Saturday, April 3, 2010

Of North Korea, Internet Addiction, & Unification Church. Also, What's been going on in South Korea?

Note: I guess the only thing to do about typos is... to keep writing(or posting)...

I wrote about what I thought was going on in North Korea these days (possible regime collapse soon). This article summarizes the sentiment of "longtime observors."

The rising prospect of collapse is chiefly expressed by a range of professors, military experts and think-tank analysts who scrutinize Pyongyang's power elite. Those observers have pointed to weaknesses in the regime in the past, particularly after the death of Mr. Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994, but they seemed to have settled into a belief in the regime's stability. Last month, however, the chatter began to change.

"It's like a taboo that's been broken," said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst at the Seoul office of International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based group that reports on conflict areas (North Korean Regime Seen as Weakening | Wall Street Journal).
The reason that it was taboo to talk about a North Korean collapse is that a lot of really smart people got embarassed when they mistakenly predicted the collapse of North Korea after the death of Kim Il Sung -- I think the CIA put the regime's lifespan at five years at that time -- and again when the famine was playing out. But, nonetheless, unless the United States comes forth with a sweeping security guarantee with large amounts of financial aid in exchange for North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of its nuclear weapons program, in an internal environment for North Korea that seems to reward those that are the most conservative and confrontational (as the sucession issue looms and not unlike how the Republican Party in the U.S. is today) and an external environment that has never been more hostile (seems South Korea was the key variable all along (along with a consistent US foreign policy) that makes the DPRK's days look numbered...

So much for those in Korea that have purposely and wrongly blamed outside countries, particularly the United States for blocking Korean reunification) -- If there's any country to be blamed, it's China back during the days of the famine and, perhaps, China again... though a massive, unilateral Chinese intervention / aid looks unlikely even with the upcoming visit to China by Kim Jong Il....China again with an intervention in North Korea that will come shortly...

But anyways, you know what this means? Well, as I was walking by campus a couple days ago, I saw posters from the Unification Church (통일교회) of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Among its many beliefs and businesses (the Church single-handedly brought the Fox News Version of the Washington Post -- The Washington Times to, well, Washington, D.C.) is that Jesus Christ will return when the Korean Peninsula is unified. So, get ready: the end is near.

Meanwhile in South Korea with the fastest Internet connections in the world:
A couple of professed video-game addicts, while playing marathon sessions of a game where they ironically raise a virtual baby, were found guilty of killing their real life baby out of criminal neglect.
At the same time, of course, Lee Kun-Hee, son of the late Samsung founder was pardoned as he returned to be head of Samsung Electronics, the largest high tech company in the world (in revenue... larger than HP now). By the way, check the chart in that article (it shows how far Samsung has come in various industries, all commoditized industries, but nonetheless).  He has to save the company and country from Apple and Research In Motion).
Of course, not to be outdone, Hyundai Motors (though I think Samsung Electronics comprises a quarter of the total market value of the main South Korean stock exchange - KOSPI) reported record sales on continued growth in the U.S. and Chinese markets. Along with its subsidiary, Kia Motors, the carmaker reported grabbing 8.1% of the U.S. market, which means goodbye to KORUS for the time being as 8.1% of the U.S. market is probably the size of the entire South Korean market.
By the way, there is an interesting provision in the KORUS FTA agreement that isn't in the Korea-EU Free Trade Treaty about products made in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex -- which allows for the U.S. to decide if products made in Gaeseong will be tariff free. The treaty with the EU completely ignores the issue as and classifies those products as North Korean products, which could be used as leverage against North Korea -- I believe there's an article that argued precisely that, but considering that the agreement isn't in the one with the EU and the Gaeseong issue, I believe rather than showing a point of potential leverage, it goes to show how much more important or attractive the U.S. market is than the E.U. one. As during the KORUS negotiations, the Gaesong phrase was put in there to placate SKorean negotiators -- I'm guessing it goes to show how much more profitable the U.S. market is... (regardless of gross volume of sales...)
Anyways, this article best illustrates the success that Hyundai has been seeing in the U.S. (though GM -- which has a 40% stake in GM Daewoo -- should probably come out as KORUS' biggest advocate. GM has sold more cars in China than in the U.S. as of late. Much of this is due to GM Daewoo -- one of their successful acquisitions). 
There's also a freak accident that destroyed a South Korean naval ship that's being covered in more detail over on all the main Korea blogs, where they investigate some of the causes.
Thought I'd share some of the articles I kept open in my tabs as I catch up on what's been happening around the world... (Spring Break ended)...

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