Wednesday, December 31, 2014

South Korean to drop Sony film into North by balloon

For all the hype on the movie and getting it into north Korea I hope people realize that this is absolutely no substitute for what is really needed in terms of a sophisticated Psychological Operations effort to undercut the legitimacy of the regime without undercutting the personal identifies of the north Korean people.  While this is a feel good for us in terms of the humor and insults to Kim Jong-un we must understand that a sustained sophisticated PSYOP effort is necessary to both support resistance as well as help prepare the people for unification.  We should be under no illusion that this film will do either or both.  It will not by itself.  That said, the north's actions toward the movie will make a bigger contribution to undercutting its legitimacy  and that is why I support getting the movie into the north.  But the movie itself is going to have little long term impact because it is not the appropriate vehicle to influence the key target audiences of the north Korean second tier leadership and the general population.  But the PSYOP campaign that is necessary must be based on thorough target audience analysis and understanding the Korea culture in general both historical and contemporary.  Even Juche cannot be ( or should not be) directly attacked or satirized but instead must as an example be shown to be an irresponsible adaptation of Korean culture in order to show that there there are underlying cultural continuities between north and South and there are more similarities at the fundamental cultural level than there are differences at the more superficial levels (e.g. the two Korean "miracles - the one on the Han (i.e., South Korean people thriving on the opportunity a free political system and open market economy) and the one on the Taedong (i.e., north Korea people surviving 60+ years of oppression and extreme adversity).  But a film like the Interview cannot get to that level of subtlety and sophistication (and of course it its defense it is not meant to - but that is why we need to focus on a real PSYOP campaign (that is focused on supporting President Park's Dresden Initiative for Koran unification) and not be taken in by our western emotional response to this movie and the mirror imaging analysis that we are unwittingly conducting, i.e., if this movie makes us despise Kim Jong-un then the north Korean people will despise him as well).

South Korean to drop Sony film into North by balloon

The Associated Press
Published: December 31, 2014
Balloons to North Korea
On Oct. 10, 2014, anti-North Korea activists launch balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North from South Korea.


SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean activist said Wednesday that he will launch balloons carrying DVDs of Sony's "The Interview" toward North Korea to try to break down a personality cult built around dictator Kim Jong Un.
The comedy depicting an assassination attempt on Kim is at the center of tension between North Korea and the U.S., with Washington blaming Pyongyang for crippling hacking attacks on Sony Entertainment. Pyongyang denies that and has vowed to retaliate.
Activist Park Sang-hak said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with the movie by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. Park, a North Korean defector, said he's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.
Park said foundation officials plan to visit South Korea around Jan. 20 to hand over the DVDs and USBs, and that he and the officials will then try to float the first batch of the balloons if weather conditions allow.
"North Korea's absolute leadership will crumble if the idolization of leader Kim breaks down," Park said by telephone.
If carried out, the move was expected to enrage North Korea, which expressed anger over the movie. In October, the country opened fire at giant balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets floated across the border by South Korean activists, trigging an exchange of gunfire with South Korean troops.
But it is not clear how effective the plan will be, as only a small number of ordinary North Korean citizens are believed to own computers or DVD players. Many North Koreans would not probably risk watching the movie as they know they would get into trouble if caught. Owning a computer requires permission from the government and costs as much as three months' salary for the average worker, according to South Korean analysts.
Not everyone supports sending balloons into the North, with liberals and border town residents in South Korea urging the activists to stop. North Korea has long demanded that South Korea stop the activists, but Seoul refuses, citing freedom of speech.
Park said the ballooning will be done clandestinely, with the pace picking up in March when he expects the wind direction to become more favorable.
Calls to the Human Rights Foundation on Wednesday were not immediately answered. The foundation says on its website that it works with North Korean defectors to use hydrogen balloons to send material across the border, as well as smuggling items through China and broadcasting radio transmissions to reach those who own illegal short wave radios.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

U.S. Can Never Justify Screening and Distribution of Reactionary Movie: Policy Department of NDC of DPRK

The KCNA web is site is back on line and boy is the Kim Family regime pissed with the statement from the National Defense Commission below.

