Shots were fired late last week in Korea, across the demilitarized zone, in Gangwon province, 73 miles northeast of Seoul. The gunfire took place just hours after the North issued threats to Seoul regarding the South’s refusal to hold military talks at this time, just prior to the South Korean hosting of the G-20 summit. The North called the refusal of military talks “an act or treachery.”
The refusal of the South to participate in these talks, which are not related to the forthcoming G-20 summit, may have been based on the North’s demand for 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer in exchange for the meetings. The South, working through the Red Cross, didn’t agree; the talks broke down. Korean seagoing vessels have clashed in recent months, with 100 rounds of artillery fired by the North in response to military exercises last summer. The Korean navies had a similar, larger exchange in late 2009.
These latest skirmishes have occurred just two weeks before the South, in Seoul, is to host the G-20 summit, a meeting of leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies. The collaboration of this group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring important industrialized and developing economies together to discuss key issues of the global economy. “The Republic of Korea is honored to chair the Group of Twenty in 2010.” In 2008, the summit was held in Washington; in 2009, London and Pittsburgh in the U.S. were hosts.