North and South Korea are both showing off new weapons, but they’re trying to send very different messages

North Korea Kim Jong Un submarine
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un aboard a submarine in an undated photo released on June 16, 2014.

  • North Korea said it successfully tested a new, smaller submarine-launched ballistic missile on Tuesday.
  • South Korea has also been busy showing off its military prowess recently, but its defense ambitions are driven by several complex factors.

North Korea has announced that it successfully tested a new, smaller submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, on Tuesday.

State media claimed the missile – launched from the same submarine from which Pyongyang tested its first Pukguksong-1 SLBM in August 2016 – has “advanced control guidance technologies, including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility,” designed to make it harder to track and intercept.

The name of the submarine used for the launch-the “8.24 Yongung”-also seems noteworthy, as a reflection of the importance Pyongyang puts on this vessel: It means “hero” and apparently signifies the August 24 date of the 2016 SLBM launch.

The test is another sign that Pyongyang is trying to secure a second-strike capability – the ability to respond to a nuclear attack with its own nuclear weapons. The aim would be to protect the regime and perhaps even cause Washington to hesitate in defending Seoul in the event of an attack, for fear of possible North Korean SLBM strikes.

The launch came on the heels of an extravagant display of force the previous week. Pyongyang showed off some of its new weapons and military hardware on October 11, to mark the 76th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party the day before.

It’s a common ritual in the insular one-party state, but this year, the format was different. For the first time, new additions to the country’s arsenal were on display at a museum-style exhibition rather than a military parade or other major celebration.

North Korea submarine launched ballistic missile test
A new submarine-launched ballistic missile during a test in undated photos released by North Korea on October 19, 2021.

It appears Pyongyang is trying to instill a greater sense of national pride and patriotism in North Koreans about their country’s military might, while portraying itself to the world as a modern, normal state.

Clad in a Western-style suit, the young dictator Kim Jong Un explained in his commemoration speech that the “grand-scale exhibition, a crystallization of our Party’s revolutionary defense policy and its robust viability, is an epoch-making demonstration of our national strength no less significant than a large-scale military parade,” according to state media.

Billed as the “Defense Development Exhibition ‘Self-Defense 2021,'” the event boasted new weaponry that North Korean officials insist are meant for self-defense – to serve as a deterrent against the “hostile policy” of the United States.

On display were an intercontinental ballistic missile; a new hypersonic glide vehicle, a rail-mobile short-range ballistic missile and a long-range cruise missile, all of which Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested last month; and a submarine-launched ballistic missile – presumably the one it tested this week – among an array of other military hardware. These weapon systems, if deployed, could directly threaten South Korea, Japan and even the United States.

Clearly, the regime has been checking off Kim’s wish list that he disclosed at the 8th Party Congress in January, which included many of the weapon systems that were on display last week. Even if these weapons have not yet been perfected, the disclosure of their existence, not to mention the regime’s propaganda, provide ample indication of its intent.

It is only a matter of time until North Korea acquires the capability to reliably put these advanced weapons to practical use, even if that may seem like a fantasy for now.

Kim Jong Un meeting soldiers
Kim Jong Un meets fighter pilots at a defense development exhibition on October 11, 2021.

Of course, such technological perfection may not even be necessary for the time being. The ability to arm even a rudimentary hypersonic or ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead would still threaten South Korea and Japan. Even the perception of having that capability would provide Pyongyang with political leverage in future negotiations with Washington, as well as a measure of legitimacy and loyalty at home.

With the Biden administration continuing its overtures for dialogue, a defense expo achieves the same effect of a show of force without being seen as overtly provocative in the eyes of the international community. There may also be an element of trying to portray itself as a modern and prosperous nation despite North Korea’s economic difficulties amid its self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic and continued effects of international sanctions for its nuclear weapons development.

Moreover, calling the event “Self-Defense 2021” suggests there may be more shows to come in future years. Perhaps Pyongyang even envisions inviting foreign buyers and defense industry insiders to its expos in the distant future.

Ultimately, goose-stepping military parades are reminiscent of backward totalitarian regimes, particularly in the eyes of developed countries in the West, while defense exhibitions depict modern, wealthy states that are also militarily strong.

For example, South Korea grew out of its own military parades in the process of becoming a democracy, downsizing or canceling them in the 1990s and eventually replacing them with defense exhibitions and air shows. Seoul’s own biennial defense exhibition kicked off this week.

Seoul, for its part, has also been busy showing off its military prowess in recent months, testing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, rolling out plans for high-tech weapons development and increasing its military spending. The timing of the two Koreas’ weapons tests has raised concerns about a new arms race on the peninsula.

South Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile
South Korea’s first underwater-launched ballistic missile is test-fired from a submarine in South Korean waters, September 15, 2021.

