Old and new threats from North Korea against the Republic of Korea



Publication Details

A. Forbes & Y. Sukjoon, 'Old and new threats from North Korea against the Republic of Korea' in G. Till & Y. Sukjoon(ed), Korean Maritime Strategy: Issues and Challenges (2011) 17-56.


For most people the Cold War ended in 1991, but this is not the case on the Korean peninsula, where tensions remain high; the Armistice Agreement of 1953 may have ended the 'shooting war', but the two Koreas remain in a technical state of war. Economically North Korea is a failed state, while its support of global terrorism and aggressive actions against South Korea declare it is also a rogue state; and these aggressive actions cause severe inter-Korean tensions and conflict. To Western sensibilities, many of the actions of North Korea appear not only irrational and dangerous but also threatening to peninsula security; while from a North Korean perspective, this deliberate unpredictability gives them a strategic political edge. This situation leaves the Republic of Korea (ROK) government in an incredibly difficult position in determining how to deal with the North Korea's behaviour in such a way as to ensure peace and stability on the peninsula, but without risking war. This fraught strategic situation was exacerbated by the Korean People's Navy (KPN)'s unprovoked attack upon, subsequent sinking, and murder of 46 crew of ROK Ship (ROKS) Cheonan on 26 March 2010 and its deliberate indiscriminate artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island on 23 November 2010, which were major escalations in North Korean provocations and attacks against South Korea.

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