733,352/female 2,654,186)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 7,931,484/female 8,083,626)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 751,401/female 1,325,040) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.7 years
male: 31.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.732% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.57 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.2 years
male: 69.45 years
female: 75.08 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religions: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Languages: Korean
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Korea, South: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Korea, South

Introduction An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century – from three predecessor Korean states – until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan’s surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea’s first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South’s President KIM Dae-jung and the North’s leader KIM Jong Il. In October 2007, a second North-South summit took place between the South’s President ROH Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader.
History Archeological findings indicate that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by humans as early in the Lower Paleolithic period.

Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by Dangun.[11] Gojoseon expanded until it controlled much of the northern Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria. After numerous wars with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms.

Introduction of Buddhism and other influences from China had profound effects on Korea, which later passed on, combined with Korean advances, to Japan.

The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North-South States period, in which the much of the Korean peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture flourished. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla’s neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

After the North-South Period, successor states fought for control during the Later Three Kingdoms period. The peninsula was soon united by Wang Geon of Goryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world’s oldest movable metal printing press.[16][dead link]

The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. However, Goryeo continued to rule Korea as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the fall of the Mognolian Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Goryeo continued its rule. After severe political strife and continued invasions, Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.

General Yi declared the new name of Korea as Joseon in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty was marked by relative peace and saw the creation of hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14 century and the rise and influence of Confucianism.

In the latter of the 16th century, Joseon was invaded by a newly unified Japan. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), centuries of peace had left the dynasty unprepared, and the lack of technology and poor leadership from the Joseon government and generals led to the destruction of much of the Korean peninsula. However, continued Korean dominance at sea led by Admiral Yi, the rise of local militias, and the intervention of Ming China put Japan under great pressure to retreat in 1598.

Today, Admiral Yi is celebrated as one of Korea’s foremost heroes and his turtle ships, used with great success against the Japanese, are considered the world’s first ironclad warships, although lack of hard evidence of iron plating sparks much debate.

During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the name the “Hermit Kingdom”, primarily for protection against Western imperialism. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and despite widespread resistance, remained under occupation until the end of World War II in 1945. the two countris are divied by the d.n.v.

After division

In the aftermath of World War II, Soviet Union and United States troops controlled the northern and southern halves of the country respectively. The two Cold War rivals established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea’s division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism eventually led to the establishment of two separate governments: the communist North and the capitalist South. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung[17] and in the South, freshly shipped from America, Syngman Rhee were installed as presidents.[18]

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South leading to the Korean War. The Soviet boycott of the United Nations at the time, and therefore, no veto, allowed the UN to intervene when it became apparent that the superior communist forces would easily take over the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the participation of millions of Chinese troops. After huge advances on both sides, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, and the two countries are still technically at war.[19]

In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic and corrupt President Syngman Rhee. A period of profound civil unrest and general political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee’s military coup (the “5.16 coup d’état”) against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park is heavily criticized as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.

The years after Park’s assassination were marked by, again, considerable political turmoil as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1980, there was a coup d’état, by General Chun Doo-hwan against the transitional government of Choi Gyu Ha, the interim president and a former prime minister under Park. Chun assumed the presidency. His seizure of power triggered nationwide protest demanding democracy, in particular the city of Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do where Chun sent in special forces to violently suppress the city, in what is now known as the Gwangju Massacre. Until 1987, he and his government held Korea under despotic rule when Park Jong Chul — a student attending Seoul National University — was tortured to death.[20] The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice revealed that Park was tortured, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. The demonstrations snowballed when another student from Yonsei University, Lee Han Yeol, was killed by a police-fired tear gas bomb while he was demonstrating against the military government. The period of resistance is called the Resistance of June when all joined the national movement. Eventually, Chun’s party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th Declaration, which included the direct election of the president.[21]

In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, a cause of both national and international celebration in contrast to great turmoil of the past. In 1996, South Korea became a member of the OECD, a testament to further economic growth. As with many of its Asian neighbors, South Korea suffered the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but the country was able to re-emerge and continue its growth towards a major economic power after a swift recovery.[22]

In June 2000, as part of South Korean president Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy of engagement, a North-South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. That year, Former President Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.”[23]

In 2004, South Korea joined the “trillion dollar club” of world economies.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates: 37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
Coastline: 2,413 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use: arable land: 16.58%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land: 8,780 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 69.7 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 18.59 cu km/yr (36%/16%/48%)
per capita: 389 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment – current issues: air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location on Korea Strait
Politics In its foreign relations, South Korea has main strategic interests in North Korea and the neighboring nations of China, Japan, and Russia, as well as its main ally, the United States.

United States

The United States of America was the primary driver in the establishment and initial sustainment of the South Korean government before and after the Korean War. The two nations have enjoyed both strong economic and diplomatic ties after the Korean War, although they have often been at odds with regard to their policies towards North Korea during former president Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun’s terms. There was a spike of anti-American sentiment, although US-Korea relations have steadily improved since the election of current president Lee Myung Bak.[25] In April 2007, Korea concluded a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, but that agreement still awaits ratification by the legislatures of both countries.

China

Historically, Korea had relatively close relations with China. Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters also worked with Chinese soldiers during the period of Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the Chinese embraced communism while South Korea became a representative democracy with the help of the United Nations and the United States. The People’s Republic of China assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and China almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually however, and South Korea and China established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and[26] Korea-China relations have improved steadily since 1992.

Japan

Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the Korean War, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is still heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army.[28] Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war, including class A war criminals like Hideki Tojo, the re-writing of Japanese textbooks to overlook Japanese aggression during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan.[29] Presently, South Korea and Japan’s political relations are unstable but thawing progressively, and the newly-elected President of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, held a summit meeting with Yasuo Fukuda, the current Prime Minister of Japan.

North Korea

Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace.[30] On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an eight-point peace agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.

Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, and again in 2006. Recently, North Korea agreed to temporarily suspend its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program for economic and diplomatic support, although some Korean and American officials criticized the North for not being fully cooperative in its temporary suspension of a nuclear weapons program.

Other nations

South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 170 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

There is an ongoing effort at negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, the second largest importer of Korean goods. South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada.

People Population: 49,232,844 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.7% (male 4,579,018/female 4,157,631)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 18,150,771/female 17,464,610)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 1,997,032/female 2,883,782) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.4 years
male: 35.3 years
female: 37.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.371% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.83 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.42 years
male: 74 years
female: 81.1 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.29 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6%

UN: North Korea Still Building Nuclear Missiles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

A confidential UN report throws cold water on North Korea’s claim that it is committed to denuclearization

The launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile
The launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile
Uncredited/AP
  • North Korean officials insist that the country is committed to the Singapore agreement, which expressed a need for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  • A confidential United Nations report argues that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs” and continues to engage in illicit activities in violation of UN sanctions resolutions.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remains optimistic but notes that North Korea’s behavior is “inconsistent” with the pledge North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made to US President Donald Trump at their summit in Singapore.

North Korean officials insist the country is committed to upholding the provisions of the Singapore agreement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, but a confidential United Nations report reveals that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.”

“The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] stands firm in its determination and commitment for implementing the DPRK-US Joint Statement in a responsible and good-faith manner,” North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said Saturday, arguing that North Korea has demonstrated its goodwill through the moratorium on weapons testing and the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

North Korea has also released American hostages and began dismantling parts of the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, a facility believed to have played a prominent role in the engine development for one of the new intercontinental ballistic missiles tested for the first time last year. But while Pyongyang has taken certain presumably positive steps, it remains a good distance from reaching the Trump administration’s desired outcome — denuclearization and disarmament. In fact, evidence suggests that North Korea may be moving in the other direction.

