Posts tagged ‘Seoul’

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Links: Western Linguistic Manipulation, Destabilizing Russian Propaganda

Bicycles in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, August 2015

“The world is upside down”,
said the wrong-way driver

1. China wants an Apology from the Japanese Emperor

That’s what Xinhua demanded on Tuesday, anyway: “Injustice has a source, a loan has a lender” (冤有头,债有主).

2. China wants North Korea to shut up

That’s because North Korea wanted South Korean loudspeakers to shut up. That has now happened, but on Monday, the loudspeaker crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and that was terrible, because South Korean president Park Geun-hye considered to stay at home in Seoul, due to the bad political weather on the Korean peninsula, rather than attending the PLA military parade on September 3.

Korean tensions won’t take China hostage, announced the “Global Times”, the quasi-Chinese parallel universe for foreigners who don’t understand Chinese, suspecting that certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula are gambling on this. Sino-NK compares the article in English and its – somewhat different – Chinese original.

The anger was actually understandable, as sino-narcissistic as it may have been. After all, Park’s attendance – now (re)confirmed – lends a lot of face to the parade of an army which actually had comparatively little to do with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, as Taiwanese president (and former KMT chairman) Ma Ying-jeou pointed out last month.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can hardly be considered one of the certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula anyway. According to Reuters, citing Xinhua, he has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan. Ban is scheduled to attend the sublime distortion of history, too.

Ban defended his planned attendance in Beijing next week after Japan’s foreign ministry had sent a message to the United Nations, saying that the events draw attention to the past for no purpose and that the United Nations should remain neutral, and a senior ministry official expressed strong dissatisfaction with Ban’s plan to observe the military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Tokyo’s top diplomats apparently felt an urgent need to prove that you don’t need to be Xinhua to talk like a wide-mouth frog.

3. China wants to cast off Western Linguistic Manipulation

This is what Huanqiu Shibao, translated and quoted by Fei Chang Dao, actually meant in its editorial on Thursday: a need to cast off Western linguistic manipulations and steer clear of the linguistic traps that they set when it comes to democratic concepts. CCP democratic practice proves that most “lingustic traps” are digital these days.

4. India is a Victim of such Manipulation

No, Mao Siwei, a former consul-general to Kolkata, doesn’t say that. He only suggests that India’s political system has (or leads to) problems, with all important legislation stalled in parliament. And he doesn’t even say that. He only quotes a Times of India editorial that says so.

5. How Marco Rubio would “deal with China”

On the basis of strength and example, of course, like any presidential candidate, prior to entering the White House and inheriting his predecessors desk (and files). Marco Rubio‘s first goal – repeat: first goal – would be to restore America’s strategic advantage in the Pacific. How so? By restoring the Pentagon’s budget to its appropriate level, of course:

This will allow us to neutralize China’s rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space.


I will also promote collaboration among our allies, as America cannot and need not bear the full burden of counterbalancing China’s power.

Well, some of them will be in Beijing on Thursday, saying Hello to the victorious “People’s Liberation Army”. Maybe Rubio should first ask America’s quasi-allies in East Asia what they are going to spend on their countries’ military. Hegemony is unsustainable. Partnership might work.

6. Contested Economist Obituary of Tashi Tsering

The Economist published an obituary on Tashi on December 20 last year, and Woeser, who apparently furnished the news magazine with a photo taken by her husband Wang Lixiong ten years earlier, took issue with several points of the article. A few days after the Economist’s publication, she had recorded her objections. High Peaks Pure Earth offers an English translation. (Btw, Woeser also unveils the identity of the author of the Economist’s obituary – as a rule, authors remain anonymous there. The Economist explains why.)

7. Women can’t keep a Secret secret

Hilary Clinton can’t, Woeser can’t (see previous note, re the Economist’s Tashi Tsering obituary and its now uncovered author), and nor can Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Anyway, who cares. In the digital age, secrets are rapidly going out of fashion.

8. No “Russia Today” Rep Office in Latvia

According to Delfi, a Baltic online publication quoted by Euromaidan Press, the Latvian Registry of Enterprises denied permission to RT, saying that “the documents submitted by Russia Today contradict the Constitution of Latvia as well as several other laws”. Seconding the decision, the National Council of Electronic Media in Latvia reportedly alleged that the goal of the Russia Today Russian state news agency is to spread biased information in the information space to support the interests of Russia’s foreign policy.

A People’s Daily article in April suggested that the European Union was on the defensive in a “propaganda war” with Russia.

