Kim Woo-gyeong, a lawyer representing the student Hong Ye-young, filed an emergency request to stop mandatory vaccines for third-year high school students in South Korea on July 19 at the Cheongju local court–where the Disease Control and Prevention Agency (DCPA) is located. The request was but part of a legal effort to block the dangerous implementation of the vaccine regime that is supported an association of parents across the country.
Although the request for an emergency halt required a decision from the government within a few days, the response was delayed for over ten days. Moreover, the court notified Kim by phone, days before the hearing, that the DCPA was not prepared to respond to the emergency request and demanded a further delay.
When a hearing was held on August 12, the presiding judge had been inexplicably changed. The new Judge, Kim Seong-soo, summarily dismissed the request without explanation, and brushed off questions concerning the unreasonable delay as a “misunderstanding.” His attitude suggested that his primary role was to block any action.
Lawyer Kim, sensing that due process had reached a dead end, requested the recusal of the judge in light of his bias. The emergency request for a stop of vaccinations went no further, but the larger law suit against the DCPA continues with greater intensity.
The DCPA has become the default government of South Korea over the last year, working together with corrupt elements in the National Intelligence Service and in the corporate world to force-feed the vaccine regime to the Korean people. In most likelihood, the sudden change of the judge was the result of the use of classified directives within DCPA that make it impossible for the government to reveal the nature of internal governance.
After decades of battling for democracy, South Korea has been reduced to a shadow government.
The fight against bio-fascism, and against the vaccine regime in specific, is clearly growing in Korea. Although traditionally Koreans tend to have a high level of trust in the government, as opposed to Americans and Europeans, now that the official numbers of dead as result of vaccines have surpassed 700 (which is just a fraction of the actual number killed) an unspoken unease is creeping into conversations. Whereas friends asked each other whether they had been vaccinated as a new greeting, and donned that cute “I was vaccinated” buttons given out by the government, harsh anti-vaccination postings, and demands for the execution of public officials on the internet are increasing.
You would never guess if you looked at the television news. Half of content is people lining up for vaccines, discussions of the merits of different brands of vaccines, and interviews with happy children who tell us how great they feel after their jabs.
The corporate media, including the “leftist” media sources like Hangyoreh Newspaper and Sisa-In Magazine, have bought into the COVID19 fiction entirely.
It is only right-wing media sources, like the Epoch Times (run by the Falungong cult), that are permitted to report on the dangers of the vaccines in depth. This odd state of affairs does not represent the high quality of journalism at the Epoch Times, a far-right anti-communist journal funded by a handful of rich patrons in Taiwan and elsewhere, but is rather the product of an intentional political game wherein only the most virulent anti-Chinese media is allowed to report on the danger of vaccines so as to make it appear as if the Moon administration is pro-Chinese because it promotes vaccines. The truth is that President Moon is deeply unpopular in China where he is perceived as an American stooge.
The People’s Republic of China is also occupied by globalist, pro-vaccine, forces. But the right-wing narrative that Moon is promoting COVID19 because he is a puppet of China and North Korea is specious, intended to distract attention from how global finance, and not Communists, dominate the Moon administration.
Christian groups have bravely stood up against the vaccine regime. The Christian Daily (Gidok ilbo) ran several important articles critiquing COVID19 policy that were widely read. In addition, the Christian doctor Oh Gyeong-seok, located at the Atlanta University of Health Sciences, has taken the lead in the fight to report on the true dangers of masks and vaccines.
But the Christian opposition to the COVID19 regime also has some wrinkles in it. The willingness of Christians to seek out the truth has been critical, but Christians are being manipulated as a means of drawing attention away from the real players.
For example, the government dispatched officials to churches to block Sunday services and to enforce ridiculous social distancing rules during August COVID19 lockdowns.
These actions were taken at the same time that buses and subways were subject to no restrictions. Yet not a single COVID19 case was reported in the crowded subways or buses.
The bias against churches was obvious. Yet, it made no political sense for the Moon administration to single out churches. Most likely that these actions were forced on Moon by the globalists so that he could be branded as a communist in the media.
The drive to blame everything wrong with COVID19 policy on North Korea and China, rather than multinational corporations, is one of the most popular themes in the conservative media.
Perhaps the most important source for information about the COVID19 scam is “Corona Mystery,” a compact and logically structured book packed with scientific facts. Written by Kim Sang-soo, a doctor practicing traditional Korean homeopathic medicine, “Corona Mystery” is written in an accessible style that made it an underground best seller, especially among young people trying to understand what is going on.
