Monday, March 31, 2008

North and South Korea's Icy Relationship

Sources: Financial Times, Korea Times

The relationship between the two Koreas has begun to sour under the current president. When Lee Myung Bak took over the presidency last month, he promised to hold a “tougher line” against North Korea. The two Koreas have been engaged in a “sunshine policy” over the last ten years, and while the icy relations have melted somewhat, the North still acts in a renegade fashion. President Lee has promised to hold North Korea accountable, and has threatened to not expand the inter-Korean economic zone until North Korea provides details on South Korean abductees and its secretive nuclear projects. In retaliation, North Korea has threatened to attack South Korean vessels, and have fired short-range missiles into the maritime border.

More recently, the relations between the two states took a hit when a South Korean official commented on a possible pre-emptive strike to take out North Korean nuclear armaments. North Korea has requested South Korea retract those remarks, and have called it the “gravest challenge ever in the history of the inter-Korean relations and a reckless provocation just short of a declaration of war.'' The North threatened to respond to any “slight move for a pre-emptive attack with more rapid and powerful pre-emptive attacks.” South Korea, however, appears to be puzzled at the North Korean saber-rattling. Government officials claim that``JCS Chief Kim did not use the term ``preemptive strike,'' so I don't understand what remark we should withdraw.''

Question: It appears as if the “sunshine” policy has been unable to fully melt the tensions between the two Koreas. What, if any solution, is there to more fully bring North Korea to the diplomatic discussion table?

No comments: