Political Promise

Ju Shardlow On… Lee Myung Bak for Good

In Ju Shardlow on May 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

President Lee Myung Bak this morning announced extreme sanctions against North Korea, notably in trade and shipping routes.

The plans have thrown up three important points not challenged enough in the Korean media: Firstly: the political stability of Lee Myung-Bak’s conservative government. The administration is slowly bowing to pressure from the far right by those wanting a more definitive military response to the Cheonan attack. Although it cannot pursue this option due to the North’s superior weaponry and nuclear capabilities, it makes us question where his sanctions are coming from and for whose interests. On the 2nd June, provincial elections will provide a necessary platform for scrutiny of the current regime, and Koreans will be watching the results closely.

Secondly: the relationship between China and North Korea. Beijing has always operated in a covert fashion, and many suspect it deals in luxury goods and industry material with Pyongyang. With a UN review imminent, it cannot plausibly retain its vote on the Security Council without making a statement on the Cheonan attack and being very frank in talks with the US this week.

Thirdly: the position of US military forces in the country. Whilst they may seem valuable to South Korea to ward off any attack by the North, everyone is suddenly worried about these trade sanctions for fear of retaliation. The USA is going to come out of this conflict looking like a headless chicken- it’s soldiers ready and willing for a fight (believe me, I’ve heard them shouting in bars) whilst its diplomats do everything in their power to avoid questioning Chinese interests and going at loggerheads with Kim Jong-Ils renegade generals.

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  1. Superior weaponry? N. Korea does not have superior weaponry, nor do they have the actual means to deliver a nuclear warhead successfully. What they do have is enough conventional old fashion artillery on the border to turn Seoul into the proverbial sea of fire that Kim likes to rant about. Perhaps 100,000 casualties could be inflicted before the ROK airforce could take out all the guns.

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