A 149-page report analyzing the implementation of United Nations sanctions over a six-month period was submitted to the United Nations Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee late Friday. North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the document put together by a team of independent experts stated, according to Reuters.

In recent weeks, North Korea has been spotted engaging in activities that cast doubt on its commitment to denuclearize. They include producing possible liquid-fueled ICBMs at a location in Sanum-dong,increasing nuclear fuel production at secret enrichment sites like Kangson, making key infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, and expanding an important facility in Hamhung dedicated to the development of solid-fueled ballistic missiles.

It is not just the weapons programs that are troubling, though. The United Nations report notes that not only has North Korea been collaborating with Syria’s military and attempting to sell weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum have “increased in scope, scale and sophistication.”

North Korean vessels were involved in at least 89 illegal ship-to-ship transfers between January 1 and May 30, which resulted in the country importing as much as three times the amount permitted by the United Nations, NK News reported , citing US data.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday that North Korea’s behavior is inconsistent with Kim Jong Un’s promise to the president.

“Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize,” Pompeo said , “The world demanded that they do so in the UN Security Council resolutions. To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a) in violation of one or both the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and

b) we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we’re looking for.”

Speaking at the Asian Regional Forum Retreat Session in Singapore Saturday, Pompeo urged Southeast Asian nations to maintain the pressure on North Korea by fully implementing sanctions. At the same event, the North Korean foreign minister said Pyongyang is alarmed by US attitudes.

North Korea ‘working on new missiles’, US officials say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

North Korea ‘working on new missiles’, US officials say

A launch of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missilesImage copyrightKCNA
Image captionNorth Korea carried out a series of long-range missile tests in 2017

North Korea appears to be building new ballistic missiles despite recent warming ties with the Trump administration, media reports say.

Unnamed US officials told the Washington Post that spy satellites had spotted continuing activity at a site that has produced ballistic missiles.

Reuters news agency quotes an official as saying it is unclear how far the work has gone.

President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June.

After the first meeting between sitting leaders from the two countries, the two men pledged to work towards denuclearisation. Mr Trump later said North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat”.

But Mr Trump was criticised at home for making concessions without securing any firm commitment from Mr Kim to end the nuclear and missile programmes.

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with North Korea"s leader Kim Jong-un (L) as they sit down for their historic US-North Korea summitImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe two leaders shook hand at a landmark summit in June

What do the latest reports say?

On Monday, the Washington Post newspaper quoted officials as saying North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the Sanumdong facility near the capital, Pyongyang.

The factory is known to have produced the Hwasong-15, the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the US.

However, a US official told news agency Reuters that a liquid-fuelled ICBM didn’t “pose nearly the threat that a solid-fuelled one would because they take so long to fuel”.

Reuters also added that satellite imaging showed vehicles moving in and out of the facility, but not the extent of any missile construction.

What are experts saying about this?

These are not the first reports that North Korea may be continuing its weapons programme, casting doubt on the real impact of the summit in Singapore.

Satellite imagery of the Sanumdong facility shows that the site is “active”, Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) told the Washington Post.

“[The facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination,” said Mr Lewis. “We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”

Another North Korean expert from MIIS, Melissa Hanham, told the BBC that the facility had “regular traffic in and out of the building”, adding that this “traffic pattern” on the site stayed “about the same through the Panmunjom and Singapore meetings”.

This indicated that there had not been a complete stop in activity during the summit talks.

She also noted that large “brightly coloured containers” also showed up in satellite imagery, saying that “containers similar to these have appeared during previous ICBM inspections by Mr Kim.”

Ms Hanham added that while that experts at MIIS could not “find a way to confirm the [intelligence] leak”, the information has matched evidence from satellite imagery.

What was agreed on in the Singapore summit?

North Korea has carried out a total of six nuclear tests, the most recent of which took place in September last year. It has in the past two years quickly advanced its nuclear programme.

