Foreign Affairs

North and South Korea exchange artillery fire over disputed maritime border

North and South Korea exchange artillery fire over disputed maritime border

South Korea and the United States are in the midst of routine joint military exercises, which means it’s time for North Korea to throw another temper tantrum.  The psychotic dictatorship escalated its antics from shooting missiles into the ocean, in defiance of United Nations resolutions, to a massive “artillery drill” this morning that launched over a hundred artillery shells into South Korean waters.  The South responded in kind, putting an estimated 300 artillery rounds into North Korea’s side of the maritime border.  No injuries have been reported.

A CNN report posted early Monday morning suggested the artillery exchange might actually be ongoing, following a brief pause.  CNN noted that North Korea’s advance notice of the artillery barrage was unusual, and was interpreted by the South as “a hostile threat.”

This is all happening near the island of Yeonpyeong, where North Korea managed to kill four people during their last bit of “saber-rattling” in 2010.  South Koreans living in the fishing villages on those islands got to spend the evening in bomb shelters as artillery boomed in the distance.  North Korea has never formally recognized the naval border that puts these islands under South Korean control, and as we are always reminded when The World’s Worst Next-Door Neighbor gets super-annoying, the Korean War never actually ended.  Large-scale hostilities concluded with an armistice in 1953, not a peace treaty.

The Norks try to extract diplomatic and economic concessions by periodically behaving as though they might rip up that armistice.  The current flimsy pretext for hostility is that the routine U.S.- South Korean military exercises are a dress rehearsal for an invasion, and that the recent brief detention and return of a North Korean fishing boat by the South was an episode of “kidnapping.”  Because if there’s one thing South Korea really needs right now, it’s a few rickety North Korean trawlers.

North Korea has been as charming as ever during the latest manufactured crisis, as reported by Fox News:

The boneheads appear to have completely forgotten the fact that Yeonpyeong island was smashed by our military’s bolt of lightning a few years ago,” a North Korean military official, Yun Jong Bum, said Monday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Pyongyang also threatened Sunday to conduct a fourth nuclear test, though Seoul sees no signs it’s imminent. Wee Yong-sub, a deputy spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the North Korean warning about the live-fire drills Monday was a “hostile” attempt to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Recent threats are an expression of anger and frustration over what the North sees as little improvement in progress in its ties with South Korea and the U.S., said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University. Lim said the North might conduct a fourth nuclear test and launch other provocations to try to wrest the outside concessions it wants.

The Norks also have a tendency to grow “provocative” when they think world attention is focused on some other villain, and right now Russia’s grabbing all the bad press.  Unfazed at being called “boneheads,” the South Korean military says it believes “the North’s maritime firing is a planned provocation and an attempt to test our military’s determination to defend the Northern Limit Line and to get an upper hand in South-North relations,” as quoted by Reuters.  The South Korean stock market remained unflappable, which might lead to further mischief, since the North Koreans know their threats aren’t taken seriously until they kill somebody.

The Chinese are also worried about renewed North Korean nuclear testing, and possibly further military skirmishes.  “The temperature is rising at present on the Korean peninsula, and this worries us,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

North Korea says its prospective new round of nuclear activity would include some unspecified “new form” of testing, which has everyone nervous, given the past performance of the People’s Glorious Dumbass Rocket Forces.  South Korean President Park Geun-hye recently told an international nuclear security summit she was worried about North Korean nukes ending up in terrorists hands, or a meltdown at the primary NoKo nuclear complex that would be worse than the Chernobyl disaster.  This prompted North Korean officials to say she was like a “peasant woman blabbering to herself in the corner of the room,” acting as a “faithful servant and stooge” of the United States by delivering such a “dumb speech.”

See what I mean about North Korean charm?  It’s a wonder those silver-tongued devils aren’t doing better at the negotiating table.

 

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