I finally broke down and saw the film. The Interview is probably one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen and very little of the humor and vulgarity will translate to the north Koreans.  There are too many inside jokes and western cultural references that few in the north will understand. 

However, the actual premise is not far off from what many people have advocated for many years and that is to expose the regime for what it is to the people of the north and undercut regime legitimacy and allow the north Korean people themselves to change their leadership.  It would be a good thing if this movie did make a contribution to the nascent resistance potential that exists.  And the regime's domestic response to the movie could contribute to the growth of the resistance.   Perhaps that premise will translate when this is bootlegged to the north but most of the humor and vulgarity will not.

U.S. Can Never Justify Screening and Distribution of Reactionary Movie: Policy Department of NDC of DPRK

    Pyongyang, December 27 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK Saturday issued a statement denouncing the U.S. for screening even dishonest and reactionary movie hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and agitating terrorism while groundlessly linking the unheard-of hacking at the Sony Pictures Entertainment to the DPRK.

    The statement said that much scared at the hacking attack of justice made by the "guardians of peace", the Sony Pictures Entertainment hastily suspended the screening of the above-said movie. But at the zealous prodding of the U.S. administration and wicked conservative forces, it again buckled down to distributing the movie, failing to guess a miserable fate to be faced by it in the future, it added:

    U.S. President Obama is the chief culprit who forced the Sony Pictures Entertainment to "indiscriminately distribute" the movie and took the lead in appeasing and blackmailing cinema houses and theatres in the U.S. mainland to distribute the movie.

    Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest. When the Sony Pictures Entertainment made public a statement that it would give up the distribution of the movie, frightened by the merciless retaliatory strike, Obama urged it to unconditionally screen the movie, claiming that the disgrace suffered by Sony Pictures Entertainment means sorrow of the U.S., why did it issue such a statement as holding a white flag without informing the president of it?, it is the violation of the freedom of expression and a threat to the security of the U.S. and it is necessary to make symmetric counteraction, considering the hacking attack was made by "north Korea", though it is not clear who was behind it, the statement said, and went on:

    Dancing to the tune of Obama's outbursts, Kerry, McCain, Bolton and other wicked conservative politicians zealously prodded the Sony Pictures Entertainment into distributing the movie, blustering who else but "north Korea" caused property losses worth hundreds of millions of dollars to it.

    If the U.S. is to persistently insist that the hacking attack was made by the DPRK, the U.S. should produce evidence without fail, though belatedly.

    If the U.S. cannot open to public evidence due to "protection of sensitive information source" as expressed by the FBI, the U.S. may conduct a joint investigation with the DPRK in camera.

    However, the U.S. is behaving recklessly, trumpeting about "symmetric counteraction", "combination of invisible sanctions and visible sanctions" and "re-designation of sponsor of terrorism" while linking the hacking attack with the DPRK without clear evidence and sure ground.

    In actuality, the U.S., a big country, started disturbing the internet operation of major media of the DPRK, not knowing shame like children playing a tag.
    We had already warned the U.S. not act like beating air after being hit hard by others.

    Of course, we do not expect the gangsters to pay heed to our warnings.

    When the public is becoming increasingly vocal about the hacking attack on the DPRK media this time, the U.S. feigned ignorance, saying that they should ask "north Korea" and the U.S. neither admits nor denies.

    The prevailing situation clearly shows that the U.S. is adding to its crimes by screening the movie "The Interview."

    With no rhetoric can the U.S. justify the screening and distribution of the movie.

    This is because "The Interview" is an illegal, dishonest and reactionary movie quite contrary to the UN Charter, which regards respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs and protection of human rights as a legal keynote, and international laws.

