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매운 떡볶이 먹방 Spicy Korean Rice Cakes – DDEOKBOKKI

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Last month in Korea I decided it would be fun to meet up with some other YouTubers and film a few collaborations. Well the very first time I met with Minji Teaches Korean and Korean Unnie, we went out to eat spicy 떡볶이 and filmed our adventure. 떡볶이 (Ddeokbokki) is a spicy, sweet Korean snack. It's basically rice cakes in a spicy ketchup-like sauce, with fish cake and cheese. Some varieties are lightly spicy, and others are extremely spicy. For this video we went to a place that's notorious for their spicy kind... because why not?

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The post 매운 떡볶이 먹방 Spicy Korean Rice Cakes – DDEOKBOKKI appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Seoul Food: Brera Italian Restaurant – The Pasta

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There are a number of places which pop up time and time again on the Seoul Restaurant Buzz Facebook page (*ahem* M n’ M*ahem*).  An Italian restaurant just outside Itaewon near Beotigogae Station seems to get a lot of action, too.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re good.  More often than not I find these places to be quite overrated, however.  The over-saturation and line buying (*cough* BP *cough*) make me feel less inclined to give them a try.  I’ve heard about Brera over and over again.  Having spent a summer in Italy (as well as the following March break) I wasn’t sure I was ready for yet another creamy, soupy, world of disappointment where sausages really mean hot dogs and tomato sauce is just ketchup.  Brera already has plenty of Seoul food blogger love.  I’d be remiss not to have it listed on The Toronto Seoulcialite Food Guide.

Pappardelle alla Boscaiola

KRW 14,900
KOREAN FRIENDLY (Can someone tell me what this means?)
Homemade Italian sausage, green peas, onions, mushrooms, mascarpone cheese and parmigiano cheese.
Boscaiola (Woodcutter’s Wife) sauce is a Tuscan favourite with mushrooms as a key ingredient.  I would normally save this for last, but this Seoulcialite salivates everytime I see this image.  The pappardelle was excessively creamy – just the way I like it.  There were plenty of green peas and mushrooms.  The dish wasn’t heavy on onions (thank goodness).  The sausage had a bit of a kick putting all the pieces into place.  For me, this was absolutely the star of the show.  I know I’ll be back for the Boscaiola!

Gnocchi al Pesto (top right in image)

KRW 14,900
Pine nuts, basil, parmigiano cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.
The gnocchi was pillowy soft, but firm…like I like my pillows.  Making gnocchi from scratch is a labour of love (I did it back in 2012 at Il Fornello in Toronto).  One misstep and you’ve got Papiermâché goop on your hands (and I’m not flattering Gwyneth).  Good pesto is hard to come by, as well.  Everything at Brera is made in house using the freshest ingredients.  If you don’t like it (genuinely), you won’t pay.  It’s listed on their website.  Thankfully, the little potato dumplings were perfection, and the sauce hit the spot, too.

Ravioli Funghi e Robiola

KRW 18,000
Mushrooms and robiola.
I haven’t had a butter sage sauce since my days in Vancouver.  Sometimes I think I might try to make it myself.  In my Korean, poor-excuse for a kitchenette I muse to leave it to the professionals.  The ravioli at Brera is available stuffed either with mushroom (as above) or spinach (below).  You may also choose either butter sage sauce (as above) or red (tomato) sauce.  Each combination presents its own luscious flavour.  I think we made the right calls with our stuffed pasta and sauce pairings.  The nutty flavour of the butter sage sauce was light enough not to overpower the mushroom-stuffed ravioli.  The combination of flavours made for a nutty, woodland flavour which was rustic, but elevated.   I personally preferred the mushroom ravioli, but the spinach was the hit of the night with my date.  Which sauce/ stuffing do you prefer?

Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci

KRW 14,900
Spinach and Ricotta.
Image may contain: people sitting, table and indoor
Hours & Contact

Open: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM – 3 AM (Kitchen last order at 9:30 PM)

Contact: (02) 2236-0770 or



Location: 서울특별시 중구 신당동 366-44 

366-440 Shingdang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul

Directions: We took a taxi to Brera, however you could easily take the subway to Beotigogae Station.  There’s a crosswalk outside of Exit 3 that will take you directly up the short stint of hill you’ll enter.  Brera is not accessible from the main street, so if you take Exit 1 you’ll have to pull a u-turn right away and then look for the Brera sign. Turn right and you’re pretty much in the door!

Instagram Photo

Act quickly!  Brera is having a contest.  5 winners will receive a KRW 50,000 coupon good for use through the end of August 2017.  

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This is not a sponsored post, The Toronto Seoulcialite genuinely enjoyed a whole lotta pasta last Saturday night! xox

The post Seoul Food: Brera Italian Restaurant – The Pasta appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

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Jet-Setting Japan: Rockin’ Around the Tokyo Robot Restaurant

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Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan

Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan

The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo

The Robot Restaurant is widely regarded as one of Tokyo’s most notorious tourist traps.  I had heard mixed reviews from friends and colleagues.  A friend who recently visited Tokyo said he loved seeing his boyfriend laugh like a giddy child throughout the show.  A fellow blogger and her gal pals said it was a waste of time and she wanted her money back.  This likely had to do with the fact that there was a $30 price discrepancy.

Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan

How to Get Discount Robot Restaurant Tickets

I scoured the internet for ways to get discount tickets for the Robot Restaurant.  Ultimately, the best deal was with Klook.  Instead of just getting your ticket for approximately $82, you get it for about $56 and it includes an alcoholic beverage.  The Klook website states that the deal includes:

  • Experience the high-tech laser displays and multi-colored lights 
  • Watch beautiful flashy dancers and glittering robots 
  • Have your choice of a variety of food options between robot show numbers (not included in ticket) 
  • Enjoy the wild music and laugh at all the bizarre routines with a Robot Restaurant discount 
  • Special Offers for Klook Customers:
  • Book the First Performance Offer (4:00 PM on specific dates) to get 2 exclusive FREE gifts: JPY500 drink coupon (good for 1 beer or 1 glass of wine) and pictures with the robots! ✖ (We got the drink coupon, but were shuffled out after the show too quickly to get pictures.)
Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan

Which Robot Restaurant Show Did We See?

We wanted the best deal on tickets Klook could offer.  We also wanted to have our evening free for dinner and other entertainment.  We caught the 4 PM show on a Saturday and got a great seat in the back row.  I would recommend this area if you’re more interested in the show than up close and personal pictures.  The front row has moments where the robots swing by and you have to pull in your feet and really lean back to avoid getting hit.

Tokyo Robot Restaurant Toronto Seoulcialite Things to do in Tokyo Japan

Is It Really a Robot Restaurant?

Honestly?  Not really.  The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is like a smaller version of Medieval Times.  There were options for lunchbox style meals, but the draw was the show.  I had heard it was like a Kawaii Strip Club with kooky robotic creatures.  That’s not the case.  You’ll see plenty of singers and dancers dressed up in colourful clothes that bare far more skin than you’d see in Korea.  Is any of it truly sexualized? I didn’t think so.  There’s plenty of alcohol to go around if you want to imbibe while enjoying the ride.  I personally found that the lights, music, costumes, and smiling faces of the performers was enough to have me grinning ear to ear.  If you’re looking to feel like a kid again, the Robot Restaurant may just be for you…at the right price!

Robot Restaurant Acts

The performers rotated through various costumes and styles of singing and dancing.  The opening act was a party to welcome the guests to the show.  Then, there were a variety of robot jousts with several different themes.  There were intermissions after each major act to buy refreshments and souvenirs.

Robot Restaurant Finale

The Robot Restaurant finale included all of the performers in brightly coloured or lit up costumes.  I felt like the finale was actually pretty short.  We were hustled out of the building pretty quickly.  Overall I’d say if you can get your Robot Restaurant tickets at a discounted price you’ll be happy with the experience.  Just know you’re walking into a tourist trap.  Let yourself be carried away!

