This is How Wars Start

In perhaps the most serious armed confrontation between North and South Korea since the Gangneung Submarine Incident in 1996, the DPRK has been blamed formally for the sinking in March of the Cheonan, a ROK warship in the Yellow Sea. Forty-six sailors died.

With absolutely no desire to justify myself to latter-day animists (aka conspiracy theorists), the evidence of handwritten Korean script on a recovered torpedo fragment pointed to the Hermit Kingdom which is the only country to mark torpedos as such (and the fragment was consistent with known DPRK torpedos). Other pointers included a visit to senior Chinese Government officials by Kim Jong-Il; his first foreign trip in four years which, unlike the last time, was publicized during and not afterwards.

(Although he may have been reassuring Hu Jintao that, unlike the previous deal for use of the Rajin port which was renaged on, this time it is for real.)

Even though US/ROK joint Naval exercises have been announced, the DPRK has in the past consistently wriggled out of negative consequences for its revolting behaviour (distinct from negative consequences for Koreans north of the 38th). There are very few people in the world whose deaths I would actively welcome, but the death of Kim Jong-Il appears to be essential to solving this.

In other news – with Diner Number One’s taste for rabbits and, like Jabba the Hut, live fish – anyone up for elephant curry?

UPDATE 26 May Rather than kidnap ROK representatives at Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Pyongyang has expelled eight and announced its intention to shoot any loudspeakers installed to broadcast propaganda messages.

UPDATE 27 May Pyongyang has scrapped reciprocal arrangements and telephone hotline with Seoul to avoid accidental naval clashes, as joint US/ROK exercises continue.

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