However, the reality is that Seoul’s defense ambitions are driven by several complex factors and are not necessarily intended for escalating tensions with the North. Most of its weapons development plans were in place long before President Moon Jae-in took office, though Moon’s government seems to have accelerated a few of them, particularly Seoul’s naval capabilities.

More broadly, Moon’s political objective is to meet the necessary conditions to transfer wartime operational control, or OPCON, to South Korea from the United States and persuade US President Joe Biden to actively support Moon’s vision for inter-Korean peace by showing maximum flexibility in its approach to the North.

Seoul believes that developing more advanced weapons and boosting its military spending would demonstrate its seriousness about deterrence in the face of North Korean nuclear and missile threats, thereby meeting OPCON requirements.

One way to indicate high military spending, South Korean government insiders tell me, has been to shorten the time period necessary for some defense acquisition projects in the military’s budget proposals, which in effect increases yearly spending.

A successful OPCON transfer would also help Moon achieve his motto of “military sovereignty,” which is in line with South Korean progressives’ ideology of ridding the country of US influence and its reliance on Washington for national security.

Another underlying motivation for Seoul is to create an environment that enables Moon to leave behind a “Korean peace” legacy before his term ends next March. In remarks at the UN Generally Assembly last month, Moon reinvigorated his push for a declaration to formally end the Korean War, for which hostilities ceased in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

To this end, Seoul has been aiming for a summit among the leaders of the four main parties to the conflict – the two Koreas, the US and China – on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next February. However, North Korea has rejected Seoul’s proposal as purely symbolic, and Washington rightfully remains wary of signing a war-ending declaration with a state that continues to build up its nuclear weapons in contravention of numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Moon Jae-in South Korea KF-21 fighter jet
President Moon Jae-in in front of a prototype of South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, KF-21, at its rollout ceremony, April 9, 2021.

Still, South Korea remains hopeful, even as North Korea threatens further missile tests and nuclear weapons development. Employing parallel tactics of scorn and flattery, Pyongyang has also taken advantage of Moon’s desperation to secure his legacy by restoring an inter-Korean communication line and dangling hopes for a war-ending declaration and another inter-Korean summit – provided that Seoul works harder to satisfy the Kim regime and break with Washington.

Moon has met Kim in person three times during his presidency. One last inter-Korean summit would provide Moon with the justification needed to ratify the 2018 inter-Korean summit agreement in the National Assembly, where his ruling Democratic Party holds a supermajority. That would legally bind the next South Korean administration to Moon’s policy of maximum engagement without conditions with the North, which many conservative critics say could jeopardize South Korea’s national security.

A victory for Moon’s party in the presidential election next March, which Pyongyang is apparently trying to influence with its latest flattery, would also be a win for North Korea. This is because conservative South Korean governments tend to impose higher bars for inter-Korean engagement and denuclearization and are more closely aligned with the United States.

Against the backdrop of these security and political dynamics on the Korean Peninsula, the fundamental challenge for the Biden administration is to persuade the Kim regime to come back to the negotiating table and curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

However, Kim has so far rejected the Biden team’s overtures, and the chances to resume diplomacy are further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. Pyongyang’s refusal to return to direct talks any time soon and its unwillingness to even receive international humanitarian assistance are apparently due to fears of importing the virus.

The traditional method of sanctions enforcement against the North, aimed at halting the flow of funds that finance North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, has also become difficult to maintain due to the country’s self-isolation during the pandemic.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in stroll together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea
Kim and Moon at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, April 27, 2018.

Still, waiting patiently is not an option, as North Korea’s nuclear weapons program continues “full steam ahead,” as the International Atomic Energy Agency announced last month. In the near term, countries that are in contact with Pyongyang could help persuade the regime that there are safe methods to receive vaccines and humanitarian aid, as well as to conduct official discussions with US counterparts.

The Biden administration should continue with its overtures and consistent messages about meeting without preconditions and harboring no hostile intentions toward North Korea. Meanwhile, Washington and the international community should tighten sanctions against Pyongyang’s cybercrimes and punish third-party entities involved in trade and illicit financial activities with the regime. The exorbitant earnings from such activities have become a lucrative source of financing for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

At the same time, Washington should prepare a strategy for when the pandemic subsides or when North Korea appears ready to engage once more. Challenges still loom because Pyongyang continues to maintain that its preconditions for dialogue include the removal of international sanctions, as well as an end to US-South Korean military drills and criticisms of Pyongyang’s human-rights violations – all of which remain nonstarters for the Biden administration.

Even if diplomacy resumes in earnest, the road ahead will be dotted with landmines. Yet inaction and the absence of bold initiatives toward denuclearization and peace will yield even bigger problems.

Duyeon Kim is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, based in Seoul. She specializes in the Korean Peninsula, East Asian relations, nuclear nonproliferation, arms control and security regimes.

