January 23, 2018

Tension Between Western Delegations on Evacuation of Foreign Nationals from S Korea

This is an interesting matter between Western military, diplomatic and security agencies. It is within the context of sensitivities around the 2018 Winter Olympics (also see). 

These Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9 to 25 February 2018. PyeongChang is a mountainous area of South Korea just 100 km south of the tense Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with North Korea.

 If any of North Korea's frequent nuclear/missile threats occurred in February this could wreck the usual good feelings of the Winter Olympics. Mass evacuations of foreign nationals is a possibility, however slight.

This deals with the sensitivies of:

1.   promising North Korea that no military exercises will be held in South Korea prior to the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Summary of a January 2018 Washington Post report: Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have agreed to postpone the large annual Foal Eagle Exercise until after the Winter Olympics to reduce tensions with North Korea. 

2.  North Korea might decide to feel cheated that "secret" plans were reported in the Japanese media (below) in January 2018 concerning international preparations made in South Korea (SK) for evacuating foreign nationals in case of high tension or conflict with North Korea (NK). 


From the following it appears there is a high degree of ill-feeling on security issues, between and within Western delegations (including Japan and SK) in dealings with NK. The Chinese and Russians must be perplexed.]

On January 21, 2018 Anonymous translated [right-click mouse] page 2 of a Japanese language Gendai article of January 20, 2018. Pete did further translation for context:

"In a period of emergency in the Korean Peninsula, when President Trump has taken military action against NK, concrete measures to rescue US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French and Japanese and Americans nationals from SK are being planned

See Osan Airforce Base where the international evacuation meeting was held.

In November 2017, the first meeting of Japan and five members of UN Command in SK (US, UK, Canada, Australia and France) was held secretly at Osan US Air Force (USAF) Base 64 km south of Seoul to discuss rescue/evacuation planning for their foreign nationals

[Osan hosts US 7th Air Force Headquarters]. 

"It was a military official consultation and SK was excluded because of possible information leakages to NK through the SK "Blue House"." 

[the "Blue House" is a large complex that is the Executive Office and Official Residence of SK President Moon Jae-in]

Japanese attendance included Counsellor Level officials from the National Security Bureau of the Cabinet Secretariat and uniformed staff from the Japanese Ministry of Defense. They were transferred by USAF aircraft travelling from USAF Base Yokota (Tokyo) to Osan USAF Base.

See Pyeongchang Olympic site and Busan+Inchon evacuation ports (Map courtesy worldatlas)

Numbers of the foreign nationals in each region of South Korea, identified by the US, were displayed on a huge screen and projector in the November 2017 meeting room at Osan Base. Measures for transporting the nationals to Busan Port and the Port of Incheon via air, land and sea were explained.

The US State Department informed SK diplomatic and security authorities who had been excluded from the November 2017 meeting. SK reacted by complaining strongly and could [did?] attend the second meeting held in December 2017.

Until [November 2017?] these kinds of meetings have only been held secretly between the US National Security Council, US Department of Defense, Japanese NSC and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The US State Department and Japanese Ministry of Defense have been excluded because the security of their information management is considered suspect.

"Under multilateral talks discussing the situation in North Korea, it can be understood that leakage of confidential information is a deadly and serious problem."

Translated by Anonymous and by Pete.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

In such tense situation, diplomacy of SK with related countries is dysfuctional. China, Japan and USA annoy SK’s behavior, i.e., deployment of THAADs, review of agreement on confort women issue and conciliatory attitude on NK, respectively.

Recentry, SK refused entry of the Virgina-class nto Busan port making US angry [1], and the Virginia-class entered into Sasebo port in Japan [2].

The writer confused the Virginia-class with USS Virginia (SSN-774) whose homeport is Groton, Connecticut.

[2] https://japan.stripes.com/base-info/uss-texas-visits-sasebo-during-indo-asia-pacific-deployment
SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Texas (SSN 775), arrived at Fleet Activities Sasebo, Jan. 17 for a visit as part of its deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Even if South Korea is annoying it would be very difficult living permanently right next to a nuclear armed North Korea that threatens South Korea with nuclear missiles (and conventional artillery) destruction every few months.

Also South Korea realises that nearby China (a rising military and economic superpower) can also threaten South Korea while US-Trump preaches an increasingly confusing isolationist position.



Anonymous said...

I am going to assume ( as in 'assumption is the mother of a disasters')that if we and dupree notice a sudden departure of Westerns from SK, the US will soon bomb NK after the main cadre of US civilians have left ,will anyone see a slow slow departure going unnoticed by NK intel operating in the South.
I can't see this going unnoticed, and NK will be on full alert status , fully prepped for an onslaught of incoming , way before the strike occurs .

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous [at 24/1/18 11:55 AM]

North Korean's(?) REVEALING their pre-conflict intelligence triggers for an NK strike against SK are always welcome.

As you are Korean(?) I'm (almost) certain you applaud the victory of South Korean tennis player Hyeon Chung [1], [2] in the quarter finals of Australian Open tennis less than an hour ago.

The rise, in the last few years of Chinese [3], Japanese [4] and now Korean players in top tennis is impressive.

[1] https://www.express.co.uk/sport/tennis/909059/Australian-Open-2018-Hyeon-Chung-Tennys-Sandgren-semi-final-Roger-Federer

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chung_Hyeon

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Na

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kei_Nishikori



Peter Coates said...

"U.S. Envoy Slams N.Korean Parade on Eve of Olympics" is an interesting article by
South Korea's ChosunIlbo of January 29, 2018, see http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2018/01/29/2018012901243.html