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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.