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Netflix isn’t available in China but that hasn’t stopped businesses there from cashing in on the ‘Squid Game’ frenzy with merch

squid game
  • Businesses in China are capitalizing on the “Squid Game” phenomenon.
  • The South Korean show is a hit in China even though the streaming service is not available in the country.
  • South Korea’s ambassador to China said he has asked authorities to take action against illegal distribution of the show.

Netflix’s “Squid Game” is a hit in China, with related products and merch flying off the shelves – despite the streaming service being unavailable in the country.

Chinese viewers have instead been watching the hit South Korean show – Netflix’s most popular show ever – through VPNs, unofficial streaming services, and file-sharing, keeping discussions on the show alive and trending on social media.

The show has become popular enough in China that Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, recorded 1.9 billion mentions of it, according to the South China Morning Post.

In the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai, shops have jumped on the dalgona bandwagon. The sweet honeycomb-based candy features prominently in one of the show’s deadly challenges.

In the capital city of Beijing, a bakery started a “Squid Game”-themed confection-making challenge, Reuters reported.

The owner of DIY Bakery & More told Reuters that her customers are mainly young people – a key demographic of the show’s fan base.

Shop selling Squid Game themed dalgona sugar candy in Shanghai, China.
Customers flocking to a shop in Shanghai, China selling dalgona sugar candy featured in Netflix’s “Squid Game.”

In Shanghai, long queues formed at an eatery selling dalgonas, reported AFP.

Avid fans took photos with the shop’s “Squid Game”-themed signs, the outlet reported, and like in one of the challenges in the series, attempted to cut shapes from the candy without breaking them.

Chinese manufacturers are also trying to keep up with relentless orders for “Squid Game” merchandise ahead of Halloween.

At the world’s largest wholesale market in the city of Yiwu, manufacturers told China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper they’ve been swamped with orders for the masks worn by “Squid Game” monitors in the show. Demand for mask molds has also soared.

One wholesale toy shop, Huayu Toys, told the newspaper it has been selling more than 10,000 masks a day since the beginning of October, with exports accounting for about 80% of sales.

But ongoing electricity curbs are limiting production, the wholesalers said.

Shop in Yiwu, China selling Squid Game merchandise
Costumes and masks inspired by “Squid Game” at a wholesale market in Yiwu, China.

Despite “Squid Game’s” runaway success in China, South Korea’s ambassador to China is reportedly not amused by the show’s proliferation across non-official channels.

The South Korean envoy told a parliamentary audit recently that he had asked Chinese authorities to take action against the piracy, AFP reported.

“Our assessment is that ‘Squid Game,’ which is gaining global popularity, is being illegally distributed on around 60 sites in China,” Jang Ha-sung said, according to the outlet.

The series is unlikely to be officially available in China, experts told the South China Morning Post, citing the show’s violence and its themes of socioeconomic inequality, which are likely to rile Chinese censors.

And even if the show were to ever find an official Chinese distributor, it would probably be stripped of many of its core components.

“A clean version of “Squid Game?” It would not be the same drama,” Hye-Kyung Lee, a researcher of K-dramas at King’s College London told SCMP. “I am not sure if this drama will ever pass Chinese censorship, as there are too many killings and there is a lot of extreme [content], which is essential for the storyline.”

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South Korea just launched itself into a very exclusive club. Here’s why its new sub-launched missile sets it apart.

South Korean navy submarine surfacing
A South Korean Navy’s Type 209-class submarine surfaces during the international fleet review near Busan, October 7, 2008.

  • On September 15, a South Korean submarine successfully test-launched a domestically built ballistic missile.
  • That test puts South Korea into the club of now eight countries with SLBM capability and makes it the only member without nuclear weapons.
  • It may also open a new phase in South Korea’s arms race with North Korea.

On September 15, the South Korean navy made history when it successfully launched its own domestically built submarine-launched ballistic missile from its first Dosan Ahn Changho-class submarine.

With that test, South Korea joins the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, and North Korea in the club of nations with SLBM capability, becoming the only member that doesn’t possess nuclear weapons.

The new capability is yet another attained by South Korea’s increasingly modern and sophisticated military, and it is only the latest milestone for the country’s rapidly developing domestic defense industry.

It may also represent a new phase in South Korea’s arms race with North Korea, which has responded with new missile tests of its own.

An exclusive club

South Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile
South Korea’s first underwater-launched ballistic missile is test-fired from a sub in South Korean waters, September 15, 2021.

The September 15 test, which President Moon Jae-in attended, was actually the third and final one of South Korea’s SLBM program.

The first test, conducted in July, involved firing an SLBM from a submerged barge. It was followed two months later by a second “cold launch” test from the Dosan Ahn Changho, a diesel-electric sub commissioned in August.

The missiles in all tests were Hyunmoo-4-4s, a variant of the Hyunmoo-2B designed to be fired from submarines. The Hyunmoo-2B has a maximum range of 800 km, though the missile used in the third test reportedly only flew 400 km.

