South Korea and Japan are into diplomatic/economic war never seen since liberation in 1945. Japan announced export restrictions to S.Korea on key materials like hydrogen fluoride used in semiconductors effective July 4, saying "trust" between the two nations was broken after the Korean Supreme court's decision to order Japanese companies like Nippon Steel to compensate Korean workers forced to provide labor during Japanese colonial rule. Japanese government has been arguing that the Korean Supreme Court decision is against the 1965 diplomacy normalization agreement in which Japan provide $500 million, then 25% of Japanese foreign currency reserve, as a overall compensation for the Japanese rule of Korea in return for no further demand whatsoever. Japan also got irked by President Moon Jaein government's unilateral scrap of the irrevocable 2015 comfort women deal ex-president Park Geunhye had made to form a foundation with 10 billion Won ($8.9M) from Japanese government. With South Korea depending on semiconductors for nearly 20% of Korea's export and Japan having virtual global monopoly of high tech hydrogen fluoride, Korea dispatched two trade officials to Tokyo on July 12 for negotiation, only facing cold shoulders evidenced by no handshake at a warehouse like meeting room with hosts offering not even a glass of water. South Korea turned to the U.S. for mediation, but U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris backed away, commenting "Current issues are to be settled between two mature nations." Korean president Moon warned Japan not to go toward a dead end while Japanese PM Shinzo Abe hinted hydrogen fluoride might be only an appetizer. Things look real bad.
N.Korea's Kim Jongun must be all smiles at the frosty South Korea -Japan relationship. His grandpa Kim Ilsung, the founder of N.Korea, had preached 'Kot Keun' theory. Kot means traditional Korean hat, and Keun is string that ties together under neck to hold Kot. In Kot Keun theory, South Korea is Kot which holds in place because of strongly tied two Keuns, one is S.Korea-U.S relationship and the other is S.Korea-Japan. If either Keun is cut off, Kot South Korea will be blown away. While Kot Keun theory was actually practiced in S.Korea with massive street demonstration against the U.S. and Japan in the past, my wife has no interest in this theory. Louis Vuitton has no plan to produce Kot.