Asia-Pacific Global Logo
Tagline - Opportunity begins now.
Map of NE Asia
    • Geo-Politcal Analysis
      Business Development
      Risk Management
      Emerging Techologies
      Legal
      Negotiations
  • Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

    re: North Korea and cyberattacks – 4 Factors

    January 17th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    The Q&A below is taken from a radio interview with a local South Korean broadcaster (interview date: Jan. 17 ’13).

     
    1) How come North Korea is frequently accused of targeting South Korea’s cybersphere? What have been some of the major online attacks
    so far and what?

     
     For North Korea, engaging in cyberattacks represents a greater strategic advantage compared to traditional military or paramilitary attacks using armed military personnel, bombs, and aircraft.
     
     Today, South Korea’s JoongAng Daily (JAD) newspaper concluded that the hacking of its servers was in fact linked to North Korea. This was the fifth time an alleged North Korean cyberattacks were detected, following distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites of government agencies and financial institutions in July 2009 and March 2011; the hacking of Nonghyup’s banking network in April 2011; and additional hacking of email accounts belonging to students at Korea University in November that year. There were also alleged cyberattacks from the DPRK targeting South Korea’s Incheon International Airport that could have potentially caused confusion with the airport’s heavy air traffic as well as a relatively recent cyberattack on the GPS systems many Seoulites depend upon to navigate Seoul’s busy and often complicated street ways. More concerning, cyberattacks were also aimed at the Blue House and National Assembly. One estimate by the Hyundai Research Institute puts the loss value for FY 2009 alone at $33.7-50.5 million.
     
    2) How big of a threat is it to be attacked by North Korean hackers, assuming that their internet technology is far behind that of South Korea’s? Describe North Korea’s internet culture.
     
    No one really knows for sure, but as far as we can tell, there’s not much internet technology to speak of in North Korea, apart from a couple of universities, which are most likely closely monitored by the North Korean government. North Korea, much like South Korea, actively recruits top students to become part of the governments’s military cybercommand units. So it seems, in a sense, that all those hours of video gaming could actually pay off, since some overlapping skill sets exist.
     
    3) Cyberattacks are perceived by some to be less harmful than conventional military attacks. So should the public be fearful?
     
    Yes, since cyberattacks can often inflict just as much damage as attacks using “kinetic” weapons such as missiles, bombs, and bullets. For instance, a cyberattack could be aimed at an electric grid, which could then cut off the power source for hospitals in a city or country, wreaking havoc on the system.
     
    4) How does the global community or the international law under the UN Charter, specifically, properly address such cases of cyberattacks and cyberwar?
     
    As of now, little legal infrastructure exists to reflect the burgeoning capabilities of cyberattacks and cyberwar.
     
    Article 51 of the UN Charter, originally drafted right around the end of WWII, states that a state has the right to collective self-defense if “an armed attack occurs.” But this language was written when PCs and the internet did not exist. So the question becomes: Does a cyberattack inflicting military and/or non-military personnel constitute an “armed attack” under Article 51 of the UN Charter? If yes, then a state can in theory preemptively attack another state for purposes of collective self-defense, as was the case in the Middle East in the past when one state pre-emptively attacked another state
    s nuclear weapons production facilities, claiming self-defense.
     
    Expect more cyberattacks in the Korean peninsula for 2013–leading to greater potential economic and non-economic losses – it is the future of warfare in the 21st century, for better or worse.
     

    Game-Changer: North Korea’s Surprise Missile and Satellite Launch [Int’l Security]

    December 12th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    North Korea’s Launch a Surprise:
     
    As of yesterday, the consensus was that the DPRK’s Eunha 3 (Galaxy) ballistic missile was being dismantled due to a “technical” problem. This was a relatively easy-to-accept narrative, given North Korea’s four previous similar, but failed, missile launch attempts in 1998, 2006, 2009, and April 2012. But to the surprise of most in the international community, this morning the world saw evidence of a potentially concerning possibly “game changing” event – in the form of the DPRK’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile launch. This clearly shows just how truly little the world knows about one of the world’s most closed and secretive states. 
     