With the Biden and Moon administrations agreeing to lift restrictions on the range of South Korean missiles in May, South Korea’s navy will likely field SLBMs with longer ranges in the future.

South Korea’s government has argued that it is actually the seventh country to achieve SLBM capability, as North Korea hasn’t clearly demonstrated that its active or under-development ballistic-missile subs are actually capable of launching any of its much-touted Pukguksong series of SLBMs.

Second-strike capability

A missile is seen launched during a drill of the Railway Mobile Missile Regiment in North Korea
A missile is seen launched during a drill by North Korea’s Railway Mobile Missile Regiment in September 2021.

South Korea’s military is already considered superior to that of the North, but North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal, currently estimated to be between 67 and 116 warheads, could level the playing field in a conflict.

South Korea has invested heavily in modern, high-end military hardware, part of an effort to compensate for demographic shifts that will likely shrink the overall size of its military.

But that hardware – such as fighter jets and warships – are often in fixed locations that are known to North Korea. South Korea’s missile batteries and other ground assets are also at risk of discovery by North Korean spies.

As a result, there is a huge risk that South Korea’s most important military equipment could be destroyed in a preemptive nuclear attack by North Korea.

“A fundamental part of [North Korea’s] doctrine is surprise,” Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told Insider. “If they are going to try and get that surprise, South Korea may get very little warning.”

To better defend against such an attack, Dosan Ahn Changho-class subs, originally envisioned as cruise-missile submarines, were redesigned to carry six SLBMs. A ballistic missile could reach targets deep inside North Korea in minutes, while a cruise missile, which flies closer to the ground, could take as long as an hour depending on where it’s launched.

“If they’ve got to preempt the North Korean preemption, they’ve got to have a ballistic missile,” Bennett said.

Dosan Ahn Changho-class subs can also stay underwater for extended periods, giving South Korea a nearly guaranteed way to strike back if attacked.

“You can’t follow the submarines,” Bennett said. “It’s a secure second-strike force.”

‘A hedge against the future’

North Korea missile launch
An underwater-launched missile emerges off the North Korean coastal town of Wonsan, October 2, 2019.

Predictably, North Korea has not taken kindly to South Korea’s SLBM development.

On September 11 and 12, it conducted a series of long-range missile tests – its first in six months – with new cruise missiles that flew 1,500 km, the maximum range of South Korea’s cruise missiles.

Just hours before the scheduled launch of South Korea’s SLBM, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles from train cars in the country’s mountains. The missiles traveled 800 km before crashing into the into the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Pyongyang has tried to minimize South Korea’s SLBM test. North Korean state media has questioned its authenticity and claimed the missile “will not be effective in war” and has “no strategic or tactical value.”

On September 15, after Moon called South Korea’s missile capabilities a “sure deterrence” against North Korean attacks, Kim Jong Un’s sister responded by threatening the “complete destruction” of bilateral relations, describing Moon’s comments as “slander and detraction.”

Finally, at the end of September, North Korea launched the Hwasong-8, which it called a hypersonic missile, and followed it a day later with a test of a new surface-to-air missile.

North Korea Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile
A Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile is test-fired by North Korea,September 29, 2021.

North Korea’s missile tests may be an attempt to demonstrate parity with South Korea’s missile capabilities, while state media may have downplayed the SLBM test in an attempt to distract from North Korea’s lack of progress on its own ballistic-missile subs.

South Korea’s military said the Hwasong-8 appears to be early in development with “considerable time” needed before it could be deployed. But North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal coupled with the threat of hypersonic weapons, which are virtually impossible to intercept because of their speed and maneuverability, have only increased tensions.

Some South Korean officials have even called for again allowing US forces to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea or for developing its own nuclear weapons.

If Seoul did develop its own nuclear weapons, Dosan Ahn Changho-class subs and the Hyunmoo-4-4 missiles would already be able to carry the warheads.

“If you’re going to build your own nuclear weapons, what a great idea to have this submarine ready, to have the missile ready, and only have to build the nuclear warhead and put it on a missile and be set to go,” Bennett said. “It’s a hedge against the future.”

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Universal basic income could become a reality in South Korea under a presidential candidate who once likened himself to Bernie Sanders

FILE PHOTO: South Korea's Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung speaks during an interview with Reuters in Seuwon, South Korea, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Daewoung Kim
South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung speaks during an interview with Reuters in Seuwon.

  • Lee Jae-myung, a South Korean presidential candidate, is pushing for universal basic income.
  • The candidate touted a five-year plan to give residents 500,000 won, or $420, each month.
  • Universal basic income is rising in prominence in the US, with some cities implementing similar programs.

South Korea could become the first Asian country to implement universal basic income if the Democratic presidential candidate wins the upcoming election.

