This week on VOA’s the Correspondents: Are North Korea’s latest threats merely propaganda? US Vice President Mike Pence issues a stark warning to North Korea as Pyongyang threatens to preemptively strike the US and South Korea. VOA White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman and VOA Asia in a Minute host Steve Miller talk about the rising military tensions between North Korea, the US, and South Korea and China’s role in the situation.
North Korea says it’s ready to launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States if the US shows any signs of what Pyongyang calls “reckless aggression”. So once more I was asked to appear on the Voice of America’s The Correspondents to provide some context to events taking place in and around the peninsula.
As always, the program was fronted by longtime host Mil Arcega. I was joined also by VOA Korean Service reporter Cho Eun-jung. We had a great segment and we even had the opportunity to use one of my old vlogs from South Korea.
So if you’ve ever wanted to know what a trip to the DMZ was like, here’s the complete vlog my last trip there and what we used in the program.
Originally published here.
Driving the car… What effect will a call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China have on North Korean provocations? What do Seoul residents feel about the rising tensions? A new Cambodian report takes aim at the press and NGOs. Plus more fallout from the United Airlines video and how Toyota looks to help Japan’s elderly. VOA’s Steve Miller and Jim Stevenson bring you the day’s top stories.
Thursday April 6th, the United States launched a targeted strike at a Syrian airbase that was used to launch planes carrying chemical weapons. The US used nearly 60 tomahawk missiles to level the airfield. The attack took place as President Donald Trump was meeting in Florida with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
One of the key topics being discussed at this first face-to-face meeting was what to do about a growing North Korean threat. VOA Asia in a Minute host Steve Miller (me) and VOA White House correspondent Pete Heinlein talk about the meeting with VOA’s Mil Arcega on The Correspondents.
VOA White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman and with VOA Asia in a Minute host Steve Miller talk about the first official trip to Asia by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Originally published here.
On March 10th, I strolled into Studio 52 at the Voice of America to appear once more on VOA’s The Correspondents. For those not familiar with the show, it’s a 30-minute program discussing three of the week’s biggest stories with VOA Correspondents.
Once more, I was paired up with veteran Asia journalist and current VOA White House Bureau chief, Steve Herman.
Host Mil Arcega moved us through a lot of topics in our seven-minute segment, something that could have easily been extended to fill the entire program. If you didn’t catch it before, watch it above.
Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed February 13 when two women smeared a liquid that Malaysian authorities say is VX nerve agent on his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong have been charged with murder, a crime that carries with it the death penalty. The two women say they thought they were participating in a televised prank.
But how does this attack in Kuala Lumpur compare with other North Korean moves to consolidate power?
“The use of deadly force or the use of violence to purge any challengers or potential challengers, that’s not new,” said Daniel Pinkston, Lecturer on International Relations at Troy University in Seoul, South Korea. “But the new element in this is, of course, the VX [nerve agent], if the reports are true, and I have no reason to disbelieve the report. So that is a brand new development.”
Stratfor Vice President of Strategic Analysis Rodger Baker observed, “Certainly the way in which they carried out this assassination using VX [nerve agent] is different than what we’ve seen in the recent past.”
Baker recalled an incident in which North Korea tried to eliminate the South Korean Cabinet in Myanmar. “So they’ve done extreme things, but this is certainly something very different than what we’ve seen,” he said.
Seriousness of VX use
So how serious of an issue is it for the international community that a state like North Korea would use a substance like VX nerve agent in a public space?
Baker says that when examining the assassination method, the attack suggests the VX nerve agent was put together during the assassination.
“So it just wasn’t the general release of VX in the space. So in that sense, we could say that this was very targeted in the application and didn’t have a major ripple effect to the airport or to other people in the airport … or apparently even significantly to the two individuals who engaged in the assassination,” said Baker.
He continues to say the attack itself is a clear signal North Korea not only is willing to use substances like VX, but do so far from home.
Pinkston reiterates that VX is an extremely deadly substance.
“Only a single drop of it, if it were to get on your skin, will kill you,” said Pinkston. “Anyone who would introduce that substance into a public area, in the international airport, I think it’s extremely brazen and completely unacceptable, and crosses a red line that’s beyond the acceptable international norms.”
North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and test ballistic missiles, despite several international sanctions put in place and condemnation by the U.N. Security Council.
How might the international community respond in this instance?
“I think that North Korea must pay a very high price for this, and to not to impose serious costs upon North Korea, I believe, would invite further and more brazen transgressions, and I think it would be the wrong signal to send to North Korea that they could engage in this type of behavior with impunity,” said Pinkston.
