Smart yet resolute reactionNorth Korea’s provocation against South Korea has gone far beyond the level of what’s permissible. Without warning, North Korea fired more than 100 rounds of artillery near the Northern Limit Line, the maritime border in the Yellow Sea. More than 10 of those shells landed in the waters south of the NLL - the first time since the Korean War that shells have landed on our side of the border. The attack appears to have been a carefully calculated one, as it occurred immediately following the conclusion of our military exercises in the Yellow Sea.
North Korea’s seizure of a fishing boat on Sunday also appears to be an attempt to use the nine fishermen aboard the ship as hostages, because the North Korean patrol boat sailed a long distance to tow it away.
All of these actions seem aimed at shaking up the hard-line stance of our government and inciting internal chaos in this country.
North Korea has already labeled our defensive drill as a “military exercise for invasion,” raising the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula. Under the circumstances, it is possible that the North intends to create a crisis in the South through a series of provocations.
For example, by firing shells in the waters below the NLL, it may be seeking an excuse for a more serious provocation, because it knows that an action such as that could trigger a reaction from the South. Then, if a regional clash were to break out, the North could hold the South responsible. It is possible that the North believes that such an action will allow it to avoid responsibility for the sinking of our naval warship Cheonan.
When the Korean War broke out, the North’s military was superior to ours. But now our military retains an overwhelming advantage over the North, thanks to our strong alliance with the United States. Therefore, the possibility that a war will break out, which the North has repeatedly threatened, is slim, because the North knows that they will be defeated in the end. Still, we should take precautions for the possibility that the North will resort to its signature strategy by provoking a direct military clash in areas, including the waters around the NLL.
To do that, we should be fully prepared to counter any provocations by the North, while not allowing ourselves to be exploited by its deliberate scheme. For instance, it would be unnecessary for us to launch a counterattack in response to the recent shelling because we did not incur substantial damage. But in cases like the Cheonan sinking, which inflicted direct damage on us, we need to respond aggressively.
This is the time for the government to show North Korea a nimble, discreet and resolute reaction to future provocations.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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