North Korea and South Korea head into dangerous waters

an iceberg

Relations are not exactly warm and friendly between the two halves of Korea. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Asian Pacific region is in a volatile state as a result of mounting and dangerous tensions between North Korea and South Korea. North and South Korea have never been friends, but the current situation is not to be taken lightly.  Nearly 50 South Korean sailors were killed when their vessel was sunk in Korean waters, and South Korea has implicated the North in the sinking.  Relations are being cut off between the two countries, which have been getting worse for more than half a century.

North Korea implicated in sinking

On March 26, a South Korean naval vessel sank, and 46 sailors were killed. South Koren President Lee Myung-Bak directly blamed North Korea for sinking the ship. According to The Guardian, part of Myung Bak’s initial changes once elected to office in 2008 included to reversing 10 years of foreign policy with South Korea’s authoritarian neighbors, by cutting back on aid shipments and demanding North Korea halt development of nuclear weapons. North Korea is highly dependent on South Korea, as they receive emergency loans of food and other materials on a regular basis.

North Korean army on alert

The North Korean army has been put on alert, and South Koreans are also preparing for less-than-diplomatic scenarios. It is believed that the cessation of unconditional aid from the southern half of the Korean Peninsula has caused Pyongyang to adopt a far more hostile mood, and it was announced the city would be expelling South Korean personnel from the joint industrial zone near Kaesong.  No official word has yet come from Kim Jong Il, but there is expected to be a U.N. resolution made sometime in the near future.

Is history about to repeat itself?

It isn’t clear whether this will lead to war or not, but regardless, this is not good.  North Korea is dependent on South Korea, albeit not as much as to China, on aid shipments, and South Korea is somewhat dependent on North Korea for industrial products. It is in the self interest of both to resolve this situation quickly and allow cooler heads to prevail.

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