The United States and its allies have embarked on a dangerous path of aggression against the government of North Korea and its allies China and Russia.
As usual, the western propaganda system presents a near unified front showing how horrible and atrocious the North Korean government is purported to be, and how murderous and ruthless and amoral their intentions are purported to be, and how their military objectives and missile programs — now allegedly targeting the “free” world–are out to dominate the rest of the world, starting with their deadly missiles being launched against the United States and our ally Japan. So goes the propaganda.
Let’s look again
The people of South Korea — a country occupied by the US military since 1950 with between 326,000 US soldiers (during the Korean War) and 28,500 US soldiers (today) — have seen massive human rights violations, repression and state terrorism. Since the first military dictator was installed in South Korea by the United States military in 1953, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has perpetrated massive atrocities against its own citizens and against citizens in other countries. This is a so-called “member of the international community.”
The Central Intelligence Agency under Allen Dulles launched covert operations in South Korea by 1950 — utilizing South Korean police and other secret agents to serve the imperial “pro-democracy” agenda. The ever touted claim that North Korea launched a very clear war of aggression by crossing the 38th parallel — an arbitrary line of demarcation between Soviet Russian and US/allied forces after WW-2 — and invading South Korea is not born out by the facts that existed on the ground in the Korean peninsula in June of 1950. Not only are there credible reports of death squads crossing into the northern territory and committing atrocities, but the diplomatic record shows a pattern of belligerence and war-mongering that has become de rigeur for the United States all over the world since then.
The Un-Pretty History of the Korean Peninsula
Massive post-WW-2 repression and murder (extrajudicial summary executions) by South Korean troops, with US military oversight, occurred against their own people in the south, including such horrible massacres as occurred on Je Ju island 1948-1949 and were white-washed by the western propaganda and intelligence apparatus (see, e.g., the documentary film The Ghosts of Je Ju). The somewhat more well-known Koch’ang incident in February 1951 involved some 600 men and women, young and old, that were reportedly herded into a narrow valley in South Korea and mowed down with machine guns by a South Korean army unit on the loosely applied claim that they were “suspected of aiding guerrillas” — these being Korean people who resisted the overt terrorism that the Korean people (north and south) were subjected to by the southern forces and US troops.
South Korea – May 1990: A map posted in the northern zone just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) showing the DMZ and major dams contstructed on both sides of the illegal border. (Keith Harmon Snow)
“The Governor of Je Ju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders,” wrote S. Brian Willson, “with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled.”
US troops fired on crowds, conducted mass arrests, combed the hills for suspects, and organized posses of Korean rightists, constabulary and police for mass raids (reported at the time by correspondent Mark Gwyn for the Chicago Sun: see in William Blum Killing Hope).
South Korea – May 1990: A partially camouflaged military encampment in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel (Keith Harmon Snow)
Said one British scholar Jon Halliday at the time: “After all, if civilians could be mowed down in the South on suspicion of aiding (not even being guerrillas — what about the North, where millions could reasonably be assumed to be Communists, or political militants?” (See: Killing Hope p. 51).
The US military’s carpet bombing and chemical napalm bombing against the northern Koreans during the Korean War was murderous and unprecedented (though rivaled by the bombing of Dresden) and set the stage for the horrors that we perpetrated on the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Entire villages were wiped off the map and off the Korean peninsula. Some three million Koreans north of the 38th parallel were killed, with one million Korean people killed in the south and over one million Chinese deaths.
Note that United Nations forces were involved in the war: UN troops were commanded by general Douglas McArthur and committed egregious atrocities all over the place — and these atrocities were always blamed on the “North” Korean forces — a particularly poignant tactic (blaming the victims) ever exercised by the pro democracy forces of the New World Order in the process of exercising our military freedoms and exorcising anyone deemed to be undemocratic (meaning: opposed to predatory capitalism, the IMF and the World Bank, multinational corporate destruction, and the feeding, housing, clothing, educating and taking care of the people).
Under then US-installed puppet dictator Syngman Rhee the allied (US/UN/south Korean) troops confiscated massive tracts of land and other “spoils of war” (confiscated property of the former brutal Japanese occupiers) and doled them out, for example, to ultra-right wing former sympathizers and collaborators with the former Japanese occupation, the most wealthy, and other conservative elements. This further set the stage for widespread resentment amongst the Korean population — whose ancestors saw and who did not forget the first massacres in Korea at the hands of invading US forces in 1871.
