Escalation run down (and reasons not to panic)

The DPRK is sending a barrage of signals that it is not happy with the policy changes that are on the new South Korean government’s agenda (denuclearize and account for all nuclear activities, reform, repatriate missing South Korean citizens, etc):

1. February 25, 2008: the DPRK increases fighter jet maneuvers near the DMZ. (Source: N.K. flight maneuvers rise near border, Korea Herald, Jin Dae-woong
4/1/2008

2. March 27, 2008: the DPRK expels eleven South Korean officials from industrial zone. (Source: South Koreans kicked out of North Korea’s Kaesong industrial centre, The Times of London, Leo Lewis, (3/27/2008)

3. March 28, 2008: the DPRK test fires missles off its coast. (Source: North Korea sends a missile warning, Asia Times, Donald Kirk, 3/29/2008)

4. March 30, 2008: the DPRK issues blunt statements about deteriorating relations and suggesting complete destruction of the South if it is attacked. (Source: Pro-North Korea newspaper says relations with South at lowest since after nuclear test, Associated Press, 3/31/2008)

5. April 1, 2008: The DPRK breaks its silence on direclty challenging South Korea’s new president, labeling Lee Myung Bak a “traitor” and a “sycophant toward the U.S.” (Source: North Korea Calls South Korean President a `Traitor’, Bloomberg, 4/1/2008)

6. April 3, 2008: North Korea accuses the South Korean Navy of violating its territorial waters, “The South Korean military’s warmongers have sent three battleships deep into our territorial waters in the West Sea (Yellow Sea) at around 11:45 am (0245 GMT) on April 3,” and “South Korea’s military should clearly bear in mind that an unexpected countermeasure will follow if they continue to push battleships into (our waters) and raise tensions.” (Note here they are trying to pin the military escalation on South Korea) (Source: North Korea accuses South of entering its waters, Reuters, 4/3/2008)

7. April 3, 2008: North Korea announces it is suspending all dialogue with South Korea and closing the border to Seoul officials, its toughest action in a week of growing cross-border tensions. (North Korea cuts contacts with South, The Austrailan, Park, Chan Kyong, 4/3/2008)

8. DPRK violates NLL three times (Yonhap) 5/22/2008

Reasons not to panic:

1.  Although eleven South Korean officials have been expelled from the Kaesong Zone, Some 48 South Koreans and five North Koreans still work at a separate inter-Korean management committee overseeing the industrial zone, where about 800 South Koreans work along with more than 25,600 North Korean laborers for 69 South Korean companies.  In other words, it is still business as usual for the most part. (Source: Pro-North Korea newspaper says relations with South at lowest since after nuclear test, Associated Press, 3/31/2008)

2.  DPRK statements about about attacking the South are a response to statements aired in public by General Kim Tae-young at a National Assembly hearing on his nomination as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff where he claimed his people had plans for use any time it was deemed necessary to take out the North’s nuclear facilities. (Source: North Korea sends a missile warning, Asia Times, Donald Kirk, 3/29/2008)

3. While all of this was going on, 159 CEO’s of small- to medium-sized South Korean enterprises toured North Korea in search of investment opportunities. (Source: 159 CEOs Begin Trip to North Korea, Korea Times, Kim Sue-young, 3/19/2008)

4. Tourism to the DPRK continues unhampered.

5.  The Pyongyang International Trade fair in May is on and business delegations are still welcome.

6. April 3, 2008: The South’s unification ministry said it did not believe civilian exchanges would be affected. Two Seoul-funded projects in the North – the Kumgang resort and the Kaesong industrial complex – are major hard currency earners for the impoverished nation. (North Korea cuts contacts with South, The Austrailan, Park, Chan Kyong, 4/3/2008)

7. Inter korean trade this year is up! (Yonhap)

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2 Responses to “Escalation run down (and reasons not to panic)”

  1. […] North Korea’s response to these new policies has left them with only two other options for food aid: China and the UN.  These two options, however, are probably sufficient to stave off another famine: “You will never see mass starvation again,” said Lee Seung-yong, secretary general of Good Friends, a Seoul-based charity with contacts across the North. “Except for some isolated areas, people have found ways to survive. They know they cannot depend on the government.” […]

  2. […] political tensions have risen between North and South Korea (list here), Yonhap reports trade between the two countries has increased this […]