Instapundit’s North Korea Wisdom

A mature, sober, prudent response to today’s attack on South Korea.

JUST WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW: North Korea fires artillery barrage on South. If they start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs. They’ve caused enough trouble — and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too. We can’t afford another Korean war, but hey, we’re already dismantling warheads. . . .

Kill them all!

And this is the leading to-the-right blogger?


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 100 Comments

@ Mike

True but this close to North Korea will bring up the North objection to the Northern Limit Line which to NK is not legit without their consent which means that area that SK fire was North’s area as well.

I recall it and indeed is provocation of North Korea of being “attention-getters.”

November 26, 2010 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

Trying to justify NK’s actions ranks right down there with the Insty quotes Richard cited at the start of this thread. Sooner or later, SK is going to get fed up with this crap and retaliate on a more serious scale.

I happen to like Obama’s handling of this incident. Keep saying no bilateral talks, insist on 6 party talks, insist on NK shutting down all nuke facilities, keep all sanctions in place – and send another carrier group. Shut off food and fuel. There have been reports that food shortages are so bad in NK that some military units are on short rations.

And the best shot you have at Palin is a slip of the tongue she self-corrected seconds later? Really? Lame, massively, massively lame.

November 26, 2010 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

King Tubby:


Who? DXP, maybe?

November 26, 2010 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

BBC is carrying the report the SK Defense Minister was forced to resign because of the response to the NK shelling. Too little too late. New guy says any future provocations will be dealt with faster and that SK will not be obligated to respond in proportion. SK does not seem to be interested in defusing this.

OT, but interesting as hell. Russia and US announced agreement for NATO supply convoys to cross Russian territory to reach Afghanistan. Imagine that. US and British convoys – including armor coloums – on Russian soil, with Russian permission. Big time game changer.

November 26, 2010 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

Goju. There has already been a considerable degree of Russian/NATO/US collaboration what with the joint destruction of 50 tons of heroin last week: a blaze which really irked Karzai, since the responsible warlord was probably a member of his cabinet. Not a surprising joint action, since narcotics has cut a swathe thru Russian society, and is also a major conduit for AIDS in that part of the world.

November 26, 2010 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

The incident happened along the Northern Limit Line, a Western sea border unilaterally drawn by the United States at the end of the Korean War and never accepted by the North. The Northern Limit Line has been the site of a number of skirmishes between ROK and DPRK naval forces.

By Jason’s above reasoning, North Korea can justifiably attack every inch of South Korea from the DMZ to Jeju Island because even the sovereign status of the South Korea has never been accepted by the North. Hahaha.

November 26, 2010 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

And the best shot you have at Palin is a slip of the tongue she self-corrected seconds later? Really? Lame, massively, massively lame.

Hahaha. Remember this is the very the same lady who claimed that she had foreign policy experience because she was Alaskan governor, the state from which she can “see” Russia. When Katie Couric asked her to name some newspapers and magazines she reads, this airhead can’t name any of them.

And what’s more, this is the very same stupid Republican who called Africa a “country”. Even Fox News reports her idiocy.

Make no mistake about Palin’s stupidity.

November 26, 2010 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

And the best shot you have at Palin is a slip of the tongue she self-corrected seconds later? Really? Lame, massively, massively lame.

And if you have listened with your ears wide, Palin didn’t “self-correct” her mistake, it was actually the interviewer who corrected her on that debacle before she corrected herself.

November 26, 2010 @ 5:40 pm | Comment


So will you admit that the dissent are not-un-American?

More dissent…..

I didn’t say they were “un-American”, I said that MOST of the criticism came from people that didn’t like America OR ITS FOREIGN POLICY.

Can you show me that MOST OF THE CRITICS (not just the ones you cited) are firm supporters of US foreign policy?

November 26, 2010 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

SP123 Then by your standard Obama is also an idiot. Unless of course, Europe is a country, American has 20 million years of tradition, the FBI has only been around for 100 days, Obmacare is going to increase health inefficiencies – and lets not forget how proud Obama was of his Muslim faith until corrected by the interviewer. People misspeak all the time. Most of us are lucky enough not to have news cameras pointed at us all the time.