South Korea – May 1990: A military jeep carries soldiers along a remote road in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)
The arbitrary and illegal line of demarcation drawn at the 38th parallel became the de facto border separating the Korean people due to US/UN/NATO/South Korean military aggression and refusal to compromise with the northern power structure (the northerners made many overtures and granted many concessions toward reunification).
Domestic and Foreign Terrorism
Subsequent to the war, the Republic of Korea military under its US tutelage did not limit the atrocities against innocent civilians to the domestic arena. Some 300,000 South Korean troops joined the NATO war in Indochina, and committed serious atrocities there: at least several major massacres are well documented. Examples include:
Bình Hòa massacre
Binh Tai massacre
Hà My massacre
Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre
— all being located in South Vietnam and all being massacres of hundreds of unarmed non-combatant children, pregnant women, and the elderly. The South Korean troops committed brutal atrocities — such as cutting the breasts off women and bayonetting pregnant women in the bellies and bulldozing shallow graves for summary burials to cover up the evidence. Some of the villages and people so targeted were known to be very sympathetic and supportive of the US military, but after these atrocities many survivors joined the Viet Kong.
There is no doubt the South Korean forces were trained in brutal euphemistically named “counter-insurgency” techniques now well-documented to include the most horrible crimes that people have ever committed against people and hardly ever having anything “counter” about their insurgents — all under the watchful binoculars and logistical coordination of the United States and our intelligence apparatus (e.g. the Phoenix Program — a campaign of absolute terror and egregious crimes against humanity and war crimes conducted in Indochina during the US wars there).
For example: at Binh Hoa village (December 1966) in South Vietnam the South Korean “Blue Dragon Brigade” slaughtered over 400 mostly children, women and elderly; ROK troops then burned the village to the ground and slaughtered the people’s buffaloes.
South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to be deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)
Over the past 60 years the people of South Korea have been subject to egregious curtailment of freedoms under certain “National Security” directives (laws) including: the (repeated) jailing of thousands of “dissidents” who have, in one form or another, protested imperialist US involvement and occupation in South Korea; people who have organized against US imperialism; students and other civilians that have maintained contacts with people in North Korea; civil society groups and individuals that have contacted foreign organizations seeking help against repression; the censoring and destruction of truth in education and educational materials.
There have been suspicious deaths of student activists, and attempts to get outside help to demand proper investigations of such deaths have led to further repression of the petitioners (seeking help).
On 9 May 1990, some 100,000 Koreans marched and demonstrated against the then latest US/UK/EU-backed dictatorship of president Roh Tae-Woo (1988-1993); over 40,000 South Korean storm troopers (riot police) were mobilized and over 1900 people detained. Some of the perceived organizers were jailed for several years. Torture has been selectively used on political prisoners, but was routinely deployed against certain segments of the population during particular periods since the 1950’s, such as the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In 1975, the self-declared president-for-life dictator Park Chung-hee issued a special directive to police and government officials to round up and remove ‘vagrants’ from South Korean city streets. Some 8600 people were initially detained and imprisoned at 36 nationwide facilities, including so-called panhandlers, small-time street merchants, the disabled, lost or unattended children, and dissidents (such as college students that were holding anti-government leaflets).
One of these detention centers was a ‘welfare facility’ called ‘Brothers Home’, where thousands of small children were subject to years of brutality and many suffered routine and repeated rape and fatal beatings. The internment program continued under Chung-hee’s successors presidents Choi Kyu-hah (1979-1980) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1988) and eventually led to the imprisonment of more than 16,000 people by 1986. The dictatorships of President Chun Doo-hwan and Roo Tae-woo (1988-1993) suppressed any investigation into these massive human rights violations, and the true scale and magnitude of the atrocities, numbers of victims and names of perpetrators did not more fully emerge until 2016. Few of the survivors have spoken out publicly, and the government has never apologized for nor compensated any of them.
Dictator Park Chung-hee ruled for 18 years, supporting Washington’s militarization and warfare in the Far East and Indochina. Park’s daughter Park Geun-hee became the 11th president of South Korea in 2013, and was known as the “Strongman’s Daughter” (appearing under that headline on the front cover of Time magazine in 2013) and she was impeached for influence-peddling and other corruption in December 2016.
Throughout her tenure the ROK government naturally blocked all attempts by the citizenry to further expose and gain accountability for the ‘Brothers Home’ and related atrocities orchestrated by her father and his successors. For her pro-war pro-US imperialist policies and posturing, and for her other intransigences, duplicity and state-orchestrated repression, the people of South Korea nicknamed president Park Geun-hee their ‘Lady Hitler‘.
