We find a large range of divided opinion among analysts on the issue of the new violence on the Korean Peninsula. Many blame Pyongyang for irrational behavior and over-emphasis on the need for a nuclear arsenal. They see much of the hostility as resulting from 68-year-old North Korean President Kim Jong ll preparing his 27-year-old son, now General Kim Jong Un, to take control of the government soon.
But there are groups even here in America who place the blame for violence on South Korea, and more importantly, on the United States. They say that our military exercises in the Yellow Sea, involving thousands of American troops, are intended to provoke the North Koreans. Indeed, the U.S. has gone to great lengths, financially and militarily, to convince the North to give up its nuclear ambition. It demands North Korea abide by the terms of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the bloody Korean War. The U.S. has provided North Korea with billions of dollars in aid, in exchange for an agreement to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear arms development. Yet it has not stopped.
China, a powerful and influential nation and a world leader, is urging a return to negotiations towards ending the continuing conflicts. But South Korea and the United States are hesitant to engage in six-nation talks – North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States – until Pyongyang makes some move to demonstrate a cessation of its nuclear program. The U.S. embassy in Beijing indicates that Washington has yet to make a clear decision as to the six-nation talks. It seems unlikely that the North will comply with any ultimatum, given that it is only now unveiling and pointing proudly to its expanded nuclear capacity. North Korea is thought to have materials and missile capacity to launch six such weapons, and is increasing its capacity daily.
Meanwhile, the people of South Korea are not cowering in fear following the artillery battery of tiny Yeonpyeong Island, which killed four residents and “damaged every building on the island.”
As to the diplomatic/political side of the issue, it has been suggested that if some substantial change for the better is made before Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the U.S. in January, this will display “good Sino-American cooperation.” We recall too that if tensions become intolerable to the citizens of South Korea, and if destabilization continues in North Korea, there will be a massive flow of refugees into China.