You might want to look at a map. Big and Little Diomedes islands are close enough that you can look across from one to the other. So you can actually see Russia from the US. It was sort of a standing joke with military personnel stationed in Alaska. And just so you know for future reference, the governor of Alaska does have to deal with other countries. It is a part of the Artic Circle group as well as a favorite fishing grounds for foriegn fleets. There are numerous reasons for a person to oppose Palin without resorting to false assertions. Palin’s lack of experience was never a real point anyway. It was merely an attack item. And it way very successful. Was being the operative word.

King, I was aware of the past cooperation. I guess I just was mildly suprised the Russians were allowing actual armor vechicles to cross their soil. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. I found it funny that everyone is saying this agreement does not cover the transport of weapons. Isn’t the M1 Abrams kind of the definition of a weapon? I am also wondering if this signals a shift in the US stance toward Pakistan. We have had to put up with alot with Pakistan because of the supply lines crossing there. Reducing or even eliminating that dependence puts a whole new spin on things. Patreus has always been known for thinking outside of the box. The drug trade has been a major cancer throughout the area. Maybe a coordinated US/Nato/Chinese push to wipe it out is coming?

We are getting seriously OT here tho.

November 27, 2010 @ 3:20 am | Comment

I never go after politicians for their gaffes. When they’re always on-camera they’re bound to make slips of the tongue. With Sarah Palin, it’s not her gaffes that indict her, it’s her well-documented ignorance, not to mention her mean-spiritedness and loathsome tactic of hurling out zingers (“death panels’) that reduce the dialog to childishness. Of course, she hurls her invective from the safety of her Facebook page, where she can never be called to account.

When Obama screws up and says, “the FBI has only been around for 100 days,” I don’t think anyone really believes he’s so stupid that he actually believes the FBI is only 100 days old. With Palin, however, one really has to wonder if she believes her nonsense because she has a track record for saying the most bizarre things, and unlike Obama she has never once shown any profound grasp of any serious issues. 99 percent of what Obama says is measured and intelligent (and I’m not saying it’s necessarily true or good, but it’s not stupid). With Palin, nearly all of her pronouncements are bone-headed and ignorant, so it’s small wonder people really believe she could think North Korea is our ally. I don’t like the tactic of seizing on a small thing like that, however, which may well have been an innocent slip. And it’s irrelevant, because with Palin, there’s ample ammunition to prove her stupidity and depravity, and it’s all from her own mouth.

November 27, 2010 @ 3:40 am | Comment

@ Raj

Some of the dissent are actually researchers and scientists who doesn’t gave a damn about US foreign policies and most of the researchers and doubters main problem is quick judgment is the wrong answer.

November 27, 2010 @ 3:49 am | Comment

Goju. Iran is the only country in the region making serious attemps to control drug transportation across its long borders, and the US should publicly acknowledge that fact. Pakistan is little more than army/drug mafia owned state, which is only a few steps away from social implosion,and deserveably so. Why pour US and other western countries aid money into that sink hole/sewer.

The US should begin to talk to Iran as equal, reign in Israel (a massive ask I know) and begin some sort of reconciliation process. After all the Iranian/Persian state has considerably more legitimacy and history/civilisation than its Sunni neighours. That would be serious long-term strategic thinking.

November 27, 2010 @ 5:50 am | Comment

Richard, I am not trying to defend Palin. My point is that her critics are just making her look stronger. Her constant theme is that the MSM is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Leftist/Obama agenda. Have you seen her response to the criticism of the NK gaffe? She released an Obama parody speech starting with a welcome to the citizens of all 57 states. It covers only 14 of his gaffes. She ends by saying Obama’s gaffes don’t get media attention because the media covers for him while always trying to blow her gaffes out of proportion. It doesn’t matter if its true. She is creating the perception that it is true. It just seems that her biggest critics are doing their utmost to help her.
You work with PR, you know the power of perception.

King, I am in full agreement with most of what you said. I differ on Israel. Part of that is due to a complete lack of sympathy towards the Palestinians. A strong Israel agressively defending its interests is the best strategy for a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

Apologies to Richard for going so far OT.

November 27, 2010 @ 8:50 am | Comment

I saw Palin’s sickening Facebook post with the Obama gaffes – snide, sarcastic and intellectually bankrupt as usual. The very idea of this turkey becoming president is too scary to think about. For a good post on why Palin’s string of Obama gaffes was so repulsive see this intelligent take-down.

