Is there a state that faces a specific existential threat right now? Yes again. That state is South Korea.
South Korea has no nuclear weapons of its own, though the U.S. has extended its “nuclear umbrella.” Its immediate neighbor, North Korea, does have nukes, which it tested and developed while the U.S. was distracted in Iraq. North Korea’s leaders are peculiar, to put it mildly, and have repeatedly promised / threatened to destroy South Korea in a “sea of fire” in rhetoric as blood-curdling as any anti-Israel rant from Iran. South Korea’s population center is practically on the border with the North, rather than several time zones away as with Iran relative to Israel.
It would be better for everyone except North Korea if it had no nukes, but the South Korean president was not invited to address Congress during the GW Bush years to demand tougher action against North Korea.
Is Israel’s situation comparable to that on the Korean peninsula—or, to use the more familiar parallel, to that of European Jews menaced by Hitler in 1938? It most emphatically is not, if you pay any attention to the underlying facts.
The most obvious difference is that Israel is the incumbent (if unacknowledged) nuclear power in the region, with the universally understood ability to annihilate any attacker in a retaliatory raid. The only similarity between this power balance and the predicament of European Jewry in 1938 is the anti-Semitism. In 1938 the Jews of Germany, Poland, France, and Russia were a stateless minority with no military force of their own to protect them and no foreign power (including the U.S.) willing to step in. In 2015 Israel is a powerful independent state, more heavily armed than any adversary.
Think of this parallel: The full-tilt U.S. slave economy of the 1850s and the police-shooting abuses of 2015 have in common racist anti-black prejudice, but they are not the same situations. One was resolved only by cataclysmic war. The other is very serious but not the prelude to north-versus-south combat. The Iranian rhetoric of 2015 and the Nazi death machine of the Reich have in common anti-Semitic hate-mongering. But the differences between them are far more obvious than the similarities.
Shortly after the South Korea ferry Sewol capsized and sank in April, killed more than 300 passengers, South Korean police issued warrants for the arrests of the owners of the ferry line.
Yoo Byung-eun, the head of the family-owned business, promptly went missing.
In June a body was found decomposing in a plum field south of Seoul. Police now say DNA tests identify the remains as Yoo’s.
Besides his ferry business, Yoo is also the head of a church. Police have accused church members of helping Yoo elude captre.
In June, some 6,000 police officers stormed a church complex in Anseong city belonging to Mr Yoo.
Four church followers were detained on charges of assisting his escape and police said they were looking for several more who had helped the billionaire.
Outside the church, supporters held up a large banner that read: “We’ll protect Yoo Byung-eun even if 100,000 church members are all arrested.”
In April, a passenger ferry carrying South Korean high school students on holiday capsized and sank, killing more than 300 passengers and crew. The government is holding the owners of the ferry company responsible, but so far the big boss is nowhere to be found.
As it turns out, the big boss is also the founder of a cult and many of his followers consider him a messiah.
For more than six weeks, an obscure Christian sect widely described as a cult has dominated the news in South Korea. The reason: its alleged connection to a ferry sinking in April that killed more than 300 people.
Yoo Byung-eun, the founder of the Salvation Sect and alleged de facto owner of the ferry’s operating firm, has become the country’s most wanted man, with the authorities offering a $500,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. He and his family stand accused of corruption, poor management and illegal modifications to the ferry Sewol that prosecutors say contributed to its sinking with hundreds of high school students onboard. Despite a massive manhunt across the country, Yoo has continued to elude capture since a court issued a warrant for his arrest on May 22.
“They (the Salvation Sect) began around the early 1970s. Their doctrine is influenced by the foreign missionaries,” Tark Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University and expert on cults in Korea, told The Diplomat. “According to them, they don’t need to repent again and again. We need only one repentance. Right after realization of sin, there is no need to repent again. Because, according to them, righteous man is righteous man, even if they have committed a sin.”
More: The Cults of South Korea
Too bad for the big boss — his idea of “repent once and be forever free” is not shared by law enforcement officials.
Qatar World Cup Investigation: Imagine if Australia Won 2022 Bid, a Sports-Mad Country Wanting to Put on Party
Imagine a World Cup in an honest, welcoming, sports-mad country, whose emerging football league would be transformed by local stadia hosting global superstars. Imagine a World Cup where organisers are motivated primarily by a desire to put on a great party for the world. Imagine a World Cup in Australia.
Australia bid for the right to host 2022 but were outmuscled by Qatar, who won by a bizarre landslide, ahead of the United States, South Korea and (separately) Japan at the Dec 2, 2010 vote in Zurich. It was laughable that such a serious bid as Australia should finish last. It summed up Fifa’s tainted voting system that the most legitimate bid went out in the first round. It is no surprise that half of the 22 ExCo members involved have since stepped down, some of them totally discredited. This was the vote that probity forgot.
Let us take the alternatives to 2022. The US, for all its magnificent arenas and powerful media, have staged the competition before as have South Korea and Japan. The competition should be pioneering, pushing back the boundaries. Qatar could not be taken seriously from a footballing perspective; there could be no serious footballing legacy from holding the event in such an artificial environment. No integrity.