Contact Robot Restaurant

The post Jet-Setting Japan: Rockin’ Around the Tokyo Robot Restaurant appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

3 Best Beaches in Korea Worth Traveling For

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It’s summer in Korea and you should be taking time out on the beach!

As the Korean peninsula is surrounded by ocean on three sides, there are countless beach options for beachgoers to choose from.

Sure the Haeundae Beach in Busan is a great option as it offers luxurious five-star hotels and buzzing nightlife, but there are plenty of other beach destinations across Korea that are absolutely worth a visit.

For those who are planning a beach getaway, here we’ve got the inside scoop on some of the best beaches in Korea you must visit this summer.

And whether you’re looking for relaxing break or action in or out of the water, these beaches have something for you.

1. Jangho Beach – Best for snorkeling

Slip beneath the waves and enjoy snorkeling!

| Where: Samcheok City, Gangwon Province

janghoLocated on the east coast of Korea, Jangho Beach is often referred to as ‘the Naples of Korea’ as it offers a beautiful crescent coastline with unique rock formations.jangho-2In addition to transparent kayaking, Jangho Beach offers an excellent snorkeling experience, thanks to its crystal clear waters.

If you want to experience Jangho Beach’s snorkeling scene, take a day trip via And you’ll definitely want an underwater camera for this trip!

Book Jangho Beach 1 Day Tour (+Snorkeling)

2. Surfyy Beach – Best for surfing

Get wave-ready! Swim, surf, soak up the sun!

Where: Yangyang County, Gangwon Province

yangyangIf you want to avoid the big summer crowds or need seaside chillaxing, and have maybe a cocktail or two, ‘Surfyy Beach’ is your go-to beach.

Hidden in Yangyang County’s Hajodae Beach, Surfyy Beach is a strip of private beach that offers a laid back surfing vibe and new generation surf facility for hip surfing crowds. yangyang-3There are also separates zones for surfers and swimmers, which allow surfers to enjoy the waves without crashing into the beach crowds.

While most of the visitors are locals, Surfyy Beach is also visited by Korean celebrities, including Kang So-ra, San E and Jessi.yangyang-2If being in the water isn’t for you, you can just kick back and laze around the loungers and parasols that line the white sandy beach.

Those who want to visit Surfyy Beach can book a trip via, which includes a round-trip transportation and the use of shower facilities and a locker.

If you are a surfer, you don’t even have to bring your own board if it’s too much of a hassle: a surf lesson, a surf board and shower facilities and a locker are provided at an additional cost.

Book Yangyang Private Beach 1 Day Tour (+Surfing)

3. Daechon Beach – Best for zip lining

Fly high and zip across the ocean!

Where: Boryeong City, Chungcheongnam Province

daecheon-2If you like buzzing beaches, head to Daecheon Beach, the largest beach located on the west coast of Korea.

While Daecheon Beach is best known for its annual summer festival, Boryeong MudFestival, which takes place around late-July, there are numerous exciting activities for the beachgoers to enjoy by the beach.daecheon-3daecheonOne of the top-rated activities to try is the exhilarating zip line experience. With Daechon Zip Trek, you can fly down the 52m-high zip line at up to 80km per hour over the Daecheon Beach!

Otherwise, you can opt for riding a scenic rail bike along the 2.3km-long old train track, which has been transformed into a bike trail, offered by Daecheon Sky Bike.

A tour to Daecheon Beach is available on until the mud festival period, before the summer crowds rush in. Zip line and rail bike experiences are available at an additional cost.

Book Daecheon Beach 1 Day Tour (+Zip Trek)

Traveling to Korea this summer? Find out more things to do in Korea in the summer and start hunting for the best summer travel deals today at Trazy.comKorea’s #1 Travel Shop!