Palin’s PR works – with a small segment of the American public, namely the in-bred herd animal stupid enough to fall for her populist horseshit.

Can we get back to Korea now?

November 27, 2010 @ 10:39 am | Comment

Back to Korea. Any guesses on the NK response to the joint exercises? My guess is alot of bluster and posturing. China is very unhappy with the large presence of the US Navy in their backyard. I’m thinking China is going to pull the reins on NK and keep them from starting anything. I’ve noticed a growing call for Japan to start stepping up its involvement in these issues. Not too sure that would be met with much approval from other countries in the area. Can you imagine the reaction to talk about selling the Japanese US weapon systems and asking them to start things like joint exercises?

November 27, 2010 @ 11:53 am | Comment

What differentiates to ordinary drills than this drill, you and many others who believes that it was just an ordinary day of drills, should look at SK’s mission to this drill which the South Korean military stated clearly: to sharpen its joint combat capabilities against North Korea.

I would completely agree with your argument if the South Korean military took a non-threatening tone.

What is the “threatening tone” here? That annual large drills are going on? As they have every year for many years now?

I called your kind an “idiot” because your position is totally idiotic. if the drill was really “threatening” where is the meaningful response? Norks shelling civilians neither reduces S Korean’s “threat” to North Korea nor reduces South Korea’s ability to wage war nor reduces international support for South Korea nor shores up support for North Korea. It neither calms tensions nor displays that North Korea is a government that can be worked with. Instead it plays directly into the US/SKorea propaganda line that the North Koreans are insane and cannot be dealt with rationally. It increases the chance of war on the Peninsula and thus the chance that the regime will be pulled down by invasion or collapse from war. In other words, it is idiotic in the extreme. The only people impressed are those who think it is way cool to respond to a drill by shelling civilians. Fortunately they will graduate from their pimply-faced adolescence soon.

I’m not even going to discuss the “threat” issue — drills are not threats. If they were, why doesn’t North Korea shell civilians each time?

Stop blaming the victim.

November 27, 2010 @ 12:35 pm | Comment

The total idiocy of NK’s approach was pointed out today in this article:
The Chinese government is trying to send Pyongyang a signal that if they continue to be so provocative, China will just leave the North Koreans to themselves,” said Zhu Feng, director of Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Sending signals is likely to be as far as Beijing goes, however. China fears that tougher action – say cutting the food and fuel assistance Beijing supplies – would destabilize the isolated North Korean dictatorship, possibly leading to its collapse. That could send floods of refugees into northeastern China and result in a pro-U.S. government taking over in the North.

“What China should do is make the North Koreans feel that they have got to stop messing around,” Zhu said.

China may also be mindful of its relations with key trading partner Seoul, strained by Beijing’s reluctance to condemn Pyongyang over the March ship sinking. Raising a clamor over upcoming drills in the wake of a national tragedy would only further alienate South Korea.

So North Korea successfully forced China to acquiesce to US carriers hanging out in the Yellow Sea and got them to put pressure on North Korea, as well as once again reflect on their relationships with the two Koreas, while highlighting the fact that one Korea is really really stupid. Yay! Foreign policy success!!!!!


November 27, 2010 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

Then by your standard Obama is also an idiot.

Haha. But certainly Obama never rambled on like Palin for more than a minute incoherently when she was asked about the bail-out plan. That airhead literally dumped everything (relevant or not) she can think of offhand when she was asked what she thought of the bail-out.

I like the line from Palin: “Ultimately what the bail-out does is help out those who are concerned about their healthcare….helping the.. er..oh…it’s gotta be all about job creation too..”

November 27, 2010 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

Yes the annual drills is been run frequently but this particular drills was an retaliatory action by the South Korea by Chenonan sinking and accused North responsible which was completely reverse from the first reaction. That conclusion of the report is inconclusive to judge of who is the penetrator and almost all of the report is been hidden and public can’t see it. No wonder China didn’t threaten and criticize North which the Huff Post didn’t point out.

That is why North felt threatened by this particular artillery drill which was warned beforehand. Since the South refusal to halt the drills, the retaliation by the North was an outcome which were pre-determined.

I don’t agree with the excessive retaliation by the North but what I don’t like is the most of the media paints that North Korea was unprovoked which it clearly was when they fired back.

