Korea on the global stageWith a North Korean torpedo pinned down as irrefutable evidence, the Cheonan incident is quickly emerging as an international security issue. Most countries, including the Unites States, Japan, Canada and Australia, as well as the European Union, perceive the sinking of our warship as an “international incident” that goes beyond the usual disputes between South and North Korea to threaten world peace. This recognition reveals the remarkable significance of the tragedy, as it will inevitably influence the international community’s approach toward North Korea.
Canada plans to add the Cheonan case to the agenda of next month’s G8 summit there. The EU is also scheduled to ban North Koreans involved in the attack from entering the region. In the United States, a resolution denouncing the North and calling for international action was proposed in the House. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also said the U.S. is discussing what can be done with the United Nations Security Council and other international organizations. Japan, too, is responding to the incident aggressively, with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama presiding over an emergency cabinet meeting shortly after the Korean government’s announcement of the investigation results.
Actions such as these taken by the international community send a strong message to North Korea: Although North Korea is threatening to wage an all-out war, any additional provocations could quickly become a war between the North and the international community. Considering the resoluteness of the global community, any military provocations by North Korea will be taken as a challenge to world peace so the North will face immediate retaliation.
China and Russia should also take note of the international community’s response. The two have not yet recognized North Korea as responsible for the sinking, causing concern that they may not cooperate on international sanctions by the Security Council. Therefore, China and Russia should free themselves from their traditional alliance or friendship with the North by keeping a close eye on the global reaction to the incident.
The global reaction to this tragic incident was made possible by a thorough scientific investigation by our government. It will be followed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Northeast Asia, the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the ROK-China-Japan summit, the G8 meeting and the Security Council.
Through these events, the government has an important opportunity to demonstrate its diplomatic skills to the world.
We’ll be watching and hoping that it does.