    It is also because it is a new politically-motivated provocation made by the U.S., pursuant to its hostile policy toward the DPRK as it is a movie for agitating terrorism produced with high-ranking politicians of the U.S. administration involved.

    This is the reason why the world is branding "The Interview" as a typical product of the U.S. anachronistic act of challenging not only the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK but also human justice and conscience and encroaching upon peace and security.

    The anti-U.S. sacred war at present precisely means protecting justice and peace.

    If the U.S. persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the U.S. should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows. -0-

Friday, December 26, 2014

North Korea’s nukes are much scarier than its hacks


Albright and Wit said the administration should come up with terms for a resumption of dialogue that the North Koreans and the U.S. can both accept. U.S. officials have said repeatedly they are open to talks, but they are demanding several preconditions that Pyongyang has repeatedly rejected.
“The North Koreans are more than happy to make concessions to start things up again, but the U.S. has shown no flexibility in addressing North Korea’s position to arrive at a starting point that both sides can be happy with,” said Albright.
“We have this reactive approach and it’s ad hoc,” Wit added. “The North Koreans aren’t taking us seriously. They feel they are in the driver’s seat here. It’s wrong to assume they are taking these steps like this Sony hack out of weakness. They are taking these steps because they feel there’s nothing we can do to them.”
And this raises an uncomfortable question for the White House. Why does a targeted cyber-hack draw a tougher response from Obama than the amassing of a small nuclear arsenal? The message it sends to Pyongyang is that they can threaten their entire region with nuclear weapons, just so long as they don’t touch Hollywood.
Unreciprocated removal of US nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula in 1992, The north-South Agreement of Reconciliation, Non-aggression, and Exchanges (ARNE) (1992) (never implemented by the north), the Agreed Framework 1994, heavy fuel oil and food aid through the Arduous March 1994-1996 and beyond, the Perry Policy review and proposal 1999, the Albright visit in 2000, the Sunshine Policy, visits to the north by Kim Dae-jung (Nobel Peace Prize at the cost of millions of dollars) and Roh Moo-hyun, Four party Talks in late 1990's Six Party talks in the 2000's, removal from the state sponsored terrorism list and more are examples of efforts to engage and deal with the north Korea.  But to what end?  What good has become of any of this? Continued north Korean provocations to gain political and economic concessions and blackmail diplomacy, development of nuclear weapons, missile delivery systems, increase in asymmetric offensive military capabilities (to include not on SOF and cyber but allso Chemical weapons), while sustaining and even increasing capabilities (e.g., 300mm MRL)  of  the world's fourth largest conventional military force?  yes let's find common ground but would someone please tell me what that common ground is because what is non-negotiable for the Kim Family Regime are its vital national interests and its long term strategic aims and objectives:

Vital Interest: Survival of the Kim Family Regime at all costs (therefore it can do nothing that will undercut the legitimacy of the regime domestically which includes real economic reforms that will counter its ideology)
Strategic Aim:  reunification under Kim Family Regime control to ensure regime survival.
Strategic Objective: Split the ROK/US alliance and get US forces off the peninsula to ensure attainment of the strategic aim and vital national interest.

How does it achieve the above? - nuclear program for blackmail diplomacy and deterrence, proliferation of weapons and global illicit activities to obtain hard currency to ensure the loyalty of the elite members of the Kim Family Regime, provocations (primarily against the South) to gain political and economic concessions and as Dr. Bruce Bechtol has emphasized to us time and again:

"Provocations have had four things in common: 1) they are intentionally initiated at moments when they have the likelihood of garnering the greatest attention on the regional and perhaps even the world stage; 2) they initially appear to be incidents that are relatively small, easily contained, and quickly “resolved;” 3) they involve continuously changing tactics and techniques; and 4) North Korea denies responsibility for the event."

