Friday, April 23, 2010
South Korea wants international response to ship sinking
News from Seoul is that South Korea wants to wait for the international community act before it responds to a suspected attack on one of its ships by its arch enemy. Preliminary results from a South Korean military intelligence report put the blame on North Korea, its reclusive and impoverished Communist neighbor, according to a Reuters international news service report in the New York Times. The two countries have technically been at war since North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950; a 1953 armistice ended most fighting but ushered in a cold peace that has persisted since then despite occasional moves by both sides to ease tensions. North Korea's testing of nuclear weapons beginning in 2006 has heightened tensions again between the two countries and the United States, which has 28,000 soldiers in South Korea. The South Korean patrol ship, the Cheonan, sank last month with 46 aboard after an explosion, which Seoul blames on a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang denies any responsibility for the sinking. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told a group of visiting journalists on Friday that his country would wait until an international investigation of the incident was completed. "Just as the investigation is being conducted with international cooperation, we'll try to cooperate with the international community in taking necessary measures when the results are out," Lee said. The last pieces of the sunken ship are expected to be raised to the surface this week, Reuters said. But even if investigators determine that North Korea was responsible for the sinking, South Korea's options appear limited. A military attack on its neighbor would further heighten tensions and possibly get Russia and China involved, a replay of what happened during the Korean War. Plus, Lee faces tough local elections in June that got even tougher when citizens accused his government of being caught unprepared in the attack on the Cheonan. Lee infuriated the north earlier in the week by criticizing Pyongyang for spending money on a huge celebration to mark the birthday of Kim Il-sung, considered the founder of North Korea. Kim died in 1994.