After months of unsettling tensions, North and South Korea tentatively agreed Thursday to hold talks about reopening the shared manufacturing zone where Pyongyang halted activity in April.
The North proposed the meeting to discuss the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Zone — a major symbol of cooperation between the two countries — along with other issues in a statement published by state-run media.
“The venue of the talks and the date for their opening can be set to the convenience of the south side,” it said.
South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae suggested a date of June 12 for the meeting.
Report: North Korea launches missiles North Korea pulls workers from complex Memories of fighting for North Korea Britain’s little North Korea
“We positively view that North Korea has accepted the continuous proposal for talks between South and North Korean authorities, which our government has been continuously making,” Ryoo said.
The very survival of a joint factory zone in North Korea that has been billed as the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation is in doubt after South Korea decided Friday to withdraw all of its workers there, analysts said.
In one of its latest moves that drastically escalated cross-border tensions, North Korea on April 9 pulled all of its 53,000 workers from 123 South Korean companies operating at its border city of Kaesong.
After its proposal for dialogue was turned down by North Korea, South Korea on Friday said it will pull out all of its 175 workers remaining in Kaesong.
The tit-for-tat followed near-daily threats of war by North Korea after it conducted its third nuclear test in February. The North was particularly enraged by annual joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises that began in early March and will continue through April.
“North Korea may confiscate assets of the 123 companies in Kaesong as they did in 2008 at Mount Kumgang,” a North Korea affairs expert in Seoul said, referring to a cross-border sightseeing tour to the North’s mountain resort.
South Korea says it is withdrawing its remaining workers from a jointly-run industrial complex in North Korea.
The announcement came from the unification minister shortly after Pyongyang rejected an offer of talks.
North Korea blocked access to the Kaesong zone - once a symbol of inter-Korean co-operation - earlier this month and later pulled its workers out.
The move followed weeks of high tension in the wake of North Korea’s third nuclear test in February.
“Because our nationals remaining in the Kaesong industrial zone are experiencing greater difficulties due to the North’s unjust actions, the government has come to the unavoidable decision to bring back all remaining personnel in order to protect their safety,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said.
“North Korea must guarantee the safe return of our personnel and fully protect the assets of the companies with investment in Kaesong,” he added.
He did not give a timescale for the withdrawal. A total of 175 South Korean workers are currently in the complex, which is home to South Korean factories staffed by North Korean workers.
Timeline: Korean tensions
12 Dec: North launches a rocket, claiming to have put a satellite into orbit
12 Feb: North conducts underground nuclear test
11 Mar: US-South Korea annual military drills begin
30 Mar: North says it is entering a “state of war” with South
2 Apr: North says it is restarting Yongbyon reactor
3 Apr: North blocks South workers from Kaesong industrial zone
9 Apr: North pulls its workers from Kaesong zone
10 Apr: North moves two mid-range Musudan missiles to its east coast
26 Apr: South Korea announces withdrawal of all remaining South Korean workers
The remaining South Koreans were believed to be running out of food and medicines, because the North had refused to allow fresh supplies in.
South Korea on Thursday extended an offer to hold government-level talks with North Korea over the joint industrial complex that has been idle since early this month amid heightened inter-Korean tensions.
“We are making an official offer to North Korea to discuss ways of normalizing operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and want to hear their position on the matter before noon Friday,” said unification ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk.
“If Pyongyang does not respond by the deadline, Seoul will have no choice but to take serious measures,” he said, and indication that South Korea may take a “tough” stance on the industrial complex issue. If tough actions are taken, it will mark a departure from the country’s previously held position of trying to resolve the situation through dialogue, even if it takes time.
NORTH Korea has completed preparations for a mid-range missile launch tomorrow from its east coast, officials in Seoul have revealed - just hours after foreigners living in South Korea were warned to quit the country.
The worrying warning came as speculation heightened that North Korea is planning to pull its ambassador out of the UK after a shipping container was pictured outside the London embassy.
Boxes were seen being loaded onto a large lorry parked outside the pariah state’s embassy - an ordinary home in Ealing, west London.Seoul revealed today that foreign nationals in South Korea were told by the North to evacuate in case of a “merciless” war.
“We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war,” said the KCNA news agency, citing its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war,” said the statement.
North Korea intensified threats of an imminent conflict against the United States and the South on Tuesday, warning foreigners to evacuate South Korea to avoid being dragged into “thermonuclear war”.
The North’s latest message belied an atmosphere free of anxiety in the South Korean capital, where the city center was bustling with traffic and offices operated normally.
Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threat could be aimed partly at bolstering Kim Jong-un, 30, the third in his family to lead the country.
The North, which threatens the United States and its “puppet”, South Korea, on a daily basis, is marking anniversaries this week that could be accompanied by strong statements or military displays.
The warning to foreigners in the South, reported by the KCNA news agency, said once war broke out “it will be an all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war to be waged by (North Korea).