A rapid-response team to counter the destabilizing influence of Russian propaganda is now being established by the European Service of Foreign Affairs, writes Euromaidan Press.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Japan and South Korean Press: some Sex and Radiation

Conventional wisdom has it that there’s a lot of distrust between China and Japan. There’s also a lot of distrust between Japan and Korea (North and South). And there are Chinese-Korean relations (North and South) which aren’t that easy to characterize.

For ordinary people, there seem to be two worlds. There’s the real world, where you meet people – when travelling for work, and when travelling for fun.

And there’s the internet world.

The difference between these two worlds: the internet is highly politicized. That has been true for the printed press, too, but it never seemed to influence people as much as does the online world. Maybe the internet gives people the feeling that they play a role of their own in shaping it. This may actually be true. But the internet is shaping them in turn. When experienced, skilled propagandists and agenda sellers appear on the scene, frequently unrecognized and unrecognizable, chances are that they will manufacture consent or dissent, according to their goals, commercial or political.

Newspaper articles have always angered people, even in pre-digital times. Once in a while, someone would actually put pen or typewriter to paper and write a letter to the editor – in the evening, or whenever he or she found the time. But more frequently, the anger would evaporate within minutes or hours. There would be no visible reader’s reaction.

The internet is quite different. Once people have joined a discussion (which is easy to do), they will stay involved for quite a while, at least mentally.

A dumb headline is enough to create a shitstorm. Try How to date Japanese women who haven’t been exposed to radiation, published by the South Korean publication „Maxim“. According to this report by the Global Post, Korean readers were quick to point [that headline] out as inappropriate given the sensitive nature of Japan’s continuing recovery after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster. But obviously, once someone is offended, this isn’t good enough, and the offended themselves need to speak out, too.

In no uncertain terms

I thought I’d better depict a Caucasian.

But there were messages from the real world, too:

I’m amazed that the mass media is able to link any article to anti-Japanese sentiment, regardless of what the incident is.

What a spoilsport.

Some statistics: the Maxim editor-in-chief reportedly apologized twice. The first apology was – reportedly – widely read as another attack on Japanese dignity, rather than a real apology.

Therefore, a second apology from the editor-in-chief was needed. It still didn’t seem to read like a sincere apology. Hence, it caught more than 130 Japanese comments in one day.

Is that a lot, or is it marginal? The Japanese who wrote those over 130 comments didn’t need to speak or write Korean. Their debate was hosted by the electronic version and the Japanese-language version of the JoonAng Ilbo, one of South Korea’s top three influential newspapers, Japan Today reported on Wednesday.

Was this a worthwhile story? And how many of the Japanese who commented there were actually Japanese women?

Thanks for your time, dear reader.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine

Listening to Radio Taiwan International and KBS Seoul‘s foreign service, the unease about Shinzo Abe‘s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine is palpable. I don’t know how Japanese people feel about their prime minister’s visit, or about utterances by Japanese politicians who trivialize their country’s past warcrimes. My guess is that there are many different feelings among the Japanese – but that a majority elects politicians with these kinds of attitudes anyway.

I’m not familiar with the Yasakuni Shrine. There may be reasons to visit ancestors, no matter their past. But when a politician tries to play crimes down, or if he denies them, there is something wrong with him.

If politicians from my country were careless or disrespectful about the sufferings of victims abroad, I wouldn’t believe for a moment that such politicians could care any more about injustices that hit people at home. I wouldn’t believe that he might be able to respect my dignity, or the dignity of his and my compatriots. A politician with a flawed sense of justice wouldn’t get my vote.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jang Sung-taek never been North Korea’s “Number Two”, says Researcher

The following is a translation from a rendition of Central People’s Broadcasting Service (CPBS/China National Radio) coverage on North Korea. Links within blockquote added during translation.

CPBS news online, Beijing, December 17, via According to CPBS channel “Voice of China”, North Koreans from all walks of life commemorated the country’s previous leaders at Mansudae platform at the city center of Pyongyang, in front of the bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. As today is the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, the grand celebrations will continue today.

