Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cheonan Sinking

So, the main thing going on in Korea right now is the Cheonan sinking. It sank almost a month ago, but the government is still investigating the cause. However, the more news that is released, the more people are beginning to believe it was North Korea. In fact, the leader of an activist group just did an interview with AP saying that he's been speaking with a NK military official who told him it was a direct order from Kim Jong-il to sink the ship. (I find this report dubious, especially since the South's military didn't/won't confirm it and said they have found no proof... whoever is telling the truth... who knows...)

So far, South Korea has been hesitant to officially blame the North, and I can understand why. Things are shaky between the North and the South anyway, and an all out accusation by the government could lead the North to something crazy and complicate an already fragile relationship And it would put the South's government in an awkward situation. I can tell that they don't really want to take military action, but many (mostly post-Korean war born) people are calling for reciprocation. Taking military action could lead to re-opening the war, which would deal a terrible blow to the South's economy. They've spent the last 60 years working hard to turn the country around after the devastation of the war, and renewed military action here would lead to foreign investors pulling out and the country having to start from scratch all over again.

So, it's a sticky situation right now. The latest reports say that investigators believe the boat split apart after some sort of external explosion from underneath, however, there is no evidence that it had a direct hit. They say it was either a mine or torpedo, though so far, no debris of either has turned up. In short, there is little evidence available and definitely not enough for a definitive cause. All they've been able to officially rule out so far is some sort of internal malfunction or explosion and fatigue failure.

If it is North Korea... I'm not sure why they would sink one of Seoul's ships when they've been trying to get food aid and start up tourist ventures again. They need money and food, and blowing up a ship won't really help that. Though a co-worker said that she thinks it was payback for the naval skirmishes back in 2002. North Korea lost, so they bid their time until they could get the South back.

Some even think that it's the US' fault. I've heard talk that it could have been a US mine forgotten in the West Sea from the Korean War that accidentally detonated.
The general consensus of my co-workers is that the government won't do anything military-wise, and an article that I just read said that it plans to leave all diplomatic options open if it should turn out to be North Korea. So, I suppose that helps. It calms my fears about war breaking out again. Though, regardless, the foreigners here are definitely keeping a close eye on things. I'm just a little worried about how things will turn out...

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