Sadly, many of the high school students who have learned the truth about COVID19 from “Corona Mystery” were nevertheless forced by their parents to take the vaccine. The result has been not only serious health problems, but also despair and suicide.
The Seoul National University professor emeritus Lee Wangjae has given numerous lectures for the public about the misinformation on COVID19.
Korea has a few brave bloggers willing to take this criminal operation by the horns, providing in-depth reports for the public that are otherwise unavailable. Shin Jaeno, under his pen name “Truth Musician ZENO,” offers some of the most creative and inspiring work. Shin gave up his musical career, and his social life, to dedicate his days to writing broadcasts on COVID19 and documenting criminal actions in Korea, and around the world, that have resulted. He translated many videos from English to Korean for a general audience.
Image for Truth Musician Zeno” by artist Kim Kido
Shin wrote several important protest songs against the COVID19 regime that have inspired young people to be politically active. Although his postings on YouTube, Daum, Naver, and elsewhere are deleted as quickly as he gets them up, he never gives up.
Shin joined forces last year with Kim Hyung-nam, a former government official and a lawyer, to establish the Pandemic Investigation Committee (PIC). This organization has been central in advocating for science in the medical field and for opposing the mask and the vaccine mandates.
The Pandemic Investigation Committee organizes Saturday protests in Gwanghwa Gate Plaza, in downtown Seoul, at which a group of loyal members deliver speeches, distribute materials about the true nature of the covid pandemic, put on amusing performances, and confront the police and government officials who are sent to disrupt.
Another regular protestor of the Pandemic Investigation Committee is Ri Nayun, a vocal critic of South Korean political oppression and an advocate for closer ties with North Korea. She has delivered some of the most passionate speeches at the protests, and takes the lead in questioning the legal authority of government officials who try to stop the protests.
Han Seong-young, a former member of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions (an organization that was previously central in leftist politics but that is promoting vaccines today) also plays a critical role in the administration of the Pandemic Investigation Committee.
Another musician deeply involved in the protests is Choe Sung-nyon (known also by his nickname “choeREDi”). Choe spent time in jail for his protests of the election fraud that brought Park Geun-hye to power in 2013. He was also active in the protests against the fraudulent 2020 election that gave the Democratic Party a gross advantage.
Choe had the tenacity to establish a “Khan Communist Party” in violation of the National Security Law and to take on the full power of the corporate state in his political magazine “Mal.” “Mal” (language) was the title of an important intellectual journal that closed down in 2009. Choe uses music and language to carve a new space for expression in a banal modern society.
The Pandemic Investigation Committee shares the same protest space on the Gwanghwa Gate Plaza with right-wing organizations attacking the Moon administration as a communist front and promoting the US-Korea Alliance. Although the leftists in the PIC might be expected to clash with the right-wing protesters, the groups share common ground on the issue of vaccines, and the criminality of the Moon administration, that makes unexpected exchanges possible.
Kim Taepyong, a government official at the provincial court for Chollanamdo Province, led a spirited protest on September 1 in front of the provincial offices in which he held up a banner with a picture of a wolf declaring that the government was lying about vaccines and must stop making fools of the citizens. Mr. Kim explained, “I was a student activist a long time ago and dreamed of creating a better world. When I watched how the lives of citizens running small stores were destroyed by COVID19, I could not stand it any longer. Even it was me alone, I would protest.”
And protest he has, confronting his colleagues with the truth as they walk to work.
Kim Tae-pyong (second from left)
Dr. Kim Sang-soo is the head of MASGOV (Medical Association to Ensure Safety of COVID-19 Vaccinations) a group of ethical doctors who have stepped forward to demand an end to the vaccination regime. They issued a declaration on August 15 in which they stated that there was no scientific justification for facemasks, that social distancing policy must be ended immediately, that schools must be reopened and that vaccination policy must be entirely rethought.
Oddly, although Koreans have not organized the massive protests that we see in Europe and the United States. The police in Korea have not used the same level of brutality to suppress protests and to enforce fines for not wearing a mask. If anything, harassment of protesters is less today than it was a few months ago.
Korean politicians on COVID19
The mask, vaccine, and social distancing policies of the central government are fully supported across the board in the National Assembly and in the central government. No political party has drawn into question the policies or the assumptions that lie behind them in the policy debate.