Photo Credits
Surfyy Beach
Boryeong City Official Homepage
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Otto Warmbier’s DPRK Travel Company Changes Stance After Coma, Death

Printer-friendly version writer Amy Martyn recently wrote a piece titled “Booze, bribes and propaganda: The company that promises ‘safe’ travel in North Korea” regarding the tour company American college student Otto Warmbier took (Young Pioneer Tours) before being detained for allegedly stealing a poster. After being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, the world didn’t get an update on his case until recently when North Korea allowed Warmbier, by then in a coma, to return to the US where he died several days later. Martyn spoke with Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland to discuss her reporting on how Young Pioneer Tours handled the incident & changes now taking place at the tour company since Warmbier’s death. Find more of Amy Martyn’s reporting at

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The post Otto Warmbier’s DPRK Travel Company ‘Young Pioneer Tours’ Changes Stance After Coma, Death appeared first on Korea FM.

Review: Elizabeth Arden eye & lip beauty perfection 

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So, yesterday my husband was coming back from a conference in Jeju, and he suddenly called me from airport. He was at a duty free shop then and asking if I want something. I was like, wow, really! Since when my husband became so concern about makeup and stuff! He was roaming around the shops and telling me all the available brands, and what I want from them. Hearing all the brands I kinda got confused and couldn’t decide what I need. So, I totally let him decide saying just pick some eyeshadow.

And guess what he chose! Yup, Elizabeth Arden Eye & Lip Beauty Perfection! To be honest, I never really used anything from that brand, so I was really excited this morning when I was using it for the first time. Here’s a look of the palette:

So, it is a combination of eye and lip palette. It contains 5 creamy eye shadows & 4 lip glosses. The colors are perfect for a nude makeup or nude look. The shades are creamy, so they are not like the regular eye shadow. But they come easily in the brush and also they are pigmented in a good way. So are the glosses. But as the eye shadows are creamy it may mess in your crease line few hours later, so I will suggest to set them with a tiny bit of translucent powder or shiny eye shadow. The total cost was 33$.

So, enough talking, let’s take a look what it actually looks when you use it!

Just as I mentioned, perfect for nude makeup^^

Let me know about your thoughts of the palette, whether you used it, or if you like it or not ^_^

Hope you enjoyed the post!

Munira Chowdhury, 07/07/17

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Gangchon Rail Park Review: Ride the New ‘VR Rail Bike’ for Only 1,000 KRW!

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Gangchon Rail Park’s ‘VR Rail Bike’ Review: The cheapest and most creative way to experience VR!

Gangchon Rail Park, the best rail-bike park in Korea, has launched the world’s first ‘Virtual Reality (VR) Rail Bike’ and now visitors can enjoy the VR while riding a rail bike!

The new ‘VR Rail Bike’ is an additional attraction for visitors to Gangchon Rail Park and it is available at an additional cost of 1,000 KRW.

The VR experience is currently only available at the last tunnel, out of four different tunnels in the entire course, but it is definitely worth the experience.

| NOTE: Visitors must first purchase a regular ticket to try this new VR attraction. Scroll down for detailed ticket information.

To find out what this new VR attraction is all about, I, a member of Trazy Crew, visited Gangchon Rail Park.


Gangchon Rail Park (10).jpgFor those who have never heard of or visited Gangchon Rail Park before, it is one the popular attractions near Seoul where you can ride a rail bike all year round. Gangchon Rail Park (12)While Gangchon Rail Park is one of the largest, with a total of 8.6km course, and most popular rail-bike destinations in Korea, there are other places where you can ride a rail bike as well, such as Gapyeong Rail ParkYangpyeong Rail Park and more.