央广网北京12月17日消息 据中国之声《全球华语广播网》报道,昨天在朝鲜平壤市中心万寿台,朝鲜各界群众16日在金日成、金正日铜像前默哀,悼念已故领导人。而今天,才是朝鲜已故最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的正日子,盛大的纪念活动将继续进行。

Journalists saw people clothed in quiet colors at the scene of mourning, holding flowers and looking sad, coming in to Mansudae from all directions, bowing deeply to the bronze statues, and putting the flowers in front of the statues, expressing their grief about Kim Jong-il’s death. An oath-taking ralleye will be held today for the North Korean People’s Army. So will North Korea still hold commemorations today? Xinhua’s correspondent Du Baiyu explains the latest situation:


North Korea’s People’s Army held a swearing-in ceremony on the square of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun yesterday, pleding to defend Kim Jong-un to their death, with ceremonies for the land forces, the navy, and the airforce respectively. People in charge of North Korea’s military force, troops of different ranks and cadres and students from military schools and others took part in the ceremony. Today, as the passing of previous leader Kim Jong-il is marked, the North Korean masses as well as some international organizations and consular staff etc. will go to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and North Korean masses will also put flowers to older bronze statues and portraits in North Korea to lay down flowers there.

在昨天,朝鲜人民军在平壤的锦绣山太阳宫广场举行了一场规模盛大的誓师大会,决心誓死保卫金正恩,在誓师大会上进行了人民军陆海空三军分列式行进。朝鲜的 人民武力部负责人、各级部队和军事学校的干部和学生等都参加了誓师大会。在今天,也就是朝鲜的前最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的日子里,朝鲜的群众和包括驻 朝的一些国际机构以及使馆等等都会去太阳宫,并且朝鲜的群众在这两天都会到朝鲜的旧的铜像以及画像前去献花。

Some foreign  media speculate that after the demise of Jang Sung-taek, within the coverage of the commemorations, a new “Number Two” [behind Kim Jong-un] could be announced. However, [the Xinhua] journalist explains that there is no such talk about a “Number Two” personality, and that the North Korean people are simply united as one around their leader, loyal to the leader, which means loyalty to Kim Jong-un. As for the new political structure in North Korea, we may expect a report to the North Korean [Workers Party] Central Committee [or central authorities] today, and the seating order there deserves attention, as it may provide clues about the structures.

有外媒猜测说,张成泽被拿下后,在金正日逝世两周年的报告大会上,所谓新的”二号人物”可能揭晓。然而,记者介绍道,其实在朝鲜国内没有所谓的二号人物一 说,朝鲜人民只是对领袖的一心团结,忠诚于领袖也就是只忠诚金正恩。关于朝鲜的新的政治架构,在今天我们预计会有一场朝鲜的中央报告大会,大会上的座次是 值得关注的,从中或许可以看出朝鲜政治架构的端倪。

There have been many media analysts who said that the participation of the highest DPRK officials at the mourning activities today would provide the outside world with the best possible window to observe North Korea’s trends. However, Yang Xiyu, Northeast Asia issues expert at the China Institute of International Studies, sees it differently. In his view, the media misread the so-called “Number Two personality”:


Yang Xiyu: Rumours in the media, including foreign media, that Jang Song-taek was the “number two” are definitely not accurate. No matter if actually or nominally, his position wasn’t that of a number two. He was only promoted from candidate status to full membership of the politburo to full membership during Kim Jong-uns era. North Korea’s real Number-Two personality is Choe Ryong-hae, who was exceptionally promoted to permanent membership status at the politburo, while the two others are 84 and 85 years old, and their membership is of honorary nature. The only two real full members are Kim Jong-un and Choe Ryong-hae. No matter what the line-up will be like during the commemoration activities, I believe that the director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, remains North Korea’s number-two personality.

杨希雨:其实我们媒体包括外媒的传言“张成泽是二号”这个肯定是不对的,张成泽无论从实际地位还是从名义地位都没有坐过二号,而且恰恰是金正恩时代才把他 从政治局候补地位提拔为政治局委员。现在朝鲜实际上的二号人物是崔龙海,他是被破格提到政治局常委的位置,而另外两位常委分别是84、85岁,已经是一个 名誉性的,真正两位常委就是金正恩跟崔龙海。所以不管今天的正式的纪念活动是怎么样的阵容,会出现什么样的新面孔,我想人民军总政治局局长崔龙海依然是朝 鲜的二号人物。

At the swearing-in ceremony, director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, read out the words: “Korea’s gunbarrels will defend Kim Jong-un, and will only accept Kim Jong-un’s arms.” And another North Korean high official said that Jang Sung-taek hadn’t been the decisionmaker about North Korea’s economy. So, has the case of Jang Sung-taek changed the economic direction of North Korea?


