South Korea has jittery nerves. It should. With joint US ROK military exercises along the Northern Limit Line within ‘spitting distance’ of North Korea’s territorial waters, Seoul sparked a riposte from the North when one or more of its shells landed in the DPRK’s space in November 2010 rising fears of renewed warfare in the divided Korean peninsula.
GuamDiary has long commented on the dispute. We have pointed out the provocative nature of these exercises that have one object in mind: to spook North Korea is to isolate further the DPRK, by straining its resources to the maximum so that it will collapse. We were also criticised for suggesting that a live shell knows no direction, and that may help explain why the ROK’s penetrated North Korea’s sovereign space, thereby drawing its fire on the military installations on Yeongpyeong 10 kilometres or so away in the South’s waters along the NLL.
Today, it seems the North’s shells have ‘wandered’ into the South’s space near Yeongpyeong. Which all goes to support our suggestion that a live shell knows no destination at times. The ROK responded by returning fire. The DPRK, however, responded by saying that the sounds of gunfire were in reality the result of blasting for construction purposes in the are of South Hwanghae Province close to the five islands in the West Sea of Korea. Whatever the reasons may be, one thing is quite clear: the very tense relations between South and North that South Korea’s president Lee Myung bak instituted when he entered the Blue House and which the Obama White House supports to the hilt.
Selig Harrison a senior scholar at the Wood Wilson International Center at Princeton, wrote in a ‘New York Times’ opinion piece suggested, in the wake of the shelling of Yeongpyeong in 2010 that the NLL be redrawn in order to stay itching trigger fingers that might set off warfare. His suggestion went no further than into the circulating file of good ideas.
Stability lies in a peace treaty replacing the 1953 Armistice agreement and finally ending the 61 year old Korean War. Neither the US nor its ally the ROK see any purchase in that solution today. As such, panic will reign along the NLL.