He recommends that a “menu of options” be made available to the international community, including banning all of their aircraft from international airports, placing greater sanctions on individuals and entities, placing North Korea once more on the list of state-terrorism sponsors, and a proportional use of force directed at chemical weapons facilities.
In Washington, United States lawmakers have called for North Korea to be listed once more as a sponsor of state terrorism.
Baker adds that a question often asked about North Korea is, “What more can be done?” He says that boils down to basically three action items: negotiate with North Korea, further isolate Pyongyang, or carry out some sort of military action.
“There’s a growing change of view, for example in China, and the debate in China is growing stronger over whether the risk of a destabilized North Korea is still a greater risk than an uncontrolled North Korea pursuing these weapons and carrying out these actions. That would be the most significant change, if it occurs. And China is the one country, I think, that could really alter the balance,” said Baker.
Furthermore, he says that as the United States completes its review of North Korean policy, one can’t rule out that military options won’t be included in the review.
Originally posted here.
One of the first programs I worked on at Voice of America was a 30 minute podcast called Asia Weekly. Over time, the needs of the audience changed, and it morphed into a 2-3 minute video analysis piece.
However, with the increaase in reporting by our Asia-based staff, it no longer seemed relevent when looking at the metrics.
Rather than killing the product, we took a look at what was working and made a change.
By far, one of the most popular series I have creted has been Asia in a Minute.
So the decision was made to alter Asia Weekly and make it a companion piece to that. Monday through Friday, Asia in a Minute provides a look at the days top three stories in 60 seconds, then Asia Weekly pops in on the weekend offering an expanded view at five of the top stories with relevant updates.
This is the first week we’ve run this, and already the metrics show it was the right decision.
WASHINGTON – Following the airport assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the question being asked by much of the world is, “Why?” And with China often regarded as a nation that might be able to exert pressure over Pyongyang’s actions, however, what impact could Jong Nam’s death have on China-North Korean relations?
The events surrounding Kim’s demise continue to evolve. While authorities haven’t been able to identify the precise cause of death, police have expanded their suspect list to include Hyon Kwang Song, the second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Malaysia, and two other North Koreans. Authorities also have asked Interpol to apprehend four North Koreans who left the country following the assault.
North Korea’s Central News Agency blamed Malaysia for the death and accused the country of an “unfriendly attitude.” Malaysia’s Defense Minister called similar remarks by the North’s Ambassador “rude.” Malaysian police say they have been “very fair” in their investigation.
While this event took place in Malaysia and involves a North Korean of the Kim leadership lineage, Kim Jong Nam lived in China following his 2001 failed attempt to enter Japan to visit Disneyland.
No definitive links have been made between the death of Kim and North Korea, but officials from the United States and South Korean believe that Pyongyang was behind the attack.
If proven true, what could be the effect on China-North Korean relations, since China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and ally?
Bilateral relations with North Korea have been “difficult at best,” so “China doesn’t like what it’s doing, but it’s been unwilling to implement pressure or implement the U.N. sanctions on North Korea,” said Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow on Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation.
Bonnie Glaser, Senior Advisor for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, observes, “I think you can add this alleged assassination of Kim Jong Nam to a long list of issues that are causing friction in the China-North Korean relationship.” She references recent events like ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
What to watch
Another factor that could be contributing to the friction between Pyongyang and Beijing is that Beijing “is looking for issues on which it can cooperate with the Trump Administration,” said Glaser.
The key thing to look for, says Rodger Baker, Stratfor Vice President of Strategic Analysis, is whether or not China feels North Korea’s actions are starting to undermine Beijing’s interests.
“The Chinese have long accepted many of the things North Korea does, primarily because, in the end, they don’t ultimately create a sense of risk for China itself. This has even gone to their nuclear program,” noted Baker.
“Perhaps the assassination of Kim Jong Nam goes beyond their anger at North Korea for the various missile and nuclear tests. We’ve seen China announce it would halt its coal imports from North Korea, but before they did that they had expedited a lot of shipments. Perhaps they had already reached the 2017 quota,” added Klingner.
With the Kim Jong Nam assassination conducted openly, Baker says that if North Korea once again finds itself listed on terrorism watch lists, China may be asked to treat Pyongyang accordingly.
— Originally published here.
The human rights group Amnesty International says political leaders around the world, including U.S. President Donald Trump, are creating a more divided and dangerous world with “toxic rhetoric.” In the London-based organization’s annual report on human rights worldwide, politicians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are accused of creating an “us versus them” environment that weakens the defense of human rights. VOA’S Greg Flakus has more from Washington.
From the original.