Yang Xiyu: North Korea’s economic policies, and economic management and optimization in particular, will not change just because of a high-ranking official’s downfall. But given that Jang Sung-taek has indeed been responsible for handling cases of economic cooperation with China, which were also contained in the official conviction of Jang, and some specifically pointed to. Therefore, the major direction of North Korea’s economic policies, including economic cooperation with China, will not change because of this downfall. But the fact that some projects of Sino-North Korean cooperation were mentioned in the conviction will at least add a lot to the political uncertainties. But these are only some individual cases, and as for the general direction, I believe that North Korea has no better choices, other than to continuously improve its systems, continuously entering market mechanisms, expanding the opening-up to the outside world. There are no better policies than these to choose from, and therefore I believe there will be no general changes in the direction of North Korean economic policies.

杨希雨:朝鲜的经济政策特别是关于经济管理与改善的这种调整不会因为某一个高官的落马而改变,但是因为张成泽在负责经济工作的时候确实亲手办理了几个朝鲜 与中国经济合作的案子,而在给张成泽定罪的官方文件当中,也专门点到了某些案例。所以总的讲,朝鲜的经济政策包括朝鲜同中国的经济合作的关系,这个大的方 向大的政策不会改变,不会因为某个人落马而改变。但是在张成泽的定罪书里涉及到一些中朝合作的项目,这个恐怕难免要至少增加了很多的政治上的不确定性。但 这只是一些个别的案子,从大的方向上,我认为朝鲜没有别的更好的选择,除了更好的进一步改善和调整自己的体制,进一步引入市场机制,进一步地扩大对外开 放,没有比这个更好的政策选择,所以我相信总的经济政策的方向没有什么改变。

This year, from January to September, Chinese-North Korean trade amounted to 4.69 billion US dollars – an increase of 200 million US dollars. From August, China resumed oil supplies to North Korea. Before that, from February to July this year, Chinese oil exports to North Korea amounted to zero. Where should future relations between China and North Korea go?


Yang Xiyu: Sino-North Korean relations won’t be affected by the stepping-down or by the promotion of some individual. The development of Sino-North Korean relations follow their own rules. To be frank, China is simply too important for North Korea, so North Korea will continue to make efforts to protect the relations with China, and this won’t be affected. The biggest obstacle and negative impact on relations now is North Korea’s wrong policy of continued development of nuclear arms. We all know China’s two main strategic goals on the Korean peninsula: the first is to maintain peace and stability on the Korean pensinsula, and the second is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. These two goals are the two sides of one coin. One won’t be achieved without achieving the other, because the possession of nuclear weapons by any party on the peninsula will make it impossible to ever usher in peace and stability. Or, conversely, we want to solve the issue of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, for the goal of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

杨希雨:中朝关系不会因为某一个人的下台,或者某一个人的提拔而受影响,因为他的中朝关系有它自己发展规律,说实话中国对于朝鲜来说太重要了,所以朝鲜它 也会继续的努力维护好同中国的关系,这条不会受影响。中朝关系目前最大的障碍、最大的影响是朝鲜坚持发展核武器这个错误政策,我们都知道中国在朝鲜半岛是 两大战略目标,第一是要维护朝鲜半岛的和平与稳定,第二是要坚决实现朝鲜半岛无核化。这两大目标就有如一枚硬币的两个面,二者缺一不可,因为只要朝鲜半岛 南北任何一方拥有核武器,这个半岛就永远不会迎来真正的和平与稳定。反过来说我们要解决朝鲜半岛无核化问题,其实也是为了朝鲜半岛真正的和平稳定。

(Original headline: Expert says actual No. 2 of North Korea is [and was] Choe Ryong-hae, not Jang Sung-taek.)

(原标题:专家称朝鲜真正“二号人物”系崔龙海 并非张成泽)



» China forscht, Dec 17, 2013
» Punitive expedition, April 1, 2013
» Hearts and Minds, Feb 5, 2013


Friday, November 15, 2013

Central Committee 3rd Plenary Session Communiqué: a State Security Bureaucracy

Main Link: The Fifth Big State Institution – 第五大国家机构, Enorth/CPBS, November 13, 2013

While the 18th central committee’s third plenum’s communiqué doesn’t appear to reveal a lot about future economic or social reforms in general (I haven’t read it myself), a fifth big state institution (第五大国家机构, or party institution for that matter), in addition to  the CCP central committee, the state council, the “National People’s Congress” and the “The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” may be taking shape – but to suggest that, Chinese media apparently need to quote foreign media or observers. An article by Enorth (Tianjin) is apparently based on China’s domestic radio (Central People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS, or CNR) in its coverage – possibly because not everyone has the right to quote foreign sources anymore.

