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A December Jinx

Posted December. 17, 2013 00:44,   


“It’s December again.”

This is the reaction from the military community as tensions are mounting in the wake of North Korea’s execution of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle by marriage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It is even called the “December jinx” as key issues have occurred in December for the recent four years.

About five or six years ago, December was calm. North Korea’s routine winter drill used to be the only thing worth monitoring. The December jinx started in 2010. The bombing of the Yeonpyeong Island occurred on Nov. 26 and the aftermath affected the military throughout December. In response, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, who was appointed on Dec. 4, 2010, started an intensive military reform, calling for a “combat-oriented military forces.”

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died on Dec. 17, 2011. Immediately after his death, the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chief of Staff and put the military on emergency alert. On Dec. 12, 2012, North Korea abruptly launched a long range ballistic missile, which can reach the states from North Korea. The event pushed the inter-Korean relationship to the highest level of tensions.

The December jinx from North Korea cancels year-end parties in the South Korean military. The annual year-end party for the military leadership including the defense minister and the commander of the Defense Security Command, and journalists has been postponed indefinitely.

Soldiers can neither drink nor play golf and must stay in the barracks. A military source said, “People jokingly say that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un determines the revenue of the commercial areas nearby the Defense Ministry in the beginning and end of a year.”