But at their landmark meeting in Singapore, Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to work towards the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

The signatures of US President Donald Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong-unImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe pair signed a document pledging they would work towards new relations

It’s been unclear what both sides mean by “complete denuclearisation”, and no further details have been released about when or how Pyongyang would renounce its nuclear weapons nor how the process would be verified.

Experts have also cast doubt on whether Pyongyang has been genuine in its apparent commitment to “denuclearise”.

Last week, it appeared North Korea had begun dismantling part of a key rocket launch site, but according to recent reports based on US intelligence leaks, Pyongyang might still secretly be continuing its nuclear weapons programme.

Reports had indicated that North Korea was upgrading its only official nuclear enrichment site, and was stepping up enrichment at other secret sites.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to admit that North Korea was continuing to produce nuclear fissile material, though he insisted that “progress is happening”.

Trump keeps claiming credit for fixing things that aren’t fixed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(TRUMP: AMERICA’S IDIOTIC FRAUD IN CHIEF, IS HE POSSIBLY THE BIGGEST FOOL IN THE WHOLE WORLD?) (opinion by: oldpoet56)

Trump keeps claiming credit for fixing things that aren’t fixed

(CNN)Never shy about taking credit, President Donald Trump twice recently claimed to have solved a problem that turned out to still be a problem.

He wanted the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to be solved after his historic meeting with Kim Jong Un last month, and he wanted the problem of children separated by the US government from their parents to be solved with the swipe of his pen on an executive order.
But weeks later, the North Korean nuclear threat still very much exists, and the problem of children separated from their parents has worsened as the US government clearly does not know exactly how many children it has or how to get them back to their parents.
These are unrelated stories, obviously, but they share what’s become a truism of White House — which is that Trump likes to take credit for things he hasn’t quite accomplished. The details will come later.
Trump touts North Korea denuclearization

Trump touts North Korea denuclearization
It’s not unlike the famous old quote attributed to Vermont Sen. George Aitken, a Republican, who put forward a plan for the US in Vietnam in 1966. The United States should declare victory and get out, he’s been quoted as saying. Whether Aitken said it that way or not and what exactly he meant has been debated.
Trump actually did sort of declare victory on North Korea immediately upon touching down on US soil after the summit in June with Kim.
“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump said on Twitter. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
Trump was basking in success of his trip at the time and clearly wanted it to seem as historic as possible.
But his declaration was premature. The agreement he signed in North Korea was more of an entree into figuring out the details. And his administration, since his tweet, has reaffirmed that there is still a nuclear threat from North Korea. Obviously. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shuttles back and forth to hammer out the hard details. Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear program continues.
Trump has not been chastened, however. Most recently, he’s sought credit for not being in the middle of a nuclear war.
“Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”
OK! (Set aside that Trump was the one tempting nuclear war with his previous taunting of Kim. He’s asking for credit for avoiding a war he was inching toward.)
On the subject of the immigrant children, the administration was slow to realize its moral mistake in separating the children from parents at the border. The resulting chaos is just becoming clear.
Trump signs executive order to end family separations
Trump signs executive order to end family separations
“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” he said. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
“So we’re keeping families together and this will solve that problem,” Trump said. And then, just before he signed the executive order, he added, “You’re going to have a lot of happy people.”
He hasn’t said much at all about the issue since then.
But problems became apparent immediately. The executive order sought to detain undocumented families together and it ran afoul of a law that mandated children not be detained indefinitely. And while the stated purpose was to reunite families, it’s not clear that’s happened much at all. In fact, the government this week made clear it had separated even more children than previously thought.
These are only the most recent examples.
There’s no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” he said after Republicans passed their tax reform bill, even though Republicans’ tax bill only zeroed out the penalty for not obtaining health insurance coverage.
CNN’s Greg Krieg looked at a long list of things Trump has tried to take credit for earlier this year.
But these new examples are something else. They’re Trump taking credit for the efforts of his own administration before his own policies can be enacted, which is why they feel so premature. He’s trying to take credit for things where no credit is yet deserved.

