Will the Korean War break out again?

The Korean War of the 1950s has never officially ended.  Now South Korea, after decades of restraint, is getting tough with its Stalinist neighbor to the North, responding to a deadly torpedo attack on one of its ships that killed 46 South Koreans:

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that his country is stopping all trade and most investment with North Korea and closing its sea lanes to North Korean ships after the nation's deadly attack on a South Korean warship.

Lee also called for a change in the North’s Stalinist regime.

The tough measures, announced in an address to his nation, were bound to ratchet up pressure on the isolated Pyongyang government and add a new flash point in U.S. relations with China.

“Fellow citizens, we have always tolerated North Korea’s brutality, time and again. We did so because we have always had a genuine longing for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “But now things are different. North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts.”

Lee then said that “no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control” and that “any inter-Korean trade or other cooperative activity is meaningless.”

via South Korea to halt all trade with North Korea over sinking of Cheonan warship.

In the meantime, American forces have announced a joint military exercise to put on a show of force designed to “deter North Korean aggression.” The big question is what China will do. The even bigger question, of course, is what North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il will do. He has threatened war over lesser confrontations and is utterly unstable and unpredictable. And he may have nuclear weapons.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If I remember correctly, the launch process for North Korean missiles takes hours. Launch process for a boomer takes minutes, and the North Koreans know this.

    So unless our current White House is a lot more incompetent than even I give them credit for (which is saying something), I’m not terribly worried about this going nuclear. The question in my mind is whether we can use this event to bring down the NK regime.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If I remember correctly, the launch process for North Korean missiles takes hours. Launch process for a boomer takes minutes, and the North Koreans know this.

    So unless our current White House is a lot more incompetent than even I give them credit for (which is saying something), I’m not terribly worried about this going nuclear. The question in my mind is whether we can use this event to bring down the NK regime.

  • Joe

    North Korea has played the international system well for many years. I generally don’t agree with the claims that they are irrational. There is a pattern that they follow. Step 1. do something that the world sees as dangerous or that will cause instability. Step 2. agree to talks. Step 3. agree to stop the activity in exchange for cheap oil/light water reactors/food, etc. Step 4. start the process all over again and get more stuff.

    I am always left wondering why we are surprised when North Korea “does it again.” We keep rewarding their poor behavior. It looks like they may have finally gone too far this time.

  • Joe

    North Korea has played the international system well for many years. I generally don’t agree with the claims that they are irrational. There is a pattern that they follow. Step 1. do something that the world sees as dangerous or that will cause instability. Step 2. agree to talks. Step 3. agree to stop the activity in exchange for cheap oil/light water reactors/food, etc. Step 4. start the process all over again and get more stuff.

    I am always left wondering why we are surprised when North Korea “does it again.” We keep rewarding their poor behavior. It looks like they may have finally gone too far this time.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s remember to pray for the Christians in N Korea, whose lives are always in jeopardy. In the early 20th c., Pyongyang had sufficient numbers of Christians to be known as the Jersusalem of the East. But with the Japanese occupation and later communist takeover, the numbers dwindled, and many Christians were forced underground.
    S Korea’s decision to halt trade, while perhaps an understandable political decision, will hurt only the people of N Korea, who live on near starvation diets. And it likely will cause even more grief to the maligned N Korean Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s remember to pray for the Christians in N Korea, whose lives are always in jeopardy. In the early 20th c., Pyongyang had sufficient numbers of Christians to be known as the Jersusalem of the East. But with the Japanese occupation and later communist takeover, the numbers dwindled, and many Christians were forced underground.
    S Korea’s decision to halt trade, while perhaps an understandable political decision, will hurt only the people of N Korea, who live on near starvation diets. And it likely will cause even more grief to the maligned N Korean Christians.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    North Korea generally does these kinds of things at a time when they feel their top leadership is most weak, a way to “rally the troops” literally, to distract them from the problems their top leadership is having. They usually do these things to wrest concessions or aid from the West, in order to save face for their leadership.

    Is all this a cover for some significant change in leadership? Though they have a lot of men under arms, are they really capable of launching a successful ground campaign against the vastly more technically capable South? The fact however that Seoul is within range of their artillery is highly disturbing.

    I wonder what impact a lightning strike against the North might have though? A “shock and awe” campaign could, conceivably, take out North Korea’s major offensive capabilities rather quickly, but I suspect the cost would be quite high, since they are, at least on paper, armed to the teeth.

    If China decides to send in troops, then we are in for a true world of hurt, in a hurry.

    What a mess! All because of lunatics at the helm of N. Korea.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    North Korea generally does these kinds of things at a time when they feel their top leadership is most weak, a way to “rally the troops” literally, to distract them from the problems their top leadership is having. They usually do these things to wrest concessions or aid from the West, in order to save face for their leadership.

    Is all this a cover for some significant change in leadership? Though they have a lot of men under arms, are they really capable of launching a successful ground campaign against the vastly more technically capable South? The fact however that Seoul is within range of their artillery is highly disturbing.

    I wonder what impact a lightning strike against the North might have though? A “shock and awe” campaign could, conceivably, take out North Korea’s major offensive capabilities rather quickly, but I suspect the cost would be quite high, since they are, at least on paper, armed to the teeth.

    If China decides to send in troops, then we are in for a true world of hurt, in a hurry.

    What a mess! All because of lunatics at the helm of N. Korea.

  • John C

    Another interesting perspective is found here — http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/ Look at the programme on Tuesday 25th May and click on Willy Lam

  • John C

    Another interesting perspective is found here — http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/ Look at the programme on Tuesday 25th May and click on Willy Lam


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