I do agree that the excessive retaliation by the North played into US hands which makes China even more uncomfortable.

November 27, 2010 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

@ Michael

I also wanted to point out again the historical significance of Yeonpyeong Island, which has witnessed two previous confrontations between the North and the South, one in 1999 and another in 2002.

The area has been a bone of contention between the two sides because the armistice, which drew a line of demarcation on land, failed to extend it to this maritime area: the US commander simply drew a line unilaterally, which the North Koreans later rejected.

For the South Koreans to conduct military exercises in this explosive region, never mind firing off rounds, is nothing but a naked provocation of the sort the West routinely ascribes to Pyongyang. In the context of North Korea’s recent revelation that it is increasing its nuclear capacity, the South Korean military maneuvers were meant to elicit a violent response – and succeeded in doing so.

November 27, 2010 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

For the South Koreans to conduct military exercises in this explosive region, never mind firing off rounds, is nothing but a naked provocation of the sort the West routinely ascribes to Pyongyang. In the context of North Korea’s recent revelation that it is increasing its nuclear capacity, the South Korean military maneuvers were meant to elicit a violent response – and succeeded in doing so.

At least one problem with your thesis is that the firing was part of monthly exercises, the South Koreans claim:
“The minister also explained that the North’s attack was unrelated to the joint Hoguk exercise between South Korea and the U.S. and that North Korea had bombarded the island because of monthly shooting exercises near the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas.

“We are indeed in the middle of Hoguk exercises but the training that took place near Yeonpyeong Island was not part of the Hoguk exercises, but monthly shooting exercises,” said Kim.”

The other objections I raised before remain relevant even if you accept that the point of the US-South Korean Hoguk exercises (in planning for months) were to piss off North Korea and provoke an incident like this: the Norks played right into US hands while accomplishing absolutely nothing for themselves AND making their allies’ lives more difficult. Another brilliant success for North Korean policy!

Idiotic, as I said.

November 27, 2010 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

I see but was the drills near Yeonpyeong Island noted as non-Hoguk exercises beforehand. If the South Korea didn’t announced it, then North would believe that it was part of Hoguk exercises?

But this non-Hoguk exercises and Hoguk exercises is certainly murky. In 8:20 am when NK sent a teletext of ordering to halt firing exercises, would they including the non-Hoguk exercise as well?

November 27, 2010 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

SP, Richard asked us to return to topic. I have agreed. A Palin thread will just lead to a battle of links and invective. Not relevent or useful to the topic at hand.

Jason, The question is; just what has NK accomplished? They’ve pissed off everyone in the area, including their staunchest ally, they’ve pretty much guaranteed not only the present joint exercises but future ones as well (further angering China), the SK population is demanding higher levels of response to NK actions, and there is going to be more calls for more sanctions. Where is the upside for NK?

NK’s other problem is its total lack of credibility. They’ve played the “provocation” card so many times that nobody believes them. Even the Chinese aren’t buying it this time.

November 28, 2010 @ 1:31 am | Comment

The Korean crisis and the threat of a wider war
27 November 2010

This week marks the 60th anniversary of China’s entry in force into the Korean War. The attack carried out by some 300,000 Chinese troops resulted in one of the most stunning defeats suffered by the US military in its entire history.

What followed was a protracted and bloody stalemate that ended only with the armistice declared in July 1953. The war had claimed the lives of more than four million people, the vast majority of them Korean civilians.

Six decades after US and Chinese troops waged bitter hand-to-hand combat south of the Yalu River, tensions on the Korean peninsula are arguably at their highest since the end of the Korean War. They are being fed by and are in turn exacerbating great power conflicts between Washington and Beijing.

The arrival in the Yellow Sea this weekend of a naval battle group led by the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, signals another escalation in the current crisis.

The dispatch of the giant warship was announced in the immediate wake of the North Korean shelling Tuesday of the island of Yeonpyeong, killing two South Korean marines and two construction workers.

North Korea has said that its bombardment was in response to shells fired into its territorial waters by the South Korean military during war games held only a few miles from the North’s coastline. South Korea launched a retaliatory barrage that it claimed inflicted significant damage, but no casualty reports have been issued in the North. Now new war games—this time with a massive US component—create the conditions for another clash.