Lee Jae-myung, who won the Democratic Party’s primary race this past weekend and once said he aspired to be “a successful Bernie Sanders,” touted guaranteed monthly payments, no strings attached, for South Koreans should he win the presidential election. Under his five-year plan, South Koreans would initially receive a 1 million won, or $840, annual payment that would be expanded over the years until residents would get monthly payments of 500,000 won, or $420.

“Real freedom is possible only when basic life conditions are guaranteed in all areas including income, housing and financing,” Lee said during his acceptance speech on Sunday.

He added that he will work to “root out unfairness, inequality and corruption” and restore economic equality in the region.

The 57-year-old is currently governor of South Korea’s most populous Gyeonggi province, which surrounds Seoul, and during the pandemic, all residents in his jurisdiction received regular payments to help them remain financially stable in the midst of COVID-19.

But some critics are unsure how plausible implementing a universal basic income would be in South Korea, with some economists telling the Financial Times that guaranteed monthly payments would produce a “steroid effect,” but might not help root out economic inequality in the long-term.

Still, universal basic income is picking up steam globally. Insider previously reported on the growing number of cities and states in the US implementing versions of guaranteed payment programs, with California recently launching the nation’s largest statewide universal basic income program prioritized for pregnant people and those aging out of the foster system.

Some lawmakers in the US want it to become a permanent feature of America’s economy.

After the pandemic spurred Congress to approve three stimulus checks for Americans, some Democrats called to continue those checks well beyond the end of the pandemic, and in late March, amid infrastructure negotiations, 21 Democratic senators urged President Joe Biden in a letter to include recurring direct payments in his infrastructure plan, saying that when checks ran out after the CARES Act, poverty rose.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk even joined the conversation, saying during an August presentation that the rise of robots might compromise jobs that humans currently do, necessitating a form of guaranteed income.

“Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice,” Musk said during the presentation. “This is why I think long term there will need to be a universal basic income,” he added.

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South Korea’s first transgender soldier posthumously wins case against the army over her ‘illegal’ discharge

Byun Hee-Soo cries during a press conference
Byun Hee-soo weeps during a press conference at the Center for Military Human Right Korea in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.

  • Byun Hee-soo, South Korea’s first transgender soldier, was dismissed after undergoing gender confirmation surgery.
  • She was found dead in her apartment in March, and reports say she died by suicide.
  • A court has ruled that her dismissal was illegal and that the army should rescind the wrongful discharge.

South Korea’s first transgender soldier has posthumously won a court case against the nation’s army over her “illegal” dismissal, Pink News reported.

The Daejeon District Court ruled on Thursday that it was unlawful for the army to forcibly discharge the former staff sergeant Byun Hee-soo, who was a tank driver in the South Korean army, following her gender confirmation surgery last year.

The court also ruled that she was clearly a female by law and ordered that the army rescind the wrongful discharge, according to reports.

Byun was dismissed from the military following her decision to undergo gender confirmation surgery in Thailand last year while on leave, Reuters reported. She had expressed a desire to continue serving in the female corps following the surgery.

South Korea prohibits transgender people from joining the military and rejected her petition for reinstatement in July last year, per ABC News.

Military officials argued that her loss of male genitalia amounted to a mental and physical disability, Vice reported.

At the time, Byun protested the dismissal and vowed to “challenge the decision until the end.” She launched a legal battle in August 2020, arguing that the army’s treatment of her was unconstitutional.

She was found dead in her apartment, aged 23, in March 2021. Although reports have not confirmed her cause of death, it has been reported that she died by suicide. Her family took over the late soldier’s case.

South Korea’s army has said that it respects the decision but it has not yet decided whether it will appeal the ruling, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.

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The maker of the dalgona candies for ‘Squid Game’ was so swamped with customers that he didn’t go home for a week

squid game
Players had to carve out shapes etched into the dalgona candies in “Squid Game.”

  • The candy seller who made dalgona for “Squid Game” saw a resurgence in customers after the show aired.
  • In “Squid Game,” debt-laden contestants competed in lethal children’s games for a cash prize.
  • In the show, players had to carve out designs etched into the candy and were shot if the candy cracked.

The candy seller who made dalgona, a sugary toffee candy, for Netflix’s “Squid Game” was so swamped with customers after a resurgence in interest that he didn’t go home for a full week to keep up with the demand, Reuters reported.

In the hit dystopian thriller “Squid Game,” debt-strapped contestants must compete in a series of deadly children’s games for the chance at winning a $38 million cash prize. In a game on the third episode of the show, contestants must try to carve out a shape etched into the brittle candy with a needle and are shot by guards if the candy cracks.

In the show, the candies came in the shapes of an umbrella, a star, a circle, and a triangle. An Yong-hui, the dalgona maker for “Squid Game,” said he sold 200 candies a day before the show debuted on Sept. 17. Now, he sells over 500 a day for about $1.68 each, with a buy-one-get-one deal if customers don’t crack the first candy, according to Reuters.