    DPRK Missile Launch Implications:
     
    The international community may consider further sanctions, but the PRC (a permanent UNSC member with veto power) may or may not support another sanction against its ally, the DPRK. Alternatively, certain states may opt to enforce domestic sanctions against North Korea unilaterally.
     
    Even with further UN or domestic-based sanctions, it is also unclear how much more influence more sanctions will have on the reclusive DPRK, given that it is currently one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. The US will put more pressure on the PRC to compel the DPRK that it should refrain from further such acts, although this will probably have relatively little effect. Japan, may react most noticeably, in the form of greater internal public and political sentiment and pressure to revamp its constitution to allow its “self-defense” forces to be used in a broader way for self protection against possible future North Korean provocative acts.This will continue to further aggravate the ongoing “Confucian Cold War.” between Japan, the Korean peninsula, and mainland China.
     
    Missile Launch as Strategic Timing:
     
    The North’s missile launch (and possible satellite orbit) was purposely timed to fall within the timeline trifecta of (1) the centennial of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-Sung; (2) year anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death; and (3) upcoming presidential elections on December 19 (possibly shifting support to conservative Saenuri candidate, Park Geun-hye, given her relative hawkish stance relating to the DPRK). Kim Jong-un essentially “doubled down” on his political capital with the launch, and subsequently his political power base has been solidified–at least in the short term–through the North’s successful launch within (rather than past) its original pre-December 22nd trifecta timeline.

    South Korea’s Possible Response:

     
    South Korea will work with the U.S. to possibly push for more UN sanctions, given that North Korea’s missile launch would be in violation of UN Resolution 1718 and 1874. Now that the North has demonstrated its successful intercontinental missile launch technology (and apparent satellite orbit), this will also put South Korean military forces on further edge, given past provocations. In contrast to the North, South Korea has yet to successfully launch a satellite into orbit, which will further compound a possible “satellite gap” perception–somewhat similar to the “missile gap” and space technology gap that pervaded during the U.S.-USSR Cold War period.
     
    North Korea’s Next Move:
     
    North Korea is predictably unpredictable, generally to its benefit. Kim Jong-un has employed a “one step forward, one step back” policy of modernization on the one hand, counterbalanced by seemingly provocative acts to placate its military. The NLL border region is likely the next area where possible conflicts in the future may occur. Cyberattacks is also another increasingly used option by the DPRK against South Korea, although this could be used against any other perceived foe in the future.
     
    To view a related op-ed piece written by him on Global Times (China’s English newspaper), click HERE.
     
    To view Jasper Kim (Founder/CEO) discuss this issue with CNN, click HERE or view BELOW.
     

     
    To view a separate CNN TV interview clip with accompanying online report click HERE and VIEW below:

     

     
    For a Bloomberg/Businessweek interview clip, see below (December 12, 2012):


           

    Kim Han-sol Youtube/TV interview (grandson of DPRK’s Kim Jong-il) – Breakup or Breakout Event?

    October 24th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) For our listeners who haven’t got a chance to watch the recent interview, what do we know about this teenage member of North Korea’s dictatorial clan?

    We know very little. But what we do know is that Kim Han-sol (김한솔) is a 17-year old student, attending United World College (UWC, a British-based educational foundation), who spent most of his young life outside of North Korea, primarily in Macau for much of his primary years, and now in Serbia-Herzegovina to attend UWC.
     
    2) He seems to be surprisingly comfortable talking about North Korea and his family. What are some striking features about him in both appearance and speech ? And how is he so much at ease to discuss about his background or Pyongyang (평양)?
     
    We know, based on his recent interview on Finnish TV, among other sources, that he looks like any other normal person his age. He spoke fluent English during his recent interview, and during the interview, appeared relatively media savvy. He seemed exceptionally poised, perhaps arguably overly poised, for a young adult his age in which it was meant to be believed that he was speaking “off the cuff.” But we at the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group believe that this interview–which is basically a coming out event for Kim Han-sol (김한솔)–is not off the cuff, but rather, the finished product of a much-prepared and highly calibrated event. An event like this, even outside of the DPRK, would normally not occur without prior knowledge and maybe even approval from the highest levels in the DPRK. Interestingly, Kim Han-sol’s visual appearance also varies. In his recent Finnish TV interview, he appears like a stately young gentleman. In contrast, in social media, such as seen in his Facebook account, we see pictures of him with bright blond hair and earrings.
     