Incendiary rhetoric has accompanied the crisis on both sides of Korea’s demilitarized zone. On Friday, North Korea denounced the planned joint US-South Korean exercises as a provocation and warned, “The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war.”

In the South, the government replaced its defense minister with a former chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and announced the adoption of new rules of engagement that would allow the military to respond with disproportionate force to attacks from the North. The garrison on Yeonpyeong (just seven miles from the North Korean coast), meanwhile, has been reinforced with more troops and heavy weapons.

Right-wing legislators, meanwhile have denounced the government of President Lee Myung-bak for failing to take more aggressive action, including the use of air strikes, against the North.

Lee and his Grand National Party (GNP), the party of the former military dictatorships that ruled South Korea with US support, came into office promising a hard-line stance toward North Korea. Its cutting off of aid and rejection of the “Sunshine Policy,” through which previous South Korean governments sought reconciliation via investments and aid, have played a significant role in provoking the escalating conflict. Now Lee is under pressure from his own supporters and elements within the military to make good on his hard-line rhetoric.

The potential for a catastrophic confrontation on the Korean peninsula is high. It is difficult to imagine another armed confrontation not provoking a major retaliation by the South Korean military.

What makes the situation all the more fraught with danger is the way in which it is being exploited by Washington to pursue its own strategic aims in the region, particularly vis-à-vis China.

US officials have acknowledged that the dispatch of the USS Washington and its accompanying destroyers and other escort ships to the Yellow Sea is aimed as much, if not more, at China as at North Korea.

“Mr. Obama’s decision to accelerate the deployment of an American aircraft carrier group to the region is intended to prod the Chinese,” the New York Times reported Thursday. “American officials hope that by presenting Beijing with an unpalatable result—the expansion of American maneuvers off its shores—China will decide that pressing North Korea is the lesser of two evils.”

A senior administration official told the New York Times on Wednesday: “To the Chinese, the message is that if North Korea undertakes actions such as uranium enrichment or the attack on the South that threaten our equities, the US will respond in ways that negatively affect China’s perceived interests. The response is directed at messaging North Korea and reassuring South Korea, but China clearly does not like to see US aircraft carriers, for example, in the Yellow Sea.”

Washington had threatened to carry out joint US-South Korean military exercises in the Yellow Sea last July, ostensibly in response to the sinking of a South Korean warship in which 46 sailors lost their lives. South Korea has charged North Korea with having sunk the vessel, which went down near the disputed maritime border imposed by the US at the end of the Korean War, but Pyongyang has denied any responsibility.

In the face of Beijing’s sharp protests, the Obama administration shifted those exercises to the Sea of Japan, away from Chinese waters.

This time Washington is deploying one of its most powerful warships in the Yellow Sea as a demonstration of its military supremacy against China.

While the Chinese government issued a measured warning over the exercise, declaring that it opposed “any military acts in our exclusive economic zone”—which extends 200 miles from the Chinese coast—others close to the Beijing government and its military vigorously denounced the US maneuvers.

While the immediate pretext for the provocative exercise is the Korean conflict, it is in line with an increasingly aggressive US policy in Asia. This has included the US attempt to insert itself into territorial conflicts in the South China Sea, backing Japan, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries against China. Washington’s aim in the region has been the pursuit of a series of alliances and assertions of military power directed against China that stretch from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

In the wake of the world capitalist financial meltdown, geostrategic offensive has been coupled with increasingly aggressive demands for Chinese currency revaluations and trade concessions.

Fundamentally, the growing US-China tensions are rooted in deep-going shifts in the world economy and the global balance of forces: China’s rise to the position of the world’s second-largest economy, eclipsing Japan, on the one hand, and the relative economic decline of US imperialism, combined with its growing use of military force, on the other.

This conflict threatens to turn Northeast Asia and the entire planet into a tinderbox. Much as in the period preceding the First World War, seemingly isolated regional confrontations between minor powers have the potential of precipitating a global conflagration, this time between nuclear-armed adversaries.

Such a catastrophe can be prevented only through the political mobilization of the international working class in the struggle for socialism.

November 28, 2010 @ 2:16 am | Comment

Such a catastrophe can be prevented only through the political mobilization of the international working class in the struggle for socialism.

Always remember the source. The World Socialist Web Site isn’t my source of choice for reasoned opinions about China and Korea (or anything else, come to think of it). With all respect, I don’t take seriously anything John Chan says.