It is also famous for being the filming location of many Korean TV variety shows such as ‘Running Man‘ and ‘We Got Married‘.Gangchon Rail Park (9)Gangchon Rail Park has 2-seater (blue) or a 4-seater (red) rail bikes available for visitors and the rail bike departs every hour from 9:00am to 6:00pm.
Gangchon Rail Park (5)While pedaling along on your bike, you can enjoy the scenery of Gangchon area and the Bukhangang River. Gangchon Rail Park (8)Since the scenery is stunning every season, you can have a completely different experience each time you visit Gangchon Rail Park.Gangchon Rail Park (7)You will pass through four different tunnels during the entire course, and it is the last or the 4th tunnel where you will ride in VR.

Hopefully they make the VR available for all tunnels in the future.

Before you enter the tunnel, you will be given a VR headset. There will be staff who will help you wear the headset and guide you along the course, so don’t worry if this is your first time trying VR.
Gangchon Rail Park (6)If you press the button on the right side of the headset, you can shoot missiles and kill the villains. And when there are explosions going off, you can actually feel the heat of a fire on your face, which is absolutely awesome!
Gangchon Rail Park (4)After you pass through the fourth tunnel, you will reach a rest stop. From here, you will take Nangman Train, or the ‘Romance Train’, to Gangchon Station.Gangchon Rail Park (3)Along the way, you can sit back and relax while taking in the gorgeous landscapes of Gangchon.Gangchon Rail Park (2)After you get off the train, you can take a free shuttle bus at the parking lot back to Gimyujeong Station.

| NOTE: The entire course takes around 1 hr 30 mins (50 mins of rail bike ride + 20 mins break time at transfer stop + 20 mins of Nangman Train ride).

Gangchon Rail Park Ticket Information

Where Can I Buy Regular Tickets?

Regular tickets can be purchased via online booking. The official website is not available in Englishbut you can book tickets to Gangchon Rail Park via, an online booking website for foreigners.

You may also purchase tickets on site, however, it is recommended that you purchase online in advance to guarantee your tickets as it is first come, first served.

Booking must be made at least 3 days prior to the date of your visit at

To buy Gangchon Rail Park tickets online, click here.

Where Can I Buy VR Rail Bike Tickets?

The VR tickets are only available on-site and they will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. 


For anyone wanting to visit the rail park, read on to find out how you can go to Gangchon Rail Park from Seoul.

How to Go to Gangchon Rail Park from Seoul?

Gangchon Rail Park (14)Planning an independent trip to Gangchon Rail Park from Seoul can be tricky as it is located in the city of Chuncheon. By public transportation, it will take at least 2 hours or more in general.



  • By Express Bus: Dong Seoul Bus Terminal > Chuncheon Intercity Bus Terminal (approx. 1 hr 15mins~) > Namchuncheon Station (Subway Gyeongchun Line) > Gimyujeong Station
  • By Subway: Any subway station in Seoul > Gimyujeong Station (Subway Gyeongchun Line)
    • Ex. Myeongdong Station> Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station > Wangsimni Station > Gimyujeong Station (approx. total time: 2hrs 20mins~)
  • By ITX Train: Yongsan Station/Cheongnyangni Station > Gangchon Station (1 hr 7 mins) > Gimyujeong Station (Subway Gyeongchun Line)

★ Tips for Subway & Train Travel 

Since Gyeongchun Line is usually packed with people, taking the ITX train is strongly recommended. However, the ITX train tickets usually sell out quickly and there may not be any train running on your desired schedule. Make sure to check the train schedules and purchase the tickets in advance at official Korail homepage.

★ Advice

If you still find these methods confusing, consider taking one of the organized tours offered by Trazy, which provide you with admission tickets and round-trip transportation.

These tours are ideal for travelers who want to visit Gangchon Rail Park and nearby tourists attractions, such as Nami Island, Petite France and the Garden of Morning Calm, all in one day.

Interested in taking a tour? Check out these tours below:

Did you enjoy reading this travel review? Check out our previous travel review on Gangchon Rail Park: Gangchon Rail Park & Nami Island & The Garden of Morning Calm.

Looking for more rail bike destinations in Korea? Visit Trazy.comKorea’s #1 Travel Shop, today.gangchon-rail-bike-cta.jpg


My friend, Justin, and I decided to welcome monsoon season with...

