South Korea recently went ahead with live fire artillery drills off its coastal waters, the same type that caused the North to retaliate last time, however this time their guns were silent. North Korea had made threats of retaliation beyond the scope of what was seen last time and that if the two countries were to engage in war it would be nuclear. The South went ahead despite the threats and held a 94 minute drill. On Monday the North’s official news agency said that the exercise was “not worth reacting to.” Many analysts are now speculating that their may be a new policy in North Korea or that China stepped in secretly.
It is possible that North Korea, who is often overly nice to visitors, was trying to show its restraint to American Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. The North had already showed Mr. Richardson that it was willing to change by allowing United Nations inspectors back so that they can monitor their facilities. However most analysts feel that the North was going all in with a pair of deuces.
The analysts in Seoul feel that the North was trying to pressure the United States and South Korea back into talks about disarmament. The talks would only help North Korea though as the North frequently does this to get food and money without looking weak. Once North Korea gets its precious aid then they back out of the talks and talk about how they hate America as they eat our rice. Pushing a superpower to the brink of war over and over only works for the little guy a few times.
North Korea is also facing some very serious internal issues. The coming months are notoriously harsh on the people as it is so cold but now they are desperately low on food. This could produce another famine that the North will be unable to stop or able to handle. North Korea is also faced with putting in an untested and young new leader; Kim Jong-un. It seems that North Korea is fearing a meltdown once the new leader takes power and they’re trying to secure both aid and possible security concessions from Washington. Both the deadly barrage of artillery and these new policy’s could be aimed at making Kim Jong-il’s son look like he is able to lead his people just as well as their “Dear Leader.”
Beijing, along with Moscow, called for the live fire drills to be canceled but the South pushed on. Analysts say that the North’s restraint could be to woo public support in the South to once again create a push for aid. The South is still outraged with the shelling of Yeonpyeong island though. It’s laughable that North Korea could also be trying to project itself as the more “responsible” of the two Korea’s to both Beijing and Moscow. All they’d have to do to disprove that is turn on the news. “The world should properly know who is the true champion of peace and who is the real provocateur of a war,” the North’s news agency said on Monday. We do North Korea; we do.
The options for North Korea to survive are dwindling and they’re becoming desperate. The North, who fell a million tons behind in grain production, recently asked Seoul for 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer. The request was denied. I’m not sure how Pyongyang sees killing South Koreans as a viable way of getting aid but to each their own I suppose. North Korea is looking to secure its regime but they have pissed off the U.S. and South Korean people who now both want a harder line toward the North. The end may be in sight for the most secluded and impoverished regime in the world.