Don’t provoke us againYesterday North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland announced the “countermeasures” it would take against the sanctions imposed by South Korea. These include cessation of relations with the South - meaning no dialogue and no contact - and closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Simply put, the North’s countermeasures seem to be the decision to expel South Korean personnel from the Consultative Office for South-North Economic Cooperation, operated by the South Korean Ministry of Unification in the city of Kaesong.
North Korea has shown a particularly sensitive reaction to our resumption of propaganda broadcasts against the North, which are scheduled to start in two weeks. Three days ago, North Korea’s Commander of the Central Region threatened to shoot the loudspeakers located along the border, and yesterday the head of the North Korean delegation in the South-North generals meeting warned to cut off the route to the special economic zone.
More worrisome is that there could be a regional clash in mid June when our broadcasts resume on the front line. In addition, North Korea could take South Korean staff working at the complex in Kaesong as hostages.
It is unfortunate that inter-Korean relations are becoming so extreme. But our countermeasures against the North are those that we, as the victims in this scenario, should legitimately be allowed to take. Furthermore, they show the government’s restraint. That means the tools for our retaliation against the North are mostly economic and diplomatic, minimizing military choices as much as possible. Yet North Korea is threatening to resort to direct military attacks against us. It is a strange situation in which the culprit is the one expressing its anger at the victim, rather than the other way around.
We strongly warn North Korea to restrain itself. South Korea has already presented to North Koreans irrefutable evidence that they are responsible for the Cheonan sinking through a monthlong scientific investigation.
But if the North really thinks they are not accountable for the tragedy, then they should prove their innocence. If that is impossible, they should admit their guilt and apologize. What we demand from them is not a huge amount of compensation for their crime.
The longer their apology is delayed, the more damage they will suffer.
However, if the North dares to make another round of provocations, it will be met by a much stronger retaliatory response from our side. We have already chosen to use our right to self-defense instead of taking revenge with military action. We warn them not to provoke us again.