And Bruce has this to say about the Sony hacking incident 

With two key differences:
1.        It is carried out against an entity in the USA, NOT South Korea.
2.       It is using a new, offensive capability – thinking out of the box if you will – that North Korea’s military and intelligence services are likely to utilize on a larger scale in the future
If the north Koreans did the Sony hack then we should consider it a "confidence target" to test its capabilities and gauge the reaction of the US and international community.  From the reactions I think north Korea and other state and non-state actors see great potential in hacking US businesses (even if they are owned by a foreign company, i.e., Sony).  And other targets probably loom large especially as tensions rise or conflict erupts.

These strategies, concepts, and tactics are the foundation for everything that north Korea does and it is unlikely to deviate from its interests, aims, objectives, and tactics (though as we are seeing it will adapt the tactics).  So yes, I am all for finding common ground and would rather "jaw jaw than war war" but we had better try to understand the position of the Kim Family Regime.

As an aside one of the best deterrents of the north is this (change Kim Jong-il to the Kim Family Regime):

 Given the dangers of regime collapse and the potential for war the first imperative of the
strategy is to sustain the illusion for Kim Jong Il that his regime can survive.30 As
long as Kim Jong Il believes he will survive and have the possibility at some time
in the future to achieve reunification under his terms he will in effect be deterred
from attacking. 

30 Credit for coining the phrase “sustaining the illusion that Kim Jong Il will survive” goes
to COL Rick Gribling, Chief of UNC/CFC/USFK CJ3 Plans Division during crisis action planning
session in June 1997.

The entire paper on a long term strategy for the Korean Peninsula can be downloaded here:

The key to the future of the peninsula lies among the people in north Korea.  Can they change their own regime and have a leadership emerge that will seek peaceful unification with the South?  While sustaining the illusion that the regime will survive in order to deter its attacks perhaps we can try to engage the north while at the same time providing support to the nascent but emerging resistance potential among the population and 2d tier leadership in the north.  But that would require a coherent ROK/US alliance strategy and a classified one at that.


North Korea’s nukes are much scarier than its hacks

DEC 26, 2014

NEW YORK – While the world’s attention focuses on North Korea’s cyberwar with Sony Pictures, the Hermit Kingdom is rapidly increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons material, with real little pushback from the United States.
A new analysis of North Korea’s nuclear program by a group of top U.S. experts, led by David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, estimates that North Korea could have enough material for 79 nuclear weapons by 2020.
The analysis, part of a larger project called “North Korea’s Nuclear Futures” being run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies, has not been previously published.
Albright said the North Korean government is ramping up its production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, speeding toward an amount that would allow it to build enough nuclear weapons to rival other nuclear states including India, Pakistan and Israel.
“North Korea is on the verge of being able to scale up its nuclear weapons program to the level of the other major players, so it’s critical to head this off,” Albright said in an interview.
He added, “It is on the verge of deploying a nuclear arsenal that would pose not only a threat to the United States and its allies but also to China.”
According to the analysis, which included the input of a team of former government officials, nuclear experts and North Korea-watchers, the regime now has as many as four separate facilities churning out nuclear weapons material or preparing to do so.
The best-known one, at Yongbyon, has a functioning 5-megawatt plutonium reactor, a uranium enrichment grid with thousands of centrifuges and a light-water reactor that could be used for either military or civilian purposes.
The U.S. intelligence community also believes the North Koreans have a second centrifuge facility they have never acknowledged. Even if that second uranium facility is taken out of the equation, Albright’s team projects that North Korea will have enough material for 67 bombs in five years time.
The light-water reactor at Yongyon is not online yet, but it should be soon. Even if that reactor is never turned on or limited to civilian purposes, North Korea could still have 45 bombs by the time the next U.S. president is finishing up his (or her) first term.
North Korea is estimated to have 30 to 34 kg of weapons-grade plutonium now, enough for around nine nuclear weapons, depending on the size of each bomb. Last year it conducted its third nuclear weapons test.
Albright acknowledged that the secrecy of the North Korean program makes exact projections impossible and therefore his estimates all have a range to account for known unknowns, such as secret facilities. According to the detailed intelligence community budget leaked to the Washington Post in 2013 by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, North Korea’s nuclear program remains one of the hardest targets for U.S. spies as well.
But there’s no doubt about the North Korean government’s intentions, Albright said, to produce as much nuclear-weapons material as possible before it is forced to stop either by coercion or the resumption of a diplomatic negotiations with the West.
(Continued at the link below)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pressure is on the U.S to retaliate against Sony hackers, but who's behind attack?

