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N. Korean patrol boat violates maritime border amid reunions

N. Korean patrol boat violates maritime border amid reunions

Posted February. 26, 2014 02:31,   


A North Korean patrol boat violated the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea from Monday night to early Tuesday morning, when reunions of separated families from South and North Korea was underway. The Defense Ministry regarded it as “intentional and premeditated aggression.”

President Park Geun-hye’s instruction over the phone to the caption of the destroyer King Munmu the Great on New Year’s Day that “I hope that the Navy thoroughly guard our territorial waters to block North Korean from even thinking about violating our NLL” is proven to be hardly useful. Even while the North Korean patrol boat navigated in South Korean waters for 20 to 30 minutes in the first and second aggressions, and about two hours in the third, the South Korean military failed to take stern action. The military explained that “We only sent warning messages because the North Korean patrol boat did not trespass more than 2 miles into South Korean waters,” but it is a far cry from a stern warning.

The North likely violated the NLL with the intention to cleverly test how the South Korean government would respond if military tension escalates amid the mood of reconciliatory dialogue between the two Koreas. The South Korean military should have taken the response measure in consultation with the presidential national security office. Chances are high that the presidential office set the level of countermeasure by comprehensively taking into consideration the safety of South Koreans visiting Mount Kumgang in the North for the family reunion event and thawing inter-Korean ties after prolonged tension. However, at the end of the day, we wonder how the incumbent administration is different from the previous administrations that were hopeless in the face of the North’s successive aggressions.

President Park said, "The government will establish a national unification preparation committee under the presidential office and will continue to expand inter-Korean dialogue and private sector exchange." But this is only attainable only when Pyongyang positively reacts to Seoul’s overtures. Inter-Korean dialogue and exchange is great, but Seoul should tighten up its defense readiness to prevent any room for sloppiness.