Japan Lowers Readiness of North Korea Missile Alert System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(IF PRIME MINISTER ABE OR THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN ACTUALLY BELIEVE THE WORDS SPOKEN BY THE IGNORANT FOOL DONALD TRUMP OR BY THE MASS MURDERER KIM JONG UN, THEN MR. ABE AND THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN ARE NOT THE WISE PRACTICAL PEOPLE THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THEM TO BE.) (oped by: oldpoet56)

Japan Lowers Readiness of North Korea Missile Alert System

Sunday, 1 July, 2018 – 09:30
A passerby in Tokyo looks at a TV screen reporting news about a North Korean missile launch in September 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Japan decided to ease the level of military readiness of its North Korea missile alert system, a report said Sunday, citing multiple unnamed sources close to the matter.

The report came as Japan finds itself under pressure to soften its hardline stance against Pyongyang following US President Donald Trump’s landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month.

Japan’s Self Defense Forces on Friday dropped their program to always deploy Aegis warships in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) that detect and intercept incoming missiles, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

But Japanese forces will remain ready to intercept missiles detected via spy satellite images, the newspaper said.

Japanese defense officials told the Asahi that Tokyo was following in the footsteps of the United States, which has already lowered its alert level in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan has also suspended public evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack.

Japanese defense ministry officials were not available for immediate comment.

Japan has long maintained a tight-lipped stance about its exact defense posture against North Korea, including the locations of the high-tech Aegis vessels.

The outlook of the North’s denuclearization efforts remain unclear at best, with the Washington Post reporting Saturday that Pyongyang plans to keep some of its nuclear stockpile and production facilities while potentially concealing them from the US.

Trump has since the June 12 summit in Singapore buoyantly declared “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

Evidence collected since the historic meeting points to secret production facilities and the development of methods to conceal weapons creation — implying Pyongyang is aiming to hide plans to continue its nuclear program from the US, having made contrary, if ambiguous, commitments to Washington.

Over the weekend NBC News first reported that Pyongyang has in fact recently been increasing fuel production for nuclear weapons at several hidden sites.

The US network, citing intelligence officials, said North Korea’s regime was readying to “extract every concession” from the White House rather than giving up its atomic arsenal.

“There’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” NBC quoted one US official as saying.

“There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US,” the official said, despite Pyongyang’s recent curtailment of missile and nuclear tests.

The only uranium enrichment spot North Korea has acknowledged publicly exists is Yongbyon — though reports of secret facilities have surfaced.

Experts have voiced fear that Washington may accept a lukewarm deal centered exclusively on Yongbyon that disregards known underground sites.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he plans to meet with Kim to “flesh out” details of the nuclear disarmament promise, but has insisted the North Korean leader is serious.

“There’s a lot of work between here and there. My team is already doing it. I’ll likely travel back before too terribly long,” the top US diplomat said recently.

“We still need to flesh out all the things that underlay the commitments that were made that day in Singapore.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis meanwhile has reassured key East Asian allies that the US commitment to Seoul is “ironclad” — despite Trump’s unilateral suspension of military exercises with South Korea and his lauding of Kim as a “talented guy.”

North Korea Is Quickly Upgrading Nuclear Research Facility: report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘HILL’ NEWSPAPER)

 

Satellite images show North Korea upgrading nuclear research facility: report

Satellite images from last week show that North Korea is making numerous improvements to the infrastructure at a nuclear research facility, according to a new study.

The images, obtained by North Korea analysis outlet 38 North, come just weeks after President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement that called for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

The satellite photos indicate that North Korea is quickly progressing on several adjustments to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

The improvements include a new cooling water pump house, multiple new buildings, completed construction on a cooling water reservoir and an apparently active Radio chemical Laboratory. It is unclear whether the reactor is still in operation, the report said.

38 North notes that North Korean nuclear officials are expected to proceed with “business as usual” until Kim orders official changes to procedure.