I was interviewed by the CBC this morning. My portion comes on at about the 15:30 mark at the link below.

The guest before me, David Kennedy, makes a good case that the hackers benefited from inside information and noted that staff in the Sony CIO office were let go some months ago and speculates they may have contributed to the hack.


Pressure is on the U.S to retaliate against Sony hackers, but who's behind attack?

A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California December 11, 2014. (Reuters/Kevork Djansezian)
The movie "The Interview" is no longer coming to a theatre near you. The Sony Pictures flick about snubbing out North korea's leader Kim Jung-Un-- has apparently led to some very real life retaliation. But is the Hermit Kingdom really behind the Hack? And what kind of precedent is Sony Pictures setting by putting the film back in the can? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

North Korea has crossed the cyber red line by combining cyberattacks with the threat of terrorism – and the United States must respond

Georgetown Security Studies Program Alumni Jason Rivera offers some specific but understandable cyber responses.  We all throw out some general ideas (I am guilty as charged)  but Jason provides some specificity and with his background in cyber he knows what he is talking about.

Note also that Jason has looked at the nexus of cyber war and unconventional warfare.  His final paper from the class he took with with me is at footnote 6 below I recommend that unconventional warfare and cyber warfare practitioners take a look at it.

North Korea has crossed the cyber red line by combining cyberattacks with the threat of terrorism – and the United States must respond

North Korea has crossed the cyber red line by combining cyberattacks with the threat of terrorism – and the United States must respond
A screenshot from the initial cyberattack against Sony. Source:
By Jason Rivera
All views and concepts expressed in this article originate solely with the author and do not represent the official positions or opinions of Deloitte & Touche LLP, the US Army National Guard, or the US Department of Defense.

