Monday, May 24, 2010

A Mature Response

I guess I remember all of the chair throwing and crazy videos of the Korean parliament from the past, so I did not expect much from them on the Cheonan ship sinking incident. I was completely wrong.

I think things have been handled pretty close to perfectly so far.  The rhetoric was measured and designed to keep the public from getting ahead of any possible response.  The government did a good job involving other countries in the investigation to be sure it was transparent and above repute. The response was a bit slow but thoughtful. They have done a good job working in concert with their partners on China.

The president's statement today was perfect I think:

"Fellow citizens, we have always tolerated North Korea's brutality, time and again. We did so because we have always had a genuine longing for peace on the Korean Peninsula," he said. "But now things are different. North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts."
Lee then said that "no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control" and that "any inter-Korean trade or other cooperative activity is meaningless."
Of course, regardless of how perfect things are, the outcome could very well suck.  North Korea will certainly up the rhetoric, they might set off a nuclear bomb and act like a spoiled child (as Hillary Clinton termed their actions it in the past).  The President has been pretty clear that game playing is over.  He said on Friday:
 "From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain the principle of proactive deterrence," Lee said. "If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense."
This could be just another row, albeit a very serious one, in a long series between the North and the South (this is my guess).  On the other hand, this has the possibility to be a game changer.  Will the little guy in heels show he is really crazy?  Will China act like the partner for stability in the region as they claim? We will see.

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