Corporate Goon Squads and Hired Thugs
South Korean labor unions and struggles have in the past been infiltrated and co-opted by gangs of thugs hired by / for multinational corporations like Daewoo, Samsung and Hyundai. The bribery, influence peddling, hired thuggery, and other forms of corruption by the chaelbol — giant family run multinational conglomerates — rival those of the Japanese Sogo Shosha (trading houses) and the Japanese mafia (Yakuza) and their western corporate criminal counterparts (CIA/FBI/NSA/DIA/USAID and the 1 percent) — where anything and everything can be bought and sold with reckless abandon and near zero accountability, and where the corruption and criminals are shielded by the judiciary.
The corporate goon squads have often used various forms of torture, including beatings and kidnappings, and the thuggery by corporate gangs has in many cases been supported by state security and police — who have furthered the extrajudicial punishments and torture against labor organizers and employees of the large corporations targeted, for example, for exercising their freedom of expression. Public and private school teachers have also suffered retaliation and repression for their involvement in activities that the “state” deemed a threat to “national security” — such as labor and pro-democracy organizing.
South Korean people lived under more than 30 years of military dictatorship from 1960s-1993 but given the corruption and absence of freedoms the situation under “democratically elected” presidents has not been particularly encouraging, to say to least, for the average South Korean — repressive laws instituted under military dictatorship continued to serve a repressive state security apparatus, including arbitrary arrests and detentions — and so democracy has been an absolute farce.
As S. Brian Willson discusses, the current inhabitants of Je Ju Island have been opposed to the construction of a deep water port that would serve US/ROK military objectives enabling guided missile equipped AEGIS class destroyers access to port facilities at the village of Gangjeong. The ROK’s CIA-like Korean National Intelligence Service has spied on and raided citizens and organizations that are opposed to the deep water port that would be built by the criminal Samsung Corporation. Samsung has a history of more than 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption, tax flight and tax evasion.
South Korean civilians have also been persecuted from the 1950s to the present day, including arrests, kidnappings, beatings and torture, for advocating reunification with North Korea. Millions of Koreans were separated from family members by the illegal US-enforced bifurcation of the Koreas before and after the Korean War (1950-1953) and, as we can imagine, reunification is blocked by powerful political interests whose motivations (power, control, private profit) do not serve the greater common interest of the Korean people (north and south) or the rest of us.
South Korea is effectively run by an organized crime syndicate with deep ties to the United States power structure (see, for example, notes on The Cohen Group below). Beyond a repressive security apparatus and pro-imperialist international foreign policy, South Korea suffers very high and epidemic numbers of suicide, alcoholism, and sexual and domestic violence.
South Korean corporations have also run roughshod over the environment domestically and abroad and slavery conditions have historically prevailed for their labor forces while sweatshop conditions still do.
While the South Korean government has offered an “aggressive” public face to the issue of “calling for reunification”, this is mere lip service as they have simultaneously increased military spending, maintained a compulsory draft (with severe penalties for any conscientious objector), and moved to the front of the line as a leading arms exporter. In recent years South Korea has purchased scores of billions of dollars worth of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other weapons (of mass destruction), and the ROK has annual defense budgets of over $30 billion.
Meanwhile, South Korea and its western allies (including Japan) have escalated aggressive military posturing and rhetoric targeting North Korea, including deployments of troops and weaponry (e.g. battleships) in “joint military exercises” within striking distance of North Korea. The escalation of tensions and probability of war — on the Korean peninsula — are due to the duplicitous sociopathic criminal hegemony and aggression by the United States “government” and its closest allies and their “leaders”.
South Korea sealed its biggest-ever — until then — arms purchase in September 2015 with a U.S. $7.04 billion deal for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. South Korea has also been stocking up on spy satellites and drones — courtesy of US weapons manufacturers like Northrup Grumman. South Korea also sports a large number of Apache attack helicopters, and it has more than “capable” air force and navy.
In the summer of 2016 the United States and ROK militaries announced their decision to deploy an advanced missile defense system — Terminal High Area Missile Defense (THAAD) — that has previously been deployed in both Hawaii and Guam as a supposed “counter-measure” against North Korea’s nuclear missile capabilities. The THAAD system is designed, built and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems (prime contractor) with subcontractors Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet, Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the oliver Capital Consortium.
Said differently, this is a lot of cheese!
South Korea’s militarization has benefited US, UK, Canadian, EU and Israeli corporations — further wagging the dog of war and serving the powerful interests that will never move toward a peaceful equitable reunification serving the interests the Korean people (north and south) and peace in the Far East. Permanent war is the desired state of foreign affairs.