On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures first received indication that their networks were hacked when a picture of skeletal fingers appeared on the screens of employee computers accompanied by the message stating, “This is just the beginning”.[1] This was followed by a threat to release “top secrets” and sensitive internal data if the film The Interview was released.[2] The Interview is a fictional comedy film directed by Seth Rogan about a couple of journalists who have been instructed by US government officials to assassinate North Korean leader, Kim Jung-un, after landing an interview with him. Over the following weeks, scores of sensitive Sony intellectual property and personal data were released to include four Sony films (most notably, The Interview), personal information about Sony employees, and private emails between top Sony executives. Initially, a hacker group known as the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the Sony breach and stated that the breach was in response to Sony’s decision to release The Interview in theaters.[3]
The fact that Sony pictures was breached and the fact that a hacker group sympathetic to North Korea’s political regime is, relative to the history of other cyberattacks against US equities, irrelevant. What is relevant, however, are two revelations that recently surfaced:
  1. On 17 December 2014, Sony Pictures announced its intent to cancel the 25 December release of The Interview, following a decision made by major movie theater companies to drop the movie.[4]
  1. Later that same day, it was announced that American intelligence officials have discovered evidence that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the recent attacks on Sony Picture’s computers.[5]
At face value, this may not shock a lot of people. It has long been suspected that foreign actors have been targeting US government and economic interests through cyberspace. Some historical cyberattacks and/or cyber breaches by foreign actors include Chinese exfiltration of US intellectual property, Iranian hacking attempts against US military and government officials, and links to Russian hackers in light of the Target and Home Depot breaches. The recently revealed North Korean breach, however, crosses a cyberspace threshold that no other nation has crossed before:
By invoking the memory of 9/11 and by issuing direct threats stating that moviegoers would suffer a “bitter fate”, North Korea has not only conducted a devastating cyberattack, but has combined that attack with the threat of terrorism.
This event represents an important decision point for the United States government. Never before has a cyberattack been successfully combined with the threat of terrorism. Moreover, never before has a cyberattack against the United States critically affected the commercial sector’s decision to exercise its right to free speech as the attack against Sony has. This cyberattack represents the beginning of what could be a slippery slope and, if the United States does not respond, it may be followed by similar tactics used by state and non-state actors throughout the globe. If the United States wishes to prevent what could be a catastrophic cascade of cyberattacks combined with threats of terrorism, then the American nation must respond and it must respond now. Many of us, at this point, are probably thinking of additional sanctions. This, however, will not be enough to deter future attacks using similar tactics.
The United States should deliver a retaliatory response through cyberspace to the North Korean nation. This retaliatory attack should be targeted against North Korean leadership and should transmit a clear signal that the United States will not tolerate cyberattack tactics combined with the use of terrorist threats. Accordingly, the United States should consider response options designed to debilitate the North Korean regime in such a manner as to cause internal instability. Some response options that should be considered are as follows:
  • Response Option 1: North Korea’s population lives in abject poverty and is a ruled by a corrupt regime characterize by deeply seeded and fundamentally flawed political beliefs. To prevent the North Korean population from discovering its situation, and thereby rebelling, the North Korean regime completely controls Internet access to its entire population. Given the above, the United States should develop and deploy a cyber capability that can open up externally hosted search engines to the North Korean population that are outside of the jurisdiction of North Korean Internet service providers, thereby hampering the government’s censorship capabilities. The effect of such a capability would enable the North Korean population to have unrestricted access to information and contentious historical events. Such an operation would likely cause internal unrest in North Korea and would serve as a powerful deterrent against future activity.[6]
  • Response Option 2: North Korea’s political leaders are well known for their corrupt relationships with organized criminal enterprises. Given this information, the United States should deploy a cyber enabled information operations capability designed to publically expose this relationship to the North Korean population. The United States should deliver this information via any and all information communications technology platforms available to include (but not limited to):
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brief Thoughts on Responses to north Korean Cyber Terrorism

If it is north Korea how should we respond? Besides all the obvious ones (e.g., sanctions, statements of condemnation) here are a few for consideration.

There are four major diplomatic, economic/financial and military actions that can be taken to have a significant impact on Kim Jong-un's authority and the ability to keep the regime together.

One is to focus on the financial aspects of the regime's illicit activities and reprise the Banco Delta Asia actions but on a scale even greater than the $25 million.  Of course this would take Chinese agreement and tacit support.

The diplomatic action would be to persuade countries around the world where north Korean diplomats are conducting illicit activities to enforce their national laws and at a minimum declare them PNG and have them sent home or on the more extreme end incarcerate them for breaking national laws as they participate in drug trafficking, counterfeiting, and other illicit activities while hiding behind their diplomatic immunity.  The specific focus would be on Department 39.  Effective intelligence sharing and law enforcement activities could cripple the regime's ability to gain hard currency which could cause a loss of support among the regime elite and bring the regime to its knees.

The third action would be an aggressive enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).  Diplomatically the US should request all contributors to PSI to conduct enforcement actions together with the US to interdict the north's proliferation activities around the world which would also cut off the flow of hard currency to the regime as well as military material flowing to other bad actors.

The fourth would be to conduct cyber operations against north Korean commercial interests (illicit and front organizations) around the world (again this would reduce regime access to hard currency and resources).  Or as an alternative directly target the nKPA's hacking units and try to shut down their access to the internet (if that is possible).

These are some specific ways to get at the center of power of the regime and possibly influence regime behavior by creating a very painful existence for the regime and its elite.

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