The agreement between Trump and Kim, signed at the historic summit in Singapore earlier this month, commits the U.S. to “security guarantees” in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. Critics said that the deal was unspecific and gave too much to North Korea without securing anything for the U.S. in return.

Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, North Korea claimed to have destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site.

‘What the hell?’ Trump-Kim love fest ignores human rights nightmare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE POLITICO NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are pictured. | Getty Images
Few observers expected President Donald Trump to challenge Kim Jong Un on human rights. The subject in general hasn’t been a priority for him. | Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images

‘What the hell?’ Trump-Kim love fest ignores human rights nightmare

The president once raged at the North Korean leader as a ‘madman’ and a killer, but showed little concern for his brutal style during their meeting in Singapore.

Almost exactly one year ago, North Korea returned an imprisoned 22-year-old American college student to his family in the United States. It was not a happy reunion.

Otto Warmbier, whom the North Koreans had imprisoned for more than a year, arrived in a coma and died a few days later — spurring President Donald Trump to rail against the “brutality” of a North Korean government that lacked “basic human decency.” Trump gradually focused his attacks on the regime’s leader, Kim Jong Un, calling him a “sick puppy” and a “madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.”

In Singapore this week, Trump warmly embraced that so-called madman.

He called Kim a “smart” and “funny guy” who “loves his people.” He predicted the two of them would have a “terrific relationship.” Trump told reporters that human rights had come up only briefly, but he gave no indication that he had confronted Kim about Warmbier’s death, whose precise cause remains unclear.

Still, Trump described what happened to Warmbier as a catalyst for the sudden, if uncertain, rapprochement between America and North Korea, saying the University of Virginia student “did not die in vain.”

Trump’s public turnabout on Kim and his regime’s atrocious human rights record was among the most dizzying developments of the past 48 hours, which saw the two leaders meet in Singapore for an unprecedented nuclear summit. It dismayed lawmakers, human rights activists and others who — while supportive of diplomacy — fear that Trump went overboard in his flattery of Kim to the point of normalizing his rule.

“Kim’s gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimized on the world stage,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut raged on Twitter. “What the hell?”

“Talking to dictators is one thing; embracing them is another,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement, denouncing “the horrendous human rights abuses North Korea’s leaders perpetrate against their own people.”

“It was really over the top and excessive,” added Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.

Amid the outrage is the question of what, practically speaking, Trump could have accomplished.

Past American presidents have pressed Middle Eastern and Asian autocrats over lists of political prisoners numbering in the dozens or hundreds. Kim has imprisoned many thousands of people for what amount to thought crimes, and political executions are commonplace. As a self-proclaimed supreme ruler, it may be nearly impossible for him to concede that he has governed in anything but a judicious way.

Some activists nevertheless argued that Trump could have used his interaction with Kim to win a broad gesture such as granting the United Nations access to his forced labor camps, and that if Kim agreed, it would have bolstered the credibility of his pledge to denuclearize. But Kim offered no hint that he is prepared to address the subject, and a joint statement he and Trump signed after their meeting made no mention of it.

Kim’s totalitarian regime may be the world’s cruelest, with practices reminiscent of the Nazis and the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. The government, run by Kim’s father and grandfather before him, is believed to keep as many as 100,000 people— quite possibly more — in gulags and other detention sites, many in slave-like conditions. Defectors describe a terror state with zero tolerance for dissent, in which entire families are often punished for the actions of one member.

The young Kim — thought to be in his early- to mid-30s — has ruled just as ruthlessly as his father, who died in 2011. He’s alleged to have consolidated power by having an uncle executed — reportedly by anti-aircraft guns — and ordering his half-brother’s murder with nerve agent in a Malaysian airport.

Few observers expected Trump to challenge Kim vigorously on human rights. The subject in general hasn’t been a priority for the Republican president.