The fifth big state institution would be a state security committee. Analysts are quoted as saying that a double role of dealing with basic domestic and external challenges could be discerned.

Plans for a state security committee had been made or demanded since 1997, but were only now taking shape, says the article. And many other countries had similar institutions: America’s national security council (since 1947), France (since 2008), Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Malaysia, for example. In Japan, the establishment of a national security council was underway, too.

A security committee needed to be a permanent institution, experts are quoted. And Ruan Zongze, once a secretary in China’s embassy in Britain and now vice director at the China Institute of International Studies, reportedly suggests that building a state security committee was an important and innovative measure, and indicating the growing dynamics of Chinese foreign policy.



» Terrorists will be nervous, CRI, Nov 14, 2013


Monday, April 1, 2013

North Korea: “Not much left”

As of now, inter-Korea relations enter a state of war and all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol, Radio Australia quoted North Korean newsagency KCNA on March 30.

According to KCNA (March 29), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told an operation meeting that if the U.S. imperialists

make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, the KPA should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea.

But in that particular KCNA article online (there were several more articles on March 29 which may be different), no specific mention seems to be made of a state of war.

They’ve got not much left in their bluff cabinet, former Australian ambassador to South Korea, Mack Williams, told Australian broadcaster ABC (second video there).

If there should be all-out war will, of course, depend on South Korea (“military provocation”), according to KCNA as quoted by Radio Australia.

Sino-NK, focused on North Korea and its relations with China, is no news website, but will probably post observations and analysis some time this week.



» 朝鲜劳动党进行高层人事改组, BBC, April 1, 2013
» CC plenary meeting, NK Leadership Watch, March 31, 2013


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Phoenix / Qiu Zhenhai explore the Hearts and Minds in and around North Korea

No translation here during last weekend, as I had outsourced a bit of translation capacity by translating a small share in a cooperative English-language rendition of this Hong Kong-based television debate – original in Mandarin.

Interesting sample of how Chinese perception of the country’s role in the “global arena” is being created by the media.

Li Yuzhen

Li Yuzhen, a businesswoman who has lived outside North Korea for more than thirty years, doesn’t expect another NK nuclear test soon. A close NK friend of her does, however. Click picture for details.

Maybe just in time before another North Korean nuclear test explodes into some superpower faces.

But then, maybe there won’t be a third North Korean nuclear test this month after all. Time will show.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nonproliferation as a Matter of Alliances: Australia, Germany, North Korea, and the Nukes

Nuclear umbrella refers to a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state. Wikipedia offers this definition, plus several existing examples.

The one regionally closest to this blogger is NATO – most European countries, including Germany, are non-nuclear states. Australia looks like an interesting example, too – their then prime minister John Gorton (reportedly) exasperated visiting U.S. secretary of state Dean Rusk by telling him that he didn’t trust the Americans to keep their side of the treaty that underpinned Australia’s security, i. e. the ANZUS treaty.

That was in April 1968. At least, Rusk had probably long become used to overseas politicians who wanted to have some nukes of their own. Just to be juche sort of self-reliant.

Six years earlier than Gorton,West German defense minister Franz-Josef Strauss had wanted nukes for his country, too. He seemed to want them so badly that Henry Kissinger, who had talked with Strauss, apparently in May 1961, notified the U.S. government that American nuclear weapons in West Germany needed to be secured, so as to make it physically impossible (“physisch unmöglich”) [for the Germans] to take them, or to use them without U.S. consent. Strauss might simply take them, if he deemed that necessary.

The U.S. forces reacted by fortifying their nuclear bases, Der Spiegel suggested in January this year, drawing on the memory of former U.S. colonel Charles Sanford (now deceased). German greed for them apparently required the measure, in America’s view.

Either way, West German defense minister Franz-Josef Strauss was publicly advocating that the West German Bundeswehr should be given independent access to nuclear weapons, according to excerpts of “The Color of Truth” as published by the New York Times, apparently in 1999.

And one has to admit that Strauss was of great use as a great bogeyman – rightly or wrongly. Nineteen years after Kissinger, in 1980, the German social democrats were still afraid of Strauss.

All that even though Strauss had long since been relieved of his post as defense minister, to become a civil aviator and a math teacher:

I don’t know if Washington was worried by politicians beyond Australia and West Germany. But once you have such worries, you are a superpower.

An academic named Long Xingchun and Huanqiu Shibao are currently considering a Chinese nuclear umbrella for a country or for countries who are under threat, but have no nukes.

That’s where the story may become a bit complicated, hence over to Sino-NK.


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