The candy is a classic Korean snack sold by street vendors, and is made by melting sugar and pouring in baking soda. Cutting out the shapes stamped in the candies with needles or toothpicks in the hopes of getting a second candy is a popular children’s game.

As the popularity of “Squid Game” grows, tutorials for how to make the sugary treat have proliferated through the internet and accumulated tens of thousands of views on Youtube.

On TikTok, #dalgonachallenge has millions of views, with users posting videos of themselves making the snack and attempting to carve out a perfect shape.

“I wanted to see if I would survive this round in ‘Squid Game,'” one TikTok user said. “When I was watching the show, I was thinking, ‘How hard can this be?’ Like it’s already pre-cut, right?”

The video ends with the user accidentally snapping off the tip of a star shape they were supposed to cut out and a clip of a red guard from the show shooting a gun.

While the candies are relatively easy to make, you can also get dalgona-making kits and the candies themselves on Amazon.

“Squid Game” is one of the most-watched TV shows on Netflix, and the company predicts it will become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows of all time.

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Costumes from Netflix’s dystopian show ‘Squid Game’ are poised to take over Halloween this year. Here’s how to get yours.

A triangle pink jacket with a gun in "Squid Game"
  • After debuting on Netflix on Sept. 17, “Squid Game” is already the source for many Halloween costumes.
  • “Squid Game” is a popular thriller, where contestants compete in children’s games with fatal consequences.
  • With no officially licensed costume, tutorials abound online on how to DIY one.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Netflix’s “Squid Game,” a violent, dystopian, and hugely popular thriller, has already inspired countless Halloween costumes, with DIY tutorials abounding on the internet and costumes flooding Amazon.

In the South Korean survival drama, debt-laden contestants play children’s games in the hopes of winning an enormous cash prize, but face lethal consequences if they lose. The show features a handful of simple, recognizable costumes that are easy to replicate, including the green, numbered jumpsuits contestants wear, the red jumpsuits worn by guards, and the black costume worn by a mysterious front man character who watches the murderous show from behind the scenes.

Hashtags related to “Squid Game” Halloween costumes already have nearly a million views on TikTok, where users create tutorials on how to assemble the outfits for cheap.

One Tik Tok user utilized anti-fog goggles, white tape, and a red suit from “Money Heist,” another popular foreign language drama on Netflix, to create their costume.

Amazon is also filled with listings for numbered tracksuits, red jumpsuits, and black masks, which each item typically clocking in at around $20 to $30.

Fans of “Squid Game” can also grab any greenish-blue tracksuit and iron on their favorite character’s player number or wear a yellow shirt under a red dress with knee-high socks to play the show’s creepy robot doll, who initiates the fatal red light, green light game.

Though Netflix hasn’t released any official costumes, the “Squid Game” official merch store includes green and white T-shirts customizable with the number of your favorite player and hoodies customizable with the guards’ ranks (either squares, triangles, or circles).

“Accept the invitation at your own risk,” the website said. “If you’re like us and love ‘Squid Game,’ you’ve come to the right place – and the stakes aren’t as high.”

In addition, the white slip-on Vans that look similar to the sneakers worn by contestants in the TV show have seen a 7,800% surge in sales, Variety reports, and the term “white slip-ons” saw a 97% increase in search volume.

Netflix’s online store also includes merchandise for other Netflix hits, like Lupin, Sex Education, and The Witcher.

Netflix predicts “Squid Game” will become one of the streaming service’s most popular TV series of all time, and the show has already surpassed “Bridgerton” in online audience engagement. The show has also impressed critics, and it boasts a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score.

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How a surprise invasion deep behind enemy lines turned the tide in the US’s first Cold War conflict

US Army soldiers land at Inchon during Korea War
US soldiers land at Incheon, September 18, 1950.

  • In September 1950, three months after the North Korean invasion, South Korean troops and their allies held just a corner of the peninsula.
  • Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of UN forces in Korea, knew the pressure needed to be relieved.
  • MacArthur devised a bold plan to land thousands of troops at Incheon – 150 miles behind enemy lines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On the morning of September 15, 1950, as US and Royal Navy warships fired at targets ashore, US Marines boarded landing craft and assaulted Wolmido, a small fortified island at the mouth of Incheon harbor.

The North Korean invasion three months earlier had devastated the South Korea army, pushing it into a last bastion in the southeastern corner of the peninsula.

The Marines landing at the port of Incheon were part of a 40,000-strong landing force with a critical objective: liberate the city and open a second front.

It was the largest amphibious invasion since D-Day, and like that operation, it would turn the tide of the war. Nothing less than the fate of South Korea was at stake.

Pusan Perimeter

US soldiers fighting on Pusan Perimeter during Korean War
US soldiers fire at North Korean positions along the Pusan Perimeter, September 4, 1950.

The situation in South Korea in September 1950 was perilous. The North Korean offensive launched on June 25 was too strong for South Korea’s military to fight off alone, and Seoul was captured in just three days.

On June 27, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 83, which condemned the North Korean action as a “breach of the peace” and called for the world to assist South Korea. Resolution 84, passed on July 7, designated the US as the leader of military operations to save South Korea.

Ultimately, 21 countries contributed to the US-led effort. It was the Cold War’s first hot conflict.

The first American soldiers arrived in early July, but due to equipment and supply shortages as a result of the downsizing of the US military after World War II, they were unable to reverse North Korea’s gains.

By August, communist forces held all but a 100-mile by 50-mile area around the port city of Busan that was known as the “Pusan Perimeter,” where UN and South Korean forces desperately held off repeated KPA attacks.

‘I shall crush them’

Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Incheon invasion
MacArthur and other officers observe the shelling of Incheon from the USS Mount McKinley, September 15, 1950.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the famed American general in charge of UN forces in Korea, knew the pressure needed to be taken off the Pusan Perimeter.

He devised a bold plan for an amphibious operation to land thousands of troops at Incheon – 150 miles behind enemy lines.

Incheon was on the opposite side of the peninsula and only 20 miles from Seoul, which meant UN forces could land, liberate the capital, and launch a pincer attack that would surround the KPA on two sides.

It would not be easy. Incheon’s tide fell as much as 36 feet twice a day, exposing completely impassable mudflats for 12 hours. Moreover, the city had seawalls as high as 12 feet in some places, and the KPA had turned Wolmido into a fortress.

Troops assaulting in the morning waves would have to wait 12 hours for reinforcements, and those arriving in the evening would have only 30 minutes of daylight to secure their objectives.

“We drew up a list of every natural and geographic handicap – and Inchon had ’em all,” one staff officer wrote later.

“Make up a list of amphibious ‘don’ts,’ and you have an exact description of the Inchon operation” another officer recalled.

MacArthur was undeterred. He knew such an operation would be “sort of helter-skelter” but believed it would be the kind of surprise that could win the war.

“We must act now or we will die,” he told his staff at a planning conference. “We shall land at Inchon, and I shall crush them.”

Operation Chromite

US Marines land at Inchon
First Lt. Baldomero Lopez leads Marines over the seawall in the second assault wave at Incheon, September 15, 1950.

MacArthur’s plan, dubbed “Operation Chromite,” was approved and assigned a massive force of 40,000 men and 230 ships.

UN aircraft and warships bombed and shelled cities, bridges, and railways across Korea in the weeks before the battle, hoping to distract the KPA from the true target.

Air attacks on Incheon began on September 10. On September 13, two days of naval bombardment began, with particular attention to Wolmido, the first target for capture. Despite the intensity of the bombardment, three destroyers were damaged by return fire from coastal artillery.

On September 15, the first landing craft arrived at Wolmido. With support from 10 tanks, the Marines were able to quickly take the island with only 17 wounded.

They waited 12 hours before the second wave arrived, which landed Marines at beaches north and south of Incheon. As the Marines pushed into the city, they were constantly supported by fire from cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers.

The Marines were able to secure the harbor by September 16. There were a few pockets of heavy resistance during the initial landings but mostly light resistance in the city itself. US troops quickly moved to the surrounding hills, taking Kimpo Airfield on September 18 and turning it into an airbase.

The KPA were completely surprised, and the diversionary tactics added to the confusion. The KPA sent tanks to slow down the Americans, but they were no match for UN forces. By September 19, Incheon was secure.

Three more years

Marines fighting in Seoul during Korean War
US Marines engaged in street fighting during the liberation of Seoul, September 1950.

Operation Chromite was a massive success. With Incheon liberated, UN forces headed to Seoul. It was retaken within two weeks of the landings, despite desperate KPA resistance.

The invasion of Incheon and liberation of Seoul resulted in about 3,500 casualties for UN forces. KPA casualties, meanwhile, were estimated to be roughly 14,000 dead and 7,000 captured.

The KPA was outflanked and soon forced into complete retreat. On September 23, UN forces at Pusan began pushing north to link up with troops at Incheon and Seoul.

Allied airpower, operating from Kimpo, other airfields in South Korea, and Japan, as well as from nearby carriers, continued to attack KPA positions virtually unchallenged.

By the end of September, the remnants of the KPA had retreated back across the 38th Parallel. It was a stunning reversal, but the war was far from over.

MacArthur, buoyed by his victory and determined to push the communists out of Korea, was allowed to advance north of the 38th Parallel.

Worried about the loss of an ally, the Soviets and Chinese increased their support. The Chinese officially joined the war in October, and Soviet fighter pilots began engaging UN aircraft in November.

There would be another three years of bloodshed before the war ended in a stalemate that persists to this day.