The “progressive” Democratic Party has not only embraced the vaccine regime, it has also publicized the hyped success of its epidemic control policies as its achievement. In a disgusting political move, the recognition in corporate media for the so-called “K Pandemic Control” was presented in Korea as the primary reason why the Democratic Party was so successful in the 2020 election (which was the result of voter fraud).
Most shocking in South Korea is the remarkable loyalty of the “think left; live right” weekend progressive professors, lawyers and mid-level government officials to President Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party. The blatant totalitarian trends in the government and corporations seem to be invisible to them.
The odd psychology of the progressive class can be understood if we consider the manner in which Moon was installed as president in the first place.
When the conservative President Park Geun-hye was installed as president through voter fraud in 2013, a group of committed intellectuals and government officials threw themselves into a systematic investigation of the manner in which the votes were altered. When this threat to the system reached a peak, and starting to receive coverage in the media, everything was blocked out by reports about the Sewol Ferry sinking. This suspicious sinking, supposedly the result of Park’s incompetence, lead to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of school children. Although the actual details of the sinking were suppressed, the intention of the reporting was clear: direct attention away from institutional corruption (across party times) that supported fixed elections and focus it on the personality problems of President Park.
For all its flaws, the Park administration tried to assert diplomatic independence—perhaps because Park Geun-hye drew inspiration from the similar efforts of her father Park Chung-hee before he was assassinated in 1979. She spoke of the “bonanza” to be gained from reunification with North Korea and although efforts to expand ties with the North were blocked at every level by the US, she tried to open up a dialogue.
Moreover, her advisors entered into low-key discussions with China that produced an agreement for “comprehensive security cooperation.” That agreement had the potential to make South Korea a player in security policy in East Asia. The Park administration also entered into negotiations with Russia that laid the groundwork for extensive economic integration. These initiatives, often in blatant defiance of Washington’s criticism, demonstrated that Korea was moving towards a new level of political and economic independence.
In the end, Park’s conservative credentials were not enough to protect her when the Washington insiders grew nervous and launched a “color revolution” to take her down and to imprison her.
The next step was the launch of the “candlelight protests” that brought tens of thousands into the streets to criticize Park Geun-hye in a reductive and simplistic campaign that permanently corrupted the souls of Korean progressives. These protests were carefully marketed to give the participants the impression that they were the legacy of the democracy movement of the 1980s. But this protest was much easier, fashioned for upper-middle class progressive-minded people. There was no risk of jail time, no beatings by the police, and no questioning of the fundamental economic and pollical structure of South Korea.
Prepackaged protest signs were supplied to the protesters by corporations close to the Democratic Party, signs that demanded Park’s resignation and denounced her corruption. Few protesters made their own posters and there were no discussions in Seoul between citizens about the nature of political corruption in the country.
The protests were endlessly reported in the commercial media at home and abroad—and praised by mainstream public intellectuals like Francis Fukuyama in the United States. Koreans were convinced that they had come of age as an “advanced nation” and all they had to do be respected and a member of the G7 was to impeach Park.
Fabricated stories about Park engaging in late night orgies at the Blue House and cavorting with shamans were swallowed whole by the progressives, and repeated without any evidence in the mainstream media.
The real give away in that color revolution was the decision of the US embassy in Seoul to turn off the lights on one floor in support for the candlelight protests on December 4, 2016. US embassies have not supported serious democracy moments in the last twenty years.
The corporate media made it clear that the one way forward was for South Korea to elect the Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in. Moon was consequently elected in 2017.
When Park Geun-hye was convicted, and sentenced to decades in prison something seemed wrong. When Moon backed just about every trade and security proposal from Washington, and raised the defense budget far beyond anything under Park, the cat was out of the bag.
The broad acceptance of the Candlelight Protests as a legitimate political movement so compromised the moral compass of the progressives that when the blatantly rigged 2020 elections favored the “progressive” Democratic Party and the president who had visited North Korea for peace talks then ordered fascistic COVID19 lockdowns, there was barely a peep.
The Justice Party (Jeonguidang), generally considered to be to the left of the Democratic Party, also embraced the COVID19 story.
Nor did the People’s Power Party (Gukmin ui him), the major conservative opposition party, offer any serious questions about the COVID regime. If anything, the People’s Power Party criticized the Moon administration for not securing enough vaccines quickly.
One exception to the silence was the conversative politician Min Gyeong-uk of People’s Power Party who demanded an investigation of the irregularities in the 2020 election, and criticized the COVID19 lockdowns, suggesting that the whole COVID narrative was a fraud. Min did what no other office holder could, but he did so only in postings on Facebook and in short remarks that had no effect.
