Political Promise

Ju Shardlow On… Cheonan, Woah Man!

In Ju Shardlow on May 3, 2010 at 8:59 am

Cue Kim Tae-Young, riding out on a small pony with launce in hand. Cloaked in bulls-eye print whilst heralds chime “and first, Mr. Kim… the bravest and stupidest of them all”.

The South Korean Defense Minister took it upon himself this weekend to make a threatening statement against Kim Jong-Il’s military, blasting them for the ‘torpedo’ attack against the Cheonan warship in which 46 sailors died last month. Now, the sentiment I sympathize with. The English have a fantastic tradition where people with no change-making ability make embarrassingly bold international remarks. The Duke of Edinburgh, Kilroy-Silk versus the entire Arab world….But this is more like Chamberlain’s “peace in our time”. A monumentally hasty assumption that will cost jobs, political tension with the US and China, and most importantly motivate the North into increasing their nuclear arsenal.

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The South Korean economy depends on a thin level of cooperation with Pyongyang.  If the two nations are flurried back into active combat, the South’s infrastructure would crumble. We even know the North is already highly sanctioned by the UN and has been pushed to the depths of international obscurity, but it is not for goading. The weapons trials of 2009 showed us Musudan missiles with a range of 4000 km, wanton firing of surface-to-ship missiles in the Sea of Japan, and successful underground nuclear testing.  

Saying that those “responsible” for the deaths of 46 sailors must “pay a price” is quite possibly the dumbest thing you could say at such a delicate moment. Yes, it is pathetic the way the Republic has to tiptoe around the North. Yes, it is sad that despite years of independence, the South must be babysat by foreign militaries. But this delicacy runs throughout the Peninsula. The whole relationship reaks of a couple who never see each other because they are too ashamed to have to finally say they are secretly married to someone else, bankrupt or once slept with Vladimir Putin.  Kim Jong Il runs his country like he’s got nothing to lose. A weakened dictator struggling to juggle his sons’ succession to power with a haywire military that is close to acting of its own accord, there is no evidence as yet that he’s even guilty of an attack on the naval boat (it is only known that an exterior “close-range” blast split it in two).

Investigation officials have been scrutinizing pieces of aluminum, a key material in making a torpedo, that were picked up from the disaster area. You can see how easily these ‘independent’ advisors will be sabotaged by the media in Pyongyang by Mr Kim’s remarks. Swedish, American investigators et al (who just happen to be key UN players) will get tagged as pro-western republic sympathizers who have skewed and forged evidence of what was in fact a accident caused by an old underwater mine. 

Supporters of the Defense Ministry will clarify Mr Kims remarks: “Well, he didn’t really say the North were the perpetrators.”Oh I’m sorry, we’re we supposed to be considering some other “forces” it is possible to make a “blow” against? Like, giant sea-urchins, or Alaska?

Of course, people who huff and puff will always be media blessings, and from a purely anarchistic perspective I like to see the odd shake-up of fusty international diplomacy. But as someone who has money in a Korean bank, lives in the northernmost province and quite likes Lee Myung Bak….just zip it, please. We need to go back to this pathetic, uncomfortable silence.

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