North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North and South Korea - sliding towards war?

Smoke rises from Yeonpyeong Island after North Korean barrage

Today, North Korea fired dozens of shells on to a South Korean island, landing in a civilian zone, damaging more than 60 buildings, killing two South Korean Marines, and wounding 19 civilians. The 50 minute barrage prompted, as the Washington Post described it, "a withering round of return fire from South Korean batteries, the scrambling of the South's air force and concerns that the firefight could spiral into all-out war."
South Korea returned fire

Nations around the world scrambled their diplomatic assets to contain and cool the two countries tensions, but North Korea's mysterious leadership motives made it difficult to see a clear path forward. Western nations condemned the attack, and called on China, the main power with influence on North Korea, to strongly stand against the secretive nation's actions. China did not, merely calling on both sides to show restraint.

South Koreans watch TV account of shelling

North Korea's artillery attack, coupled with its choreographed rollout of a new nuclear program a few days earlier, has presented the United States with a massive strategic challenge in one of the most dangerous corners of the world. Bound by treaty, and with 28,000 troops station on the demilitarized zone between the two countries, the US would defend the South and quickly be drawn into combat.

Other news agencies note that the firing comes after Kim Jong-Un, the little-known youngest son of ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, was officially recognised as his father's eventual successor. "This is an intentional provocation to heighten cross-border tensions," Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-Hyun told AFP.

"The North made a series of gestures but there has been no response from South Korea and the United States. It is now using its brinkmanship aimed at forcing Seoul and Washington to take action and agree to dialogue." Kim said the North would try to use the clash to promote solidarity among its people during the leadership succession.

Maps showing the two Koreas, the island of today's attack, and a recent conflict when a South Korean military ship was torpedoed.

Japan's reaction, the nearest economic superpower, was strong, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan calling President Barak Obama and urgently demanding a US-South Korean-Japanese military reprisal.

While the US heads towards its first of two major year-end holidays, the sudden violence will be drawing the attention of most of the Pacific Rim nations over the next few days

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