Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Korean is aware that Yeonpyeong-do, island in South Korea, was shelled by North Korea. Ironic, because the Korean was preparing a different (but related) North Korea post.

There will be updates later, but in the meantime, feel free to discuss here. The Korean will make an exception and take any question about this issue in the comment thread as well.


  1. I teach at a university in Seoul. I have a handful of male students who have already completely their military service, and are now in the reserves. They actually had mandatory training on Friday. The opinion in this admittedly small sample seems to be split between complete indifference and chomping at the bit to go fight. Is that split in opinion pretty widespread? If it is, is there a cultural cause for the two opposite reactions?

  2. I don't want to say anything to diminish the seriousness of the attack. But as most disclaimer statements go, I will probably end up doing just that.

    Every time North Korea comes up in the news- they're firing rockets, they have nukes, Kim Jong-Il wore olive instead of khaki- my friends back in the U.S. start bombarding me with facebook posts and messages telling me to come home or to please be safe. Sometimes not even my friends but those people I haven't spoke to in years will take the opportunity to tell me how worried they are about me. I know tension has been escalating, especially with the impending change in leadership in North Korea, but I had a normal day at work this evening. No parents called to have their kids brought home from the hagwon when news of the attack broke out. Traffic was normal. I don't hear any panic out in the streets (saw an ambulance outside a love motel though. It's only Tuesday, people. Take it easy.) I would have gone to bed oblivious if I hadn't checked my twitter. So while it is sad that people continue to die in this conflict for what seems to be no more than agitation on North Korea's part, I'm not frightened enough to pack up my bags and leave. I have friends in Israel and Palestine and aren't they in just as much and probably way more danger than I am? Why doesn't anyone tell them to come home already? It's as if Americans still can't past G.W.B's axis of evil. It's all those days when the only blitz going on is the media blitz that convinces my friends that I live on the edge of a war zone. (Which technically I do, right? with the cease-fire being what it is.)

    So here's my question, The Korean and others, is now the time to get out of Korea while the getting is good? Or is this just more of the same between the two Koreas?

  3. Sarah, I think the prospect of actually having to do something that could really get you killed is hovering over people's heads. I think the blasé attitude among some of them at least is a defense mechanism.

  4. Why are you so afraid? Its not as if you'd feel a nuclear strike would you? Anyway the nuclear weapons are pointed at Tokyo and Beijing NOT Seoul. Hitting Seoul has no real impact besides 25 million irradiated Koreans. It would result in South Korea becoming an Island too after the counter strike.

    No! Better to use an uber Samson Option, which will cause more damage than a Seoul strike. Chn and Japan buy US$ bonds like crazy. Without them USD turns to toilet paper. S Korea loses its biggest trading partner and the rest of the world economy collaspes along with the US$. 25 million killed vs economic collaspe?

  5. I would have to say, that given the recent history it would seem that it would be nothing much more than a diplomatic game. On the other hand, if either government/military have certain lines they will not allow to be crossed, these things can eventually escalate up to war. Wars can start in volatile situations by miscalculations of things that shouldn't be significant enough to actually cause a war.

    While I'm sure some individuals do want war, by in large the administrations don't. That is probably good enough to keep it from escalating, but there are chances that some actions may make one side feel backed into a corner to which they need to respond with ramped up military action.

    So I would think, it may be just as well to stay. Chances are nothing much more will happen, but of course nothing ever happens to change the status quo until it does.

  6. @Ricecake: I would assume, like J Man pointed out, that administration (on both sides) want to avoid any kind of extended military conflict, and they'll do a more than sufficient job of making sure things remain contained in these Cold War-esque skirmishes. My question to The Korean is: would you agree with this assessment?

    On a general note: to see friends back home (home being America) calling for a military strike is...troubling. Get over the Axis of Evil thing already!

    And it goes without saying that my thoughts and well-wishes go the victims' families on both sides of the 38th.