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My friend, Justin, and I decided to welcome monsoon season with a simple hike around Igidae Park (이기대 도시자연공원). Maybe this is more of a “national park” than a “park” because it’s much bigger than I remember. Last time I went, I had a taxi drop me off by the ocean, and it didn’t involve much walking but there were gorgeous up-close views of the waves. 

This time we took the bus and were just straight up hiking/walking on some trails along the coastline. Because it was foggy, we just saw a bunch of trees and very little ocean. There was some incline and stairs, but the weather was cool and the trail is well-maintained. 

The signage was confusing to me (as it always is) but everyone I asked for help was really nice. If you walk for 2-½ to 3 hours, you can combine this hike with Busan’s Skywalk, a see-through glass bridge built above the sea and cliffs. 

Directions: From Kyungsung Univ. & Pukyong Nat'l Univ. Subway Station (line 2) exit 5, turn around upon exiting, and take bus 20, 24, 27, 39, or 131. Get off after 6 stops at “용호사거리,” backtrack a bit, and walk uphill towards the mountain. Then, you’ll need to go right, up an even steeper hill. You’ll find a trail starting there.


Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.


Let’s be Careful about Calling the North Korean ICBM a ‘Game Changer’

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north-korea-koreas-tensionsThis is a local re-post of an essay I just wrote for the National Interest on the most recent missile launch, marketed as an ICBM.

My concern is the increasing discussion of airstrikes and military options against the North. This is hugely risky, and every time we say things like ‘we have crossed a red-line’ or ‘this is a game changer,’ we get one step closer to a war. No, not airstrikes. A war. Because any air campaign against North Korea would be so long and violent, it would be indistinguishable from a war. So before you listen to cable news hawks all week telling you that we have to strike North Korea, consider all the likely costs including a possible Sino-US shooting war. Here is my tweet storm griping about all the loose, irresponsible language NK provocations unleash.

So no, I am not suddenly a dove on North Korea. I want sanctions, missile defense, and more discussion with China. And I know talks won’t work. But we need to keep a calmer, less alarmist rhetorical environment so that we don’t ignite something we won’t be able to control.

The essay follows the jump:


On July 4, doubtless to provoke the Americans on their Independence Day holiday, the North Koreans claimed to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The missile launch was a ‘lofted’ shot, meaning it was fired at an angle greater than 45 degrees. This allows it travel higher but a shorter distance across the earth’s surface. Although the missile splashed down in the Sea of Japan, we can back-calculate from its altitude to how far it might have traveled if fired at an ideal, 45-degree angle. At the moment, the estimates are three to four thousand miles. That puts most of Alaska within range and is on the cusp on Hawaii.

This is a step forward in range to be sure, but there is dispute over whether to term this an ICBM rather than an intermediate range or medium range ballistic missile (IRBM, MRBM). Ultimately though, the nomenclature is less relevant than the distance. The consensus is that this is now the longest range North Korean missile we have yet seen in operation. Greater Anchorage, the largest urban agglomeration in Alaska, encompasses approximately 400,000 people. This new launch appears to decisively move those people into range. This is the first time a new nuclear power has been able to strike a major American city since the Chinese developed ICBMs during the Cold War. For a topic as prone to hyberbole as North Korea, this is bound to be read as a ‘game changer’ by American audiences and drive the growing discussion about US air-strikes.

Not Quite a ‘Game Changer’ Actually, because We Knew This Was Coming

I have argued in these pages before against the alarmism that characterizes so much of the North Korea debate. It is worth re-iterating a few points before this week’s cable news punditry runs us over the edge toward airstrikes:

1. North Korea has been telling us for years that it wants a nuclear weapon and missiles. Today’s launch obviously worsens the situation but not in ways we did not foresee. We have had time to think about how to respond (even if we seem bereft of good ideas). Hence my resistance to the ‘game-changer’ and ‘Franken-missile’-style rhetoric that so often accompanies these North Korean mini-crises.

