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Breaking up, as the Carpenters once pointed out, is hard to do. Yet if reports in this week’s Korean press are to be believed, the United States has had it with Seoul’s incessant come hither glances at its northern suitor, and is ready to end more than 50 years of matrimony with the South.
At “Lost Nomad” (http://www.lostnomad.org/), Gar thinks the divorce papers are as good as in the mail. “The alliance is pretty much in name only . . . i.e. give us a training range or we’ll pull the air force out, troop reductions, relocate . . . Yongsan, no Global Hawks for you, take back your bases or we’ll simply abandon them, no phone calls to Roh Moo-hyun since September, no consultations on missile/nuke sanctions with Seoul, consternation over politicians leaking war plans to the press . . . the list goes on.”
For Jodi at “The Asia Pages” (http://asiapages.wordpress.com/), meanwhile, the marriage has simply outlived its usefulness: “I believe that defending Korea from U.S. bases in Japan and Guam is sufficient and that there is no need to have a strong military presence on the peninsula.” Besides, why stick around if you’re just being taken for granted? “It’s one thing to have the Korean public protesting the American military presence here, but it’s another to have the government baiting the line as well. I believe if one is not wanted in the region one should clearly leave.”
And Joshua at “The Korea Liberator” (http://www.korealiberator.org/) thinks things must be getting pretty desperate when even pro-alliance Koreans sense the end is near. “In Washington, Korean diplomats and the pro-alliance establishment continue to publicly express their faith in a ‘dynamic,’ ‘changing,’ ‘great,’ ‘historical’ alliance, but privately, most realize just how deep the divide really is. Keep a close eye on that Security Consultative Meeting for October, I’d say. It might be a good time to short-sell your stock in Hyundai.”

If a split really is in the cards, USinKorea (http://usinkorea.org/blog1/) says Pyongyang may be lining up a characteristically low-key celebration. “If the canceling of family reunions and the halt of construction at the Mt. [Kumgang] tourism sites does not force Roh’s SK to start sending up mega aid soon, expect to see troop movements in and out of the DMZ, short fire fights in the DMZ, tense standoffs in the West Sea and possible shots being fired between the navies, Japan’s Navy chasing mini-subs and other North Korean craft out of its waters, and so on.” But the news just gets better: “And if none of this works for them, within 1 to 2 years get the earth-shaking recorders and other collection tools ready and pointed to North Korea, because an underground nuclear test will be in the works within the next 3 years.”
But for another K-blog seer, a test may be coming even sooner than that. “It is worth noting that if the PRC-DPRK relationship is in such a dismal state then the DPRK would have nothing to lose from testing a nuclear weapon to (as the NorKs see it) demonstrate their deterrent ability and guarantee their security,” writes Scott at “North Korea zone” (http://www.nkzone.org/nkzone/) “I would estimate that at this point there is a 50/50 chance that we will see a nuclear test in the North before the end of the year.”

Don’t blow your nose at the table. Relinquish your subway seat for the old people. Don’t take it personally when some fogey rams right into you without so much as a grunt of remorse. Such are the lessons of Korean Cultural Differences 101. But over at “Psychedelic Kimchi” (http://psychedelickimchi.blogspot.com/), Sparkles offer a more advanced class in the form of his “Big/not big in Korea” list. A choice few: “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy... homosexuality... Choco Pies... Wagon Wheels ... stem cell research ... reliable data ... dried squid ... licorice... Pocari Sweat... deodorant.”

by Niels Footman
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