It sounds like a doomsday scenario drawn up by strategists at the height of the Cold War. … Chinese armies move south into the Korean peninsula and collide with American and South Korean forces moving north. The resulting clashes spark war between nuclear-armed superpowers. … A new report says such a confrontation is still a real danger in the event of a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime. … The report produced by the US research institute, the Rand Corporation, says that North Korea is a failing state that could fall apart at any moment. … It says agreement is urgently needed between Washington and Beijing on contingency plans - including setting up a temporary line of division inside North Korea to keep their armies apart. … Analysts have been predicting the imminent collapse of North Korea for the last two decades.
A veritable prince of the realm in Korea and supremely well connected among the global elite, Lee, who has a net worth of around $8 billion, nevertheless is not widely known outside his native land. At home, Lee’s life as a single dad and the next-generation leader of Samsung makes him a boldface name. Even in Korea, however, it isn’t well understood exactly what he does. That’s partly because he has long been overshadowed by his larger-than-life father, Lee Kun-hee, chairman of the Samsung Group. ... The younger Lee’s profile is about to grow dramatically. In recent months he has made himself more visible, implicitly acknowledging that he is now the leader of the Lee clan and its business interests. The elder Lee, age 73 and Samsung’s chief for nearly 30 years, suffered a heart attack 14 months ago. He has been hospitalized ever since—at the same Samsung-owned facility where the MERS crisis began—and his condition is believed to be so grave that he cannot communicate and isn’t expected to recover. In other words, the man who built Samsung into a global powerhouse in everything from semiconductors to TVs to mobile phones has all but left the scene. And he has been succeeded—in actions, if not yet in title—by his relatively untested only son. ... A sense of healthy paranoia pervades Samsung that an insular mentality and a reliance on commodity products won’t serve it as well in the future as they have in the past. Samsung executives frequently reference the downfall of once-powerful Japanese electronics rivals such as Sony and Sharp.
CATL, which had capacity to produce 7.6 gigawatt hours of batteries last year according to Goldman Sachs, says that by 2020 it plans to produce more than the gigafactory, the Tesla Motors and Panasonic joint venture that opened in Nevada in January and is expected to be the largest producer in the US. That would potentially make it the biggest battery factory in the world. ... Backed by aggressive government policies —ranging from subsidies for electric vehicles to restrictions on foreign rivals — China’s battery companies are beginning to dominate an industry which has been led for three decades by South Korean and Japanese manufacturers such as Panasonic, which makes the battery cells for Tesla cars. ... As carmakers invest more heavily in electric vehicles the lithium-ion battery will be a key technology for at least the next decade ... worth $40bn by 2025 and dominated by China.
Kim’s regime may be evil and deluded, but it’s not stupid. It has made sure that the whole world knows its aims, and it has carried out public demonstrations of its progress, which double as a thumb in the eye of the U.S. and South Korea. The regime has also moved its medium-range No-dong and Scud missiles out of testing and into active service, putting on displays that show their reach—which now extends to South Korean port cities and military sites, as well as to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan. ... In short, North Korea is a problem with no solution … except time. ... True, time works in favor of Kim getting what he wants. Every test, successful or not, brings him closer to building his prized weapons. When he has nuclear ICBMs, North Korea will have a more potent and lethal strike capability against the United States and its allies, but no chance of destroying America, or winning a war, and therefore no better chance of avoiding the inevitable consequence of launching a nuke: national suicide. Kim may end up trapped in the circular logic of his strategy. He seeks to avoid destruction by building a weapon that, if used, assures his destruction.
Striving for perfection in mind, body and spirit is a Korean way of life, and the cult of endless self-improvement begins as early as the hagwons, the cram schools that keep the nation’s children miserable and sleep-deprived, and sends a sizable portion of the population under the plastic surgeon’s knife. ... I have come to South Korea to find out just how close humanity is to transforming everyday life by relying on artificial intelligence and the robots that increasingly possess it, and by insinuating smart technology into every aspect of life, bit by bit. Fifty years ago, the country was among the poorest on earth, devastated after a war with North Korea. Today South Korea feels like an outpost from the future, while its conjoined twin remains trapped inside a funhouse mirror, unable to function as a modern society, pouring everything it has into missile tests and bellicose foreign policy. Just 35 miles south of the fragile DMZ, you’ll find bins that ask you (very politely) to fill them with trash, and automated smart apartments that anticipate your every need. ... The automation of society seems to feed directly into the longing for perfection; a machine will simply do things better and more efficiently, whether scanning your license plate or annihilating you at a Go tournament. ... the mood is not one of luxury and happy success but of exhaustion and insecurity.
Prosecutors claim that what the FBI seized that day represents a fraction of the ill-gotten funds that tie Mitchell Zong to a spectacular transnational sanctions-evasion scheme, one that laundered more than $1 billion in Iranian government funds over a mere six-month period in 2011. ... And the unlikely figure at the center of this story—which encompasses shadowy Iranian businessmen based in the Middle East and Caucasus; high-ranking South Korean state banking officials; an Iranian-American airline magnate whose planes have been linked to covert work for the U.S. government, including the CIA; the difficult politics of multilateral sanctions; the abstruse world of illicit finance; and laundered property and goods spread across three U.S. states—is a septuagenarian Alaskan ex-salmon exporter and restaurateur, Mitchell’s father, Kenneth Keun Zong. ... the Zong case shows just how fraught this process can be, even when the international community is relatively united, as it was regarding Iran’s nuclear program during the Obama years. Even then, a single U.S. citizen, allegedly aided by bankers and government officials of one of America’s closest allies, was able to puncture the sanctions regime with unsettling ease.