Park Geun-hye’s supporters, especially the group Taepyung, went the furthest of all political groups in their criticism of the COVID19 regime. In addition to demanding that Park be reinstated as president and that the 2020 election be overturned, Taepyung demanded that vaccine regime be stopped.
Taepyung went further, but did so why promoting a powerful Korea-US Alliance, the demonization of China, the glorification of the Park Chung-hee regime, and the promotion of Christian values (and close relations with Israel).
South Korea in context
Although South Korea’s response to COVID19 has been disappointing overall, it remains a leader in the organization of systematic protests and legal opposition to totalitarian governance in East Asia.
Although many intellectuals in Asia (and around the world) turned to the Chinese media over the last twenty years because it offered perspectives, and information, not available elsewhere, that appeal has vanished. The Chinese media does not take on the criminality of the COVID19 regime and is better than Western media only in that it reports less about vaccines and social distancing, not because it offers an alternative.
Statements about COVID19 fraud can be found on personal blogs in China, some with a significant following, but they tend to copy articles originally posted elsewhere. I have not found any original reporting on the COVID19 fraud in the Peoples Republic of China.
Vietnam, now completely taken up in a drive to enhance ties with the United States, is completely silent on the issue.
The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) could be seen as the leading nation in the world opposing the COVID19 regime (along with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan). It has unflinchingly maintained that there have been zero cases of COVID19 in North Korea. The ruler of North Korea Kim Jong-un has never worn a mask in public and no vaccine regime has been announced.
But North Korea has not discussed the nature of the conspiracy or tried to expose the medical fraud.
Although the Japanese media has supported social distancing, masks and vaccines without question, many reports have appeared in local media concerning the side effects of vaccines and the possible problems with masks.
The mayor of Izumiotsu, Minamide Kenichi, posted on Youtube (on the city’s official page) on August 10th, an announcement in which he drew attention to serious side effects of COVID19 vaccines and expressed concern. A broadcast on BBS (Sanin Broadcast) posted around the time concerning the side effects of vaccines was deleted without explanation.
A hearing at the National Diet on the side effects of vaccines was held on August 25 by the Health and Science Committee and broadcast to the public. No questions were taken from citizens, however, and only a few comments were made by the experts provided.
The true Korean wave
Although the promotion of the bogus response to COVID19 in Korea as a symbol of Korea’s rise to the status of global leadership was a clear set-up used to flatter the population into accepting dangerous policies, Korea still has the potential to play a role in the response to this massive criminal action.
Although relatively small in number, Korea has intellectuals and citizens who are deeply committed to exposing the crime and they are increasing in number. Moreover, the police and the military have not been mobilized to violently suppress opposition to the degree found in Europe or Australia.
Most importantly, neighboring North Korea has gone the furthest to oppose the COVID regime of any other nation. If the two Koreas can find reconciliation quickly, there may be a road to freedom to be found on the peninsula.
최근에와서 몇명 의식있는 한국 지식인은 코로나 위기속에 상실한 대한민국 공화국 정체성에 분개하는바 올해 3월 1일 102년 전 탑골공원에서 낭독 한 독립선언을 계기로 새로운 독립운동을 준비하였습니다. 이 독립선언는 특정한 제국에서의 독립선언이 아니며 눈에 보이지 않는 국제금융제국으로부터 독립을 의미합니다. 세계금융제국으로부터의 한반도 진정한 한반도 경제, 정치 문화적 독립을 선언합니다.
The request from the Trump administration that South Korea join a new naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz, at precisely the moment the entire region is on fire, places Seoul in a difficult position. Not only is the push for military conflict with Iran, which is making Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immensely unpopular with many Americans (including many in the military), the plan has also been met with profound skepticism on the part of many American allies. Many question the legitimacy, and the logic, of assassinating Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Few think that there will be any positive result from military action.
The risk of South Korea being drawn into a massive, and crippling, military conflict, and one in which the United States does not have overwhelming advantage as was the case in the first Gulf War, are high. The threat that Iran will break off diplomatic relations with Seoul, and perhaps even encourage attacks on Koreans around the world, is real.
At the same time, South Korea has benefitted immensely from the U.S.-Korea alliance and the ties between the two countries in culture, education, politics and economics are profound. A decision by South Korea to avoid the Hormuz mission, as Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has suggested, could do significant damage to bilateral relations and create resentment the extends far beyond the Trump administration.
