The Two Koreas

C. Kenneth Quinones
2011 Akita International University Global Review  
Two incidents in 2010, brought South and North Korea close to war. In April North Korea's navy allegedly sank a South Korean naval vessel, killing more than forty sailors. Then in November the North Korean army bombarded a small South Korean occupied island, killing a small number of civilians and military personnel. This paper examines, as best as can be done given North Korea's preference for secrecy, the possible motives behind Pyongyang's provocative actions and whether South Korea's policy
more » ... toward the North contributed to the situation. The author conjectures that North Korea's leader condoned these actions to ensure the North Korean military's support for his son's succession. The author presents evidence that demonstrates the military's increasing influence on policy in Pyongyang. He points out that both incidents' genesis can be traced to long standing disputes between the two Koreas. Unfortunately, the author concludes, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's discarding of North-South agreements achieved by his predecessors to resolve these issues intensified tensions that contributed to the two incidents. This paper is an expanded and revised version of a similar study first published in Japanese in the Japanese monthly journal, Gaiko. After revision, the paper was presented at an international conference held at the University of British Columbia in August 2011. There scholars from The Two Koreas -Is War Inevitable? version of the paper. Predictably, they could only agree to disagree, for very different reasons, regarding the causes for the incidents. They did, however, express optimism that the resumption of North-South Korea dialogue could prevent the eruption of a second Korean War.
doi:10.50866/aiugr.3.0_88 fatcat:pmpkiea2mbbyxdrtf5zc73nf7i