Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NKorean Artillery Fire

Reports started coming in a couple of hours ago (here) of a firing incident across the Limit Line, hitting Yeonpyeong Island. (Link note: Google Maps does not show the Western Sea Border. The island is South Korea; The nearby mainland is North Korea.)

Don't bother going to Reuters, The AP, or other such wire services yet. They are all citing YONHAP... which I conveniently have the direct link to their story. Check the mainpage there as well, for they have both a photo news section with good pics on this *and* you can bet there will be followup reports and related political news.

First Glance Analysis: This is another provocation incident. Not a very clever one either. The primary target may have been ROK elements involved in the "Hoguk Exercise", but the damage seems fairly widespread and as the report says, the shelling fell well south of the exercise area. The pressure on the Lee administration to do something is going to be fairly intense, but like after the Cheonan sinking, picking *what* to do and *when* will be very important.


Darkwater said...

Think there is any situation in which SK would actually start a war and invade or move to cripple the north?

L.Douglas Garrett said...


Hm... with the caveat that you mean "resume major hostilities" as a state of war does still exist...


The most likely scenario would be an intervention during a collapse of unitary authority in the North; If factions of the North's military started shooting at each other in a power struggle, there would be some serious motivation to take action.

Sufficient provocation would also likely end with resumed hostilities, but considering everything the ROK has been willing to absorb so far, that might have to be one hell of a big provocation. There is a pattern of escalation by the North happening, though, so I wouldn't discount the North's willingness to actually seize one of the western islands or to target the American military presence directly. Either of those might be enough. A mass casualty attack on mainland certainly would be.

There are a couple more scenarios involving a hard move to the nationalist right by South Korean leadership and/or the PRC openly cutting ties with the DPRK, but both are rather less likely by far.

Moves to cripple the North without a return to hot war are almost impractical so long as the PRC is willing to prop up the North.