November 28, 2010 @ 2:43 am | Comment

Here’s an interesting dissenting view about China’s willingness to “help” with North Korea.

“>In Foreign Policy.

November 28, 2010 @ 3:28 am | Comment

Gah. Well, that didn’t work. Let me try that again (I’m too lazy to go delete my comment).

A dissenting view about China & N. Korea: in Foreign Policy.

November 28, 2010 @ 3:29 am | Comment

Given Chan’s description of the Chinese reaction to the exercises, just how mad are they behind closed doors? This meant as a serious question. Given that most public statements from governments is filtered thru diplomatic circles first.

November 28, 2010 @ 3:42 am | Comment

From Chinabystander.

Their fear is not so much a flood of refugees should Kim’s dynastic regime collapse in chaos if Beijing Kim’s dynastic regime collapse in chaos if Beijing withdrew its political and economic lifelines. It would be an inconvenience but a manageable would be an inconvenience but a manageable humanitarian operation. Their bigger fear is of a pro-Washington government replacing Kim’s, either Seoul-led or under a U.N. mandate, and the possibility of the 30,000 U.S. troops now in South Korea being deployed up to the Chinese border in an area that Beijing’s plan is to make into a economic tributary state; the pacification through prosperity strategy that it tends to deploy in troublesome quarters. economic tributary state; the pacification through prosperity strategy that it tends to deploy in prosperity strategy that it tends to deploy in troublesome quarters.

November 28, 2010 @ 8:50 am | Comment

There was a window of opportunity for Russia to pin down enough US military resources in Asia. In case of a stronger confrontation, with significant military resources committed in a major conflict with China, Stalin could have overrun western Europe.

It was the beginning of the containment policy. Do not fight for total victory, just enough to maintain the status quo, or prevent it degrades too fast.

The result, no major conflicts, only smaller though sometimes nastier ones. But that peace is bought condemning whole populations to dystopian hells.

November 28, 2010 @ 9:23 am | Comment

ecodelta, spot on. Beijing doesn’t fear refugees, it fears a united, democratic Korea on its doorstep. That’s why it is doing everything to back Pyongyang and stop it falling apart. Unification would be a disaster for the Chinese government/CCP.

November 28, 2010 @ 7:55 pm | Comment


Though, at the same time, I doubt that Beijing has any love for the current regime, and would much prefer one built in their own image. They just want to make sure that the Pyongyang regime is reporting to them- and not to Seoul.

November 28, 2010 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

Nicholas, of course, but they don’t have the option of controlling NK directly at the moment. To them, Kim’s mad reign is better than something better for the NK people if that meant being closer to the south.

November 28, 2010 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

No matter what its ultimate “strategic” intentions might be, the Beijing government is still guilty of collusion to mass murder.

The Jedi ought to arrest all those responsible in Beijing and Pyongyang.

November 28, 2010 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

A couple of reality-check points.

The North-South reunification scenario. There is very little evidence (as opposed to wishful thinking) that South Koreans long for reunification. Family ties across the DMZ are dying off. Younger Koreans see reunification as simply too costly. And more to the point, the idea of starved/brainwashed Norks flooding south into the land of plenty is viewed as a major threat to their hard-won and fiesty democratic system.

The influence of Beijing. Over-estimated. Aside from the trade benefits, a quick news scroll indicates a wide variety of opinions vis a vis their problematic neighbour. Beijing is making policy on an ad hoc basis, and the idea that they can seriously influence the North Korean military elite is a product of western media think. If push comes to serious shove, the North is equally capable of lobbing a few missiles in a westerly direction.

And there is also an unspoken racial element which everybody likes to keep hidden in the broom cupboard.

November 29, 2010 @ 12:39 am | Comment

Your arguments are the same I heard before German reunification

November 29, 2010 @ 1:33 am | Comment

As a matter of interest, I’m curious as to how many posters here have or are presently living in either China and Korea. Not that that should be the sole criterion for offering an opinion on Korean reunification or other related issues.

It is the very dystopian nature of North Korean society which repells younger generations of Koreans, and gives them very serious second thoughts about the viability of future unification prospects. Why should they sacrifice their standard of living and holidays to Japan, Europe, the US etc to finance economic reconstruction of the North? Recent military outrages by the North simply strenghten attitudes of permanent separation.

West Germany and Stassiland = superficially appealing, but really a false analogy for a raft of reasons.

November 29, 2010 @ 6:09 am | Comment

King Tubby:

It’s highly unlikely that reunification would happen overnight. It’s much more likely that a friendly government in the north would have to persist in a kind of developmental authoritarianism for decades before reunification would really be a possibility, in order to avoid the very flood that you’re talking about. You can’t tell me that the heads of the chaebols aren’t salivating at the possibility of millions of cheap Korean laborers and access to the mineral wealth of the north- and Beijing is plenty aware of what that would offer Korea.

November 29, 2010 @ 8:12 am | Comment

@ Nicholas. I know NK has mineral wealth, but hadn’t considered the chaebol-cheap labour angle. But the heads of industry would have quite a job convincing society at large of the benefits, and South Korean unions are no pushover as you would be well aware. And would this pool of cheap labour have the necesary skill sets if it were to be utilised?

Supporting your point:

China has few if any global world brands in contrast to SK. Access to mineral wealth combined with this pool of cheap labour following some sort of reunification, would however create a even more formidable export-based economy right next door to China.

North Korea also has great tourist potential.

Many Thanks.

November 29, 2010 @ 8:53 am | Comment

Well, NK workers basically have the same skill-set as the cheap Chinese workers that Korea has to outsorce more and more of their work too- and, on top of that, they speak and- for the most part- read Korean as well, not to mention the lack of a sea barrier. While the SK unions are powerful, Korea is butting up against a demographic crunch and an impending labor shortage- especially of the low-skill, low-wage labor that NK could provide. This is a threat to China, too, as these are potentially millions of jobs that could be going to workers in the PRC. Korea has been rapidly emerging as a regional power, and could be even more if only they could keep their development going- but without a fresh pool of resources and labor, they’ll be butting up against the same limits as Japan inside of a decade. A “controlled reunification” could buy them another generation.

Forget about “US soldiers on the Chinese border”- big hairy deal. Beijing’s real fear is a powerful, ascendant Korea that no longer feels intimidated by it’s neighbors.

BTW, the Wikileaks article has some interesting things to say regarding the present crisis:

“Thinking about an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States. ”

Buying off China might be the best approach. With the Beijing government, nothing talks like money. Though I wonder how big a business deal we’d be talking about…

November 29, 2010 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Korean unification can be achieved, it might take a 10-20 year plan, but anyone saying that it is impossible or undesirable is examining only one side of the balance-book. Yes, the bill for unification would at least exceed 100 or even 200 billion US dollars, but since South Korea alone currently spends in excess of 27 billion dollars annually to defend itself against the North, it seems that much of the money required for construction in the North would come from the peace dividend that would inevitably follow peaceful reunification. It also seems that such a reunification would necessitate a neutral, denuclearised peninsula for it ever to be supported by China, but this seems to me to be a price worth paying.

@King Tubby –

“As a matter of interest, I’m curious as to how many posters here have or are presently living in either China and Korea.”

I hope you will forgive me if I say that I think this is a rather ridiculous question to ask on a website like this. We all know that Richard has spent quite some time in China. Ecodelta seems to have spent not a little time there as well. Nicholas M appears to be associated with China Economic Review in some capacity, which speaks to at least some level of experience. I seem to remember that Raj had spent some time in Taiwan at least. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I also believe that Other Lisa has been associated with China since the late 70’s. As for myself, I have also spent some years living and working in China, Taiwan, and Japan. So, whilst there does seem to be some lack of familiarity with Korea, the only people who might reasonably incur suspicion as to their level of experience with China is Jason, but that is only because his writings seem to reflect a lack of experience in general.

November 29, 2010 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

@King Tubby & FOARP:

I’m a contributing editor at CER; I work in the business books division. I’ve lived in Shanghai for three years. As for Korean experience, I’ve only visited SK once- I spent the National Day 2009 holiday over there, though I have friends in Seoul who I regularly correspond with (as well as a side interest in their culture and history, as the “Confucian” civilizations are an interest of mine).

November 29, 2010 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

Hohoho. So much for the CCP’s claim of a “peaceful rise” as it warms up to a rogue dynasty in Pyongyang.—state-media-poll
“China is North Korea’s sole major ally and its media heavily censors reports about North Korean actions, playing up Pyongyang’s versions of events to guide public opinion in support of Beijing’s pro-North stance.

Experts say Beijing coddles North Korea, at least in public, because it wants to prop up the regime of Kim Jong-Il out of fear that its collapse could spark a refugee influx to China or lead to a US-allied unified Korea.

Just 10 percent of those polled felt Pyongyang had acted provocatively, while 22 percent said it had been “forced to take action.” Another 57 percent felt the situation was “too complicated to judge,” the newspaper said.

The poll also said 88 percent of people viewed North Korea as either an ally or filling a strategic defense role for China.

China has avoided joining world condemnation of North Korea for either the shelling or Pyongyang’s claims that it has a working uranium enrichment facility.”

The interesting point is this poll (from Global Times) never report how many people it actually polled. LOL.

November 29, 2010 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

North Korea: Say what, China?

November 30, 2010 @ 10:00 am | Comment

That makes sense. China and NK may have been BFF’s in their youth. But China has matured whereas NK remains as petulant as always. Not a big surprise that there would come a point where they have to part ways.

November 30, 2010 @ 12:45 pm | Comment

Would this information harm the relationship? Would it strengthen North Korea’s stance of not trusting China more than ever?

November 30, 2010 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

China is the one that needs to come to grips with her relationship with NK; not the other way around. When NK fires artillery and kills SK civilians, and all China can say is for “both sides” to calm down, that becomes truly comical. NK is in no position to dictate what type of relationship she is to have with China. She will be in whatever relationship China deems as justified. It’s not like NK has a lot of options, since China is her only ally. THere should come a time when CHina makes the calculation that putting up with NK is not worth what she has to offer.

On the other hand, the specter that China might be inclined to walk away from NK should be an eye-opener for Pyongyang. If that convinces the North to stop acting like idiots…but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

December 1, 2010 @ 9:46 am | Comment

King Tubby, I have seven years in Korea, not that such makes me an expert. Jason, regarding the “western imposed” Northern Limit Line. You will recall that North Korean started the war with an invasion of the South at a time when the legally recognized division was the 38th parallel (a very poor line of demarcation for all practical purposes, but the reality which the DPRK and ROK were forced to live with.) Once the war stgarted, all gloves were off. After the complete collapse of the North Korea Army, China intervened and saved it, but bore the brunt of fighting for the next two years. When the Armistice went into effect, both sides held on to what they had seized.

The Northern Limit Line is interesting in that neither ROK nor UN forces seized the islands that define the line. They were seized by bands of North Korean anti-Communist guerrillas known as ‘Donkeys’ to the Americans. These “Dong-il” (Reunification) bands were largely composed of pre-war inhabitants of Hwanghae (Yellow Sea) Province who had fought a delaying action against the Communists in the hard winter of 1951, and withdrawn to the islands, where they refused to join the ROK forces and maintained a two year maritime guerrilla campaign in hopes that their homeland would be retaken by the UNC. To free up guerrilla manpower for operations within Hwanghae Province, the islands were garrisoned by units of the ROK Marine Corps, who remain there to this day.

So the ROK has as much right to hold those islands as the North Koreans do to occupy land below the 38th Parallel. North Korean holdings include present day Haeju, which lies just three kilometers beyond PyeongYeong island (referred to as PY-Do), which is within the NLL and where the Spirit Tablets of the North Korean anti-communist guerrilla bands are located.

So, the NLL was created by Koreans, and is part of a larger Korean context. All the “Westerners” did was include it in the Armistice agreements.

December 2, 2010 @ 10:20 am | Comment

It’s highly unlikely that reunification would happen overnight. It’s much more likely that a friendly government in the north would have to persist in a kind of developmental authoritarianism for decades before reunification would really be a possibility, in order to avoid the very flood that you’re talking about. You can’t tell me that the heads of the chaebols aren’t salivating at the possibility of millions of cheap Korean laborers and access to the mineral wealth of the north- and Beijing is plenty aware of what that would offer Korea.

Yes this might well be a factor in China’s opposition to reunification. But what would Japan do, with a mighty Korea and a superpower Japan just across the water? A reunified Korea is more than just a problem for China.

December 4, 2010 @ 8:40 am | Comment

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