News / Asia

Leaked Cables Shed Insight on Diplomats' View of N. Korea

Screen capture of WikiLeaks web site
Screen capture of WikiLeaks web site

The leak of U.S. diplomatic cables shows a possible motive for recent belligerence by North Korea. The documents are part of a massive distribution of confidential information posted online by WikiLeaks.

Unified Korea

The cable traffic shows that, in February, South Korea's deputy foreign minister told the U.S. ambassador that "sophisticated" Chinese officials now think Korea should be unified under Seoul's control, if North Korea collapses.

The official, Chun Yung-woo, is quoted as saying that while the Chinese would not want U.S. troops in what is now North Korea, they would accept a unified Korea in a "benign" alliance with the United States.

Chun, now the presidential national security advisor, says younger leaders in the Chinese Communist Party are not willing to risk war on the peninsula to aid a North Korea they no longer see as useful or reliable.

In addition, Chun says his government thinks the North's government could collapse within two or three years after the death of leader Kim Jong Il.

Distrust

Professor Brian Myers at Dongseo University in Busan is a specialist on North Korean ideology. He says its leadership has always distrusted China.

"I don't think these revelations are going to come as a complete shock to a regime that always thinks the worst of foreigners anyway," Myers noted. "They will come as a shock to the North Korean people when it gets to the people, and, it will, because they have so much access now to outside sources of information. It's going to add to what looks like a growing crisis of confidence inside North Korea."

And, Myers says, that could actually become the biggest threat to survival of North Korea.

"I think the average North Korean is well aware that, if you take the Kim family out of power, then that republic loses all reason to exist. Its very legitimacy derives from the myth of Kim Il Sung's heroism and his great love for the people," Myers said.

The late Kim Il Sung, father of the current leader, Kim Jong Il, was North Korea's first leader. 

Confidence crisis

Myers and other Pyongyang watchers say a crisis of confidence inside North Korea could prompt Kim Jong Il to act more aggressively against the South as he establishes his son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor.

An official at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul says it is a matter of policy not to comment on documents that may contain classified information. The U.S. government has condemned the WikiLeaks web site for obtaining and releasing 250,000 classified diplomatic documents this week. The White House and State Department say the release could harm international relations and endanger diplomats and their contacts.

Rising tensions

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen dramatically this year. A South Korean navy ship exploded and sank in the Yellow Sea in March, and international investigators say it was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang denies responsibility.

Last week, for the first time since the Korean War in the early 1950s, North Korea shelled South Korean civilians. Four people died on Yeonpyeong island. Pyongyang says it was responding to South Korean artillery firing near the disputed maritime border.

The U.S. and South Korean navies on Sunday began a four-day exercise in the Yellow Sea.

A navy spokesman aboard the USS George Washington aircraft carrier says the drill is not meant to provoke Pyongyang.

Navy Commander Jeff Davis says U.S. ships will not fire guns during the exercise. And, he says, they are not operating near the Northern Limit Line, a maritime border North Korea does not recognize.

"We're in the Yellow Sea, we're well south of the NLL. It's not related to this latest incident that happened up near NLL. This is actually an exercise that was planned for several months," Davis said. "It was scheduled and rescheduled. There's nothing that we have scheduled as part of the exercise that involves the firing of live ammunition."

North Korea says the exercise has brought the peninsula to the brink of war.

Technology sales

The cables released on WikiLeaks also show that the U.S. thinks North Korea has sold missile technology to Iran, giving Tehran the ability to strike well into Europe.

Also Tuesday, an official North Korean newspaper boasted that the country now operates thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium to eventually generate electricity for the impoverished nation. But security analysts say North Korea could use the material to build more nuclear bombs. North Korea is already believed to have several nuclear weapons fueled with plutonium.         

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid