North Korea spent most of the past month promising deadly retaliation if the South carried out scheduled maritime artillery drills from Yeonpyeong Island, but those drills proceeded without incident over the weekend. South Korea has decided to follow them up with a huge exercise near the mainland border with the North on Thursday, involving infantry, artillery, and air forces. It will be the largest wintertime firing exercise they have ever staged, according to a South Korean army statement quoted by the Associated Press.
If this exercise also concludes without incident, maybe we should hold the next season of Survivor in the DMZ, just to make absolutely sure Pyongyang has settled down. The minefield Immunity challenge would be sure to draw huge ratings.
The AP reports seemingly confused diplomatic signals from the United States, with envoy Bill Richardson claiming his visit to Pyongyang has provided an “opening for a resumption of negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.” The White House, on the other hand, says North Korea isn’t “remotely ready” for negotiations. This is the diplomatic equivalent of talchum theater, the Korean version of kabuki. The Administration can’t make it look like North Korean aggression forced it back into the “six-party talks,” so it has to set itself up for a big announcement early next year, in which it declares how pleasantly surprised it is by North Korea’s new spirit of peaceful cooperation. The Administration can then saunter back to the six-sided negotiating table, pull out our national checkbook, and ask how much it will cost for Pyongyang to shut down one of those fancy new uranium enrichment plants while CNN rolls tape. Ideally, this will happen about a month after Kim Jong-Il’s funereal.
A candlelight vigil was held last night for the victims of North Korea’s savage attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November. The Associated Press quotes a mourner saying “We, the survivors, should remember their sacrifice, and make efforts to ensure their sacrifice will not be in vain.” While I understand the sentiment, I chafe a little at the description of these four deaths as a “sacrifice”… because that’s entirely too accurate. They were sacrificed, to one of the last desperate Communist dungeon states, and we’ll find out how much their sacrifice was worth, after the people who murdered them receive their next extortion payment.