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Trump reportedly called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a ‘lunatic’: book

Trump, Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjom, Korea, on June 30, 2019.

  • Former President Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un “a fucking lunatic,” according to a new book.
  • The comment was reportedly made in the presence of Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a staunch ally of Trump.
  • While Trump and Kim managed to mend fences, their earlier exchanges featured a furious war of words.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Despite the public show of affection between former President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as they sought to propel the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the former president made a less-than-flattering comment about the leader during his time in office, according to an upcoming book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Insider obtained an early copy of the book, “Peril,” which at one point details the relationship between Trump and Ret. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a staunch ally of the then-president who also worked as the national security advisor for then-Vice President Mike Pence.

According to the book, the president had a high comfort level with Kellogg, who “had the kind of look Trump liked for his generals,” possessing a “straight jaw” and “a gruff manner of speaking.” Trump reportedly felt at ease cursing around the retired lieutenant general, and one day, Kim was the target of his ire.

“I’m dealing with a fucking lunatic,” Trump reportedly said during a meeting with Kellogg regarding his relationship with the North Korean leader.

The book did not say when the statement was made, but Kellogg became Pence’s national security advisor in April 2018, the same month as the historic inter-Korean summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Kellogg served in that capacity until January 2021.

The authors write that Kellogg was “torn between two worlds” as part of the Pence orbit, as well as Trump World.

“I make no bones about it. I’m a Trump loyalist,” Kellogg reportedly told others, despite his post in Pence’s office.

While the Trump administration early on sought to thaw their relationship with Kim, the pathway to doing so was not easy.

In September 2017, Trump called Kim “rocket man,” which set off a stream of insults between the two men.

According to The Washington Post, the then-president remarked that he felt as though the comment could be taken as a compliment and not in a derogatory manner.

However, Trump previously called Kim a “maniac” who “actually has nuclear weapons” during a GOP presidential debate in September 2015.

In February 2016, he said that Kim was “a bad dude” who shouldn’t be underestimated, and added: “I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.”

Kim was no slouch in the insult department, calling Trump “a mentally deranged US dotard” in September 2017 after the then-president threatened to “totally destroy” nuclear-armed North Korea as he gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician,” Kim said in response to Trump’s comments.

While the relationship between the two men grew stronger over time, their push for a peace treaty did not produce a concrete deal that would lock in North Korea’s denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief.

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North and South Korea fired off ballistic missiles just hours apart in dueling weapons tests

People watch a TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missiles with file image, in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021
People watch a TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea’s missiles with file image, in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

  • North and South Korea conducted ballistic missile tests hours apart on Wednesday.
  • North Korea tested what the South Korean military identified as short-range ballistic missiles.
  • South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Both North and South Korea conducted ballistic missile tests within hours of one another on Wednesday, raising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea launched what the South Korean military identified as two short-range ballistic missiles just after noon (local time), NK News reported, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The missiles flew about 500 miles and landed in the East Sea.

The ballistic missile test comes on the heels of another test conducted over the weekend involving long-range cruise missiles, what North Korean state media calls a “strategic weapon” and claimed flew 930 miles, giving it the ability to range targets throughout Japan.

North Korea’s Academy of Defense Science said the cruise missiles are “another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces against the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” CNN reported.

North Korea has not yet commented publicly on its latest ballistic missile test.

Though the US military said the missiles posed no “immediate threat” to the US or its allies, it noted that North Korea’s activities “highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program.” A US State Department spokesperson told Reuters that the US condemns the ballistic missile test, which violated UN Security Council resolutions.

In this image taken from video provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, South Korea's first underwater-launched ballistic missile is test-fired from a 3,000-ton-class submarine at an undisclosed location in the waters of South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021
In this image taken from video provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, South Korea’s first underwater-launched ballistic missile is test-fired from a 3,000-ton-class submarine at an undisclosed location in the waters of South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

On the other side of the peninsula, just hours after the North Korea test, South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile involving the new Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said in a statement that “possessing a SLBM has significant meaning in securing deterrence against omni-directional threats, and it is expected to play a key role in building self-defence capability and peace on the Korean peninsula,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

South Korea joins the ranks of the US, Russia, China, India, France, and the UK in the successful development and testing of SLBM technology, typically viewed as a stealthy and more survivable launch platform that gives rivals one more reason not to attack for fear of a counter-attack. North Korea has developed SLBMs, but they have only been tested from submerged testing platforms, not actual submarines.

Speaking at the test site, Moon said that South Korea’s “enhanced missile power can be a sure-fire deterrent to North Korea’s provocation.”

In the wake of Moon’s comments suggesting that improved missile technology would provide sufficient deterrence against North Korea, Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, warned in a media statement of the “complete destruction” of inter-Korean relations if South Korea continues to slander North Korea, the AP reported.

North and South Korean ties have been strained since a push for diplomatic engagement fell apart last year.

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