The choice is incredibly difficult, but it must be made.
I will not pretend to offer a miracle cure. What I would like to suggest here is that this crisis offers South Korea a chance for a profound consideration of its true national security and an opportunity to launch a complete transformation of its economy and culture that will make future choices more strategically sound and will keep South Korea out of such impossible positions.
Energy resources from the Middle East are critical to the Korean Economy at multiple levels. Korea uses those energy sources in its economy, it produces products that require those energy sources such as automobiles and ships that are sold globally (and is therefore sensitive to fluctuations in the price of oil), and Korea sells many products and services to the Middle East so that the economic health of that part of the world has a direct impact at home.
So dangerous it the instability in the Middle East that Koreans must respond by focusing their full attention on the solution (putting away their smartphones) and they must make energy security the national priority.
However, this crisis, which I think is the equivalent of war, does not mean that Korea must buy even more weapons systems, or send its military into the Middle East to face tremendous dangers in an ambiguous struggle. Instead, making Korea completely independent of imported fossil fuels must become the priority. We must create the equivalent of a military economy to get us there quickly. We have no time to waste.
The rapid end of dependency on petroleum and other energy sources imported from abroad must be made such a fundamental security priority that the response of the stock market, short-term profits for business, the convenience of citizens and traditional economic growth metrics become secondary in the discussion.
The government must reassert its authority to set a national long-term agenda and to mobilize citizens, working together with all sectors, so that we can rapidly transform our economy, our means of production and our culture. It is an imperative, “the moral equivalent of war,” to quote President Jimmy Carter, that we become entirely independent of fossil fuels in the next few years.
Once we recognize that the overwhelming priority for Korea is national security, and not economic growth, and that national security will only come when we end the importation of petroleum from the Middle East, and from elsewhere, we will make real progress. Climate change engendered by emissions from fossil fuels will destroy Korea over the next 40 years (and the predictions about global warming of scientists over the last 30 years have been quite accurate) and constant dependency on imported energy means that Korea can be economically destroyed at any time by a break in the flow of petroleum and coal into the country.
The first step is for the government to ignore the cries of short-sighted business representatives who have no long-term strategy for the nation and who are more interested in overseas profits than in the well-being of Koreans.
We must set an ambitious plan to make Korea 100 percent carbon-free in four years, or fewer. Such a plan will go even beyond the most ambitious efforts elsewhere in the world and make Korea number one. Moreover, it must be even more comprehensive an effort than the Korean drive for rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s. To be successful, this goal of independence from fossil fuels must become a critical part of the lives of all citizens, giving new meaning to every action and creating a new sense of community. Citizens should be placed at the center of this national movement to end imports of energy, thus encouraging a sense of common purpose and a habit of mutual support, as opposed to narcissistic self-indulgence and greedy competition.
We must make plans for South Korea in which energy independence is set as the top priority and in which policies are no longer evaluated with regards to the profits they may derive for wealthy investors.
First, the government must reinvent finance to serve in much the manner it does in a war-time economy. As was true in the 1960s and 1970s, finance must be nationalized and used for the common good. Foreign capital which is not directed at the long-term interests of Korea, specifically energy independence, must be rejected.
The goal of zero imported fuel is necessary for survival. Profit and consumption are far lesser concerns.
The entire economy must be mobilized to manufacture and distribute wind-powered and solar powered sources of energy. Those sources of energy should be heavily subsidized for the purpose of national security and must completely displace oil and coal power. The technology should be open source and all residents should be required by law to employ renewable energy. We must see solar and wind power devices attached to every residence, every office building and spread across the country. Every plane or bus or automobile must be covered with solar panels that generate energy.
But the process goes further than that. Buildings that waste energy must be entirely rebuilt for maximum efficiency, including the installation of insulation and the use of double or triple storm windows. We should not hesitate to demolish buildings that cannot be energy efficient. Moreover, we must increase the number of trees in public spaces, even tearing down many buildings in cities to make space for plants.
Employing electric cars that can be charged using solar panels will be a critical first step. But we can only do so effectively if we require that all existing automobiles be turned in for replacement with electric vehicles within six months.
But many people should simply give up their cars forever. Moreover, South Korea should move beyond its economic dependence on the automotive sector. The ultimate plan will be to eliminate most automobiles and to redesign cities so the vehicles are no longer needed.
