Above: Lee Myung Bak
North and South Korea ties are thinning anew.
North Korea unleashed propaganda against the South’s recently elected president, Lee Myung-bak (pictured above), calling him a “traitor” and a “US sycophant.” Sycophant, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is the same as a back scratcher, or a boot licker, or, how do we put this politely… um, a “behind” kisser.
After nearly a decade of peace and reconciliation, the North is suddenly on the attack.
Mr. Lee “is making a mess of the process to denuclearize the peninsula,” said a long article in Rodong Shinmun, North Korea’s most assertive and dictatorial government newspaper. “The Lee regime will be held fully accountable for the irrevocable catastrophic consequences to be entailed.”
Pictured below is North Korea’s infamous leader, Kim Jong-Il.
President Lee is scheduled to meet with President Bush on the 18th at Camp David. The purpose of the said meeting is to discuss the steps to be taken in dealing with North Korea.
Christopher R. Hill, the United States assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and current envoy to nuclear talks with North Korea, warned that these recent statements are not helping anybody’s cause. He feels that the North is actually trying to build tension between the countries so as to stall the nuclear negotiations.
President Lee is unlike previous South Korean presidents in that he does not shy away from a fight against the North. He has made an election promise to get tough on his counterpart. He plans to make economic help and humanitarian aid to the North directly dependent on the progress of the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
Statements have boiled into military tension between the two countries.
In recent days, North Korea’s navy has warned of naval skirmishes. Also, North Korean air force jets have flown alarming close to the border.
North Korea has threatened to turn the South into a “sea of ashes.”
This recent military tension has discouraged foreign investment in the South, dealing a fatal blow to another of President Lee’s election promises, which is to reinvigorate the South Korean economy.
Consequently, this further puts the North in a position to shift the blame for the impasse in the nuclear talks towards the South, proving that Lee’s policies are backfiring.
“Is it helpful? I certainly don’t think so,” said US State Department’s deputy spokesman Tom Casey on whether these verbal exchanges between North and South Korea could undermine the six-nation talks on the North Korea’s nuclear program.
Aside from North and South Korea, the completing countries of the six nations are the United States, Russia, China, and Japan. All these nations are awaiting the official statement on North Korea’s nuclear stockpiles and activities the North had promised to declare by the end of 2007.
“North Korea is sending a warning to the United States and South Korea ahead of their summit,” said Choi Jin-wook of the Korea Institute for National Unification. “It’s the North Korean way of responding to the situation around the Korean Peninsula that is not developing in its favor.”
We all hope that these verbal exchanges remain as they are and not develop into an all out war. We all know that the North Korean army is truly capable of turning the South into dust. But don’t get us wrong, we are totally behind the South in its strict policies. Even with Lee’s economic pressure, we still can’t expect the North to declare their nuclear capabilities – but it’s a valiant effort that we appreciate.