On 16 March 2017 a THAAD radar system arrived in South Korea. The deployment of the THAAD system has critically heightened tensions between China, North Korea, South Korea and the United States primarily because China is adamantly opposed to the deployment in South Korea. US taxpayers began paying for the development of the THAAD system circa 2005; annual expenditures on THAAD / THAAD AN/TPY-2 radars are: $985.7 / $593.6 million in 2012; $684.2 / $623.2 million in 2013; $824.8 / $328.9 million in 2014; $725.1 / $334.2 million projected for 2015; $718.3 / $300.7 million projected in 2016.
Said differently, that is a lot of cheese for these US and British corporations!
The ROK is cost-sharing the THAAD system with United States taxpayers, who spend billions annually maintaining the United States Forces Korea (USFK) under a 50% cost-share with the ROK government. South Korean defense officials requested at least two THAAD batteries be deployed to “help thwart the North’s missile attacks.” Operating a single THAAD unit is estimated to cost about $1.6 billion. One unit consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 49 interceptors, a fire control and communications unit, and an AN/TPY-2 radar. The USFK is apparently paying for one of the THAAD batteries and the ROK for the other.
Estimates of the costs to US taxpayers of annually stationing around 30,000 US forces in Korea — the rough number of US troops that have annually been in occupation there for decades — were around $2.9 billion in 2014, with the ROK paying $866 million or approximately 30% of the total costs ($3.75 billion/year).
South Korea – Seoul 13 July 2016: Thousands of residents in the town of Seongiu hold up banners in a demonstration in opposing the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system there. (Photo credit: Yonhap News Agency)
Who benefits from all this war making?
Who are the directors of Lockheed Martin? Northrup Grumman?
Don’t miss the revolving doors between these corporations and the United States military.
For example, one Lockheed Martin director is a retired US Air Force General and former director of the profoundly secretive National Reconnaissance Office on Lockheed’s board. The NRO plans, builds and operates North America’s spy satellites, and they specialize in intelligence-gathering and information warfare — and the NRO coordinates the analysis of aerial surveillance and satellite imagery from several intelligence and military agencies, including the Defense Investigative Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Oh, and, don’t miss that retired US Admiral and Commander of the US Strategic Command, also on Lockheed’s board, who is also a director of the highly dishonest and destructive Institute for Nuclear Power (INPO).
Oh, and don’t miss the revolving door of former admirals and generals and CIA directors now working for Northrup Grumman.
Oh, and don’t miss the Lockheed directors that are also directors of The Cohen Group — founded and run by former U.S. Secretary of War (1997-2001) and bona fide war criminal William S. Cohen. According to his own The Cohen Group web site: “Under his leadership, the US military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II, in Serbia and Kosovo, and conducted other military operations on every continent” — including the U.S. proxy wars in Congo and Sudan — and “The Cohen Group principals have decades of experience working with The Republic of Korea (ROK) government and military and with ROK industry.”
I bet they do.
Now, let’s talk about North Korea.
Imagine, a country like North Korea, which, in fact, there is no other country like, that does not have the stellar record of committing war crimes and/or crimes against humanity and/or genocide that Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan, Rwanda, Uganda or the United States do, but one that has the audacity (please note the irony and sarcasm) to develop a missile (capability) of their own…to defend themselves against the world’s leading military aggressor(s), one(s) with long and un-pretty records of massacres, tortures, double-dealing and back-stabbing, amounting to a lot more than massive war crimes, crimes against humanity and mass murder in one country after the next and year after year.
According to the western propaganda system, the Korean People’s Army (North Korea) has some 5,889,000 paramilitary personnel, making it “the largest paramilitary organization on earth.” This includes the local militia, the Worker Peasant Red Guards, which mobilizes at the local village level. The entire military budget of the paramilitary KPA is considered to be approximately $8-10 billion annually; in contrast, the budget of the US Department of War in 2015 was $597 billion and far overshadows the KPA in superior weaponry, capabilities and technology.
While the western propaganda system ever decries the supposed horrible human rights atrocities committed in North Korea, there is little or no attention to several more poignant issues: 1. the human rights atrocities and war crimes committed in South Korea by the ROK are far more substantial and 2. there is substantial internal meddling in North Korea by U.S. intelligence and state department agencies and front groups.
The problem — North Korea’s problem — of meddling and foreign intervention in North Korean affairs is even less advertised or exposed by the western propaganda system than the problem of South Korean (the ROK’s) own abrogation, denial and trampling of human rights and commission of atrocities, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Beyond the obvious and little known covert operations against North Korea that are hidden in classified black programs and shrouded in the secrecy of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and all the other secretive Pentagon operations, are the many other stealthy subversive and clandestine U.S. government organizations that are more openly meddling and intervening in North Korea’s domestic affairs.
These include the North Korea programs of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a ‘soft-power’ front organization that has more openly pursued many of the former objectives of the covert intelligence apparatus and does so under an open source cover that hides their true agenda and duplicitous activities. NED’s war against Korea is euphemistically defined as a campaign of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ building, of ‘support’ for ‘civil society’ and ‘democratic elections’ and ‘press’ and ‘speech’ and other ‘freedoms’ — but which really amount to ultra-right wing fascistic programs peddling the ruthless predatory capitalism and corporatism of unregulated private enterprise and ‘free market’ ideas of the ‘American dream’ variety. In 2015 alone the NED dispensed some $2,017,290 to individuals, organizations and initiatives designed to leverage, factionalize, divide and destabilize North Korea; in 2014 it was $2,062,913.
Meanwhile, NED has also dispersed obscene sums of money to destabilize and mold China into the ‘American’ image: in 2015 alone, for example, NED spent $8,497,642 on China. NED operations in Mongolia — another country where western meddling, intervention and plunder is completely whited out by the western press — and Russia (need I say more?) are also very substantial, and each of these countries has some stake in regional alliances and allegiances to North Korea. Of course, NED also dispenses sizable funds for programs in South Korea, but, curiously, the statistics and lists of programs and grantees are not readily discernible from their web sites and annual reports. Further, the sums noted above do not include the additional very sizable disbursements of US taxpayers dollars to “regional” think tanks, ‘training’ institutes or so-called ‘non-government’ organizations like the neoliberal Solidarity Center, The Asia Society, Brookings Institute, Center for International Private Enterprise, and the East Asia Institute.
The National Endowment for Democracy is not the only U.S. front organization meddling in North Korean and regional foreign affairs. The International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute and others are also deeply involved in pushing the U.S. private enterprise and new world order agenda of power, control, and private profit by any means necessary. And, the United States is not the only country with covert and overt intervention programs assaulting the government of North Korea. Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) and Israeli intelligence services (Aman, Mossad) — and other NATO allied intelligence and defense agencies — are certainly complicit and directly involved. There is also the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Special Operations Command Korea (SOCOR).
How exactly is a country like North Korea (or Cuba) expected to deal with foreign meddling, interventions and destabilizing operations? They aren’t. According to the pundits of the New World Order they are supposed to get down on their hands and knees and beg. However, given such examples as Iraq or Libya, we know that even doing that would not protect these countries from what the ‘leaders’ of the ‘free world’ have in store for them.
The Arrogance of Freedom
The ROK Armed Forces is one of the largest standing armed forces in the world, with a reported personnel strength of 3,725,000 in 2016 (625,000 active duty soldiers and 3,100,000 reserves). The further militarization of the peninsula serves powerful interests: whether the North Korean missile tests were actually encouraged or discouraged, applauded or reviled by the west doesn’t at all matter: either way the U.S. and our allies benefit from weapons sales and radar installations and missile and troop deployments.
It’s obvious that the escalation of tensions that initially provoked the North Koreans to increase their defensive military capabilities was prompted by the growing USFK and ROK and allied military presence/profile — through our military operations and maneuvers or deployments of weapon systems in and around North Korea — and this in turn led to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missile systems, which in turn allows Washington and Seoul and Tokyo to justify the deployment of sophisticated radar and missile warning and missile defense systems. No matter how you look at it, the United States wins.
And such is the mindset of the western war-maker. No matter how they look at it, they think, the United States wins. Profits. Deployments. Power. The Korean peninsula is far away. And this is the true deeper problem: arrogance. It is also the hubris of the bully who thinks he can never get a black eye. But people are playing around with the lives of all humanity, and in their hubris and sociopathy they don’t have the capability to understand their foolishness.
Will the real war criminals please stand up?
South Korea – May 1990: Scores of military vehicles (background) at a military base in the north of South Korea a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)
P.S. I have also provided some (amateur) photos of the South Korea’s northern zone, where I was able to use my mountain bicycle to gain access to the area just south of the DMZ. At the time (May 1990) it was highly militarized and I used my camera judiciously, though I always suspected that the ROK patrols that saw me assumed I was US military and gave me a certain carte blanche to bike freely. The landscape there, it seems to me, was highly “manicured” devoid of almost all wildness. Other than the soldiers and police, the only people I saw were universally lower class farmers — warm, kind and friendly. i imagine that this northern region has been substantially more militarized since 1990, but really I have no idea.
South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)