The scale of the transformation will be massive and must be pushed forward by a social movement that includes all citizens. Citizens must learn at local meetings, much as they did in the 1960s and 1970s, about the dangers of climate change, about the imperative to stop the use of gasoline, of plastics, and of everything related to imported petroleum. We must educate everyone about the existential danger for Korea posed by climate change and the national security risks of dependence on imported energy. We must make everyone aware of how each of their daily actions, driving a car, buying a plastic toy, eating food wrapped in plastic and imported, make Korea less secure and increase the dangers that we face.
This movement should include everyone, from every block, from every village, across Korea.
To achieve such a goal we must make reading, writing, analysis and debate central to Korean society. The link between climate change and fossil fuels, and the deep threat to Korean security posed by importing energy, can only be made clear if we revive intellectual discourse in our society and make citizens participants in the process. We must encourage Koreans to be citizens and to engage their minds in policy, not just in mindless entertainment.
But there is more. To eliminate imported energy, and thereby assure national security, we must return to our traditional values. Koreans once held frugality, modesty, self-sufficiency and humility as the highest values. It was once considered shameful to throw away a grain of rice, or to dispose of any object that had still value. Koreans wasted nothing. Thrift was a great virtue.
But Korea has been taken over by an indulgent culture of consumption that makes waste a virtue. We are encouraged by television shows, commercials and the alien concept of consumption-based economics to waste. In fact, the more we waste, the better our economy will be ― or so we are told. We have thrown away close family ties and deep friendships. Instead, we pass our days buried in our smartphones, watching stupid videos, photographs of food, video games or pornography. This flawed culture encourages a fabulous waste of energy that makes the southern side of the Korean Peninsula visible from space. It is a catastrophe, not an achievement that South Korea is lit up, and this waste deeply compromises our security. All that energy is imported, and all that energy is destroying the climate.
As we push for true energy independence, we also will be forced to reconsider the concept of trade. Trade has been presented to us as a critical aspect of the economy, and this position on the importance of trade is shared by representatives of the left and of the right.
Trade is a sacred topic, one that no one can question.
But if Korea wants true security, we must ask the hard questions. The United States, and Japan and China have already started to ask those hard questions about trade.
The ships that bring us products from around the world also consume immense amounts of imported fossil fuels and they contribute to climate change. Moreover, Korea’s dependency on raw materials and finished goods that are imported vastly increases the risks for Korea in the case of a conflict. Whereas most tools and furniture were once made in Korea, now most must be brought from abroad. Jobs have been sacrificed, the nation’s security has been compromised and local expertise diminished. If trade stops in a crisis, the Korean economy will stop.
Increased self-sufficiency is critical to Korea’s survival; the myth that the only road to prosperity is through trade must be questioned. If trade makes us insecure, we must limit trade. We are in a position where most Koreans would starve in a few weeks if food imports ceased.
The Middle East crisis is as serious as it looks. But the ultimate message for us is NOT that we need to send warships and tanks into that growing chaos. No. Rather, we must come together in Korea, to exercise great political will, and to make Korea truly independent of imported energy. That is the first step toward true security.
The struggle to change direction will be enormous. Everyone must be involved. But as we know, Korea has succeeded against the odds before.
The sudden cancellation of the joint statement on February 28 at the end of the Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, was one of the most complex and contradictory historical events in my memory. Of course, the ad-lib briefing by Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo immediately after was not complex at all. It was a banal show for the media that avoided talking about much of anything other than process.
Trump spoke about his “strong relationship” with Kim Jong-un, Shinzo Abe, Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, sounding like a late-night comedian who is trying to make up content to plug up a sudden hole in the program.
But the positive phrases that Trump threw out could not distract everyone from the growing catastrophe around the world. His sweet words about his “productive time” with Chairman Kim did not serve as a fig leaf to cover up the increasing risk of war on every side.
Let’s be honest. North Korea is not an overwhelming threat to world peace but rather an island of relative stability in the dust being stirred up as the global order that was established in 1945 at the San Francisco conference comes crashing down. The fact that North Korea is a closed and repressive state puts it in good company.
But the United States, now stripped of all expertise in government, the analysis of issues and policy having been radically privatized, and the culture warped by an extreme concentration of wealth, is slipping into a combination of isolationism and militarism that makes just about anything possible.
That structural transformation, more the opposition in Congress to the reduction of sanctions back home, or the tawdry testimony of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, was the reason that the Hanoi show did not produce anything.