2. North Korea almost certainly does not intend to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon. Even if we assume North Korea can strike the United States with such a weapon, it would be suicide to do so. And if there is one thing we have learned from the decades of decadence and gangsterism of North Korean ruling Kim family, it is that they like their luxuries. There is much debate about what precisely the Kims’ goals are (are they still really committed to unification?), but one obvious intention is to live up the good life. The Kims’s neronian habits are notorious – liquor, cars, women, yachts, palatial residences. This is the reason for the luxury good ban on the regime and why it refers to that ban as “extra-large crimes against humanity.” These are no spartan, committed cadres living in caves according to a strict ideology ready to die for their beliefs. So it is highly unlikely that the Kim elite would throw away their indulgences on a strike they know would bring devastating US retaliation.

3. This weapon, rather, is intended to deter US-led regime change efforts. The US has flirted for decades with attacking North Korea by air, most notably in 1994. The US has also attacked many rogue states – Panama, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya to name just a few. It is therefore predictably rational for Pyongyang to seek the ultimate guarantee against such an attack. The program is not some madman’s dream to blow-up the world, as both Presidents Trump and Duterte (of the Philippines) have suggested. If the Kims wanted that, they could have started a cataclysmic war years ago. The Kims likely also see the program as a hedge against Chinese domination. North Korea is economically dependent on China, but its nuclear program and general truculence with global norms signal that it will not become Beijing’s political satellite. In short, as long as the US (and China) stay out of North Korea’s internal affairs, nuclear use is highly unlikely.

4. ICBM Range is not enough. A missile that can fly far enough to strike Alaska is not enough. It must also be able to carry a warhead (1000-1500 pounds), survive re-entry through the atmosphere, and land on a pinpoint target. US cities may seem like large places from a terrestrial vantage point within them, but from five to ten thousand miles away, they are a small grid reference on a map. ‘Throw weight,’ the ability to ‘throw’ or launch a large weight (ie., a warhead) a far distance, can get a North Korean missile in the vicinity of North America. But there are still several further steps required, and there is little way for outsiders to verify that the North Koreans have reliably crossed those thresholds. Just because the North Koreans can say they can nuke a US city does not mean they can. Remember this outlandish map?

What to Do? Sanctions and China – as always

This week’s debate mirrors those following the death of Otto Warmbier and Kim Jong Nam (murdered in Kuala Lumpur with VX poison). Those incidents too sparked the sense that North Korea had crossed a red-line which required punishment. In Kim’s case, the use of a weapon of mass destruction in an airport signaled once again that the North Koreans ignore even the most basic international norms, while Warmbier’s death looked an awful lot like the murder of a hapless, innocent American citizen. Yet both of those incidents passed without any overt response, as likely will this one. Cyber operations are likely – indeed, it is widely assumed that the US has sought to hack North Korea for years to slow its nuclear and missile program – but an aggressive response is unlikely.

Bombing North Korea has always been a hugely risky option. George W. Bush’s administration was replete with hawks who wanted to find a way to punish North Korea kinetically but could not, and the Trump administration is re-learning that dilemma. This pushes the likely response back to what it always been – the much derided ‘strategic patience’: sealing off North Korea from the world through sanctions to slow its nuclear and missile programs, pushing China to help more in order to cut off illicit flows into North Korea, maintaining the deterrence and containment postures on the peninsula which have kept the peace for decades.

But at this point, these measure can probably only slow North Korea’s nuclear missilization. This means that some point – and it looks to be coming sooner rather than later given North Korea’s remarkable speed in weapons development – the US will confront a choice: to learn to adapt to North Korean nuclear deterrence, as it did Soviet/Russian and Chinese deterrence during the Cold War, or strike. Given how dangerous, if not irrational, the US public and media perceive North Korea to be, this will be a harder to choice than learning to live with cold war deterrence.

Filed under: Korea (North), Nuclear Weapons, The National Interest

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




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