OK

Updated:  Thanks for the recommends and it is a trashing headline.  But I think the issues are important for us to discuss and the hair on fire headline is in a long tradition here.

On March 26, North Korea sent a torpedo from a submarine and blew up a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, near Baengnyeong Island in Yellow Sea.  Forty six South Korean sailors were killed and 58 were rescued.  Yesterday North Korea announced that it would scrap agreements intended to prevent clashes and attacks when ships strayed into one another's waters.

AP reported yesterday

South Korea flexed its muscles Thursday with anti-submarine drills and a U.S. general offered strong words of support as the allies sent a clear message to adversary North Korea: Don't try it again.

Pyongyang, however, wasted little time in responding, saying it would launch ''immediate physical strikes'' against southern ships that enter its waters as tensions spiked further a week after Seoul blamed the North for torpedoing a warship.

This international crisis, is rapidly escalating this very week, is off the radar.  However it started in March and no one has been discussing this major problem until May 18 here.  There have been a total of TWO (2) diaries on this topic on this site.  Thanks to Something the dog said and quaoar.  

Yesterday, North Korea cut off diplomatic ties to South Korea.  That is right, a nuclear power has aggressively attacked their major military rival, killing and injuring dozens and now it is escalating.  Hillary Clinton is speaking out as are American military personnel. She is visiting China this week and is trying to get them to commit to condemning this action.  link Russia is peeved not to be asked to send scientists to the investigation committee and is wanting to be 100% convinced of the North Korean torpedo attack before taking specific action against North Korea.  link.  Japan has cut off all ties with North Korea and there is a move to have the United Nations investigate and condemn North Korea's actions.

We remain preoccupied with criticizing Obama for not personally overseeing a oil spill.  Maybe Obama has been paying attention to other immediate crises.  

I have been following this crisis because of my South Korean colleague.  This is huge over there and they been very restrained politically, waiting for the results of the forensic examination of the attack, which came without warning.  Jooha tells me that people were talking to family and friends on cell phones and were cut off mid sentence- there was no warning for this horrible and completely unjustified attack.

The funerals were very traumatic for this nation- similar to 9/11 for South Korea.  The newly elected South Korean President Lee Myung-bak vowed a tough stance on North Korea.  There was a bit of a local scandal when it was revealed the North Koreans were using food aid money to buy fireworks for ceremonies celebrating Kim Il-sung's regime.  There was some video of an old woman condemning President Lee over this issue which made a big impact.  Remember this was only weeks after the viscious attack on the Cheonan.

"The North must get its senses back," Mr. Lee said this week, discussing what he considered to be a wasteful display of fireworks in the impoverished country on April 15, a national holiday in North Korea. The holiday celebrates the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the modern North Korean state and the father of the current leader, Kim Jong-il.

"Can’t they realize how much corn they can buy with the money they spent on the fireworks?" Mr. Lee said.

link

A sick old man is thought to be creating this crisis so his son can take over when he dies.  Kim Jong-il has enough atomic fuel for 8 weapons and is trying to bolster the credentials of his designated heir, Kim Jeong-un, 27 link.  The term enigmatic is often applied to Kim Jong-il- but perhaps cruel and ruthless are better terms.  How many have starved to death or been tortured by his regime?  And Kim Jeong-il is escalating this crisis.  One action besides the fireworks was confiscating five South Korean owned facilities at Diamond Mountain, a jointly operated mountain resort on April 23.  The previous two South Korean administrations kept trying to work with North Korea and established this resort where families from North and Sout could have reunions.  North and South Korea  also started a joint industrial park, the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where 500 South Koreans work.  Today North Korea has blocked access to the complex, effectively isolating those 500 workers which some are referring to as hostages.  

SK President Lee Myung-bak declared in a major speech on Monday that SK would cut all trade with NK, deny NK ships use of South Korean sea lanes, demand the United Nations Security Council to punish the North for the deliberate sinking of the Cheonan.  The SK President is also stepping up propaganda broadcasts on the border.

"We have always tolerated North Korea’s brutality, time and again," Mr. Lee said. "But now things are different. North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts. Trade and exchanges between South and North Korea will be suspended."

North Korea’s military immediately warned that if South Korea put up propaganda loudspeakers and slogans at the border, it would destroy them with artillery shells, reported the North’s official K.C.N.A. news agency.  link

 South Korea imports $250 million in seafood and North Korea imports $50 million in clothes.  The propaganda issues are important because North Koreans are isolated from news of the world- although increasingly there are smuggled devices letting the NK citizens know how bad their situation is.  Recall the end of the cold war was also precipitated by economic refugees.  China and South Korea fear economic refugees from the North.

This situation is very precarious.  South Korean sentiment is very strong on this issue- people have been tiptoeing around waiting for the forensic evidence and the UN to take action.  They don't really want war, but they did elect Lee Myung-bak in February to tighten up relations with North Korea.  The first shots in this potential war have been delivered and Obama administration is definitely paying attention to this situation- and their policy of "strategic patience" is being tested link.  Obama has directed the military to prepare for North Korean aggression.  There is an effort to convince China to express stronger support for South Korea- Hillary Clinton stopped off in Seoul to meet with Lee Myung-bak before traveling to China.

We are on a precipice and one of our loyal allies needs our support.  But while we really don't want a war on three fronts, Obama may be forced to do something dramatic in the near future.  Today South Korea conducted antisubmarine drills off the coast of North Korea, and the agreement to end accidental attacks was officially abandoned by South Korea (North Korea abandoned it yesterday.)

Should Daily Kos pay attention to South Korea/North Korea?  Is there no one here with connections in the South who can share with us how people are reacting to the escalating tensions?  My colleague is extremely concerned and expects the USA to support their country.  What should Obama be doing about this issue?

Updated:
BBC reports on anti-su maneuvers in South Korea. http://news.bbc.co.uk/...

Originally posted to murrayewv on Thu May 27, 2010 at 05:35 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.