But the world is not standing still for Trump. India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, stand on the edge of war, in no small part due to the crude political games played by the United States in an attempt to limit Chinese influence. The United States military continues to interfere throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa with impunity and the new Congress seems to be powerless to rein it in.
South America has been thrown into chaos by the imposition of the far-right government in Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro that threatens not only to make force the favored means of resolving political issues but which embraces the reckless anti-intellectual drive for profit and plans to destroy the Amazon forest, thereby hastening human extinction.
At the same time, the Neo-Con twins Elliot Abrams and John Bolton are working overtime to push for regime change in Venezuela. They want to take down the government of Nicholas Maduro and seize control of the oil for multinational corporations. In a grotesque move, the right-wing senator Marco Rubio posted photographs on his Twitter account of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, suggesting that Maduro would be tortured and murdered in a similar manner for resisting the United States.
Much of the drive to seize resources is being driven by the oil and coal barons the Koch brothers, Charles and Andy. They are a big force in the scramble to get their paws on the coal, gold and other resources in North Korea that would be best left alone beneath the surface.
That is to say that the summit with Kim Jong-un cannot be understood if one does not know that the economic miracle that Trump describes is actually an economic miracle for global investors, not for North Koreans. Engagement with North Korea cannot be detached from the more hostile moves taking place in Iran and Venezuela.
But that is only half the story. The push of John Bolton to withdraw the United States to withdraw from the INF treaty (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty) has set us on the track to a major arms race which will be far more dangerous than what happened in the1950s because the technology is so much more advanced. That insanity, combined with the unilateral termination of the nuclear deal with Iran guarantees a massive arms race between Germany, Russia, China, the United States, Turkey, Japan, India, and Iran that may well end in a world war. All of those countries are likely to have nuclear weapons in the not too distant future.
We can be sure that Kim Jong-un and his advisors are aware of the growing chaos. Behind Kim’s smiles at the banquet was pure dread. The summit succeeded because both sides were willing to embrace a profound form of self-deception.
The kind words Trump had for Xi at the press conference does nothing to obscure the fact that the Pentagon is making concrete preparations for a war with China. This situation will not get better now that Trump and those around him have embraced sanctions as a form of trade policy and see the threat of war have as a means of squeezing value out of other countries.
To put it more bluntly, the unleashing of the United States military under the command of psychopaths and without any civilian control could be the greatest catastrophe in human history.
The response from Democrats in the United States, and from many conservatives in South Korea and in Japan, has been a pile of criticisms that purposely ignore how Trump ignores international law, panders to his fascist base, and embraces of militarism.
The failure of the United States to demand that all nations adhere to the non-proliferation treaty, the betrayal of Iran and the decision of the Pentagon to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons for the cost of 1 trillion USD in blatant violation of that treaty are taboo topics.
The rise of anti-intellectualism and the decay of the media
The politics behind the Trump-Kim summit was not simple; the geopolitical shifts taking place today are profound. As the governments of nation states are compromised and taken over by private interests, politicians increasingly are forced to do the bidding of the super-rich. The roadmap for understanding our world changes from day to day.
Yet the media sees its role as presenting the world in a manner that pleases multinational corporations and investment banks. Media has become, after all, just a business, a form of public relations. There is no intellectual inquiry into the actual state of the world. Moral issues are irrelevant in decisions about news content. Most reports serve to confuse and mislead.
The only content offered in the reports about the summit were details about how the train taken by Kim Jong-un progressed to Hanoi, how barricades set up outside the hotel and the fine points of diplomatic protocol.
The media is dead and a deep wave of anti-intellectualism has swept the United States, and many other nations that makes critical analysis impossible. Not only is Trump incapable of conceiving of the dangers of our age, but an increasing number of citizens, addicted to online games, pornography or social media have been reduced to babbling fools incapable of understanding complex issues.
In a sense, the critical question at the end of the summit is not: “When can another summit be held?” but rather “How can we create a culture of communication in which the discussions between institutions are related to the real issues of our age?”
Finally one should ask, what topics were that were left off the agenda for the summit in Hanoi?
Well, what are the important topics of our age?
The rapid concentration of wealth in the hands of the few was a topic that clearly neither Trump nor Kim wants to discuss. The crisis of climate change which threatens to turn Korea into a desert, combined with the degradation of the air because of unregulated pollution and the increasing use of coal for power was also off limits. The danger of nuclear war and of the growing arms race in the region could not be mentioned (even though it is the central cause for North Korea’s insecurities) because of the tremendous profits to be made through the arms industries in the United States, Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea. Just as before the First World War, armaments and the threat of war are a major source of profits.