    3) What does his enrollment at an institution like UWC imply considering North Korea often clashes with UN values of philanthropy and its humanitarian efforts?
     
    We at the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group believe that attending the UWC, rather than say another school inside or outside the DPRK, may have been a strategic decision by his father (Kim Jung-nam, 김정남) to make his son, and thus himself and the DPRK, appear more approachable and reasonable to the eyes of the international community. Consider that the stated UWC mission is to “makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future,” which would make Kim Han-sol, and the DPRK, appear almost like a reasonable state. This could help in swaying the international community and the court of world opinion. The interview may also have served as a “coming out” event for Kim Han-sol as a possible future offshore informal spokesperson for the DPRK–a country viewed as a constant enigma, and impossible to decipher due to its tightly closed nature.
     
    4) Do you think the interview with Kim Han-sol (김한솔) that was open to global viewership, represents a crack in the North Korean leadership or possibly Kim Jong-nam’s (eldest son to the late Kim Jong-il) (김정남) efforts to grab international attention for whatever personal reason?
     
    If it’s a crack, we believe it was a coordinated crack in communication. From the eyes of the DPRK leadership, another “international” DPRK figure–who much like Kim Jung-un (김정은), is young, raised overseas, and bi-/multi-lingual–may provide another PR avenue opportunity for the DPRK leadership to appear more civil and reasonable–which may or may not be the case–in an era where media and global communication is becoming increasingly pivotal. Viewed externally beyond the DPRK leadership and its borders, Kim Han-sol’s relatively normal, well-dressed, composed, and fairly articulate interview may serve as a sort of “alter ego” to Kim Jung-un to sway some in the international community to view the DPRK and its leadership in a more favorable and approachable light.
     
    5) In light of the December presidential race here in Korea and the US presidential election soon to come, how do you think this will impact some of the candidate’s diplomatic policy towards North Korea or regarding efforts to push for Korean unification?
     
    In short, the interview will have a nominal impact, on the US presidential elections since both Obama and Romney have declared their positions on North Korea (which are surprisingly similar). But in the South Korean presidential elections, the multiple references to peace and a unified Korean peninsula during Kim Han-sol’s relatively short recent interview has made media headlines here in South Korea, which may have some political sway among the watching general electorate. The interview may also be a purposeful strategy to further boost the liberal candidates’ chances of being elected into the Blue House. Having either Ahn or Moon in the Blue House, rather than Park Geun-hye, would be the strong presidential preference by the DPRK. This is because, inter alia, either Ahn or Moon as the Korean president may very well translate into more economic and non-economic aid to the North, and perhaps an attempt towards a Sunshine Policy 2.0.
     
    6) How will North Korea go about dealing with censoring or blocking itself from so-called foreign influence when its becoming harder to control information flow?
     
    This is a complex topic in and of itself. In short, we believe that it is an issue of “when” not “if” in terms of when the “Great Communication Wall” of the DPRK will crack and then suddenly and unexpectedly break the dam that is the DPRK leadership’s stronghold. This was the case with the USSR, a larger Stalinist state than the DPRK earlier, a state which the DPRK patterned itself politically, in part. And this was also the case when the Berlin Wall, cracked and collapsed, to suddenly and unexpectedly unify East and West Germany.* (In Germany’s case, East Germany’s GDP was about 30-40 percent of West Germany’s–unlike in the Korean Peninsula, in which North Korea’s GDP is roughly 5 percent or less that of South Korea’s GDP).
     
    The Youtube clip of Kim Han-sol’s interview on Finnish TV (in English) is below:
    Kim Han-sol Interview – Part 1 (from 2:00 minute mark onwards):

    Kim Han-sol Interview – Part 2

     
     

    Jasper Kim – on CNN TV (July 17, 2012)

    July 25th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Jasper Kim, CEO of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, gives his views to CNN TV
    on the socio-economic and political risks related to the ouster of a key North Korean military official.

    123