Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So What is Going On Between North and South Korea: Sabre Rattling or Threat of War

North and South Korea
For decades I've watched tensions between North and South Korea peak then subside. Many of my close academic colleagues focus considerable time on North Korea. I also communicate daily with my team in Korea.  That said, most of us and even the diplomats engaged with NK are never sure of the North's exact intentions.When tensions peak, I try to provide some background and give perspective.

A time line..
On March 26, a South Korean Navy ship, the Cheonan, was split apart killing 46 sailors. After months of investigation, a report issued last week stated part of a torpedo was recovered on the sea floor near the incident and it carried lettering that matched a North Korean design.

In response South Korea president Lee Myung Bak, announced an series of sanctions... including steps to blockade North Korea, which became unavoidable after clear evidence showed that the sinking was an act of military aggression against the South. That ends 10 years of rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula and returns inter-Korean relations to the dark days before 1989, when the two sides agreed to step up exchanges.

In response to the South Korean sanctions... North Korea leader Kim Jong Il ordered the entire military, the Ministry of Public Security, the State Security Department, the Worker-Peasant Red Guard, and the Red Youth Guard to be ready for combat. Many see this as another round of sabre rattling.  North Korea threatened Wednesday to block cross-border traffic and blow up any South Korean loudspeakers blasting propaganda northward as tensions soared over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

What can we expect. I doubt we see open military confrontation.  I do however foresee a long period of confrontation and angry exchanges. U.S. support stays strong as noted in the press release. "President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. military to coordinate with South Korea to "ensure readiness" and deter future aggression from North Korea, the White House said on Monday. The United States gave strong backing to plans by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to punish North Korea for sinking one of its naval ships, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement."

What might occur is North Korea may seek to damage the South Korean economy by heightening tensions on the Korean peninsula through minor clashes along the heavily armed border or along the maritime buffer zone in the West Sea.

More to come as it unfolds....   Questions? Comments? Concerns.

BTW  I'm always ready to support, assist, and provide insights into Korea facing global business and issues that surface...

Don Southerton CEO and President Bridging Culture Worldwide
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