The entire focus of the summit was on how North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons. A small concern in comparison with the thousands of nuclear weapons held by the United States as it threatens more and more wars and refuses even to declare no first use of nuclear weapons.
But that problem will not be solved through another summit meeting. That problem will only be addressed if we have dialog wherein the real concerns of citizens are reflected, and discourse on real threats in international relations based on scientific analysis is central. Such a transformation will require a change of culture, not of policy or of administration.
When I make this suggestion, the response I receive from Koreans is one of intense fascination. But the assumption they make is that I am going to describe a futuristic “smart city” in which we no longer will use smart phones because information will be projected on to our eyeglasses, or our retinas, or perhaps relayed directly to our brain via an implanted chip.
But I mean exactly what I say. The unrelenting takeover ofour brains and of our society by the smartphone is taking an ominous turn.
Each day I watch almost every person on the subway lost in their smartphones, and increasingly lacking empathy for those around them as a result. They are mesmerized by video games; they flip quickly past photographs of chocolate cakes and cafe lattes, or fashionable dresses and shoes, or watch humorous short videos.
Few are reading careful investigative reporting, let alone books, that address the serious issues of our time. Nor are they debating with each other about how Korea will respond to the crisis of climate change, the risk of a nuclear arms race (or nuclear war) between the United States, Russia and China. Most media reporting is being dumbed down, treated as a form of entertainment, not a duty to inform the public.
Few people are sufficiently focused these days even to comprehend the complex geopolitical issues of the day, let alone the content of the bills pending in the National Assembly.
We are watching a precipitous decline in political awareness and of commitment to common goals in South Korea. And I fear that the smartphone, along with the spread of a social media that encourages impulsive and unfocused responses, is playing a significant role in this tragedy.
What do those smartphones do? We are told that smartphones make our lives more convenient and give us access to infinite amounts of information. IT experts are programming smartphones to be even more responsive to our needs and to offer even more features to make our lives more comfortable.
But Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows: What the internet is Doing to our Brains” presents extensive scientific evidence that the internet as a whole, and smartphones in particular, are in fact reprogramming our brains, encouraging the neurons to develop lasting patterns for firing that encourages quick responses but that make contemplation and deep thought difficult.
Over time, we are creating a citizenship through that technology that is incapable of grasping an impending crisis and unable or unwilling to propose and implement solutions.
If smartphones are reprogramming our brains so that we are drawn to immediate gratification, but lose our capacity for deeper contemplation, for achieving an integrated understanding of the complexity of human society, and of nature, what will become of us?
But consumption, not understanding, let alone wisdom, is the name of the game for smartphones.
In the case of the worsening quality of the air in Korea, I observe a disturbing passivity, and also a painful failure of citizens to identify the complex factors involved. Even highly educated people seem not to have thought carefully about the exact factors behind the emissions of fine dust in Korea, and in China, and how that pollution is linked to the deregulation of industry, or to their behavior as consumers.
That is to say those phenomena in society have been broken down into discrete elements, like postings on Facebook, and that no overarching vision of complex trends is ever formed in the mind.
We float from one stimulating story to the next, like a butterfly flitting from one nectar-laden flower to another. We come away from our online readings with a vague sense that something is wrong, but with no deep understanding of what exactly the problem is, how it relates to our actions, and no game plan for how to solve it.
There is a powerful argument to be made that certain technologies that can alter how we perceive the world should be limited in their use if there is reason to believe they affect the core of the democratic process. Democracy is not about voting so much as the ability to understand complex changes in society, in the economy and in politics over time.
Without such an ability to think for ourselves, we will slip into an increasingly nightmare world, although we may never notice what happened.
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Relations between North and South Korea are changing so rapidly, the pressing question is no longer what the next step in this process of reconciliation will be, but rather where the peninsula is heading in the political, economic and cultural senses.
A door is opening for the institutional transformation of the “Hermit Kingdom” with new concepts and technologies. The implementation of new approaches to government and the building of new infrastructure could make North Korea an inspiring experiment that other nations can model. Read more of this post
I saw a television commercial for a Korean bank recently in which the word “revolution” (hyeongmyeong, 혁명, 革命) was repeated several times. It was striking that a term once associated with the far left is used now so prevalently in contemporary South Korea.
But what exactly does the term “revolution” mean today, especially in this period of rapid social, economic and technological transformation? Read more of this post