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Poles Apart: North and South Korea Take Opposite Sides Over Ukraine

© RIA Novosti . Andrey Stenin / Go to the mediabankSituation in Donetsk Region
Situation in Donetsk Region - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.10.2022
While Western media repeat uncorroborated intelligence claims that Russia is buying munitions from North Korea for its military operation in Ukraine, Seoul has funnelled tens of millions in aid — and is profiting by selling weaponry to NATO members who are in turn arming the Kiev regime.
North and South Korea have been divided since the Cold War — and now take diametrically-opposed stances on the conflict in Ukraine.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was one of the first countries after Russia to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples' Republics (DPR and LPR) — prompting Kiev to sever diplomatic relations.
It was one of just four members of the United Nations — along with fellow targets of Western sanctions Belarus, Nicaragua and Syria — to oppose the October 12 UN General Assembly motion which rejected the recent overwhelming votes by residents of the DPR and LPR and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions of Ukraine to become new regions of Russia.
Dermot Hudson, chairman of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) UK, told Sputnik that the two states on the Korean peninsula could not be further apart in their stance on the Russian special military operation in Ukraine.

The DPRK "supports self-determination of all peoples," Hudson says, "therefore it recognized the democratic will of the people in Donbass and other regions to integrate into the Russian Federation."

By contrast, the southern Republic of Korea (RoK) has sent tens of millions of US dollars' worth of aid to Kiev.
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Stoking the Fires of War

Western governments and media have recently claimed Moscow is running out of munitions and buying more from China, Iran and the DPRK — which have long been export markets for the Russian arms industry.
Hudson calls those stories "false", pointing to a September 22 statement by the vice director general of the General Bureau of Equipment of the DPRK Ministry of National Defence, who said: "We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them."
"The aim of the story was to create a furore in order to impose more sanctions on both the DPRK and Russia," Hudson said. "The DPRK has no military involvement in the conflict in Ukraine."
Seoul, however, "has been very keen to give support to the Kiev regime," Hudson says. "So far it has given $40 million in aid to Ukraine, including some military aid, and is talking about sending an additional $50 million in aid to Ukraine under the guise of ‘humanitarian assistance‘."
A South Korean military spokesman stated earlier this year that "in view of our country’s international status and role, we will always cooperate with related countries and make efforts to hold our end up."
South Korea is also helping eastern European NATO members arm Ukraine from their own armies' stocks by selling them replacement equipment — and making a tidy profit in the process.
Poland is the most significant Western arms donor, sending at least 240 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks along with 72 155mm self-propelled howitzers, 40 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and scores of other heavy weapons. To replenish its severely-depleted arsenal, Warsaw has signed deals with Seoul for a thousand K2 Black Panther tanks and 836 K9 Thunder mobile howitzers.
Ukraine is also receiving South Korean shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles via the Czech Republic.
"Despite earlier denials, South Korea began direct military assistance to Ukraine using the Czech Republic as a middle man," Hudson explained. "South Korea is supplying Ukraine with air defence systems, the Chiron (KP-SAM Shingung) worth $3 billion."
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Boots on the Ground

But Seoul's support for Ukraine has also got up-close and personal, as volunteers for the so-called 'Foreign Legion' fighting alongside neo-Nazi battalions have reportedly arrived from the far east.
Hudson says at least 13 South Korean military personnel are already fighting in Ukraine, ostensibly without the permission of authorities. "But that may well be ‘plausible deniability‘," he says.
One former South Korean special forces and navy officer, named as 'Ken Rhee' gave an interview to Ukrainian media, saying: "We fought against Russian tanks, armoured vehicles and soldiers in the central park of Irpin, which we were trying to liberate. And I'm happy to be part of two groups of liberators who eventually expelled the Russians."
"It did not end well for Rhee," Hudson says. "initially there were rumours that he had been killed in Ukraine. In fact he had been wounded and had to return to South Korea at the end of May."
Since then, the mercenary's whereabouts have been unknown, and there is no word on whether legal authorities have charged him.
"The fact that so far Rhee has not been prosecuted implies that he was in Ukraine with the official blessing of the south Korean authorities," Hudson stresses.
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