  7. A full-out war is out of the question, and I am not even going to begin to say why.

    My hears and prayers go out to the families of the innocent victims. While justice wont be served to the people who are responsible to the crime -- Kim Jong Il and his cronies -- they will be dealt by God when they arrive at the purely gate.

  8. Hey J Man: Are you serious about this: "it would be nothing much more than a diplomatic game"? There were many people injured, with at least 2 dead, not to mention real property damage. I would characterize that as violence, not "a diplomatic game."

  9. Well I hate to sound callous, but compared to hundreds of thousands to millions dead/wounded and cities demolished, yeah I'll call it a game.

    Also, @Miguk chonhnum why would you say war is out of the question. I might say no one intends for a war, but if one intends on playing brinksmanship games, I don't think you could ever rule out miscalculations escalating into war. Alls it may take is one a-hole high enough, yet still not a part of the administration deciding to place artillery fire on some place they shouldn't.

  10. Brinkmanship (n): The practice of pushing events to the verge of disaster to achieve the most advantageous outcome.

    This has been N. Korea's foreign policy for decades. It always works, so why do anything different?

    In this case, the "most advantageous outcome" has three parts:
    1) International muscle-flexing, asserting N. Korea as a continued threat and therefore an int'l player to take seriously. Notice how they just recently revealed their nascent nuclear power plant also. The word that springs to mind is "choreography."
    2) Bolstering Kim Jeong-Eun's (weak) credentials. The little moon-face has spent a good portion of his 25 years at European private schools obsessing over American basketball players; he needs some cred with the military brass he'll be commanding when Dad kicks the bucket (which will happen any day now). Something similar happened when Kim Jeong-Il took over from HIS father. Added bonus: this kind of action, against an island which N.K. claims is within its sphere of influence, makes for good domestic press and promotes cohesion among the belabored N. Korean people, which is a desirable thing right before a major power transfer.
    3. The people of North Korea are starving. Even more than usual, too, since the stringent sanctions put in place after the sinking of the Cheonan in March. The S.K. president recently declared the "Sunshine Policy"--which involved huge amounts of aid to the north--a total failure. The leadership of N.K. reckons that they might be able to use force to blackmail the U.S. and S.K. into sending food again.

    And why shouldn't they think this would work? Historically, it always works. Brinkmanship IS North Korea's foreign policy. It always has been.

    Which sucks, and is totally infuriating, but I don't think a tougher, more militant response would be any more acceptable, and I suspect no one in charge in the U.S. or S.K. thinks so either. What can they do BUT roll over to this blackmail? North Korean policy is where good options go to die.

    I really wonder if the Kim family let China know before they did this. Almost definitely not. China's playing it cagey but, historically, N.K. can be as frustrating and dangerous an "ally" as it is an enemy.

  11. There has been continuing local conflicts in Korea.
    During past 10 years we have won against North Korea, and this time we lost (or maybe including Chonan ship).

    There is no option except for doing this continuous game. Whenever we won in past 10 years, the voice for full-blown war was high, especially from those "blessed" uncharged.
    This time, when we feel lost this game, the voice will not be heard.

    USA started the war against Iraq because they thought the war could be easily won. Now we lost some confidence against North, there will be little possibility of full-blown war unless North wants.

    However I think the occurance of local invoke from North may be more often.

  12. South Korea's military response was weak and troubling

    In the same manner what would happen if the DPRK fired artillery on Seoul which is in range. Would the SK military respond in an equally weak way.

    I commend the firing of the defense secretary. SOmeone needs to be fired.

  13. @The Chinese Guy

    The DPRK's nukes are not pointed at anyone. Currently they are not weaponized.

    The feared scenario is during an invasion of Seoul, DPRK commandoes would sneak a smaller Nuclear bomb into the city and blow it up.

    China is North Korea's only real ally. A missile attack or nuclear attack on China's soil would be surely answered with the most extreme retaliation. China can not afford to look weak.

  14. Minister of Defense was indeed fired a few days ago.


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