Just a few months ago, however, North Korea was an exception to that rule: Throughout 2017, as Trump ramped up sanctions on Pyongyang, he repeatedly highlighted the “depraved” Kim regime’s human rights abuses.

During a visit to South Korea last fall, Trump denounced the “horror of life” across the border, saying that people “would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.” In January, Trump invited to his State of the Union address Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean amputee who’d fled the country on crutches that he raised in defiance as Trump hailed his bravery on national television.

And by all accounts, Trump was genuinely distressed by the fate of Warmbier, whom the North Koreans held captive for 17 months for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel where he was staying during a visit. (In a statement Tuesday, Warmbier’s family said: “We appreciate President Trump’s recent comments about our family. We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully something positive can come from this.”)

But Trump is a real estate mogul who puts great stock in personal relationships, and he appears to have decided it’s more productive to be nice to a ruthless autocrat already accustomed to being treated like a god.

When asked by Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren how Kim reacted when Trump raised human rights, Trump said: “Very well,” before acknowledging it was only a small part of the conversation. Trump went on to indicate that the reason Kim has been a “rough guy” is because that’s the only way his family has known how to rule.

“He’s doing what he’s seen done,” Trump said, suggesting that Kim can change. “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things, and that’s why he’s doing this.”

Although Trump is the first sitting president willing to meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader, other U.S. presidents have sat down with autocrats from friendly and adversarial countries alike.

Former President Richard Nixon made history when he met China’s Mao Zedong in February 1972. Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, met with Cuba’s Raúl Castro. Plenty of U.S. presidents have met, and even held hands, with the monarchs who’ve led Saudi Arabia.

James Carafano, a foreign policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said that in the long run the United States must engage North Korea on its human rights practices but that diplomacy at this stage requires prioritization.

“In good U.S. diplomacy human rights is always on the menu. That doesn’t mean it’s always the first course,” Carafano wrote in an email.

Several U.S. lawmakers, including top Democrats, sent out carefully crafted statements that either didn’t raise or made scant mention of human rights — reflecting a widespread belief that ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons through diplomacy is a much higher priority.

“We must remain sober about who Kim Jong Un is: a brutal dictator who has killed his family, overseen campaigns of mass murder and starvation, and masterfully manipulated his rivals on the global stage,” Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the end of a lengthy statement.

One concern is that Kim — who rarely leaves North Korea and has limited diplomatic experience — will take Trump’s lack of emphasis on human rights as a sign of American indifference to how he treats his people.

Amnesty International spearheaded a letter to Trump in advance of the summit urging him to seize the opportunity this week to ask Kim for immediate positive moves on human rights. Francisco Bencosme, who handles Asia-related issues for Amnesty, stressed that it’s not known exactly what Trump said to Kim about human rights, but it doesn’t appear the president took a strong stance.

Bencosme said Trump could have asked Kim to give U.N. officials access to North Korean prisoners, or urged him to help reunite North and South Korean families torn apart by the Korean War. Such moves would have been “a way of opening up the aperture on human rights issues,” Bencosme said.

And such moves are not without precedent.

The Obama administration’s outreach to Myanmar, long an isolated, pariah regime, included requests that the government free hundreds of political prisoners to help demonstrate its seriousness about improving ties with the United States. That led to freedom for at least 1,500 people, including some very prominent opponents of the junta that had run the country. But even within the Obama administration there were fierce debates over how much to push Myanmar on human rights.

When asked by a reporter Tuesday whether he had “betrayed” the people trapped in North Korea’s gulag system, Trump grew defensive — then suggested those prisoners should think long-term.

“I think I’ve helped them because I think things will change,” Trump said. “That large group of people that you’re talking about — I think ultimately they are going to be one of the great winners as a group.”

Asked about Warmbier, Trump said the college student’s tragic death had played a pivotal role in bringing about the summit — even though he had not previously mentioned it as a reason for his diplomatic push with Kim.

“I think without Otto, this would not have happened. Something happened from that day. It was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea,” Trump said.

“I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain.”

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