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Will they or won’t they? This is the question on the minds of bloggers this week, as North Korea makes like a coquette and keeps everyone guessing about its intentions for its Taepodong 2 missile. Something of a voice in the blogosphere wilderness, Unity at “An English Blog in South Korea” (http://blog.myspace.com/weicave), posts a report from the Korea Herald outlining Seoul’s position; to wit, the missile may be no more than a satellite, and speculation of a ballistic missile test is just that: speculation. “Read carefully,” she exhorts, “and don’t nuke anyone just yet!”
At which sentiment Dram Man (http://dramman.blogspot.com/) looks skyward, throws his hands in the air in exasperation, and asks, “When did the Korean Central News Agency open a bureau in the Blue House?”
“What is troubling to me in this,” he writes, “is the South seems to be crossing the line from being an apologist to a collaborator. Expect North Korea to crow about another satellite launch if they do fire off another missile.”
But despite accusations that the South Korean government is reacting with characteristic insouciance to the North’s saber-rattling, Robert at “The Marmot’s Hole” (http://www.rjkoehler.com) feels no one has more to fear than Seoul should the North go through with the test. “If the North fires a missile, the black haze you’ll see on the horizon won’t be from a warhead going off; it will be South Korea’s efforts to get the Americans to play nice with Pyongyang going up in smoke. The Roh administration’s diplomatic efforts [will be worthless], and President Roh will look like an even bigger clown in Washington than he already does. His diplomatic woes will no doubt be compounded by the Japanese, who will waste no opportunity to point out to the Americans the failures of the Roh administration and why it’s Tokyo, not Seoul (and certainly not Beijing!), to whom the Americans should listen ― oh, and please expedite those F-22 sales, thanks.”
And Robert warns against taking Japanese and American protests at face value. “Dollars to donuts the U.S. and Japan actually want the North to launch, as it provides them even more justification to up the pressure on the North, makes it tougher for China to continue protecting the North in the UN, and who knows ― they might even get a chance to try out that snazzy new missile defense system they’ve been working on.”
If true, the U.S. and Japan have a cheerleader in Joshua at “The Korea Liberator” (http://www.korealiberator.org/). “Please, please, please launch the thing without further delay,” he writes. “[If] North Korea launches its missile, every nation within splashing distance would have a vivid illustration of why it ought to reserve itself a spot under Uncle Sam’s big blue umbrella. It would be a 20-year earthquake in favor of U.S. geopolitical power in the region. If nations signed on to a U.S. missile shield in droves, China would stand to lose the benefit of a decade of intricate iron fist/silk glove diplomacy.”

Back to the real news: After a defeat at the hands of the Swiss, the Korean team bowed out of the World Cup this week in yet another game marred by suspect refereeing. Blogosphere opinion on the veracity of the calls is somewhat split, but distaste at the Korean anti-Swiss backlash is universal. Robert at “The Marmot’s Hole” provides good coverage of the tomfoolery, which includes: flooding the Web sites of the Swiss Embassy and ― yes! ― tourist board with anti-Swiss bile, a threat to blow up the Swiss Embassy, and a quixotic campaign to “force” FIFA to call a rematch by gathering 5 million Korean signatures. “Run, fondue eaters! Run for your lives!” Robert advises.
Despite the idiocy of the few, Brian at “Cathartidae” (http://cathartidae.wordpress. com/) reminds us why Korea can be such a great place to watch the World Cup. “The truth is that I'm sad to see Korea out so soon... the excitement in my students and co-workers has been a joy to watch. Better luck next time, Korea.”

by Niels Footman
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